On May 9, Sunday afternoon, Catholic church bells across the Philippines rang out simultaneously to urge the faithful to exercise their right and duty to vote in the 2022 presidential elections.
The bells pealed for 3 minutes exactly a year before the May 9, 2022, elections, wherein millions of Filipino voters will go to the polls to elect the successors of President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo.
Church authorities are encouraging churchgoers, especially those who have not yet registered, to make their voices heard through their votes. (Read: Catholic Group Urges New Voters to Register for the 2022 Elections)
“Let us awaken and enliven once more our love for the country… If you want to see change, elections are the democratic way to effect change,” said Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, director of Caritas Philippines.
“We only have one year before we choose. May we choose them well by praying and examining our conscience,” Bagaforo said, adding it is a call for Catholics to be involved in good governance.
The tolling of bells was part of initiatives by a group called Eleksyon 2022 Koalisyon, a non-partisan, multi-sectoral coalition of 29 civic and religious organizations and individuals, including Caritas Philippines.
The group’s “Regi to Vote” campaign is using both ground and social media initiatives to encourage the country’s new and deactivated voters to register. (Read: Comelec Rolls Out Facebook Group to Answer Registration FAQs)
According to data revealed by the Commission of Elections (Comelec) in February, there will be 73 million Filipinos who will be aged 18 and above by 2022. Some 1.5 million will be voting for the first time, while about another 4 million eligible voters have yet to register themselves.
“We are looking at more than 12 million more votes if both eligible voters and deactivated ones participate this time,” Comelec said. The deadline for filing applications for registration is September 30, 2021.
‘Voting Is a Catholic Duty’
On the question of voting, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country.”
Caritas executive secretary Father Antonio Labiao said the Catholic Church has begun mobilizing citizens to be more active in the upcoming elections. “It’s important for the Church if we are serious with our mandate … to actively participate. This is a call for us to become involved in good governance,” he said in a radio interview.
Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, stressed that the electoral process is “our sacred duty, not only as Filipinos but as Christians.” (Read: Hey, Catholics! Bishop Pabillo Has This Advise for the 2022 Elections)
Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila agreed with him, and noted that the Catholic Church’s moral duty to urge the faithful to vote. “Being involved in politics is a way to show love for one’s country. If the candidates who are running are good, the people would have good choices as well,” the bishop said on Sunday.