Choosing a candidate? Heed Ten Commandments, says Philippine prelate

IMAGE: CNS photo/Rolex Dela Pena, EPA

By Simone Orendain

Philippines (CNS) — A Philippine archbishop is urging Catholics to heed
the Ten Commandments before they head to the polls in May to vote for offices
ranging from president to local village councilors.

Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, who is also president of the Philippine
bishops’ conference, said in a pastoral letter to the faithful in his
archdiocese if they need help “assessing the worthiness” of candidates, they
should “use the age old standard set by our Judeo-Christian tradition — the
Ten Commandments.”

Villegas listed all 10, with descriptions of how they apply to picking
candidates. He particularly hit on some long-running issues: corruption and the
persistence of political dynasties.

does the candidate show filial piety to elders? How does the candidate safeguard
family life, the protection of children and the elderly and frail family
members?” he asked, saying that a candidate who failed at the commandment on
honoring one’s parents could “harm the basic unit of society — the family.”

this commandment, the archbishop also warned against voting for candidates
whose families had held the same positions before them, since this would
“perpetrate the family’s hold on public office.”

lawmakers have repeatedly failed to pass anti-political dynasty measures
because a significant majority of them have relatives in politics or are
offspring of public officials, while others come from generations of

Villegas highlighted certain pitfalls in calling attention to the commandment
against stealing. He implored the faithful to look into a candidates’ records
in dealing with banks and insurance firms, big business contracts and whether
they faced corruption investigations.

under the commandment regarding stealing, the archbishop reminded Catholics
that neglecting the “environment is robbing future generations of a clean and
beautiful land.”

Villegas told the faithful to “see the different forms of lying,”
especially during the campaign period.

the letter, the archbishop said, “Be careful in choosing leaders. I say it
again — be careful” that Catholic voters do not simply choose who has good
polling numbers

free from the tyranny and pressure of trends and herds. Do it right. Choose
what is right according to the Ten Commandments,” said Archbishop Villegas.

presidential candidate who has consistently polled in the top three of national
surveys is currently facing corruption inquiries. But this same candidate
opposed a controversial reproductive health law, which includes a provision for
government-funded contraception for the poor — something the church also strongly
opposed. Another top-three candidate, a mayor of a major Philippine city, has
boasted of cleaning up crime by killing criminals.

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