Bukidnon bishop on political dynasties: “politics is not private property”

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/31 March)- Lambasting political dynasties across the country on Easter Sunday, Malaybalay Bishop Jose A. Cabantan urged the conversion of the faithful “to new values so politics treated as private property will be changed.”

In his Easter message, Cabantan called on parishioners to “roll away the stones to allow the light to dispel darkness in the tomb.”


“There will be no radical change in our political situation unless we all undergo a change of heart—conversion [that is]—in our priorities, in our values,” Cabantan said.

Along with political dynasties, the bishop noted as among the “stones” the Reproductive Health Law, ongoing killings, “unabated suffering of the poor,” especially President Benigno Aquino III’s recent vetoing of the Magna Carta for the Poor, the electoral process of 4Ps (patronage, personality, power and popularity), and the ongoing ecological destructions.


Cabantan cited “Proclaim the Message, In Season and Out of Season,” a pastoral letter by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, which mentioned the stones as storms “that we all hope will be silenced by the Risen Lord.”


The bishop lamented that instead of being the art of government and public service, politics in the country had sadly “degenerated into an arena where the interests of the powerful and rich few are pitted against those of the weak and poor many.”

The Constitution, he added, describes public office as a public trust meant for the good of civil society at large.


But Cabantan stressed that many politicians look at it as “a means of enrichment and a source of influence and power for self and family enlargement.”

“It hence easily becomes considered and actually treated as some sort of private property to be passed on from one generation to another in the manner of a feudal title—the perpetuation of power that is at the base of so-called “family dynasties,” he said, citing the CBCP Pastoral Exhortation on Politics in 1997.


Cabantan said the most basic pastoral action needed to stop political dynasties is “conversion to new values,” adding this should be the aim of political teachings.
Political dynasties have thrived in the Philippines for decades despite a constitutional provision against it.

The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, particularly Article 2 (Declaration of principle and state policies), Section 26 states “the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

There have been several proposed measures to provide teeth on the constitutional provision but Congress had failed to pass it into law.

The list includes Senate Bill (SB) 2649 or the Anti-Political Dynasty Act of 2011, SB 1317 in 2004, and SB 1468 and House Bill 2493, both in 2007.


Cabantan, along with Fr. Biven Belderol, chair of the diocesan commission on good governance, facilitated earlier this month an orientation on lay people’s discernment in choosing candidates running in the May 13, 2013 local and national elections.
Belderol told diocesan priests in a meeting in January that vote buying, too, is among the biggest problems faced by the movement for good governance.

The campaign period for the local elections officially started on March 30, Black Saturday. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)