This story was taken from Bulatlat, the Philippines's alternative weekly newsmagazine (,,
Vol. VI, No. 6, March 12-18, 2006


Bacolod Bishop to Arroyo: Step Down Now

Another Catholic bishop has directly demanded that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo step down from office – adding his voice to calls earlier made by Abp. Oscar Cruz and Bps. Julio Xavier Labayen, Deogracias Iñiguez, and Antonio Tobias. Bp. Vicente Navarra of the Diocese of Bacolod expressed this call and has even led a prayer rally demanding the president’s resignation.


“As long as it is within the confines of the Constitution and non-violent change, and it is truly the will of the people, I am in favor of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down.”

This was the answer of Bp. Vicente Navarra to the persistent question of local media concerning his views regarding the growing clamor for Macapagal-Arroyo’s removal. He also said that that if President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo comes to Bacolod on March 14, he will tell her of the real conditions of Negrosanons, and that “they want GMA to step down now.”

Navarra also referred to a Jan. 29 pastoral statement by the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), which calls for a relentless pursuit of the truth.

He however clarified that while the official position of the CBCP does not make a categorical and unequivocal call for Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation, the organization's stand is definitely not neutral. “The CBCP is all out for change, either by reforms in government economic and political policies, or by the people’s clamor that GMA step down to pave the way for a peaceful turn-over of power,” he said.

Navarra explained these in a press conference last March 6, together with representatives of the broad multi-sectoral formation Concerned Negrosanons for Freedom and Democracy (Confredem).  Members of the Confredem include the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance)-Negros, Laban ng Masa (The Masses’ Fight), Negros Movement for Moral Regeneration, September 6 Movement, SEEDCORE, Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR), Peace Advocates of Negros.  

Navarra read during the press conference his pastoral letter, which urges the people “to defend the truth, and remain steadfast witnesses of the truth.”

“Our nation is fed with and thrives on lies, half truths and double talks, and it is a nation not truly free,” Navarra said.

“Our rightful claim for truth has never been answered, not given due course of law,” Navarra further said, referring to the killing of impeachment proceedings, the “Garcillano tapes” scandal, and jueteng scams, among others. He also cited the case of the undue disbarment of Bacolod human rights lawyer Francisco Cruz, as well as the dismissal of an illegal logging case in the town of Don Salvador Benedicto, as “clear proofs” that “our rightful claims for truth have never been answered.”

On March 8, Navarra, backed by dozens of clergy and leaders of religious congregations led more than 10,000 marchers in a prayer rally at the Bacolod public plaza to denounce Macapagal-Arroyo’s state of national emergency, threats of martial law reimposition, mining expansion, and Charter change, among others.

In the program, Navarra read his pastoral letter, the main message of which is to “disturb the conscience of the leaders of this land,” and calls on the people to register their protests as Christians.

“Be more vigilant for truth, remain steadfast witnesses of the truth, because we are adrift in a turbulent sea of lies and falsehoods,” Navarra urged the marchers.

“We have to make our voices heard as we search for truth and for the redress of our human dignity impaired by machinations of people with vested and partisan interests – the very reason why as Church and concerned citizens we strongly registered our protest against the imposition of state of national emergency, albeit lifted already,” Navarra also said.

After the bishop’s message, representatives of cause-oriented organizations, civil society, media, lawyers and local government units offered their respective prayers, most of whom offered their call for more vigilance, courage, righteousness, and resoluteness in seeking the truth, removal of GMA, and “liberating the people.”

Fr. Aniceto Buenafe, director for social action of the Diocese of Bacolod, elated by the big turnout of ralliers, said: “I am so glad that people have responded positively to our call, and showed their readiness to resist the threat of martial law reimposition.”

“I hope our actions and statements here will be heard in the national level, especially in Malacañang, so they would know we are disgusted with the way GMA runs our government and country,” he said. Bulatlat


© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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