Tag Archive | "hypocrisy"

Killing for Faith

A woman prepares a lethal cocktail of pharmaceuticals. It’s for her partner’s two children. She had been listening to a sermon just the other day about Isaac, Abraham’s son. God tested Abraham and led him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. But this time, God doesn’t call out to stop her as she tries to kill the children.

A two-year old girl is now dead and Kimberly Lucas is facing charges for her murder.

In Lucas’ alleged suicide note found by the police, she referenced the sermon she heard from Pastor Lea Brown, “Lea’s sermon really, really touched me yesterday, but God never told me to stop!”

Kimberly Lucas

Kimberly Lucas

A family friend described her note as “the writing of someone who is really disturbed.” Indeed, other people listened to Lea Brown’s sermon and did not spend the next day trying to reenact the sacrifice of Isaac. Millions of people have read the verses in the Bible without facing any criminal charges.

Clearly, what happened to the two-year-old girl is out of the ordinary. But, why is it?

The other child survived. When the ten-year-old boy woke up from his drug-induced loss of consciousness, he found a locked bathroom. He forced the door open with a knife and found his two year-old sister dead in the bathtub. He tried saving her with CPR.

Lucas’ attorney has suggested that previous traumatic injuries may have led to the mental state that allowed his client to allegedly poison two children and herself.

The prevailing narrative among those affected by this tragedy is that Lucas was not operating like a normal person. However, though what happened may be a rare occurrence, it is not so unthinkable. Parents all over the world have denied their children access to vaccines, operations, and life-saving chemotherapy, all for religious reasons. Lucas was on the extreme, but she at least claims that her reasons were also religious.

Why is it that people immediately conclude that any person who acts violently and attributes their actions to religion is somehow unstable? Yes, in many cases, it is a safe assumption. But it is so only because modern believers have decided that only disturbed people ought to behave with utmost faith.

The Bible clearly shows that God has tested the faith of people with violence. But, in our world, anybody who performs comparable acts of violence are crazy. If an “adulterous” woman is stoned in Pakistan, Muslims in other parts of the world can call it heinous. If an abortion care provider is shot dead in the American South, Christians can call the man a deranged murderer rather than a hero.

These shocking examples of religious adherence should not be shocking at all, if we are to take religious faith on face value. There is a bewildering doublespeak from religious people who condemn certain acts that their religious texts clearly represent, if not out-and-out endorse. What makes their version of their religion not crazy?

If a Christian refuses to stone men who have sex with men, why is he the standard for laudable Christian behavior, when the Bible explicitly commands him to be violent?

The world has civilized religion to a large extent, but it can never let go of their ancient baggage. It’s the Word of God, after all. And, to the degree that believers dwell within modern standards of human decency and deviate from their ancient barbarism, they are considered good human beings.

Rightly so, let us rehabilitate those among us who believe it is right to own other people as property, so long as they are not of our tribe. Rightly so, let us rehabilitate those among us who believe that a woman’s place is to be a baby factory and that they should be denied education, upon pain of death. But, these are views that would merit ostracism, if not execution, had the religions never adapted to modern ethical standards. We live in a world where, largely, it is not the violation of religion that is most considered, but the rights of other persons—rights that we, as a species, agreed upon with our common reason, and not our various faiths.

Of what value is religion, when even believers agree that it is those most faithful to its origins who ought to be ridiculed, condemned, and considered deviants from The Truth?

Image Credit: NBC News

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Pope Francis: Well Said, But Not Well Done

pope-francis-and-doveDuring his papal address last year at the St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis made the call for peace a main point, noting that it was a common ground for believers and non-believers alike.

“I invite even nonbelievers to desire peace,” he said. “Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace.”

It’s a grand gesture from a pope who has become increasingly popular among Catholic moderates and non-Catholics alike, thanks to what looks like a reconcilliatory stance on formerly hot-button issues, such as homosexuality.

But as a new year begins and we’re bracing ourselves for what 2014 may throw our way, I’m wondering just how sincere the Pope was in his call for peace.

To start, I will establish what I believe.

I believe that part of any meaningful, lasting peace needs to be founded on the principle of equality. That the gauge of how well a community functions should be reflected in how it treats its marginalized and less fortunate. For us, a nation that’s survived three separate occupations from three foreign powers, this is a no-brainer.

It’s an idea that should be even clearer for the Roman Catholic Church, which continually reiterates its position as a bastion of peace and morality worldwide. Getting into specifics, I think that a truly peaceful society will make an effort to eliminate, or at least minimize instances of structural violence. Structural violence, as compared to blatant forms of violence such as murder or rape, is any inequality that is institutionalized.

For instance, a government that bans gay marriage or makes gay sex illegal is practicing structural violence. Segregating people and denying them health care due to their skin color, gender or race are also glaring examples of structural violence. Even blasphemy laws can be considered a form of structural violence, since they grant unfair privileges to religious speech.

And it is from this standpoint that I find myself questioning just how sincere the Church’s call for peace is, given how they figured in these incidents in 2013:

1. During the GOP’s US government shutdown last November 2013, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) were among the groups pushing for the shutdown. The US bishops had been hoping to use this incident as political leverage to grant them exemptions from the contraceptive coverage included in the Affordable Care Act.

The resulting shutdown most directly affected the poor, which is especially ironic given that Francis’ latest speeches have been to renew the fight against poverty.

2. When the UN passed a resolution opposing violence against women, the Vatican, along with Russia, China, and Iran protested a section of the resolution that condemned violence committed in the name of religion, local customs, and culture.

3. Hospitals owned by the RCC are turning away women suffering from miscarriages, because the RCC’s moral guidelines forbid them from providing proper medical treatment or even advice if it has anything to do with birth control.

4. The Pope excommunicated Fr. Greg Reynolds, on the grounds that he talked about the ordination of women priests. Reynolds is also a known supporter of gay marriage, another issue that the church is currently opposed to.

5. Pope Francis himself has personally noted that the matter of ordaining women into the priesthood was not a matter for discussion.

6. Pope Francis had also encouraged Malta Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna to speak out against gay adoptions, after the country introduced a bill that would allow same-sex civil unions, and children to be adopted by gay parents.

7. The Vatican recently refused to provide a United Nations panel with full information regarding its (the Vatican) clerical sex abuse cases worldwide. The Vatican also stiffened penalties against whistle-blowers.

Given these recent events, I would like to ask: Is the Vatican in the right to talk about peace when it is blatantly clear that it is partly responsible, if not complicit, in perpetuating the sort of violence most decent folks would prefer to eliminate from society? From Francis’ Urbi et Orbi address:

“True peace is not a balance of opposing forces,” Francis said. “It is not a lovely facade which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment.”

Well said, Francis. Now please practice what you preach.

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Anti-RH Church Leaders Blame Calamities on RH

Tacloban_Typhoon_Haiyan_2013-11-13Why would God let calamity hit a predominantly Catholic country? “God is not the cause of the suffering,” answers Father Bacaltos, a Tacloban parish priest. “God cannot prevent this. This is the work of nature.”

Many Catholics would agree that nature, not God, is to blame for this tragedy. But for some leaders of the Catholic Church, the Reproductive Health (RH) law is to blame. Which leaders? Well, what a coincidence: the ones who are most vocal against RH.

Here’s Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, who campaigned against “Team Patay” through tarps, reminding us that rather than Nature’s random acts, calamities like Yolanda (Typhoon Haiyan) are God’s reminders. He adds that when we continue to oppose God through the RH Law, we put our lives in danger:

 What happens to us — earthquakes, floods, storms — are reminders.We are reminded to never forget life… Even our life is in the hands of God so we better make it meaningful… Let us not forget him. We remove Him, for example, in this [RH] law that goes against His will. So when we oppose God, we are in danger.” [some parts translated]

And here’s Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, an anti-RH voice in mainstream media since 2010, explaining why Typhoon Pablo was no coincidence:

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or it’s because the Lord is trying to tell us that if you talk about that [the then RH bill] seriously it’s like there’s a message saying that many difficulties happen to us… especially since we [the Catholic Church] don’t want the bill deliberated hurriedly and secretly so that it is passed.” [translated]

Finally, here’s Father Melvin Castro, who frequently heads anti-RH contingents during demonstrations and vigils, blaming the RH Bill for the heavy rains of “Habagat:”

Although we would not give other meaning to it, nonetheless God speaks through his creation as well. Nature tells us to respect the natural course of things.

If I researched further back in time, I’d probably find even more Church leaders who blamed calamities on God (or the people who disobey God, depending on how you look at it). And something tells me it’s only a matter of time before some distasteful CBCP leader does it again.

But there are priests, like Father Bacaltos, who are more tactful, more humble, and it’s Catholic leaders like these that I continue to respect. As Susan B. Anthony, a leader of the women’s suffrage movement, said:

I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do to their fellows, because it always coincides with their own desires.


image source: Trocaire

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Marriage Equality and the Unequal Society

Marriage Equality vs Unequal SocietyBrace yourselves. Marriage Equality is coming. It’s been happening all over the world recently, and it’s only a matter of time that it happens here.

But as with many developments in science and social justice, the conservative Catholic Church and its Pro Life cohorts will do everything to stop it. They’ll be particularly more antsy with the recent loss in the RH battle and a potential loss on divorce also looming.

They’ll explain how marriage equality — we don’t call it same-sex marriage anymore* — is an attack on the traditional marriage, the sanctity of the family, Filipino culture, and human existence itself. They’ll bring out their usual non-sequiturs and one-sided statistics.

And although this especially applies to their flock, the Church will fight so that it applies to everyone else. They have every right to do so, but it shouldn’t matter in a secular democracy. Yet just like “equality,” “secular” and “democracy” are words the Catholic Church has always been allergic to.

They made this very clear a century ago when France first introduced secularism. In response to the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and State, Pope Pius X promulgated Vehementer Nos, an encyclical that called secularism “a thesis absolutely false, a most pernicious error.”

Although it was particularly aimed at secularism, it illuminated the Church’s stance on other issues, showing just why equality, secularism, and democracy are foreign ideas to this foreign institution:

The Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of per sons, the Pastors and the flock, those who occupy a rank in the different degrees of the hierarchy and the multitude of the faithful.

So distinct are these categories that with the pastoral body only rests the necessary right and authority for promoting the end of the society and directing all its members towards that end; the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.

The encyclical goes on to explain why secularism has been, is, and always will be denounced by the Roman Catholic Church.** For now, understand that in the same way that the Church fought against secularism until it became the obvious choice to almost everyone, they will do the same against marriage equality. They’ll rehash the same tired arguments they’ve been using to block the measure here and all over the world.

But ultimately, behind the flawed arguments and supposed “science,” what it all boils down to is this: the Church does not think marriage equality is a good idea, so everyone else will just have to obey them. Because in their unequal society, our one duty is to allow ourselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.


