2022 Philippine Elections

Cavite churches drum up call for ‘good and excellent’ candidates

Robbin M. Dagle
Cavite churches drum up call for ‘good and excellent’ candidates

File photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

The Diocese of Imus, which covers the entire vote-rich province of Cavite, says the effort is part of their moral responsibility

This campaign season, election-related posters are being mounted in churches all over Cavite – but not for specific candidates.

To help the faithful “in their discernment of candidates,” Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista of the Diocese of Imus, which covers the entire Cavite province, told parishes in a February 4 advisory to put up tarpaulins for “good and excellent candidates” in “strategic locations” inside and outside of churches. Evangelista said the effort is part of their “moral responsibility.”

The tarpaulin has the image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd and the message “Ako ay Katoliko, mahal ko si Kristo, mahal ko ang bayan ko. Kaya ang iboboto ko, mahusay at mabuting kandidato (I am a Catholic who loves Christ and country. Thus, I will vote for good and excellent candidates).”

Father Lino de Castro, parish priest of Saint Augustine parish in Mendez-Nuñez town and a member of the diocese’s voter initiative, told Rappler in a text message that this is not the first time posters such as these have been put up.

According to de Castro, he has been erecting banners in his parish in every presidential election since 2004. The message then was “boto ko, dangal ko (my vote, my dignity).”

Beginning in 2010, the banners were put up all over the diocese. That year, the message read “huwag kang pabubulag sa pera (don’t be blinded by money).” In 2016, it was “one good vote.”

De Castro said that because of the tarps, some parishioners have become “aware” that “to be a Christian is to love one’s country,” but some of them also had “negative” reactions.

To this, de Castro says, “Bato-bato sa langit ang tamaan ay makisangkot at huwag magalit (Whoever is hit, involve yourselves and don’t get angry).”

When asked if the clergy is concerned with any potential outcome of the May polls, De Castro said that their only concern is for the vote-rich province of Cavite to cast a “good vote for God and country” and for the results to reflect the true will of the people in the ballot.

At least two presidential candidates – Vice President Leni Robredo and Imus native Senator Panfilo Lacson – have paid courtesy calls with Bishop Evangelista since the 2022 election season started. On the first day of the national campaign period on February 8, Bishop Evangelista officiated kickoff masses for both Robredo supporters and the Lacson-Sotto tandem, who held their proclamation rally in Imus later that day.

Cavite churches drum up call for ‘good and excellent’ candidates

During the 2019 midterm elections, Cavite was the province with the second highest number of registered voters at 2.1 million.

Aside from the tarpaulins, the diocese also plans to launch voter’s education initiatives to encourage Caviteños to vote for qualified candidates in the national and local elections. “Issues such as poverty, education, employment, democracy, and the COVID-19 response must become main key points that Caviteños need to consider in electing the country’s and the province’s next leaders,” the diocese said in a statement sent to reporters.

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Ang mga Katoliko ay dapat maghalal ng mga kandidatong titindig para sa interes ng mga mamamayan, lalo na ng mga kapatid nating maralita (Catholics should elect candidates who will stand for the interest of the citizens, especially our poor brethren),” De Castro said in a separate statement. – Rappler.com