A Call to the Members of the CLCP on the 2010 Elections
In reflecting on the national situation in light of the upcoming 2010 elections, CLCP desires to highlight the following as its members discern within community on how best to be involved both on the local and national levels:
- We continue to live in a context where the reality of poverty constrains the freedom and dignity of the majority of our people.
- This poverty negatively affects our democracy because it gives rise to inadequate education, insufficient time to effectively decide between candidates, and the subjugation of many of our people within a social system that exploits their situation for personal and familial political gain.
- Corruption is facet of politics and governance which deprives our people of an estimated P400 billion annually (2001-2005 estimate, Office of the Ombudsman).
- These realities run counter to the social demands of our faith, especially the moral demands placed upon our leaders, “Those with political responsibilities must not forget or underestimate the moral dimension of political representation, which consists in the commitment to share fully in the destiny of the people and to seek solutions to social problems.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 410)
- As stated in our 1987 Constitution, “The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” (II, 1). Democracy as a political system is predicated upon elected officials being accountable to the people through regular, free, and fair elections.
- Our 1987 Constitution guarantees the right to vote and places responsibility for free and fair elections with Congress, “Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year, and in the place wherein they propose to vote, for at least six months immediately preceding the election. No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage; The Congress shall provide a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot as well as a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos abroad.” (V, 1)
- Elections are the constitutionally mandated way of effecting change and holding our leaders accountable. As our Church leaders remind us, “In the democratic system, political authority is accountable to the people. Representative bodies must be subjected to effective social control. This control can be carried out above all in free elections which allow the selection and change of representatives. The obligation on the part of those elected to give an accounting of their work – which is guaranteed by respecting electoral terms – is a constitutive element of democratic representation.” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 408)
- There are movements at many levels within the Philippines to identify, recruit, support, and hold accountable candidates who have personal and professional integrity and competence, and believe in the potential for greatness that exists in our nation and people.
- Our political situation has been progressively deteriorating, exacerbated by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that lead to disengagement or apparent apathy.
- Recent events indicate graft and corruption continue at all levels of government. They also show that from within the highest levels of government there are real and potential threats to the 2010 elections, our Constitution, and our freedom.
- In particular, it appears that Cha-Cha is being used as a means to derail and subvert the 2010 elections and thereby deprive Filipinos of their human dignity and freedom.
- If elections are not held, the Filipino people will continue to be alienated from decision-making on issues that matter to them and will further lead to disengagement and apathy, if not violence and rebellion.
- Changing the constitution before the 2010 elections would take away accountability to and involvement by the people. The government would waste energy and limited resources that could be used more productively to address more urgent and pressing needs.
- Reform is necessary at all levels of government, including Constitutional reform. The 2010 elections must be held as scheduled as a necessary part of the reform process.
- We need to be aware of the threat to our constitution, democracy and freedom and its ramifications on our future as a nation. We are also presented with an opportunity to participate in meaningful and significant reform toward strengthening our democratic processes.
- Elections must take place in 2010 as scheduled, governed by the rule of law. All CLCP members should take action to oppose any and all attempts to subvert the elections, including Cha-Cha prior to the elections;
- CLCP challenges all political candidates to address the issues facing our nation as part of their campaigns. We call on all voters to evaluate candidates based upon the quality of their platforms;
- We remind all CLCP members that the exercise of one’s vote is an important and essential task of the Christian living in a democratic nation and the responsible use of one’s freedom. If one fails to take his/her political duty seriously, one acts irresponsibly by failing to speak for and affect reform.
- Each CLCer is called to participate in the election process communally. This involves critically engaging the issues facing our nation and region in which each community lives and evaluating and discussing the character, credentials and platform of each candidate in community. These communal discussions when brought to prayerful reflection are manifestations of living out the CLC way of life and are necessary for members to reach an intelligent, thoughtful, and prayerful decision for whom one will vote.
- We are called to discern partisan or non-partisan involvement in the 2010 elections in ways that strengthen our democratic institutions. Whether we discern to support candidates who we identify as best able to bring about reform, or actively engage in education, poll-watching or other non-partisan participatory activities, we must remember that true reforms go beyond the 2010 elections.