MANILA, May 15, 2013–The 2013 local and national elections saw some of the most aggressive involvement by lay Catholics in the political process in years.
But did Catholics make any difference in the electoral outcome in choosing candidates who espouse the Church’s teaching, particularly on the right to life and the sanctity of marriage?
The CBCP Monitor asked some lay leaders the question and the consensus was – yes.
The Council of the Laity of the Philippines (CLP) said “Catholic vote” did really count but, at the same time, admitted there are still many things that need to be done.
“Of course we made an impact but I wish we could have done more,” Atty. Aurora Santiago, president of CLP, which is composed of 51 national organizations.
Santiago was among those who led the White Vote Movement campaign for candidates who opposed the Reproductive Health (RH) Law.
According to her, it was the first time that an alliance of Catholic groups banded together to endorse senatorial candidates.
“We discovered some loopholes but there is always room for improvement,” Santiago said.
Still, she said that they are somehow pleased with the result of the May 13 polls especially since majority of the candidates they endorsed are leading in the senatorial race.
To recall, the White Vote endorsed the candidacies of Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito, Gringo Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Antonio Trillanes IV, Koko Pimentel, Marwil Llasos, Richard Gordon, Miguel Zubiri, and Nancy Binay.
El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde, the spokesman of the group, also personally endorsed Bam Aquino and Jun Magsaysay.
Except for Lllasos, Magsaysay, Gordon, Honasan all the five candidates of the White Vote made it to the Magic 12.
Even the Buhay party-list of Velarde is leading in the party-list frontrunners.
“Six out of 10 candidates in the top 12? Not bad!” said Santiago.
Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Commission on Family and Life said that if there is one thing that he learned in the recent polls, it is the importance of name recall.
He cited the continuous lead of Grace Poe, daughter of movie icons Susan Roces and Fernando Poe, in the senatorial race as example.
“If you notice Grace Poe, Loren and those in the top 12 these are surnames that people are familiar with,” said Castro.
“So if we want our (pro-life and pro-family) candidates to win in 2016, as early as now we should already familiarize the people with them,” he added.
The “encouraging” turnout of the elections, the priest said, only means that they need to be more pro-active in their advocacy on life and the family.
“I think we should sustain this until 2016. Obviously Filipinos are still person-oriented, but I think slowly we are becoming issue-oriented,” he said.
“We only want to protect the sanctity of life and family. We will continue this advocacy in the next three years so that in the next elections the issue on family and life will be more prominent,” added Castro.
Sights on 2016 polls
Another lay group that pushed for a “Catholic vote” said that they were optimistic for the election “but not all of them were met.”
“We had such little time and few resources,” said Linda Valenzona of Catholic Vote Philippines (CVP) who led a group in conducting “political catechesis” to several areas around the country during the months leading to the May elections.
“Educating Catholic to apply the teachings of the Church to the political life has been a fulfilling task,” Valenzona added.
“With the commitment and dedication of everyone CVP will rise up again to the challenge 2016 (presidential elections),” she said.
As early as this year, Santiago added they will already start the “formation” of Catholics with the help of almost 3,000 parish pastoral councils nationwide.
“We’ve seen the effect if we’ll stay united. We are expecting more groups to join our crusade,” she said. “Our campaign does not stop until 2013. We have to get ready this early for 2016.” (CBCPNews)