Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bishops break tradition, back JC de los Reyes' candidacy

03/06/2010 | 10:19 AM

Original Story:

Breaking with tradition, a total of six local Catholic bishops have so far announced their support for Ang Kapatiran party standard bearer JC de los Reyes, calling it "the conscience vote for 2010."

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Bishops Antonio Tobias of Novaliches, Joseph Nacua of Ilagan, Antonio Palang of San Jose de Mindoro, Vicente Navarra of Bacolod, and retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani, have declared support for De los Reyes, who is an outspoken critic of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.

The news story posted on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website on Saturday explained that the move of the six prelates was a break from "the tradition of offering commentary on election-related moral issues without endorsing candidates."

Although it had earlier urged its followers not to vote for candidates advocating the reproductive health bill, the Catholic Church as a whole has never openly endorsed a political candidate.

Last weekend, the CBCP website posted an earlier article announcing that Archbishop Arguelles and Bishop Navarra had declared their open endorsement of the candidacies of delos Reyes and his senatorial slate. (See: 2 bishops endorse Ang Kapatiran party)

On Friday, the AKP provided GMANews.TV a statement stating that five more bishops had likewise expressed support for de los Reyes and his entire slate, in addition to the first two prelates. Among the five was Bishop Joel Zamudio Baylon of Legazpi, Albay.

The CBCP clarified on Saturday, however, that Baylon had only described the AKP as having "a clean-government platform... but stopped short from directly endorsing Ang Kapatiran."

'The conscience vote for 2010'

The bishops said that the AKP platform "was formed based on Christian precepts [and] is worth supporting by any intelligent Catholic."

"I hope that it will catch fire in the imagination and hearts of our formation of this political party. I hope people would join it in great numbers and promote it among fellow Filipinos," said Bacani.

Likewise, Tobias said "the Ang Kapatiran [is] the conscience vote for the 2010 election."

"The Kapatiran [Party] stands on principles for the common good, not on personalities. That is the way of genuine representation in government," added Nacua.

Arguelles, who earlier announced that the Catholic Church will not engage in partisan politics, defied tradition by being one of the first to openly endorse the party.

“We will stand by our position. We really have to do something now and be sincere to what is happening in our country," Arguelles said.

Navarra, meanwhile, said that his endorsement of Kapatiran is "a matter of conscience" and that he is "standing for what is right and necessary."

Arguelles added that Bishop Palang has also given his all-out support for de los Reyes and his partymates.

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV


"We remain humble with the gestures of the bishops to come out openly for the party's principles and platforms. And if we may quote a pastoral advice from Bishop Navarra, he says in his text message to us [that we must] not glory in numbers, rather let us glory that God works mysteriously in the hearts if his people," said an official statement sent to GMANews.TV by the AKP.

De los Reyes has constantly underscored his "pro-life" stance on reproductive health, openly condemning sex education in schools as promoting promiscuity and immorality among the youth.

Ang Kapatiran has been advocating platforms based on the Church's social doctrine, which includes the hardline stance of De los Reyes against the Reproductive Health bill.

AKP president Eric Manalang told GMANews.TV that the bishops might support them by acting as their “mouthpiece." He, however, clarified that the support was not just for De los Reyes alone but for the party’s advocacies.

Manalang said AKP had been courting the prelates for support since November last year. He said it was important for the party to win the clergy’s support as they are “influential" and could deliver votes for AKP candidates.

“We don’t have billions. We don't have actors and actresses to endorse us. But the bishops will serve as our mouthpiece to reach the people," Manalang said.

'Don't divide priests'

In a phone interview with GMANews.TV, retired archbishop and canon lawyer Oscar Cruz said while his colleagues did not violate any laws, he would rather that they not support any candidate to avoid “[dividing] not just the people but also the priests."

Cruz also stressed that despite the flurry of bishops’ endorsements for AKP, the powerful Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) will not endorse any candidate.

In a separate interview, Palang confirmed that he supports AKP’s platforms and principles. But he clarified that this was not tantamount to endorsing de los Reyes and his senatorial slate.

“Sa katunayan hindi ko pa masyadong kilala yan [de los Reyes] but based on [Arguelles’ suggestion] maganda record nila (In truth I’m not very familiar yet with de los Reyes but based on Arguelles’ suggestion, I find their record good)," Palang said, adding he still wanted to know more about the party’s candidates.

When asked how he plans to help AKP in the forthcoming elections, Palang said “I don’t know," but he might convince his fellow priests and his constituents to support the party.

Catholic vote?

The Philippines is a predominantly Roman Catholic nation, with at least 81 percent of the 90 million Filipinos considering themselves Catholic. However, even the bishops failed to agree whether a “Catholic vote" exists in the country.

“There is no such thing," Cruz said, adding that “the Catholics have been very democratic as far as politics is concerned. Tingnan mo na lang yung mga kandidato, eh halos lahat yan Katoliko pero sila mismo nag-aaway-away (Just look at the candidates. Almost all of them are Catholic but they are fighting among themselves)," Cruz said.

But Palang thought otherwise, saying that given the Church’s vast influence, it could “persuade" the faithful to vote for their chosen candidates. “The Church is very influential. Don’t ever underestimate its power. Just look at [the influence of the late] Cardinal Sin."

Jaime Sin, the famous Filipino cardinal who served as Archbishop of Manila for almost 30 years from 1974 to 2003, is generally acknowledged as one of the most influential guiding forces behind the People Power revolts that toppled two Philippine presidents from power—Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Joseph Ejercito Estrada in 2001.

Meanwhile, Palang said Arguelles told him that more bishops are expected to rally support for AKP, including Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo.

But on Saturday, the AKP quoted Pabillo as denying claims he has plans on throwing support to De los Reyes' party. - TJD/MDM/JV, GMANews.TV

Original Story:

No comments:

Post a Comment