Candidates for the May 14 village elections in the Philippines beat the deadline for the filing of their certificates of candidacy in Manila on April 20. (Photo by Angie de Silva)
A man standing for election to a village council in the southern Philippines has been criticized by a church leader for using the nickname "Jesus Christ" on his certificate of candidacy.
The Commission on Elections upheld the use of the name by 40-year-old Charlie Bucao Talledo.
But Father Bobby Puracan, chancellor of Surigao Diocese in Mindanao, cautioned against using the name for political purposes.
"The term 'Christ' is a title that means 'Messiah' or 'the anointed one' from the Greek 'Christos'," he said. "He is the central figure of Christianity, so we must be careful in using it."
Father Puracan said he knows Talledo, who always attracts the attention of people every time he attends Mass.
"During the singing of the Lord's Prayer, he would go to the middle of the church and raise his arms, getting unnecessary attention," said the priest.
There were also incidents when Talledo walked around the city dressed like Jesus while carrying a crucifix attached to a baton.
"Maybe he needs medical attention," Father Puracan told ucanews.com.
Talledo said he used "Jesus Christ" as his election nickname because of his spiritual belief.
"I wanted to bring some spirituality in the campaign for political renewal," he said, adding that he wants to serve his village by "spreading the words of Jesus Christ and the good news of salvation."
Election officer Gina Taer said the candidate is qualified to run and is intelligent, adding that Talledo is "even better" than others who filed their certificates.
Talledo, a driver by profession, is not a "nuisance candidate," Taer added.
Talledo ran for a seat in his city council in 2010 but was declared a nuisance candidate after his ability to mount a campaign was questioned.
"This time, he only needs to campaign from house to house within a small area, so he is capable to launch a campaign," Taer said.
The certificate of candidacy of Charlie Bucao Talledo of Surigao City shows "Jesus Christ" as his nickname. (Photo by Ben Serrano)
Talledo who claimed to be "Jesus Christ of the modern times" was among the first to file his certificate of candidacy in the city of Surigao.
A church-based poll watchdog, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, has reminded aspirants that running for public office is a "serious business."
"The election deals with people's lives, liberties, properties and fortunes, so candidates should be God-fearing and people-serving," said council chairman Rene Sarmiento.
He said candidates should consider "nation-building and service" when they decide to run for office.
Sarmiento reminded candidates about the statement of Pope Francis on politics being a "lofty vocation."
"Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, in as much as it seeks the common good," Sarmiento quoted the pontiff as saying.
A Catholic bishop recently told church workers running for office to resign from their posts in the church to prevent allegations of undue advantage.
Filipinos will be electing the heads and members of village councils and members of youth councils in 42,028 barangays (villages) throughout the country on May 14.
A barangay is the smallest local government unit in the Philippines.