Press Release
June 18, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today advised political allies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to look honestly if there is a basis for the criticism of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines against the authoritarian tendencies of her administration instead of behaving like sycophants and closing their eyes to the truth.

Pimentel said the Presidents allies, in their zeal to defend the President, merely evaded the issue when they accused the Catholic bishops of meddling in politics instead of forthrightly responding to their concern about abuse of power by the presidency and their challenge to Mrs. Arroyo to address the unresolved issue of her legitimacy if the country is to have political and economic stability.

The rah-rah boys of the President missed the issue of the CBCPs protest. The bishops assail the patent illegitimacy of the Arroyo administration and its clearly creeping authoritarianism.

In their statement, pro-administration congressmen said the Catholic bishops should instead focus on the spiritual well-being of their flock and heed the call of Pope Benedict XVI to stay away from politics.

They want to divert the issue by assailing the bishops alleged meddling in political affairs, Pimentel said.

In his statement on Independence Day (June 12), Archbishop of Jaro, Iloilo Angel Lagdameo, declared that the Filipinos still have to free themselves from torture and maltreatment of every kind, from graft and corruption and subtle dictatorship.

Archbishop Lagdameo also articulated the CBCPs opposition to the administrations move to amend the Constitution by constituent assembly and peoples initiative. He said the Catholic bishops prefer a Constitutional Convention since it is more independent and in a better position to resist manipulation by the powers-that-be and vested interest groups.

Pimentel pointed out that the administration allies never accused the leaders of the Catholic Church in the past of intervening in political matters when the latter took a soft stand against the Presidents wrongdoing.

In the days when the bishops took a soft stand on her misdeeds, she and her sycophants liked the Church leaders. Now that they point out the fundamental flaws of her assumption of the presidency and the way she is veering towards dictatorial rule, all of a sudden they believe that the bishops are interfering in the affairs of government, the minority leader said.

Obviously, the cheerleaders of the President cannot distinguish between the truth and fiction, between good and bad, between the rule of law and the rule of threats, intimidation and violence.

Pimentel said President Arroyo and her allies should take steps to correct and prevent the abuses of human right, graft and corruption, electoral fraud and other malpractices instantly labeling her critics as destabilizers or intruders. He said a government that cannot accept criticisms and does not reform itself is courting its own demise like a piece of iron that is eaten away by its own rust.

That is what put an end to the Marcos martial law regime. That is what will also cause the downfall of the Arroyo government, he said.

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