THE affable Pope John XXIII, in Mater et Magistra, explicitly rejected a basic element in the International Monetary Fund-World Bank (IMF-WB) creed that the state should refrain from economic activism. That encyclical acknowledged that there are situations when the state must be economic activist, if only to help the economically disadvantaged sectors like the nation’s farmers.
The late Harvard-trained economist-lawyer Alejandro Lichauco, who was a member of the 1973 Constitutional Convention, said there are passages in that encyclical that unquestionably established that the principle of state economic interventionism, so anathema to the IMF-WB ideology of liberal capitalism, is part and parcel of the church’s social doctrine:
“The state, the reason for whose existence is the realization of the common good in the temporal order, cannot keep aloof from the economic world. It must be present to promote in a suitable manner the production of a sufficient supply of material goods, the use of which is necessary for the practice of virtue…. It is also its ineluctable task to contribute actively to the betterment of the condition of life of the workers….
“First of all, it should be affirmed that the economic order is the creation of the personal initiative of private citizens themselves working either individually or in association with such other in various ways for the prosecution of economic interests.
“But here for the reasons that our predecessors have pointed, the public authorities must not remain inactive if they are to promote in a proper way the productive development in behalf of social progress for the benefit of all citizens.”
Lichauco said: “That in insofar as church social doctrine was concerned, the ‘fundamental principle’ of liberal or laissez-faire capitalism is downright immoral. That fundamental principle is free, unbridled competition, not only locally but internationally; pit the undercapitalized local industrialists against the overcapitalized multinational companies; pit the illiterate Filipino farmers against foreign corporate farms doing their farming with the aid of satellites even if that means killing the only livelihood our farmers know, and driving them to eat field rats.
“And that’s exactly what has been happening to this country since Edsa People Power Revolution. It all began with the lunacy called import liberalization and ended up in that act of economic suicide named General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the World Trade Organization without safety nets,” Lichauco added.
But if what economist Lichauco said is true, why is it that the church here hasn’t condemned the IMF-WB, as well as the government that since Edsa has followed the commands of those two institutions?
Replying, Lichauco said: “Insofar as its social doctrine is concerned, the church here has hardly been known to follow what it preaches. The church is much too tied up with elite and the elite want the freedom to do anything with their money, including taking their bath in Italian bathtubs, reading under the glow of Venetian chandeliers, go sightseeing around the world any time they please and otherwise surrounding themselves with imported luxuries and gorging themselves with imported food, even if that means that the state must squander the hard-earned dollars of our overseas workers to finance the importation of nonessentials and luxuries.” Lichauco said the church here obviously lives in terror of the evil incarnated in the ideology of the IMF-WB, displaying a moral cowardice which has made a caricature of the Christ who renounced Satan’s offer of the power and the glory and the kingdom.
“The truth is if the church was really serious about its social doctrines, it should have from the start condemned the IMF-WB as the incarnation and assiduous promoter of a malevolent and immoral ideology that has driven millions of Filipinos to destitution and acts of desperate perversion,” he argued.
“The nationalists and the communists who have denounced and continued to denounce the imperialism of the IMF-WB, while the church maintains a deafening silence on the immorality of the free-trade creed and the creed of ‘global competitiveness’—preferring, instead, to concentrate on denouncing jueteng and proclaiming from the rooftops its acts of petty and inconsequential charities while issuing press releases on political issues over which it has no business interfering, just so to get itself in the papers and impress us with what it thinks is its moral ascendancy,” Lichauco lamented.
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