Pastoral Statement on the Faithful’s Moral Responsibility in the Elections
“Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Look, your king is coming to you! He is humble and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt of a donkey.'” (Matthew 21:5)
Today, we commemorate the Lord Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem where people hailed him as the bearer of God’s kingdom of justice and peace, shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” We celebrate this Holy Day, and we also pray for the coming of God’s kingdom in its fullness in the present moment of our history, and for justice and peace to flourish in our land.
We address you today to remind you about our Christian duty to work towards a world marked by God’s justice and peace. In this spirit, we must take the challenge of the forthcoming May 2016 elections as an opportunity to fulfil our responsibility as we choose the best possible leaders to govern the nation.
We should judge the merits of each candidate against the most compelling and critical issues the country has been perpetually facing. Let us pay attention to what candidates and their parties are espousing in relation to people’s issues and policies in the pursuit of a just and peaceful society, and their commitment to the principles of public service and dedication to the common good.
Let us measure the worth and sincerity of any candidate according to their position on the following issues:
Good Governance and Accountability. Bureaucratic corruption is a chronic cancer in the government with corrupt politicians plundering the people’s taxes and public funds. For the longest time, public positions have utilized to for self-vested interests and greed for power.
Genuine Agrarian Reform. Time and again, farmers are deprived of a land to till. Lands are still concentrated in the hands of few, wealthy families. The country needs a legislation that will distribute land to peasant families for free and provide them much-needed agricultural support.
Employment and Decent Wages. The Philippines will remain underdeveloped until the country develop industries that would provide employment and decent wages to its toiling masses. In this way, no family would ever need to be torn apart in order live a decent life.
Political Persecution and Human Rights. Those who are struggling for genuine change and challenge the status quo are being attacked – killed, disappeared, tortured or harassed with impunity even under the so-called democracy. Justice must be served to victims of human rights violations.
Rights of the Marginalized Sectors. The rights and welfare of the marginalized sectors, including national minorities, the LGBT community are placed along the fringes of government attention. The government needs to recognize them and implement policies for that would truly serve them.
Environmental Protection and Ancestral Domains. The use of military and paramilitary groups to escort large-scale mining operations contributes to the displacement and rising death toll in many indigenous communities, most especially in Mindanao. Rights of indigenous peoples and the protection of their ancestral lands against development aggression and plunder of the environment must be a priority.
National Sovereignty and Patrimony. The Philippine territorial integrity and national sovereignty are threatened by both the United States and China’s competition for dominance in the Asia Pacific. Opposing imperialism and resisting foreign domination is our solemn patriotic duty.
Just and Lasting Peace. There must be recognition from the candidate that the only way to put achieve a just and lasting peace is to resolve the roots of armed conflict. The peace negotiations offers the opportunity towards this path and must be pursued.
With these issues in mind, let us elect candidates who have shown genuine commitment to defending and advancing the welfare of the weak rather than the strong, and the promotion of the common good over the interest and gains of the narrow few. Let us elect candidates who have a heart for the poor and support the people’s agenda in their platform.
The Lord Jesus offered us a model of kingship which serves rather than rule (Mt 20:28). It was a kingship which served the social outcasts (Mk 2:15). It was a kingship which renounced the accumulation of power and wealth and fame (Mt 4:1-11). It was a kingship that showed compassion (Mt 9:36), sought God’s righteousness (Mt 3:15), required justice (Mt 23:23) and proclaimed peace (Lk 1:78-79).
Brothers and sisters, it is our moral duty let to participate in the establishment of a nation that is securely and solidly founded upon God’s righteousness, where everyone can dwell in peace and enjoy justice. Let us affirm this duty by taking the challenge of the May 2016 elections as a starting point even as we continue encourage those who aspire to serve the people to learn from the humble kingship of the Lord Jesus and live the ways of his kingdom.
† Most Revd Ephraim S. Fajutagana
20th March 2016