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Mindanao archbishop calls for clean elections

Philippine polls have been marred by violence and cheating
Mindanao archbishop calls for clean elections

Various groups have responded to a call by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro to initiate campaigns for clean and peaceful elections in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting)

Published: November 12, 2015 03:42 AM GMT
Updated: November 11, 2015 04:32 PM GMT

A Catholic bishop in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao is actively urging citizens to be vigilant ahead of next May's national elections.

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro said communities should be involved in making the elections "clean, honest, accountable, meaningful and peaceful." 

Past elections in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, have been marred by violence and cheating.

"Be vigilant, engage and pray for the success of the elections," Archbishop Ledesma said in a letter addressed to churches, religious orders and lay organizations.

The archbishop called for Catholics to volunteer as poll monitors, watchers, and even members of "prayer brigades."

He said Catholics should remember that "votes are not for sale" and everyone should work against political dynasties.

The prelate said Catholics should be part of the church's "concrete action" against the buying and selling of votes and the proliferation of family members holding various political positions in the government.

Archbishop Ledesma reminded political candidates and voters of the pronouncement of Pope Francis that "politics is a noble profession."

"Our challenge to the political candidates is to heed this call and use this to exercise well this highest form of charity for the good of the people," the bishop said.

The church-based Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting will be holding a series of political and voter's education sessions in parishes, chapels and basic ecclesial communities around the region.

Carl Cabaraban, council coordinator, expressed optimism that Archbishop Ledesma's letter will yield positive results.

"We believe we can be victorious over the culture of vote buying and apathy through massive campaign and house-to-house visits," he said.

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