By Leslie Ann Aquino
The Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum (EBF) said it is ‘seriously alarmed’ and ‘highly apprehensive’ of the way President Duterte’s government appears to railroad Charter change (Cha-cha).
In a statement dated July 11, the group said it suspects something “sinister” behind the big rush to shift from the present form of government to a federal system.
“With the mounting pieces of evidence pointing to Mr. Duterte’s intentions to strengthen his hold on power, the proposed federal charter appears to pave the way for a one-man rule,” said EBF.
“The proposed charter grants Mr. Duterte the power to exercise monopoly of the executive, legislative, and judiciary powers of the government,” the group added.
The widespread perception that the amendments of the present charter, EBF said would lead only to the establishment of a “constitutional dictatorship” seems to not be a far-flung reality.
“Mr. Duterte’s charter change only makes the intention to place the entire country under an authoritarian rule appear more clearly before our very eyes,” they said.
EBF then called on the President to stop misleading the people into believing that his federal charter will work for the good of the country.
They added: In reality, it is far worse than the Cha-cha that the past Philippine governments have sought to put forward.
EBF said they are also opposed to Mr. Duterte’s charter change for its damaging effects on the nation’s interest and the people’s welfare as it would weaken the democratic, libertarian and humanitarian principles enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.
“We cannot just behold the idolatry of sacrificing social justice and human rights, our national economy and patrimony, and kneel before the unholy altar of Mr. Duterte’s charter change,” the group said.
“We cannot say “Amen!” to the confluence of powers in the hands of a strongman or at the sight of a blasphemous leader attacking our sovereign rights as a nation and people,” EBF added.
EBF is a fellowship of bishops from the United Church of Christ (UCCP), United Methodist (UMC), Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP), Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), and the Roman Catholic Churches in the Philippines.