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Negros bishops ask gov’t not to rush shift to federalism

Bishops from Negros Island have appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies not to rush the country’s shift to federalism, stressing that the true voice of the people should be reflected in the planned Charter change (Cha-cha).

The prelates of the four dioceses of Negros Island also lamented the “present apathy” of Filipinos and even those in the Catholic Church towards moves to amend the 1987 Constitution.

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“We urge the President and legislators not to rush the shift to federalism because what is at stake here is not only the present generation of Filipinos, but future generations as well,” the bishops of the Dioceses of San Carlos, Dumaguete, Bacolod, and Kabankalan said in their joint pastoral guidelines on federalism and Cha-cha issued on March 25.

The statement was signed by San Carlos bishop Gerardo Alminaza, Dumaguete bishop Julito Cortes, Bacolod bishop Patricio Buzon, and Kabankalan bishop-elect Louie Galbines.

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The prelates noted that although the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines had already issued a statement on Cha-cha, they also felt a need to issue their own stand on the issue.

“We also feel the need to make a statement of our own in Negros because of the present apathy we sadly see among our people and maybe even in the Church, and we hope our own statement will add to the collective voice we need so badly to awaken the conscience of the nation,” they said.

The prelates urged the Consultative Committee – created by Mr. Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution – “to be always guided by the principle of the common good in their deliberations and resolutions.”

“We insist, ‘in season or out of season’, that the voice of the people and not that of self-serving politicians be reflected in any constitutional change!” they pointed out.

The bishops also asked the faithful in their dioceses to form “circles of discernment” as recommended by the CBCP, and to reflect on, discuss, debate, and discern certain points.

“We urge our people to find answers to these questions truthfully and conscientiously as we urge them to get involved and influence their respective district representative on what position to take on this issue,” they noted.

Some of the questions the bishops posed mainly dwelled on federalism; whether mere policy and legal reforms may achieve the desired results without changing the form of government; and if federalism will only strengthen existing political dynasties.

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The bishops also asked if federalism would cause a “horribly bloated democracy” with the creation of new government agencies and positions, leading to the possible wastage of public funds.

They also expressed wariness over moves to shift to federalism; that such form of government might be a “trojan horse” as lawmakers might end up pushing for their agendas, such as lifting term limits for elected officials. Carla P. Gomez /kga

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TAGS: bishops, CBCP, federalism, Negros
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