MANILA — A broad network of Catholic educational institutions called on voters to reject candidates in this year's elections who support the "historical distortion" of martial law, and the Duterte administration's drug war and stance on China.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) said it valued truth in choosing the country's next leaders and deplored the "massive disinformation that is deceiving our people."
"We vehemently reject the candidates who run under this platform of lies and historical distortion – disseminated in social media by massively-financed trolls – particularly the brazen presentation of the Marcos dictatorship and Martial Law as benevolent regimes in our political history," it said, without naming any candidate.
The group also denounced candidates who "exploit our people’s poverty through vote buying and intimidation."
CEAP said it also rejects candidates who support the "unjust acts" under the Duterte administration, "particularly its drug war that has killed thousands, mostly poor and powerless."
It also disapproved of candidates who supported "the current administration’s policy toward China’s aggression inside Philippine territory, its rejection of the Hague ruling, and the lack of protection of Filipino fisherfolk."
CEAP expressed support for candidates who have no record of corruption, proven their competence in participatory governance, and transparency and accountability in public service.
The group said it backs candidates who would push and support legislation to "strengthen private education and recognize its complementarity with public education."
"Ultimately, the choice is moral – leading us to take prophetic, non-neutral, even partisan positions on behalf of the Gospel values we stand for," CEAP said.
Campaign season in the Philippines — a predominantly Catholic nation where some 80 percent of the population belong to the faith — officially began on Tuesday, with several presidential candidates holding proclamation rallies in various parts of the country.
Recent voter surveys showed Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the former dictator whose martial law period saw widespread human rights abuses, as the favorite to succeed Duterte.