MANILA, May 8, 2016— The predominantly Catholic Philippines is marking 50th World Communications Day amid an increasingly aggressive political discourse over social media.
For poll watchdog leader Henrietta de Villa, this year’s election campaigning is distinctly “terrible” compared to the past polls.
“Since the beginning of the automated election system in 2010, I’m sad to say that it’s only now that we experienced this terrible campaigning,” said De Villa.
After years of efforts to shake off bad poll habits, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said the usual pre-election argy-bargy has reached scary new lows.
”Never had there been a time when the elections have been subjected to such vicious campaigning,” De Villa said.
“It seems that good manners and right conduct doesn’t matter anymore. What is important is to win at all cost,” she added.
This Catholic Church’s World Communications Day 2016 falls on the eve of the country’s synchronized local and national elections.
“There’s a lot of accusations and character assassinations. These confuse our voters whom and what to believe in,” added De Villa, referring to social media dirty tricks that wafted the election trail.
In his message for the annual celebration released in January, Pope Francis said digital technology and the Internet are “a gift from God which involves a great responsibility.”
“It is not technology which determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal,” said the 79-year-old Pope.
He said modern means of communications such as social networks could help bring people together but also had the potential to create deep wounds.
“Social networks can facilitate relationships and promote the good of society, but they can also lead to further polarization and division between individuals and groups,” he said.
The pontiff has chosen the theme “Communication and Mercy: A fruitful encounter” which was inspired by the ongoing Jubilee Year of Mercy to highlight how social communications should be centred on mercy and dialogue.
“In a broken, fragmented and polarized world, to communicate with mercy means to help create a healthy, free and fraternal closeness between the children of God and all our brothers and sisters in the one human family,” he said. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews)