In 2016, when Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the only son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator, was running for vice president, the Varsitarian (‘V’) published an editorial, titled, “Heed Bishops, Vote Wisely, Junk ‘Bongbong’

In the editorial, our publication called on Catholic voters in the 2016 elections to take electoral guidelines issued by their bishops to heart, vote according to prayer and conscience, and not join the bandwagon and vote for the most popular candidates.

The ‘V’ also urged “outright rejection” of the candidacy of Marcos in the 2016 editorial with the following reasoning:

It is a sign of our worsening moral debasement as a people that many of us look with longing to the Marcos years when supposedly many majestic buildings and infrastructure were built while paying lip-service to or forgetting entirely about the depredations of the conjugal dictatorship and its cronies.

Many of us seem to have overlooked that those buildings were built through public funds (by the taxpayers themselves) and bilateral and multilateral loans, and no thanks to the Marcoses and their close associates, many of those buildings were constructed defectively or weren’t erected at all, and much of the public funds and the loans ended up in the pockets of Marcos and his cronies and in their Swiss and other offshore accounts. With public money and loans sucked by Marcos leeches, the Philippines was sunk into bankruptcy. Up to now, the nation is still paying for the lost billions!

Above all, the Marcos dictatorship institutionalized official violence and abuse that resulted in the killings of dissidents and innocent people, the cronyism and nepotism that continue to bedevil our political economy, along with military corruption and adventurism, police graft and roguery, and wanton warlordism. Martial law left the Philippines a nation brutalized—physically, psychologically, economically, socially, morally.

Marcos Jr. has declared he should be taken on his own record of accomplishment. But there’s the rub. His legislative record is pedestrian. Children coming from political dynasties hardly measure up to the brilliance of the patriarchs: one more reason why dynasties should be abolished.”

Bongbong, thankfully, lost in 2016. But six years later, the dictator’s son is attempting to change history again, this time equipped with a larger army of trolls and, sadly, a horde of supporters willing to return the presidency to a Marcos, ironically in the 50th year of the declaration of Martial Law.

It is unfortunate that a large number of Filipinos suffer from short-term memory loss. It is more appalling how the Marcoses continue their deception of the nation. If current polls that show the dictator’s son leading the presidential derby prove correct, then history will keep repeating itself in poor Philippines since Filipinos don’t seem to learn from their mistakes. They might have mounted the EDSA People Power Revolution 36 years ago that triggered the pro-democracy wave across the globe, yet the Philippines continues to fail to eradicate the notorious anti-democratic Marcos “legacy” for good.

In this year’s elections, we again urge outright rejection of the candidacy of Marcos. With the looming threat of another Marcos presidency, we urge our readers to be reminded of what sparked the historic protest 36 years ago. To elect Bongbong is to condone all the miseries and vices endowed by the Marcos family to the nation and to trivialize the sufferings of millions of Filipinos under the late strongman’s rule and deadly Martial Law. We owe it to the heroes of EDSA to protect the values they fought for and the democratic institutions they restored.

We urge Catholics to heed what the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said in their Feb. 25, 2022 pastoral: seek the truth by way of reason and faith, by common dialogue and discernment, prayer and action, that we may do what is right and avoid evil.

Unlike other significantly smaller religious groups, the Catholic Church which comprises more than 80 percent of Filipinos, does not endorse political candidates. As Bishop Pablo David of Caloocan said in the pastoral, “(W)e have no ambition of appropriating for ourselves your distinct role as laity in the just ordering of society, nor do we intend to usurp the role of the government. We are here to provide moral and spiritual guidance, in accord with our mission of proclaiming the truth from our faith.” After all, as St. Thomas said, the greatest kindness one can render to any man consists in leading him from error to truth.

The Varsitarian, like the Catholic Church, is not endorsing any candidate for president or vice president, but as the official student publication of The Catholic University of the Philippines, we call on our readers to consider the core values of UST in voting: commitment, competence and compassion.

We also invoke the CBCP’s “suggestions” to guide voters in its official pastoral on the 2022 elections dated March 27:

  1. Let us continue with our conversations, scrutiny and evaluation of the political and social situation; and national and local candidates.
  2. Let us continue with our voter’s education towards voter empowerment in view of electing freely and towards greater political and social engagement of every citizen. Let us remember: Our engagement and concern for others do not end with the election.
  3. Let us uphold and not compromise our moral principles in the task of political engagement and nation-building. Let us follow our conscience, striving to maintain an informed and correct conscience.
  4. Let us be on guard against the suspicious and the dubious. Let us be vigilant and call out those who use violence, money and power, or other forms of cheating; those who spread lies and hatred; those who manipulate people for their own personal interest; and those who take advantage of the weak and the vulnerable.
  5. Let us continue praying, doing good to our neighbor, offering sacrifices and begging God for the grace of a credible, peaceful and successful election for our common good.

We urge our readers to participate in the elections. This is no time to be apolitical. As St. Thomas said, human beings are by nature social and political, living in community even more than every other animal. The outcome of the elections will undoubtedly touch all of us, regardless of our differences.

We pray that the Filipino voter will make the right decision on May 9. Together with the CBCP and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, we recite the “Prayer for the 2022 Elections”: 

“Deliver us, Lord, from coercion, intimidation, violence and terrorism, from dishonesty, lies and all distortion of truth, from bribery, graft and all conspiracy for fraud, from gullibility to the deceptive and blindness of perspective, from threats, intimidation and perverse language.”

“Hear us, Lord, that conscience may always be our ultimate norm, that the common good may always be our highest goal, that human dignity may be respected all the time, that the poor and the weak may always have the priority, that care for creation may never be ignored, that solidarity may guide the path of peace and development, that genuine fear of God and love of neighbors may guide those who seek public office.”


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