Referring to last week's call of three other fellow Bishops for GMA to resign, these 18 Bishops from Mindanao criticized their three colleagues in a joint public statement. The Philippine Star published a report on their statement where the gist was as follows:
“Premature!! Still need thorough investigation, ...concrete reason supported by authentic evidence that cannot be denied. Allow investigation to happen first.
“We believe that the whole truth about any moral issue must be ascertained or firmed before subjecting it to moral scrutiny and judgment. Otherwise, any statement on the matter may be premature and counter-productive. Hence there is a need for a thorough and impartial investigation as prescribed by law, truth and honesty and a sense of patriotism.”
The 18 Bishops nevertheless voiced their support “for moral integrity and fiscal transparency... relentless search for and courageous exposition of the truth anchored on the rule of law and moral principle.”
First of all, the three other Bishops' previous call for resignation was explicitly announced by them IN THEIR OWN PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES and NOT as the official stand of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). It was premised on GMA's moral unfitness to continue her occupancy of the position of President of the Philippines, on the basis of the SERIES of serious PUBLIC SCANDALS with her at the focal point of each and everyone of these.
Thus such resignation, is NOT a legal controversy to be determined by STATUTORY “due process”. It is also legally legitimate however because resignation is one of the modes of REPLACEMENT of a sitting President that is explicitly provided for in our Constitution. Thus a presidential resignation does not violate the rule of law! And so neither is it extra-legal nor does it require a full-blown investigation. Proof of this was ex-President Estrada's voluntary (though later contested by him!) resignation and SUBSEQUENT investigation, prosecution and conviction for PLUNDER.
Therefore the 18 Bishops' insistence (incidentally in their joint declaration they seemed to be representing the Catholic Church in Mindanao!) on the establishment of PRIOR “authentic evidence that cannot be denied” resulting from a “thorough and impartial investigation, as prescribed by law”, is inappropriate and IMPOSSIBLE under a resignation scenario, particularly under the present circumstances where she is widely perceived to have corrupted and dominated the police, the military and the House of Representatives. For all of these latter institutions will have to do any such investigation. Only when GMA is NO LONGER occupying the Presidency, then and only then can she be AUTHENTICALLY investigated, tried in court, if at all, and “as prescribed by law”.
For not even an impeachment process,much less a Senate Committee initiated investigation, would satisfy the 18 Bishops' given parameters for such fact finding whose conclusions ”cannot be denied”. For they know as well as most well informed citizens know too, that Senate dynamics and the impeachment process itself are mainly political albeit adversarial exercises, whose results and findings will always be impugned by the losers because any decision is arrived at by a majority of politicians who cast their votes mainly for selfish political reasons.
Look at the previous sensational cases involving the Kuratong Baleleng, the AGRI Land Reclamation and supposedly the “mother of all scams”, Jose Pidal, the Jueteng and “Hello Garci” scandals and the ZTE Broadband project. Nothing concrete nor any conviction of guilty parties came out of the Senate investigations whether finished or unfinished, despite the mountains of incriminating evidence unearthed.
Despite his conviction, even the plunder case against former President Erap Estrada which took almost seven (7) years to finish, still resulted in public denials of guilt from him and his lawyers up to yesterday, when his imminent, politically motivated and hurried pardon by GMA was announced.
And so, if the standard albeit inappropriate legal parameters proposed by our 18 Mindanao Bishops are to be followed, then nobody but nobody can be found guilty enough and on time to be forced to or voluntarily resign. Thus only the STRICTER and HIGHER standards of public morals are the alternatives for the citizenry to force or induce resignation. Even in countries like Korea and Japan, top government officials and Presidents of big companies have resigned voluntarily out of a deep sense of honor and self-accountability. And yet here in the Philippines there has not been any single such case, despite the fact that some 90% of our people are supposedly CHRISTIANS!
Thus the clamor for GMA's resignation is mainly a MORAL ISSUE! Stated differently: Is it morally right or is it morally wrong if our citizens including Filipino Bishops ask for her resignation under the publicly known scandalous bribery, lying and cheating in government involving GMA. And theologically speaking: was it a SIN or NOT A SIN for the three Bishops to have sought GMA's resignation because of her widely perceived moral unfitness. Whether or not she will be found formally guilty such of such high crimes and betrayal of public trust AFTER a thorough investigation “as prescribed by (secular) law”, is ANOTHER and subsequent matter. But that will have nothing to do with resignation, as in Erap's case. For surely, sauce for the gander seven years ago, must therefore also be sauce for the goose today.
And so in a separate piece I shall tackle the MORAL issue concerning the three Bishops' earlier public call for GMA to resign, which the 18 Bishops from Mindanao who apparently were representing the Catholic Church in Mindanao, have in fact already judged albeit inappropriately, to be LEGALLY premature and allegedly “may be counter-productive”.
In the meantime however, I DARE say that our 18 Catholic Bishops from Mindanao apparently still have enough faith in the MORAL FITNESS of GMA as the sitting President of our benighted and scandal-wracked nation.
And apparently too they vehemently DISAGREE with the pronouncement of their own colleague Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, President of the CBCP, who earlier and in that official capacity had publicly lambasted this “hypocriSHE” dominated administration of our government, as MORALLY BANKRUPT.
Lord have mercy on us all!