Several Philippine Church leaders called on the public to respect the results of this year’s national elections amid protests that cast doubt on the integrity of the polls.
“Let’s respect the rule of the majority from a relatively peaceful, clean, and credible election,” said Father Anton Pascual, head of Church-run Radio Veritas 846 in Manila.
He said respect for the election results will show “appreciation of the democratic ideals” and the “rule of law.”
“We may not win elections, but the feelings of joy and wonderment were priceless. And just maybe, that brief moment was actually a glimpse of heaven,” said Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista of Imus in a message to supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo.
Initial elections results show former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr cementing a landslide victory in the presidential race over Robredo.
The news of Marcos’ victory was, however, met with protests by activist and student groups who questioned the integrity of the electoral process.
“Sometimes we have to look beyond the obvious. We prayed that Leni would win but she didn’t. At least in the [Commission on Elections] count, she didn’t,” wrote Bishop Evangelista.
“But she won the hearts of the people. She won them enough to stay in the sun for hours, enough for them to campaign and spend for campaign materials, enough for them to bring or prepare food to share with others, enough for them to clean up after each rally and so many more things that you would never expect a Filipino to do,” he added.
“My thinking is that God sent Leni to make us realize that there is innate goodness in the Filipino. Each Filipino has the ability to rise above oneself,” said the prelate.
“I am beginning to think that God never meant for Leni to win. Her mission was to waken us up. If Leni won, do you really think she would be able to change the mindset of our government?” said Bishop Evangelista.
“I think we would expect so much more from her that we will complain about each and every mistake or problem that she is unable to solve. We will castigate her as an inutile leader as in the same manner we castigated [the late former president Benigno Aquino III],” he said.
“I think God used Leni to show us that if we unite we are capable of great things. Sure, we tried hard but we still lost the election,” added the bishop.
He said, however, that the people who supported Robredo “gained character.”
“We saw people volunteer their time, money and themselves for something beyond them. And it was wonderful. God showed us that if we get together and worked together, things happen,” said Bishop Evangelista.
Bishop Valentin Dimoc of the Diocese of Bontoc-Lagawe in the northern Philippines, meanwhile, urged people to pray for “healing” after the elections.
“May the Merciful Love of God heal strained and ruined relationships during the elections,” said the prelate, adding the healing “takes time.”
“We start by accepting that each person is considered one vote and the will of the majority of voters is to be respected,” he said.
“The will of God is to work for the common good. We may eventually find ourselves discussing or debating on specific things that promote the common good but this is encouraged in a democratic country,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
The bishop prayed that “in the darkness of decision-making, may the light of God’s will be followed by the elected officials so that the quality of life of people, especially the marginalized, may improve.”
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, head of Caritas Philippines, reminded the people that vigilance should not end with the elections.
“We will pursue our post-election program of making our leaders accountable to their promises,” said the prelate.
“We will continuously publish and expose and disseminate information about their programs and the agreements they signed,” said Bishop Bagaforo.
He called on everyone to “work together and always for the greater welfare of our people and our country.”