The Cebu Declaration Expands on the Lipa Document; Bishops, Pastors, Priests, Ulamas, Religious Sisters and Brothers Link Hands with People from All Sectors             

The Holy Family is Patron of the Transformation Movement

It looked like an archipelagic plan covering Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao: Lipa in August 27th, Cebu October 1st and, later this month, the ancient city of Butuan.

The Bishops, with a smile, proffered another explanation – that the plan as it evolved started with Mama Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces, the Patroness of Lipa (Luzon); then on to the first Christian city of Cebu (Visayas), famed for her being protected by Mary’s divine “little boy,” the Senor Santo Nino, and, to underscore the family character of the locational choices, move on to old Butuan (in Mindanao), under the patronage of Mama Mary’s spouse, Senor San Jose.

Did they really plan it that way – to invoke the protection of the Holy Family in this serious endeavor? In any case, that was one Catholic Bishop’s insight into why the movement ended up with these places for the first three salvos of the National Transformation Council. The Protestant and Evangelical Bishops as well as the Muslim Ulamas and Ustadzes warmly welcomed Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos’ take, with a wider beam on their faces.

Reiterating the Major Issues

In Cebu, then, on October 1st, more than a couple thousand delegates followed their moral leaders in denouncing anew:

the total absence of any official effort to reform the automated election system, which was thoroughly corrupted and debased by the Commission on Elections in its effort to produce ‘machine-made’ and ‘de facto’ high government officials during the 2010 Presidential and the 2013 Senatorial elections, [and] which the administration is once again preparing to use in the projected 2016 Presidential elections, without restoring the safety features and accuracy mechanisms [that] the Comelec had illegally removed in the previous two elections.”

Why, indeed, would anyone in power want to change the magical formula that proved so effective twice in as many electoral contests? The important thing is to have grabbed power by “Hocus PCOS,” and to have cornered all the money available in the contest to withstand any and all challenges to that power; hence, the necessity of stone-walling all criticisms of DAP-PDAF. 

In Cebu, then, they also unanimously denounced:

the total failure, if not downright refusal, of the Aquino regime to comply with a direct order of the Supreme Court to file criminal charges against all the lawmakers and members of the executive department and the Commission on Audit who were involved in the grave misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), both of which the court had unanimously declared unconstitutional.

Actually, said Pastor Greg Belgica, for the Aquino regime to obey the Supreme Court would mean suicidally removing all the culprits in government, “palitlahat.” He underscored that “the PDAF and DAP form one pork barrel system.” Or, to quote the former National Treasurer, Leonor M. Briones, also of the Protestant Faith: “In the 2014 Budget, PDAF is small-time pork  – a mere P 25.240 billion in the Special Purpose Funds – while DAP is big-time beef – a total of P 1.106 trillion mostly lump sum amounts out of a Total Expenditure Program: of P 2.268 trillion.” 

That is in fact quite true that out of the total expenditure of Php 2.268 trillion, only the budgets of the Departments and Agencies have details which could be examined lengthily by Congress, totaling P 1.162 trillion.

The balance composed of special purpose funds of P 310.047 billion (programmed) and P796.02 billion or a total of P 1.106 trillion are mostly lump sum amounts that could not possibly go through the same rigorous examination as the Departments and Agencies – not yet including Unprogrammed Funds of P 139.9 billion.

The Supreme Court ruling on DAP is a unanimous judgment – agreed to even by the Aquino appointees. Aquino’s reply in “righteous anger” would be to curb “judicial reach.”  He is de facto the President. Is he not therefore “No. 1?” Can he not do whatever he wants for the good of the people? All attempts to limit his power should be stopped. The people are with him, are they not? He’s got the money now, no one else. Is there anything on Earth that cannot be bought, media and people support included? Maybe he should ask his Mom or his Dad but it’s too late now for that.

Not even the late Mr. Marcos behaved as badly as this son-of-saints currently de facto, if not de jure, President of our country. When the Supreme Court, interpreting the 1973 Constitution, decided against PD 1177 that liberally gave Marcos the right to transfer funds, Marcos relented. Ever the quintessential lawyer, Marcos at least pretended to follow the law. For the Supreme Court had made it clear then that his PD “opens the floodgates for the enactment of unfunded appropriations, results in uncontrolled executive expenditures, diffuses accountability for budgetary performance and entrenches the pork barrel system ….”

So, clearly worse than Marcos then is Aquino now. But while Marcos could easily be denounced as a formal dictator then, it has taken some time, “following the money,” for people to see that Aquino is de facto tyrant now. And if Marcos had Ver then, Aquino has Purisima now. “But please understand,” he says, “I am different because I mean well. I have good faith.”

If you tell this to the Marines will they accept it? Thank God, said many in Cebu, for this Council that has finally called a spade a dirty shovel.

