.- Recent exposure of government corruption in the Philippines has prompted the country’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CBCP) to call for non-violent “communal action” to spur political reform.
A former environmental official, Rodolfo Lozada, has in recent testimony before the country’s senate exposed alleged corruption at the highest levels of government. Jose de Venecia, Jr., an ousted House speaker, has also added his testimony to the public inquiry into corruption.
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the CBCP said Lozado’s and de Venecia’s actions could save people from being “hostage to scandalous and shady government deals.” While noting they somehow had involvement in the corruption they were exposing, he said their exposure of the matter may yet be called “courageous.”
Though their testimony could affect their political careers, Archbishop Lagdameo affirmed the virtue of their actions. “Truth hurts. But the truth must be served. The truth will set our country free,” he stressed.
“We have to confess that corruption is in truth our greatest shame as a people,” said Archbishop Lagdameo.
Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan said the call for communal action was “open-ended” and directed to all people seeking genuine governmental reform.
“One thing is clear, it will be an act against the present administration but as to how and who will answer to it it’s up to the people,” Archbishop Cruz said.
The archbishop said the bishops would support legitimate, non-violent actions of the majority of the people.
“As long as there will be no bloodshed and it remains constitutional, we will support it,” he said.
Responding to those who challenged the CBCP to call for the resignation of Philippines President Gloria Arroyo, Archbishop Cruz said the bishops’ conference “is not the sovereign Filipino people.”
He added, “It would be a big mistake to expect the Church to make or unmake a government.”