Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bishop Pabillo's homily at the Solidarity Mass for hostage victims

1 Cor 2, 10-16 Luke 4, 31-37
August 31, 2010, 8AM
Quirino Grandstand

IN the well-loved song THE PRAYER popularized by Josh Groban, we have this line, sang in Italian and not translated at all in English. It runs thus: Sogniamo un mondo senza piu’ violenza, un mondo di justitia e di speranza, ognuno viva con il suo vicino, symbolo di pace, di fraternita’. Yes, we dream of a world without any violence, a world of justice and of hope, each one living with his neighbor—a sign of peace and of fraternity! This indeed is the world that we dream precisely in this place where violence and senseless carnage took place 9 days ago. In front of this very bad event seen all over the world as the tragic drama unfolded before the eyes of cameras for 11 hours, we dream all the more of a world without violence, a world of justice and hope. We hold on to this dream. This is why we are gathered here today. We do not want our dream to be blown away by that nightmare!

Is this dream a make-believe? No. Our gathering in prayer, in solidarity and in fraternity – from different walks of life, different ethnic groups and even different faiths, shout together: No! our dream is not a make-believe. It is real, and its reality is not based on human possibilities but on our faith in God who is beyond our human wickedness and weakness. We affirm with the Scriptures: where sin increase, grace increase all the more! Our hope then is borne by our faith. The song THE PRAYER makes this appeal to God: Lead us to a place, with your grace, give us faith so we’ll be safe. The phrase is very touching: GIVE US FAITH SO WE’LL BE SAFE! It does not say, give us arms, so we’ll be safe; nor, give us security gadgets so we’ll be safe. It says, give us faith, so we’ll be safe. Yes, faith in a God who loves us, in a God who cares for us.

It is difficult to believe in a God who loves in moments like this. This is why we look at Jesus on the cross. On the cross—expression of human senseless cruelty—Jesus, the love of God for us is found. This Jesus was powerful enough to drive away evil by his words. We hear in our gospel reading how people of his time marveled at Jesus not only for the wisdom of his teachings but also for the power of his words. “With authority and power he commands unclean spirits and they come out!” But Jesus did not only drive evil away by his words. He definitively drove out evil once and for all by himself being subjected to suffering and death—because of his love. Such is the love of Jesus manifested in suffering that “by his wounds we are healed… by his death we are given new life”

It is indeed new life that we are praying and asking for in this occasion. New life for those unjustly killed. We pray that our heavenly Father may receive them and give them fullness of life among our saints and ancestors. New life for those who survive yet are deeply wounded physically, emotionally and psychologically. We pray for their healing. New life for our officials—the judiciary, the police, the politicians, the media, new life for us!

New life for our judiciary. Let justice be done! Justice delayed in justice denied. Here we have witnessed how justice delayed can have dire consequences for the entire nation. Captain Rolando Mendoza is not the only one who had been deeply wounded by the slow grind of our justice system. There are still so many who are crying for justice. Let those who dispense justice do their job well, and soon! This terrible case is also calling out to heaven for justice. Not only the Chinese are calling for a just and swift investigation of this case. We Filipinos demand the same from our officials. Bring out the truth; let those responsible, whoever they maybe, be held accountable. No whitewash! No scapegoats! Let there be new life now for our justice system.

We are asking for new life too from our police and for our armed forces in general. Let them be true keepers of peace, and to be keepers of peace they should respect life and human rights to the utmost. The fact that Captain Mendoza had to violate the rights of others and ultimately violate their lives to air his grievances does not speak well of his police work. He had been long in this career. Did this service not ingrain in him respect for others and respect for life? The big question that should confront all in the armed forces is: Are they trained to protect and respect life and human rights? New life for our police and the armed forces is not just to get more sophisticated arms or to get more training. It is above all to have deep love and respect for human rights and life itself.

