CAGAYAN DE ORO City, April 19, 2013—Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J. yesterday urged candidates and voters within the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro to be ‘pan-partisan’ in the coming election.
In a four-page Pastoral Letter, Ledesma reminded everyone that the May 13 election is a “time for choice and decision-making” and thus requires everyone to be “partisan.”
“To be partisan in Philippine politics does not necessarily mean to side with one party only,” he said as he explained that “voters are expected to follow their conscience in choosing public officials that will serve the common good and help in the development of their community.”
This simply means that voters, and even candidates, must exercise pan-partisanship, which means “reaching out to all political affiliations.”
The 70-year-old Jesuit prelate said that in Cagayan de Oro and other communities within the Archdiocese’s jurisdiction, to be pan-partisan means (1) to be against vote selling and vote buying; (2) against political dynasties; and (3) to care for the environment.
The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro had launched the “Our Votes are Not for Sale” campaign, which Ledesma said is “a direct call to all traditional politicians (trapos) against the practice of rampant vote-buying (which is considered a criminal offense).
“More profoundly, vote-buying as well as vote-selling are offenses against the dignity of the voter himself who ‘exchanges’ his reasoning and freedom for a fleeting sum of money,” he said.
Last March 3, Ledesma led the Mindanao launch of the Movement Against Dynasties (MAD) at the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral.
“Political dynasties are co-related with corruption because there are no longer checks and balances when people from the same families are in office and helping one another,” he said in his homily during the Eucharistic celebration during the launching.
He said that studies done by the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and the Asian Institute of Management show the correlation of political dynasties with corruption, poverty and violence.
“The more the larger the political dynasties in government, the more poverty seems to persist in our economy,” he said as he cited another study that showed that at least 70 percent of the Philippines’ public officials today belong to political dynasties.
“It is, I think, a sad commentary that our leadership cannot be more widely spread among people who are perhaps more competent, more conscientious and more committed than members of political dynasties,” he lamented.
In his Pastoral Letter, Ledesma reminded everyone that the 1987 Constitution has inscribed provisions against political dynasties.
“’As monopolies in business, monopolies in politics limit the entry that can bring in new ideas and better services. Political dynasties breed corruption and ineptitude’,” he quoted the CBCP statement. “A related advocacy is the campaign against pork barrel allocations – which impels political dynasties to expand to control the largesse of public funds.”
As to the third issue in being pan-partisan—which is care and conservation of the environment—Ledesma urged everyone not to forget the lessons of Tropical Storm Washi (Sendong), which devastated the city on December 16, 2011.
“Typhoon Sendong has taught us the bitter lessons from the wanton degradation of our watershed areas surrounding Cagayan de Oro River and other tributaries. The continued bleeding of Iponan River from hydraulic flush mining also has to be stopped. The rehabilitation and protection of our environment should be a pan-partisan concern of all candidates for public office,” he stressed.
Aside from being pan-partisan, Ledesma also reminded voters to “choose candidates with the five C’s – that they be men and women of Character, Conscience, Competence, Compassion, and Commitment” as well as candidates who are “maka-Diyos, maka-Tao, maka-Buhay, maka-Bayan, and maka-Kalikasan.” (Bong D. Fabe)