NEXT to US President Trump who calls it a purveyor of fake news in America, our own President Duterte is inarguably The New York Times’ favorite whipping boy, its evil incarnate.
I wouldn’t have cared at all. However, despite its steep fall in credibility — and integrity — in the past decade, the NYT still has a considerable role in public opinion in the US and even worldwide. In the past year under Trump’s administration, it has all but shed its pretensions for objectivity, revealing itself as the spokesman for one faction of its ruling political elite, the Democratic Party.
Newspapers, even the biggest ones in developed countries, have withdrawn their once wide network of international correspondents, and just publish NYT articles on foreign countries, stupidly believing it still retains its journalistic competence and objectivity.
The NYT again recently demonstrated that it hasn’t let up on its campaign to vilify Duterte and the country when it had a front-page article on August 19 titled “Emaciated by Cancer and Mistaken as a Drug Addict, Filipino Dies in Detention.” The internet version even had two color photos of the funeral wake and a demonstration “against extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.”
The article, even just the title, is nothing but total media sensationalism, intended to tug at readers’ hearts to depict the Philippine government as a horrific, cruel regime killing even those dying of cancer.
When did the Filipino, a former OFW, die? August 9, or 10 days ago. Did the article report that the police claimed that the suspected drug-user was found to have two sachets of shabu? That not only the police but also the National Bureau of Investigation was undertaking its own investigation of the crime? No.
At it again.
The article was clearly just another piece to bolster the NYT’s false picture of the Duterte administration as a bloody regime. Of course, it’s news, fitting only for domestic newspapers. But for the NYT to run it?
It has a purpose, which is to claim again as it has done many times already, as that article itself states in its fourth paragraph: “Mr. Duterte’s drug war has killed thousands of people, and most deaths go largely unnoticed.” It then quotes the chairman of “the group Migrante International,” which it didn’t mention is a front of the Communist Party: “Instead of punishing erring policemen, the Duterte regime just simply relocates these murderous brutes to other places, and worse, promotes some of them.”
Ten days after local newspapers had that news story, the NYT writer couldn’t even get the side of government and the police on the issue?
It is only the NYT among the thousands of newspapers abroad that published this piece of news. The NYT’s bias is obvious in that news on that drug suspect’s death while detained is really—if the claim that he wasn’t at all a drug addict nor pusher is true—a case of police brutality.
But how many cases of police brutality in the US and even in the world does the NYT ignore, especially as it’s not supposed to be a crime-and-sex tabloid like the New York Post or New York Daily News? How many of the 3,000 killed by American police from 2015 to 2017 (according to the monitoring of the Washington Post) has the NYT given such prominence as a news story.?
An article in the blog of The Lancet, the world’s most prestigious general-medicine journal, in fact claimed that police brutality has become a “global health problem,” and noted the following:
— “In 2016-17, people were killed by the police or the army for peacefully standing up for human rights in 22 countries;
— In 2017 in the US, the Washington Post reported that 748 people lost their lives at the hands of the police, 309 of them of African American ethnic background; the economic costs of police brutality estimated to be about £1.8 billion per year;
— South-Africa’s Independent Police Investigative Directorate in 2016 reported 366 civilian deaths as a result of police action, 216 in police custody, 145 cases of torture, and 31 cases of rape; and
— In the run-up to the 2016 Olympics, there were 920 killings by the police in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil— an increase of 103 percent from the previous year.”
The NYT hasn’t given the same kind of space it has been giving police brutality cases here compared to those elsewhere. In fact, cases of police brutality in the Philippines account for over 90 percent of articles in the NYT on our country. There’s been nothing in the NYT articles like an objective analysis of how successful the anti-drug war has been, how the crime rate has precipitously declined, how the economy has surged in the past two years, how a bold infrastructure program has been going on, how foreign investment has surged since Duterte assumed power in mid-2016.
I asked Secretary Martin Andanar, the head of Malacañang’s communication organization, why his office had not been rebutting the NYT’s very biased and even erroneous articles. He replied: “We’ve written dozens of letters to it. Not one has been published.”
