Faith in politics

Christianity teaches that faith without action is nothing, that for faith to make a difference it has to be lived and fulfilled in our lives.

Faith without action is nothing more than false enthusiasm and empty phrases, much like the political rhetoric we hear today.

A local Palawan politician though, Vice Governor Dennis Socrates, thinks of politics as a vocation, in much the same way one is called to priesthood.

Socrates was called to politics while practicing as a lawyer (a graduate of the UP College of Law in Diliman) and teaching law at a local university.

His father is the late Palawan governor Salvador “Badong” Socrates.  

“My father was running for reelection for governor in 1998. He had no candidate for mayor of Puerto Princesa. At that time, I was a practicing lawyer and law professor in Puerto. I felt it my duty to volunteer. So I ran as his mayoralty candidate,” Socrates said.

Socrates has often been criticized in Palawan political circles as being too religious. He minces no words when he talks about how religion can be a positive influence in public life and a positive force in society.

He said right from the start of his government service that his politics is all about bringing the message of good government, in much the same way Christians are charged to share the good news and help others in their faith.

By “good government,” he implies “correct administration through adherence to the rule of law.”

“Government should operate according to law, not according to the whims and caprices of those in power. Leaders should be servants of the people,” he said.

Socrates is running for governor in the May 2022 polls.

Transparency and accountability, he said, will continue to be the core principles of his leadership if he is elected.

“People have a right to know what is going on. They have a right to be consulted. And in fact, they often know what is best for them, they know more about the common good than we do,” Socrates said.

This is why he said the first thing he will do if he gets elected is to call a province-wide people’s summit.

“This province badly needs is an ‘honest to goodness conversation’, so we can all talk about the major concerns of Palawan, involving all the sectors of society. If I become governor, the results of this people’s summit would be the bases for local government programming. We will solve our problems together. We will walk towards our further progress together,” he said.

Socrates is aware of the travails of present-day political campaigning. It is a world that now belongs to professional political campaign organizers. Campaign strategists and social media experts oversee everything, be they advertisements, coaching clients, spinning issues, even doing dirty tricks to destroy the opposition.

But he would rather take the high ground, the religious or Godly way, as he would often put it.

“Politics can and must be sanctified, by offering one’s public service to God. It can be a means for our sanctification,” he said.

He noted that even Vatican II said: “Those who are suited or can become suited should prepare themselves for the difficult, but at the same time, the very noble art of politics, and should seek to practice this art without regard for their own interests or for material advantages”.

This, he says, is from Gaudium et Spes, No. 75, which also says society needs politicians to make the political decisions and choices that need to be made in behalf of the community and common good.

He notes further that doing politics well, out of love, in accordance with what is moral and good, can be the politicians’ path to eternal happiness.

Despite having grown jaded about their government, many voters are still looking for candidates who they can believe in. Voters still want to believe that an honest politician is not hopelessly out of date.

Today, when the outcome of a political campaign has more often to do with the way a candidate is packaged for public consumption than with a discussion of ideas and issues, perhaps we need more politicians like Dennis Socrates in the political arena.



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