Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oust Gloria Arroyo: Bishop Move, Checkmate?

Gloria must go: CBCP head
Says Arroyo hopelessly corrupt

Malaya 10/29/2008 BY GERARD NAVAL

ARCHBISHOP Angel Lagdameo yesterday called on Filipinos to start preparing for a new government, citing the need for transformation amid rampant state corruption.

Reading a prepared statement at a press conference, the Jaro (Iloilo) bishop said there is a real need to have a new government as the current one has been severely stricken by the "social and moral cancer" that is corruption.

"In response to the global economic crisis and the pitiful state of our country, the time to rebuild our country economically, socially, politically is now. The time to start radical reforms is now. The time for moral regeneration is now. The time to conquer complacency, cynicism and apathy and to prove that we have matured from our political disappointments is now. The time to prepare a new government is now," he said.

Asked if his statement is tantamount to calling for a public uprising to force President Arroyo to step down, Lagdameo said it is up to the people to decide what course of action to take.

"Kailangan ang taong bayan ay magsama-sama kung paano sila mag-response together dun sa sulat namin na sinabi naming communal discernment and communal action," he said in an interview.

Lagdameo clarified he was making the statement as a bishop and not as president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

During the press conference, he was flanked by four other prelates — Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, and Bishops Joel Baylon (Masbate) and Socrates Villegas (Balanga), and Bishop emeritus Jose Sorra.

Lagdameo said the presence of the four signifies their concurrence to his statement which he said was spurred by a letter sent to him by the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines.

The AMRSP letter said: "At this time when people are losing hope and are becoming cynical and apathetic, a prophetic word from you will be like a Pentecost event, a rekindling of hope and an inspiration and impetus to take active part on social transformation."

Lagdameo said corruption has been continuously growing despite repeated condemnation by the Catholic Church and calls for widespread reform.

"In the past few years up to today, we have watched how corruption has become endemic, massive, systemic and rampant in our politics. The faces and symptoms of corruption are overprized projects, multi-billion scams of various kinds, election manipulations, anomalous transactions, bribery of both high and low, unsolved murders of media practitioners. Corruption is a social and moral cancer," Lagdameo said.

He noted there have been at least three CBCP statements denouncing corruption.

Lagdameo said he believes Arroyo is a corrupt leader and has done little in preparing for a new government that could make a transition away from a corrupt one.

In his statement, Lagdameo said corruption is the reason the country could not get out of the quagmire it is in.

"Corruption impedes economic development, worsens income inequity and poverty, endangers public order and safety. Corruption results in bureaucratic inefficiency and demoralization," Lagdameo said.

The bishops said they are hopeful new leaders will emerge in the process of "liberating" the country from the claws of corruption.

"In spite of the seemingly hopeless and negative prognosis, our liberation may yet serendipitously happen. We are dreaming, praying and hoping that our country may yet have the liberators. Yes, liberators who will, in a courageous peaceful way, effectively and uncompromisingly reform our country," they said in the statement.

Cruz said corruption under the Arroyo administration is something that cannot be dealt with by the human justice system alone.

"Corruption in such an extensive degree in the Philippines is a crime that cries to heaven for vengeance. Corruption in this country has become endemic, systemic, from top to bottom in government. Perhaps they may be given the punishment they deserve by the human justice system, but that’s not enough. Someone else in the Higher Authority will punish them as they deserve," said Cruz, former CBCP president.

The known Arroyo critic said it was not too long ago when the President received the "distinction" of being the most corrupt president in the country’s history.

"Though our country is at the 11th place of the most corrupt from the bottom, we even have a gold medalist of corruption in our national leader. To say that the Malacañang occupant is a follower of corruption and not a leader in corruption is already asking too much. Perhaps, if this is said, it will take someone from the moon to believe that the head of corruption is down below and not above," Cruz said.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza pooh-poohed the4 statements. He said: "The President prefers to focus on her work rather than waste time on criticism and statements of critics like the reported claim of Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz that President Arroyo is corrupt."

"We will continue to focus on our work for the poor and address a bigger issue which is addressing this global crisis. It is up to them to make (such statements). The priority of the President and the government now is to attend to the bigger issue which will be determinative of our future as a nation," he said.

Villegas said they are hoping their statement will continuously bother the public.

"We are not here to bring you peace. We are here to disturb you. I’m praying to God that after this meeting, may the Lord trouble you because the trouble that comes from the Lord is going to make you a better person and it’s going to make the country a better country," said the protégé of Cardinal Jaime Sin, archbishop of Manila.

Villegas said that with the current state of the government, there must be very drastic and dramatic actions from each and every one.

"If we have been only half less corrupt, we would have more money to feed our children, more money to put up schools, more money to bring medicines to hospitals. The problem is not population. The problem is corruption. Just cut the corruption in half and we would have enough money to take care of the poor," Villegas said. – With Jocelyn Montemayor

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