A statement in that Lancet article, however, is another indication of the success of the NYT, our local Rappler, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and the New York-based Human Rights Watch in spreading very false data on the country’s anti-drug war.
The article claimed: “In the Philippines, hundreds of children have been killed in 2016-2017, and over 200,000 civilians displaced as a result of the government’s ‘war on drugs’.” Even Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th won’t make such patent lies.
I can think of several reasons why the NYT is on an all-out campaign to topple Duterte by portraying him as evil:
— A Filipino-American billionaire, a big supporter of the Yellow Cult based in New York has made it her mission in life to use the NYT to vilify Duterte. This can be done in so many ways, even simply through regular dinners with NYT editors and journalists in her huge posh Manhattan apartment, by which she regularly feeds false but horrific news about the country. An ardent supporter of the Clintons before, she has an extensive network in America’s newspaper elite.
— The NYT and the liberal establishment which it has been the spokesman of, had created the myth of the pro-US Aquinos as a godsend to the Philippines. Cory first and then her son Noynoy. Duterte is the antithesis, even the enemy of the Aquinos, whom therefore they have to topple.
— The NYT has been the mouthpiece of America’s liberal establishment which has proclaimed itself as the champion of democracy and human rights worldwide. With Duterte having been portrayed by the Yellows early in his administration as a strongman and a violator of human rights, the NYT has embraced this narrative, and has even vowed to develop it. Duterte’s distancing from the US to become closer to China has bolstered that notion. Having refused to be the US’ dummy in the South China Sea issue which is so crucial to American hegemony in Asia, it is not farfetched to think that America’s deep state has already given orders to its operative to take out Duterte.
— And lastly, we have this nauseating phenomenon of Filipinos delighting in putting the Philippines down, a not so surprising attitude in this country where nationalism has all but vanished. Case in point is this Felipe Villamor who wrote that recent article about that cancer-stricken drug suspect (and who has not written a single piece in the NYT reporting something good in the Duterte administration); one Miguel Syjuco who has lived all his life in the US, and who has contributed over a dozen opinion pieces to the NYT, all disparaging Duterte and the country; and even the local staff of wire agencies like Reuters, one of whom was even a co-awardee of the Pulitzer Prize because of his article that was based on a fraudulent study of Duterte’s anti-drug war.
“But it’s your own countrymen who have been writing all these scathing articles on Duterte and your country,” NYT editors would likely tell me, with a smirk on their faces.
Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, I know through faith that you are present in my life. I hope in your promise to be with me. I love you, and I know you love me. Accept this prayer as a token of my love.
Petition: Lord, make me long for and strive to enter the kingdom of heaven.
A Severe Oil Shortage: The Gospel invites us to have oil for our lamps, that is, to be always ready for the coming of the Lord. He appears in moments and ways we do not expect and at all times throughout our day. The foolish virgins failed to anticipate when and how the Lord would come to them, and they were not prepared. So often we, too, get caught up in a thousand affairs and worries, and we can miss what is essential. We miss the presence of Christ in the people around us, in the circumstances in which we are living. Sometimes, Christ comes to us through some sacrifice or suffering; but we do not recognize him in it, and we reject it. We need to strengthen our faith and see how the Lord may appear in our lives.
The Door Closes: Over and over in the New Testament, Jesus makes clear that there is a real possibility some people, due to their own choices, may not be saved. The most terrible thing that could happen to any person would be to hear those words from the Lord who created us and died to save us: “I do not know you.” The Lord takes our freedom to choose very seriously. He never forces our will. He never imposes himself on us. Rather he invites us to make a free response of love and obedience to him and the way of life he taught us. We must choose to remain steadfast in the way of the Christian life. God cannot save us without our cooperation.
Stay Awake: Saint Augustine said, “Beware of the grace of God that passes and does not return.” We need to perceive God’s presence in the little things of each day and never let the opportunity to love and serve him pass us by. Our faith must be ready and watching for him. If we take him for granted, or presume that we are already saved, we can miss our chance to be with him.
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, thank you for teaching us so clearly about the seriousness of our choices. How terrible it would be to opt for death instead of eternal life with you! I want to choose you and your ways, but I am weak. Make me watch and wait always, ready to see you in all things and do your will.
Resolution: I will actively look for signs of Christ in others today.
SOME people say that the President is a master troll, and that one of his strategies is to float controversial ideas or issue problematic statements just to flush out the real character of people. In fact, someone told me that he deliberately sets up his own people for a confrontation among themselves in order to see how they react.
Some may find problems with this seemingly undisciplined approach to governance. Playing language games with people, or allowing his own people to issue statements that run contrary to his stated policies, can have the effect of derailing major initiatives. For example, the seemingly contradictory stance of his economic managers on federalism has seriously rankled those who support it. His statements that he is already tired and that he wants to resign also tend to complicate matters. His supporters try to deflect the fall-out from this by saying that such statements had the effect of forcing his political enemies to show their cards, from Leni Robredo declaring her eager readiness to take over the helm to Joma Sison peddling the canard that the President was in coma which mainstream media helped spread without verifying if it was true.
And once again, the President seems to have played his critics with his decision to appoint Teresita Leonardo-de Castro as chief justice. It was a master stroke designed both to irritate them and to force them into making a move that will have the effect of exposing their pretensions and hypocrisies.
And the first to fall are his critics who accuse him of misogyny. The President, in the aftermath of the ouster of Ma. Lourdes P.A. Sereno from the position of chief justice which she undeservedly held, was reported to have said that he is averse to appointing women. But given the chance to appoint a new chief justice, the President chose de Castro, a woman.
With this appointment, feminists and other women activists who have been very vocal in calling out the President are now forced to be selective in their advocacies, that in fact they are not fighting for every woman, but only for those whose politics are convenient for them. Judy Taguiwalo, who was the President’s first appointee for the social welfare and development secretary but was unfortunately not confirmed, even posted on her Facebook account that the President preferred women like Chief Justice de Castro, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Ilocos Norte governor Imee Marcos. The subtext, of course, though unsaid but glaringly obvious, is that these are the wrong kind of women.
Yet, when one examines the record of Chief Justice de Castro, what one sees is a woman who has been at the forefront in advancing and mainstreaming gender issues in the judiciary. She is the president of the Philippine Women Judges Association, and held the same post in the International Association of Women Judges. She pushed for the conduct of training programs on gender responsiveness in the judiciary, particularly on issues relating to juveniles and in family courts which have been implemented through the Philippine Judicial Academy. She led the initiative in conducting a gender analysis of Court of Appeals decisions, one that will be expanded to include all other trial courts.
Critics of the President make it appear that the appointment of Chief Justice De Castro is a political accommodation of an unqualified nominee. This is another shining moment where the President, through this appointment, provided an opportunity to reveal a monumental case of hypocrisy, if not of amnesia, on the part of his critics.
These critics are vocal supporters of Sereno. In trying to impugn the appointment of de Castro as chief justice, they failed to recall that it was Sereno’s appointment that was a classic example of political accommodation of an unqualified nominee. Former president Noynoy Aquino appointed Sereno, his classmate and the most junior member of the high court at the time. Sereno was the lone member of the court who voted for Aquino’s family interests in Hacienda Luisita. Her lack of qualifications was finally revealed during the hearings of the House committee on justice, and during the proceedings in the quo warranto petition that eventually ousted her from a post she was not qualified to hold.
And the contrast is just too glaring to be ignored. Chief Justice De Castro was properly vetted by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC). She was short-listed. She has an impeccable record of years of service in government, from clerk of court in the Supreme Court, to prosecutor with the Department of Justice, to associate justice and later presiding justice of the Sandiganbayan, and finally associate justice of the Supreme Court. In 2012, when she applied for the post of chief justice to replace Renato Corona, she was the only nominee who garnered the highest score of 1 in her psychological test. And the President appointed her not for any other reason but because from among the names given to him, she was the most senior. The fact that the President ignored the reality that she will be retiring in October 7, and will only hold the post for 41 days, the shortest in the history of the judiciary, meant that her seniority was the clincher.
It is obvious that critics of de Castro have no other issue except that she voted against Sereno. And this is why the gang of Representatives Lagman, Alejano, Baguilat and Villarin filed an impeachment complaint against her and six other members of the Court who granted the quo warranto petition.
