MANILA, Philippines – As votes for the May 14 midterm election are tabulated, Philippine bishops have called for the political killings to stop.
Archbishop Paciano Aniceto of San Fernando said May 30 the election,
“perceived as generally peaceful, orderly and credible,” was “shattered by the recent spate of violence and political killings.” UCA News, an Asian church news agency, obtained the appeal called, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper.”
The grief and loss of widows and orphaned children is “our grief” and “our loss,” said Archbishop Aniceto, adding that “their cry for justice is our cry for justice.”
The archbishop, chairman of the bishops’ Commission on Family and Life, urged everyone “to respect, value and protect God’s gift of life.” Citing the Gospel of Matthew, he asked perpetrators to “put the sword back in its place” and warned that “all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
Archbishop Aniceto also appealed to law enforcement officials for justice. Addressing mass media, he called for respect for “the sensitivities” of people in forming public opinion and urged politicians to use legal means to resolve conflicts at all times. He advised Catholics to “continue praying for peace and reconciliation.”
“How is it that in a nation that prides itself on a rich Christian heritage, life is cheap?” he asked.
The Philippines has the biggest Catholic population in Asia, roughly 81 percent of the country’s more than 88 million people.
The day after the election, national police recorded 217 election-related violent incidents. During the last two legislative elections in 2004 and 2001, there were, respectively, 249 and 269 such cases.
Church officials elsewhere also addressed the issue of post-election violence.
In Abra province, north of Manila, Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian of Bangued issued a message May 20 after successive election-related killings.
“We strongly condemn the political harassments and election-related violence, particularly the killings that are being reported as still happening in our province,” the bishop said.