New life for our politicians. We are asking for more concern, mas malalim na malasakit, for the people they are serving. It is very sad that this concern was not manifested enough during the 11-hour drama. Oh, may there be really new life from our government officials – looking for the good of the people and not for their own self-interest. Let not this issue be politicized, that is, let it not be dealt with in a self-seeking or self-protecting way. Let real service and real concern be given.

We are also asking for new life from our media people. Media is not measured by its “live” and “exclusive” coverage. Respect for authority, respect for life and the protection of basic rights are also to be considered.

New life is also called forth from us, the Church and the faithful. This atmosphere of violence is a call to us to be more assiduous in working for peace, for forgiveness and for justice. Our message is not heard enough, or is it not proclaimed enough? We cannot just do the usual practices while this culture of violence is inundating our culture. We need to be more creative and self-sacrificing in our evangelizing work.

We are challenged by last week’s terrible event. As we are challenged to act and to do, we are also challenged to hope more and to trust in God. Our God is not just looking at what is happening to us. He is also working among us and in us. We are reminded by St. Paul that we have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God. So in this Eucharist we thank and praise the all powerful Father for his presence and action in the world. He is at work in the Spirit of Jesus among us. We affirm in our Eucharistic Prayer that the Holy Spirit is at work when understanding puts an end to strife, when hatred is quenched by mercy, and vengeance gives way to forgiveness.

In these highly tensed moments there is great danger that strife, hatred and vengeance may get lose. We need the Spirit of God to pour down on all of us his gifts of understanding, mercy and forgiveness. We offer therefore this sacrifice of God’s love for the eternal repose of those who lost their lives, to beg for understanding, mercy and forgiveness from God and from those who have been grieved, and to call for new life from all of us. May those who have suffered and died not been so in vain. May their sacrifice, made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, bring healing and new life to us. So in this nightmare, we continue to dream. Sogniamo un mondo senza piu’ violenza: we dream of a world without anymore violence, un mondo di justitia e speranza: a world of justice and hope; ognuno viva con il suo vicino: each one living with his neighbor; symbolo di pace e di fraternita’: a sign of peace and of fraternity. Yes, let us dream the dream of God!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Statement on HaciendaLuisita Compromise Agreement

THE Church in the Philippines acknowledges that "agrarianreform is still the one big issue that touches our rural poor most directly."The agenda for social justice and the realization of our preferential love forthe poor are seriously tested in our resolve to address the problem of inequityand rural poverty through our commitment to implement genuine land reform (Actsand Decrees of the Second Plenary Council, No. 391).

The case of the reported compromise deal in the 21-yeardispute in Hacienda Luisita was taunted as a breakthrough in the effort to endthe long-standing agrarian issue over the 6,500-hectare land owned by theCojuangcos, the family of President Benigno Aquino III. The deal could havebeen a cause for celebration if not for a number of questionable processes andhighly inequitable terms contained in the said agreement whose reportedapproval of the farmers was brokered by the company itself, the HaciendaLuisita Inc. (HLI).

We will laud and support any initiative to immediatelyresolve the two-decade land dispute, but it should be in a manner that is fairand would uphold the farmers' rightful claim to the land. The unusual haste that characterizes thewhole process of arriving at a compromise makes the deal all the morequestionable and suspicious. Hence, we raise the following issues below toquestion the supposed terms of agreements and the process by which thecompromise was crafted.

In 2005, the directive from the Presidential Agrarian ReformCouncil and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) explicitly called for theredistribution of 4,415 hectares of the 6,500 hectarage under the ComprehensiveAgrarian Reform Program. Implementationof this order was stalled by the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) granted bythe Supreme Court. But the present compromised agreement totally disregardedthe DAR order and made the farmers accept the lopsided sharing scheme - withthe farmer-beneficiaries being offered only 33% of the land or only 1,400hectares out of the 6,500-hectare property. Clearly, this arrangement isdisproportionately in favor of the HLI and totally contradicting the socialjustice intent of the law. In effect, the farmers will end up owning very smallparcel of the land for the sprawling land estate would be divided among 10,502 CARPbeneficiaries, based on the list submitted by Hacienda Luisita management. Andthe list itself actually needs meticulous scrutiny and verification.

