For the first time ever in the history of the country, its Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical communities have come together to muster a Christian bloc vote which would elect God-fearing and God-centered public servants for the 2016 Elections.

And what better occasion to launch the initiative dubbed Gabay-Kristo in Northern Mindanao than the centenary of the birth of Misamis Oriental’s most illustrious statesman, the late Vice President Emmanuel N. Pelaez?

Known as the “Mr. Right” of Philippine politics in his heyday, Maning as he was fondly called by friends and admirers was renowned for his brand of Christ-centered governance, integrity and honesty.

Born November 30, 1915, he served multiple terms as congressman and senator, reaching his pinnacle as Vice President in 1961-1965, when the Philippines became one of the most respected and economically vigorous countries in Asia. He also served later as Philippine Ambassador to the United States under the administration of President Corazon C. Aquino and later named him Head of the Rural Electrification Commission, which earned him the moniker “Father of Rural Electrification.”

Following a Monday Morning memorial mass at the Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, the Emmanuel Pelaez Foundation and Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) hosted an Integrity Forum to launch the Gabay-Kristo (Christ-Guide) advocated by the Pilipino Movement for Transformational Politics (PMTL).

The Gabay-Kristo is a set of criteria Christian voters are urged to adopt in selecting candidates for the 2016 elections through a Christ-centered process of discernment.

“This is a golden opportunity because it’s very difficult in bringing big organizations in the Catholic, Christian and Evangelical community to perform an election-related activity together,” said Atty. Alex Lacson, lead convenor and official spokesperson of the PMTL during the recent launch at the historic Kalayaan Hall of Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City.

“Ultimately, it is about giving people the power to make a discerned choice in electing leaders who truly have the interests of their countrymen as their reason for seeking public office,” Lacson added. “So we will give them a process, and a guide to make this a reality,” Lacson said.

Christian voters are encouraged to undertake a Christ-centered discernment to arrive at their personal choices for President, Vice President and Senator using the Gabay-Kristo as their guide.

“This is the first time in history that you have Catholics, Protestants, and Evangelicals, coming together on a united front,” said lawyer Spanky Meer of the Catholic group Ligaya ng Panginoon (Joy of the Lord).

The Emmanuel Pelaez Foundation aims to perpetuate the legacy of the late statesman by sponsoring the Emmanuel Pelaez Leadership and campaigns programs.

“The people are best served by passionate individuals who fight for their principles,”said his son, the late Ernesto Pelaez during the 2008 launch of his father’s biography “What’s Happening to Our Country? The Life and Times of Emmanuel Pelaez.”

In a telling incident retold in the book, journalist-historian Nelson Navarro relates how the late statesman chose to abide by a “gentleman’s agreement” with the late Ferdinand Marcos on a ‘clean and honest’ campaign for the Nationalista Party’s nomination during its November 1964 convention. As Diosdado Macapagal’s former Vice President, Pelaez was then the NP’s preferred candidate for president.

“What kind of a president would I make if I were to indulge in such activities?” Maning indignantly replied when his counselors advised him to match Marcos’ dirty tricks to buy votes.  “I’d rather be right than be president!”

The country lost its golden chance when Marcos bought his way to the nomination and eventually the dictatorship that in time made the Philippines “The Sick Man of Asia.”

Maning loved to relate how his concept of public service took shape under the guidance of a young Jesuit priest during his formative years which renowned painter Anita Magsaysay-Ho immortalized in her painting “The Washing of the Feet.”

While still in high school at the Ateneo de Intramuros, he came under the tutelage of a young Jesuit from the U.S., Fr. John Patrick Delaney, S.J. who told them:

“If you are after personal advantage, if you are seeking personal and material success, then public service is not the career for you. Public service is an apostleship of sacrifice and service. You must use it to give of yourself unsparingly in the service of your people, not to make something for yourself.”

“If I had my way,” Fr, Delaney said, “I would put in the office of every public official the picture of Christ washing the feet of the apostles to remind them that even God went down on his knees to serve his fellowmen. This must be the symbol of service for all public officials.”

In a moving tribute to the great statesman on his passing, Dr. Philip S. Chua of the Cebu Cardiovascular Center wrote:

“But above and beyond all his style and substance, and his indomitable character, there was one personal attribute that truly separates Emmanuel N. Pelaez from most of his colleagues in the government: he was honest and decent, and not a crook. In our country today, very few politicians, if any, can pass the scrutiny and be justifiably labeled as honest, decent and not a crook.”

“Indeed, Emmanuel N. Pelaez stands tall, a cut above the rest, even today after his death, as a man who truly deserved the title “Honorable”. He was a genuine leader who truly loved and cared for his people.

photo from Gabay Kristo Facebook page

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