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.
“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