Opposition candidates deny asking Jaro Archbishop’s support
JARO, Iloilo — Senatorial candidates from the Otso Diretso party clarified that they did not ask for an endorsement from Archbishop Jose Romeo Lazo of Jaro in Iloilo during a closed-door meeting here on Friday.
Lazo also did not promise them any assistance.
“Hindi ho siya nangako na tutulungan kami, ang pangako lamang ay (He did not promise to help us, he only promised that) they will continue to educate the people especially the youth sa kanilang mga responsibilidad sa ating bansa, kasama dito ‘yong kanilang pagboto (in their reponsibility to our country kike voting in elections),” Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano told reporters inside the Jaro Cathedral.
“Alam naman natin ang simbahan hindi pwedeng pumanig sa kanino man, ‘yon naman ang maliwanag na sinabi ni Bishop (We know that the church cannot be partisan. The bishop made that clear),” he added.
Former Bangsamoro Transition Committee member Samira Gutoc also expressed the same sentiments, saying that what they asked from the church was to help educate the people on the importance of elections.
“Ang aking appeal to the Church kanina kay Bishop is that there is civic engagement by the people to go out and vote what is for the common good. Dapat po may voters’ education,” Gutoc said.
(My appeal to the church and the bishop is to help facilitate civic engagement among the people, so they will go out and vote for the common good)
“So kung Comelec (Commission on Elections), kaunti tayong budget for voter’s education, dapat lalo pa ‘yong Church dahil sila ang nasa purok-purok,” she said.
(So if the Comelec has a meager budget for voters’ education, the church should fill in because they are present in communities.)
Five members of the Otso Diretso slate, namely Alejano, Gutoc, former Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, and election lawyer Romulo Macalintal had a brief chat with Lazo during their second day in Panay Island.
Previously, all eight candidates including former Senator Bam Aquino, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, and former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay were present in townhall meetings in Roxas City, Capiz, and Barotac Viejo in Iloilo province.
According to Alejano, the Church has a responsibility to teach its flock more than ever since corrupt and abusive politicians are being elected repeatedly.
“Ang concern naman ay ‘yong mga Pilipino, na pagdating ng election ay parang hindi conscious sa paglalagay ng maayos na lider, at pababalik-balik na lang ang problema sa ating bansa,” he added.
(The concern is that Filipinos are not conscious of chosing the right leaders and this is a recurring problem in our country.)
Unlike other religious denominations, the Catholic Church does not ask its members to vote for specific candidates. However, some politicians still woo its leaders in hopes of influencing their millions of followers.
According to numbers from the Pew Research Center, more than 80 percent or around 83.9 million Filipinos are Catholics, making it the largest religious group in the Philippines and the third-largest in the world, only after Brazil and Mexico. /ee
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