Performance artist urges public to shun vote-selling
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – A local performance artist has reiterated the call of the Catholic Church urging people not to sell their votes, as Filipinos prepare to cast their ballots Monday.
“I have been doing this (performance art) since 2010, but it seems people are still swayed by money,” said Nicolas Aca, who positioned himself outside the entrance of the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral on Sunday, trying to convince people not to sell their votes to political candidates.
Holding a small Philippine flag while carrying a cooking pot and ballot box placed on opposite ends of a bamboo shoot on his shoulder, Aca tells churchgoers, “Ayaw ibaligya inyong boto (Do not sell your votes).”
READ: ‘Don’t cheat; don’t sell your votes’
As people pass him by, there are those who take a quick glance at him, while others ignore his presence altogether.
But the artist said he is still hopeful that things will change for the better and that only the people, not the politicians, can effect that change.
“There is still hope for our country. But as long as vote-buying and vote-selling are still being practiced in our country, I will not stop with my advocacy through art,” Aca told this paper in an interview after his performance.
READ: Miriam Santiago tells youth to protect their ballots
Aca said he is supporting the call of Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma who, in his pastor letter to all parishioners, church leaders, and lay workers in the archdiocese, has enjoined the faithful not to exchange their vote for a sum of money from political aspirants.
“We urge you not to sell your votes. We urge you to vote for candidates of conscience with a consistent pro-life ethic and reject candidates who promote the culture of death,” Ledesma said in his pastoral letter.
“The choice you make will determine whether we live in the light and progress as a nation or bring back the darkness that we have experienced and rejected in the past – an autocratic regime characterized by violence, human rights violations and corruption, and a reign of terror and greed,” Ledesma added.
Ledesma has gained the ire of some of the supporters of presidential hopeful and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who accused the prelate in singling out the latter in his letter when he said “these summary killings, without formal charges and due process, can never be justified – whether or not the victims are suspected criminals or rebels or workers on strike. These killings are illegal, immoral and sinful.”
READ: Senior Mindanao prelate calls out Duterte in pastoral letter
Citing a report compiled by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), Ledesma said of the 1,424 extrajudicial killings in Davao City from 1998 to 2015, 132 of these were children.
“The prime responsibility for the inaction over these unsolved crimes must rest squarely on the Mayor and local government officials. A city with such a high rate of unsolved killings cannot be called a city of peace and order,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), in a separate pastoral letter, advised its members to choose good leaders based on what had been stipulated in the Bible.
A leader, the PCEC said, must be capable, God-fearing, trustworthy, honest, and hates bribes.
“Do not be deceived by empty words or be subject to pressure. Exercise your sacred right to vote in accordance with God’s word… do not vote a foolish person to office,” Bishop Noel Pantoja, PCEC national director, said in a statement.
Quoting passages from the Bible, the council said a foolish person is the one who slanders, jokes about wrongdoing, boasts, stubbornly right in one’s own eyes, lashes out in rash words like sword thrusts, and expresses no shame over one’s folly, among others.
“I urge everyone to be vigilant in protecting our votes to see fairness, accuracy, integrity, transparency and peaceful elections,” Pantoja added. JE/rga
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