Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles.
MANILA - The Archdiocese of Lipa will distribute sample ballots containing names of candidates it is rooting for in the May 13 elections.
Speaking on Mornings @ ANC, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles says the ballots will hold the name of candidates who are one with the church on controversial issues.
"The people are asking to be told. The others have made the choice but many want to know who are the right persons, so we make it available. We're starting to do that now. I made our lay leaders meet and agree with our proposal," he said.
Arguelles says they have also made public their criteria for choosing the country's next leaders.
"We have piliin, ‘check’ and tutulan, ‘X’. Piliin are those who are pro-family -- not only those who oppose divorce, who oppose abortion, who voted against the Reproductive Health Law. Pro-family is showing by example…[That] our politicians who may not be very faithful to their spouses, but it's up to them,” he said.
He also noted the archdiocese is against politicians involved in the destruction of nature. “Batangas is the center of biodiversity, do you want that destroyed? Then those who are involved in mines, you can vote for them, those who are in illegal logging, vote for them but you destroy our country,” he said.
Arguelles says, while the endorsement of candidates will not happen right from the pulpit, it will be done discreetly.
Sample ballots bearing the names of their preferred candidates will be distributed outside the church premises. The names include the three senatorial candidates of the “Ang Kapatiran Party”, JC de los Reyes, Rizalito David and Marwil Llasos; Mitos Magsaysay of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and Christian Seneres of the Democratic Party (DP).
"I supported, even in the last election, the Ang Kapatiran Party, not only because they are against the Reproductive Health Bill now Law, but on other matters also. In Catholic morality, they are actually intending to implement what we consider are our social doctrine of the Catholic church. That's favorable for us, it will be a big help so how can you not support that."
"I gave a list, but they might not be winnable. We're not voting for who will win, the winner might be the devil himself."
Arguelles says they may still push for more candidates, regardless of their “winnability.”
“I think those who are not winnable…don't have money, they don't have tarpaulins, because they can’t bribe the Comelec...they will win someday."
Meantime, in hopes of helping get an estimated 1.5 million Batangueño voters involved in the election process, Arguelles says the diocese will hold on May 9 a “miting de avance” of non-candidates in various barangays.
Arguelles says they do not entertain candidates who actively seek the support of the diocese.
In Kapatiran’s case, however, they “came to me, but I told them you do not have to come to me, I support you already. Mitos (Magsaysay) also came to me long ago but she's welcome because her mother is a friend, a devotee of the Poong Bato...that's when I first heard she was running for senator and that's good because we need people like them."
LACER vs PPCRV
The Archdiocese has also formed the Lipa Archdiocese Council on Electoral Reforms (LACER) to monitor the elections after choosing to sever ties with the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).
Arguelles says this was borne out of frustration with the official Comelec citizen's arm.
Arguelles accuses the PPCRV of acting as a Comelec lapdog covering up the mistakes of the poll body.
"During mock elections in November or October, there were a lot of glitches. The PPCRV said they were minor, that was what the Comelec was saying. For a serious affair like the 2013 elections…PPCRV should've looked into it. The PPCRV is echoing [Comelec], so we doubted already...I also trust automated elections but apparently there's reason to believe there can be automated cheating.”
"The last thing I got before Holy Week, this thing about the PCOS machines found I think in a hotel. I asked everybody, ‘Is this a repeat of 2010?’...So I said, ‘Is there a real plan to subvert the will of the people?’ I texted some bishops. They were also wondering, so they said I think we have to reconsider our relationship with PPCRV…,” he said.
Arguelles notes bishops held discussions with PPCRV Chair Ambassador Tita de Villa and also discussed the possibility of cutting ties with the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL).
"We decided that if we quit PPCRV, we’re not going to join NAMFREL because it fell into the same. We don't know NAMFREL now, but it has also incurred a bad reputation. She asked how do we [cope]. We find other means, we ask for accreditation, find other groups,” he said.
Arguelles already expects his group will not be recognized by the Comelec since the period for seeking accreditation for election watchdogs has ended.