Monday, November 30, 2009

CBCP to keep anti-Cha-cha stance with Arroyo in Congress

Written by Aries Rufo
Tuesday, 01 December 2009

President Arroyo's congressional bid in 2010 may change the Catholic bishops' position on Charter change.

The powerful Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) was open to giving its blessing to amend the Constitution--but only after the May 2010 polls. With President Arroyo’s shadow lurking in the halls of Congress, however, the Church leaders might just change their mind.

“I am certain that the CBCP collectively will not give its blessing to Charter change with Arroyo around [as congresswoman in 2010]. I don’t think even those bishops close to her will agree to it,” former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop Oscar Cruz said.

At the height of attempts to tinker with the Charter in 2008, the CBCP said it opposes the move since it will only benefit those who are incumbent. “If the Constitution needs to be changed, it should be by way of a Constitutional convention and after the 2010 elections,” then CBCP president Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said.

At the time, there were concerns that the 2010 elections might not push through. Poll automation preparations, however, progressed this year.

"[But] if she will be in Congress [in 2010], the bishops will maintain their opposition," the now retired archbishop said.

The CBCP has maintained that Charter change has moral dimension. “When the time does come, let it be done with widespread participation and a unity of vision, with total transparency and serenity, with reasons unarguably directed to the common good rather than to the self-serving interests of politician,” the CBCP said in a statement issued in July 2003.

Cruz noted that President Arroyo proved that she “remains fixated to have Charter change once elected,” with the post of prime minister as her main target.

Speculations were rife that President Arroyo would wrestle the prime minister post once the Constitution has been amended. One of the proposed changes in the Charter is to shift from the present presidential to parliamentary form of government where the prime minister is the head of state. (


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