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On first 100 days of Marcos presidency, Philippine Church leaders call for ‘focus’

Several Church leaders said they are dismayed over the president’s “lack of focus”

Church leaders in the Philippines urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to “act deliberately” and “with focus” on issues that affect the lives of the poor.

The call was made on Friday, October 7, eve of the president’s first 100 days in office.

Several Church leaders said they are dismayed over the president’s “lack of focus.”

Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Taytay in Palawan said he does not see “anything extraordinary” about the first 100 days in office of Marcos. “Nothing extraordinary for good or for bad,” said the prelate.

He said the president has been posing as “a traditional politician” without “sincere effort to govern well.”

“He is surrounding himself with ‘yes people’ who cover up his tracks,” said Bishop Pabillo, a vocal advocate of social justice.

“I do not expect him to discipline his people as he himself is without the discipline of a work ethic,” said the bishop.

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Bishop Dindo Rañojo of the Iglesia Filipina Indipendiente said the president “must spend more time doing actual work instead of partying.”

“The first three months of his presidency is without focus,” said the prelate.

“He needs to really look into the pressing issues that affect the lives of the marginalized, especially the farmers,” he added.

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, national director of Caritas Philippines, noted that Marcos opened his term by welcoming everyone to the public realm.

The prelate lauded Marcos for appointing agency heads who “gained multi-sectoral approval” and who started talks to prioritize climate and rights actions.

“However, much is still to be desired,” said Bishop Bagaforo.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. inspects troops during a change of command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo on August 8, 2022, in Quezon City, Philippines. (File Photo by Ezra Acayan / Getty Images / FOCAP POOL)

He urged Marcos to “act deliberately to find ways to solve the lingering inflation” and save citizens from losing their purchasing power.

“The administration must also prioritize and support Filipino farmers instead of enforcing the Rice Tarification Law, which is favoring importation,” said the bishop.

He said Caritas Philippines will continue its “principled cooperation” with the government even as it calls for the cancellation of all mining, coal, and fossil gas operations permits.

“We are ready to collaborate and we are hoping his administration will share the same with us and the rest of the civil society,” he said.

Bishop Bagaforo said Filipinos were expecting Marcos to make significant changes in his first 100 days in office, including the “inclusion and participation of vulnerable groups in decision and policy making.”

“But it is never too late,” said the prelate. “He has the next six years to make real changes.”

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, national director of Caritas Philippines, speaks during the 1st Simbayanihan National Congress in Tagaytay City on Oct. 3, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Caritas Philippines)

The group Kasimbayanihan, a Church-led network of accountability and good governance advocates, meanwhile, lauded government agencies that “reached out and expressed their interest for collaboration” with the civil society and the Church.

“We appreciate the willingness of the new administration to work with us,” said Father Rex Arjona, convenor of Kasimbayanihan.

“As far as the presidency is concerned,” the priest said Marcos should avoid activities that “show lavishness and do not elicit public trust.”

“If the first 100 days of President Marcos’ in office is indicative of the next six year, then we would want more from him,” said Father Arjona.

“We need his focus on doing his mandate and accountability on his election promises,” said the priest.

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