Written by Carmela Fonbuena
Thursday, 20 November 2008
Image The country’s top business groups—the Makati Business Club (MBC) and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP)—on Thursday issued a statement supporting the earlier call of five Catholic church leaders for a “new government.”
Echoing the five bishops’ statement that “the time to prepare a new government in now”, the business groups’ said: “We should now prepare for a new kind of governance.”
“We support the call of the five senior bishops led by Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo that the time for radical reforms to rebuild our country economically, socially and politically, and to conquer complacency, cynicism and apathy, is now,” the business groups said.
Lagdameo is the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). Others who joined him in calling for a new government were: Balanga Bishop Socrates Villegas, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Masbate Bishop Joel Baylon, and Legazpi Bishop-Emeritus Jose Sorra.
Among the members of MBC and MAP are the chief executive officers, chief operating officers, and top business executives of the country’s largest and most profitable corporations.
When the bishops made the call in October, they were criticized by administration allies for being “seditious.” Among them was Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, who interpreted the bishops’ statement as a call for the removal of President Arroyo.
When asked about the possibility that their statement may be interpreted as seditious, MBC executive director Alberto Lim told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak, “We don’t mean to be seditious.”
Like the bishops, the business groups also condemned the unabated corruption in government.
“Corruption is bad for business growth, employment and long-term survival. It worsens poverty, steals from the poor, compromises public order and safety, mocks the rule of law, encourages bureaucratic inefficiency, and destroys society's moral fabric,” the statement said.
“The dishonor of being the most corrupt in Asia and one of the worst in the world compels us to join the call for redemption,” it added.
When the Church made their statement in October, former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante was about to be deported to the Philippines.
Critics of President Arroyo urged Bolante to testify on the P728-million fertilizer fund that was allegedly misused to help finance President Arroyo’s election campaign in 2004.
Bolante has repeatedly denied this in congressional hearings. “There is no fertilizer fund scam,” he said at the House hearing last Tuesday.
The business groups lamented how no one has been made accountable for the high-profile corruption cases involving government officials.
“Suspects are, in fact, perceived as being protected and even rewarded. We cannot understand government's inability or refusal to wield its vast powers to prosecute the accused,” the statement said.
“We’ve been wanting to catch a big fish,” Lim said in a phone interview. “We regret that the big fish was let go,” he added, referring to the parole President Arroyo granted former President Estrada, who was convicted by the Sandiganbayan for plunder.
Early this year, at the height of the National Broadband Network (NBN)-ZTE Corp. deal controversy, some MBC members, including its chairman—Phinma’s Ramon del Rosario Jr.—joined calls for President Arroyo’s resignation.
MBC also supported in 2001 the successful ouster move against former President Joseph Estrada.
The business groups also called on President Arroyo, senators and congressmen to “demonstrate their patriotism and have the courage to use the remaining 18 months of their term to do what is right for our country and our people.”
They also called on religious leaders, other business groups, and civil society to throw their support behind the bishops and told them “to not only speak out against wrongdoing but also do something about it.”
The Jesus Is Lord (JIL) movement’s Coalition for National Transformation is also a signatory to the MBC and MAP statement. (abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak)