PNoy’s tasteless remarks lambasting priests in front of Pope Francis during the latter’s courtesy call in Malacañang betrays the boorishness and ill-breeding of our country’s president.
He turned what ought to have been a gracious and polite meeting (hence, the term “courtesy”) between heads of state into a gripe session against the Pope’s colleagues – a diplomatic faux pas that left many foreign envoys in the audience shocked and speechless.
PNoy made no mention in his speech of the plight of our countrymen devastated by the typhoon and the earthquake that hit the Visayas, which was the main purpose of Pope Francis’ trip to the country – the first papal visit in 20 years.
Instead, PNoy used the occasion to take a dig at the Filipino clergy saying that “many members of the Church, once advocates for the poor, the marginalized, and the helpless, suddenly became silent in the face of the previous administration’s abuses,” clearly referring to his favorite political arch-nemesis, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Taking a swipe at clerics for some perceived personal affront, PNoy adds: “In contrast to their previous silence, some members of the clergy now seem to think that the way to be true to the faith means finding something to criticize, even to the extent that one prelate admonished me to do something about my hair, as if it were a mortal sin.”
“Judgment is rendered without an appreciation of the facts,” PNoy whined.
But if PNoy feels strongly aggrieved by what he believes are the unfair criticisms he receives from some clergymen, he could have (as Presidential apologist Edwin Lacierda puts it) “spoken frankly” during his several private meetings with Pope Francis.
By openly chastising clergymen before a papal audience, PNoy clearly wanted to put Pope Francis on the spot, perhaps hoping to push the pontiff into calling the Filipino clergy to (as PNoy says it) “settle their differences” with the Aquino administration.
That or to tone down their criticism of his government. Whatever the reason, PNoy’s remarks were impolite and uncalled for. Hasn’t he learned that it’s bad etiquette to be discourteous to a guest you invited into your house?
Apparently, PNoy was just being true to his rude and ill-mannered character. It’s public knowledge that PNoy has this penchant for insulting members of his audience to their faces.
For instance, while a guest of honor of the Federation of the Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry a few year ago, PNoy scolded the group for not paying taxes. He claimed that 424 of its 552 members had tax identification numbers but only 185 filed income tax returns, plainly insinuating that most of its members were tax cheats. Never mind that many of the group’s members were senior citizens who have retired from business or had paid millions in taxes through their companies.
And who can forget how PNoy slammed former Vice-President Noli de Castro during the 25th anniversary celebration of TV Patrol? At a time when VIPs from both politics and media were gathered for a night of mutual back-slapping, PNoy stunned the guests by publicly castigating the veteran newsman for alleged baseless attacks on his administration.
Expectedly, the Vatican refused to stoop down to PNoy’s level.
Reacting to the President’s criticism of members of the Church, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi described PNoy’s speech as “rather original” because it was unusual for that sort of speech to be delivered during a state visit with the Pope. Of course, that’s the more diplomatic and polite way of saying that the president’s bellyaching was inappropriate and disrespectful.
Lombardi also explained that PNoy’s address was “interesting” because one could see, listening to the speeches of both leaders, what the perspective of a politician was, and what the perspective of a pope was. By that, he obviously meant that PNoy is really more concerned about politics than the welfare of our sick, poor and elderly countrymen.
Presidential apologist Edwin Lacierda tried to defend PNoy’s diatribe arguing that “one spoke of fighting corruption, the other spoke of the silence of the church in the face of corruption.”
Look who’s talking about silence in the face of corruption!!??
Wasn’t his boss PNoy, as then Tarlac representative, one of the congressmen who voted against playing the “Hello Garci” tapes in Congress?
What about PNoy’s Liberal Party allies who were implicated in the PDAF scam but have remained immune from investigation or prosecution until now?
And why is it that in 2013, the Aquino administration still continued to release PDAF funds to non-government organizations (NGOs) previously tagged by Commission on Audit as “questionable?”
We recall that a day before the Pope arrived, Lacierda urged the public to “please practice good manners and right conduct.” Maybe Lacierda should have told the President that instead. PNoy was obviously absent when they taught that subject in class.
But then again, good breeding isn’t really learned in school but in the family. And as the saying goes: “The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Tsk. Tsk.