Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who reportedly had the advantage of endorsements from Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) and El Shaddai, now seeks an injunction from the Supreme Court against the Catholic church for openly supporting his rival Vice-president Leni Robredo.
Invoking the principle of separation of state and church, Marcos Jr. spokesman Vic Rodriguez said they are “saddened by the men and women of the Catholic clergy who are doing the exact opposite of that principle and have abused the pulpit.”

The Marcos camp claimed that the Church allowed itself “to become a platform for hateful and negative campaigning.”

Rodriguez said the bishops and priests “as men and women of the cloth should be more circumspect” as well as “refrain from openly meddling with politics.”

He also urged them to “stop making reckless imputation or statement that only serves as a spiritual, moral, social and cultural poison.”

At the official start of the campaign last month, Marcos Jr. himself held his proclamation rally at the INC’s Philippine Arena and gave the impression that he got the much-sought-after INC vote.

It turned out that his handlers only rented the place.

Marcos also sought the endorsements of Kingdom of Jesus Christ and El Shaddai and got it, although other El Shaddai officers later said that what Marcos got was only the endorsement of Mike Velarde and not all its followers.

Rodriguez did not say the specific instance of the Catholic Church’s alleged meddling with politics. But his statement came after various religious groups endorsed the presidential bid of Robredo and several prominent Catholic Church members made pronouncements that were critical of the Marcoses.

For her part, Robredo urged the church to join her in her fight against disinformation as she said that the Catholic Church in her hometown of Naga City helped establish a “People’s Council” that forced the local government to be honest in its dealings.

Robredo pushed back against insinuations that she is using the Catholic Church to bolster her political standing, saying that the Church will not allow itself to be used by politicians.

“I think that’s an insult to the Church,” Robredo said. “I think the Church will never let itself be used.

The Church is a stronger institution than us politicians and it will never allow itself to be used just because of their inclination for a politician.”

She said she thinks the Church is actively involving itself in politics since it recognizes how crucial the upcoming elections are.

“It’s not just about siding with a politician but the morality of our nation is what’s at stake here,” Robredo added.

Robredo said she is seeking the help of the Church to help her fight disinformation — which independent fact-checkers say she is the top target — in the hopes of tapping its machinery to combat falsehoods.

She added that the fight against disinformation is not limited to the Church and groups supporting her but is open to all sectors.

“Even if their candidate is different, our problem is the same if false propaganda becomes the reason why our elections would lose integrity,” Robredo said.

For the record, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has not endorsed any presidential candidate but has come out with a pastoral letter warning against historical revisionism particularly of the brutal martial rule of the late Ferdinand Marcos Sr.