AN archbishop who has been critical of the incumbent administration’s style of governance warned that democracy may die and some freedoms lost to political dynasties if the Catholic faithful would not translate their religious beliefs into votes in the midterm polls on May 13.
“When we demand that religion be purely a private matter that it should not touch political choices, society suffers. Democracy is hurt,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in his pastoral message for the faithful of Lingayen Dagupan on Sunday.
“And if we continue to keep ethics out of public service, democracy will be killed quietly unnoticed. And we die deprived of our freedoms,” Villegas said.
The former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president also sounded the alarm that if people vote “as if God did not exist, the nation suffers.”
Villegas asserted that the right to vote, the “backbone of democracy,” was not absolute, and came with a responsibility.
“The right to vote must be based on the right understanding of human dignity,” Villegas said.
“Democracy without values can easily turn into a thinly disguised totalitarianism,” said Villegas, quoting Saint John Paul 2nd.
He stressed the importance of identifying what the current situation of the country was—what was working and what needed to change. From there, they could decide who to vote for.
The prelate is urging the faithful to consider five factors: Kamatayan, Kabastusan, Korapsyon, Kahirapan, Kasarinlan and Kasinungalingan or the “6 Ks” (Death, Vulgarity, Corruption, Poverty, Independence and Untruth.)
In an apparent swipe at most of the administration’s senatorial candidates, who have either expressed support for the controversial policies or positions of the government such as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law, the bloody anti-drug campaign, “soft stance” on China in connection with the West Philippine Sea, or have been questioned for their honesty or lack thereof such as Imee Marcos who was accused of falsifying her foreign and state university documents, Villegas invited the faithful to ask themselves:
Have they given the orders to kill? Have they protected liars? Have they been quiet fence sitters who just allowed the 6 Ks to turn from bad to worse? “Have they contributed to the current problem of 6 Ks? Have they actively cheered and encouraged, enabled and supported the purveyors of the 6 Ks?”
“God will judge us for the way we vote. Our children will judge us for the way we vote. This election is important for them. Think of them,” he said.
“Be Godly voters. Be careful. Be critical. Be courageous. How would Christ vote? Vote like Christ. Do not leave God at the altar. Bring your Christian faith when you vote,” he said. CATHERINE A. MODESTO