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‘Discernment circles’ endorse candidates for Philippine elections

MANILA (UCAN): The People’s Choice Movement, group of Catholic and Protestant lay organisations in the Philippines, have endorsed 10 senatorial candidates for the country’s upcoming mid-term elections on May 13, eight of whom are opponents of the president, Rodrigo Duterte.
 
The group said it us only heeding the advice of Catholic bishops to engage in “principled partisan politics,” adding that the bases for their choices were traits such as “character and honour, competence and abilities, faithfulness to public service, and faithfulness to God, the constitution and the law.”
 
In a statement, the movement said, “The Senate is our last line of defense against charter change and federalism. Thus we must elect senators who are against them.”
 
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, auxiliary bishop of Manila and chairperson of the Episcopal Commission on the Laity of the Catholic bishops, said it is time for the lay faithful to campaign for “deserving candidates to counter the money and the political machineries” of traditional politicians.
 
“Our lay leaders, the People’s Choice Movement, have done their work of discernment,” the bishop said, adding that it is “a serious kind of discernment circle that the bishops have been calling out.”
 
On March 25, the Catholic bishops’ Episcopal Commission on Prisons cautioned against electing candidates who favour the return of capital punishment.
 
“I hope those who are against death penalty will win,” Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the commission, said.
 
In January, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines called on people to form “discernment circles” to better know candidates and choose those who have the common good of the whole country in mind.
 
However, the bishops said they would not endorse specific candidates.
 
On March 27, Church-run radio station, Veritas 846, released the result of what it described as a “truth survey”—conducted in various parishes nationwide from February to the middle of March—on the people’s choice of senatorial candidates.
 
Topping the survey was Grace Poe, who is running for another term in Congress, followed by Sonny Angara and Cynthia Villar, all incumbent legislators.
 
However, Father Jerome Secillano, public affairs committee head of the bishops’ conference, had earlier warned against using pre-election surveys to choose candidates.
 
“Voters should not allow surveys to sway them from voting for the best and right candidates,” he said, adding that voters should elect candidates based on abilities and their stand on issues and not on their association with any popular leader.
 
Filipinos will head to the polls to elect 12 senators, members of the House of Representatives, and provincial and local leaders.

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