The compromised agreement also made provision for theimplementation of the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), which is in fact,already revoked by DAR in the same order in 2005. The SDO scheme isunacceptable for it is an outright circumvention of the agrarian provision forland distribution. And it is worth mentioning that in the twenty one years ofimplementing the SDO, it had not lifted the farmers out of their impoverishedand vulnerable state. The SDO scheme facilitated the virtual surrender of thefarmers of their rightful claims to the agricultural lands of the hacienda inexchange for a pittance or meager shares of capital stock and productionshares.

The much-ballyhooed compromised agreement on HaciendaLuisita's estate was also tainted with anomalous processes in the way thecompany chose representatives for the farmer sector. The present leadershipboth of ULWU (United Luisita Workers' Union) and AMBALA (Alyansa ngManggagawang Bukid ng Asyenda Luisita), question the authority of the company-designatedleaders, namely Noel Mallari and Eldifonso Pingol, to represent theorganizations that had already disowned and expelled them a long time ago.

Moreover, the manner of obtaining farmers and workerssignatures was also dubious in view of the allegation of bribe-offers disguisedas "financial package" or "monetary benefits." We acknowledge the fact thatdestitution in Hacienda Luisita would drive the farmers to seek immediate andtemporary relief from their economic woes, hence making the compensationpackage of the SDO an enticing option. Butthe strategy of capitalizing on peoples' poverty to trick them into acceptingthe disadvantageous compromise is another form of grave injustice committed againstthe farmers.

In the light of the foregoing, we denounce the compromisedeal in Hacienda Luisita as a grand scheme to thwart the implementation of theagrarian reform law and a pre-emptive strategy to influence the Supreme Courtdecision on the TRO case pending for resolution soon.

To serve the interest of justice, we appeal to PresidentBenigno Aquino III to fulfill his pro-poor platform of governance by implementingthe agrarian law and by not honoring the compromise deal that ran counter tothe constitutional mandate that the entire 4,415 hectares of land should bedistributed to the plantation farmers. The President cannot feign neutrality inthis issue, for his silence and inaction will mean an implicit endorsement ofthe unjust compromise deal orchestrated by Cojuangco-owned HLI. If land reform cannot be implemented inHacienda Luisita, we see no possibility of implementing it in any place at all.Hindina kami pwedeng mangarap . . . sa pagpapatupad ng tunay na katarungan para samga mahihirap!

Concretely, we appeal that the compromise deal be set asideand allow a genuine and transparent process of consultation with the farmers beconducted, allowing them to understand the full range of options available andthe advantageous counter-proposal that will truly benefit their sector. Thisinitiative should be carried out by DAR, in partnership with the legitimatefarmers' and workers' organizations.

We believe that the social justice agenda of the Aquinoadministration will be loudly spelled by the decisive intervention of thePresident to push for the rights of the farmers over and above the sinisterattempt of the Cojuangcos to retain ownership of the CARP-able hacienda.

We affirm the social teaching of the Church that explicitlyunderlines that "the right to private property is subordinated to the right tocommon use, to the fact that the goods are meant for everyone" (Laborem Exercens, No. 14).

We will continue to pray and work for the resolution ofagrarian conflicts so that so that justice and the Lord's peace may be truly realized.

+Broderick Pabillo, DD
August 12, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

The fight for transparency and truth moves on!

