MANILA, NOVEMBER 1, 2003  (STAR) FROM THE STANDS By Domini M. Torrevillas - As a cultural practice, many of us troop to the graves of our dearly departed today. We’ve made a fiesta of the visits, with blaring radios and food spread out on mats, and mahjong sessions. Thank God a local official has passed an order banning all noisy merrymaking at the memorial parks. The official is right; we should mark our visitations with honor and dignity, with our voices down, and make our remembering of the dead a solemn event.

Many of our villages are quiet today as people spend the day – and previous night – in the cemeteries, and some in beach resorts or mountain hideaways. So today is a good time for listening to our thoughts, to reflect on the crisis besetting us, to go down on our knees and pray for the future of this nation.

The "constitutional crisis" that had us riveted to our TV and radio sets and newspapers is still the hot – and worrisome – topic of conversations. Many are praying for a peaceful resolution to this conflict. And there is also talk of the possible presidential candidates, and somehow, the conversation veers toward the declaration of President Macapagal-Arroyo last December that she was not running for president anymore. But a couple of weeks ago, she said she was running. I know a lot of people who were disappointed over her decision.

In a conversation with former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Perfecto "Jun" Yasay, I learned that Pro-testant bishops had sent GMA a letter in which they implored her to reconsider her decision. I got hold of a copy of the letter from a Malacañang source. It is important that we know how spiritual leaders feel about her decision. Let me quote parts of the letter:

"Madam President, the Holy Scriptures remind us to be constantly true to our word. We must always be honest and sincere about what we say so that others will believe our simple yes or no, and find us trustworthy. When we lose our credibility, we also lose our ability to lead and govern.

"The words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ found in the Book of Matthew Chapter 5, Verse 37, is instructive on this point. He said: "Simply let you ‘Yes’ be yes and your "No‚" no; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.‚ This illuminating verse is similarly reiterated in the book of James Chapter 5, Verse 12, which reads: "Let your ‘Yes‚ be yes and your ‘No‚ no, or you will be condemned.’

"The message is clear. When you declared to our people that you will not seek the presidency in 2004, that promise is binding before God. You yourself stated that this decision not to run was arrived at after an insightful deliberation and discernment of God’s plan. We cannot get around that promise by expediently contriving ‘compelling justification’‚ which irreverently suggest that God changed His plans because of events He did not foresee. We are expected to be held by our word and hour honesty must be unquestionable.

"Rest assured, Madam President, of our continued unwavering support for your leadership as you devote your efforts in carrying out the vital programs for national development in the remaining months of your term. We pray that God will continue to bless you and empower you with the wisdom and the courage to do that which is right and to be an instrument in carrying out His will for our people."

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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