However, De Castro’s appointment may have also provided another avenue to assault the position of these critics who continue to believe that Sereno’s ouster was unconstitutional. It is expected that they will make a move to push for the appointment of a favorable chief justice, if not Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, perhaps others who voted against the quo warranto, to succeed de Castro. And if this happens, they will simply have to deal with the contradiction of pushing for someone to fill a post that they, in the same breath, believe has been unconstitutionally vacated.
In appointing Chief Justice de Castro, the President said that he would always go for seniority, one that Justice Antonio Carpio theoretically deserves, but did not get because he refused the nomination. It is now interesting to speculate if Justice Carpio will change his mind in October.
I THOUGHT that Maria Lourdes Sereno had only purchased, using funds of the Supreme Court, a bullet-proof Toyota SUV during her abbreviated term as pretender to the position of chief justice. I only learned recently that the SUV was bought together with three “big bikes,” the oversize motorcycles favored by the powerful to clear a path for them on Metro Manila’s clogged-up streets.
And the only reason I learned about the bikes is because new Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro said she would be using neither the SUV nor the motorcycles that the infamous Sereno was forced to return after she was expelled from the court. De Castro, the legitimate successor to the late Chief Justice Renato Corona, would in all likelihood continue to use her nondescript Toyota van, which she rode in to her swearing-in ceremony yesterday as befits someone who doesn’t claim to be constantly conducting a two-way conversation with God.
Yes, it appears that propriety, seniority and even sanity have been restored to the high court with de Castro’s assumption to Corona’s post. And the end of Sereno’s tenure as faux chief justice also marks the final vindication for Corona, who was forced to step down by a vengeful president who used government funds to buy a Congress that was only too willing to remove the head of a co-equal branch — for fat fees, of course.
At this late date, I still do not know if President Rodrigo Duterte actively worked to remove Sereno. All I know is, her own colleagues in the high court rebelled against Sereno’s misbegotten and misguided rule, deciding in the end to throw her out through an unprecedented but totally legal and unassailable quo warranto proceeding.
And now that De Castro, who will be chief justice only for less than two months, has ended Sereno’s bogus reign, Duterte is being accused of “rewarding” de Castro for voting with eight other justices to remove Sereno. I suppose the opposition, which fought hard to retain Sereno and which is now engaged in the pathetic move to impeach the eight justices who removed their God-conversing idol, is correct — but for entirely different reasons.
De Castro was surely rewarded with the chief justiceship because she is the most senior magistrate among the three whose names were submitted to the President. She was also certainly rewarded for being an accomplished jurist, having gone through the judicial mill starting as a law clerk in the Supreme Court in 1973 after passing the bar in 1972 with a grade of 80 percent.
De Castro was also rewarded for steadily climbing the ladder of accomplishment, working her way from being state counsel of the Department of Justice (1978), leaving the department only in 1995 as head of its legal staff. And Duterte must also have rewarded de Castro for getting appointed to the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court, eventually becoming presiding justice and chairman of that tribunal’s first division until she was appointed in 2007 to the Supreme Court by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Of course, Duterte must also have rewarded de Castro for her work in convicting former President Joseph Estrada of plunder when he was still very popular, so popular that Arroyo later pardoned Estrada. And Duterte must also have noted, in his reward-giving, that de Castro once served as president of the International Association of Women Judges (2012-2014) and as chairman of the bar examination committee in 2015.
In other words, Duterte rewarded de Castro for her seniority and achievements, not because she was a college classmate, as Sereno (the most junior and most unaccomplished magistrate at the time) was to the president who appointed her, Noynoy Aquino. And de Castro has also been known to refer to the Almighty in public for the rewards she has received, even if, unlike Sereno, there is no record that God ever talked back to de Castro.
As de Castro said upon her appointment to the high court in2007: “Everything happens in God’s time. I believe that my 34 years of service in the judiciary and a good track record make me qualified for this position.”
And so, yes, de Castro was rewarded for her hard work and performance. Now she has until her mandatory retirement in October to enjoy her just reward.
