February 22-24, 1986 were historic and momentous days. They ushered in the end of 14 years of Martial Rule and Dictatorship and the beginning of a new democracy. It was a peaceful and non-violent revolution by People Power, a movement “of the people, by the people and for the people” “who prayed together, reflected together, decided together and acted together.” They knew what they wanted. Cardinal Sin and the CBCP articulated their communal sentiment or collective discernment through Radio Veritas and their Pastoral Letter respectively.
Many of the participants in that decisive People Power have already died. Those who are still around are 22 years or almost a quarter of century older. Age is an important factor that comes with the cynicism, apathy and indifference for “another People Power.” Besides, are there “teach ins” for young people today on current political issues?
Came People Power II in 2001: we thought that history would automatically repeat itself. It did not. With the disappointment and doubts surrounding Election 2004, we now look at People Power II with mixed emotions and interpretations. Sadly, People Power II installed a leader who lately only has been branded as the “most corrupt” and our government is rated “among the most corrupt governments.” Is this the reason why many in civil society regard another People Power with cynicism and indifference? They are afraid another People Power might only bring the country from one frying pan to a worse frying pan.
To the disappointment of some, the CBCP recent statement did not specify what “communal action” to take. The Bishops did suggest: “pray together, reflect together, decide together and act together.” The call to communal action is a challenge to “political conscience” which would admit creative, imaginative and democratic response to political problems. Many good things have started to happen.
The Church is guided by its Social Doctrine which instructs: “The lay people (civil society) are called to identify steps that can be taken in concrete political situations in order to put into practice the principle and values proper to life in society. This calls for a method of discernment at both the personal and community levels” (no. 568).
If, according to collective discernment which can occur in unpredictable ways, the communal action is People Power, it will have to be with a different “brand.” It will not be simply a repeat of the past. What brand will it have? What is God through the signs of the times telling us? The movements of some groups for a National Campaign Against Corruption in the government may be a sign.
Imagine, with just one courageous person willing to witness to the TRUTH, some good things are already starting to happen, like the exposition of other scams, lies, deceits, “moderate and immoderate greed.” We hope and encourage that other courageous and inspired persons will emerge to tell or expose or humbly face the truth, whose concealment had made our country captive to corruption and greed of powerholders? There will be a convergence of bearers of truths saving our country.
Today, what is God telling us about expressing our highest sense of the national common good? This is the question that must be answered in all honesty, no matter how painful, by Church leaders and Church people, by civil society, the military and police, by our congressmen and barangay leaders, by our Senators, above all by the residents of Malacanang.
We must pray. Yes. There is a suggested Prayer of the Faithful for the nation in crisis. But we must also sacrifice for the highest national common good, inspired by “political charity” for the country, honesty and justice, guided by truth, like participating in a National Campaign Against Corruption in Government.
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
Archbishop of Jaro
February 18, 2008