Monday, November 24, 2008

CBCP for Constitutional Convention

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has expressed in several pastoral statements that if ever our Constitution will be changed, it should be through a CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, whose members shall be elected for that purpose by the people.

Understanding the gravity of Charter Change and its perceived consequences, the CBCP has expressed its negative judgment on the proposal of the House of Representatives to convert itself into a Constituent Assembly. We agree with members of civil society who oppose any proposal for elected public officials to extend their term and/or perpetuate themselves in power.

If the Constitution needs to be changed it should be by way of a CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION and after the 2010 Election.

To quote the Encyclical “Centessimus Annus”: “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.” The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Martino, further states: “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 in behalf of a society that is governed by laws.”

The biggest problem that our country is facing is the global economic crisis, resulting in the growing number of poor people in the midst of corruption. The bayanihan spirit of pagtutulungan by both rich and poor will be a great help. But what our country more urgently needs is to look for and elect people who will govern us with honesty above all, with integrity, truthfulness, justice and accountability. More than change the form of our government, they are those who are guilty of graft and corruption who need to change or be changed.

In the spirit of Advent, everyone needs “cardiac conversion” from whatever is evil to everything that is good. This will be the best preparation for a meaningful Christmas season.

The citizens should watch, critique and denounce the manipulations of government; they need above all to pray for enlightenment to seek what is best for the country in order that she may rise up with right vision and hope.

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
November 24, 2008