It would have been best if all the presidential candidates had come to attend the mass celebrated by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle at the Manila Cathedral last Monday, May 2, even if only for the symbolic unity they would have presented to the nation at this time of such great discord and conflict in the closing days of the election campaign.
In his sermon, Archbishop Tagle called on the candidates to make it clear to themselves what human dignity and human rights means to them. As for the voters, he said, the Catholic bishops of the country are not asking them to vote for any particular candidate, only that they be guided by the common good. Human dignity, human rights, common good – voters should keep these in mind when they make their choices, the archbishop said.
The day before, Sunday, May 1, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Archbishop Socrates Villegas issued a pastoral appeal that voters cast their votes not only as an act of citizenship but also as a public declaration of faith. It urged them to shun candidates “whose speeches and actions, plans and projects, show scant regard for the rights of all” and who have declared indifference to the Church’s moral teachings.
Morality is not usually associated with politics and elections, but Archbishop Tagle and the CBCP have both stressed the need for the people to keep this in mind when they cast their ballots. The voters are looking for a leader, a capable administrator of government affairs, with a plan for the country and people, ready to meet and solve the most difficult problems of the nation. To these qualities, the voters are asked to make sure that the president they vote for also be a person of strong moral character.
At the end of the mass, the two presidential candidates present – Vice President Jejomar Binay and Secretary Mar Roxas – along with 15 senatorial candidates signed a covenant for Truthful, Responsible, Upright, Transparent, and Honest Elections initiated by the Archdiocese of Manila and Radio Veritas.
We would welcome other candidates, particularly the three who were not able to make it last Monday – Sen. Miriam Defensor, Sen. Grace Poe, and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte – also signing the covenant, even if only in the presence of Archbishop Tagle, as token of their oneness with the call for truthful and honest elections tomorrow.