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Religious advice voters: choose wisely

15 April 2016

Religious leaders in the Philippines have issued pieces of advice to voters amid the swirl of propaganda and misinformation being spread by the camps of various presidential aspirants in the May 9 elections.
Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s  Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said voters should choose candidates “with strong moral values” and who can defend life, promote human dignity, and prosecute lawless elements.
“We are the ones who will benefit from the people whom we voted. And we are the ones who will also be affected from whoever we elected to government posts,” he said
Voters should choose candidates “with strong moral values” and who can defend life, promote human dignity, and prosecute lawless elements, he added.
He particularly pushed for candidates based on their “4 Ps”— program, protection, promotion, and prosecution.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, head of the CBCP, urged voters to “be careful” and choose candidates according to their conscience.
“Be free from the tyranny and pressure of trends and herds. Do it right! Choose what is right according to the Ten Commandments,” he said.
He urged voters to assess the worthiness of the candidates seeking national and local positions in the light of the Ten Commandments.
The prelate said voters must be mindful of “our mistakes in the past” by not electing “thieves of government coffers, murderers of the opposition and billionaires from public funds.”
“More than intelligence, we need God-fearing leaders who are also bravely and stubbornly loyal to the flag and to the people,” the bishop added.
“The great need of our time is leadership with vision. We need inspired and inspiring leaders who can rally the nation beyond the horizon of our dreams,” he said.
Villegas also said the country’s next president and national leaders should “act and live honorably” and to be “excellent role models for the youth and prime examples for all public servants.”
Redemptorist Fr. Amado Picardal, executive secretary of the bishops’ Committee on Basic Ecclesial Communities, said the Philippines’ next leaders should take a cue from Pope Francis’ leadership by taking a “merciful” approach to good governance, he said.
“Since this year has been declared by Pope Francis as the Year of Mercy, it would be appropriate to emphasize ‘mercy’ as one of the chief qualities that we have to expect from the politicians we should vote for,” he said.
The priest warned that when elected leaders lack mercy, the people will end up in a society where “terror reigns” and human rights are violated, where due process and the rule of law are ignored.
“It will be a repressive society – without freedom and where people are afraid to criticize the powers that be – otherwise they too could be assassinated,” Picardal said.
The CBCP has adopted a policy of not endorsing a particular candidate for any position but will be issuing specific guidelines for voters in exercising their sacred right to vote.
“Let us now use our hands in choosing and voting for true and a moral person,” said Santos in a pastoral statement.

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