June 19, 2020
The three major faith groups in the country has just started another collaboration in the face of the new normal.
Dubbed as ”Life Talk with Church Leaders,” the online talk show aims to discuss issues relevant to Filipinos worldwide, especially in this time of global pandemic.
The premiere episode yesterday, June 18, featured Bishop Noel Pantoja of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), Bishop Reuel Marigza of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), and Fr. Edwin Gariguez of CBCP-NASSA/Caritas Philippines.
“This is a very timely collaboration between the three councils. We hope that this online show will not only provide answers to questions our kababayans have, but will assure them that their churches will always be present no matter how difficult the circumstances are,” expressed Bishop Pantoja during the opening of the program.
The discussion centered on: 1] the impacts of COVID-19 to FBOs and in the expression of faith, 2] how the churches are adopting the new normal guidelines of the government, and 3] how the churches are prioritizing the welfare of its frontliners, while doing its humanitarian activities.
“This is a very abnormal time even for the church. That is why we needed to be very involved in the discussions with the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19. We have to make sure that not only our ministerial obligations are surfaced in the meetings, but more importantly, to make sure that our on-going humanitarian responses are not hampered while adhering to the quarantine guidelines,” Bishop Marigza stated.
Fr. Gariguez also added that “the pandemic was able to beautifully show how the churches were able to collectively respond to the needs of the communities despite the fact that even international funding institutions and partners were greatly affected by COVID-19. In the midst of the crisis, we were able to truly localize our responses by enabling our local partners and communities to rise above the challenges of the health emergency, particularly on resource mobilization.”
As of June 18, 2020, the total collective response of the Philippine FBOs already amounts to 1.475 billion pesos reaching out to more than 4.625 million families.
The panelists also answered questions relating to the FBOs’ stand on the Anti-Terrorism Bill and on safeguarding the democratic spaces including press freedom in the country, among others.
“Our opposition to the present Anti-Terrorism Bill roots from the fact that its provisions are so prone to abuse of power. It does not provide enough safeguards to warrant rule of law when signed by President Rodrigo Duterte. Thus we appeal for him to veto the legislation. We call for him to junk the bill until we are able to properly deliberate and scrutinize its provisions,” said Bishop Pantoja, also head of Philippine Relief and Development Services, Inc. (PHILRADS).
“If I was tagged a dissenting terrorist even without a law, and even without proof, how much more if the anti-terror bill is finally passed into law? We recognize the urgent need for counter-terrorism, but there is more urgency in responding to the problems due to COVID19,” commented Fr. Gariguez, executive secretary of the Philippine Caritas.
The Life Talk with Church Leaders is planned to be a regular online program of the three major council of churches to provide another alternative platform for public discourse, information dissemination and education.
“May this endeavour be our way to grow more in generosity, partnership and compassion,” closes Bishop Marigza of NCCP.
The Philippine FBO (faith-based organization) Forum or FBO PH is a faith-based network rendering integrative, holistic and compassionate humanitarian and development services to the most vulnerable sectors of the society.
The humanitarian and development arms of the three largest Christian councils in the country, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines through NASSA/Caritas Philippines, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches – Philippine Relief and Development Services, Inc. (PHILRADS), and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, comprise FBO PH.###