MANILA — The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines begins its two-day plenary assembly in Manila on Saturday, where prelates are set to tackle important political issues confronting the country.
CBCP President and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said the prelates would tackle the conduct of the previous mid-term elections, extra-judicial killings and the implementation of the anti-terror law.
Lagdameo, in a press conference, said bishops would receive from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections their evaluations of the previous polls.
He said his initial reaction with the PPCRV reports was that “there was little difference in this year’s elections with the past ones.”
“It would seem that the vote-buying, vote-selling and vote-padding and -shaving are fast becoming systemic and shall we say even cultural in our kind of elections and therefore a very, very tough work especially for those who would like to help repair the future election,” he said.
He said bishops have been so concerned about political governance that they wanted the PPCRV to become PPCRP during the period between elections, with “P” standing for politics.
To be discussed is the Church’s action on clergymen who ran for office last May 14, among them Father Ed Panlilio, who was elected Pampanga governor.
“We will be ready to accept opinions of bishops regarding some priests who have run for public office in the country,” he said.
Lagdameo said the CBCP would also be sending representatives to a summit on extrajudicial killing summoned by the Supreme Court.
“We must be able to identify the forces, the circumstances in which they happen because we will not able to actually pinpoint who are the suspects or even the causes of these killings and therefore cannot easily pass judgment on the situation,” he said.
“This is where probably the citizenry may be of some help in supplying us with information, if they are not afraid to give information,” he added.
Meanwhile, through Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Yñiguez, Lagdameo said CBCP would study the implications of the anti-terrorism law or the Human Security Act, which would take effect on July 15. Some sectors have expressed fear the law will spark violations of human rights and civil liberties, particularly those of the opposition and critics of government.
Fifteen out of 30 Episcopal commissions will be submitting their report to the plenary, which is expected to be attended by archbishops and bishops from 86 dioceses of the country.