Statements – Vol. 48 No. 02

Statements – Vol. 48 No. 02

Statements – Vol. 48 No. 02

To Bring Glad Tidings to the Poor (Luke 4:18)

Pastoral Exhortation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

The Joy of the Gospel and the Church of the Poor

As the new Year of the Laity unfolds, we recall Pope Francis’ compelling invitation to the joy of the Gospel and the joy of Evangelization1. We are invited to turn away from our sadness, our discouragement, and our despair at the manner in which life for us is unfolding, and return to joy. We all yearn for joy. We work for joy. Yet, in its quest we have often failed to find it. We are bundles of shattered dreams; or we are showcases of fulfilled dreams, which leave us empty. We have worked hard, but are frustrated; we have struggled, but feel the weight of disappointment. We are victims of calamities, natural or man-made, or victims of our own coldness in the face of overwhelming suffering.

Pope Francis invites us to return to the joy that comes from the Gospel and from sharing the Gospel. That is a joy that comes neither from a covetous heart nor from the frivolous pursuit of pleasures, nor from a blunted conscience. It comes rather first and foremost from a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ. This is joy real and deeply personal in a social world. Consequently, it is a joy which needs urgently to be shared today in all its fullness, challenge and joy—no matter the danger, no matter the ridicule, no matter the dying. This is the joy of evangelization: the joy of sharing Jesus Christ. It is a joy that cannot be contained, cannot be tamed, cannot be restrained, cannot be boxed in; it is signed with the foolishness of the Cross and rooted in the splendor of the Resurrection.

Return to Jesus

Crucial in the return to joy, is the return to Jesus Christ. Catholic country as we may be, we may have come to think that joy is suppressed by Jesus and his imperatives, and so have begun to pursue joy by walking away from him in fashionable secular modernity. Pope Francis is inviting us to turn around, and return to Jesus, who is not just a cold concept, not just an old memory, not just a set of ethical demands, but the God who encounters us from the Cross, gazes into our hearts with love, accepts us unconditionally, and moves us profoundly. It is love that calls forth our response of love. “If in love you have done this for me, Lord, what have I done for you? What am I doing for you? What ought I do for you?”2

A response may be a resolution never again to walk away from the Lord. The resolution may be to spend more quality time with him, to converse with him more regularly, to find silence to listen to him more intimately, to “waste time” with him more liberally, to experience more deeply the joy of knowing him personally, of being truly shaken by his love, infected by his values, influenced by his choices, and being convinced in his love of the love of the Father. This is a response we must all consider, be we bishops or priests, religious or lay, married or single. We have all too easily walked away from Jesus, and walked into protected comfort zones, cultures of institutionalized hypocrisy, selfishness and sloth; we have found solace in superficial ideologies or shallow religiosity that but mimic the Gospel. We must turn back to Jesus. Turn back to his Gospel. 

Impelled by Conscience to Share

The elation within of having encountered Jesus compels us to share. It is not possible to have met Jesus, then hoard the joy of this encounter for oneself. The encounter with Jesus is genuinely personal, but intensely moving in his love not only for me but for all others—lay, religious, priests, bishops, Catholics and non-Catholics, Muslims and Lumad. It is the joy of this gratuitous personal encounter that impels us to share it, to break out of our zones of comfort, our parish turfs, our intimidating conventos, our moldy libraries and tired ways of thinking in order to share of this joy with those who cry out for it in need. For Pope Francis, this is not just a matter of choice; it is a matter of conscience. “If something should rightly disturb and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, and without meaning and goal in life” (EG, 49). In going forth, in opening the doors of God’s love to them, in facilitating grace, not being its arbiters, we should not fear for ourselves, but fear to fail those Jesus leads to us in need. “More than a fear of going astray,” Pope Francis says, “my hope is that we will be moved by a fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within habits that make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: ‘Give them something to eat’ (Mk 6:37)” (ibid).

