Written by: CoRRECT Movement General Assembly
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a letter setting moral guidelines in changing the Constitution. It suggested that the Constitution must not be changed at all, and it only needs full implementation.
Why change the Constitution?
If we want the Spirit of the Lord to reside within us, we must change the Constitution that denies politicians and Filipinos the freedom to do good. If we change the system, the Spirit of the Lord will be within us, and there will be freedom.
What kind of freedom? Freedom from poverty, hunger, homesickness, and corruption; and freedom to have a happy family, decent jobs and wages, and a good government. These things will only be possible if we change the Constitution.
Is Federalism consistent with the Gospel of the Lord? The answer is YES.
Federalism supports the following Christian values:
- Accountability (Romans 14:12)
- Good governance (Proverbs 29:2, Galatians 6:7)
- Service to fellowmen (Mark 10:45)
- Neutrality in politics (John 18:36)
- Social justice and human rights (Matthew 25:34-40, Luke 11:46)
- Practicality (Matthew 12:10-13)
- Bayanihan and subsidiarity (Galatians 6:2)
- Love for the family (1 Timothy 5:8)
For a nation like Israel to succeed, it must have a government practicing accountability and good governance, because “each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)
This is only by installing Parliamentary systems in government. Sadly, Israelites failed to do this. They only wanted a king to rule over them, without parliament as “check and balance” for Israel (1 Samuel 8:4-6). Their set-up proved a disaster for the nation. 
Kings like David and Solomon do not only act as head of state, but also serve as head of government. They failed to revise the system to add prime ministers and cabinets, which would be a big help for the king to transfer his burden to capable officials. Aside from overseeing day-to-day affairs of the kingdom, ministers will ensure nation’s loyalty to God.
No Opposition was created to hold the king and people accountable to God, except prophets like Elijah and Jeremiah. As a result, Israel did not maintain its loyalty to God for hundreds of years. 
If bishops want decency in government, they must support a Federal-Parliamentary type of government for the Philippines. This forces politicians to shape up, be morally upright, and perform decency in their duties (because the Opposition – acting as check and balance – will see lack of morality or decency as opportunity to mock or ridicule them).
Otherwise, they are no different to the hypocrisy of Pharisees. It’s as if they don’t want morality in government in the first place.
To serve, not to be served
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2)
How do we produce righteous leaders? By having a system that produces public servants.
Who is a public servant? What makes him different with other politicians?
Former Laguna Governor ER Estregan once said, “A politician thinks of the next election, but a public servant thinks of the next generation.”
Politicians today think like Jesus’ disciples in Mark 10:35-37. Two disciples – James and John the sons of Zebedee – knew they are rewarded as followers of Jesus. They now wanted positions in heaven, instead of serving and preaching the Gospel. Christ scolded them, and told that a leader must not be served, but must serve (Mark 10:45, see also Luke 22:26).
By supporting the present system, will it really create more public servants like Jesus?
The answer is NO.
With all the mess created by lousy system today, a new system forcing politicians to become public servants is highly needed.
Federalism – specially the Parliamentary system – forces politicians to become public servants. If politicians will not fulfill their promise to serve the people like what Jesus Christ did, the system itself will force them to do the same, or resign/be removed if they fail to keep their promise.
A system change is required if we want more public servants in the Philippines.
By requesting full implementation of the 1987 Constitution, they are in effect guilty of violating the law in the first place.
Section 6, Article II of 1987 Constitution lays down the principle of “separation of Church and State.” This is to protect each other’s abuses. This also means that the State must not interfere on purely ecclesiastical matters. Similarly, the Church must not interfere on purely political matters.
They must not meddle on matters they are not absolutely expert with, especially on changing the lousy system. Otherwise, they end up speaking stupid and illogical things, as what Proverbs 11:2 stresses, “When pride comes, then comes shame.”
Does Jesus teach that the Church must not be involved in politics?
The answer is YES.
In fact, Jesus asserted to Pilate: “My kingdom is not part of this world.” (John 18:36) This was Jesus’ response when asked if he is part of any earthly government.
This must be also the guiding principle of the Church: The Mother Church must not involve itself in politics, except on moral matters. This includes set-up of system of government and running for any position.
Christ’s final words to his disciples (and to the Church) before his ascension was clear: The Church must focus on spreading the Word of God to many people (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8).
Social justice, human rights, and participation
“Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40)
By supporting Federalism, which lifts people’s lives, the Church actually follows social justice Christ has laid in Matthew 25:34-40.
Regarding human rights, CBCP stated that the present Bill of Rights is in line with the Gospel, which will be retained under the Federal government. To further strengthen and promote human rights, the Commission on Human Rights will be given additional powers and duties.
“Participation is at the heart of democracy.” Under Federalism, there will be greater participation in the government, as Federalism considers not only the voice of the government (majority) but also of the opposition (minority). Because of that, the Church has better opportunities to defend human rights. The Church will also play greater role in its pro-life and pro-family advocacies, by acting as part of the “check and balance” under Parliamentary system (in moral aspects).
Filipinos are not practical
Practicality is needed if we want to have a progressive nation.
Sadly, many Filipinos lack practicality. Some people now are like Pharisees, worrying that Federalism will lead to loss of checks and balances, term extensions, and rise of political dynasties, while neglecting to find realistic solutions to longstanding problems (which are most important), like unemployment, OFW phenomenon, and bad governance (Matthew 23:23).
King David possessed the value of practicality. When he and his men were hungry, he broke the tradition just to satisfy their hunger (1 Samuel 21:1-6, Matthew 12:3-4). He had prioritized their needs instead of observing traditions, thus he had done a good work, which is the essence of Sabbath.
Jesus also possessed the value of practicality. When he learned about the sick man wanting to be healed during Sabbath (which tradition of Pharisees forbids), he broke the “tradition” just to heal the poor guy (Matthew 12:10-13). Jesus had prioritized his need instead of observing traditions, showing religious leaders the essence of Sabbath.
Tinkering is not enough
This verse serves as guide in creating laws. Laws must not be superior to the constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.
Like other Filipinos, the board of bishops show their lack of practicality by saying that changing the Local Government Code would be enough. The truth is this: Tinkering with the Local Government Code is not enough. Aside from very costly procedures (as tinkering alone requires various hearings to amend it), this will still require changes to the Constitution, especially on devolving powers to the regional governments.
Tinkering without Cha-cha will violate Jesus’ words. In short, tinkering LGC to “Federalize” the country will not succeed under the present Constitution (Unitary). For it to succeed, the Constitution must be changed.
Bear your burdens
“Two are better than one… for if they fall, one will lift up his companion…”
“Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12)
This is an example of bayanihan as said in the Bible, where two or more people share each other’s burdens. Actually, Federalism fosters the bayanihan spirit among Filipinos.
The present system gives many duties to the President and his cabinet. With so many duties attached to the President, can he govern the country all by himself? Who will shoulder the President’s burden?
System change will spread the burden of governance among qualified persons. Even Jesus is aware of this. The Lord had seen that many people are like sheep without a shepherd: lost, scattered, and without sense of purpose. To help them, Jesus cannot do it alone – he assigned the burden to his disciples, who in turn, will spread the Word of God for the people (Matthew 9:35-38).
This is also the principle used by Saint Paul in his letter to the Galatians. Seeing the vast work of Christians in spreading the Word of God and comforting each other, he urged Christians in Galatia to carry one’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
In a similar manner, Federalism uses this principle: Instead of giving various tasks to a single person – the President and his cabinet – that is now prone to abuses by the Executive branch; Federalism distributes the burden of governance among various higher officials with special responsibilities.
Federalism is actually based on subsidiarity. The Church defines subsidiarity as a principle that “matters and political decisions must be handled by the least centralized competent authority”.
Unlike the present system, Federalism follows the Church’s dogma by giving more power to local leaders over local maters, while reserving for itself tasks that cannot be done on local level (like defense and foreign affairs).
