VARIOUS religious groups held an inter-faith prayer rally at Kiosko Kagawasan in Divisoria, Cagayan de Oro City Thursday, May 5, organized by Cagayan de Oro Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and joined by the military, police, and the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Proculo Sarmen, YMCA past president, said the group called leaders of religious organizations to pray for the future leaders from the top to the lowest government posts to address pressing problems of society.

Sarmen said extreme poverty continues to be the main problem faced by the Filipino people.

"Ang YMCA believes in poverty alleviation and people empowerment to solve the failure of governance. We should not be alienated by politics because we believe in genuine politics," Sarmen said.

Circle of discernment

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma said the Archdioceses of Cagayan de Oro will build a circle of discernment as a venue to examine the qualification of candidates and analyze voters’ own situation and issues in the city.

Ledesma said the circles of discernment are continuing even as he urged voters to engage in principled partisan politics.

Voters are also called to pick candidates who will work for the common good which is the main goal of politics.

"Hagit sa tanan to be clear in our principles nga election is not a question of popularity but looking at resolving problems in the society," Ledesma said.

Ledesma reiterated the five criteria for choosing candidates that included Conscience (candidates with moral integrity); Competence (academically prepared and service record); Compassion (should have a heart for the poor, marginalized and minority in the society); companion (who's with the candidates and who supports him/her and the political party and platform background); and commitment (decisiveness and leadership and basic principles).

Ledesma said these criteria is a way to scrutinize all candidates to arrive at a balanced judgment.

Ledesma maintains that it can only be achieve through "Champ" (Clean, Honest, Accurate, Meaningful and Peaceful) elections.

But Ledesma emphasized that the most important criterion is conscience of people who have moral integrity and who possess values.

"We hope that the basic gospel values regardless of political platforms can be subscribed by candidates," Ledesma said.

The interfaith prayer rally was participated by Muslim, Lumad and Christian representatives.

"In our inter-religion dialogue forum we always said that Islam and Christianity are religions of peace and we share many values," Ledesma added.