While other Catholic prelates have endorsed specific candidates, the Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro City has urged his flock to be “pan-partisan” but to junk political dynasties.
In a four-page pastoral letter, Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J. said exercising pan-partisanship meant “reaching out to all political affiliations” while voting against political dynasties, going against vote selling and vote buying, and caring for the environment.
“To be partisan in Philippine politics does not necessarily mean to side with one party only … voters are expected to follow their conscience in choosing public officials that will serve the common good and help in the development of their community,” said former CBCP vice president Ledesma in a report on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website.
On March 3, Ledesma led the Mindanao launch of the Movement Against Dynasties (MAD) at the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral in Cagayan de Oro.
“Political dynasties are correlated with corruption because there are no longer checks and balances when people from the same families are in office and helping one another,” Ledesma said.
He noted that studies conducted by the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and the Asian Institute of Management all showed a correlation between political dynasties and corruption, poverty and violence.
“The larger the political dynasties in the government, the more poverty seems to persist in our economy,” he said, adding that another study showed that at least 70 percent of the country’s public officials belonged to a political dynasty.
“It is, I think, a sad commentary that our leadership cannot be more widely spread among people who are perhaps more competent, more conscientious and more committed than members of political dynasties,” Ledesma said.
The prelate reminded everyone that the Constitution includes provisions against political dynasties.
“As monopolies in business, monopolies in politics limit the entry of those that can bring in new ideas and better service. Political dynasties breed corruption and ineptitude,” Ledesma said.
“A related advocacy is the campaign against pork barrel allocations—which impels political dynasties to expand in order to control the largesse of public funds,” he said.
Ledesma’s archdiocese has also launched an “Our Votes are Not for Sale” campaign against the “rampant” practice of vote buying.
“More profoundly, vote buying as well as vote selling are offenses against the dignity of the voter himself who exchanges his reasoning and freedom for a fleeting sum of money,” Ledesma said.
The archbishop also urged the public to always remember the lessons of Tropical Storm “Sendong,” which devastated areas of northern Mindanao in December 2011.
“Typhoon Sendong has taught us the bitter lessons from the wanton degradation of our watershed areas surrounding the Cagayan de Oro River and other tributaries. The continued bleeding of the Iponan River through hydraulic flush mining also has to be stopped,” Ledesma said.
“The rehabilitation and protection of our environment should be a pan-partisan concern of all candidates for public office,” he added.
The archbishop also urged voters to “choose candidates with the five C’s” or those who have “Character, Conscience, Competence, Compassion and Commitment.”