• Will the LP coalesce with the MILF?

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    A Filipino Catholic priest was reported to have told a public hearing in Sulu on Wednesday that if Congress were to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Bill (BBB) as written, it would sow the “greatest civil war between Muslims and Christians.” I wouldn’t want to talk of “civil war,” least of all “the greatest civil war,” lightly. But if the report from Mindanao quotes Fr. Romero Villanueva, parish coordinator of the Vicariate of Sulu, correctly, then I could appreciate why he said it. So many others are freely saying the same thing in public.
    Whether or not the priest is making any sense at all, his statement seems to present a problem for the Philippine Catholic Church. For obvious reasons, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has not taken a common stand on the BBB. But Malacanang propagandists would like us to believe otherwise. CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas and a number of other bishops have taken a cautious and even-handed stand on the proposed law, but the two highest ranking princes of the Philippine Church—- Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Archdiocese of Manila and Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato—have endorsed it in no uncertain terms.

    Tagle, through his Jesuit spokesman Fr. Joel Tabora, S. J., president of the Ateneo de Davao University, has declared it “overwhelmingly acceptable,” and Quevedo has openly endorsed it. This goes beyond their normal duty as pastors to provide the proper moral and spiritual perspective on our politics, and goes into the concrete task of providing specific options, which is well beyond the task of pastors. Given the BBB’s many imperfections, this open endorsement by our cardinals creates the impression (without any basis, we pray) that they have agreed to be coopted by the Aquino government in its effort to ram down a constitutionally questionable legislation. This is not good for the Church at all.

    The great St. Augustine has long taught us that in the one thing necessary, we should all be one; in those things which are open to debate, we should be free to consider various options; in everything, we should have charity for one another. This means that on the question of whether we should have peace rather than war in Mindanao, there can be no dissent; but in choosing a concrete way to peace, we should be free to explore all possible options. Given the serious constitutional and complex political issues involved in the BBB, it is not easy even for the brightest and holiest cleric to make a moral pronouncement that would cover the constitutional and political aspects of all its provisions.

    My concern about the priest from Sulu is not that he made his statement not knowing what our two good cardinals have already said about the BBB, but that he made it fully aware that they have already endorsed it. What then are its implications to the relationship between the clergy and their superiors? While the formal authority of the two cardinals over the clergy, religious and the laity does not extend beyond their respective episcopal sees, as members of the College of Cardinals who elect the Pope and from whom the Pope is elected, doesn’t their word carry more weight than that of other bishops, and isn’t it expected to have some persuasive effect even on priests outside their respective dioceses?

    Therefore even though Fr. Villanueva does not fall under their jurisdiction, wasn’t he expected to mute his difference of opinion with their Eminences? But he did not. Does this not supply Church critics the evidence they need to claim that we are an unhappily divided Church, and one divided on Aquino’s effort to balkanize the country rather than on fundamental doctrinal issues.

    This may have begun during our fight against the Reproductive Health bill, which is now an oppressive and patently unconstitutional law. The effort to coopt some of our moral leaders has simply grown. And it continues. Happily, we still have courageous individuals like Fr. Villanueva, who are not afraid to assert their rights and raise important questions. And just when we thought we were seeing too many like-minded institutions—Ateneo de Manila University, Ateneo de Davao University, Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro, Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.—providing uncritical support for the BBB, comes a clear-headed Jesuit, Fr. Antonio Samson, to demand clarity on certain key issues.

    Now an assistant parish priest in Mary the Queen Parish at Greenhills, Fr. Samson has lived and worked in Mindanao for 27 years, two years as a young teacher at Ateneo de Davao High School, 13 years as president of Ateneo de Davao University, and 12 years as president of Xavier University. In an eight-page letter to Senate President Franklin Drilon and to Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House ad hoc committee on the BBB, Fr. Samson raises several important questions related to the bill.

