Pray for wise choices, voters urged

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Sunday, May 5, 2013


WITH the elections just a week away, leaders of the Cebuano community appealed to voters to pray and study what candidates stand for.

“Your vote is sacred, ayaw padala sa gusto mopalit sa inyong boto (Do not be influenced by those who want to buy your vote),” Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma told reporters after presiding over the command conference last Friday of the Cebu Citizens Involvement and Maturation in People’s Empowerment and Liberation (C-Cimpel).

He said the issue of vote-buying has been openly discussed of late as a way to encourage people to avoid the practice.

“Changes are gradual. (But) we can hope for the better,” said the prelate.

Meanwhile, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. advised voters to go beyond whether or not a candidate is pro-life, in deciding whom to vote for.

“We should gauge the totality of the person. If a candidate is immoral, yet pro-life, (there’s) no way you should vote for him,” he said.

Commandments

Davide was the guest speaker at the inaugural Knights of Columbus breakfast meeting, where he suggested that voters follow the 10 commandments for responsible voting issued by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

The list includes voting according to the dictates of one’s conscience; respecting the decision of others in choosing their candidates; and seeking to know the moral integrity, capabilities, and other personal qualities of the candidates you will vote for.

The CBCP also encouraged voters to strive to understand the issues, platform, and programs of candidates and parties; not to sell their vote; not to vote for candidates using guns, goons, gold and glitter; and not to vote for candidates tainted with graft and corruption.

The bishops, in their voter education manual, also reminded the people not to vote for candidates because of “utang na loob” (out of gratitude for previous favors), popularity, good looks or “pakikisama” (camaraderie).

Davide also recommended using the Laser test promoted by the church-based anti-corruption group Dilaab Foundation Inc.

Laser test

The term Laser stands for “lifestyle, action, supporters, election conduct and reputation.”

Archbishop Palma said there are several lay groups that have come up with programs aimed at helping voters choose wisely and at keeping the elections orderly and safe.

He said that C-Cimpel is prepared for poll watching while other groups are “trans-partisan” or groups that do not support just one political party or just one candidate.

Palma referred to the Lay Initiatives For Elections (LIFE) 2013, which has come up with a list of candidates and party-list groups they endorse.

Another initiative is focused on voters’ discernment, which was also conducted by the Dilaab group led by Fr. Carmelo Diola.

“This is part of the process of growth, awareness and (recognizing) how important elections are,” said Palma.

Volunteers

“This involves prayer, discernment, study and making people aware that we choose the people we deserve during the elections. Let us
trust voters to be more knowledgeable, more discerning. Let us respect the decision of the people,” he added.

As to the preparations for the elections, C-Cimpel executive director Marilu Chiongbian said there are about 7,500 poll watchers who will be fielded to more than 3,000 precincts in Cebu Province.

There are also other volunteers for support groups, prayer groups and those who will run voter assistance centers from various parishes in the archdiocese.

“There is a certain confidence, but we should still be alert, vigilant and watchful,” said Chiongbian.

Chiongbian and Palma met with Cebu Provincial Police Office Director Patrocinio Comendador, Comelec Cebu Provincial Election Officer Atty. Eddie Aba, Comelec Central Visayas Director Temie Lambino, and Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command Chief Major General Roy Deveraturda last Friday afternoon.

Comendador said they are 98 percent ready with one percent reserved for the dry run and another one percent for the final sealing and testing of the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines next week.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 05, 2013.

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