An election official inspects the printing of ballot papers on Feb. 9 for the May 13 mid-term national elections in the Philippines. Authorities expect to print about 64.8 million ballot papers. (Photo by Jire Carreon)
As part of efforts to ensure impartiality, several Philippine dioceses have banned electioneering in church premises as campaigning for this year's national elections starts.
In Balanga Diocese north of Manila, Bishop Ruperto Santos said candidates would not be allowed to carry the offering during offertory processions during Masses.
Any church people in parishes who work for an election candidate will also be required to take leave of absence from church duties.
In Caceres Diocese, in the southern part of the main Philippine island of Luzon, Archbishop Rolando Tirona also issued a directive prohibiting electioneering on church properties.
That includes the holding of election rallies on church premises.
Bishop Tirona also prohibited priests from conducting mass weddings, baptisms and confirmations sponsored by candidates or political parties.
Priests are also prohibited from soliciting donations from them.
"It is prohibited for any priest to openly and directly campaign for a particular political party or candidate," said Bishop Tirona.
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon did not issue a directive in his diocese, saying people already know it is forbidden.
Campaigning for those running for national posts in May 13 elections started on Feb. 12 while those running for local legislatures hit the campaign trail on March 29.
Electioneering is not allowed during Holy Week on Holy Thursday (April 18) and Good Friday (April 19).
Over 60 senatorial candidates are vying for 12 vacant seats in the Senate while 154 party-list groups are seeking seats in the House of Representatives.