* What LGBT couples are asking for is not a special kind of marriage that merits its own moniker (same-sex marriage). All they’re saying is that the right to marry should apply equally to everyone.

** Fans of Vatican II will undoubtedly bring up Dignitatis Humanae, which supposedly corrects the Church’s stand on religious freedom. But one of the last things Pope Benedict XVI did was explain how this wasn’t really the case. But that’s a story for another article.

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Team Buhay, Team Patay, and CBCP’s Team Balimbing

For an institution that thrives on tradition and that loves talking up the long history of the Roman Catholic Church, the CBCP has sure demonstrated that they are open to expedient changes of heart when it comes to their own moral teachings.

After the Catholic Church lost the RH battle, a Bacolod diocese has put up posters that espouse their Catholic flock to vote for anti-RH politicians (Team Buhay) and not for the pro-RH politicians (Team Patay).

This is an action that screams of frustration from an institution whose loss of power has just been demonstrated nationally, and it is also a demonstration of  the CBCP’s hypocrisy over its own moral dispensations.

During the Philippine elections of 2004, the head of the CBCP had issued a warning to priests against politicking for canditates, even invoking Canon law and threatening to strip guilty priests of their parishes.

And now in 2013, with the Bacolod diocese flaunting the Comission on Elections order to take down the posters and five more dioceses saying that they will join the Bacolod diocese in putting up Team Buhay and Team Patay posters, what is the CBCP telling its priests? That there is nothing wrong with what the diocese is doing.

So much for moral consistency. But this is not the first instance of the CBCP flip-flopping on its own moral guidance when it suits them.

In 2005, when the CBCP was embroiled in the jueteng scandals, they had issued a moral teaching that their priests and bishops were not to take gambling money, even if it was to help the poor.

Fast forward to 2011, in another scandal involving the PCSO and SUVs, the CBCP issed forth the defense in the Senate that their bishops only took the PCSO money (which comes from a form of gambling) to… help the poor.

The CBCP demonstrates a pattern of flip-flopping on issues whenever it suits them, damn whatever moral utterances they may have made before. The CBCP may have their lists of Team Patay and Team Buhay, but they are clearly their own Team Balimbing.

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The Strange Case of Rizal and Catholic Dogma

Hey! Did you know that the CBCP has their own website? It’s true! They post really interesting articles on it too, and I find out so many great and wonderful things! Like how it’s okay for a doctor to make blanket statements that contraception is dangerous (no ifs or buts) to bolster the CBCP argument against the RH bill. Or how academic freedom in Catholic universities is great and all, but that academic freedom stops when it comes to dissenting against the truth as espoused by the Catholic church.

But when I recently visited their website, what really struck me was a little animated banner they were running on one side. An animated banner that had a quote from Jose Rizal and his image as well, fighting for the dogma of the Catholic church against the Reproductive Health Bill.

It’s an interesting little banner, because in the 1950’s the CBCP was fighting one of these pesky laws that we have in our nation, Republic Act 1425, or the Rizal Law: a bill that was enacted to teach the life and writings of Jose Rizal to all public and private school students in the Philippines.

The CBCP resented having to teach the life and work of someone who they percieved to be anti Catholic in their private Catholic schools. They seemed to have fought the Rizal law as vociferously as they are fighting today against the RH bill. The CBCP brought in political proxies in the form of Senators to fight the Rizal Law, a tactic that they still deploy in fighting the RH bill.

In that fight, the CBCP issued this statement against the Rizal Law. I’d like to excerpt a passage from that statement here (emphasis mine).

In these two novels we find passages against Catholic dogma and morals where repeated attacks are made against the Catholic religion in general, against the possibility of miracles, against the doctrine of Purgatory, against the Sacrament of Baptism, against Confession, Communion, Holy Mass, against the doctrine of Indulgences, Church prayers, the Catechism of Christian Doctrine, sermons, sacramentals and books of piety. There are even passages casting doubts on or covering with confusion God’s omnipotence, the existence of hell, the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity, and the two natures of Christ.

So here we are, in 2012, with the CBCP fighting the RH bill this time. The CBCP is being insistent on protecting the dogma of the church. And who is one of their champions in this time of great need? Why, none other than Jose Rizal of course! Because of course Jose Rizal is such a great upholder of Catholic dogma! I mean, that’s what the CBCP said right?

So here we are, in 2012. The CBCP has somehow managed to change their minds about Rizal despite their bawlings about him in 1956. What else do you think they can change their minds on in the future?

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Double Standards – Contraceptives and Medicines

Imagine a woman warned by her doctor to refrain from having a fifth pregnancy for medical reasons. She decides to use natural family planning (NFP). Will the bishops of CBCP and their allies question her decision?

Certainly not. As early as 1951, Pope Pius XII in his Allocution to Midwives specifically accepted medical reasons as a justification for birth control. He said:

Serious motives, such as those which not rarely arise from medical, eugenic, economic and social so-called “indications,” may exempt husband and wife from the obligatory, positive debt for a long period or even for the entire period of matrimonial life. From this it follows that the observance of the natural sterile periods may be lawful, from the moral viewpoint: and it is lawful in the conditions mentioned.

Now imagine another woman with exactly the same medical reasons who chooses contraceptive pills. To be consistent with their own teachings, one would expect the bishops to simply say: right reason, wrong method. But no, they are now on a war path and have branded the use of contraceptives as treating pregnancy like a disease. In their desire to destroy the status of contraceptives as medicines and its value to public health, it seems they are willing to stigmatize pregnancy prevention as inherently immoral.

In his “contraception is corruption” speech, Archbishop Villegas said: “A contraceptive pill is to be considered an essential medicine. If it is a medicine, what sickness is it curing? Is pregnancy a sickness?” Weeks later, Senator Enrile echoed the same line: “In the case of a contraceptive pill, is pregnancy a disease that needs to be cured? Why do we need to prevent it?”

Sure, pregnancy is not a disease. But pregnancy and childbirth can lead to diseases or injuries. Even bishops must be aware of this fact, which makes their argument sound so contrived. The World Health Organization has a whole chapter listing such diseases and injuries in its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. Obstetricians exist to prevent or treat these conditions.

If the bishops of CBCP and the anti-RH camp are not yet convinced that they are stirring up double standards in morality, they should try asking this to any user of NFP: “Is pregnancy a disease to be cured? Why do you need to prevent it?”

A double standard in law is also being pushed by the anti-RH camp. The claim that medicines must cure a disease, or must not prevent normal bodily functions like pregnancy is not supported by our laws.

Anti-coagulants and contraception

As far back as the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1963, drugs have been defined as articles intended “for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease,” or “to affect the structure or any function of the body.” The above phrases are retained in the latest version of that law, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Act of 2009. And in case the anti-RH camp will try to claim that medicines are different from drugs, they should read the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008 which defined drugs and medicines the same way, and included “drugs and medicines indicated for prevention of pregnancy, e.g., oral contraceptives” as part of the “List of Drugs and Medicines that are Subject to Price Regulation.”

Many substances classified as medicines without any controversy expose the hollowness of the “pregnancy is not a disease” argument. Blood clotting or coagulation is not a disease. Yet we have anticoagulant medicines, commonly used to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. A functioning immune system is not a disease, yet we have medicines that suppress the immune system, a standard fare to prevent organ transplant rejection. Having gastric acid is not a disease, yet we have antacids to manage indigestion.

People do choose to avoid normal or even desirable activities to prevent possible future harm. I’m pretty sure even bishops and anti-RH campaigners do it. We avoid too much sun; avoid too much food; avoid too much reading; avoid crossing streets when overpasses are available. When the path towards harm is clear enough, stigmatizing people who steer away violates plain common sense. Unless the bishops have another brand new standard of common sense.

Double standard in action is my final beef with the “pregnancy is not a disease” argument. In that memorable August 16 Headstart episode [1], TV host Karen Davila asked Senator Tito Sotto if his wife has had a tubal ligation, and this in part is what he said:

She has to be ligated. Because, yes, because she had, how many pregnancies. … She had four cesarean operations. … So, pagkatapos noon, sinabi ng [obstetrician], “You have to be ligated.”

A few minutes before in that same interview, when asked why he was against the RH Bill, Sotto’s first response was to attack the status of contraceptives as medicines. This is what he said:

Medicine is supposed to be, must cure something. What does a condom cure? What does an injectable cure? What does an IUD cure? So they’re not medicines, they’re not essential medicines.

A tubal ligation is of course a contraceptive medical procedure, not a medicine. But women fearful of the health consequences of another pregnancy, whether using condoms, injectables, IUDs or tubal ligations to prevent the next one, would surely be hurt by the senator’s loaded questions. Sotto attacked the health benefits of contraceptives and admitted to using the health benefits of a contraceptive procedure. The double standard  is simply stunning. Perhaps Sotto should answer Enrile’s core concerns: “Is pregnancy a disease that needs to be cured? Why do we need to prevent it?”

[1] All quotes taken by the author from the video.


Images by Alex Brown and anqa, used under the Creative Commons license.

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“Your Mother Should Have Used RH,” Says BUHAY Spokesperson

I recorded this video interview with Frank when I got home from COMELEC before writing this post. Some details might be inaccurate, which I hope this post corrects. Toward the end of the video is footage of the BUHAY spokesperson saying the titular statement.

“Your mothers should have aborted you” is so 2010. I’m of course referring to members of Prolife Philippines wishing out loud that we hadn’t been born as we were leaving Manila Cathedral. We were there to listen to a discernment mass on the RH Bill, but weren’t allowed to attend because of the DAMASO shirts we were wearing. Aside from wishing we weren’t alive, a public exorcism on us was also attempted by Eric Manalang, president of Prolife Philippines.

Now it’s 2012, and the Prolife greeting has been updated. It now goes, “Your mother should have used RH.” We learned this yesterday when we expressed our opposition to BUHAY’s party-list accreditation at their COMELEC review hearing. After witnessing the most absurd justification for applying to be a party-list, we had an exchange of words with BUHAY that reflects a lot of what happened in the Manila Cathedral incident of 2010.

It began with a question. The BUHAY spokesperson who had represented them during the hearing approached us and asked, “Are you pro-RH?” “Yes,” answers Kenneth Keng, who had earlier expressed at the hearing our intention to oppose BUHAY’s accreditation. “Then your mother should have used RH. So you wouldn’t be here today.”

At this point, I was approached by another BUHAY member. “Did you go to school?” he asked. “Yes,” I replied. “Then why aren’t you using your education,” he said. He probably meant that my pro-RH position betrayed a lack of education.

