Wednesday, August 03, 2005

CBCP: RP's tyrant is invisible

It could not possibly be ascribed to presidential ADD (attention deficit disorder) or to one of those “lapses” if Prof. Walden Bello himself has missed in The theocratic temptation to appreciate what I suppose is the centrality of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) pastoral letter of July 10, 2005.

Bello, while acknowledging that the Church must intervene politically sometimes, believes a “crisis of presidential legitimacy” is not “extraordinary” enough to be in the category of genocide, routine human rights violations or foreign invasion, to warrant such intervention. If GMA, who has committed to “read every line and everything between the lines” of the pastoral letter, has only seen through the hole of the doughnut (or the halo) and expressed that the letter was a “collective voice of moderation and temperance”), Bello has completely skipped over it like a confused circus canine over a blazing ring of fire.

Not mistaking the forest for the trees, the deeper message of the Bishops’ letter, it seems, is number 3 of the seriatim disquisition, which reads:
“3. At the center of the crisis is the issue of moral value, particularly the issue of trust. The people mistrust our economic institutions which place them under the tyranny of market forces whose lack of moral compass produces for our people a life of grinding dehumanizing poverty. They also mistrust yet another key institution – our political system. This mistrust is not recent. For a long time now, while reveling in political exercises, our people have shown a lack of trust in political personalities, practices, and processes. Elections are often presumed tainted rather than honest. Congressional and senate hearings are sometimes narrowly confined to procedural matters and often run along party lines. Politics has not effectively responded to the needs of the poor and marginalized.”

Mistrust of the political system is trite (we hear the same grievance everyday from everyone), but bishops collectively calling the market a TYRANT that “produces for our people a life of grinding dehumanizing poverty,” is not a “voice of moderation or temperance” but, while unsaid, a clear allusion to “Christian socialism” or at the very least to plain Thomism that calls for the achievement of Christian goals by social and political means. Going beyond the text, the true message of the pastoral letter, despite professing fealty to constitutional process, is the tacit reassertion of Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum against market democracy (as well as Marxism) as a preponderant influence in the lives of the Filipino poor. The same message was articulated in the July 1, 2005 letter issued by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio B. Rosales specifically demanding that “Political systems that are prone to corruption must be swiftly and decisively reformed, and institutions built that can effectively respond to the aspirations of our people for a better life.”

Now, is GMA simply pulling the Bishops’ legs when she has made a follow through (in her July 19 letter to Archbishop Fancisco R. Capalla, the CBCP President), undertaking to strive to be a “leaven of social transformation for our country” (or has she not just taken enough dose of Ritalin)?

Recall that at her first Vin D’ Honour on January 23, 2001 immediately following EDSA II, GMA, opting expressly for business-as-usual approach to govern the nation, announced what was then perceived as her governance vision that “During my administration democracy and the market will be the guiding principles of my domestic and foreign policies.”

More than just a break from traditional conservatism, Rerum Novarum’s emphasis on social justice has been antithetical to the ideology of free market that follows, first and foremost, the dictates of rational greed.

As a free-marketeer, GMA is just one of those who could be no less popish than the pope. How could she, sans all the rhetoric, conceive herself as a leaven for “fundamental reform,” assuming she would be accorded another chance?


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