Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/01/06MANILA407.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA407
2006-01-30 09:12
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO5744
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0407/01 0300912
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 300912Z JAN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8896
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0029
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000407

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/INR, INR/B

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/30/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS SOCI ECON RP VT
SUBJECT: CATHOLIC BISHOPS CALL FOR “MORAL ACCOUNTABILITY,” BUT REFRAIN FROM DIRECT ENGAGEMENT IN POLITICS

REF: A. MANILA 0081

¶B. 05 MANILA 5965
¶C. 05 MANILA 4322
¶D. 05 MANILA 3946
¶E. 05 MANILA 3167

MANILA 00000407 001.2 OF 002

Classified By: Acting Pol/C Joseph L. Novak for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) Summary: At the conclusion of their semi-annual
meeting on January 29, the Catholic Bishops’ issued a long
statement that called for “moral accountability” and
recommended that Filipinos “search for truth” through
Constitutionally-mandated processes and via non-violence.
The Bishops’ went on to call for electoral reform and, in a
separate statement, expressed concern about the effects of
mining. In crafting their pastoral statement, the Bishops
were very careful not to inject themselves into politics
directly, which was good news for President Arroyo, who was
in no way singled out. End Summary.

——————
Bishops’ Statement
——————

¶2. (SBU) The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
(CBCP) met in its semi-annual plenary session at the Pope
Pius XII Center in Manila, January 28-29. (Note: The group
usually meets in plenary in January and July. End Note.) It
was the first such meeting under the leadership of Archbishop
Angel Lagdameo from Jaro, Iloilo, in the central Philippines,
who assumed the CBCP Presidency when Davao Archbishop
Fernando Capalla stepped down in December 2005 (ref C). The
CBCP’s last such plenary occurred July 9-10, 2005, at the
height of political turmoil in the country (ref D). At that
time, the CBCP issued a statement urging the President to
work actively to clean up politics, but did not ask her to
step down. Many observers believed the CBCP’s July 2005
statement was the turning point that allowed President Arroyo
to regain her political footing and remain in office.

¶3. (U) The latest pastoral statement did not directly deal
with politics, nor name names. Instead, it focused primarily
on issues of morality and spirituality. The Bishops observed
that politics, as now practiced in the country, had failed to
make public servants accountable for wrongdoings. They
asserted that the root cause of ongoing political infighting
was an “erosion of moral values” and claimed this “moral
decay” was manifested by dishonesty, corruption, and a
preoccupation with narrow political interests. The Bishops
called for a “transformation of cultural values and
structures” and a renewal of Philippine public life. They
stated that the “search for truth” must be pursued through
Constitutionally-mandated structures, such as the Office of
the Ombudsman (which attacks corruption involving GRP
funding), the Commission on Audit, the Commission on Human
Rights, the Sandiganbayan (anti-graft court), and Congress.
Echoing the July 2005 pastoral statement, the Bishops
stressed that they did “not condone violence or
counter-Constitutional means” in resolving political and
other societal conflicts, but instead wanted Filipinos to
unite and work peacefully together on common problems.

————
Other Issues
————

¶4. (U) Other highlights from the January 29 pastoral
statement included:

— Electoral Reform: The Bishops called on the GRP to help
restore confidence and trust in politics by reforming the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and modernizing the
electoral process.

— Constitutional Change: The Bishops did not lend their
support to any of the various plans being discussed related
to Constitutional change. However, the group called for the
mid-term elections scheduled for 2007 to proceed as planned.
(Note: In its December 2005 report on proposed changes to
the 1987 Constitution, a Malacanang-created “Consultative
Commission” recommended canceling the 2007 elections by
extending the term of incumbent officials until 2010. Many
lawmakers and observers denounced the proposal — ref B. End
Note.)

MANILA 00000407 002.2 OF 002

¶5. (U) In a separate statement, the Bishops asserted that
indigenous people, farmers, and fisherfolk were worried about
the negative effects of mining. They reiterated a 1998 CBCP
request to the GRP to recall all approved mining concessions
and to disapprove pending applications. The Bishops argued
that allowing mining companies to prevail over “the people’s
rights” to mineral wealth amounts to “violating their right
to life.” The statement also claimed that large-scale mining
operations threaten health and environmental safety and
destroy “the cultural fabric” of indigenous peoples, citing
past experiences with international corporations.

——-
Comment
——-

¶6. (C) In crafting their statement, the Bishops were very
careful not to inject themselves into politics directly.
This was part of a relatively recent trend: the Bishops —
with the approval of the Vatican — have been taking a more
hands-off approach to politics since the retirement of the
outspoken Jaime Cardinal Sin in 2003 (ref C). This decision
to refrain from overt political engagement was good news for
President Arroyo, who was in no way singled out in the
statement. Some in the Opposition had told us that they
hoped that the Bishops might take on President Arroyo by
directly and forcefully urging her to “come clean” over
various scandals that have effected her administration, but
— in the end — they were disappointed.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:
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You can also access this site through the State Department’s
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http://www.state.sgov.gov/

Jones

   

 

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