3 bishops condemn unethical practices, call for transparency in bid for Cha-cha

Bishops Patricio Buzon of Bacolod, Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos and Louie Galbines of Kabankalan (l-r)*

Three Roman Catholic bishops in Negros Occidental on Thursday, January 25, condemned “unethical practices” in the move to amend the 1987 Constitution, and appealed for truth and transparency.

Bishops Patricio Buzon of Bacolod, Louie Galbines of Kabankalan and Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos in a joint statement said “our nation again stands at a crossroads, with the ongoing movement to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution through a widespread signature campaign”.

This initiative, involving the collection of signatures across various regions, including Bacolod City and Negros Occidental, has raised vital concerns and discussions about the future of the country, they said.

The bishops stressed the need for transparency in the so called “peoples initiative” to amend the Constitution.

“A concerning aspect of this campaign is the ambiguity surrounding its proponents and the sources of funding. The identity of the people behind this initiative and those funding it remains largely unknown, casting doubts on the authenticity of this being a true “people’s initiative”, they said.

The concept of a people’s initiative, as enshrined in the Constitution, is meant to embody the will and voice of the populace, not the interests of a few undisclosed parties, they said.

“We, therefore, urge those involved to disclose their identities and intentions transparently, aligning with the democratic principles our nation cherishes,” the bishops said.

The bishops, in the same statement, also condemned unethical practices in the gathering of people’s initiative signatures.

“The reports of unethical practices, such as using social assistance as leverage to gather signatures and other manipulative practices, are deeply troubling. These acts are not only morally reprehensible but also erode the integrity of our democratic institutions,” they said.

The Church categorically condemns such practices and calls for integrity in all civic engagements, they said.

“Our actions must always reflect the values of truth, justice, and the common good,” they said.

The bishops also called on civic officials to assist their constituents in arriving at a more informed and discerned decision.

“We call upon civic officials to actively support and guide their constituents in making well-informed and thoughtful decisions. This involves providing accurate information, fostering civic education, and creating opportunities for open dialog,” they said.

By empowering people with knowledge and encouraging a discerning approach, “we can ensure that the decisions made at the community level are informed, inclusive, and beneficial for the common good,” the bishops said.

“Let us not be swayed by mere rhetoric or the promise of ’ayuda (assistance)’ but strive to engage in meaningful dialog and informed discernment”, the bishops said.*

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