The month of May carries two meanings for us Filipino Catholics. The month of May turns our eyes to the beautiful Mayflower devotion and the refreshing sight of the most beautiful young ladies of the community walking in procession around the town for the Flores de Mayo festival.
May is also the month of the fall of Corregidor which happened on May 6, 1942. That day in Philippine history spelled frustrating defeat and shattered hopes for our forefathers. It cost the vanquished and the victor one thousand seven hundred lives leaving two thousand two hundred wounded in body and an infinite number of people scarred in soul.
The month of May can spell a fresh springtime or a gloomy ignominy. It can be grace or disgrace!
The forthcoming May 10 elections can be an occasion too of hope and a fresh springtime. It ca also become a contemptuous day of shame and dishonor.
To the voters and to those who seek to be voted I say: Look beyond May 10. There is still life after May 10. Do not compromise your soul just for a victory for that single day or a meal for a few days. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul? Choose eternal life not ephemeral life!
To the candidates I say: You shall not steal. The only moral way to assume your power is through the vote that is cast wisely and freely and counted honestly and respectfully. It is not enough not to steal. It is imperative that we also prevent stealing victory in elections. The Philippine bishops in 1986 said: “According to moral principles, a government that assumes or retains power through fraudulent means has no moral basis. For such an access to power is tantamount to a forcible seizure and cannot command the allegiance of the citizenry.” Choose honor not disgrace!
To the candidates and their supporters I say: You shall not kill. We must not allow blood to stain the ballot. Away with the use of force, coercion and intimidation! Those who live by violence will die in the same way. In a violent election, everybody is a loser. Choose God not guns!
To the candidates and to the campaign strategists I say: It is a sin to tell a lie! It is immoral to concoct, to spread and to repeat vicious lies. It is immoral and sinful to take away the good name of another. The tongue is a small part of the body; the computer keypad is likewise small and so are cell phones; but they can spread so much poison when lies and gossip and detraction spread through them. Reject lies and stand up for truth!
To the elections officials I say: Choose heroism not compromise! Yours is the heroic mission to make the elections credible and meaningful. At the historic first automated elections in the Philippines, you can go down in history as heroes or traitors. Defend the people’s civil rights from all attempts to rig the elections. Great trust has been reposed on you. Do not betray us for thirty pieces of silver. When the new winners have been proclaimed and the election fever has gone, may you COMELEC officials all come out clean and honorable not disdained and scorned. It is immoral to thwart the free will of the people. It is also sinful to just allow cheating to happen and not lift a finger to prevent it. COMELEC: We do not believe those who say that the first automated elections will also be our first automated cheating. It should not be so. Please make it so! COMELEC: Live up to your honor!
May the forthcoming elections become a real feast of the flowers of May—a new hope for tomorrow and a new pride for us Filipinos!
This is our only choice. This is our single mission. Let us choose grace and honor!
From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, April 18, 2010
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan