MANILA, Nov. 30, 2011— The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) pressed for adherence to the rule of law in government’s handling of former president Gloria Arroyo’s electoral sabotage case.
In a press briefing, the Church body stressed that truth and justice must be pursued but said it should be done in accordance with what is moral and just.
“But they (bishops) are happy and are encouraged that the government institutions that should be moving in response to the issues are actually moving,” said Msgr Juanito Figura, CBCP secretary general.
“There have been difficulties encountered, but we pray for guidance that these will be resolved soon according to our laws,” he said.
Figura made the statement Wednesday after the joint meeting of the outgoing and some incoming members of the CBCP Permanent Council at their headquarters in Intramuros, Manila.
The new set of CBCP officials will formally assume their post on December 1, with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma as president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas as vice-president.
Amid calls for the Church to make a stand on issues hounding Arroyo and the government’s way of handling her case, Figura said the bishops agreed that there is no longer need to make a pastoral letter about it.
“The first reason is that as religious leaders – shepherds – the bishops humbly admit that purely legal matters are not within their competence,” said Figura.
“Another reason: the particular case of electoral fraud against former President Arroyo is already sub judice. It is the court that will gather evidence, deliberate and make decisions. The due process of law must be respected,” he added.
As they encourage the people to make “conscientious moral judgments” on the issue, the bishops then offered four points for reflection:
* What is truthful for all implicated?
* What is charitable for those implicated, the victims and for the Filipino people in general?
* What is just according to the laws for those implicated, the victims and the Filipino people in general?
* What is respectful of institutions involved and the persons representing these institutions?
“Furthermore, our reverend shepherds invite everybody to be one in prayer for a peaceful and democratic resolution to these issues,” Figura added.
“Let us all pray that the separation but at the same time the collaboration of the three branches of our government be promoted, defended and strengthened. This is democracy at work,” he said. [Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews]