F. D. PASCUAL: BANGSAMORO-- NOY'S MAKE-OR-BREAK FIGHT

LEGACY: Malacañang’s timetable for the enactment the Bangsamoro Basic Law leading to the birth of a new federal-type state in the heart of Mindanao indicates a tight race for President Noynoy Aquino’s leaving it as his centerpiece legacy in 2016. There is nothing on his agenda as monumental as the Bangsamoro, so the creation of the Bangsamoro will be — like Pacquiao’s triumph over Bradley – the make-or-break last move of the Aquino administration. It is “make-or-break”, because while the Bangsamoro could propel Mr. Aquino to Olympian heights in regional politics, it could also break his assiduously manufactured image as a peacemaker. The Palace is talking of the first week of May for the Bangsamoro Basic Law to be submitted to the Congress so it would be ready for full play in the State of the Nation Address of the President in late July. To cut legislative corners and keep to the schedule, the President will certify the bill as urgent. This would make it a party matter with all loyalists pitching in, even if they have to vote blindly at times. * * * FULL-FLEDGED STATE: The certification is one of the things many observers worry about. The ensuing rush would deprive the nation and the lawmakers the time and thought that such an important piece of legislation deserves. This is one time when senators and congressmen should drop party loyalty if it interferes with their patriotic duty to see to it that the Constitution remains as the guiding light when dark forces move to dismember the Republic. The feared emergence of a new parliamentary state in the very heart of Mindanao may not materialize immediately, but could happen down the road when the Bangsamoro is able to spread its wings and fly on its own as a full-fledged independent state. * * * MAKE-OR-BREAK: Dismemberment could happen if President Aquino is able to navigate the shoals of a nationwide plebiscite (not only in the Moro area, since the issue gravely affects all Filipinos) and negotiate a majority vote of constitutionality in the Supreme Court. The centrifugal force of such a development is likely to throw the Bangsamoro into the waiting arms of Malaysia, which has financed, fathered and inspired secession since the time of the pre-MILF destabilization campaigns in Muslim Mindanao. READ FULL COLUMN

ALSO: MILF body submits half-baked BBL draft

The 15-man Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law submitted to President Aquino an incomplete bill that Malacañang said will be certified as “urgent” to ensure Congress’ early approval of the BBL, was found and confirmed to be incomplete and lacking in details. The BBL draft was reported to lack the provisions in the armed police force of the Bangsamoro as well as the provisions on the Bangsamoro waters, both of which are seen as controversial and even unconstitutionally infirm, despite these two elements being included in the annexes signed between the Philippine government peace panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) panel. Press Secretary Herminio “Sonny Coloma yesterday admitted to reporters the submission of the documents and confirmed the BBL draft was incomplete, saying that it is precisely a calling it a draft, translates to being incomplete. He said yesterday morning he had received a text message from the Office of the Executive Secretary regarding the submission yesterday of a working draft which lacked the police and Bangsamoro waters provisions.
Coloma said that: ”By definition, a draft is something that can be supplemented and that can be modified until it is finalized. “I do not have the details that you are asking about in particular but we can verify this. Even if we knew it, what is most material and what is most important, I believe, is that the legal team will be able to do everything that is necessary to be able to submit the draft bill to the President for his own review and approval,” Coloma said.

