Watchdog group seeks papal help for clean polls
MANILA, Philippines–Saying the Filipinos’ burden was not only natural disasters but rampant corruption in government and poor leadership, the poll watchdog Citizens for Clean and Credible Elections (C3E) has asked that Pope Francis pray for clean and credible elections next year in the country.
In a letter to the Pontiff, coursed through Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, C3E said: “Please bless our elections and we pray that they would truly reflect the sovereign will of the people and not the desires of the few in power.”
“We are humbly asking for prayers that the Filipino people will be able to elect their next set of leaders in a clean and transparent manner. Please pray that their hearts and minds be overcome with a sense of love and responsibility for the country so that they will vote responsibly.”
The group also called for prayers to “guide officials of the Commission on Elections in conducting the polls free of outside influence and corruption.”
‘Bereft of integrity’
C3E expressed the hope that Comelec officials “will have the courage and see the light in rejecting the fraud-tainted (precinct count optical scan or PCOS) technology provider in favor of credible automated poll system firms that are not bereft of integrity.”
The group was apparently referring to Smartmatic, which bagged the P300-million negotiated contract for the diagnostics of the Comelec’s 82,000 voting machines supplied by the controversial firm.
Smartmatic has repeatedly denied allegations about its poor track record and irregularities in its dealings with the Comelec.
C3E pointed out that “in May next year, our national automated elections will again be underway despite pending issues on electoral fraud and cheating, which remained unanswered from the past two elections.”
“Many concerned groups and individuals have already exposed these issues and yet we still face the coming election with uncertainty,” it said.
Through compassion, faith
Filipinos, it noted, “have always been resilient and managed to keep afloat all this time, not only because of our compassion for each other but also through our faith as a nation.”
“But our burden is not just limited to calamities of the natural kind. As we speak, our country is also starting to rot from the inside as corruption in government continues to spread and become more rampant as poor leadership has taken its toll,” adding that “in this light, we are humbly asking for your prayers.”
Last week, C3E called the awarding of the contract by the Comelec the “most unwelcome development in the preparations for the 2016 elections,” as it prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court.
“We are utterly dismayed the Comelec chose to award the PCOS refurbishing deal to Smartmatic. And the manner by which the decision was arrived at was shrouded in secrecy from the time it was promulgated (shortly before the Christmas holidays),” it said in a statement.–Jerry E. Esplanada