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Bishops warn vs vote-buying

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The bishops during the opening Mass of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) plenary assembly, Jan. 22, 2016. (Photo: Roy Lagarde)

MANILA, Feb. 3, 2016— The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has cautioned Filipinos against voting for leaders because of financial incentives offered.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, said candidates who bulldoze their way to public posts through vote-buying are “selfish, destructive, and sinful.”

“We remind those who win positions by such fraudulent means have in fact no moral right to assume the offices they stole,” Villegas said.

Cash or sincerity?

According to the bishops, it is necessary for Filipinos to decide whether they want leaders who just hand out cash or those with real sincerity.

The prelates urged voters to choose candidates who are “respectful of the dignity of all and compassionate towards the poor” so they end up with truly upright people as their leaders.

The bishops also urged the people not to settle for “lesser evils,” saying that it would be better to leave the ballot blank instead of voting people who do not deserve to be elected.

“Let all of us be guided by a sense of the common good when we elect leaders for those for whom Christ died,” said the prelate.

“Not voting for a particular position when there is no one fitted for it is also a valid Christian political choice. Voting for the ‘lesser evil’ is still voting for evil,” he said.

Eucharist

The bishops’ appeal was contained in a statement issued on Wednesday, following the 51st International Eucharistic Congress held in Cebu City last week.

They lamented that the country’s elections often show practices that contradict “the way Jesus whom we celebrate and receive in the Eucharist.”

“Most certainly our faith in the Eucharist is incompatible with the use of violence, vote-buying, and cheating during the election period,” said Villegas.

“May the elections this coming May demonstrate our living of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our Christian life,” he said.

Before the IEC, which started on Jan. 24, the bishops also held their three-day plenary assembly in Cebu where they discussed the upcoming presidential elections, among others.

‘Disastrous’ consequences

The CBCP also called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ensure clean polls in May and not allow the manipulation of the electoral process to favor any person or political party.

“To do so is not only gravely contrary to God’s will. It may lead to disastrous national consequences,” Villegas said.

The bishops also called on the Comelec to strictly implement all the safeguards mandated by the automated election law.

“We pray and urge Comelec to be strict and scrupulous in following the safeguards provided by law towards this goal,” Villegas said. (R. Lagarde / CBCPNews)


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