Five Reasons Why Catholic Vote Philippines Should Be Ignored

Guest Article

By Andrew Lim

Last December 2012, several groups of Catholic laity banded together to form Catholic Vote Philippines, aiming “to advocate that Catholics vote as Catholics.” Alarmed by the passage of the RH law, and presuming that more legislation it deems inimical will be put on the agenda, they will work for the election of legislators and leaders it finds acceptable based on its own standards and criteria. But what is the group all about exactly? How will it operate?

Joe Tale, a lawyer affiliated with the movement, says, “ The Catholic Vote is not a political party. It will scan the horizon among all the parties and support candidates who carry Catholic values in their word and action, in their public as well as private life, regardless of political party, and yes, if called for, regardless of religion.”
Bishop Gabriel Reyes clarifies: “Catholics should not be single -issue voters and should consider a candidate’s competence and incorruptibility.” He adds: “One could be anti-RH but he could also be a thief. It will be up to the voters to weigh a candidate’s track record and decide.”
Recently, the Bacolod diocese came out with tarpaulins advocating specific names to vote, as well as who not to vote.
While there is nothing illegal with the foregoing, this author believes this will work negatively against the cause of Philippine democracy, will be problematic for most voters to apply, and do more harm than good.
Let’s set aside the debate on whether the Catholic vote exists in the first place or not. Dicky Boncan, the spokesperson of the group readily admits it does not exist at the national level, but argues that “the Church can make or break an election at the local level. “ Proceeding from that presumption, I submit five reasons why Catholic Vote Phils will be problematic and ultimately harmful to democracy:
A. Catholic Vote Phils cannot be operationalized without becoming a single-issue voter.
Despite the nuanced pronouncements of its leaders, it will be impossible to “vote as a Catholic” without endorsing a specific candidate, or supporting/not supporting a candidate based solely on his vote on the RH bill, to the exclusion of other important issues like mining, taxes, gun control, etc.
Compounding this problem is the fact that Philippine politics is not really issue-based, but personality-based. Most candidates resort to platitudes.
Joe Tale again: “In the recent US elections, there was an organized Catholic Vote that came out with their own political ads and endorsed the Romney-Ryan tandem for President and Vice-President. The Romney-Ryan team lost, but at least in the US, the Catholics have served notice that they will be active participants in the electoral process.”
Does Mr Tale indicate that had Filipino Catholics been allowed to vote in the last US presidential elections, they should have chosen the Republican ticket? Then that means they would have also endorsed the entire Republican platform, which has been criticized for its inconsistency with the pro-life ideals by being pro-automatic assault rifles ownership, its regressive tax policies, its indifference to minorities, women and the gay communities.
B. Complicated decision making cannot be appreciated by the average voter.
The Catholic faith is notorious for its love of elaborate hierarchies, and this is no exception. In my research for this piece, I encountered the notion of “a hierarchy of truths”. Mentioned in the Unitatis Redintegratio of the Second Vatican Council, it says that “ when comparing doctrines with one another, they should remember that in Catholic doctrine there exists a “hierarchy” of truths, since they vary in their relation to the fundamental Christian faith. “
Ratzinger, still a Cardinal then, further enumerates the three levels of truths: 1. those that are divinely revealed; 2. those which are definitively proposed and 3. those which belong to the authentic ordinary Magisterium.

Supposedly, this is to be used in analyzing the candidates’ stand on various issues and help the voter decide: will I vote for a candidate who voted no to rh bill but supports the death penalty (Zubiri and Maceda of UNA) or for foreign drug traffickers (like Rufus Rodriguez)? Should I shun a candidate who voted yes to RH bill but is very aggressive in job creation and anti-corruption legislation? How about a candidate who voted no to RH but has logging and mining interests and oppose environmental conservation efforts? Which issue now has more weight? RH? Mining? Tax policies? Job-creation? Gun control?

Is a candidate’s vote on the RH bill the primary and only criteria for electing someone, to the exclusion of every issue?
Now tell me- except for Catholic apologists like Dicky Boncan or members of Defensores Fidei, how can you expect this to be understood by the average Catholic voter? Will they hand out laminated guides with decision flowcharts?
C. Catholic Vote Phils will discriminate against non-Catholic candidates.
Even without meaning to do so, following Catholic Vote Phils will inevitably result in discrimination against non-Catholic candidates. Why? Because invariably, Catholic voters will not understand or consider other religious viewpoints. The rationale of Catholic Vote Phils originates from tenets of Roman Catholicism, and it is natural that there will be divergence in beliefs with other faiths. A difference in beliefs will lead to differences in political agendas.
If Catholic Vote Phils existed years ago and managed to gain popular support, then we would not have seen the likes of FVR, Leticia Shahani, Mike Tamano, Santanina Rasul, Juan Flavier, etc in government.
D. Catholic Vote Phils will put its voters in the awkward position of supporting candidates with unsavory political histories, just because they voted no to RH and appear to support their agenda.
E. Catholic Vote Phils may create a moral hazard, by appearing to wash away the past misdeeds of its supported candidates.
Its seal of approval will look like an endorsement of such past reprehensive behavior, and encourage future candidates to engage in further chronic corruption or recklessness, since all they need is to take a stand that the Catholic Vote Phils supports.
Nothing demonstrates this better than the CBCP’s praise heaped upon the 104 congressmen who voted no to the RH bill on second reading last December 2012. Included among the 104 are the following political personalities who have been associated with the most corrupt and repressive past regimes:
a. Imelda Marcos –Leyte
b. Mikee Arroyo – party list
c. JV Ejercito- San Juan
d. Dato Arroyo- Camarines Sur
When the number of anti-RH congressmen dwindled to 79 for the third reading, the list was passed around social media amongst would-be Catholic voters for their reference in the 2013 elections.
Based on the above, it is argued that it is best for the Filipino voter to disregard Catholic Vote Philippines.
  1. “The Catholic Vote”, Joe Tale, Catholic Vote Phils. Website. Originally published in Phil Star Opinion section.
  2. “Bishop Warns Roxas Church will make him pay in 2016” Phil Daily Inquirer, Dec 19, 2012.
  3. “RH and Elections: Pols knew there’s no Catholic vote”, online conversation by author with Dicky Boncan in comments section, Rappler, Dec 29, 2012.
  4. “Catholic Voting and the Order of Truths”, Joe Heschmeyer, Shameless Popery blog on Catholic defense Sept 27, 2012
  5. “Theologian says one-issue voting is foreign to Catholic tradition”, by Catholic News Service, Oct 25, 2004.
  6. “How Our Congressmen and Senators Voted for the RH bill” Catholic Vote Phils website.
  7. “Solon bares small wrinkle on prolife stand” Inquirer Online News Nov 7, 2012.
17 Responses to “Five Reasons Why Catholic Vote Philippines Should Be Ignored”
  1. Cha says:

    Amazing! I didn't know about this alliance, Catholic Vote Philippines at all. Thanks Andrew for exposing this.The bishops and those lay keaders are digging their own grave while standing on their wobbly pedestals. The deeper they get, the more the likelihood of them falling over into the abyss. And those politicians they wish to endorse can then finish the job and finally bury them. To rest. So we can have peace.

  2. Edgar Lores says:

    1. Thank you, Andrew, for sounding the alarm.2. You provide cogent reasons against the formation of a Catholic vote, and you cite details which can only be provided by someone familiar with the terrain. You have the nous of a political cognoscente.3. My view on the matter is well-known. You are kind enough to say that “there is nothing illegal” with what Bishop Reyes and his minions are doing. I have always said the Church has no business in political affairs. Full stop. 3.1 The revelation that the Catholic Vote in the US supported the Romney-Ryan ticket astounds me with the temerity but does not in the least astound me with the lack of judgement.3.2 That Mr Tale would cite this as a reason for his cause threatens to unloose aneurisms in my brain. It proves the same lack of judgement.3.3 Your argument on discrimination alone is sufficient. If non-Catholics behaved as Bishop Reyes would have Catholics behave, the world would not have seen JFK as president, and would have been the much worse off for it.4. Out of curiosity, I googled “Andrew” and the meaning is “man, warrior”. Indeed you are a warrior. That makes me feel happy that you are on the side of truth – and safe.4.1 The Urban Dictionary gives several meanings. The first one is: “Ultra cool, usually hot or at least sort of cute. Awesome sense of style, music, and humor. Sexy, awesome kisser”. 4.2 Must have been supplied by your wife. He he he.4.3 The other meanings run in the same vein except that they are not fit for innocent eyes.5. I also googled “Edgar” and verified the meaning is “spear”.5.1 The Urban Dictionary had me in fits: “Such an amazing friend. He’s really confusing at times and hard to understand, but once you get to know the real him you’ll understand. He’s like a big brother to everyone and is the therapist of the group. But even the guy that helps out the most needs help of his own.”5.2 Must have been supplied by an ex. The other meanings are also not fit for innocent eyes.5.2 Where do they get this stuff?

  3. There is a Catholic Vote and there is a Filipino Vote. Catholic voters are not internet-ready, Filipino voters are intelligent and plugged in.This coming election is a confidence vote of the Catholic church. This is their last gasp of air.