INQUIRER EDITORIAL: A humbler Church

Five months before the election of Pope Francis, two Philippine archbishops preached the gospel of humility before a worldwide assembly of their fellow bishops. Luis Antonio Tagle, the new archbishop of Manila, was the first of the two to “intervene.” He began with a simple image: For “the Church to be the ‘space’ of a faith-encounter with the Lord,” he said, “she must learn anew from Jesus in whom we meet God.” The first lesson: “The Church must learn humility from Jesus. God’s power and might appear in the self-emptying of the Son, in the love that is crucified but truly saves because it is emptied of self for the sake of others.” Socrates Villegas, the archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, delivered the same message. “The new evangelization calls for new humility. The Gospel cannot thrive in pride. When pride seeps into the heart of the Church, the Gospel proclamation is harmed.” John Allen Jr.’s dispatch that day for the National Catholic Reporter was headlined: “An Asian plea for humility at the Synod of Bishops.” Since his unexpected election, Pope Francis has made the theme and teaching of a humbler Church his own. He has led by startling example, by (to cite just two out of very many possible instances) refusing to live in the papal quarters and riding in the same bus as other cardinals. He has called on all priests to serve as shepherds with “the odor of the sheep.” He has redirected Church attention to the edges, to the periphery of society, where the poor and the powerless, the lost and the least, can be found.

COLUMN: A Maundy Thursday reflection

It’s Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday, a name derived from the Latin word, “Mandatum” taken from the words of our Lord Jesus Christ when he gave his disciples the “New Commandment” which is translated in Latin, “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos”… in English, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you.” You can read it in the Gospel of John 13:34. This Latin word “Mandatum” is also used as the antiphon that is sang during the Roman rite of the washing of the feet, which in my book is one of the best teachings imparted to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. All Christians will always remember Holy Thursday as the Last Supper, where our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders. We have written about these two major events in Christian history. However for this Holy Thursday we shall touch on the washing of the feet of our Lord’s disciples, which happens before the Last Supper. I don’t need to tell you about our Lord Jesus Christ’s washing the feet of his disciples because you know this story very well as this teaching is all about servant leadership… which we can read in Matt. 20:28, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” If God himself would teach us humans not just to love one another, but to serve others, this just gives you an idea of what heaven would be like when we get there.

COLUMN: Mommy D’s magic

You’ve got to love Dionisia Pacquiao! Reports have it that the Pacman’s mother—the PacMom herself—garnered as much attention in the social media as her son during the televised coverage of Manny Pacquiao’s domination of Timothy Bradley in their championship fight.
I didn’t get to see the video footage, but there were plenty of pictures showing Mommy D at ringside reacting with a bewildering array of gestures as her son and Bradley pounded at each other in the ring. Some tweeted that Mommy D was casting a “Hogwarts spell” at Bradley, as she pointed an angry finger at the ring while clutching a stampita and rosary in the other hand. She was, in fact, she told an interviewer, directing prayers toward her son, while invoking the “power” of the Santo Niño to protect his “kuya” or older brother, referring to the persona of the Child Jesus. After Manny’s victory, she proved a gracious ambassador, whispering to Bradley that she was “sorry” for the beating her son’s opponent had undergone, even if Bradley replied that there was “no prob.”
For this alone, I suggest we field the indomitable Mommy D as part of the Philippine delegation if and when we start negotiating with China over our disputed waters. At the very least, her prayers can’t hurt!


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Bangsamoro: Noy’s make-or-break fight


By Federico D. Pascual JR.

MANILA, APRIL 21, 2014 (PHILSTAR) POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual JR. (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 15, 2014 - 12:00am 0 3 googleplus0 0 TAX TIME: Okay, BIR, I surrender. I used to fill out my Income Tax Returns (Form 1701) in 30 minutes, skipping itemization and claiming standard 40 percent deductions to simplify the process.

But when I got the same Form 1701 yesterday I was surprised to see an entirely different one. I imagined the average filer would need a 130 IQ, or an accountant, or a seminar to be able to fill it out without BIR hounds chasing him later.

At the BIR main office in Quezon City, btw, a sign said yesterday they had run out of Form 1700, which salaried employees use. I had wanted to see if I may be able to use it (instead of Form 1701) although I am technically not a salaried employee.

Goodbye to my 30-minute ITR-filing boast.

* * *

NO KILL-JOY: When Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares talked about the tax deficiencies of newly resurrected WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, she sounded like warning him about his back taxes and spoiling the celebratory mood.

