Bishops to voters: Don’t be coerced
By Evelyn Macairan
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – The Archdiocese of Manila, in its first pastoral letter on the May 2010 elections, yesterday urged Filipinos to vote freely and not allow themselves to be coerced by threats or influenced by money to vote for candidates.
Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and 15 bishops have asked voters in the May 2010 polls to choose candidates based on their qualifications and their stand on graft and poverty.
The guidelines were given in a pastoral letter titled “Election 2010” which would be read today, the fourth Sunday of Lent, in the Metro Manila Ecclesiastical Provinces.
Church leaders reiterated to voters to assert their freedom in choosing the country’s next leaders.
“Freedom in an election means no physical coercion, nor is threat or money used to influence or to buy votes. Excessive campaign expenses in the past did not augur good and responsive governance,” read the letter.
Voters should also study and match the traits of candidates with the needs and issues in the country.
They said poverty, graft and corruption are two perennial problems confronting the country today and which have a destructive mutuality because when corruption increases, poverty will also worsen.
“Voters should choose candidates who are God-fearing, moral, not given to vices, respectful of life, consistent true friends of the poor, protective of the integrity of creation (friend of world ecology), simple and humble, and who are good examples for responsible Filipino citizenship,” the prelates said.
“Lastly, these groups of conscientious citizens should also become groups of praying citizens who would seek the Lord’s guidance in making their decisions,” they added.
They also urged the people to pray for peaceful elections in May.
Meanwhile, the Nacionalista Party (NP) voiced support for the Manila Archdiocese’s guidelines in choosing the country’s next leaders.
NP standard-bearer Manny Villar said he will follow the pastoral letter, stressing he is a God-fearing person.
He also said his party mates will adhere to the guidelines. – With Christina Mendez