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Philippine Bishops Call for Clean Elections

Encourage United Effort to Guard Against Corruption

MANILA, Philippines, JAN. 30, 2007 ( Bishops in the Philippines are calling for clean, honest and peaceful elections this May.

This appeal came at the close of their plenary assembly, held Friday through Sunday, and attended by close to 100 of the nations’ bishops.

“As a nation, we cannot afford yet another controversial electoral exercise that further aggravates social distrust and hopelessness,” said the episcopal conference’s statement, read by its president, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo.

The bishops urged Church organizations to link with other institutions in working for clean elections.

Heeding these calls, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said Monday that the May 14 elections would be “clean and peaceful.”

“Part of our quest to join the ranks of the first world in 20 years is to clean up the polls and let everyone take the first step forward,” Arroyo said in a statement.

“The bishops and I are on one track for clean and peaceful elections, and the administration will continue to work with all institutions and sectors to see that this happens,” she added.

Half of the 24 seats in the Senate, all 260 slots in the House of Representatives and more than 17,000 posts in local governments, from governors down to city and municipal councils, will be voted upon.

No new guidelines

The prelates did not issue voting guidelines as they have done in the past.

Archbishop Lagdameo, 66, explained that the bishops have made guidelines for almost every election and that they did not want to repeat what has already been done.

What is important now, he stressed, is for voters to “choose wise, discerning and experienced people.”

The bishops noted that unresolved questions concerning past elections have led to many of the country’s current political problems, which have hindered fuller economic development and social justice, especially for the poor.

They underscored that the May elections are especially important because they will allow the people to choose authentic public servants and instruments of a more just society for all.

“In these two years past, as we are only too aware, it has become easier to succumb to apathy and hopelessness about our country and its political life,” the prelates said.

But they also stressed the call to never lose hope.

The bishops’ statement will be sent to all Philippine dioceses and some 2,800 parishes spread throughout the country.

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