Monday, February 18, 2008

Discovering a new brand of people power!

February 22-24, 1986 were historic and momentous days. They ushered in the end of 14 years of Martial Rule and Dictatorship and the beginning of a new democracy. It was a peaceful and non-violent revolution by People Power, a movement “of the people, by the people and for the people” “who prayed together, reflected together, decided together and acted together”. They knew what they wanted. Cardinal Sin and the CBCP articulated their communal sentiment or collective discernment through Radio Veritas and their Pastoral Letter respectively.

Many of the participants in that decisive People Power have already died. Those who are still around are 22 years or almost a quarter of century older. Age is an important factor that comes with the cynicism, apathy and indifference for “another People Power.” Besides, are there “teach ins” for young people today on current political issues?

Came People Power II in 2001: we thought that history would automatically repeat itself. It did not. With the disappointment and doubts surrounding Election 2004, we now look at People Power II with mixed emotions and interpretations. Sadly, People Power II installed a leader who lately only has been branded as the “most corrupt” and our government is rated “among the most corrupt governments.” Is this the reason why many in civil society regard another People Power with cynicism and indifference? They are afraid another People Power might only bring the country from one frying pan to a worse frying pan.

To the disappointment of some, the CBCP recent statement did not specify what “communal action” to take. The Bishops did suggest: “pray together, reflect together, decide together and act together.” The call to communal action is a challenge to “political conscience” which would admit creative, imaginative and democratic response to political problems. Many good things have started to happen.

The Church is guided by its Social Doctrine which instructs: “The lay people (civil society) are called to identify steps that can be taken in concrete political situations in order to put into practice the principle and values proper to life in society. This calls for a method of discernment at both the personal and community levels” (no. 568).

If, according to collective discernment which can occur in unpredictable ways, the communal action is People Power, it will have to be with a different “brand.” It will not be simply a repeat of the past. What brand will it have? What is God through the signs of the times telling us? The movements of some groups for a National Campaign Against Corruption in the government may be a sign.

Imagine, with just one courageous person willing to witness to the TRUTH, some good things are already starting to happen, like the exposition of other scams, lies, deceits, “moderate and immoderate greed.” We hope and encourage that other courageous and inspired persons will emerge to tell or expose or humbly face the truth, whose concealment had made our country captive to corruption and greed of powerholders? There will be a convergence of bearers of truths saving our country.

Today, what is God telling us about expressing our highest sense of the national common good? This is the question that must be answered in all honesty, no matter how painful, by Church leaders and Church people, by civil society, the military and police, by our congressmen and barangay leaders, by our Senators, above all by the residents of Malacañang.

We must pray. Yes. There is a suggested Prayer of the Faithful for the nation in crisis. But we must also sacrifice for the highest national common good, inspired by “political charity” for the country, honesty and justice, guided by truth, like participating in a National Campaign Against Corruption in Government.


seaquest said...

People power is still possible if the ingredients/components are there, like what happened in EDSA I. In recent times, a component acted without the other. A little planning might work.

Arnel said...

Priests are not meant to be politicians said Pope Benedict XVI. During his 2006 visit to Poland, the Pope told his audience, "The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life."

Anonymous said...

The Anti-Arroyo bishops, religious and mixed groups (with various agenda)are desperate in reviving symbols and themes of Edsa people power to unseat the present president for alleged grand corruption of her administration. But they found their call for people power unheard by the people. So, they rationalize that this inaction of the people is part of the growing process towards an inevitable people power and efforts to awaken the people must be sustained.

Because of their desperate desire to unseat a corrupt president through people power, they are even willing to crown Jose de Venecia as hero for the Filipino people
and to accept all the confessions of Jun Lozada as gospel truths. They cannot even trust the legal system in facilitating the search for truth, because obviously it takes time and slow down the momentum of the inevitable people power. Extra-judicial forum, which is prone to trial by publicity, is more preferred venue, not necessarily for the search of truth, but to heighten the agitation of the people.

Time is indeed essential in this new people power. The forthcoming Edsa anniversary obviously adds power to this call. Archbishop Lagdameo and other religious groups are using all their resources to agitate people to go back to Edsa, with or without the CBCP.

Are the Anti-Arroyo group reading the sign of the times?

First, the CBCP is divided. Not Only divided but an overwhelming majority of the bishops are not in favor for the resignation of the president. Only 6 out of 125 are for the resignation of the president.

The term "communal action" needs to be explained to avoid its immediate implication as a call for people power to unseat another perceived corrupt president. Although Archbishop Lagdameo is more comfortable to define "communal action" as people power.

We have yet to listen from Archbishop Lagdameo to say mea culpa in behalf of his brother-bishops who are grateful for the financial gifts of gloria to their dioceses.

The divided voices of CBCP has lost its prophetic voice to denounce the evils of the present administration.

Second, people power failed to empower the people. The first president we installed after Edsa people power, Cory Aquino, has failed to institutionalize people empowerment. She was, however, successful in installing back the economic and political elites back to the power-base. She betrayed the Filipino people.

No wonder there is no single personality today who is calling the people back to Edsa has the moral integrity that inspires people to express their collective indignation against the amoral governance of gloria.

Not that the people are not angry with gloria but they see no credible voice, even among their pastors, to paint a better future where people are truly empowered. What they rather see is another transfer of power from the hands of the elites as championed by Cory, their rallying symbol for change in Edsa people power.

abdulrahim said...

communal action is also good..good only to those people who have consciense.But it seems that people in the government and in military are already greed to their positions.They will not give up..maybe,because of big bucks they are receiving,from corrupt government officials....
how can they moderate their greed???

aor said...

Considering history, can we now say that “people power” is just a myth?

This is the urgent calling of the present time, “a new brand of people power“ Yet, we need to discover it, and that is true. It is worth to understand from the words of CHED Chair Romulo Neri, during the recent Palace press parade, which runs somewhat like this,

“. . . All I can say is the reason I haven't packed out of the Cabinet is because I feel there is hope within the executive [branch]. . . I cannot see the reforms coming from the Senate alone. I cannot see it coming from the House of Representatives alone. I cannot see it coming from the Black and White [movement] or the civil society alone. I cannot see it coming from the military; I mean we’d have a junta. I cannot see it coming from the Church because the Church has certain limited views on things also . . . To me the one who can really do it is the President herself. But for the President to do it effectively, she needs the cooperation of the rest of society. . .”

Any Filipino citizen or group of citizens will shout and say, “That is not true, that is not the solution” of course, if their agenda is to drive away the Malacañang squatter. From the senators themselves they say, EDSA I is a different situation and one important thing, it needs a life to be sacrifice. Another one says nobody is a credible replacement.

Of all these agitations, escalating protest, prayer rallies and series of masses, communal actions, mass actions and people power, whatever they want to call these, seemed to be nowhere to go. Even the solon’s filed resolution for a snap election with a two billion peso budget is not a practical conceivable option considering the last two years of GMA’s term on which she is determined to hold her ground as what palace officials announced. Aside from GMA’s order on the DOJ and Ombudsman on the NBN-ZTE probe, she even put on hold the 11 loan projects worth almost 105 billion pesos.

A certain timeline is worth noting:
1972 – Marcos declared martial Law to take out the government from the claws of oligarchy.
1986 – EDSA I, to cease Marcos rule installing Cory Aquino who brought back the oligarchy to power.
2001 – EDSA II, to drive Erap Estrada installing GMA who would become the most corrupt president.
2008 – How to drive GMA out of Malacañang and discovering a brand new people power?

There is one resolve left to all the president’s men [and women] who have made a loyalty parade just recently, they believe and will cooperate with the President to do the reforms effectively for the last two years. We just hope not one of them will pack-out.

I just overheard a conversation in an airport departure area from some elderly women: “It is really hard for a woman-president to manage the government, “Yeah, “that’s true!” as one replied. But one with a hoarse voice interrupted, “Much more difficult for a woman-president to manage her whipping boy.”

Sef said...

Whatever good idea the people might have on fighting corruption will not gain ground, because there is also one representative of the people which is very corrupt. I am referring to the present state of our mass media. They have served the interests of only a few, and sadly I observe that all our problems cannot find solutions without the presence of a fair media.

So, I enjoin everyone to think about how to build an environment where free and meaningful discussion of solutions can flourish and given popular appeal. Also, I ask the catholic church, where I faithfully belong, to get involved in building a media outlet (for example, a radio or TV station) not only for religious purpose, but that will encourage free political speech, with preference for the truth and the just. If this is done, everything else which is good will easily follow.

arv_brotarlo_05 said...

