In “bad taste.”
This was how Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), described the stalled signature drive seeking to amend the 1987 Constitution.
In a virtual news conference on Friday, David, accompanied by other CBCP officials, cast doubts on the motives of those behind the “people’s initiative” and called for deeper and wider discussions and discernment on the proposed charter revisions.
“Itong naging track record ng people’s initiative, itong move towards amending the Constitution through the people’s initiative, hindi talaga siya maganda ang dating… bad taste na bad taste talaga,” David told reporters a day after issuing a statement on behalf of the CBCP questioning the signature drive.
“That’s why, parang show us that there is really sincerity and goodwill in these moves. Bakit parang pilit nilang sinasabi na ang pag-amyenda sa Constitution is the solution? What is the problem anyway? Hindi kaya muna pag-usapan ano ba talaga ang problema na sinusolusyonan? Bakit iniisip nila na ito ang solusyon?”
David stressed the historical context that produced the 1987 charter – the tragic experiences of Filipinos during the Martial Law regime.
“Talagang bunga ng dugo, pawis at luha ng sambayanang Pilipino ang ating Konstitusyon at mayroon itong background. We don’t want to fall again into the slippery slope towards authoritarianism,” he said.
David deplored the lack of respect for the Senate as a co-equal branch by the charter change proponents, who have proposed to let Congress as a whole decide on amendments, instead of the 24-member Senate and the much larger House of Representatives voting separately as expected of a bicameral legislature.
“Parang napakasimpleng dagdag pero narinig na natin ang reaction mismo ng ating sariling Senado. It does not respect the Senate as a co-equal branch of government,” he said. “You are already behaving like you are in a unicameral legislature.”
CBCP vice president Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara of Pasig said discussions on charter change would be cascaded to the vicariates, parishes, and basic ecclesial communities, as well as the youth, an increasingly important and vocal constituency.
“Lumalabas na hindi muna ipinauunawa ng maayos sa karamihan na lumalagda ang mga tunay na dahilan ng petisyong ito,” he said.
Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, who is also president of Caritas Philippines, said the push for charter revisions must have an education component.
“Pagsusumikapan po namin sa aming bahagi na makapag bukas ng mga pagpupulong at pagtatalakayan patungkol sa Saligang Batas. So, importante na mapag-usapan, may edukasyon, malaman ng lahat ng mga tao kung ano iyong mga urgent, burning, at saka importanteng issues na may koneksyon o may relasyon sa buhay ng bawat isa,” he said.