Monday, April 11, 2016

Sensing a Duterte Win

Though I am not a fan and I won’t vote for him this coming May, I smell the dawning of the Rodrigo Duterte presidency.

Violence is predominantly felt every day and everywhere in so many different forms and levels in our social interactions: abuse of power, crime, corruption and exploitation. The Filipino people are sick and tired of this chaotic reality happening right before our very eyes. Knowing the Filipino psyche, the word “Peace” is only confined to absence of violence as conveyed to us by both the mainstream and social media. Criminals with their vicious acts, both in the private and public spheres, continue to flourish as we see in the news sensationalizing  the very details of the case to the point that they bring irritating negative vibrations even in our supposedly most solemn or joyful moments. These news, the way they are presented, are giving us anxieties and even irrational fears or paranoia. Many of us are now suspicious of every stranger we meet in the streets, workplaces and even the people in our own neighborhood and homes. The criminals,- the kidnappers, hold-uppers, rapists, carnappers, etc., continue to draw blood from the hapless, innocent victims no doubt.

It is in this dreadful background that Rodrigo Duterte offered himself to the position for the nation’s top post which is the presidency. The former mayor of the then crime-infested Davao City succeeded in projecting himself as the crime busting messiah that is why, as of this writing, he continuous to gain support from the people and get high ratings from many surveys. To those who are behind him in his campaign and to millions who hope that criminality could be ended by using the iron fist approach in leadership, it is okay to employ brute force or even maim or kill in the name of peace and justice. Here lies the reality that generally, we Filipinos have very distorted concept of Peace and Justice.

Peace, to a genuine peacekeeper, is creatively and non-violently dealing with conflicts. True peacekeeping, over and above, is a way of developing alternatives to violence as means to resolving criminality. There can be no peace without justice. Justice in plain words is “giving what is legally and morally due to a person”. Indeed, we are true peacemakers only if we give what is due to somebody, his/her rights as human being to fully achieve his/her full potential and full development. The right to due process is foremost. Given the very alarming level of criminality in our society, presidential aspirants and all the candidates in general, must be committed to the defense of life and its sacredness in all its states and dimensions. The life of the suspects included. There is no room for extra-judicial killings or summary executions but on the other hand, many Filipinos today out of desperation, believe that such brutal actions are the only way to combat criminality. It is alleged that when Duterte was the local chief executive of his city, he formed death squads killing drug pushers and other criminals. We love men of action both in reel and real life. We are bombarded with movies depicting screen heroes radiating with fearlessness in the past thus this idolatry. But to follow the thoughts of Pope Francis, who am I to judge them?

Meantime, Duterte is scheduled for a campaign here in Occidental Mindoro on April 15, 2016 and a huge crowd from all over the province is expected to come. Well, even in the internationally acclaimed Google News and Al Jazeera before me put articles saying that Duterte’s presidency is inevitable.  Except for this hardline way of achieving peace and order, his other stand on certain issues, say federalism, are mostly commendable. But it is sad to note that it is not the issue of federalism or his sound development agenda that moved people to support him but his street smart personality, his machismo and his scheme of how to ultimately end criminality.  

The present generation clamor for punishers. We as voters and as citizens lack good voting judgment as it was shown in the past. As I sense that the Duterte presidency is expected, I also expect that our immaturity as voters and the patron-client relationship in our political culture will remain, so is our regressive electoral systems.

People do not care if Duterte has close friendly links with some top officials of the CPP-NPA-NDF which was classified as terrorist group by many of the Philippines’ ally nations. His supporters are mum over his pronouncement that it is okay to pay revolutionary taxes to armed communist groups. They do not care if Duterte’s stand is not to continue our legal quest against China over territorial disputes. They do not care if Duterte is a womanizer. Plain and simple, we thirst for the blood of heinous, hardened criminals, and corrupt officials except of course if that felonious individual is one of our loved ones, or perhaps, our own president.

The only thing uncertain is how his supporters will sustain to back him up and participate in eradicating and annihilating criminals in this part of the earth in just 6 months (or even after his term). Participatory governance is essential in every president’s agenda and program. Are they willing to participate in every drastic action to attain a peaceful and just society that they and their candidate are aspiring for or trying to imagine?

Ironically, of all the presidentiables, only Duterte is assured of prayers by the Pope after the former personally sent the pontiff a letter of apology. Prayers of the pope are still prayers of the pope no matter what made him do it. Under Duterte’s watch, we must now learn how to pray more for our nation. God, please, have mercy on us!

As the support for Duterte continues to swell, so do my sinuses. Due to acute perennial or seasonal rhinitis, my EENT doctor told me that I would occasionally suffer from olfactory disorder. Over and above, all communicators have reserve privilege to change their minds…


(Photo: Cebu Daily News)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Muhammad Ali and National Service*

To our Campus Director Ma’am Lorenza Elena S. Gimutao and her staffs and faculty members and the NSTP-CWTS Professors Melinda Santos and Jonathan Mariano, our NSTP-CWS Candidates for Graduation, friends, ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant good morning.

Let us give first ourselves a warm round of applause.

It is particularly gratifying for me to be able to impart some words to those whose success we celebrate today – the NSTP-CWTS Graduating Class of 2016. They who are able to complete this unique, innovative, and worthwhile program of service to our nation.

As we all know, our government instituted on 23 January 2002 by virtue of RA 9163, the otherwise known as "National Service Training Program (NSTP) Act of 2001". Lumping together the spirit and intention of NSTP-CWTS is summarized in just 7 letters: S-E-R-V-I-C-E. Service isn’t an obligation, but rather, a grace. People nowadays define greatness in terms of position, honor, and glory.

Our world defines greatness in terms of power, money, intellectual brilliance, athletic ability, and good looks. But Jesus, the One who served best in human history, defines greatness in terms of service. We, being an ordinary human being must be involved in service, community service in particular. But sometimes, we serve for evil and cruel intentions, purposes and goals of individuals and even groups.

I am a fan of boxing so allow me to quote the great Muhammad Ali who said that: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Just to share, in 1967, Ali was drafted to national service in the US army to be deployed to Vietnam but refused to enlist. This refusal led to his arrest, trial and conviction for draft evasion. His refusal was grounded on human rights and his religious beliefs calling himself a “conscientious objector”. According to the lower Court, Ali violated the Universal Military Training and Service Act. Ali's boxing career dived out of control after his arrest, with the New York State Athletic Commission suspension of his boxing license and the World Boxing Association stripping him of his world heavyweight title. This also banned him from boxing in the United States. After he was acquitted by the US Supreme Court through tedious court battle, his boxing career started to flourish and became “The Greatest” even more.

