Priests urge Filipinos to shoot down Marcos election bid

People should be good students of history so as not to repeat the same mistake they made with his father, they say

Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila

Updated: January 26, 2022 07:40 AM GMT

Former Philippine senator Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr, son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, waves to supporters after filing his candidacy for the country's 2022 presidential race on Oct. 6, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

Three prominent priests critical of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs have called on Catholics to be mindful not to vote for a corrupt candidate in May's presidential election.

In an apparent swipe at presidential frontrunner Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr, Redemptorist priest Father Amado Picardal, Vincentian priest Father Danny Pilario and Divine Word priest Father Flavie Villanueva said every Catholic should revisit history books to guide them in choosing their next president.

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Father Picardal said historical accounts would reveal who showed real concern for the poor.

In choosing our next set of leaders, let us support true servant leaders who truly seek the welfare of the people, especially the poor, Father Picardal said in a Facebook post on Feb. 25.

Father Picardal, who once claimed he was hunted by Duterte funded hitmen, said the election was a time to shun the corrupt and the violent.

Let us avoid and reject those who are selfish and corrupt who just want to gain wealth, power and glory, he said.

Anyone who was an enabler of Marcos or Duterte does not deserve my vote. 'Thou shall not kill', is an absolute command

It is a moral choice not just a political decision — a choice between good and evil, between those who bring light amidst darkness and those who wish to perpetuate darkness.

Vincentian priest and theologian Father Danny Pilario likewise criticized what he said were Marcos Jr's efforts to revise history by spreading fake news that diluted facts with fiction.

The election frontrunner is often accused of trying to whitewash events and abuses that occurred when the Philippines was under martial law imposed by his father Ferdinand Marcos.

He said those who did not remember the country's history like martial law did not deserve the support of the people.

Anyone who was an enabler of Marcos or Duterte does not deserve my vote. 'Thou shall not kill', is an absolute command, Father Pilario told UCA News.

He said no Christian could justify the suffering and pain extrajudicial killings brought about by martial law and Duterte's drug war had inflicted on thousands of families.

Meanwhile, human rights activist priest Father Flavie Villanueva said the number of deaths and illegal arrests during the martial law years would hopefully enlighten Filipino voters.

History should not repeat itself. During the Marcos regime, the family amassed both wealth and power. There were 35,000 documented tortures, 77 disappearances, 70,000 illegal arrests without warrants, and 3,257 known extralegal killings, he told UCA News.

Since the election of Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has also seen a sharp decline in freedom of association and freedom of expression

He likened the Duterte regime to the Marcos dictatorship, saying there were numerous attempts to silence the truth.

During Duterte's six-year rule, corruption has become obvious with his and his cronies' refusal to be transparent regarding their wealth and assets, as has the killing of the truth through fake news, Father Villanueva said.

The priest's claim appeared to be backed up by Transparency International's global corruption perception index for 2021, which was released on Jan 25. The report showed the Philippines' continuous decline in the rankings.

The country placed 117th out of 180 countries, down two places on its 2020 ranking with a score of 33 out of 100, its lowest since 2012 and well below the global average of 43.

Since the election of Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has also seen a sharp decline in freedom of association and freedom of expression, making it harder to speak up about corruption, the report said.

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