Jan 292013
After listing the Philippines’ “problems as a nation,” the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said it will support lay initiatives to form “circles of discernment to choose worthy candidates” in the midterm elections in May.

“We will help the people to know the stance of those who run for office on important issues of the country,” it said.

The quotes are part of a pastoral statement it issued after a three-day plenary session in which the CBCP enumerated—and blasted—the country’s “long litany of storms,” including the government’s inability to stop a “culture of impunity” that allows extrajudicial killings; its failure to ease the suffering of the poor despite good economic news; and “the promotion of a culture of death and promiscuity” through school sex education, the use of contraceptives and discussions about divorce.

“We note the above social and political storms that buffet our Filipino life because they deeply touch the experiences of our people. We speak for those who suffer. We bring these concerns to those who have responsibility and hence accountability. These stormy situations need not be so!” the CBCP said in the statement signed by council president and Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma.

RH law denounced anew

The CBCP denounced anew the passage of the Reproductive Health Law, and what it claimed were the “political and financial pressures imposed on lawmakers” as well as the “imperialism exercised by secularistic international organizations in the legislative process.”

It commended the efforts of lay people and lawgivers who tried to prevent the passage of the law.

“We support the efforts of our lay people in challenging the RH Law in the Supreme Court and in other venues within the bounds of our democratic system,” it added.

Also, it said it supports and encourages the participation of the laity in electing “competent and morally upright candidates who are faithful to their correct and informed conscience.”

It will also promote natural family planning methods, including encouraging the young to “live chastely.”

FOI bill

The CBCP called anew for the passage of the Freedom of Information bill, which it said “promotes integrity, transparency, and accountability in the political order.”

It also denounced the non-prosecution of alleged perpetrators of corruption, strongly calling on 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.”

“We likewise call upon government to give due priority to the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill at the soonest possible time,” it added.

Political dynasties

The CBCP also denounced the continued existence of political dynasties and the “continuing delay” of passing a law to implement the Constitutional provision banning political dynasties.

It likewise called on the Commission on Elections to address the deficiencies of the automated election system.

“There can be no transparency in elections if the COMELEC itself is not transparent,” it said.

“If Congress is unwilling to act on this we support initiatives by the lay faithful to pass an enabling law against political dynasties through the people’s initiative which the Constitution provides,” it added.

Measures for the poor

While it vowed to provide moral guidance to society to be in active solidarity with the poor, the CBCP called on the government to be serious in implementing the asset reform laws that are in place to bring social justice.

It cited CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms) for the farmers, UDHA for the urban poor, IPRA for the indigenous people and the Fisheries Code for the fisher folks.

It noted that the end of CARPER is only 1.5 years away, yet agrarian reform accomplishment is “dismal,” being bogged down “by bureaucracy, legal technicalities and poor governance.”

Peace initiatives

The CBCP, meanwhile voiced support for steps taken by the government in pursuing peace.

“It is our hope that these peace initiatives will be matched by equally bold steps to bring about justice, for peace is the fruit of justice,” it said. — BM, GMA News

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