Gloria must go: CBCP head Says Arroyo hopelessly corrupt
By Gerald Naval, Malaya
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.
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
Bishops call for GMA’s ouster
By Ellen Tordesillas, Malaya
That was one great statement that the Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, released yesterday. He practically called for the ouster of Gloria Arroyo.
Not in 2010 but now.
In a statement he read flanked by four other progressive-thinking bishops namely, Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Bataan Bishop Socrates Villegas, Masbate Bishop Joel Baylon, and Legazpi Bishop Emeritus Jose Sorra, Lagdameo said: "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 matured from our political disappointments is now. The time to prepare a new government is now. "
In the open forum, Lagdameo said Gloria Arroyo is not capable of instituting reforms because he said, "I believe that the President is corrupt."
The question and answer portion with Bishop Cruz was fascinating. Asked if Arroyo can lead the radical reforms, he replied, "Siempre hindi."
Q: How about Vice President Noli de Castro?
Cruz: Walang ganyanan.
Q: How about Senate President Manny Villar?
Cruz: Walang ganyanan.
Q: How about House Speaker Prospero Nograles?
Cruz: Walang ganyanan.
Q: How about Chief Justice Reynato Puno?
Q: How about AFP Chief Alexander Yano?
Cruz: Okay yun.
Q: Have you met with General Yano?
Cruz: Tama na. tama na.
It is about time that leaders of the Catholic Church whose consciences haves not been numbed by Malacañang’s cash donations, do what they preach. They cannot be preaching "Thou shalt not steal" while closing their eyes on the thievery of Arroyo and her cohorts. Worse, accepting the fruits of Arroyo’s crimes.
Many Catholics have already given up on the CBCP when it comes to giving them guidance at this time when democratic institutions are degraded to protect Arroyo’s hold on power.
Lagdameo and the four bishops seriously doubt there will be an election in 2010 despite Arroyo’s pledge there would be one.
Cruz said their sources say "Elections in 2010 is a big dream. In short, elections in 2010 up to this time that I’m talking, is a moral impossibility."
He asked the media to be on the alert when Congress opens on Nov. 10. "Charter change will be an open, public and well funded move in the Lower House. Whether it will triumph in the Senate is still debatable. But then I repeat, no more camouflage, no more double-talk, no more indirect insinuations. Charter change will be an honest-to-goodness agenda for Congress," he said.
Arroyo’s Cha-cha, Cruz said, will be through a constitutional assembly. "The moment it passes the Lower House, and the moment it passes Senate and there is a plebiscite, then it is done, because the local governments are all at the command of Malacañang."
Cruz said the charter change that Arroyo is crusading "is not for patriotic reasons."
"It is intended principally, basically and fundamentally to extend the term of office of the incumbent. I hope to God and I pray very dearly that I am wrong but that is what I know," he said.
Lagdameo: Corruption—a social and moral cancer
By Melo M. Acuña, CBCP News
MANILA, October 28, 2008—Jaro (Iloilo) Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo SAID more people has felt poorer and impoverished over the past few years.
Speaking before national and international media, religious men and women from various congregations Tuesday morning, the prelate said "twenty million hungry Filipinos will disagree with the often repeated government slogan "Ramdam ang Kaunlaran." He said the people’s own experience prove "Ramdam ang Kahirapan, Ramdam ang gutom."
He underscored the fact the biggest culprit and major cause of the country’s poverty and hunger is "the abuse and misuse of public or private institutions." The prelate quoting Asian Development Bank defined corruption as "the abuse and misuse of public or private office to unlawfully enrich oneself and those close to him, or induce others to do the same."
He said ordinary citizens have "watched how corruption has become endemic, massive, systemic and rampant in our politics." He said 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.
He described corruption as "a social and moral cancer." Referring to corruption’s consequences, the prelate said in political elections corruptions damages political legitimacy, integrity and competence as it "impedes economic development, worsens income inequity and poverty and endangers public order and safety."
He said Transparency International tagged the country as the 11th most corrupt among 102 countries. "If we are not horrified, disgusted, exasperated and enraged by these realities, can we still say we love our country?" the prelate asked.
Archbishop Lagdameo said he agrees with columnist Conrado De Quiros who noted people identify themselves "so easily with the victims of pickpockets or snatchers and throw these small-time thieves to (almost) forever languish in prison.
"But when it comes to big-time crooks and public officials stealing billions upon billions of the people’s money, it takes forever to prove their crime," he further observed.
Archbishop Lagdameo said "there is much embarrassing hesitation and false respect to start mounting a campaign to show that corruption is the worst form of crime, because it kills the common good, it kills the poor, it kills the country" and "violates God’s commandments "Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not kill."
He cited the CBCP Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Politics (September 16, 1997) which said "Philippine politics—the way it is practiced—has been most hurtful of us as a people. It is possibly the biggest bane in our life as a nation and the most pernicious obstacle to our achieving of full human development."
He said the CBCP statement entitled "Let Integrity Flow Like a Stream" released July 7, 2003 said "In the strongest term we condemn graft and corruption as an offense against society and sin against God. God will certainly hold the perpetrators accountable. To combat this evil we also proposed the formation of citizens’ councils to promote public awareness, to monitor the use of public funds, and to initiate charges against guilty officials."
He recalled the CBCP pastoral statement entitled Restoring Trust released July 10, 2005 said "Moral accountability calls for radical reforms in various agencies of government to make them more responsive to the requirements of integrity as well as the needs of the poor."
The CBCP’s latest statement entitled "Seeking the Truth, Restoring Integrity" released last February 26, 2008 said "We strongly condemn the continuing culture of corruption from the top to the bottom of our social and political order."
The Jaro prelate said "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." He said it is important to begin radical reforms, moral regeneration soonest and "to conquer complacency and apathy and to prove that we have matured from our political disappointments is now." He added "The time to prepare a new government is now."
In closing he asked "who will pick up the broken, shattered pieces of our country, hurting from poverty and occupation, to make it whole again?" He said "our liberation may yet serendipitously happen."
Archbishop Lagdameo quoting Apolinario Mabini said "Upang maitindig natin ang bantayog n gating lipunan, kailangang radikal nating baguhin hindi lamang ang ating mga institusyon, kundi maging ang ating pag-iisip at pamumuhay." (Melo M. Acuña)