(A Statement on the May 2022 Elections)
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2)
It is election season again: a time when aspiring political candidates dish out grand promises to the people while flashing their sweetest smiles; a period when these candidates set their best foot forward and convince the electorate that they deserve to be voted upon and elected.
Politics in our country is historically dominated by a powerful few. Then and now, the rich, powerful and traditional politicians emerge as the winners through guns, goons and gold. Patronage politics continues to hold sway. This is even made worse by the massive information disorder propagated through social media platforms. Seldom is the instance when genuine representatives of the poor and the marginalized set foot on the corridors of power as elected officials.
We, people of faith, however remain hopeful. Voting in the elections can be a powerful tool to register our Christian values in our political decisions, especially at this time when we are in a very deep economic crunch and in the midst of global health crisis. We are indeed in dark times. Human rights violations have become very pervasive, incidents of corruption are an at all-time high and hunger and poverty brought about by a heavy-handed approach to the pandemic as well as unsound economic policies, abound.
Present day politics will remain rotten if we will let the elections be ruled by politicians with self-serving interests. Our democracy will remain stunted if we let those with records of corruption, moral turpitude and violations of human rights, continue to be the leaders of our nation.
This old type of electoral politics will continue if we, the voters, will not discern, unite, and work for the politics of change and meaningful elections.
The May 2022 elections provides a window of opportunity for the people to register their demands for a life, free from deceit and oppression. Voting is a democratic tool that people of faith can utilize to push for reforms for the welfare of the majority. It is an exercise where we can choose candidates who will bring meaningful reforms in service of the people and the country. This means that as we participate in the elections, we should bear in mind that elected officials should be accountable for their actions and true to their campaign promises.
In these tumultuous times, it is important for Christians to actively participate in community affairs such as the electoral process. This in itself may not entirely give us the best results for the country, but participating in this process, and constantly engaging in the affairs of our nation assure us of a dynamic democracy that our people have historically fought hard for.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), the largest aggrupation of mainline Protestant and non-Roman Catholic churches and service institutions in the country, therefore exhorts its members and the general public anew to look beyond surface frills in the coming elections and concentrate on platforms and how they relate to issues engulfing the nation.
We urge everyone to be discerning voters and support and vote for servant-leaders who put in their agenda the change that we want to see in our society. Let us scrutinize the candidates’ platforms and agenda for government. Let us define the change we want, and elect candidates who will bring those aspirations for change to reality.
Let us vote for candidates, political parties and party list groups: who have track records for good governance and as champions of the cause of the majority of the people – poor farmers, workers, urban poor, indigenous people, youth, women, the elderly, the differently-abled and all marginalized sectors; who will truly stand for national sovereignty and genuine national development; who will work for the protection of God’s Creation, for the defense of human rights and peace; and, those who will strive for the positive transformation of our society.
Placed in the hands of honest leaders, elections can be an instrument for transformation. And therefore, let’s ensure through our enlightened participation that they remain faithful to their promise and truly work for the people’s agenda.
Let us also actively work to ensure that the results of this electoral exercise will truly reflect the choices of the people and will not be manipulated for self-serving interests. If rampant cheating and violence ensues, let us guard the true will of the people by announcing and denouncing the mockery that has happened. A people power exercise, not for any candidate, but for the people’s interests and welfare including the orderly transfer of power, must be an option for all of us.
By taking these things to heart, we can truly make a difference. On May 9, 2022, the NCCP calls on the people to participate in the elections as responsible citizens of our country. A statement issued by the NCCP for the May 1987 Elections still rings true. “Above all let us be guided by the Holy Spirit, by Christian principles and by the vision of our Church for our people – a vision of society where justice flows like a river and righteousness as a mighty stream”.
18 February 2022
REV. FELIPE B. EHICAN, JR.
RT. REV. JOEL O. PORLARES
Vice – Chairperson
DR. GAY B. MANODON
Vice – Chairperson
MA. KAY CATHERINE F. ALMARIO
Vice – Chairperson
BISHOP REUEL NORMAN O. MARIGZA