23 March 2010 – Dagupan City. With only few days before the start of the campaign period for local positions, a number of Pangasinan’s political candidates underwent a spiritual recollection and reflection facilitated by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, DD. They later promised a peaceful May 2010 Elections by signing a covenant for peace.
More than half a hundred of political aspirants vying for local positions (governor, vice governor, congressman, and mayor) pledged to ensure a clean, honest, accurate, meaningful, and peaceful (CHAMP) elections through a peace covenant signing with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and Philippine National Police (PNP). The signatories come from different political parties. The signing was held at the Lay Formation Center of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan (ALD) in Bonuan Gueset, Dagupan City.
The signing of the peace covenant, a spiritual recollection was facilitated by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, DD for the local candidates. The candidates were given moments of reflection through slides and sharings by Archbishop Villegas. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed and the candidates were also given time to reflect and pray. In front of the Blessed Sacrament, Archbishop Villegas prayed for and blessed the candidates individually.
The holy mass followed the recollection. During his homily, Villegas asked the candidates to assure peace during the campaign period and elections. The prelate opened his homily by saying, “Everyone wants a clean election. Nobody wants a dirty election. Everyone wants a peaceful election. Nobody wants an election with violence.” He further said that he would be praying three things for the candidates: “lakas ng loob”, “ganda ng loob” and “kalooban”.
Most Rev. Socrates Villegas, Archbishop of ALD, with Atty. Reddy C. Balarbar, Provincial COMELEC Officer, PC Supt Constante D. Azares, Jr, the Regional Director, PRO1, and PS Supt. Percival G. Barba, Provincial Director of Pangasinan Provincial Police Office (PPO) served as witnesses for the said event.
Villegas also urged the candidates to be faithful to the covenant that they were about to sign. He said, “Put your conscience on it. Put God on it. For if not, it will just be a palabas.”
The Recollection, Holy Mass and Peace Covenant Signing was a joint event of Pangasinan PPO, Pangasinan COMELEC and Archdiocesan Social Action Apostolate (ASAP) of ALD.
Fr. Oliver E. Mendoza, the Social Action Director of the Archdiocese speaks before the Archbishop and General Azares, the Regional PNP Director, before the covenant signing.
More than 50 of the 158 candidates attended the recollection and covenant signing.
All photos, courtesy of Rev. Fr. Mario Dominic Sanchez of the Lay Formation Center
News Report by Mr. Franklin de Guzman