I was about to explain how education actually leads to being pro-RH when I saw Ken being approached by several BUHAY members. They were trying to grab his camera away from him. I walked over and learned what was happening. The BUHAY spokesperson complained that Ken had started recording without his permission.

They had also asked whether Ken was with the media. Ken had initially said yes out of fear and confusion; their demeanor had given him the impression that they might harm him. He later clarified that he wasn’t with the media and was just a regular blogger, something that I’d clarified earlier with the BUHAY member I’d been speaking to.

At this point we were all huddled between the elevators and the COMELEC reception, where several security personnel were watching. The BUHAY member I’d been speaking to, the one who asked whether I was educated, started talking. He said that if we weren’t with the media, he doesn’t have to treat us that way, and can just treat us like kanto boys. He repeated this, removing his coat as if preparing for a fight. He told us that he would meet us at our levels as kanto boys and invited us outside.

I clarified: “Just to be clear, are you inviting us to a fist fight outside?” He replied, “Anywhere.” I was actually surprised that he was behaving like this in front of COMELEC security. When they finally got on the elevator, we decided it was probably wise that we stayed. Some members of the COMELEC security thought so, too. They advised us to stay for a bit because the BUHAY members might be waiting for us downstairs with less than good intentions.

Surely enough, they were waiting. As I was exiting the building, the BUHAY spokesperson blocked my path, holding a cameraphone to my face. “Excuse me, I need to get out,” I said. He stands aside after a few moments, keeping the cameraphone on me. He asked me for my name and organization, and I give it to him. At this point, Ken also has his cameraphone out, and we were recording each other (another member had a proper camcorder, too).

With all the cameras turned on I wished that Ken’s was on when the BUHAY spokesperson wished Ken’s mother had used RH. Luckily, he repeated his wish, and we got it on video. At first he said that he didn’t mean anything bad when he said this. After all, he says, isn’t RH a good thing? To this we agree, and I further explain that my parents used RH: after all, it includes family planning, birth spacing, etc.

Then he says that my parents used failed RH, because after all, I am here. By doing so he betrays the malice in his wish. To him failed RH means we are born, and successful RH means we aren’t, and it’s pretty clear which of the two outcomes he’d been wishing for us.

We explain that RH isn’t abortion, which is what he keeps on implying, but he disagrees. He advises us to read the Cairo conference. I explain that the RH Bill and the Cairo Conference are two different things. At this point Atty. Macalintal, who had been mostly quiet this time, left in a car with the BUHAY member who had challenged us to a fist fight.

We also headed for our car, leaving the BUHAY spokesperson alone, waiting for his. As we were leaving, I saw the Manila Cathedral and thought about how similar the event from 2010 was: the wishing we hadn’t been born, the prolifer’s fear of being caught on video, the trying to forcefully take our cameras. I sort of expected the BUHAY spokesperson to shout “Your mothers should have aborted you!” as we were leaving. But then I corrected myself: “Your mothers should have used RH.” Because “Your mothers should have aborted you” is so 2010.

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Bad Father or Evil Politician: Did Sotto lie about his son’s death?

Despite his patent lies and his staff’s excuses, Sotto’s plagiarism  is now an established fact. They have even changed their defense to plagiarism being an acceptable practice for Senators. I’d first thought that Sotto was alone in his stupidity, but it appears even Sen. Santiago thinks the Senate is exempted from academic standards of honesty.

But all this talk about plagiarism has overshadowed the most controversial part of Sotto’s recent speech: his claim that oral contraceptives killed his son. Some critics have hesitated to attack this claim, and those who haven’t, such as former health secretary Esperanza Cabral and Rep. Janet Garin, have taken flack for even entertaining the idea that Sotto would lie about something as serious as his own son’s death.

But since Sotto, a public official, has entered his personal tragedy into public record, it is fair game to consider the possibility that Sotto is lying. And I believe this is precisely what he did. Sotto is lying about the death of his son to further his fight against the RH Bill. Many of his statements and actions — these past weeks and even during his entire career — point to this conclusion.

1. Sotto lied about the pill his wife was on.

Sotto said his wife was taking Diane in 1975. Diane was introduced in 1978. This is the kind of detail you never forget. Rather than an honest mistake, he is probably lying.

Back in high school I got contact dermatitis (eczema). Today, almost two decades later, I still remember the name of the ointment I was prescribed by my dermatologist: dermovate. It came in a small green tube, and you could also get it in a more expensive cream version.

Sure, Sotto’s tragedy happened much earlier. But all I got was a bad summer; his son died. You’d think that such tragedies etch every minor detail into memory, especially the name of his son’s killer. Could Sotto have forgetten this? I don’t think so.

2. Sotto lied about his medical sources.

The first time Sotto defended himself from plagiarism allegations, he denied it. He asked, “Why should I quote a blogger?” He explained that he and Sarah Pope were reading the same author, and that’s who he’s citing. This defense was echoed by his chief-of-staff, Atty. Hector Villacorta.

Again, Sotto and Villacorta were lying. They have already admitted to not even having a copy of the book, using Pope’s blog to indirectly (but incorrectly) cite McBride.

Yet even if Sotto had a copy of McBride’s book somewhere, it couldn’t have been his source for long because Gut and Psychology Syndrome was first published in 2004. Sotto’s other source, The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed On Women — a source he misrepresents just as much as Sarah’s post — was first published in 2003.

So as far as we know, all those years blaming contraception for his son’s death was because of his physician, Dr. Carmen Envarga-Santos, who has passed away and can no longer confirm or deny Sotto’s claim.

