Yesterday, we were expecting a “Gloria Resign” call from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). But while they asked the Arroyo to think things over, they did not join Cory Aquino, the opposition, the Makati Business Club, and the Left, as well as the netizens in their call for Arroyo to step down.
The biggest issue they had to speak about was Mrs. Arroyo’s alleged rigging of the results of last year’s presidential election. In the past, the CBCP strongly condemned election fraud. Its statement after the 1986 snap elections –which was heavily manipulated by the Marcos administration–said:
According to moral principles, a government that assumes or retains power through fraudulent means has no moral basis. For such an access to power is tantamount to a forcible seizure and cannot command the allegiance of the citizenry. The most we can say then, about such a government, is that it is a government in possession of power. But admitting that, we hasten to add: Because of that very fact, that same government itself has the obligation to right the wrong it is founded on. It must respect the mandate of the people. This is precondition for any reconciliation.
“If such a government does not of itself freely correct the evil it has inflicted on the people then it is our serious moral obligation as a people to make it do so,” the CBCP statement further says.
The bishops the rejected apathy and scalled for “active resistance of evil by peaceful means — in the manner of Christ.” And like the present CBCP, they stressed that the people’s will should prevail through “ways and means proper to the Gospel.”
Now is the time to speak up. Now is the time to repair the wrong. The wrong was systematically organized. So must its correction be. But as in the election itself, that depends fully on the people; on what they are willing and ready to do. We, the bishops, stand in solidarity with them in the common discernment for the good of the nation. But we insist: Our acting must always be according to the Gospel of Christ, that is, in a peaceful, non-violent way.
We could only wonder what led the present CBCP to refrain from calling for the resignation of a supposedly devout Catholic president who is being accused of cheating in the elections, and who went against the Church’s anti-war position and, by pushing for new tax burdens, contradicts its preferential option for the poor.