Even if a top-of-the-line bulletproof SUV and three motorcycle outriders aren’t part of the reward package for the new chief justice.
* * *
But as I’ve said, the assumption of de Castro to the chief justiceship is also a vindication for the injustice committed by Aquino and his Congress lapdogs against Corona. And it is fitting that Sereno was not removed from office by Congress through impeachment, by many of the same lawmakers who condemned Corona only because Aquino larded them with Disbursement Acceleration Program funds.
It is also proper that Corona is officially being replaced by de Castro, who is only exactly one week older than Corona. Corona would have retired upon turning 70 on October 15; it’s as if some karmic law was at work to make the justice closest in seniority to Corona take over his position, even if only for 41 days.
Of course, Corona is now dead, having succumbed to a heart attack right before the 2016 elections that put Duterte in Malacañang. He never saw the justice who usurped the position in 2012 removed six years later — but I’m sure he would have approved of it.
Corona would have certainly appreciated the fact that, because Sereno’s appointment has been deemed void from the beginning in the quo warranto case, de Castro succeeded him in a straight line. The details will have to be worked out, but I am sure that at some future time, the Supreme Court will eventually continue to call Corona the country’s 23rd chief justice and de Castro the 24th, when it has figured out what to do with the six-year judicial black hole during which Sereno reigned.
As for everyone else in Malacañang, Congress, the media and elsewhere to have passed their unfavorable judgment on Corona simply because Noynoy said so, they, too, will have their day of reckoning. The removal of Sereno forms only the first part of granting justice to Renato Corona.
SHOCKING as that statement may seem, that is the conclusion of a well-argued opinion piece (with that title) by Neil McDonald of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. The piece was in reaction to the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report that detailed more than 1,000 cases of sexual abuse over a period of several decades by more than 300 Catholic priests, all identified by name and many of them still alive.
McDonald wrote: “Imagine for a moment that a big, admired multinational corporation, one selling a beloved product, was employing large numbers of male pedophiles and rapists, operating in rings all over the world, and that their crimes had been uncovered in Australia, Ireland, Canada, the Philippines, Belgium, France… and, further, that senior executives had systematically covered up and suppressed evidence, transferring and enabling hundreds of predators, betraying thousands of victims.
What would happen to the company is not terribly difficult to imagine.
At a minimum, the US government would likely use its Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to go after not only the rapists and molesters, but also the company’s executives, up to and including its CEO if possible, seizing the company’s assets and seeking the harshest possible prison terms. That’s the sort of thing RICO was invented for. The company would almost certainly collapse.”
In our case, what would happen if it was discovered that leaders of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines for decades had systematically sexually abused the organization’s young recruits. Won’t it be immediately closed down, its leaders hauled off to jail?
One would not even have to actually imagine such scenarios. Remember the case of the Christian cult Branch Davidians in Texas which the Federal Bureau of Investigation even attacked with its most deadly SWATs, after reports that children of its followers were being sexually abused?
I have always maintained that arguing whether the Catholic Church is God’s representative on earth or even whether God exists or not is totally useless. Instead you will learn the truth from actual data, as even the New Testament, to my surprise, believed in Matthew 7:19-20: “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
Read the report Well, this tree in Pennsylvania has had such poisonous, stinking fruits as could possibly be. If Philippine Church leaders and their secular apologists think they can simply ignore the Pennsylvania grand jury report and its impact, they should read the actual document which can be downloaded at https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/report/.
Already, friends have reported that their teen-age children have told them they have become agnostics because of the incontrovertible reports of sexual abuses by Catholic priests.
Nobody with an open, objective mind can read the 900-report with his faith in the Catholic Church and its teachings unscathed and even denied. One finishes the report with horror and anger.
The report summarizes what it found:
“We heard the testimony of dozens of witnesses concerning clergy sex abuse. We subpoenaed, and reviewed, half a million pages of internal diocesan documents. They contained credible allegations against over three hundred predator priests. Over one thousand child victims were identifiable, from the church’s own records. We believe that the real number — of children whose records were lost, or who were afraid ever to come forward — is in the thousands.
