Updated: January 07, 2016 08:51 AM GMT
Supreme Bishop Ephraim Fajutagana of the Philippine Independent Church speaks at a farmworkers' rally in Manila, in this file photo. (Photo courtesy of Arkibong Bayan)
The Philippine Independent Church (PIC) has denied backing the vice presidential bid of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The denial follows reports in the Philippine media that the PIC — which split from the Catholic Church in 1902 — was endorsing Marcos in elections due to take place in May.
The reports came after Marcos, a Philippine senator, visited the PIC's headquarters in Manila, in December.
Marcos' website later said the senator was invited to make the visit by church leaders who wanted to "express their commitment and official endorsement" to Marcos' candidacy.
Fajutagana said the church felt "dismayed" over the misrepresentation that it was subjected to as a result of welcoming a member of the Philippine Senate.
"We feel sad that our courteous gesture to receive the senator's visit last December has been misconstrued as our endorsement. There is no truth to this story," said church head, Supreme Bishop Ephraim Fajutagana
Fajutagana said the PIC "cannot condone political parties and candidates who distort the truth for their own interest."
He was referring to comments made by Marcos, who continues to maintain there were no massive human rights violations during his father's 20-year rule.
In a Jan. 6 pastoral letter on this year's elections, the PIC warned its bishops and priests to beware of politicians trying to solicit their endorsement.
"Our pastors, instead, must encourage people to responsibly exercise their electoral right," the letter read.
It urged church members "to discern well as they cast their votes and to take the upcoming national election as an opportunity to promote the common good and not the interests of the self-serving and ruling few."
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, meanwhile, urged those running in the national elections to be always truthful.
"I hope that there will come a point wherein candidates will also admit if their opponent is good," said Cardinal Tagle in an interview broadcast on church-run Radyo Veritas.
The prelate expressed hope that Filipinos develop the "culture of truth" this year, especially during the elections. "Practice truthfulness not deceit," said Cardinal Tagle.
The prelate noted that these days "it's so difficult to see the truth from a lie."
The PIC, also known as the Iglesia Filipina Independiente is the second-largest single Christian denomination in the country after the Roman Catholic Church.
Also known locally as the Aglipayans after its founder former Catholic priest Gregorio Aglipay, the church has at least 2 million members.
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