Tuesday, December 01, 2009

CBCP review of 2006-2009

AS the outgoing CBCP Permanent Council welcomes the incoming Permanent Council, I wish to express my profound gratitude to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for entrusting to me the presidency of our conference for two consecutive terms from 2006 to 2009.

The effective management of any institution depends largely on the day to day working of its Secretariat and subordinate personnel. We have such in the CBCP, working along with 26 independent and interdependent Episcopal Commissions concretizing the CBCP Vision and Mission.

The objectives of the CBCP include among others the formulation of general decrees, pastoral policies and doctrinal declarations to enlighten and guide people’s consciences in meeting emerging challenges and new problems arising from changes in society (Cf. Constitituion, Art. 1, Sec. 2).

Let me review what the CBCP had articulated in our effort to shepherd and guide our country in the last four years through our Pastoral Letters, Statements and Exhortations.
2006. The CBCP declared the year 2006 as a “Year of Social Concerns” under the auspices of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. [cf. “Renewing our Public Life Through Moral Values” Pastoral Statement , January 29, 2006].

At that time we observed that economic benefits were not being sufficiently shared with the poor, that apathy and cynicism in politics, and loss of trust in political leaders, have taken hold of the mind and hearts of many Filipinos. The root cause of this crisis, we said, is the erosion of moral values. Among the responses we proposed was the promotion of a spirituality of public service, integrity and stewardship. But we believed that even our best efforts in addressing the problems will come to nothing without the help of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. (2006 was the 150th Anniversary of the Feast of Sacred Heart instituted in 1856.)

Other social concerns we identified were the mining issues, the alleged “Peoples’ Initiatives” to change the Constitution (which did not push through because of the vigilance of the citizens), the controversial “Da Vinci Code,” the notorious Fertilizer Fund Scam and the spread of Small Town Lottery or STL. Two breakfast fellowships with Christian Church Leaders and some government officials were held to share our common concerns.

The commitment of the Church would consist in building in our land “a civilization of love” (Centessimus Annus, 10), by building character through honesty and integrity, by building capacity through empowerment of the poor, and by building community through formation in the spirituality of citizenship. [Pastoral Exhortation “Building a Civilization of Love” May 11, 2006].

The Year of Social Concerns gave emphasis on the importance of the Social Doctrine of the Church as integral part of our evangelizing ministry, as emphasized in Pope Benedict XVI’s first Encyclical “Deus Caritas Est.

The burning issues which were being discussed were: the family under siege by the reproductive health bills, the prospect of charter change, the controversial impeachment process, which did not occur, the clamor for the reform of COMELEC, advocacy contra extra-judicial killings and endemic corruption in public and private life. [Shepherding and Prophesying in Hope, July 9, 2006]
2007. In January 2007 the CBCP recalled the 40th anniversary of the Rural Congress of 1967 which came to the crucial conclusion that “The Church must go to the barrios.” The greater number of the poor are in the rural areas. Therefore, attending to the rural poverty would be to help lessen the urban poverty. The CBCP said that the one big means of alleviating rural poverty is through a determined, vigorous and honest implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). [Pastoral Statement: The Dignity of the Rural Poor, January 28, 2007].

In 2007 the CBCP also commended the group of lay faithful who worked with great enthusiasm and dedication for the May 2007 elections. These lay groups were the PPC-RV, NAMFREL, NASSA-VOTE CARE, Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, the Catholic Media Network, Legal Network for a Truthful Election (Lente). These dedicated groups undoubtedly contributed to the emergence of a new political consciousness among the electorate. Vigilance, volunteerism and coordinated action characterized their work. We advocated for Electoral Reforms through revamp of the COMELEC, the holding of those responsible for anomalies in past elections as accountable to the people, and the modernization of the electoral system in time for 2010 Election, continuing education of voters, the cleaning and publication of voters’ list long before election. [Pastoral Statement, on the 2007 National Elections, July 8.]

The CBCP endorsed a one year journey “Towards the Second National Rural Congress” (July 16, 2007). In this year we commemorated the centenary of the Episcopal Consecration of Bishop Jorge Barlin (1906), expressed concern on the nation’s housing problems and on the Human Security Act vis-à-vis terrorism.
2008. In 2008 the CBCP stated that the “darkness in our situation” which consists in the subordination of the common good to private or personal good is due to the lack of a social conscience. The CBCP said: “To journey to the light, we need first to realize that we have contributed not a little to the common malaise – because of the decisions we have made, decisions that flowed from what we have become because of our unconcern, inaction, apathy, often thinking only of our interest. And so with little sense of the future of our country, we vote for people we should not vote for. . . We have to confess that corruption is in truth our greatest shame as a people.” (Pastoral Letter “Reform Yourselves and believe in the Gospel” (Jan. 27, 2008)

There is need for personal and communal conversion towards a social conscience. “This conversion is for all of us: laity, religious, priests and bishops.” We reiterated the call for “circles of discernment” in all sectors or levels of the community, in order that through communal and prayerful discernment, the roots of corruption may be discovered and destroyed. [Pastoral Statement, Seeking the Truth, Restoring Integrity, February 26, 2008].

As part of the celebration of the NRC-II, we advocated the extension of CARP with reform. “Abandoning the agricultural sector will not only threaten the farmers but also imperil food security itself. Conversely, distributing land to small farmers will provide equitable economic opportunities on the rural area and eventually reduce poverty and unrests.” (Agrarian Reform, May 18, 2008). Important highlights of 2008 were the launching of the Year of St. Paul and the holding of the Second National Rural Congress on July 7-8, 2008 in San Carlos Seminary, Makati.

A special plenary assembly was held on November 14, 2008 in order to articulate the CBCP opposition to the Reproductive Health Bill 5043. (Pastoral Statement “Standing Up for the Gospel of Life”)

In 2008, there was held a series of Bishops – Legislators’ caucuses on Rural Concerns and on Family and Life Issues. There was also held a seminar on the Theology of Pope Benedict XVI.