Dear Bishop,

What we need is a people's manifesto that addresses the change we want to achieve. We want the idea to be broad but practicable and it should encompass every sector of society, giving emphasis to the least privileged. The manifesto should address the problem of political dynasties and should call for election reforms. The Philippines suffering from corruption and injustices has a consequence that magnify our people's misery: brain drain. Brain drain is fast resulting into a two-pronged disillusionment, the disillusionment of those who leave (and never hoping to go back) and the disillusionment of those who are left (becoming resentful that they, too, could not leave). Institutional change, assuming that we already have good laws, require only the will of the people. The collective effort, in other words, which can only be harnessed through good and honest leaders. May the Church inspire that leadership (for who else inspire faith in these times) and may we all take this inspiration with both hands and bring it into fruition in the shortest time possible.

mavicptwrn said...

fighting 'evil' is not easy that's why we need the help of people who knows better how to overcome ' bad spirits and satanic works'...and they are the church people..the priest and nuns and bishops. it is not wrong for them to participate in our call for a 'fair and just' government...

and sharing our vision just like when cardinal sin was still alive..he always remind his people to take a stand and fight for what is right and just to this country.
stop corruption and human rights violations--serve the filipino people with honesty and integrity.

sadly, this government doesn't even know the word. they betrayed our trust, they violated our rights, they killed our hopes for a better philippines...let us fight not only for ourselves but mostly for the next generations..fighting not in a violent way...but in a spiritual and constitutional means.

we have our own minds...the church can't dictate to us what is proper and not...we are not asking them to do that. but we are wishing them to shed light on our way so that we can see what's the best thing to do...just guidance.

not like the people in malacanang who doesn't know how to be afraid of GOD ...whenever they're telling lies and scripted stories...stop using god's name is all i can say to atienza, gaite, razon, defensor, mike arroyo and abalos etal...the truth will set you free!

yes priest are not politicians and/or must not meddle in political affairs...but they're also a citizen in this a filipino you/we must take a stand to fight against evil!

Anonymous said...

aor notes:

"A certain timeline is worth noting:

1972 – Marcos declared martial Law to take out the government from the claws of oligarchy.

1986 – EDSA I, to cease Marcos rule installing Cory Aquino who brought back the oligarchy to power.

2001 – EDSA II, to drive Erap Estrada installing GMA who would become the most corrupt president.

2008 – How to drive GMA out of Malacañang and discovering a brand new people power?"

The drive for GMA "out of Malacanang" does not start this year. It started on the day GMA was installed by Edsa people power of 2001.

the extreme left and its web are always present in the list. whoever is the president, if not from their ranks, he or she is always a suspect of all crimes. their ultimate motive is no hold the power-base.

the extreme right and its web are no different from the extreme left.

the opposition elites are more concern with grabbing the power-base and their motive is glaringly selfish.

everything is indeed dysfunctional.

what is worst of all this dysfunctions is the "new brand of self-righteousness" (the holier-than-thou mentality which Jesus wanted to dismantle) of the militant religious voices, represented by Sr.Mananzan/Cory et al, who uphold democratic principles but cannot trust the democratic processes at this time.

Why they cannot trust the rule of law? They should explain why we cannot trust the rule of law. Otherwise,their motive is not the search for truth; they are more concern to lead another people power at this time in history. The hard fact is that people are not heeding their voices because they themselves, like Cory, betrayed the people of Edsa I and II by their failure to install people empowerment. This is why the sins of the Arroyo administration to the greater extent mirror their own weaknesses and failure to evangelize the country.

Because they cannot inspire people back to Edsa, the anti-Arroyo conspirators are now singing a "new brand of people power" in the search for truth through trial by publicity, where there is no clear rule on evidence. If they are sincere to search for truth, then let them exploit all their resources to support Jun Lozada and the father and son de venecias.

when archbishop lagdameo calls for a new brand of people power i hope that the cbcp president will listen to the collective voice of his brother-bishops. there is no quarrel in our search for the truth, let the democratic institutions of our country like the judiciary to perform its duty. Resolve the current politico-moral issue in the proper court and let us be vigilant that Lozada et al will be provided all support they needed to substantiate their allegations in the court of law.

Bert said...

