MANILA – The head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) described as ''unfortunate'' the removal of the term ''God-loving'' from the vision statement of the Department of Education (DepEd).
In a CBCPNews report, CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the "formation of God-fearing pupils and students is a vision that cannot be surrendered."
''Unfortunately, in its 2013 version, there is no more mention of God, nor of the salutary fear of Him that, Scripture tells us, is the beginning of all wisdom,'' Villegas said.
On September 4, 2013, DepEd released its new vision statement:
"We dream of Filipinos who passionately love their country and whose values and competencies enable them to realize their full potential and contribute meaningfully to building the nation."
DepEd's old vision statement reads as follows:
By 2030, DepEd is globally recognized for good governance and for developing functionally-literate [sic] and God-loving Filipinos.
The department, however, retained "Maka-Diyos" as one of its core values.
In a statement, the DepEd explained that its Vision, Mission and Core Values statements "is one document and should be read in its entirety to grasp the full meaning."
The group Filipino Freethinkers lauded the government, DepEd in particular for "making a decision towards secularism", and for correcting "a mistake that was too sectarian for our constitution, that is secular."
Villegas, however, believes that the right of a child to recognize and love God ''cannot be harmful to anyone else, believer or not.''
He noted that a pluralistic society ''indeed accords respect for the option of some to believe and for others not to.''
''This respect for pluralism does not compel civil society to expunge the name of God from public life, especially when the majority of Filipinos continue to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and to trust in Divine Providence,'' he added.
Villegas said the removal of the term ''God-loving'' was unnecessary, since the attitude of the laws in the Philippines towards religion is characterized as benevolent neutrality or ''the accommodation of religion whenever such accommodation does not offend law or public policy."
Despite the move of the DepEd, Villegas urged Catholics in schools to ''not get tired of teaching that God is the beginning and the end of all things, that he is the Father who wishes all to have life, and to have it to the full!''