The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Friday reminded the faithful of their “moral obligation” on Election Day to reject the “notoriously corrupt” and to put an end to political dynasties.
“Reject the notoriously corrupt, but neither should one readily jump on the bandwagon of condemnation in the absence of incontrovertible evidence, for, these days, one’s reputation, so painstakingly built by sincerity and honesty over the years, can so easily be tarnished by the truly evil work of ‘spin doctors’ in the payroll of one or the other political aspirant!” CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Arcbhishop Socrates Villegas said in a pastoral letter.
He added, “End political dynasties. Do not vote for family members running for the same positions as family members before them to perpetrate the family’s hold on public office. When it is clear that one politician clings to public office, seeking election to some other position after he has run the length of the permissible number of terms in one elective office, the Christian voter should prudently choose others who may have equal if not superior abilities and competencies for the position. There is no monopoly on ability for government, and truly no one in government is indispensable!”
Without naming names, Villegas was obviously referring to a number of politicians all over the country that include, among others, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. and Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
Binay and his family are being accused of amassing ill-gotten wealth. The Binays have ruled Makati City (Metro Manila) for almost three decades now.
His son, Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr., is the incumbent mayor of Makati City. His daughter Nancy is a senator, while another daughter, Abigael, is congresswoman of the First District of Makati.
Binay’s wife, Dr. Elenita Binay, was also a former mayor of Makati City.
Revilla and Estrada are currently detained in Camp Crame in Quezon City for their alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
Revilla’s wife, Lani, is congresswoman of Cavite, his son Jolo is Cavite vice governor, while his brother Strike is mayor of Imus. His father, Ramon Revilla Sr, was also a former senator.
The same is also true for Estrada. His father, former President Joseph Estrada, is now the mayor of Manila, his half-brother JV Ejercito is also a senator . JV’s mother, Guia Gomez, is the incumbent mayor of San Juan City (Metro Manila).
Estrada’s mother, Dr. Loi Ejercito Estrada, was also a former senator.
But in the same pastoral letter, the CBCP president dissuaded voters against inexperienced personalities aiming for higher positions in the government.
Villegas was obviously referring to Sen. Grace Poe, who though a first-time senator is high in the surveys for the presidential and vice presidential positions.
“A person who aspires for high office but who, because of inexperience, will be totally dependent on advisers is not the best possible candidate for national positions, but we should be willing to repose trust on those who, we are convinced, are capable of leading and of serving with probity, high above suspicion and with skill, competence and wisdom that comes from abiding faith,” he said.
“That a person is a firm believer, and that he or she practices her faith should be a crucial consideration for the Catholic voter,” Villegas added.
He explained that the right of suffrage is not only a political right but also a moral obligation.
“And so while politicians plan and strategize, and, this early, find ways of circumventing the law against pre-mature campaigning, the Church cannot be remiss in its obligation of forming the consciences of Catholic and Christian voters,” Villegas said.
“Vote for the right reasons. Vote, not because you have been paid, or promised bounty, not because you or your relatives have been promised employment or privilege but because you trust a person to lead the community and to lead the country,” he added.
Villegas also reminded voters that in selecting candidates for senators and congressmen, they should choose those who will do their duties, one of which is to craft laws.
“Do not demand to know of a congressman or a senator what his or her local projects have been. Legislators are not supposed to have local projects. They are supposed to legislate, to attend congressional sessions, rise to debate and actively take part in committee hearings,” he said. “ Ask, rather, whether or not they have attended the sessions of the House or of the Senate diligently and regularly.”