MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has warned a religious group in Batangas City after it openly declared that it will be endorsing a group of candidates in the upcoming elections.
According to Father George Ricafort, the Batangas City Ecumenical Council (BCEC) plans to read its pastoral letter during a Mass on May 12 containing the names of the candidates the group intends to support.
Fr. Ricafort added this will only prove that the so-called Catholic vote truly exists.
But Batangas Provincial Election Supervisor Atty. Gloria Petiliano said the BCEC will be violating Comelec’s provision prohibiting campaigning on the eve of the elections.
Petiliano said this will be considered direct campaigning and the group will possibly face charges if it pushes through with its plan.
Violators of this Comelec provision could face one to six years in prison and removal of the right vote.
Instead of endorsing bets the day before the polls, Petiliano said the BCEC should just give reminders to the voters so they can carefully choose their candidates.
The BCEC, on the other hand, stressed that it will not be forcing members of the group to vote for its endorsed candidates.
The BCEC is composed of the Roman Catholic Church, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, United Methodist Church, Apostolic Catholic Church, Batangas Presbyterian Church, Iglesia Evangelica Methodista en Las Filipinas, International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church and Iglesia Filipina Independiente. – from a report by Dennis Datu, dzMM