Wednesday, July 12, 2006


The CBCP has spoken, the official Church position has been said, so be it. And in the wake of the Bishops’ statement, for good or for bad, a variety of reactions have also been naturally generated. Let us look at some of these.

First, the favorable: Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, “We concur with bishops that impeachment is not the way toward change and resolution in our current political concerns… the administration welcomes and ponders with humility and sincere appreciation the moral counsel from the pastoral letter of the CBCP…the message offers many points of agreement and shared objectives between the government and the Church…” House Majority Leader Prospero Nograles, “The House or Congress is not a correct venue to find guilt or innocence. It’s the courts that will decide guilt or no guilt, not Congress in an impeachment case because Congress decides, as a policy, whether good or bad, to remove an official.” (Cf. PDI, July 11, 06, page A1)

Second, the unfavorable: Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr., “says he does not understand the CBCP…impeachment is the best, most peaceful way of seeking the truth.” Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., “That’s the CBCP’s privilege. While I don’t see how impeachment can succeed, I find it strange that they are not convinced that complainants seek the public good.” Minority Leader Francis Escudero, “If they favor the search for truth but not through the impeachment, then through what means?” The Hyatt 10 said that the impeachment case they filed would proceed, with or without the support of the CBCP. (PDI, July 11,06, page A1)

Third, it is worthwhile noting reactions from respected citizens and opinion makers. Former Senate President Jovito Salonga, “the bishops may be pushing the people to stage another people power. The bishops are virtually telling the people there is no more hope.” Former Commission on Elections Chair Christian Monsod said “ that next year’s mid-term elections were another way out of the political impasse. (Cf. PDI, July 12, 06, Page 1) Conrado de Quiros, “ That is the richest irony of all. The bishops worry that by going through another unproductive political exercise we will only encourage the public to distrust politicians some more? They should worry that by taking the wishy-washy position they have, they will only encourage the (un)faithful to distrust the clergy some more.” (PDI, July 12, 06, P A12)

There are three sets of positions here. The first from the bishops statement, politics which covers political processes and rules that govern these as well as the persons who implement the latter, officially called politicians are altogether suspect “unless these are guided by no other motive than genuine concern for the common good…” (Cf. CBCP Statement) The second from Malacanang and its supporters and obvious beneficiaries, the Church, especially its bishops is such a wonderful ally. The church should keep up the good work. The third from the opposition both formal and informal, the church has a duty to encourage hope and participation, clarity and courage in moral thinking, judgment, decision and action and the capacity to show genuine concern and involvement (engagement) in the not so neat and pure reality of socio-political renewal and transformation.

Conrad de Quiros has a scathing and disturbing critique of the latest CBCP position, “…the way the CBCP has answered it ( the question in the minds of the people, What do we do about someone who stole the vote?) opens itself up to charges that it’s basically saying, “Bahala na kayo diyan. We ourselves can’t do a thing about it. Or worse, “Pasensya na, we just want to play safe.” (PDI, July 12,06, P12)

Conrad describes a church that is distant, above, away, indifferent, afraid, unsure and unwilling to soil its “impeccably white vestments and unstained hands,” perhaps, a church that wants to be and remain “pure?” Two operative words seem to guide the church position, “Bahala na kayo (That’s your concern not ours.)” “Naniniguro lang
(Just making sure).”

These past months, while I watched events at home from afar, I cannot help but feel bad because I could not be involved. I feel so far from what I used to constantly experience, the dust, heat, crowds, anti-riot cops, fire trucks, make-shift stages, harassment and threats of all kinds, meetings, discussions, sub-poenas, preliminary hearings, court hearings, etc. Yet, from where I am I cannot say, “Bahala na kayo…Naniniguro lang…” My heart, soul, mind, spirit, my entire being aches to be part of my people’s struggle. Yes, it is dangerous and difficult. There are no clear-cut, full-proof solutions. Yes, there are crooks, corrupt politicians, communists and activists of all colors from blue to red, from yellow to pink. Amid the ache, I go to the Lord and ask, “what would you do Lord if you were in the Philippines today?"

I wait and listen if He too will say, “Bahala na …naniniguro lang. I wait some more and listen again. He seems quiet until I feel something burning deep within. From my heart of hearts, a vision emerges: a man walking among the people, on roads of dirt, mud and stone, sitting and eating among prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners. I see a man whose robes are soiled with dust, mud and various stains from contact with oily and grimy cart wheels, unkempt and stinking beggars. I see the man who seems ordinary as he so naturally blends with the crowd. He is full of peace, gentleness and compassion.

But there is heat, magnetism, light that flow almost visibly and palpably from him. He is not distant, safe and secure. He has become part of those around him, the hungry, the sick, the rejects, the sinners. They come to him or does he go to them? They seem to belong to each other but not so much as he reveling in dirt, sin and misery as he wanting to give life to those who feel lost, hopeless and deprived. No, he does not say “Bahala na…naniniguro lang.” Instead, he says something that I keep hearing…”Come follow me….follow me.” Perhaps I should ask, “where Lord?” But there is no need. I see where he goes….and there I want and joyfully want to follow Him.

We seem to forget asking this basic question not only now but always, “where is the Lord in all these, and what does the Lord want me, us to do for others?
Yes, most if not all politicians are driven by vested interest. They are not pure. However, do we become pure simply by condemning their impurity and dismissing their efforts with our “Bahala na and naniniguro lang” attitude?

Jesus did not make statements. Jesus spoke words directly to persons and amid crowds. He did not have an office nor a title that gave credibility to his words. Crowds sought him and literally ate his words because he was always in their midst. He was one of them, one with them, indeed not in their sins but in their feeble and even impure efforts to find life and more life, God and more God.

Fr. Roberto P. Reyes
July 12, 2006


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