• Critical of Duterte’s Mideast Lenten visit but silent about Teddy’s ‘blasphemy’

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    ANTONIO P. CONTRERAS

    LENI Robredo is practically politically dead, and the latest SWS survey has shown this. Her net satisfaction rating shed 11 points.

    And you do not have to believe scientific surveys. All you need to do is to look at the angry faces that merrily float on the screen everytime her face shows up.

    Teddy Baguilat, her party-mate, in response to her steep decline in net satisfaction ratings, tweeted on Holy Tuesday, April 11, a biblical explanation. “Ika nga sa bible [as the bible said], the prophet (who bears truth) is sometimes not welcome in his hometown. Kaya [this is why]VP Leni’s ratings have gone down.”

    Some devout Catholics have criticized the timing of President Duterte’s visit to Muslim-dominated countries, namely the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Qatar, at a time when Filipinos were commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some painted the visit as a gross disrespect of our Catholic faith.

    Yet, these people have not taken Teddy Baguilat to task for what can be considered as blasphemy, where he likened Leni Robredo to a prophet being persecuted even by her own people. They did not question the timing of Teddy’s tweet, that of all days he has to deify his embattled Vice President three days before Catholics and other Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Christ.

    What is problematic is the ease by which people can appropriate religion to provide justification for acts of preferred political personalities, even as religion has been used to diminish or silence the politics of others. And in the Philippines, what is even more discomfiting is the manner by which a secular state such as ours has allowed Roman Catholicism to influence the direction of our political discourse.

    It has always been said that the Philippines is the only Catholic country in Asia.

    This lie has been repeatedly stated over and over again, effectively blindsiding the intent of the Constitution that installed a state that is separate from any religion. It is a constitution that bars the state from discriminating against people based on faith. Yet, we have seen how our government has privileged Roman Catholicism as the dominant religion. To privilege one is to discriminate against the others, particularly the religious minorities. In fact, if at all, the state has a duty to protect their rights over the dictates of the Catholic majority.

    However, the state fails to protect the rights of the minority when we have laws that are crafted not on the sheer logic of secular demands, but are constrained by religious considerations. There was a time in our history when the writings of Jose Rizal were banned from schools simply because he was seen as a heretic by the Catholic Church. When a law was proposed requiring the inclusion of a course on Rizal in the curriculum, the Catholic Church opposed it.

    The Reproductive Health Law was strongly opposed by the Church on the grounds that it was an affront to the tenets of the faith.

    Even the President seemed to have bought into this line of thinking when he declared that he could no longer support same-sex marriages, something which he promised during the campaign, on the ground that we are a Catholic country.

    And the use of religion to discriminate does not favor only the Catholics. Bigamy is a crime, but not for men who are followers of Islam.

    One needs to realize that the Philippines is not a theocracy. Its secular nature bars us from privileging any particular religion in the conduct of our civic affairs. The deployment of Roman Catholicism as a principal logic that inhabits our political discourse is a gross violation of the very nature of our state.

    What aggravates the use of religion is when it becomes a weapon that can be deployed selectively by partisans, such as when noise is generated to chastise the President’s visit to Islamic states during Lent, even as there is silence when Teddy Baguilat deified Leni Robredo by likening her to a persecuted prophet.

    One can condemn this column today as an ill-timed heretic discourse coming just after we have celebrated the resurrection of Christ.

    However, belief in the resurrection does not mean closing democratic spaces or silencing the minority and the dissenters. It is about having a faith that is unassailable even in a plurality of voices. A secular state that celebrates pluralism of beliefs, religious or otherwise, is not a threat to a faith that is cemented by belief in the resurrection of Christ as savior and Lord. A law that would allow divorce, or for same-sex couples to marry, could not assault the faith that is firmly held by believers deep in their hearts. After all, even persecution by Rome did not stop the early Christians from propagating their faith.

    But more importantly, this column serves as a litmus test for your politics vis-à-vis your faith. If you are uncomfortable with it, it can only mean that you really do not truly understand the freedoms we owe to the fact that the Philippines is a secular state, and not a theocracy.

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    38 Comments

    1. who cares about what Teddy B has to say? Perhaps that explains why no body raised hell over his statements, nobody cares…

    2. The Filipinos can and should heed the teachings of the Catholic religion. However, listening to the Catholic leaders on politics should be avoided. This time, the message is more important than the messengers.

    3. jess nazario on

      “It has always been said that the Philippines is the only Catholic country in Asia.”

      Baka CATATONIC, not Catholic !

    4. Another attack dog of BBM and administration apologist wannabee- of course that’s what you’ll say.. people are not dumb Mr Contreras

    5. Teresa Tumbali on

      Hurray to you, Steve Murphy.
      We act or react according to our values.
      I hope for the time when we can defend the actions of our President without having to put down anybody.