Most of the victims were boys; but there were girls too. Some were teens; many were pre-pubescent. Some were manipulated with alcohol or pornography. Some were made to masturbate by their assailants, or were groped by them. Some were raped orally, some vaginally, some anally. But all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all.”
Many of the details of the sexual abuse are so horrific I don’t think even the most depraved pornographer, or horror-movie writer, would have ever thought of these.
Oral sex, then holy water One boy was forced to say confession to the priest who sexually abused him. A nine-year-old boy was forced to perform oral sex and then had his mouth washed out with holy water. Another boy was made to pose naked as if being crucified and then was photographed by a group of priests who then shared the photos with others.
As appalling was how bishops dismissed the sexual abuse cases, even when the perpetrators had confessed to having committed them. Two examples in the report:
“In the Diocese of Erie, despite a priest’s admission to assaulting at least a dozen young boys, the bishop wrote to thank him for ‘all that you have done for God’s people…. The Lord, who sees in private, will reward.’ Another priest confessed to anal and oral rape of at least 15 boys, as young as seven years old. The bishop later met with the abuser to commend him as ‘a person of candor and sincerity,’ and to compliment him for the progress he has made in controlling his ‘addiction.’”
How would the Church which for centuries has claimed to be God’s representative on earth explain all these? That Satan and his cohorts have infiltrated it so as to make the faithful lose their faith? That Gods works in mysterious ways? And that oft-repeated line that all these are simply meant to test our Faith?
But we have our rationality and the sciences to explain such sexual depravations.
Sex is one of the most powerful instincts of humans, designed into our very genes in order to ensure the continuance of our species (or any other species for that matter). If sex hadn’t been so powerful we would have been extinct by now.
Catholicism, for reasons so complex to be discussed here, is one of the few religions that require absolute celibacy for its clerics. Even its “Eastern” branch, the Greek Orthodox Church requires it only for its bishops. Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Protestant Christian Churches — like our local Iglesia ni Cristo — don’t require it.
Buddhist sects which require it — apparently being more scientific than Catholics — have special disciplines to “transmute” sexual energy into higher forms of consciousness, as in the yoga tradition called Tantra.
Nature always takes its course. A celibate priest realizes one day that all the theology he has learned are fiction. Left with no beliefs in the supernatural as the basis of his morality, his sexual instincts are unleashed, violating even a society’s secular rules. With his years of being with men 24 hours a day having transformed him into a homosexual, he preys on boys. Or perhaps his sexual preference had been for males even in his youth, and he entered the priesthood as a means of suppressing his homosexuality.
The Catholic clerics have been able to do their dastardly deeds because they were in positions of power over the minds of their young victims, the victims’ families, and the families’ communities. In a society ruled by Catholic dogma, no cleric can ever commit such crimes. Therefore, it cannot exist.
The Pennsylvania grand jury report is important to us in this country for the following reasons.
Pennsylvania and the dioceses the grand jury investigated have been among the most civilized communities in the world, with a secular efficient state, a highly developed rule of law, and a very high sense of the rights of individuals. Yet Catholic priests and even its bishops have managed to commit on a mass scale sexual abuse against boys and girls.
Our country has been one in which the Catholic Church has been so powerful that it was even virtually the state religion during four centuries of the Spanish colonial period. In this superstitious country, or because the elites use it to legitimize its rule, the Church’s power over the minds of our people is a hundred, a thousand times more than in Pennsylvania.
With the same repression of the sexual instinct among priests here, logic tells us that the scale of sexual abuses here may have even been more horrific than in Pennsylvania. Our state, which has been in one way or another controlled by the Church for five centuries, simply hasn’t investigated such depravities. Victims here of course have been more brainwashed than in the US to suffer in silence, told that it is God’s will.
Is the Philippine Catholic Church’s involvement in politics its way of squelching public attention and state investigation of its priests’ sexual abuses?
Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So, he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your wondrous shining glory, although this is hidden from my eyes. I hope in the peace and everlasting joy of the world to come, for this world is a valley of tears. I love you, even though I am not always able to discern the love in your intentions when you permit me to suffer. You are my God and my all.
Petition: Lord, let me never fear the consequences of speaking the truth.
