Catholic groups led by the El Shaddai Movement on Saturday named the first batch of six senatorial candidates they would support during the May 2013 elections, but Pangasinan Archbishop Socrates Villegas tempered the move with the admonition that endorsing candidates is not a good idea.
In a pastoral letter, Villegas said the candidates who favored the reproductive health law should not be elected, and “the church must guide but not dictate” on the voters.
The White Vote Movement led by El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde endorsed three senatorial bets from the opposition United Nationalist Alliance and three others from the administration party’s Team PNoy.
Before a mammoth prayer-rally attended by over 500,000 members Christian groups in Paranaque City, the movement presented the six candidates, namely Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, Sen. Koko Pimentel, Sen. Antonio Trillanes and former congressman Cynthia Villar.
In accepting the endorsement, the first six candidates expressed their gratitude for the trust and confidence that the White Vote Movement showed in support of their senatorial bids.
They said they were honored by the endorsement and went on to manifest their commitment to preserve and defend life and the family.
Velarde said the six candidates were chosen by the White Vote Movement because of their stand on the RH Bill that was passed into a law.
The full implementation of the law, however, has been temporarily stopped by the Supreme Court.
Velarde added that more candidates that the White Vote Movement would endorse would be named in the coming weeks once the discernment process was completed.
The next batch, sources said, might include Rep. Teodoro Casino, former senators Richard Gordon, Ernesto Maceda and Jamby Madrigal as well as John Carlos delos Reyes and Edward Hagedorn.
“It is one way of expressing our gratitude for the steadfast commitment they showed despite the pressure for them to change their position and vote for the passage of the RH Bill,” Velarde said.
Velarde said that the launching of the White Vote Movement was a shining moment in the country’s secular and temporal history because this is the first time that church-based organizations have agreed to put their God-given gifts towards a discerned purpose.
He noted the outpouring of support for the movement from other parish-mandated organizations, non-governmental organization and other people’s organizations throughout the country.
He said that in recent months, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines had reached the conclusion that the corruption pervading in our government and society precede from the electoral process.
This was seen by church-based organizations as a call to action and this gave birth to the idea of creating an advocacy movement to protect and preserve the sacredness of life and the sanctity of the family.
Velardo also explained that the White Vote Movement was forged when Congress passed the controversial RH Bill that was signed into a law by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
“Today the church has to brace itself against what it calls threats to life and family with plans to introduce the legalization of abortion, divorce, same-sex marriage and euthanasia.”
The movement, Velardo added, would be governed by its vision to act as a catalyst that would contribute positively to the life of the Filipino nation by humbly proposing and effectively incorporating the social teachings of the Catholic Church into the moral, spiritual, social and political life of the nation.
The list of candidates the movement will support may be increased to 8 or 10 or even up to the full complement of 12 candidates depending on the process of discernment that is now taking place, Velarde said.
Villegas, meanwhile, advised the electoral not to vote for the candidates if:
1. The candidate cannot declare a categorical and clear ‘NO’ to divorce, euthanasia, abortion, total birth control and homosexual marriages, or D.E.A.T.H issues. Pro choice is anti life,” said Villegas.
2. The candidate has been linked to drug trade, drug possession or drug use or receives money from illegal gambling or has done nothing to stop illegal gambling especially jueteng. Silence is consent.
3. The candidate has been convicted for a criminal offense. Government officials must be honourable.
4. The candidate supports black sand mining or tolerates irresponsible quarrying or illegal fish pens. Nature is our mother; if you can rape your own mother, what else will you not do?
5. The candidate has not done anything until now to uplift the plight of the poor. Performance is better than promises.
6. The candidate is giving money or distributing goods to voters during the campaign period. Vote buying is prostitution.
7. The candidate has been involved or linked to terrorism or the use of goons for self protection within or outside the campaign period. Peace is the only way to peace.
8. The candidate shows off religiosity only during the campaign period or is antagonistic to church teachings and practices. Corruption and hypocrisy are twins.
9. The candidate is unfaithful to his or her spouse and children. Corruption begins at home.
10. The candidate has other members of the immediate family in government positions already. Promoting family welfare and promoting the common good cannot mix.