WELCOME to the Philippines, Holy Father. Some of us here in The Manila Times are Catholics who take our faith seriously. We have you in our prayers every day–not just in the Prayer for the Pope at Mass that is part of the liturgy. We pray for you daily as a person we feel we know personally and should love the way most us Filipinos love our parents. We tell you this intimate detail, hoping to persuade you that we who are writing this editorial now are people with rectitude of intention because we struggle to be always close to God, the Holy Trinity, and to Mother Mary, in thought, emotion and deed. We carry out norms of piety–including frequent examinations of conscience and confession.
We are not addressing this public missive to you for political reasons, dear Holy Father. We are writing because we are being led to this act by our sincere conversation in mental prayer with Our Lord.
For the good of our Church and the prestige of the Papacy, you should not explicitly take positions for or against a particular political issue. But you may voice out what is the morally correct attitude or position. Pope Saint John Paul II did that when he was here on a visit when the President was the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
We have berated President Benigno Aquino 3rd over many specific issues. We have called him and his closest associates hypocrites for pretending that his administration is pursuing the Matuwid na Daan or the “righteous path” when in fact corruption in government now is very much more in monetary value and more widespread than in previous administrations. Smuggling, the proliferation of illegal gambling, prostitution and common criminality have escalated during the four years that President Aquino has been our president.
These are things that some bishops of our Church have condemned–without much effect. But corruption is not the issue we would like you to help us with in this appeal.
There are many areas, dear Holy Father, where some of the Catholic Bishops, as we in The Manila Times do, find the Aquino administration’s actions and decisions to be immoral and contrary to good governance, natural law, the Ten Commandments and Church commandments. One of these is President Aquino’s personal push, including the bribery of lawmakers, to have an oppressive Reproductive Health Act passed in line with the laws prevailing in the Western countries. We are not asking you to say anything about these matters, dear Holy Father.
President Aquino and his economic ministers also deserve to be chided for neglecting to help our millions of poverty-stricken families, for preferring economic policies that you have condemned because they do nothing to rescue the poor from their bitter condition. We will cheer you, Holy Father, if you do say a word of reproach about this matter.
What this appeal humbly wishes you to do, to save the Philippine Republic and its imperfect but developing democratic system, is to pray with us more intently — or if you will find it proper to do so — to voice your concern about it to our President when you meet him in Malacañang Palace tomorrow morning.
This is the matter of the destruction of our imperfect but functioning electoral democracy by the Commission on Elections and a Venezuelan company called Smartmatic. This destruction of our electoral democracy is being accomplished with the approval and support of President Aquino and his associates.
It is being accomplished, illegally and unconstitutionally, through the institution of an Automated Election System under the control of Smartmatic using Precinct Optical Count Scanning (PCOS) machines. With this system we Filipinos held illegal and invalid elections in 2010 and 2013. And we are likely to hold illegal and invalid elections again, using the PCOS machines or some other dishonest system, in the coming 2016 elections.
Some Catholic Bishops, including Archbishop Cardinal Ricardo Vidal of Cebu and Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, have pinpointed this foul automated election system–and four other areas of bad governance and corruption–as reasons for asking President Aquino to resign.
We are now begging you, please, Holy Father Francis, to do or say something to help save the Philippine Republic by rescuing our elections from the tyranny of the PCOS and other machines designed to electronically manipulate election results.
God bless you always, dear Pope Francis.