MANILA, Sept. 29, 2013—Blasting corruption as a form of injustice, the highest leader of Manila’s Catholic Church on Saturday called on the Filipino faithful to counter greed by letting the values of fairness and generosity reign in their lives.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, in his keynote speech for Caritas Manila’s Generosity Conference, urged the faithful to give out love and justice while being more sensitive to the needs of less fortunate individuals.
“At present, we witness in our society that cheating and corruption is a form of non-giving. Instead of giving what is due to others and to the country, resources are being denied from them. We do not only lack love for others, but we also lack a sense of justice,” Tagle said in the vernacular.
“This explains how cheating and injustice are considered forms of not giving what the people and the nation deserve,” he added.
The prelate gave this remark amid the ongoing investigation in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam that involves the channeling of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-governmental organizations and foundations.
Quoting verses from the bible that tackle injustices done against marginalized individuals, Tagle emphasized the need for people to give not just for the sake of charity, but for the sake of giving justice to those who are in need.
“If we are to base the concept of giving according to what is written in the Old Testament, it pertains to the concept of giving that is just, giving that is based on justice,” he said.
“Some people think that the act of giving is only a form of charity, but what they fail to see is that there is also a need to fulfill the act of giving that is according to justice,” he added.
‘Demand of justice’
The cardinal also criticized politicians who plaster their names and faces on government projects that were funded with taxpayers’ money, noting that they must not gain credit from what the people rightfully deserve.
“It gives me the creeps to see government projects plastered with the names and faces of government officials who grab credit for the construction of various infrastructure projects,” the prelate said.
“These projects are funded by the taxes taken from the salaries of average workers and from the taxes imposed on every consumer good we buy…Do not say that these projects are built as an act of generosity on your part because that is a demand of justice that you should give as justice demands,” Tagle said.
He also reminded business owners to be fair to less fortunate individuals by paying them with the amount that is due of the services they rendered.
“Do not make a profit out of what is due of your workers. Do not withhold their salary and give it when it is due for they have needs to sustain…that is a right that they are entitled to since they rendered their services to sustain their needs,” he added.
Tagle also urged the laity to practice a sense of justice that is rooted not merely in equality, but also in compassion.
“This is a different sense of justice—not that if someone borrowed 30 from you, he will have to return the same amount. Instead, if someone borrowed 30, you have to see the greater need of that person and let him have even what he borrowed. See that his need is greater than what you could gain,” he said.
He warned those who take advantage of other people, saying that the Lord will hear the cry of those who seek His name and give justice to those who are marginalized and abused.
“When these poor people cry out and seek help from the Lord, be prepared for God will hear and listen to their call…These teachings are set in the time of Moses, but until now we still experience them. When will we ever learn?” Tagle said.
He chided the mentality of some individuals who perceive that the poor are only after money—can be easily bribed and bought, primarily because of their financial needs.
“What am I? A (material thing)? Since (material things) can be bought, I too, can be bought as well? Do I still have honor?” Tagle said in the vernacular.
The persistence of individualism and personal desire to gain are the primary reasons why some people nowadays lack concern for poor individuals, he noted.
“Be just. Do not only think of what you are going to gain. Instead, think that your neighbor is also like you, suffering from poverty. You are just the same but because of selfish thinking, we tend not to give,” Tagle said.
“I hope that we would learn how to give according to justice—helping others because you see their true value,” he added.
Citing bible verses from the book of Proverbs, Tagle said, “Those who are just would never be in need of anything. The Lord will take care of all your needs, while those who take advantage of the less fortunate will be cursed.”
If his statements will hit those who are guilty of committing injustices against the poor, Tagle said that he is just echoing lessons of the bible.
“If (those who are guilty) will get mad, I will just respond by saying that these are not my words. They may charge Moses or the Word of God because I am just quoting His words. I will not make up a message that is based from my own statements…After all, we are ordained to proclaim His words, not ours,” he added. (Jennifer Orillaza)