“THE church values the democratic system in as much as it ensures the participation of the citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the govern the possibility both of electing and holding accountable those who govern them, and of replacing them through peaceful means when appropriate.” (Pope John Paul II, Centessimus Annus, Encyclical # 46).
“The local churches are heavily involved in the formation of a civil conscience and in the education of citizens to a true democracy. Episcopal conferences of many countries have made interventions against corruption and on behalf of a society that is governed by law” (Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, President of Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, # 11).
The Social Doctrine of the Church, as stated above, behooves the Church to intervene in behalf of true democracy. The subject matter of Charter Change (CHA-CHA), is far more serious a matter than changing the names of streets and the creation of provinces which require both the House of Representatives and the Senate to separately vote for approval. Far more serious, because it will determine the future of our government and of the Filipino people. Hence, we disapprove a Constitution fabricated by only the House of Congress.
Understanding the gravity of CHA-CHA and its perceived consequences, the CBCP, in several Pastoral Statements this Year of Social Concerns, has expressed its negative judgment on the proposal of the House of Representatives converting itself into a Constituent Assembly (CON-ASS).
We sense through the media that the highest leadership of the land and of Congress in particular seem to be so “desperate” that they would even change the Constitutional Rules of Congress in order to speedily pursue and accommodate the Constituent Assembly (CON-ASS). If the term of our elected officials could be extended by six months to one year to institute the CHA-CHA by CON-ASS, such could further encourage a longer and longer term. The saying goes “when power corrupts, it corrupts absolutely.” NO TO CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY.
If the election would be postponed to accommodate the CHA-CHA by CON-ASS, what will stop congress to postpone it for another time and again for another time? We sense here a serious temptation to our elected officials to perpetuate themselves in power. NO TO POSTPONENENT OF MAY ELECTION.
O God, please deliver our elected officials from such temptation; give them the humility and courage to accept the demands of genuine democracy. And God, please deliver our country from the evil of Martial Law, never again Martial Law. We pray: NO TO MARTIAL LAW.
As CBCP earlier has said: while we agree that certain aspects of our Constitution may need amendments and/or revision, we do not support hasty effort to change this fundamental law without widespread discussion and participation of people who are not in congress but knowledgeable in law. We continue to believe that major shifts in the form of government require widespread participation of civilian society, and relative serenity allowing national discussion and debate. This is best done through a Constitutional Convention (CON-CON) where the members are elected by the people precisely for the purpose of framing a new Constitution. We have many illustrious and credible non-politicians who can help frame a new Constitution. A CON-CON might be very expensive, but it is worth spending much for something that is good for the greatest number. And so we say: YES, TO CHA-CHA through CON-CON.
+Angel N. Lagdameo, DD
Archbishop of Jaro