  4. Church is the house of God. God resides in every Filipinos. Their vote is divinely inspired. Church is subliminally sending messages to poor Filipinos. Despite, RHBill won in the polls and in congress. If the Pro-RH congressmen loses, God has a lot explaining to poor Filipinos. And poor Filipinos has a lot explaning to me.

  5. andrew lim says:

    It seems dividing candidates into "team Patay" and "team Buhay" has no effect. But Magsaysay, Hontiveros need help. As for Madrigal, all I remember is her battlecry "walang pami-pamilya, walang kama-kamag-anak" since she has fought everyone in her family (inheritance issues) ha ha haMaybe Joe can come up with writeups on them?

  6. andrew lim says:

    You're welcome. There is a discussion on this in Fr Tabora's blog where I posted a summary of this essay. Fr Tabora cites a siege mentality among some Catholics and it results in a fundamentalist approach to things.

  7. andrew lim says:

    If you were to become Pres of the US, "spear" would be the Secret Service code for you. JFK's code was "lance". If you were to become a Philippine president, you would be code named "Matulis". ha ha haThey would probably give Joe the code name "cantankerous". ha ha ha I am curious why they took down the Facebook and website of the Catholic Vote Philippines which I used as references for this essay. Redesigning it or are they having internal trouble?

  8. @Edgar. That's great news. No let-up though. I believe in the American football term "piling on".@andrew. I've profiled Ramon Magsaysay (see January, "Jun Magsaysay")and will indeed do a profile on Hontiveros.I wonder when the CBCP bishops will finally wake up. With your fine article and that of Fr. Tabora, and others, one would think they might soon grasp that their shrill gameplaying is coming off poorly. THEY are causing the Church to suffer. Not RH or well intentioned pro-RH senators or the best president the Philippines has had in a long long long time.

  9. "cantankerous" (adj) disagreeable to deal with; contentious; peevish: a cantankerous, argumentative man. Works for me, but they probably need a noun, so perhaps we could go with "curmudgeon" thought I prefer "drone". (As when I snore, sleeping, or ramble on whilst blogging."And you would be "catapult", launching your heavy essays over the church walls.Curious, the take-down of the web site.

  10. J says:

    Sadly, that move by the Diocese of Bacolod is SO contrary to the current Pope's teachings.

  11. Dear Andrew,I am afraid you mis-identify the move of the Bacolod diocese with the CVP (Catholic Vote Philippines) formed last December. Without going into details, the CVP is not an endorsement/only Catholic voting movement. It is a grassroots voters awareness program that will re-enforce and give the average Catholic voter and tool to screen ethical and moral candidates regardless of religious affiliation. CVP is realistic in its objectives. It does not pretend to tackle all ethical issues that candidates may be subject to. It will only tackle issues that, what the Church teaches, are non-compromisable ethical and moral postions and these specifically pertain to life, marriage and family. The basic premise is that integrity is presupposed by uncompromising moral principles and if a candidate can compromise on these moral principles, then smaller ethical concerns can easily be given up. The average voter has the freedom to weigh, what to them are non-compromisable moral concerns and vote according to this. The objection to a Catholic vote is an objection to what it isn't more than to what it is. Admittedly, many in the Church have also propagated this mentality which is not in accordance with Church teaching, i.e. endorsing specific candidates.

  12. Partly true but before casting judgement on that move by the diocese you may want to read what the Vatican has written regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life: you may want to be reminded of the acerbic language used by many lawmakers against the clergy during the time of the debates on RH. This is merely a backlash of the railroading of that bill.

  13. Your comment actually reminds me of the worse-than-acerbic language used by certain clergy. "Ethnic cleansing" comes to mind. Politics is a mud-pit. It is attack, defend, spin, attack, promote. The Church dirties herself by descending into this pit, and it is not reasonable for you to hold the Church up for reverential treatment whilst allowing her an open, tax-free right to criticize.

  14. Ethnic cleansing and insults in congress and in the media about Reproductive health, sounds like a bit of a stretch! No one holds that the Church should be free from criticism, i am saying this was a backlash of that.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The evil of RH bill is legalizing adultery, fornication, others while the issue of corrupt officials is debatable. The corrupt always steal in a form of ghost project, over-budget project and they always hide their immoral act. Rh bill is legalizing corruption that thou shall not commit adultery. By the way the definition of corruption is the deviation from the ideal. WE should not delete the 6th commandment or thou shall not commit adultery from the natural law. My no. 1 issue is rh bill becuase it is related to life because if you have no life you can talk other issues like mining, discrimination, others.

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