CBCP Document: Our Moral Response to the Unconstitutionality of DAP

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines addresses a press conference at the end of the 2012 CBCP plenary assembly at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines addresses a press conference at the end of the 2012 CBCP plenary assembly at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

The Supreme Court has ruled that many government acts under the Development Acceleration Program (DAP) are without constitutional authority. Earlier, it ruled the Priority Assistant Development Fund (PDAF), more popularly known as the ‘pork-barrel fund’ also unconstitutional.

Why this Statement

The just distribution of the resources of the nation in accordance with the prescriptions of law and the tenets of morality is an issue of social justice. It is therefore a concern of the CBCP — and of the entire Church in the Philippines — as well.

Both DAP and PDAF involve enormous sums and while it is claimed by the government officials involved that these went into projects that benefited the people, there are serious allegations that we cannot summarily dismiss and ignore. Three senators have been charged, together with others, for the illegal use of pork-barrel funds. It is claimed that a considerable part went into ghost NGOs set up precisely to facilitate the conversion of public funds for personal and other illegal and immoral uses.

Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan joined women legislators, whistleblowers, students and other members of Babala (warning) movement for the abolition of pork barrel and prosecution of legislators and public officials guilty of graft, corruption and plunder. NJ Viehland Photo at St. Scholastica's College museum.

Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan joined women legislators, whistleblowers, students and other members of Babala (warning) movement for the abolition of pork barrel and prosecution of legislators and public officials guilty of graft, corruption and plunder. NJ Viehland Photo at St. Scholastica’s College museum.

Communal Guilt

But there is no reason to direct our ire only at the three senators, nor at those presently accused, for we must humbly recognize that the propensity to make use of what is not ours to better the lives of our families or to gain access to luxuries that would otherwise be beyond us will be found in all of us.

We are all guilty by attitude and by our disposition.

We renew our call for national conversion — the conversion not only of individuals but of institutions as well! It will be well for us to remember that conversion is our response to the ceaseless call of Love Incarnate, Jesus, to ‘turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel’.

We must pray together for the grace of conversion, because the prosecution and punishment of a few will not rid the nation of the propensity to corruption that is found in us all!

Appeal to Government

We call on the Commission on Audit and on the Office of the Ombudsman to tell the nation where DAP funds went. While, indeed, in many cases, it would be impractical, unhelpful even, to undo every project funded by what the High Court has ruled to be unconstitutional means, we must nevertheless know how these monies were used, for where there was illegal and immoral application of funds, there must be restitution.

There must be accountability.

We reiterate our position that investigation and inquest cannot and must not be selective, for public perception that some are shielded while others are persecuted detracts from the confidence people must repose in their institutions.

A government that professes to tread the straight path must remain true to that profession and must be willing to let go of the corrupt in its own ranks! We in the Church will do the same.

Many of our bishops have already established systems for the accountability of our pastors and parish leaders. We have issued guidelines so that we may be more vigilant about the provenance of donations and grants. This way, we in the Church strive to respond to the demands of honesty and fairness.

Let us restore integrity in our land.

From the Pius XII Catholic Center, Manila, July 4, 2014

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
President, CBCP

Cardinal Tagle: Upcoming synod will reflect clear picture of families

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, president of the Synod on the Family, at the June 10 press conference on the 2016 International Eucharistic Congress discussed the synod in his response to National Catholic Reporter's question: What can Catholics who are not allowed to receive the Eucharist hope for in the upcoming synod. - NJ Viehland Photo

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, president of the Synod on the Family, at the June 10 press conference on the 2016 International Eucharistic Congress discussed the synod in his response to National Catholic Reporter’s question: What can Catholics who are not allowed to receive the Eucharist hope for in the upcoming synod. – NJ Viehland Photo

For Philippines Cardinal Luis Tagle, the two stages of the Synod of Bishops on the family that Pope Francis will convene in Rome are “hopeful signs” that the Church is willing to listen not only to the success stories and joys of families, but also to the difficulties families experience worldwide.

At a June 10 press conference in Manila, Cardinal Tagle pointed out various reasons why Filipino spouses separate, some of them because of marital problems, but many others “because of poverty that leads to forced migration.” He described the latter as “separation because they love.” 

Daniel and Evita Licardo (seated) celebrated their silver wedding anniversary with their daughters, relatives and friends grateful for "blessings" they received especially while Daniel was away, working in Kuwait since one year after they were married. - Photo by Noriza Licardo published with permission.

Daniel and Evita Licardo (seated) celebrated their silver wedding anniversary with their daughters, relatives and friends grateful for “blessings” they received especially while Daniel was away, working in Kuwait since one year after they were married. – Photo by Noriza Licardo published with permission.

 

Cardindal Tagle said Pope Francis wants various voices on the matter of separation of spouses to be heard.

Read full report

 

CiA Document : Moral Ethical Dimensions of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform

Farmer beneficiaries of Land reform in Cabuyao, Laguna, south of Manila tell visitors how they banded together in Casile-Guinting Upland Marketing Cooperative (CGUMC) to support each other in developing and improving productivity and hold a strong bargaining position in the business of farming. - NJ Viehland Photos

Farmer beneficiaries of Land reform in Cabuyao, Laguna, south of Manila tell visitors how they banded together in Casile-Guinting Upland Marketing Cooperative (CGUMC) to support each other in developing and improving productivity and hold a strong bargaining position in the business of farming. – NJ Viehland Photos

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform will expire on June 30.

Where do we go from here?  We cannot remain oblivious to the plight of the poor famers.  It is useful to review some of the guiding principles that come from the treasury of Church social teaching.

 Basic Principles

First, capital (including land) exists for the sake of labour, because the human person is a ‘labouring being’ who fulfills his vocation in the dignity of human labour.

Second, the human person is more important than material things. Human beings must not be placed second to the land that they till.

Third, the private ownership of the world’s resources cannot and should not be the reason that God’s sons and daughters are denied access to these resources for the achievement of their full stature as human persons.  In other words, in the ethical order, the right to use precedes the right to own and private ownership is justified only to the extent that it allows for the more efficient use of the world’s resources.

 The Situation

The hard facts are disturbing.  In 2011, the Agrarian Reform Communities Level Development Assessment (ALDA) showed that 54% of households among agrarian-reform beneficiaries fell below the poverty line.  Due to this, we now have a class of newly-landed Filipinos, the majority live below the poverty-line.  This is what prompts observers to recognize a new class of farmers: “the landed poor“.

What is clear is that distributing expropriated land to beneficiaries and leaving them to their own resources does not serve the purpose of agrarian reform, for it is very well possible that the beneficiaries, lacking the wherewithal and the skills render of their new holdings that were hitherto productive now unproductive.  The generous allocation of funds for farm inputs, unless accompanied by an uncompromisingly rigid system of accounting and transparency, will only line the pockets of those who have remorselessly profited from public funds!

In this respect, the Church will do its share, and dioceses and other ecclesiastical jurisdictions are urged to activate their social action commissions to police, observe and report on the allocation, distribution and application of public monies and funds targeting farm productivity.  

Regrettably, some farmer-beneficiaries of agrarian reform have had recourse to the subterfuge of alienating their newly-acquired property in the underground market in an attempt to make quick money, frustrating the very purposes of land distribution.  In this respect, legal reform towards allowing farmer-beneficiaries to lease or mortgage their property when such contracts should hold out the promise of higher productivity for the land and higher standards of living for our farmer-beneficiaries must receive serious study.  But we, your pastors, must warn against every scheme that would have land that has already been distributed, gathered in the hands of those would once more amass tracts of land in contravention of the equitable purpose of land-distribution.  What this problem points to is the importance of the formation of our farmer-beneficiaries, including their Christian formation as ‘stewards’ of this world’s resources, particularly land.  

And where a farmer-beneficiary regrettably chooses to leave his holding idle, to abandon it or to leave it unproductive, there has to be some legal mechanism by which the land reverts to the scheme of re-distribution so that it may be awarded to farmer-beneficiaries who have the willingness and capacity to render it more productive and to serve the common good.

There is finally, the problem that 70% of Certificates of Land Ownership Awards issued are, thus far, collective.  These involve one million farmers and two million hectares.  In effect, the legal rights of the individual beneficiary are not yet settled.  Consigned to a state of uncertainty, this acreage cannot be productive, nor can the supposed beneficiaries enjoy the rights that the law intends them to have.  This is a matter to which the Department of Agrarian Reform must turn, with urgency and resoluteness.

 The Moral Reponse

In summary, while the task of re-distribution is apparently done, the government’s efforts — in tandem with the initiatives to the private sector, particularly our Catholic laity — should go into rendering these new holdings productive.  A more responsible system of allocating, distributing and applying government funds and resources towards farm productivity must be set in place coupled with people’s efforts at rendering transactions transparent and responsible officials, accountable.  Where legislative reform is necessary to enable leases and mortgages of acquisitions towards higher levels of productivity and a rise in the living standards of farmer-beneficiaries, these must be enacted.  But the Philippine Church must, with all haste and diligence, involve itself in the formation of our farmer-beneficiaries so that rather than devising ways of circumventing the law by alienating their holdings and contradicting the purposes of land-distribution, they may be true stewards of this world’s goods.

From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, June 6, 2014

+ SOCRATES VILLEGAS, D.D.
   Archbishop of Lingayan-Dagupan
   President, CBCP

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Manila Cathedral reopens with thanks and warning on ‘false gods’

Sharing my notes from the homily of Cardinal Luis Tagle, Archbishop of Manila last Wednesday, when he led the celebration of the reopening of Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila:

1. It just dawned on me that I took canonical possession of the Archdiocese of Manila on Dec. 12, 2011 and one of my first decisions as the new archbishop was to close my cathedral.

NJ Viehland Photos

NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Tagle, Mass for reopening of Manila Cathedral, April 9, 2014, Intramuros - NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Tagle, Mass for reopening of Manila Cathedral, April 9, 2014, Intramuros – NJ Viehland Photos

2. The story is too long and profound to share with you. But let us realize that this is the 8th rebuilding in the more than 100 years of history of the Archdiocese of Manila. Buildings that have gone down because of fire, earthquake, wars, but a building that does not remain down. It just refuses to be dead. It rises.

Manila Cathedral door and barricade, April 10, 2014 - NJ Viehland Photos

Manila Cathedral door and barricade, April 10, 2014 – NJ Viehland Photos

3. From what I’ve seen the past two years (of work on the cathedral) let me answer my own question, how does one rebuild a church? What does it take to rebuild a church?

a. generosity of the people – that’s how a church is reconstructed

Companies, individuals, simple faithful … people so many to mention. God knows who you are.

We cannot reconstruct, rebuild and strengthen the Church without generosity of spirit… Generosity with resources, expertise, dedication – they all need to be fueled by faith: love of God, love of the Church, devotion to Our Lady.

Henrietta de Villa, vice chair of the Manila Cathedral Basilica Foundation Board of Trustees, April 9, 2014, Reopening of Manila Cathedral, Intramuros, Manila - NJ Viehland Photos

Henrietta de Villa, vice chair of the Manila Cathedral Basilica Foundation Board of Trustees, April 9, 2014, Reopening of Manila Cathedral, Intramuros, Manila – NJ Viehland Photos

4. That’s why I know, especially for our brethren who are going through great trials brought by earthquake,  typhoons, people-made calamities like that in Mindanao in Zamboanga, people affected by Pablo, Sendong, those in Samar, Leyte, Iloilo, Cebu, Capiz, Aklan, Palawan, Nueva Ecija – I believe that in the same way Manila Cathedral collapsed into rubble, rose up and is now so beautiful again – the Filipino nation can rise up! (my translation from Tagalog)

Cardinal Luis Tagle with two young survivors of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) after his dialogue with People Surge survivors' group at his residence in Intramuros, Manila April 8, 2014 - NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Tagle with two young survivors of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) after his dialogue with People Surge survivors’ group at his residence in Intramuros, Manila April 8, 2014 – NJ Viehland Photos

5. We are celebrating the reconstruction, the retrofitting of Manila Cathedral, which is not just a building, but a living symbol of community of faithful that has journeyed through centuries.

Reopening of Manila Cathedral, April 9, 2014, Intramuros, Manila   - NJ Viehland Photos

Reopening of Manila Cathedral, April 9, 2014, Intramuros, Manila – NJ Viehland Photos

Banda Kawayan Pilipinas (bamboo band Philippines) swayed and shuffled while playing Filipino cultural staple music ahead of the Mass for reopening of Manila Cathedral led by Cardinal Luis Tagle April 9, 2014 in Intramuros, Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Banda Kawayan Pilipinas (bamboo band Philippines) swayed and shuffled while playing Filipino cultural staple music ahead of the Mass for reopening of Manila Cathedral led by Cardinal Luis Tagle April 9, 2014 in Intramuros, Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

Cultural dancers drew people outside Manila Cathedral hours before Cardinal Luis Tagle led the Mass to reopen the church after 2 years of reconstruction work. - NJ Viehland photos

Cultural dancers drew people outside Manila Cathedral hours before Cardinal Luis Tagle led the Mass to reopen the church after 2 years of reconstruction work. – NJ Viehland photos

People of all ages watched musicians and dancers perform cultural numbers outside Manila Cathedral while waiting for the reopening Mass led by Cardinal Luis Tagle after 2 years of reconstruction and retrofitting work. - NJ Viehland Photos

People of all ages watched musicians and dancers perform cultural numbers outside Manila Cathedral while waiting for the reopening Mass led by Cardinal Luis Tagle after 2 years of reconstruction and retrofitting work. – NJ Viehland Photos

5. As we strengthen our place of worship, we learn how to truly worship, and I’m thankful to God that the readings for today are about true worship. Lo and behold, when I opened the missal, I said, Lord, the choice of the day was really yours, it was not ours. 