Only a few noted that Henares interviewed on radio was just answering questions of media looking for a good lead or angle for a Pacquiao-related story.

There is a big difference when an official makes on her own initiative a significant revelation and when she says something newsworthy only as she responds to questions thrown at her.

When quoting a speaker, the more careful newspaperman inserts the qualifier “in answer to a question” so as to put the statement in proper context. Note the difference if the speaker were reading from a prepared statement.

* * *

OUT OF CONTEXT: Henares reportedly said that with the $20-million purse that he grabbed after trouncing Timothy Bradley, Pacquiao “now faces a P2.56-billion tax deficiencies” — implying that he now owes the Bureau of Internal Revenue a lot more in back taxes.

Whoever reported that missed the detail that taxes on the fresh millions Pacquiao won last Sunday in Las Vegas are not due until April 15 of 2015. The boxer has ample time within which to pay the taxes still due next year.

What the BIR is actually chasing is only around P1.1 billion, representing alleged back taxes from 2008 to 2009 and interests piling up as the boxer delays settling deficiencies.

Since the dollars this time were earned in the United States, the federal Internal Revenue Service had the first crack at Pacquiao’s ring earnings. It has withheld the tax at source, estimated at 40 percent of the gross.

The Philippines will collect only the deficiency, or the difference between the tax rates of the two countries, in case the US rate is lower than the Philippine tax rate.

* * *

LEGACY: Malacañang’s timetable for the enactment the Bangsamoro Basic Law leading to the birth of a new federal-type state in the heart of Mindanao indicates a tight race for President Noynoy Aquino’s leaving it as his centerpiece legacy in 2016.

There is nothing on his agenda as monumental as the Bangsamoro, so the creation of the Bangsamoro will be — like Pacquiao’s triumph over Bradley – the make-or-break last move of the Aquino administration.

It is “make-or-break”, because while the Bangsamoro could propel Mr. Aquino to Olympian heights in regional politics, it could also break his assiduously manufactured image as a peacemaker.

The Palace is talking of the first week of May for the Bangsamoro Basic Law to be submitted to the Congress so it would be ready for full play in the State of the Nation Address of the President in late July.

To cut legislative corners and keep to the schedule, the President will certify the bill as urgent. This would make it a party matter with all loyalists pitching in, even if they have to vote blindly at times.

* * *

FULL-FLEDGED STATE: The certification is one of the things many observers worry about. The ensuing rush would deprive the nation and the lawmakers the time and thought that such an important piece of legislation deserves.

This is one time when senators and congressmen should drop party loyalty if it interferes with their patriotic duty to see to it that the Constitution remains as the guiding light when dark forces move to dismember the Republic.

The feared emergence of a new parliamentary state in the very heart of Mindanao may not materialize immediately, but could happen down the road when the Bangsamoro is able to spread its wings and fly on its own as a full-fledged independent state.

* * *

MAKE-OR-BREAK: Dismemberment could happen if President Aquino is able to navigate the shoals of a nationwide plebiscite (not only in the Moro area, since the issue gravely affects all Filipinos) and negotiate a majority vote of constitutionality in the Supreme Court.

The centrifugal force of such a development is likely to throw the Bangsamoro into the waiting arms of Malaysia, which has financed, fathered and inspired secession since the time of the pre-MILF destabilization campaigns in Muslim Mindanao.

If the Moro-state notion that Malaysia and a host of other foreign kibitzers had drummed into the head of Mr. Aquino as doable fails, or leads to more deprivation and violence in Mindanao, he would go down the drain of history with the tantalizing idea.

* * *

ERRATUM: We apologize for erroneously attributing to Bishop José C. Sorra of Legazpi last Sunday’s well-received piece explaining why the pro-Life movement actually won in the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision on the Reproductive Health Law (RA 10354).

Monsignor Sorra said the author was Atty. Jo Imbong, Executive Secretary of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Legal Office and consultant of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on family and life. “I merely shared it (with her permission) with friends and respected writers, like you,” he said.

FROM THE TRIBUNE

MILF body submits half-baked BBL draft Written by Tribune Wednesday, 16 April 2014 00:00

The 15-man Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law submitted to President Aquino an incomplete bill that Malacañang said will be certified as “urgent” to ensure Congress’ early approval of the BBL, was found and confirmed to be incomplete and lacking in details.

The BBL draft was reported to lack the provisions in the armed police force of the Bangsamoro as well as the provisions on the Bangsamoro waters, both of which are seen as controversial and even unconstitutionally infirm, despite these two elements being included in the annexes signed between the Philippine government peace panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) panel.

Press Secretary Herminio “Sonny Coloma yesterday admitted to reporters the submission of the documents and confirmed the BBL draft was incomplete, saying that it is precisely a calling it a draft, translates to being incomplete.

He said yesterday morning he had received a text message from the Office of the Executive Secretary regarding the submission yesterday of a working draft which lacked the police and Bangsamoro waters provisions.

Coloma said that: ”By definition, a draft is something that can be supplemented and that can be modified until it is finalized.

“I do not have the details that you are asking about in particular but we can verify this. Even if we knew it, what is most material and what is most important, I believe, is that the legal team will be able to do everything that is necessary to be able to submit the draft bill to the President for his own review and approval,” Coloma said.

In the same breath however, Coloma denied that the lacking provisions on the BBL concerning the police system and territorial waters would be filled in by the legal team of Aquino in Malacañang and complete the document before it would be submitted to Congress.

While admitting that certain provisions were lacking and even stating that the Palace lawyers would be filling in the blanks, Cololma contradicted himseld by saying: “No. This is a product of Bangsamoro Transitory Commission, and its commitment is to draft a bill that the President will review and certify as urgent to Congress. So this is a joint effort and both sides are doing what is necessary with the sense of urgency to be able to complete the task at hand within the indicative timetable,” Coloma said.

Coloma said that throughout the entire process, the Philippine and MILF panels “have exercised the requisite due diligence, industry, and determination in order to complete the agreement and in order to bring it to where it is now”.

“So I think we can say with a reasonable degree of confidence that there is reason to be optimistic that the timetable can be met,” Coloma said.

“It will be reviewed by the legal staff of the Office of the President, including Desla (Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs), Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, and even of the Office of the Solicitor General,” Coloma said.

While in the process of drafting the BBL, the legal team of Malacañang was claimed to have been supervising the BTC, however, the body still failed to meet the deadline, and the need to review the document.

Coloma said the target of the Aquino administration is to be able to submit an enacted BBL to the people of the affected areas by end 2014, “so that there can be sufficient preparations for the conduct of elections for officials that will regularly administer the Bangsamoro political entity”.

“It is hoped that the election can take place simultaneously with the 2016 national elections, and we are all guided by that indicative timetable, so all those concerned are acting with a sense of urgency,” Coloma said.

He added that they have no actual update on the number of registered voters in the Muslim communities covered by the Bangsamoro.

“We can inquire and verify with the Comelec, but I’m certain that they are aware of this forthcoming event on the conduct of the plebiscite, and they would be making the necessary preparations for this,” Coloma said.

Of the 15-man who composed the BTC, as appointed by Aquino, majority of them have no legal background and only a third of them are lawyers who were given the responsibility to draft the basic law.

“I think we must be mindful that throughout the process of crafting the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, there was close coordination on both sides in order to be able to hammer out this agreement,” Coloma said.

Coloma said that there was willingness on both sides to receive inputs from each other.

“And even while the agreement was being negotiated, the Philippine panel was consulting regularly with the same panel that is now reviewing the draft law,” Coloma said.

