MANILA — The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) have not discussed yet the call of some of its members for President Aquino to resign in the wake of the outrage and grief over the sad fate of the “Fallen 44”, Special Action Force (SAF) members who lost their lives in Maguindanao.
In a statement, CBCP President Socrates Villegas said that the conference have not tackled the issue.
“Some members of the Philippine Catholic hierarchy have echoed this call. For the present time, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has not arrived at a collective position,” he said.
Villegas noted that they are leaving the decision to the Chief Executive on that matter.
“Whether or not the President should resign and yield the powers of his high office to a lawful successor is a judgment that he must make, after prayerful discernment, and in all humility and judiciousness,” he said.
With this, the Lingayen-Dagupan prelate asked the public not to blame the fallen Philippine National Police men as they only received orders.
“But one thing should be clear: We must not lay the blame on those who already paid the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives for they were never in a position to command but, true to the culture of the police and of the military, stood ready to receive orders,” he said.
At the same time, Villegas said the CBCP expressed support and endorse the creation of a credible Truth Commission or a Fact-Finding Body.
The CBCP suggested that the members of any such committee, though appointed by the President, “must be endorsed by and acceptable to the public, recognized for their probity, acknowledged for their truthfulness and characterized by their boldness.”
He added, “The vocal advocates for the passage of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law are not credible nominees because they have made it exceedingly clear that they would not like the sad incident to derail the process of the enactment of the BBL.”
Villegas also noted that the hearings should be open to all and its findings should be available to all.
“Nothing is served by secrecy . The President of the Republic, the CBCP prays, should have learned from this regrettable tragedy that transparency and forthrightness are what are expected of him at all times,” he said.
The CBCP head also said, “It will serve him well to listen to sound advice and counsel from truly wise, and not from those eager to curry favor! He has been roundly criticized for having absented himself at the arrival honors for the mortal remains of our heroes. He will, in the future, we hope, make better balanced choices and conduct himself as his high office demands. We pray that in all humility he would willingly accept just criticism rather than have his spokespersons concoct excuses at every turn.”