AMRSP’s statement on Federalism and Charter change
WE as a Filipino nation are again at a crossroads. We are facing a big challenge to change or not to change our form of government from present unitary system to federalism.
We in the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) call on all concerned Filipino citizens to discern well the will of God for us and for the generations to come. Reckless decisions will surely lead our nation into chaos and a bleak future.
On January 29, 2018 at the Institute for Religious Formation and Studies (IRFS), forty two religious superiors and one hundred consecrated men and women with their lay and mission partners reflected on these questions: Why the rush to have a federal form of government? Why now? Why change the 1987 Philippine Constitution which is a product of the people’s long struggle for democracy, good governance and social justice?
The train of Charter Change and Federalism is gathering speed at the congress and threatens to ram through the shift to federalism even without widespread, thorough, sane, and sober discussion and debates on the issue.
We are deeply bothered by the partisanship that has now taken over the reins of charter change and federalism. A shameless proposal to extend terms of office has been inserted to the legislative draft at the lower house. Threats have been lured at local government units who will not toe the line. This does not augur well for a free and informed discussion on the issues at hand.
We are concerned that the push for charter change and federalism train will divert our legislators and people’s attention from the more pressing problem of poverty and humane quality of life; of empowerment and entrenched political dynasties; of integrity of creation in the midst of a murderous rampage to pillage and desecrate the environment; of the continuing diaspora of our fellow Filipinos to distant lands and the wholeness and well-being of the family; of the assaults on our national sovereignty and the need to safeguard what is rightfully ours; the systematic massacre of alleged drug addicts and pushers and our right to life; the defiance of the rule of law and the weakening of our democratic institution; and the insidious attacks on human dignity and human rights.
We are one with our bishops in declaring that “the solution we seek is ultimately the transformation of our political culture… Without conversion of mindsets, the new political wine of Charter change will remain in old political wine-skins, and merely end up bursting the hope for a new political culture.”
We therefore, during this Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, call on all the members of our congregations to help facilitate the discernment of the citizenry, making use of our school, convent and church facilities and premises, to make a wise collective decision in this historic moment. As prophets and mystics of our times, we encourage all Filipino people, with their hearts and minds purified, to engage in a lively discussion to ensure that it is us, not just a few, who are charting the future of our nation. To wit,
- Create and widen Circles of Conversations on the current situation and to amplify awareness on the 1987 Philippine Constitution, human rights, human dignity, justice and peace for an informed and enlightened faithful.
- Disseminate the CBCP Pastoral Statement to our communities and encourage discussions and reflections from our fellow religious, consecrated persons, lay partners and students and all who take part in our ministries.
- To prepare our communities for calls to action when we are called upon to defend dignity and democracy.
Knowing our limitations as servant leaders, political or religious, we pray for guidance,
“God of our ancestors, Lord of mercy, you who have made all things by your Word and in your wisdom have established humankind to rule the creatures produced by you, and to govern the world in holiness and righteousness, and to render judgment in integrity of heart, give us Wisdom, the consort at your throne, and do not reject us from among your children, for we are your servants, the children of your maidservant, persons weak and short-lived and lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws.” (adapted from Wisdom 9,1-5)
Signed this 31st day of January 2018, for the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines:
Fr. Cielito Almazan, OFM
Sr. Regina Kuizon, RGS