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Catholic schools’ association echoes call for moral courage

By Fr. Enrico Paglinawan

On February 9, the Catholic Schools Educational Association of Caceres and Libmanan (CEACAL) held its quarterly General Assembly where the body also adopted the statement issued by the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP): A Call to Moral Courage.

After the discussion on CEACAL’s 2021 accomplishments, Fr. Wilmer S. Tria, President, discussed Catholic Citizenship and Engagement Education, as a development of the voters’ education program of the Archdiocese of Caceres. He also asked the body on its sentiments about CEAP’s statement. All agreed to adopt CEAP’s guidelines in choosing candidates and to pursue them vigorously among stakeholders.

In the statement, CEACAL, with 47 member-schools, “commits to uphold the values of truth, justice, democracy and integrity as it pursues its mission of Catholic education.”

“As Catholic educators, we are duty-bound to form good Catholics who will live out their faith in the public square. We shall fulfill this mission with hope and vigor. We shall be at the forefront of a Catholic education that leads to an engaged citizenry. And we will begin by choosing servant leaders who follow the rule of law and exemplify the ideals of good governance.”

“We call upon our school communities, namely: our faculty and staff, our students and parents, our alumni and other stakeholders, to join us in this sacred vow. From a culture of death and lies, let us build a culture of life and truth. Let us walk together towards a better Philippines, whose people are committed to social transformation and embody our cry: A good Catholic is a good citizen.”

The core values of truth, justice, democracy and integrity were explained in CEAP’s statement.

“We value truth, and thus we deplore the massive disinformation that is deceiving our people, especially our youth, in a way that is unparalleled in our history. We vehemently reject the candidates who run under this platform of lies and historical distortion – disseminated in social media by massively-financed trolls – particularly the brazen presentation of the Marcos dictatorship and Martial Law as benevolent regimes in our political history. We denounce candidates who exploit our people’s poverty through vote buying and intimidation.”

“We value justice, and thus we reject candidates who have supported the unjust acts of the current administration, particularly its drug war that has killed thousands, mostly poor and powerless, and the blatant lack of remorse and accountability from the country’s leadership. We reject candidates who supported the current administration’s policy toward China’s aggression inside Philippine territory, its rejection of the Hague ruling, and the lack of protection of Filipino fisherfolk.”

“We value democracy, and thus we support candidates who uphold it and the rule of law in our land. We reject candidates who undermine democracy through intolerance of critique and opposition, influence peddling in all three branches of government, perpetuation of a culture of impunity, traditional and patronage politics, and through rampant human rights violations.

“We value integrity, and thus we support candidates with the following qualities: no record of corruption, proven competence in participatory governance, transparency and accountability in public service, love for the poor and their empowerment, ability to sacrifice for the sake of the common good, and readiness to fight for values of truth, social justice, and democracy. We support leaders who wield power as social responsibility and not self-entitlement, and who can connect to the spiritual in their lives, through their conscience, discernment, and faith in God.”

“We value our work of educating the youth, and thus we support candidates who will uphold, push, and support legislation to strengthen private education and recognize its complementarity with public education, as critical in nation building.”

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