Bishop Julito Cortes of the Diocese of Dumaguete appealed yesterday to the public to minimize mudslinging as the election fever heats up, with the campaign period for national candidates ongoing.
He sounded off his call during the briefing conference of the Diocesan Electoral Board at the Marian Priests' Center at the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral compound in Dumaguete City.
Mudslinging and other forms of political propaganda that would hurt the other candidates to promote one's self or a person's candidacy are becoming rife in this election season, he lamented.
Cortes, who is the DEB chair, stressed that people should rather go to the “heart of the matter” discussing issues, platforms, plans and other government agenda that would alleviate the current situation in the country.
“Let us minimize mudslinging. Let us concentrate on what the people need to hear regarding their upliftment and welfare,” he appealed.
He said he is saddened by the fact that even before the start of the official campaign period, the airlanes were so corrupted with the mudslinging of candidates for higher positions. He said he hopes and prays that candidates will go to the heart of the matter, discuss issues and platforms in a high level form, and not below-the-belt campaigning.
Candidates should instead tell the people about their plans for the environment, their plans to address poverty, illegal gambling, and extrajudicial killings, among other ills of the community, he pointed out.
He added that people should “learn their lesson well”. He said he hopes that voters will learn from the past and not make poverty as an excuse for vote-buying and vote-selling.
“We deserve the kind of leaders we have because we do not do our part,” Cortes said.
He said that despite the issue of poverty, there are other concerns that are equally important, and these should also be considered “over and above our own personal interests,” he added.
Concern for the country, concern for the welfare of the people, and civic mindedness of the political candidates are some issues that should help voters discern as to who they should elect into office, Cortes stressed.
He said voters should be proactive in making their opinions heard. Cortes urged them to actively participate in the candidates' forums lined up by the DEB, so they can raise their issues and concerns.
He said he has asked the priests in the diocese to set aside partisan politics and if they have personal preferences, then they can do it in private.
He appealed to the priests during the clergy retreat last week to actively participate in the voters' education campaign and other activities for clean, honest, peaceful and orderly elections in May.
He admitted there are some priests who have “tendencies” to be partisan but Cortes maintained that it is against the stand of the Church to be partisan “outwardly”.
He assured that priests have committed to support the activities of the diocese on voters' education campaigns and poll watching and monitoring, by fielding volunteers through the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting for the May 9 elections, unlike in previous polls.
Meanwhile, a Walk for the CHAMP is set 4 p.m. on March 3, from Rizal Boulevard to the Aquino Freedom Park in Dumaguete.
DEB convenor, Msgr. Julius Heruela, said that after the walk, an inter-faith prayer rally and covenant signing will be held, and expected to be participated in by congressional candidates, as well as bets for governor, vice governor, and Sangguniang Panlalawigan members, the police and the military.
The towns and cities can also hold their covenant signing activities with their chiefs of police.
On March 5, a training will be conducted for trainors and coordinators coming from the parishes, Heruela added.*JFP/JG
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