An Infinite Series of EDSAs
(Ramblings of a retired bishop)
Is it possible to avoid firming up an extremely dangerous, if still inchoate, tradition?
EDSA I was about restoring a system which had been destroyed by the introduction of a dictatorial system of governance. That is why most of us bishops had no qualms about taking part in putting an end to President Marcos’ stolen power.
EDSA II was the momentary failure of the restored system—it carried a sense of desperation that the system wasn’t working as it should. (The dancing lady senator was a perfect metaphor of its dysfunctional operation.) The Supreme Court’s act in confirming GMA, for all its disputed constitutionality, was basically aimed at stabilizing a dangerous situation?
EDSA III, if it happens, promises to be the institutionalization of an infinite series of EDSAs. This is what is scary about the present situation and I’m wondering if a vague fear of it is behind the apparent unconcern of most of our people today about all the agitation to come up with yet another EDSA rebellion.
Is the question a “purely” political one? Or precisely because the danger is there that, with another EDSA ousting of an incumbent President, we help firm up a tradition of unstable governments, the question becomes a deeply moral one?
For bishops in regard to this development: Is it a moral duty incumbent on them to see to it that we do not go the way of institutionalized instability? Or at least to speak on the problem and show how we must be aware of the possibly deleterious implications of whatever option we make in the solution people give it? As one of Philippine society’s basic institutions, is the Church being called today to be the—or at least a—stabilizing force in our society?
In a very true sense then, our problem comes down to this: how to correct the aberration that is the present administration without destroying the stabilizing structure that is our democratic system of government? We keep the structure but correct the aberration? But if the correcting destroys the structure—or weakens it immensely—what then?
People power was born to bring back stability. I think it should be used now to protect it, not to destroy or weaken it. The way things are now, it is being invoked again in the effort to correct what I called above an aberration, but I’m afraid its repetition in the present crisis will only lead to that unwanted world-without-end-series of EDSAs.
If we do not go the way then of that infinite series, we still are left with what I call the aberration. We haven’t put our heads together yet to see how we go about correcting it without bringing the whole house crushing down on us. This is what we should be doing now?
I wonder if the system of four-year terms for presidents and the possibility of another four is not after all the best for us. Suffering through six years of a bad presidency (more, if he/she comes in to fill the term of an ousted one—as we have now) is intolerable, and that is why it is easy for people to succumb to the temptation of using extra-constitutional means to end the present one. This is an argument for charter change?
In more established and mature democracies: In the United States, for instance, the Bush presidency is bad enough and highly unpopular, but somehow nobody there is thinking of doing something like an EDSA uprising.
For some reason some folk proverbs keep intruding on my thoughts as I write this thing—like the one about lying on nests that one has feathered? (We tolerate corruption—and rigged elections—but we do not blame ourselves for their consequences too?) Or changing horses in mid-stream? (It’s akin to the principle in spiritual life: “In desolation, don’t change”—but that’s what we do with every EDSA?) I guess we haven’t really learnt yet what these homely proverbs mean!
Francisco Claver, S.J.
February 19, 2008
Put our trust in the democratic system and the institutions? Here's what the CBCP said in 2006.
CBCP in 2006: Impeachment not the means for establishing the truth
Bonus: CBCP in 2005: “We do not demand her resignation”
UPDATE: Damn! Is Francisco Claver, former Vicar Apostolic of Bontoc Lagawe, the same guy who wrote (ghostwritten?) the 2008 CBCP Pastoral Statement/Letter under Lagdameo's name?
A highlight of the meeting is the passing of the Pastoral Letter calling for social, political and moral reforms. Penned by Bishop-Emeritus Francisco F. Claver, SJ, DD, the letter was guileless in saying that most of our country’s problems roots in our subordinating the common good under personal interests.
Ito ang Reaction ng PDI Editorial sa Pastoral Statement ni Claver:
Rumors or facts?
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:17:00 02/05/2008
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in a statement issued at the close of its plenary session last week said that the basic fault in the country’s political culture is the subordination of the common good to the private good. But the CBCP places most of the blame for the failure to promote the common good on the people. It did not even so much as slap the wrist of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration for its failure to lead in the effort to promote the common good.
The CBCP did not call the administration to account for the many “sins” that have been imputed to it. On the contrary, it called the many problems of the country “simply rumors, fears, suspicions, imagined wrongs.” “Because these are reported in the newspapers, we begin to believe that they are true.”
Corruption in government is part of the “rumors, fears, suspicions”?
Heh. Here's my reax to the CBCP's Amazing Statement.
Amd John Nery said the CBCP Pastoral Statement intellectually dishonest.
More on the Letter and Claver from NewsBreak: Move On, Bishops Tell GMA Critics
UPDATE: PDI's Checkmated Bishops article on Bishop Francisco Claver's revisionism.