MANILA, Feb.2, 2013—With the recent passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) law and other anti-life measures being proposed in Congress, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in a pastoral statement, has criticized the Aquino administration in promoting the “culture of death and promiscuity” among Filipinos.
In a strongly-worded statement released after its 106th Plenary Assembly, the CBCP deplored the many ills besetting the nation, citing the promotion of contraception, proposed legalization of divorce, and implementation of sex education among the youth, as the primary causes of the country’s increasing secularization.
“We denounce the passage of the Reproductive Health Law, the political and financial pressures imposed on lawmakers, and the imperialism exercised by secularistic international organizations in the legislative process,” the CBCP said in its statement titled “Proclaim the Message, In Season and Out of Season.”
CBCP president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma noted that the promotion of this secularist culture is caused by the “slavishness of our political and business leaders to follow practices in Western countries.”
With these occurrences, negative realities observed in Western nations such as weak familial ties, dysfunctional growth of children, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, and teenage pregnancy will haunt the country, the statement continued.
Despite these negative realities, the bishops expressed admiration over the “valiant efforts of lay people and lawgivers to prevent the passage of the [RH] law.”
They noted that even if the bill was successfully passed, the laity must not stop in challenging the morality of the law before the Supreme Court as “[Catholics] shall be vigilant and act against moves that will be destructive of family and life.”
‘Litany of storms’
Aside from admonishing measures against the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church, the bishops also criticized various political issues as “litany of storms” hitting the country.
Among the issues raised was “the continuing corruption and abuse of power” in government as manifested by public officials who lack transparency and accountability, apparently chiding the tedious delays faced by the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, which if passed will allow the public to gain access to any government transaction or document.
“It is ironic that the government that prides itself of treading the daang matuwid fears the FOI bill because of possible discovery of wrongdoing by public officials,” it said. “Why are they afraid to entrust the citizens with the truth of their governance?”
The bishops slated corruption as “one of the most serious deformities” of a democracy as it undermines social justice, which results in acts of immorality and inequality in the political arena.
Preponderance of dynasties
In a rare instance, the Church hierarchy also took a stand on the domination of dynasties in both the national and local political landscapes, adding that the lack of choice breeds “corruption and ineptitude” among public officials.
The CBCP issued the statement with only a few weeks left prior to the start of the campaign period for the 2013 midterm elections. A notable number of the participating candidates belong to families that have long been clinging to their government posts.
“Political authority exists for the common good. It is not to be exercised for the sake of private and family interests or simply for the interests of a political party. When political authority is exercised merely for these narrow interests, it betrays the reason for its existence,” the CBCP said.
The bishops also called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ensure the integrity and credibility of the automated elections, especially at present when technological advancements can be easily manipulated to become an avenue for cheating and election dishonesty.
“Election is not a matter of speed but of trustworthiness and honesty. If not properly addressed the present automated election system can lead to wholesale cheating,” the CBCP said, adding that using one’s right to suffrage is an effective means of promoting the common good.
“We call upon Comelec to adequately address the issues and respond, place corrective measures if necessary, to the studies of technical experts to the alleged deficiencies of the present system and technology of automated elections,” it said.
“There can be no transparency in elections if the Comelec itself is not transparent.”
Little inclusive growth
The statement also pointed out the administration’s failure to address the need of its citizens for secure jobs, decent housing, land ownership, and quality education.
Despite good economic ratings, the huge gap between the rich and the poor remains unchanged as the development undertaken by the country’s economy dwells more on financial productivity than equitable growth.
“We shall provide moral guidance to the better off in our society to be in active solidarity with the poor,” it said. “We call upon the government to be serious in implementing the asset reform laws that are in place in order to bring social justice [to the marginalized sectors of the society].”
As a piece of advice on how to handle current issues that could adversely affect both development and morals, the Church reminded all the faithful “that what is popular is not necessarily what is right, and what is legal is not necessarily moral.” (Jennifer M. Orillaza)