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  • » 01/30/2018, 17.07


    Bishops against Duterte’s constitutional changes

    Prelates bemoan a “feeling of a creeping dictatorship is conjured by past experience.” They warn of a lack of transparency and a shift towards authoritarianism, calling on Catholics to be vigilant and understand the risks of "a rash move for a new Charter".

    Manila (AsiaNews) – Filipino bishops have come out against changes President Duterte has proposed to the country’s 1987 Constitution.

    Meeting for their 116th biennial plenary assembly in Mandaue City (January 27-29), the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Philippines (CBCP) has criticised the president’s move towards a federal government and the extension of the mandate of some of the highest offices of the state, without popular input.

    "Encouraged by the Social Doctrine of the Church", the bishops write, “we wish to make our moral stand clear and forthright”. The latter includes pastoral guidelines to understand eventual changes to the constitution.

    The letter, signed by Mgr Romulo G. Vallegas, archbishop of Davao and CBCP president, identifies "four principles” that are the “bases for moral judgment on this current move towards Charter change”, namely dignity and human rights, integrity and truth, participation and solidarity, and the common good. For the prelate, these fundamental values ​​could be endangered by "a rash move for a new Constitution".

    Citing the fears of an authoritarian turn and the lack of transparency, the letter calls on legislators to set aside personal interests and promote instead the "common good".

    In fact, “When the move for Charter change becomes self-serving, such as when it calls for ‘No-El’ (no elections) and pushes for an extension of terms of office, it is to be expected that citizens would react with suspicion, astonishment and exasperation.”

    The letter goes on to note that “the feeling of a creeping dictatorship is conjured [up] by past experience” and “political dynasties are really and factually becoming a dominant factor in our country’s political life.”

    The bishops also raise questions about the proposed federal system and the decentralisation of power by the central government.

    A "federal system that devolves power to the Federal States on an equal basis will not satisfactorily address the aspirations of the Muslims and Lumads in Mindanao for self-determination and respect for ancestral rights.”

    Instead of changing the constitution, what is needed is the "full implementation" of the 1987 Charter, which "though imperfect” is “consistent with the Gospel".

    In view of this, the bishops urge Catholics to be vigilant and reiterate that participation is the heart of democracy.

    " We call upon you, dear People of God, to form or reactivate circles of discernment and use your freedom as God’s children to discern, participate, discuss, and debate. Have an informed conscience and decide in the light of Gospel values. Do what is necessary. Persuade our legislators to do only what is genuinely for the good of all on this issue of Charter change.

    Finally, “We entrust this urgent moral task that seriously impacts the future of our nation to the intercession of our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, Reyna ng Pilipinas.”

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    See also

    01/07/2016 08:29:00 PHILIPPINES
    CBCP: We’re not enemies, but we’ll remain vigilant on new government

    President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said the Church would collaborate for the sake of Filipinos, but would be vigilant at the same time. “Pursuing the same vision as Filipinos and as Catholics, we will be vigilant because vigilance is the great price for freedom.”

    07/04/2017 18:21:00 PHILIPPINES
    Filipino bishops call for positive dialogue with the Duterte administration

    Mgr Socrates Villegas acknowledges differences in principle, but adds that they should not “prevents us from cooperating). He urges bishops and government to tone down the confrontation. For the CBCP president, silence is not an option; “disregard for human life” must stop. Contrary to what some believe, the Catholic Church is not an enemy of the Duterte administration, says Mgr Antonio R. Tobias.

    18/08/2017 18:41:00 PHILIPPINES
    More killings take place in anti-drug operations in Manila. Fr Gariguez notes Duterte encourages executions

    The killings are the “epitome of the aggressive campaign of the present government against illegal drugs,” Fr Gariguez said. The “President is determined to push for his violent and barbaric method in waging the war on drugs. He cannot be swayed, even by the moral admonitions of the Church which he admittedly despises.”

    27/05/2016 14:15:00 PHILIPPINES
    Death squad nightmare returns to the Philippines

    Ferdinando Marcos’ infamous “special forces” were abolished with the fall of his dictatorship. President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly praised them, and, as mayor of Davao, has apparently re-established them turning the city into a security fortress. In the past week, gunmen have shot eight alleged drug dealers. For Cebu archbishop, the new president has a tendency to change his statements.

    24/05/2016 15:57:00 PHILIPPINES
    Duterte’s attack on Filipino bishops "violent and unprovoked"

    The new president has attacked the church calling it "the most hypocritical institution" in the world, offending bishops and accusing them of being corrupt. He adds that he will "challenge the Catholic faith", imposing a limit of three children per family, free the former president Arroyo and bury the dictator Marcos in the "graveyard of heroes." Catholic source: "I am surprised by this violent and unprovoked attitude, particularly unsuitable in a president."


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