Pope Francis’s impact on the Filipinos defied all our highest expectations. On the other hand, President B. S. Aquino 3rd’s performance as host of the state-portion of the Pope’s four-day apostolic and state visit exceeded our worst fears.
The 78-year-old pilgrim Pope renewed our spirits and took our hearts away while Aquino made us puke for his ill-disguised boorishness and lack of state manners. Today, as we thank and say goodbye to the Pope, we also bid Aquino goodbye and good riddance.
Worse than any typhoon
Francis came to share the love of Christ with the poor, and the victims of recent calamities. This was dramatized most vividly in his emotion-wrenching meeting with the victims of last year’s super typhoon Haiyan /Yolanda in Tacloban and Palo, Leyte on Saturday.
The advent of a new typhoon, which brought rains to Eastern Visayas, threatened to ruin the visit. But the real disaster that menaced the whole event was something worse than any typhoon–Aquino himself. He was the real calamity.
Aquino ‘kisses’ the Pope’s ring
Upon the Pope’s arrival, Aquino stunned everyone when he bowed to kiss the Pope’s ring–something which faithful Catholics do as a sign of respect and reverence . The next day, members of the Cabinet all kissed the papal ring during Pope Francis’s call at Malacañang.
As head of state receiving the Pope in his capacity as head of the Vatican city-state, Aquino was expected to simply to shake the Pope’s hand, as protocol requires. But we looked at this hand-kissing gaffe as a “gesture of solidarity” with the Catholic majority who constitute 85 percent of all Filipinos.
Ring-kissing a make-believe
Now, as the Times’ Saturday editorial pointed out, a Reuters video has shown Aquino’s lips some three inches away from the Pope’s fingers when PNoy released Francis’ hand. He did not kiss the papal ring, after all. It was all a lie, meant to deceive the Catholic rabble on the street that PNoy had become one of them. But whatever myth Aquino was trying to create by that bogus act has since collapsed.
Aquino’s speech the real offense
Yet, this was only a minor offense. Aquino’s real and unforgivable offense was his “welcome speech” for the Pope. My knowledge of the English language has not equipped me with the right word to adequately describe that speech. The least one could say is that it was done in very bad taste.
From the Holy Father to the members of the diplomatic corps and of the Cabinet, the expression on everyone’s face was one of disbelief. Nothing as unpresidential has been heard from any Filipino president before. It was offensive beyond measure, and I felt personally violated as I listened to it. I felt as though I were being literally stepped upon in my face as I lay helpless on the pavement.
Putting the Pope on defensive
The speech contained none of the usual amenities, and started off with a pointed statement that was meant to put the Church and the Pope on the defensive. This is what it said:
“Colonialism was brought to our shores, partly by the efforts of the conquistadores, and partly through the efforts of the Church. When the clergy in that period was asked how they justified the injustices committed during the colonization of the Philippines, they responded by saying, the Kingdom of God is not of this earth.”
Four hundred years of colonial history was being caricatured in one short paragraph bereft of any scholarship. True, the Spanish sword accompanied the Cross in Christianizing Filipinos. But who specifically asked “the clergy in that period” to “justify the injustices” committed against the natives? And who in the clergy was asked to do so? Who exactly said, “the Kingdom of God is not of this earth”? How did that alleged response come about when the alleged question had not mentioned the Kingdom of God?
Humbug and more humbug
The paragraph is pure balderdash. But this was Aquino’s opening paragraph. Then he continued: “With Vatican II, however, this changed. Instead of being a pillar of the establishment, the Church began to question the status quo. My understanding of the changes inspired by Vatican II, and of the influence of liberation theology, was the notion that temporal matters affect our spiritual wellbeing and, consequently, cannot be ignored.”
Apparently Aquino has not heard that the radical questioning of the status quo, and the effort to change it, did not begin with Vatican II. It began with Christianity. Christianity abolished the idea of idols and false gods, and proclaimed the Kingdom of the Triune God. Christ, whom Christians worship as the son of God who became man to redeem humanity from sin, instituted the Church to make all things new. Nothing more revolutionary and life-changing has been heard before or since.
It took Aquino a lot of cheek to throw “liberation theology” in the face of the visiting Pope long after the errors of this “theology” have been formally condemned by the Church. He even quoted the Bible, too, forgetting that Beelzebub himself quotes Scripture for his own purposes.
Aquino’s usual cover-up
In his effort to deflect attention from the real conditions of the Filipino poor and victims of various calamities, Aquino tried to play his usual shell-game by talking about Marcos and Martial Law, and the crimes of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. This was a tired refrain, which he has used over and over again to cover his own sins and avoid discussing any of his self-inflicted problems.
