On the occasion of our July 10-12, 1983 meeting in Baguio we, the Bishops of the Philippines, greet you with the peace that the Lord alone can give.
At our meeting we reviewed events subsequent to our Pastoral Letter, “Dialogue for Peace ,” dated February 20, 1983. We feel with you that an atmosphere of fear and anguish still prevails. We have not come closer to understanding and reconciliation as is our desire in this Holy Year of Redemption. We feel the sufferings of those who have fallen victim to the violence inflicted by both Right and Left. In a special way, we have considered the serious problems related to the idea and exercise of the Presidential Commitment Order (PCO).
Prescinding from the constitutional debate regarding the PCO and considering it primarily on moral grounds, under the present circumstances we believe that the PCO and its implementation is immoral.
The PCO curtails freedom unjustly and violates human dignity. It authorizes the arrest and detention of people and refuses bail on the basis of national security–in many cases, without due process. It is the occasion of many serious abuses related to the gathering and arbitrariness of evidence to support charges of subversion. As we have stated in our Pastoral Letter, “legitimate dissent is all too easily construed… as subversion.” Our Holy Father himself, Pope John Paul II, said during his visit to our country that “even in exceptional situations” such as exigencies of security, any violation of the fundamental dignity of the human person or of the basic rights that safeguard that dignity” can never be justified.
We have, therefore, prepared a letter to the President of the Philippines, to ask him on moral grounds to abolish the PCO.
Still, we cannot close our eyes to the many other problems we have already alluded to in our Pastoral Letter, such as the continuing and even spiralling violence in the country, the economic crisis and corruption, the problems brought into the church by political ideologies both Right and Left. We as a nation still have to face with courage the root cause of the social disturbances of our time. And surely you are more aware than we of your own local problems.
Because our Christian faith teaches us to place our trust in the Lord of history, not simply the hands of men, and moved by the sufferings of our people, we as your Pastors call on all the faithful to set aside the Sunday before the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption as a National Day of Prayer and Reconciliation. Masses and petitions to God are to be offered to beg for his grace and guidance in our difficult times. We are to offer reparation to the Lord for all violations of human rights committed both by the Right and the Left. We enjoin all churches to have this message read on Sunday, August 7, 1983. We ask that prayers and petitions be directed to God through our Blessed Mother.
In this Jubilee Year of Reconciliation and Penance, we pray that our people irrespective of position, political belief or religion may reconcile themselves to God and their fellow citizen in a spirit of peace and charity.
May our prayers to the Lord who ultimately rules and guides the destinies of nations lead to better understanding and cooperation among those who rule and those who are ruled and pave the way towards a lasting peace based on justice, truth, freedom and love.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
(Sgd.)+ANTONIO Ll. MABUTAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Davao
August 7, 1983
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