Thankfully, her family is still around and has said that if Dr. Envarga-Santos were alive, she would be pro-RH. And I don’t doubt that she’d be furious that Sotto is using her reputation to argue against contraception.

3. Sotto hasn’t attacked his son’s killer for almost 4 decades.

Sotto learned 37 years ago that oral contraceptives killed his son. Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that his wife was on the pill (some pill that actually existed back then) and that he was really told that the pill killed his son by his doctor (who was pro-RH but rather incompetent, at least in this story). If that were true, Sotto has done nothing for almost 4 decades to fight his son’s killer.

And it’s not like he didn’t have the opportunity. He was already a TV host in 1975. He could have used his celebrity status to raise awareness about the dangers of oral contraception. But he didn’t.

He became vice mayor of Quezon City in 1988. He could’ve restricted access to oral contraception (the way it was done in Manila). But he didn’t.

He became senator in 1992. He could’ve proposed a bill to ban oral contraceptives (or at least add “birth defects of future children” to the list of complications found in every box of pills). But he didn’t.

He led the Dangerous Drugs board in 2008, and he could’ve included oral contraceptives on that list. But he didn’t.

What kind of man is Tito Sotto?

Sotto has done nothing for 37 years, waiting for the very moment the RH Bill is on the verge of passing, to reveal one of the most damaging details about oral contraceptives that even those on the anti-RH side has failed to discover. The way I see it we can interpret this in one of two ways:

Either Sotto is a bad father, who has realized just now that he owes it to his son, his family, and his constituents to reveal the truth about his son’s killer so that they could avoid a similar fate.

Or Sotto is an evil politician, willing to do anything to block the RH bill, which includes plagiarizing and twisting the words of writers, tarnishing the reputation of physicians who can’t defend themselves, and lying about the death of his own son.

Whatever Sotto is — a bad father or an evil politician — he does not deserve to be a senator.

Posted in Personal, Politics, ReligionComments (7)

If You Were A Pakistani Catholic…

Here’s a question to the Catholics who so vociferously decried Representative Palatino’s now withdrawn Religious Freedom in Government Offices Act (HB  6330). Would you deny your brother and sister Catholics in Pakistan the secular government that this bill was trying to secure? Would you refuse Pakistani Catholics the government that they were promised during the founding of their country?

In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims—Hindus, Christians, and Parsis — but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of the State of Pakistan

That was to be the promise of Pakistan, that it would be a Muslim majority country that had secular principles. Here we have a clear parallel with the Philippines: our 1987 constitution had declared ours a secular democracy albeit a Catholic dominated one.

And yet what is happening in Pakistan? What happens when the promise of secularism is treated as a sham by the religious majority? In Pakistan, Christians and Catholics are oppressed under the justification of a blasphemy law and Catholic politicians are murdered for daring to stand up to this oppression of religious freedom and human rights. And as reported by the Catholic website, Where God Weeps, during the floods in Pakistan on 2010, this climate of oppression against the religious minorities has made it so that the flood waters were diverted to the places where the religious minorities live.

In Pakistan at least, it seems that the Catholic church is keenly aware of how urgently secularism is needed to protect their flock and the other religious minorities in the country. Even the pope has spoken up to ask Pakistan to repeal their blasphemy laws.

History has shown that the practice of secularism, and not just lip service to it, is a good way of ensuring religious freedom. The actual practice of secularism makes it harder for those in power to oppress people with beliefs different from their own. That secularism in England arose from the mutual persecution between Protestants and Catholics should have taught the Roman Catholic church the value of secularism for religious freedom.

And yet what happens here in the Philippines? We have the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines misrepresenting HB 6330 as a bill that would ban god, as a bill against religious freedom when all it is a bill that reinforces the secularism demanded by our constitution. Meanwhile in Pakistan, a Catholic Bishop committed suicide in protest of blasphemy laws, in protest of the suppression of religious freedom, in protest for secularism.

One of the intentions of HB 6330 is to ensure that government offices do not represent one religion over another; to ensure that public servants won’t feel that they are beholden to a religion because of the religious displays or services in their work place and that the public they serve won’t feel that they are being discriminated against, however subtly or overtly, because of a difference in belief.

This is secularism, this is how religious freedom is preserved. By observing neutrality in government, by showing systems of belief or disbelief no favor over another.

It was mainly the loud and arrogant Catholic voice that brought about the withdrawal of HB 6330. These same Catholics are fond of citing the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do to you”. It makes you wonder, if they knew how the lack of secularism is hurting Pakistani Catholics, would these Filipino Catholics deny secularism to their Pakistani brethren as they have denied secularism to the minority believers in the Philippines?

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A Firestorm from Tyrants: Why Rep. Palatino’s Bill Doesn’t Threaten Religious Freedom

I found Jesus — in COMELEC

When I read Cito Beltran’s Philippine Star column criticizing Rep. Mong Palatino’s recent bill, “The Religious Freedom in Government Offices Act,” I didn’t want to dignify it with a response.

But a recent editorial published in The Freeman is giving me second thoughts. Maybe Beltran’s way of thinking is less anomalous than I’d initially thought among the writers of the Philippine Star (The Freeman is published in Cebu by the Philippine Star.)

In a single column, gross misunderstanding of secularism is forgivable, but in an editorial it cannot be ignored. It says that the entire editorial staff of the Freeman — and to some degree the Philippine Star, who published the piece on their website — doesn’t appreciate the constitutionally enshrined separation of church and state.

