A Call to Christian Participation in the Elections

Dear People of God in the Philippines,

“…Politics, like all human activities, must be exercised always in  the  light  of  the faith of the gospel…”  (PCP II,  Conciliar Document, 344)

“Lay  men  and women in responsible positions in our society must help form  the  civic conscience of the voting population and work to explicitly  promote the election to public office of leaders of true integrity.”  (PCP II, Decrees, Art 28, #1)

As election day draws nearer we, your bishops, call upon you once more to prevent the many evils attendant upon every election in our country, and to help bring about a truly meaningful choice of candidates.  What we say now is in addition to what we have stated in past statements about elections.

We want to make it clear that we, as a body, do not endorse any particular party or candidate.  We do not want to dictate to you whom you should vote for.  We respect your freedom in voting.  This freedom is part of the exercise of your freedom of conscience which we, your pastors, are obliged to respect.

We do have an obligation to help you form your conscience.  And we do want to exhort you to act as Christians in the whole conduct of the elections, according to the injunction of St. Paul: “…whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God, the Father through him.” (Col. 3:17)

We urge you, candidates and your followers, to act in a manner befitting Christian men and women, and believers in the one true God.

We ask you, voters, to exercise and not to set aside your Christian faith when you cast your votes.  Let not this coming election be a blemish to our Christianity but a credit to our Christian name.

Hence, in the name of God, we ask the CANDIDATES, THEIR PARTIES AND FOLLOWERS:

Stop violence.  “You shall not kill.”  (Ex. 20:13)  Those who want to serve the people should not grab power by hurting or killing the people they profess to serve.  Killings and other acts of violence have regularly marred our elections.  This is a national disgrace especially for a country where the majority are Christians and practically all inhabitants believe in God.

Do not cheat.  To cheat is to steal public office.  “You shall not steal.”  (Ex. 20:15)  A person who wins by cheating has no moral right to occupy a position stolen from another.  Such a person will have to answer before God for depriving the people of the services of the rightful winner.

Do not buy votes.  This is a particularly degrading form of cheating.  You do not start serving the people by corrupting them and degrading their dignity.

Do not trivialize the campaign period.  Educate the people during the campaign by explaining to them your platform and the issues involved.  Do not be satisfied to be reduced to singing, dancing and clowning before the people.

Do not tell lies to destroy the good name of another person.  “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  (Ex. 20:16)  This commandment remains in effect and is not suspended during the campaign period.  A person who destroys the good name of another will probably not mind doing evil to others.  If the campaign remains on the level of issues much black propaganda and mudslinging will be avoided.

Likewise, we ask the VOTERS:

Vote intelligently.  Do not be fooled by appearances, words and promises.  Study the issues involved, the platforms of the candidates and their past records.

Vote for persons who act in a manner consistent with Christian principles.  Do not vote for opportunists.

Do not give those who have grievously hurt our country another chance to hurt us again .  Christian forgiveness does not demand forgetfulness of evil deeds against our people.  Christian prudence demands that we remember such deeds.

Vote for persons who can serve you best and not for those who can only entertain you.  You are not voting for entertainers but for public servants.

Do not sell your votes.  “Your vote, your honor.”  When you sell your vote, you sell your honor.  You become nothing in the eyes of those who buy you.  You harm your future and that of your countrymen.

Beware of those who overspend during elections.  They will surely seek to recover their expenses–with profit, at our expense.

Do not allow yourself to be cowed.  Band together with your fellow citizens and seek the protection of law enforcers, the COMELEC and its deputies.  There are no tyrants where there are  no cowards.

Election time is one of those rare times in our democracy when people directly exercise political power, which is meant to serve the common good.  Do not squander or barter away the exercise of this power.  Use it to give our country and people a better life.

And to the COMELEC AND THEIR DEPUTIES, we say:

Do your work with impartiality.  You are not the hirelings of the persons who appointed you.  You are the servants of the people.  It is to the people you owe loyalty and not to the appointing powers.  Let God, the laws of our land and your conscience be your only guide.

Do your work with competence.  Election officers are expected to be capable of reading the candidates’ names and tallying their votes correctly.  You are empowered and therefore are expected to be able to keep the polls honest and peaceful.

Do your work with honesty.  When you cheat or help in cheating you sin in a double way:  you rob rightful winners of their office and you betray the public trust which you assumed on oath.

Do your work credibly.   You must not only be impartial, competent and honest.  You must not even give any appearance of partiality, incompetence and dishonesty.  We live at a time when the COMELEC and the electoral process have regained their credibility somewhat.  You can lose that credibility again.  Or you can enhance it by your performance.

Expose and neutralize all private armed groups.  Unless you do so, the elections cannot be honest and peaceful.  They certainly will not be credible.  Your credibility and competence are at stake here.

Dear fellow Filipinos, the elections are the key to good government.  Credible elections will make for a credible government.  Meaningful elections will make for good government.  These May elections will show what kind of people we are, and will determine the kind of government we shall have.  Let us all together make these elections truly honest, peaceful and meaningful.

We wish to encourage persons, organizations and movements that have been working to assure for us this kind of elections.  We commend the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPC-RV), VOTECARE, NAMFREL and similar groups.  They are rendering selfless and oftentimes heroic service to God and country.

Do not be afraid!  Let us face the future with hope, and take every necessary step.

While neglecting no effort, let us believe that even now Christ is at work in the hearts of our people by the power of His Spirit to bring about the transformation of Philippine society (cf. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, no. 38).  Let us pray to God, the Lord of history, to guide our endeavors, and crown them with success.

May the same Lord thwart the evil designs of evil men.  And may Mary, our Mother and Protectress of the Filipino people, obtain our victory.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

(Sgd.)+CARMELO D.F. MORELOS, D.D..
Archbishop of Zamboanga
CBCP President

April 9, 1995
Manila

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