MANILA -- Some members of the opposition slate Otso Diretso on Sunday questioned Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai's endorsement of 14 senatorial candidates.
Out of 8 opposition Senatorial hopefuls, only reelectionist Sen. Bam Aquino got the backing of El Shaddai. Majority of the candidates endorsed by the group were from administration-backed Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
Some candidates backed by the charismatic group previously faced corruption and plunder cases, said Otso Diretso's Erin Tañada.
"Ano ba talaga ibig sabihin ng honesty sa kanila? Anong ibig sabihin ng katotohanan sa kanila?" he said at the sidelines of a handshake campaign in Quezon City.
"Dahil kung hindi maipaliwanag yan, baka mawalan din sila ng supporters,” he added.
(What does honesty mean for them? What does truth mean for them? If they cannot explain that, they may lose supporters.)
Samira Gutoc, another opposition bet, urged El Shaddai to reconsider its endorsement, which she said should go to those who would champion the truth, women and the youth.
"Pasensya na po El Shaddai, I appeal that you, consider us Otso Diretso. Kami po ay voice of the conscience," she said.
(Sorry to El Shaddai, I appeal that you, consider us Otso Diretso. We are the voice of the conscience.)
El Shaddai has some 6 million members. While the group is known to endorse candidates, it has never engaged in bloc voting.
Among the candidates it endorsed were Aquino, Cynthia Villar, Bong Go, Ronald Dela Rosa, Grace Poe, Imee Marcos, Nancy Binay, Koko Pimentel, Francis Tolentino, Sonny Angara, Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, JV Ejercito, Bam Aquino and Willie Ong.
BANKING ON CATHOLIC VOTE
Opposition candidates Romy Macalintal and Chel Diokno, meanwhile, said they were banking on votes from Catholics.
“Maniniwala ako lalabas ang one Catholic vote. 'Di papayagan ng mga katoliko na bastusin ng Panginoon, ang pananampalataya at ang ating kaparian,” Macalintal said.
(I believe that one Catholic vote will emerge. Catholics will not allow God, their faith and priests to be disrespected.)
“Boto ng mga katoliko at kabataan, yan inaasahan namin, Diokno added.
(We are relying on the vote of Catholics and the youth.)
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly slammed Catholic priests and some of its teachings. His daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio chairs Hugpong.
PLEA FOR IGLESIA
Gutoc also urged Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) to be guided by conscience in endorsing candidates.
"Please don’t be the sway vote. Alam namin you’re close to the President. Kunsidera niyo ang konsensya,” she said.
(We know you're close with the President. Consider your conscience.)
INC, an influential sect known for bloc voting, endorsed Duterte during the 2016 elections.
Hugpong candidates must individually seek INC's endorsement since they belong to various political parties, said Duterte-Carpio.
HEART, NOT FUNDS
Activist priest Fr Robert Reyes called on voters to choose candidates based on conscience instead of endorsements.
“Tingnan ang laman ng isip, ng puso; huwag ang bulsa. Dami kandidato, they're empty and bankrupt. We have free will. Mula ngayon hanggang sa susunod na Lunes, magdasal, luhuran natin," he said at the sidelines of a fun run calling for honest elections.
(Let's look at what's in their mind, heart; not their pockets. Many candidates are empty and bankrupt. We have free will. From now until next Monday, let's pray.)
Macalintal, Gutoc, Diokno and Tañada graced the fun run.
Report from Angel Movido, ABS-CBN News