'Bakit ngayon?' CBCP says no to Charter change, questions timing

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 28 2021 12:49 PM

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Thursday said it opposes moves to amend the 1987 Constitution at this time, reiterating its previous pastoral statements on charter change that raised suspicions about the timing of the proposal.

Speaking in a press conference following the Philippine bishops’ virtual assembly, CBCP vice president Bishop Pablo David of Caloocan questioned why the efforts are being made to change the Constitution at this time of the pandemic. 

The bishops touched on the issue of charter change at the biannual meeting held on January 26-27 and said that their previous statements on the matter still stand.

Bishop David said the CBCP, as a body, has not yet decided if it is issuing a new statement on the matter but may feel the need to issue a new statement depending on the developments. He said the Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace (ECSA-JP) is reiterating the position in a statement.

 "We made ourselves very clear especially in the 2018 CBCP pastoral letter on charter change. That’s precisely why we did not yet feel the need to issue a new one because our previous pastoral statement on charter change was just in 2018 and that’s just 3 years ago so it is still very relevant," he said. 

“The basic questions are still the same: Bakit ngayon? Why now? Especially the context of pandemic, all the more reason to be suspicious. Why you would be bringing in the agenda of charter change? But our focus and priority should really be the pandemic. And of course the same old issues about, you know the expression, ‘if ain’t broke, why fix?’ What matters most is really to fully implement the Constitution, the 1987 Constitution,” David said. 
"These are the things we have said in the previous pastorals about charter change and they are reiterated by the statement made our Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace on charter change.”

CBCP president Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao agreed it is not yet time for charter change. 

“Could I mention two previous documents from the CBCP, of course, with prudent wording, we said, not yet, not this time,” Valles said.

“The statement from the particular commission will stand as of now. We discussed that and we support the statement of that particular commission,” Valles added. 

“Yes,” Valles said when asked if the CBCP is still against charter change based on previous statements.

“And we still are,” David seconded.

Issued on January 29, 2018, the CBCP’s Pastoral Guidelines for Discerning the Moral Dimension of the Present-day Moves for Charter Change expressed the bishops’ position on attempts to change the charter.

“(O)ur moral stand was and remains consistent, namely: Amending the fundamental law of the land, so carefully crafted for the common good after years of dictatorship, requires widespread peoples’ participation and consultation, unity of vision, transparency, and relative serenity that allows for rational discussion and debate,” the pastoral statement signed by Valles for the CBCP said.