‘Among Ed’ Panlilio: A Victory with Double Effect

The canvassing of election returns has not yet been completed. Tension still rises from every corner in the country. But in Pampanga, they are experiencing a first, the election of a priest Fr. Ed Panlilio as governor and his supporters, as well as those who shun traditional politics are overjoyed.

Contributed to Bulatlat
Election Watch
Vol. VII, No. 16 May 27-June 2, 2007

The canvassing of elections returns has not yet been completed. It has been more than a week since the May 14 elections, tension still rises from every corner in the country – the killings in Abra, the burnt elementary school in Taysan, Batangas, and the unrelenting protests of many politicians against what they claim as anomalies in the poll results. But in Pampanga, they are experiencing a first, the election of a priest Fr. Ed Panlilio as governor and his supporters as well as those who shun traditional politics are overjoyed.

Who is Fr. Ed Panlilio?

Fr. Ed Panlilio, or “Among Ed” as called by many Kapampangans, is the sixth among the seven children of Gervacio Panlilio and Catalina Tongol. Born December 6, 1953, he grew up in a peaceful town of Minalin Pampanga.

After graduating from Minalin Elementary School, he decided to become a priest, thus he opted to study at the Don Bosco Academy from his high school sophomore days onwards after finishing his freshmen days at Don Honorio Ventura College of Arts and Trades (DHVCAT).

There were times when things didn’t go as he planned it. He came in and out of different seminaries as he went through a long, steady, yet somehow tedious process. His will to move forward and his strong faith later gave him the reward he deserved – he was ordained priest on Dec. 13, 1981 after completing his Theology studies at the St. Augustine Major Seminary.

Why did he run for the provincial seat?

At first, many people, especially in his hometown, were quite surprised with the announcement of Fr. Panlilio’s that he would run for governor. But those tired of traditional politics in Pampanga threw their support for him against his two rivals, Lilia Pineda, wife of suspected jueteng (numbers game) lord Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda, and former governor Mark Lapid, son of former senator Lito Lapid who ran and lost to Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati. Both Pineda and Lapid are known allies of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Weeks before the election, he announced that he would be taking a leave from priesthood since he has to focus on campaigning.

After the last election return was canvassed, Panlilio won by a slim margin over Lilia Pineda

What some say about the victory of Panlilio:

Many people had mixed emotions on Fr. Panlilio’s victory. Some were happy, and some doubt whether the priest can make a difference in the game of politics. I went to the University of Santo Tomas (UST), one of the known Catholic universities in the country, and asked what people think of Panlilio.

Although I wasn’t able to get the opinion of resident priests since either they were too busy, or not around the university, I was able to get in touch with a representative from a student Catholic organization in the university Central Pax Romana, a Philippine History professor, and some students.

Here are their opinions:

“(It’s) the people’s way of saying (they’re) tired of the traditional politicians who haven’t done their job very well… (Also) knowing that Pampanga is one of the areas where it is difficult to subdue jueteng, the Kapampangans voiced out their opinions about this and they are looking for someone who can subdue the illegal numbers game… Morality over politics ruled over the elections (there).”
– Dennis Coronacion, Philippine History professor, Faculty of Arts and Letters

“Maa-apply ang principle ng double effect ni St. Thomas Aquinas sa pagkapanalo ni Father Panlilio. First, there is the negative effect – sabi ng simbahan, hindi puwedeng mag-hold ng public office, either appointed or elected ang isang pari… On the other hand, may positive effect (because of) y’ung image niya bilang isang priest… Even though mahihirapan ang pagtupad ng mga reforms sa simula, walang duda naman ito dahil sa humble beginnings niya bilang isang pari. Ang pagkapanalo ni Fr. Ed works as a moral choice –ang pinili ng Pampanga ay y’ung moral choice over the others.” (St. Thomas Aquinas’ principle of double effect will apply in the victory of Fr. Ed Panlilio. First, there is the negative effect – according to the church, a priest cannot hold public office, whether elective or appointive. On the other hand, there is a positive effect because of his positive image as a priest. Even though he will have a hard time implementing reforms at the start, there will be no doubt about (his willingness to do so) because of his humble beginnings as a priest. Fr. Ed’s victory is a moral choice – Pampanga opted for a moral choice over the others.) – Louie Abala, Central Pax Romana

“Masasabi ko na iba ang kalakaran sa loob at labas ng simbahan… At alam natin na magaganda ang kanyang mga intensyon, ngunit hindi lahat ng oras ay dapat malambot siya sa pamumuno…”(What I can say is that there is a lot of difference between how things are done inside and outside the church… And we know that his intentions are good, but he should not always be soft in his manner of leadership…) – Edwardo Agnes, university security guard.

“Kahit na taga Tarlac ako, maiintindihan ko ang pagkapanalo ni Fr. Panlilio (Even if I’m from Tarlac, I can understand the victory of Fr. Panlilio). With his ideals, and his will to serve his fellow men, I’m positive his political career will not end in vain.” – David Alzate, College of Science

“Maganda at nanalo si Fr. Panlilio sa pagkagobernador. Kahit papaano, maiibsan ang jueteng sa Pampanga.” (It’s good that Fr. Panlilio won in the gubernatorial race. At least, jueteng in Pampanga would be minimized.) – a student from the College of Fine Arts and Design

“At least sa Pampanga nagawa nilang pumili ng isang taong makakapamuno ng isang (probinsya) nang walang bahid ng korapsyon. It’s good to know na kahit na magulo na sa Pilipinas, marunong pa rin pumili ang mga tao ng kanilang iboboto.” At least in Pampanga they were able to choose someone who can govern a province without any taint of corruption. It’s good to know that even if the Philippines is in a mess, people still know whom to vote for.) – students from the Faculty of Engineering

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