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

By CBCP News

October 4, 2022

Manila, Philippines

A church-led grassroots movement will organize advocates in parishes across the country who will act as “champions” of good governance and nation-building.

Caritas Philippines announced the plan Monday during the official launching of its “Simbayanihan” movement, a “whole-of-Church” approach to address poverty and corruption.

“So among our next moves is to organize good governance advocates in different dioceses and parishes,” Caritas’ executive secretary Fr. Tony Labiao said. “We have to organize communities.”

“We need to organize the working teams who will lead the engagements for economic empowerment and participation in local governance,” said the priest, who is also the national convenor of Simbayanihan.

The launching was preceded with the first Simbayanihan National Congress at the Caritas Philippines Academy in Tagaytay City, south of Manila.

The whole-day event was attended by representatives from different diocesan social action centers across the country.

The national Caritas said the program also aims to form and support principled politics and politicians and create “critical vigilance” among communities.

Its national director Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo said that the previous elections taught them that “we failed in our old strategies” to bring people together to discuss politics and development.

“Simbayanihan was hoped to bridge the gap between faith and justice, by taking part in concrete social action works on ecology, justice and peace, and good governance,” Bagaforo said.

Fr. Rex Paul Arjona, one of the convenors of Simbayanihan, said the movement is focused on linking existing good governance and community development programs through organization and partnership building, training and formation for responsible citizenship, and principled cooperation with government.

Aside from the Caritas network, Agri Partylist, the Quezon City government, and the People Power Volunteers for Reform are also part of the convening groups.

“We always believe in the influence of the church to effect community empowerment and development, which is vital in ensuring that government programs are enforced properly, and maximized fully,” said Agri Partylist Rep. Wilbert Lee.

“We are working with Caritas Philippines and our partners to provide communities with sustainable economic activities so we will be able to help create empowered communities who can exact accountability among local and national politicians, and be more engaged in local governance,” Lee added.

Simbayanihan will be launched at the regional and diocesan levels in the coming months, involving the civil society, government, and private organizations, through the social action clusters and centers.


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