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The interdiction of a witness
By mlq3 Posted in Daily Dose on March 24, 2008 87 Comments 10 min read
Steam jet boat for the Philippines Previous The Long View: The interdiction of a witness Next

Even as Cardinal says Lozada’s forgiven , my column for today is The interdiction of a witness, which took its cue from yesterday’s Inquirer editorial, A nation of lost sheep. For additional background, see the Sun Star Cebu article, Cardinal explains ‘secret meeting’. What’s the worth of a Mass, anyway? I Believe 101 offers up a reflection. Meanwhile, Philippine Commentary reacts to my column and says it’s an exercise in futility. On a related note, see Red’s Herring and smoke.

Today’s Inquirer editorial, Easter settlement, praises the Sumilao farmers and San Miguel Corporation for what it hopes will be a successful settlement of the farmers’ case; and along the way praises Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales for brokering the deal.

The Malaya editorial, Abuse of executive privilege is the issue, alerts the public to the expected handing down, tomorrow, of a decision on the Neri executive privilege case, by the Supreme Court. I’ve written about this case in A color of constitutionality and It’s how you play the game; the scuttlebutt, for a time, was that the Palace was confident it would get its way, and so the President was prepared to hold off appointing a new justice; but then she made the appointment anyway, which was taken by some to be an indication she wanted to improve her administration’s odds. As it is, New SC justice’s first test of independence: Neri case.

There’s an interesting article in the Philippine Star, Palace has yet to submit Melo appointment papers, on how Congress claims it shouldn’t be criticized for not confirming Justice Melo as Comelec Chairman, when the President hasn’t submitted his appointment for confirmation. What’s noteworthy (and praiseworthy) is that Melo’s refused to occupy the position until he is confirmed.

Even as Pacquiao saddened by doubts on WBC win , I’d like to point out an interesting comparison made by John Neri between the President and PacMan. See Manny Pacquiao’s lesson in legitimacy :

 

Can Philippine politics learn anything from Pacquiao’s legitimacy issue?

…I thought each fighter won six rounds, with Pacquiao edging Marquez only because of the additional point from the third-round knockdown. In other words, it could have gone either way, but by the rules of the game it went in Pacquiao’s direction. No, it wasn’t a convincing win. It certainly did not put paid to the two boxers’ “unfinished business.” And it did nothing to improve Pacquiao’s pound-for-pound rankings. But do all these make his victory illegitimate? Our answers tell us more about ourselves, and about what we think of the fighters, than about the fight.

As for Pacquiao’s political patron: The President’s continuing crisis of legitimacy stemmed from her felt need to post a convincing victory in 2004. Her troubles started when she became unwilling to risk a close decision.

And then, there’s this analysis of the damned if you do and damned if you don’t nature of corruption case prosecution, courtesy of Steven Rood, in In the Philippines: Just Another Week of Anti-Corruption (hat tip, The Daily PCIJ):

 

The Sandiganbayan has penalized almost 1,200 public officials for administrative and disciplinary offenses from 2004 to 2006, she added.

Other measurements of corruption have indeed shown progress throughout the years. The price of textbooks in the Department of Education has been reduced, as has the price of medicines procured by cities where The Asia Foundation works to improve governance in cooperation with the city governments themselves, as well as local chambers of commerce and NGOs. Other data come from regular Social Weather Stations surveys of businessmen, which had the percentage of businessmen reporting the payment of bribes for local government permits declining from 55% in 2000 to 40% in 2007. Similarly, the percentage who reported having to pay bribes in the payment of income taxes declined from 52% in 2000 to 33% in 2007. We can say that those percentages (40% for local permits, 33% for paying taxes) is still too high, but we cannot deny that progress has been made.

And yet the PERC, based on a survey of expatriates thoughout Asia in early 2008, arrived at its gloomy judgment. This leads us beyond the realm of technical progress into that of political controversy, which can drive perceptions.

The PERC report summarizes:

“The Philippines is a sad case when it comes to corruption. The actual magnitude of the problem is bad, but it is probably no worse than in places like Indonesia and Thailand. However, it has been politicized as an issue more than in either of these countries, used by political rivals to undercut each other.”

And, this is all well-publicized since “… the media, even more than the courts, is the forum in which all sides try to wage their battles of defamation.”

All the statistics about progress against bureaucratic corruption — no matter how beneficial that progress is for the citizens of the Philippines — tend not to be perceived in the middle of political turmoil, which is beginning to seem (at least in the media) to be a permanent feature of the Philippines (the WBI’s “political stability” index has plunged precipitously in recent years).

 

This politicization of anti-corruption activities in the Philippines has long been a problem. More than a decade ago, PCAGC (Presidential Commission Against Graft and Corruption) Chairman Eufemio C. Domingo stated that every corruption complaint forwarded to his office was politically motivated. When such charges are used as part of the struggle for political advantage, the public can become cynical, believing that all officials are alike and nothing will change.

To fight this cynicism, people want to see the conviction of a “big fish” to demonstrate progress against corruption. While we might have hoped that the “plunder” conviction of President Estrada would count as such an achievement, the fact that he was pardoned and has since vigorously protested that he is innocent means that this goal was not really achieved. Anti-corruption civil society organizations often have a list of particular cases in which they are interested and for which they track the progress. They focus on those cases as a means of demonstrating that prosecution reinforces other tactics — preventing corruption and promoting a graft-intolerant culture — so that a holistic approach against corruption can be effective. Frustratingly for the Ombudsman, the fact that charges have been filed against Undersecretaries, Deputy Commissioners, or provincial governors does not seem to count as “catching big fish” in the public eye.

 

And, when the Ombudsman’s office did move on the most publicized recent case, the so-called ZTE-NBN scandal about allegations of an overpriced computer network subject to bribes that involved (again, allegedly) the Chair of the Commission on Elections and the President’s husband, the effort was attacked as “grandstanding” or as part of a cover-up.

In the atmosphere of a vigorous media in which charges of corruption are always highlighted, anti-corruption agencies are in a very difficult position. If agencies like the Ombudsman are not in the media, are not visibly taking action, they can be accused of doing nothing. On the other hand, if they do take action and publicly move forward on a particular case, they are immediately attacked as part of the “battles of defamation.” This is a classic case of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

 

So, the glass is definitely half full — the Philippines is at the 57th percentile of comparator nations. International agencies issue conflicting assessments of the state of corruption in the Philippines. The Ombudsman and others point to measurable progress against corruption as they undertake efforts to ensure the glass doesn’t become any emptier. Absent “big fish” sitting in jail, opposition reactions range from disappointment to skepticism to outright disbelief.

Overseas, historian David Kaiser in his blog History Unfolding, looks at Barak Obama’s recent speech on race, and says it marks a turning point in American political history:

 

When I read, and then watched, his speech last Tuesday, I thought it was the most effective speech of the last 45 years or so, an extraordinarily honest attempt both to define the racial crisis (in large part, a crisis of beliefs and opinions, as I have tried to show) in the United States, and to try to move beyond it. When Obama referred to the bigoted remarks of his white grandmother, I also smiled to myself because of the kinship that I (as the product of a religiously mixed marriage) felt with him. We half-breeds, I said to myself, can’t be trusted – we have no allegiance to anything but principles and we’ll rat out anybody. (Our existence, too, is a living rebuke to bigotry. Take it from me, no one can hate bigotry more than those of us who know that if everyone were a bigot, we would never have been born.) But I admit that when I actually watched Reverend Wright’s now-notorious clips yesterday, I was shaken, both with respect to Obama’s judgment and with respect to my own ability to be consistent. Would I, I asked myself, be willing to accept as reasonable the candidacy of a Republican who for many years had attended a church whose pastor railed against godless feminists and homosexuals?

 

I would be most unlikely to vote for such a person, of course, simply because he or she was a Republican – but eventually something else occurred to me. If that candidate (let’s call him John Smith) were to make a speech repudiating those views, specifically likening them to extreme views on the other side of the political fence, and arguing that the United States has to reject such views to move forward as a nation, I would certainly respect him. And as I write those views another thought occurs to me. Such a candidate could never be nominated by the Republican Party in 2008. That was why Mitt Romney could not simply claim a right to be a Mormon, but had to add the standard Republican nonsense about the eternal place of religion in the American public square. The Democratic Party remains the more tolerant party, and Obama simply extended its tolerance to the expression of views like Reverend Wright’s, which, as he said himself, are unfortunately common among blacks. Obama genuinely offered a way out of the box we have been living in for forty years. His opponents have not.

The Asia Sentinel looks at the two Chinas in Taiwan’s Kuomintang Return to Power and The Tibet Riots: Hu Jintao is the Biggest Loser. An article in Foreign Affairs, The Rise of China and the Future of the West, says the West can come to terms with a resurgent China; and note to self, this book looks intriguing: The New Asian Hemisphere: The Irresistable Shift of Global Power to the East.

In economics-related news, another article, Life Gets Tough for Asia’s Sovereign Wealth Funds , makes for interesting reading. On a related note, Slate provides Recession Literature, a reading list. On a domestic note, Is RP doing well? Jury is still out, says think tank.


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  1. In the link you provided regarding the think tank’s belief that GDP growth may be overstated, it asked:

    “The question in this case becomes, which data set is correct,” the report said. “Household surveys [aka FIES] and national income accounts [aka GDP measurements] are known to have their own estimation weaknesses, with each having its own set of supporters.

    I believe one way to validate which of the two measures more adequately reflects reality is the Energy Consumption per capita. I did some research and the results support the FIES results rather than the GDP figures.

  2. Manuel, fine article you wrote in The Inquirer today. While it may be futile, as written by DJB, let the reader be enlightened, and the idea be put out there. It is the idea that is important. The result, well, that is another question, but I guess if more eyes will be opened to the points you have made, all the more power.

    Anyway, great read. This, coming from a Cebuano. I have a soft spot for The Cardinal, I must admit, but there is a greater good at stake here.

  3. Would not it be nice to see, once, whatever the decision of the SC on the Neri executive privilege case, they at least if not unanimous do it in convincing Majority, either way, instead of trying to show their impartiality (really?) by a majority of one, and a very predictable which justices vote which sides..

  4. MLQ3,
    It is futile only because you cannot change Ricardo Cardinal Pidal’s way of thinking, any more than I could avert the behavior of Jaime Cardinal Sin for a quarter of a century.

    But you have changed yourself, as I did by writing such an essay of self-discovery and uhmm, revisionism. When we discover what it is we truly believe in, and would die for, then we have found God, and no mere cardinal or bishop or priest or politician can prevent others from learning from us. This is more important than anything else, that our memes are stronger than theirs and that the Future belongs to us and not to them.

    The Aristocracy is a meritocracy of noble ideas that will crush the mediocre, the dogmatic, the idiotic, the puerile, the shallow and disdainful for whom Freedom of Religion is the liberty to lie to themselves and others.

    I am happy as clam just knowing this, happy to let the Fools dance in their funny hats and diaphanous costumes, happy to see their shaved legs of clay.

  5. Since 2005, the Catholic hierarchy has been urging Catholics and non-Catholics alike, to come together as citizens, to reflect on the political situation afflicting the country. That process includes reflecting on the general and specific causes of the political crisis, assigning responsibility, and determining the proper cure. – from “A nation of lost sheep”

    The answers and solutions lie not in the pontifications of a bunch of old farts (remember, it was under their watch in the 1950’s — when the Philippines was still an up-and-coming regional star — that so much opportunity was squandered).

    Hope lies in the youth — an enlightened youth, to be specific. This is something we try to impress to all on our latest Get Real! video on YouTube: A Message to Young Filipinos:

    Check it out here:
    http://www.getrealphilippines.com/solution/filipino_youth.html

    (includes a text transcript for those who lack access to broadband in this day and age) 😉

  6. The situation since Erap’s overthrow suits the Catholic Church just fine. They have free access to Pagcor’s vaults, as long as they accept this largesse with the understanding that they must be complicit in its political maintenance. Under Erap this was not the case as he had other clients and was to them the Anti-Christ anyway.

    But I cannot imagine they would be any too willing to give it up because this was the very situation they had when they were still the Spanish Taliban. They were the real power, but the secular government could be blamed for everything.

    Pagcor is an avaricious center that feeds the social cancer of corruption. The bishops are addicted to it and cannot get off the needle. They must save Gloria unless they want the mainline Church to fall into penury, else they will have to change into Mike Velarde’s costume to survive.

  7. The Church too have business to protect, just like anybody else.

    Matagal nang natapos ang panahon ng kastila, pero ang kaisipan ng nakararami ay nakatanikala parin.

    Panahon na para lagutin ang kaisapang bunga maling paniniwala..Magising na tayo sa katotohanan…na walang HIMALA!!

  8. Either the Catholic church is not united or it is playing good cop-bad cop. Or it may also be using divide and rule tactics.

    Cebu is pro-GMA country. If their politicans are ‘kapit-tuko with GMA’, the bishops and priests are not far behind, knowing how the church dabble in political matters, and vice versa, in this country.

    The church and state (un)separation in RP sure looks like medieval or pre-Reformation times. Sad, really sad.

  9. Or, Bishops being persons of power and, therefore, have access to sources of information that ordinary people do not have, know something the average citizen doesn’t and THAT has been dictating their decisions and actions since “gloriagate” started.

  10. Trouble is, Rob, the theory is that GMA knows and has access to this same information that ordinary citizens do not have and are using that against the bishops. And THAT has been dictating their decisions and actions since “gloriagate” started.

  11. Behind the “Modern” China
    By Robert Kagan
    Washington Post: Sunday, March 23, 2008; Page B07

    But occasionally the mask slips, and the other side of China is revealed. For China is also a 19th-century power, filled with nationalist pride, ambitions and resentments; consumed with questions of territorial sovereignty; hanging on repressively to old conquered lands in its interior; and threatening war against a small island country off its coast.

    It is also an authoritarian dictatorship, albeit of a modern variety. The nature of its rule isn’t visible on the streets of Shanghai, where people enjoy a degree of personal freedom as long as they keep their noses out of politics. It is only when someone challenges its authority that the brute power on which the regime ultimately rests shows itself. In 1989, it was students in Tiananmen Square. A few years ago it was the Falun Gong. Today it is Tibetan protesters. Tomorrow it may be protesters in Hong Kong. Someday it may be dissidents on a “reunified” island of Taiwan.

    This is the aspect of China that does not seem to change, despite our liberal progressive conviction that it must.

    … In Europe, all kinds of subnational movements aspire to greater autonomy or even independence from their national governments, and with less justification than Tibet or Taiwan: the Catalans in Spain, for instance, or the Flemish in Belgium, or even the Scots in the United Kingdom. Yet no war threatens in Barcelona, no troops are sent to Antwerp and no one clears the international press out of Edinburgh. But that is the difference between a 21st-century postmodern mentality and a nation still fighting battles for empire and prestige left over from a distant past.

    These days, China watchers talk about it becoming a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system. But perhaps we should not expect too much.

  12. the bishops, the whole CBCP, they’re not the Church. so it may be a mistake to consider the acts of a few bishops as representative of the Church.

  13. It is amusing, to me at least, that in this day and age, some Filipinos seem to believe that the State needs protection from the Church. The State needs no such thing. The State does things for its own selfish ends, and if it sees that the Church can be used, it will do just that.

  14. Just thinking how funny how many fellow cebuanos have handled the ZTE issue. To say that Cebu is GMA country is already saying that Cebu would wholeheartedly support GMA. In fact, talking to my fellow Cebuanos, their common reply is either “give her the two years” or “every politicians steals” It’s really not an adamant support for GMA and her ilk but is a half-hearted approval of her presidency. Beneath Cebu fumes discontent not able to be articulated. We have to thank the regionalist trapos for gerrymandering the Cebuanos into thinking this is another Manila vs. Cebu issue. It never was. From the beginning, Governor Garcia and Tomas Osmena have willingly given their support in exchange for token projects boosting their images but not really solving the economic, environmental, social woes of Cebu. As a fellow Cebuano once said to me, “Dili bugo ang Cebuano, dili man gyud ta ganahan ni GMA. Ganahan ra ta sa mga proyekto niya. Di man gani ka makakitag Cebuano nga magrally para niya… mga trapo nga mayor ug gobernador lang… ” (Cebuanos are not stupid, we don’t like GMA. We just like her projects. You won’t even see a Cebuano rallying in support of her… except the trapo Mayors and Governors.)

  15. hmmm, carlo, so what you’re saying is that so long as GMA is good to Cebu the Cebuanos, while not liking her, will just let things be?

    so it’s true then. we don’t have a country. this is just some conglomeration of provinces who’d as soon tear each other apart as work together.

  16. @tonio: It is more likely that many Cebuanos believe that the same GMA good for Cebu is also good for other parts of the country.

    Also remember that it is not just TWO CHOICES.

    The choices are (1) talsik-NOW; (2) GMA-forever; (3) Constitution — out with 2010-election or if impeached sooner; (4) GMA-longer with parliamentary.

  17. to Jeg, who said It is amusing, to me at least, that …some Filipinos seem to believe that the State needs protection from the Church.”

    Not only Filipinos. USA, too. Evidence : Romney/Mormon , Huckabee/Evangelical, Barack/black-liberation-church.

  18. The political economy of the ecclesiastical provinces of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines. Protecting the economic assets of the Church. It is intertwined with the political economy of the country.

    When weak institutions fail to deliver the Bishops with the only organization in place to act step in. The CBCP was born right after the Second World War when the state was non-existent. The Roman Catholic Church was the only NGO standing.

    During the last Asian financial crisis one of the banks that got into trouble was Urban Bank. One of the many wholesale depositors in the bank was the Archdiocese of Cebu. Their advisers then was the Bishop of the Opus Dei group Bernie Villegas.

    The bank that eventually took over Urban bank was the Export and Industry Bank run by GMA’s main cronies, the Donald Dee, Serge Luis Ortiz group. James Riaddy the Indonesian ‘Mark Jimenez’ is a big stockholder. With BSP help the two banks were merged.

    Cardinal Vidal is a practical business manager. Most especially when church assets are concerned.

    The Archdiocese of Manila is also involved with the BPI group and the Ortigas group. A product of the Spanish colonial period.

    Meanwhile Union Bank recently took over the International Exchange Bank. These two banks are closely linked to the royal couple in the Palace.

    In the present context of the Philippine political economy there is no real separation of church and state. You have a few progressive bishops trying to move this lumbering dinosaur but it requires some heavy lifting that is difficult in the face of an entitlement society that rules the country.

  19. “Cebuanos are not stupid, we don’t like GMA. We just like her projects. You won’t even see a Cebuano rallying in support of her… except the trapo Mayors and Governors.)”

    EEEEEK!

    Nung Time ni Marcos, we in the Ilocos and the Cordilleras thought this way too! Kasi nga marami projects si Apo Macoy dito.

    Malay ba namin noon na Mindanao was burning, or that the Military was very brutal in Visayas (except Imelda country)?

    Ang excuse lang noon ay walang Internet, talagang news blackout sa rehiyon namin, good news only, kaya naman nagmukhang Dios si Apo Macoy.

    Yun pala, he wanted to keep this strong voting bloc to insulate him. Ke matalo siya sa ibang provinces, the glorious North will save his ass.

    So wala kaming pinagka-iba sa mga puta. Bayaran lang kami.

    Kalsada? Tulay? at iba pang mga proyekto? In the first place naman talagang gawain yan ng gobyerno. Nagpauto lang kami na this was from the goodness of his heart and from his own pocket…

  20. mlq3, i couldn’t agree more with the portion of the perc report you quoted. the politicization of just about everything in the philippines extend from perceived magnitude of corruption in the government to the victory of manny pacquiao over juan marquez. pacquiao argues that marquez’ camp’s claim that he won is understandable – every loser in boxing (unless knocked out cold) thinks he was ‘robbed’. but the saddest thing, pacquiao laments, is that it’s some cynically partisan pinoy who suggests that his victory, like pgma’s in 2004 election, was of questionable legitimacy, and should be investigated. “investigated by whom, the senate?” – pacquiao asked sardonically. then he adds: “in america, once a contest is decided, that’s the end of it and people respect the outcome”. how true it is. but not so in the philippines.

  21. . . .that is difficult in the face of an entitlement society that rules the country. – hvrds

    Quite true. Exemplified by the scions of land owning, rent-seeking oligarchs. Did I hear Gucci?

    At least Paris Hilton is spending portion of her tax-sheltered fortune(or was it taken away by the Hilton patriarch?). Bawal ang freebies!

  22. The present administration handles the hierarchy in the same manner it handles congressmen. For this reason, anyone who objects to calling prelates “congressmen in cassocks” should lodge a complaint, not with those who say it, but with the Palace that made the comparison possible.

    mlq3, b&w did not call prelates “congressmen in cassocks”, they singled out cardinal vidal as a ‘congressman in a cassock’. in Vidal Is Arroyo’s ‘Puppet Solon in a Cassock’ they differentiated critical collaboration from what they called him – ‘a puppet of the president’. what prompted this name-calling is their outrage and dismay that ‘not a single priest has accepted the invitation to say a Mass for Truth’. they accuse the cardinal of partisanship. even in your column, you started with the hierarchy and the Religious Affairs Office; Dodi Limcaoco, Nena Valdes, Medy Poblador, Mike Defensor but then turned on to concentrate on how cardinal vidal “winks, and everyone beneath him does the nudging”. you went on to stretch an implied or explicit prohibitions as an interdict on lozada.
    like the zte controversy this is a contrived speculation. the priest who was to hold the mass backed out. at first it was claimed that he was ordered not to say mass for lozada. two other priests they approached declined. later, the organizers admitted that they really don’t know if there was a direct order from Cardinal Vidal not to officiate masses for Lozada. they only “felt the effects” during the preparation for the visit. “It was not in the original plan (and) they just wanted to include the Mass at the last minute” said Fr. Max Abalos. the Presbyteral Council of the Cebu Archdiocese issued a statement denying any order from the cardinal. and so now, “no need for instructions, no need for prohibitions; once Cardinal Vidal showed partiality his priests took the cue”. as if 300 priests are robots who would rather, to salve his own conscience, malign his Cardinal by whispering to angry nuns than say a mass ‘for truth’. and why not speculate that priests obey the cardinal not with heavy hearts but willingly because they have like minds?
    is this really a case of the cardinal using his pastoral authority to prevent all 300 priests based in Cebu from celebrating Mass for Jun Lozada, or is this a simple case of mismanagement by the organizers? the fact that they managed to push through with a mass concelebrated by two priests suggests they could have had their original mass had they done their homework and prepared a plan A and a plan B.

  23. nash: Don’t lay too much guilt onto the Ilokanos. After all, Marcos became Malacanang resident after behind-closed-doors negotiations with the opposition-party followed by a successful campaign of “Macapagal — Talsik Diyan!!!”.

    And then again demonstrating Marcos popularity is beyond regional (and per the 1973 constitution) Marcos was chosen as follows:

    ARTICLE VII The President and Vice-President

    Section 1. The President shall be the head of state and chief executive of the Republic of the Philippines.

    Section 2. . . . . The President shall be elected from among the Members of the National Assembly by a majority vote of all its Members for a term of six years from the date he takes his oath of office, which shall not be later than three days after the proclamation of the National Assembly, nor in any case earlier than the expiration of the term of his predecessor. Upon taking his oath of office, the President shall cease to be a Member of the National Assembly and of any political party. He shall be ineligible to hold any other elective office during his term.

  24. Congressman in a Cassock?

    Why do these people keep offering sound bites when all it does is explode at their faces? Leave this crap to the pols, will you Miss Navarro?

  25. Cardinal says Lozada’s forgiven.

    Who cares? Do these Bishops believe that their words count? Gimme a break. What’s an Excommunication, Interdiction, etc. do to you? In this age of Obama Bin Laden, all these indulgences do not matter.

    Organized, hierarchical religion is passe. Even the inventors of the Catholic Church, the Romans later the Italians, realize this.

    Its just here in the Philippines and Latin American countries where ignorance pervades. How can one listen to a bishop, who is known to have a mistress, preach about morality.

    As Mastercard would have it, “Knowledge is Power” but ‘World view is Priceless”

  26. @Diego

    If the words of religious leaders didn’t count, and if nobody cared, in this country why would politicians woo said religious leaders during elections and times of crisis?

    Heck, if religious leaders didn’t have such an impact, why would B&W make such a fuss when they didn’t get what they wanted from our clerics? Why would the CBCP get such lambasting from the anti-Gloria crowd?

    In fact, why would Jun Lozada surround himself with nuns and, despite his extensive media coverage, go to Cebu and try to present his version of the truth through a Mass?

    @ Jeg

    That could be the case, Jeg, that the Little Girl is manipulating the data even to “information elite” like upper tier bishops like a full Cardinal.

    But isn’t that overestimating GMA’s reach and underestimating both the resources available to our Church leaders as well as their political acumen?

    Remember that, two of the five characteristics of the Catholic Church (if I remember my theology class correctly) is that it is an organization and an hierarchy. Both these require political capability on a certain level for one to advance, even in an organization and an hierarchy as the Church.

  27. the politicization of just about everything in the philippines extend from perceived magnitude of corruption in the government to the victory of manny pacquiao over juan marquez… bencard

    agree bencard. wala na bang maisulat at pati ba naman panalo ni pacquiao isasabit pa rin sa local politics? nakakdismaya…

    >>>>>>>>

    DAY 25

  28. @ Rob’Ramos
    Precisely my point, ignorance. Pray tell me, if you were excommunicated or interdicted today, how will it affect your (especially your internet) life? Would you feel guilty, remorseful, etc? These excommunication voodoo is part of medieval age control.

    What sad is, many Filipinos are still living this narcotic.

  29. Diego, on one hand you say ‘in this age of Obama Bin Laden’, on the other you say ‘organized religion is passe’. what do you take bin laden for, a party-list representative?

  30. mlq3, my problem with your column “the interdiction of a witness” is the recklessness with which you equate cardinal vidal’s unwillingness to allow lozada and his handlers the use of the pulpit to promote their versions of “truth” with “interdiction” virtually amounting to “excommunication”. it is this kind of exaggeration that feeds the dangerous minds in the average pinoy society.

    did the good cardinal banned lozada from hearing mass, or taking communion, like any other faithful? i don’t think so. did the former close the door on the latter and his retinue? i don’t think so. i think cardinal vidal refused this pretextual “mass for truth” with lozada delivering a ‘sermon’ about how he ‘bravely’ blew the whistle on the president and her personal and official families, to the cheers of the clenched-fisted nuns acting as his cordon sanitaire. like i said before in previous threads, isn’t a public rally in a plaza not enough for him to stage his “road show” and repeat his assertions to anyone who would care to listen?

    the lozada group’s not-too-subtle scheme is to use the church-going public as a captive audience for his melodrama, after some initial success in certain metro manila schools and colleges, most of whom have now realized the folly of being a soapbox for lozada.

    to insinuate an immoral quid pro quo in cardinal vidal’s correct decision to protect the faithful from being exploited for partisan agenda is, without proof, vilification at its worst.

  31. @ mindanaoan

    Mea culpa: it should be ‘Osama’ not ‘Obama’

    The point is: the church we know should have less concern for our political life; while the real enemy is busy destroying the civilization we know.

  32. Diego, Rob,

    Really sad to think that many Filipinos are desensitized by religion. Marx is right, religion is the opiate of the people, at least during this time.

    What is more sad is the fact that, in our modern times, the church and the state are supposed to be autonomous and separated from each other. What people don’t realize is that this law on church-state separation, wherever they are enshrined, is just a lipservice that never counts in practice.

    There’s no doubt that something connects these two entities in a dangerous political game. The link is cash or some other tangible gift. Many of the high-priests do play politics, or wittingly allow themselves to get involved, contrary to their pronouncements of being apolitical because are beneficiaries. Cardinal Vidal is no different. Having received generous “donations” (courtesy of Pagcor) and lechon birthday gift from Malacanan, how could he displease its occupant? Partly, an onerous part of pinoy culture based on “utang na loob” is responsible.

    Should the pinoy masses accept this anomaly? I don’t believe that the reaction of many Cebuanos from Cebu is a mirror of the seeming complacency or acquiescence.

  33. I should say that this onerous game is partly explained, politically speaking, by that cultural trait of “utang na loob” which makes beneficiaries of past favors beholden to the donor. Such applies to politicians and prelates alike. (My apology for that unclear one-liner.)

  34. bencard,

    “…cardinal vidal’s correct decision to protect the faithful from being exploited for partisan agenda…”

    This is a one-sided, truly biased statement. Cardinal Vidal is playing politics, which makes his decision WRONG by being partisan and inconsistent with his pronouncement as well as of the church re-separation of church and state, and for being patently biased against Lozada.

    Also, allowing Remonde to explain away a brazenly anomalous NBN-STE deal is like approving of corruption. The good Cardinal doesn’t realize what he is doing. No wonder many would call him hypocrite!

  35. @UP n

    I’m not blaming. I’m just saying back then we did not know any better. Information was scarce.

    Now, it’s at blazing speed.

    Kaya tingnan mo, bihira na nauuto ng simbahan for example. Filipinos living abroad are more up to date than about what’s happening than most locals….

  36. Heck, if religious leaders didn’t have such an impact, why would B&W make such a fuss when they didn’t get what they wanted from our clerics? Why would the CBCP get such lambasting from the anti-Gloria crowd?

    right, if they don’t matter, why would mlq3 be so mad at those bishops and cardinal whom he said are close to malacanang and who are beneficiaries of those hefty donations. as if the church as a whole has not been practicing this act of receiving dirty money either from malacanang (pagcor) or from gambling lords.

    infact, the church leadership already admitted receiving huge amounts of gambling (dirty) money as donations for their pro-poor projects, the reason why the late “incorruptible” Cardinal Sin in defense of the r.c. church has to say he would accept money even coming from satan if it will benefit the poor. why discriminate then? i say, denounce the whole hierarchy of the church for this “immoral” act and not just the selected few who are not supportive to your cause.

  37. The point is: let us not belabor what is not important.

    Interdict, excommunication, etc. Do we care? At this modern age?

    MLQ3, Black and White, etc, what the heck? Why do you weaken your movement by invoking the bishops’ position. They don’t matter!

  38. diego, the current main activity of the movement you said, is jun lozada’s ‘tour of truth’. but it hit a snag in cebu getting an unsatisfactory attendance which they blamed on cardinal vidal. they claimed vidal prohibited priests from saying mass for lozada. this partiality, mlq3 says, essentially placed an Interdict on lozada. that’s the story.

  39. how can refusal to transform the mass into a political rally dubbed “mass for truth” be “partisan”? what “right” has b&w to demand the church to treat lozada as bearer of “truth”? i really think the whole exercise borders on the sacrilegious. if anybody needs to be excommunicated, it’s the b&w, i think.

  40. Religion makes a convenient excuse for lapses in personal accountability.

    We attribute good times to “God’s graces” and bad times to “God’s will”.

    Wala kang panalo, lusot, o konswelo.

    God is always the winner and people are always losers in religious dogma.

  41. @Diego, who said : “Interdict, excommunication, etc. Do we care? At this modern age?”

    The bishops have clout. Evidence : no-divorce in the Philippines.

  42. bencard, mindanaon, review my previous entry on interdicts. review what canon law states. review how sch prohibitions were not made in the past, and how they’re being made now. review the cardinal’s actions, for the record. no reckless comparison was made.

  43. grd, because the church as a whole has not, but the whole church has been far more succesfully coopted than ever before, because as in all sectors, all you need is to cultivate an influential minority to coopt the whole.

  44. diego, while you or i may not care, a person of faith has no choice but to care. a person of faith can lose everything but their immortal soul. it has nothing to do with modernity, as i for one do not think faith and science cancel each other out.

  45. yeah right, nobody cares about religion right? no matter how hard you try to deny it folks, religion plays a major role in our society… they say humanity has progressed na daw from religion, from what??? Catholics becoming Born Again Christians that is!!! Blame the bishops all you want, say that they are not relevant but the thing is… as long as there are people believing in “God” there will always be something like this… lunurin niyo man sa Pacific Ocean lahat ng katolikong obispo, may Mike Velarde at iba pang lilitaw sa mundo… at doon susunod yung mga tao. Sa tingin ninyo abot ng utak ng mga yan ang mga sinasabi natin sa blog na ito??? kapag halos wala kang matakbuhan at kumakalam sikmura mo, “Dyos” pa rin yung tatawagan mo.

    Enough of this attempt at being skeptics. We are Filipinos. If there is a way out of this mess, it should be from each one of us.

  46. Remember people, modernism happened in the Church first. Your non sequitur for the day. — BrianB

    Did it? Or was it FORCED upon it?

  47. I hope Manolo doesn’t get Exed for lecturing a cardinal. Interdicts are formal and official so I don’t think it was ever issued. It would have alerted the Vatican as well as Congress-separation of church and state. What happened was just as the opinion described it–a bishop acting as the bosing and the priests of cebu acting like bodyguards. Mafia culture comes to the Church.

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