    6. mis information na naman po ang mga dilawan Prof. kasi iilan lang naman ang katoliko dito sa saudi Arabia, ang karamihan dito po ay mga Born again Chrsitian na kong saan di naman kami ng nakikiayon diyan sa lenten session nila kaya ano problema kong mahal na araw punta dito si presidente?

    7. Correction. Philippines is a Muslim-founded country, dominated by Christians (not only Catholic) due to European invasion, I mean influence (who seemed to enjoy calling non-Christians heretics and burning them alive). True, religion has no place in today’s politics on sovereign States that treats all its citizens, residents and visitors equally under the protection of Constitutional law. Those who disagree are living in the past and arguably doesn’t care about the future.

    8. The Great Defiant on

      the Catholics, the LP’s and twisted yellow ribbon supporters loves to compare themselves with the personalities in the Holy Bible as if they were blameless, sinless, holy and glorious…

      what a way they portray themselves exactly like the pretentious, deceiving and murdering devil…

    9. Wile E. Cayote on

      I really don’t know why some other Filipino people still hates all the good our president has done to our country. well I think the hard work speaks all. and we all know PRRD is working for the people not those the people in yellow.

    10. Daniel B. Laurente on

      I agree with your assessment that Aling Leni is Politically Dead. What can you expect from a woman, an Attorney with projections and poor foresight. She allowed herself to be servant of a wrong cause. She sacrifice herself for wrong personalities instead of fortifying herself for her future political undertakings under the famous person but choose the side of being unpopular. What a shortsightedness on her part. Money will not fortify one’s legacy but its stand that protect her interest and the people she is serving. No more chance only God give it to everyone to repent and be clean again in any times.

    11. Ignorance is a bliss. As I always ask for an explanation from hypocrites (devoted santong kabayo), if we are so blessed as nation of catholics (kuno) why are we beset with rebellions, npas, one of most corrupt nation, most addicted to drugs like zombies and porn and calamities left and right and topped it all the most powerful ever recorded that toppled churches like pagans buildings, and we have so many people who depends on nations that really look at us as pigs? Maybe because in the eyes of God we are pharisees. It is time to ask questions and certainly dont be afraid to be labelled as atheist because we understood that these are the weapons being used by bigots like the priest who are potbellied and depend on the people for their living and yet they see themselves as gods (interesting) that if we questions our catholic faith and most of it are just plain shameful and ignorant and we just want to proclaim the true greatness of God.

    12. Whatever your religion or even if you do not have one then so be it. Never mind those who complain on action you choose – especially when you are doing something good to a person or people. Most Filipinos will dis-agree with me if I will ask Congress to declare that no holidays on holy week ( Thursday & Friday), why?? If you will check everytime we celebrated holy week, due to long vacation families & friends gather together to enjoy & celebrate life – I do not know if they alligned it or not with the Ressurection of our Saviour Jesus Christ, a lot of people DIED – culprit?? WATER – river, ocean, pools & VEHICLE – loss brake, drunk driving etc.

    13. We are the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia. Strangely, Buddhism (500 BC) and Hinduism (2000 BC) did not make it to this country.

    14. Baguilat’s statement is being misinterpreted I’m afraid. He is not literally trying to compare or portray Leni as Jesus, but merely using that expression to show that she, same as Jesus said, is not appreciated by the very ones she is trying to help. Not that it is important, but In America the same term is often used, not literally comparing with Jesus.

      • As a nation we should be rejoice for hundreds of our beleaguered countrymen have returned. Just like the Good Shepherd the President went out of his way to look for the lost sheep and opportunities.

      • Could be because the people she was trying to help were the Liberal Party and the past administration of Noynoy. In that case she was not misinterpreted.

    15. Stupidity in Catholic churches abounds mainly from it’s leaders. Why do you have to force other human beings with your traditions and belief. Why criticize Duterte’s trip to middle East? I bet even a thousand processions will not bring about the millions of investment that he brought back to the country plus the OFWs who, after years of waiting under Inoytil’s leadership are now home to their families. I mean, those people, educated as they were cannot equate faith againts action.

    16. can’t help giving my comment after reading your article sir, you have a good point there mentioning how easy for us to qoute biblical passages just to justify certain situation kasi nga majority sa atin ay catholic pero sana naman pagaralan nilang mabuti ang paggamit nila ng mga salita ng Diyos sayang naman may nakaattached na Honorable sa pangalan nila. tungkol naman kay VP Robredo siya ang naghukay ng kanyang sariling libingan, abogada siyang naturingan subalit di naaayon ang kanyang mga kinikilos sa kanyang pinagaralan at sa pagtupad ng kanyang tungkulin kung kaniyang alam, di na matatawag na freedom of expression ang pagsira ng imahe ng ating bayan. sa mga pari naman sana pagtuunan nila ng pansin ang kanilang sinumpaan sa Panginoon at yon ay humikayat sa pananampalataya fishers of men ika nga wala ni isa man sa atin ang binigyan ng karapatan na humusga

    17. What a change in the Presidency we are seeing. DU30 working for the people during the holidays. Aquino rarely worked during working hours and never for the people.

