By José Torres Jr.
Faith and civil society groups in the Philippines have started a movement to work for “clean, accurate, accountable and transparent” elections in the country next year.
The groups dubbed the movement “Honorable Elections 2022”, a coalition of more than 20 religious and civic groups who are committed to ensuring “fair elections”.
One of the main activities of the group is to campaign for voter registration, voter education and monitoring of polling stations during elections.
“We must share the burden of managing and administering the electoral exercise with the Election Commission,” Bishop José Colin Bagaforo said in a statement. report on the Episcopal Conference information site.
The prelate, who heads Caritas Philippines, the advocacy arm of the country’s Catholic bishops, stressed the need to “help fill in the gaps in the whole process” by helping to explain how the automated systems work, ” and build confidence and confidence now at all times. weak in elections.
He said the electoral process consists of several stages that citizens must understand and engage with “dynamism and courage”.
The bishop called on the lay faithful to familiarize themselves with the process and to know how each step of the electoral chain contributes to transparent and honest elections.
“We have this special responsibility in times of serious moral, economic, health, food, livelihood and leadership crisis,” said Bishop Bagaforo.
“Apathy and indifference are unforgivable and endanger our democracy and help perpetuate ungodly values,” he said.
In addition to Caritas Philippines, the coalition includes the Episcopal Commissions on Indigenous Peoples and Youth; the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines; Council of the Laity of the Philippines; and the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines.
The other members of the coalition are the Brotherhood of Christian Business and Professionals; Brothers De La Salle Philippines; Network for Justice and Compassion; Empowering people through transformative electoral reforms; Philippine Partnership Misereor; Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan; Bawat Isa Mahalaga; The Faith Initiative and Radio Veritas846.
Father Antonio Labiao, Executive Secretary of Caritas Philippines, expressed the hope that the meeting of various groups will lead to continued community discernment and action.
“We are doing this for the good of our country and to protect the sanctity of our votes,” said the priest. “I hope we elect leaders we can count on for real peace, justice and life in this country. “
At the beginning of September, the Radyo Veritas 846, led by the Catholic Church, launched its 2022 electoral campaign which aims for a return of “morality and ethics” in governance.
A report on Philippine Star quoted Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the bishops’ conference public affairs office, as saying that the “One Godly Vote” campaign will try to convince voters to make “morality and ethics” the top priority. standards in the selection of candidates.
“Legal and secular principles alone are not enough to remedy the ills of our country,” the priest said, citing the report.
“As it stands, there is a lot to be left with morality and ethics outside the public sphere.”
He said the campaign would reach Catholic and non-Catholic voters and analyze pressing issues in the country by bringing in experts in different fields.
“[Filipinos] must not compromise their votes. They should avoid the money, they should not be intimidated by intimidation, ”said Fr Secillano.
“They should not be swayed by empty, shallow, outrageous promises, and they should hold on to the sanctity of their vote as if their choice was God’s choice to lead us into our future.”
The Philippine elections are known to be dominated by “guns, henchmen and gold” due to the use of money, threats and even physical attacks to buy or win votes.
In the 2019 midterm elections, at least 20 people were killed in election-related incidents on polling day and 43 incidents of election violence.