Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ironic for Guingonas to be targeted by NPAs. Is Time’s selection of P-Noy in world’s 100 most influential paving return of US bases? Bishops finding their voice in coming elections, reminiscent of last years of Marcos rule; but Church lay organizations such as tri-council of St. James the Greater Parish lead the way

The ambush last Sunday night of Mayor of Gingoog City, Ruthie de Lara Guingona, wife of former VP Tito Guingona and mother of Sen. TG Guingona, that wounded her and killed her two bodyguards was a dastardly act. Thank God Ruthie survived and condolences to the two men who protected her with their lives.

The ambush is quite ironic in many ways. The 78 year-old mayor is on her third term and retiring from politics, and  daughter Marie is running in the elections under the LP banner; thus this ambush claimed by the NPA is a slap on---and a major embarrassment to--- the administration party that's perceived to have formidable links to various shades of the Left.

Secondly, her husband former VP Tito Guingona has been involved in many pro-people causes over the decades (he and I were in the struggle against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in the early 80s). In fact Tito is perceived as left-of-center, as is his senator-son TG.


News reports said the lady mayor failed to coordinate movements within the “NPA-controlled” territory and disregarded its warning not to bring bodyguards along. Her high-profile ambush indicates the growing boldness of the dissident movement.

In another instance, a prominent candidate in the Visayas recounted to this blogger some weeks ago that the NPAs had demanded a tidy sum from him in order to be allowed to campaign in their “controlled” territory; because he does not have the kind of money demanded, he simply does not venture there. 

I also heard that in the Bicol region some menfolk choose to move out rather than be caught between the rebels and the military, both of which are trying to recruit able-bodied people.

The military/PNP recently admitted that the NPA constitutes the biggest threat to the elections, as it continues to wield "strong influence" in more than 60 of the 72 provinces of the country. These data show the growing strength of the dissident movement, which can be attributed to the slackening of effective campaigns by the AFP/PNP. But there are a number of other factors: the continuing poverty and woeful lack of gainful opportunities in the countryside, the wanton abuse of public funds by legislators and the military, and continuing corruption in government that aggravates the poor’s condition.


For ethical reasons I won't comment on the faux Time magazine cover supposedly of President Aquino, his mouth agape, displayed last Saturday in the front-page of this major newspaper. But there’s a few things that ought to be pointed out about Time’s selection of him among the “100 most influential people in the world” in  2012. 

The Manila Standard put it very well when it editorialized that the view of a leader up close, by his own people, may not tally with that of the outside world.  Thus, while the Filipino nation recognizes the honor accorded the President to be in this exclusive list, it’s evident to many that there’s substantial buttering up to him by the magazine---may pagka-pilit ang choice---that leads one to suspect reasons behind the endorsement.


In the first place P-Noy is far from having achieved the international leader status the Time listing would suggest. Note that in the Davos conference last year he addressed only a sparsely-attended side event. In the still running Sabah saga with Sultan Kiram the President was ignored by our small but financially powerful neighbor Malaysia, and the same thing in the West Philippine Sea with China.

The economy sure bagged investment-grade rating from Fitch earlier this year, but it remains to be seen if our foreign direct investments, now still second from the bottom for PH in Asean, would roll in, with the massive power outages in Mindanao. As for the anti-corruption campaign, Pinoys will debate this till they get hoarse.  

The only undeniable issue cited by Time as factor for P-Noy’s inclusion in its annual roll of honor was his ramming through Congress of the RH bill---using the pork barrel as steam-roller. But this may have only succeeded in waking up a sleeping giant---the Church.


So, was Time a willing tool in the buttering-up and why? It’s evident, as  commentators have noted, that the US wants its bases back in PH, with China flexing economic and military muscle and P-Noy’s co-Time leader, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, rattling the region and the US with his missiles.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Chief Volt Gazmin have more than hinted openly recently that bringing back the US bases could be done---to the chagrin of P-Noy’s leftist allies---but this would need a mutual treaty to be approved by the Senate of both countries. Could the bases be the reason why P-Noy is campaigning fiercely---to ensure the 16 votes in the Drilon Senate that would pass the treaty this time? Recall that his mom Cory failed to extract it from the Salonga Senate after twelve senators stiffly said No in 1991.


The RH bill may have awaken the sleeping giant that’s the Church, because the “White Vote Movement” that 45 lay organizations have organized to get anti-RH legislators elected appears to be gathering enormous momentum.  Across the land various bishops are summoning the faithful to vote solons who are for the culture of life, vs. the culture of death through contraceptives and abortion.

Different strokes for different folks: thus, while the likes of Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra and Bishop Florentino Ferrer Cinense of Tarlac have openly endorsed specific anti-RH legislators, other bishops have refrained from doing so. But the bishops’ position is absolutely clear in their strongly-worded pastoral letters---as Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas put it, “to be pro-RH is to be anti-Life.” They  include archbishops such as Nueva Caceres' Rolando Tria Tirona, Tuguegarao's Sergio Utleg and Cagayan de Oro's Antonio Ledesma.  More are expected to publicly join in.


But while certain bishops refrain from naming outright legislator-candidates they support, it’s certain that Catholic lay organizations in their respective domains are working hard to see these candidates win.  For instance, Frank Padilla, national chair of the Couples for Christ Foundation, has endorsed the White Vote Movement. On the other hand, the tri-council of St. James the Greater Parish in Ayala Alabang issued last April 12 a resolution titled the “Catholic Conscience Vote” that endorsed the six “Team Buhay” candidates and three anti-RH candidates of Kapatiran Party, namely, JC de los Reyes, Lito David and Marwil Llasos.

Expectedly, the pro-RH movement has sought to belittle---and therefore discourage---Church lay organizations’ efforts to mobilize, dishing out surveys purporting to show that support for the Church has dwindled and asserting that there is no Catholic vote. The pro-RH folks also seek to criticize prelates openly campaigning for anti-RH candidates.


But the St. James the Greater Parish’s tri-council best articulated the dominant sentiment in the Church now, when it asserted in its resolution supporting various Catholic groups’ campaign for pro-Life candidates:  

"...It has long been said that there is no such thing as a Catholic vote. Perhaps this is true. It is good that our Catholic Faith allows us to exercise individual conscience in choosing our political leaders. It is even better that the Catholic clergy are prohibited from using the pulpit to endorse or campaign against candidates. Perhaps this self-imposed vulnerability has paved the way for the reckless attacks on the Church we now experience.

“But when Catholic Faith and Morals are assaulted through legislation, it is the duty of the faithful laity to stand up and be counted, not so much to prove that there is a Catholic vote but to exercise our rights and influence the legislative agenda of our Congress. This is our right and our duty.

' “The lay faithful should also be encouraged and helped to assume their duty and responsibility to participate in public life and reform it according to Gospel values (Art. 42.2, PCP-II).” '

This document addressed to “fellow parishioners” was signed by Rene Evidente, Eugene de la Cruz and Ricky Presa on behalf of the tri-council of St. James the Greater Parish last April 12. That parish is leading the way, but all over the country many other parishes are also finding their voice and mobilizing for the coming elections with one aim: to influence the legislative agenda of Congress for pro-Family, pro-Life laws.

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1 comment:

  1. Bel, May 13 is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. No coincidence for me. Let us all pray for major miracles in the May 13 elections. We must believe in the "Woman who will crush the serpent's head..."