MANILA, May 5 (Mabuhay) — The leadership of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), one of the country’s largest Protestant denominations, officially endorsed the candidacies of Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan in the May 9 elections.
In a statement dated May 1, the church’s Council of Bishops said its endorsement of Robredo and Pangilinan is a result of its “collective discernment” after “having carefully and prayerfully studied all the present options” before them.
The declaration, which was released on Wednesday, five days before voting day, was signed by UCCP General Secretary Melzar Labuntog and 6 other bishops from all over the country, along with 14 emeritus bishops.
The UCCP leadership said that they chose Robredo and Pangilinan because their candidacies were “nearest and would best reflect the values which we find in the Word of God and as manifested in the reign of God.”
“In choosing them, we are guided by our awe-inspiring commitment to herald the truth and be by the side of the most oppressed and vulnerable sectors of our society,” the council of bishops said.
“As a collegial body of the Church, the Council of Bishops considers Leni Robredo-Kiko Pangilinan tandem as the best option for the Filipino people,” it added.
The church also endorsed the candidacies of the following senatorial bets, based on their “pro-people” agenda:
former Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat
former Vice President Jejomar Binay
former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares
Sen. Leila de Lima
lawyer Chel Diokno
labor leader Luke Espiritu
Sen. Risa Hontiveros
labor leader Elmer Labog
lawyer Alex Lacson
labor leader Sonny Matula
The UCCP leadership clarified, however, that they leave the final decision to their members whether to vote for the candidates they endorsed or not.
“At the end of the day, the choice is still left with the individual believer on the basis… of the individual believer’s freedom of conscience and discernment,” the council of bishops said.
With more than 500,000 members in 2,850 local churches, the UCCP is considered one of the largest Protestant denominations in the country.
Among its notable members include former President Fidel V. Ramos, former Sen. Jovito Salonga, and Education Secretary Leonor Briones. (MNS)