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Religion and Philippine elections

There are Filipino politicians who decry the ‘intervention’ of Church leaders in Philippine politics. They always cite the Constitutional provision on the separation of Church and the State. But majority of politicians tolerate the political activities of some Church leaders, especially during election season. This is understandable since many Filipinos remain obedient to the teachings and instructions of religious leaders.

The Philippines is the only Catholic-dominated country in Asia. More than eighty percent of its population are Roman Catholics. But there is no such thing as a Catholic vote. In and out of season, a high-ranking archbishop blogger, explains why:

“There is no Catholic vote in the Philippines, because all Catholics are free to vote any candidate of any political party. On the other hand, because catholics are almost everywhere, many of the candidates who win, win by catholic votes; but this is no reason to brag about, because the candidates win or lose by his own virtue or lack of it, and the electors vote according to their respective persuasion and conviction.”

Reacting to this statement, Luis Teodoro gives a backgrounder on the relationship of the Church with past governments:

“Does that mean that by endorsing candidates in the past, the Church was doing something “as bad as buying votes” and that, in those times, Catholics were not free? Even more interestingly, was the archbishop saying that those religious groups that do ask their members to vote for certain candidates are doing the same thing, as well as denying their members the freedom to choose who to vote for?”

While the Roman Catholic hierarchy will refrain from endorsing anyone in this year’s elections, a Catholic charismatic group called El Shaddai with millions of followers has already hinted it will actively promote the candidacies of some senatorial bets. But Newsstand believes the El Shaddai endorsement is not impressive:

“A Brother Mike (leader of El Shaddai) endorsement is the Dutch treat of Philippine politics. You can only get out of it what you bring into it. (The ability to think that somebody else paid for your food when you actually paid your own way requires remarkable powers of self-deception.)”

Iglesia ni Cristo, an independent Christian church, is a major political force in the Philippines since its members have been voting as one block.

The (mis)adventures of El Critique blogs about a political party which is alleged to be established and supported by Iglesia ni Cristo. Josepherdon’s blog entry reveals the bitter rivalry of some Christian groups in the Philippines.

Brother Eddie Villanueva is a religious preacher and founder of a Born-again Church who became a major political leader when he ran as President in 2004.

A senator boasts of election endorsement given by numerous church groups. Senatorial candidates flock to southern Philippines to get the support of a self-proclaimed ‘son of God.’ Pilosopong tacio site is opposed to religious endorsement.

One of the most talked about election issue is the decision of Among Ed Panlilio, a Catholic priest, to run for Governor in the home province of the President. Pampanga election explains the political situation in the province which probably inspired the priest to enter politics. Ding amanu nang Bryan writes about the program of the priest. Remembrance of things awry has a blog article about the priest’s candidacy which generated a good discussion in the comments section. HF | ei-chef links to the music video in support of Father Ed.

Some of the blogger-supporters of the priest include Bukangliwayway at Dapithapon, Oblivious Paranoia and Ideal Mind. Othello’s site tackles the campaign activities of the candidate priest:

“Now, this is very different, this is not a guy who is rich, whose influence is restricted to a small community. And he dared to challenge not one but two Goliaths….Here's the difference. The two candidates pour in thousands of pesos each day for their campaign. The priest campaign is sustained by volunteers. In Magalang, we have a supermarket with donation box on each check-out counter. This is for the priest campaign. And believe me, I once lifted one and it’s very heavy.”

But Viewpoints, another archbishop blogger, is not enthusiastic over the candidacy of Father Ed:

“Needless to say, there is nothing in the constitution of this country that disqualifies priests from pursuing and holding elective government positions…But the universal church has something to say about priests running for elective public offices…This is why there must be something serious and profound behind the universal law of the church that expressly and officially forbids priests from holding any office that participates of civil power or authority…The truth is that it is a lose/lose situation for priests running for elective public positions. In other words, they lose not only when they lose but also when they win the elections…When they win the elections, they will be at a loss even more. What do they do to the opposition politicians—not to mention their constituents with the different socio-ethical convictions and even contrary principles and political beliefs? How will they exercise the power they wield? What will they do with the money that regularly and abundantly goes their way?”

Civilization of Love is a priest who blogs about the current elections. Journey with the Sun features the pinoy voters’ academy program of the Catholic Church. Seminarians’ network reaches out to voters and texters. Church officials urge voters to actively participate in the elections.

Pedestrian observer quotes a statement of a group which frowns on the covenant signing of the military and the election watchdog of the Catholic Church.

Bangsa Moro blog deals about politics and election news in the Moro region of the Philippines.

Related entry: Bishop bloggers of the Philippines

5 comments

  • Marilyn

    “The Lords Prayer!”
    Within its contents lies the Solution to the entire Worlds’ Problems. It is such “Good News” and it is soooo seldom that we hear “Good News.”

