Philippine President Duterte’s Attack on Church Could Backfire in Midterm Elections

03/29/2019 Philippines (International Christian Concern) – According to several opposition senatorial aspirants, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s attacks against God, the Church and its bishops are pushing angry Filipino Catholics to cast votes for candidates not allied with the administration.

Duterte has not been shy in his attacks against the Church in recent years. He repeatedly made derogatory comments against the country’s Catholics and their faith. He called God “stupid”, questioned Christian theology, cursed at Pope Francis, and stated his opinion that bishops who criticize him on his war on drugs should be killed.

Otso Diretso (a multi-party electoral alliance) candidate Gary Alejano told ABS-CBN News, “He is not just attacking the bishops of the Church. It’s the faith. The attack was also directed at God and Jesus Christ, so it’s the Filipinos’ identity of being molded by faith and values that is being attacked by the President.”

Despite the fact that Catholics makes up 80% of the country’s population, the congregation has not practiced bloc voting. However, Duterte’s tirades may change that, according to former solicitor-general and opposition senatorial candidate Florin Hilbay.

“Ordinarily there is no Catholic vote but the fact that the People’s Choice Movement decided to endorse candidates tells us about the compelling nature of the need to band together as Christians,” he told ABS-CBN, referring to the 10 senatorial aspirants backed by a group of inter-faith lay people.

Although there is a divide between Catholics who feel indifferent toward Duterte’s rants and those who feel the need to speak out, these faith-based alliances are hoping that on May 13, 2019, the Catholics will cast their votes for those who will defend their faith.

For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

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