Via the bureau of communications
Cause you know, separation of church and state? Fuck that shit, it’s not important at all! Please CBCP, do feel free to run roughshod over the constitution and turn the Philippines into your own theocratic state.
Posted on 17 July 2011.
Via the bureau of communications
Cause you know, separation of church and state? Fuck that shit, it’s not important at all! Please CBCP, do feel free to run roughshod over the constitution and turn the Philippines into your own theocratic state.
Posted in Humor0 Comments
Posted on 16 July 2011.
Make no mistake: The recent PCSO scandal violates the separation of churches and state. Yet some, including several senators, think that the PCSO and Catholic bishops weren’t doing anything wrong. By the end of this article, I hope you’ll agree: In every donation the bishops received from the PCSO, secularism was undoubtedly, unquestionably, and unmistakably violated.
First, let’s review the relevant rules regarding the PCSO donations:
Consider the first rule. Does it make any qualifications? Does it say “public money should not be used for a religious group except when the money is used for secular purposes”? No. (Atty. Raul Pangalangan shares the same sentiment.)
Given this, we can now create two questions that test whether there were violations in the use of PCSO funds by the Catholic bishops:
With these questions in mind, let’s begin with the Tuguegarao case. In Cagayan, the PCSO gave the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao P200,000 for the operational expenses of a retirement home for priests. The PCSO gave an unknown amount for “finishing touches” on the renovation of the said retirement home.
Let’s ask our two questions:
Is this a violation of secularism? Unless the priests actually retired to become doctors and the retirement home actually serves as a hospital, the answer is obvious. The fact that priests enjoy a retirement home funded by the public is an unmistakable violation of secularism, even if there were a small section in the retirement home that serves as a priestly private practice.
I’d be interested to hear a rebuttal of this case, especially by the senators who hastily accepted the bishops’ innocence and apologized for their involvement in this scandal. Will they be less apologetic when they learn that the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao didn’t even need the funds, because it had more than P100M invested in San Miguel and Ayala?
The Tuguegarao case should be enough to clear any doubt that there was a constitutional violation, and it’s unfortunate that this hasn’t come up during the investigation.
Let’s move on to the next violation: the bishops purchasing Sacred Utility Vehicles (SUVs). (I redefined the acronym because, as some have furiously pointed out, not all of the vehicles are Sport Utility Vehicles.)
Some people seem to think that it’s OK for the bishops to receive SUVs as long as they are used for charity work. I’ve already explained that the Constitution does not care what the funds are used for; that a religious group received the funds is already a violation.
But even if we grant for the sake of argument that the funds (and SUVs) can be used for charitable purposes, at least one bishop implicitly admitted that it was used for more than that.
Consider what Bishop Pueblos said in reference to returning his Montero Sport:
“I don’t see any problem with that. I am riding a very old vehicle within the diocese itself. I could even ride a small vehicle if it is necessary. It will not really be a problem,” Pueblos said.
Think about it. If the Montero Sport were only being used for medical assistance or charity work, this is not what Pueblos would have said. He would have said something more like the following:
“I will return the vehicle, but it’s too bad. People in hard-to-reach barangays will not receive the medical assistance they so badly need. We don’t have any vehicle that can cross the tough terrain, so we’ll have to immediately start looking for one.”
But no. Pueblos said that he would use the “very old vehicle” and that he “could even ride a small vehicle.” (Because, you know, anything that’s not a Montero is small.)
The birthday bishop’s statement tells us that the Montero was primarily for his use, and non-sanctioned use of the Montero is a violation, regardless of whether he used it to go to the market or go to Mass. And does anyone seriously think that every trip Bishop Pueblos took on the Montero was a medical mission?
The statement also tells us that Pueblos didn’t need the Montero after all. If a very old vehicle or a smaller vehicle could have done the job, it means that he didn’t have to ask for the P1.7M birthday gift from GMA; even if he needed a car, it didn’t have to be a Montero.
In addition to the Tuguegarao case, this is also a clear violation. And I highly doubt that the other bishops used their SUVs only for charitable purposes. But let’s pretend for the sake of argument that the SUVs were used exclusively for medical missions. Would it still be a violation of secularism? Yes, and here’s why.
As I’ve explained earlier, the Constitution categorically states that public money should not be given to religious groups, regardless of what the religious group does with it — there are no exceptions.
Senator Miriam Santiago argues that this is not the case, and she brings up a 1937 case to make her point:
The post office issued postage stamps commemorating an international Eucharistic congress of the Catholic Church. The issue was whether the stamps used public money for religious purposes, thus violating the Constitution. The Supreme Court ruled that there was no violation.
This is a bad analogy. The public money for issuing the stamps was used by the post office, a government organization — not a religious one. In comparison to the SUV scandal, the public money was given to and spent by a religious organization. The contrast couldn’t be more obvious.
Sen. Santiago goes on to explain a threefold test to check whether there was a constitutional violation. But as Atty. Raul Pangalangan explains, the threefold test does not even apply in this case:
Here we don’t even get to apply that test. What is at stake is not the broad language of the Establishment Clause (“No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion ….”) but the specific and prohibitory language on the religious use of public funds (“No public money ….”). In interpreting laws, the specific and the prohibitory prevail over the general and the permissive. As the saying goes, “What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?”
And for someone who said that “the COA report is wrong … there was no constitutional violation,” Sen. Santiago comes to a surprising conclusion:
PCSO management apparently admitted that it has not given similar donations to any other religion. If so, then PCSO management appears to be giving preference to the Catholic religion, and that would be a violation of the Establishment Clause.
