Quantcast

Analysis

Bishops open fire on P-Noy administration

By

Once again, for the first time since the 1986 snap election, the Roman Catholic Church has thrown the full weight of its political influence to challenge the power of a sitting administration seeking a fresh vote of confidence in the May midterm election.

In a pastoral letter issued on Tuesday, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines opened fire on the Aquino administration, denouncing it for its supposed failure to address “a long litany of storms besetting the nation,” ranging from poverty, the rampancy of political dynasties, “the continuing corruption and abuse of power” the “possible hiding of information,” the rise of criminality, human rights violations, and unresolved cases of extrajudicial killings.

The broadside came two weeks before the official start of the campaign for the May 13 elections for senatorial and congressional seats and more than 17,000 provincial and municipal positions.

The letter was issued at the end of an extraordinary three-day, closed-door meeting of the country’s  highest Catholic prelates, which put the Church at loggerheads with a democratically elected administration that still enjoys high public approval ratings in opinion polls, but which also has received mounting criticism of its lackluster economic performance and lack of will in pursuing agrarian reform. Unlike in the 1986 snap election, this time the bishops are not standing up to the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship. Another difference is that the May polls are not a presidential election, and President Aquino is not up for reelection. The high stake involved in the balloting is that he critically needs a result that will give his Liberal Party and its coalition allies the majority in the 24-seat Senate. Thirteen seats are up for grabs in the chamber. The election results are a matter of life and death for the Aquino administration; failure to clinch a majority in the Senate can seriously cripple it and make it a lame-duck administration.

For the Catholic Church, the May elections are a test of its clout in influencing social and political policy related to “poverty, social redistribution of wealth, and the runaway population growth of the country.” The active intervention of the Church in the May elections puts it as the most formidable and most broad-based social institution in opposition to the sitting administration—a strategic political role in the context of a system of weak and fragmented  political parties.

The Church is in direct collision with the administration over the Reproductive Health Law, which the latter vigorously pushed. The pastoral letter attacked the new law as the promotion of “a culture of death and promiscuity.” It pointed out: “This is due to the slavishness of our political and business leaders to follow practices in the Western countries that promote, in spite of examples that we clearly see in the West, divorce, resulting in more breakups of families and the dysfunctional growth of children, contraceptives, leading to more abortions, the use of condoms, aggravating HIV-AIDS infection, and school sex education, bringing about more promiscuity and teenage pregnancy.”

For political impact in mobilizing electoral support in May, the Church is better placed to influence voters to blackball “administration-supported candidates on issues other than the RH Law.” The bishops cited other issues that could be politically damaging to the administration’s campaign, such as the “deepening culture of impunity,” extrajudicial killings, fear of “wholesale cheating in the automated elections,” and the “unabated suffering of the poor.”

On the issue of political dynasties, the pastoral letter said: “Political authority exists for the common good. It is not to be exercised for the sake of private and family interests or simply for the interests of a political party.

“When political authority is exercised merely for these narrow interests, it betrays the reason for its existence. Moreover, such a situation breeds corruption and inhibits access to political power, which is a fundamental mark of democracy.

“Therefore, we denounce the continued existence of political dynasties and the continuing delay of passing a law to implement the constitutional provision of banning political dynasties.”

On the issue of poverty, the bishops denounced the “unabated suffering of the poor in spite of the bright economic ratings.” It is “growth that is [merely] more products and more money, and should not be the sole aim of development but also equity.” They added: “The huge gap between the rich and poor remains. There is little inclusive growth.”

The bishops also bewailed the “continuing corruption and abuse of power by public officials due to lack of information, or still worse, the possible hiding of information from the public. It is ironic that the government that prides itself in treading the  daang  matuwid  fears the freedom of information bill because of possible discovery of wrongdoing by public officials. Why are they afraid to entrust the citizens with truth of their governance?”

On the deepening culture of impunity, the bishops noted that “extrajudicial killings, unsolved crimes and kidnappings continue, and the government is not able or lacks the political will to prosecute the perpetrators and touch powerful people.”


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=45995

Tags: amando doronila , bishops , column , Elections , political clout



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Transcript shows ferry captain delayed evacuation
  • Avalanche sweeps Everest; 6 killed, 9 missing
  • Captain not at helm of capsized Korean ferry–probers
  • 4.9 quake jolts Batanes on Maundy Thursday
  • Presidents, celebrities mourn writer Garcia Marquez
  • Sports

  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?
  • Hopkins, 49, seeks win for the ageless
  • LeBron still No. 1 with NBA’s most popular jersey
  • Pacquiao back in PH, heads home to wife, kids
  • Lifestyle

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Entertainment

  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Cannes film festival launches race for 2014 Palme d’Or
  • Business

  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • Technology

  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford
  • Filipina Maryknoll sister honored for years of service
  • Marketplace