At least 5 bishops renew call for Aquino to step down
CEBU CITY, Philippines—At least five Catholic bishops are calling on President Benigno Aquino III to “step down” over the massacre of 44 Philippine National Police Special Action Force commandos in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao province.
The five bishops are Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa, Archbishop Romulo Tolentino de la Cruz of Zamboanga, Archbishop Ramon Villena of Bayombong, Archbishop Filomeno Bactol of Naval and Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla of Davao.
According to Arguelles, they have been calling for sometime for the resignation of Mr. Aquino whom they believe was not fit for the presidency.
He said Mr. Aquino’s alleged mishandling of the Mamapasano operation had prompted them to hold a summit of the National Transformation Council (NTC) on Friday where they agreed to renew their call for the President to resign.
The NTC held a summit at the house of Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal at Sto. Niño Village, Barangay Banilad, Cebu City, on Friday.
The five prelates stood behind Vidal as the latter read a statement of the NTC.
“The NTC has strongly articulated that the President should step down. Recent developments have made this call even more urgent and imperative,” said the 84-year-old Vidal.
In its website, the NTC defines itself as an ecumenical and interfaith collective that works for the common good of Philippine society through rapid and comprehensive systems of change.
Arguelles and Villena are members of the NTC while Vidal is its chair.
Arguelles clarified that they are not singling out President Aquino as they are also asking other government officials like Vice President Jejomar Binay and others to step down.
He assured the public that their group would not support any kind of coup d’etat to oust the government.
“We are not ousting. We want them to step down. We are not for violent change nor for a military takeover. We are sure that many of the people who [have been] wounded by this administration are behind our plan to have a new government that will be for the people,” he said.
Arguelles said their plan was not to take over government but to help form a new government that would responsive to the needs of the people.
He said they would just announce later who would compose this “new government.”
A Mass was held at the cardinal’s private chapel, before the bishops and some lay religious members gathered for lunch.
Those who were present included Protestant Pastor Art Corpuz of the United Church of Manila, Bishop Butch Belgica of the Christian Bishop and Ministers of the Philippines (CBMP), CBMP secretary general Dr. Jose Socito, Kit Tatad of the NTC, and former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales.
“The Church and her pastors must never abandon their duty to denounce evil and to guide men, women and children in their active search for the truth and the good. Moral evil must be removed from the political and social system. This task, the Church and the community cannot just leave in the hands of politicians, no matter how virtuous they might be,” Vidal said in his statement.
“We appeal to our fellow bishops and religious leaders of faith-based communities to join us in praying to God for his guidance for the renewal of the nation that is deeply rooted in faith values, love of country, and respect for human life and environment.” With a report from Niña P. Calleja
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