In regards to comments [refer to insert snip shot from Facebook above] put up by Anthony Morant, alluding to some sort of political affiliation between myself and particular candidates in Goilala elections, and also the same for Fr Casmiro Kito being the assistant priest at Tapini, I wish to make clear the following:
1. The Church does not support any candidate in elections. It makes no public statement in support of any candidate. Church personnel, (clerics, teachers, health workers, and other church workers) are not permitted to openly support or campaign for any candidate. There is strictly no use of church property in support of election campaigns, eg schools or mission stations for election rallies, use of church vehicles and other facility.
2. This does not preclude church personnel from having an association or friendship with particular candidates, which should not be misconstrued as being support for the election of a particular candidate by supporters of other candidates. This is not unusual, especially if this association is pre-existing to the election campaign period. For instance:
I was an appointed member of the Provincial Executive Council and an appointed Member of the Provincial Assembly 2007-2012 by the then Governor, Alphonse Moroi. Personally I could wish him well and we remained on friendly terms, however, it was made perfectly clear to the Governor that I could not provide any public support for his re-election bid in the 2012 elections as that the Church remains neutral in politics.
My friendship and association with Daniel Mona and members his family predated his political aspirations. Likewise I could personally wish him well, and remained on friendly terms with him during each of his election bids, however it was made perfectly clear to him that I, or the Church could not provide any public support for his campaign for elected office. I point out also that while we were on friendly terms, before during and after his election as Member for Goilala it is a matter of record that I didn’t’ hold back on publicly criticising him during his time as Member on matters of policy where his performance did not match his many publicly stated promises in working together partnership with the Church to achieve common development goals on certain fronts. In making such criticism of the elected Member, this was not ‘politics’ but public accountability, where the Church has a role to play and is a voice in society as part of its ‘prophetic’ calling.
I was happy when Daniel Mona was elected in 2012. However, this was not to be wrongly interpreted as I (and/or the Church) having actively campaigned for his election, as was the case by disappointed supporters of opposing candidates. The people had spoken through the ballot box, by the democratic process. As a priest, and an expatriate I was not involved in his election, and during the time of the 2012 Election I was out of country in Australia. The irony here is that as my public criticism of Daniel Mona mounted during his term, in regards to policy and failed promises, I (and the Church) became the object of ire from his supporters.
Fr Casmiro Kito msc (my assistant at Tapini) has had a long term association with Bruce Mamando through the Emmaeai co-operative. This is a self help development co-operative established by the Pilitu People over the last three years, and it is chaired by Fr Casmiro. This is not unusual as Fr Casmiro is from the Pilitu area, and is one of their few educated elites. It also fits in with his work as a priest in keeping with the Church’s mission, for the ‘integral human development of peoples’. The main income work of the co-operative is the marketing of produce from the area in Port Moresby. For this transport and the road is critical to this development. Bruce Mamando has had a well established business over many years in Goiala with the movement of produce from Goilala ports (mainly on the Fane side) to markets in Port Moresby, and in recent years he has been a provider of transport to people in the Pilitu and Laloipa Valley for their market produce. Through this connection, Bruce is well known to Fr Casmiro and myself, and we are on friendly terms. When Bruce declared his intention to stand for the recent election myself and Fr Casmiro wished him well, but it was also made very clear to him that neither of us could publicly support him in any way. This position was maintained during the election period.
That Fr Casmiro may have made general comment on FB about the condition of the road during election period, and the consequences this would inevitably have on voting in the Pilitu area for the incumbent Member, this is not to be misconstrued as having been public support for any particular opposing candidate (e.g., Bruce Mamando). If a promise was made by the Member for road maintenance works, and this promise was not kept (threatening the livelihood and well-being of the population affected) then of course he is going to loose votes in that area. Fr Casmiro was no more than stating the obvious.
I pointed out to the Member in out lasting meeting prior to the election that the situation of the Tapini Hwy and the lack of maintenance to date was critical to his credibility as Member, and that this would have negative impact for him on voting results in the Tapini-Guari LLGs. I thanked him for his support in his brief 18 month term, and wished him well for the coming election. I also pointed out that while his support was appreciated, the church in no way could be seen to supporting him in the coming election, as per the other candidates. Up until this meeting we had been on friendly terms.
The Member needs to realise that he has been re-elected by democratic process as the Member of Goilala, meaning for all the People of Goilala, including the ones that didn’t vote for him. If his voting support dropped in certain areas due to the negative impact caused by failed promises during his previous term then I suggest he needs to address that issue and prove people wrong to win back voter support.
Rather than payout on these people (and by association the Catholic Church because of misconstrued information about Fr Brian and Fr Casmiro during the election period) by ignoring them as some kind of post-election retribution. This will only alienate the Member from his people and his main development partner, the Catholic Church. How the Member now acts in this situation will distinguish him as being a good leader.
Fr Brian Cahill msc