Catholic Bishops, Sison Share Pessimism on 2008

Catholic bishops Angel Lagdameo and Oscar Cruz and communist leader Jose Maria Sison were one in criticizing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s statements of optimism for 2008.

Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 47, January 6-12, 2008

Catholic bishops Angel Lagdameo and Oscar Cruz and communist leader Jose Maria Sison were one in criticizing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s statements of optimism for 2008.

The influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), which exercises religious authority over an estimated 85 percent of the country’s 89-million population said that the country’s “sinful root” may cause more social ills than cures.

In their official website (, CBCP President and Jaro Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo said that there is a challenge for all Filipinos, especially among the members of the bureaucracy, to assess and evaluate themselves, individually and corporately for the sins committed in the past.

“Everyone must examine his conscience,” reads Lagdameo’s statement posted last Dec. 27—the day of the Solemnity of Mary, which is celebrated throughout Christendom as the Day for World Peace.

“What have we done regarding feeding the hungry and malnourished, helping build shelters for the homeless, offering scholarships to poor students, creating employment and health security for the sick, releasing the unjustly imprisoned, the oppressed and exploited?” Lagdameo asked the Filipino people.

He pointed out that “the birth anniversary of the God-Man, Jesus Christ reminds us not only to celebrate, but also to respond to its call for a change of heart and conversion to justice and charity.”

Arroyo’s “enemies” last 2007

Meanwhile, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz, in his blog (, entry posted last Dec. 31, said, “The incumbent national leadership has a good number of avowed enemies. Though the prelate clarified that, those enemies are not really the opposition, neither the activists and dissenters nor even the separatist and downright revolutionaries.”

“Its formidable opponents particularly in the year past were the following—not necessarily in the order of their perceived and noted gravity and eventual implications:

“First: its rather grandiose self-appreciation that was productive of magnificent promises and visionary predictions. But as usual, what was simply in the cloud did not happen on the ground. It projected the unity of the people who were instead deeply divided. It vowed great economic development which was in fact impeded by enormous foreign debts it incurred. It promised electoral reforms which in effect made one big electoral deformation and disaster.

“Second: It fomented the culture of corruption like nobody else in the recent Philippine history. It acquired the expertise of transactional politics synonymously to personal convenience and advantages. It practically destroyed the democratic system of checks and balances. It made its tenure of public power dependent on firepower.

“Third: It demeaned the human person, offended human dignity and violated human rights. Thus came to fore the disgusting extra-judicial killings and despicable forced disappearances. The poor have been exploited while oppression was the lot of the helpless. It droved not only the simple workers but also the professionals out of the country which they saw as hopeless.”

The prelate lambasted Macapagal-Arroyo for making the lives of Filipinos onerous by exacting from them all conceivable direct and indirect taxes and only to give them back not even the minimum required by public service.

Moreover, the archbishop said that while it would be unrealistic to say that the above deeply rooted maladies would then simply disappear, the following good news may be rightfully proclaimed: The Filipinos will continue to move forward in favor of their family good, community benefit, national welfare. And that the People will continue to bear the burden, exercise patience, keep the peace until they no longer can.

Sison: Arroyo lying about economy

For his part, former Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chairman and now National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ (NDFP) chief political consultant, Professor Jose Maria Sison lambasted the Macapagal-Arroyo government for lying to the Filipino people and the international community that she is gearing the Philippine economy towards progress.

In a statement posted on the CPP official website,, the exiled revolutionary leader said the present government is not gearing the Philippines towards a ‘first world state, it rather “worked against the line of national industrialization and genuine reform and has aggravated the agrarian, pre-industrial and semi-feudal character of the Philippine economy due to its utter subservience to the U.S.-dictated ‘neo-liberal’ globalization policy.”

“She (Arroyo) has worsened the backward and impoverished “third world” conditions of the Philippines,” he stated.

Sison said the Arroyo government had misinterpreted as development the “consumption-led and debt-ridden growth of the economy.”

“It has used domestic and foreign borrowing to finance and abet the growing trade and budgetary deficits and to conjure the false illusion of economic growth. It wastes public funds through overpriced and graft-ridden infrastructure projects and the purely parasitic expenditures for the military and bureaucracy,” said Sison.

Filipinos’ penury: U.S. and local exploiters’ conspiracy

The revolutionary leader also condemned the U.S. and other foreign capitalists for collaborating with the local exploiters such as big compradors, landlords and corrupt bureaucrats represented mainly by the chief executive, to denationalize the economy and prevent its industrial development through the so-called liberalization of trade and investments, the privatization of public assets and anti-social deregulation at the expense of the working people, women, children and the environment.

“The Philippine economy remains dependent on the production of agricultural and mineral raw materials, which are being exported at greater volume but at lower prices,” observed Sison. “At the same time, agriculture has become lopsided, as production of staple food is neglected and food products are dumped on the Philippines from abroad under the policy of trade liberalization. Thus, the country has become a net food importer.”

Another “hard” evidence of underdevelopment of the Philippines is the large-scale exportation of Filipino labor, Sison said. He explained that because the government cannot provide adequate jobs for its people, it results to rapid increase of the number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

In the recent estimate made by the government itself, it is said that about 10 percent of the population are now working overseas on contractual basis.

“It has become the biggest source of foreign exchange income although at great social cost to the country,” Sison added.

He also accused the present regime of deliberately raising the value of the Philippine peso by grabbing and undervaluing the foreign exchange earnings of the OFWs; by increasing foreign debt through program and project loans and the sale of bonds in commercial markent; and by attracting portfolio investments, structured dollar loans and Japanese yen in the carry trade.

“The national debt keeps on increasing because there is no real development base for reducing the trade and budget deficits,” Sison said. “The attempt of the regime to increase state revenues has dismally failed because of the underdeveloped, bankrupt and depressed condition of the real economy, the policy of trade liberalization and the unbridled corruption that allows tax evasion and raids on the treasury. To cover or reduce the revenue shortfalls, the Arroyo regime has been auctioning off state assets to foreign vultures in combination with local vultures who are cronies and close relatives of the Arroyo couple.” Contributed to (

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