The social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said it “will not endorse any candidate” in the coming national elections, but it does not mean that it will turn a blind eye to social justice.
“We will proclaim what is true, just, and right. That is our moral obligation,” said Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, national director of Caritas Philippines.
“We will speak and act in favor of human rights, the sacredness of life, ecology, and the truth, among others,” he said.
The prelate said Caritas Philippines will remain a non-partisan organization and urged all diocesan social action centers of the Catholic Church to remain the same.
Bishop Bagaforo said the Church “is giving our lay leaders and the faithful our full support and even the resources of the Church when they form the circles of discernment.”
Church leaders have earlier directed dioceses across the country to form “circles of discernment” — groups engaged in forums or activities that will help parishioners as they decide who to vote for on May 9.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the permanent committee on public affairs, of the bishops’ conference, said the “circles of discernment … are a gathering of people, a particular activity wherein parishioners are invited to join so that different speakers who are experts in different fields may discuss the issues.”
“We are hoping that our lay faithful will be able to choose their candidates,” said Bishop Bagaforo, adding that it is “our sacred duty to know our candidates well.”
“Let our choices be a reflection of our life-earned values. Let us choose who among them will help us be better, not the one who only promises instant gratification,” said the bishop of Kidapawan.
Bishop Bagaforo said diocesan social action centers across the country will serve as the local election watchdog under the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).
“There is a memorandum of agreement between the National Secretariat for Social Action and PPCRV and one of the provisions is that the social action network will remain non-partisan,” he said.
He said the mission of the social action network is “to ensure clean, honest, accurate, meaningful, and peaceful elections.”
Bishop Bagaforo encouraged the public to examine the “lifestyle, action, supporters, election conduct, and reputation” of the candidate they want to support.