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Bishops urge ban on political dynasties

Plenary ends with call to respect rights

Joe Torres, Manila

January 29, 2013

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Catholic bishops have issued a pastoral letter, urging the government to end political dynasties, the culture of impunity and corruption within government.

The letter was issued on Tuesday at the end of the bishops' three-day annual plenary assembly in Manila.

"We must voice [people]'s concerns, be their moral guide, be with them," said Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, president of the bishops' conference.

He said the love of the Church has to bring to people the Gospel "with all its social, political and ethical implications."

In a statement read at a press briefing, the bishops said they were "aggrieved" that legislators themselves defied the constitution by not passing a law that banned political dynasties.

"We denounce the continued existence of political dynasties and the continuing delay of passing a law to implement a constitutional provision banning them," the bishops said.

They said they would support a call for an enabling law against political dynasties.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, head of the bishops’ social action secretariat, said people should realize the message behind the pastoral letter.

"We are not telling voters who to vote for. We respect the dictates of their conscience. We just give them guidance," Pabillo said, referring to mid-term elections in May.

The bishops also warned against "wholesale cheating" in the elections, adding that the government should address issues being raised by various groups on alleged deficiencies in the present election process.

"The integrity of a pillar of our democracy is at stake," Palma said, adding that the bishops are voicing their concerns so that it can be properly addressed before the elections take place.

"We highlight this because we care for the people, for the process, and we care for our country. For us, it's very important to have a truly clean, honest and peaceful election,” Palma said.

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