Over 1,200 Catholic clergy endorse Robredo-Pangilinan in ‘battle for truth’

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Over 1,200 Catholic clergy endorse Robredo-Pangilinan in âbattle for truthâ
Priests at St. Augustine parish in Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro pray over Vice President Leni Robredo during her visit on March 3, 2021.
VP Leni Media Bureau / Release

MANILA, Philippines — In an unprecedented move, a group of over 1,200 Catholic clergymen declared their support for presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo and her running mate, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan.

“Malinaw sa amin na si Leni at si Kiko dahil alam naman natin ang track record nila. Alam naman natin na sila’y nagsisilbi talaga sa mga mahihirap, lalung-lalo na, at sa buong bayan. Kung titingnan natin, iyon ang mabubuting pastol,” Father John Era said Wednesday at a press conference.

(It is clear to us that the choice is Leni and Kiko because we know their track record. We know that they’ve truly served the poor, especially, and the whole nation. If we look at it, they are good shepherds.)

The bishops, priests and deacons who make up the Clergy for the Moral Choice said they had to break from the Church’s tradition of non-partisanship for the elections, which they described as a battle between truth and falsehoods.

“Lubhang kailangan ang mas konkretong pakikilahok ng Simbahan sapagkat ito ay labanan sa panig ng totoo at ng huwad,” Msgr. Melchor David said in a press conference on Wednesday.

(A more concrete participation of the Church is sorely needed because this is a battle between the truth and falsehoods.)

Fighting tears, David said that they are doing this because they love the Philippines and their countrymen and, like biblical shepherds, are willing to lay down their lives for their flock.

Marcos victory ‘dangerous’

The clergymen are particularly concerned over the distortion of facts surrounding the brutal years of the dictatorship under Ferdinand Marcos Sr., whose son and namesake is now running for president and is leading in pre-election surveys.

“Hindi kami maaring magwalang-bahala at bayaan na lamang ang kapalaran ng ating bansa sa gitna ng mga huwad at mapanlinlang na mga pahayag na naglalayong baguhin ang kasaysayan ng ating bansa,” they said in their statement in support for Robredo and Pangilinan.

(We cannot shrug off and let the fate of our country be dictated by false and misleading claims that aim to change our history.)

Msgr. Romy Rañada said it would be “dangerous” for Marcos and his allies to win as they have weaponized social media to distort the truth.

“Kaming mga pari, mahirap, napakahirap na i-tolerate iyon sapagkat hindi rin magiging mabuting halimbawa sa mga susunod na henerasyon,”

(It would be difficult for us priests to tolerate this because this would not be a good example for future generations.)

For Fr. Robert Reyes, their endorsement is simply a declaration to stop evil forces from taking hold of the country’s leadership.

“Before our very eyes, evil is operating. And if you don’t say, “Stop it, what you’re doing is terrible,” evil will continue!” Reyes said partly in Filipino.

OK under Church law

The group’s formal endorsement of Robredo and Pangilinan comes just a day after the leadership of homegrown Christian sect Iglesia ni Cristo announced that it is supporting Marcos and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

INC mandates its around three million members to vote for whoever the church administration endorses in a practice known as bloc voting.

While INC and other religious denominations have long endorsed candidates for elective posts, the Catholic Church itself does not. However, Bishop Antonio Tobias said nothing in Church law prevents individual clergymen from supporting particular candidates.

“Hindi naman pinagbabawal talaga ng batas ng Simbahan. Ang pinagbabawal lang na kami ay tumayo at magpaboto,” Tobias said.

(Church law does not prohibit that. What it bans is for us to become candidates ourselves.)

But while they are openly endorsing Robredo and Pangilinan, they said they would refrain from campaigning for them from the pulpit.

“Hindi naman ginagamit at hindi namin dapat gamitin ang pulpito sa pagbanggit ng mga pangalan. Sapat na ang mga katangian ng mga mabubuting kandidato at alam na rin naman nila iyon. Matatalino na rin naman ang mga Pilipino, at sa palagay ko ay alam na rin nila,” Rañada said.

(We are not using and we should not use the pulpit to name names. It should be enough for us to mention the qualities of good candidates and the people would know that already. Filipinos are smart and I think they know that by now.)





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