2009. At the NRC-II the rural poor were given the opportunity to articulate their concerns. It was an opportunity for the church on various levels to listen and discern her specific role in accompanying the rural folk in their journey; the small farmers, landless workers, fisherfolks, indigenous people, rural women and rural youth. (Pastoral Exhortation: God Hears the Cry of the Poor, January 25, 2009).

At the Rural Congress we declared that in the fight against graft and corruption, we should encourage our lay faithful to accompany and support upright public officials in their efforts to serve the people in transparency and truth. We further declared that “we shall direct church institutions and organizations to be more engaged in works of solidarity, justice and charity for the poor in rural areas.” Scripture warns us: “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will himself also call and not be heard.” (Prov. 21/13)

In June of this year 2009, we declared the post-Pauline year as the Year of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary for Peace-building and Lay Participation in Social Change, inspired by St. Paul’s reflection on “Christ as ambassador of Peace and Reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5/18-20; Eph. 2/12-18). In this year of the Two Hearts “We challenge our Catholic Laity to take the lead in the task of moral renewal towards a deeper and more lasting change in the Philippine society … urging (them) to give a concrete expression to Christian discipleship through responsible citizenship.”

What a providential coincidence, the Year of Two Hearts which the CBCP announced for the Philippines has also been declared by Pope Benedict XVI for the Universal Church as “Year for Priests” with the theme “Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of the Priest,” in commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of St. John Marie Vianney. Pope Benedict XVI has articulated the purpose of this Year for Priests: “The Church needs holy priests,” holy priests who will guide the lay faithful in their participation in the renewal of church and society. In response to the Pope’s call for the Year of Priests there will be held the Second National Congress of Priests in January 2010.

We see how the hand of God is guiding the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in this last four years: we placed 2006 the Year of Social Concerns under the auspices of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. And this year in June we declared the Year of Two Hearts for Peace and Lay participation in Social Change.”

As shepherds and guardians of the flock, our reading of the “Signs of the Times” goes on as we have been doing. Our advocacies for the good of the church and our country continue. In our conference, no one can ever be an isolated performer. The 10 member Permanent Council and the 30 Chairmen of the various Commissions, Committees and Offices together with the Secretariates have all been working together each with no little sacrifice, like a chorus singing the Magnificat or the Gloria in Excelsis.

I had the distinct privilege of presiding at our CBCP General Assembly. I am sorry for whatever mistakes or failures I may have committed during my watch. But I was as confident as the CBCP was that it is the Lord that watches over our Conference.
My gratitude to the CBCP can never be as great and as profound as the trust that it has gifted me with.

Archbishop of Jaro

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Press Statement on Maguindanao Massacre

The CBCP joins the nation in mourning and condemning the massacre of 36 innocent civilians, mostly women, including drivers and journalists. Whether it is politically motivated or not, it is still a crime against respect for life and peace and order in the community.

We join the appeal to rightful authorities to restore justice in the situation. We likewise appeal that the common good as well as respect for human life be uppermost in the campaign for political ends.

May this painful situation be a strong reason for further pursuing the ongoing peace process in Mindanao.

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
November 24, 2009

Friday, October 02, 2009

Year 2009, Typhoons: Are they God’s Hints?

AFTER the destructive typhoon Ondoy that hit Manila and Central Luzon, and with still on-going work of compassion and rehabilitation, we are warned by the news of possibly stronger typhoons in the coming days or weeks. We are still facing a litany of storms, according to Pag-asa.

We are impelled to pray that the Lord save our country from further calamities due to typhoons, floods, drought, volcanic eruption and other calamities occurring in increasing number and intensity.

In this month of October especially, we recommend that the Rosary be prayed by individuals or by families or by communities in parishes for the above intention as well as other intentions. Our countrymen, still reeling in physical anguish and emotional distress, which many of them hide in their smiles and sense of humor, need also to be prayed for.

With the World Apostolate of Fatima and the Apostleship of Prayer and other religious (“praying”) organizations, we appeal not only for material assistance for the victims of Typhoon Ondoy, but also for prayer, repentance and penance. I have just been from an Asian Meeting of the World Apostolate of Fatima in Seoul, Korea. From the messages of Fatima, it seems there is some deep connection between moral evils (the “reign of sin”) and the calamities that descend on a people. Our Lady of Fatima’s exhortation to prayer includes the threefold cry “Penance, Penance, Penance,” which echoes the message of Jesus “Repent and believe the Gospel” (Mk. 1/15).

Then Cardinal Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI, had said “The heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of everykind.” Typhoons also, and floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are an invitation for opening our hearts to God. “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart: I have overcome the world” (Jo. 16/33). The hope-filled message of Fatima invites us to trust in her Son’s promise.

In the destruction wrought by typhoons, we must see not so much God “lifting His hand to punish” but moral evil having its “trail of harm and ruin” because we have destroyed God’s world.

We are challenged to open our hearts to God’s warning signs. Should we not at least ask ourselves if all the corruption and lies, the loss of integrity and the mounting “destruction of morality and moral values” (cf. Chief Justice Puno and Senator Salonga) in the present government and the present calamities: is there a connection? Is God not giving us “hints” regarding the future and even the coming elections? Nagtatanong lang kami! We do not have the answer! That is why let us also pray!

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP Presidnet

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Epic Flood: A Call for Compassion

THE pictures we see in the newspapers and television screen in these days, after the epic flood brought about by devastating tropical storm “Ondoy” have many stories to tell which are beyond words. Many of the victims of super typhoon Ondoy has a scary experience to narrate.

While we keep in our imagination the pictures that invite our deepest sympathy, and even listen in our hearts to their desperate cries for help, the victims agonizing and angry complaints at the slowness or absence of response from Disaster Preparedness Program, let us see in this situation a call to everyone for compassion. If there were no graft and corruption in our government, our government would be more prepared to respond to such crisis.

Typhoon Ondoy’s destructive path may be the worst flood in more than half a century. Through the ravages of nature in the past, the Filipino sense of compassion, which we also call “bayanihan,” has been called forth. The pictures we have seen in the past few days are pictures of Filipinos responding to the call for compassion, of people willing to “suffer with,” people with the spirit of “bayanihan.”

We pray against typhoons, earthquakes, floods and other natural calamities. But when they do occur, the heroism of the Filipino comes out. We salute, for example, to that 18-year old teen-ager, Muelmar Magallanes, who lost his life after saving more than a dozen neighbors, the last of whom was a six-month old baby.

This one heroic example is an inspiration of our appeal with the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action. The CBCP NASSA has been mobilized to help with its limited resources the victims of the flood. Relief goods have started to be gathered and distributed to the flood-affected provinces around Metro Manila. Caritas Manila has started to respond to the flood victims in Metro Manila. Compassion is drawing many Filipinos to unite with their unfortunate brothers and sisters. Social Action Centers of other Dioceses may join the campaign by sending to CBCP NASSA whatever they may collect. Profound gratitude to the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council and the US Bishops’ Conference – Catholic Relief Services. They were among the first to respond.

Other Institutions like the RED CROSS, have also started to respond to the call for compassion, as we have seen in GMA network and ABS-CBN network in the spirit respectively of “KAPUSO” and “KAPAMILYA.”

We bend our knees in prayer for salvation against natural calamities, but when they do come, we are not so helpless as not to respond with heroism. We have said it before and we say it again “In the Church, no one is so poor as to have nothing to give, and no one is so rich as to have nothing to receive.” We are humbled by the crises that come to us. We pray to God and appeal for our neighbor.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

For Good or Evil, For Better or Worse

THE issue of good and evil in governance starts with responsible and irresponsible citizenship. Leadership in governance starts with leaders as citizens. Responsible citizens produce good leaders, good leaders produce good citizens. Leaders and citizens are linked to each other; they influence each other for good or evil, for better or for worse.

Leaders and citizens must work jointly for the common good. Sadly, however, the common good is very often being subordinated to private good, to the good of one’s own self, party or family.

While it is true that we cannot be blind to the evil or wrong around us, we must have the wisdom and fortitude to correct it.

We need to exercise our social conscience by owning our social evils and wrongs and by owning as well the tasks of fighting these, and of pursuing the common good, individually or collectively. Before condemning others, let us first look at ourselves, because we may be guilty of the same or similar. No person is completely evil that there is nothing we can do to correct him or her.

Corruption, we have said many times before, is the greatest shame and problem of our country. Our government has not eradicated it, because it is involved in corruption itself. Corruption is what keeps our country from the evils of graft and corruption.

To help pursue the good and fight evil, the CBCP has recommended and undertaken “communal actions,” we “pray together, reason together, decide together, act together towards a more vigorous work for good governance and a more active promotion of responsible citizenship in our society.” May I repeat here that in view of the national elections next year, “we call upon those who are competent, persons of integrity and committed to change to get involved directly in partisan politics and become candidates for political election, aware that the common good is above the good of vested interests. We remind the laity that it is within their right as their duty to campaign for candidates they believe to be competent, honest and public-service minded in order to reform our country.”

Our question that needs to be posed to all those aspiring for the presidency and other government elective positions is: how are you going to eradicate graft and corruption in your level of governance? We, citizens, are urged to examine their plans, and in conscience choose and support those who will lead us to the good, onward to the better.

Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
September 16, 2009

Reiterating CBCP Position on Family

WITH the introduction of the Reproductive Health Bill 5043, a.k.a. Reproductive Health Bill, in Congress, truth and morality, the value and dignity of life, family and marriage are sadly made to depend on human laws. That is what is implied in the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill presently under discussion in Congress.
It appears that Congress even plans to shorten the discussion in order to have the R.H. Bill passed before the end of October. We hope that the normal process of discussion and interpellation be observed, that the Congressmen who have signified to interpellate on the R.H. Bill be honored and given the opportunity to interpellate. To shorten the period of interpellation would give the impression that the passage of RH Bill is “lutong makaw”, not judiciously and sufficiently discussed.

As Catholics and Christians we are against the passage of the RH Bill 5043 of Congress for reasons we have already enunciated and I now summarize:

1. The Bill dilutes and negates Section III (1) Article XV of the Constitution which provides “The State shall defend the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious conviction and the demands of responsible parenthood.”

2. The Bill seeks to legalize surgical procedures that the Catholic Church has denounced as immoral, except for serious health reasons: tubal ligation, vasectomy and abortion.

3. The Bill requires mandatory reproductive health education from Grade V to Fourth Year High School without consideration of their sensitivity and moral innocence. The moral law and the Constitution recognize the right of parents to be the primary educators of their children.

4. The Bill recommends having two children only per family as the supposedly ideal family size. There is no moral or scientific basis for this recommendation. It puts the State above the family. The natural right of couples to have as many or as few children as possible, pursuant to their understanding of responsible parenthood, is in our view already protected by Section 12, Art. 2 of the Constitution, which recognizes the “sanctity of family life” and protects the life of the mother and of the unborn.

5. The Bill states that those who “maliciously engage in disinformation about the intent of provisions of the bill” shall be punished with imprisonment and/or fine of P10,000 to P50,000. This includes those who will teach contrary to the bill (after it is passed) and speak about its immoral provisions. Such provision is a clear violation of the freedom of speech and of the right to religious conviction. Only totalitarian states have such policies.

We thus reiterate our categorical and unequivocal opposition to any attempt at controlling the exercise of the God-given rights of human persons to enter into married life, procreate and raise families according to the provisions of the Constitution and their religious convictions.

We appreciate and are grateful to the members of the Legislature who seek to understand the will of the Supreme Lawgiver whose laws are beyond our limited human competence to repeal or amend. We recognize and likewise thank the individuals and groups who support our pro-life, pro-women, pro-marriage and pro-family advocacy. We raise in prayer all their efforts for continued guidance and strength from the Lord and Giver of Life.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
September 16, 2009

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Graft and Corruption is an evil that affects many levels and areas of life. Graft and corruption is a sin that cries to heaven especially if it is committed against the poor people, like poor drivers.

The Gospel (Luke 16/1-13) is about cheating and dishonesty. The Gospel is about a manager of business who was cheating the owner. About to be dismissed from work, this manager cheated by teaching some people to be dishonest, to tell a lie by lowering the amount they owed. Instead of paying the owner the right amount, the manager made the debtors indebted to him instead. He was getting the money which the debtors should be paying to the owner. That is cheating, that is telling a lie, a dishonesty.

In the same way, it is cheating and dishonesty to increase the amount higher than what one should pay according to stipulation. And so, for example, as what we have read in the local newspaper, if it is true, to increase the amount to be paid for transportation franchise from 810 pesos to some 35thousand pesos is an act of cheating and dishonesty, by whomever it is committed and against whomever it is committed. Such act of dishonesty is not only against the government but also against God, because it offends a fellow human being.

We must persuade and pray that those who are committing graft and corruption against the government and the taxpayers are harming the common good and the trust that people should have for them. Therefore, we should pray and call for their conversion and change of attitude.

As the saying goes: Be honest … even if others are not, even if others will not, even if others cannot. He who walks honestly, walks securely (Prov. 10/9). The Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals has this for their vision and motto in the business.

Or as we see in the posters around the town of Pavia: “Help fight graft and corruption. Be honest. Do not lie. Do not steal. Do not make promises you cannot fulfill.”

We therefore support the advocacy of the citizenry, especially the drivers, for honesty in business. Our country remains poor because of projects that are substandard and because of overpricing of collectibles that are due. The country is poor enough, but it becomes poor when projects are either sub-standard or overpriced. The common good is sacrificed.

The gospel that we have proclaimed today from St. Luke 16 has a very practical application in our life and relationship. Only good and honest business can be God’s business.

Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
September 3, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The age of the laity

THE present time of the Church has been called “the age of the lay faithful,” and at the same time “The time of the Holy Spirit.” In acknowledging it, the CBCP’s most recent Pastoral Letter has emphasized the importance of lay participation and lay empowerment in the mission of the Church as well as in many areas of lay apostolate and evangelization.

The parable of the Wedding Banquet which we proclaim in the Gospel, presents the on-going invitation of God in the context of a wedding at which the guests are invited to participate. Weddings are events of joy, camaraderie, fellowship and communion. It is this spirit that Jesus wants to be reflected in those which are working for the propagation and promotion of the kingdom of God in this time of the Holy Spirit and age of the lay faithful. The way of spreading the kingdom by way of spreading the Word of God, most especially by “letting the Word of Christ” dwell in the lives of the people (Col. 3/16), in order that they may become “doers of the word” (James 1/22).

In this age of the Holy Spirit, we are witnesses of how lay people are responding to the invitation of God to participate in the wedding feast of the Word of God. On this occasion, I would like to gratefully appreciate the impact of the word of God on the followers of El Shaddai, in particular on El Shaddai’s Founder-Organizer, our friend Mike Velarde, the leader of this charismatic Catholic renewal movement.

Religious movements come and go. A few of them continue to flourish base on the integrity of their leadership and the conviction of their followers. El Shaddai is one of them. El Shaddai is now in its 25th year of its foundation by Brother Mike, who celebrates his 70th birthday, and who 25 years ago was scheduled for the major heart surgery at the Philippine Heart Center. In some mysterious way an “angelic nurse” who read the Word of God for Brother Mike, assured him that his surgery would be cancelled. The miraculous incident led to the purchase of a radio station, DWXI and the program “To God be the glory.” Rallies for the Word of God, with the Word of God, attracted people by the hundreds of thousands. To this date the members of El Shaddai has reached more than seven million with chapters being established in parishes and dioceses here in the Philippines and abroad.

As El Shaddai celebrates the 25th year of its foundation by Brother Mike Velarde, the only words that catch our hearts at the moment are the words “To God be the glory.” The gifts and the charism to spread the Word of God that were given to Brother Mike, are not for him but for the growth of the Kingdom in this age of the laity and time of the Holy Spirit: to God be the glory. The effect of the Word of God on the millions of El Shaddai members are not for the individual recipients but for their families, for the communities, for the church: To God be the glory. Let the wedding even of the Word of God with the people of El Shaddai continue with its work of radical conversion from within, the renewal of Church and society, the good works that produce joy, camaraderie, friendship, fellowship and communion continue in this great and difficult times. To God be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

(This is the text of the homily of Most Rev. Angel N. Lagdameo, Archbishop of Jaro and CBCP President, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of El Shaddai; August 20, 2009)

Monday, August 17, 2009

An appeal for prayer for peace in Mindanao

The recent violent encounter in Basilan resulted in 23 deaths from the army and 31 deaths from the Abu Sayyaf. In the context of war, no one wins.

For peace in Basilan and other parts of Mindanao, the CBCP appeals for prayer for all the victims and their bereft families. We ask for prayers and Masses for them.

In a certain sense, the situation of “unpeace” in one part of the country lessens the peace in other parts because we are all “brothers.”

Violence, retaliation and annihilation create more anger in both parties and destroy the seeds of past peace processes. Peace cannot result from violence and retaliation.

The victims of such violence and retaliation are innocent lives of victims.

Archbishop Angel Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
August 17, 2009

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Message of the CBCP on the demise of Mrs. Corazon Aquino

THE CBCP joins the Aquino family and the entire nation in mourning the passing away of a great woman who was for six year the President of our country.

It was a holy death in the midst of physical pain and suffering. Death occurred at three o’clock the Hour of Divine Mercy. It was First Saturday the day of our Blessed Mother. Tita Cory was holding the Fatima Rosary which Sr. Lucia gave her many years ago.

Our country is very much indebted to this humble and sincere woman, who though not a politician herself and unprepared, she accepted the challenge of the Filipino people to lead them as President. It was not she who pushed herself into the position; but it was the people who called upon her. Eternal gratitude is due to Cory and her husband, Ninoy, for living it out that “The Filipino people is worth dying for.”

