Catholic and Christian lay leaders endorse all 8 candidates of the Otso Diretso opposition slate, along with senatorial bets Grace Poe and Neri Colmenares
MANILA, Philippines – Heeding the call of bishops to engage in “principled partisan politics,” Catholic and Christian lay leaders on Wednesday, March 27, endorsed all Otso Diretso senatorial candidates and two others in the Senate race.
The People’s Choice Movement (PCM), composed of more than a hundred Catholic and Christian lay leaders, gave its blessings to the following candidates:
- Gary Alejano
- Bam Aquino
- Neri Colmenares
- Chel Diokno
- Samira Gutoc
- Florin Hilbay
- Romulo Macalintal
- Grace Poe
- Mar Roxas
- Erin Tañada
All of them, except for Poe and Colmenares, belong to the Otso Diretso opposition slate. (READ: Otso Diretso turns to volunteers to boost struggling campaign)
The PCM said it used criteria called “GabayKristo” (ChristGuide) to assess all 62 candidates in the Senate race.
The group said GabayKristo is divided into 4 categories – character and honor, competence and abilities, faithfulness to public service, and faithfulness to God, Constitution, and the law.
One of the group’s advocacies is to oppose charter change and federalism, which it described as “a real threat” to democracy.
“The Senate is our last line of defense against charter change and federalism. Thus we must elect senators who are against them,” the PCM said.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo on Monday, March 25, also introduced the PCM’s bets on his Facebook page.
“Our lay leaders, with the People’s Choice Movement, have done their work of discernment. Now is the task for all the lay faithful to campaign [for] the deserving candidates so as to counter the money and the political machineries that the trapo politicians (traditional politicians) are using. There are still two months for all to do this particular exercise of the Christian faith,” Pabillo said.
This comes as certain quarters call for a unified “Catholic vote” in the face of President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirades against the Catholic Church, as well as death threats against Catholic leaders.
Catholic bishops stress, however, that they will not endorse specific candidates, as the Catholic faith respects the consciences of followers.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas told Rappler: “There is a Catholic vote coming from the Catholic conscience of the voter, but no Catholic vote dictated by the Catholic hierarchy. There is a Catholic vote from a mind formed by Catholic social teachings, but no Catholic vote decided by a Catholic bloc.”
“Every vote is a decision between God and the Catholic person. It is sacred. God will also hold us accountable for choices we make,” Villegas said.