The front page of the February 14, 2015 issue of Cebu Sunstar, a local daily, showed retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, in his seemingly fiery mood, after an absence from the public view for quite sometime due to illness, supporting and endorsing the call of the National Transformation Council (NTC) for President Benigno Aquino (PNoy) to step down.
The NTC, I understand, is composed of high ranking personalities belonging to the Catholic Church and the laity from different sectors of society, who want reforms to be implemented for better governance.
Among those listed as members are former mouthpiece of the despot Marcos, Francisco Tatad, and former defense secretary Norberto Gonzales of the Arroyo administration – both toadies of past presidents that mired deeply this country in corruption and performed worst. Needless to say, other members are simply political adversaries that have something to grind against the Aquino administration.
The following are excerpts of what was reported in the local daily:
Cardinal Vidal’s statement began this way: “The National Transformation Council has strongly articulated that the President should step down. We, bishops of the Catholic and other Christian Churches, have often been asked if there is moral basis to this growing demand. Recent developments have made this call even more urgent and imperative.”
(Although the text uses “articulated” in the first sentence, when Cardinal Vidal read the speech, he used “advocated.”)
“We cannot be apathetic,” the cardinal’s seven-paragraph statement also pointed out.
It mentioned the resignation call only in the first paragraph. It ended this way: “We appeal to our fellow bishops and religious leaders of faith-based communities to join us in praying to God for His guidance for the renewal of the nation that is deeply rooted in faith values, love of country and respect for human life and environment.”
Whichever way one looks at it, and the fact that Vidal used assertively the word “apathetic” in awakening the people’s feelings towards PNoy’s role in the Mamasapano massacre, only means that he himself is asking Aquino to step down.
Alas, instead of being the voice of reason coming from an aged and respected spiritual leader, Vidal allowed himself to be manipulated by a group of people with hidden agenda of their own – that of putting their own self-interest ahead of the nation’s.
It is bad enough that the nation is grieving for the contemptible death suffered by the Fallen 44, and is now searching for answers, but to aggravate further the situation by making and/or supporting a divisive call for PNoy to step down earlier than his mandatory term allows him to stay in 2016, is outright stupid and a disservice to the nation.
There is no doubt that PNoy has plenty to explain and clarify over what he knows about the covert operation as president and commander-in-chief, for, surely, in such a delicate and critical mission with far-reaching implication, he must be on top of the situation and should be privy to whatever plans being hatched, but forcing him to step down, as what the NTC and Vidal wants, will only generate more chaos and uncertainty for the country.
What we need at this time are sane and sober minds, especially coming from leaders of the Catholic Church, and if reforms are badly needed for government to perform well, then by all means let it happen in 2016 and elect officials – from president down – worthy of our trust, dreams and aspirations as people.