Archbishop Socrates Villegas: CBCP head blasts attempts to ‘silence’ bishops and statement on former President Marcos burial
MANILA, Nov. 14, 2016— A ranking Catholic bishop has lamented what he called Christian “persecution” in the Philippines in the form of moves to silence the Church on socio-political issues.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Philippines, said it may be all part of critics’ strategy to force their will on people and discredit the Church.
While Christians are being being persecuted in various of the world, he said the pressure is going on in the Philippines to limit what Church people can publicly say.
He said critics feel they must silence bishops, priests, and the religious to fulfill their objectives, or at least to minimize the Church’s influence.
“Another type of persecution is to silence the Church… to tell the Church to keep quiet and not get involved in anything that is not in a manner of speaking [religious], so the Church will not get engaged in politics, culture, business or whatever form,” said Villegas.
“That is another form of persecution because the Church must really get involved. We cannot tell the Church to keep quiet. It’s not in the nature of the Church to keep quiet because the Church must always proclaim,” he explained.
The archbishop, who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, was speaking in a press conference on Monday to launch ACN Philippines.
Asked whether he believes the government is part of those attempting to gag the Church, the archbishop said not entirely.
“I don’t think there is one group in the Philippine society that is responsible because the persecution of the Church can even happen because of insiders in the Church. It is not limited to the government, atheists, non-Catholics. It happens,” he said.
The prelate also said the separation of Church and State can never mean Christians should be silent about legislative issues and public policies, especially those that affect the welfare of the majority.
“There is nothing in Church laws that ban us from guiding people with political education, human rights. There is no separation between God and man. Because when God is separated from man and man is separated from God, man becomes the loser while God still stays as God,” he added.
“If we will stop, we will be betraying our mission already. It is not in the nature of the Church to stay quiet because the mandate that we received from the Lord before he ascended to heaven is to ‘go and tell all nations the Gospel’,” Villegas also said.
Villegas said this is the reason why the local Church welcomes the inauguration of the ACN Philippines as it will help serve persecuted Catholics in the country.
Founded in 1947 as a Catholic Aid Foundation for war refugees and recognized as a papal foundation since 2011, ACN is dedicated to the service of Christians around the world, wherever they are persecuted, oppressed, or suffering material need.
“I’d like to look at it as a step higher for Philippine Church. With ACN in the Philippines, we also have become not just a receiving Church but a giving Church,” said Villegas. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)
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Archbishop Socrates Villegas: Statement on the Supreme Court decision to allow the burial of former president Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani
We do not forget!
We are saddened by the decision of the Supreme Court to allow the burial of former President Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. We see this as another step to build the culture of impunity in the country. Marcos is no hero! He should not be presented as one. During Martial Law he had made many people suffer by arbitrary torture and death. He has deprived many poor people of their basic needs while his family and cronies were enriched. We do not forget this! We will not allow that this be forgotten by the future generations in order that the same strong-hand oppression may not happen again.
Those who do wrong should be made accountable. First they should admit the wrong they have done. Up to now this is not being recognized by the Marcos family and his cronies. Then the victims of human rights abuses have not been properly compensated for. This is a matter of justice.
Burying Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani will not bring peace and unity to the country. Peace can only come if there is justice. Justice demands recognition of the harm done to the people and restitution to the victims. We as Church work for peace and unity that is based on truth and justice for all, especially for the poor and the victims.
We are very sad. The burial is an insult to the EDSA spirit. It mocks our fight to restore democracy. We are puzzled and hurt and in great grief. It calls on us for greater courage to make the full truth of the dictatorship known.
Yes, we do not forget and we will not forget!
From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, November 9, 2016
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
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Read the related Articles click below:
Archbishop Socrates Villegas: Cardinal Sin’s protegé on Marcos burial – ‘An insult’ http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/11/08/archbishop-socrates-villegas-cardinal-sins-protege-on-marcos-burial-an-insult/
Archbishop Socrates Villegas: Cardinal Sin’s protegé on Marcos burial – ‘An insult’
MANILA, Philippines – Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Tuesday evening, November 8, denounced the Supreme Court (SC) decision to allow a hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Villegas is the protegé of the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, who helped oust Marcos through the EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986.