Poverty Still Scandalous

In our personal encounter with Jesus, we know ourselves uplifted, we know all humanity is uplifted in dignity because of Jesus’ loving gaze from the Cross for us all. We must abide in this joy in “evangelical discernment,” and not allow ourselves in a confusing world to be led astray by spurious joys. While we gratefully recognize advances in Philippine society in such areas as basic education, fundamental aspects of the economy, the struggle for elusive peace in Mindanao, the war against corruption, and in all the shameful slime uncovered in connection with the now unconstitutional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), we cannot help but admit with Pope Francis that twenty-eight percent of our people3 still “are barely living from day to day.” The poorest of our people are in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao with 47% of the people living below the poverty threshold of PHP 5,458 pesos/month, in Region XII and Region IX with 38% and 37% respectively of the populations still living in absolute poverty. The income gap between our rich and poor has not closed: the richest ten percent of our population is earning ten times more than the poorest ten percent, with the income of the richest families soaring way beyond the income of the poorest.4 These are figures that have not yet captured the devastation wrought by the standoff in Zamboanga, the earthquake in Bohol, and Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas.

This is a social scandal for which we cannot just blame government. We need to understand our role in it, our personal responsibility for it in our individual lives and shared cultures, and return to Jesus.

The Encounter with Jesus: Root of our Love for the Poor

It is the fundamental encounter with Jesus that must guide our response to the poor. The poor are not just curious ciphers on a statistical report. The poor are not just the unlettered, the unwashed, the uninitiated, the uneducated, the unhealthy, the naked, the exploited, the trafficked, and the infirm gazing into our eyes for human recognition. They are those about whom Jesus said, “Whatever you have done or not done to one of these the least of my brothers and sisters, that you have done or not done to me” (cf. Mt. 25:40). Jesus makes himself one with the poor. From his Cross, Jesus gazes into our eyes and touches our hearts with love. It is his love which calls forth our response in love. It is his love which allows us to admit our personal faults in our shared social woundedness. It is his love which quietly says: “Go forth, and heal!”

From the poverty or wealth of our lives and personal situations, how do we love our neighbor? How especially do we love our poor, God’s poor? Recalling the words of the 1971 Synod of Bishops, “Our relationship to our neighbor is bound up with our relationship to God; our relationship to the love of God, saving us through Christ, is shown to be effective in the love and service of people. Christian love of neighbor and justice cannot be separated” (34). An honest assessment of our ways of dealing with the poor whom God brings in our lives – our neighbors, our colleagues, our students, our employees, our parishioners, our political constituencies – is called for, especially when these ways impact not just on individual lives but on the common good. To the poor, we owe love as God loved us first. That entails not just sentimentality. That entails justice.

Action Against Exclusion, Injustice Poverty– Part of Preaching Gospel

If God loves us so all-inclusively, why are so many excluded? If God’s justice is wrought so marvelously in compassion, why are so many victims of heartless injustice? If God loves us so lavishly, why are so many yet victims of driving poverty? There is no full answer to these questions. Our faith tells us God is love but our Catechism of the Catholic Church also says God’s love is mysterious. We do know for certain that while God permits much evil he also wished to overcome evil – but only with our cooperation. He wants our active love to show his love. He wants to draw from us love in response to all these evils. Thus “where sin has abounded grace has abounded all the more” Rom 5:20.

In returning to the joy of evangelization, we return joyfully to the memorable words of that same Synod of Bishops, “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation” (#6). There is no Christianity without love. There is no love without justice. There is no integral proclamation of Christianity without effective action for justice. The Church’s mission of redemption is tied up with liberation from injustice and oppression. In this light, unmistakably, Pope Francis is saying, “Go forth!”(5)

No to an Economy of Exclusion

Evangelize, not only in words, but evangelize in action that brings justice to all! The Gospel is of God’s love for all that touches all and uplifts all. It excludes no one. Therefore Francis forbids an economy of exclusion. “‘Thou shall not,’” he says, support, abet, encourage “an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.” (6) We must understand what an economy of exclusion means for us in the Philippines. It is an economy which pampers the wealthy with mansions, multiple cars, yachts, helicopters, exotic food, outstanding education, state-of-the-art gadgetry, influence and power, but excludes others, especially the poor, from regular jobs that generate more than subsistence, from liberating education, minimum health care, decent and safe housing, and modern modes of communication. It concentrates decision making in the wills of an entrenched elite, and reduces participation of the poor in these decisions to empty formalities. It serves the interests of the global economic elite, as these benefit the local elite, defends these interests with political, military and media power, and disenfranchises poor people who stand in their way of their rights – even of their right to life. Indigenous peoples are pushed off their lands, their defenders are killed. Meanwhile, laws enacted to close the gap between included and the excluded, the wealthy and the poor, the powerful and the disempowered, the housed and the homeless7 are sluggishly implemented or implemented in the breach.