    Each question raises a major issue, but for me the whole BBB rises or falls on the core issue I have tried to raise in this space, and which Fr. Samson renders as follows:
    “Within the context of the constitutional provisions that ‘The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable’ (Constitution, Art. II, Sec. 6), that ‘No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion…’ and that ‘No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights,’ (Constitution, Art. III, Sec. 5), can a law be made to promote ‘our system of life as prescribed by our faith’? Is the political entity Bangsamoro being created ‘respecting an establishment of a [particular]religion’?”

    I have taken the position, and continue to maintain, that although we can by law create an autonomous political subdivision for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, we cannot, under the Constitution, create a purely and exclusively Islamic political entity within the secular Philippine nation-state. Not even the most pliant Supreme Court could make this possible.
    In the RH Law, the Court was able to declare the patently unconstitutional law “not unconstitutional” simply by refusing to engage the basic proposition I raised in my petition, namely, that “the State, as the primary protector of the life of the unborn from conception and of conception itself cannot be the source, author, or provider of a single act of contraception.” I can see no way out for the Court on the issue of the confessional political entity for the MILF.

    Our real problem though is Aquino’s unblinking bias for the MILF, over and above the requirements of the Constitution. After the MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal confessed that Iqbal is but his nom de guerre, whose use is prohibited by law in bank transactions and in signing official documents, Aquino made no effort to require him to reveal his real name and to use the same in all his dealings with the government.

    To add insult to injury, Aquino has just appointed one Sherif Abas as a commissioner of the Commission on Elections. He is as unprepossessing as the normal run of Aquino appointees and therefore eminently qualified; one special qualification he has is that he is said to be a nephew of Iqbal, whose real name is supposed to be Datukan Abas. It is not known whether Abas, like his uncle, is also an MILF member; but whether or not he is is irrelevant at this point. While militants are trying to clean up the automated voting system, the administration seems determined to ensure the same rigged election in 2016. Abas might prove to be a valuable asset there.

    At this stage, let’s thank our lucky stars that PNoy has not started talking of tapping the MILF for his presidential or vice-presidential bet in the next elections. He is now reported to be talking to Sen. Grace Poe, while trying to destroy Vice President Binay as a presidential wannabe. Anything could happen there. He might end up wanting to anoint someone from Maguindanao, who knows? How explain the fully armed MILF asking to be accredited as a political party? Already they have the Islamic Party of the Philippines to their name; but with all the foreign support they got for the BBB, they could end up thinking they stand a better chance with a new MILF party. This could be the best of two worlds for them: a new political entity called Bangsamoro, and a chance to crash into national politics through the new political party. I would be most surprised if they had not thought of a possible coalition between the MILF and the Liberal Party.

    fstatad@gmail.com

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    13 Comments

    1. Amnata Pundit on

      “The State, as the primary protector of the unborn from the conception……cannot be the source of a single act of contraception.” This line is self contradictory. What it calls contraception can only mean abortion of the already conceived but not yet born. Pills and the condom are not an attack on the unborn because nothing has been conceived yet. The Church is actually giving primacy to the UNCREATED ( the egg and sperm have not yet met) OVER REAL LIVES who want relief from the suffering caused by having too many children they cannot feed, clothe or send to school. Why is the Church forcing poor people to bring forth more unwanted children into this world? Why does the uncreated ( an abstract idea not a real thing) matter more to the Church than real lives? As for the warning about civil war, let me share with you some words of insight from Russia’s Vladimir Putin: ” It seems that every time the Americans touch something they always end up with a Libya or Iraq.” With the Americans deeply involved and very interested in seeing the BBL become a reality, we are now facing the gravest danger to our national security since the time of Aguinaldo, when these same Americans promised Aguinaldo they had no designs on the Philippines. We all know what happened to that promise, and this is the reason why the BBL is more than just a Trojan horse, because whether we approve it or not, trouble is sure to follow. The saying be wary of Greeks bearing gifts should be changed to be wary of Americans bearing gifts.

    2. Characteristically, Jesuits differ with their views. They debate, deliberate and often influence politics. And why not? Senators, Congressmen, even a so so mata pobre
      of a president was jesuit educated. Dissenting opinion proves to be noteworthy . But, isn’t it a different matter of what Jesuits teach, such as democracy and freedom, human rights, transparency – from what is manifested in public? Braggadocio has stunted the Filipino Nation. It has made the poor to be envious. For the common good, teach discipline and generosity. Jesuits’ teachings should involve spreading and sharing wealth, rather than shagging the less privileged and flaunting material wealth. By being populists (in deeds), the Filipino Nation would be better off.

    3. Never have I seen, not one but two, Catholic cardinals so fatuous than Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Archdiocese of Manila and Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato. Is the Society of Jesuits losing cleric with brilliant minds? These two cardinals are truly obtuse inane.

    4. Venerando Desales on

      The BBL issue is either a religious nor dogmatic issue that can be compared with the first council in Jerusalem where the apostles were confronted with the issue of whether or not the Gentile converts will still follow the Mosaic law. In that first council, Peter supported Paul’s argument of justification through faith in Jesus Christ after hearing the testimonies of the disciples and after thorough debates ensued in the spirit of prayer for guidance of the Holy Spirit. When Peter decided not to burden anymore the Gentile converts of the Mosaic law, the early Church obeyed. In the BBL issue, Cardinal Tagle’s overwhelming endorsement is his personal opinion only. It does not bind the Church because it is not a matter of faith and morals. I am a Catholic, yet, I don’t agree with the Cardinal’s naivete on the BBL.

      • cardinal tagle is a cop out. me thinks he did not follow the pope’s words that said the BaBaLa proposal should be agreeable to all stakeholders and must be in accordance with the constitution, or words to that effect. the cardinal obviously, with his endorsement of the BaBaLa did not listen or maybe he did not read the words of the pope. he is a cop out also when he indirectly endorsed together with the ppcrv the magical hocos pcos machlnes

    5. Church and State should not be mixed. The Catholic church, ING, Mormons, and Muslims should not try to impose their thoughts or wishes on the people. Muslim Sharia Law should not be part of this Nation. If that happens, what next, we impose the Catholic Inquisition?

    6. A government run by Moro bandidos
      in the future? Protected by.Malaysia?Maybe it’s time for the Filipino people
      to wake up in its long slumber.

    7. The are three major groups in the south – in Maguindanao, in Lanao and, in Zamboanga/Basilan and Sulu. Take out Palawan.

      Why not split it into 2 regions, the Maguindano under the BBL and Sulu/Zamboanga/Basilan under the pervious ARMM.

      Majority of those in Lanao had silent so far and only a minority have expressed their support for the BBL. Let them decide where to join.

    8. Hindi Lang alam ng mga Cardinals na mga yan Kung ano ang nakasulat sa Koran tungkol sa mga Infidels tulad nilang mga Pari at Kung ano ang parusa sa kanila. Sa Jolo nga lamang iisa lang ang simbahan catoliko at bawal mag alaga at mag benta ng Baboy sa Palengke. Tama yan Sinabi Nung Pari taga Jolo at mas me alam sya at nasa Muslim dominated province sya ng Jolo while yan 2 Cardinals nasa manila nagpapasarap ng buhay sa loob ng kanilang AC room at mga bayaran ni Pnoy.

    9. I agree with you with inappropriateness of Tagle and other church officials delving with political BBL issues. However, I disaggree with you concerning RH law. As a man you do not know or understand women’s issues.

    10. Alejo Rosete on

      So this Country will experience the Greatest Civil War between the MUSLIMS/MILF combined vs. The ROMAN CATHOLICS/CHRISTIANS. So be it.

      If this finally explode – WHERE IS CARDINAL TAGLE AND CARDINAL QUEVEDO,
      side with the MUSLIMS/MILF? Then the two will renounce their FAITH and be a member of the Muslims Faith.

      SO BE IT. The Christians will win again. This time under Pope Francis not Ferdinand Magellan

      Amen!