‘We believe we need an independent Senate,’ says Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas president Julieta Wasan, adding they cannot anymore remain nonpartisan

Published 5:05 PM, May 07, 2019

Updated 6:20 PM, May 07, 2019

PEOPLE'S CHOICE. Senatorial bets Gary Alejano, Neri Colmenares, Florin Hilbay, Samira Gutoc, Chel Diokno, and 5 other candidates, mostly from opposition slate Otso Diretso, get the support of the People's Choice Movement in the May 2019 elections. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

PEOPLE’S CHOICE. Senatorial bets Gary Alejano, Neri Colmenares, Florin Hilbay, Samira Gutoc, Chel Diokno, and 5 other candidates, mostly from opposition slate Otso Diretso, get the support of the People’s Choice Movement in the May 2019 elections. Photo by Maria Tan/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The lay arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) endorsed all 8 candidates of the opposition slate Otso Diretso and two other bets in the May 13 elections.

“We believe we need an independent Senate,” said Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas president Julieta Wasan in an interview with Rappler on Tuesday, May 7.

Laiko, the implementing arm of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on the Laity, supports the following candidates:

  1. Alejano, Gary
  2. Aquino, Bam
  3. Colmenares, Neri
  4. Diokno, Chel
  5. Gutoc, Samira
  6. Hilbay, Florin
  7. Macalintal, Romy
  8. Poe, Grace
  9. Roxas, Mar
  10. Tañada, Erin

All 10 candidates, except for Colmenares and Poe, belong to Otso Diretso. Laiko’s endorsement of these candidates was signed by Wasan on April 25 and on April 28.

Laiko adopted the names , a group of more than a hundred Catholic and Christian lay leaders. The PCM issued its list of candidates on March 27, and said its criteria is called GabayKristo (ChristGuide), which is based on character and honor, competence and abilities, faithfulness to public service, and faithfulness to God and the Constitution.

‘Principled partisan politics’

Explaining their move, Wasan said many Catholics believe that they should not involve themselves in partisan politics. A 2019 pastoral letter of the CBCP, however, said Christians “are also encouraged to engage in principled partisan politics.”

This call for principled partisan politics led Laiko to endorse the set of candidates they call the PCM 10. She said an independent Senate is needed at a time when the Philippines is, for example, “being invaded silently” by China under President Rodrigo Duterte.

Referring to the Filipino people in need of justice, Wasan said: “Who will represent them, who will shout for them? We believe that PCM 10 can do it for them.”

“In this election, when the sovereignty of our country, the lives of our people, and the honor of the Philippines, etc, are at stake, we cannot anymore remain as nonpartisan organizations,” Wasan also said in their statement on the Laiko website. “A winning, principled, and patriotic organizational response is the only choice!”

Duterte’s tirades against the Catholic Church have prompted many Catholics to call for a unified Catholic vote in the May 13 elections. The Church however does not vote as a bloc, and its leaders refrain from endorsing candidates as they stress respect for their members’ consciences. (READ: )

Still, Catholic groups like Laiko and El Shaddai have supported different sets of candidates in the May 13 elections. El Shaddai recently , mostly from the administration, highlighting the polarized political views of Filipino Catholics. Rappler.com