Religious, civic groups plan rally vs failure of election

Religious, civic groups plan rally vs failure of election

‘We’re watching you’

By Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Spooked by signs that ostensibly point to a failure of elections, religious and civic groups have decided to hold an interfaith rally to push for a successful holding of the polls and to send the message that the people will not accept a holdover Arroyo administration or a military junta.

Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani said the gathering is intended to unite people and get them to take part in ensuring the success of the May 10 polls or in joining mass actions in case the worst-case scenarios take place.

The exercise is meant to serve notice that “we are watching and if according to rational thinking the poll exercise is a big farce, then we are watching, but thereafter we are moving,” said Archbishop emeritus Oscar Cruz of the Kontra Daya poll watchdog group.

The groups met Wednesday to discuss the planned rally, scheduled for April 22.

Circles of discernment

“The centerpiece of this project is to signify to the government, and the Comelec included, that our circles of discernment, and there are many, will be closely watching the forthcoming May elections. And that we are serving notice that if for one reason or another the elections are not substantially acceptable, then our group will move.”

Fr. Joe Dizon, also of Kontra Daya said the religious leaders were initiating the mass action as part of their “moral duty.”

“In these critical times, we cannot just watch the unfolding events. We must read the unfolding events and give the proper prophetic announcement and call the people to action,” Dizon said.

Hoping for the best

Bacani said the religious groups have decided to act because of the many possibilities they see, including the failure of elections due to technical causes, the failure of proclamation of candidates, the possibility of a transition government headed by President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo, massive cheating, a military junta, or martial law.

“While we hope for the best, and we will work for clean, honest, credible elections, all of us, we must prepare also for the worst,” he said.

Cruz said groups from various faiths will be participating in the April 22 action and that it would be non-partisan. Politicians are welcome to join, but they will not be at the center of the action and will not be allowed to turn the gathering into their political campaign.

“It’s the first time that this will be done because we really have to gather our strength and to unite. It’s the advantage of the administration if the people are divided because it becomes weak. But if there is one tie that binds them together—and this is the distrust toward the present administration—then it becomes a force, a moral force,” he said.

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.