As the Philippines votes today, May 9 for national and local elections, Catholics nationwide pray for the peaceful and credible elections.
People all over the country have begun to throng polling precincts as early as 5 in the morning to cast their votes.
The polling precincts opened for the 2022 elections at 6 in the morning and will continue till 7 in the evening.
“We started the election vigil at 7.30 in the morning at Holy Family Parish, Kamias in the diocese of Cubao. The adoration chapel for the credible elections is open for a whole day of prayers, thanksgiving and praises,” Maria Christina, a parishioner told RVA News.
“After 90-day campaign period over on May 7 and election is today. Now, it is all in God's loving, gracious and merciful hands,” she added.
“We humbly seek God’s intervention to bless this election and us Filipinos with wisdom, equity, peace, justice and protection, that God’s power and holy will cast down all evil and wicked intentions,” she said.
Sister Jennibeth Sabay Sabay, a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Castres, said, “Let us pray that the forthcoming national and local elections may truly reflect the will of the Lord who guides the destiny of the nation.”
Meanwhile, the country’s Catholic bishops on May 5 called for three days of “intense prayer” for the local and national elections.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the bishops’ conference, expressed hope that the elections will be “a concrete experience of synodality for our people”.
“We can only fight this battle in the best way we can—through prayer and well-discerned action,” he said.
In a circular, he suggested to dioceses that they keep their parish churches open during the whole days of May 8 to 10, and the Blessed Sacrament exposed for adoration.
He said the Catholics may also be encouraged to take turns in keeping vigil before the Blessed Sacrament, and pray the rosary, along with the Litany of Our Lady of Loreto, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Oratio Imperata for the Elections.
The communities of consecrated persons, especially the contemplatives, are also asked to do the same in their convent chapels.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also called for the ringing of church bells upon the opening of voting precincts at 6:00 a.m. for ten minutes on May 9, Election Day.
“This is to remind our faithful to exercise their civic duty as citizens to vote, and to do so in the spirit of prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten their consciences in their choice of new national and local leaders for our country,” David said.
“In our solidarity in prayer, we beg the Holy Spirit to drive away from the evil spirits that influence desperate candidates and their supporters to engage in vote-buying, fraudulent practices, threats, intimidations and acts of violence,” he added.
The CBCP also asked for prayers for the Commission on Elections and its partner agencies and organizations that they will “efficiently carry out their duties” for a clean, honest, accurate, meaningful and peaceful election.
At the same time, a church-based poll-watch body, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) has deployed more than half a million volunteers who serve as poll watchers and voter’s assistance desk staff in various dioceses across the country.
PPCRV is a non-partisan, non-sectarian, non-profit organization affiliated with the Catholic Church in the Philippines that works to ensure free, fair and fraud-free elections in the country.
“It is important for us to be present in the precincts to be witnesses of the truth, whatever that may be. Let us be there to be witnesses of truth, PPCRV national chairperson Myla Villanueva.
According to her, the other volunteers are assigned to the PPCRV Command Center for its unofficial parallel count at the Dominican-run University of Sto. Tomas in Manila from May 9 to 20.
Volunteers will serve as encoders, manpower for their call center, ushers and other functions to help in efficient operations, she said.
The command center is where the poll watchdog receives in their transparency server the electronic results of the elections.
As the accredited citizen's arm of the Commission on Elections, one of PPCRV’s tasks is to ensure that the data in the hard copy matches those in the electronic election return.
While they will work closely with the Commission on Elections, Villanueva said they will continue to uphold its mission to ensure credible and honest elections.
“So we will trust but we will also verify,” she added.
In the 2016 national elections, there were 55,739,911 registered voters and 43,716,817 who voted.
The 2016 voter turnout was 81.95 percent, the highest since 2001.
Some of the results of the elections may be available by May 10, according to reports.
On Monday, May 9, election day in the Philippines, 65.7 million Filipinos are expected to cast their votes to decide the next Philippine president, vice-president, 12 senators, representatives of Congress (lower house) and more than 18,000 other elective positions. - With inputs from CBCP News
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