Fr. Ranhilio Aquino has taken up the cudgel in defending the bishops who took the PCSO funding, going as far as calling the Senate investigation the bishop’s finest hour. Father Ranhilio even called us out for protesting against the bishops as reproductive health bill supporters, asking what the bill had to do with the PCSO issue.
And what were champions of the RH bill doing there? The hearing had nothing to do with the RH bill, but they were there to insult and to jeer, because this was their chance to insult those who had steadfastly refused to yield. I may not have identified myself unqualifiedly with the bishops’ position on the RH Bill, but certainly, one does not deride and insult when one is met with disagreement. One offers an invincible argument—if one has one. But the RH bill advocates who were there had no argument; what they had in abundance was hatred, spite and bile!
Bile, Father? Perhaps one should look askance to the bishops first before accusing us of hatred, spite, and bile. Terrorists and Satan? Certainly considered words from bishops aimed towards RH bill advocates. But no, Father, that bishops have called us terrorists and Satan for standing on our side of the RH debate is not why we protested against them.
The Filipino Freethinkers has always been a group that upholds secularism in the Philippines. Our vision is of a country where people are free and unafraid to use their own moral reasoning. As Dr. Sylvia Claudio so powerfully said, “I only ask that I too be given recognition as a moral actor. Not a moral paragon, just an equal moral agent. It is called secularism, this democracy of the moral.”
Our stance on the reproductive health bill debate stems from secularism. Our stance in this PCSO issue is likewise rooted in secularism. The Philippine Constitution guarantees that the separation of church and state shall be inviolable. But Father, when the bishops actively solicit funding from our government, and our government hands them that money, the secularism of our country has undoubtedly been violated.
The Filipino Freethinkers were there protesting against the Bishops as a secularist group. We were speaking out against further entrenchment of a legislative culture that ignores the Philippine Constitution’s call for a government that does not establish preference for any religion or sect. We were there to protest against the bishops who perpetuate this culture, who, because of their power, feel free to ask our government officials to violate the Constitution without a second thought.
Father Ranhilio also had this to say about one of the placards at the protest:
“Define hypocrisy” read one placard —obviously suggesting that the bishops were hypocrites. Why hypocrites? What did their steadfast rejection of the RH bill have to do with the accusations against them vis-a-vis the PCSO funds, accusations that turned out to be fatuous?
Is it not hypocrisy rather to change one’s declarations and position on moral issues when it is politically expedient and profitable to cross lines? “Define stupidity” would have been an apt poster for the bearer of that dumb placard to have carried instead—with the placard turned in her direction!
Father Ranhilio, thank you so kindly for defining hypocrisy, for this is exactly what the bishops displayed at the senate hearing. In 2005 the CBCP issued their own moral position against receiving money from gambling, legal or illegal. The bishops even stated in their moral teaching that they shall not take those funds even if they will help the poor with it (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.
But when the Senate started taking seriously the allegations of wrongdoings by bishops, the CBCP issued a non-apology, and marched their bishops to the Senate to trot out the party line: “We asked the PCSO for money so we could help the poor.”
Did the CBCP take a moral stand? Yes they did.
Did they change this moral position for political expedience? Most definitely.
Father Ranhilio, on the bishops’ finest hour, do you still feel the need to define hypocrisy?
(Image taken from Buelahman’s Revolt)