An ecumenical fellowship of bishops expressed “serious alarm” on Wednesday over the rush to pass the proposed federal charter that “appears to pave the way for a one-man rule.”
Days after President Rodrigo Duterte approved a draft charter that would place the country under a federal type of government, the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum (EBF) said it suspected something “sinister” behind the railroading of charter change.
The EBF is led by Bishops Deogracias S. Iñiquez Jr. and Felixberto L. Calang as co-chairmen.
“There is a monstrous threat to democracy and human rights unfolding in our midst,” the EBF said in a statement. “This comes as President Rodrigo Duterte’s government forcefully rams into the Filipino people’s throat the proposed Federal Charter that will supersede the 1987 Philippine Constitution.”
“With the mounting pieces of evidence pointing to Mr. Duterte’s intentions to strengthen his hold on power, the proposed federal charter appears to pave the way for a one-man rule,” the group added. “The proposed charter grants Mr. Duterte the power to exercise monopoly of the executive, legislative and judiciary powers of the government.”
EBP said that the amendment of the 1987 Constitution “would lead only to the establishment of a constitutional dictatorship seems to not be a far-flung reality.”
“Mr. Duterte’s charter change only makes the intention to place the entire country under an authoritarian rule appear more clearly before our very eyes,” the EBF said.
The bishops called on the President to stop misleading the people into believing that his federal charter will work for the good of the country. They also said that the shift to fedarlism is “far worse” than the charter change sought by the past administrations.
“More so, EBF opposes Mr. Duterte’s charter change for its pernicious effects on our nation’s interest and the people’s welfare, as it would water down the democratic, libertarian and humanitarian principles enshrined in the 1987 Constitution,” the group said.
The bishops said they could not kneel before the unholy altar of Duterte’s charter change and behold the idolatry of sacrificing social justice and human rights, national economy and patrimony.
“We cannot say ‘Amen!’ to the confluence of powers in the hands of a strongman or at the sight of a blasphemous leader attacking our sovereign rights as a nation and people,” the group said.
Last week, the President’s 22-member Consultative Committee unanimously voted to approve the final draft of the proposed federal charter.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said it would be “practical” to suspend the 2019 midterm polls to allow lawmakers to focus on the country’s possible shift to federalism. /atm
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