Friday, November 30, 2007

Thank God, It’s over

Press Release

Thank God, the curfew is over. Thank God, our hardworking media men have been released; were it not for them the nation would be in the dark as to what our country is undergoing at this point in time. Yesterday and last night, the people holed-in at Peninsula Manila had a “foretaste” of what Martial Law could be. God save us from the worse!

Bishop Julio Labayen, Bishop-Emeritus of Infanta, experienced in the hands of the military what he did not undergo even in the time of Marcos dictatorship. Bishop Labayen is already 81 years old. I am appealing to the military that he be released on account of his age. The advocacy that Bishop Labayen had been doing is for the country to be restored to genuine democracy and justice which is worth fighting for.

In this moment of national crisis, may there be sobriety, calmness, mutual understanding among the people in opposite camps. Let us pray for our country.

Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President

November 30, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Opening Remarks
Pius XII Catholic Center
November 27, 2007

Distinguished and Honorable Senators and Congressmen of the Philippine Legislature, Your Excellencies, the Archbishops and Bishops of the Philippines.

I am privileged to welcome all of you to this second Bishops-Legislators’ Caucus. We had our first caucus last September 4 in the office of and hosted by Brother Mike Velarde. We come in order to share our ideas about a particular national concern: the issue of population and family morality and life.

For your information, Honorable Members of the Legislature, the CBCP has some 33 Commissions, Committees and Offices, probably similar to the way Congress is made up of many committees. Through these Commissions we the bishops are able to relate, have dialogues and conferences with the people on different concerns and issues. Outside of the regular Episcopal commissions, the bishops also relate with businessmen through the BBC (Bishops-Businessmen’s Conferences), with Educators through the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines.

Collaboration between bishops and the PNP has been coordinated on local level by PNP Values and Leadership School of Gen. Samuel Tucay and Fr. Carmelo Diola. Tomorrow, some of the bishops will have a conference with farmers’ groups on the agrarian reform. The farmers’ groups include the Sumilao farmers marching to Manila to appeal for the reclamation of their ancestral land from which they had been evicted.

Thanks to some of our lay cooperators, Mrs. Fenny Tatad, Atty. Jo Imbong and their companions, we were able to bring about this Bishops-Legislators’ Caucus. For this coming together of Bishops and Legislators, we are motivated no less by the Compendium on Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 425 which read in part: “The mutual autonomy of the church and the political community does not entail a separation that excludes cooperation. Both of them, although by different titles, serve the personal and social vocation of the same human beings.

The Church and the political community, in fact, express themselves in organized structures that are note ends in themselves but are intended for the service of man, to help him to exercise his rights fully, those inherent in his reality as a citizen and a Christian, and to fulfill correctly his corresponding duties. The Church and the political community can more effectively render this service for the good of all if each works better for wholesome cooperation in a way suitable to the circumstances of time and place.” (Compendium 425; Gaudium et Spes 76).

Now is the time and this is the place (should I say?) for our “bonding” and exchange of ideas for the service of our people.


Opening Remarks at theConsultation on the Preparation for
the National Rural Congress

held at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center
27 November 2007

This year we celebrate the 40th year of the issuance of “Populorum Progressio— Development of People” by Pope Paul VI. There the Pope states that a redistribution of land as part of sound policies of agrarian reform is indispensable for genuine economic development (PP no.23).

According to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace: “Agrarian reform therefore becomes a moral obligation more than a political necessity, since the failure to enact such reform is a hindrance in developing countries to the benefits arising from the opening of markets and, generally, from the abundant growth opportunities offered by the current process of globalization” (Compendium of the Social Doctrines no. 300).

Premised on the above, we view the continued relevance of agrarian reform in the Philippines. If there has been any deficiency or neglect in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1998, we recommend that its cure be addressed in successive implementation. Chronic rural poverty is linked to the rural poor’s lack of control over access to basic productive resources, such as land, water and forest resources.

In the light of the social doctrine on agrarian reform, there is moral obligation to grant the rural workers their legitimate desire to participate in the ownership of the land they till and in the profits of their toil. Sharing of land as well as of goods and goodness is a demand of the principles of human dignity, equality and stewardship. According to the most recent poverty report by the Asian Development Bank, three fourths of the Philippines remained poor and rural. This means that they have limited access to food, education, health security, housing and employment.

In the current discussion and debate on the agrarian reform program, I hope and pray that the concerned sectors will be able to come up with needed monitoring schemes, support services, and assistance from related of the rural poor— on whose work on the land depends the life of the nation—a reform, an improvement of and extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program will need the support of the legislative and executive arms of government.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Moral Revolution? Do It

GOD help us! God have mercy on the Filipino people. The list of unresolved cases of social, economic and political concerns keeps piling up. Suicides and homicides have been committed because of extreme unresolved poverty—and these at a time when the peso is claimed to be gaining ground. How long have the poor to wait? And then the murder of a COMELEC official—at a time when COMELEC is facing renewal of its institution.

The alleged bribery of government officials, the deaths resulting from the explosion at the Glorietta and more rece3sntly the bomb explosion at the Batasan Pambansa: these are the social concerns and nagging issues that are crying our for solution and closure.

Add to this list the multi-million peso projects sprawling like white elephants because of substandard qualities and questionable arrangements.

These are not purely socio-economic issues. The Church’s social doctrine (Compendium 330-331) insists on their moral connotations. The relationship between morality and economics and poverty is necessary, intrinsic and reciprocal. On the one hand, it will be unfair to the victims if the real and ultimate culprits are not investigated and made to answer for their actions. On the other hand, each case carries a strong statement about the different levels of leadership as well as about the national state of affairs.

As a response to the state of moral bankruptcy in public life, of probably irremediable loss of credibility and trust, a call has been made for “moral revolution”. If only to stop our country from continuing to become a “social volcano” (Heaven help us!), we support the ideal of a “moral revolution”—moral transformation, moral renewal, moral reform. The CBCP has proposed it before in many ways through the years. And we would like to say it again. Nothing new, but the resolve may be.

We are consoled by the fact that some of our public officials and different sectors of civil society are seeing such a need for “moral revolution”. Sana magpatuloy ito…sana dumami pa ang bilang nila. May this attitude prevail…may the number of good-willed people increase. Not only investigations one after another. In our country where 57% are not affected by the gained power of the peso, where graft and corruption by the mighty in power and influence still hold sway, we are in search for people who would be humble, courageous and decided enough to do a Zacchaeus “Here and now I give half of my possession to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (Lk 19:8). This is the only violent revolution worthy of the name—it “kills” selfishness.

Let us do it. “To start this moral revolution, I must cease to be dishonest, unjust and unfair to my fellow Filipinos. I will tell and act on the truth that I confess or affirm. I will return what I have unjustly and deceitfully acquired. Only then can I ask pardon from God and the people I have wronged.” Speaking of reconciliation? This is!

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
November 24, 2007