Frankly, Federalism fosters genuine devolution of power, which our present Unitary system could not accomplish.
Provide for the family
“To claim economic freedom while real conditions [prevent] many people from real access to it, and while possibilities for employment continue to shrink, is to practice a doublespeak…”
Even Pope Francis will agree that people must have various opportunities on employment. People must have access to decent jobs and decent wages for their families. This is the real spirit of economic freedom.
The Bible requires parents to provide the needs for the family (1 Timothy 5:8). But with 60-40 in place, which restricts investors giving higher wages and many jobs for Filipinos, few opportunities now exist in the Philippines. This forces parents to go abroad as OFWs or endure low wages here.
The recent death of Joanna Demafelis, an OFW in Kuwait, inside a freezer must serve as wake-up call for CBCP. They can be like Pope Francis by supporting programs that will give decent jobs and wages to many Filipino families. In this manner, parents can care and provide for family’s needs without going away from home.
No research done
“Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.” (Proverbs 3:13)
CBCP must listen also to real experts studying governance for many years, as these experts really know the stuff they are dealing with. Many constitutional and legal experts also think that revising the Charter is highly needed to fix the root cause of the country’s problems. They can also seek wisdom from successful governments like that of Australia, UK, and Canada.
Aside from this, the board of bishops must realize that President Duterte himself picked Fr. Ranhillo Aquino, a lawyer-priest, as part of Consultative Committee tasked to draft the new charter. Fr. Ranhillo also represents the role of the Church in drafting the new constitution.
God: “Move on”
The CBCP fears return of Martial Law if Charter Change will be in place. This means that CBCP has not yet moved on with that kind of thinking.
However, the Bible itself tells us to “forget” the past: “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.” With Federalism in place, that further prevents abuses under Marcos’ regime, God “will do a new thing,” and that He “will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert,” that is, to make the Philippines a progressive nation (Isaiah 43:18-19).
Present system inconsistent with Gospel
Did these bishops realize that although imperfect, Federalism is consistent with the Gospel?
Imploring the aid of the Almighty God – and inserting the word “love” – in the preamble does not necessarily mean that God agrees that it is the best constitution in the world.
Keeping with status quo while asking for change of political culture is utter stupidity. This will only protect the system that causes widespread poverty, patronage politics, and political dynasties. In essence, they are also supporting injustice against the Filipino society.
Even Jesus will hate those who reject better system of governance, as this represents injustice to the people.
If bishops insist on present system, it shows that they are a liability to the country by keeping with anti-FDI restrictions, which pushes Filipinos in deep poverty; and by keeping with Presidential systems, which does not produce public servants. They can lift a finger, and that is by supporting any system change that benefits the public. (Luke 11:46)
If bishops insist on present system, it shows that they do not care about transparency, accountability, and governance in the first place. It is obvious even to ordinary people that the present system does not address the longstanding and serious problem of corruption and bad governance.
If bishops insist on present system, it shows that they do not care if families get separated or broken. They are condoning the break-up of family as a basic social unit. This is because anti-FDI provisions remain in the basic law that restricts job opportunities for Filipinos. As a result, some Filipinos are forced to go abroad and endure hardships, maltreatment, and ridicule overseas, while “neglecting” their sons due to necessity.
If bishops insist on present system, it shows that they are not showing mercy and compassion to the poor. Mercy and compassion does not end in giving dole-outs or alms to them. Mercy and compassion is also done by giving them ways to stand on their own feet and to make the poor feel that they are a blessing to their society. It is through overhaul of the Constitution that will bring meaningful life and hope to the poor. 
Why change the system?
Systems tend to dictate peoples’ behavior in the society. Worst systems breed bad behavior, and consequently stop country’s progress. Best systems breed good behavior, which result to country’s progress.
Even Jesus Christ knew this principle. In his sermon, he told the people:
“Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”
“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17-18)
Similarly, worst systems will not produce good results. And best systems will not produce bad results. (Luke 6:43-44)
Like Jesus Christ, Saint Paul had been aware of this principle. In his letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul had told that “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) Even God will not accept an excuse that “the problem lies on the persons, not on the system.” The problem is not on the planter but on what he plants.