Coloma said that there is an assurance, that the people that are doing the reviewing are quite familiar with the agreement, and the BTC would have referred extensively to the CAB itself, saying that the CAB is a substantial input into the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The BBL draft, once approved by Congress and signed by Aquino into law would be expected to be challenged before the Supreme Court for being contravene to the dictates of the 1987 Constitution.

On the part of the Senate, through the Senate president, Franklin Drilon, he said that any oversight or lapses, on the part of lawmakers, in overseeing the preservation of the nation’s sovereignty in scrutinizing the provisions of the proposed BBL will be unacceptable.

It is incumbent upon members of the two Houses of Congress, once formal deliberations of the BBL is taken up to ensure that not only the efforts exerted by the government peace panel and that of the MILF will not be put in vain but to guarantee as well that the law that will create the Bangsamoro political entity will stay within the confines of the 1987 Constitution, he said.

“We cannot afford to err on this most-sought piece of legislation, if we truly want to secure this peace in Mindanao which we have now realized after decades of hostilities,” the Senate leader said, underscoring repeatedly the need to have the BBL fall within the four corners of the Constitution, “and that it can withstand judicial scrutiny.”

The CAB, as well as the four annexes already smacks of unconstutionality.

At least two senators have already warned against the possibility of the constitutionality of the BBL being challenged before the Supreme Court as it is seen raise a question on “sovereignty within a sovereignty.”

Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., over the weekend, cautioned Malacañang on the matter of dealing with what he called as a “legal storm” once the BBL is approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

He took note of the pronouncements earlier made by colleague, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, as the latter found the provisions of the CAB unconstitutional since it stands to be in violation of principle of constitutional supremacy.

Santiago pointed out that the Constitution only allows an autonomous region and not a sub-state that will exercise sovereign powers reserved only for the central government.

Drilon, however, assured that the national sovereignty will be the premiere concern of Congress as they prepare to work on the BBL, which they consider as a legislative priority.

“I will be at the forefront in seeing that our sovereignty is respected. I don’t think that the Filipino people will forgive us if we rescind any part of our sovereignty. We must remain as one country, and one nation - as one Filipino people.”

“I am determined to see that the BBL will be a policy for harmony and shared development. As long as I am here, it will not be an instrument of capitulation, nor it will be an affront to our constitutional integrity,” he stressed.

Drilon said he expects his colleagues from Senate as well as those from counterparts in the lower house, to take an active role in the crafting of the BBL and passionately debate on the most pertinent issues concerning the peace pact.

The Senate chief urged lawmakers to devote time and effort in scrutinizing the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law when it reaches Congress.

“Soon, the ball will be in Congress’ hands. It is the Congress that will ultimately shape and mold the piece of legislation which will breathe life to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” emphasized Drilon, a former executive and justice secretary.

The Senate leader underscored that the law, which should be passed as early as possible, needs “to be responsive to the real and distinct problems and needs of the Bangsamoro people.”

“This measure should resolve social tensions, poor infrastructure, and lack of economic development in the region. It will demand from our lawmakers their utmost prudence, practicality and political acumen,” he added.

The Senate and the House of Representatives had earlier agreed to include the Bangsamoro Basic Law in their priority agenda, and both chambers committed to pass it by the end of 2014.

“That is our target because we want to see 2015 as the year when we can submit this for ratification by the areas covered by the Bangsamoro Basic Law.” By Paul Atienza and Angie M. Rosales

EDITORIAL FROM THE INQUIRER

A humbler Church Philippine Daily Inquirer 12:10 am | Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Five months before the election of Pope Francis, two Philippine archbishops preached the gospel of humility before a worldwide assembly of their fellow bishops. Luis Antonio Tagle, the new archbishop of Manila, was the first of the two to “intervene.” He began with a simple image: For “the Church to be the ‘space’ of a faith-encounter with the Lord,” he said, “she must learn anew from Jesus in whom we meet God.” The first lesson: “The Church must learn humility from Jesus.

