The CBCP issued a very nuanced statement, governed by principles both new and old (by the Church’s measure of time). I think it will be necessary to read the statement more than once to understand just what the statement portends. The bishops have given the President the noose by which to hang herself. Why do I say this?

The bishops ignored demands to make a particular political call, but in defining the issue as a moral one, they have weakened the political strategies employed so far by the President.

The President declined to appoint a Truth Commission more than once, privately and publicly. Now, she has been called upon to do so. It would be improbable for her to decline to do so now; but she can opt to delay the process, which, after all, is an innovation. Will it be by a law? Will it be by executive order? Who will be in it? These things will take time to determine: but how much time will the bishops and the public consider reasonable? This early on, Mike Defensor is pushing the line that a commission should be a non-government body, but this will lead to problems -it needs to be a government body so that it has subpoeana powers.

In demanding a Truth Commission with the mandate to look into both the tapes and allegations of cheating, the bishops are calling both the administration and the opposition to task. They have called for the net to be cast wide; there will be many people trying to wriggle out of the net. A Truth Commission, too, means that the President’s dangling the prospects of charter change can only, at best, take place in tandem with the efforts of the commission; at worst, public focus will be on the Commission and people will once more hedge their bets depending on how the commission’s activities are perceived.

The bishops have also sent a strong signal against certain forces: the militant Left, which relies on cooperation with radical elements in the Church; the sectors calling for a governing council, revolutionary government, system change, and a junta, have been rejected out of hand.

The bishops have not let the President off the hook; their call for her to reflect on her situation, that is, if she can continue to govern, than not, implies that her capacity to lead may, indeed, no longer exist. They have not absolved her, contrary to her protestations of innocence. They haven’t judged her guilty; but they have determined there is probable cause for continued scrutiny.

They have called for a wide-sweeping and active period of consultations within the ambit of the Church, during which it can be assumed the moral principles enumerated in their statement will be explained and reinforced in parishes and schools throughout the country; they are arming Catholics with the means to determine the President’s continued fitness, or lack of fitness, for office. This answers the call of many people for an effort to separate the true issues from the political noise. This is harmful to the President and the opposition. The bishops also define calls for resignation as legitimate, which means the resignation campaign can proceed; they haven’t slapped it down, which means Cory Aquino can now travel around while Civil Society, given a new lease on life, undertakes a campaign parallel to that of the Church.

This means the crisis will be prolonged. The President’s hasn’t been handed a free ride; but it also means the campaign to convince the public as to each sector’s particular stand will now heat up.

The President responded quickly enough, with a statement, thanking the bishops, but otherwise ignoring their specific calls. She has enough time to formulate strategies concerning each and every one.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

38 thoughts on “Implications

  1. “we do not believe in the intrusion of the heirarchy in politics… From the point of view of the Gospel, we are to provide moral and religious guidance… This is what we offer… Not to do this would be an abdication to our duty… — Manolo, this is the most debatable phrase because GMA spinmeister can easily say that this declaration not to intrude into politics implies also that only those who are “in politics” are the ones privileged to be involved in it. Or to put it in another way, Bobi et. al., could argue that the bishops can raise a moral issue but what is happening is a political and constitutional problem and hence must be solved politically and/or constitutionally. Oddly, by stating categorically that they have no desire to intervene politically, the bishops also gave the Arroyo argument a much-needed breathing space. So…we’re back to impeachment or resignation which GMA could easily defeat.

  2. Jojo: Maraming nuances, problem is, full text not online yet. One nunance: “We are not calling for the President to resign… yet.” Open-ended, contextual. Thus, I think it’s ominious for her.

  3. the statement of the bishops is somber, sober and thought-provoking. as you said, it is very nuanced; only by reading it a number of times and reflecting on it can one understand and see the implications of the statement. i think it is rather unfortunate that the news updates simply bannered headlines like “bishops won’t ask gloria to resign” or “bishops won’t demand arroyo’s resignation” because in a way, i think it’s misleading. the bishops might not have called for her to resign now, but neither have they totally closed the door on asking her to step down.
    i think with this statement, they’re also(implicitly?) giving gma another chance to step down voluntarily (yes, even though, she already said she won’t resign.)

