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Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Lipa Declaration" by National Transformation Council's multi-faith adherents calls on "compatriots" to effect moral transformation and systems change; urges military to "extend its protective shield" to NTC's goals and activities. Lipa Archbishop Arguelles tells P-Noy: Tama na, Tabi ka na.




The launch of the National Transition Council was a day replete with miracles.
First the miracle of the weather---not a drop of rain after days of blinding downpours. The sun shone brightly, as though Heaven were smiling and imparting its blessings on the multi-faith gathering in Lipa City, Batangas, last Wednesday, August 27, that was united in prayer for the deliverance of their beloved Philippines from the clutches of a corrupt political system.

Billed as the “Pangmalawakang Pagpulong para sa Pagbabago” (National Assembly for Transformation) the Lipa gathering brought hundreds of people from all over the country and from all walks of life and professions, as well as various faiths (Catholics, Protestants, Muslims) and political persuasions (among them Tanggulang Demokrasya, Kapatiran Party, Philippine Democratic Party, Movement Against Dynasties, the Royal Family of the Sultanate of Sulu, and elements of the MILF and MNLF) to Lipa. 

The Lipa event, led by about a dozen eminent religious personalities such as Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Emeritus of Davao Fernando Capalla and Archbishop Romulo de la Cruz of Zamboanga City, as well as pastors of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and of the Muslim faith, sought to“reaffirm our deeply-held convictions and beliefs about the common good and our highest national interests in the face of the most pressing challenges of our time" and the destruction of many democratic institutions.

Another miracle was that 28 years after Edsa 1, our "second" national anthem, “Bayan Ko,” still managed to bring tears to many eyes and choke many a throat at that Lipa gathering. Fervent patriotism was alive and flaming that morning.

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After the speeches from eminent personalities, which defined the country's problems from historical perspectives to the present, came the signing of the Lipa Declaration: “An Urgent Call for National Transformation.” Jumping out of the pages of the four-page Declaration were critical passages: “A crisis of unprecedented proportions has befallen our nation. The life of the nation is in grave peril from the very political forces that are primarily ordained to protect, promote and advance its well-being, but which are aggressively undermining its moral, religious, social, cultural, constitutional and legal foundations." 

The Declaration went on: “Unbridled and unpunished corruption and widespread misuse of political and economic power in all layers of society have not only destroyed our common conception of right and wring, good and bad, just and unjust, legal and illegal, but also put our people, especially the poor, at the mercy of those who have the power to dictate the course and conduct of our development for their own selfish ends..." 

Toward the end the Declaration advocated refraining from holding any "farcical"  elections, just like the 2010 and 2013 elections which were marred by widespread PCOS-generated electoral fraud that ushered in national and local officials (beginning with P-Noy) with dubious and tainted victories---until a "fraud-free electoral system" can be installed. It also advocated systems change in the vacated national leadership.   

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The Assembly invited “all our compatriots everywhere to reaffirm with us the same conviction and beliefs.” Among those compatriots were those from various Muslim tribes of Mindanao who traveled by land and sea to reach Manila and Batangas, and they were housed---this one's for Ripley’s---by the Capuchin Fathers in Manila. It was ecumenism at its shining best.

Not very subtly articulated was the call of the NTC upon the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in its role as the constitutional “Protector of the people and the State,” to extend “its protective shield to the (NTC), and not to allow itself to be used in any manner to undermine the Council’s purely transitional and non-partisan role, nor to allow any armed group to sow violence, disorder or discord into its peaceful ranks.”
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The speakers were: “former Sen. Francisco Tatad, on the “National Situationer and the NTC;” Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, on the “Role of the Church in the Transformational Efforts---EDSA 1; Davao Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla, on the “Role of the Church in the Transformation Efforts---EDSA 2 and Hyatt 10; Rev. Pastor Arthur Corpuz , on the Protestant Movement in the Transformational Efforts; Dr. Kamil M. Unda, on the Role of the Muslim Community on National Transformation; Fr. Romeo J. Intengan, S.J., on the “Moral Foundation of National Transformation,” former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong, on the “Mockery of the Electoral Process, and Archbishop of Lipa Ramon Arguelles, on “Regime Change and Revolution Now.”

Archbishop Arguelles, who hosted the Lipa Assembly, noted that the Church in the Philippines has always displayed a militant streak, as evidenced by the three priest-martyrs, Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora, and more recently in the bitter fight against the RH Law. The prelate exhorted the Assembly to struggle against apathy and indifference toward the rotten political system. Not allowing the audience to forget that Batangas was among the eight original provinces that fought against Spanish colonial rule, Arguelles called on President Aquino, "Tama Na. Tabi Ka Na," to loud applause from the  fervent crowd. 


