Aquino 3rd vs. the bishops: A battle of words

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The battle between President Benigno Aquino 3rd and the Catholic bishops —  which is what our national politics and public life have now come to – will not be decided by a faceoff of cassock vs. tanks at EDSA, as happened in 1986 when President Marcos was brought down.

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The government averted such a confrontation when it completely shut down EDSA early in the morning last Wednesday, February 25, and did not allow even a mouse from getting through.

The planned protest chain of people from Camp Crame to the EDSA shrine could not be formed.  Even a mere symbolic chain can frighten the government today.

The battle between Benigno 3rd and the bishops will be decided by word power. The battle has become a battle of semantics, of words and their meanings.

Both sides are now hobbled  by the weight of the words they have carelessly or strategically  employed. Whoever takes better control of their vocabulary will probably prevail.

The bishops: Torturing words    
The bishops , representing the Catholic church and backed by other congregations, entered the fray with a marked advantage,  based on the trust index.

The Church has the highest trust rating among Filipino social institutions, while the government, led by President Aquino and Congress, has the lowest trust rating.

For reasons only they can explain, the bishops – or the National Transformation Council (NTC) —  have boxed themselves into a corner by torturing the distinction between  the words “resign” and “step down.”

It makes a world of difference to them how precisely, and what word is used to characterize President Aquino’s departure from the presidency.

The bishops do not want Aquino to simply turn in his resignation, primarily because, besides making millions of Filipinos happy, it will also exalt Vice-President Jejomar Binay, who will promptly fill up the space PNoy will leave behind. And then he will start to do his thing, along with his gang and family.

The bishops and their fervent supporters do not want Binay to succeed to the highest office, as ordained by the Constitution in the event of a vacancy.

What they want is for Aquino to  “step down” instead, and yield the presidency to the mercies of a transition council, wherein they will take part in discharging affairs of state and in choosing who will administer the work of government. They have also demanded that the entire cabinet and all members of congress step down.

This way, they fantasize that they can do their thing of subjecting national politics and politicians to something like a “moral bath,” an idea that was first propounded by Leo Tolstoy in his great novel, War and Peace.

Benigno 3rd: Burying problems with words
With equal alacrity, President Aquino   – backed by his spokesmen and gangmates in Congress – has tortured words and meanings, in  his desperate effort to hang on by his fingernails to the presidency and to extricate himself from  accountability  for what happened in Mamasapano.

The administration began by calling the tragedy a “misencounter.” When that did not fly, and the public and the media uniformly labeled it as a “massacre,” they retreated to calling it an “incident.”

Then, when they realized that it was not enough to get Aquino off the hook, they decided to call the thing a “clash.” And they got all the crony media to trumpet the change.

With respect to the role of the President in the debacle, which the public and the Senate inquiry have persisted in digging into,  the  administration adopted a new strategy.  Using the nation’s senators as pawns, it pushed the narrative that Aquino was “misinformed” about what was happening in Mamasapano on January 25.

When Alan Purisima  produced  text messages and testified that Aquino was informed quite early about the operation and of the need of the commandos for reinforcements, and that he did nothing, they changed the narrative again.

They averred that Aquino was “lied” to by Purisima, whom he had installed as commander of Oplan Exodus.

The next narrative twist, I think, will be to portray Aquino as a “victim” in Mamasapano.
Who will win this battle of semantics?

In my college studies in logic, English and literature, I was told and learned  early that behind good writing is good thinking. Crooked thinking will not produce good writing and speech

The bishops have not thought out clearly what they want and what is politically possible under our laws and in the current situation.

Like the Thai protesters in their fight against the Thaksin siblings, they seek an extra-constitutional solution to our problem of leadership. In Thailand, this led to a shutdown of Bangkok and then a coup, which succeeded mainly because it was blessed by the king. In our case, there is no king to soften and make palatable a military takeover.

The weakness of the administration’s position is that it just keeps throwing words at the problem of public disgust and Aquino’s unpopularity, very much like throwing money at problems.

Neither strategy is working.

Torturing words, like torturing human beings, yields no benefits. Words cannot confess.
Burying problems with words does not work either, because the problems will  not stay buried. Aquino’s accountability in Mamasapano will not go away.

De Lima’s  threat to arrest bishops
As if the verbal avalanche from the government was not enough,  Justice Secretary Leila de Lima weighed in with her two cents worth. But this merely showed how badly President Aquino is losing the battle for public support.

She issued a warning that the bishops and the National Transformation Council could be charged with sedition and rebellion for issuing their call for the resignation of President Aquino, his Cabinet and all members of both houses of Congress.

The reply of the bishops was quick. Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, a convenor of the NTC, taunted the government by saying he is not afraid to go to jail and that such would give him “great pleasure.”

The prelate, who led the latest gathering of the council in Lipa City, Batangas,  on Thursday, said:

“It will be a great pleasure for me if I go to jail. Many of those in jail are innocent and still many of those guilty are there not because they are the only sinners but the greater sinners are free and are placed in government.” He insisted that their actions cannot be considered as sedition or rebellion.

This battle looks more and more like a no-contest and a tragedy for President Aquino.
Consider this:

Just a week after hosting a historic and memorable visit by Pope Francis to the Philippines, the Mamasapano incident happened and dissipated the sense of national good feeling that it generated.

Now two months after, Aquino is locked into a battle of survival against the  princes of the Catholic church.

A leader should know how to pick his fights, and when to throw in the  gloves.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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19 Comments

  1. The Church ws instrumental in bringing the Aquino’s to power .. They have awakened up to the reality that very little by way of actual progress and development have been done After Marcos, Our country has deteriorated and the people ae suffering, the wealthy and the politicians own the resources of the country and the gap between rich and poor has greatly widened, the Church must now accept its responsibility of putting its fingers (arms even) in political matters whT happened to the quote My kingdom is not of this world … It has failed in focusing on uplifting the living conditions, the lack of government services the deteriorating infrastructure , the high cost of living , the lack of jobs , theoss of dignity of the common man because of his financial condition , the poor population planning, the hobnobbing with the wealthy oligarchs who control , , the economy,the church must focus on uplifting the living conditions of the people and preaching God’s word

  2. Good the bishops was not able to unseat Pnoy with rheie bullshit demonic people power whatever is that .!!!

  3. Political problems should be solved by the politicians but catholic bishops in the person of Arguelles, among others, should not get involved with the affairs of the State as there is an existing law separating the church and the states.If they advise the flocks to pray for the good of our country, that is much more appreciating than to criticize the head of states supported by known corrupt officials at his back is another story.”Advocatus Diabolicus”.. these Pajero bishops know what that words mean.

  4. victor m. hernandez on

    Hindi madali ang pagpapalit ng namumuno para maging mabuti ang kalagayan ng sambayanban. kaunting tiis at lilipas din yan. Oo nga, nakakinis na, nakakapagod na. Baka maging malala pa pagpapadalos-dalos sa mga ginagawa o gustong gawin. Ito ang panahon ng pagninilay, pag-oorganiza para sa pagbabago sa pamamagitan ng balota. Kailangan wala ng hocus PCOS, kailangan ang pag- aaral, at pagsususi kung sino ang mga nararapat na mamuno sa susunod na pamahalaan sa 2016. O pagpapalit kaya ng tipo ng gobyerno mula sa presidential to parliamentary system, from a unitary to a federal form of government.Maraming dapat gawing pag-aaral, pag-discussion, at pag-susuri bago gumawa ng na-aangkop na aksyon. Tingnan na lang natin ang mga Moro, hindi naman bigla silang sumulpot at nagkakawala upang maging isang kinikilalang grupo na gustong maging magsarili sa kanilang lugar. Hindi naman maaaring ang nakaka-angat lang ay mga taga malaking lungsod sa Luzon, Visayas, at Mindadanao. Papano naman ang mga nakakaraming mamayan na matagal nang pinababayaan ng pamahalaan, at napag-uukulan lang ng pansin tuwing darating lang ang eleksyon, pagkatapos wala nang mag-aaruga sa kanilang kapakanan? Maraming dapat gawin upang umunlad at maging maluwag ang pamumuhay, at ito ay hindi madadala ng padalos dalos, at kawalan ng pag-aaral at pag-oorganiza. Kaya piliin natin ang mga kababayan na may tunay na pagpapahalaga sa kapakanan ng sambayanan.

  5. victor m. hernandez on

    kaunting tiis pa gi pa, lilipas din yan. Oo nga, nakakinis na, nakakapagod na. Baka maging malala pa pagpapadalos-dalos sa mga ginagawa o gustong gawin. Ito ang panahon ng pagninilay, pag-oorganiza para sa pagbabago sa pamamagitan ng balota. Kailangan wala ng hocus PCOS, kailangan ang pag- aaral, at pagsususi kung sino ang mga nararapat na mamuno sa susunod na pamahalaan sa 2016. O pagpapalit kaya ng tipo ng gobyerno mula sa presidential to parliamentary system, from a unitary to a federal form of government.Maraming dapat gawing pag-aaral, pag-discussion, at pag-susuri bago gumawa ng na-aangkop na aksyon. Tingnan na lang natin ang mga Moro, hindi naman bigla silang sumulpot at nagkakawala upang maging isang kinikilalang grupo na gustong maging magsarili sa kanilang lugar. Hindi naman maaaring ang nakaka-angat lang ay mga taga malaking lungsod sa Luzon, Visayas, at Mindadanao. Papano naman ang mga nakakaraming mamayan na matagal nang pinababayaan ng pamahalaan, at napag-uukulan lang ng pansin tuwing darating lang ang eleksyon, pagkatapos wala nang mag-aaruga sa kanilang kapakanan? Maraming dapat gawin upang umunlad at maging maluwag ang pamumuhay, at ito ay hindi madadala ng padalos dalos, at kawalan ng pag-aaral at pag-oorganiza. Kaya piliin natin ang mga kababayan na may tunay na pagpapahalaga sa kapakanan ng sambayanan.

  6. Playing with words. Mainly playing with words and find out which word the public will like to hear. Unfortunately for PNoy and cohorts of word inventors and propagandists, no word is getting the attention. They should for more to offer.

  7. It is indeed difficult to convince someone with limited world view aggravated by a closed mindset to make a turnaround. What puzzles me greatly is those advisers and politicians surrounding him who seem to never realized the consequence of propping up this incompetent and treasonous governance. Is there a probability of Plan B being cooked by these selfish politicians and psychophants in case the Filipinos will be awakened from this nightmare and once and for all throw out Aquino from his lofty perch? For all to realize, power corrupts and those in power now, especially this Yellow Scourge never intended to hand over power to others outside their circle. Since the oust of Marcos and his crony government, this Yellow clique employed the money of the oligarchs and influence of the conscript media to swept away those other pretenders, like Erap, and even Arroyo from the pinnacle of power.

  8. The answer to our present problems is not difficult though relief may come later not
    “resign now na approach”.

    Let us elect Duterte to the presidency!

    If we will try our luck AGAIN to someone anyway (as we are prone to vote simply emotionally), it might as well be the gentleman from Davao – who has a ready program of government, a vision and a string of achievements!

    Most importantly, Duterte will bring in a new mind set to the presidency!

    But if we will try our luck AGAIN to the likes of Poe (who has no experience at all – but simply as the daughter of Fernando much the same was as Pnoy the son of Cory – or Binay, Cayetano, etc., we are back to the same hole. These Manila bred politicians are just created by media, nothing more, nothing less. We must make ground breaking history by electing outside of this “traditional” sources of power.

    This time is our only chance.

    • i agree with you max that poe-llamanzares is a product of media (yellow colored media) and just as shallow (my personal take) as boy sisi and, excuse me for mentioning this, his late mother. they have no vision for the country and only thrive on sloganeering – remember the ‘kung walang kurap, walang mahirap’, ‘kayo ang boss ko’ , ‘walang wang wang’, ‘saan kayo kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha’ among others. as to the NTC, medyo radical ang kanilang gusto kasi nga walang pagkakatiwalaan sa chain of succession enumerated in the constitution. majority of the middle class (??) do not want biNOY to succeed boy sisi and most are against the ascent of lolo (nG) frankiski and lolo sb and of course the man of boy sisi in the sc, the chief justice kaya the NTC wants them all to resign or step down including congress and make way for extra constitutional way of creating the NTC to change the constitution, etc.