  4. I am so frustrated with the Bishops. This is the time where they could have issued a more forceful stand. They shrink. They chickened out. The flock expect them to condemn cheating. I want to cry.

    Where is Cardinal Sin? I wish he is here. We feel orphaned. I wish I could email those bishops that what they did was wrong and inadequate. The cheaters got away.

    My God, oh Lord, to whom shall we turn to? Please guide us. The gall cheated her way to Malacanang and I know Lord You Knew it and saw everything. Please give us your Divine Justice because the people entrusted to do that thing for You, shrink from that responsibility.

  5. jon, i agree with you 100%

    cisco, don’t lose faith. read and study. you’ll see it’s actually pretty harsh on both gma and erap people.

  6. Manolo, indeed it can go either way. The battle now shift to whose interpretation of this consciously vague statement by the Bishops gets more prime time. On the part of GMA’s prop team, what they will be aiming for is that at least the bishop’s statement could buy them time, but more importantly, can convince even a small fraction of those sympathetic to the anti-GMA camp (esp. the middle class) to take a second look at the resignation call. I share Cisco’s frustration, but if one takes a longer view, this weakening of the CBCP’s political position was something inevitable. Sin or without Sin.

  7. From the very beginning, I’m for the truth, the whole truth. So help us God. Do not cry yet, Beloved Country.

  8. jojo, agreed. but you know, this means the schools, and the parishes, are now officially in the act, nationwide. that’s not a good thing for the president.

  9. Manolo, you sure CBCP will not put a lid on Ateneo, La Salle, Xavier, Ateneo de Davao, etc.? My sense is that the Jesuits have already decided not to demand her resignation (hence the only statement from Loyola is by an amorphous “Concerned Students, Faculty…” not the entire administration). La Salle was solid and has the potential to project a nationwide presence given the provincial network it had established by buying provincial schools. But one doubts if this can be sustained, given the other schools may not follow soon. The anti-GMA fight now take into consideration the fact that the Church is not anymore a strong ally which will stand by the opposition through thick and thin.

    There’s still a lot of things to do

  10. I agree with the observation that the Bishop’s position is ambiguous.It is open to two or more interpretations; depending on whose vantage point one will use it. The present stage of battle between the pro-GMA and the anti-GMA is still drawn along propaganda lines. It is still a battle for gaining the higher grounds through propaganda. In my opinion, the statement of CBCP, at the moment, is useful for the propaganda arsenal of the GMA camp. News headlines tommorrow will banner the lines “No Resignation for GMA – CBCP”. However, as the battle intensifies, the CBCP’s statement will become a dummy “destroyer bullet” for GMA. If they use it, it will backfire and explode in their face.

  11. Double meaning. I take it as the Church neither slapped arroyo or gave her a rope. It seems as the church is waiting for something. I dont know if youre getting this but the church means They will go where the tide will take them.

    Whats with this statement that “we do not believe in the intrusion of the heirarchy in politics… From the point of view of the Gospel, we are to provide moral and religious guidance… This is what we offer… Not to do this would be an abdication to our duty…” ? They are part of the Philippines POLITICS since time immemorial. Don’t defend this. because IT IS NOT TRUE!

    Come on, these schooled and enlightened individuals wants to believe in a truth commision here in the philippines?

    Its either they are trying to give a signal at both camps to give them a better offer or something.

    This is my view.

  12. My sense is that there is an impasse at the center (i.e., Manila). If indeed by being vague about their position, the bishops have indirectly signalled the clergy and laity that they could make their own choices, then if the religious still regard themselves politically relevant, the propaganda war now needs to shift to the provinces…where, alas, GMA’s spinmeisters have the lead (thanks, in part by the likes of Tommy Osmena and Digong Duterte waving the regionalism card). On while we are on this, maybe Sam can give us a sense of what is happening in Mindanao. Unsa may update dinha bay? My friends in Davao say that people are simply watching the circus in Manila and seem not to care.