6. The essence of worship is just to worship because God deserves such worship.

students offer bottles of coins at Mass for reopening of Manila Cathedral April 9, 2014 - NJ Viehland Photos

students offer bottles of coins at Mass for reopening of Manila Cathedral April 9, 2014 – NJ Viehland Photos

7. As we reopen this place of worship, let us commit ourselves to the worship of the true God, and let us commit ourselves to ignoring idols, for example, idolatry of money, power, lust…

8. Jesus tells us in the Gospel, “If you remain in my Word, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free – free from idols, free from inspiration of false gods – that’s the fruit of true worship: truth and wisdom in Jesus Christ.

Statement of Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, CBCP President, RH Law

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines addresses a press conference at the end of the 2012 CBCP plenary assembly at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines addresses a press conference at the end of the 2012 CBCP plenary assembly at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila.                          NJ Viehland Photo

I encourage our Catholic faithful to maintain respect and esteem for the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has decided on the RH issue based on existing laws in the Philippines.

The Church must continue to uphold the sacredness of human life, to teach always the dignity of the human person and to safeguard the life of every human person from conception to natural death.

Although the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the RH law, it has truly watered down the RH law and consequently upheld the importance of adhering to an informed religious conscience even among government workers. It has also stood on the side of the rights of parents to teach their children.

We cannot see eye-to-eye with our pro-RH brethren on this divisive issue but we can work hand-in-hand for the good of the country.

On the part of the Church, we must continue to teach what is right and moral. We will continue to proclaim the beauty and holiness of every human person. Through two thousand years, the Church has lived in eras of persecution, authoritarian regimes, wars and revolutions. The Church can continue its mission even with such unjust laws. Let us move on from being an RH-law-reactionary-group to a truly Spirit empowered disciples of the Gospel of life and love. We have a positive message to proclaim.

April 8, 2014

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
CBCP President

[to follow- Full text of Supreme Court ruling on Constitutionality of the RH Law. NJV]

Message on Peace Agreement from Archbishop Socrates Villegas

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines addresses a press conference at the end of the 2012 CBCP plenary assembly at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines addresses a press conference at the end of the 2012 CBCP plenary assembly at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

March 27, 2014

 Like all peace loving Filipinos, we rejoice with our countrymen as we mark a milestone in the peace process with the signing of the peace agreement between the Philippine Government and the MILF. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We pray that this first courageous breakthrough will be followed by more steps leading to true and lasting peace in Mindanao.

I appeal to the Philippine government panel to continue the process of widespread consultation and an honest, open and trusting dialogue with other communities in Mindanao especially those who feel marginalized and ignored like the MNLF. It is so important for peace to be sustainable that it be inclusive and all embracing. The strength of the (signed) agreement lies in its willingness to reach out to everyone including those who are antagonistic to it. A continuing dialogue will strengthen our peace even more.

It is very urgent that economic activity in Mindanao be enhanced immediately. There can be no peace without human development. Development and the promotion of human progress is another name for peace. The promotion of total human development is long delayed. It cannot wait further. The people of Mindanao have been suffering for decades.

May we all be ready to become channels of peace! Peacemakers are children of God.

Socrates B Villegas
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
CBCP President

President Benigno Aquino, Vice President Mar Roxas, Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadato and Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao were among government officials who attended the March 11, 2014 thanksgiving Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cotabato City for Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato's 75th birthday and induction into the College of Cardinals. NJ Viehland Photo

President Benigno Aquino, Vice President Mar Roxas, Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadato and Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao were among government officials who attended the March 11, 2014 thanksgiving Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cotabato City for Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato’s 75th birthday and induction into the College of Cardinals. NJ Viehland Photo

Celebrating with Cardinal Orlando Quevedo on his 75th birthday were foreign guests and former officials of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), led by Bainon Karon (right) former chair of the Women’s Committee of the MNLF Kutawato State Revolutionary Movement, and later Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Regional Secretary for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Taken under red program lighting at South Seas Mall, Cotabato City, March 11, 2014. NJ Viehland Photo

Celebrating with Cardinal Orlando Quevedo on his 75th birthday were foreign guests and former officials of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), led by Bainon Karon (right) former chair of the Women’s Committee of the MNLF Kutawato State Revolutionary Movement, and later Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Regional Secretary for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Taken under red program lighting at South Seas Mall, Cotabato City, March 11, 2014. NJ Viehland Photo

Religious of the Virgin Mary nuns from around Mindanao, southern Philippines, celebrate with Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato his 75th birthday on March 11,2 014 at South Seas Mall, Cotabato City . NJ Viehland Photo

Religious of the Virgin Mary nuns from around Mindanao, southern Philippines, celebrate with Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato his 75th birthday on March 11,2 014 at South Seas Mall, Cotabato City . NJ Viehland Photo