God’s power and might appear in the self-emptying of the Son, in the love that is crucified but truly saves because it is emptied of self for the sake of others.”

Socrates Villegas, the archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, delivered the same message. “The new evangelization calls for new humility. The Gospel cannot thrive in pride. When pride seeps into the heart of the Church, the Gospel proclamation is harmed.”

John Allen Jr.’s dispatch that day for the National Catholic Reporter was headlined: “An Asian plea for humility at the Synod of Bishops.”

Since his unexpected election, Pope Francis has made the theme and teaching of a humbler Church his own. He has led by startling example, by (to cite just two out of very many possible instances) refusing to live in the papal quarters and riding in the same bus as other cardinals. He has called on all priests to serve as shepherds with “the odor of the sheep.”

He has redirected Church attention to the edges, to the periphery of society, where the poor and the powerless, the lost and the least, can be found.

But becoming a humbler Church—that is, a listening Church, attentive to the needs of others, an institution that does not seek to talk down to but to speak with—is a daily and difficult challenge, prone to failure.

Consider, for example, the following curious case.

In the aftermath of the unanimous Supreme Court ruling that declared the controversial Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law (save for eight provisions) “not unconstitutional,” the past and present archbishops of Lingayen-Dagupan took contrasting positions. Or perhaps, more accurately, they displayed contrasting dispositions.

Villegas, now also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, responded to the news of the ruling in positive terms; he acknowledged the decision, but focused his attention on the provisions that had been stricken out. “It has truly watered down the RH law, and consequently upheld the importance of adhering to an informed religious conscience even among government workers,” he said.

In contrast, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz saw nothing but the negative. In a TV interview that was simultaneously being tweeted live, Cruz expressed his opinion that the RH Law heralded the “legalization of abortion,” and characterized the Supreme Court, and thus the decision, too, as politically beholden to Malacañang. One ABS-CBN News tweet quoted him as saying: “I am certain, just as the legislative department is under the office of the President, so is the SC under its clutches.”

Here, in the wake of a difficult decision on a roiling controversy, was the perfect opportunity to display the virtue of humility. Villegas succeeded, because he abandoned the absolutist language he had used in 2012, during the run-up to the congressional vote. Cruz failed, because he could not even give the decision its due.

His notion that the Supreme Court was in President Aquino’s clutches is absurd. Indeed, the President’s own appointees to the Court were in the (very small) minority in the skirmishes involving the eight provisions ultimately deemed unconstitutional. If the justices were truly in the clutches of a president who backed the law in full, the law would not have been “watered down.” Cruz’s notion, therefore, is based on an egregious political reading, and violates logic itself.

He can, if he chooses, heed Tagle’s words from the Synod of Bishops. “The seemingly indifferent and aimless societies of our time are earnestly looking for God. The Church’s humility, respectfulness and silence might reveal more clearly the face of God in Jesus. The world takes delight in a simple witness to Jesus—meek and humble of heart.”

FROM PHILSTAR

A Maundy Thursday reflection SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 17, 2014 - 12:00am 0 10 googleplus0 1


By Bobit S. Avila

It’s Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday, a name derived from the Latin word, “Mandatum” taken from the words of our Lord Jesus Christ when he gave his disciples the “New Commandment” which is translated in Latin, “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos”… in English, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you.” You can read it in the Gospel of John 13:34.

This Latin word “Mandatum” is also used as the antiphon that is sang during the Roman rite of the washing of the feet, which in my book is one of the best teachings imparted to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. All Christians will always remember Holy Thursday as the Last Supper, where our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders. We have written about these two major events in Christian history. However for this Holy Thursday we shall touch on the washing of the feet of our Lord’s disciples, which happens before the Last Supper.

I don’t need to tell you about our Lord Jesus Christ’s washing the feet of his disciples because you know this story very well as this teaching is all about servant leadership… which we can read in Matt. 20:28, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” If God himself would teach us humans not just to love one another, but to serve others, this just gives you an idea of what heaven would be like when we get there.

