The bishops have spoken.
The palace have been quick to exploit it - not unexpectedly.
A strong backing delivered on a silver platter.
And the vicious cycle of corruption whirled its happy whirl again.
Dear bishops, what would you do if the President doesn't follow your "urgings"? Or simply go through the motions of fighting corruption for the next two years but doesn't really mean it?
How could you simply dismiss the possibility that she is behind, and beneficiary of, many of these corruption cases? How could you?
You ask the flock to be brave, to get involved, to create "circles of discernment". Should we then seek the truth with the same level of zeal that you have sought it? Should we fight corruption with the same amount of risk-taking that you have shown us? Should we toil for our conversion and that of the nation's soul in the same manner that you have tried to redeem yourselves in the eyes of the people?
Should you just have said: Follow what we preach, not what we do?
Palace forms legal team to study possible lifting of EO 464 as recommended by CBCP
Malacañang is forming a legal team which will study the possible lifting of Executive Order 464 in response to the call of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said he was directed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to “immediately” form the legal group before she left Malacañang to visit Davao City this morning.
The President’s instruction was for him to immediately call a meeting with the team at 4 p.m. today to study the CBCP’s recommendation on EO 464, Ermita said at his weekly press conference at Malacañang’s New Executive Building (NEB) this afternoon.
The legal team will be composed of the Secretary of the Department of Justice, the Solicitor General, the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, the Deputy Executive Secretary for legal affairs, and the legal officers of government corporate counsels.
“All these things (CBCP recommendations) will be reviewed by the legal team so that we can come up with a very substantial recommendation to the President to respond to the recommendation of the CBCP,” Ermita said.
“You can be sure that this will be presented to the President very well,” he added.
On Tuesday, the CBCP called on the President to revoke EO 464 and allow members of her official family and other top government officials to testify before congressional hearings to shed light on alleged irregularities involving the government.
The CBCP also said that the search for truth must be pursued relentlessly amid the pervading cancer of corruption.
EO 464 bans government officials from testifying in congressional inquiries without the President’s permission.
Ermita recalled that the President issued EO 464 after National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales Jr. was humiliated when he appeared before a Senate inquiry.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez clarified that abolishing EO 464 would require “careful study because there are laws and jurisprudence that have to be considered before we come up with a decision."
He said EO 464 bans the disclosure of highly confidential information such as trade secrets and national security. The Supreme Court, in its 2006 decision, upheld Malacañang on the confidentiality issue involving first level officials of the government.
Gonzalez also clarified that the President was not prohibiting her officials from appearing before legislative inquiries. However, he noted that legislators oftentimes go beyond their authority when questioning ranking officials of the government.
"They must show respect to the people they invite," Gonzalez said.
Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye welcomed the CBCP statement and thanked the church leaders “for not succumbing to the propaganda of rabid oppositionists who are bent on overturning the gains of the country’s strong economy.”
“We welcome the statement of the CBCP which exhorts everyone to fight corruption and search for truth. The recommendations addressed to the executive, the legislative and the media certainly deserve very serious consideration,” Bunye said in a statement.
He pointed out that the “Philippines deserves a respite from frantic, irrational and dangerous calls for the President to resign, while the real truth has yet to be established by the court of law.”
“Let us be discerning about the motives of detractors while maintaining a sharp focus on uplifting the lives of the greater peaceful majority,” he added.
Palace expects political tension to dissipate after CBCP refuses to call on PGMA to step down
Malacañang expressed confidence today that the country’s volatile political situation would lose some of its tension after the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) chose not to join the renewed calls for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down.
The CBCP, in a marathon 11-hour long meeting to discuss measures it could take to address the turmoil affecting the country’s political system, came out with a pastoral statement yesterday urging the President instead to take the lead in the fight against graft and corruption “wherever they are found.”
In his weekly press conference this afternoon, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the CBCP’s position and their strong influence on the Catholic population will “guide” their followers to be more “discernible” and temper their emotions from joining further protest actions.
“We are hoping it will result to that because the CBCP, speaking on behalf of the Catholic population of the Philippines, definitely wield a lot of influence and therefore, with this position taken in their special meeting yesterday, we are very hopeful and with the grace of God, indeed there will be more discerning people who will not add any more tension to the prevailing situation,” Ermita said.
He added that the CBCP’s statement was very “significant” in the light of mounting calls for the President to resign her post because it urges the continued search for truth.
“It is very significant that the CBCP had taken this position and I am sure that a great majority of our people will be guided by this,” Ermita said.