The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Monday questioned moves to overhaul the 1987 Constitution to shift to a federal system of government, saying such efforts should be participative and not captured by narrow political interests.
The prelates released “pastoral guidelines” on Charter change as they gathered for their bi-annual plenary assembly in Cebu, questioning lawmakers’ plan to amend the Constitution themselves through a Constituent Assembly.
“Participation is at the heart of democracy. Clearly, a move for Charter change that involves transforming the Congress into a Constituent Assembly is bound to be deficient of widespread peoples’ participation, discussion, and consultation. It would be totally rash for members of Congress to presume the reasoned approval of their constituents on so grave an issue as the move to overhaul the nation’s Charter,” the CBCP said.
The bishops said full implementation of the Charter was needed, instead of a revision.
“As servant leaders, we have listened to many others who believe that the solution to these problems is not a revision of the Constitution, but a full implementation of the 1987 Constitution (e.g., on political dynasties & on freedom of information), and a revision of the Local Government Code, originally designed to devolve power from central authority, following the moral principle of subsidiarity,” the CBCP said.
“We have also heard the views of those who believe that the solution we seek is ultimately the transformation of our political culture, the eradication of a political mindset of personalities, pay-offs, and patronage – a culture that is entrenched in our present political structures and practices. Without conversion of mindsets, the new political wine of Charter change will remain in old political wine-skins, and merely end up bursting the hope for a new political culture,” it added.
The CBCP also expressed concern that the “pro-life” provisions of the 1987 Constitution, such as the ban on abortion and divorce, would be deleted in the new charter.
“Given present developments and trends in legislation where pro-life principles are even now being undermined, we are deeply concerned that such principles, which are consistent with the fundamental nature of marriage and the family, and which are now enshrined in the 1987 Constitution are most likely to be overturned,” the CBCP said.
“If the Constitution is to be revised at all, the process should lead to a greater defense and promotion of the above-mentioned moral values of human dignity and human rights, integrity and truth, participation and solidarity, and the common good.”