Catholic priests tackle mental fallout from Filipino polls



A clerical group offers advice to those stressed by the landslide victory of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Supporters of Philippine Presidential Vice President and Vice President Leni Robredo hold the “Laban” (fight) sign during a thanksgiving rally at a university campus in Manila on May 13. (Photo: AFP)

Posted: May 18, 2022 09:24 GMT

Updated: May 18, 2022 at 11:40 GMT

Catholic clergy in the Philippines have started counseling sessions for Filipinos struggling with post-election stress following the May 9 presidential elections.

Many who experienced repression during the years of martial law imposed by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, find it hard to accept that his son, the dictator’s son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., won the poll. by a landslide victory.

They fear that history is about to repeat itself.

Marcos, Jr. garnered more than 31 million votes, more than double the 14.8 million that Church-backed candidate Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo received. The vast majority of Marcos’ supporters were too young to remember the rights abuses committed by his father’s regime.

The group of priests called Clergy for Moral Choice launched its free online counseling service on May 16 “to talk and support” the stressed.

The service is available to anyone seeking help dealing with the mental distress caused by the recent polls.

“[Our] online counseling will allow volunteers to meet the needs of those distraught over the election,” the group announced on Facebook.

He said volunteer psychologists and grief counselors were available.

The group said coping with post-election stress was also “essential” to healing wounds and divisions caused by the election between family members and friends.

“Some family members refused to talk to each other because of politics. Some supported Marcos, others supported Robredo,” Genevieve de Leon, a volunteer psychologist, told UCA News.

“They blame themselves for the kind of future the country will have,” she said.

“Some of us even find it difficult to accept that the elections are over. Those who have already won are still attacking those who have lost,” which creates social divisions, De Leon added.

“It’s important that everyone shows respect to avoid further stress and divisions.”

Clergy members said thousands experienced post-election stress after Robredo’s loss to Marcos, Jr.

“Many have reached out and many have also observed post-election stress on social media. Robredo fans were left sad, confused, angry and anxious because of Marcos, Jr.’s victory. They couldn’t understand why 31 million people voted for him,” said a priest from the Diocese of Cubao, who wished to remain anonymous.

“We urge the faithful to remain calm and avoid spreading unverified information which will further heighten tensions.”

The Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Jose Advincula, joined this call on May 16.

“Right now, it would be better for everyone to stay calm and for everyone to believe in the democratic process. Let us continue to love, care and pray for our country,” Cardinal Advincula said in a post-election message.

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