Speaking Truth to Power: Although Herod was a cruel tyrant, John the Baptist did not hesitate to condemn his adulterous conduct and to denounce his sin publicly. John was moved by the Holy Spirit to give witness and teach the people that no one can legitimately violate God’s commandments, not even a king. John did not fear the consequences of his actions, because he knew that if he were faithful, God would be at his side and never let him down, even if he had to suffer on account of the truth. We, too, need to give courageous witness to our family, friends and to the society at large. When we do, God will be with us and we will have nothing to fear.
It Was Something That You Said: Mark tells us that Herod, although he resented what John said in accusing him of adultery, nonetheless “like[d] to listen to him,” and he was “much perplexed.” In his moral weakness, he persisted in his sin, yet the cries of the prophet to repent did reach his conscience. Herod was in confusion. Something was stirring in his conscience; the Holy Spirit was moving inside him to bring him to true repentance for his sin. God never abandons the sinner but gives him grace to turn back to him. We should never lose hope for one who seems to be lost and wandering in sin. We should always continue to speak the truth with love and pray for a full conversion. God can change the heart of even the worst of sinners. He has forgiven us so much, and he can forgive others as well.
A Conversion Cut Short: The Gospel tells how Herod, in an imprudent promise to Herodias’ daughter, found himself compromised and, for fear of losing face, had to order the beheading of John the Baptist. Here his moral weakness overcame the first stirrings of the grace of conversion. He closed his heart to God’s action due to his lust and vanity, and he committed the terrible crime of murder of an innocent man. How sin can darken the conscience and extinguish God’s grace in the heart of a person given over only to satisfying their passions.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I want to be faithful to your teachings and to be frank with those I love who need to hear your word. I know that takes prudence, courage and steadfastness. Help me to be true to you. Give me the grace of a good conscience always to speak the truth with rectitude and love for your law.
Resolution: I will pray for the grace to witness to the truth, “in season and out of season,” no matter what the consequences.
First word BEFORE discussing the appointment of Associate Justice Teresita de Castro as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, I want to highlight first another significant distinction of the Philippine judicial system: the firm avoidance by Philippine jurisprudence of the use of the word “pled” as the past tense or past participle of the verb “plead.”
Philippine law and jurisprudence, and for that matter, the journalism that covers our court system, frowns on the use of pled as the past tense for plead. In my research, this is one more proof that we Filipinos are truly an English-speaking people, in the seminal sense that Winston Churchill used the term in his famous book, History of the English-speaking Peoples. We observe the rules of English grammar and usage all the way to our courts.
There is a “pled” epidemic in US media today because of the explosive decision of President Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, to plead guilty to eight counts of campaign finance violations and financial abuses. Most media are saying that Cohen pled guilty.
ABA Journal, the journal of the American Bar Association, said in a short report: “President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to eight counts related to campaign-finance and financial abuses. In doing so, he admitted in court that he made payments to silence two women — adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal — at Trump’s behest to affect the 2016 presidential campaign.”
What is the proper or grammatical usage?
According to the Grammarist, a usage guide online: “Pleaded is the standard past tense and past participle of the verb plea. Pled has always been considered incorrect by people who make such judgments, but it is so common that we have to accept it as an alternative form. And pled is not just an Americanism, as some have claimed. It appears just as often (about one pled for every twenty pleadeds) in current British and Canadian news publications. Australians are the exception; they still seem to shun pled almost completely.”
What about legal usage?
Bryan Garner, author of the book, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, and current editor of Black’s Law Dictionary, has stated: “The best course is to treat plead as a weak verb, so that the correct past tense, as well as past participle, is pleaded.”
I think the Filipino aversion to “pled” is a cultural thing. Filipinos, especially public officials, never plead guilty or accept responsibility for wrongdoing or a mistake; they never resign. With such a mindset, Filipinos have no use for “pled” in their vocabulary.
A felicitous appointment That said, I now turn to the de Castro appointment.
I find the appointment of Justice de Castro, who accedes to her new office today, gratifying and felicitous for two reasons:
First, President Duterte‘s decision returns the appointment of our highest magistrate to the presidential practice of observing seniority in the selection of the chief justice.
