A Catholic bishop in the central Philippines reminded elected national and local officials “to make sacrifices for the sake of truly serving [the people].”
“[Y]ou are well aware of our people’s high expectations when they decided to vote for you,” read a pastoral letter released on Wednesday, June 29, by Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan.
The prelate expressed his congratulations to the winning national and local candidates.
“Clearly our people expect their leaders to be ready to make sacrifices for the sake of truly serving them,” he said, adding that it is hope “that you heed their call to selfless service in your decisions and actions, mindful of the motto “Kapwa muna bago ang sarili (Neighbor first before self).”
He said that as bishop, “I am a shepherd tasked to guide our people morally and spiritually, together with our priests, religious and lay leaders in the diocese.”
“But like them, I am also a Filipino citizen who begs your kind attention to very important concerns,” said Bishop Varquez.
He urged the incoming administration to prioritize programs for the poor and their real upliftment, “aiming at liberating the province and the country from the preset unjust and dehumanizing social inequalities.”
“In aid of this would be a vigorous promotion of local food production for the purpose of achieving food security,” said the bishop.
On the environment, he called on the officials to work “for the protection and preservation of the environment by pushing for programs that truly mitigate climate change before it is too late.”
Bishop Varquez reminded the people to work for “semi-automatic elections” in the future, including the manual counting of ballots and electronic transmission of the results.
“This will help free the processes from suspicions that the present computerized counting is prone to,” he said.
On governance, the bishop urged the politicians to “pursue the common good as foremost moral principle in your decisions.”
“In support of this, please work to eliminate non-productive and corrupt ways in government by enforcing all anti-graft laws and practices, by regular lifestyle checks, and by productivity evaluations of government workers,” said Bishop Varquez.
“Make work compensations just and decent to further discourage greed and corruption,” he added.
He reiterated Pope Francis’ challenge “to pray and work together for a new kind of politics where political and social charity combine to tap ‘the reserves of goodness present in human hearts’ towards actions that achieve results especially ‘for the sake of the poor.’”
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