Churches to voters: Choose bets who put country over self

MANILA, Philippines – Leaders of different churches offered a common advice for members of their flock who will go out and vote on Monday, May 13: Vote for candidates who will put the country's greater good over self-interest.

This was the message of Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), and the Christian church Christ's Commission Fellowship (CCF) in separate statements ahead of election day. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Will religious endorsements work in 2019 polls?

On Monday, Filipinos will choose a new set of leaders, from 12 senators down to their local councilors. (READ: Your step-by-step guide to voting in May 13 elections)

Here are excerpts from the churches' advice to voters: 

Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David: Protect democracy, avoid tyranny

Ang pagboto ay hindi lang isang importanteng sangkap ng demokrasya. Ito'y paraan din upang mapanatili ang demokrasya sa pamamagitan ng pagpili ng mga tamang kandidatong ang pangunahing paninindigan ay para sa Saligang Batas at sa ikabubuti ng nakakarami at hindi para sa interes ng mga patron at mga kapartido sa pulitika, lalo na sa mga kapangyarihan na.

(Voting is not just an important part of democracy. It is also a means to uphold democracy by choosing the right candidates who primarily stand for the Constitution and the greater good, and not the interests of patrons and their party mates in politics, especially those already in power.) 

Minsan na tayong nawalan ng demokrasya at napailalim sa isang karumal-dumal na diktadurya. Ibig po ba nating maulit muli ang malabangungot na karanasang iyon ng ating kasaysayan?

(We have once lost democracy and plunged into a heinous dictatorship. Do we want a repeat of that dark period in our history?)  

Christ's Commission Fellowship: Vote for candidates with 3 C's

Election day is coming. Before you vote, pray for God's wisdom to guide you for God's will to be done in our country. Participate. Go out and vote. 

Vote for candidates with 3 C's: character (honest, no criminal record, servant leadership); competence (proven track record, good credentials); and concrete vision (must have solid plans for the country).

Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches: A call to show character, integrity

A call to show character. Elections reveal not only the character and competence of the candidates but also of the voting public. They reveal the voters' competence to discern and judge. The values we hold will clearly reflect on the quality of leaders we place in our government. May our votes reflect the best of our aspirations for our national life and expression of our faith in God. 

A call for integrity. Let us promote a culture of integrity during this election. Do not sell your vote, for it is sacred. The freedom to choose our leaders is God's gift; the freedom to vote is a legacy bestowed by our forefathers. Let us value this freedom, and not exchange long-term benefits for temporary gains. Therefore, be vigilant in ensuring that any form of election fraud will not thrive. Let us be instruments of truth, and pray that God will hinder any acts of darkness seeking to distort election results.

Endorse principles, not candidates

Other religious groups have taken a different approach, as they choose to endorse specific candidates in the May 13 elections.

The usual endorsements came from the Iglesia ni Cristo and the Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai, which both endorsed mostly administration bets for senator.

Lay leaders of other Christian groups, including the lay arm of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, supported candidates from the opposition ticket.

In a Rappler Talk interview on Wednesday, May 8, sociologist of religion Jayeel Cornelio however said religious groups should "endorse principles" instead of specific candidates.

"My argument is that when religious leaders choose to wield their power to endorse specific candidates, they're making a big mistake insofar as our democracy is concerned," Cornelio said, because by doing so, religious groups "simply replicate" patronage politics. 

"Do not endorse candidates. Endorse policies, endorse issues, endorse principles. Because that's what religion is good at," Cornelio said. 

The poll body expects more than 61.8 million registered voters to troop to polling precincts on Monday to elect new senators, party-list groups, and local officials on Monday.

This electoral process is widely seen as a referendum on President Rodrigo Duterte, who remains hugely popular and whose bets continue to lead popularity surveys despite criticism over Duterte's war on drugs and pro-China stance. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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