“The greatest promise the Church can offer any government is vigilant collaboration, and that offer we make now. We will urge our people to work with the government for the good of all, and we shall continue to be vigilant so that ever so often we may speak out to teach and to prophesy, to admonish and to correct – for this is our vocation..”
This last paragraph of the CBCP post-election statement signed by Archbishop Socrates Villegas sums up the stance of the Catholic Church vis-à-vis the administration of the presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte.
“Vigilant Collaboration” This is how the Church as an institution will engage with the Duterte government for the next six years.
There are two elements in this stance: (1) collaboration - working with the government for the good of all. (2) vigilance - to speak out, to teach, to admonish or in other words, to be prophetic.
The Church will urge her members and the leaders to work for the common good. There are specific areas relating to the common good that the Church should support and collaborate with the government: the economic field – this means working together in addressing the economic needs of the citizens, especially the poor. The contribution of the Church is to continue its work of charity and poverty-alleviation program. The Church, as part of civil society, should also work with the government in addressing the problem of the environment and the consequent climate change.
The prospects for the continuation and conclusion of the peace process is very bright under the Duterte presidency. Thus, the Church should fully support the peace process between the government and the NDF that will lead to a peace agreement that will address the roots of the insurgency. The Church should also support the full implementation of the peace agreement between the government and the MILF – especially the BBL.
The Church should also express her support of the government’s campaign against corruption and criminality. The Church’s main contribution here is in the area of moral reformation that should underpin the government’s drive. Without a change of heart, without moral conversion, the campaign against corruption and criminality cannot be sustainable.
While working with the government in pursuit of the common good, the Church will always remain vigilant and exercise her prophetic vocation.
This requires exercising her role as a conscience of society – supporting what is right and good and exposing and denouncing what is wrong and evil.
The primary area of vigilance is that of the respect for human rights – especially the right to life and due process. The Church will constantly monitor and denounce any abuse and violation of human rights – especially extrajudicial killings. This can be carried out through the social action programs and ministries. The Church will also oppose any attempt to revive death penalty. This is a potential area of conflict and tension between the Church and the Government.
Another potential area of conflict is in the implementation of the RH law. While the Church supports responsible parenthood and natural family planning methods, the Church opposes the neo-Malthusian paradigm promoted by the government which instead of looking at its growing population as human resource regards overpopulation as the cause of poverty and prescribes aggressive population control through the use of medically harmful methods or that could induce abortion.
Another area of vigilance is the Duterte administration’s support for the construction of coal-fired power plants as solution to the energy problem. This is deadly to the health of the people and contribute to global warming. Coal-fired power plants are sustained by the dirtiest form of mining which contribute to the poisoning of the environment.
The Church will continue to promote a consistent ethic of life and reject policies that promote the culture of death.
The Church will also be vigilant against any effort to impose anti-democratic and autocratic forms of governance.
In carrying out her prophetic vocation, the Church should avoid working with any elements in society that seek to oust the present adminstration through extra-legal or undemocratic means. Thus, the Church should not support and should reject coup attempts by the military or armed power grab by any group - whether from the Right or the Left.
This vigilant collaboration should be practiced at all levels – national, regional, diocesan, parish and the Basic Ecclesial Communities.