MANILA, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles, Manila Bureau) – There may be four major political parties — not to mention coalitions and independents — that have a stake in the upcoming May 9, 2016 Philippine presidential elections. But in reality, a new two-party system has emerged in just the last few months.
For generations, the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC), boasting of close to four million members, has always voted in Philippine elections as a unified block. Its church leaders dictate who its members should vote vote. That’s one party.
The latest party to emerge is the Catholic Church of the Philippines. Its leaders, members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) have never been “hands-off” from politics. Separation of church and state is a myth.
The Catholic bishops have always had a hand — and the pulpit — in influencing political decisions and developments — from the first EDSA People’s Power Revolution to legislation and debate on divorce, abortion, women’s rights, gay marriage, health policy, etc.
Catholics comprise about 80% of the total Philippine population. That would translate into at least 40 million votes, based on the 54 million registered in this election.
Supporters of administration candidates Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo have taken to social media to try to convince all Catholic voters to rally behind the presidential and vice presidential candidates. It will be the ‘other’ block vote.
Now, wouldn’t it make the voting process in the Philippines much simpler and less expensive if, with the two-party system (INC and CBCP), we just let the heads of the two churches vote on behalf of their constitutents?