God, Grant us the Courage to Act Responsively,
Give us the Wisdom to Choose
Just and Righteous Leaders
STATEMENT OF THE UCCP COUNCIL OF BISHOPS
ON THE MAY 2004 ELECTIONS
As the May 2004 Elections approaches, we solemnly pray for God’s guidance and inspiration as we participate responsibly in the election process and in voting for national and local candidates we deem to be servants of the people, attentive to people’s demands, and govern in the way of justice and righteousness.
While many Filipinos have misgivings that honest, clean and fair elections could take place as demonstrated in past electoral contests, we believe God makes use of these exercises to teach us to speak and act collectively as a faith community and as a people. Let us manifest our commitment to God’s justice and shalom by responsibly participating in the coming elections. Acting seriously, even as we recognize other people’s discernment that elections alone will not bring meaningful changes, we can perhaps contribute to the emergence of just and righteous leaders in our troubled land.
Our Scriptures provide sufficient guidelines in responsible participation in the coming May 2004 Elections. Deuteronomy 17:15 17 inspires and guides us in choosing a leader. Here, Moses tells the people not to “make a foreigner your (ruler).” For the Israelites, a foreigner was not necessarily someone from another country but anyone who might betray the people for some foreign interest.
Also in Deuteronomy, the new leader “must not have a large number of horses for his army” and must not “send people to Egypt to buy horses.” Having just decided to remove foreign military bases and troops from our soil for the first time since the 1500s, the warning which follows is likewise for us: “You must never return that way again!” (Dt.17:16 FISV). The Philippine Constitution calls for an independent foreign policy and we must, therefore, elect leaders who will uphold the fundamental law of the land, specifically on this matter.
Moreover, Moses calls on the people to select a ruler who is faithful to only one spouse, thus underscoring morality and personal integrity as essential attributes of a good leader.
The people are likewise instructed to choose one who does not “make (oneself) rich with silver and gold.” These words are surely relevant for a nation where politicians spend millions to get elected and then enrich themselves once in public office.
We find the same inspiration and guidance in choosing a leader as we read I Samuel 8, Isaiah 9, 32, Matthew 11:18 21, 23, and Mark 10:35 45.
In light of God’s word and Christ’s mandate, we call on the members of our Church and the entire Filipino people to make good use of the election process. Let us avail of the occasion to educate the members of our society in responsible participation. Let us advocate for the people’s just and legitimate demands amidst the parade of party platforms and electoral campaign promises. Let us choose national and local leaders who are honest, morally upright, competent and of proven integrity and who put the people’s interest first and stands uncompromisingly on critical issues of our time.
Specifically, we urge you to:
1.Be involved in and initiate reflections and discussions in the local churches connecting the election campaign issues to the basic issues affecting our lives and society.
2.Take note of electoral campaign promises. After the elections, critically monitor the actions of elected officials and hold them to their campaign promises and engage them to fulfill genuine programs of peace, justice and good government.
3.Give your vote to the candidates of your rightful choice. Remember we are casting our votes for the good of country, the people, and our future, particularly our children. If we vote wisely, we will have a more responsible government. If we do not, we will have no one but ourselves to blame.
4.Cast your vote and encourage other voters to cast theirs. Participate in poll watching to make sure votes are counted properly.
Added to the above mentioned appeal to our constituency, we believe it is relevant to re-echo some of the important moral guidelines for voters which the Council of Bishops issued in the past. And so more specifically we urge that:
1.We should choose leaders who have a proven track record of genuine solidarity with the poor and the powerless. They should not merely mouth it as a slogan but actually propose a program of what ought to be done and strategies of how to go about it.
2.We should choose leaders who have a genuine concern for the protection and care of our natural environment. They should propose a symbiotic process by which needed industries might be operated that would not merely be harmful and destructive of the natural environment, but re-enforce and renew their powers to maintain a healthy ecological balance among all living things.
3.We should choose leaders who have a passion for justice and the rule of law. We should ask them for a just and humane approach to solve the festering problems of injustice in our land—such as poverty, the problem in Mindanao, the drug problem, and rampant jueteng which is usually under the protection of some government agencies.
4.We should choose leaders who have a passion for justice and the rule of law. We should ask them for a just and humane approach to solve the festering problems of injustice in our land—such as poverty, the problem in Mindanao, the drug problem, and rampant jueteng which is usually under the protection of some government agencies.
5.We should choose leaders who are daring enough to put our national sovereignty and the country first, before anything else so that the powers and resources of our land may be expended for the good and welfare of our own people.
6.We should choose leaders who are committed to run all public institutions and government agencies as public services and instill in everyone who works in government that they are public servants, and not rulers and agencies of government power and authority.
7.We must choose leaders who have a clear and realizable vision for the Filipino people, a vision that can be shared by all, and which can draw in all Filipinos to make sacrifices towards its realization.
Finally, the Council of Bishops asks the Church to organize working groups at the national, conference and local church levels that shall guide, coordinate, and monitor our participation in the May 2004 Elections. These groups will be composed of volunteers who shall spearhead and conduct electoral education and advocacy, establish linkages with other group and individuals of like-minds, and set up poll watch machinery.