Friday, February 01, 2008

Bishops and Legislators

IN an unprecedented move, about 40 bishops and some legislators led by House Speaker Jose de Venecia sat together last January 23 and called not only for an extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), which expires this year, but genuine reform.

They call themselves Bishops-Legislators Caucus of the Philippines.

A day after, the group met again. This time they talked about family and life issues. There were more bishops led by CBCP President Angel Lagdameo and legislators led by both Senate President Manny Villar and Speaker Jose de Venecia who assured the assembly that he will not allow the passage of bills that are anti family and life during his watch.

When the idea of instituting a caucus for bishops and legislators surfaced early last year, all those on the sidelines were taking it with a grain of salt. It seemed then like it was devoid of wisdom and precedence, not to mention propriety and necessity. But the feminine genius in Fenny Tatad who initially albeit roughly conceived of the idea kept things moving rather persistently until finally it took form after two caucuses that saw only a few bishops and legislators in sluggish attendance.

Legislators are politicians pure and simple. Being so, they deliver fiery speeches full of sound and fury with nary a significance—except what power, and the glitter that it brings, mercilessly signify. But not when they are eyeball to eyeball with bishops. Not when the atmosphere is neither about building blocks for garnering more votes nor about the sweltering smell of the pork barrel. Not when it is about the common good which is the very stuff that defines honorable men like legislators—in fact, the bishops, too—should be.

As yet, there is not much to expect about the Bishops-Legislators Caucus of the Philippines. But this may be one of the best things that will ever happen to the incumbency of CBCP President Angel Lagdameo.

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