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CBCP initiates Second National Rural Congress

MANILA, July 17, 2007—CBCP President and Jaro (Iloilo) Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo said the CBCP will convene the Second National Rural Congress early next year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first national rural congress and review the continuing issues confronting the country’s poor in the rural areas.

In a statement released to the CBCPNews, Archbishop Lagdameo said the Congress will provide the venue for the affected sectors, farmers, fisherfolks, rural women and youth to “speak by themselves, the discerning, the proposing of their own ideas, the planning of how we must as a people come together to work for the common good of our country.”

Adopting the widely accepted See-Judge-Act methodology, Lagdameo said the participants will describe the current situation of various sectors of the rural poor, the role of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) and church-based rural development programs.

The congress will also review the impact of key social legislation and engage government agencies in the implementation of widely-publicized social reform programs under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law and the Indigenous People’s Rights Act, among others.

He added the congress hopes to come up with a fuller description of the rural poverty situation and do a deeper analysis of the situation in the light of the Social Teachings of the Church and formulate concrete proposals for action addressed to the rural sectors, local churches, government agencies, NGOs and other concerned agencies.

Diocesan consultations on the BEC level have begun early this month and will go on until November with the assistance of the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) and the CBCP Offices for BECs and indigenous People.

The CBCP president appealed to diocesan social action centers, schools and research centers, farmers’ organizations, NGOs and government agencies to actively participate in the activities relative to the National Rural Congress.

He said the Second National Rural Congress’ success lies on the participation of every diocese and its BECs.

Sub-regional consultations on rural poor sectors and rural issues will be conducted by the Philippine-Misereor Partnership, the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines and the Rural Poor Solidarity coalition of non-government and people’s organizations.

Archbishop Lagdameo said Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J. is the NRC Central Committee’s executive chairman and Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Vice Chairman with Balanga (Bataan) Bishops Socrates Villegas, Laoag (Ilocos Norte) Sergio Utleg and NASSA Executive Director Sister Roseanne Malillin, SPC as members.

The Episcopal Advisory council is composed of Manila Archbishop Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales, (Luzon), Cebu Archbishop Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal (Visayas), Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, OMI (Mindanao) and Jaro (Iloilo) Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo.

NASSA Executive Director Sr. Roseanne Malillin, SPC was appointed coordinator for the ad intra secretariat for diocesan consultations on BECs with Msgr. Elmer Abacahin of the CBCP-BEC Office and a representative from the Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples as members.

The ad extra secretariat for Sub-regional consultations in rural issues includes Philippines-Misereor Partnership Office Lourdes Cipriano as coordinator, Bro. Hansel Mapayo of AMRSP and Belinda Formanes of Rural Poor Solidarity.

The members auxiliary arm of the National Rural Congress is composed of CBCP Offices for Research under Archbishop Ledesma, Media directly under Msgr. Pedro Quitorio and the CBCP Secretariat under Msgr. Juanito Figura. (Melo Acuna)