Saturday, July 22, 2006

Which Law? Whose Law?

The CBCP is under attack. This is no longer an opinion. When envelopes containing measly amounts of fifteen to thirty thousand pesos were rumored to be going around the halls of Pius XII Center where the CBCP was meeting two weeks ago this was neither an innocent nor a recklessly miscalculated move. Malacanang spin doctors are not stupid. The best minds are being recruited by Malacanang and pitted against principles and morals. When the rumors about the envelope method began leaking and Bishops were suddenly put on the defensive, Malacanang was of course immediately accused of bribing the Bishops.

The s…did not stick to the Malacanang fan, but it was splattered all over the Bishops. Even if Bishop Jose Manguiran raised hell against the the shameless bribing by writing a letter and returning the envelope with the money to Malacanang, the damage was already done. Both critical opinion makers and ordinary people were disgorging words of disgust and anger as lava would ooze out of angry volcanos Mayon and Bulusan. Just as it seemed that the last bishop bashing article was written, Secretary of Justice Raul Gonzalez lashes against Bishop Antonio Tobias, “No one is above the law….allowing his house to be used for plotting….out of these statements, we already get a picture of what he is trying to do.” (cf. PDI, P.A1, July 20,06 Gonzalez warns bishop: no one is above the law).

A few days earlier, Bishop Antonio Tobias of Novaliches appeared on a television interview and discussed how he offered sanctuary to 1st Lt. Lawrence San Juan who was one of the leaders of the Oakwood Rebellion in 2003. In the same report, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita insists that “the government will not hesitate to arrest Tobias if found guilty. No one should be above the law. If there are violations of the Revised Penal Code, everyone will understand why the law has to be applied equally to everybody.”

Two weeks ago, the Bishops were apparently caught unawares when dirty envelopes started smearing their hands. Two weeks later, one bishop is being investigated for possible involvement in the plot to overthrown the Arroyo administration. But two former anti-jueteng allies of Archbishop Oscar Cruz have recently testified that not only Bishop Tobias but five other Bishops are actually involved in attempts to topple down the administration. The five bishops being dragged into the controversy are: Archbiship Angel Lagdameo, President of the CBCP; Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan; retired Bishop Julio Labayan, formerly of Infanta, Bishop Deogracias Iniguez of Caloocan and Bishop Teodoro Bacani.

In a telephone interview, Senator Nene Pimentel explains that all these are nothing more than harassment. There is no case. Bishop Antonio Tobias did not invite 1st Lt. San Juan to his house. The soldier was asking for sanctuary. The church official graciously extended it to the soldier whose life was in danger. When asked whether the case against Bishop Tobias was part of the Government’s systematic plan to completely undermine the church, Senator Pimentel said, “yes, and it is also clearly psy-war.” The Senator also added that” the President is so afraid that she fears even her own shadow. She is no longer governing the country. No one listens to her anymore.” “This fear will once more be seen on Monday before and during the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) when the Government by deploying sixteen thousand troops all over Metro Manila will in no unclear terms show the people that it is in a state of siege, he adds”

In threatening to use the force of the law against the perceived involvement of prelates in anti-government plots, government functionaries like Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez assume that they and only they know and obey the law. Before a bishop provides sanctuary to a soldier whose life is in danger, must he first ask the soldier, “are you for or against Arroyo?” Yes of course as it is clear in Secretary Ermita’s explanation that, “ if Tobias acted like a good citizen should, he should have immediately informed authorities about the fugitives.”

Both leaders seem to be following different laws. For one the law only applies to and is above all for the protection of those who like and agree with the Government of Gloria Arroyo. For another, his law embraces all, whether he or she likes or dislikes Government. The first is called the law of “National Security.” The second is more than a law. It is called the truth, justice and compassion of God!

Fr. Roberto P. Reyes
July 22, 06


Post a Comment

<< Home