Since the opinion of Beltran is similar enough to that of the Freeman editorial, I believe refuting the latter is enough to refute both, as well as the many comments online that are based on the same flawed premises. I’ll comment on the editorial in full to avoid any misrepresentation. (Editorial text is italicized and underlined.)


There is a proposal — House Bill 6330 — now pending in Congress that seeks to prohibit the conduct of religious ceremonies and the display of religious symbols in public places and in government offices and buildings.

This is probably the only sound statement in the entire editorial.

The proposal, entitled “The Religious Freedom in Government Offices Act,” may sound innocuous enough. But in reality, it is an assault on the Roman Catholic faith…

I find it interesting that secularism is often seen as an assault on Catholicism. Because one of the first religions to benefit from secularism is Catholicism. Catholics escaped from religious persecution in Europe to America where secularism protected them from it.

This allowed Catholicism not only to survive but to thrive. It seems that many Catholics don’t know this, or are simply forgetting the fact now that Catholicism is the dominant religion.

They’re also ignorant of the plight of their fellow Catholics who are still begging for secularism in the parts of the world where they’re still being persecuted.

…which is the only religion known to practice the acts sought to be banned by the bill

Freeman thinks that this fact shows the discriminatory nature of the bill. But it’s precisely this fact that makes the bill’s necessity so blatantly obvious. Their criticism of the bill would be marginally more valid if different symbols and ceremonies from other religions were allowed equal time and space.

The fact that Catholicism is the only religion out of hundreds — even thousands if you count each denomination — exclusively in violation makes the inequity more obvious.

Actually, the bill violates constitutional guarantees against the passage of laws that curtail religious freedoms.

Secularism and religious freedom are two sides of the same coin–you can’t have one without having the other. Religious freedom is not absolute. When it comes to public space — which ideally belongs to each citizen equally — a citizen can’t practice their religion if it means that another is prevented from doing so. One religion that occupies public space with a display or a ceremony prevents all other religions from doing so.

Unless each religion is given equal use of the public space — which is impractical, if not impossible — the public space is best used secularly. Public space can even be called secular space without doing damage to the secularism and religious freedom mandated by our Constitution.

Nevertheless, there is a need to send a message to the bill’s author, Kabataan partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino, to stop his nonsense.

It’s quite common to dismiss Rep. Palatino’s arguments as nonsense or call him a loon or an atheist or an attention-whore. Name-calling, ad hominem, and other irrelevant arguments are used by critics to distract from the real issues, trying to project a confidence in their assertions which actually betrays a lack of it.

The bill attempts to use the bigoted argument that not everyone is Catholic and therefore any Catholic symbols should be removed from places where there are non-Catholics.

I knew the straw man would pop up sooner or later. The bill refers to public places–not all places.

What the bill’s author overlooks is that the acts he wants banned are there not by law but by common consent.

I don’t think public servants ever signed a contract that says they are OK with Catholic symbols and ceremonies. And even if they did, it wouldn’t be enough because public spaces do not belong to public servants–they belong to every Filipino citizen. I’m not aware of any recent referendum that resulted in “common consent.”

There being no decree on record mandating religious ceremonies or displays, it follows that no law should also be passed to curtail them.

There are no decrees on record mandating murder, theft, rape, graft and corruption, child trafficking, sexual abuse, or any criminal act. Therefore…

These things happen as a matter of fact and it is the fault of no one that the Philippines simply happens to be predominantly Catholic.

Everything that happens does so as a matter of fact. It is the fault of no one — no single person — that the Philippines is poor or that children still die of hunger. Each individual is at fault for his fellow human beings to some degree, and for better or worse, we are responsible for the society we live in. Yes, these things happen as a matter of fact, but that does not mean we shouldn’t do anything to change it.

Palatino forgets that non-Catholics are not being forced to participate in Catholic ceremonies or pay obeisance to Catholic icons.

In at least one case that we know of, they are. Also, you don’t need to force someone to remove their right to choose. Sure, non-Catholics (and even Catholic for that matter) don’t have to participate or pay obeisance, but many of them would rather not have to make the choice (“Should I pray with them or just wait for five minutes?) or would prefer to choose otherwise (“I’d rather use this time praying talking to my boss about something really urgent.”)

Truth is, until Palatino came up with his bright idea, things in this country have stayed unruffled by religious tensions born of such nonsense.

Again with the sarcasm and insults. Anyway, the lack of religious wars or religious terrorism doesn’t mean religious tensions don’t exist. Most acts of discrimination — racism, sexism, bigotry — are subtle and nonphysical, but it does not mean they don’t count as violence. On the contrary, these tend to be more pernicious, and often serve as seeds for the physical violence that could follow.

As a partylist representative, Palatino gained access to Congress through the “backdoor” so to speak, on the strength of nothing more than two percent of the vote. That is hardly mandate enough to tackle an issue that affects 80 percent of the country, more than he can chew really.

More irrelevant insults. Not only on Rep. Palatino, but on the partylist system itself. Also, it’s another fallacy: the appeal to popularity.

A final word to Palatino — if it aint broke, don’t fix it. These matters took root long before even his great great grandfather was born. He can’t just barge in as if he owns the place, or is he prepared to face a firestorm if he insists.

It’s somehow appropriate that they ended with yet another fallacy: the appeal to tradition. Many of the things we now accept as evil took root long before the great great grandfathers of those who fought against those evils — slavery, sexism, racism, the Inquisition — were born. Rep. Palatino is not acting “as if he owns the place.”

He’s reminding Filipinos that public spaces belong to every citizen equally. Rep. Palatino may be “courting a firestorm,” but it won’t be coming from the Filipinos who understand secularism. It will be from the tyrants who think they own the place just because they happen to be Catholic.

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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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From Pro-Lies to Puro Lies: Why Ang Prolife Lied to COMELEC

Eric Manalang swore under oath: to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him God. But it appears that God didn’t help because as we told you yesterday, he lied. Now I’m going to tell you exactly why he lied — because if he had told COMELEC the truth about Ang Prolife, their petition, then and there, would have been rejected.

Because Ang Prolife goes against the core principles of the Party-list system:

It is a mechanism of proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from marginalized or underrepresented national, regional and sectoral parties, or organizations or coalitions thereof registered with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

It is part of the electoral process that enables small political parties and marginalized and underrepresented sectors to obtain possible representation in the House of Representatives, which traditionally is dominated by parties with big political machinery.

From this, we can see that to check whether a group deserves Party-list accreditation, we must ask three questions:

  1. Do they represent a marginalized group?
  2. Do they represent an underrepresented group?
  3. Do they lack “(big) political machinery”?

The answer to all three is “no,” and I’ll show you why.

For starters, read Ang Prolife’s official Party-list declaration. In ten pages, they make it absolutely clear that their primary purpose is to oppose the RH bill — and other such “DEATH” bills — and to ensure that such laws will never be legislated.

Their introductory principles are peppered with vague and religious statements, but eventually they talk about what they’ll do in concrete terms:

Ang Prolife… against all legislation and policies that seek to legalize or institutionalize, among others:

Un-reproductive Health Rights
Same-Sex Unions
Radical Feminism
Public Child Sex Education

We can see that two of these — un-reproductive health rights [sic] and public child sex education — are provisions of the RH bill, while two others — abortion and radical feminism — are what anti-RH groups perceive to be the RH Bill’s direct implications. Almost half the list then is RH-related, and if we consider their slippery slope thinking — RH will inevitably lead to others “DEATH” bills — then the entire list is an anti-RH advocate’s nightmare.

Which is exactly the group Ang Prolife actually aims to represent: anti-RH advocates.

But are anti-RH advocates marginalized? Are they underrepresented? Are they lacking in political machinery? History says no. Almost two decades of fighting for an RH law tells us that if anything, anti-RH advocates are overrepresented. Even the more prominent members of Ang Prolife will tell you this themselves. Not in those words, of course.

But ask them what they think will happen if the RH Bill is finally put to a vote and you’ll invariably get the same answer: “The RH Bill will not pass because we have the numbers.” That is, they claim they have more representatives in both houses of Congress, at least more than the pro-RH side.

And it’s easy to see just how committed anti-RH legislators are — from merely delaying the debates the way Team Delay has to saying that they’re staking their careers to stop the bill’s passage as Senator Sotto has. Can anyone honestly say the anti-RH is politically underrepresented?

They may argue that these anti-RH legislators are not directly affiliated with Ang Prolife. But that would once again be a lie. Two congressmen — William Irwin C. Tieng and Mariano Michael M. Velarde of Buhay party-list [Life (!) party-list] — are active members of Pro Life Philippines’ board of trustees. So is Buhay party-list’s secretary-general, Wilfrido Villarama.

Sure, Prolife Philippines is not the same entity as Ang Prolife, but with the same people and principles guiding both groups, this might as well be a distinction without a difference. Compare the Ang Prolife partylist declaration with the issues and principles in Prolife Philippines’ website. (You’ll probably find plagiarism, but then again, you can’t plagiarize yourself.)

We can even go further than saying Prolife Philippines and Ang Prolife is one and the same. They may do their best to deny it — in fact this is one of the first things they had to do — but Ang Prolife, if accredited, will be the CBCP party-list.

This is what logically follows from the kind of religious obedience Ang Prolife’s members give to their bishops in the CBCP. The similarities in their principles are not merely a correlation or coincidence. The relationship is causal. Whatever the CBCP teaches (or commands) Ang Prolife will follow. This is of course unstated in their declaration, but ask anyone in Ang Prolife if they have the ability to dissent with anything the CBCP says and you’ll get the same answer.

And even if the CBCP is not exactly the same as Ang Prolife (at least not on paper) the Catholic bishops are among the anti-RH citizens Ang Prolife aims to represent. And ideologically, the CBCP is the main source and promoter of every principle Ang Prolife wants to promulgate. It would be fair then to ask the same questions of the CBCP and the position they represent: are they marginalized, underrepresented, or lacking in political machinery? I won’t even justify the question with an answer.

It becomes clear then why Eric Manalang had to lie under oath and say (initially) that they had no plans about the RH Bill and that they would primarily represent the 10 million families with members who are OFWs. Telling the truth — that Ang Prolife is the political arm of Prolife Philippines — would get them an outright rejection.

One thing that baffles me though is the forethought (or lack thereof) they put into their lying. With all the effort they put into trying to convince COMELEC that they represent OFW families, they should have dedicated more space to OFW issues in their 9-page document. As it stands, they only put a single sentence:

Legislate entrepreneurial education programs to benefit families of Overseas Contract Workers.

I think we’ll have to change our term of endearment from “Pro-Lies” to “Puro Lies.”

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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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