More than 500 Catholic priests, deacons, brothers, and religious sisters endorsed presidential candidate Leni Robredo and her running mate Kiko Pangilinan, breaking a long-standing tradition of Catholic leaders refraining from endorsing individual politicians.
“All things considered, among the candidates who have laid out their political platforms and applied for the highest and the second highest posts of the land, we adjudge that it is Vice President Maria Leonor ‘Leni’ G. Robredo and Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan who best fit the job to be the next president and vice president of the Philippines,” read their statement published on Saturday, February 12.
“Pari Madre Misyonero para Kay Leni,” their group, is part of a rising effort in the Philippine Catholic Church to support the Robredo-Pangilinan ticket. The De La Salle Brothers of the Taft Community, who built one of the Philippines’ major universities, and leaders of the popular Ligaya ng Panginoon, who are backing a candidate for the first time in nearly 50 years, are among the Catholic organisations endorsing them.
As the leader of the Diocese of Kalookan, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David had already given his assent to efforts by laity groups in south Caloocan, Malabon, and Navotas to endorse Robredo and Pangilinan. David is also the head of the Philippine Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which has yet to make a comment on specific candidates for 2022.
Their voices contrast sharply with those of Mike Velarde of the Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai, who is campaigning for Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the late dictator’s son, and his running mate Sara Duterte. Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr., El Shaddai’s spiritual adviser, denied the support, saying Velarde made the choice without consulting the group’s elders.
The Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas, the CBCP’s lay arm, said that it had reached a “majority decision” favoring Vice President Leni Robredo’s campaign.
“With our current political-economic turmoil and the pandemic situation in the Philippines, we firmly believe that Vice President Leni Robredo, a God-fearing person, is the most capable candidate for the Presidency, and we urge our constituents, if possible, to consider the same,” the group said in a statement first released on their Facebook page on Monday, February 14.
With three abstentions and one absence, eleven board members voted in support of the decision. After “a series of listening sessions” and “personal evaluations, through prayerful discernment” of the candidates’ profiles and platforms, they made their decision.
The group, however, raised worries about Robredo’s positions on the SOGIE Equality Bill, same-sex civil unions, and abortion decriminalization, stating that “more communication and cooperation” would be required.
Unlike the Iglesia ni Cristo, which uses bloc voting, the Catholic Church has avoided endorsing or opposing politicians as an institution. Exceptions include the aftermath of the February 7, 1986 quick elections, when the CBCP accused fraud and declared the Marcos government “no moral basis.”
More than 500 priests, nuns endorse Robredo for president|Rappler