MANILA — Groups identifying themselves as conservative Catholics will campaign hard against President Rodrigo Duterte’s senatorial candidates, one of their leaders said Wednesday, insisting on a so-called “Catholic vote” in the May elections.
The Philippines’ predominantly Catholic population has not been known to vote as a bloc especially since church leaders do not dictate voting preferences.
But Rizalito David, executive director of Pro-life Philippines Foundation, said like-minded groups would mobilize “conservative” Catholics to reject Duterte’s candidates, especially those supporting the president’s bloody drug war.
More than 5,000 drug suspects have been killed, based on government figures, but human rights groups‘ estimates showed the number to be thrice as high.
“Kung Katoliko ka — tunay na Katoliko ka — hindi mo susuportahan yung EJK (extra-judicial killings),” David told ABS-CBN News.
Duterte’s sustained attacks on the Catholic Church and some bishops and priests, he said, could also galvanize a Catholic vote against administration candidates.
David ran for senator in 2013 under the church-based Kapatiran Party, but was rejected as a nuisance candidate in the two elections that followed.
NEGATIVE CATHOLIC VOTE
Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Tuesday came out with a powerful video compiling Duterte’s insults on the Catholic Church, including statements that mocked the God of Christians as “stupid.”
At end of the video posted on his Facebook account, Villegas said: “The Lord said, ‘Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’ My dear brothers and sisters, are you going to betray God? Are you going to deny your faith by your vote?”
David said the message from Villegas, a former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president, could encourage more Catholics to reject Duterte’s candidates.
“There is a negative Catholic vote,” David said, pegging the number of conservative Catholics to be mobilized at 8 to 10 million.
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Not looking for saints, group seeks ‘Catholic vote’ vs Duterte candidates in May