Who knows what God is? Not you, Miriam tells group

Glenda M. Gloria

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'“I would like to see the appointment papers of the Black and White Movement people from God and signed by God.”
MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago lashed out at the Black and White Movement for its concept of good and evil, turning one part of a Commission on Appointments (CA) hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2011, into a lecture on theology and philosophy.
Santiago was grilling Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman during the CA hearing on her Cabinet appointment when she raised questions on her affiliation with the Black and White Movement, a coalition of civil society groups that led anti-government protests when Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was president.

On its web site, the group’s tagline is, “Because the truth does not come in shades of gray.”

Santiago alleged that the group adheres to manicheanism, a belief that things in the world are only either good or bad. “Naririnig ko pa lang ang pangalan ng Black and White, tumatayo na ang balahibo sa ulo ko!” Santiago said.
“That is the egotistic problem in seeing the world as black and white. Who is to decide what is black and white particularly in such a complicated profession as politics?”
The Black and White Movement was founded in 2005, at the height of allegations that Mrs. Arroyo cheated in the 2004 presidential race. In the last few weeks, it has been calling on Chief Justice Renato Corona to inhibit himself from cases involving Mrs. Arroyo.

Soliman resigned from the group last year after being appointed to the Cabinet. She defended it from Santiago’s criticism.

“The Black and White Movement and its members are God-fearing people. We start our meetings with prayers because we believe that that is the highest power and that God is the one that sets the norm of what is good and evil,” she said. “We believe that God, whatever your faith is, has defined what is good, what is right, what is bad, what is wrong.”
Her explanation irked Santiago even more. The senator said the group should not use God in its arguments.
“Who knows what God is? Who understands the mind of God?” said Santiago, who has a master’s degree in theology. “I would like to see the appointment papers of the Black and White Movement people from God and signed by God.”
Santiago said it is the “height of hubris and human arrogance” for members of the Black and White Movement to claim they know what is good and evil because God said so.
“Let me inform you, members of the Black and White Movement, the Bible is not a definitive source of what is good or bad in this world,” she said.
Santiago said not even the world’s great philosophers have deciphered the mystery of God and good and evil.
The CA suspended its hearing without confirming Soliman’s appointment. Santiago said she has been technically bypassed because Congress will go on recess this week.
The senator plans to ask more questions on the secretary’s handling of the P39-billion conditional cash transfer program, and her alleged involvement in irregularities surrounding the Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificates (PEACe) bonds in 2001.
If Soliman fails to satisfy her with her answers, Santiago said she would have to invoke her one-man veto power under the CA rules to block her confirmation. – Rappler.com


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Glenda M. Gloria

Glenda Gloria co-founded Rappler in July 2011 and is currently its executive editor.