The Lipa Declaration of 2014 sponsored by the NTC had for its precursor the "Declaration of April 2012" forged in Talisay, Cebu.
  
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Toward the end of his impromptu speech Lipa Archbishop Arguelles indulged in some startling reminisces in his unique Batangueno way: 

“Noong EDSA, kami ay magkakasama doon sa malapit sa Crame. Pagkatapos ay pinatakbo kami sa may Libis sapagkat lumipat yung mga sundalo doon. Noong bumalik kami kasama yung ilang pari, na-meet kaming ibang kulay, mga matipunong mga lalaki, sumisigaw. Sila pala'y galing kay Cardinal Sin, at hiningi ang blessing niya ng mga iyon para lusubin ang Malacanang. Sabi ni Cardinal Sin: ‘Huwag kayong pumunta doon. Doon na lang kayo pumunta sa EDSA at magdasal, kasama ng mga kapatid ninyong Kristiyano.’ Nasalubong naming ang mga matipunong mga lalaki na sinigawan kami: 'Padre. Kayo'y mga Katoliko, kami'y mga Muslim, nguni't magkakapatid tayo.' I never forgot that. Noon ay magkakapatid tayo because we were working together for a brighter future. Akala natin, we want na ang ating pagsasama-sama will really bring a change.

“I never forgot the message from that encounter, lalo na'ng ako'y na-assign sa abroad. Nag-meeting yung mga representatives ng newly liberated nations in 1992, before I became a bishop (in 1994). Nilapitan ako by March, nilipat naman ako by July sa ibang assignment. May meeting sa Paris ng representatives of newly liberated nations: those from Eastern Europe in 1993 (nahulog ang Berlin Wall 1989) and Africa, South America as well as Asia---around 30 people. Since I could not go there, pinapunta ko ang isang German sister na kaibigan ko, na nandoon din sa EDSA in 1986, kasama niya ang mga sisters na Filipina, kasa-kasama namin doon yung kapit-bisig.

"Matapos nang bumalik ako sa Rome – unang nakita ko yung German sister, umiiyak. She said: 'Alam mo, Father, after I talked about EDSA, lapitan sa akin yung mga representatives of the newly liberated nations. Ang wika nila, please tell the Filipino people we were watching them even when it was difficult to do so. We admire them because of their courage, because they were for change and they did not hate anyone. They just wanted true peace and assure a better future. We follow them even if imperfectly.'

"Sabi (ng mga representatives of the newly liberated nations), imperfect sila, first because they don't know how to pray and also, sabi nila, they didn't know whom to pray to.  Kaya doon sa Tiananmen, in-adore nila yung Goddess of Freedom. Naging failure ito dahil hindi naman tunay na god yun. Ang sabi nila: “Please tell the Filipino people, we are still looking at them. We want to learn how to make real freedom work for the good of all."

The Lipa Archbishop then explained why he used this opportunity to narrate that story from the German sister: "Appeal yan ng representatives of newly liberated nations. Tinitignan pa rin tayo. Gusto tayong gayahin pa rin. And I think we are called to that purpose by the help of God. Tayo ay counter-cultured doon sa culture ng mundo ngayon. Ang kailangan ay ang culture natin ngayon of solidarity---of faith in God and trust in one another. One of unity sacrifice. Kaya tayo narito, it’s God who brought us together. And one of determined action towards change for the better. The time is now. Mahal ba natin ang Diyos? Mahal baga natin ang ating kapwa tao? Pati yung hindi mga Pilipinong naghihintay sa ating magandang halimbawa. Mahal ba natin ang ating bayan? Kung totoo yan ay magsitayo tayo, ang I will ask you to sing Bayan Ko.”


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So the world is still looking to us for an shining example in our resolution of our current sordid political plight. This space does not allow at the moment the publication of the gist of the other speakers' speeches, but I promise to  feature them in next blog. From Lipa, historic gatherings are scheduled to be held in other cities, e.g., Cebu, Davao, Zamboanga, Butuan, etc. Onward march!

10 comments:

  1. Excellent blog, bringing out the personal warmth and deep feeling and human interest of the Panawagan sa Malawakang Pagbabago at Lipa City on 27 August.

    Five Catholic Christian bishops, some 20 Catholic Christian priests, a Baptist bishop, a dozen Protestant pastors, and more than a dozen Muslim religious leaders were among the more than 400 signatories of the Lipa Declaration.

    Several dozen Muslim participants who had traveled by land and see all the way from Mindanao and arrived the night before the assembly were sheltered at the retreat faciilies of the Oblates of Saint Joseph in Lipa City.

    The enthusiasm and interfaith harmony were palpable.

    I feel blessed having been at that Aassembly. I hope it will be replicated in major or strategic cities all over the country,

    ReplyDelete
  2. Any transformation council that includes Tatad is not only suspect but criminal in nature.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete