JC de los Reyes’ Kapatiran claims support by more bishops
AIE BALAGTAS SEE
Five more bishops of the country’s politically influential Roman Catholic Church, including retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani and Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias, have expressed support for the Ang Kapatiran party (AKP) of presidential candidate John Carlos “JC” de los Reyes.
The three others bishops supporting AKP are Antonio Pepito Palang of San Jose, Mindoro, Joseph Nacua of Ilagan, Isabela, and Joel Zamudio Baylon of Legazpi, Albay.
“Ang Kapatiran is worth supporting by any intelligent Catholic,” Bacani reportedly said in a statement that AKP provided to GMANews.TV on Friday.
“All of its candidates are committed to the entire platform and principles of the party without any mental reservations,” he added.
Nacua, for his part, was also reported as saying that “the Kapatiran party stands on principles for the common good not on personalities. This is the way the genuine representation in government.”
The prelates’ support brought to seven the number of Catholic bishops supporting AKP. Earlier, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles and Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra also defied the official non-partisan stand of the Church by openly endorsing the party. (See: 2 bishops endorse Ang Kapatiran party)
Navarra said by endorsing AKP, he is standing for what is “right” and “necessary.”
In a phone interview with GMANews.TV, retired archbishop and canon lawyer Oscar Cruz said while his colleagues did not violate any laws, he would rather that they not support any candidate to avoid “[dividing] not just the people but also the priests.”
Cruz also stressed that despite the flurry of bishops’ endorsements for AKP, the powerful Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) will not endorse any candidate.
In a separate interview, Palang confirmed that he supports AKP’s platforms and principles. But he clarified that this was not tantamount to endorsing de los Reyes and his senatorial slate.
“Sa katunayan hindi ko pa masyadong kilala yan [de los Reyes] but based on [Arguelles’ suggestion] maganda record nila (In truth I’m not very familiar yet with de los Reyes but based on Arguelles’ suggestion, I find their record good),” Palang said, adding he still wanted to know more about the party’s candidates.
When asked how he plans to help AKP in the forthcoming elections, Palang said “I don’t know,” but he might convince his fellow priests and his constituents to support the party.
Ang Kapatiran has been advocating platforms based on the Church’s social doctrine, which includes the hardline stance of de los Reyes against the Reproductive Health bill.
AKP president Eric Manalang told GMANews.TV that the bishops might support them by acting as their “mouthpiece.” He, however, clarified that the support was not just for de los Reyes alone but for the party’s advocacies.
Manalang said AKP had been courting the prelates for support since November last year. He said it was important for the party to win the clergy’s support as they are “influential” and could deliver votes for AKP candidates.
“We don’t have billions. We don’t have actors and actresses to endorse us. But the bishops will serve as our mouthpiece to reach the people,” Manalang said.
The Philippines is a predominantly Roman Catholic nation, with at least 81 percent of the 90 million Filipinos considering themselves Catholic. However, even the bishops failed to agree whether a “Catholic vote” exists in the country.
“There is no such thing,” Cruz said, adding that “the Catholics have been very democratic as far as politics is concerned. Tingnan mo na lang yung mga kandidato, eh halos lahat yan Katoliko pero sila mismo nag-aaway-away (Just look at the candidates. Almost all of them are Catholic but they are fighting among themselves),” Cruz said.
But Palang thought otherwise, saying that given the Church’s vast influence, it could “persuade” the faithful to vote for their chosen candidates. “The Church is very influential. Don’t ever underestimate its power. Just look at [the influence of the late] Cardinal Sin.”
Jaime Sin, the famous Filipino cardinal who served as Archbishop of Manila for almost 30 years from 1974 to 2003, is generally acknowledged as one of the most influential guiding forces behind the People Power revolts that toppled two Philippine presidents from power—Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Joseph Ejercito Estrada in 2001.
Meanwhile, Palang said Arguelles told him that more bishops are expected to rally support for AKP, including Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo. GMANews.TV called Pabillo for verification but he could not be reached.—JV, GMANews.TV