A Catholic bishop in the central Philippine diocese of Dumaguete deplored the recent incidents of killings in Negros Oriental province as elections approach.
In his homily during Mass on Ash Wednesday, Bishop Julito Cortes raised deep alarm over the violence barely two months before the polls.
“As we come closer to May 2022 Elections, we are tremendously concerned with suspected election-related killings and the spectre of massive vote buying,” Cortes said at St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral Parish Church.
Since 2019, Cortes, along with other bishops in Negros Island, condemned the series of extrajudicial killings that they called “cycle of violence and vendetta.”
In recent weeks, the province has seen at least three killings. The local police have yet to tag the incidents as election related, but according to reports, the victims were supporters of a local candidate.
Authorities are monitoring at least 216 villages in the province as possible watchlist areas or “hotspots” in the May 9 elections due to political rivalry.
The bishop called on the faithful to pray for “much-needed conversion” as individuals and as a community.
“Prayer, definitely, does not make our problems and struggles disappear,” he said. “But, with trust in the Father’s unceasing love, prayer strengthens our resolve to carry out what is right, true, and just before God and our people.”