By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Jose Santino S. Bunachita, Victor Anthony V. Silva May 12,2016 - 10:42 PM

After a divisive political campaign and electoral exercise, an official of the Archdiocese of Cebu called on the people to unite and support the newly elected leaders.

“Let us now move on as a nation,” enjoined Msgr. Joseph Tan, the spokesperson of the Cebu Archdiocese.

Tan, who was also the spokesman of the Cebu-Citizens Involvement and Maturation for Peoples Empowerment and Liberation (C-Cimpel), an accredited electoral watchdog, did not believe there was cheating in the just-concluded national and local elections and considered claims of fraud through the vote-counting machines (VCMs) a “conspiracy theory” which, he said, was oftentimes fabricated.

He said he trusted the electoral system and the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Division caused by politics, he said, is a “scandal” that needs to end.

“The elections is meant for us to choose leaders. It is not to divide us but to move us forward to the future. After the elections, we need to go beyond party lines, work for the common good, and address the problems our country is facing,” Tan added.

He said reconciliation and unity would be possible if winners and losers, including their supporters, would set aside their egos and share a common goal for the country.

“There must really be reconciliation and unity now. At the end of party politics, we still have several problems to face: economic stability, labor woes, criminality, drugs, healthcare and others,” said Tan.

While some defeated candidates have the right to file electoral protests, he said it should not be blown out of proportion for it might cause more division than healing.

Tan said the Catholic Church was happy with the peaceful conduct of the May 9 elections and the voter turnout, which was estimated at 81 percent nationwide, higher than the 77-percent voter turnout in 2013, and 74 percent in 2010.

Vigilant collaboration

Lingayen–Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), issued a post-election statement last Monday and assured the winning candidates of the Church’s “vigilant collaboration.”

Saying God’s hand is to be recognized in the events of history, he reminded winning candidates to credit their victory neither to fame nor popularity but to God who calls them to service and “to care for the weakest and the most distressed in our midst.”

“To those who have been voted to office, we assure them of our prayers, principally for wisdom, that they may discern God’s will for His people and courageously do as He bids,” said Villegas in a statement entitled “Get up now, let us go!”

“Children need care that cannot be postponed. And many women still find themselves in situations of exploitation. Indigenous peoples remain marginalized and the vaunted growth in the economy still has to mean something significant for Filipinos living outside urban areas,” he said.

Villegas said the greatest promise the Church could offer any government was vigilant collaboration.

“That offer, we make now. We will urge our people to work with the government for the good of all, and we shall continue to be vigilant so that ever so often we may speak out to teach and to prophesy, to admonish and to correct — for this is our vocation,” he said.

To those who did not win, Villegas also advised them to move on.

“You, as persons, as sons and daughters of God, are infinitely so much more than the positions after which you aspired. Rather than becoming despondent and discouraged, you should challenge yourselves by asking how it is that the Risen Lord sends you ‘to make disciples of all nations’,” the prelate said.

“Surely there are so many other ways to contribute to the building of the Kingdom of God. It is for you to discover your paths, in faith and in docility to God’s spirit,” he added.

Hard to accept

But Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said it would not be easy to move on since he believed he was cheated.

“He (Tomas Osmeña) robbed me of my votes. Where did Tomas get his 30,000 margin? Lisud kaayo dawaton (It’s hard to accept). I was ahead in the preelection surveys by 10 to 12 percent and people trooped to our miting de avance. My vice mayor and 10 of my councilors won and yet I didn’t,” he said in a press conference at City Hall yesterday.

Rama lost his reelection bid to Osmeña by 34,0356 votes. The mayor got 233, 186 votes while Osmeña garnered 267,222 votes.

“Until now people are crying. They are angry. I wish I could pacify the people. I wish there will be a miracle to come. It will take a long time for people to heal. This is even worse than (Supertyphoon) Yolanda and the strong earthquake because now it’s hitting the heart,” he claimed.

Rama, who is on his second term as mayor, said he would contest the outcome of the mayoralty race in Cebu.

“My lawyers are preparing the election protest,” he said.

Daanbantayan Mayor-elect Vicente Loot, on his part, said he was willing to respond to the call of Catholic Church and reconcile with his political opponent in the town.

He said he extended to incumbent Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro his “hands of reconciliation.”

“We have to start on the right track by putting everyone to work hand in hand regardless of political affiliation,” he told Cebu Daily News over the phone.

Loot defeated Corro by a margin of just seven votes. The retired police official garnered 20,412 votes while Corro received 20,405.

Corro, on the other hand, said reconciliation is easier said than done.

“How can you reconcile with someone who has treated you like a pig? I don’t think I’ll be able to do that now,” he said.

Corro said there were irregularities in the poll results and that Loot’s camp had something to do with them.

Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia, who lost the mayoralty seat to Vice Mayor Efren Gica, said he was amenable to the call of the Church.

“We have to move forward,” he said.

Gica pulled in 15,577 votes while Garcia received 10,631 votes.

Garcia said he already accepted his defeat and that agreed it was time to move on.

CDN could not reach Gica for comment last night, but he already called for unity with Garcia after he was proclaimed winner on Monday night.

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TAGS: candidates, Cebu, Comelec, Corro, election, Rama, VCMs, voters, votes

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