But while we’re still on this earth… our Christian duty is to teach and preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…something many of us fail miserably including our bishops and priests whose primary duty is to feed the sheep in their sheepfold. But since it’s Holy Week, we merely recall what our dying Lord Jesus Christ said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

As I promised in last Tuesday’s column, I will continue discussing what I suggested to the Task Force for Family & Life (TFFL) last week that in this Year of the Laity, we members of the Lay community ought to come up with a Catholic Lay Conference of the Philippines (CLCP) as a parallel to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). Already, that suggestion has become viral in social media and I got so many positive comments and praise God… surprisingly, not a single negative comment.

Allow me to reprint just two of these emailed comments for your perusal. The first one comes from Jun Pacheco;

“Dear Mr. Avila… Thank you for your column about your CLCP undertaking. I think this is a very good idea, as we Pinoys are too dependent on the Clergy to take political action. As long as the lay people do things with charity, love, mercy and without doing it with hatred, it is really the duty of the laity to take action by sanctifying political life.

The problem is since there is a vacuum of active lay people some priests use this as justification to run for public office. With CLCP, nominal Catholics can be properly catechized and empowered and in our time we will have godly politicians. As Pope Francis said, “Let us evangelize the people starting from context of the Gospel of Love and Live, and from there we will all truly understand the true language of Love which will easily explain why a contraceptive mentality is evil. Regards, Jun Pacheco.

The next letter I’m reprinting here comes from Dr. Rey J. Echavez from Doctors for Life, Philippines, one of the petitioners against the RH Law…. “Dear Mr. Avila, … Congratulations on your idea of creating the Catholic Lay Conference of the Philippines. It is already trending in the social media. BTW who are the people behind the TFFL… who are the 12 Lay Catholic members? God bless and more power. Dr. Rey J. Echavez.”

For the record, the TFFL are lay people who came together because of the fight against the RH bill. Actually I’m a Johnny-come-lately to the group because I joined after the mysterious death of Manny Amador (brother of actress Pinky Amador) two years ago. With us are two priests, Fr. John Rona of Perrelos, Carcar and Fr. John Orat, parish priest of Daanbantayan. The TFFL head is my good friend, Engr. Douglas Gacasan and our legal counsel is Atty. Lito Mahinay who helps in the legal problems of the Cebu Archdiocese and is task to do the CLCP constitution.

So it doesn’t get unwieldy, we are looking at a membership based by regions or by province. So that we won’t be misunderstood, the CLCP will not be a creation of the CBCP or any archdiocese. But we certainly would want their blessings in this endeavor. Our aim is to make the CLCP as big as the CBCP in time for the International Eucharistic Congress in the year 2016 were we hope that if Pope Francis comes to visit Cebu, we can greet him together with the CBCP. Our greatest blessing comes from the fact that we have two lay Saints in this country, San Lorenzo Ruiz and San Pedro Calungsod who will surely guide us to God fearing Filipino nation.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Mommy D’s magic At Large By Rina Jimenez-David Philippine Daily Inquirer 4:53 am | Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

You’ve got to love Dionisia Pacquiao!

Reports have it that the Pacman’s mother—the PacMom herself—garnered as much attention in the social media as her son during the televised coverage of Manny Pacquiao’s domination of Timothy Bradley in their championship fight.

I didn’t get to see the video footage, but there were plenty of pictures showing Mommy D at ringside reacting with a bewildering array of gestures as her son and Bradley pounded at each other in the ring. Some tweeted that Mommy D was casting a “Hogwarts spell” at Bradley, as she pointed an angry finger at the ring while clutching a stampita and rosary in the other hand.

She was, in fact, she told an interviewer, directing prayers toward her son, while invoking the “power” of the Santo Niño to protect his “kuya” or older brother, referring to the persona of the Child Jesus.

