Catholic council opposes charter change, rejects dictatorship
MANILA, Philippines – The Council of the Laity of the Philippines opposed moves to change the 1987 Constitution under the watch of President Rodrigo Duterte, as it also rejected attempts to reimpose dictatorship in the country.
The council, also known as the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (Laiko), is the implementing arm of the Episcopal Commission on the Laity of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Laiko's spiritual director is Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, one of the bishops most outspoken against abuses under the Duterte administration.
"The Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (Laiko) believes that the 1987 Constitution is founded on reverance for God, democracy, and social justice. Therefore, in unity with all Filipinos who are freedom-loving and defenders of truth, we strongly oppose charter change," the council said in a statement signed Thursday, July 12, by Laiko president Julieta Wasan.
"We do not believe in the proposal to adopt a federal form of government that would apparently guarantee a fairer distribution of resources among the regions, more participation in the political process and a better life for all, yet giving vast powers to President Duterte between 2019-2022, and imposing more taxes on the people to support new structures and officials," Laiko said.
Laiko issued this statement as discussions on charter change heat up. On July 9, Duterte received the draft federal constitution by the Consultative Committee (Con-Com), and said he would endorse the draft to Congress save for a few revisions.
The proposed constitution triggered concerns that Duterte would serve as president until 2030, well beyond his 6-year term ending in 2022, but Duterte claimed he wanted to be president only until 2019.
Laiko then urged "all freedom-loving Christians" to "reject any attempt to bring back dictatorship, undetermined extension of terms of elected officials, and the postponement of national and local elections."
Laiko also call for "prayer vigils in our dioceses, parishes, and communities, parishes on July 23 – the day President Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address." – Rappler.com