Here, the economy of exclusion take on its own lethal life. To this, Francis quietly states: “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of the markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solutions will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.  “The dignity of the human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies,” no matter how “irksome.”8

No to the Idolatry of Money

For Francis we must go back to the love of Jesus. Only then can we understand its social imperative. As in love we must reject an economy of exclusion; in the experience of Jesus’ love we must reject its driving daemon, the idolatry of money.9 “We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex. 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose” (55). If in the pursuit of private interest, money has taken over life, has co-opted substantial time in our loving and space in our thinking, is more demanding than family, more consoling than friends, determines what is right and what is wrong, is able in importance to push God into a corner, if not into oblivion, for as long as I can push my interests to the exclusions of others’, money has become an idol. Before this idol, both humanity and divinity are sacrificed. As God says, “Thou shall not kill in an economy of exclusion!” he also says, “Thou shall not have money as a false god before me!”

Only in the love of Jesus which expresses the Father’s love for all, can we return to the human finality of money, the human core of private property. It is not humanity that serves money, but money that serves humanity. We must recall the social teaching of the Catholic Church. There is a social mortgage on private property. While the Church recognizes the validity of sufficient money and private property for the human being’s fulfillment of personal and family needs, private property is encumbered by a “social mortgage” and must contribute to the common good(10). Short of this, the legitimacy of accumulated money and private property is lost: “The right to private property is subordinated to the right to common use, to the fact that goods are meant for everyone” (ibid). This is a powerful doctrine inviting urgent reflection on the manner we relate with money and private property in our lives. It is embedded in the principle called the “universal destination of all created goods”(11), the doctrine that all goods created by God are for the good of all. Money is a means. It is not an end. It is certainly not God. Avarice is idolatry (Cf. Col 3:5).  Selfishness is a sin.  The return to the joy of encounter with Jesus cannot force conversion. But it does invite it.

Challenges in the Year of the Laity

The invitation to conversion, to return to Jesus and to the joy of bringing him into our world, is issued to all members of the Church, including bishops, priests and religious. But in the Year of the Laity, when we are specially aware of the valued role the laity play in the proclamation of Jesus and the transformation of our Philippine cultures according to the heart of Jesus, allow us only to invite the laity to urgent action in three areas:

The immediate responsibility for our Catholic families belongs to the laity. Lead our families back to Jesus! Here, nothing is more urgent than that parents introduce their children credibly to the compelling love of Jesus, and that children see their parents as exemplars of human goodness and responsibility impelled by the love of Jesus. No Christian family can flourish without prayer, worship, service to each other, and service to others. No family can be Christian reared only on junk food, trashy media, selfishness, and indifference to the needs of others.

Catholic families have responsibility for the life of the Church community. Get involved in the Church’s parishes, the Church’s organizations and the Church’s schools. Make sure that they are not turned in on themselves, missing to bring the life of Jesus to those in our world who need Jesus most. Help them in the spirit of Francis to “Go forth!” Recall the challenge of Francis to the youth of Brazil!(12)

The Catholic laity has immediate responsibility for a just social order, which we in the Philippines have far from achieved. In carrying out this responsibility, it should not only be guided by the social doctrine of the Church, but spread it.13 Through a return to Jesus, we must beg to be converted from the idolatry of money and the obsession with private property and private gain. In God’s love for all, we must recover not only our sense of the common good, but our obligation to work for it and achieve it,14 even at the cost of personal convenience or of personal treasure. This entails not only turning away from the corruption that has so shamefully marred our history, but to embracing positive action for the good of all. This means acquiring the learning, gaining the skills, cultivating the wisdom, and making the hard choices that the common good entails. It also means acknowledging humbly and respecting the cultural, religious, confessional and ideological diversity that belongs to human and Philippine society today. The shared pursuit of the common good through dialogue hopes for an ever-improved synthesis in human community15 and community with the environment”16

