AN OPEN LETTER ON THE ELECTIONS
FOR THE BATASANG PAMBANSA ON APRIL 7, 1978
My dear People of God in the Philippines:
During the semi-annual meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines held in Baguio on July 7-9, the bishops and archbishops present made an assessment of the conduct of the elections for the Batasang Pambansa on April 7. As a result of this assessment, they have authorized me, as the CBCP Secretary-General, to write this letter to you.
After comparing notes and impressions on how the election was conducted, they reached a consensus that, in many places in the country, there was ample evidence of fraud and deceit, of connivance between government officials and some teachers to tamper with the results and to frustrate the will of the people.
While the bishops expressed their admiration for those teachers who resisted bribes and intimidation — even at the risk of losing their jobs — they voiced their deep concern over the apparent willlingness of other teachers to defile the sanctity of the ballot and thereby make a mockery of the right of suffrage which all freedom-loving people hold dear.
Deceit in all its forms, particularly those whose commission bears grave consequences on society and its history, must be denounced and condemned. The bishops do hereby denounce and condemn it. They believe also that every act of deceit is but a symptom, a sign of an even more serious malady. It is the mark of an egoistic heart, of an extremely individualistic outlook. And it is this outlook that must be changed if deceitfulness is to be banished.
Deceit cannot be combatted except through truth, and injustice cannot be set right except through acts based on the tenets of justice.
For this reason, the bishops of the Philippines, acting unanimously, voted to endorse the Open Letter issued by His Eminence Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, the Archbishop of Manila, which he issued on April 13, after it became clear to him that the conduct of the elections in Metro Manila left much to be desired.
Permit me to quote some pertinent excerpts from this Open Letter:
• “The post-election atmosphere has been beclouded by a welfare of charges and counter-charges. Partisan feeling continues to run high and the unity which (should have been) achieved seems to be more inaccessible than ever. “An atmosphere such as this is dangerous and something must be done to clear it. We must not allow passions to be inflamed, dissatisfaction to foster and tensions to intensify. “For the air to be cleared, and for the process of normalization to be hastened, two things must be done:
• “First, all citizens, regardless of party affiliation, who were witnesses to the commission of electoral frauds, must substantiate and document those frauds and then file charges against the person or persons involved; and “Second, all the duly constituted authorities, the members of the Commission on Elections particularly, must give a respectful hearing to these charges, conduct an unbiased and impartial investigation, and then, after due process, punish the guilty and absolve the innocent.
• “Unless this is done, the emotionalism will continue to rage on, and there will be no peace. Unless this is done, the faith of the people in the sanctity of the ballot, and their confidence in democratic processes will be shaken. “I call on all concerned citizens, therefore, to reaffirm their faith in democracy by coming forward with first-hand information of election irregularities. I urge them to present their charges before the Commission on Elections whose sworn constitutional duty is to uphold the cause of clean and fair elections. “I also call on all lawyers to manifest their concern for truth and freedom, justice and peace, by offering their services to such citizens who may need their help. “Finally, I call on the Commission on Elections to open its doors to all those who may wish to seek redress for their electoral grievances. I urge it to investigate all charges brought to its attention, to give everyone a fair and public hearing, and to punish the guilty regardless of position in life and society, and regardless of party affiliation.”
My dear People of God in the Philippines: Your bishops have spoken. We must all join hands to fight the injustice that was committed against us during the last election. Just as important, we must all, individually and collectively, strive to change our outlook so that, in the future, we may not stand by impassively while injustices are being committed.
For us to be able to do this, there must be a change in our outlook–a change that can come only after a real education–an education for justice which consists in the overcoming of individualism, the conversion of heart, the capacity of criticism and reflection about situations with regard to the dignity of the person and the sense of universal brotherhood.
To this end, the CBCP, wishing to rise above what is destructive and disruptive, will shortly issue a pastoral letter on Education for Justice so that the people may be awakened to the principles of justice, truth and love, and which are the foundation of all true democracy and freedom.
(Sgd.)+CIRILO R. ALMARIO, D.D.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
July 10, 1978
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines
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AN OPEN LETTER ON THE ELECTIONS FOR THE BATASANG PAMBANSA ON APRIL 7, 1978