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A call for national transformation in Lipa

Filipinos from all walks of life made their way to Lipa last Wednesday to listen to calls for “national transformation” and sign their names to a document that spelled out what must be done to reverse the slow denigration of public life in our country.

Filipinos from the US regretted they were not part of it. In the report they put down my name as behind the declaration. I must correct that immediately even if I subscribe to every word of it. It was the collective work of a group of Filipinos both lay and ecclesiastical to put down what has been talked about that the incumbent president is not up to the demands of his position. Unless stopped it may be too late with more and more crises overtaking the country in every facet of life under cover of what is called “matuwid na daan.”

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I was active in the group but by no means did I lead it and the declaration itself is the work of intellectuals and ideologues from religious and lay groups.

For my part, I believed it was time to listen to ordinary citizens and began a website, Bayanko.org.ph, so ordinary Filipinos especially the talented and unknown can give their suggestions. We would have to encourage them to come forward with ideas with what is good for the country and frame it in a new constitution that can be truly said to have been authored by the people.

The Philippines is run for the few, not for the many. It was time to draw out the many and make their power felt as the sovereign people. This is now happening in other countries where national life has deteriorated because of this lack of participation by what has been called the “crowd.”

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 In Iceland, where the first crowdsourcing was made, the government helped to implement the experiment. Here in the Philippines we face more formidable opposition from the oligarchy and elites who would fight any attempt to change the system underpinning the status quo. For that we would have to call on two pillars of society in the Philippines – the Church and the military. The Church, other faiths and the Muslims in cooperation would help muster the strength necessary for a popular movement.

The military is mandated by the Constitution to protect the state in safeguarding the state as it embarks on the radical reforms. With the failure of government, an alternate civic authority had to be organized. That was how a national transformation council led by competent and respectable leaders came to be. At first, there seemed no one we could call on to head the movement until we realized that the man who had helped put together the peaceful revolution of 1986 was still very much with us — Cardinal Ricardo Vidal.

Assisting him were Arcbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa who hosted the gathering, Bishop Fernando Capalla and Bishop Romulo de la Cruz, Also there were Bishop Juan Pablo de Dios of Butuan, Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez of Manila, Bishop Emeritus Salvador Quizon of Batangas, Father Romeo J. Intengan, S.J., from Ateneo, and other priests and men and women religious.

The Evangelicals were led by Protestant Bishop Pio Teotica, and Pastor Arthur Corpuz of the United Church of Manila.

Dr. Kamil Unda, a Muslim scholar said that secularism has become the greatest scourge of our age, but that the Lord, as the Qur’an says, will never change the conditions of his people unless they themselves change their own conditions first.

Little was known about the role of Cardinal Ricardo Vidal of Cebu who was president of the CBCP during Edsa 1986. It was he who put together the fractious body of bishops of the Philippines that would make the difference between victory and defeat.

This was the high point of the CBCP’s role in 1986 that came to mind when he spoke to the group in Lipa. The Lipa declaration was and very much in the spirit of the pastoral letter of Edsa 1 when he said. “We Must Obey God Rather Than Men.”

“The life of the nation is in grave peril from the very political forces that are primarily ordained to protect, promote and advance its well-being, but which are aggressively undermining its moral, religious, social, cultural, constitutional and legal foundations;

Far from preserving and defending the Constitution, President Benigno Simeon Aquino has subverted and violated it by corrupting Congress, intimidating the judiciary, taking over the treasury, manipulating the automated voting system, and perverting the constitutional impeachment process;

…President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd has lost the moral right to lead the nation, and has become a danger to the Philippine Democratic and Republican state and to the peace, freedom, security and moral and spiritual well-being of the Filipino people…

We call upon him to immediately relinquish his position…

Whatever the final form of government the citizenry decide to adopt, absolutely indispensable are the integrity and independence of the courts, and the existence of an incorrupt electoral system by means of which we, the people, are able to freely and intelligently choose our own leaders in free and honest elections. Until we have such a fraud-free electoral system, we should refrain from holding any farcical election.

Finally, we support the council’s proposal that with political reform there must go hand in hand comprehensive economic reform…

As the council prepares to embark upon the necessary reforms, we call upon the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as the constitutional “protector of the people and the state,” to extend its protective shield to the council, and not to allow any armed group to sow violence, disorder or discord into its peaceful rank.”

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From my brother-in-law Ramon, the eldest child of Don Pio Pedrosa and Doña Luisa Noble Acebedo de Pedrosa pleads on behalf of the Acebedo Pedrosa ancestral house in Palo.

“It is a very old house which has seen many generations of the founding Acebedos as well as of the Pedrosas. It is also a historical icon of Palo by its use and occupancy spanning the Spanish colonial period, the Katipunan Revolution, the American Occupation, the Commonwealth Period, the Second World War and the battle for Liberation, and the years of peace thereafter.

There is a government order to slice some three meters off its front façade to make way for an alleged widening of the San Salvador Street, otherwise known as the Palo-Jaro Road. The decapitation will extend to all the houses along the entire left length of the street.

There is no gainsaying the fact that it is the duty of government to provide public services including the improvement of roads and highways.

But it is a far paramount duty for government to preserve its cultural and historical patrimony.

   Before the present Republic to which the Department of Public Works and Highways is an instrumentality was established, the old house was already there.

 

 

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