    In all its simplicity “The Lord’s Prayer” or “Our Father Prayer,” answers “three” of the most catastrophic problems facing humans today. Jesus provided the Solution to all the World’s problems (in just three sentences.) Problems such as; Will there ever be “World Peace?” Will the earth be destroyed by “Weapons of Mass Destruction” or possibly an “Asteroid from Outer Space?” Or will there ever be a time when “Sickness, Sorrow and Death” is done away with?

    We pray in modern English, “Let your Kingdom come.” God’s Kingdom is a Spiritual Government, I am sure that you are familiar with the terms “Prince of Peace and King of kings,” referring to Jesus Christ It is Jesus’ Spiritual Government that is going to bring permanent Peace to the Earth.

    Then we continue; “Let your Kingdom come and let your will be done on earth.” In order for God’s will to be done on earth the earth has to remain and there will have to be people on earth to do God’s will. So we don’t have to worry about the earth being destroyed! But you may be wondering now will we always have to live with the tragedy of “Sickness, Sorrow and Death?” Jesus said NO!

    “God’s will will be done on earth as it is in heaven” heaven is perfect! So in essence we are asking God to please rule this earth in Perfection as He once did in the Garden of Eden.

    Wouldn’t you agree that this is “Good News?” That is why Jesus stated at Matthew 24:14, “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”

    Thank you so much for your time and attention. I do hope that this is “Good News” for you also.

    Sincerely,

    Marilyn

  • The Catholic Church endorses candidates through their pastoral / lay networks. But since these recommendations are not mandatory, nobody takes them seriously.

    El Shaddai, Iglesia and charismatic groups are much smaller and therefore can easily be swayed by their leaders.

    There is no Muslim vote because elections are not religious exercises, they are political. But what is disheartening is that there are no real elections in Moro regions. First, they are declared hot spots which means they would be under COMELEC and military control. All previous elections showed massive cheating by the government in Moro regions. The “Garci tapes” merely exposed this truth, which unfortunately, was not given much attention by the public. ONLY administration local candidates win in Moro regions since the Martial Law era, which began in 1972.

  • el_critique

    “El Shaddai, Iglesia and charismatic groups are much smaller and therefore can easily be swayed by their leaders.” – Jamal Ashley Abbas

    Yes, I definitely agree to this; particularly with INC because of such lineage of leadership that reflects their interest for overall superiority and purchased “respect”. INC endorses a handful of politicians in a manner of INC’s Leadership having closed doors meetings with them (God knows what is being “negotiated” upon those closed doors…) which expresses the Organization’s interest in Politics as for INC’s security over certain assets and not for the personal interest of all.

    Yes, we are all entitled to our political rights and obligations in which where, INC, clearly blinds its members to such rights that should be freely practiced.

  • You are just plain envious of the unstoppable momentum of the Iglesia Ni Cristo all over the world in converting people towards the right religion. The Church has the guidance of the Only True God in its desire to bring people towards salvation comes Judgment Day.

    While the Iglesia Ni Cristo is gaining victory on all fronts, her detractors are reeling like drunkards and unable to stop the juggernaut caused by the true Christian Church. A lot had been said and done against it but still it continues to march towards a more glorious stature. Who are you to hinder it? Who are you to stop the righteous hands of the Almighty?

  • After thirty nine years of presence in the West, the Iglesia Ni Cristo or Church Of Christ is happily but humbly marching towards its awesome victories. It was in the summer of 1968 when the first two congregations of the Church [Honolulu, Hawaii-July, 1968 and San Francisco, California-August, 1968]were opened. This year was noted for its worldwide turbulence,America in particular. The Vietnam war protests reached their height of tension and danger. Citizens took to the streets in droves.

    Amid the doom and gloom worldwide, the Church officially extended its missionary zeal from the East towards the West What transpired was hardly noticeable to the people of the West. It was a spiritual turning point and one that would shed light on several bible prophesies to be fulfilled in their due time. Indeed, in 1968, the Church of Christ brought the light of the gospel of Jesus to America and eventually to the rest of the world. This unprecedented move rests solidly on the following significant prophesy:

    “So shall they fear the name of the LORD
    from the west,
    And His glory from the rising of the sun;
    When the enemy comes in like a flood,
    The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard
    against him.” Isaiah 59:19, New King James Version.

    Is there a guarantee for success to said mission right from the beginning? Though the enemy be many- like a flood, so the verse says- the LORD will lift up a standard or do battle Himself against them.

    Let the historical records speak for itself. From the first two United States congregations in 1968, the Church now operates in almost all the states of the Union. Large congregations are growing steadily in Canada, Europe, Central and South America. We should not fail to count the spectacular growth in the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and Oceania. In Asia, the Church is represented by congregations from China, Russian Far East, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, etc., etc. God proposed and who can hinder it?

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