  13. What was the point issuing a subtle message? Prudence ? Not to give the opposition any ammo? Not to give GMA any ammo either?

    They are laying the groundwork for the middle forces to consolidate and take control of the situation. So they are playing politics ! They want the solution to come from those who will propose a recolution of the crisis within the parameters they set ! That’s playing politics.

    Personally, I don’t mind if its the middle forces who win, the ones who want Glloria to resign and for her constitutional successor to take over, but it’s a bit dishonest to say one is not playing politics and issuing a statement that eliminates everyone from the picture except those who will toe their line.

  14. Jo, it’s the usual wait and see attitude in Mindanao. Although most of GMA’s political allies are now in an active campaign mode, of course campaigning for GMA in their constituency. Digong is just employing blackmail by using the issue of Mindanao Independence to preserve GMA. Obviously, Digong is speaking only for himself. According to Mohagher Iqbal, MILF Chief Peace Negotiator: “We cannot endorse anything that we are not party to it and whose objectives do not have clear and unambiguous programs for the Bangsamoro People”

  15. okay, CBCP does not demand her resignation not because they do not agree with it but because they want the people to decide on how to go about this under either of three options: impeachment, Truth Commission and resignation.

    ibinibigay nila ang mga mangyayari sa mga sumusunod na araw sa ating mga kamay. hindi ba’t yan ay napaka-democratic?

  16. jojo, tommorow Bernas in his column apparently will come out in favor of an Edsa solution -or, to be precise, to point out an Edsa solution is “constitutional.”

  17. I don’t think the CBCP has done their homework well. I don’t understand why their moral outrage on the situation is muted, if there is a moral outrage at all. Trouble is any statement from the CBCP short of telling GMA to resign will be paraded by the GMA media proponents as in favor of GMA. Sa hinabahaba ng statement, yung salitang “resign” lang naman ang hinahanap ng tao. Kung wala yun, kahit ano pa sabihin nila, iisipin ng tao pabor kay GMA yun. Sana hindi na muna sila gumawa ng statement.

  18. GMA dont want to be remembered as the third president to be ousted or even impeached. I think shes buying time for her to accomplish FVRs proposal. And according to Bunye shes seriously considering a change in government. Ayaw lang nyang mapasama kina Erap at Marcos na pinatalsik ng mga tao. Because of the CBCPs stand, she can now have a graceful exit. I just hope she will do that. She should.

  19. Sam, Iqbal makes more sense, but if you are someone who wants Mindanao to secede, now maybe the chance to establish a “broad front” (as the Leftists would say) with the likes of Digong, no? My heart says so, but my mind reminds me that Digong et. al., do not really have an idea nor a program for a separate Mindanao.

    If the anti-GMA forces do not come up with a regional plan, my guess is that the battle in the provinces — with or without the Church’s help — is lost.

    That, plus GMA’s autocratic posturing in yesterday’s headline: she and the police generals behind her.

  20. Jojo
    You honestly believe those blackmailer who threatens to separate their regions from central government will succeed? No they wont. You know why?

    It is baseless to even contemplate that threat because:

    1) in reality Lots of people in those regions have a relative here in manila
    2) These regions need something from manila. Dont believe those BS that some dude said that mindanao can survive without manila.
    3) People from the province arent idiots to follow their elected officials. We have to admit that 90 percent of this officials were elected using GUNS, GOONS and GOLD
    4) Who wants to go to Davao that requires to to bring a passport and a visa? Nobody.

    We could have had an Ilocos Republic if Marcos was brought in Paoay Ilocos norte not in Paoay Hawaii. I believe it might be possible but not today.

