THE CONTEMPORARY PHILIPPINE SITUATION A. THE ECONOMIC SITUATION.

The number of malnourished children constantly increases and so has the number of beggars, of the out of school youth, and of the illiterate. Unemployment and underemployment are not effectively managed. Rural families move into squalid squatter areas in the cities, especially Manila, with the hope of better fortune, ending only in deeper misery. These are just some of the signs of the unhealthy economic situation in the Philippines. Some of the factors that contribute to such a situation are the following: unequal ownership of assets, especially land, a power system in which only a few rule, misconceived economic policies, the prevailing capitalist economic structure, and population growth which tends to be concentrated among the poor. Aggravating the imbalance between the rich and the poor is a system of taxation that is biased in favor of the well-to-do. Cases of tax evasion among some of the richer members of society involve large sums of money and such uncollected amount hurts the economy. At the same time, the government social services in health and housing hardly reach those who really need them most. Our economic situation offers little or no hope. Parents are forced to abandon their children to be employed abroad, without being aware of the social costs. Men are unemployed and graduating in ABS alak, babae, and sugal. Women are forced by poverty into the flesh trade. Child labor destroys the life of many young people who are robbed of their childhood and the opportunity for good education that can help improve their future. B. The POLITICAL SITUATION. 1. Oligarchic Political Situation In our country, power like wealth, is concentrated in the hands of a few influential people in society (politicians, businessmen, and the military). For instance, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law intended to diffuse land ownership is largely a failure because some rich landowners, many of whom are the lawmakers themselves, have many ways to circumvent the law. Many of us share the popular belief that external force, such as those of multinationals and political super powers support this power concentration and tend to preserve the oligarchic political structures. The power attributes in our country is maintained by our false belief that we are "poor and powerless" Filipinos. This kind of thinking had been imposed on us by long years of colonization. It did not die after the colonizers were gone because the elite took over and continued to perpetuate among the masses this idea of the inferiority of the poor and the uneducated. We mindset ourselves that we are small. So, to feel secure, we believe that we need to have a relationship of dependence with some bigger and more powerful individuals, who can give us jobs, money, some power and/or prestige. But these bigger and more powerful individuals might also be the clients of a still more powerful patron. This upward orientation, with which we support the powerful few, prevents the creation of real democratic organizations and parties, which could produce leaders who are really concerned about the

whom they are meant to represent. Some Ideologies at Work Filipino politics have not been based on an ideological position or political platform of a party. Socialism has been expressed in a plurality of political strategies and most of them can be easily reconciled with Catholic social doctrine. They look to the future. we are subject to ideological and political manipulation. repeatedly formulated in recent Papal Encyclicals. they can not afford introducing truly transformative social content into their platforms. who are poor. We say a few things about them under three headings: non-violent political options. the armed struggle of the left. Politicians switch to other parties because of the exigency of winning. its members are able to legitimize the protection of their own interests. thus. Many of the socially oriented Christian organizations and BECs are accused of being leftist. The non-violent left is committed to a democratization of wealth and political power. become an expensive and immoral process. There is no consistent history of political parties helping the majority. This principle. Only a few control political and economic power.common good. a. Many of our leaders turn out to be defenders of their powers and riches. guns and gold. Factional divisions explain our weak sense of common good. Because of the elite has control over the government. Sometimes. ensuring the marginalization of the majority. and during election time. we see the "balimbing" system at work. using one or all of these: goons. such as labor strikes. They educate the poor and laborers to work through electoral pressure tactics. Failing to recognize ourselves in a democratic way. and the Muslim rebellion. Our organizations are weak. "ang sariling bulsa". since we are divided by ideological and personal rivalries. they deny the rights of the poor. This puts pressure on politicians to strengthen their financial capabilities in ways that are not legal or moral. 2. from within and without our country. Political parties have no coherent ideology that would transform the present situation. So when politicians are elected into office. support a mitigated . Parties follow personalities in power. through the development of mass based organizations of peasants and workers. who financed their campaigns. The existence of a particular ideological position of the left of one inspired by Islam is rather an exception with this political scene. They have to support laws that are advantageous to the rich. Unscrupulous politicians take advantage of this situation by buying votes. 3. The poor depend on politicians for money. Our elections have. Private property has social mortgage. It has been a "person-oriented politics" in which people opted for their patron or for a particular personality often chosen because of his or her image projected by the media. under democratically elected governments in a multi-party system. towards worker managed enterprises. Elite Politics and Human Rights Violations One of the problems we meet in the present Philippine situation is the systematic violation of human rights with the poor and the powerless as victims. In the process. they borrow money at high interest rates or request for financial assistance from the rich. Many believe that the roots of such violations can be traced to elite politics. They are indeed influenced by a "socialist" vision of society.

