A Catholic archbishop described the practice of “vote buying” during Philippine elections as a “mark of the devil.”
“Vote buying is a mark of the devil. It puts a price on the person of the voter,” warned Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan in a post on social media.
“It is even worse when the vote buyer puts a price on their votes and tempts the poor,” he said, adding that during elections, “the poor are like fishes looking for food.”
“But instead of feeding them, the politicians put out bait as vote buyers,” said Archbishop Villegas. “They fed the poor, but they also hooked them.”
The archbishop lamented how “vote buying” destroys the heart of democracy and the people who make up the nation.
“When a fish is made boneless, it cannot grow anymore. It flails. Democracy flails if we don’t destroy vote buying,” he said.
The prelate made the statement as he noted “vote buying” for next year’s elections has already started disguised as “assistance” to the poor.
“This is not early assistance. This is early corruption. They are working hard to bait poor people. It has begun,” he said.
In another statement, the prelate quoted Pope Francis saying that “corruption will not stop if we just keep quiet.”
“We must speak out against it. Corruption must be declared wrong. Mercy and compassion reign over selfishness. We can be great even without money,” Archbishop Villegas quoted the pontiff.
In his homily on Sunday, Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the archbishop said members of the clergy should speak out against the exploitation of the poor by politicians.
“When the ignorant are exploited? When nationalism is sacrificed on the altar of opportunism and family dynasties? When lies are peddled and truth is muffled? Is God glorified? These are attacks on the kingship of Christ. The men and women of Christ must speak,” he said.
“Should there be a separation of church and state? Yes. Should there be a separation of God and man? No. Should there be a separation of God and politics? No,” added Archbishop Villegas.
“If those whom God has chosen and sent to teach will choose silence, how will the people know God in their lives?”
He said the when Christianity is removed from politics, “the wicked rule, the egoists reign, the poor suffer and sin prevails.” – with a report from CBCP News