CBCP to voters: 'Reject morally reprehensible bet'
MANILA - (UPDATED) With only eight days before Election Day, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged voters on Sunday to reject "a candidate" who takes positions that are "not only politically precarious but worse, morally reprehensible," in an indirect reference to presidential race frontrunner, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
In a pastoral letter, the CBCP also dissuaded the public from voting for "a candidate" who has shown "scant regard" for the rights of others and the teachings of the Church.
"There is a fundamental difference between right and wrong, and not everything is fair game in politics. A choice for a candidate who takes positions that are not only politically precarious but worse, morally reprehensible, cannot and should not be made by the Catholic faithful and those who take their allegiance to Christ and his Kingship seriously," the pastoral letter read.
"One cannot proclaim Christ as King and at the same time accept the governance of one whose thoughts, speech and demeanor are diametrically opposed to the demands of submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ."
The bishops added that the desire for change is understandable, but this should not push citizens to choose a leader who has no regard for morality and the rights of others.
"The desire for change is understandable. Our people have suffered from incompetence and indifference. But this cannot take the form of supporting a candidate whose speech and actions, whose plans and projects show scant regard for the rights of all, who has openly declared indifference if not dislike and disregard for the Church specially her moral teachings," the CBCP said.
CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas has previously criticized Duterte for allegedly cursing at Pope Francis, after his visit caused heavy traffic in Metro Manila.
In a Facebook post last December, Villegas said public officials should lead by example.
"When we find vulgarity funny, we have really become beastly and barbaric as a people. When a revered and loved and admired man like Pope Francis is cursed by a political candidate and the audience laugh, I can only bow my head and grieve in great shame. My countrymen has gone to the dregs," Villegas also said in a Facebook post.
He also called on leaders to be examples of good citizenship, adding that those wanting to lead the country to progress "must be visionaries and exemplary."
"What the world desperately needs now is leadership by example. We have so many leaders in office and many more aspiring to sit in office but are they examples of good citizenship? If the leaders we choose are to be leaders for national progress they must be visionaries AND exemplary," Villegas said in a statement.
Aside from calling out vulgarity, he also warned that killing and adultery are also forms of corruption.
"The usual face of corruption that we recognize easily is stealing from public funds. Corruption, like a monster, is a devil with many faces. Killing people is corruption. Killing is a crime and a sin whether it is done by criminals or public officials no matter what the intention. Adultery is corruption. It makes married love cheap and uses people for pleasure. Adultery corrupts the family; it destroys children and victimizes the weak," Villegas said.
"Is this the leadership by example that Mayor Duterte excites in us? Is this the leadership by example that makes a public official deserving of the title 'Honorable'?," he added.
Duterte has openly admitted to being a womanizer, which was one of the causes of the failure of his marriage with former wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman.
In a recent meeting with the business community, Duterte also defended his reputation as a womanizer, even accusing his audience of being the same.
"Wala namang nakikialam sa babae, kasi lahat naman, may babae talaga," Duterte said, drawing laughter from the audience, mostly belonging to the Makati Business Club (MBC)
"Huwag mo na akong lokohin; diretso-diretso tayo," he added.
Vote for merciful leaders
Redemptorist Fr. Amado Picardal, executive secretary of the bishops’ Committee on Basic Ecclesial Communities, also previously called on Filipinos to elect "merciful" leaders.
"They avoid shortcuts and do not promote extra-judicial killings. They believe that even if people make mistakes, commit sin, or do terrible thing no one is totally evil and beyond redemption," said Picardal.
"Tough and ruthless leaders have emerged at various times in the past with disastrous results. We have to say: Never again! No to ruthless leaders. Yes to merciful and compassionate leaders," he stressed.
CBCP Commission on Prison Pastoral Care Executive Secretary Rodolfo Diamante, likewise, had called on voters to reject candidates who support the restoration of the death penalty, adding that not only is capital punishment against the Church's teachings, it is also not a "quick-fix" to crime.
Duterte has always been vocal about his support for the restoration of the death penalty, especially against drug criminals.
He also received flak for his comments on an Australian rape-slay victim, as well as for allegedly having millions in his bank accounts.
The bishops said that the Catholic Church has never asked any political candidate to seek its endorsement, but has always demanded its faithful to cast their votes as "an act not only of citizenship but also as a public declaration of faith."
The CBCP also appealed to candidates to allow Filipinos the right to an informed choice by not misleading them with false information.
"This means, among other things, that you cannot deceive or mislead the people by proffering them falsehoods, much less defraud the nation," the letter said.
Catholic leaders also told the public to be "instruments of peace, reconciliation and healing" after the elections.
"Let those who prevail rise in nobility above the hurtful words that may have been uttered by opponents, and draw them rather into a government of unity, but unity that firmly rests neither on expediency nor compromise, but on truth and justice," they said.
They also asked officials who will be elected to uphold the law instead of acting based on whim, arbitrariness or revenge.
The CBCP said they will also lend support to whoever wins honestly, strives to heal the wounds of a divisive politics, and respects the rights of everyone.
The CBCP appealed for the public to choose leaders whose character and actions satisfy demands of the Christian faith, based on their stands on various issues.