BELMOPAN, Cayo District, Thurs. Sept. 1, 2016–Senator representing the Churches, Pastor Ashley Rocke, is in hot water for voting down an Opposition PUP motion to appoint a Special Select Committee to investigate the illegal or irregular issuance of over 55,000 passports and other immigration documents between 2011 and 2013, the period the audit covers.
In an interview with Amandala this morning, Pastor Rocke said that he voted against the motion because the counter-proposal which was suggested by the Leader of Government Business, Senator Godwin Hulse, made more sense to him.
The pastor voted against the wishes of the churches that put him there, the churches say
However, Senator Hulse never formally introduced a counter-motion, which remained as just a suggestion, during yesterday’s senate meeting,
Amandala asked Rocke if his decision to vote no was in his personal interest or in the interest of the churches he represented.
Rocke, however, abruptly ended our telephone interview.
His vote has prompted a response from the Roman Catholic Church, which issued a strongly worded press release today, Thursday, demanding his immediate resignation from the Senate.
The Roman Catholic press release said: “The Catholic Church has lost confidence in Senator Rocke to represent the Roman Catholic values on behalf of our faithful.”
The Catholic Church has gone on the record to dissociate itself with the position taken by Rocke, who, it says, was charged with the responsibility to represent the Belize Council of Churches, the Evangelical Association of Churches and the nation’s democratic ideals.
The National Evangelical Association of Belize (NEAB) and its six national chapters representing over 250 churches are also up in arms against Rocke for his vote yesterday in the Senate and today, they also fired off a steaming press release also demanding Pastor Rocke’s immediate resignation.
The NEAB said in their press release, “To vote ‘NO’ on the call for accountability to such corruption, regardless of the reasoning, is completely unacceptable to us church leaders.”
The statement went on to say, “After consultation prior to the Senate meeting, we were unanimous as an Executive Team in supporting the Senate motion toward an Investigative Inquiry, and we conveyed our position to Senator Rocke. We had full confidence and communication from him that he would support the Inquiry call. At the last minute, he did not.”
While two of the three church associations have explicitly condemned Pastor Rocke’s vote, another evangelical organization, the Belize Association of Evangelical Churches (BEAC), under the stewardship of Pastor Howell Longsworth, has remained silent.
Amandala tried repeatedly to reach Longsworth for comment, but he has not responded.
Though the call for Pastor Rocke’s resignation has been coming mostly from the churches, he has also been under constant bombardment in social media, especially on Facebook.
Pastor Rocke has been trending on Facebook and the anti-Rocke sentiments continue to fill the posts and screenshots being circulated by Belizeans due to his pro-UDP posts. One such post that he has made public was his extended congratulations to Senator Dr. Carla Barnett for doing well in the last general elections and being a part of what he had termed “a formidable team.”