CBCP panel joins NTF-Elcac after task force policy shift — spokesperson
MANILA, Philippines (Updated on Sept. 23) — The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Monday said one of its panels joined the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) after its policy shift.
CBCP spokesperson Rev. Cather Jerome Secillano made the clarification as the latest move of the bishops conference’s Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA) underwent a firestorm of criticism from leftist groups and cause-oriented organizations.
“We meant well sa aming engagement na ito [in our engagement]. We’re allowing ourselves to be a member of the NTF-ELCAC in good faith…Sa pagiging [In becoming a] member namin dito sa NTF-ELCAC, we’re provided with a platform for the betterment of the people in the country,” Secillano, who is also the executive secretary of the ECPA of the CBCP, said in a press conference.
“We don’t want to be myopic in joining the NTF-Elcac,” Secillano added.
“Sana magkaroon tayo ng bukas na kaisipan at malawak na pang-unawa. Nakita naman namin ‘yung shift tulad ng development,” he pointed out.
(Let’s have an open mind and broad understanding. We saw their policy shift, like their focus on development.)
To recall, the NTF-Elcac announced that it has begun shifting from its “aggressive” policy to becoming “bringers of peace.”
Secillano also said that ECPA’s membership in the NTF-Elcac will serve as an opportunity for closer dialogue in case instances of red-tagging of prelates and church officials happen again.
“Every time may red-tagging that also includes some of our priests and even bishops, we always reach out naman sa kanila at napapansin naman,” he said.
(Every time there is red-tagging, which includes some of our priests and even bishops, we reach out and they take note of this.)
He also urged the task force to respect human rights.
“Mahalaga po itong component na ito dahil kabahagi po sa adbokasiya ng ating Simbahan,” he said of human rights.
(This is an important component since this is part of the Church’s advocacies.)
For his part, NTF-Elcac Executive Director Ernesto Torres Jr. called ECPA’s membership in the anticommunist taskforce a “blessing.”
“We’re blessed to have the CBCP,” Torres said, adding that critics should “listen to the voice of reason rather than throw stones” at the task force and the bishops’ conference.