The Next Trial of Democracy
Ecumenical Prayer Service for Clean and Honest Elections, Manila Cathedral
November 20, 1997
The aim of democracy is freedom — the freedom to think, to speak, to act and to choose. But the essence of democracy is elections — the right to vote. And, the right to have the President, the Vice-President, the Congress and the local officials, who have garnered the highest number of votes from the people. The choices of the people and not dagdag-bawas operations.
We opposed martial law because it did away with our right to change and elect the government of our choice.
We defeated self-serving Charter changes because certain officials tried to do away with elections through term extension or by entrenching a government in power so long, it would eventually do away with elections.
Like martial law, like dictatorial charter-change maneuvers, cheating also takes away our right to vote, and defeats our prerogative to be governed by people we really chose.
Cheating is as bad as martial law and self-serving charter changes. Cheating insults us and makes fools of us. It gives us a government that pretends it is our own, making us wonder if we have the moral right to fight it.
We are gathered here to fight a great danger to democracy. We are here to fight cheating in the 1998 elections. We are here to make sure that the next man who takes his oath as our next President will not be laughing at us, because he did not really win the election; he and his cohorts just bought it.
Of course, it is very important to choose the right candidates in the next elections. But it is infinitely more important to respect the people's choice, whoever she or he may be. And that means clean elections.
As we prepare for the elections of 1998, let us all pray together and work together for clean elections. We must be ready to fight and commit ourselves to stand long hours and watch long nights for the safety of our ballots and the integrity of their count.
Almighty God, have mercy on us and bless us with Your love and peace. Give us the intelligence, the fortitude, the patience and the strength to acquit ourselves well in the next trial of our democracy. And, most Loving Father, give us men and women of conscience to govern us again.
God, save our country.