Caritas Philippines has voiced its opposition to the ongoing push for charter change, urging the government to redirect its efforts toward strengthening social services, combating corruption, and implementing programs to alleviate poverty.
In a statement issued Jan. 11, Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, president of Caritas Philippines, expressed serious concerns about attempts to amend the Constitution, particularly when shrouded in secrecy and lacking genuine public participation.
“The country’s fundamental law is not a political football to be kicked around at the whims of those in power,” said Bishop Bagaforo stressing the need for transparency and public engagement in such significant matters.
The prelate said Charter change is not a panacea for the Philippines’ economic challenges, underscoring that corruption must be addressed to tackle the persistent issue of poverty.
“Poverty will always be a problem if corruption is allowed to fester within our government,” he said.
Caritas Philippines echoed the consistent stance of the bishops’ conference against Charter change initiatives. Bagaforo said any constitutional revisions should align with the moral values of human dignity, human rights, integrity, truth, participation, solidarity, and the common good.
Fr. Antonio Labiao, Jr., executive director of Caritas Philippines, outlined key legislative priorities for the government. He called for a comprehensive mining reform law to safeguard the environment and protect the rights of local communities.
The priest emphasized the necessity of a genuine anti-dynasty law. He said there is a need to break the stranglehold of political dynasties on Philippine democracy, ensuring that leaders are chosen based on merit rather than family connections.
Labiao advocated for reforms that guarantee the quality and integrity of elections, aiming for a representative democracy free from manipulation and vote-buying.
Caritas Philippines reminded the government of its sacred duty to fulfill the promises of the 1986 EDSA Uprising.
Bishop Bagaforo urged the government to prioritize the needs and aspirations of the Filipino people over personal agendas.