A Catholic bishop in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao appealed to the country’s political leaders to remain open to dissent and criticism in the wake of last week’s elections.
“In your years of service, remain open to dissenting opinions. It will widen your perspective,” said Bishop Raul Dael of Tandag, in a pastoral letter released this week.
“If handled maturely, it will bring out the best in you as a public servant,” he said, adding that dissent is a “form of service” given to public leaders for free.
Bishop Dael made the statement as he asked winning candidates in the May 9 national and local elections to reach out even to those who did not vote for them.
“Show goodness and respect to your opponents,” he said.
The bishop, however, lamented the “massive vote buying and vote selling” in his province in Surigao del Sur during the elections.
He said there is no denying that many received huge amounts of money from politicians in exchange for their “sacred votes.”
“Our province, in the midst of our adversity, has perhaps the largest voter exchange rate in the entire country,” said Bishop Dael. “Are we supposed to be proud of this?”
He said the amount distributed to each voter reached almost 12,000 pesos in the city of Tandag alone.
“We cannot deny that many were glad because of the huge amount of money they received in exchange for their sacred vote.”
“Our abstinence from vote buying and vote selling (is) measured in this election because this is the only way to change our country,” said the prelate.
Addressing those who lost in the elections, he expressed hope that their “passion to serve humanity in another way remain.”