Wednesday, May 03, 2006

“The Truth Will Set You Free” (Jn 8:32)

A Pastoral Statement by the Roman Catholic Bishop & Clergy of the Diocese of Borongan on ‘People’s Initiative’ for Charter Change

Beloved People of God:
It is publicly known that efforts known as ‘People’s Initiative’ for Charter Change are on-going in Eastern Samar and in the Philippines. It is also publicly known that such efforts are largely the initiative of government officials, both national and local. What is less known to many is the fundamental principle that “political authority, either within the political community as such or through the organizations representing the state must be exercised within the limits of the moral order” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, no. 74). We see signs of deceit and misinformation. For this reason we, Your Bishop and Your Priests, have to speak because these are an affront to true justice and morality. After all, as the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines declares, we your “pastors have competence in the moral principles governing politics” (PCP II, n. 342).
We stand with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines when it teaches that “changing the Constitution involving major shifts in the form of government, requires widespread participation, total transparency, and relative serenity that allows for rational discussion and debate” (CBCP Statement, 2006). Like them we also recognize and respect the desire of a number of Filipinos to change some aspects of the constitution for the sake of better governance and more assured attainment of the common good. But we also “view with alarm…the present signature campaign endorsed by the government. Signatures are apparently collected without adequate information, discussion and education” (Pastoral Statement on the Alleged ‘People’s Initiative’ to Change the Constitution, no. 2).
In many parts of Eastern Samar, for instance, the CBCP’s general observation has been verified by specific reports from certain priests and responsible lay leaders in our parish communities. Not only are adequate information, discussion and education on the proposed changes lacking; in many cases signatures have been collected using downright deception, for instance, as people’s registration for Philhealth. People have been prodded to sign their names on vague promises of “better times ahead under a new constitution” or even “better-paying jobs”. Significantly forthright are admissions of some local officials that the initiative is favorable to them because they could save money with the cancellation of the next elections in 2007 under the amendments being proposed. In a word, the CBCP’s twofold parameter for a morally principled Charter Change, namely, (1) “widespread participation, total transparency, and relative serenity that allows for rational discussion and debate” and (2) that “the reasons for constitutional change…be based on the common good rather than on self-serving interests or the interests of political dynasties” (CBCP Statement, 2006) may have been violated in various parts of Eastern Samar, if not the whole country itself. As your pastors we must denounce such acts because, in violating morality, they do not serve the people’s true welfare.
May the Risen Lord empower us to die to self-serving motivations and rise to genuine character change, not simply charter change, as a people and as a nation.

Yours in the Lord,

(Signed) +Leonardo Y. Medroso, D.D.
Bishop of Borongan

(Signed) Priests of the Diocese of Borongan


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