Philippine Bishop Begs Off From Truth Panel

Says Prelates Are Pastors, Not Politicians

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MANILA, Philippines, JULY 22, 2005 ( The outgoing president of the Philippine bishops’ conference said that it would contradict his position as a prelate to participate in a commission probing electoral fraud in the country.

Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao said his participation in the commission established by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo would not be in line with a recent statement written by the bishops on the political crisis in the Philippines, according to the Missionary Service News Agency.

The document, entitled «Restoring Trust: A Plea for Moral Values in Philippine Politics,» was presented by the country’s 85 prelates at a July 8-11 meeting in Manila and emphasizes that bishops are pastors, not politicians.

Appealing to morals

President Arroyo announced the establishment of the Truth Commission to investigate charges of illegal electoral procedures leveled against her in the May 2004 presidential elections. She made the announcement in a letter sent to the bishops’ conference, and read on television, days after the prelates issued their statement.

Arroyo explained that she set up the commission «on the basis of the issue of moral responsibility and the need to re-establish trust.»

Archbishop Capalla, 70, added that, together with other bishops of the conference, he may recommend some individuals to be members of the Truth Commission, but specified that none of these will speak on behalf of the nation’s bishops.

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