What was the occasion for this gathering in Cebu, to start with? 

Encouraged by the success of the first open assembly convened in Lipa City, Batangas by the National Transformation Council on August 27, A.D. 2014 / Dhu al-qa’da 2 A.H. 1453, we who broadly represent the citizenry, under the leadership of delegates from the Visayas and Mindanao, have gathered in Cebu City on October 1, A.D. 2014 / Dhu al-Hijjah 7 A.H. 1453 to proclaim our support for the Lipa declaration and to propose concrete and immediate steps to translate the desired objective of national transformation into a viable program of action.

“We noted with great pain that while the moral and spiritual crisis and its political and economic effects continued to deepen,  the national political leadership consistently failed to show the will or the capacity to respond to these ills in any appreciable measure.”

Aside from the grave problems which prompted the Lipa assembly to call on the president to immediately step down,  were there new issues that had  since emerged, to which the incumbent administration has failed to adequately respond? The Cebu Assembly identified some: 

Firstly, there’s “the dire security situation created by the so-called Islamic state in Iraq and Syria and the reported contacts between this extremist force and elements identified with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, for whom president Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III is trying to rush a Bangsamoro Basic Law that would create a new political entity for the MILF, to replace the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao, which had been created earlier by law for the Moro National Liberation Front; under the present circumstances, this could put the entire country in grave peril.”

Mr. Eid Kabalu, the all-too-familiar face of the Moro secessionist movements, took the floor in Cebu to explain how the MOA-AD or the previous agreement under Arroyo was so thoroughly criticized for “lack of consultation” among stakeholders, and yet the current proposed BBL or Bangsamoro Basic Law is even less known or discussed despite the billions of pesos supposedly released for the purpose. Eid Kabalu is now Vice Chairman of the Bangsamoro Transformation Council (yes, Sirs/Mesdames, the local transformation councils are sprouting up).

Then, there’s also:

“the unprecedented yet unprosecuted and unpunished corruption in the top leadership of the Philippine national police (PNP), which has thoroughly demoralized the PNP rank and file and substantially eroded public support for and confidence in the law enforcers;

“the arbitrary imposition of unreasonable taxes on the poor, including the smallest sari-sari store owners and sidewalk vendors, on the various professions and on all religious institutions, without any public hearing or accounting, ostensibly for the purpose of raising revenue to support government operations,  but in effect feeding the politicians’ insatiable appetite for corruption; [and]

“the unresolved electric power crisis which has brought about the most expensive electricity rates in the world amid extended power outages that threaten to throw back the country into a literally dark age, and for which the only imagined solution by the president is the grant of emergency powers to himself.”

In light of all these, and recalling all the points raised in the Lipa declaration, what was the call of the Cebu Assembly? It was: 

1)       to now pursue all necessary and available  lawful means to compel President Aquino to step down at the soonest possible time;

2)       to immediately organize the equivalent of a government in waiting, consisting of men and women of integrity and proven worth, in order to assure the nation and the international community that President Aquino’s removal and the prosecution and imprisonment of every culpable member of the government for corruption will not create a political vacuum;

3)       to initiate extensive consultations with the Islamic community in southern Philippines in order to arrive at an authentic consensus on how to solve the long-festering multicultural problem in the area, free from any possible intervention by any foreign interested party, beginning with the countries in southeast Asia, and including the new extremist entity called “Islamic state in Iraq and Syria” by those who control it;

4)       to cause the immediate filing of criminal cases against all the senators and congressmen, members of the cabinet, the Commission on Audit and the various government agencies involved in the misuse of the PDAF and the DAP from 2010 to date, and to use whatever public pressure is necessary to make all those involved in these cases to immediately vacate their respective positions;

5)       to organize a panel of experts who will undertake a comprehensive study of the country’s energy problem and propose solutions that will be free of any political bias for or against any particular energy source, and take into primary consideration the interests of the general public and the consumers rather than the various actors in the generation, transmission and distribution chain;

6)       to organize public support for the PNP rank-and-file in their call for a thorough cleanup of the PNP and an immediate change in its top leadership; and

7)       to institutionalize a public forum, where aggrieved individual citizens could air their just grievances and mobilize public support for such grievances without being subjected to the arbitrary censorship imposed by government and the conscript press.

8)       to actively support the call and effort of the concerned citizens of the country to establish a People’s Truth Commission to discover and reveal the accountability and any consequent liability of the administration of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, arising from its massive misuse of public funds through the disbursement acceleration program (DAP) that has been ruled unconstitutional by unanimous vote of the supreme court.

And then they concluded:

“Invoking the aid of Almighty God the most gracious and most merciful, and reposing our trust and confidence in the Filipino people, we pray that all these may come to pass soon.

Done in Cebu city, this 1st day of October A.D. 2014 / 7th day of Dhu al-Hijjah A.H. 1453.s”


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