05/18/2007, 00.00
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Elections 2007: bishops incensed by never-seen-before levels of violence and corruption

by Santosh Digal
Violence continues across the country as vote counting is underway. Bishops accuse politicians of lack of morality and warn that everyone is a loser in these elections.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Filipino bishops have expressed serious concern over election-related violence that included political murders and a deadly bomb blast in Cotabato.

Mgr Socrates Villegas, bishop of Bataan, told AsiaNews that he was distressed and disgusted over the massive vote-buying in Bataan province and in different parts of the country. For him people did not vote according to their conscience but according to the pressure of money that they got from political candidates. And he is certain that those who violated the sanctity of the ballot will be punished by the unworthy leaders they elected.

“The ballots have spoken but it was not the voice of conscience that was heard. What prevailed was the lure of money,” the prelate said.

The country voted last Monday in national and local elections, where half of all senate seats, all seats in the House of Representatives and close to 18,000 local government seats were up for grabs. Violence was widespread with about 140 people killed.

“This was the dirtiest election ever held in Bataan and the vote-buying, opportunism and deception of the poor were unprecedented. Both losers and winners were at fault. “The Church and society are mourning,” Bishop Villegas said. “What has happened that made us reach this low level of morality?” he asked. “

Mgr Paciano Aniceto, archbishop of Pampanga, shared his colleague’s indignation, but appealed “to all groups to remain sober, prayerful and vigilant,” calling candidates and voters to pray and avoid emotional reactions.

For Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan, the “fundamental problem is not politics, but morality among politicians.” In his opinion, the problem lies with the people running the government, noting that the system does not work because of the people behind it.

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Violence, fraud and killings mar elections
Filipino bishops to back pro-life candidates in upcoming elections
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