MARY, BEARER OF THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL, Mother of the Poor

Francis ends his apostolic exhortation on the Joy of Evangelization by pointing to Mary, Model of Evangelization. She is mother of Jesus, to whom we return. She is mother of Jesus, whom we share with those in need. Her “style” of evangelization is of humility and tenderness, which are “not virtues of the weak but virtues of the strong who need not treat others poorly in order to feel strong themselves.” Mary “who praised God for ‘bringing down the mighty from their thrones’ and ‘sending the rich away empty’ (Lk 1:52-53) is also one who brings a homely warmth to our pursuit of justice” (288). Let us entrust ourselves to her, who so specially shares our history as a Filipino People. Let us learn patience from her. But let us also learn to say, “Be it done to me according to your will” (Lk 1:38). Let us ask her to bring us back to her son. Let us entreat her to show her son’s liberating face to all in our afflicted nation. Let us beg her to return us all to the joy of evangelization.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
CBCP President
January 27, 2014

______________

[1] Francis.  Evangelii Gaudium.  Apostolic Exhortation.  Nov. 24, 2013.

2 Colloquy, Week I, Exercise 1, Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

3 National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB), 2013.  A family of five can be considered poor if it is earning PHP 5,458 a month or just enough to put food on the table.  The same family has to earn PHP 7,821 if it wants to satisfy other non-food needs such as clothing.

 4Family Income and Expenditure Survey, NSCB, 2012

5 Francis, ibid., 20-24, 49

6 Ibid., 53

7 E.g.  Comprehensive Agrarian Refrom Program with Extension and Reforms (RA 9700), Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (RA 8371), Urban Development and Housing Act (RA 7279), Fisheries Code (RA 8550), Kasambahay Law (RA 10361), magna Carta of Women (RA 9710), Anti-Violence Against Women and Children (RA 9262), Family Courts (RA 8369), Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation (RA 8425).

8 Francis, ibid., 202-203.  “How many words prove irksome to this system [economy of exclusion]? It is irksome when the question of ethics is raised, when global solidarity is invoked, when the distribution of goods is mentioned, when reference is made to protecting labor and defending the dignity of the powerless, when allusion is made to a God who demands a commitment to justice…” (203).

9 Ibid., 55-56

10 John Paul II, Laborem Exercens, 14

11 John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 42.  Cf. also: Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church: “Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute and untouchable…” (177).

12 Challenging the youth of Brazil on Sept. 20, 1013 to get involved in the Church through living the radical Gospel of Jesus Christ, Pope Francis said, “I want a mess!”

13 “…To teach and to spread her social doctrine pertains to the Church’s evangelizing mission and is an essential part of the Christian message, since this doctrine points out the direct consequences of that message in the life of the society and situates daily work and struggles for justice in the context of bearing witness to Christ the Saviour” (Compendium of the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church, 67).

 14 ” It is the primary task of the lay faithful, formed in the school of the Gospel, to be directly involved in political and social activity. Hence they need suitable formation in the principles of the Church’s social teaching. (Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, 100)

 15 Cf. “Social Dialogue as a Contribution to Peace,”  Evangelii Gaudium, 238-258.

16 Cf. Caritas in Veritate: “The way humanity treats the environment influences the way its treats itself and vice versa.  this invites contemporary society to seriously review its life style, which, in many parts of the world, is prone to hedonism and consumerism, regardless of their harmful consequences….” (51).

 

Contemplatives Bishops for the Poor
Speech delivered by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas
on the occasion of the January 2014 Plenary Assembly of the CBCP

HOW may we describe the past six months behind us since we last met as a conference of bishops? I cannot resist quoting Charles Dickens—

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

We were visited by the strongest typhoon in the world two months ago but the Lord has blessed the Church in Mindanao with its first Cardinal, Cardinal Orly Quevedo, OMI.