“I am very sad. The burial is an insult to the EDSA spirit,” Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said in a text message to Rappler on Tuesday evening.
Villegas also said of the SC ruling: “It mocks our fight to restore democracy. I am puzzled and hurt, and in great grief.” (READ: Supreme Court: Marcos was not pure evil)
Villegas issued this statement on Tuesday as archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan in Pangasinan, not as CBCP president. He said the CBCP statement is “still being prepared.”
Villegas was the 25-year-old private secretary of Sin when Filipinos ousted Marcos and restored Philippine democracy on February 25, 1986. (READ: EDSA: ‘Hand of God’ seen from the House of Sin)
The archbishop issued his statement shortly after the SC on Tuesday voted 9-5to allow a hero’s burial for Marcos, as proposed by President Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: Supreme Court: Marcos was not pure evil)
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Marcos burial: What did the dissenting SC justices say?
MANILA, Philippines – Five justices voted in favor of the petitioners who opposed the planned burial of the late president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Four of them issued separate dissenting opinions: Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Caguioa. Justice Francis Jardeleza was the fifth dissenter.
Supreme Court (SC) Spokesperson Theodore Te announced Tuesday, November 8, that the High Court has lifted the status quo ante order and allowed state interment for the late dictator, arguing that there is no specific law prohibiting it. (READ: Supreme Court: Marcos was not pure evil)
Four of the 5 dissenters (excluding Carpio) were appointed by former president Benigno Aquino III, the son of two democracy icons who staunchly fought the Marcos dictatorship.
Here’s a summary of the dissenting opinions of the 5 magistrates:
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno
- President Rodrigo Duterte acted with grave abuse of discretion by allowing the burial because it violates domestic and international law “to do justice for human rights victims” – both monetarily and non-monetarily.
- Marcos’ intermet would be the “antithesis of symbolic reparation”.
- Public funds may not be used to honor Marcos who was named a “dictator, plunderer and a human rights violator” by the judiciary and the legislative.
- “Bringing about national unity and healing itself, is insufficient to justify the use of public funds absent a public purpose.”
Senior Justice Antonio Carpio
- Even if Marcos was a medal of valor awardee, he “ceased to qualify” for interment at the heroes’ shrine because he was ousted through the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.
- “Marcos’ ouster is beyond judicial review and must be accepted as an incontrovertible fact, which has become part of history.”
- He disagreed with the majority argument that Marcos was not dishonorably discharged based on the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Circular 17 Series 1987 because the late strongman was ousted before it was passed and it cannot be applied retroactively.
- The senior magistrate pointed out that Marcos is the “very antithesis of freedom and democracy because he was a dictator as declared by the [SC].”
- Burying Marcos at the national shrine is also contrary to public policy, based on Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparations Act.
Justice Marvic Leonen
- Based on the Constitution, only the Filipino people “can determine a President’s place in history”
- Marcos is not a hero or “an exemplary public officer” because of the human rights atrocities committed under his regime
- The orders to bury him at the Libingan ng mga Bayani violate Republic Act 289, which created the National Pantheon. Section 1 of the law says that only those “who have led lives worthy of emulation” can be buried at the heroes’ shrine.
- Duterte’s order to allow the burial contradicts his oath of office “because they encourage impunity, which is the result of rewarding the person who presided over human rights violations and who personally participated in the plunder of public treasury.”
- The government failed to show factual basis to prove that Marcos’ burial would not violate RA 289 in relation to the findings of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). The NHCP earlier released a study disputing the claims that Marcos was a soldier and war veteran.
Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa
- The justice says the argument that the late president’s burial does not make him a hero “disregards the status of LNMB as a national shrine, the public policy in treating national shrines, [and] the standards set forth in these laws and executive issuances…”
- The Revised Administrative Code of 1987 allows the President to identify the purpose of certain public lands through a proclamation or an executive order. But President Rodrigo Duterte issued only “verbal orders” to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which falls short of what is prescribed by law.
- Burying Marcos’ remains is not of public purpose and does not justify disbursement of public funds. – Rappler.com
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