    • concerned citizen on

      I wish we could do that, but what so many Filipinos don’t know (thanks to the pro-Aquino mainstream media organizations Philippine Daily Inquirer, ABS-CBN, and GMA) is that Aquino and the Liberal Party are bent on making their very own Mar Roxas win in 2016 courtesy of the PCOS machines, which could be pre-programmed to make a certain candidate win by removing their safety and accuracy features, as was done in 2010 and 2013 through the COMELEC memorandum issued by then COMELEC chairman Sixto Brillantes. They are more determined than ever to do this because if someone else wins, they’ll all go to jail.

    • concerned citizen on

      Poe is a major let-down for conspiring to cover up for Aquino in the Senate hearings….

  9. Claro Apolinar on

    The episcopal conference of the Filipino Roman Catholic bishops has not yet made a decision whether to join the bishops who are among the convenors of the National Transformation Council and the organizers of the many assemblies held nationwide.
    But even PCOS-made de facto president Abnoy Aquino’s friend Archbishop Villegas, CBCP president, has asked for truthfulness from this most dishonest, corrupt, hypocriticial and untruthful Aquino administration.
    Maybe all the bishops will come out to join Archbishop Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Arguelles, Archbishop Capalla, and 50 or so other Catholic bishops if Archb Villegas will formally distribute, as he promised he would, Archb Arguelles’ original message. But ArchB Soc has not maybe because he is waiting for Abnoy to relent and do as the NTC is asking him to do–STEP DOWN–on his own.

  10. sonny dela cruz on

    The NTC should disassociate with the BINAYS if they want the people to support them. The BINAYS are a political dynasty and refuse to answers all the corruption charges against them. The NTC should look for like DICK GORDON, DUTERTE of the south and a very well defender of the laws, A. CAYETANO or M. SANTIAGO. I believe one of them will be much much better than the present leader and his gang.

    • Not anyone of the cayetano dynasty. The conjugal kleptocracy of taguig is more than enough argument as to why not. True blooded balimbing. GMA inaanak who readily threw her in the lion’s den when the political tide was about to change.

  11. The time for the Abnoy to throw in his glove is now! There is no way he can outsmart the people again who just had a ring side view of his real character – an inveterate liar who is as feckless as he is incompetent and has no moral stature. He is an illegitimate usurper in Malacanang who is out to avenge his anger for the Filipino men in uniform who killed his father (this is according to his own admission and consequent action. ) Archbishop Arguelles made this analysis when he was interviewed on TV by Erik Espina.

    For being the worst “president” this country ever had, the only way for the Abnoy is OUT. More and more people are getting to realize they can never have any peace in their lives for as long as this Abnoy reigns.

  12. Ronaldo Valdes on

    Would you trust this Bishops or Clergy to run our goverment.? What happen to the Separation of Church and State.? Isn’t the most secretive organization are the oraganization of Bishop and Clergy? You cannot even ask them what they do to all the money they recieved from various contribution and they don’t even pay taxes on all the businesses they run such as Univerisites and Schools…They are the most powerfull leaders we have because we blindly trust them without question..Remember Father Damaso ??…Please let them stay in the Church and Pray for all the sinners and let the MASA do their job…We did it once we can do it again.

    • In NTC, it’s not the Bishops or Clergy that will run the government. The interfaith religious leaders (Bishops/ Protestant Pastors/ Muslim Imams) together with the chosen Elders of the nation will function only as “Moral Guides” to the second level cabinet ministers who will run the government. If you remember Fr. Damaso try also rememberng GOMBURZA.

    • Yes we did it with the help of Cardinal Sin. His heart and loyalty was in the right place; which we cannot hardly say about his protege Cardinal Soc Villegas. I guess he follows the gospel about looking for the lost sheep; and leaving the 99,999,999 to the wolves.
      By the way, Padre Damaso is a fictional character.