Bishops: Catholic vote not a myth
MANILA, Philippines - More bishops have joined in the call of Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles and Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal for the so-called “Catholic vote” to overturn the advocacy of reproductive health (RH) bill supporters.
In an interview with Radio Veritas, CBCP Permanent Council member Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes even solicited the help of Muslims not to vote for politicians who are for the controversial bill.
"This is an important issue and this is a very good test whether the Philippines is a Catholic country or not. Sana maging ang mga hindi Katoliko na naniniwala sa kasagraduhan ng buhay, gaya ng mga Muslim, ay sana huwag nilang iboto ang mga pulitikong nagsusulong ng RH bill.”
RH bill sponsors, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, lambasted Arguelles for creating the concept of a “Catholic vote.” They said it is just a myth.
Basilan Bishop Martin Jumaod also told Radio Veritas: “If it’s about the doctrine of the Church then we have to stand by the doctrine of the Church. So if it’s all about life, then I am for life and I am alive because of life.”
Marbel Bishop Dimualdo Gutierrez, for his part, said he has long been pushing for the “Catholic vote” in his diocese. He said this vote will bring about change in the political landscape.
To prove there is a “Catholic vote,” Bastes said he already ordered the priests in his diocese to make the campaign this coming elections.
“I already told my priests to tell [the people] about that. About Catholic vote. I strongly support that.”
He also urged the politicians favoring the bill to contemplate on their stand during the Christmas season.
Jumaod also called on his colleagues in the Catholic church to unite and prove that “Catholic vote” is a reality.
“If the Bishops will really unite and will really pursue the campaign, I think, they will really come [up] with a Catholic vote,” he said.
Meanwhile CBCP legal counsel Jo Imbong defended the bishops, saying their call does not have anything to do with the separation of state and church enshrined in the Constitution.
“Catholics are citizens just like any other religious groups. Kung boboto sila batay sa kanilang discernment, that is an exercise of Christian citizenship. So that is not illegal,” she said.