DAGUPAN City, Pangasinan, Aug. 14, 2015 —Echoing the call of many Filipinos, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) expresses regret that the lawmaking body has failed to pass a law that will end a system of political dynasties.
“It is regrettable that Congress has, despite prompting by the Filipino people themselves, failed to pass a law that gives life to the Constitutional rejection of political dynasties,” notes CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas in an Aug. 11 statement.
The prelate observes there is nothing much that could be done about a culture that allows members of the same clan to run for office if the legislative branch itself refuses to define exactly what political dynasties are.
“Until Congress defines what dynasties are in a manner that fulfills the policy embodied in the fundamental law, we have nothing more but an inert provision of the Constitution that accusingly points at the refusal of Congress to act!” he adds.
Meanwhile, while he concedes there are figures proving that investments indeed have risen, Villegas was alarmed at what he saw as the “inclusiveness of economic gain,” dismissing government and corporate figures as items of cold statistics that are no good until they are translated into better lives for the poor and disadvantaged.
On the other hand, the prelate lauds the earnestness of lawmakers in addressing the problems besetting Mindanao, stressing the need for a peaceful and just settlement that will be acceptable to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
“The ongoing disagreement between supporters of different versions of the organic law for the region are not worrisome. If anything, they are proof of the earnestness with which our Legislature addresses nettlesome issues. There would be nothing more prejudicial to the peace process than a resurgence of violence and lawlessness. We urge all to allow the institutions of our democracy to craft a solution, in dialogue with all, to this challenge,” he explains.
Evangelization of political order
Months ahead of the approaching presidential elections, Villegas underlines the importance of lay participation in the apostolate of evangelizing the political order, and recognizes the initiative of people who take time screening candidates, listening to them, and endorsing those the movement deems worthy of support.
“While the CBCP and the Catholic Church in the Philippines will never endorse a particular candidate or a particular party, leaving the consciences of voters sovereign in this respect, in keeping with long-accepted moral teachings of the Church, we commend efforts such as these to arrive at a collective discernment on the basis of Catholic standards and principles, that are not necessarily sectarian!” he says.
Moreover, Villegas encourages debate among the candidates, and hopes that the various dioceses will organize public fora that will allow voters to familiarize themselves with the positions, platforms, plans, beliefs, and convictions of the candidates.
“All of these meetings, however, must be permeated by a genuine sense of fairness, consecration to the truth and, above all, charity,” he adds. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)