Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Laiko Challenge

“DO we have to get a priest to run as governor? Is there no prepared lay person to take the job and change the way we do and run our government? I don’t think a priest should leave his ministry and be suspended from his ministerial duties to run for government office.”

These sharp questions were posed by Dr. Linda Tacorda, National President of the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas, during a regional conference held in Iloilo City of late. The conference carried the theme: “The Laity: primary agents of change towards honesty and integrity for good governance.”

At the backdrop is a limping implication that it’s either there is a drought of good people in government or the government is not a place for good people—or both. And this supports the perception that being notoriously number one in corruption in the region makes even the good ones in government today, and there are a lot of them, deeply tainted.

But for a priest to run for public office because nobody among the laity qualifies is simply implausible. There are millions of good people in the fray. It is just that they do not have the money and the guts to corrupt the elections process as is normally done, albeit sadly. Squandering millions of hard earned money in an election and being good is not compatible. Today, to win in an election one has to be corrupt to buy votes and to be a liar to forego with the promises without a blink. And the more corrupt one becomes the higher he climbs in the political hierarchy.

This is a square challenge for the laity who has been, for centuries now, hiding under the fringes of the clergy especially when it comes answering the call to become prophetic in the face of political and social justice issues.

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II, #50) puts it clearly: “The strength, vitality and relevance of the Church as sacrament of the Kingdom implies a laity fully come of age, that is, a laity who, imbued with and animated by the Gospel of Christ, shall have assumed consciously, actively, and fully their role and responsibility in Church and society.”

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