So what the investigation has shown so far is that there’s at the very least a violation of the Establishment Clause in the Constitution. How can Sen. Santiago say that “there was no constitutional violation” and then say that there “would be a violation of the Establishment Clause” in the very same page?
Sen. Santiago concludes by calling for the investigation of the “maleficent twisted genius” who invented “Pajero bishops.” I wouldn’t mind the Senate investigating this.
But senators, please get your priorities straight. There are more things that deserve further investigation. What about the violations of the Establishment Clause made apparent by PCSO’s admissions? What about the possible violations committed from 1986 – 2007, when, according to the CBCP, receiving donations from the PCSO became standard practice? What about the unsanctioned usage of the SUVs as Pueblos has implicitly admitted? And what about the blatant violations in the Tuguegarao retirement home for priests?
As I said in a recent interview, the investigation into the bishops’ involvement in this scandal appears to have been done in haste. The excessive respect shown by the senators toward the bishops borders on devotion, and this has undoubtedly affected their objectivity. I hope the more sensible Senators remind their more pious colleagues that the bishops’ reputations are less valuable than the Blue Ribbon Committee’s integrity.
Posted on 15 July 2011.
Date: Sunday, July 17, 2011
Time: 2:30pm – 5:30pm
1. Are zoos ethical?
2. The Senate’s reaction to the PCSO investigation
3. The validity/effectiveness of public protest
4. Elevator action: Feminism, sexism, and everything in between
After the meetup we go for dinner and beer drinking at a nearby location. Text the number below if you’re catching up. If you’re not a meetup regular and can’t make it for the meetup but would like to go for the post meetup, please indicate on a post in the wall or comment so we can contact you.
Got questions about the meetup? Contact us at 0927 323 3532
* Newbies are welcome.
* Look for the FF sign (or the group of smart, sexy people).
* There is no required age, religion, philosophy, or IQ level.
* Discussions are informal yet intelligent (most of the time).
* You don’t have to talk; you can just sit in and listen.
* You don’t have to buy anything from Starbucks Tomas Morato.
Posted on 15 July 2011.
A public apology can make or break public sentiments towards well known public figures, be they philandering spouses caught with their pants down, corrupt officials caught with their hands in the cookie jar, or like in recent news… sneaky little clerics asking for special gifts from the President.
An apology can elicit sympathy… or expose you for the creepy little rat that you are. Thus, scripting the perfect apology letter has become something of an art-form. In typical pinoy fashion, the best technique is to go for all-out drama. Take a cue from old-school Nora Aunor movies… shed a few melodramatic crocodile tears and utter the immortal phrase “kung kasalanan ang magmahal, then… I… AM… GUILTY.”
So with a little bit of theatrical sleight-of-hand, you have turned from perpetrator to martyr, transforming actual crime into a “crime of passion”. Suddenly, the only thing you’re guilty of is loving too much or helping too much. Bravo! The crowd applauses and you are guaranteed a FAMAS award for best dramatic performance.
So now you know the power of a good apology. So to help all you aspiring apologists out there caught red-handed and eager to turn the tides of public sympathy, here’s the:
So hopefully after you’ve followed all these tips, you can come up with your very own soul-stirring, heart-wrenching “non-apology” apology letter guaranteed to evoke sympathy from even your most cynical critics. If you’ve done it correctly, you’ll soon be swimming in high praise from everyone for your “humility” and “contrite heart“. Good luck crawling your way out of whatever mess you got yourself into.
Need a few good examples of a good “non-apology” apology letter? Take a cue from the Catholic Bishop’s conference letter, “A Time of Pain, A Time of Grace”.
Our Dear People of God,
Our Mother Church has been deeply wounded by the controversies in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office that have erupted in the past two weeks. Some members of the Church believe in the innocence of the bishops involved in the issue, while others do not. There is no doubt that everywhere in the Church there is great sorrow. We your pastors are one with you. As shepherds struggling to love you like Jesus the Good Shepherd, we are sorry for the pain and sadness that these events have brought upon you.
We are saddened that many of you, especially the youth, the poor, our Basic Ecclesial Communities, have been confused because of the apparent inconsistency of our actions with our pastoral preaching.
As we express our sadness, we also ask you to be slow in judgment and to conscientiously seek the whole truth behind the controversy. Let us seek the truth always in charity.
We assure you that the bishops concerned are ready to accept responsibility for their action and to face the consequences if it would be proven unlawful, anomalous, and unconstitutional. We assure you that their action was done without malice. Out of their sincere desire to help their people, they failed to consider the pitfalls to which these grants could possibly lead them. They have also expressed their readiness to do everything that is necessary to heal this wound so that we can all move forward in hope.
We also assure you, our beloved people, that we shall re-examine the manner of our collaboration with government agencies for purposes of helping the poor, making sure that pastoral sensibilities are respected and the highest ethical standards are observed. We shall examine our values in the light of our vocation to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We commit ourselves to the long journey of personal and social transformation required of all disciples of the Lord. We plead with you to walk with us in this path of constant renewal.
We express again our deep sorrow for the pain that the recent events have brought to you our beloved people. The good Lord knows our love for you. The words of the psalmist come to our mind: “My sacrifice, a contrite spirit. A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn” (Ps.51). As the same Psalmist addresses the Lord, we take his words as our own to encourage and challenge us: “Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.”
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,
+NEREO P. ODCHIMAR, D.D.
Bishop of Tandag
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
July 11, 2011
Notice the deft use of techniques employed in Bishop Odchimar’s “apology”… it says a lot without… well, without saying anything at all. Even after reading it for the nth time, you’re still not sure what he’s sorry for… but somehow you feel sorry for him now. Now that is the mark of a truly well-written non-apology apology letter.
