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Renewed call for concerted Catholic vote in elections

Catholic numbers 'amounted to swing vote' in last week's Philippines poll

Renewed call for concerted Catholic vote in elections

A young girl helps an elderly woman choose her candidates during last week's elections. (Photo by Jimmy Domingo) reporter, Manila

May 21, 2013

The head of the Philippines Catholic bishops' conference has urged the faithful to work together to assert a "Catholic vote" in the 2016 national elections.

The announcement comes on the heels of claims by a group of conservative Catholics in Cebu province that the "Catholic vote" helped six out of 12 senators win last week's mid-term elections.

"I will not join in the prediction, but I will join in the exhortation of lay people who should carry out the process of discernment, serious study and of course coming out with sharing their convictions with other lay people," Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu said.

Such a vote "will come in due time," he said, and echoed claims of success in the mid-terms last week. He added that Catholics should "be a little bit more patient with ourselves, in our hopes and dreams for the good of the people."

Rene Bullecer, Philippines country director of US-based Human Life International, a pro-life group, said that seven out of eight congressional representatives endorsed by his group were elected in the province of Cebu. She said the Catholic vote amounted to a “swing vote” in a close contest for the mayoral elections in the city of Cebu.

Nancy Binay, a neophyte senator who is also the daughter of the country's vice president, expressed her personal gratitude for the group's endorsement, and reiterated her commitment to oppose "anti-life" bills that are against Catholic Church teachings such as divorce and same-sex marriage.

But the existence of a Catholic vote was rubbished by Monsignor Esteban Binghay, a canon lawyer. “All Catholics voted, but they voted according to their conscience," he said. "The Catholic Church does not impose on individuals. We are voting as individuals, not as a group."

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