2 bishops quit PPCRV, endorse 'JC'

By Aries Rufo, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak

Posted at Feb 25 2010 04:59 PM | Updated as of Feb 26 2010 06:38 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Two Catholic bishops have broken tradition by endorsing the candidacy of presidential bet John Carlos 'JC' de los Reyes of the political party Ang Kapatiran.

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles and Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra have resigned from the poll watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) because of their declaration of support for the Ang Kapatiran party.

Navarra, who was the first to quit PPRCV as chair of its Negros Occidental and Oriental chapters, said his support for De los Reyes and Ang Kapatiran was his “personal position (and that) I just wanted to be consistent with my advocacies here in Bacolod for good governance, to eliminate graft and corruption.”

Arguelles told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak that he was following Navarra’s footsteps because he also supports Ang Kapatiran.

Arguelles was PPCRV provincial chair in Batangas.

Before leaving the PPCRV, Arguelles said it wanted him to chair the entire Southern Tagalog chapter of the poll watchog.

He hoped that PPRCV chair Henrietta de Villa “would understand” his decision.

The two prelates broke an implied agreement among Catholic bishops not to openly endorse any particular candidate. The CBCP only goes to the extent of issuing pastoral guidelines to help voters discern the right candidates.

Canon law expert retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop and former Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Oscar Cruz said “there is no canonical violation strictly, but it could be pastorally imprudent, as of the moment.”

Cruz said there was a time in Italian history when the Vatican endorsed the Democratic Party, but that was when the Communist Party there was strong.

'Only Ang Kapatiran is sincere'

In endorsing Ang Kapatiran, Arguelles said the party is the only one which is “unequivocal and sincere ” in its position. (Read: JC de los Reyes' first 100 days if elected)

He pointed out that other candidates “claim to be pro-poor, when they are not.”

He said the presidential race “is not between two lesser evils, because there is a choice.”

De los Reyes, a councilor in Olongapo City, has barely figured in presidential surveys in an election that is shaping up to be a two-way race between Senators Manuel Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party and Benigno Aquino III of the Liberal Party. (Read: Aquino, Villar tied in Pulse Asia survey)

Villar has marketed his campaign based on his supposed poor background, while Aquino is espousing good governance.

Argulles said Ang Kapatiran party fits the guidelines issued by the CBCP in choosing the right candidates. (Read: JC de los Reyes: Sex know-how for youth is instinctive

He said he would campaign for Ang Kapatiran candidates on a personal basis.