Mayor Digong, that was not the point

Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino

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Mayor Digong, that was not the point
'They voted for you then NOT because they do not heed the Church but because they were weary from the ineptitude PNoy's government and did not want more of the same'

He repeated what I had fervently hoped he would no longer mention. In front of a jubilant crowd in Crocodile Park – inauspicious, if you ask me – Digong once more took a swipe at the Catholic Church and at our bishops. He repeated what he had earlier claimed: That, in effect, the election was a referendum that pitted the Church against him. And he crows about having won convincingly. He had thus, he is convinced, trounced the Church.

But it could not have been the referendum the good Mayor thinks it was because the Catholic Church was never in issue here. Not one official Church statement mentioned him, and if he feels alluded too, there was really no need for him to, because a set of general statements refers to a class of people! And the readiest way to shake off an anonymous accusation is to shrug it off as talking of someone else, not oneself! In a democracy, why demand that everyone favor you? That’s more Kim Jong Un than Thomas Jefferson. The millions who cast their lots with Digong – and they were not the majority of the country, not even of the voting population – did so in opposition to and exasperation with Daang Matuwid that had announced in no uncertain terms that its anointed was destined to win and that it did not have the least liking for him. That was the real contest.

Most Catholics too long for change. Most rallied for change, and that is why many rallied to Digong’s side. Most of us, Mr. Mayor of the Philippines, want you to succeed, not really for your sake but for ours! We suffered a regime of self-righteousness for 6 years. Let it never be said of you that you visited on the nation a regime that is intolerant of opposition and dissent. In fact, most Filipinos kept away from Yellow because it seemed that clique that ruled our country was bent on seeing to it that no truth – except “their” truth – would ever be told. So it is that to this day, no one in high office has begged forgiveness for the deaths of SAF 44! They voted for you then NOT because they do not heed the Church but because they were weary from the ineptitude PNoy’s government and did not want more of the same.

You have been very forthright about your preparedness to kill. Of course you referred to drug-lords and corrupt policemen. Because we want you to succeed, please refrain from using such language, because that merely provides fodder for those pawing the ground, waiting for you to stumble. To threaten to ignore due process and to summarily execute even the most vile of offenders is not worthy of a president. It constitutes a culpable violation of the Constitution. You may be treated to rousing applause, but ours “is a government of laws and not of men.” And your machismo, daring and guts notwithstanding, you are as vulnerable as any of us. I am sure you will not flinch at mercilessly beating bishops and priests to pulp, should the opportunity present itself after you have been sufficiently piqued. But Al Qaeda and ISIS that have left a goodly part of the world in ruins should remind you that religion runs deeper than all other loyalties – and many Catholics are as fervent as Muslims.

Lorenzo Ruiz, Pedro Calungsod and all those whose names you find in the martyrology leave no doubt about how far a believer is prepared to go for the faith. You do not want those sentiments arrayed against you. I am not threatening. I am not in a position to threaten. In fact, bishops and priests have no might to confront yours. But that is a fact of the phenomenon of religion! And the last thing you need as you start on your task of offering the Filipinos the future of which they dream is a people made restive because their most-deeply held allegiances and beliefs are threatened. Security after all, dear Mayor, does not only mean being able to walk the streets of Davao City without fear in the dead of night. It means that one can carry on with life from within the zone of his world-views and closely held beliefs that make this world, for him, not chaos but cosmos! –

The author is the Dean of the Graduate School of Law, San Beda College.

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