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


  1. You know these bishops will ally with the most vile institutions as along as it involves the following:
    1. money
    2. allows them to spread the "word of god"
    3. censor anything they disagree with
    4. more money

    just a tip of the ice-burg, but glaring example: the cbcp has pointed out it's anti-mining stance yet has billions of pesos invested in Philex Mining Corporation… are the dividends from this tax free?

    • That's perceptive of you! It is somehow like that but not really. Just because it follows a format of "If x is not right, then why are you x?" it doesn't mean it's a tu quoque fallacy already. If you would be patient enough, please read my point 🙂

      Tu quoque is a form of Ad hominem (i.e. a fallacy of argument where you attack the person AND you use this to reject his/her premise). But we should put into mind that attacking/opposing the person DOES NOT necessarily mean that he/she is fallacious granted that the opposition is RELEVANT to the argument. To clarify my point I will show you examples of misconceptions of this fallacy.

      Example 1a: Mr X thinks that we should raise funds for this matter. I think we should not BECAUSE he is just going to earn from it.

      In this example, the reasoning here is clearly FALLACIOUS. It is an ad hominem in its "circumstantial form." The one who argues uses an attack (which is "he will just earn from it") and USES IT to reject Mr X's point (which is to allocate funds for this matter).

      Example 1b: Mr Y preaches about being faithful to your wife but I think he is a hypocrite for doing so because he was known for cheating her wife more than three times.

      In this next example, there is NO ad hominem committed. Despite the person attacking Mr Y (which is pointing out that Mr Y cheated on her wife), he DOES NOT use this to reject the premise. Instead, he makes a new premise which is "Mr Y is a hypocrite." It would only be considered ad hominem IF he adds a statement "That's why we should not be faithful to our wife" or something like "Therefore we should not consider this guy's points"

      Going back, similar to the above examples, Red Tani is attacking the Church but NOT rejecting the premise "know who have no sin and [let them] throw the first stone." Instead, he raised a new point which incidentally opposes the church for its hypocrisy. Simply put, there is no tu quoque in this letter because the church's hypocrisy here is the point and is NOT used as a supporting premise to prove any point.

      Thank your for your patience. Please do reply, I just wanna know if you understood my point or if there's anything wrong with it 🙂

      • I appreciate your lengthy explanation. Yes, I understand.

        If it would matter, I was referring to Corona's, not this article's. 🙂

        • I'm sorry if I have to give such a long reply! Sorry if I misunderstood your point. I just had a bad urge to clarify what ad hominem really is. After taking up a class on Philosophy, everyone's like "Ad hominem this" and "Ad hominem that." It's like my pet peeve. Anyway thank you for replying my good sir! 😀

  2. //“That’s why the basis of this is let us know who have no sin and throw the first stone. That’s the message,” Cruz said. [CBCPNews] //

    So what the fuck were they doing defending GMA?

  3. Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz said that more than anything else, Corona’s dare “is but a statement that those accusing him of dishonesty in making his SALN are dishonest themselves.”

    “That’s why the basis of this is let us know who have no sin and throw the first stone. That’s the message,” Cruz said. [CBCPNews]

    – WHAT THE F***!

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