The 2022 national election is approaching. Candidates for the highest posts are seen in various media presenting their campaign platforms and vision for the country for the next six years.
We are at a crucial stage in our lives as we embark on a journey to May 2022 to choose our new set of leaders. Each person’s vote is one step to addressing the dreadful the situation we are in – the growing people’s impoverishment exacerbated by COVID-19 outbreak and the growing and the impending serious impact of climate changes if we cannot reverse the global warming.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) recently released a pastoral letter calling for unity and action to address our biggest challenge yet – climate emergency and planetary crisis. The call is a starting point for us to reflect on what has happened to us in the last decade, particularly to our Common Home. To ask ourselves where our old leaders led us and what is at stake this upcoming election.
We, the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI), a social development and advocacy network of more than 230 members from faith-based groups, non-government organizations, and people’s organizations, echo the call of the CBCP in its pastoral letter in re-shaping our world into a better future.
The CBCP’s call to action is clearly a path towards a more sustainable planet. It embodies the wisdom of the indigenous peoples, environmental and human rights defenders, and of the living faith embodied in pronouncements of the Holy Father Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si’.
But what is different about the recently pastoral letter is, more than a guideline to the community of believers on what can be done, it is also a challenge to themselves, as a church. The proposed actions are more directed to pastors and leaders of the church.
The CBCP’s call for divestment – to ensure that the church’s money do not go to investments and projects that destroy the planet and the challenge to refrain from receiving donations from companies and entities that are destroying our environment is a bold call and commitment from the institutional church. We hope that this commitment will be realized. As they put it “to walk the talk” or to put one’s money where his mouth is.
PMPI hails the release of the pastoral letter as it prioritizes the advancement of the rights of nature and prioritization of environmental education. Indeed, embracing the Rights of Nature is in itself a Defense of Life. The pastoral letter echoes our stand. We cannot continue to live in a system where all the rights are given to the human species who treat other forms of being and nature as something to be used, processed, and sold for profit. A huge paradigm shift in our system and personal behavior towards nature is in the horizon. Legal rights to nature and the Sapat lifestyle are powerful actions towards this great transition to a new awareness and behavior. PMPI in gratitude, welcomes this daring and timely letter from the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines.
Released four months before the election, it is also an invitation by our church leaders to all people to use the following three guiding principles as a point for reflection and action for in this upcoming May 22 election: 1) Ecological Conversion through stewardship of our Resources; 2) Laudato Si’ Formation and the National Laudato Si’ Program; and 3) the Advancement of the Rights of Nature and the Defense of Life. For all the three principles, the overarching demand of our faith is to choose the right candidates committed to addressing pressing environmental and climate issues.
Our country has suffered long enough from environmental exploitation brought about by an economic system that is driven by massive extraction and use of our natural resources specially by big multinational companies in mining and agriculture. In recent decades, our country was tagged as among the most vulnerable to natural and human-induced calamities due to climate changes.
As it is now, our current leaders have not done enough to ensure the protection of the well-being of our people and our common home. We need to pursue a path of history that will ensure a more sustainable future for all living beings in the planet. The election might be a way, if we take it seriously, and if we choose the right leaders for our country.