Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: May 10, 2021 09:33 AM GMT
Filipinos are scheduled to go to the polls to choose a new president on May 9, 2022. (Photo: Unsplash)
Bells rang out at Catholic churches across the Philippines on May 9 to urge parishioners to pray and register to vote in the next presidential election in 2022.
The bells were sounded exactly a year before the country goes to the polls on May 9, 2022, to elect successors to President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo.
Church authorities are encouraging churchgoers, especially those who have not yet registered, to make their voices heard by choosing the next president and vice president.
“Let us awaken and enliven once more our love for the country. Register to vote … Make your voices heard. If you want to see change, elections are the democratic way to effect change,” Caritas chief Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan said.
He said Filipinos must begin to reflect on the qualities they want their next president to have as the election draws near.
“After six years under one president, what qualities do you now want our next leaders to possess? We only have one year before we choose. May we choose them well by praying and examining our conscience,” the head of the Catholic Church’s social action arm added.
This is a call for us to become involved in good governance
The tolling of bells was the brainchild of a group called Eleksyon 2022 Koalisyon, a non-partisan alliance of 29 multi-sectoral groups that includes Caritas Philippines.
Caritas’ executive secretary Father Antonio Labiao said the Catholic Church has begun mobilizing citizens to be more active in upcoming elections.
“We [Caritas Philippines] have been actively engaging with people for the next election. It’s important for the Church if we are serious with our mandate … to actively participate. This is a call for us to become involved in good governance,” Father Labiao said in a radio interview.
About 1.5 million new voters are eligible to vote in the 2022 national elections after having reached voting age, the Commission on Elections said.
The commission also said about another 4 million eligible voters have yet to register, while 7 million others have been cut from the electoral register for failing to vote in previous elections and would have to re-register.
“We are looking at more than 12 million more votes if both eligible voters and deactivated ones participate this time,” said the Commission of Elections.
“Getting into politics is not an evil in itself. Being involved in politics is a way to show love for one’s country. If the candidates who are running are good, the people would have good choices as well,” the prelate said on May 9.
The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, a church group that advocates for free and honest elections, said many Filipinos do not vote because of their mistrust of the whole political system.
“Millions … do not vote because they do not believe anymore in the sanctity of elections. When the voting process is overshadowed by money and violence, it makes elections a rich-only affair. It discourages the poor from voting or to sell their vote for money,” said Roderico De Guzman, a council volunteer from Manila.