Tag Archive | "corruption"

The Government That Prays Together Steals Together

Senate Prayer

How does one know that a politician accused of plunder is a devout Catholic? Don’t worry — they’ll tell you. One even put a Bible quote on a shirt — Bong Revilla’s had the following on his the day he surrendered:

“The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

This kind of religious gesture is usually shorthand for, “I’m not corrupt, I’m Catholic, for Christ’s sake!”

But a recent study concluded that if you’re a Catholic politician in a predominantly Catholic country, you’re probably corrupt. I had read several studies that confirm the correlation between religiosity and other signs of societal dysfunction.

But this most recent one, titled “A Cross-National Investigation into the Effects of Religiosity on the Pervasiveness of Corruption,” went a bit further. It argues that religion, instead of just being correlated with corruption, actually promotes it.

Secularism and Societal Health

A few weeks before Revilla’s surrender, Alex Gonzaga, a celebrity contestant of reality show Pinoy Big Brother, preached about the virtue of theism and the vice of atheism. She said that while believers solve their problems with God, nonbelievers “deteriorate,” trying to solve their sins with yet other sins.

But such statements can only come from someone who doesn’t know about Scandinavia and other secular societies. Study after study has shown that when it comes to countries, a strongly religious population is rarely a good thing. The more religious the population, the higher the incidence of, among others, poverty, crime, corruption, inequality, infant mortality, inability to access education and a decent standard of living — the list goes on. The least religious countries are better at most, if not all, of these measures.

However, correlation does not mean causation. Just because strong religiosity usually coexists with high crime rates does not mean one causes the other. When it comes to causation, I share the conclusion of the sociologists at the World Values Survey. They argue that what causes both high religiosity and low societal health is existential insecurity. When you live in a society where you can’t count on your government for survival, you’re more likely to pray to God for help or to get the help yourself — regardless of the legality of the means.

But this doesn’t quite explain why politicians — particularly those who are rich enough to own private jets — would plunder millions, especially while professing belief in a God that sees and judges everything they do.

Hamid Yeganeh & Daniel Sauers of Winona State University, USA, provide an explanation.

Corruption By Catholic Privilege

Even after controlling for the effects of socioeconomic development — making sure that how developed a country was didn’t significantly influence the outcome — they concluded the following:

“Considering the variety of corruption measures, the reliability of data, and the large number of included countries, we have to conclude that religiosity not only does not impede corruption but tends to promote it… The fact that religious denominations did not have considerable effects on the level of corruption suggests that religiousness inherently increases the occurrence of corrupt business behavior.”

But isn’t religion supposed to make people more moral and less corrupt? Yeganeh and Sauers argue that “while religiosity provides guidance on morality, some of its characteristics practically promote corrupt business behavior.”

The first of these characteristics is the creation of “a hierarchical socio-cultural structure promoting the elites’ discretionary power that ultimately endorses corruption.”

Consider clerical child abuse. The abuse of children and adolescents had been happening for centuries before it was brought to public awareness. Then it was discovered that systematic cover-ups and cleric shuffling made it difficult for the proper authorities to get involved.

I emphasize “proper” because the Catholic Church claimed that abuse cases were handled by their internal courts. They thought that whether the abuses should be handled by external authorities were up to their discretion. Because they could ensure the victims’ silence with threats of excommunication, they alone could decide whether to report the crime to the police. And the decisions usually favored the priests over their victims.

Now consider the psalm on Revilla’s shirt: “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” This sentiment was shared by Vatican and its bishops when it decided that their authority alone was enough. What can man (the law) do to one with the Lord on his side (Catholic official)?

Thus bishops and politicians see themselves as privileged. But they wouldn’t have any power if the population didn’t actually share this perspective. Unfortunately, this is the case. The more religious a country, the more faith citizens have in both priests and politicians. These privileged people deserve more special treatment, more respect, and more trust.

On the other hand, secular societies are more skeptical of authority. They realize that there’s nothing special about priests, politicians, or any other person of authority. The more power they have, the more scrutiny and skepticism they are subjected to. Because the idea of faith is more foreign to secular societies, reason and evidence hold more currency. In the researchers words, “rationality, without too much emphasis on morality, wordlessly and effectively hinders corruption and supports ethical behavior.”

Religion: Sedation, not Solution

Another characteristic of religion that promotes corruption is the doctrine of forgiveness. In the researchers’ words, “the function of religion with regard to corruption is to provide sedation rather than a solution.”

If the allegations of plunder are true, then condemnation should be the least the people could do to ensure that justice is served. Yet CBCP President Villegas found it necessary to ask Filipinos not to condemn the alleged pork scammers.

You may think that there’s no way the public could be that stupid. Surely Filipinos would never forgive, never forget. But what kind of country would make Revilla consider running for president right after his arrest? What kind of country would elect a president impeached for corruption as Mayor of Manila? What kind of country would have so many of its people forget the atrocities of Marcos and elect his family into power?

A country that can forgive a corrupt politician seventy times seven.

The Government that Prays Together

To this day, the supposedly secular Philippine Senate starts every session with a prayer. Most, if not all, of them are implicated in either the PDAF or DAP scandal. A lot of Filipinos ask, “How can a government that is so religious be so corrupt?” If you’ve read up to this point, I hope you’ll agree that the correct question is, “How could it not?”


Image source: kickerdaily.com
Author’s note: This article was previously titled, “The Government That Prays Together Plunders Together.” “Preys” was also suggested, but “steals” sounds better (and sounds closer to “stays”).

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FF Podcast (Audio) 42: Should Politicians Suffer in Jail?

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) 42 - Should Politicians Suffer in Jail?

This week, we talk about politicians charged with plunder and whether they deserve their special treatment.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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FF Podcast 42: Should Politicians Suffer in Jail?

This week, we talk about politicians charged with plunder and whether they deserve their special treatment.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

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FF Podcast (Audio) 39: Should Church Officials Return the Napoles Money?

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) 39 - Should Church Officials Return the Napoles Money?

This week, we talk about Father Ramirez, who allegedly received millions in stolen taxpayer money via Janet Lim-Napoles. Church officials, including Cardinal Tagle, have now come out in defense of the priest.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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FF Podcast 39: Should Church Officials Return the Napoles Money?

This week, we talk about Father Ramirez, who allegedly received millions in stolen taxpayer money via Janet Lim-Napoles. Church officials, including Cardinal Tagle, have now come out in defense of the priest.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

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FF Podcast (Audio) 015: Raising Politicians’ Salaries and Internet Justice

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 12.20.58 PM 1

This week we talk about Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s suggestion to raise politicians’ salaries to dissuade them from corruption. Then, we talk about the ethics of Internet justice mobs.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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FF Podcast (Audio) 012: Million People March

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We took a break last week due to the bad weather but we’re back! This week’s show is on the Million People March against the Pork Barrel and the PDAF Scam.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Holy Hubris: Vatican Makes it Impossible for Jesus to Change the Church

Paul's revelation made Christianity what it is today.

This is not satire. Although it’s the kind of news that is perfect for mocking the authoritarian nature of the Catholic Church, everything I’m about to tell you is factually true. You can even read this official Vatican news article and leave it open just so you’re sure that I’m not kidding. Ready? Good.

The Vatican has publicized official guidelines to verify whether apparitions — such as Jesus appearing to you in person — and revelations — such as Jesus talking to you in a dream — are authentic. The procedure is strict, and the criteria is comprehensive, but what it ultimately boils down to is this:

If Jesus — or whichever Heavenly character — tells you something that contradicts the teachings of the Catholic Church, the apparition or revelation is fake. You are either a lunatic or a liar — or both — but you certainly did not communicate with the Lord. When God communicates to you through his messengers, He can only tell you something the Catholic Church teaches — nothing more, nothing less.

Pope Benedict XVI puts it this way:

The criterion for judging the truth of a private revelation is its orientation to Christ himself. If it leads us away from him, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit, who guides us more deeply into the Gospel, and not away from it. Private revelation is an aid to this faith, and it demonstrates its credibility precisely because it refers back to the one public revelation.

Ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation essentially means that its message contains nothing contrary to faith and morals.

If these terms are too vague, the actual guidelines put it more concretely. To be considered authentic, a revelation must be “true theological and spiritual doctrine and immune from error.” If it contains “doctrinal errors” the revelation is definitely false.

Consider the following hypothetical example. (If this were satire, I would’ve presented this fiction as fact.)


A Catholic mother is deeply troubled about her Church’s teachings on contraception. She already has eight children and cannot afford to raise another. But five of her children have already proven that natural family planning doesn’t work for her. She desperately wants to try birth control pills.

So she prays in Church for weeks and weeks until one night, Jesus appears to her in a dream. “Pills are OK,” says her Lord and Savior. And she wakes up unsure what the dream meant. She prays to God for guidance and just as she was saying “in Jesus name,” the Lord appears next to her bed with a box of pills in his outstretched hand. She wipes the tears from her eyes and the next moment, she finds herself alone in her bed, the box of pills on it.

She tells her friends and relatives about what happened and soon the whole country knows about the miracle, thanks to both social media and then mainstream media multiplying like wildfire the effect of word of mouth. Within a week Catholics around the world know about the topic that has been trending on Twitter and other social networks since the day it happened.

On the 8th day, a CBCP – Vatican joint task force arrive at the scene to investigate. The miracle site is quarantined from the public until further notice. After three days, the Vatican release a resolution:

The subject, Maria Magdalena, has been found lacking in “docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority” according to article I section A-1 of our criteria. The doctrinal content of the alleged revelation is not “immune from error” and is a “doctrinal error attributed to God himself” according to article 1 sections A-1 and B-b.

It has also been discovered that the subject is in deep financial debt, and the donations she has received is sufficient motive to prove a “search for profit or gain strictly connected to the fact” according to article I section B-c. Lastly, with knowledge the teaching on the sin of contraception, Magdalena has admitted to consuming a week’s worth of pills, a “gravely immoral act” under article I section B-d.

With the lack of positive criteria and preponderance of negative criteria, we find the alleged Alabang apparition inauthentic. This site will remain under observation for two months or until the cultic devotion has subsided, whichever comes first.


Although the events are fictional, the guidelines used by the task force are real. Their actions may be different from what I depicted, but the outcome would be the same. Maria’s apparition would, by account of its doctrinal error, be dismissed as hallucination.

And consider the possibility that it was actually Jesus Himself who visited Maria that day. Do you think the Vatican would behave differently?

Religion is founded on divine revelation. Christianity is what it is thanks in no small part to the writings of St. Paul. Most Christians I’ve spoken to don’t even know that Paul never met Jesus in real life — not even once. All that he knows about Jesus was given to him in a personal revelation that no one else could verify.

Armed with nothing but his own personal miracle, Paul corrected the teachings of Jesus other disciples, the ones who actually lived and worked with Jesus, the ones who heard his actual words and not some spiritual substitute. What humility it must have took for them to accept Paul’s message!

Today, according to the Catholic Church, such miracles are no longer possible. This gives “infallibility” a whole new meaning. It’s official: even God’s omnipotence is not powerful enough to overcome the Vatican’s hubris.

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Corona’s Assberg

Corona’s Assets Iceberg


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The Spirit of the SALN: Why Corona Should be Convicted

The prosecution has rested its case, but were they right? When Corona admitted to having undisclosed dollar accounts, the prosecution decided that no further cross-examination was needed.

But Corona thinks he has the perfect defense. Although the Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Networth (SALN) requires disclosure of all assets, the Foreign Currency Deposits Act (FCDA) states that dollar accounts need not be disclosed. The FCDA states it explicitly, and by adhering only to what is literally stated, Corona has chosen to obey the letter of the law.

The SALN, however implicitly states that all accounts need to be disclosed, and although it’s not explicitly stated, the spirit of the SALN implies that even dollar accounts must be declared.

But what is the spirit of the SALN? The basic idea is that if public officials declare their assets every year, it would be possible to learn how much they’re making from being in public office. If it exceeds the income expected of a person in their position, the excess can be interpreted as potential corruption, warranting further investigation.

For the SALN to fulfill its purpose, it is obvious that both peso and dollar assets must be declared: a corrupt politician who wants to hide ill-gotten wealth *could* and would use dollar accounts if these were indeed exempted from declaration.

I emphasized “could” because having undisclosed dollar accounts does not necessarily mean that a politician has ill-gotten wealth. It is possible for a politician to have undisclosed accounts — both peso and dollar — but still be clean (all their wealth is made honestly).

But the law is blind — it does not assume good intentions. That is, laws that are made to prevent crime do not make exceptions for the innocent — it applies equally to all.

Consider the following. It is illegal to board airplanes with explosives. This is because an explosive can be used to perform other illegal acts which is infinitely more harmful: taking the passengers hostage and potentially killing them all. Note that the bringing of explosives aboard the plane by itself is not harmful at all.

Hypothetically, a genius inventor could create a bomb that would avoid detection, take it on the plane, and fly to his lab in another country to continue development on his invention. Not a single passenger got hurt. But does that mean the inventor did not do anything illegal? No. He broke the law and deserves to be punished.

But he didn’t hurt anyone, right? Would it be better then if we modify the law so that passengers who promise to behave are allowed to board with bombs? Definitely not. Because the mere potential that a person *could* use the bomb for the more harmful act (detonation) is worth making the act of boarding with bombs illegal itself.

It becomes clear then why dollar accounts are not exempted by the SALN. In our analogy, dollar accounts are the undetectable bomb. And although having an undeclared account is by itself harmless, those who wrote the SALN law thought that non-declaration should be in itself an offense because it could be used to hide corruption.

As far as the prosecution is concerned, the legality of how Corona accumulated his wealth is no longer the issue. What’s at stake is whether he violated the spirit of the SALN. And I agree with the prosecution that of this he is guilty.

The most common argument used by Corona’s supporters is that he’s not the only one at fault. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism has found that President Noynoy and several cabinet members are potentially guilty of violating the SALN. But even if it is a common violation, it is still a violation, and every one of them who can be proven guilty should also receive the proper punishment.

This, however, does not mean they should all be punished at the same time. It’s Corona’s case that’s being heard, and it’s him that we should focus on. Punishing him for violating the SALN does not mean we can no longer go after other violators. On the contrary, punishing Corona will set a precedent that will be applied to all the other violators. If the senator-judges ignore the spirit of the SALN and acquit Corona, it will mean that Corona’s hypocritical critics are innocent as well.

I don’t think anyone is against fighting corruption. The intent of those who are defending Corona because of the hypocrisy of his accusers — and those who were asking other Congressmen to sign the conditional waiver — is a noble one. But it is misguided and fallacious (for starters see the tu quoque and perfect solution fallacies).

Let’s convict Corona first, send the message that we won’t accept circumvention of the law, and then go after all other public servants who may (or may not) be hiding ill-gotten wealth in illegally undisclosed accounts.


These are my opinions. Filipino Freethinkers does not have an official position on this issue.

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Dear CBCP: Take Corona’s Challenge First (An Open Letter)

Dear CBCP,

Some of your bishops have challenged Corona’s accusers to sign his waiver. Bishop Pabillo said that “there is really something wrong when they want a person to disclose his dollar accounts but his accusers refuse to do the same or don’t want to be transparent.” Your former president, Oscar Cruz, clarified that your message was to let people “know who have no sin and [let them] throw the first stone.”

You are saying that only those who are blameless can challenge others or throw blame. Since you have challenged Corona’s accusers, you must think that you yourselves are blameless. In the terms of Corona’s waiver, this means you think you have no ill-gotten wealth to hide. But you are mistaken.

No one knows ill-gotten wealth like you do, because you have founded your Church on ill-gotten wealth. Literally. Your organization wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for the billions your predecessors stole from the Philippine government.

In case you’ve forgotten, I’ll remind you. When your former colleagues, the Spaniards, colonized us, they stole lands that belonged to Filipinos and gave it to your friars. These friar lands allowed you to control everything: business, education, politics, etc. So aside from money and property, you also gained power. You used this power to further amass wealth that went beyond the original value of the lands that were stolen.

When the first Philippine Congress was established, one of their first plans was to take back what was rightfully ours — to confiscate the land that was stolen and then redistribute it among Filipinos. But unfortunately, their plans were thwarted by another colonizer: the Americans. They would eventually give us back our freedom, but they didn’t give us back our property — well, not really. Instead, they did what capitalists do best: sell it to us.

Malolos Congress in Barasoain Church

Before they could do that, they had to take it back from you. But instead of just taking it away — something they could have done without much difficulty — they again did what capitalists do best: buy it from you. William Howard Taft, the first head of the Philippine Commission, went to Rome to ask your infallible leader for permission to buy the friar lands so that it could be given (i.e. sold) back to us. Your Pope agreed, and in 1903, the friar lands, some 166,000 hectares were bought for $7,239,784.66.

You may have lost your lands, but you got a ton of money in return. Add that to the profit you’d already made on those properties — and the power you consolidated through it — and it’s clear how you’ve become one of the richest and most powerful organizations in the Philippines today.

It’s difficult to put a price on your ill-gotten political power, but the money is another story. For starters, we can calculate how much you got for the sale of the friar lands. According to one CPI inflation calculator, the purchase price of $7,239,784.66 would now be worth $168,259,177.12 (PHP7,235,144,616.16) — if it was purchased in 1913, which is as far back as the calculator goes. Surely it would be more if we could calculate based on the 1903 amount.

Next we can check your investments in publicly registered companies. This has already been done, and conservative estimates put your investments at over P18 billion. We don’t even know how much you’ve invested in private companies, and if Corona has taught us one thing, there’s another way you could’ve hidden enormous sums of money: dollar accounts.

By the time the Americans introduced their currency in our country, you already had considerable wealth, and it’s not unlikely that you’d think like he did: you invested in US dollars. There weren’t big corporations to invest in back then, so you probably converted a considerable amount. And considering how you have nothing against the financial institution — you have PHP18 billion invested in it after all — your dollars are likely deposited safely in dollar accounts: the same accounts you’re challenging congressmen to publicize.

Rep. Faye Ferriol takes Corona's challenge

Of course, I don’t have to speculate so much if you’d just sign Corona’s waiver. Now that I think about it, you could take the moral high ground and create a waiver of your own, disclosing not only your dollar accounts but also your public and private investments, business affiliations, everything.

Because as far as I’m concerned, most of your wealth is ill-gotten. Your wealth was built on money that was stolen from the Philippine government by two foreign ones. The theft may be centuries old, but it doesn’t change the fact that a crime is a crime, or in religious terms, a sin is a sin. Even your God does not unconditionally forgive a sin simply because it was done long ago (e.g. Original Sin). So I’m sure you’ll understand that although many have forgotten, you don’t deserve to be forgiven. Not by God, and certainly not by the Filipino people.

You may try you hardest to hide this fact by casting the blame — and the spotlight — on someone else. You’ve long been very active in pushing for agrarian reform. You’ve been preaching the idea that the lands should be taken from illegitimate owners and redistributed among its rightful owners. This is a worthy cause, and I commend you for understanding the idea of rightful ownership.

But why can’t you understand that every single peso of your billions is a peso that belongs to the Filipino people? Not only should you publicize your ill-gotten wealth, you should do the “Christian” thing and give it back as I’m sure Jesus would want you to. Otherwise, you’ll be contradicting your calls for transparency and fairness — not to mention your vow of poverty. You may lose much, but only by doing so can you rightly call yourselves a Church of the Poor.



Red Tani


Image credits: 1, 2, 3

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The Tale of the Juvenile Chief Justice and the Boy with the Messy Room

After three hours of an emotional roller-coaster that went from balling to boring at every turn, Chief Justice Renato Corona steered the impeachment trial toward an upside down loop that made everyone breathless. He said that he would waive his right to secrecy on all his bank accounts, domestic and foreign, but only under one condition: all of his accusers in Congress should do it with him.

Reactions in the court of public opinion varied. Some thought that Corona was brave, a hero for having the courage to challenge government corruption by putting his own integrity on the line. Others, myself included, thought that far from heroic, the dilatory tactic betrayed cowardice, and by involving others, he revealed his fear of facing justice alone.

But while people were split on Corona’s conditional waiver, his subsequent walkout, and the drama that followed, practically brought supporters and critics to a consensus. Guilty or innocent, Corona should have known better than to walk out of an ongoing hearing, and for an acting Chief Justice his actions were just too unprofessional.

But I believe “unprofessional” would be putting it too kindly. The walkout, and everything that led up to and followed after it, deserves a different description, another adjective that Corona would surely disapprove of — childish.

Even before the consensus on the unprofessionalism of Corona’s walkout, people agreed that Corona was anything but a public speaker. He spoke like a university freshman, sometimes even worse than a high school student, and his communication skills — or lack thereof — did not suit someone who was supposedly the greatest judge of the land. How could someone embody all the complexities of justice when he couldn’t even articulate simple sentences well? And his ineptitude knew no borders — he spoke poorly as much in English as he did in his native tongue.

His sophomoric skills at communication was consistent with his argumentation skills, and as language books invariably teach, sloppy speaking is a symptom of sloppy thinking. For starters, Corona’s speech was so unnecessarily long that he resembled a student struggling to find fillers for his essay to reach a minimum wordcount: “Mr. Corona, in 10,000 words, why should we acquit you?”

His speech so closely resembled the papers of so many seatmates I peer-reviewed in composition classes. More than building a defense that rested on facts, his speech was like the all-too-common “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” assignment, complete with long and cliche descriptions of characters that was only appropriate in the context of a classroom.

And discovering that his speech would not save him from conviction, Corona used one of the most common tactics a student resorted to in front of a teacher who failed him — crying. I’m sure he was under a lot of mental and emotional stress, but I expected more from the way he so confidently spoke about what he’d do before the hearing. And I don’t think it’s too much to set a higher standard of dignity and decency from a chief justice.

As I’ve said, opinions are still split on Corona’s conditional waiver. If you think it’s such a dignified idea, I hope to change your mind by showing you how childish Corona’s move actually is. Think of two brothers who each have a dirty room. Mom is trying to discipline them by assigning them the cleaning as a chore instead of leaving it to a helper like she usually does.

Unfortunately for the younger one, big brother is having his summer vacation at camp, and he would have to be the first to taste this bitter medicine. Just doing it despite the perceived unfairness would no doubt make Mom and Dad proud, but the boy is just not there yet. At his level of maturity, it would not be unexpected to hear him say something like this:

“But mom, it’s so unfair! Kuya is having the time of his life while I’m stuck here, and worse, you’re forcing me to clean my room!”

Mom and Dad try to convince the boy, offering him to remove his grounded status — earlier the boy did not tell his parents that his uncle gave him some cash, breaking the promise that he’d tell them if such a thing happened. Excited about the possibility of going out to play, the boy reluctantly agrees to clean his room but only under one condition: he would only do it once Kuya got back, and they would have to do it together.

It would take a couple of months before Kuya got back from camp, which meant that the parents would have to live with two messy rooms instead of one. Mom and Dad would have none of it, and it showed in their faces. So the boy, wanting to avoid an argument against grownups he just can’t win, stormed out of his folks’ room, trying to rush outside the house. Too bad for the boy: his parents used the intercom to tell their security guard to lock the gate.

The boy would now surely get the talking of his life, and knowing this, he resorted to one of the all-purpose tricks that got him out of school or homework: he pretended to be sick. Mom and Dad had barely resisted the boy’s babyface as he made his conditional offer, but now he was a babyfaced boy whose asthma was acting up, a condition he’s had for a long time. The parents just could not resist their child, and it would border on child abuse to force him to speak despite his sickness.

I’m sure you’ve made all the connections necessary to relate this to Corona’s behavior, and the logic of the boy, at least in terms of manipulating his parents to get the result that he wanted is surely commendable. But in Corona’s case, a commendation is not in order for one simple reason: he’s chief justice of the Philippines, not some bratty boy.

To make our analogy fit more closely, we can add one detail to the story of the boy with the messy room: the parents are the progressive kind that would respect their children’s privacy, allowing them to not only keep the doors locked but also to keep the bedroom keys. For the parents to check whether the chore has been done, the boy would have to unlock his room to reveal it.

In this version of the boy story, the parents don’t know whether any of the rooms is messy, which is why they wanted to find out. The boy is still grounded for the summer, with big brother in camp, and the revelation of a clean room would grant him his freedom. All he has to do is unlock his door.

But the boy, despite all that he could gain from such a simple action, refused to do so unless his big brother faced the music of a possibly messy room with him. Tell me. Do you think little CJ has a clean room?


Note: I think little CJ’s room is messy — and so is big brother’s — but this is my personal opinion; the Filipino Freethinkers do not have an official position on the Corona trial.

Image credits: 1, 2

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[Press Release] Filipino Freethinkers remind PNoy to pass RH and avoid GMA’s mistakes at Purple Ribbon RH March

(July 22, 2010) Manila – Filipino Freethinkers marched to Mendiola and Malacañang with other RH advocates from the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) and other pro-RH organizations.

One of their members dressed as ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), pulling behind her seven huge PCSO checks. Each check was carried by a member dressed in a bishop costume. The recipients and amounts listed in the checks are based on the details of the recent PCSO scandal, wherein 7 Catholic bishops were given PCSO donations approved by GMA.

“We want to warn PNoy not to commit the same mistakes of the past president,” said Kenneth Keng, RH advocacy director of Filipino Freethinkers. “GMA bought the bishops’ silence during the Hello Garci scandal by blocking the passage of the RH Bill during her term. The recently exposed PCSO donations to several bishops are only the tip of the iceberg. There may be more bribes that have yet to
be uncovered.”

Filipino Freethinkers also echoed the call for PNoy to clearly support RH during his upcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA). Keng said: “It is our hope that showing the President the broad based majority support that the most recent SWS surveys confirmed (70% of filipinos nationwide in favor of the RH Bill) and the dire consequences of delay in terms of innocent lives lost (100,000 maternal and infant deaths and 4,000,000 abortions since a vocal minority of religious opposition began opposing the bill 10 years ago) can enjoin him ahead of his upcoming State of the Nation address to take action in making the priority passage of the RH Bill this year a reality.

“We want to remind PNoy to fulfil his promise to provide RH for all,” said Keng. “He has unequivocally given his support to the RH Bill in public fora such as the recent UP commencement address. We’re here to celebrate this new promise while gently reminding him of the need to help push the Bill past all of the shameless, underhanded and undemocratic stalling tactics of groups led by the CBCP in both houses of Congress”

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or send an email to [email protected].

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A Most Unworthy Cause

Apparently Willie Revillame is giving away P100,000. That’s a lot of money, and in the right hands it could do a lot of good, but instead it’s joining almost 1.5 million pesos put together by Senators, other personalities and lay people for, of all things, cars. Cars for bishops.

Macalintal and former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza are leading the fund raising drive in support of seven bishops who bought utility vehicles from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office donations in 2009…

Macalintal said they are looking at seeking donations from Catholic parishioners to raise P8.2 million, the amount that the prelates received from the state-run lottery.

So let me get this straight:

  1. They ask for money.
  2. They receive money they know they shouldn’t have.
  3. They buy cars.
  4. They get called out on their hypocrisy.
  5. They return the cars.
  6. They get money?

God damn I chose the wrong line of work!

Now I’ve seen a fair share of envelopes passed around the office or classroom – for a classmate whose father died, for a colleague who lost everything he owned to Ondoy, for a friend who had cancer – and none of them were for a reason as shallow as “because I had to return my car.” There are a lot of people who need real help, a lot of severely underfunded charities, a lot of dilapidated public schools and hospitals, and compared to them – hell, compared to anything – buying a half dozen SUV’s for some bishops just doesn’t seem like a worthy cause at all.

Of course, if people like Willie Revillame and other personalities want to donate their own money to this fund, it’s entirely their choice. They are private citizens, and as long as there is no violation of church/state separation going on they are free to do with their money as they please. I just hope that before handing them the money, Willie makes the bishops do a little dance first.

(Image taken from Single Father at Work)

Posted in Religion, SocietyComments (9)