Legazpi bishop urges voters not to sell their votes

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – As the midterm polls draws near, Bishop Joel Z. Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi urged those voting not to sell their votes on election day.

Baylon is urging the parishioners of the Diocese of Legazpi not to sell their votes and not to give in to other tactics which deceive the electorate.

In his message on Palm Sunday, April 14, the prelate called on the people of Albay to uphold a symbolic message to show their votes were not for sale.

Said the bishop, “Put your blessed palm fronds (palaspas) at your doors and gates to symbolize that your votes are 'not for sale' in the upcoming May elections.”

“The palm that you’re holding represents a message of the true essence of this celebration," Baylon said.

Baylon said that it was high time the system of choosing and electing leaders be changed to end vote-buying practices, corruption, and dirty tricks.

The prelate even challenged the parishioners of Albay who attended the Palm Sunday service to drop the Palaspas if they will give in to vote buying.

“If you are selling your votes, right here and now drop your Palaspas,” he told the people attending the Palm Sunday celebration held at Peñaranda Park.

Hundreds of the parishioners bearing palm fronds congregated at Peñaranda Park to pay homage on the first day of weeklong commemoration of the passion of Jesus Christ.

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, which depicts the passion of Jesus Christ. Bishop Baylon led a community of parishioners in observing the Holy Week event.

From Peñaranda Park, Baylon led the procession as they entered at Saint Gregory the Great Cathedral for the Holy Mass. The Diocese of Legazpi is also preparing for the upcoming polls through massive recruitment of youth to be part of the Parish Pastoral Council and Responsible Voting.

'One good vote'

Meanwhle, Fr Rex Paul Arjona, director of Social Action Center Legazpi said in a Facebook post his decision not to vote for President Rodrigo Duterte in the past May 2016 polls will also be his judgement in the upcoming midterm polls.

“One good vote, what made me not vote for Duterte in 2016. Still my major point for discernment in voting this 2019,” Arjona said.

Arjona also criticized Duterte's leadership and anti-drug campaign that killed thousands of people.

Reacting on Duterte’s statement that human rights advocates are defending criminals, Arjona said the President placed himself above the law.

“No, Mr President. Human rights defenders operate under the rule of law. You, on the other hand, made yourself above the law,” he said.

“Under your twisted reasoning, suspects no longer have rights, and innocents and potential witnesses getting killed are treated as acceptable collateral damage.You may be powerful and immune to lawsuits now. But you will not stay in power forever. You and your minions and sycophants will have your day of reckoning,” Arjona said. – Rappler.com