Sunday, July 16, 2006

Disinclined Accomplice

also posted in

I'm dismayed, to say the least, with the recent Pastoral Letter issued by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). As religious leaders, they have the responsibility to lead their flock in these times of moral decadence and injustice. It seemed, however, that the bishops were even more confused than their bewildered followers.

The Pastoral Letter was so vague that even CBCP spokesman Msgr. Pedro Quitorio had a tough time explaining and defending it in ANC's Viewpoint earlier. The letter was obviously written with the pretense of moral uprightness and faultlessness, or shall I say the pretense of neutrality, that it miserably failed to serve its main purpose why it was actually drafted and why the bishops convened for three days in Pope Pius VI center in Manila. The bishops may have used ambiguous phrases to avert criticisms of politicking and partisanship, but they did so at the expense of the very substance of a very important paper. It did more harm than good.

The letter's major flaw rests on the bishops' faulty outlook which sees all issues and participating parties homogeneously. While it is true that almost all politicians have vested interests (which is to get the maximum exposure to ensure electoral victory or side with the incumbent to benefit from its machinery and resources), the fact remains that the other party, who happened to be the highest official of the land, is being accused of masterminding electoral fraud in 2004. Such an approach tends to highlight the self-indulgent balance-of-power between the administration and the opposition (a perspective which always works for the benefit of the administration) while watering down the real issues in the process. It's no different to the language used by Malacañang apologists and scriptwriters everyday that Arroyo's critics are only hungry for power and are out to destabilize the government.

Furthermore, the issues raised in the second impeachment case against Mrs. Arroyo are legitimate and genuine concerns, filed by ordinary people who were disenfranchised in the 2004 elections; who are continuously being deprived of social services because the government coffers was bled dry for Arroyo's electoral campaign and other personal whims; and who were victims or are being victimized political repression, extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations by government mercenaries.

To see the current political crisis as a mere offshoot of the egotistical tug-of-war between the Arroyo camp and the United Opposition is to disregard completely the hue and cry of millions of ordinary Filipinos who continue to experience hunger, languish in poverty and are gunned down like chickens everyday. It's not only erroneous, it's an outright insult.

I also find it ironic that while the CBCP is very clear, vocal and firm on its call for the "resignation or even the prosecution" of Election commissioners involved in vote rigging in the last national elections, it avoids to make a clear-cut stand on Mrs. Arroyo who, based on the taped conversations, was the one on the other line talking to Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

The bishops' homogeneous perspective also reflected on its stand on extra-judicial killings. While CBCP denounced the spate of killings of journalists and activists, it equally condemned the killings allegedly perpetrated by insurgents, as if these were the same. It discounted the fact that the increasing number of extra-judicial killings of activists is part of the government's systemic political repression (dubbed as Oplan Bantay Laya) against its foes, particularly progressive organizations and party list groups, and is being done with impunity. The killings also involve unarmed individuals or non-combatants, who are being decimated because of their political beliefs (or simply put, because they are exposing government exploitation and are calling for Arroyo's ouster).

On the other hand, the 'killings' allegedly perpetrated by rebels are carried out in the framework of a continuing insurgency and are aimed at combatants (military and police) and politicians or civilians (which are mostly landlords and businessmen) who have done a great deal of injustice against ordinary people. These two are obviously different, both in its objectives and underlying principles.

Unfortunately, even if their intentions were different, no one benefits from the bishops' ambiguous stand other than the government. Their homogeneous outlook and lack of concrete alternatives only cast clouds of confusion and keeps the people farther from knowing the truth (coming from the bishops' perspective).

And there, the bigger problem with the bishops actually lies. The bishops are still living in July 2005 and are still searching for the "truth" while the rest of the country are now looking for concrete action to solve this political crisis.

It's still never late for the bishops though. They still have the time to redeem themselves from being a disinclined accomplice (to use their own word) of the current regime. A proactive and pro-people leadership is crucial in these times of growing questions on the Church's relevance and problem of declining membership.


At 8:16 AM, Blogger vencer said...


Bishop Bacani explained the pastoral letter at the mass for the impeachment complainants at Pope Pius yeterday afternoon.

He said it was a "mistake." The original text was supposed to be a "patama" for those who do not want the truth to come out (second paragraph of #24). The third paragraph was inserted, "siningit", and that's what made it seem like the bishops were against the impeachment.

It seems, they too are confused and divided over the issue.

Meanwhile there's an Open Letter to the CBCP from the citizen complainants, hitting the bishops for "abandoning" the people "in the quest for truth and justice."

At 8:18 AM, Blogger vencer said...

Here's Bacani's explanation.


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