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The Covenant
« on: October 24, 2007, 03:49:00 PM »
By Rey Anthony Chiu
Philippine Information Agency
Bohol Correspondent

Leading the way and perhaps risking to be called deviants, Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr. and community leaders succeeded in convincing barangay and youth candidates for the October 29 synchronized elections to sign a covenant to finally seal money politics in the drawers.

The covenant, which was signed by majority of the candidates and witnessed by town leaders, representatives from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and the church, averred that being elected as barangay official is not to make money, but is rooted on the intent to serve.

As the covenant expressly states the intent to stop vote-buying, it also binds the candidates to coordinate with local authorities so the aim could be realized and so that appropriate punishment can be meted for those who still bribe their way in.

“We want to make this small step to regain the true essence of elections,” Mayor Evasco said stressing that according to the Omnibus Election Code, the conduct [of the elections] should be guided by fair, honest and orderly [elections].

“We have gone too far from the essence of the law,” he explained to the majority of the town’s candidates who came in response to the call for a change in the electoral system, which the town leaders proposed.

Gathered at the Maribojoc Cultural Center for the ceremony were about 90% of the local candidates eyeing posts this October 29 elections. Local leaders from both the government, civic organizations and the church also pitched in unconditional support to the move.

Municipal election Officer Bibiana Anquilero reported that Maribojoc has 561 candidates, 45 contending for the 22 barangay chairmanships while 346 are running as barangay councilors.

Meanwhile, she said 41 youth are running for Sangguniang Kabataan Chairmanships while 129 have shown intent on the youth council seats.
 
Church leader and Maribojoc’s Sta Cruz parish priest Rev Fr Efren Dolauta said that the initiative, perhaps the first in Bohol is simply saying no to money politics, one thing which has pushed out better and more qualified candidates for the moneyed.

Evasco asked, when one spends to buy votes, how he regain his hard-earned money if he does not steal?   

The move has so far met skepticism from traditional politicians who have made elections synonymous to vote-buying.
 
“What we are doing is something next to impossible, but we are not leaving any stone unturned to make success despite a slim chance,” Councilor Fructuoso Redulla admitted during the program introduction.

Municipal Local Government Operations Officer of the Department of Interior and Local Government Victor Lapiz said they have met with the mayor for the proposal and have been working on the implementation so they could have it running for the coming polls.

When they agreed to sign the covenant, then our next job is to talk to the voters at the barangay assemblies about the agreement so they would not anymore pressure the candidates to give, Evasco said.

The mayor and key town officials, the MLGOO and church leaders have agreed to make the rounds during the assemblies to disseminate the information, they said.

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Romans 10:9
"That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved."

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