By Ben Rosario
It was not President Duterte’s unabated tirades against the Catholic Church hierarchy that thwarted moves to unite the faithful into supporting candidates handpicked by its leadership.
It was simply due to the fact that nearly all of the candidates who contested the vacant political posts also embrace the Catholic faith.
Political analyst Ramon Casiple said Duterte neither deserved blame nor credit for the failure of Catholics to unite and ensure the victory of perceived Catholic-backed bets during the May 13 elections.
Duterte backers, apparently joined by followers and leaders of religious sects critical of the Catholic teachings, have been attributing the lack of cohesiveness among Catholics to the chief executive’s effective censure of church leaders and certain beliefs of the church.
Many critics have also been insisting that the Catholic leadership has declared support for the opposition Otso Diretso candidates.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines belied this claim as it reiterated its stand of neutrality in the May 13 polls.
Casiple, convenor of the Institute of Political and Electoral Reform (IPER) said that aside from the fact that the Catholic leadership did not encourage block voting to its flock, lay leaders who volunteered to unite the faithful to vote for selected candidates were themselves divided.
“Even if you start to organize this now, it is bound to fail, karamihan ng tumatakbo ay mga Katoliko,” he explained.
He recalled that the “Team Patay, Team Buhay” (Team of Death, Team of Life) campaign failed to accomplish its objective despite the support of several parish priests and lay leaders.
Launched during the 2013 mid-term elections, the Team Patay and Team Buhay sought to dissuade Catholic voters from supporting senatorial candidates who backed the controversial Reproductive Health Bill. It was also programmed to appeal to the faithful to vote for anti-RH bill members of Congress.
Two years later, the campaign got a boost from the Supreme Court when it ruled as “unconstitutional” the Commission on Elections’s order for the removal of huge tarpaulins hanged at the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City, that declared support for the anti-RH bill move.
“There’s really no Catholic vote. Pagdating sa usaping pulitika, walang botong Katoliko,” stressed Casiple. #MatalinongBoto2019