White Vote should not be called Catholic vote
A relevant question was raised by Inquirer columnist Winnie Monsod in her regular TV appearance at “Unang Hirit” (GMA7, 4/9/13). Commenting on the White Vote Movement, Monsod asked, “Why call it the Catholic vote?”
The “white vote” was a movement of El Shaddai which gave voters a list of senatorial candidates to vote for. Headed by Bro. Mike Velarde, the movement asked people not to vote for those who favored the Reproductive Health Law which allows government centers to make contraceptives available to the poor.
Although El Shaddai is a Catholic charismatic movement, still, as Monsod pointed out, they do not speak for all Catholics. In fact, there were Catholic organizations that were involved in the electoral process, and they did not support the initiative to provide Catholics with a list of candidates they ought to vote for.
One of them was the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting which remained neutral, as a matter of principle, as a citizen’s arm of the Commission on Elections for clean elections. Another one who rejected the white movement was Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Dagupan. He said that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) was not promoting any names (candidates) for senators. Instead, the CBCP was publishing guidelines for the faithful to follow while choosing the candidates to vote for.
So the point of Monsod was well-taken: Why call the White Vote Movement the Catholic vote? In a dialogue with Fr. Francis Lucas who represented the heirarchy, Monsod asked whether the only qualification to be senator is a favorable stand for the RH bill. For instance: “Where do these ‘chosen ones’ stand on poverty alleviation? What is their record of governance? Are they family members of a political dynasty?”
To these questions, Father Lucas had to agree that there are many other qualities to consider when voting for a candidate. Monsod then asked him bluntly, “How about you, Father? Are you going to vote for these candidates who will be in the white movement list?” Father Lucas answered, “It depends.” “On what?” Monsod continued. “ It depends on my conscience,” the good father replied.
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