Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lipa Declaration

Last Wednesday, I was privileged to join close to a thousand brave souls who trekked to the Archbishop's House in Lipa City, Batangas to affirm and declare the call to end the moribund political and economic systems and effect a national transformation.

The delegates came from different religious groups and political persuasions and are united under National Transformation Council.

Former Cebu Archbishop Cardinal Vidal laid down the role of the Catholic Church in previous EDSA Revolutions while Bishop Arguelles of Lipa gave a fiery speech calling for system change. Rev. Arturo Corpuz of United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the Dr. Kamil Unda of the Bangsamoro community also gave equally spirited speeches.

Fr. Archie Archie Intengan of Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas read the call for a People's Truth Commission while former Biliran representative Glenn Chong gave a visual presentation on how PCOS machines were manipulated to ensure the election of Aquino's allies.

People's organizations and civil society groups from Baguio City to Davao City are in attendance.  Evelyn Kilayko led the delegation of Tanggulang Demokrasya.  Former Cory Aquino cabinet member Heidi Sison represented Gawin ang Tama (GAT) Movement.  Also in attendance were Tess Baltazar of Konsensyang Pilipino, Kathy Cruz of Save The Nation and former congressman Seneres of Democratic Party of the Philippines.  Presidential aunt, Tingting Cojuangco who is identified with Council on Philippine Affairs (COPA) also attended the event.

Also in attendance is former PCGG Commissioner Camilo Sabio.  Retired generals Cesar Tapia and Hermogenes Esperon led a small group of retired military men.  Former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales also attended.

Other groups represented are AKSA, Demokratiko Sosyalitang Kabataan ng Pilipinas, Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, Bantay Bayan Group, Bangsa,oro Transformation Council, members of the Royal House of the Sultanate of Sulu, Global Nation Community, St. Francis Seminary, Religious of the Assumption and Canossian Sisters.

Here is the entirety of the Lipa Declaration:

We are Filipino citizens of different personal, professional social and economic backgrounds and political persuasions and religious beliefs. We have gathered here in Lipa City on this 27th day of August A.D. 2014/ 2nd day of DHU AL-QA’DA A.H. 1435, under the auspices of the National Transformation Council, to reaffirm our deeply held convictions and beliefs about the common good and our highest national interests, in the face of the most pressing challenges.

We invite all our compatriots everywhere to reaffirm with us the same convictions and beliefs.

We believe that:

A crisis of unprecedented proportions has befallen our nation. The life of the nation is in grave peril from the very political forces that are primarily ordained to protect, promote and advance its well-being, but which are aggressively undermining its moral, religious, social, cultural, constitutional and legal foundations;

Unbridled and unpunished corruption and widespread misuse of political and economic power in all layers of society have not only destroyed our common conception of right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust, legal and illegal, but also put our people, especially the poor, at the mercy of those who have the power to dictate the course and conduct of our development for their own selfish ends;

Far from preserving and defending the constitution, as he swore to do when he assumed office, the incumbent President Benigno Simeon Aquino has subverted and violated it by corrupting Congress, intimidating the judiciary, taking over the treasury, manipulating the automated voting system, and perverting the constitutional impeachment process; President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd has also damaged the moral fabric of Philippine Society by bribing members of Congress not only to impeach and remove a sitting Supreme Court Chief Justice but also to enact a law which disrespects the right to life of human being at the earliest and most vulnerable stages of their lives, in defiance not only of the constitution but above all of the moral law, the customs, culture, and consciences of Filipinos.

Therefore, faithful to the objective moral law and to the universally honored constitutional principle that sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them, we declare that President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd has lost the moral right to lead the nation, and had become a danger to the Philippine Democratic and Republican state and to the peace, freedom, security and moral and spiritual well-being of the Filipino people.

We further declare that we have lost all trust and confidence in President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd, and we call upon him to immediately relinquish his position.

And we call upon the National Transformation Council, (Hereafter the council), to assume the urgent and necessary task of restoring our damaged political institutions to their original status and form before we begin to consider electing a new government under normal political conditions.

The role of the council will not be to succeed President Aquino, but solely to prevent the total destruction of our political system, and to rebuild and nourish its institutions back to health so that all those interested could join the political competition later, without the dice being loaded in anyone’s favor.

Like a crew whose task is to put everything in order before a commercial carrier, which had earlier developed some problems in midair, is cleared again for takeoff, the council’s duty will be only to repair the battered tripartite system and to make sure that the people are once again able to freely and intelligently elect their own leaders.

In this connection, we welcome the council’s proposal to open broad public consultations on the need to modify and strengthen the presidential system or to shift from the Unitary / Presidential system to a Federal / Parliamentary System, endowing such structure with:

A totally independent judicial department, free from any kind of intimidation or bullying by either the Executive or the Legislative Department, and with the sufficient wherewithal to clear the backlog of the courts and fast-track all cases;

A merit-driven, professional civil and military service;

Totally transparent government budgeting, procurement, disbursement, accounting and auditing systems and procedures; and

An irreproachably independent and completely dependable electoral system, free from the virus that has corrupted the Automated Voting System Since 2010.

Whatever the final form of government the citizenry decide to adopt, absolutely indispensable are the integrity and independence of the courts, and the existence of an incorrupt electoral system by means of which we, the people, are able to freely and intelligently choose our own leaders in free and honest elections. Without these, we cannot speak of a normally functioning democratic and thus we fully support the council’s position that until we have such a fraud-free electoral system, we should refrain from holding any farcical election. But once we have it, we should encourage the best qualified men and women in the country to participate in the open electoral process so that together, we could put an end to the stranglehold exercised by the corrupt and incompetent political dynasties upon our elections.

Finally, we support the council’s proposal that with political reform there must go hand in hand comprehensive economic reform. With one strong voice, we must now say a vigorous “NO,” as Pope Francis has suggested, to an economics of exclusion and inequality, coming from a misguided vision of the human being and of society harmfully acted upon through myopic laws, policies and programs.

As the council prepares to embark upon the necessary reforms, we call upon the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as the constitutional “protector of the people and the state,” to extend its protective shield to the council, and not to allow any armed group to sow violence, disorder or discord into its peaceful ranks.

Adopted in Lipa City, this 27th day of August A.D. 2014 / 2nd day of DHU AL-QA’DA A.H. 1435.

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