    These people who threatened to secceed from manila should be tried for Treason

  21. The only significant passages from the CBCP statement are these:

    “We are not politicians who are to provide a political blueprint to solve political problems… But we are to interpret human activities such as economics and politics from the moral and religious point of view, from the point of view of the Gospel of Jesus end of the Kingdom of God. We are to provide moral and religious guidance to our people… WE RECOGNIZE THAT NON-VIOLENT APPEALS FOR HER RESIGNATION, the demand for a Truth Commission and the filing of an impeachment case are NOT AGAINST THE GOSPEL.” (caps mine)

    Interpretation: We can coach but we cannot play. We can guide but we cannot ride. We cannot advocate any position openly for this very reason. In a Ratzinger papacy, we are no longer in the business of taking positions. So pardon us for being subtle. What you get from an audience with us instead are epigram-spouting Yodas who can at least affirm that non-violent appeals for the pygmy’s resignation are not anti-Catholic. Thank you.

    Least, the faithful have that. Not that I need validation from anyone.

    But enough of this. Doesn’t anyone want to weigh in on FVR’s soft coup?

  22. i was disappointed with the statment of the CBCP. the statement does not take into consideration the real situation in the country. Truth commission? not possible in this country anymore. by the way things are going, this administration will circumvent that truth commission just to survive. gma is so high on power that she will do anything to keep the truth from coming out. she’s going to keep on lying and spinning. ito ngang statement ng CBCP na-spin na nya eh.

    tsk.tsk…the bishops should have just said ‘she must resign’ in order to keep things within the constitution. with their statement people will now be forced to take gma down through extra-constitutional means.

  23. Balimbing naman ang position nila, bilis naman ni Bansot mag-patay mali at nagpasalamat pa, kapal talaga ng hinayupak, deretso pa rin ng panloloko sa mga pilipino, kung di lang masama ang sumumpa, sana mamatay na lang sya! Kelan kaya, sana sa lalong madaling panahon tamaan ng kidlat si Fandakaking Kurakot! Mas grabe pa sya at pamilya nya kesa kay Erap ah.

  24. The churchs job is to teach morality to the society. They have failed misserably this past decade kasi ung mga nagaaway na mga politiko mukhang puro immoral at puro pang sarili lang ang iniisip.

    The CHURCH should look into their system why they failed in their part to teach proper MORAL and not being selfish.

  25. The Church really shouldnt meddle with politics anymore. they were created by jesus to preach not to be caugth in a middle of God knows what. Maybe now is the time they deemed to stay away from politics?

    When the church tried to get into politics they never did really helped. sometimes the are the reason why problems sprout up. sometimes they are more of a problem than a solution. history we must study that yoda say

  26. I think the CBCP statement should have weighed in on the great need for moral leadership at this time so many charlatans are on the rise. That the President has failed her people on this count should have been stressed way ahead. This would’ve made clear that the bishops were so pissed.

  27. That being the case, i think the bishops missed a chance to teach people lessons in Christian leadership, because they decided to play it safe. It’s hard not to be disappointed.

  28. The bishops missed a big chance to teach people about Christian leadership, by playing it safe and toeing a legalistic line. It’s really hard not to be disappointed.

  29. Ed, I agree with you about the depiction of Duterte as blackmailers, but I disagree a bit on your reasons why Mindanao cannot and will not separate.

    Two reasons: actually if you go around Mindanao the notion of “imperial Manila” exploiting “poor Mindanao” is quite pervasive. It is not only in the Muslim communities where separatist sentiments prevail. In the settlement zones, too. My Davao friends are all for it, and even in my small hometown of Ozamis, you actually have people in the beer garden discussing separatism’s merits. So people like me may have relatives in Manila, but they also have sunk deeep roots in Mindanao and consider themselves Mindanawan.

    Actually these regions need nothing much from Manila. It is Manila that depends on their produce and people. Even Jess Dureza, GMA’s point man in Mindanao, concede this.

    Second, if the other forces like the MILF in Mindanao see opportunity in this call for separation, then the scary thing for Manilenos is that you may have two armed forces to back it up — the private armies of the politicians and groups like the MILF.

    And on a minor note, a Republic of Mindanao would probably not require Manilenos to apply for a visa, in the same way that ASEAN does not require people of their member countries to apply for one.


