The social action arm of the Catholic Church in the Philippines on Monday, October 3, launched a movement on good governance that aims to fight corruption.
Representatives from 43 dioceses across the country gathered in Tagaytay City, south of Manila, for the first national congress of “Simbayanihan,” a movement that aims to promote active participation of Church people in “local governance for nation-building.”
“Our previous elections taught us that we failed in our old strategies to bring people together to discuss politics and development,” said Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, national director of Caritas Philippines.
He said the campaign is a “whole-of-Church approach” to address poverty and fight corruption in public offices.
The campaign was first presented to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in July as a response to the call for the Church to “bridge the gap between faith and justice.”
Bishop Bagaforo said Church engagement to ensure that the people receive the best service from elected leaders must be seen in “concrete social action works on ecology, justice and peace, and good governance.”
Father Antonio Labiao Jr., executive secretary of Caritas Philippines and national convenor of “Simbayanihan,” said that as a movement it seeks “to mold and support principled politics and politicians” and “create critical vigilance among communities.”
The priest told LiCAS.news that there is already an ongoing effort to establish “Simbayanihan” in the diocesan level.
The Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan was the first diocese to establish its local “Simbayanihan” movement in September with the help of Caritas Philippines.
Father Rex Paul Arjona of the Diocese of Legazpi said the movement will focus on propagating and “linking existing good governance and community development programs through organization and partnership building, training, and formation for responsible citizenship and principled cooperation with government.”
Among the convenors of the “Simbayanihan” movement are Caritas Philippines, the Quezon City government, the People Power Volunteers for Reform, Agri Partylist, and the social action centers in the 85 Catholic dioceses in the country.
Agri Partylist Representative Wilbert Lee said the “influence of the Church to effect community empowerment and development” is imperative.
He said the Catholic Church is a powerful figure that can lead a movement to “ensure that government programs are enforced properly, and maximized fully.”
“We are working with Caritas Philippines and our partners to provide communities with sustainable economic activities so we will be able to help create empowered communities who can exact accountability among local and national politicians, and be more engaged in local governance,” said Lee.
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