Manila, May 4 (EFE).- More than 1,200 Philippine bishops and priests made publicly supported presidential candidate Leni Robredo ahead of Monday’s general elections, while the Church of Christ, one of the country’s most powerful religious organizations, opted for Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Clerics, belonging to the Catholic group Clergy for a Moral Choice, asked the Philippines faithful at a Wednesday press conference in Manila to elect leaders “whose hearts truly seek the heart of the Good Shepherd, like Leni and Kiko,” referring to Robredo and vice-presidential candidate Kiko Pangilinan.
“We are not making progress. If we want our country to progress, we need to elect the right leaders. We can’t just always choose the lesser evil. The Church has to take a stand,” said Bishop Tony Tobias, in statements collected by the Rappler portal.
This group had already published a manifesto in April expressing its support for Robredo to prevent the country from being governed “by those who inflicted suffering” in reference to Marcos Jr, or Bongbong, and son of the deceased dictator of the same name.
On this occasion, this group from the Catholic Church, which usually remains neutral in electoral processes, reaffirmed its position with the support of several bishops for its manifesto and the leading role of one of them, Tony Tobias, in the presentation to the media.
Despite the enormous social influence the church maintains among followers (85 percent of the population) and its protagonism in transcendental moments in the country’s recent history, similar support from important Church figures has not seemed to influence the electoral results in previous appointments.
Robredo, with an intention to vote of 23 percent according to the latest polls, presents herself as the only candidate who can stop Marcos’ presidential bid. His family had to leave the Philippines in 1986, when his father was overthrown by a peaceful revolution led by the Catholic Church.
Strong support for Marcos in the polls (56 percent in the latest Pulse Asia poll) may receive another boost after the decision last night by the sectarian religious organization Church of Christ to ask its faithful to vote for the late dictator’s son.
“The unity of the church is recognized by its members in accordance with the biblical scriptures. The members respect the decision of the church,” read the statement, to remind its faithful they have to follow the instructions decided by the leaders of the organization.
Although not disclosing the number of faithful, it is estimated it has more than 2 million followers, which would place it as the third religion in the country, behind Catholicism and Islam.
Founded at the beginning of the 20th century in the Philippines, this cult demands an enormous degree of commitment from its faithful. This includes economic contributions, the obligation (controlled by a registry) to attend religious services twice a week and the requirement to follow the dictates of its leaders in electoral appointments, which gives it great political weight. EFE