The bishops of the four dioceses of Negros Island are urging President Rodrigo Duterte and the country’s legislators not to rush the shift to Federalism because what is at stake is not only the present generation of Filipinos, but the future generations as well.
“We insist, ‘in season or out of season (2 Timothy 4:2)’, that the voice of the people and not that of self-serving politicians be reflected in any constitutional change,” they said.
The call was made in the joint pastoral guidelines on federalism and charter change signed by San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon, Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes and Kabankalan bishop-elect Louie Galbines on Palm Sunday, a copy of which was furnished the DAILY STAR yesterday.
The proposal to revise the Constitution by changing the form of government to a federal system is a very serious matter in the life of the nation, the prelates said.
That is why they are encouraging the people in their dioceses to form “circles of discernment”, as recommended by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, to reflect, discuss, debate and discern on questions they are proposing, to read the current situation correctly.
“We urge our people to find answers to these questions truthfully and conscientiously as we urge them to get involved and influence their respective district representativeon what position to take on this issue,” the bishop said.
AWARENESS AND EDUCATION
They called on all groups and organizations, faith-based and non-faith-based, to help in the promotion of awareness and education of the people on charter change and federalism.
The bishops are also urging the Consultative Committee - created by the President, to review the 1987 Constitution, to study and hold consultations on Federalism and to always be guided by the principle of the common good in their deliberations and resolutions.
The bishops said it is a fact that there is widespread poverty, inequality and violence in the country, and the people have been longing and clamoring for change.
CONCERN OVER CHANGES
Today, the biggest proposal to bring about change is the revision of our 1987 Constitution, by changing our form of government from unitary to federal system, they said.
From a moral standpoint, the Church expresses concern whether the proposed change would lead to the attainment of the common good, they said.
“The Church expresses concern whether it would be for the better or for the worse. In 1986, whenthe final draft of the 1987 Constitution was released to the public, the CBCP made amoral judgment that, though imperfect, its provisions were consistent with the Gospel,” the bishops said.
PARTICIPATION AND CONSULTATION
In all previous attempts to amend or revise our present Constitution, they pointed out that the CBCP had consistently taken the following moral stand:“Amending the fundamental law of the land, so carefully crafted for the common good after years of dictatorship, requires widespread peoples’participation and consultation, unity of vision, transparency, and relative serenity that allows for rational discussion and debate.”
As bishops in Negros, they said it their duty to provide pastoral guidance supportive of the CBCP’s recent pastoral guidelines on the moral dimension of the administration’s proposal to rewrite or revise the Constitution.
They said they felt the need to make astatement of their own in Negros “because of the present apathy we sadly see among our people and maybe even in the Church, and we hope our own statement will add to the collective voice we need so badly to awaken the conscience of the nation”.*CPG
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