Catholic groups to endorse 6 to 8 candidates in 2013 polls
(Updated 4:47 p.m.) An alliance of Catholic organizations will be endorsing six to eight senatorial candidates in the 2013 elections based on their stand on controversial issues.
A report aired over GMA News TV's Balitanghali said the coalition, dubbed the "White Vote" movement, was officially launched in Parañaque City on Monday.
Among the groups included in the coalition initiated by the Council of the Laity of the Philippines are El Shaddai, Couples for Christ – Foundation for Family and Life, Catholic Women’s League, Focolare Movement, and Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon.
GMA News reporter Julius Segovia quoted El Shaddai head Bro. Mike Velarde as saying that they are thinking of endorsing six to eight senatorial candidates in the 2013 polls.
He said the candidates must be pro-family and pro-life. He also said they will also base their decision on the candidate's position on the reproductive health law, divorce, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia—all of which are being opposed by the Catholic Church.
Velarde said they will announce the first batch of candidates on Saturday, after asking the bets some questions through questionnaires and interviews. He also said the candidates they endorse may reach 10.
Separation of Church and State
Separation of Church and State
Section 6, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states that "the separation of Church and State shall be inviolable."
But Velarde said that the Church cannot separate itself from politics because the Church is composed of the people, which also makes up the State.
An estimated 80 percent of the country's population are baptized Catholics.
Velarde was likewise quoted as saying that they are not dictating who Catholics should vote for, saying they have the right to choose.
But this has not stopped the Catholic church from actively campaigning against candidates who have stands opposite their own.
The Diocese of Bacolod specifically came out with two lists of senatorial candidates—one labeled Team Patay and the other Team Buhay.
The Team Patay roster includes names of senatorial bets and party-list groups who supported the passage of the RH Law while Team Buhay includes candidates perceived to be pro-life because they voted against the then divisive bill.
Among those listed under Team Patay are Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, Sen. Francis Escudero, Sen. Loren Legarda, former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, and party-lists Gabriela, Akbayan, Bayan Muna, and Anak Pawis,
On the other hand, those listed under Team Buhay are: San Juan Rep. JV Estrada, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, Sen. Koko Pimentel, Sen. Antonio Trillanes, former Las Pinas Rep. Cynthia Villar and party-list groups Buhay and Ang Pamilya.
Some, however, argue that a "Catholic vote" is non-existent.
Among them is Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who cited the case of a former senator.
“In the past, the Catholic Church campaigned against Senator Juan Flavier because as Health secretary, he freely distributed condoms. But Flavier won the elections. Thus, the so-called Catholic vote is a political myth,”
Political Ramon Casiple, meanwhile, cited the case of former President Joseph Estrada, who won by landslide in 1998 despite some Church officials campaigning against him.
"There is none [Catholic vote], definitely, if you are talking of a national vote," he said in a previous interview.
Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of the Archdiocese of Lipa, however, had earlier argued that there are still "Catholics who vote the Catholic way.”
“If they are good Catholics, they would vote people who are promoting Catholic values," he said.
In a text message to GMA News Online, UNA deputy campaign manager Sherwin Gatchalian said that "as citizens that's their right to endorse and campaign for candidates they prefer."
But he also said he hopes that they "do it outside the Church and not use the pulpit to campaign." —KG/RSJ, GMA News