El Shaddai-led group endorses 6 senatorial candidates for May polls
The group officially announced the endorsement of JV Ejercito, Gringo Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Koko Pimentel, Antonio Trillanes, and Cynthia Villar on Saturday at a gathering at the Amvel complex in Parañaque City.
The candidates voted against the Reproductive Health bill, and were earlier identified by the Diocese of Bacolod as belonging to "Team Buhay" in their controversial "Team Buhay/Patay" tarpaulin.
Among the groups included in the White Vote 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.
For her part, Magsaysay said she is grateful that she was chosen as one of the candidates the groups will be supporting in the forthcoming elections.
"Malaking karangalan para sa akin na masama ako sa white vote movement at least pinapakita po ng Catholic Church kung ano ang kanilang feeling pagdating sa pag support sa akin, " she said.
Also, Senator Honasan said he is happy that the group supported him.
"Siyempre nakakataba ng puso kasi consistently naman I've been pro-life... ironically even as a soldier... it encourages me to try harder," he said.
Pimentel also thanked the coalition: "'Di lang ito puro saya meron din ito corresponding obligation of those to be endorsed – Ako I signed a pledge that I will be supporting the so called pro-poor, pro-life [movements] and resisting the opposite initiative.”
On the other hand, Velarde noted that while they endorsed the senatorial aspirants, the decision is still with the people if they will support the six candidates or not.
"Ang endorsement hindi naman 'yan imposing 'di ba? Endorse mo lang pero ang decision sa kanila pa rin... we'll just say to our members na importante magkaisa tayo but may free will to decide," the spokesperson of the White Vote added.
Earlier, Velarde said they are looking to support six to 10 senatorial candidates for their stand against issues like the Reproductive Health Law, divorce and same-sex marriage.
The group is set to announce the second batch of senatorial candidates they will be endorsing next week.
'Catholic vote a myth'
Some personalities in the local political scene maintain Catholic groups' endorsements would not be a significant influence on the choices of the majority Catholics during elections.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said the so-called Catholic vote is a myth.
“In the past, the Catholic Church campaigned against Sen. 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,” Santiago said in a statement last November.
Santiago is one of the proponents of the controversial RH bill – now a law.
Political analyst Ramon Casiple at the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, also debunked the existence of a Catholic vote.
"There is none, definitely, if you are talking of a national vote," said Casiple on “News to Go,” noting that former President Joseph Estrada won by landslide in 1998 despite the fact that many Church officials campaigned against him.
Bicbic Chua, executive director of Catholics for Reproductive Health (C4RH), echoed this.
"It is just a myth perpetuated by Catholic personalities/hierachy who want to project themselves as movers and shakers in the political field. What we have is Catholic harassment by conservative hierarchy to pressure our government," she said.— LBG, GMA News