Cebu News

Nat'l transformation council insists Vidal is with us

Jessa Agua - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - After the statement issued by Cebu Archdiocese officials denying that the local Catholic Church is backing calls for the president to step down, the National Transformation Council stood firm on its claim that Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal shares its sentiments.

In its Facebook page, NTC posted a link to an ABS-CBN news item in which local church officials stressed that the retired prelate and the archdiocese do not and will not call for administration officials to vacate their posts.

Along with the link was a commentary which refuted the news report.

"On February 13, about 99 percent of the guests of Cardinal Vidal at his home were members of the National Transformation Council (NTC). They had a mass, ate a sumptuous meal, had a press conference amply attended by media people, and conducted a high-level NTC meeting right there at the Cardinal's office, all in all lasting for about 5 to 6 hours," read a portion of the online post.

"For someone who 'does not' believe in NTC, the Cardinal was surely very accommodating to NTC. Posible ba na basahin ni Cardinal in front of media cameras ang isang bagay na hindi niya pinaniniwalaan, a statement that was so controversial because it was asking the President of the Philippines to step down? And yet ABS-CBN expects the Filipino people to believe this report?" the post continued.

NTC is a group of religious and lay members who have been calling for the resignation of President Benigno Aquino III and his entire administration.

In Cebu, members and supporters have been in touch with like-minded counterparts in Luzon and Mindanao.

One of its members, Valeriano "Bobit" Avila insisted that the denial only came from archdiocese officials and not from Vidal himself.

"I suggest that you get the clarification from Cardinal Vidal himself. Those denials did not come from him. These denials are meant to confuse," Avila said when asked about his opinion on the statement released by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, archdiocese spokesman Msgr. Joseph Tan and Vidal's secretary Fr. Joseph De Aquino.

He further referred to the group's Facebook page for the official statement.

When asked to name fellow NTC members in Cebu, he declined.

"I cannot give you that information as NTC is all over the country and there are Cebuanos, in Butuan and Davao," Avila said.

Last February 13, Catholic Church officials who admitted to members of local media their membership in the group included Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo dela Cruz, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Bayombong Archbishop Ramon Villena and Davao Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla.

They were joined by non-Catholic, Christian church leaders like Bishop Butch Belgica from the Christian Bishop and Ministers Association of the Philippines, Pastor Art Corpuz of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines Manila and Evangelical Church bishop Dr. Jose Socito.

Unordained NTC members who were also present at the Cardinal's retirement home in Banilad last Friday were led by former senator Francisco "Kit" Tatad and former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales.

The FREEMAN tried get Gonzales’ reaction to the latest development but he was not available.

Meanwhile, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III expressed opposition to the call of some groups, including the NTC, for the president to step down, saying the call has no basis.

“If they feel that the president is not doing enough, they have remedies available. They can go to court and seek redress of grievances. Any call for the president to resign is so tangent, para nako. That’s not the solution,” he told reporters.

He also said despite this he respects the opinion of the groups advocating the ouster of the president.

The NTC wants a caretaker government to be formed in the event of mass resignation of the national leader, as they are also calling for the resignation of other government officials to give way to a “new government”.

But Davide opined that creation of a caretaker government will only provoke a constitutional crisis.

“We have functioning government. Unsay purpose ana (caretaker government)? Kinsa may ibutang anang caretaker government, who are the personalities? Sa akong nahibaw-an, there is somebody who is close to the previous administration, there are also those critical of the president. They are just pursuing their own agenda,” he said. — with Michael Vencynth H. Braga/BRP (FREEMAN)

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