Archbishop emeritus Antonio Ledesma thinks ‘good people’ should join the elections next year so the country will have good leaders. Photo shows Ledesma officiating a mass at the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral. (Jigger Jerusalem)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – People who have the moral ascendancy and who are capable of holding public office must run in the upcoming polls, a Roman Catholic leader said as he is set to campaign the church’s standards in choosing a candidate ahead of the local and national elections next year.

“I think we should encourage the good people that we know to run for office because that is part of their duty also,” said Archbishop emeritus Antonio Ledesma in a recent interview.

The prelate said he is optimistic that a qualified leader will emerge from among the political hopefuls that would run in the 2022 elections.

“I think we have many good people. That’s why it’s important to support them,” Ledesma said, adding that he is “waiting for concerned citizens to make that selection process.”

In the past few elections, Ledesma had joined the movement within the Roman Catholic in calling on the electorate, especially its members, to discuss among themselves who they should vote for by forming “circles of discernment,” which can be actualized through church-based or community groupings.

“Group discernment should be more enriching and enlightening instead of relying on one’s solitary perceptions,” he pointed out in an essay he wrote in 2019, weeks before the conduct of the midterm elections.

‘Principled partisan politics’

Ledesma and other bishops have also directed their flock to engage in “principled partisan politics,” although he noted that it runs counter to the traditional view that the church should stay neutral in politics because of the separation of Church and State.

He said it is “principled” in the sense that “Christians should be guided by moral values and first principles;” “partisan” because “ultimately, every voter has to choose a particular candidate representing a particular party;” and “politics” in that the “winner in a political contest is given the legitimacy and power to decision-making for the community.”

“Hence, the entire community is a stakeholder in the choice of its leaders,” Ledesma added.

The third call for Catholics, the archbishop said, is the reminder that it is their right and their duty to vote for leaders who are willing to sacrifice in the name of public service.

Ledesma said “candidates should be elected not on the basis of personal favors given to the voter, but on their record of public service and commitment to work for the common good.”

Five Cs

Among circles of discernment, he said a candidate’s qualification can be summarized as the “five Cs”: conscience, competence, compassion, companions, and commitment.

“These are the five Cs or key criteria for choosing candidates vying for public office. Through circles of discernment, may every concerned voter engage in principled partisan politics for the common good of our nation,” Ledesma said.

He said the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro has a ministry on good governance tasked with getting people to be involved in politics and to choose the right candidates.

Ledesma said he will also campaign against political dynasties where members of a family or group maintains power several generations.

“There are also good political dynasties, but as a matter of principle it should not be allowed. It’s part of the spirit of the Constitution,” he added.

Another advocacy that the archdiocese is promoting is persuading the young people to register and vote in the coming elections.

“Right now, it is important to get the young voters to registers. It is important that they also have a voice. The young people are idealistic, so they should carry weight in the election,” Ledesma said.

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