Thousands died from the storm surge in Leyte but it also brought us an admirable surge of charity worldwide.

The best of times, the worst of times! Blessed be the name of the Lord!

As you leave this Blessed John XXIII Hall, on your left side, we have put up a small chapel for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for the whole duration of the plenary assembly of the bishops of the Philippines. Religious sisters and seminarians, lay devotees and fellow disciples will kneel before the Lord in silence praying for us bishops. They are praying for us their pastors. The flock is praying for their shepherds. The lambs and sheep are praying for us their pastors.

This is the Church of the new evangelization. Let us allow our flock to transform us their pastors into contemplative shepherds of the people.

Indeed it is only when we bishops become contemplatives like the Beloved Disciple resting on the chest of Jesus that we can truly serve and teach the flock in full freedom—freedom from seeking one’s “own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:21), freedom from the fascination of political or social gain, freedom from the insane and unreal attraction of popularity in the world.

To be contemplative bishops is to become truthfully honest, cheerfully loving and passionately zealous teachers of the flock, bishops serving the Lord in total freedom detached from vainglory.

It is from this contemplative starting point that we can look at the recent happenings in our country. We cannot look at the devastation of typhoon Yolanda and the massive destruction wrought by the earthquake in Bohol from the eyes of CNN or ANC.

We must look at these events with the eyes of the Lord, feel with the heart of the Lord and act with the hands and feet of the Lord. Our best contribution to the rehabilitation in Samar or Leyte, Bohol or Zamboanga is Christ.

We send help because of Christ, in Christ and through Christ. Our task is not just to build new homes that can be washed away again by the next storm surges. Our mission is not just to send food for the hungry and give water to the thirsty.

The Christ that is in me reaches out to the Christ that is suffering. It is Christ reaching out to Christ. We will miss this point if we are not contemplative bishops. We can even reduce NASSA and the CBCP into just another philanthropic institution and we are not. We are Christ’s. Christi sumus!

As we launch the Year of the Laity in preparation for the five hundredth anniversary of the first Mass and baptism in the Philippines, let us heed the caution of Pope Francis that in planning Church programs and projects, we resist the temptation of talking of “what needs to be done” like spiritual masters and pastoral experts who give instructions from on high.

We must go out of the Pius XII Catholic Centre, stay focused on the Lord and reach out sincerely to the distant poor and the wayward children of God. We cannot allow the Year of the Laity to create more circles of elite and closed-in lay groups sometimes called mandated organizations.

We need to reach out to those who are angry at us bishops, those we have disillusioned and those we have misled or confused by our excessive misplaced prudence or unbecoming lifestyle.

The Year of the Laity is not only for the supportive and loyal laity but for the critical and distant ones more importantly those who disagreed with us on the RH law, those who hurl accusations at us fairly or unfairly. They are children of God too, our brothers and sisters, members of our flock also.

We can do this if we are soaked in prayer as contemplative shepherds of the people freed from fear and rejection, carrying the mark of Christ scourged, crucified yet risen.

But how are we to discern that our movement towards contemplation is not an escape from pastoral realities?

The fruit of prayer is always greater charity for the poor. If prayer does not increase love, it must be only a soliloquy. If contemplation does not lead to action for justice and charity, it might have really become the shabu of the bishops, an addictive flight from reality.

It is the encounter with Jesus in prayer that must guide our response to the poor.  The poor are not just curious ciphers on a statistical report.  The poor are not just the unlettered, the unwashed, the uninitiated, the uneducated, the unhealthy, the naked, the exploited, the trafficked, and the infirm gazing into our eyes for human recognition.

They are those about whom Jesus said, “Whatever you have done or not done to one of these the least of my brothers and sisters that you have done or not done to me” (cf. Mt. 25:40).  Jesus makes himself one with the poor.  From his Cross, Jesus gazes into our eyes and touches our hearts with love.  It is his love which calls forth our response in love as bishops of the flock.

That we all be contemplative bishops bringing the joy of the Lord to the poor! May we be those bishops, only those bishops, always those bishops! Let us move on.

