‘Thou shalt nots’ in elections

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We are six months away from the 2022 elections, and boy, we’re in for a ride. The deadline for political parties to substitute candidates has just passed, and the election drama is as storyline-rich as ever: President Duterte is suddenly running for the Senate. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is suddenly running for a higher position—vice president—despite previous assertions of reluctance. The namesake of the late dictator, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., is seeking the presidency and going against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, to whom he lost the vice presidential race in the 2016 polls.

The campaign period for national posts will be from February 8 to May 7, 2022, yet candidates have already held motorcades and posted political advertisements. They have also started their usual bickering and grand-standing.

Indeed, it is election season! Voters, beware, as this is also the season of confusion and disinformation.

As usual, there are things to watch out for. Bishop Pablo David, incoming president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), has urged Filipinos—especially Christians—to trim down their candidate lists by subjecting them to the 10 commandments.

“It is not enough to pray for good candidates, which, of course, is also important,” David said on Nov. 18. “The Lord has given us those candidates already. Unfortunately, the Lord is not a voter in the coming elections. We are.” 

“Follow the commandments,” David added. “Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not lie. Doon pa lang, iiksi na ang listahan.” 

Indeed, the 10 Commandments have survived the tests of time and remained timely and timeless. The list is relevant, too, this coming election season, when politicians—like biblical anti-Christs and false prophets—show great signs and wonders to deceive.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Thou shalt not murder. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

It’s a shame for a predominantly Christian country to have a President who fosters the culture of violence, peddles lies, and calls God “stupid.” Yet President Duterte has called God “stupid,” launched a drug war that has killed thousands, defended his corrupt allies, and thrown harmful allegations against his opponents and critics.

Had Filipinos been more mindful of the 10 commandments, the Philippines would not have suffered the Duterte regime. With the looming 2022 elections, we should not make the same mistake.

Voters should watch out for liars. We live in the digital age when information is easily accessible. Some politicians are now backtracking on their previous controversial claims and spouting lies for the good of their names. This country has had enough liars in its history, we need no more!

We should also watch out for those who disregard human rights. It is dangerous when a politician easily brushes off human rights, such as the rights to life and freedom of expression. These people do not deserve public office and positions that are supposed to safeguard and protect these rights.

Let’s also be wary of grand pronouncements. We were already scammed by President Duterte and his promise to eradicate drugs in three to six months. Addressing problems is not just about setting deadlines. There have to be concrete plans and solutions, not empty rhetoric. It’s easy for politicians to claim to be the savior of the Philippines.

The upcoming 2022 elections are significant for a country that has yet to defeat Covid-19 and a deeply rooted corruption problem. Quality of life in the Philippines got significantly worse, and an economic bounceback is overdue to alleviate the pandemic’s effects on Filipinos’ lives.

It is important that voters be aware of usual political red flags and superficial platforms being espoused by politicos. Even more important is Filipinos taking note of God’s “thou shalt nots” when it comes to voting.

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