In the Philippines, we then have PD 1706, which is providing for compulsory national service thus called National Service Law which was drafted in 1980 and signed into law by then Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos. This was the prevailing national service act before the enactment of NSTP Act 2001 or the RA 9163. Today, citizens are no longer forced to join the ranks of the army but instead undergo a program aimed at enhancing civic consciousness and defense with various components specially designed to enhance your active contribution to the general welfare. Through this Act, the compulsory ROTC completion is suspended. The term “service” or even the word “defense” (as in “civil defense”) went beyond military parlance. In this course, you attended to various seminars and trainings, both technical and values-oriented, aimed at serving the community. To serve is to risk something. If we do not risk our life and limbs, our time, talent and treasure, it is false service hence, a self-service. (Self-service may be acceptable in a restaurant but a unthinkable in a massage parlor! )

Kidding aside, Muhammad Ali is now 74 years old and suffering from Parkinson’s Disease but still serving humanity. As Muhammad Ali was one of the first athletes to use his status as a vehicle to transform sports into larger societal issues through Ali’s six core principles: Respect, Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Spirituality and Giving,- all manifested by SERVICE.

One year is not enough to make a difference but we, no doubt, were able to inspire and educate people in our little ways. And even when NSTP-CWTS is over, there are still a lot of venues where you can commit yourselves in service despite the odds, when you face the main event, the life beyond school.

Thank you for the invitation and keep on punching, keep on serving!

Congratulations and God bless to the great sons and daughters of your Sintang Paaralan , ang PUP na inyong gabay, paaralang dakila at pinagpala….


(*Inspirational Message rendered on the NSTP Graduation and Recognition of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP)-Sablayan Campus on April 7, 2016)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Occidental Mindoro

We do not need to be a scientist like Dr. Laura David and a local political leader like Cong. Josephine Ramirez-Sato to realize that Occidental Mindoro and the rest of the Philippine provinces are now facing the very dangers of Climate Change. The effects of climate change specifically in the marine life of Sablayan can be watched in this video documentation posted by Reev Robledo last March 3, 2010 for the World Wide Fund for Nature or WWF.

I was personally invited by Board Member Roderick Q. Agas to attend a Climate Change Forum held in San Jose last Saturday, April 2, 2016. Agas, currently leading the vice mayoralty race in said municipality, a personal friend an erstwhile co-worker at the Social Services Commission of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose, personally invited me to be one of the attendees to the meeting. So, I did attend in my own personal capacity as a pro-environment advocate.

Held at Sikatuna Beach Hotel, it was conducted just 20 days away from the celebration of World Earth Day on April 22. The event was initiated by Dr. Corazon Claudio of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and Agas himself as chair of the environment and tourism committee in the provincial legislative board. Among the invited guest speakers are Dr. Helena T. Yap, PhD of the University of the Philippines (UP) Marine Science Institute; Dr. Maricor Soriano of UP Institute of Physics; and the one I have mentioned a while ago, Dr. Laura David, PhD, physical oceanographer. All the ladies are recipients of the prestigious The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service (TOWNS), all members of the elite group of awardees called TOWNS Federation. Majority of the participants are seaweeds planters and fisher folks from the islands of Iling and Ambulong and some employees of Office of the Municipal Agriculturist (OMA) from Magsaysay and the host municipality. Dr. Claudio is TOWNS Awardee for Science and Technology in 1989.

What strikes me most is the topic “Climate Change: Implications for a Tropic Archipelagic Country” rendered by Dr. David (TOWNS Awardee for Oceanography, 2010). She said that over the years, Philippines continue to experience increase in ocean temperature and acidification, a disturbance on what she calls as “water budgets”, rise of sea level and the increasing strengths of storm events which are associated with storm surges. She emphasized that the LGUs need to revisit their development plans anchored on the mitigations of these inescapable dangers posed by global warming. Dr. Soriano (TOWNS Awardee for Physics, 2010) discussed the importance of Automated Rapid Reef Appraisal or ARRAS where she introduced the so-called Teardrop Hull which she and her team have invented. The Teardrop Hull is an instrument that could accurately record the underwater resources of a certain area at the speed of 33 kilometers per day. On her part, Dr. Yap (TOWNS awardee for Science, 1998) emphasized the need of climate change resilience through livelihood switching. Ecotourism programs managed by the communities themselves, according to her, could also be tried.

Earlier in the day, in her opening remarks, Cong. Sato stressed that to mitigate climate change, our actions need to be comprehensive hence not only to rely on economic side but the ecological side as well. Indeed, all economic activity must respect the environment to a superior amount, reconciling the needs of economic development with those of environmental care. Addressing the seaweed farmers of San Jose and Magsaysay, the Occidental Mindoro representative to Congress said that the event is the “most anticipated shot in the arm for the seaweed industry in the province.” Further, Sato likewise informed the participants that she already authored the Expanded NIPAS Law known as House Bill 06328. Gov. Mario Gene J. Mendiola and Vice Gov. Peter J. Alfaro along with Mayor Muloy M. Festin also came to grace the occasion.

The lady experts are in unison in saying that our fragile island ecosystems should be restored and mining will put us even more in a vulnerable situation facing the changing climate that we are experiencing today. With the massive forest denudation and consequent desertification of our forests and siltation of our bodies of water due to large-scale mining explorations and actual operations, it would toast us even more in this ecological oven and frozen us cold in this ecological freezer.

Thus, one of the concrete ways of mitigating and adapting climate change is our firm, sustained and active opposition to mining, to all the 92 applications (so far) for the whole Mindoro Island…

(Photo: WWF)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Foreign Meddling: The Most Neglected Issue in the Recent Electoral Discussions

The social networking sites are now cluttered with different opposing partisan political propaganda,- black, white and gray, which are intended to boost the bid of their respective presidential bets this coming Philippine elections in May. The netizens, filled with emotions and armed with over-eagerness to defend or promote their candidates, allowed themselves to act like talkative puppets in the hands of a political ventriloquist. The heated online debates are now at their best. The discussions, fair or foul, are polluting the social media. Irritating memes and links that are scraped from propaganda sites of political parties and politicians sadly invade even our deepest apolitical moment in cyberspace.

These kinds of people allowed themselves to be hallucinated by emotions brought about by the campaign delirium. They are drowned by the illusion that the result of the elections, especially in the presidential and vice presidential races, solely lie in the hands of the voters, in the voting power of the people and the efficiency of the electoral laws and systems. As if American meddling in Philippine politics is just in our dream. As if the American transnational corporations, its main intelligence agency and diplomatic channels are just passively watching over us during voting time. As if the US-influenced media and the survey firms do not manipulate the people and the electoral events to ensure US economic and political control in this part of the globe. As if China has no plan to follow suit. Yes, both Washington and Beijing would surely influence our domestic politics in 2016 and beyond. These two countries’ unseen but critical hand in the Philippine presidential race is very much neglected by the on-line, almost cultic pinduteros in our midst.

Foreign meddling in our political life or internal affairs is an objective reality, as attested by our political history. With Beijing’s assertion of its control over the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine court’s approval of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with US, the coming election is destined to be included in the war strategy of the two superpowers. The US, our distant friend and China, a bullying neighbor, are here to influence the results of the elections. Those avid supporters of certain candidates trolling over the social networking sites are aimed at risking their reputation, sanity and all for their candidates. At the macro level, moneyed American and Chinese corporations would surely bankroll certain presidential candidate and employ every tactic in the book, overt or clandestine, to make certain candidate win and therefore to affect the campaign and its result. Secret compromises between the candidates and power brokers of these two influential countries have already been made, no doubt. The presidential candidates we see in the debates and the political TV ads nowadays endeavor to obtain their support. This would dilute the sanctity of our electoral system. In the process, it would diminish the independence of intelligence thus weaken the action of every avid supporter of certain candidates for the two highest positions in the land. Be it off-line or on-line.

In pages 32-33 of her book “Issues without Tears: Volume I” which was published in 1984, historian Letizia R. Constantino wrote that Manuel Roxas’ presidential bid in 1945 was supported by Gen. Douglas MacArthur and US High Commissioner Paul V. MacNutt despite of Roxas’ previous collaboration with the Japanese. President Manuel Roxas is the grandfather of now administration candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas III. Let us hear from Constantino: “During the campaign, men who had been in MacArthur’s staff – Andres Soriano, Enrique Zobel, Charles Parsons and Joseph McMicking were big contributors to Roxas’ campaign fund.” Roxas, as expected, won the election. He conformed to the ideals of the Americans and since then, Uncle Sam was able to advance his economic interests in the Philippines through the Bell Trade Act and exploited of our natural resources. Under the said Act, American citizens and corporations were given equal or same trade rights as Filipinos.

The elder Roxas too, ensured the presence of the US Military Bases in the Philippines just like how his grandson supports the EDCA now. Constantino further wrote, “Roxas gave the Americans the privileges they wanted and suppressed the only groups that opposed American demands.”  The Aquino Administration or his Tuwid na Daan is very welcoming to US. The Roxas presidency would bring back the heydays of the American military presence in the country.

Thus, geopolitics is the most neglected aspect in every debate and exchanges among supporters of each presidentiable over every social networking site today. They are mostly confined to the sensationalized trivialities evolving around 2016 elections. Matters that entertain us away from the long lingering monster left unseen behind a tree.

Philippine elections are fragments of America’s colonial legacy. Jejomar Binay already declared his openness to talk with Beijing on the disputed territory or the heightening of economic ties with China the moment he is elected to office. He said to local media some months back, “We have to accept the fact that China has all the capital and we have the property over there, so why don’t we try to develop that property as a joint venture?” Last February, Rody Duterte hummed the same tune saying that he is open to joint exploration with China on the West Philippine Sea. The Economist reported that, “Chinese diplomats have given almost open support to his [Aquino’s] vice-president, Jejomar Binay, who was elected separately and will be the main opposition candidate in the May presidential election.” On the other hand, Grace Poe, formerly held both Filipino and American citizenship is married to an American citizen. Therefore, we do not expect an outright anti-American foreign policy under her watch.

As long as there is election, we open our doors to foreign meddling and our fundamental right as citizens to be sovereign in our country would forever be a dream. The right to self- determination is the ever elusive dream of every patriotic Filipino, then and now. 

The question of foreign intervention in our elections is so essential that the die-hard supporters and/or bashers of Mar Roxas, Digong Duterte, Grace Poe and Jojo Binay intellectually downplayed in this critical junction of our nation’s history…

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Bracing for an All-Female Government in the Future

Here’s a weird extension to what Senator Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III had in mind when he said that Philippines might be the first country in the world to have two female leaders. Yes, he is pertaining to Grace Poe as president and Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo as her VP. Currently, there are only six women out of 24 members in the Senate which is equivalent to 25% of the members in the Upper House. Having such gender imbalance in the Senate, one might think of voting all the women candidates for senators, regardless of their political party, affiliation, advocacies, ideological leaning or favourite television show. Anyway, except for the TV show, those I have mentioned are now of lesser importance in each election.

Women make up half or more of the population and yet they occupy only 1/5th of elective positions in the government. This imbalance seemingly resulted to the neglect of issues and concerns relating to women. It is now the right time to give the women full and complete responsibility of handling the nation’s political balls. With this, the gap is fixed. Our Constitution should now limit the right to be voted upon to women. The paternalistic and male-dominated governments flawed since election was introduced in the land in 1907. It was the year when the first fully national election for a fully elected legislative body was held both for the Philippine Assembly and the bicameral Philippine Legislature. That was during the American Colonial Period.

In the meantime, why not vote ALL the women contesting for the senatorial race this May? My All-Woman-Ticket is composed of Leila de Lima (#12), Nariman Ambolodto (#2), Risa Hontiveros (#19), Alma Moreno (#24), Princess Jacel Kiram (#23), Lorna Kapunan (#22), and Susan 'Toots' Ople (#25). Imagine what will happen if they join the ranks of the remaining incumbent senators Loren Legarda, Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar and Pia Cayetano. I cannot image what will happen when women clash with each other in the male-dominated Halls of the Senate.

As I have proposed, let us give the women all the political seats and bestow them, including the women in each barangay, towns and provinces, a chance to lead by banning the males from filing his candidacy and be stripped off of their right to be involved in the electoral arena.  

Both men and women can be a ruthless punisher like Digong Duterte with all his cuss words. In Madagascar of old, there’s a queen named Ranavalona I (1828-1861), a lady punisher. She was a tyrant who hungered for killing. She introduced of a harsh judicial system which claimed the lives of her own people were her ways of indulging in her perverse obsessions. One of her specialties was the traditional practice of trial by the ordeal of tangena (Take note of this word Digong and you too, Mar Roxas). In this trial, the accused was fed three pieces of chicken skin along with poison extracted from the tangena nut and if all three pieces were thrown up, they were declared innocent. However, if they did not manage to vomit up all three pieces or died during the process, they were declared guilty. If that is the case, you cannot even shout or utter “tang ina!” after the verdict! Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives to this tangena thing!

Bongbong Marcos’ father’s dreaded Military Court under Martial Law was nothing compared to that tangena trial! Now, who says that brutality and arrogance are exclusive and confined only to men?

Before April 30, 1937, and that was 79 years ago, only Filipino men have the right to vote. Article V of the 1935 Constitution limited the right to vote to men but set a condition that suffrage may also be extended to Filipino women if 300,000 will vote in favour of the motion in a special plebiscite to be held within two years after the adoption of the Constitution. The yes votes exceeded the mark at 447,725 votes, and the rest is history or herstory,- ah,… whatever!

Since we, the gallivanting males are mesmerized by all-female bands, why not an all-female led government? …

Monday, March 14, 2016

Occidental Mindoro and Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law

The people of Occidental Mindoro contributed not so many stories as possible references on Marcos’ despotic military rule. But in faraway town of Palimbang in Sultan Kudarat where some 1,500 Bangsamoros were slaughtered when soldiers attacked the coastal town in early 70s, merely mentioning the words “Mindoro Occidental”, make them shivers, especially the women,- in horror and lamentation.

Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law which he later called New Society has this essential characteristic in the context of Occidental Mindoro: it was submissive to foreign interests, specifically the United States, and that of his relatives and cronies. It facilitated the rape of our sovereignty and economy. In page 272 of the report of the National Committee for the Restoration of Civil Liberties in the Philippine titled Marcos and Martial Law in the Philippines published in 1979, the former strongman was quoted saying, “This American government is the leading power in the world. Of necessity, it has very strong influence in resources of help and is itself a source of aid. Again I say it is our hope…”  In 1975, the whole island of Mindoro was considered laboratory of a project called Mindoro Integrated Rural Development Program or MIRDP. Despite of the socio-political horrors brought about by the dreaded Martial Law then, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (WB-IMF) granted Marcos’ authoritarian government a 50 million dollar worth of financial aid mainly for agricultural and infrastructure projects under MIRDP in two Mindoro provinces.  On its part, the Marcos government initiated the Mindoro Agro-Industrial Rural Community Development (MAIRCOD) to implement animal dispersal projects as component of the Kilusang Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran or KKK which is under First Lady Imelda Marcos’ Ministry of Human Settlement. This was called “Mindoro Strategy”, a supposedly model program for the whole Philippines but not fully implemented due to corruption and bad management, among others, according to Volker Schult, author of “Mindoro: A Social History of a Philippine Island in the 20th Century: A Case Study of A Delayed Developmental Process” in 1991. The contractors and politicians close to Malacañang are the ones fully gained from it.

Aside from foreign companies, Ferdinand Marcos cronies profited most from the supposedly development program. They, the cronies or the ruling elite supplied raw materials to foreign companies who have close connection and relationships to said firms. Roberto Benedicto, once owner of the Sugar Central in San Jose and Eduardo Cojuangco, uncle of BS Aquino III are FMs most prominent cronies. Alfredo “Bajo” Romualdez, a brother of Imelda, owned a chain of gigantic businesses from a shipping company to being a franchise holder of Jai Alai. Dr. Pacifico Marcos is the top honcho of many real estate corporations and hotels that time. Pacifico is the younger brother of Ferdinand.  

The late former senator Jovito Salonga once observed: “The New Society offers a tax privileges to foreign and local investments. The New Society cannot seem to stop devising ways and means whereby the big shots could add to their profits.  After reading the tax exemptions of these investments, one wonders if they pay taxes at all. In any case, the New Society is proud to say that the Philippine tax incentives are among Asia’s best.” To add from other source on public interest versus private interest, economic historian Jan Luiten van Zanden wrote about world dictators, “With the passage of time, the balance shifts from the country’s interests to private interests and that is disastrous for the economy. The quality of governance declines, the clique surrounding the Great Leader is corrupt and loots the treasury.” This observation rings true even today in our midst, in the context of Occidental Mindoro. Some quarters, specifically the relatives of the sitting local politicians during Marcos time, considered that Martial Law or the New Society such development in such a good light but poverty in the countryside continued to linger. This is mainly due to indebtedness of the farmers to loan sharks and the high price of farm commodities and inputs and the continuous relegation of the Mangyans. Things we are still experiencing today.

Abunawas Kali along with thousands of other Moro residents were detained by soldiers in Tacbil mosque and killed each night by tens according to a news report. Women were brought to a Philippine Navy boat where they were assaulted and raped. Those who resisted committed suicide by jumping into the ocean, or were shot dead by soldiers. Bainkung Buwisan, one of the hundred victims, was then 14 when raped by soldiers. Buwisan, now one of the claimants under the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act, still clearly recalled the name of the Navy boat: “Mindoro Occidental”. 

BRP Occidental Mindoro was landing ship tank commissioned on July 15, 1972 and probably, according to Philippine Navy records, - after being decommissioned, the boat was sold as scrap in early 1990s....



Monday, March 7, 2016

Paper Candidates: You Know Who They Are

The grandest symptom of desperation or bankruptcy of any political group is when it pitches a bunch of so-called paper candidates specifically to key higher positions. Paper candidates, in my one definition, are those who are out of the blue just came out for electoral positions in a certain province or locality. Second, they are the candidates, though they belong to a political team, usually unknown hence having low level of support or its political clout already diminished. Well, although they have a little chance of winning, the main purpose is to make an effort to ensure that there are no cracks in their political register if not to perpetuate their existence in the local political scene and/or power in strategic areas. This is also just to keep a political group to the main track and make itself visibly relevant in one given local election by just keeping all the “blanks” filled up. Third, a paper candidate is also someone, who is not capable- physically, financially and mentally, to launch and much more appear in the fatiguing campaign sorties. Many of these candidates of sort know that their chances are nil and not that serious to win, but who are we to judge one’s intention? They are, perhaps, just helping out their party or cannot turn down their patron or any other personal reasons by allowing themselves to be candidates, thus, even to the extent of putting their names in the walk of shame later!

It is difficult to name names or accuse someone a paper candidate for nobody would admit that they belong to such category even if they are squeezed to death. But it cannot be denied that there are indeed such a candidate of sort and I am certain that their names are now included in the ballots with their respective parties. We, the voters, by the way, have no slightest idea how the candidates in general are groomed or selected.

To be positive about it, local political groupings are essential in a democracy. Democracy is unimaginable without the healthy rivalry of political groups especially during elections. Political parties in general, from the national down to the local, must have, among others, the following major functions: to formulate policies and agenda, platform of government hinged on the party’s ideology, educate public opinion geared towards the growth of the level of political consciousness of common citizens. But first and foremost, any political group has this noble task to recruit men and women of integrity to its fold as members and not those “repeaters” or those with checkered past and of doubtful repute just to “fill the gaps” in the line-up on certain election year.

There are also those opportunists joining and staying with the group for convenience and other considerations, riding on with the popularity and resources of their patrons and party heads. Sometimes they are the party vagabonds doing things in contrast to party lines. They swim against the tide or put themselves in safe position when controversial issue arises. Since they are popular among the masses, even a political nincompoop, he is still considered (and spoiled) by the team/group. The political groups that I know cannot police their ranks and those who are “policed” just move out and quickly jump to the other fence. Over and above, since party principles are is nonexistence, the most problematic area with local political groups is that they are normally tied to a particular political leader/s not to party ideals, given that such animals exist in the team.

With this emptiness in party membership and the disordered situation with regards to party loyalty in the Philippines brought about by personal agenda of certain politicians - the flip-flappers or the butterflies - I sometimes think of all out scrapping of the political parties or groups. I am so disgusted to the point I lost my trust in the mainstream political parties where party ideals and principles are deemed unimportant, if not considered pieces of garbage.

This trouble with our political party culture for me is beyond repair. Party labels, viewing from my almost displaced retina and judging from my sometimes cynical perception, especially in my province, the vicious division hatched by the two dominant political groups, have practically broken us up - as families and as communities- into political scraps.

I do not have to name them. You know very well who they are….

(Photo: Slideshare)

Monday, February 29, 2016

A Brief Lesson on Linguistics and the Mar Roxas Chant

“Oras Na, Roxas Na” is the battle cry of Mar Roxas for his presidential bid for the May 2016 elections. “Oras” is the Filipino word for “time”. The Liberal Party bet’s catchword is not only rhythmic (hence catchy) but also connectable to few lessons on linguistics. My main reference for this entry is the book Elements of Filipino Philosophy; (1974) written by Leonardo N. Mercado, SVD. Father Mercado asserts that the Filipino concept of time is maturation or evolutionary. Mercado, by the way, is the former dean of the now padlocked Saint Joseph College Seminary (SJCS) though his stint did not last long.  

In Roxas’ slogan (or was it chant?), the particle “na” is repeated. The nearest English equivalent of “na” is “already’, “now” or in the case of negative statements “anymore” or “any longer” like Cory Aquino’s, “Sobra Na, Tama Na, Palitan Na” when she squared off against strongman Ferdinand Marcos 30 years ago. According to Mercado, “na” can be utilized to say a perfect tense or a fixed condition like in this sentence: “Handa na si Rody”. But if “na” is used as “now” or “already” for instance this way, “Sa Mayo mananalo na si Miriam,” the past (as expressed in “na”) and the future (Sa Mayo..) co-exist in the same thought which is strange in English grammar where the past and the present does not co-exist. When we play chess or billiards, we often tell our opponent, “Ikaw na (“It’s your turn”). This sentence cannot be understood in English structure for it shows our pre-occupation of mode over tense. Needless to say, while the English language, particularly its verbs, has a well-defined tense system which refers to the time of action, we, Filipinos, are more concerned with modality or aspect of time than its tenses.

In Mar Roxas’ chant, greatly considered is the element of time as well understood by Filipino voters. By mere reading that four-worded line, it leaves mental imprint to the reader that it is now time for Roxas to occupy the highest public position in the country which is the presidency, thus it is now the time to vote for him. Since this is a mere campaign slogan, when the election season is finally over, the slogan or chant would eventually go with the wind after the polls.

Our concept of time or oras is measured by existence or experience, collectively or individually. It is not linear but spiral unlike the concept of the Westerners. It is linear because it is conditioned by the spaced linearity of past present or future. That is why when field enumerators and researchers using survey tools patterned from Westerners are deployed say, in Mangyan communities or in the barrios ask this question, “Kailan ka ipinanganak?” the common answer is “Tag-mais noon.” or, “Gaano kayo katagal na nanonood ng telebisyon sa gabi?” is commonly replied with, “Tuwing naka-bukas.” That is how peculiar the Filipino language is. The language used by the nation with equally peculiar political system and culture.

Philippine politics as ever, is based on personal attributes and not on ideological institutions and affiliations. The Daang Matuwid campaigners must realize that in politics, nothing is transferable. Even in party politics, some distancing is essential. I am not saying that Roxas should place himself too far away from the bonfire for he will be frozen to numbness or die from the cold. In his case, Roxas was too close to the fire brought about by numerous negative issues hurled against the present administration that’s why he is at the verge of burning.

I am not sure if indeed the time has come for Mar Roxas. Only two things I am certain: Coritha crooned the song of the 70’s “OrasNa” and Korina Sanchez is Roxas na…

(Photo grabbed from Gov MGm At Work)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Two Bishops for Occidental Mindoro

“Apostolic Administrator lang,” without further elaboration, a diocesan priest reportedly told his parishioners about Pope Francis’ appointment of Bishop David William V. Antonio of Nueva Segovia as Apostolic Administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose sometime November last year. The appointment was reported over the Vatican Radio.

Since I am only backed up by my little understanding about this position or title in the Roman Catholic Church, I have to admit that I am not an authority on the subject and was merely supplied by the lessons I’ve learned from conversations with some of my priests mentor during my more than 20 years of being a Church lay worker, reinforced by reading my copy of Code of Canon Law that had a special place in our shelf and through browsing some Catholic webpages. Also, I am in no way pretending to be an expert on this but someone who merely loves to read and to share anything about my religious conviction. True enough, little learning is a dangerous thing but as a lay man holding on to my faith and learning about my religion, I am taking this dangerous act of saying something about this subject without pre-empting the reactions coming from the authorities from our local Church on the matter. Having mentioned that, comments coming from concerned authorities are very much welcome, especially as I have said, from those who are knowledgeable on my Church’s governing law. But if one has to reason that this subject or anything about the Canon Law shouldn’t be discussed by a layman, I am guilty as charged!  

An apostolic administrator is a bishop appointed by the Pope to serve as the ordinary for an apostolic administration. The apostolic administration per se can either be an area that is not yet a diocese (a stable apostolic administration) or for a diocese that either has no bishop (an apostolic administrator sede vacante) or, in very rare cases, has an incapacitated bishop (apostolic administrator sede plena). From the looks of it, Bishop David William V. Antonio’s appointment is through sede plena since Bishop Antonio P. Palang, SVD, DD is still around and the seat is not vacant. In general, the apostolic administrator maintains the necessary daily functioning of a diocese but he is not allowed to make any structural changes or important innovations in the particular diocese where he is assigned. With this truth in mind, the priest I have mentioned is right when he quipped, “Apostolic administrator lang.”

But according to Canon 371.2, “[A]postolic administration is a portion of the people of God erected on a stable basis but not as a diocese due to special and grave reasons. The pastoral administrator is legally equivalent to the diocesan bishop.” When the term “apostolic administrator” is used today, it means that a prelate is appointed by the Pope, in our case, to a diocese with a filled or sitting vicar apostolic or bishop either temporarily or permanently. Usually, a bishop is appointed sede plena when the resident bishop is incapacitated by illness or advanced age. If that is the case, the jurisdiction of the resident bishop would be suspended. In this sense, the priest erroneously placed the position as inferior in saying, “Apostolic administrator lang.

Apostolic administrators of stable administrations are equivalent in canon law with diocesan bishops, meaning they have essentially and fundamentally with the same authority as a diocesan bishop. This type of apostolic administrator is usually the bishop of a titular see. Thus the remark, “Apostolic administrator lang,” somewhat goes to emphasize that the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose is administered by the present bishop with stability. No serious administrative or pastoral program been neglected or usurped. No violation of the Canon Law been made whatsoever. Is this generally true? Without answering at point-blank this important question, the head-shaven priest’s remark “Apostolic administrator lang,” is an understatement!

Bishop David William V. Antonio, I was told will officially be installed this Friday, February 12, 2016 and a Eucharistic Celebration or his first Mass here is expected. Aside from the clergy, religious organizations and the Basic Ecclesial Communities from all over Occidental Mindoro, for sure, will be coming to greet and welcome him, regardless if he’s the apostolic administrator lang or not.

What will happen apparently is this: Bishop Antonio P. Palang, SVD, DD would still be the Apostolic Vicar and the in-coming Apostolic Administrator Bishop David William V. Antonio will work together until such time that the former, in a not so distant future, retires due to age or health reason or both.

Nevertheless, the coming of Bishop William David V. Antonio is a time of celebration for certainly Jesus is with us all in this especial occasion and beyond. Just like the point emphasized in Matthew 9:14-15, which is coincidentally the gospel this Friday:  Jesus' presence conditions the time; it changes everything; it determines our joy.

In a moment, I am returning the book to its place in the shelf and leave it there. I am leaving, again, everything to its proper handlers with their anointed hands and prayerfully wait for the shadow’s final fading in God’s time.

But what was left in me is this equally dangerous conviction: The more I am firm about my religion, the more I am doubtful of my priests…

(Photo: AVSJ File)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Creed: Not Necessarily a Movie Review

It was my 18th birthday when I first saw the original Rocky movie in a bug-infested lowly theatre in Angeles City, Pampanga. That was 9 years after the flick was shown in 1st class movie houses all over the world. And since then, I followed all the Rocky films for almost 4 decades.  Just minutes ago today before my day starts, I watched Creed in full, a 2015 film directed by Ryan Coogler starring Michael B. Jordan (just a namesake of the famed basketball superstar) as Adonis Johnson or simply Donny, and of course Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, the lead character of the all Rocky’s from 1 to 6. Stallone won the Best Supporting Actor Award from the Golden Globe through Creed just last week but did not thank his director and his co-star in his acceptance speech but that’s another story.

With the benefit of modern communication technology and the advancement of cyberspace, it’s now very convenient to watch movies anytime and anyplace most preferable to us. Just to let you know, except for Creed, I do not download and eventually watch newly released movies and I rather re-watch those English films I've seen when I was young maybe to reminiscent and to understand in depth a certain film, its true message, meaning and lessons that I failed to absorb and internalize or understand with my young and entertainment-focused self back then. Familiarity with Rocky movies from my time made me curious about this new, 2015 movie, a reboot actually. Creed, true enough, is a personally a nostalgically spin-off movie for me. 

I will not be reviewing Creed like what known movie critics are doing. I will not dwell on its synopsis and technical and projection and other cinematic fragments and treatments. This is not a review but more of a reflective reaction hinges on the lessons I acquire seeing this one heck of a film. (As a substitute, I would like to lead you to THIS link for an alternative read in case you are more interested in review.) Since this is more of a reflective reaction on the film, in this blog entry, I will present some of my insights, mainly built on quotes and situations from the movie as against some personal reflections.

Over and above, Sylvester Stallone kept the Rocky movie franchise pertinent and stimulating through generations and this question settles in my mind at this very moment: What are the things I have initiated in my life that would outlast me? A train of thoughts flashed through me and notable among them is how I raised my 3 wonderful God-considering and intelligent children. Two of them are now professional teachers, just like me and their nanay and they possessed gifts that can be traced to my very being. I guided them, together with my wife, to the importance of education and faith, the beauty of reading and writing and connecting with people and shared the things that I cherished when I was young including the unrecorded personal creed that I am still trying to live by.

For Mary Anne (Phycilla Rashad), past is past. Mary Anne, Apollo Creed’s widow, instead of ignoring the child Adonis (or Donny), she raised her husband’s bastard and abandoned son and gave him a good future and treated him like her own kid. Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) was Rocky Balboa’s nemesis turned best friend in number of Rocky sequels. Like Mary Anne, I did not tie myself thinking my about my wasted days when I was a teenager but strived to finish my studies while working even it took me 10 years to graduate from my course. Also in one scene, Balboa pushed Johnson saying, “That bell don’t mean school’s out.  Keep going Donny.”  To add, that is exactly what I am doing in my life as a social communicator and advocate, as a family man and civil servant and as a thinker and a Catholic believer.

Our toughest opponent is our self. In another scene as you can see in the above photo, Balboa told Johnson while inside the gym as the latter looks at a mirror, “That’s the toughest opponent when you get in the ring or in life.” Well, it goes without elaborating but nice reminder too for me especially on this day. Again, to return back to my family and my children, I am part of them but they have their own identity, they have their own ring to invade, their own life to live, as Mary Anne told Donny, “You are your father’s son. You are part of him. But you don’t have to be him.” But I hope someday, I’ll see my children examining the gloves that I wore without necessarily wearing them. By the way, Adonis, who changed his surname from Johnson to Creed, on the big night of the big fight, wore his father’s trunk, given to Adonis by Mary Anne, for the world to know that he’s Apollo’s son, and whom did he pass his legacy. Creed is not only about boxing but more importantly about life's triumph, about legacy, about family.

What an increedible movie to start my day, on my birthday, today. ...

(Photo; Google)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

On Miss Universe Pia Alonzo-Wurtzbach as James Bond Girl

If you are not a follower of James Bond movies, probably you are not familiar with following characters: Pussy Galore (Goldfinger, 1964), Plenty O’Toole (Diamonds Are Forever, 1971), Kissy Suzuki (You Only Live Twice, 1964) and Chew Mee (The Man With A Golden Gun, 1974). Yes they are just 4 of the 75, as of this writing, James Bond girls from over 50 years of the 007 movie series. A Bond girl is a love interest and/or female partner or antagonists of cinema’s most loved secret agent and guessing from the names I cited above, occasionally they, the girls, have names with double meanings, if not outright naughtiness. The name Kissy Suzuki for instance, titillates Filipino males.

In her TV interview aired over Good Morning America last Tuesday, Pia Alonzo-Wurtzbach, the 26-year-old actress-beauty queen expressed her desire to the next Bond girl. She said, “Of course, that’s one of my dreams. Hopefully, I’d be able to do that.” Well, the idea, for now, is archive –bound for Alonzo-Wurtzbach has just started her very challenging job as Miss U.

Should this happen, Alonzo-Wurtzbach would be the second Bond girl with Filipino roots. Being the first was Rachel Grant, a half-Filipino and half-English. Grant, starred in “Die Another Day” in 2002 as Peaceful Fountains of Desire, a Chinese agent disguised as a masseuse. It is said that Grant, born September 25, 1977, specializes in Filipino martial art called Arnis under the tutelage of Dan Inosanto, real-life buddy of the late Bruce Lee.

Let us go back to Ms. Alonzo-Wurtzbach, the third Filipina to get the most coveted Miss Universe title, and her dream of becoming a Bond girl. Truly, almost all of the ingredients of a Bond lady is within her: full of glamour, sophistication, dressed in mystery and charm. She already been in 4 movies in the past namely, Kung Ako Na Lang Sana (2003), All My Life (2004) and All About Love (2006) aside from appearing in many TV soap operas, it certainly would not be very hard for her to act.

Philippines’ second Miss U, Margie Moran (now Floriendo), in case you do not know, only appeared in a movie once. Moran’s self-titled film was Oh, Margie Oh (1974), a musical comedy flick directed by Paul Silos with Victor Laurel and Celia Rodriguez as her co-starrers. Well, do I need to say that Gloria Diaz accumulated more or less seventy movies to her credit since she won the 1969 Miss Universe pageant? Most memorable of all is her first film Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa (1974) as Isabel (Is this the reason why her child was named Isabelle [Daza]?) and as Matilde in Carlo J. Caparas’ Andres de Saya (1980).

Since the Bond girls are favourite topics of speculation, let us speculate what character Pia would be portraying if in case she appears as Bond girl in the future. Will she have to bed Bond (like the other Bond girl) or strongly act as a sex-appeal oozing side kick or be his brutally beautiful villain like May Day (A View To Kill, 1985)  or Xenia Onatopp (Golden Eye, 1995) with her powerful legs squeezing her preys to death. Any which way would be something to look forward to. 

If Pia Alonzo-Wurtzbach would land in a Bond movie in the future, she will be the first Miss Universe to join the elite ranks of Bond girls. Who knows? But meantime, let us anticipate more about her homecoming this January 23. That will be a very great day, I know…


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mar Roxas V. Rody Duerte in a Slapping Galore

Since when slapping is the cavalier’s way to resolve a conflict? Ask Mar Roxas and his rival Digong Duterte that question. From a lowly  street bully as well as to big time warlords, manly conflicts are resolved by action that results pain on both sides. Compared to a gunfight or fistfight, slapping does not really have the potential to inflict damage. Do Mar and Digong really mean to slap each other? Isn’t slapping unmanly? Merely imagining Mar and Digong slapping each other ala Sharon Cuneta and Cherie Gil in Bituing Walang Ningning, would send us to the floor laughing. It’s a political hilarity to the maximum! 

How about male slappers? In early Philippine movies about the Japanese occupation, I’ve seen scenes where Japanese male soldiers slapping Filipino civilians and Japs military officials slapping fellow soldiers under their command. Slapping the face is an ordinary form of discipline, especially among Japanese Army, while among Filipinos it is an insult. To the captive guerrillas, I was told by my grandfather, that it is more honourable to die by bayonet or a bullet than being slapped repeatedly in the face. The “acceptability” and application of slapping can differ from one culture to another.

In the Philippines, slapping is socially unacceptable even in situations confined only to our homes, for instance, when parents seek to punish our children though domestic slapping galore does happen. Slapping, from dominant male Filipino mind sets, no matter how bad it is, is reserved between two married (or in a relation) men and women. Slapping is only acceptable in Philippine culture when young women shield themselves from undesirable sexual advances. Maybe to people like Mayor Digong and Mr. Mar, people belonging to the upper echelon of society, slapping is considered a grave affront to man’s honor and dignity. But to a common man in the slums or the rural area, slapping another man is a little bit “yucky” if not unmanly. To men of achievements like Mar Roxas and Rody Duterte, being slapped is a big shame to the perceived honor and the present fine status they are presently in as distinctive presidential aspirants of this great nation of ours. The slap that gives shame is what they both want to give to each other, if they truly mean what they say. Rody and Mar are adhered to a doctrine called Lex Taliones and that would bring bad example to their most ardent supporters, specially the youth, no doubt.

Duterte and Roxas displayed manhood showing their true colors as human male species. Theirs are pseudo-strong manhood that retaliates against dishonor to return slap for slap. Contrary to what the Great Leader have taught us. He who was born in a lowly manger and later called Prince of Peace...



Sunday, December 6, 2015

Elekserye nina Rody Duterte at Bishop Soc Villegas

Walang mananalo kung magpapatuloy ang patutsadahan nina Bishop Socrates Villegas at presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte. Saang anggulo man tingnan, ang pari kailanman ay hindi mananalo sa anumang diskusyon sa isang raskal gamit ang kanyang matatalim na dila. Ang taong raskal din ay hindi mananalo sa mga argumentong naka-tuntong sa etiko at moralidad. Milyong dipa ang layo ng mga karanasan at kaisipang pinaghuhugutan ng kani-kanilang magkaibang opinyon. Ang paghuhubog sa ka-taimtiman ng seminaryo sa paghuhubog sa ka-lumpenan ng lansangan ay magkaiba. Hindi sila magkatapat at malayong-malayo sa maraming bagay.

Kumustahin naman natin ang ating mga sarili bilang  “dakilang miron”. Sa panahong ito sa lipunang Pilipino, sa pagitan ng lider relihiyon at sikat na astig, mas kapani-paniwala sa atin lalo na sa mga netizen, ang huli kaysa sa una. Mas bilib tayo sa taong pranka, walang itinatago kahit na may masamang asal, kaysa doon sa mga nasa loob ang kulo, wika nga. Lalo na kapag pumupustura na sila ay mga moral beacon or guardian kagaya ng mga pari. Malakas ang loob ng mga maka-Duterte kahit banatan ng kanilang idolo ang sa kanila ay mga makabagong Damaso at ang Simbahang Katoliko dahil sapul nang maimbento nga naman ang halalan sa bansa, walang bloc voting mula sa mga Katoliko. Mabuti pa sa INC mayroon. Watak-watak tayo kagaya ng isinumpang kawan ni Zachariah sa pananaw natin sa paraan ng pagpapaunlad ng bayan.

Kagaya ng maraming pulitiko at mamamayang Katoliko sa bansa, dala nga ni Duterte ang kanyang bayag sa bawat pakikihamok ng buhay pero hindi ang mga Turo ng Simbahan sa pribado man o publikong pamumuhay. Sinakyan nito ang pandaigdigang salot na sex scandal ng mga pari at ang pagtatanggi ng Simbahan sa mga elitista at mayayaman, na may punto naman talaga si Digong sa mga isyung ito kaya dakila pa rin ang tingin sa kanya ng kapanalig niyang mga mananampalatayang Katoliko. Kahanga-hanga ang tapang ni Duterte dahil pati ang Simbahang Katolika ay parang grupo lang ng rice smugglers niya kung tuligsain. Bagama’t nagmamano rin naman siya sa mga obispo at pari. Hindi ba isa rin itong ka-ipokritohan kagaya ng kanyang paratang sa kanila?

Ang mga laykong nagtatanggol sa Simbahan ang siyang dapat na manguna sa pagsalag kay Digong at hindi ang mga pari at obispo. Abala ang mga pari at obispo sa parehong pagpapayamang makamundo at kagalingang espiritwal at sa pagtatakip ng kani-kanilang mga kapalpakan kaya huwag na natin silang abalahin. Dapat umagwat na sa eksena si Bishop Villegas dahil lahat ng kanyang mga aksyon at aktuwasyon sa panahong ito ay mababahiran ng political partisanship. Bakit? Una, si Villegas ay kilalang protégée ni Jaime Cardinal Sin na kilalang taga-suporta ni Corazon Aquino, nanay ni Pangulong BS Aquino III. Kung ating matatandaan, hindi ba’t si Bishop Soc din ang nagsabi noon na ang yumaong si Tita Cory ay maihahalintulad sa isang santo? Hindi natin mai-aalis na isipin ng mga taga-suporta ng ibang kandidatong pampanguluhan na ang obispo ay maka-Roxas dahil sa personal na ugnayan nito sa mga Aquino. (Hindi nga ba?)

Huminto man si Duterte sa pagbanat sa mga pari at pagkaladkad sa mga iskandalo ng Simbahan para sa kanyang interes sa pulitika, malamang na pailalim siyang ikakampanyang huwag iboto ng mga kilusang-layko sa bansa lalo na ang tinatawag na mga mandated church organizations. Ihihinto niya ito sa aking palagay sa lalong-madaling panahon. Bagamat ang Batikano sa Roma ay may panawagan sa bawat niyang nasasakupan na maging politically neutral na walang ikakampanya na iboto o huwag ibotong mga kandidato, maaari namang itong gawin sa pribadong pamamaraan. Upang pigilan ang sa anila ay napipintong despotiko, anarkiya at mestisong maka-Kaliwang gobyerno ni Duterte, o anumang paninindigan nito taliwas sa mga turo at doktrina ng Simbahan, gagawan nila ito ng paraan regardless kung pantal lang at hindi bakukang ang maging resulta nito sa balota. Iboto man o hindi si Digong ng mayorya sa milyong naka-poncho na mga pilatong totoong dahilan ng trapik nang dumating sa bansa si Pope Francis noong Enero. Kung hindi lang naging sunod-sunuran ang mga tao sa paanyaya (o pagpilit?) ng Simbahan na dumalo sa Papal Visit, e, di sana ay hindi nagka-trapik at malamang hindi nakapagmura si Digong!

Sa Second Plenary Council (PCP-II) na pinagtibay ng mga pari at layko noong 1992, bagama’t walang clear cut na strategic action kung papaano ito isasakatuparan, hinihimok ang aktibong partisipasyon ng mga mananampalataya sa bawat halalan na makilahok sa mga aksyong pulitikal. Ang pahayag na ito ay malinaw na bukas sa lahat ng pinaka-malayang interpretasyon. Kaya nga, may ilang grupo ng layko na binibigyang kahulugan ang hamon na ito na hanggang sa hayagang pagkampaya pabor o laban sa isang partikular na kandidato sa ngalan ng kanilang organisasyong pansimbahan. Pabor ako dito. Sinasabi na ang Simbahan na binubuo ng mga mananampalataya ay maaring manghimasok sa prosesong elektoral sa mga “extraordinary” situation. Sa pagpapalalim dito sinasabi sa PCP-II na, “This happens when a political option is clearly the only one demanded by the Gospel. An example is when the presidential candidate is clearly bent to destroy the Church and its mission of salvation ...” (Underscoring, mine) Nag-umpisa na marahil ang mga indirect, subtle at subliminal na panawagan na huwag iboto si Digong sa hanay ng kaparian at hayagan naman sa mga layko. Ang tanong, magkaka-igi kaya ito gayong karamihan sa mga pari at obispo ay kampante na lang sa mga kagalingang espiritwal at pangangalap ng pondo sa kanilang kawan at takot sumawsaw sa mga maiinit at kontrobersyal na panlipunang usapin? Mangyayari kaya ito kung marami sa mga pari at obispo ay nahumaling na sa luho na kanilang tinatamasa sa mararangya nilang palasyo’t kumbento sa piling ng kanilang mga bagets at poging sakristan? Pero tiyak ko, sa Enero 2016 matapos ang taunang pulong ng konseho ng CBCP ay magpapalabas ito ng isang Circular Letter na naka-ugat sa Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Politics na maglalaman ng mga panawagang akin nabanggit. Katulad ng dati, sundin man ito ng mga mananampalataya o hindi, magiging bahagi ng mga pastoral na gawain ng Simbahan partikular sa Lenten program nitong Alay Kapwa na ipatutupad sa lahat ng parokya at ecclesial communities sa bansa.

Sa tingin ko, sa kabila ng lahat ay may malaking tsansa pa rin si Digong na maging pangulo. Ito ay kung hindi siya madadaya o hindi ka naniniwala na panghihimasukan ng CIA ng Amerika at/o ng Ministry on State Security ng Tsina ang ating eleksyon. Kung naniniwala ka na totoong sa mga botante lang talaga nakasalalay ang kapasyahan ng halalan at walang foreign intervention o ng mga institusyon mismo ng gobyerno kagaya ng mga Korte. Pero sakaling manalo siya, sana ang mga boboto sa kanya o ang mga kamag-anak ng kanyang mga taga-suporta specially those all out to defend him ay huwag bigla na lang bumulagta sa kalye, matapos likidahin ng mga death squad ng Palasyo mula lamang sa paratang na hindi dumaan sa hukuman o due process.  Na ang extra judicial execution ay katanggap-tanggap sa ngalan ng paglutas ng karumal-dumal na krimen, kahit na kamag-anak natin mismo ang salarin. Gagawin tiyak niya ‘yan. Kahit si Digong ay patuloy na hindi maging sensitibo sa kalagayan ng mga kababaihan at ipagpapatuloy niyang ipagmamalaki na siya ay maraming kabit at magiging lucrative business ang funeral services sa kanyang administrasyon. Kambal na isyu na pinuntirya nina Gabriela party list representative Emmie De Jesus at Bishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz kamakailan. Kapag nangyari ito, kailangang maging handa ang mga tinatawag ng mga kampon ng kanyang mga karibal na “Dutertards” at patuloy na suportahan ang kanilang inihalal at huwag nila itong iwanan sa ere kahit sila ay tuligsain ng oposisyon, mga human rights advocate sa hanay ng civil society sa bansa at sa buong daigdig. Kabilang ang Simbahang Katoliko kahit na hindi ito talimain ng mga mismong miyembro nito.

Uulitin ko, hindi na dapat patulan ninumang pari o obispo si Duterte maliban na lang kung ibig nilang bumaba sa kanyang lebel. Walang pangulo at walang obispo na makakaahon sa atin sa ating kinasasadlakan ngayon. Marami ng pangulo at obispo ang nabuhay at namatay, nagkasala at napatawad, pero ganito pa rin tayo. Dahil sa tanging sa pagsasa-Diyos at/o eleksyon lamang sumasalig ang marami sa atin. Pagkatapos ng panahon ng halalan, bumabalik lamang ang maraming botante sa pagiging “dakilang miron”. Kung gusto na rin lang natin na hindi sumunod sa batas kagaya ng mga ginawa (at ipinagmamalaki pa) ni Digong sa mga pinaghihinalaang kriminal sa Davao, sakaling siya ay matalo, bakit hindi natin subukan ang armed militancy o resistance na kanyang pangungunahan para kunin ang political power imbes na umasa tayo sa wala sa halalan? Joke. Seriously, dapat ay hindi double standard of justice ang kanyang ipatutupad.

Ang kuwento nina Mayor Duterte at Bishop Soc ay patikim pa lang sa marami pang uusbong na elekseryeng papatulan ng intrigue and rating-driven at AC-DC media na impluwensiyado din ng mga mamayamang negosyante at pulitiko na daluyan ng ating kantiyaw, pangagalaiti, katatawanan at iba pang mga kabalbalan hatid ng halalan. Mga kababawang tanda ng ating patuloy na pagiging politically immature…

(Photo: Googleflick)