A 43-year-old priest from the Diocese of Libmanan has entered politics to face a well-entrenched traditional politician in the five-town first district of Camarines Sur.
Fr. Apolinar Rull Napoles last Friday filed his Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) under the Liberal Party to seek the district seat of incumbent Congressman Rolando Andaya Jr., 46. Andaya, whose father occupied the position during the Batasang Pambansa days of the Marcos era, is in his last term run for Congress.
A day before the last filing on Thursday he officiated his last Mass at 8 a.m. at Sipocot Parish where he was first assigned.
He also went home to Del Gallego to consult his mother and siblings about his plan to run against Andaya. The priest agonized in the evening over whether to run or not after consulting his family. He added that his siblings are worried because he will be against a big politician.
“But I told them that it is not Andaya that I am against but the ugly politics,” the priest said, adding, “However, shall we be afraid forever? So, there will be no change and nothing will change?”
When asked whether there is pressure on him to run against Andaya, Napoles answered that the pressure had been over with and he was already at peace with his decision.
Napoles said he was nominated by the LP through the provincial chair of Camarines Sur Vice Gov. Fortunato Peña.
The Most Rev. Alberto Rojas, bishop of the Diocese of Libmanan, already approved his leave from his priestly duties on Thursday.
“Tuloy ang laban! Iginagalang kan satuyang Obispo an sakong pagdalagan! Karibay and sakripisyo ko kan ministerio kan pagkapadi. Ipangadyi nindo ako. (The fight is on. The Bishop is respecting my decision to run. My sacrifice is in exchange for my priestly minister),” he said in a text message.
“I choose to be active in politics as an option, for social change. I will be the change I want to see. Priest cannot take sides publicly. He is only a citizen who belongs to the multitude of anonymous voters. Passive. Waiting to be fooled or to be a wise voter,” he said.
Napoles wanted change and put “conscience” in governance. He is the fifth among six siblings. His father, from Del Gallego town, was a member of the Philippine Constabulary/Integrated National Police while his mother, a retired teacher, was from Nabua town.
He was born and raised in Del Gallego where he finished his high school and elementary education. He entered the major seminary in Naga City and was ordained priest on Aug. 22, 1998.
Napoles had been assigned assistant parish priest for a year in Sipocot and in Libmanan in 1998-2000 and then he was assigned parish priest in Binahian, Sipocot in 2001-2005 and Cabusao, in 2005-2008.
From 2008 to 2010, he was assigned assistant parish priest in the town of San Fernando before he was transferred to the Surigao Diocese, in 2010-2014.(edited PNA report / John Mark Escandor )