The “Catholic vote” is already chipped even before the Filipinos can go to the polls on Monday.
And it’s sad that those who are not voting, or cannot vote, with the Catholic Church are senior hierarchs, including the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
That’s Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who has been deactivated as a voter by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for not completing the biometric registration process.
Former Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and former Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz cannot vote, too, because their registrations cannot be found in the Comelec’s online precinct-finder.
Cruz, an outspoken critic of the Aquino administration, said he learned about his apparent deactivation from a friend who tried to find his name in the precinct-finder last week.
“I was surprised when I found out about it, but at the same time I won’t be surprised if I’m already deactivated since I was not able to vote twice,” Cruz said in an interview.
“During the May 2010 polls, I was in Rome. That’s why I was not able to vote,” he said, adding that he also failed to vote during the last barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
The Comelec precinct-finder showed that Palma was deactivated due to “reactivation without biometrics.”
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said Palma probably was unable to finish “the reactivation process.”
Thankfully, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas are both registered and active voters.
Tagle, who became the de facto primate of the Catholic Church in the Philippines in 2011 with his elevation to cardinal, is a registered voter in his old diocese, Imus, in Cavite province.
Villegas, a former bishop of Bataan, is a registered voter in his archdiocese of Dagupan in the vote-rich province of Pangasinan.
Jimenez reminded voters to verify their status with their local election officer (EO), as the Comelec online precinct-finder is just “a guide.”
“In the precinct-finder there’s a number and an e-mail address where you can make your queries. You can also visit your local EO for verification,” Jimenez said.
Under Comelec rules, those who fail to vote in two consecutive regular elections are taken off the voter rolls.
Jimenez himself has been deactivated for failing to vote in the last two elections because of his work at the Comelec.
RH law opponents
Some bishops and religious groups have been trying to rally Catholics to vote for candidates who oppose divorce, abortion, same-sex marriage, and the reproductive health (RH) law.
Once such group, the White Vote Movement, yesterday reminded voters about the lawmakers who stood by the Church and voted against the RH bill.
“They were prolife warriors who stood by the Filipino people and for the Filipino people when they voted against the RH bill. Where many fell, they stood firm,” the group said in a statement.
The senatorial candidates endorsed by the group are JV Ejercito, Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV, Cynthia Villar, Ma. Lourdes “Nancy” Binay, Richard Gordon, Marwil Llasos and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
“Some are young but they are competent. Some have checkered pasts but they have proven to be passionate for life, the poor and the Filipino family,” the White Vote Movement said.
First posted 12:51 am | Sunday, May 12th, 2013