Thank You!

 

Position Paper on the Death Penalty

THE CBCP-ECPPC strongly opposed the call of some legislators and some sectors in our society to revive the death penalty. The CBCP-ECPPC considers this effort to be an unenlightened, counter-productive, and counter-progressive move.

Some two thousand years ago, a man was sentenced to death and crucified on the cross. Two millennium years later, states and societies have not learned their lesson. They still impose the ultimate punishment on those whom they deem have violated their laws, despite the fact that some of those that they have sent to death are innocent, like Christ, the man who died on the Cross.

Others, like Dismas and Hestas and those who followed after them were guilty, but their fate—whether on the cross, at the gallows, in the gas chamber, on the electric chair, or through any contraption of society’s extreme cruelty to its erring members—failed to deter others from committing even the most “heinous” of crimes.

Indeed, then as now, the imposition of capital punishment is deemed by some as the quickest, most efficient solution to its biggest penal-administration problem – disposing of a subject who has transgressed its laws. The thought is unchristian and inhuman, to say the least.

The stance against the death penalty is in no way a posture to let criminal offenders go scot-free. The Catholic Church believes in Justice and it is ranked high in its hierarchy of values. Those who have transgressed the laws of the land should be held answerable and accountable after a fair trial; otherwise, they become effective endorsers of crime and criminal actions, and strong parody for the ethical adage that “crime does not pay.”

But taking away the life of someone, whom we have condemned, immobilized and rendered helpless with contraptions of death is a horrible lesson to teach our children, that human life is as disposable as any contraptions and trimmings of postmodern life.

The CBCP-ECPPC values all forms of life, especially human life. It is sacred. And only the Giver of life has the right to take it away. This is the premise for all the pro-life advocacies of the Church, more so for the abolition of the death penalty.

The CBCP-ECPPC firmly believes in the capacity of the human being to transform and reform its behavior, especially with the help of society which, in the first place, has much to do in creating an environment for the commission of crime, intended or not. Each crime committed has a social context and society as a whole, for creating an environment vulnerable to the commission of crime, is as guilty as its erring member.

Taking away life is an easy, quick but wrong solution. It merely gives the impression that measures are being taken so as to eradicate crime, or that criminality is finally solved. But until such time that the root causes of criminality are aborted, criminality will forever rise. Society itself has implanted those roots.

Rather than take away precious human life, the Church wants to explore alternatives to mete out justice. For one, it seriously considers—and vigorously advocates—a shift in the paradigm of justice: from litigation to mediation; prosecution to healing; punishment to reform and rehabilitation: from the retributive to the restorative.

The CBCP-ECPPC is glad to find allies in our President and enlightened legislators who see beyond the criminal act.

We laud our enlightened and circumspect leaders who believe that we need not reintroduce capital punishment in our justice system.

The CBCP-ECPPC vigorously supports their stand against the revival of the death penalty.

EPISCOPAL COMMISSION ON PRISON PASTORAL CARE
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
February 4, 2014

 

Covenant for Life

WE are Filipinos who share a common vision of a truly just, humane, and peaceful society. In the pursuit of this vision we have chosen to affirm life now more than ever. We have chosen to oppose the unnecessary taking away of life of any individual. We have chosen to uphold the inherent dignity of all persons

WE BELIEVE THAT THE DEATH PENALTY MUST BE ABOLISHED AND WE APPEAL TO THE PRESIDENT FOR A STAY OF THE EXECUTION!

THE DEATH PENALTY IS A VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT TO LIFE. The violation of the right to life of victims is in no way righted by the deliberate taking away of another’s right to life by the state.

THE DEATH PENALTY IS CRUEL, INHUMAN AND DEGRADING TREATMENT. There is no humane method of killing. The penalty, whether carried out or not, exerts extreme emotional and psychological pressures on the condemned and his family.

THE DEATH PENALTY IS TILTED AGAINST THE POOR, THE MARGINALIZED AND THE MOST VULNERABLE SECTORS OF SOCIETY. Experience shows that most, if not all persons meted the death penalty are poor and uneducated, who cannot afford to retain prominent criminal lawyers and have no political connections.

