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CBCP keeps nonpartisan stance, urges ‘wise vote’

NDBC BANTAY HALALAN 2022 • 09:00 AM Sun May 12, 2019
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CBCP
CBCP President and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles speaks at the opening of the 116th CBCP Plenary Assembly in Cebu City, Jan. 27, 2019

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has clarified they will leave partisan politics to the lay people.

Archbishop Romulo Valles, CBCP President, particularly refuted reports that they endorsed a number of senatorial candidates.

“The CBCP did not make any such endorsement,” Valles said. “Bishops and priests are not allowed to do that. That is clearly partisan politics.”

“The CBCP continues to appeal to all Filipinos: Vote wisely in the coming elections. Let us continue to pray for a peaceful, credible and honest elections,” he said.

Following their plenary assembly in January, the bishops urged the faithful and lay organizations to form “discernment circles” to examine who are the best candidates.

Saying that Christians must engage the political process, the bishops stressed that “this means that they can campaign for good candidates.”

As a result, lay groups like the Council of the Laity of the Philippines, People’s Choice Movement (PCM), and even the Church’s Social Action Network (SAN) endorsed specific senatorial candidates.

Their list of candidates have one thing in common: none of them are are part of the administration slate.

Instead, eight of the senatorial bets came from the Otso Diretso opposition coalition, one from the Makabayan coalition, and one independent aspirant.

Endorsed by the groups are human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, Marawi civic leader and peace advocate Samira Gutoc, and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano.

They are supporting incumbent senators Grace Poe and Bam Aquino, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, Makabayan senatorial bet Neri Colmenares, former Sen. Mar Roxas, and former congressman Erin Tañada.

The PCM said its criteria is called "GabayKristo" (ChristGuide), which is based on character, competence, and faithfulness to God and the Constitution.

For its part, the SAN said their choice of candidates is in consideration of a bigger threat: the losing of checks and balances in government.

“We need to heed the sign of the times: this coming election is critical for the survival of the remaining pillars of our democracy,” it said.

In Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle shared to the lay people the process of discernment that PCM had undergone.

While not directly endorsing candidates, he said that lay groups may take the PCM initiative “as a guide to their own discernment”.

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