CIRCULAR LETTER: Six questions for the voter

(Circular letter on the 2016 Elections issued by Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, Archbishop of Cotabato City, addressed to the “Beloved People of God in the Archdiocese of Cotabato” on May 2, 2016)

Greetings of peace in the Lord!

You may have already chosen your candidates. Let me stir your conscience. As chief religious Shepherd of the Archdiocese, my duty is to help your conscience in choosing your candidates in accordance with the moral–social principles of the Church. I do so in the light of the social situation in our country and our region.

The change that we need is a radical change. I speak of a profound change in mind, behavior, and values. Sadly a candidate who promises change could have the same values and behavior that require change.

Therefore, every voter who treasures conscience as God-given has to answer the following questions:

1. Is the candidate a person of moral integrity?

Corruption is a plague in our country. Billions of pesos go into private pockets every year instead of being spent to uplift the poor. Select a candidate that is not tainted by corruption, unexplained wealth and properties, and enrichment in office.

2. Does the candidate respect and defend the right to life?

Life is most sacred, a very precious gift of God. The right to life includes the right of the unborn, of the terminally ill, of innocent people, even of suspected or convicted criminals, of the old and the dying. The immoral termination of the life of the unborn and of innocent people, the termination of life even of suspected criminals in utter disregard of due process, are very serious violations. Select a candidate who by belief and practice demonstrates support for the right to life.

3. Does the candidate demonstrate respect for and fidelity to his or her faith?

Fidelity to the teachings of one’s faith is the mark of a God-fearing person. It is illustrated by fidelity to one’s spouse as taught by our faith, respect for religious leaders, fidelity to the commandments of honoring God’s name, to the commandments against stealing and dishonesty or against sexual immorality. Select a candidate who by word and deed is faithful to the dictates of his faith.

4. Does the candidate have an option for the poor?

This is a treasured teaching of the Catholic faith. It is expressed in various ways by other religions. The great majority of our people are poor. Will the candidate help harness – as a priority — the resources of government for the integral development of the poor, the needy, and the deprived? Will the candidate give more attention to the many who have not rather that to the few who have? Select a candidate who by deed has demonstrated option for the poor.

5. In our context in Central and Southern Mindanao, will the candidate work for a just and lasting peace?  

Every candidate promises to work for peace. But consider this. The phenomenal minoritization of the Bangsamoro in the past 80 years in the land where they had once exercised self-determination and sovereignty is an undisputed historical record. Has the candidate in any way expressed his biases and prejudices against the Bangsamoro so as to obstruct rather than promote peace? Will he recognize and promote Bangsamoro self-determination while preserving national sovereignty? Select a candidate who will be a just peacemaker.

6. Is the candidate competent to govern 100 million Filipinos and lead them to a better life?

Study the track record of the candidate. Are the candidate’s claims to successful governance or management proven by the record? Does the candidate grasp and appreciate the complexities of a democratic structure of government, value and protect the freedom of its citizens? Select a candidate who does not aspire to be the messiah but is humble as well as respectful of others’ freedom and competencies.

Beloved Faithful of the Archdiocese, in your political choices, apply your moral and religious values. Do not be mesmerized by surveys and claims of change by any means. Follow the road of the Christian disciple, faithful to the Lord Jesus and to the teachings of his Church. Help heal our political culture. Place your choices in the hands of Mary, Our Mother and Intercessor, our Guide on the journey to national renewal.

(Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI is Archbishop of Cotabato. He is also Mindanao’s lone Cardinal)