Last Friday, June 4, was an unfortunate day for the House of Representatives in particular, and for the Arroyo administration in general. The ending scenario of the Lower House just confirms the belief of many in the country. This administration is hiding a lot of things and it is afraid of the truth. Who would oppose the Freedom Of Information (FOI) bill in a democracy? It is very basic that people can participate responsibly in a democratic process when nothing is hidden from them. It is very basic in a democratic process that those who govern are but representatives of the people on whom real power resides. How can representatives hide from the people who elect them information that is meant for the common good? What makes people doubt and even “hate” this administration are its efforts to hide the truth of many issues in governance from the people. The FOI bill is supposed to make this process of transparency , and hence accountability, clearer and easier for the people. It is meant to bolster our democratic processes. Why is congress so afraid of this? If it had passed the FOI the 14th congress could have given the country a contribution toward a stronger democracy. It could have been a strong message to all that all the talks about corruption and hiding the truth are not true. But now the opposite is stands. The present Arroyo administration is all the more held suspect.

What happened last Friday showed also showed us make kind of leader Speaker Nograles is. He is not trustworthy. All his protestations that he is for the FOI bill, which he even co-authored, are sham. In the first place why should he have waited for the last day of congress to put to the floor ratification of the bicameral conference? It also shows his weak leadership. He cannot even have his bill, so he claimed, passed. Or is he just a stooge for someone else?

The Arroyo administration cannot wash its hands on this fiasco. There is a strong suspicion that it has a hand in this. We shall see this hand in the 15th congress when the bill will be filed again. We shall see who shall delay or kill it? The absence of the three Arroyo representatives in the house last Friday is very revealing. They were out to kill it!
They killed it but FOI will not die! It will rise again in the next congress—and stronger! What happened in the last two weeks when the Lower House was dilly-dallying with FOI made more people aware of it. More will lobby and support it. It will become a law of the land! Unfortunately for the 14th congress, it will not have the honor of bringing it to life. The truth will come to light! The fight moves on!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Challenges to the Church in Philippine Politics Today!

On May 21 of this year Pope Benedict XVI met the participants of the 24th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity who were meeting in Rome to discuss on the theme: “Witnesses to Christ in the political community.” In his talk he told them, among other things…"It is up to the lay faithful to show - in their personal and family life, in social cultural and political life - that the faith enables them to read reality in a new and profound way, and to transform it....It is also the duty of the laity to participate actively in political life, in a manner coherent with the teaching of the Church, bringing their well-founded reasoning and great ideals into the democratic debate, and into the search for a broad consensus among everyone who cares about the defence of life and freedom, the protection of truth and the good of the family, solidarity with the needy, and the vital search for the common good". He also said that although the "technical formation of politicians" is not part of the Church's mission, she reserves the right to "pass moral judgment in those matters which regard public order when the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls require it".

What the Holy Father said remains a great challenge to the Philippine Church. We are challenged to have lay people who actively participate in political life. In a way this is already being done. In the last elections of May 10 we have seen the fielding of church volunteers in the hundreds of thousands all over the country. They contributed in no small degree to the “success” of the elections in spite of the poor organization and limitations of the COMELEC. Church volunteers directed the people to their precincts, helped monitor the conduct of the elections, and even assisted and taught the members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) their duties. Without the Church volunteers we can just imagine the chaos that could have resulted.

Our lay people are good in non-partisan election duties during elections. This is already good, but not yet enough. We also need non-partisan volunteers to monitor the performance of the elected officials after the elections. In general this is not yet being done. Many fora were organized before elections during which the candidates were asked what their programs would be. Many covenant signings were inked with different groups to ensure that the candidates would their election promises to the people. But after the elections nobody follows these up. So the elected candidates are not exacted the accountabilities that they have promised. We need lay people who are as aggressive in asking for accountabilities as they were in monitoring the elections.

Christians as good citizens are called not only for non-partisan duties though. Partisan politics is also a call of the faith. We need good Christians who bear witness to Christ as good politicians. There are already attempts of good Christians who join the electoral contests because of their faith. Unfortunately though their efforts are not supported enough by the electorate who up to now are still not wise enough to go beyond name-recall, and worse, not good enough not to have their votes bought. So while we call on people to be active in partisan politics we too should do more as Church to educate our people on their political duties. No good people will be elected unless the general population exercises their votes in a moral manner. Yes, in a moral manner, since to vote for a bad or incompetent person is to do harm to the common good, and to sell one’s vote is to sell the country!