Now compare it with the apology letter Bill Clinton wrote during the Monica Lewinski sex scandal. Who did a better job at non-apologizing? :
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the White House and to this day to which Hillary and the vice president and I look forward so much every year.
This is always an important day for our country, for the reasons that the vice president said. It is an unusual and, I think, unusually important day today. I may not be quite as easy with my words today as I have been in years past,
and I was up rather late last night thinking about and praying about what I ought to say today. And rather unusual for me, I actually tried to write it down. So if you will forgive me, I will do my best to say what it is I want to say to you – and I may have to take my glasses out to read my own writing.
First, I want to say to all of you that, as you might imagine, I have been on quite a journey these last few weeks to get to the end of this, to the rock bottom truth of where I am and where we all are.
I agree with those who have said that in my first statement after I testified I was not contrite enough. I don’t think there is a fancy way to say that I have sinned.
It is important to me that everybody who has been hurt know that the sorrow I feel is genuine: first and most important, my family; also my friends, my staff, my Cabinet, Monica Lewinsky and her family, and the American people. I have asked all for their forgiveness.
But I believe that to be forgiven, more than sorrow is required – at least two more things. First, genuine repentance – a determination to change and to repair breaches of my own making. I have repented. Second, what my bible calls a ”broken spirit”; an understanding that I must have God’s help to be the person that I want to be; a willingness to give the very forgiveness I seek; a renunciation of the pride and the anger which cloud judgment, lead people to excuse and compare and to blame and complain.
Now, what does all this mean for me and for us? First, I will instruct my lawyers to mount a vigorous defense, using all available appropriate arguments. But legal language must not obscure the fact that I have done wrong. Second, I will continue on the path of repentance, seeking pastoral support and that of other caring people so that they can hold me accountable for my own commitment.
Third, I will intensify my efforts to lead our country and the world toward peace and freedom, prosperity and harmony, in the hope that with a broken spirit and a still strong heart I can be used for greater good, for we have many blessings and many challenges and so much work to do.
In this, I ask for your prayers and for your help in healing our nation. And though I cannot move beyond or forget this – indeed, I must always keep it as a caution light in my life – it is very important that our nation move forward.
I am very grateful for the many, many people – clergy and ordinary citizens alike – who have written me with wise counsel. I am profoundly grateful for the support of so many Americans who somehow through it all seem to still know that I care about them a great deal, that I care about their problems and their dreams. I am grateful for those who have stood by me and who say that in this case and many others, the bounds of privacy have been excessively and unwisely invaded. That may be. Nevertheless, in this case, it may be a blessing, because I still sinned. And if my repentance is genuine and sustained, and if I can maintain both a broken spirit and a strong heart, then good can come of this for our country as well as for me and my family. (Applause)
The children of this country can learn in a profound way that integrity is important and selfishness is wrong, but God can change us and make us strong at the broken places. I want to embody those lessons for the children of this country – for that little boy in Florida who came up to me and said that he wanted to grow up and be President and to be just like me. I want the parents of all the children in America to be able to say that to their children.
A couple of days ago when I was in Florida a Jewish friend of mine gave me this liturgy book called ”Gates of Repentance.” And there was this incredible passage from the Yom Kippur liturgy. I would like to read it to you:
”Now is the time for turning. The leaves are beginning to turn from green to red to orange. The birds are beginning to turn and are heading once more toward the south. The animals are beginning to turn to storing their food for the winter. For leaves, birds and animals, turning comes instinctively. But for us, turning does not come so easily. It takes an act of will for us to make a turn. It means breaking old habits. It means admitting that we have been wrong, and this is never easy. It means losing face. It means starting all over again. And this is always painful. It means saying I am sorry. It means recognizing that we have the ability to change. These things are terribly hard to do. But unless we turn, we will be trapped forever in yesterday’s ways. Lord help us to turn, from callousness to sensitivity, from hostility to love, from pettiness to purpose, from envy to contentment, from carelessness to discipline, from fear to faith. Turn us around, O Lord, and bring us back toward you. Revive our lives as at the beginning, and turn us toward each other, Lord, for in isolation there is no life.”
I thank my friend for that. I thank you for being here. I ask you to share my prayer that God will search me and know my heart, try me and know my anxious thoughts, see if there is any hurtfulness in me, and lead me toward the life everlasting. I ask that God give me a clean heart, let me walk by faith and not sight.
I ask once again to be able to love my neighbor – all my neighbors – as my self, to be an instrument of God’s peace; to let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart and, in the end, the work of my hands, be pleasing. This is what I wanted to say to you today.
Thank you. God bless you.
President Bill Clinton – September 11, 1998
For more FF Top 10 Lists, click on http://filipinofreethinkers.org/tag/top-10/
Posted in Humor9 Comments
Posted on 15 July 2011.
So the CBCP supposedly apologized for receiving PCSO funds to buy themselves SUVs, all the while mewling that those funds were used to help the poor. At the Senate hearing, this is what they had to say for themselves:
For his part, Bishop Jaucian said the Mitsubishi Strada purchased out of the P1.29-million donation was used to help the poor communities in Abra.
Bishop Salgado, represented by Bishop William Antonio, said he was returning the vehicle which was used for the social missions of Caritas Nueva Segovia.
And finally Archbishop Orlando Quevedo said this about the rules the CBCP had with interacting with the PCSO:
We think we can do our job without encumbrance of the political or any reason whatsoever that has given shame to the whole conference. We shall collaborate with PCSO but I think we shall be forced to change the rules for ourselves…
What the good Archbishop seems to have forgotten is that the CBCP already had a rule for themselves when dealing with funds that come from gambling. In 2005, to address the jueteng scandal, the CBCP issued this statement on gambling, a statement which they so boldly called a moral teaching (emphasis mine):
To inform the public better about the reasons for this CBCP position, we present the following moral teachings and pastoral imperatives:
Therefore, the CBCP has made it a collective policy:
3. To denounce illegal gambling in all its forms and prevent its legalization;
- To combat the expansion of organized and systemic legal gambling;
- To refrain from soliciting or receiving funds from illegal and legal gambling so as not to promote a culture of gambling; and
- To encourage church personnel and church institutions to refrain from doing the same, even when the objective may be that of helping the poor.
This issue should bring into sharp relief the hypocrisy of the CBCP and the bankruptcy of their moral leadership. In the height of that previous scandal, where bishops received money from PAGCOR and jueteng lords to supposedly help the poor, the CBCP found it useful to issue a pastoral statement condemning the receipt of funds from sources of gambling to placate an angry nation.
And then here we are in 2011, with the people angry at the CBCP again for turning their back on one of their “moral teachings” to justify their actions. These bishops solicited and received funds from the PCSO, an arm of the government that runs gambling games. These bishops then cried that these funds and these vehicles are just being used for the poor.
Actions which the CBCP deemed immoral just six years ago suddenly become the paragon of morality and charity, enough that Senators would kowtow to them and offer to let the Bishops keep their apparently now moral vehicles.
When we have a Church whose morality is this loose and flexible, changing their moral teachings to save themselves, do the CBCP really have any credibility when in comes to other moral pronouncements? They put themselves forward as the moral guardians of the country. When the CBCP dogmatically hold that reproductive health is immoral, that divorce is immoral, that people loving each other is immoral, do their words really mean anything?
Or do these moral pronouncements have just as much substance as that of a ghost, an empty spirit haunted by his past?
(Image from Clker)
Posted on 14 July 2011.
It’s a miracle any of us have been posting on the site recently, considering how little sleep we’ve gotten these past few days. It’s been all cardboard and pens and scissors and tarps and lots and lots and lots of tape for us recently as a handful of us scrambled to create 7 miniature SUVs and placards from scratch in a single night. While some ended up falling unconscious for an hour or two, most had foregone sleep entirely. We be badass.
So, little did others know that while the Freethinkers stood with the rest of Bantay Bishop outside the Senate gates last Wednesday morning, greeting the bishops and Senators as they cruised in for the PCSO hearing, we were running on the barest minimum of energy, half-thinking of the Pajero 7, half-thinking of random mattresses and Jollibee Breakfast Joys. Fortunately, our determination kept us from keeling over.
Moreover, we did this despite our day jobs and other priorities. And all the materials were either from our personal belongings, borrowed, or bought using cash pooled from our members and friends. In the midst of our criticizing an issue regarding certain people getting grossly undeserved funds that could have gone to deserving citizens, it is highly ironic that we would be accused of enjoying this very form of corruption due to some bizarre conspiracy theory. Unlike other people, we helped ourselves.
None of us would have done this because we were told or paid to. We didn’t walk away from this event with extra cash in our pockets or pats on the back from some greasy bigwig. Instead, we headed off for the jobs and deadlines we had put on hold, for a place to finally get some grub and, for a lucky few, for our homes where we fell unconscious on our beds. And we’d do all of this all over again if (and when) we have to.
Posted on 14 July 2011.
We have read with deep dismay the sentiments of Senator Miriam Santiago regarding the recent Senate investigation hearing on the bishops who received Pajeros (oh, sorry, SUVs– for some strange reason the distinction has become vitally important) during the Arroyo administration. We were particularly saddened by the following:
Q: To clarify, you mentioned that there are people behind the “Pajero bishops” propaganda?
A: That’s right. The public will not spontaneously call the issue “Pajero bishops” if someone had not put that thought into their heads. And if someone can make this basic unintelligible mistake as calling the SUVs Pajeros when none is a Pajero at all, then that can only mean that perhaps a PR practitioner designed this entire program. We’re barking up the wrong tree. We are only talking 7 million, and there is even a constitutional issue involved, maybe it’s correctly appropriated or not—as we said, we have to wait for the Supreme Court.
Why the emphasis on 7 million pesos when there are billions that on the surface were apparently abused and wasted by these officials? Why are we being led this path? Who is manipulating the scenarios? They are trying to cover up bigger multibillion peso anomalies in the PCSO and PAGCOR, and they have conveniently found a scapegoat in the CBCP because, you know, it makes a sensational headline.
I feel outraged, and I really feel that there is an air of final desperation about our government if people who have not been elected can feel free-despite the installation of a new administration based on its anti-graft platform—to steal billions of pesos from the people’s money.
I understand that there is a certain PR practitioner has been going the rounds at least in the print media, emphasizing the bishop controversy. That is my understanding. I haven’t had time to check it out. Of course he is free. That is a very legitimate profession. But if he is purposely maligning other sectors so as to derail the Blue Ribbon investigation on the PCSO anomalies, then it already becomes a criminal effort to cover up obstruction of justice.
Q: Can you name this person?
A: No, not yet. I’m just wondering why we are spending so much time and effort on 7 million pesos when there are billion-peso anomalies involved. And why all of a sudden when I’m coming to my workplace am I assaulted by this group who are all against a group of people under investigation without even having heard their side. They could have just sat here and listened first and then go out there and start waving their placards up and down.
We say dismay because up until now we have had quite a lot of respect for Senator Santiago, who has in the past campaigned against corruption and general skullduggery at great cost to her personal and political life. It has also been refreshing and often entertaining to have a politician unafraid to speak her mind in public, particularly about things most others might feel it impolite to discuss.
Therefore it is with all due respect that we say this, in the hopes that it may clarify matters and lay her many suspicions about the action to rest:
Dear Honorable Senator — we, the Filipino Freethinkers, are the people behind this. We were the ones who made the cardboard Pajeros and rode them in bishop’s attire. It was we, along with fellow like-minded groups who banded with us to form a single movement, who showed our ire towards this glaring violation of Church-State separation the day of the Senate hearings. We are not PR practitioners. We are a grassroots movement dedicated to advocating reason, science, and secularism.
It was not, and never will be, our intention to cover up other bigger issues of corruption. We remain a relatively small group with limited resources, and as such we are simply focusing on the bishops’ fault in this case, because it is and always has been our niche to address violations of secularism, and of late it has been Catholic Bishops who have been the most prominent offenders.
If you take a look at our website you would see that we have indeed been listening very carefully to what the bishops have had to say for quite some time now, and we believe that their continued wrongdoings are blatant enough that ordinary citizens like ourselves — the ‘public’ you seemed to have casually dismissed early on in your statement — have good cause to call them out for it.
Ultimately, while we are flattered that you think our recent action looked fabulously expensive enough that it must have required some shadowy bogeyman funding everything, the hats were made with corrugated plastic, the SUV costumes with cartons and printed tarps, and the robes were all borrowed soutanas. About a dozen of us spent the sleepless night before putting them all together with duct tape.
We did it, Senator Santiago. We did it, and unlike a lot of other people as of late, we are certainly not sorry for what we have done.
The Filipino Freethinkers
(Image from Orkut Plus)
Posted on 14 July 2011.
It all started with an (in-character) Tweet.
Thanks to an offhand comment on my Twitter about Bishop Bacani’s objections to same-sex unions, I ended up looking into the man’s history with a little more depth than I would’ve wanted to. The comment was one of my typical one-liners, meant to imply that he finds it all sorts of wrong, yet doesn’t seem to have any objections about the numerous cases of pedophilia within the clergy.
For someone to demand proof of this is ridiculous, given the fact that for an activist bishop who has dipped his hand into the RH Bill issue, among other issues of sexual persuasion, it bothers me why he would deliberately sidestep the issue of sexual indiscretion among his own kind, and why his defenders always insist that we should let the Church handle these issues internally.
Why? Why should we let them handle an issue like this internally, when it steps well into the realm of the criminal? Why would a trial by the church hierarchy trump the legal procedure of the government who made laws against this very thing?
So this fundie attacks me and starts calling me ancient because I was condescendingly calling him “son”. Wow. He sure showed me. I don’t even know how old he is, but unless he’s ten, I doubt he’d have any room to call me “lolo”. Not that I mind, really. It’s not like being old is such a bad thing.
In any case, after putting out multiple sources about the cases of pedophilia that have been swept under the rug by the church, he quickly dismissed them as “rumors.” He then quickly tried to make a fuss about the fact that my sources point to cases in the States, whereas I didn’t mention anywhere (How could I? I had only 140 characters to work with on Twitter!) that this “looking the other way” is exclusive to the Philippine situation.
Clearly, in his mind, the clergy are immune from any kind of wrongdoing whatsoever. Apparently, this “infallibility” business that the Pope actually needs to invoke before being so rubs off on the clergy like some kind of divine STD.
At this point, I felt compelled to look closer into the Bacani case. Eight years have passed. Why is there still no conclusive verdict? Why are the so-called wheels of justice turning so agonizingly slowly? As expected, though, a cursory glance at articles written over the matter painted a very clear picture of the whole sordid mess.
Now, see, I like what Bishop Bacani has done for the poor. Compared to certain other bishops, he relatively holds steady to his vow of poverty.
That doesn’t make him perfect or laudable in any way, though. He’s supposed to do that, because he took a bloody vow of poverty, obedience, and chastity. Anything less would be a failure on his part.
“Failure” is exactly how well he did with his vow of chastity. For a girl seeking “publicity,” she sure kept her identity pretty down low for the most part. It was actually a bit sad that the only defense Bacani’s supporters could muster was yet more victim blaming by assaulting the character of the woman who was sexually harassed. The thinking is, if she’s a woman of demonstrably “loose” morals, then nothing Bishop Bacani could do to her should be construed as sexual harassment, thereby proving how little they understand about the dynamics of sexual harassment. And we’re supposed to listen to these guys when they give advice how to conduct ourselves in the bedroom?!?
Bacani’s admission was pretty damning: “I am deeply sorry for the consequences of any inappropriate expression of affection to my secretary.”
This indicates regret over the result of the act, but not the act itself. This is very typical of people in privilege, and is indicative of a lack of understanding over exactly what went wrong. It’s the same attitude typified by the CBCP “apology” over the Pajeros.
As far as the good Bishop was concerned, and most perpetrators of rape culture will share the same view, intent is mucking fagic. Apparently, because Bishop Bacani didn’t intend to sexually harass his secretary, suddenly, she has no right to feel harassed.
The fact that this instance was actually not the first time this happened should even be a bigger warning flag: true, I’m not a lawyer, but when you’re supposedly a shepherd of morality, I figure that prudence and discretion should take precedence over legalities and technicalities. If you know your secretary is upset by certain displays of affection, if you’ve already apologized to her for it before, then why would you do it again? Because you can go to confession and have it absolved or something?
I’m actually shocked that I have to explain such a basic concept to a man almost three times my age and someone who’s supposed to be my “moral shepherd” considering I’m supposed to be a Catholic apologist and all, but what may be an okay display of affection for you may not be an okay display of affection for somebody else. Precisely because they’re not you. No amount of spinning and pointing to intent can change that.
In the end, Bishop Bacani was, to paraphrase his own words, sorry only because he got caught, hence, “Sorry for the consequences of his act.” He is neither sorry because he trampled on the dignity of another human being, nor that he was insensitive to that fact. His apology was every bit as sincere as Vince McMahon’s was last Monday night on RAW.
To this date, we don’t know what the results of the Vatican “investigation” have yielded. It’s mysterious how slow their investigations progress, to be honest, but then again, maybe that’s really just how they roll. I suppose this is the kind of “temperance” that they are asking from people when it comes to their luxury vehicle issues at present.
It also seems to be the same kind of “temperance” that they are demonstrating in quickly calling any Catholics who support the RH Bill “fake Catholics”.
Are we saying that Bishop Bacani is guilty as charged? Of course not. What we’re saying is that the defense of victim-blaming is so tired, so sexist, and reeks of so much privilege, that it’s shocking someone who claims moral ascendancy would have to resort to such tactics instead of just actually proving that none of these morally questionable actions ever happened.
That we are now merely questioning the nature of these actions but taking the actual commission of these actions for granted may pass muster in the court of law, but it seems rather odd that instead of acting in a manner beyond moral reproach, one needs to resort to technicalities and legalities while still maintaining that very veneer of moral inculpability. Isn’t that having your cake and eating it, too?
True, if Bishop Emeritus Bacani were any other man, we probably would frown at his actions a bit, and not raise much of a furor over him beyond that. Unfortunately, he isn’t any other man: he is a man of the cloth, and someone who won’t hesitate to tell everyone what is and isn’t morally acceptable. When his own morality comes into question in such a flagrant manner, how do we expect his words to hold any water?
Posted on 14 July 2011.
By far, the most entertaining part of the PCSO debacle is watching Catholic bishops perform the most skillful mental gymnastics in order to justify their possession of luxury SUVs at the expense of the State. Well, more so than their usual fare of theological ass-pulling. From crying persecution and pointing the finger at other bribed religious groups (no other sects are known to have been bribed) to the latest non-apology of “we are sorry for the pain and sadness that these events have brought upon you”, the CBCP will stop at nothing to prove to the world that having God on your side rarely ever means you have the facts on your side.
While the bishops promise to return the SUVs, as if that would solve everything, Fr. Joaquin Bernas of the Society of Jesus has argued in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the illegality of the “gift” vehicles depended on “the purpose and uses” of the cars. The rationalization is that churches provide a service to society that the State cannot. Thus, the government can legally provide money to religious organizations (as with other not-for-profit agencies) for this end, most significantly in the form of tax exemptions.
Atty. Raul Pangalangan, former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law, questions this reasoning, saying that it doesn’t matter that public money was supposedly used for charitable causes. The Establishment clause, which states that “no law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion…” is not the one trampled on by the PCSO gifts to the bishops, according to Pangalangan. It is a different section in the Constitution which states that “No public money or property shall be appropriated… for the use, benefit, or support of any church….” This, he explains, is specific and prohibitory language denying clerics from entangling their private vows of poverty with public money.
Despite a ringing endorsement from Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the expectation that it’s perfectly fine, even desirable, to fund sectarian charities for as long as they avoid proselytization has been the cause of much grief and it is fundamentally unfair, especially to the religious groups themselves. Christianity, and other religions to some extent, received a mandate from God himself to spread the faith. Asking churches to “take our money but, please, don’t spend it on religious knickknacks” is naive. Insinuated in every publicly-funded recollection, religious idol, invocation is the blessing from the State for the belief that beyond our material world, there is an immaterial one, of which a special few have knowledge.
There can never truly be a separation between the sacred and the profane. If it is indeed true that the God of Abraham pervades all things, then social conservatives all over the nation are perfectly in the right when they protest against the RH Bill, divorce laws, and equal rights for LGBTs. These advocacies are undeniably against Catholic teaching and could lead to eternal supernatural torture even after death. Even starving to death is nothing when compared to the hell of the Christians.
Though the Catholic Church abuses the principle of the separation of Church and State to protect itself from penalties while meddling in public affairs, the doctrine itself enshrines doubt. Doubt in the truth of any religion. It says that religious claims are inferior to other kinds of truth claims. For, if any belief about the nature of reality, so long as it is couched in religious terms, is valid in public discourse, then the wall of separation implicitly declares that religious truths aren’t really true. Contrast this with FDA policy on the medical aspirations of alternative medicine that have to be apologized for with the blanket statement, “no approved therapeutic claims.” Despite the lack of empirical evidence, there is no such legally mandated disclaimer for Fr. Suarez’s faith healing masses in Trinoma.
If prayers worked, no thinking atheist could ever argue against state sponsorship of a provably effective process that could save lives and provide resources literally out of thin air. That is why the separation of Church and State reveals the lack of confidence of a society in religion. And when the Church enjoys secularism’s benefits, they unwittingly support skepticism in their own religious claims. It is unimaginable for a nation to adopt the separation of science and State. But, if religious truths are really true, why is it acceptable to separate religion and government?
If the CBCP is right about Catholicism, then it cannot be denied by anyone that the best use of our time is to surrender to their demands, given that eternal life hangs in the balance. There is no in-between. It is either we subject their pretensions to moral and metaphysical authority to the same standards we apply to other truth claims or we reject all notion of objective truth.
This whole SUV situation is “a drop in the bucket” when you take into consideration from whom the Catholic Church receives its marching orders. For the service of guiding souls towards everlasting paradise, it is impossible to exaggerate how important their service is. That is, if the Roman Catholic Church is indeed the One True Faith™ among thousands of false ones. If they are not, then their service is beyond useless and priests are nothing more than state-subsidized professional liars.
Without questioning the Church’s religious beliefs, it is pointless to criticize the Church on its purported moral authority.
(Image taken from Sharing Our Spaces)
Posted on 13 July 2011.
My disappointment knows no bounds.
Earlier, the Bantay Bishop movement was jumpstarted with a march to the Senate. Our main objective was to push for fairness in the Senate’s treatment of the bishops, particularly in response to certain senators’ assurance that these men of the cloth would be coddled like scared little children.
Despite all of the effort put into getting our message across, it seems that our wishes fell on deaf ears.
First and foremost, our protest met a sour greeting by Sen. Miriam Santiago with a hostility based on pure speculation. A word of advice to Sen. Santiago: I would be more careful to spout accusations about other people until I had significant evidence of the motives and/or funding behind their actions. Let me just say that this protest was the result of the concerted effort of many involved organizations, and not something simply pushed forward by lump funding from any single private institution. If Sen. Santiago, however, would be willing to disclose the name of the suspect she speaks of, then we would be glad to assist in calling for justice should subsequent investigations reveal them to be guilty of gross misconduct.
Second, the blatant double-standard that the Senate has displayed defies any sincere attempt at delivering swift justice. What I take from their way of handling the situtation is as follows: If a common thief seeks forgiveness by issuing a non-apology and returning the ill-gotten wares, he is sent to prison. If a bishop seeks forgiveness by issuing a non-apology and returning the ill-gotten wares, he is pardoned unquestioningly.
And last, I was expecting at the very least that Pueblos would have been prosecuted for a clear breach of the law. There is no room for twisting interpretations and the law about this is crystal clear. Pueblos had no excuse whatsoever to ask for favors from none other than then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In the end, however, it would seem that even my lowest hopes were still much too high. Instead, all of the bishops were allowed to go scot-free. And all this, after a constant display of hypocrisy on their part.
I, for one, have long been disillusioned by the spiteful actions of clergy. Getting the majority of the Filipino people to share in this realization of mine, though, is still a distant dream. The struggle to emancipate others from the blindfolds of religious high-horseback riding is arduous indeed. The apparent failure of our recent appeal to the Senate shows this. True, others may not take us seriously at the moment, but I cannot help but feel that those whom we do not take seriously are more deserving of this treatment.
I do not take seriously anyone who condemns gambling while at the same time accepting considerable donations from a government institution whose main source of revenue is (surprise, surprise!) gambling.
I do not take seriously anyone purporting to be pro-poor and otherworldly while in the same breath hoarding financial assets and countless possessions.
And it would seem that even our senators are so blind and/or ignorant to still take these men seriously due to an unfounded reverence. This display of grand incompetence from our statesmen is both frustrating and alarming, for if we can no longer trust our own senators with upholding the rule of law, then I’ll be damned if I can trust anyone else to do the same.
Meanwhile, life goes on, and I can only wonder when we will ever learn.
Posted on 13 July 2011.
(July 13, 2011) Philippines — Over 150 individuals launched the Bantay Bishop movement to support the Senate Blue Ribbon committee investigation on the 7 Pajero Bishops allegedly bribed by ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The individuals come from different organizations, including Filipino Freethinkers, Likhaan, Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, Watchbiatches, Pink Rockers, and Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood. Individual supporters include Carlos Celdran and Dr. Sylvia Claudio.
“We’re here to remind everyone that even bishops can be criminals, too,” said Red Tani, spokesman of Bantay Bishop. “Criminals must be brought to justice, even if they’re leaders of religious organizations.”
The demonstration featured 7 activists, each wearing a costume that resembles a bishop riding an SUV. The costumes were dubbed “Mitsubishop Montero,” “Nissan SaPari,” and “StraDamaso,” alluding to the brands of the SUVs received by the bishops.
“The costumes represent the hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy,” said Tani. “They claim to be pro-poor. But by accepting PCSO funds, they rob the poor of resources reserved for them. They claim to be anti-corruption. But they accepted bribes from a corrupt president, refrained from asking her to resign, and kept quiet about this bribery until forced to confess by someone else. They claim to be pro-life. But by delaying the passage of the RH Bill, they indirectly cause thousands of deaths.”
“(1) The bishops must be treated like any other Filipino citizen — no more, no less. Recent statements from Sen. Enrile and Sen. Drilon imply that bishops will be treated more carefully than other individuals suspected of corruption. But it’s this special standing that allows corruption to continue because everyone assumes their innocence. It can be difficult to recognize wolves in shepherds’ clothing.
“(2) If found guilty, the bishops must be punished accordingly. In addition to the separation of church and state mandated by our Constitution, the bishops also violated RA No.3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which states that it is “unlawful for any person knowingly to induce or cause any public official to commit” corrupt practices, of which allocating PCSO funds for the bishops’ SUVs is included.
“(3) In addition to following through with this investigation to its conclusion, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee must launch an investigation into other illegal donations that, according to the bishops themselves, have become standard practice since Cory’s administration. The investigation only covers 2007-2009, a mere two years; there are two decades of “donations” yet to be uncovered. We believe that the 7 SUVs are just the tip of the iceberg.
Bantay Bishop will continue to observe the Senate Blue Ribbon investigation and publish commentary on its channels. “We need to guard the bishops because they have shown that they will not guard themselves,” said Tani. “But whatever the result of the investigation we already know this: the CBCP does not occupy the moral high ground.”
If you support the movement, join Bantay Bishop on Facebook. If you’d like more information about this, or to schedule an interview with Red Tani, please send an email to [email protected] or visit our contact page.
Posted on 12 July 2011.
A headline on the CBCP website reads: “CBCP apologizes over PCSO fund mess,” referring to the pastoral statement of CBCP president Nereo Odchimar, A time of pain, a time of grace. But reading the statement makes one wonder if the CBCP has indeed apologized.
Apology is defined as “an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret.” Notice that the definition has two parts: 1) the admission of error, and 2) the expression regret. Let’s take a look at some key passages from the pastoral statement and see if they satisfy the definition of apology:
…we are sorry for the pain and sadness that these events have brought upon you.
We are saddened that many of you…have been confused because of the apparent inconsistency of our actions with our pastoral preaching.
We express again our deep sorrow for the pain that the recent events have brought to you our beloved people.
We can see no admission of error in those sentences (or anywhere in the entire pastoral letter), but only an expression of regret: the first sentence “apologizes” for the pain and sadness brought by the ‘events’; the second says they are saddened by the confusion over the apparent inconsistency of their actions with their preaching; the third expresses deep sorrow for the pain brought about by, again, the recent ‘events’. What’s missing is the part where they are supposed to actually say that they are sorry for the involvement of their bishops in the PCSO scandal.
The pastoral statement is actually a “non-apology apology.” The humorist Bruce McCall noted that “with sufficiently artful double talk, you can get what you want by seeming to express regret while actually accepting no blame.” The political consultant William Schneider said that nonconfessions like “mistakes were made” should be referred to as the “past exonerative,” while presidential speechwriter William Safire defined the phrase as “a passive-evasive way of acknowledging error while distancing the speaker from responsibility for it.”
The CBCP’s “apology” is clearly a passive-evasive artful double talk in the past exonerative tense. There is no true apology here, only half-hearted excuses and weasel words. Surely the bishops can do better than that? In the words of the journalist Mignon McLaughlin, “True remorse is never just a regret over consequence; it is a regret over motive.” The CBCP statement is just a sorry excuse for an apology.
Posted on 12 July 2011.
(on the phone)
Yo yo yo, Mama Sita, what’s the haps?
There’s a revving of an engine from the back of the garage. After a few moments, a shiny black Pajero with heavily tinted windows pulls up before Bishop X. The driver, a gaunt man in a grey barong, steps out of the vehicle, runs to Bishop X, and opens the middle seat door for him.
(on the phone)
Those heathen biatches will know what’s comin’ to ‘em, ayt? That shit won’t stand s’long as mah crew works it, yo.
Bishop X enters the Pajero. The driver closes the middle seat door for him and runs back to the driver’s seat. The Pajero pulls out of the CBCP headquarters.
INT./EXT. BISHOP X’S PAJERO – DAY [DRIVING]
The Pajero rolls out of Intramuros and into Roxas Boulevard. Bishop X is still on the phone.
(on the phone)
I hear ya, Mama Sita. That there shit they throwin’ at you’s whack. You just be makin’ a call to your homeboy Garci is all and suddenly they all on you like a ho on Q. Ave? Yea, that shit be whack, yo. What’s a Prez gotta do to get some privacy ’round here, right? Whut whut.
The Pajero gets stuck in traffic along Manila Bay. A blind old man in rags being guided by a sprightly street urchin appears by the middle seat window. The urchin taps on the glass. Without looking out the window, Bishop X nonchalantly taps back on the glass to shoo them away.
Don’t be stressin’, ayt? You and mah peeps be tight. You ain’t got nothing to worry about — we be preachin’ for ya. Oh, and yo, much obliged with the wheels, yo. It’s a dope ride, no doubt. And the LCDs? That be some fly add-ons, Mama Sita. Much obliged. The Man Upstairs be smilin’ on ya. Ayt, ayt. Catch ya lates. Word, word. Peace out.
Bishop X ends the call. The Pajero is still stuck in traffic. He roots around in his cassock, pulls out an iPod and scans his playlists. He chooses the playlist entitled ‘BeAttitudez’ and scrolls through it. The playlist is as follows:
Stole – Kelly Rowland
Unfaithful – Rihanna
It’s Not Right but It’s Okay – Whitney Houston
Creep – TLC
Confessions Pt. 2 – Usher
It Wasn’t Me – Shaggy
Judas – Lady Gaga
Oops I Did It Again – Britney Spears
Traffic finally loosens up, and the Pajero starts moving down Roxas Boulevard again. Bishop X puts on his earphones, selects the Whitney Houston track, and leans back against his seat.
Posted on 12 July 2011.
Happy happy Birthday, to you!
This is his shiny new car. People are angry with Bishop Pueblos and his friends at the CBCP now. His friends at the CBCP are sorry. Sorry for making people sad anyway. They’re not really saying sorry for what they did. They’re not really sorry to the country from which the funds came to buy those shiny new cars. They are sorry that their momma church got hurt though. Aww. Wawa you.
Photo shows a Mitsubishi Montero parked outside the house of Butuan Bishop Juan De Dios Pueblos at the St. Peter Seminary in Barangay Ampayon, Butuan City. BEN SERRANO, source Philippine Star.
But hey, you know what Bishop Pueblos said? He’ll return the SUV. He says he’ll even ride a small vehicle if necessary! Wow, what a guy folks. Uhm. Anything about an apology, Pueblos? Oh, what’s that? He remains defiant? Oh.
Well, since he’s defiant, perhaps I can help him out. He needs a theme song to keep that swagger right? To show the people who’s boss? Hey! I know the perfect song for him!