  30. i was talking to a friend the other day who incidentally was a former jesuit novice. having spent a full year inside the noviate, one can say that he is knowledgable of the process of Ignatian discernement. he was describing it to me, and we both agreed that it was an agonizingly slow process. a process which in most likelihood is being utilized by the cbcp.

    he also pointed out that some of the bishops who have called for “calm and sobriety” since all of this came out are actually “josefinos” meaning they were trained at the Jesuit-run San Jose Seminary, and thus are familiar with this ignatian discernment process.

    a key aspect in discernment is that one should avoid making decisions in times of great desolation as well as in times of great consolation (in consolation, there are exceptions). otherwise the decision shall be over-ruled by the emotions. thus the call for the public to calm down.

    another key aspect of discernment is data-gathering, hence the call for an investigation and the truth comission.

    group discerenment is another matter in itself, wherein the decision should always be unanimous. an individual should never rest if one is still uneasy with what is agreed upon by the majority. sad to say, in this case the result is a higly watered-down statement.

    from this perspective, it is clear where the bishops are coming from. and i agree whole-heartedly with what mlq3 is saying. kung baga, pailalim ang suntok ng cbcp. and because of this, i found gma’s “thank you” statement so cheap, she may not have even realized that she was the target (or one of the targets) of the statement.

    however, there seems to be a major failure in communication. the cbcp is not sending their message out clear enough for the public to fully appreciate. they need to speak the language of the people.

  31. They are speaking the God’s Message. That’s what the scriptures said. It seems they wrote the statement Bible Style. Only a select few can fully understand it. That dude from dagupan (rosales) said something from DZBB that we must fully read the statement because PAILALIM daw ang suntok nila. Maybe we should read it first before we can comment.

  32. Jo, I agree. If the anti-GMA forces in Mindanao is that tricky, they can actually use Digong’s bluff against him. Dare Digong to make GMA establish the Mindanao Republic right now. Of course, GMA naturally would not concede to such demand. To do so would would mean she’s violating the constitution by dismembering the republic.

    Kabahin sa mga komento bahin sa pagbulag sa Mindanao, daghan pa gyuy angay nga masayran ang mga higala nato gikan sa Norte kabahin sa pakigbigsog sa mga Mindanawan. Padayon!

  33. “These people who threatened to secceed from manila should be tried for Treason.” – ED

    ed, in one stroke you’re condemning the thoughts of many who live outside Manila who are frustrated by what’s going on today.

    The truth is, many of those who agitate against the current government do not speak for the man on the street in Davao or Bacolod.

    In fact, this underscores a major sore point with those who live outside Davao: their opinions hardly count for beans in the media, or on Mendiola. If nobody bothers to ask the vast majority of people who live outside Manila what their real thoughts on the matter are, then why even bother participating?

  34. I was dazed by the CBCP statment yesterday. After waking up this morning, I read the statement thoroughly. I see. It is open ended. But, GMA should not gloat about it. They can put a spin on it but they cannot be comforted because the stand of the CBCP might change depending on how GMA will react or depending on how the things will unfold.

    All is not lost my friend, and it could be a warning for GMA.

  35. The Bishops have done their mandate as shepherd of their flocks- that is to decide and guide the faithful on issues that are affectiving their lives and faith. You may agree with them, you may slam them for their decision but no faithful may question the wisdom of what they have have come up. Personally, i feel dismay of their not so categorical view of the present krisis, but well, to take their view as my guide in exercisisng my duty for this country is entirely my choice. I can totally disregard their views as i see fit.

  36. Sam, tinuod gyud kana. Galisod ug sabot ang atong mga amigo sa Luzon bahin sa panginahanglan sa atong mga taga-Isla (apologies to the others — got carried away with Sam’s wonderful Visayan!)

    Kabahin sa mga komento bahin sa pagbulag sa Mindanao, daghan pa gyuy angay nga masayran ang mga higala nato gikan sa Norte kabahin sa pakigbigsog sa mga Mindanawan. Padayon!

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