MANILA, Dec. 29, 2015— The Catholic hierarchy has warned against using government resources in the campaign for next year’s local and national elections.
In a new voters’ guide released on Tuesday, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said government funds and offices should not be used to advance any political agenda.
CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas also cautioned against “subtler forms of coercion and intimidation” to promote a particular candidate.
“It is God’s will to provide his people with shepherds after His merciful heart!” said Villegas.
The appeal was among the 10-point guideline for Catholic voters deriving from the moral teachings of the Church.
Still refusing to endorse any particular candidates, the bishops, however, urged the faithful to reject political aspirants who are opposed to the Church’s stand on family and life issues.
They said that “in good conscience,” a Catholic voter cannot support a candidate who supports abortion, euthanasia, the return of the death penalty, divorce, and same-sex union.
“The Catholic voter must evaluate candidates according to the model of Christ, who came to serve, not to be served,” stressed the prelate.
While realizing that there are no perfect candidates, he said, there is a difference between one who has been wrong in the past and wiling to amend his ways, and one who exhibits “stubbornness and obstinacy.”
The bishops’ collegial body also warned voters against candidates whose ideology are geared towards making the Philippines a secular state “that has no respect for religion in its public life”.
“A Catholic cannot support a candidate who vows to wipe out religion from public life,” said Villegas.
The CBCP head also called on Catholic voters not to close their doors to candidates who have different religious beliefs, saying there are worthy candidates from other religions.
“Their qualifications and aspirations must be given serious heed by our Catholic voters, their truly helpful plans and visions must be supported,” he said.
‘No to dirty tactics’
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has earlier called on Filipino politicians to “raise the bar” in political campaigning.
The cardinal made the call when he met with top presidential contenders, including Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Grace Pope, and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas at his residence in Manila in September.
Villegas has warned that a candidate who resorts to demolishing the reputation and tarnishing the image of his or her political rivals “must be suspect”.
“He may have nothing positive to offer, and he debases the level of political discourse by calling attention to the shortcomings of his rivals and competitors, rather than on the programs and projects he or she might have,” he said.
The bishops also reiterated their call to the faithful to focus on platforms and not to rely on surveys and polls in choosing their candidates. (R. Lagarde / CBCPNews)