MANILA — Some 1,400 Catholic bishops, priests, and deacons announced Wednesday their support for presidential contender Vice President Leni Robredo and her running mate Sen. Kiko Pangilinan.
The church leaders who belong to the group Clergy for the Moral Choice said they endorsed Robredo and Pangilinan because they were “servant leaders”, who showed compassion towards different sectors and were untainted by any anomaly.
“Sa kanilang buhay, pribado man o panglipunan, ay taglay nila ang mga katangian ng tunay na pastol na handang mag-alay ng kanilang buhay para sa kawan, at hindi kailanman tatakbo, iiwas o magtatago sa mga hamong kaakibat ng kanilang paglilingkod-bayan,” the group said in a statement.
(In their lives, both private and public, they have shown that they have the qualities of true shepherds who are ready to dedicate their lives for the flock, and who would not run away from, avoid or hide from the challenges that come with public service.)
Robredo and Pangilinan earlier secured the backing of hundreds of nuns, lay leaders, and clergymen.
In previous elections, Catholic groups recommended qualifications that public servants should have, instead of explicitly endorsing certain candidates, said Rev. Msgr. Mel David.
“Ngunit aming nakilatis at nakita na sa panahon ngayon, kakaiba ang landscape na ating ginagalawan. Lubhang kailangan ang pakikilahok ng simbahan sapagkat ito ay labanan sa panig ng totoo at ng huwad,” he said.
(But based on our observation of what is happening now, the landscape that we’re in now is different. The Church’s involvement is badly needed because this is a fight between those who are true and impostors.)
Most Rev. Antonio Tobias said the Catholic Church was no longer tied to being “non-partisan.”
“Matagal na iyan dapat nawala. At for the first time after EDSA [Revolution], ito ang sumusunod. At iyan, palagay ko ay napakagandang development ng ating eleksyon itong taon na ito,” he said.
(The Church’s non-partisanship should have been gone a long time ago. And for the first time after the EDSA Revolution, we will be taking a stand again. And that, I believe, is the greatest development in our election this year.)
The Church-backed peaceful EDSA revolt in 1986 overthrew the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., whose son and namesake has topped surveys on the presidential race since late last year.
In Pulse Asia’s last pre-election survey from April 16-21, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. continued to enjoy a two-fold lead over Robredo, as their scores barely moved from the previous poll. Twenty-three percent of respondents said they would vote for her if the elections were held last month, while 56 percent chose Marcos.
Following their endorsement of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem, members of the Clergy for the Moral Choice said they would not use the Holy Mass or sacraments to campaign for anyone.
Instead, they will conduct house-to-house campaigns and actively post on their social media accounts.
The group also trooped to the Commission on Election’s main office in Manila to call for “clean, honest, and peaceful” elections.
Meanwhile, a group of Filipino alumni from Australian universities also announced their support for Robredo and Pangilinan.
The group is composed of lawyers, university officials and professors, scientists, accountants, medical professionals, former military officers, engineers, researchers, and civil society leaders, who studied in 34 Australian learning institutions.
“Inspired by the lessons of leadership and management from our Australian education, we express support for leaders based on their solid principles and integrity reflected in their exemplary track records of public service,” the group said.
“In their current positions as government-elected officials and even prior to these roles, they have demonstrated consistency in their people-oriented endeavors and actions that have helped to alleviate our country’s socio-economic problems,” the alumni said, referring to Robredo and Pangilinan.