Main Objective of Communal Actions
What should be the objective of our Communal Actions? There are at least two from which we can choose one: (1) Get the truth out on the ZTE-NBN graft and corruption scandal or (2) Remove GMA from office. Which one will have a greater chance of being successful? The first one, for the following reasons.

It is unanimous among the people that getting rid of one large-scale graft and corruption scandal is a big win. There is not a single reason why anyone will object to this. It may pave the way to finally starting the ever elusive process of eliminating the cancers which have been devastating the moral fiber of our society.

The second objective at this time is not unanimous among the people for several reasons, among them, (a) lack of a successor, some people believe Noli de Castro is not ready for it, (b) suspicions that the communists are behind it, (c) some bishops are not for it, (d) some do not want to upset the relative economic stability, etc.

Our Communal Actions should therefore concentrate on the first objective which is to reveal the truth about the ZTE-NBN scandal, and NOT be side-tracked by clamoring to kick GMA out of office. In the process of getting at the truth, GMA can either not interfere with the process or be a party in suppressing the truth. If she elects the first option, history may be kinder to her, even if found to have some involvement directly or indirectly in the crime. The second option will only change the priority and direction of the Communal Actions from the ZTE-NBN scandal to herself.

God bless.

Bert Peronilla

Anonymous said...

Concerning the two objectives of the "communal action" (whatever is actually meant by this rather fertile rhetoric of CBCP) re (a) truth about NBN-ZTE alleged scandal and (b) continuing clamor to oust GMA from office (since 2001), I agree that the search for the truth is the most productive effort.

I may have doubt of Jun Lozada's testimony (primarily because of his connection with Senator Lacson who seems to be the writer-director-producer of this political drama strategically agitating the self-righteousness of the religious and the rating-minded media), but I too want to know the truth of this alleged grand corruption in government. In fact, I also want to unveil the "moderated greed" of the politicians like the 20% SOP in government projects, which the senators and the anti-arroyo forces seem to accept as part of our political culture. This is a dysfunctional morality.

If we keenly observe the desperate moves of the Anti-Arroyo forces, they are attacking two institutions: the military/police and the judiciary. If they succeeded in (dis)informing the people that the judiciary is for sale and its justice eyes favored only the rich and the powerful like GMA, then the search for the truth has no other venue but through another extra-judicial ouster of the president in Edsa. The success of another Edsa today, as in Edsa I and II, is the distrusted justice system and the support of the military/police.

They are calling now the top brass of the military/police as being paid by GMA to protect her at all cost. This propaganda is not actually helping them to win the top brass, nor are they hopefull for a sort of people power within the highly centralized command force. There's rather a grey area on this effort to discredit the military in order to awaken them to withdraw their support from the president. The implication that the the top brass is for sale is that whoever offers a higher bribe control the military forces. As usual, the idea is only to use the military for Edsa. In fact, military junta is not an option in this people power.

If the military/police loyalty can be bought, there at least one strong democratic institution, passive maybe in this entire politico-moral drama, but has a strong will to uphold the truth when ask to facilitate in our search for the truth.

Among the prominent voices in the Anti-Arroyo forces are the religious. They were jubilant and all praise of the triumph of democracy and the rule of law at the conviction of the plunderer Erap. But now they are telling the people that the justice system is also corrupted. If these religious are not "religiously liars" they are at least deceiving the people.

Likewise, we cannot expect the "unholy alliance" of the extreme left and right and the opposition to be more interested in the search for the truth in the court of law. Historically, they are more concern in controlling the power-base at all cost. The constitutional process is long and their greed for power cannot wait the legal process to uncover the truth.

domingo said...

What is happening now is not communal action but communal reinforcement defined as: (

“Communal reinforcement is the process by which a claim becomes a strong belief through repeated assertion by members of a community. The process is independent of whether the claim has been properly researched or is supported by empirical data significant enough to warrant belief by reasonable people. Often, the mass media contribute to the process by uncritically supporting the claims. More often, however, the mass media provide tacit support for untested and unsupported claims by saying nothing skeptical about even the most outlandish of claims.”

(see also

Thus, the selective truth that the Church and the opposition is seeking falls under the definition of truthiness at (

“Truthiness (noun)
1 : truth that comes from the gut, not books (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, October 2005)
2 : the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true (American Dialect Society, January 2006)”

(see also

The truth that is being sought is selective, since the ZTE deal is only one of perhaps thousands of other government projects. How about the truth on projects under, say, congressional pork (House and Senate)?

