ASIA/PHILIPPINES - A civic and political education plan: Catholics prepare for next year's general elections

Tuesday, 25 May 2021 politics   civil society   society   youth   elections   common good  

Manila (Agenzia Fides) - The May 2022 general elections will be a crucial turning point in the history of the country. For this reason, one year after that important event, Catholics are called to begin a process of awareness and sensitization among all voters "so that the vote is transparent, free, fair, honest": says the Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, Mgr Broderick Pabillo, inviting priests, seminarians, men and women religious, catechists and lay people to initiate a "civic and political education plan" in order to participate - in a non-partisan way - in the preparation process for the 2022 elections. The participation of the Church in the political life of the nation focuses on the formation of consciences and on the education of voters, called to evaluate the correct characteristics of political leaders, says Mgr. Pabillo, president of the Commission for the laity of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, in a note sent to Agenzia Fides. The Auxiliary Bishop spoke during the launch event of the special "Year of Prayer for transparent, meaningful and peaceful elections", an initiative promoted by the network of Catholic Seminarians in the Philippines. Young people felt called to collaborate in this phase of social and civil life, engaging in politics in a non-partisan way, in order to encourage honest and trustworthy people to run for public office.
"Encouraging good people to get involved directly in politics, at the service of the common good, is a Christian option", said the Bishop, noting that they often lack the consent or the "electoral machine" that allows them to make themselves known and be voted on. Raising awareness begins by creating a conscience and encouraging more people to register and cast their vote which "is a civic right and duty", he recalled. Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, at the head of the diocese of San Carlos, reiterated that "voters must carefully choose the leaders for next year's elections". Speaking at a webinar organized on the occasion of the "Laudato Sì Week", the Bishop stressed that the task of the population and political leaders is to think about environmental care, issues related to climate change and economic and social sustainability. "It is important to elect leaders who understand the situation in which we find ourselves and who adopt clear policies in favor of the protection of the common home, to address the climate crisis, for the good of future generations", said Bishop Alminaza. The Bishop encouraged to work together and take initiatives to protect the environment. As of 2019 the same Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has undertaken to monitor its own life and management, basing it on the criteria of sustainability and care for creation, withdrawing, for example, any investment or contribution to companies that finance coal-fired power plants, mining companies and other extractive industries, and entrusting local churches with guidelines in this direction. Young people are among the promoters of the voting preparation programs. Ramon Santiago, a Catholic university student, told Fides: "The education of voters for a transparent and honest vote is a necessity. People must carefully choose leaders to strengthen the quality of our democracy, for the good of the country". Another young woman, Rose Catherine Lim, notes that "propaganda, disinformation and hate speech are gaining ground in the public sphere and in the mass media. Such a toxic environment can damage the electoral process and the voting behavior of citizens. This is why a civil commitment on the part of everyone is urgently needed, especially believers". In view of the general elections, scheduled for May 9, 2022, the Electoral Commission is expected to publish the list of official candidates by January 2022, including those running for the post of president, vice president, for the seats of 12 senators, and 308 members of the House of Representatives. Then there are the votes for 81 governors and deputy governors, 780 seats in the provincial councils, 1,634 mayors and deputy mayors of municipalities, 13,546 seats in the municipal councils. According to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, general elections are held every six years, on the second Monday in May. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 25/5/2021)