The President’s courtship of the country’s influential bishops is all for nought, if the polite but powerful pastoral statement of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, released today under the name of the conference president, is any gauge.
Despite the diplomatese (the use of questions instead of assertions, for example), Archbishop Angel Lagdameo’s letter on the signature campaign for Charter change packs a wallop.
We view with alarm, however, the present signature campaign endorsed by the government. Signatures are apparently collected without adequate information, discussion and education. The manner in which these signatures are supposedly collected, including door to door campaigns, are not conducive to the kind of informed participation that such fundamental changes demand. The changes that are being proposed for signatures of citizens are dangerously unclear and open to manipulation by groups with self-serving interests. The complexities and variations of the parliamentary system are not adequately explained and have not been sufficiently discussed by our people.
And yet again:
This lack of clarity on how the changes will truly benefit our nation raises disturbing questions about who will truly benefit from these changes. It seems that the changes as they are being proposed now will benefit mainly those who already hold positions of power and privilege in the current political system. This raises questions as to the authenticity of this signature campaign and the motives of those who promote it. Is this truly a "people’s initiative" or the initiative of self-seeking political players wanting to entrench themselves in power? We might further ask the question of the source of funding for this entire operation.
The conclusion is a call to Christian arms:
We invite you then to reflect and pray over what we have presented in this statement. If, before God speaking in your conscience, you agree, we call upon you to discern the appropriate actions. As Christians, we cannot be complacent and inactive in the face of this present issue of charter change, which is so crucial to the future of our country and people. Vigilance, education, principled opposition may be necessary steps to take.