Writing as individuals Jesuits, more than 100 priests from the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus endorsed the Leni-Kiko political tandem for the upcoming 2022 National Elections, according to the statement released by Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan last February 26.
Out of the presidents of Ateneo institutions in the country that were signatories, Ateneo de Davao University President, Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, was not among the Jesuits that ratified the released statement of support.
Fr. Jboy Gonzales, SJ, and Fr. Victor Ramos Baltazar, SJ, are the only Jesuit priests from Ateneo de Davao University who signed the statement and openly supported Leni Robredo’s presidency.
Over 100 Jesuit priests nationwide, along with university presidents of Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), Ateneo de Naga University (AdNU), Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU), and Xavier University (XU), have signed the statement confirming their support for presidential candidate Leni Robredo and vice-presidential candidate Kiko Pangilinan.
“We believe that VP Leni and Senator Kiko display the least self-interest and are the most capable and morally credible to promote truth and social justice, protect our democratic principles and freedoms, and pursue our vision for our nation,” the statement mentioned.
Meanwhile, the released writing emphasized that the campaign of these Jesuit priests does not mean that the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus and the Church officially endorsed Robredo. Instead, their endorsement was an expression of their personal discernment and not the organizations’ collectively.
Institutional endorsement unlikely, says MCA
During a media briefing conducted by the Mindanao Consortium of Ateneo’s (MCA) last 2021, October 13, the issue of candidate endorsement was brought up and discussed. The particular news conference focused on the call to open more satellite registration sites.
According to Fr. Mars Tan, president of XU, a personal endorsement by the proponents of the university is possible since it is someone’s freedom as a citizen of the country. The endorsement of an institution as a whole, however, is unlikely.
“We have to discuss that not just on the level of the management, but also with the board of trustees because that would be the stance of the entire university, the entire institution,” Tan added.
AdZU president Fr. Karel San Juan also mentioned having to discern this matter. Still, they will remain open on the idea of endorsement despite the idea being unlikely.
Both Tan and San Juan were included among the Jesuits endorsing the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem for the May 2022 elections.
According to the 2022 Mindanao Vote primer released last February 10, Ateneo de Davao University will remain non-partisan in accordance with the guidelines from Gaudium et Spes.
The University, however, will respect the decision of its constituents’ personal choices.
As stated in the primer: “There might be members of the university community who may believe otherwise out of their well-discerned conscience. AdDU respects their personal choices but will not endorse it as an official university position or political endorsement.”