Agence France-Presse | 12/01/2009 2:00 PM
MANILA - Leaders of the influential Roman Catholic church in the Philippines on Tuesday accused President Gloria Arroyo of being drunk on power and urged her to quit her bid to join Congress in next year's elections.
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the influential Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, said Arroyo should "retire from politics" after her term ends next year.
"I wholeheartedly suggest she gives others a chance to serve and not give in to temptation of power," he said in a statement.
The appeal however was ignored by Arroyo, who on Tuesday officially filed her certificate for candidacy in her home town of Lubao, north of Manila.
Arroyo said she wanted to continue serving her province as the reason for not quitting public office.
The political opposition however has said the move was part of a scheme to ultimately install her as prime minister by amending the constitution and changing the system of government from presidential to parliamentary.
Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, also a member of the conference said Arroyo's congressional bid was "motivated by political survival."
"She manifests addiction to power, exhibits lack of propriety and remains fixated to have (Charter change) once elected as soon as possible, to target the office of Prime Minister," Cruz charged.
Another bishop, Emmanuel Trance, noted that while no law prohibits an outgoing president from seeking a lower position, doing so would be improper.
"She would have shown political delicadeza (propriety) or some statesmanship if she does not run," Trance said.
The Philippines is Asia's bastion of Catholicism, where over 80 percent of the 92 million population belongs to the religion.
The church's stand on various issues often shapes public opinion. It has rallied its flock to help oust two presidents -- dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and graft-tainted Joseph Estrada in 2001.
Bishops have also opposed various attempts by Arroyo and other presidents to amend the constitution.
In calling for Arroyo to quit, the church appears to be showing a clear break from the self-proclaimed devout Roman Catholic president, who has often quoted divine providence in her political decisions.
as of 12/01/2009 2:00 PM