Filipino bishops refuse to back President impeachment

At its meeting in Manila this week, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has decided not to back an initiative by several bishops to relaunch the impeachment process against President Gloria Arroyo.

AsiaNews reports that the bishops' Conference issued a pastoral letter at the end of the bishops' 93rd plenary assembly saying that impeaching the President is a "useless exercise which will only deepen the negative perception of political forces."

The Conference, the letter says, is "not inclined at the present moment to favour a new impeachment process against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo."

The bishops' announcement comes as the legal one-year period is due to expire before the opposition could once again impeach the highest authority in the country.

The first impeachment came at the end of June last year when right-wing MPs accused the husband, son and brother-in-law of Arroyo of accepting money from clandestine gambling organisations. The President herself was accused of election fraud in the 2004 presidential poll.

Throughout the "trial", the Senate was presented with an audio-recording in which Arroyo asked one of the electoral commissioners, while the vote counting was under way, to alter the results to give her more votes.

After the presentation last year, Arroyo's son and husband went into self-imposed exile "to guarantee the tranquillity of the nation."

The bishops said they "respected the position of individuals or groups that wish to continue using the impeachment process to arrive at the truth," but added that unless "unless the process and its rules, all participating parties, pro and con, are guided by no other motive than a genuine concern for the common good, impeachment will once again serve as an unproductive exercise, deepening the citizens' negative perception of politicians left, right and centre."

After tackling the political situation, the bishops pronounced themselves on the "defence of human rights," which should be impartial but is sorely tried by the attitude of both sides of the guerrilla war in the south of the country, army and rebels.

They wrote: "We join the outcry of groups that have denounced the increasing number of extrajudicial killings and we cannot close our eyes to events that damage our nation and should be condemned."

President Arroyo met the Pope last month at the Vatican where she announced her government's decision to outlaw the death penalty. Despite President Arroyo's move on the death penalty, key Filipino Church figures continue to call for her resignation over alleged election rigging and her indifferences to human rights abuses.

Filipino bishops against new Arroyo impeachment process (Asia News 10/7/06)
Philippine Bishops: Not In Favor Of Impeachment Process (Easybourse, 10/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Office of the President, Philippines

Pope congratulates Philippine President for death penalty ban (CathNews 27/6/06)

11 Jul 2006