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FO: Church Documents

Twenty years ago, the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila, called on Filipinos to go to Camp Aguinaldo to "defend" Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos, who had withdrawn support for then-President Ferdinand Marcos. Many heeded Sin's call, and what happened after is now referred to as the People Power revolution, the EDSA revolution, and even EDSA 1.

I do not know whether Sin's call is available online, but there are quite a few Church documents on the Internet that convey a sense of the Church's role in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship.

As early as 1971, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) was already calling for electoral reforms. After the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, the bishops expressed satisfaction with "the assurance of the President that he was concerned not to prolong martial law unduly." Unfortunately, some presidents are not known for keeping their promises.

And so in 1978, the CBCP had to state that, "there was ample evidence of fraud and deceit, of connivance... to tamper with the results and to frustrate the will of the people" in the Batasang Pambansa elections. It would take a visit from Pope John Paul II for Martial Law to be lifted.

But not much changed, and that's why before the snap elections of 1986, the bishops had to say, "this election will be judged not only in terms of the persons and issues involved, but also by the way it is conducted and the way we respond to its conduct." Finally, after the elections had taken place, the CBCP proclaimed that, "The people have spoken. Or have tried to... the polls were unparalleled in the fraudulence of their conduct."

During the same period in the 70s and 80s, Cardinal Sin as head of the Archdiocese of Manila was also making his own pronouncements. Before the 1978 elections, he urged Filipinos to "go out and vote according to your conscience." After the elections, he called on the Commission on Elections to "investigate all charges brought to its attention, to give everyone a fair and public hearing, and to punish the guilty..." Still, not much happened with regard to election reform.

In 1986, Cardinal Sin told his flock before the snap elections that "MONEY OFFERED TO YOU IN NO WAY OBLIGES YOU TO VOTE FOR A PARTICULAR CANDIDATE. ALWAYS VOTE ACCORDING TO YOUR CONSCIENCE" (emphasis in original). There was probably no more time—or need—for another document on irregularities after the elections. A few weeks later, Enrile and Ramos made their move, Sin called on Filipinos to go to EDSA, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Note: The documents available on the website of the Archdiocese of Manila and the CBCP are not complete. Some of the documents, in fact, have erroneous URLs or need to be cleaned up.

Categories: Filipiniana Online, The Philippines, Religion

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