A group of Catholic and Protestant lay organizations in the Philippines have endorsed 10 senatorial candidates, eight of whom are opponents of President Rodrigo Duterte, for this year's national elections. The Catholic and Christian lay leaders who call themselves the People's Choice Movement said they are only heeding the advice of Catholic bishops to engage in "principled partisan politics." The group said it used as a basis for their choice traits such as "character and honor, competence and abilities, faithfulness to public service, and faithfulness to God, the constitution and the law." "The Senate is our last line of defense against charter change and federalism. Thus we must elect senators who are against them," said the group in a statement. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo
, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on the Laity of the Catholic bishops, said it is time for the lay faithful to campaign for "deserving candidates to counter the money and the political machineries" of "traditional politicians."
"Our lay leaders, the People’s Choice Movement, have done their work of discernment," said the prelate, adding that it is "a serious kind of discernment circle that the bishops have been calling out." On March 25, the Catholic bishops' Episcopal Commission on Prisons warned against electing candidates who favor the return of capital punishment
. "I hope those who are against death penalty will win," said Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the commission. In January, the bishops' conference called on Catholics to form "discernment circles" to better know candidates and choose those who have the common good
of the whole country in mind. The bishops, however, said they would not endorse specific candidates. On March 27, church-run radio station Veritas 846 released the result of what it described as a "truth survey" on the people's choice of senatorial candidates. Topping the survey was Senator Grace Poe, who is running for another term in Congress, followed by Sonny Angara and Cynthia Villar, all sitting legislators. The survey was conducted in various parishes nationwide from February to the middle of March. Earlier, however, Father Jerome Secillano, public affairs committee head of the bishops' conference, warned Catholics against using pre-election surveys to choose candidates. "Voters should not allow surveys to sway them from voting for the best and right candidates," said the priest, adding that voters should elect candidates based on abilities and their stand on issues and not on their association with any popular leader. The 2019 elections in the Philippines will be conducted on May 13 when Filipinos elect 12 senators, members of the House of Representatives and provincial and local leaders.
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