By FEDERICO A. ESPIRITU
A broad range of Christ-centered faithfuls are gaining ground on intensified voters’ education program that will guide Filipinos in exercising their right of suffrage this coming May polls and beyond.
The ultimate goal, according to change-advocates of the Pilipino Movement for Transformational Leadership (PMTL), is raise an army of 10 million God- enlightened voters within the ranks of combined membership of 30 convenor Catholic, Evangelical and Protestant organizations. The PMTL convenor group formulated GabayKristo, a guidance mechanism for their membership, as well as Filipinos in general, in electing honest, competent and strong willed servant leaders who can lead the Philippines towards transformation in accordance with God’s plan.
Some 100 leaders of PTML’s convenors and member organizations underwent their own Voters’ Education Seminar over the weekend at the Elim Global Heaquarters in New Manila, Quezon City as preparation in actively rolling out and cascading GabayKristo among their individual membership as they extensively form alliances with like-minded groups. Among other things, PTML, through GabayKristo, believes in inclusive democracy and growth, equal opportunities and the Three Pillars of Good Governance, namely meritocracy, transparancy and accountability. PMTL likewise advocates against graft and corruption, political dynasties, monopolistic and oligarchic ontrol in business, opportunities and land ownership, nepotism, favoritism in appointments and political accomodations.
“It is the first time in our history that Catholic and Christian groups are working together to have one Christian vote,” PMTL’s Ricky Xavier said during the seminar. PMTL finds it wrong for just one person or a small group of politicians to determine who shoud run for elective positions, specially in national electoral contests.
PMTL and GabayKristo employ the process of People’s Primary, similar to the United States, where it is the people through their organizations nominate who should run for national and local officials, starting initially with the election of President, Vice President and 8 senators. Each PMTL member organizations submit two recommendees each for President and Vice President, as well as 8 recommendees for Senators. All recommendees must qualify under GabayKristo’s common criteria in nominating candidates elicited by 20 specific questions. All recommendees submitted by member-organizations will be tallied. The PMTL Recommendation Committee will then make a shortlist of top 3 recommendees for President, top 3 recommendees for Vice President and top 12 recommendees for Senators.
The shortlist will then be submitted to the People’s Choice, defined as a separate and independent entity from PMTL. Member organizations will be encouraged to register under the People’s Choice after which they will select from the shortlist. The winners in the People’ Primary will be proclaimed as the People’s Choice candidates. PMTL and its faith-based member organizations will not endorse any candidate. It was clarified PMTL’s task are mainly coming up with GabayKristo, draft a reform agenda and prepare a shortlist of recomendees. The People’s Choice, whose membership is purely voluntary and personal on the part of member organizations, will organize a national campaign team and machinery to support the candidates in their campaign. It was disclosed that per result of initial selection, no presidential candidate passed GabayKristo criteria. But the initial process produced candidates for Vice Presidents and Senators. The People’s Choice Candidates will be required by PMTL to sign a ovenant that they shall implement the Reform Agenda when they get elected. PMTL set March 15 as new deadline for completing the People’s Primary and coming up with People’s Choice.
PMTL’s Mars Catan stressed “ a good Catholic meddles in politics and prays for leaders” and urged seminar participants to pray for the election and the nation as a right step in the right direction in transformation leadership.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines ( CBCP), in its Pastoral Letter dated August 11, 2015, has already endorsed PMTL and the People’s Primary to all Catholic and laity and organizations. Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP President, has affirmed and supported the People’s Primary and is encouraging all Catholic and laity and organizations to actively participate in it. In another letter dated June 5, 2015, Archbishop Villegas said “The exercise of the right of suffrage is not only a political right. It is also a moral obligation. For the Christian, it is one of the most meaningful and effetive means of contributing to the flourishing of the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice, peace and love.”
During the 111th Plenary Assembly of the CBCP held in Cebu from January 22-24, 2016, the bishops voted to issue message of commendation and praise to PMTL. Archbishop Villegas wrote “ The Pilipino Movement for Transformational Leadership is a significant gift of the Spirit to our Catholic laity inspired by the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI who taught us that “there is a need for authentically Christian politicians but, even more so, for lay faithful who witness to Christ and the Gospel in the civil and political community…Christian membership in faith-related associations, ecclesial movements and new communities can provide a good school for these disciples and witnesses, sustained by the charismatic, communitarian, educational and missionary resources of these groups.
At present, among the many Catholic organizations which joined the PMTL are the following – BCBP (Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen & Professionals), LNP (Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon), CFC (Couples for Christ), CFM (Christian Family Movement), FAMILIA, FTCC (Federation of Transparochial Charismatic Communities), Bukas Loob sa Diyos/Servant Leaders, Prayer Warriors of the Holy Souls, PAX (Philippine Alliance of Ex-Seminarians), Dilaab Movement, Defensores Fidei, and LOJ (Light of Jesus) Community.
Among the Evangelical and Protestant organizations that joined PMTL are the following – PCEC (Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches), NCCP (National Council of Churches in the Philippines), UCCP (United Churches’ Council of the Philippines), PJM (Philippine Jesus Movement), Bible Mode, CBMAP (Christian Bishops & Ministers Association of the Philippines), Christian Patriots, CCL (Capitol Christian Leadership), NFS (Nameless Faceless Selfless) Ministry, IFP (Intercessors for the Philippines), UMC (United Methodist Church).
Couples for Christ will start discussion of GabayKristo and PMTL in its household meetings and will employ GabayKristo in their selection process in the next weeks, according to Catan.
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