    18. Jose A. Oliveros on

      Your fellow columnist, Francisco “Kit” Tatad should read your column because it was he who wrote on the same page were your column now appears condemning Pres. Duterte for timing his state visits to the Middle East during Holy Week. As for Baguilat, he should just go to the nearest barber shop.

    19. Good point Sir. Majority notoriety is tempered by that consti provision on separation of church and government. Jose Rizal’s defiance of the abusive friars through his satiric writings was and still is unpopular. But the ills of society (he calls it cancer) that he pointed out then is still true today. The purest Christian faith of the new testament spread like wildfire while under persecution by Rome yet such kind of faith slowed down when diluted into ironically a syncretized Roman Empire religion by Constantine. It was said Emperor Nero burned in public the early Christians. Mary Magdalene, a lone woman, was first to tell other people of Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb but it was the many religious leaders who secretly conspired not tell anyone about it. Now shall we soon or keep banning good but unpopular ideas, Rizal’s books or even the Good Book because some ways runs counter to our belief system? But of course it is almost blasphemy to deify Jose Rizal a god or liken Leni to our Savior.

    20. Lea Hetherington on

      Teddy Baguilat is wrong if he thinks that Leni Robredo’s own people rejected her when Leni Robredo herself who tried to destroy her own people and her own house when she sent the video to the United Nations. So Robredo’s own wrongdoings is just getting back at her.

      • Did Baguilat give any comment about VP Leni when she and her daughters went to the USA while her Province was under a Severe Typhoon ?

        The personal presence of VP Leni would have been a great Moral Booster at that time … Is it not ?

    21. Pres Du30 travel to the middle east in line with the lenten season has nothing to do with religion. Everyone can make decisions outlining whatever important religious event it is. It is for the welfare of our country that he is working for, so we should not mixed up with that. It would be best to respect whatever the Pres decision has to be make for the common good of our country but definitely not a religion.

    22. Leni a prophet? a prophet in Prada? a prophet in Ferragamo? a prophet destroying our image abroad?
      its sounding more like ‘profit’ and not ‘prophet’, the bible also tells us to be aware of ‘false prophet’

    23. I am happy with Leni Robledo.. I am against the marcoses coming back to power which is very dangerous.

      • Lea Hetherington on

        Too bad if you’re against the Marcoses, because the son is not the father and the father is the son, and therefore, a sin of the father should not be on the shoulder of the son. If you have a son, I am sure that you wouldn’t want your son will pay a price of your wrongdoing in case you have one. .

      • Your happy with Leni, your happy for her doing nothing but bring shame to our country. And what is “very dangerous” against with the Marcoses coming back to power? They did a lots of good things to our country compared to the Aquino’s. Can you give some of the past two Aquino’s, the Ramoses and Estrada’s accomplishments to say that they did some good things for the Pilipino people? You are a big joke. By the way it’s Robredo not Robledo…

      • Well many people are not, and her legitimate occupation of her position is now in so much doubt she should not be doing anything to jeopardize it, unless by doing so she is removing any authority capable of removing her from it. And if she is doing just that, then she does not deserve her mandate and definitely should not be holding her position and heaven help this country while she remains there.

      • it is very difficult for someone in a very secular country and a country scornful of Catholicism to comprehend a devote catholic society which for centuries have suffered in poverty but manage to be among the most kind people in the world.. they are unique because they are a people of the East and a people of the West. no other nation can wear that hat. they live for the most part in Shanties but the people in the shanties are like the suburbanites of the Western World. Perhaps superior. they rise above their poverty but remain suffering in it. they have more Faith and hope and Charity than most people of the world. although without formal education they speak 3 4 sometimes 5 languages. no one who speaks so many languages who live in healthy families although poor can be uneducated. I recommend the silly journalist who wrote that article go to the z Philippines and meet the people in the shanties. Wonder how many languages that man speaks and if he has much comprehension of the western world of Catholicism where woman for centuries have had equal influence on society. Helena who had cart blanch access to the Roman Treasury.. Bridget of Sweden a contemplative mystic advisor to governments Dorothy Day who brought forth respect for the people of the streets now known advisor round the world..

      • Development and Infras, Look at Naga now, and then Look at Ilocos Norte now, i rest my case….