The educated middle class cannot understand why people cannot understand the simple logic that to sell one’s vote is to sell one’s dignity. Indeed it is a great crime to the country, but for people who barely survive, 500 pesos is 500 pesos, how much more a thousand, or even three thousand pesos! Who can resist his amount of money when it means a meal for a week, and even a month for the family? The point is, we can never have a good and wise electorate unless we bring people out of dire poverty! It is poverty, in fact, simple survival, not ignorance much less moral depravity, that push people to sell their votes. So it is pointless to rant why people sell their votes when we do not do anything to reduce and eradicate poverty! Poverty eradication does not only mean handing money to the poor. It means creating structures and setting up and implementing laws that uplift the poor and fight corruption! In a way, consciously or unconsciously, there is a grand scheme to keep people poor from our traditional politicians. They do not really exert the political will to uplift the people from poverty since people of their kind – traditional politicians - flourish when people are held captive by poverty. They cannot easily buy and fool people when the people are free enough to choose.

This is the challenge for the Church in the political sphere. Yes, we continue to give political education. We continue to recruit people to do non-partisan monitoring of politicians during and outside of elections. We continue to encourage good and upright Christians to serve God and country as good politicians. But most of all, we do our best to influence Philippine politics to exert the political will to craft and execute pro-poor laws and to create a structure in Philippine society that can lift people out of the captivity of poverty, which is the fertile ground of political manipulation.

All of the above challenges are challenges to the Church. When we speak of Church, we speak of the People of God. Among the People of God there are different roles. The Popes remind us time and again that it is the role of the lay faithful to bear witness to Christ in politics and to transform politics. In the country at the moment the expectation is that the hierarchy should do this. Yes indeed, the hierarchy has its role to play in political transformation. Its role though is indirect, not by directly entering into the political arena but in inspiring, teaching, enabling the lay faithful to do this. Here, we priests and bishops, have our own culpability. We have not done enough to encourage and support our lay faithful in this mission. In fact we have not educated our people that they cannot be good Christians unless they are good citizens, and to be a good citizen in a democracy is to participate actively in the affairs of society. Democracy is a participative form of government, hence we cannot be good citizens in a democratic form of government if we do not participate in it.

People are hopeful now that we have a new government. Let us not just be watchers at a distance what this new government can do. Let us participate closely in the renewal of society. Some do this by being part of the government. Others by direct support while still others as vigilant critics. There is a role for all in a democracy. What we should avoid is the I-don’t-care-less attitude, which the Church, both as clergy and lay, should fight against. Hope is not a wait-and- see outlook. Hope is a call to action, that we do what we hope for!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Musing on Elections – 3

It is 6 days ago that we had the elections. After the dust of the euphoria, or dismay, over the political exercise, now is the time to look at a proper perspective over the process of our Automated Election System (AES). There is a public consensus being formed that the automated election was a success. Everybody was stunned at the speed of the results. The worse scenarios projected, such as military take=-over, total failure of the system, general mayhem, did not occur, thanks be to God! What contributed to the success? Is everything alright now?

Many quarters attribute the successful May 10 election more to the people than to the automated system itself. In fact the system was not in place as claimed. Many machines malfunctioned. The clustering of the precincts brought long queues. Many voters do not know their precincts or lost their names. Transmission problems abounded. Even up to now some 5 million votes are not yet counted. But in spite of all these the voters turned up – 80% some calculated although only 75% were able to vote. This is already a high turn out when compared to more “mature” democracies. This just tells us that most of our people want to be heard. They are participative. This is also augmented by the fact that many did not mind lining up from 2 to 5 hours just to cast their votes. With the heat of that day and the inconveniences of many of our polling places, that is truly admirable! In spite of the long wait, the confusion and the heat, in general people kept their cool. The teachers who manned the polls were truly admirable too. They did not receive the proper training for AES as planned but their made use of their own creativity to make the system work. Admirable too were the election monitoring volunteers. They helped a lot in assisting people. Their presence too was a great assurance to the public that their votes would be properly counted. They stayed on together with the teachers until the results were transmitted. For many that meant a sleepless night. All these people made the election a success! We should not discount the fact that many people offered prayers and made vigils several weeks before May 10 to make this election succeed. This contributed not in a small degree to the patience and resilience of people on the election day itself. Congratulations to the Filipino people!

This does not mean though that everything was alright. Now is the time to call for accountability. I commend the COMELEC officials for a great work, so too the Smartmatic people. They were really on their toes the whole time, what with so many critics around them. However there are nagging questions begging for answers. Things could have been better, and the results more reassuring of these have been taken cared of.

1. What happened to the education budget of the COMELEC? Most of the election education received by the public came from initiatives of NGOs and Church groups. Except for a few TV and radio ads the public did not benefit from election education by the COMELEC when they have big budget for this.
2. Where were the extra 6000 PCOS machines stored? Why were they not used to replace malfunctioning machines?
3. In many cases the ultra-violet scanners which cost the COMELEC millions of pesos were not found in the precincts. Why?
4. What are the results of the Random Manual Audit?
5. Why even up to now – 6 days after election day – not all the results are in if the system was fully automated? If not fully automated, then how many percent were done manually?
6. Smartmatic promised that there would be enough modem to transmit the results. There seems not to be enough. In one school in Tondo there were 3 modems for 27 PCOS machines. Is this the proper proportion?
7. There were not enough IT technicians from the Smartmatic to attend to various technical problems and many report that many technicians do not know what to do. They were not properly trained.
8. Many machines malfunctioned. What is the allowable margin of defects in the contract with Smartmatic?
9. Why were the safeguards provided in the law not followed, such as the source-code review, the electronic signature of the BEIs, voters’ verifiability of their votes, machine verification of authentic ballots among others? These concerns be attend to. The great danger is that because the election was a “success” we may be complacent and leave things as they are. With these safeguards not put in place in the future somebody will bound to come up with ways of electronically cheating our elections.
10. The clustering of the precincts should be reviewed. So many were disenfranchised because it was not properly done and the public was not sufficiently informed.

These questions are not to dampen the celebratory mood of the public. Vigilance is the price of democracy and we continue to be vigilant - to make the system better for the sake of the future. If not, our “success” today will spell our doom tomorrow. People with evil intent will soon be devising means to out-do the AES. COMELEC should take a hard look at what happened and already find solutions to the shortcomings so that its gains now can lead to further gains. To do this COMELEC and Smarmatic should listen to their critics. Many times we learn more from our enemies than we do from our friends.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo
Auxiliary Bishop of Manila
Chair, NASSA

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Musings on Elections 2010 – 2

These musings are more of questions and observations based on experiences.

After having voted, I went to visit several centers that monitor the elections. CBCP World has a monitoring center set up at the top floor of the CBCP office in Intramuros. It is manned by many religious men and women. The PPCRV has theirs in Pope Pius XII Center while NAMFREL has it in La Salle Greenhills. All these centers have lines of computers and phones set up and they are receiving updates from their people in the ground. The common comment that I hear is that of long lines of people in the voting centers and of people not finding their names because of the clustering of their precincts. At the rate things were moving at mid afternoon, many would not be able to vote as people are getting fed up waiting and in many places the voting process is so slow. In one school in Novaliches for example 300 service numbers were distributed in the morning but by 3 pm only 80 have cast their votes! Not that few voted, but the process was so slow! I also heard of several places in the country where elections were not conducted for a variety of reasons, like the ballots were switched between a town in Iloilo and another town in Eastern Samar. Two towns in Lanao did not have the elections because no BEI personnel could be found since the teachers there are relatives of the local candidates. Some towns are so far inland that the PCOS machines cannot get to their places. There were also many reports of breakdowns of PCOS machines. I wonder where the extra 6000 PCOS machines meant to replace malfunctioning ones are kept. It is said that they are kept in reserve in hub centers. Where are these hub centers and who and how can they be accessed? There seems to be a lack in information and there is no point person to ask.

