Bishops back no bets in 2013 polls

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

CEBU CITY -- The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) will not be coming up with a list of candidates for the Catholic faithful to vote in the coming May 2013 midterm elections.

This was the assurance made by CBCP President and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma over fears of backlash to legislators who supported the Reproductive Health (RH), which was recently passed by Congress and will soon be signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III.

Palma gave the assurance during Wednesday's press conference where he delivered his New Year's message.


At the height of the deliberations of the Reproductive Health bill, various groups against it threatened to campaign against politicians and lawmakers supporting RH.

The Cebu Archbishop said in principle the bishops and the priests should never be partisan.

"We will not endorse a party. We will not endorse anybody in the mass or in the rally. It's not our prerogative, Palma said.

The Cebu bishop said in the past, the Church gave criteria and it is up to the faithful to apply the criteria, but there are other considerations like advocacies, track record, competence and integrity.

Is there a Catholic vote?

On questions if the Catholic vote really existed, Palma said there is no Catholic vote when people expect bishops to come out with names.

"Like I'm the president of the CBCP. There is no Catholic vote when you expect me one day as president of CBCP that these are the names of the candidates we would like you to vote. Don't expect that. That will never happen. We will not do that," Palma stressed.

But there is a Catholic vote and there should be a Catholic vote, Palma said.

"We would wish and pray to discern their being Catholics and not to leave God at home when they come to the voting places. We should bring God to the voting places," Palma added.

Palma said a Catholic vote is when Catholics choose candidates according to the Catholic standard and belief and analyze and evaluate the candidates from the perspective of what they can bring to the people.

Asked why the Catholic vote failed to deliver the expected votes in the past elections, Palma said, "I really don't know but we should not underestimate the Catholic vote."

In his New Year's message, Palma said we need God's guidance especially in the coming May 2013 elections.

He said there are no detailed steps yet but he sees the election as a very important exercise of the country's democracy.

"Let God be a part of our exercise in this important task, let’s do things in the spirit of prayer and discernment and ask the Lord who among the candidates would he inspire us to choose knowing that these are the candidates who can bring the real good of the people," Palma said.

Meanwhile, Palma said that when CBCP meets on January one of the concerns is the evaluation of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines which will also be used in the May 2013 elections.

"We have reasons to believe that there may be a lot of defects in that PCOS machines and needs to be reexamined and part of the CBCP agenda," Palma said.

The Supreme Court has already decided that the purchase of the PCOS machines from the Smartmatic Corporation is valid and legal.

The Commission on Elections is now conducting upgrading to enhance the system of the PCOS machine which was first used in the 2010 presidential elections.

Comelec Commissioner Armando Velasco said the use of the PCOS machines was proven effective and is a milestone in the Philippine history since it delivered accurate information and results immediately after the elections compared to the manual counting that was practiced in the country for of a long time.

“It is wiser to use the PCOS machines than to go back to manual election,” he said. (Mildred V. Galarpe/Sunnex)

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