MANILA, Feb. 16, 2015–More Catholic bishops may join calls for President Benigno Aquino III resignation following the “Mamasapano clash” between government forces and Muslim rebels, a senior prelate said.
Archbishop-Emeritus Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan revealed that there are efforts to get support of more bishops in calling on Aquino to relinquish his post.
“Yes, I believe more bishops are going to join the call for him to step down already. I don’t doubt it because it is clear that Aquino is growing more and more unpopular,” said Cruz, a former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Cruz, however, refused to speculate how many more bishops are no longer satisfied with Aquino but admitted that there are efforts to secure the support of prelates to join calls for his resignation.
“As of now, they (NTC) are already going to the different dioceses. And I’m telling you, once the bishop in a particular diocese agrees to welcome them, the bishop will join the call,” he said.
On Saturday, at least seven prelates led by retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of the National Transformation Council (NTC), an ecumenical and interfaith group, urged Aquino to resign.
“We, bishops of the Catholic and other Christian churches, have often been asked if there is moral basis to this growing demand. Even long before the unfortunate events, the NTC has strongly articulated that the President step down. Recent developments have made the call even more urgent and imperative,” said the NTC.
The religious leaders pointed at the tragic January 25 incident as the peak of the Aquino administration’s continuous failure to meet expectations and obligations he has on the Filipino people.
“With courage, we confront the seat of power and privilege. No doubt, the call on Mr. Aquino to step down is profoundly a moral issue that can no longer be ignored,” said the NTC.
Aside from Vidal, among the bishops who signed the NTC statement were Davao Archbishop emeritus Fernando Capalla, Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo de la Cruz, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Naval Bishop Filomeno Bactol, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, and Fr. Carlito Clase on behalf of Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos.
Other religious leaders involved in the NTC include Bishop Butch Belgica of the Christian Bishops of the Philippines and Pastor Arthur Corpus of the United Church of Manila.
Following the Mamasapano clash, the NTC believes that Aquino’s resignation has become more “urgent and imperative”.
While some bishops have echoed the call, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has not yet arrived at a collective position but called for the creation of a “credible” fact finding body that will look into the Mamasapano incident.
“Before we have all the facts, however, the CBCP cannot morally join in the calls for his resignation, leaving this decision to his humble and prayerful discernment of his capacity to lead and the support his has not only from officials of government but from members of Philippine society,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP President. (CBCPNews)