Senator Grace Poe vowed to shun black propaganda in her campaign to gain advantage over her rivals in the presidential race.
Running as an independent presidential candidate, Poe said the race for the top post of the land should be a battle of platforms.
“Let us not make this about personal ambitions because if we do, the tendency is to employ all means, even dirty tactics, to eliminate those who stand in our way,” she said.
Poe stressed that her stance is in accordance with the agreement she made with former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd and Vice President Jejomar Binay, in the presence of Manila Archbishop Luis Cardinal Tagle, in September last year to keep the campaign friendly and dignified.
Roxas is the standard bearer of the ruling Liberal Party, while Binay is the presidential candidate of the opposition party United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
“I remember how Cardinal Tagle reminded us that being a leader means being of service, and that we should never forget that in all things, the leader should be the first to feel what the people are going through,” Poe said.
Tagle earlier called on candidates to “raise the bar” in political campaigning.
“I presume we all want the same thing for the country, which is ultimately to uplift the lives of our fellow Filipinos. We can use this chance to elevate the level of discourse in the campaign. Filipinos deserve no less from us,” the senator pointed out.
“So the fight is about platforms and how we can be of help to our people,” she added.
Poe, whose candidacy has been surrounded by a controversy over her citizenship, has been disqualified from running in 2016 by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for not being a natural-born Filipino and for failing to meet the residency requirement for presidential candidates. The senator appealed the commission’s decision at the Supreme Court. She has won a temporary restraining order from the High Court, pending final resolution of her case.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has also urged voters to select candidates based on their platforms and not on survey results.
CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas said a candidate who resorts to demolishing the reputation and tarnishing the image of his or her political rivals “must be suspect.”
“He may have nothing positive to offer, and he debases the level of political discourse by calling attention to the shortcomings of his rivals and competitors, rather than on the programs and projects he or she might have,” he said.
Call vs govt fund for campaigning
At the same time, the CBCP warned politicians and candidates against using government resources in the campaign for next year’s local and national elections.
In a new voters’ guide released on December 29, the Catholic hierarchy stressed that government funds and offices should not be used to advance any political agenda.
CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas also cautioned against “subtler forms of coercion and intimidation” to promote a particular candidate.
“It is God’s will to provide his people with shepherds after His merciful heart!” he said.
The appeal was among the 10-point guideline the CBCP issued for Catholic voters.
The bishops did not endorse any particular candidates but they urged the faithful to reject candidates who are opposed to the Church’s stand on family and life issues.
They said that “in good conscience,” a Catholic voter cannot support a candidate who supports abortion, euthanasia, the return of the death penalty, divorce, and same-sex union.
“The Catholic voter must evaluate candidates according to the model of Christ, who came to serve, not to be served,” Villegas said.
While admitting that there are no perfect candidates, the prelate said there is a difference between one who has been wrong in the past and willing to amend his ways, and one who exhibits “stubbornness and obstinacy.”
The bishops also warned voters to reject candidates whose ideology are geared towards making the Philippines a secular state “that has no respect for religion in its public life”.
“A Catholic cannot support a candidate who vows to wipe out religion from public life,” Villegas stressed.
The CBCP head also called on Catholic voters not to close their doors to candidates with different religious beliefs, saying there are worthy candidates from other religions.
“Their qualifications and aspirations must be given serious heed by our Catholic voters, their truly helpful plans and visions must be supported,” he said.