Print Version    Email to Friend
It is sin to buy and sell votes!

MANILA (UCAN) : Church leaders in the Philippines launched what they call a “Thou Shall Not Steal” campaign against vote buying and vote selling in next year’s national elections on May 8.

The campaign, spearheaded by the 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.

“You are pushing the politician to steal to get back the money they used to buy your vote,” said Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo during the launch of the campaign in the capital.

Pabillo, who heads the public affairs committee of the bishops’ conference, said the campaign also challenges politicians not to buy votes and steal the votes of citizens.

Father Anton Pascual, president of the Church-run Radyo Veritas, said the campaign is a “prophetic non-partisan political movement”. He said it aims “to address corruption, dishonesty and collusion in government and society”.

An election commission official admitted that vote buying and vote selling have become rampant with the automation of the Philippines’ method of voting.

“We noticed that [cheating] increased so much, including the figures for buying votes,” Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said.

A Church-based election watchdog noted that fraud, including vote buying and vote selling, was “bolder and on a bigger scale” in recent elections.

Henrietta de Villa, chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, said politicians “do everything to entice people to vote for them.”

“Vote buying” has included distributing money, rice, food packs, mobile phones and even education scholarships to voters.

Last month, De Villa’s group launched a voters’ education programme aimed at promoting “clean and honest elections” in the coming year.

Reports of election candidates bribing, intimidating or even killing to ensure election victory are common in The Philippines.

During 2013 mid-term elections, at least seven people were reported killed on polling day alone, while at least 60 people were killed in the period leading up to the election.

 

Aside from homilies and media interviews, Church leaders will be holding education seminars in parishes and schools. They are also encouraging people to wear white shirts emblazoned with the words: “Thou Shall Not Steal”.