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Philippines

'Running priest' launches clean elections drive in Manila

Election officials challenged to be part of the cleansing process

ucanews.com reporter, Manila

ucanews.com reporter, Manila

Updated: January 29, 2016 10:24 AM GMT
'Running priest' launches clean elections drive in Manila

Running priest Robert Reyes, right, is joined by Andres Bautista, chairman of the Philippines' Commission on Elections during the launch of a campaign for clean elections on Jan. 29. (Photo supplied)

Father Robert Reyes, known as the "running priest" for his penchant to run for various causes, joined Philippine poll officials Jan. 29 in launching a "clean and credible" May election campaign.

Carrying broomsticks, the priest went around sweeping the road in front of the Commission on Elections office in Manila to dramatize his call for clean elections.

"This broomstick is a challenge for [election officials] to be part of the cleansing process," said Father Reyes. "This will also serve as a gentle reminder in case they forget their mandate."

Elections in the Philippines are usually marred by cheating and violence. During 2013 midterm elections, at least seven people were reported killed on polling day alone, while at least 60 people were killed in the lead up to the polls.

Father Reyes said he hopes that the campaign will put an end to the "ills of the country's elections."

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"Who will be left clean if the candidates will buy votes and voters will sell their votes?" said the priest.

Andres Bautista, chairman of the Commission on Elections, said his office supports the priest's campaign. "We are also for a clean and orderly polls. That's why we need everyone's help," he said.

Last May, church leaders in the Philippines launched what they called the "Thou Shall Not Steal" campaign against "vote buying" and "vote selling." 

The campaign, spearheaded by the country's Catholic bishops and religious congregations, urges Filipinos to stop trading votes "for it signifies selling the dignity not only of oneself but of the whole country."

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