if we have a serious analysis of the situation. to be used by some powerful groups to thwart the promotion of the common welfare.form of socialism. It relies on a huge network of dioceses. bureaucrat capitalism. THE NEED FOR ON-GOING CONSCIENTIZATION. its New People Army and the National Democratic Front. if they are needed for the common good. c. parishes. in order to bring about. The Church is a powerful and influential institution. Some goods should not be owned by a private person. We mostly identify the left with Communist Party of the Philippines. If such does not happen. transformation will only be effective. b. There is no hard and fast rule to determine the parameters of the church's involvement in political activities. universities. An unabated liberal capitalism. Though these groups claim to fight for better life for Muslims in the southern Philippines. which are in need of transformation. The relationship between Church and politics is a thorny issue. Yet. Although geographically less widespread. it has enormous resources for an integral national development. diocesan and national levels. the Muslim National Liberation Front (MNLF). Indeed. These resources can be used to work for justice and peace in society. social action centers. d. in the name of individual freedom. Leftist Christian groups are very Catholic when they integrate this principle into their social and political platform. A non-violent right dominates the Philippine political scene. publications. But. As such. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). and . Part of the reason for the rise of these groups is the widely held view that the government has failed to deliver the basic services to the Muslim regions. publications. They are groups that adhere to Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideologies and use armed struggle as their principal strategy for gaining power. CHURCH AND POLITICS. on the parish. the ultimate guiding principle for involvement is whether what we do as a Church can give a chance of Jesus' compassion. wittingly or unwittingly. especially for the poor. and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) continue to be a serious threat to peace and order in our country. Marxist social analysis looks at the society as rooted in the three fundamental structures of feudalism. to reign in society. But the same resources can also be misused. and lay organizations. radio stations. a classless society. We mentioned some structures in our society. They profess a nationalist and anti-imperialist stance. colleges. They envision a radical reorganization of society and ownership of wealth. C. is the root cause of many social ills in the country. It manages several hospitals. then our political participation is a sham. there are many instances where we can see the church trying to serve in society. grade schools and high schools. some of their members are actually engaged in criminal and terrorist activities. They claim to protect freedom makes rightists often the blind for the condition of the poor. Rightist politicians emphasize individual freedom and civil liberties. as Christians. D. and so on. There are cases where Churches permit themselves. They also favor free enterprise as the engine of economic development. eventually. in a state of collectivism.

those in power. E. can contribute to break this pattern of dominion in which a privileged group of people. inspired by Marxism. More particularly. That the basic standard for participation is the pursuit of the common good. urges the active and responsible participation of all in public life. We need other forms of analysis. we are reminded that we need to take note of the fact that even if we are one people and one nation. and ideological structures certainly deserves an ongoing study. those who have to sell their labor. political. Yet. History comes to a standstill because its main actors. In the introduction of the document. we better do not underestimate the economic relationships in our society in trying to understand its tensions and problems. . which makes history move. which expressing completely the commandment of love. are the goal of public life as well as its leading participants. It makes us understand some tensions and inequalities in our society. 4. developed an analysis. History and cultural anthropology become mediating sciences in understanding society. The lay faithful ought to provide the needed leadership in renewing politics in accordance with the values of the Good News of Jesus. and 5. The organizing of the economy mostly lead to a sharp division between those who control the means of production and the workers. which justifies their position. mainly positioned in the area of a vision on society. opt for a status quo. But it would be simplistic to explain the complex problems of our society with such analysis alone. That empowering people be carried out both as a process and as a goal of political activity. the owners of the economy grab political power and develop an ideological vision. 2. More often than not. All of us. they see the economy as the factor. from individual citizens to various groups. present themselves as the saviors of the poor. The overall value that must be infused into the political order has to be that of solidarity. Ascribing the whole process of development to economic relationships alone would be another simplistic solution. That it may be imbued with a love of preference for the poor. LAITY'S INVOLVEMENT AND LEADERSHIP IN POLITICS. each and everyone. Prophetic leaders. with singular competence and integrity in political affairs. their involvement in the political life of the nation must be guided by the following: 1. we are still separated by our geography. Their positions of power give only few opportunities to the majority of the poor. languages and ethnic origins. from labor groups to political parties. Following Karl Marx. The relationship between economic. safely supported by political power. there is an urgent necessity for the lay faithful to participate more actively. PCP II added an important perspective by pointing out the importance of a historical-cultural analysis. That participation be characterized by a defense and promotion of peace.imperialism. 3 That participation be inspired and guided by the spirit of service. Christian groups. These rich are in fact the cause why the history does not move any longer. which can lead to a more nuance understanding of the dynamics. which move society. Given the Philippine situation that politics has become an obstacle to integral development. cultural traditions. and also the Church.

but also social sin. means more than just a spirit of camaraderie. Social sins bring about sinful social structures that through time become accepted or institutionalized. to solve the problem in justice and love. In this juncture. it stands for a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good. We want a change in economic system. Justice and participation. freedom and capacity. Among the values and criteria that we are increasingly accepting are the following: 1. we had a look at the contemporary socio-economic and political situation and realized that our society is in need of transformation. We traced the root of our problems as a nation to sin not just the sin of individuals. We then introduced some key points of the social doctrine or teaching of the Church and presented them as a Christian vision for transforming our society. Universality. it has become increasingly clear to us that all-economic system need to be tested in terms of whether and to what extent they put people at the center of the development process. Do the economic system and the economic policies focus on the above elements for the global human family. Solidarity. Are the needs met equally? 2.F. We reflected on the value of an ongoing Christian conscientization. Christian service. The Filipino laity have to be encouraged to participate more actively in social and political life in order to evangelize politics and politicians. we need a change of values. Sustainability. We realized that the only way to be able to move towards such a vision is to adopt a spirituality of social transformation that is rooted in our faith in Jesus of Nazareth. Meeting basic human needs. G. . Is everybody involved in the process of decision making and implementation? 3. During the past twenty years. CONCLUSION. beyond national or regional political boundaries? 6. rather than living completely vulnerable to the decision of the others? 5. Does the economic system enable people to achieve a sense of their own worth. Rather. Self-reliance. Peace. We need to approach them with the moral and social virtue of solidarity. The problems of our society are complex and interdependent. in this context. PCP II presents a vision of a people and a nation renewed. Does the economic system promote peace that is built on justice. to the good of all and each of the individuals because we are really responsible for all.e. i. But to do so. can never be achieved on one's own. or a vague feeling of compassion or goodwill. Pope John Paul II has been called the Pope of solidarity because of this emphasis on the vision that development can only be integral if it serves the good of the whole community and of all its members. as a community of disciples. Is the economic system ecologically and socially sustainable over the generations? 4. TOWARDS A NEW PARADIGM OF DEVELOPMENT.

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