MANILA – Do not bully the Supreme Court. This, in essence, is what the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said to President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday.
The group warned the president to resist the temptation to intimidate the Supreme Court into reversing its earlier decision that the Disbursement Acceleration Program is illegal, and urged him to uphold the constitution.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the CBCP, said in a statement: “There is a very important distinction between what is popular – or appears to be so – and what is right. I pray that all our officials ever be cognisant of these important differences so that all may resist the temptation of pursuing a course of action only because it seems to be popular. We stand for an independent judiciary.”
Meanwhile, the president – whose public ratings have plummeted to their lowest-ever level – has asked people to show their solidarity with his government against the Supreme Court. Aquino called on the public to wear yellow, in a quasi-“people power” move aimed at forcing the nation’s highest judicial court to reconsider their ruling because it posed a threat to his economic stimulation goals.
Aquino’s critics have accused him of showing “dictatorial tendencies” by his refusal to accept the court decision, and his rejection of his budget secretary’s resignation.
The CBCP issue their statement on the heels of retired archbishop, Oscar Cruz’ signing of an impeachment petition against Aquino.
Villegas clarified that although the CBCP does not support the filing of any impeachment complaint against Aquino, it will not deny anyone – priests included – their right to file cases against the president.
Two impeachment complaints have been filed thus far. The first, by activist group BAYAN and other complainants at the House of Representatives; endorsed by three left-leaning congressmen. The second, by a group of university students in Manila; endorsed by congressman Terry Ridon.
Herminio Coloma, presidential communications secretary, said that the impeachment complaints are no cause for worry.