“God must summon Adam to judgment, then logic inexorably dictated that every defendant must be summoned to trial.”

At the Catholic University of America (cua. edu) website is this timely and relevant article: Innocent Until Proven Guilty: The Origins of a Legal Maxim by Kenneth Pennington, and to quote:

“This then is the ultimate irony of the story: rather than a sturdy Anglo-Saxon, a cardinal of the Roman church, a Frenchman, a canonist, Johannes Monachus was the first European jurist to recognize the inexorable logic of God's judgment of Adam: God could not condemn Adam without a trial because even God must presume that Adam was innocent until proven guilty. Other canonists played with the idea of defendants’ rights. They coined a proverb that God must even give the devil his day in court. Johannes' commentary on Rem non novam eventually became the Ordinary Gloss of a late medieval collection of canon law known as the Extravagantes communes. This collection and its gloss circulated in hundreds of manuscripts and scores of printed editions until the seventeenth century. So — the answer to our question, who first uttered the principle, Innocent until proven guilty — a perfect question for the legal edition of Trivial Pursuit — is the French canonist Johannes Monachus. Since his gloss was read by the jurists of the Ius commune to the time of Cesare Beccaria, it was a primary vehicle for transmitting the principle to later generations of jurists.

“Roman law, canon law, the Ius commune: from these sources spring that great Anglo-Saxon principle: A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Lozada’s accusation proved Abalos’ guilt. Abalos’ denial doubled it. Abalos is condemned before he is guilty, for fear that he should be guilty.

If there is a constitutional commission on AUDIT (after the funds have already been spent), there should have been also a constitutional commission on REQUISITION AND PROCUREMENT (before the funds are spent) so that not a single requisitioned pencil, for example, is bought and paid without the commission's approval based on strict requisition standards and a nationwide PUBLIC bidding procedures.

Anonymous said...

"Corazon Aquino is asking Arroyo to resign because she is corrupt, the schools are asking Arroyo to resign because she is corrupt, business is asking Arroyo to resign because she is corrupt. And the Catholic bishops are asking Arroyo to remain because she can help fight the corrupt? That has got to be the joke of the century.

Of course, the bishops also say Malacañang lies at the heart of the corruption, but they figure Arroyo should be “part of the process” of cleansing the dregs. That reminds you of Ronald Reagan, a staunch ally of Ferdinand Marcos, insisting then that Marcos was “part of the cure” and should be kept even as the entire Philippines, and even the US Department of State, was insisting he cut and cut -- well, cleanly or clumsily they did not particularly care. History, of course, made Reagan irrelevant. It will do the same to most of the bishops.

The bishops’ position adds whole new, and grotesque, meanings to the saying “It takes a thief to catch a thief.” But Arroyo’s corruption goes beyond the theft of money to the theft of votes -- or have most of the bishops been stricken deaf as well as blind and can no longer hear that grating voice helloing Garci? We have a “crisis of truth,” they say. True, but nowhere is that crisis deeper and blacker than among their ranks. When the very institution tasked to bear witness to the truth can no longer see the truth, or hear the truth, or smell the truth, or taste the truth, or feel the truth, then you know it’s time for that institution to go. The Catholic bishops are the very argument for this country to turn Muslim, or Buddhist, or atheist.

There is one thing worse than the corruption of the body and that is the corruption of the soul. There is one thing worse than the corruption of the State, and that is the corruption of the Church.

Al Gore is right: The hardest people to convince about inconvenient truths, however stark those truths are and however dire their effects have been, are those whose paychecks make them want to not be convinced."

Equalizer said...


We want to know the truth behind all the cover-ups in the seven long years of Gloria Pidal's rule!

How could so many scandals of an elected (?) president and her cadre remain unexplained, unchallenged, and unpunished? When?

Probably never.

We’re not talking mistakes, here. We’re not talking poor judgment or failed policies. We’re not talking politics as usual, with its underhanded array of pork and perks.

But we are talking about very serious violations of the public trust, and very possibly the law, perpetrated by the elected (?) leader of this nation and her handlers.

Even more amazingly, we are talking about the shameful reality that not a single one of these offenses has been investigated by a truly independent, non-political, neutral commission, armed with subpoena powers and adequate funding, and answerable ONLY to the people of Philippines.

Not a single one.