He likes to refer to his late father, the former Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr., as a victim of martial law who was assassinated in 1983 upon his return from the United States, where Marcos had granted him an indefinite medical furlough after a military court had meted him with the death sentence.
Aquino’s unexamined life
But PNoy has never bothered to ask what role his father had, if any, in bringing together the leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, whose armed rebellion had prompted Marcos to declare martial law; and what role he had, if any, in the 1981 bombing of the Plaza Miranda Liberal Party rally, where he alone among the top LP leaders was missing and nearly all his colleagues sustained serious injury.
Without any evidence Ninoy and his colleagues blamed the crime on Marcos, until the communists finally owned it. Former Senate president Jovito Salonga, who lost one eye from that incident, has categorically declared that “Ninoy had something to do with it.”
Nor has PNoy ever bothered to find out who actually ordered his father’s killing, just as his own mother Cory never bothered to find out during her six and a half years as president.
Complaint against the Church
In his “welcome speech,” Aquino praised members of the clergy for opposing Martial Law, but expressed disappointment that “many members of the Church, once advocates of the poor, the marginalized and the helpless, suddenly became silent in the face of the previous administration’s abuses, which we are still trying to rectify to this very day.
“In these attempts at correcting the wrongs of the past, one would think that the Church would be our natural ally,” Aquino said. “In contrast to their previous silence, some members of the clergy now seem to think that the way to be true to their 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.”
The people’s case vs. Aquino
This was a rather lame attempt on Aquino’s part to trivialize the people’s case against him. This has nothing to do with his falling hairline, or his addiction to cigarette smoking, which pollutes the air which he and those around him breathe. This involves the most grievous crimes against the Filipino people, the Constitution and the State–crimes whose public discussion the conscript media have successfully suppressed.
The first offense
His first most grievous offense is his having been “machine-elected” in an illegitimate and illegal automated election conducted by the Venezuelan private company (Smartmatic), which had no constitutional authority to conduct any election, using the precinct count optical scan or PCOS machine, after it had been divested of all its safety features and accuracy mechanisms in violation of law.
Only the Commission on Elections has the constitutional mandate to conduct any election, but it has to be a clean and honest election.
In 2010, Aquino led his closest rival by five million votes, after he had threatened to organize massive street protests, if he did not get those votes. Since then, he has controlled the rigged electoral process so that in 2013, all of his senatorial candidates won with the statistically improbable results of 60-30-10 in their favor, even in areas where they were hardly known.
The second offense
His second most grievous offense is his having physically corrupted Congress for his own ends. Using the Priority Development Assistance Fund, he bribed members of Congress to force the enactment of the anti-poor and constitutionally infirm Reproductive Health Law over the opposition of the Catholic majority, among others, whose right to privacy and to religious freedom is wantonly violated by the foreign-dictated legislation.
Then using both the PDAF and the much bigger Disbursement Acceleration Program, both of which the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional, he bribed members of the Congress to impeach and remove Chief Justice Renato Corona, who had presided over the Court ruling against Aquino’s family interests in the famous Hacienda Luisita case, in favor of the farmers.
The third offense
His third most grievous offense is his refusal to implement the Supreme Court directive for the prosecution of all those involved in the manipulation and misuse of the PDAF and the DAP, which involves hundreds of billions of pesos.
The fourth offense
His fourth most grievous offense is his having reintroduced into his P2.6 trillion 2015 budget all the discretionary lump sums which the Court had outlawed in the 2013 budget, and redefined “savings” to allow himself to play around with any appropriation any time he would like to.
The fifth offense
His fifth most grievous offense is his having destroyed the impeachment process. Because he has committed impeachable crimes in complicity with the members of Congress, who have the exclusive power to impeach and remove the President, he has remained unimpeached. Three impeachment complaints have been thrown out by the House committee on Justice for being insufficient in substance.
The sixth offense
His sixth most grievous offense is that without having to declare Martial Law, he runs the government as if it were under Martial Law. To some people, he is far worse than the worst of Marcos.
The seventh offense
His seventh most grievous offense is his utter lack of heart and humanity in the face of calamity, misfortune, and injustice.
Aquino must have thought that just because no one was asking him about his crimes, he could hide them from the Pope. He has forgotten that the Vatican has the most extensive reporting network in the country. Every parish priest reports to his Bishop and every Bishop reports to the Pope, through the Nuncio or the Curia.
Time for CBCP to act
If there’s any complaint to be made against the Church, it is not that the Bishops and the clergy have taken a common stand against Aquino, but rather that they have not. But after Aquino’s inexcusable conduct before the Pope, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, which convenes today, might find it opportune to finally look into his crimes more closely, and bid him goodbye and good riddance.