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Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), today issued a strong statement against the current push for charter change, urging the government to instead focus on strengthening basic social services, combating corruption, and implementing programs that address the plight of the poor.

“We, at Caritas Philippines, believe that any move to alter the Constitution should be initiated by the people, not by the government, especially at this time when such efforts are viewed with suspicion and can easily be seen as politically motivated,” declared Caritas Philippines Executive Director Fr. Antonio Labiao Jr. “The country’s fundamental law is not a political football to be kicked around at the whims of those in power.”

Fr. Labiao further emphasized that charter change is not a silver bullet for the Philippines’ economic woes, particularly the pervasive issue of corruption. “Poverty will always be a problem if corruption is allowed to fester within our government,” he stated. “Instead of wasting time and resources on amending the Constitution, the government should prioritize measures to eradicate corruption and ensure the efficient and effective delivery of basic social services to our people.”

Caritas Philippines instead calls for the passage of legislation that addresses the country’s pressing problems, such as:

– Environmental protection: “The Philippines needs a comprehensive mining reform law that protects our environment and the rights of local communities,” urged Fr. Labiao. “Congress has failed to act on this issue for too long.”

– Anti-dynasty measures: “A genuine anti-dynasty law is crucial to break the stranglehold of political dynasties on our democracy,” stated Fr. Labiao. “The Filipino people deserve leaders who are chosen based on merit, not family connections.”

– Electoral reforms: “We need reforms that ensure the quality of our elections and the integrity of the vote,” declared Fr. Labiao. “Only then can we have a truly representative democracy.”

Caritas Philippines concludes its statement by reminding the government of its obligation to fulfill the promises of the 1986 EDSA Revolution. “The Filipino people deserve a government that is responsive to their needs and aspirations,” said Fr. Labiao. “Let us focus on building a more just and equitable society, not on tinkering with the Constitution for personal gain.”