Many eulogies and speeches will be delivered to extol her goodness; we know she deserves them. But now at the threshold of eternity, the only eulogy she would hear is the invitation of the Lord of Divine Mercy: “Come, blessed of my Father, enter the kingdom which has been prepared for you.”

In her unassuming way she knew when to say “enough is enough” and gently handed over the government to her successor. It remained to succeeding generations of leaders to be worthy of the trust of leadership and to continue what she had begun, to dream again the dream of what is best for the country.

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
August 1, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Balancing Two Realities

THE State of the Nation Address had been prepared understandably with the eyes on the accomplishments of the administration. Image-building was done before the event, and the final touches were given at the SONA. In success and failures, the President does not stand alone: there are hundreds of allies who stand with her either as co-achievers for the successes or co-accused for the failure to dismantle structures of corruption. But we believe in “command responsibility.”

The state of the nation should also be looked at from the experiences and eyes of the remaining millions who are still suffering from hunger, illiteracy, unemployment, homelessness and sickness. This would balance the picture. They were outside the SONA site.

The circumstances surrounding the SONA were not very comfortable and encouraging. There were the threats of boycotting the SONA, which some have done! The caravans of protests against Charter Change! The Red Alert signal! The thousands of PNP and military at the SONA site, covering the security of the President and (daw!) the protesters against infiltrators. These sent the message of fear and insecurity.

Whether as projected the SONA reflected the truth or not, the better thing to do is to compare the SONA with the current situation, perceptions and perspectives of the people from below. From the people also, we can discover the other side of the State of the Nation!

The SONA was about the macro-level of government filled with statistics which most do not understand. But the macro is not always reflective of the micro. Therefore, the State of the Nation must consider also the millions who make up the micro-level and are missed in the statistics.

This hopefully is the last SONA of the present administration. We are looking forward to the 2010 Election of people with new minds, new hearts, new spirit for the Filipino People, for a better Philippines.

Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
July 27, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Can We Truly Be Independent?

Independence Day, that is what we celebrate on June 12. On June 12, 1898 General Aguinaldo declared the independence of the Philippines from the Spanish government in his hometown of Kawit, Cavite. Our Independence Day celebration would recall to us the Revolution by the Katipuneros, the Spanish – American War over the Philippines followed by the Philippine – American War.

One of the legacies of Spanish colonization with the sword is the Cross (without the sword) that now hangs in every church all over the country. We may have declared our independence from Spain, but we should be grateful to the Spanish Dominican, Augustinian, Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries who brought the cross and the faith to us. Since then the evangelization that started with them five centuries ago goes on. We are a Christian nation. A Spanish Jesuit missionary had commented: before “mother Spain” evangelized the Filipinos, time has come for the Filipinos to evangelize “mother Spain.”

With the doctrine of the United Nations with us, we can ask; can we be truly independent? We are observing today how nations are co-dependent on one another, in the areas of education, economics, social, religious, and political development, requiring exchange of time, talents and treasures but never of bullets and nuclear bombs.

In our country today we hear new cries for independence: Independence from corruption, from self-serving politicians and leaders, from various kinds of exploitations, harassments, extra-judicial killings, and economic poverty. We may have declared independence from some nations, but the ones that now “enslave and exploit Filipinos” are their “fellow Filipinos.”

The issue now in the life of families, communities, groups and nations is not how to be independent but how to be co-dependent or interdependent on one another. Genuine independence is the fruit of genuine interdependence. We said it in the Plenary Council of the Philippines: “No one is so poor as to have nothing to give, or so rich as to have nothing to receive.”

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
June 12, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

“Agrarian Reform is an instrument of social justice and an act of political wisdom”

(Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 1997)

A Pastoral Statement on the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program

AGRARIAN Reform is the centerpiece program of the 1987 Constitution. It pronounces in definitive terms that the law of the land upholds the protection of the rights of the poor in keeping with the principles of social justice. Despite the trails of failures in its implementation and the rising agrarian-related violations in the countryside, the farmers and the Church acknowledge that for the most part, agrarian reform has had a positive impact on poverty reduction.

Even before the funding for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) expired last December 2008, several well-meaning legislators passed bills that extend and reform the flawed provisions of the old agrarian law. The Church commends these initiatives and we throw our full support to the consolidated Senate and House Bills, SB 2666 and HB 4077, now up for Senate’s and Congress’ deliberation and approval. Unfortunately, time is running out as there are only nine session days left for Congress to enact this essential law.

Correspondingly, we oppose in the strongest terms, the threat of “killer amendments” being inserted by some senators and congressmen that will effectively emasculate the objectives and gains of the CARP with Extension and Reform (CARPER) Bill for the poor farmers. These amendments are called “perfecting” amendments by their proponents, which in reality would dilute, slow down, and reverse the gains of the program and reduce the resources available for it.

Invoking guidance and inspirations from both the Philippine Constitution and the social doctrines of the Church, we find the proposals below to be unacceptable and antithetical to laws that govern the moral and social structures of our society.

• The phasing of land acquisition and distribution, which targets first those landholding measuring 50 hectares and above without prejudice to the coverage of lands below 50 hectares, after an accomplishment trigger of 90% by the respective provinces. This is unconstitutional in that our Constitution does not distinguish on whatever basis the agricultural lands to be covered under CARP. On the contrary, it mandates the coverage of all lands without qualification on the basis of size or even crop type. Allowing the State to distinguish between lands below 50 hectares and those measuring 50 and above would be discriminatory against, and would disenfranchise a huge percentage of potential farmer-beneficiaries, considering that the bulk of undistributed private agricultural lands is comprised of lands less than 50 hectares. Putting the 90% trigger as condition for resumption for coverage of smaller landholdings may actually result in most of the remaining landholdings being left uncovered or undistributed.

• Reconsolidation of agricultural lands by previous landowners after the 10-year retention period, and/or the reduction of the 10-year prohibition on sale of awarded land to three years. These provisions clearly favor former landowners and could defeat the purpose of the program because it will allow them to reacquire foreclosed lands, thus reconsolidate their landholdings.

• Allowing leaseback arrangements of awarded lands between farmers and landowners/corporations. We find this proposal to be inequitable and contradictory to the ultimate goal of agrarian reform, which is to grant ownership and control over the land and its resources to the tillers. CARP does not intend to protect whoever has the capacity to buy and operate big plantations, at the expense of the small farmers.

• Institutionalization of Commercial Farm Plantations in CARP. This proposal is objectionable as it expressly seeks the transfer of control of lands from farmer-beneficiaries to the landowner or any other agribusiness venture “partner”. It is contrary to studies which show that small-scale rice and corn farms by owner-cultivators are more productive than large scale farms. It is also discriminatory against rice and corn farmers. More importantly, this amendment is a contravention to the basic principle of agrarian reform which seeks to secure access, ownership, and control over land and its resources to the poor farmers.

• Increasing the compensation to landowners and increasing the downpayment from the present 25%-30% to 50%. This proposal, which is based on case-specific decisions of the Supreme Court, would result in a reduction of funds available for land acquisition and distribution and support services and would effectively prevent the program from being completed. Increasing just compensation for landowners is welcome as long as the corresponding increase will be matched by an increase in the allotted P147 Billion budget.

• Transfer of jurisdiction over agrarian cases from the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) to the regular courts. We believe that the resolution of agrarian cases entails the expertise of DAR on agrarian reform. This is sufficient and more equitable to the farmers because they are allowed to participate and represent themselves in the process, which are not bound by technical rules of procedure and evidence. We fear that the transfer of jurisdiction will only serve to marginalize the farmers, who could be subjected to a more adversarial and costly processes.

• Legislating the disqualification of “habitual squatters” from becoming CARP beneficiaries and making them criminally liable and punishable with specific penalties under the law. The Church, together with the farmers’ groups, registers strong opposition to this provision and we are one in calling for its deletion from the final version of CARP. There is an alarming likelihood that this will be used as an instrument to harass legitimate farmer-beneficiaries, who are typically branded as “squatters” by landowners. Legislating this provision will allow landowners to threaten farmers with criminal cases.

The social teachings of the church equally condemn the concentration and misappropriation of land as intrinsically immoral. Gaudium et Spes states that “God destined the earth and all it contains for all men and all peoples so that all created things would be shared fairly by all mankind under the guidance of justice, tempered by charity” (69). Similarly, Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s paper on “Towards a better distribution of land” quotes the prophet Isaiah as saying, “Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field!” (5:8)

The same document also quotes the late Pope John Paul II’s dramatic address to members of the government and landowners in Mexico: “…leaders of the people, powerful classes which sometimes keep unproductive lands that hide the bread that so many families lack, human conscience, the conscience of the peoples, the cry of the destitute, and above all, the voice of God, the voice of the Church, repeat to you with me: It is not just, it is not human, it is not Christian to continue with certain situations that are clearly unjust. It is necessary to carry out real, effective measures – at the local, national and international levels… it is clear that those who must collaborate most in this are those who can do the most.”

Thus, it is with great sorrow and foreboding that we, the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, witness some legislators willfully neglecting a vital sector that contributes to the country’s economic growth. Abandoning the agricultural sector will not only threaten farmers but imperil food security itself. Conversely, distributing lands to small farmers will provide equitable economic opportunities in the rural areas and eventually reduce poverty and unrests, which are major deterrents to democratic development.

Acquiescence to the evils of self-interest has serious negative effects in the social and economic well-being of the country and jeopardizes our collective pursuit of the common good. We appeal to our political leaders to make a serious examination of conscience and focus their attention on the swift resolution of the mounting forms of injustice and violation of fundamental human rights of the rural poor.

The small farmers deserve our attention and espousal of their cause. They continue bringing hope to society, and nurture life from season to season. No man of upright conscience much more that of a principled leader, can allow the Filipino farmer to be laid bare and vulnerable to the claws of globalization and continuous hopelessness.

Let us all pray for justice and peace to reign in our country, through an authentic agrarian reform, carried out in the spirit of distributive justice and solidarity with the rural poor. We pray for the Holy Spirit to lead us away from sin, enlighten our minds, and purify our intentions. And may the love of Christ impel us in our quest for a morally reformed society.

For the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines,

Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
18 May 2008

Thursday, May 14, 2009

“Whatever you do to the least of my brethren you do it to me”

The feast of St. Isidore, the Farmer on May 15 is an occasion for us Filipinos to recall and acknowledge the important roles our own farmers play in nation-building. They are the co-creators of God; the representatives of society entrusted with the noble task of making the earth fruitful. Faithful to this calling, the farmers tirelessly work hard to provide the basic food for our daily needs.

As we celebrate Farmers’ Day, may we go beyond simply acknowledging the farmers’ vital contribution to society. More importantly, the celebration should compel us to focus our attention on the problems they continue to face, such as the absence of a comprehensive and reformed agrarian law that genuinely serves the interest of the poor farmers, and address the lack of basic infrastructure and support services, and agrarian harassments, among others.

In the spirit of the celebration, we call on all Filipinos to stand in solidarity for the respect, defense, and promotion of farmers’ rights. We appeal to the conscience and compassionate hearts of our legislators to finally pass an extended and reformed CARP with: (1) five-year implementation period including Compulsory Acquisition, and without the proposed phasing of distribution; (2) collateral free credit and increased support services to farmers; (3) creation of an oversight committee with the inclusion of private sector representatives to monitor the implementation of agrarian reform; (4) recognition of the farmers’ legal standing and non-cancellation of Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) on lands already distributed to and developed by the farmers; and (5) increased penalty for obstruction of CARP implementation.

Introducing amendments into the proposed bill that cancel out the above proposals inconspicuously weaken the gains of CARP for the poor farmers. Instead of working for their own interests, I pray that the Holy Spirit will move our Senators and Congressmen into heeding the cries of the rural poor, in accordance to the dictates of moral and social justice.

As our legislators go about the very important task of passing an agrarian reform law, I pray that they draw inspiration from St. Isidore, who, despite being very poor himself, gave of what little he had to those who were poorer. May his generosity remind our elected officials that life is not to be a selfish quest for profit, but an opportunity for service. This preferential option for the poor is emphasized in Jesus Christ’s ministry when he told His disciples: “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren you do it to me” (Matthew 25:40). The feast of St. Isidore on May 15 is an auspicious moment for the legislators to live up to our mission of discipleship and to demonstrate selflessness and genuine service to the poor farmers by gifting them with a reformed and authentic agrarian reform law.

Trust in prayer and benevolence to the needy were the most distinguishing traits of St. Isidore. In these times of difficulty, I, together with the farmers, offer and entrust our troubles, heartaches, and triumphs to the Heavenly Father, through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


The alarming news of the outbreak of “swine flu” or “influenza A” in several countries, after Mexico, behooves us to take some health precautions as may be coming from our Doctors of Medicine or the Department of Health. There is no news yet of the flu having reached our shore. Panic would not be the correct response. Let us rather be guided by the precautionary measures which health practitioners may give.

Alongside with this counsel, we exhort the people to pray for our country as well as for the countries already affected by the “swine flu”: that it may be effectively controlled. Earnest and humble prayer addressed to the Divine Healer, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is the need of the hour. Prayer may be as powerful as or even may be more powerful than anti-biotic or anti-virus pills which may not be accessible to many very poor people. The combination of prayer and prescribed medical precaution would be a proactive response to the present concern.

Let us pray that the rise of “swine flu” cases in other countries may be put under control. We call upon the Apostleship of Prayer, the Charismatic Movements, all Church organizations to include this intention in their prayer, as individuals, as families and communities.

Archbishop of Jaro &
CBCP President
May 2, 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Labor Day Message 2009

ON the occasion of Labor Day 2009, we gratefully salute the labor force on whom depend the sustenance and development of our country.

The celebration of Labor Day would be all the more meaningful if our labor force will feel more concretely and tangibly the care and concern of the business sector, the government and civil society. The work force which is responsible in producing the food and wealth of the country must themselves be made to share the fruit of their labor through just wages and well-deserved security for themselves and their families. Retirement benefits must likewise be part of the program for workers.

We acknowledge the mutual dependence of capital and labor. It has been well said “neither capital can do without labor, nor labor without capital.” This mutual dependence can exist only in the atmosphere of social and distributive justice. Acts of justice take precedence over acts of charity.

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Year of the Two Hearts for Peace-Building and Lay participation in Social Change

A Pastoral Exhortation

Beloved people of God,
As we conclude the year of St. Paul which the Holy Father inaugurated on June 29, 2008, we invite the Filipino faithful to start preparing spiritually for another crucial transition in the life of our nation—namely, the elections in May 2010. For this purpose, we are declaring the post-Pauline year (from June 2009 until June 2010) as a year of Prayer and Work for Peace-building and Lay Participation in Social Change. By way of transition, we can draw our inspiration from St. Paul’s timeless reflections on “Christ as Ambassador of Peace and Reconciliation” (2 Cor 5: 18-20 & Eph 2:12-18) in order to dispose ourselves for the next thematic year.

Consecration of the Two Hearts

We will launch this new thematic year by consecrating our country to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary when we celebrate their feast days on June 19-20, 2009—a few days before the formal closing of the Pauline Year on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2009. This Year of Prayer and Work for Peace-Building and Lay Participation in Social Change will begin and end with the feasts of the Two Hearts (June 2009- June 2010).


From the wounded Heart of Jesus flowed the grace of healing and reconciliation. Let this grace flow through us, the community of Christ’s disciples, into the bloodstream of our nation. Let it find a concrete expression in serious advocacies for peace and dialogue, healing and reconciliation amidst conflict-situations in all possible circumstances of life. Let us all actively pray and work for peace, following the inspiration of that popular prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy,” seeking at each time, not so much “to be consoled as to console, to be understood, as to understand, to be loved as to love…” and believing firmly that “It is in giving, that we receive; …in pardoning, that we are pardoned; …and in dying, that we are born to eternal life.”

While we go on with our pastoral programs in all Church units and organizations, basic ecclesial communities, parishes, dioceses, and regions throughout the country, we also ask that all ecclesial entities all over the country strive to establish and form groups that can effectively focus their ministry or apostolate on peace-building and genuine reconciliation through dialogue, drawing encouragement especially from St. Paul’s profound insights on these topics. Let us consciously lay the moral foundations on which we can build a more stable, more mature Philippine society. Let this foundation be not just a change of leaders or a change of social and political structures, but above all, a radical change of heart, commending ourselves to Jesus and his Blessed Mother as we entreat them to “…make our hearts so like to (theirs) that we may holy be!”

Lay Participation in Social Change

For the past few months now, we have noted a mounting call for “moral regeneration” in our country. Not only do we welcome this; we your pastors are encouraged by the fact that this call has been coming mainly from the laity. You know that we have sounded this call too many times already in the past. Perhaps because this task is expected of us, there has been a tendency to take it for granted that we are also to carry it out by ourselves. One journalist wrote in a commentary recently, “The task of moral regeneration is too big to entrust to religious leaders alone.” We couldn’t agree more.

As your pastors, we exercise spiritual and moral leadership as regards our communal and ecclesial life in our parishes and dioceses throughout the country. But we cannot just extend that leadership into the spheres of politics and governance, in business and economics, in the sciences and the mass media, etc., without running the risk of being misconstrued as engaging in power-play or over-extending our sphere of influence beyond our offices. The participation of the laity in moral leadership pertaining to every specific discipline and institution in the Philippine society is most essential, if we want the Gospel and the social teachings of the Church to have a tangible and positive impact at all on our life as a nation.
We challenge our Catholic laity, in particular, to take the lead in the task of moral renewal towards a deeper and more lasting change in the Philippine society. We challenge all lay people involved in politics to renounce corruption and bond together in the task of evangelizing politics for effective governance and the pursuit of the common good. We challenge the laity involved in legislation to unite themselves and consciously allow their actions to be guided by the truth of the Gospel and the Christian faith. We urge the Catholic lay people involved in legitimate business to organize themselves and consciously practice their trade with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility informed by the social teachings of the Church. We enjoin all Catholic law enforcers to form associations among themselves that consciously renounce violence, respect basic human rights, and truly work for the preservation of peace and social order. We call upon the Catholic laity involved in social communications and the modern mass media to form networks among themselves that can articulate a genuinely Christian ethics in their practice of their profession. We urge every Catholic lay person to give a concrete expression to Christian discipleship through responsible citizenship.


In closing, may we ask that we start praying the following prayer at least every Sunday after communion in all Catholic churches and chapels all over the country from June 2009 to June 2010:

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, the reality of our deeply wounded and broken country impels us to respond with new urgency to the most pressing problems of our times.
We are a broken people; our hearts are fragmented and we are discouraged. We need Your Heart, O Lord, as we seek to be made whole.
Rooted in our faith in You and love for our country, we want to participate in Your work of transformation of persons, families, organizations, and society.
Through the transforming power of the love of Your Heart, we draw a new dynamism, a strong inspiration, a fire, which can change and transfigure our lives as individuals and as a nation.

(Please pause for a specific intention)

Love of the Heart of Jesus, give us courage and patience. Wisdom of the Heart of Jesus, teach us to pray and to act with hope and charity at all times. Amen.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

May Jesus, the Source of Divine Mercy, and His mother Mary accompany us in our work of peace-building, and social and moral regeneration.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,

Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
April 19, 2009
Feast of Divine Mercy

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

May Hostilities Cease and Peace Prevail

A Pastoral Exhortation

KIDNAPPINGS have been going on in our country. We join people of good will in condemning these kidnappings, such as those that recently happened in Jolo, Zamboanga and Ipil, even as we sympathize with the victims and their families and beg the Lord to touch the hearts of the kidnappers.

In solidarity in particular with the Archdiocese of Zamboanga and the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo we are appealing for the safe return of the kidnapped, like the three International Red Cross workers kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf. These Red Cross workers are there for humanitarian purpose and work of compassion. We thank and join Pope Benedict XVI in his concern for the families of the hostages and “appeal that humanitarian feeling and reason might have the upper hand over violence and intimidation.”

We appeal to both the groups of kidnappers and the government officials to use every peaceful means to address through peaceful process whatever is at the root of this on-going problem of kidnapping in order that there may be peace in Jolo, in Mindanao and the whole country.

We appeal to all groups of kidnappers in the name of our common humanity and in the name of the One Merciful and Just God whom we worship to grant freedom to their captives.

Lastly, we exhort our Filipino Brothers and Sisters to reach out to both kidnappers and their hostages with prayers. Let it be a whole nation praying that all may experience true freedom and security. May healing and forgiveness take place, hostilities cease and peace prevail.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

Archbishop of Jaro &
CBCP President
April 1, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

No to Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

A Pastoral Statement

We join the Environmentalist Group Greenpeace and the Diocese of Balanga headed by Bishop Socrates Villegas in opposing the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
We earnestly appeal to our Congressmen, with fervent hope and prayer that Congress will completely and irrevocably reject the opening of the nuclear plant as the most dangerous and expensive way to generate electricity. Multiple risks and the possibility of corruption outweigh dreamed benefits.

We recommend with other anti-BNPP Congressmen and the Greenpeace Forum that the mothballed facility in Morong, Bataan, be dismantled as its revival will be most hazardous to health and life of the people. It is for this reason that we also strongly oppose coal-fired power plant as source of energy in Iloilo province and in other parts of the country.

We recommend the implementation of the approved bill on the use of renewable energy, such as solar, wind and water as the safe sources of electricity.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

Archbishop of Jaro & CBCP President
February 26, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lent--A Call to Moral Renewal

LENT is an opportune occasion for profound re-examination of life, for confronting ourselves with the truth of the Gospel, which demands radical moral renewal. Jesus Christ begins his public ministry with the message: “The time of fulfillment has come … Repent (i.e. change your mind and behavior), and believe in the Gospel” (Mk. 1/15). St. Paul the Apostle gives his rejoinder: “Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4/23).

Along this line, the scientist, Albert Einstein, offered a formula for solving the problems and crises that churches, institutions and governments are facing when he said: “The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created these problems and crises.” We will not solve our problems – religious, social, economic, political- by insisting on doing the same things that have produced the problems. The call of Lent is for moral renewal. To achieve this we need at least a critical mass of citizens-leaders who are willing to “break out of the box,” to jump on to the beginning of a new wave, to move into a new cycle of development, to operate with a new social consciousness and conscience, not for their individual or group security, but for the good of the greatest number.

We stated, some years ago, at the National Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal, that “failures in renewal have come from a deeper source: our hardness of heart and resistance to conversion….We, as Church, have to confess responsibility for many of the continuing ills of Philippine society.” In a Pastoral Statement on “Renewing Our Political Life” (January 29, 2006), we said, and we can say it again, that “at the bottom of our political chaos is a crisis of moral values, a crisis of truth and justice, of unity and solidarity for the sake of common good and genuine peace.”

The most seriously affected by the crisis of moral values are the poor, the marginalized, oftentimes treated like commodities. Graft and corruption breeds widespread poverty. Widespread poverty in turn breeds graft and corruption. There is a concatenation of crisis and corruption that goes down to the barangay level, up and down and up, infecting the whole of society, like a contagious cancer.

To cure this social cancer we need a new breed of leaders in our country. The forthcoming national elections must not simply be a changing of hats for the same persons, or change of faces but with unchanged hearts. We must be able to gather a critical mass of citizens-leaders with a genuine passion and obsession for good governance and prophetic leadership. This critical mass will be the training ground of other citizens who will lead our country with the values of honesty and justice, truth and integrity, credibility and accountability, transparency and stewardship. These are the moral values that citizens must use to criticize and measure the present brand of leaders and raise up a new breed of leaders.

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President