- CHERYL G. CRUZ
Twenty-seven of the 35 Catholic lay organizations under the Diocese of Bacolod openly declared their support for presidential candidate Leni Robredo and vice presidential bet Francis Pangilinan, the first time that these groups made such political stand.
Bobby Magalona, provincial head of the Couples for Christ-Gawad Kalinga in Negros, who read the groups’ Declaration of Support for the Leni-Kiko tandem at the Redemptorist Shrine JP2 Hall in Bacolod City this morning, April 25, said the decision is very significant, historic, and a first for the lay organizations.
“We are in extraordinary times! Our votes will speak of our choices…which will be crucial in deciding our fate as a sovereign and democratic country,” the declaration stated.
“We hope to become the guide and the light for other organizations to also make the decision,” Magalona said, as he stressed that the results of the May 9 elections “will determine what will happen to our country and the future of our children and grandchildren.”
The lay organizations in the Diocese have convened to discern God’s will for the lay faithful, to make a stand regarding the May 2022 elections, and agreed to follow several guidelines in the discernment process on who to vote for as leaders, the declaration said.
These include candidates who are God-fearing and show godly values, value the Filipino family raised and strengthened by Christian values, servant leaders who care for the poor, have necessary and relevant education, training and experience to effectively address the country’s challenges, will ensure the protection, preservation, and rehabilitation of the environment, with no record of corruption and committed to eliminate corruption especially in government, and will govern with integrity and transparency.
“Given these guidelines and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we have decided to support Robredo and Pangilinan,” the declaration said, and stressed, “We will respect each lay faithful’s choice of candidates and will remain as brothers and sisters in community despite our differences”.
“We encourage each community to go through their own discernment process through prayers and the reading of God’s Word, to be guided by the truth, and not to be deceived by propaganda, disinformation, revision of facts, and all forms of lies”.
The lay organizations also called for everyone to help make the elections clean, credible, and honest.
The organizations that signed the declaration include leaders and representatives from the Friends of the Divine Mercy Missionaries, Ang Dios Gugma, Divine Mercy Philippines, Apostolate of Divine Mercy Association, Couples for Christ-Global, Adorers of the Holy Trinity, Barangay Sang Virgen, Legion of Mary, Catholic Women’s League;
Good Shepherds Catholic Covenanted Community, Neo-Catechumenate, Casa Maria Prayer Community, Cofradia del Sto. Niño de Cebu, Bukas Loob sa Diyos, CFC-GK, Apostleship of Prayer, Damas de la Caridad, Daughters of Mary Immaculate, Guardias de Honore de Maria, Focolare Movement, Worldwide Marriage Encounter, Mother Butler Mission Guild, BCBP North, Sto. Niño Devotees, and Knights of Columbus.
Former governor Rafael “Lito” Coscolluela, who is the chair of the Robredo People’s Council in Negros Occidental, thanked the groups for their support, adding this is the first time that lay organizations that usually adopt a nonpartisan position ever did so.
“I think we have what we call as ‘resibo’. I think they realized that it’s time to make a stand, not for a particular candidate but for the country,” Coscolluela said. “This endorsement will send a very strong signal…will constitute heavy pressure on the bishop (Patricio Buzon) to also make a stand although we all respect his position if he remains neutral.”
He also told the lay leaders that Robredo agreed to come back to Bacolod, Iloilo, and neighboring areas in the first week of May, although the details will still be finalized./CGC