Now, two thousand years after Paul had written his letter, the Philippines has been reaping the consequences of planting the wrong system. Other countries like Canada, Singapore, and Malaysia are reaping now the consequences of planting the right system.
We need to change the system to change the way people think, act, and behave. While the potter has power over the clay he is molding, the system acts in a same manner by having power over the people it molds (Romans 9:21). Lousy systems mold the people to become lousy ones; and best systems mold the people to become best ones.
Change for the better
Even Jesus Christ is in favor of changing the system for the common good, especially if the present system does more harm than good to the people.
Read Matthew 12:1-8. The Pharisees used their “traditions” to accuse Jesus and his disciples of disloyalty to God. The disciples once strolled in a field, picking grains to eat. When Pharisees asked Jesus on this matter, Jesus saw already that the problem is in the old system.
This pushed him to rebuke the Pharisees on implementing harsh systems to the people, and reminding them the real purpose of the Sabbath. Finally, it pushed him to change the system by saying that he is the Lord of the Sabbath. (Matthew 12:8, Acts 13:39, Hebrews 7:12)
Why support system change?
“Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17)
Masses frequently pray for good governance, but the Church must not stop there. They must act on it by supporting system change that will promote good governance and benefit the Philippines.
By supporting system change, they are in a way helping the poor to rise from poverty.
By supporting system change, they will be of so much help in providing responsible leaders who are accountable not only to the Parliament and to the Filipinos, but also to Almighty God.
By supporting system change, they will be of so much help in restoring faith and trust in the government.
By supporting system change that will benefit most Filipinos, they are easing the burden Philippines has been experiencing for so long. In essence, they are following Christ’s example, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
And by supporting system change, they are helping Christians to live quiet and peaceful lives. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Is God in favor of Federalism? YES.
Actually, Federalism is consistent with the Gospel:
If the Almighty God Himself sees that the Philippines is suffering so long due to faulty system in place, He will tell us to change the Constitution now. Jesus reminds us that a system that does not bear good fruits must be replaced. (Matthew 7:19)
Remember, even God does not want his people suffer (1 Peter 5:7).
No ifs, no buts.
CoRRECT the Constitution NOW.
Scriptural references are from The New King James Version (NKJV).
See 1 Kings 4:1-19. The set-up was in fact a monarchical and centralized one. The set-up of Parliament is not mentioned. Power is concentrated on the king of Israel – who oversees domestic and international affairs (1 Kings 5:1-10, 10:13-15) – and in Jerusalem.
Once, King Ahab forgot God by worshipping Baal (1 Kings 16:29-33). Without Parliament, serving as “check and balance”, no one opposed this act except Elijah, who corrected Israel’s fault (1 Kings 17:1-7; 18:20-40).
Later kings corrected Israel’s mistakes, like King Josiah (2 Kings 23). Without good systems, these reforms will fade, and Israel will return to their false gods (Jeremiah 2:5-8). Again, without Parliament as “check and balance”, Jeremiah had to correct again Israel’s fault (Jeremiah 25:3-9).
See also John 13:16.
Additionally, if bishops insist on present system, it shows that they are not a big help in solving the country’s burden on widespread poverty and bad governance. They are no different with the Pharisees: They know that the country is suffering, but do not care on prioritizing real solutions that will solve these problems.
Originally, God started the Sabbath system through Moses, naming seventh day as rest day (Exodus 20:8-11). This was made for man’s benefit (Mark 2:27). Although the intention was good, as it promoted rest and good works, religious leaders are hiding its true message by changing the system. As time passed, scribes and Pharisees added so-called “traditions” and observances, which add burden to the people (Matthew 23:4).
To know more about Federalism and others, visit https://correctphilippines.org.
This site is not related to the CoRRECT Movement, instead, its aim is to reach out to many Filipinos on importance of system change in the government through different Philippine languages.