Caritas Philippines, the social action and advocacy arm of the Catholic Church in the country, is leading a movement that seeks to help ensure good governance.
Its head, Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, announced the advocacy on June 14 at the 40th National Social Action General Assembly (NASAGA) in the southern Philippine city of General Santos.
He said the movement, dubbed as “Simbayanihan,” would advocate active participation and engagement of people in local governance process.
“Now that the election is over, our focus now on good governance is accountability and monitoring programs,” said Bishop Bagaforo.
“We are doing this to ensure that our elected officials are really faithful to what they have said during the campaign,” he said.
More than 200 social action directors and workers from different dioceses across the country participated in the assembly — held for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Former national Caritas head Archbishop Rolando Tirona of Caceres, Archbishop Angelito Lampon of Cotabato, Bishop Jose Allan Casicas of Marbel, Bishop Cosme Damian Almedilla of Butuan joined the event, which will end on June 17.
In a pastoral letter released last March, the bishops’ conference called on the people to be concerned for the welfare of the country.
The Church leaders encouraged the faithful to demand accountability and transparency from the nation’s political leaders.
“Let us contribute by fulfilling our responsibilities. We cannot build the future without being involved. Let us not leave this task to others,” they said.
“Let us gradually transform our political culture,” the bishops added. “Let us not gamble on our future.”
Father Antonio Labiao, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said that among the plans for “Simbayanihan” is organizing good governance advocates in the dioceses and parishes.
He said the program also seeks to institutionalize good governance processes starting from the barangays and Basic Ecclesial Communities.
“There’s a need for continuing participation of the Church people for the renewal of society, which is the heart of the new evangelization,” said Father Labiao.
“This is also a way to concretize the advocacies of the Church for justice and peace,” he said.