After Manny’s victory, she proved a gracious ambassador, whispering to Bradley that she was “sorry” for the beating her son’s opponent had undergone, even if Bradley replied that there was “no prob.”

For this alone, I suggest we field the indomitable Mommy D as part of the Philippine delegation if and when we start negotiating with China over our disputed waters. At the very least, her prayers can’t hurt!

Apparently, mother and son have reconciled their religious differences. In his last fight, Mommy D was scathing in her denunciation of the “Born Again” ministers surrounding Manny whom she blamed for causing Heaven’s wrath to fall upon her son. Well, the ministers are still around Manny (even Freddie Roach had to beg them to stay away as they were dropping in on the Pacman at all hours, causing him to lose sleep). But so is Mommy D, armed with her Santo Niño stampita and rosary, oblivious apparently to the aversion that evangelicals hold toward such religious items.

Well, if the PacMom’s “batya’t palu-palo” spirituality works for her—and for Manny—who are we, fans and preachers alike, to deny her the comfort and solace of such a belief? And given her son’s triumph, who are we to rain on her parade, to doubt the blessings that single finger aimed at the ring was able to bestow?

During this Holy Week, let the spirit of tolerance and generosity reign in the Pacquiao camp, and among those who watch and follow them as well.

* * *
STILL, I do think Pacquiao should likewise give serious consideration to his wife Jinkee’s plea that he make this bout his last.

Many fights ago, after he won his eighth title, I think, I wrote that Pacquiao had nothing left to prove and that he should retire from the ring while he was at the crest of his popularity and skill. But the Pacman went on to fight other opponents, suffering grievous defeats that seemed to take the wind out of him, and even more seriously, out of the Filipino people.

Now that he has won back the title that Bradley snatched from him, I hope Pacquiao listens to Jinkee this time. Jinkee, who is pregnant with their fifth child, asked plaintively of her husband how much more money he needed to make, and of what use money was to them if it meant her husband had to be away from his family for long stretches of time.

There is, of course the “ghost” of Floyd Mayweather Jr. hovering in the background. So far Mayweather has been all bluff and bluster even as he seemed to back away every time arrangements for a match with the Pacman came closer to reality. But Manny has not much more to prove, not even against the trash-talking Mayweather. Walk away, Manny, at least while the going is good.

* * *

BUT the question is: Where is Pacman going?

He’s already in Congress representing Sarangani, and Jinkee is the province’s vice governor. There is talk of a run for the Senate, and so far Pacquiao has not discouraged the scuttlebutt. In truth, he could very well join the “august” body, even if it has been tarnished somewhat by the “three little pigs” of the pork barrel scandal. This is especially so since with elections just a little over a year away, Bradley’s drubbing would still be a fresh, pleasant and proud memory for Pinoy voters. Pacquiao could feast on the good feelings for many years to come.

Would the feelings last long enough, and remain powerful enough to sweep Pacquiao all the way to Malacañang? That is another story altogether. Filipino voters don’t seem to have any aversion to electing comedians and two-bit actors even to a national body like the Senate, but they seem to balk at the prospect of putting them in Malacañang. With the exception, of course, of Erap, even if by the time he made a run for the Palace, Erap was already vice president and had put his show biz past behind him.

* * *

STILL, Pacquiao shouldn’t think the road to the presidency is paved with just warm feelings from his victories in the ring. So far, his record in Congress hasn’t exactly been stellar. And if I’m not mistaken, he has the worst attendance record of any member of the House.

If he is serious about his aspirations for the Senate and maybe, just maybe, Malacañang, he should hang up his gloves right now and buckle down to the nitty-gritty of legislative work. Or he could aspire for governor of Sarangani and get his hands dirty with the mess and muck of local politics. He just needs to prove himself outside the ring, and in the political arena into which he and Jinkee have already dived headlong.

Or, they could stay home and enjoy the billions that his boxing career has brought him, raising their growing family. There’s no shame in that.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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