Another question came. I observed that when I voted in the morning my ballot was not scanned. Each precinct is supposed to have an ultra-violet scanner to scan each ballot to know whether it is an authentic ballot or not. This was a solution made when the automatic scanners in the PCOS machines were decommissioned because of miscalculations in the printing of the ballots. The COMELEC spent millions to acquire these scanners and there was even a controversy over this. I asked others who voted. Their ballots too were not scanned. To verify further, I went to a public school in Makati and observe the last hour of voting there. In all the precincts there were no ultra-violet scanners. We spent millions acquiring them and they are not used!

Another observation. Many of our public schools have 3 or 4 stories with no elevators at all. There were complains coming from the elderly that they could not make it up the stairs! Perhaps considerations should be made for the elderly and the handicapped so that they need not go up the flights of stairs in order to exercise their right to vote.

Finally, we are now in the counting and canvassing stage. I write this around 10 pm. Most of the precincts have finished the voting. There are problems in sending the results to the central servers. One problem is that there are not enough modems. In one school in Tondo with 27 PCOS machines there are only 3 modems! To compound this situation is the fact that it is not easy to transmit the results. Probably the system is overloaded at the central servers. I wonder up to when will the BEIs, the PPCRV volunteers and the watchers wait till all the results will be transmitted. Ah… there is so much to improve! Yes we need to learn from experience, but could not the painful learning experiences have been lessened if more planning and foresight had been done by the COMELEC?

Bishop Broderick Pabillo
Auxiliary Bishop of Manila
Chair, NASSA

Monday, May 10, 2010

Musings on Elections 2010 – 1

Success! I was able to cast my vote, and successfully! This was a victory but a hard-won one. I came to the voting center at 10 am and was able to cast my vote at 12:30 pm! The voting center was the Isabelo de los Reyes School in Tondo. It was full of people. The heat was terrible, heat not only coming from the sun but also from the thousands of bodies gathered there! It is a wonder that up to now there is no news of anyone being a victim of heat stroke! Fortunately, ours is a patient people. We Filipinos are known for patience. There were squabbles here and there but in general the atmosphere was peaceful – people lining up and waiting patiently for their turn. I was not that patient. Good for me that the voting center is near the convent where I stay. Upon getting my service number which was 350 and knowing that the one being served was number 230, I went back to my room to do some reading. Two hours later I came up and I still had to line up for 30 minutes more.

Voting started at 7 am. By 12:30 I cast my vote, number 350. I surmise not all the 349 before me voted. I was right. There were only 280 votes cast before me, and that at 12:30 pm! Each precinct has 1000 voters. I wonder how many of those 1000 in my precinct would be able to vote. But this is not just the situation in my precinct. I went around asking the other polling places in the same school. All have similar situations. I wonder how many percent of the electorate will line up to vote. Worse scenario: I wonder how many will not be able to vote even if they want to because there is not time left.

We continue to call on voters to please take the time to vote, in spite of all the hassle. This is a small act of heroism that the nation asks from each of us today. I congratulate the so many volunteer groups involved in this election – PPCRV, NAMFREL, LENTE and many others. I salute them for their great sense of sacrifice especially staying in these over heated ovens! Many of these volunteers are young people. Their sense of volunteerism is truly heroic. I salute too our many prayer warriors, hidden in churches and adoration chapels, interceding for a clean, peaceful and orderly election. May their prayers and petitions touch our leaders and candidates to respect and accept the will of the people so that the election results will be credible and peace will be the end result of this political exercise.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo
Auxiliary Bishop of Manila
Chair, NASSA