LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Legazpi Bishop Joel “Bong” Z. Baylon called on Filipinos to be vigilant, to speak out and to pray in the midst of crisis.
The bishop held a press conference on Sunday, May 13, where he read a pastoral letter following the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on May 11.
“The people have no means to turn to when the very basic foundation of a house is unstable. We call on the people to be vigilant, watchful, and to speak out. The church will lead a mass action if need be like in the past,” the prelate said.
“With the ouster of Chief Justice Sereno based on the flimsiest legal grounds and contrary to the spirit and letter of the constitution, we join countless voices throughout the country in sounding the alarm,” he added.
Baylon explained the culture of life, the virtue of truth-telling, and the systems of accountability have been subjected to relentless attacks by the culture of death, the virus of fake news, and the abuse of power.
“These are dark realities that we as Christians and as Filipinos could no longer afford to ignore or deny. The separation of powers of co-equal branches and checks and balances in government are under attack by those who wish to consolidate power for themselves,” Baylon continued.
Baylon asked people to pray for a discerning conscience, and so that people's hearts may listen to and be moved by the promptings of the spirit that leads to right action. “Let us not underestimate the power of prayer. When we pray we ask the Lord to be on our side,” he said.
He also asked people to be vigilant in staying informed by reading the news, and by spreading only the truth and exposing disinformation and fake news wherever they may be found – whether it be in traditional or new media, in official communications, as well as in personal conversations.
“Let us be vigilant against speech and actions that support impunity and abuse of power or promote hatred and violence towards certain groups or threaten personal freedoms and democratic rights,” Baylon said.
He added, “Let us be vigilant that despite all threats to our way of life as a free people, we may not fall into the trap of hatred and division of violence and death but rather continue along the path of sincere dialogue, fraternal unity and peace."
Baylon in 2017 issued a pastoral statement condemning the killings in the country under the guise of anti-drug operations. – Rappler.com