MANILA - Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz on Sunday said the intention of three religious leaders to run for president in 2010 is a sign the current administration "must be really bad," while at the same time saying the three men will only fail on their quest for the presidency.
"These are very interesting times because since I was born, this is the first occasion when no less than three "religious" men are aspiring for the presidency," Cruz said in a report on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Web site.
The three men he is referring to are priest and Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio, El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde and Jesus Is Lord (JIL) founder Bro. Eddie Villanueva.
"To my mind the outbreak of these 'religious' wannabe-presidents is an argument against the present ruling administration, meaning to say the present ruling administration must be really so bad that it made these three 'religious' men seek the presidency," Cruz was quoted as saying.
"Nasusulok na sila sa pamahalaan na ito pagkat sukdulan na sa korupsyon, sukdulan na sa pagsisinungaling, at sukdulan na sa pagwawaldas ng pera," Cruz told ABS-CBN News.
"No matter who succeeds, definitely it will be much better, we will have a much better government than now," he added.
Cruz said the three men could be motivated by their faith to change the current system, and that they could use their influence as religious leaders to garner support.
"Una dahil sa alagad sila ng Diyos, gusto nilang baguhin 'yong bulok na sistema... pangalawa, kung sila'y tatakbo, marahil gagamitin nila ang kanilang pananampalataya [para] pasunurin ang mga kasama nila," he told ABS-CBN News.
Running 'not a good thing'
Despite their good intentions, however, Cruz believes that it is not a good thing for the three men to be a political and a religious leader at the same time.
"Hindi nila kayang pagsabayin ang pagiging religious leader sa pagiging political leader," Cruz said.
He also said the three don't have a chance of winning in 2010, in case they pursue their plans to run.
This was also the view of political scientist Prof. Joel Rocamora of the Institute for Popular Democracy.
Rocamora said the three men, instead of running, should endorse a candidate.
"Kailangan pumili sila doon sa mga kakandidato na may chance. 'Wag kakandidato na parang, kumbaga, symbolic lang ang pagtakbo," Rocamora said.
Despite this, two of the three potential presidential candidates are still seemingly ready to run.
"Everybody is a potential candidate as of now, until midnight of... November 30, so kung potential candidate 'yan, I'm still a potential candidate," Velarde said.
"Let the people decide," Villanueva said.
Panlilio, meanwhile, cannot be reached by ABS-CBN News as of posting. He had already said that he will pursue the presidency in the 2010 elections.
Meanwhile, in response to this issue, the Palace believes that it is a personal decision for Villanueva, Panlilio, and Velarde to run in 2010, and that people should not give their decisions any hint of malice.
"Seeking an elective post is a personal decision to satisfy a personal ambition or gratification for whatever personal purpose. Let us not be biased and let us not use politics as a reason for conversion of vocations," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Anthony Golez said in a statement.
'Presidential contenders' give opinions
Sen. Manuel Villar, a declared presidential aspirant for the 2010 elections, meanwhile welcomed Velarde’s possible entry into the 2010 derby.
"Welcome naman ‘yan. Kaibigan natin si Bro. Mike. Lahat naman ng gustong maglagay ng pangalan nila sa pagkapangulo ay welcome," said Villar while attending the 25th anniversary of the El Shaddai at the Quirino grandstand Saturday night.
Sen. Richard Gordon meanwhile seemed to advise against the leader of the Catholic charismatic organization from running.
"I would like to see him sa kanyang constituency. He can influence events, can advise presidents. 'Pag kasi nandoon na siya (presidency), baka mabawasan ang kanyang liwanag, kislap na lang," said Gordon who also attended the anniversary celebrations.
Former president Joseph Estrada for his part said that it would altogether be a different matter if he would give support to the religious leader’s candidacy.
"Well, as far as I'm concerned, I'm only inclined to support the presidential candidate of the opposition," said the former president. With a report from Joanna Tacason, ABS-CBN North Central Luzon, and Israel Malasa, ABS-CBN News