Venerable monk Long Chantha has been on the run after the chief monks of Cambodia released a letter on May 18 instructing all pagodas in the Kingdom to bar him after he chatted with a girl on Facebook.

Takeo provincial chief monk Keo Savorn confirmed that Chantha signed a contract to step down from the monkhood since he had essentially escaped from the pagoda.

The letter read that venerable Hou Chhiv, a member of the secretariat of the chief monks of Cambodia, said that Samdech Non Nget released a letter to all pagodas in the kingdom to ban Chantha.

“Because he did not leave the monkhood as in the contract, if any pagoda sees him, follow the contract [that he promised to leave the monkhood],” he said.

Takeo provincial monk chief Keo Savorn said on Tuesday that Chantha went to sign the contract with him on May 14. He said he wrote a contract saying that Chantha would leave the monkhood by himself, but Chantha instead stayed in the Phnom Borei pagoda in Prek Phtorl commune, Angkor Borei district, Takeo province even though he was technically a fugitive monk.

“The contract was about leaving the monkhood and he volunteered. No one forced him,” Savorn said.

Kampong Cham provincial monk chief Bort Tang Chheng said he received the letter from the chief monks of Cambodia on Tuesday. He said it bans pagoda chiefs in the kingdom from allowing Chantha accommodation.

“As the chief monks of Cambodia ordered, we have to follow the letter. If we see Long Chantha, calling him to meet the chief monks of Cambodia is a good thing,” he said.

According to the letter, venerable Samdech Preah Mahasomethea Thipadey Nun Nget wrote that the monks’ committee conveys to the chief monks of all 25 cities and provinces that the committee is following the result of the monks’ hearing and the resolution of the Takeo Provincial Court in regards to Chantha.

He wrote that the chief monks consider Chantha to be a hardened person, not disciplined or educated, and devotion to the monk administration was no longer possible in the Buddhist clergy.

A copy of the contract was not available.