Updated: November 24, 2021 10:47 AM GMT
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan. (Photo: Karl Romano)
A senior Catholic churchman in the Philippines has accused several politicians of undermining democracy by engaging in early vote-buying ahead of national elections in May next year.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen Dagupan said several politicians have begun buying votes in the form of “cash aid.”
“It’s incredible, they have started this early. Some people have already received ‘aid’ from politicians…. This is not a case of early charity. This is a case of early corruption,” the archbishop said in a Facebook post on Nov. 23 without revealing any names.
He said distribution of such money to the public was tantamount to vote-buying.
“Vote buying is the mark of the devil. The vote buyer puts a price on the electorate. Those who buy votes are used by the devil because they put a price tag on the poor,” Archbishop Villegas added.
Usually, vote-buying takes place the day before the election when representatives of candidates distribute envelopes containing cash to families included on their list of “supporters”.
Some voters received as much as 7,000 pesos (US$140) to vote for a particular candidate.
Archbishop Villegas said elections in the Philippines have become the playground of the rich and powerful, while those who are competent do not get a look in.
“The more money, the more chance of winning. Those who are the brightest and the best are usually last while those who are popular and are liars are applauded,” he added.
The prelate lamented how vote-buying affected the kind of leaders Filipinos chose to idolize.
“Those who are corrupt are the ones being pursued by the public for selfies. Politics has become a family business,” Archbishop Villegas said.
He said vote-buying bred nepotism because politicians only wanted their family members to stay in power to steal people’s money.
“They need to make sure only family members inherit their public office so that their luck in politics remains within their family,” he added.
Archbishop Villegas urged Catholic voters not to be bought.
“Do not accept money, get angry, and tell the authorities. When you do this, you are sending a message that you are not for sale. My dignity is not for sale. Stop that illegal practice,” he said.
“Corruption will not stop if we keep quiet. We must speak out against it. Corruption must be declared wrong. Mercy and compassion must reign over selfishness. We can be great even without money, Archbishop Villegas said quoting Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.