[Blueboard] SJ Province Guidelines in a Time of Crisis

Joanna Ruiz jruiz at ateneo.edu
Tue Oct 18 09:28:15 PHT 2005

Office of the Provincial


Re: Endorsement of GUIDELINES IN A TIME OF CRISIS to Jesuits and Jesuit Institutions of the Philippine Province

    With this letter, I endorse to all Jesuits, Jesuit communities and Jesuit apostolic institutions of the Philippine Province, the attached Guidelines in a Time of Confusion and Crisis, produced by our Province Commission on the Social Apostolate. These Guidelines, produced after much discussion and consultation, are an attempt to provice Christian moral reflection on our present national situation of political crisis and confusion.

    I ask that these Guidelines be read, reflected, and prayed upon, and made the subject of serious discernment, towards action, by individuals, communities, and institutions. They may be shared with others who are seeking direction and guidance in our troubled times.

    I know that not many will agree with what is presented here: some will judge that the Guidelines go "too far"; others will doubtless think that they do not go "far enough." For my part, I personally believe that these Guidelines offer sound directions to help us "read" our present situation and to orient us in our common search for authentic solutions to the grave problems of our country today. Nonetheless, these Guidelines are not presented as positions that all are compelled to accept and adhere to. If some, in conscience, differ with the positions taken here, let that dissent be presented with civility and intelligence, as input for the continuing task of communal discernment towards what will serve the true good of our country.

    Let us be united in prayer and deep concern for our country and our people. May the Lord show us the way toward the truth, freedom and justice that our people yearn for. May God bless us with courage and hope.

Fraternally in our Lord,


for Jesuits and Jesuit Institutions of the Philippine Province

1.        The struggle to bring out the truth must go on. The freedom to advocate this struggle must be upheld. The President has not sufficiently rendered an account to the people where serious charges have been raised against her, and efforts to hide the facts only confirm the suspicions of many. To dismiss the concern for truth in the name of stability is to condone the culture of impunity, by which those in power have long been able to commit crimes unpunished, and our people have become cynical - accepting corruption and deceit as normal in our public life.

2.        Those who claim that the "rule of law" was triumphant in the recent impeachment proceedings confuse proceduralism with law. While it is true that the procedures of law were fulfilled, the spirit of the law was subverted. Evidence was not allowed to emerge.

3.        Peaceful and legal means that protect and strengthen our democratic institutions must be used in the continued search to bring out the truth. In this same spirit, the legislature, especially the Senate, must not be remiss in its oversight functions, to ensure the system of checks and balances set in place by the Constitution. Likewise, care should be taken that concrete actions do not support or strengthen groups with covert anti-democratic, adventurist, or power-grabbing agendas.

4.        We respect the decision of those, who, in conscience, have reached a judgment that the President should not remain in office. Part of this process is the moral obligation to seriously consider alternatives that will be truly for the good of the country, and not abet the struggle for power among elite and corrupt politicians.

5.        The search for the truth must include a search into the deeper truth of Philippine political life, the factors which make the present crisis just one of a series of political crises that hinder the country's development. It is necessary to listen to, reflect seriously on, and address the concerns of a large majority of people who seem apathetic or whose dissatisfaction does not seem to translate into political action. Some, for example, have lost trust in all politicians, of whatever camp. Others, especially those in the provinces, feel excluded by and resentful of what they perceive to be Manila deciding for the country again. Efforts must be made to address this disillusionment and sense of exclusion, so that our people might be motivated to participate more vigorously in our country's political life.

6.       If many of our people seem to be uninvolved or uninterested, it is primarily because of an overriding concern for economic survival during very hard times. The real and urgent concerns of the poor should be given highest priority amidst all efforts to search for truth. Indeed, the search for the truth is integrally linked to the fate of the poor. Corruption and dishonesty have made the lot of the poor worse.

7.         Programs and initiatives from both government and the private sector to address the urgent needs of the poor, in fields such as education, health, housing, livelihood, and the like, should continue to be supported, and indeed intensified.  This is especially urgent in view of the looming international oil crisis.

8.         While there may be reasons to consider amending the constitution for the sake of greater responsiveness to the needs and aspirations of our people, charter change as a diversionary tactic in times of political conflict, or as a means of perpetuating elite democracy, should be rejected.  Thus, the rush to change the Constitution, especially through a Constituent Assembly, should be resisted.  Furthermore, while major constitutional changes such as parliamentarism and federalism may seem to have merit, their concrete realization and implications should be carefully studied and discussed, rather than prematurely decided upon.

9.         There may be no clear solutions or exit strategies to our present state.  But our past history, especially during the Martial Law years, reminds us that we can continue being vigilant and work for truth and justice even when the alternatives are not clear.  Thus, the following courses of action should be pursued:

a.         Our educational institutions, parishes and other institutions should become centers for conscientization.  Discernment groups must be organized, to combat apathy, to heighten awareness and involvement, and to prepare for future action.  We echo the call of the CBCP in their statement of 10 July 2005, to "urge our people in our parish and religious communities, our religious organizations and movements, our Basic Ecclesial Communities to come and pray together, reason, decide and act together always to the end the will of God prevail in the political order."

b.         Conscientization that leads to organizing and reorganizing base groups and forming community or sectoral organizations should be given priority.  Such groups can also be invited to deal with local problems, to engage local government, and to do network-building with other sympathetic groups.

c.         These and other groups should be mobilized towards vigilance,


·          first, the continued effectiveness of government programs for the poor;

·          secondly, appointment to public offices made by the President;

·          third, acts of apparent retribution against those who are critical of the

       government and the President;

·          fourth, the actual use of port barrel by legislators and their possible abuse

       of it for themselves;

·          fifth, the preparations for forthcoming electoral exercises, through

 advocacy for automation, and the continuing task of voters' education;

·          sixth, the use of funds that will be made available in the event of a Peace

 Agreement in Mindanao.

d.         Deeper study and reflection on institutional alternatives (such as parliamentarism,  federalism, etc.) should be conducted at various levels, from university think-tanks to grass-roots groups.

                                                            SOCIETY OF JESUS, PHILIPPINE PROVINCE




                                                            Albert E. Alejo, S.J.

                                                            Miguel B. Lambino, S.J.

                                                            Jose Cecilio J. Magadia, S.J.

                                                            Antonio F. Moreno, S.J.

                                                            Karel S. San Juan, S.J.

                                                            Primitivo E. Viray, S.J.

                                                            Peter W. Walpole, S.J.

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