This tradition was bypassed by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she appointed Renato Corona as chief justice. She picked him on top of the more senior Antonio Carpio.
More spectacularly, then President Benigno Aquino 3rd buried tradition when he forced the impeachment of CJ Corona in 2012, by bribing the Senate through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). With Corona out, he picked from the bottom of the SC barrel his former classmate and untested lawyer Maria Lourdes Sereno, and made her the first female chief justice of the Philippine Supreme Court.
In the present transition in the high court, President Duterte could, in all likelihood, have selected Senior Justice Antonio Carpio as the new chief justice, had Carpio not taken himself out of the selection process, for reasons of delicadeza. For a second time, Carpio as the most senior member of the court cannot accede to the highest magistracy of the land.
True caliber of our female jurists The second reason I consider the de Castro appointment felicitous is that it will enable Philippine law and jurisprudence to show the true worth and caliber of Filipino women lawyers and jurists. The nation and the world will discover that some of our best legal minds and wisest judges are female. It is consistent with the fact that for decades now, women have been topping the bar examinations to the chagrin of our machistic culture.
The ousted CJ Sereno was supposed to show us that our female lawyers have the right stuff. But to our shock, we discovered that Aquino brazenly forced Sereno down the nation’s throat to the distress of our judiciary and jurisprudence. She was never qualified to sit in the high court. Aquino picked her because he thought madly that Sereno as CJ could force the tribunal to render a higher valuation and order a bigger payment by the government for his family’s Hacienda Luisita.
Sereno‘s incompetence and lack of qualifications for the job, especially for the charge of chief justice, was totally exposed when the House of Representatives held its hearings on the impeachment complaint lodged against Sereno by lawyer Larry Gadon. Current and former justices and SC officials went to the House inquiry to testify.
Then Solicitor General Jose Calida got the idea for a faster process of Sereno’s removal, by filing a quo warranto case against her right to hold office in the high court on the ground that she did not fulfill a fundamental requirement for her appointment to the tribunal — the filing of SALNS (statements of assets, liabilities and net worth) during her years in the government service.
An aberration and a corrective Sereno was an aberration in presidential appointments to the high court. De Castro is a corrective and a return to stability.
Despite the limited stint that de Castro will have as chief justice — only 41 days — there is a high probability that she will acquit herself with distinction in the top job. She will revive the nation ‘s confidence in the quality of our women magistrates and female lawyers.
De Lima and Sereno will enter the dustbin of memory and history.
Opposition vs de Castro The fiercest opposition against CJ de Castro will be waged by members of the opposition and the Yellow cult, who are bracing to make a comeback in the midterm elections next year.
Some congressmen say that de Castro is being rewarded for her part in the ouster of Sereno, as though she were part of a hatchet job.
Seven legislators have filed an impeachment complaint against de Castro and six other SC associate justices for voting to oust Sereno from the high court.
They wildly contend that de Castro should have declined her nomination and refused her appointment as chief justice because of the seriousness of the impeachment complaint against her for “culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust.”
The delusions of the opposition today are never more clearly revealed than in this impeachment project.
It has absolutely no chance of succeeding in the administration-dominated Congress. It will never get the required number of signatures of representatives to receive serious consideration by the House.
The opposition will persist because the opposition — the Liberals, the Yellows and the militants taken together — have a long experience of fighting the Duterte administration on many issues and losing.
They fought the administration on the burial of President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and lost.
They fought the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao and lost.
They fought the ouster of ex- CJ Sereno through the quo warranto proceeding and lost.
New lady justice at the helm This reminds me of something said of perennially losing politicians and commanders. Behind the fog of failure, they somehow perceived the glimmer of victory.
With its current struggle, the prospects of the opposition do not improve one bit. Chief Justice de Castro will prove them spectacularly wrong. Her lengthy years of service and experience in the law and jurisprudence say so.
This is a new lady justice at the helm of our highest tribunal. She will not be at a loss for words on the law and the facts. I used to remark in this column on ex-CJ Sereno‘s constantly fluttering and blinking eyes.
Watch CJ de Castro in action. I thought I saw her eyes twinkle with intelligence and confidence during the hearings at the House.