Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. VI, No. 2      February 12 - 18, 2006      Quezon City, Philippines











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Garci Failed to Resolve Search for Truth, Says Bishop

Even the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is not convinced that former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano's testimonies have finally resolved the search for truth on the issues surrounding the legitimacy of the Macapagal-Arroyo presidency.  Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, who also chairs the CBCP Commission on Ecumenical Affairs, said in an interview with Bulatlat that, “There are still a lot of questions that remain unanswered.” And that the search for truth has to be brought out in the open.


The testimonies of former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano have not been able to finally resolve the search for truth on the issues surrounding the legitimacy of the Macapagal-Arroyo presidency, a Catholic bishop said in an interview with Bulatlat.

Catholic bishops Oscar Cruz, Angel Lagdameo, and Ricardo Cardinal Vidal in prayer at a gathering of the Silent Majority Movement, Jan. 30, right after the issuance of the CBCP pastoral letter

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has had to confront questions on the credibility of her victory in the 2004 elections where she is supposed to have received a fresh mandate three years after being catapulted to power through a popular uprising.  The surfacing in mid-2005 of recorded copies of conversations in which a woman with a voice similar to hers is heard instructing an election official, widely suspected to be Garcillano, to rig the polls further raised questions regarding her mandate. The recordings of the conversations have since become known as the “Hello Garci” tapes.

Macapagal-Arroyo admitted also last year that she had talked to an election official during the vote-counting period, triggering intensification of calls for her resignation or removal from office. Garcillano, meanwhile, surfaced late last year after months of hiding to declare in congressional investigations that he was not the voice in the tapes and that the elections were clean.

In spite of Garcillano’s testimonies, the Jan. 29 pastoral statement of the CBCP still called for a “relentless” pursuit of the truth, through “structures and processes mandated by law and our Constitution, such as the Ombudsman, the Commission on Human Rights, the Sandiganbayan, and Congress itself as well as other citizens’ groups.”

The pastoral statement, signed by CBCP chairman Angel Lagdameo, Archbishop of Jaro,

Iloilo, was released after a series of public appearances and statements by Garcillano. Does this mean that he failed to contribute to the unearthing of the truth being sought out?

“There are still a lot of questions that remain unanswered,” said Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, chairman of the CBCP Commission on Ecumenical Affairs. “One of our premises is that we the bishops are trying to reflect on what we have been hearing.”

“You know what the impression of the press is on these events, and the people are saying that this is not yet the end of the story, that there is still something we must strive to pursue,” Iñiguez said.

Asked what the CBCP perceived as still missing in the search for truth, Iñiguez said that what really happened in the election had to be brought out in the open. “We have to probe that,” he said. “What really happened in the election, and what was the role of Garcillano and others in that? I am sure there are many other things that will be found out if we work hard at getting to the core of the matter.”

“The people themselves are not satisfied about what we have reached in this search so far,” Iñiguez added.

A number of the groups opposed to Macapagal-Arroyo have been calling for another EDSA-type uprising, like those staged in 1986 and 2001 which toppled former Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada, respectively. What is the CBCP’s stand on this possibility? Does it perceive an EDSA-type uprising as counter-constitutional or unconstitutional?

While in an earlier pastoral statement, released July 10, 2005, the CBCP rejected alternatives that are “counter-constitutional or unconstitutional,” Iñiguez said that the statement does not bar cause-oriented groups from staging protest actions as expression of their participation in the search for the truth. “That is their own decision based on their understanding and perception of the national situation,” he said.

“We see public servants struggling for integrity and the authentic reform of the corrupted institutions they are part of,” the pastoral statement reads. “We acknowledge groups of dedicated laity, religious and clergy, NGOs and various associations, including police and military personnel, giving of themselves to improve the governance, education, health, housing, livelihood and environmental conditions of our people. These people, united by a vision of heroic citizenship, are reasons for hope, even in the midst of the political crisis we find ourselves in.”

What characteristics does the CBCP look for in a leader or group of leaders that would be offered as a replacement for the Macapagal-Arroyo regime for it to be considered as a credible alternative? “Their words, their character, and their leadership should be believable,” Iñiguez said. “They should be persons of integrity.” Bulatlat




© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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