Following a three-day closed-door meeting, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has put corruption, unsolved and continuing crimes, and poverty at the center of their latest pastoral statement.
The church officials said there is a “long litany of storms” besetting the Filipinos and the nation as a whole.
On top of their list is “the continuing corruption and abuse of power” by government officials due to lack of transparency, “or still worse, the possible hiding of information from the public.”
The CBCP particularly lamented Malacañang’s cold treatment of the Freedom of Information bill, which if enacted will allow the public to scrutinize any government transactions, projects and other documents.
“Why are they afraid to entrust the citizens with the truth of their governance?” the CBCP said in a strongly worded pastoral statement released Tuesday.
“It is ironic that the government that prides itself of treading the Daang Matuwid fears the FOI because of possible discovery of wrongdoing by public officials,” it said.
The bishops also lashed at the “inability and unwillingness” of public officials to take the road of social justice which resulted in failure to share the resources in the country to meet basic rights of the poor.
Among them, they said, include secure jobs, decent housing, adequate medicine, ownership of lands that they till, and quality education.
“New ‘rights’ are being pushed while the most basic rights are being ignored,” said the CBCP.
The collegial body of the bishops then lamented the continuing human rights violations and unresolved cases of extrajudicial killings even almost three years of Aquino election into office.
Other forms of crimes and kidnappings continue, they said, and the government “is not able or lacks the political will to prosecute the perpetrators and touch powerful people.”
Little inclusive growth
Despite the government’s much flaunted idea of high growth and economic development, the bishops said the unabated suffering of the poor continues.
According to them, growth itself, that is, more products and more money should not be the sole aim of development but also equity.
“The huge gap between the rich and the poor remains. There is little inclusive growth,” the CBCP said.
Still on RH law
The bishops also deplored the recent enactment of the Reproductive Health law, and the promotion of a “culture of death and promiscuity.”
“This is due to the slavishness of our political and business leaders to follow practices in Western countries that promote, in spite of examples that we clearly see in the West, divorce, resulting in more break-up of families and the dysfunctional growth of children, contraceptives, leading to more abortions, the use of condom, aggravating HIV-AIDS infection, and school sex education, bringing more promiscuity and teenage pregnancy,” they said.
CBCP president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma clarified they have nothing personal against President Benigno Aquino III for approving the RH law.
Admitting that they also have shortcomings and do not want to appear self-righteous, he said, “As shepherds, we feel that it is also part of our duty to voice the sentiments of the people.”
“It’s not because we want to condemn but we want that all of us will try to take a hard hit over this realities and hopefully be able to come out with solutions,” Palma said.
“We don’t want to appear like fighting anybody. Our main intention is for the good of the people,” he said.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes echoed Palma’s statement, saying that they only speak “for those who suffer.”
“We are always for the good of everyone especially the poor,” said Pabillo who heads the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action – Justice and Peace.
Reyes said that as citizens of the country, they are also entitled to make opinions especially on issues affecting their flocks.
“If the government is doing good, we will always have collaboration. But if the government is doing something bad, we will criticize and we will oppose,” he said.
While they acknowledge that the government is trying to address the country’s problems, the bishops said the effort is not enough.
“We denounce the non-prosecution of alleged perpetrators of corruption and strongly call upon the government to pursue allegations and signs of corruption of power holders not only of the past but also of the present, even of friends and party mates,” they said.
Pabillo criticized Aquino for being “selective” in choosing which corrupt officials to prosecute, even claiming that there had been a double standard of justice under the current administration.
“There are reports about corruption under the present administration but nothing happens to them,” he said. (CBCPNews)