Running priest Fr. Robert Reyes on Sunday urged Catholics who are supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte to pray and listen to their conscience as they pick candidates to vote for in the May 13 polls.
Reyes, along with a group of Otso Diretso supporters, ran along the busy Quezon Avenue in Quezon City earlier in the day as a call for democracy in the upcoming elections.
A group of runners led by Fr. Robert Reyes is also on their way to Welcome Rotonda. pic.twitter.com/qor00Hak1I— Erwin Colcol (@erwincolcol) May 4, 2019
The run ended in Welcome Rotonda, where a sea of Otso Diretso supporters converged to show support to the opposition slate.
In an ambush interview with reporters, Reyes explained that a united "Catholic vote" may not be possible as church leaders do not dictate who among the candidates Catholics should vote for.
Fr. Reyes: [Itong walong salita] ang winawasak ng kasalukuyang administrasyon. pic.twitter.com/uPswszGVfP— Erwin Colcol (@erwincolcol) May 4, 2019
"Ang mahalaga sa Katoliko ay 'yung tinatawag na discerned vote. 'Yung boto na pinagdasalan, hindi 'yung sinulsol, idinikta, iniutos. Dapat itinuro ng konsensiya," he said.
"Kaya the Catholic vote is a vote na produkto na tinatawag na pangingilatis ng kalooban ng Diyos, discernment," he added.
The Catholic Church and its priests have consistently been at the receiving end of the tirades of Duterte amid their vocal opposition to the administration's war on drugs and violations of human rights.
Despite this, Duterte's net satisfaction ratings have remained high across the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country, according to the results of the latest Social Weather Stations survey.
Even then, Reyes urged voters who are supportive of Duterte to pray and learn the act of discernment when voting.
"'Yung mga Katoliko na sumusuporta sa imoral na Presidente, na administrasyon, ay hindi nagdadasal nang maayos. May panahon pa. Magdasal po kayo, discern!" he said.
"Kapag pinakinggan ninyo ang konsensiya, sasabihin ng konsensiya niyo, masyado na kayong madikit sa demonyo. Lumayo kayo para makita niyo ang katotohanan. Lumayo kayo para madinig niyo ang tinig ng konsensiya, ang tinig ng Diyos," he added.
For their part, Otso Diretso candidates welcomed the support they are receiving from members of the Catholic Church.
"Napakahalaga [ng suporta ng Catholic Church] kasi halos 90 percent dito sa ating bansa ay mga Katoliko. Kami ay naniniwala na ang lalabas ngayon ay 'yung One Catholic Vote," election lawyer and senatorial candidate Romulo Macalintal said.
"Ngayon din ay magkakaroon ng One Catholic Vote sapagkat hindi papayagan ng mga Katoliko na bastusin ang ating Panginoon at bastusin ang ating pananampalataya at ang ating kaparian," he added.
Human rights lawyer and senatorial candidate Chel Diokno, meanwhile, believes that the vote of the Catholics and the youth will manifest in the May 13 elections.
"Itong darating na halalan, palagay ko mararamdaman ng lahat dito sa Pilipinas ang boto ng mga Katoliko at pati na rin ang boto ng mga kabataan. At 'yan ang inaasahan namin," he said. —KG, GMA News