THE DEATH PENALTY IS IRREVOCABLE. Once carried out, there is no possibility for rectifying an erroneous judgment by an imperfect system. Innocent people will inevitably be executed for as long as the death penalty exists in law.

THE DEATH PENALTY DOES NOTHING TO PREVENT CRIME. It is not proven deterrent. Murderers and rapists, kidnappers and drug traffickers, arsonists and robbers were never stopped by the death penalty. Its re-imposition has no impact on problems of crime and violence.

Under the banner of the Coalition Against Death Penalty or CADP, we have come together in the midst of all the violence, to echo our option for life. We commit ourselves to the following course of action to uphold our option for life:

  • Lobby for the total abolition of the death penalty in the Philippines
  • Pursue a continuing public education program against the death penalty and for alternative options for life
  • Endeavor to implement the setting-up of an independent study commission that will propose an effective program, based on thorough research, to combat crime and violence in society
  • Campaign for improvements in the criminal justice system
  • Provide assistance, both legal and humanitarian, to death convicts and their families
  • Encourage a rehabilitative rather than punitive correctional system, and
  • Stop executions

COALITION AGAINST DEATH PENALTY (CADP) PHILIPPINES
February 4, 2014

 

Statement Against Corruption

WE, members of the Cebu Coalition Against the Pork Barrel System, guided by our respective beliefs and by our love for the Philippines, reiterate our call to abolish the pork barrel system in all its forms.

            We maintain our firm unity and unwavering stand in condemning corruption!

            1.  On the Supreme Court (SC) Ruling on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)

            We applaud the Supreme Court’s decision declaring unconstitutional the Congressional Pork Barrel, the Presidential use of the Malampaya Funds and the President’s Social Fund.

            However, we oppose mechanisms that continuously capacitate legislators to have sole discretion in realigning their pork funds into other items under various agencies of the Executive department.

            In essence, the label “PDAF” is gone but the power of individual discretion of the legislators is retained together with the pork funds that are now in the hands of the President.

            We condemn this kind of political maneuvering and call for the absolute dissolution of pork funds in the national budget.

            We support the call to remove lump-sum discretionary spending and off budget items.

            2.  On the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)

            We believe that funds withdrawn in the middle of the fiscal year and funds taken from unreleased appropriations and unobligated allotments are illegal and unconstitutional.

The DAP violates Constitutional provisions expressing the Congress’ “power of the purse” since there is also no law that has been passed to legalize or authorize the DAP or the funds released under such mechanism since its conception in 2011.

            We believe that the DAP is part of the President’s pork barrel where he has the sole discretion to where the funds will go. It has become a tool in which the executive can control and influence the legislature and other agencies contravening the entire system of checks and balances.

            We support the Supreme Court petitions calling to strike down these acts violating our Constitution. We ask the Supreme Court to make a ruling against the DAP and not to treat it merely as moot and academic.

            We propose that all unobligated and unreleased funds be returned to the General Fund in order to avoid the repeat of DAP.

            3.  Punish the Scammers

We demand that the respective judicial bodies be duty-bound to give justice to the people by immediately prosecuting those who are charged of using the people’s money for personal gain.

            We demand the immediate resignation of public servants who are formally charged by the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman.

            We demand the punishment of convicted pork barrel scammers and the return of their loot to the coffers of the people.

            4.  People’s Initiative to Abolish the Pork Barrel System

We reiterate our call for legislation through People’s Initiative as the MOST EFFECTIVE SYSTEMIC ALTERNATIVE to abolish the present pork barrel system. By conducting this People’s Initiative, we are voicing our commitment for transformation. With other national organizations, we move forward with renewed courage in standing for our rights and working for change.

MSGR. ROMUALDO G. KINTANAR
Convenor
Cebu Coalition Against the Pork Barrel System And Representatives from 30 member organizations of the Cebu Coalition during the Cebu Coalition Against the Pork Barrel System General Assembly on February 1, 2014 at the SPFY Function Room, Archbishop’s Residence Compound, Cebu City