The Bishops in the CBCP, while respecting what the leaders of El Shaddai and other groups have been doing for years, still maintain the freedom of Catholic members to choose their candidates. We expect them to discern, discuss and personally decide whom to vote. To dictate on them whom to vote is as bad as buying their votes.
In the end, we cannot be genuinely sure whether the candidates who have been dictated on the voters will really serve them. All the more if the voters are taken with a “buy and sell attitude.” Proof of this is the past experience of elections.
The CBCP does not want the candidates to be indebted to the bishops; instead we want the candidates to make a genuine covenant with the electorate: that if elected they will serve the people and not themselves. This is what the PPCRV is trying to do.
We can trust “the wisdom of the people,” if only their judgment will not be violated or adulterated by “guns, goons and gold,” if only the process of election according to the rule will be respected and not manipulated by self-interest. If the wisdom of the people were allowed freely to function, they will get the leaders they want or they get the leaders they deserve.
As we said in our pastoral letter, we exhort our people not only to pray but also to be vigilant. Let the different associations and groups come together to study and examine the candidates and their platform of government. They may even come to an agreement among themselves whom to vote; but each one must personally come to his/her decision. They will not vote according to personality or winnability but in view of the candidates’ agenda of government
On the one hand, there is no Catholic vote in the Philippines, because all Catholics are free to vote any candidate of any political party. On the other hand, because catholics are almost everywhere, many of the candidates who win, win by catholic votes; but this is no reason to brag about, because the candidates win or lose by his own virtue or lack of it, and the electors vote according to their respective persuasion and conviction.
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
March 13, 2007