Vote wisely lest ‘dark days’ return, says archbishop

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MANILA, May 4, 2016— A few days before the polls, Jesuit archbishop urged voters not to allow the country to return to “dark days” of human rights abuses, criminality, and corruption.

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro said the candidates who have not undergone change themselves “are not worthy and capable changing our society.”

“The choice you make will determine whether we live in the light and progress as a nation or bring back the darkness that we have experienced and rejected in the past — an autocratic regime characterized by violence, human rights violations and corruption, and a reign of terror and greed,” explained the prelate.

“Change begins within each one of us. It is we as a people who can change our society. So once again, we appeal to you to vote according to your conscience. And to vote for candidates of conscience – i.e., persons of moral integrity,” he said.

The former vice president of the Philippine bishops’ conference made the statement in a pastoral letter issued on Tuesday for the Catholic voters in his archdiocese.

Ledesma urged voters to vote wisely and elect into office candidates with integrity and who respect human rights and the dignity of every person.

He reiterated that the Church proclaims the Gospel of life and opposes the culture of death.

According to him, some manifestations of the culture of death are abortion, ecological destruction, war, capital punishment – and extra-judicial killings.

“These summary killings, without formal charges and due process, can never be justified – whether or not the victims are suspected criminals or rebels or workers on strike,” Ledesma said. “These killings are illegal, immoral, and sinful.”

The church official particularly cited the more than 1,400 cases of alleged summary executions in Davao City from 1998 to 2015 and chided the “inaction” of the city government officials to address the crimes.

Citing a report made by known peace advocate Fr. Amado Picardal, the archbishop said the victims include 132 children aged 17 years and below.

“A city with such a high rate of unsolved killings cannot be called a city of peace and order,” Ledesma said.

The archbishop also called on voters to reject corrupt politicians “who use their office to enrich themselves and have millions of pesos deposited in their bank accounts.”

Ledesma also reminded the Christian voters about the value of marital fidelity, adding that “adultery is sinful and immoral.”

He asked: “Can a genuine Christian, in conscience, vote for those who flaunt their infidelities?” (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews)

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