Saturday, May 19, 2007


The Philippine Daily Inquirer doesn't even bother to try keeping up the perception of being unbiased anymore. Today's headline (ironically hardly an inch below their slogan: "Balanced News. Fearless Views") is "MIRACLE IN PAMPANGA", referring of course to the priest that won the election for governor in Pampanga. Of all the news stories in the world, this is what they deem worthy of an all-caps headline? "It's a mircle!", the article starts! Doesn't make sense why the Inquirer would be so ecstatic about this particular race, until you realize that the other two guys running for governor were both staunchly pro-administration. They just couldn't resist.

I can't personally say anything negative about Fr. Ed Panlilo since I hardly know anything about him, but having priests in government sounds like a bad idea to me. If honesty and good intentions were all it takes to build a nation, then Fernando Poe Jr. and Manny Pacquiao would make good politicians. But obviously, obviously they don't.

*takes off gloves*

Way too many people in the Philippines are quick to blame the government for everything that goes wrong even when there's not a shred of evidence to back up their accusations, but nobody in the Philippines criticizes the Church when they exploit Christianity and abuse their positions in plain view.

When the First Gentleman sues journalists for libel, everyone is crying foul as if he has broken the law in some way. Never mind that it's perfectly legal for any person to sue another. Never mind that it's the courts that make the actual decisions as to who did wrong. And never mind that the media in the Philippines is among the most rambunctious and irresponsible in the world. Just because he's in a prominent position, he's attacked as abusing his position of power.

And here we have a priest that ran for and was elected governor. Priests are innately loved people in the Philippines. They're invited to every party, showered with gifts, and clothed with an impenetrable blanket that makes them uncriticizable-- all because of the fact that they are priests. For a priest to run for public office is (probably) legal, but it gives this huge instant advantage of being automatically loved. Yet hardly anyone is willing to call him out for abusing his position of power.

It was only a few months ago that the Church was rallying against charter change as if it were inherently evil, saying that the constitution is so sacred and all that. Never mind Article 2, Section 6 (that's separation of Church and State, for those that give a damn... not many, really).

The intention of this rant is not to convince that the Church is bad. But if you take off that velvet blanket of immunity, you'd see they're not the inherently perfect supermen that our culture would have you believe.


  1. I was wondering if our constitution said anything about the separation of church and state, because nothing happening here indicates that it's there at all.

    This headline was the most ridiculous thing I'd read today. I'm not too updated on politics, but among the articles I read, I would have thought that the most newsworthy article was, I don't know, maybe the fact that the stock market is at an 80-year (IE: ALL TIME) high? I suppose it's understandable; god forbid we show good things happening under the current administration.

    The priest thing is annoying, especially when juxtaposed with that picture of all those people and their rosaries. They're using religious imagery to imply that God favors... I don't know, anyone anti-Gloria.

    I wonder: just as a point of comparison, how are politics in Ireland? I believe it's another predominantly Catholic country. Are they able to respect the separation of church and state?

  2. No, sorry. In my experience, priests aren't universally adored. And just because you think that there's an impenetrable blanket, it does not follow that priests are almost guaranteed to be elected if ever they run for office.

    Well, Panlilio got 219,706 over Pineda's 218,559. It's a very slim margin (less than 1%) so it's not as if Panlilio was a shoo-in winner and greatly loved by Kapampangans.

    Yes, like Poe and Pacquiao, it's probably an important question whether Panlilio has the executive skills needed to run a province. But it's definitely not illegal for for priests to run. They're still eligible citizens after all. And just because they're priests doesn't mean they should be barred from office. (They should take a leave from their priestly duties out of respect for the secularism of the position, however.)

    And the separation clause is *so* abused. Does anybody really know what it means exactly? For all we know it could just mean that the state should not prescribe a national religion and that there should be freedom of religion, and that any religious organization should not usurp functions of national concern (like managing an executive department, e.g., health or education) (see the Wikipedia article about it). It does not mean that priests running for government positions or some church recommending candidates to be elected really violates the separation.

    To conclude, you seem to be peeved that your unsubstantiated impression that Filipinos love priests to absurdity is the reason why Panlilio was elected and subsequently getting too much media attention.

  3. The Inquirer calling his election a miracle and the giant picture of his supporters holding up rosaries may not be concrete proof, but it's strong evidence to suggest that he was elected for reasons other than secular ones.

  4. I'm not from Pampanga, but I'd rather have him than the Pinedas (who are allegedly involved with Jueteng operations?) and Lapids (and he dumped his Korean wife in favor of Tanya Garcia haha. I think the Lapids are in control of the quarrying operations in Pampanga).

    I don't mind having Ed Panlilio as a governor, as long as he resigns(?) from being a priest. I don't like the idea of a priest running in a government position, but I think he's the lesser evil of the three candidates.

    Besides, I hate dynasties.

    PS: You give me a different perspective Mike. There are things that we might not agree on (like voting for Trillanes haha), but I do get enlightened by you once in a while :P

  5. Yeah I've got nothing personally against Ed Panlilio himself. For all I know he could be a competent guy. I just hope he doesn't approach the job thinking it's as simple as making clear cut choices between good and evil. And, admittedly, the alternatives do seem to be shady guys (I haven't really been following their story).

  6. You forgot to put your gloves back on.

  7. Panlilio asked for, and was granted, leave from his priestly duties while he serves as governor of Pampanga. This fact was easy enough for people to become aware of, before they make any comments.

    Mike, your comment "For all I know he could be a competent guy. I just hope he doesn't approach the job thinking it's as simple as making clear cut choices between good and evil." borders on the unfair.

    If you don't know anything about the guy, then you can find out about his track record. If you don't have the time or don't care, then maybe you should not have an opinion, let alone express it. -- Vic

  8. I made my blog post before Ed was de-priested.

    Well, Vic, I did take a look at Ed Panlilio's campaign platform and it basically suggests that his platform of governance is to not be bad. It sounds easy enough, but in real life the choices are not that simple.

    When Cory Aquino campained for president in 1986 she would announce plainly at rallies that she has no plan of governance. Of course, it is a great thing that the events of that year toppled Marcos and brought back a proper democracy, but when the all the excitement dies down and you get back to the daily grind of real life, you've still got Cory Aquino in Malacañang for a six-year term with no plan of governance. You could do much worse, but clearly you could do much better.