CBCP: Reject bets backing divorce, death penalty

MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Tuesday, December 29, warned Catholic voters against electing candidates who push for divorce, the death penalty, and other programs against church teachings. 

In a 10-point guide for Catholic voters, the CBCP also rejected the use of government resources to campaign for specific candidates.

CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said a Catholic voter “cannot, in good conscience, support a candidate whose legislative and executive programs include initiatives diametrically opposed to Church moral teachings on such vital issues as abortion, euthanasia, the return of the death penalty, divorce, and the dilution of the character of Christian marriage.”

Earlier, in a statement criticizing Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the CBCP also cited “killing people” as part of “a great scourge of Philippine politics."

Villegas added in his latest statement, “We warn against the use of government resources, the power of government offices and instrumentalities, and subtler forms of coercion and intimidation to promote the chances of a particular candidate.”

Two weeks before this, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle issued another letter advising priests not to say Mass in political events or campaigns.

The CBCP statement comes around 5 months before the May 2016 elections, when Filipinos will elect their next president.

CBCP to Comelec: Secure the elections

In the CBCP statement, Villegas raised the following points as well:

Villegas also appealed to the Comelec to ensure “that all security measures” mandated by the law will be “implemented diligently.”

The Catholic Church has repeatedy said it is not supposed to endorse specific candidates during elections.

Individual bishops, however, campaigned against certain candidates in the past.

In the 2013 elections, for instance, at least 6 bishops joined a campaign against so-called "Team Patay" (Team Death) senatorial bets.

"Team Patay" candidates supported the reproductive health law, a measure opposed by the Catholic Church because it legalized state funding for contraceptives. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.