Voice of God
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and second as farce.
The Iglesia ni Cristo rally at the Luneta last Tuesday had an ignoble precedent a little more than a decade ago. It also had to do with religion, it also had to do with the Luneta, it also had to do with an impeachment. And it was also justified as a prayer rally despite politics dripping all over it like lard from a cooked goose.
That was the National Day of Prayer and Fasting held at the Luneta in November 2000 by Erap’s friends, many of them religious leaders. Chief of them, if I recall right, was Mike Velarde who committed his religious troops, also called El Shaddai, to the occasion. The event did try to avoid explicitly political statements, dwelling in great part on religious platitudes that had to do with sin and forgiveness. But its intentions were clear. Erap was being battered by the impeachment and could do with a little help from his friends. So they helped.
It didn’t help. A couple of months later, the people themselves spoke in the form of People Power. And before you could say Velarde, Mike or Jose, Erap was gone.
The Iglesia rally dogs the same path. It did try to avoid explicitly political statements last Tuesday, dwelling in great part on religious platitudes that justified its existence. But its intentions were clear. Renato Corona was being battered by the impeachment and could do with a little help from his friends. So they helped.
It won’t help either.
One insider summarized their cause on the eve of the rally: “It seems Malacañang is not getting the message of the church. This is just another way to show our displeasure.” The displeasure has to do with P-Noy firing Magtanggol Gatdula as NBI chief and apparently trying to pressure Serafin Cuevas to resign as chief defense lawyer of Corona. Another insider put it this way on the day of the rally itself: “It seems that this (administration) is only interested in exacting revenge against its political opponents (instead of) bringing meaningful reforms for the good of the Filipino people.”
Malacañang has denied pressuring Cuevas to resign. Why on earth would it want to do so? Cuevas is at least vastly more entertaining—and civilized—than Miriam Defensor-Santiago. As to Gatdula, what does the Iglesia want P-Noy to do? Keep Gatdula after he was implicated in the kidnapping and extortion of a Japanese national? Or indeed after he refused to follow his order to remand the woman to Immigration? The Iglesia says Gatdula wasn’t given due process. But of course he did. The principle is that public officials are there only so long as they can prove themselves fit for their office, not so long as the world hasn’t proved them to be kidnappers or extortionists beyond a shadow of doubt. It’s a principle Corona would do well to learn. It’s a principle the Iglesia would do well to learn.
In fact, the Iglesia’s stance is just a variation on the theme of, “We don’t particularly care if he’s an SOB so long as he’s our SOB.” A thinking the churches of this country seem to have embraced with a passion. The El Shaddai excels at it, the Iglesia excels at it, the Catholic Church excels at it. Lest we forget, the Catholic bishops, archbishops and even cardinals were Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s moral prop during her time. Despite a range and scale of crimes that rivaled only Marcos’. In lieu of “vox populi, vox Dei,” the voice of the people is the voice of God, it was “Gloria in excelsis Gloria,” glory to Gloria in the highest. It’s enough to make you believe that in this country, religion and morality are not hand in glove, they are oil and water. Ne’er the twain shall mix.
A couple of months after Erap’s prayer rally, he became history. I don’t know why we have to wait that long to make Corona history. I’ve been saying it for some time now, about time we took to the streets again, if not indeed to the Edsa Shrine, if not indeed to the Luneta itself, to make our displeasure known. Our displeasure over the way the Judiciary has turned to mob rule, using the law to hide the truth, using the law to despoil the law, using the law to thwart justice. Our displeasure over the way the impeachment has gone, the impeachment court surrendering its power to the very people it is meant to try. Our displeasure over the way the institutions of this country, the courts, the church, the military cannot see beyond narrow self-interest, to hell with right and wrong, we don’t care if he’s an SOB so long as he’s our SOB.
About time we made our pleasure, or affirmations, known as well. Our affirmation that, contrary to what the Iglesia says, ridding the Supreme Court of its dregs like Corona and Arroyo’s justices, and prosecuting Arroyo herself are not a distraction from more important matters, they strike at the heart of the matter. Our affirmation that, contrary to what the usual suspects in the impeachment court say, the Senate has no more vital, more important, more life-and-death thing to do than to impeach the impeachable, legislating means nothing if the spirit of the law can’t take hold of this country anyway. Our affirmation that, contrary to what Corona and Arroyo and their allies say, impeaching Corona and prosecuting Arroyo do not draw attention away from meaningful reforms, it is the most meaningful reform there is, cleaning up this country once and for all, being the surest way you can put food on the table of the hungry, being the surest way you can give hope to a despairing people.
Some voices just issue from the mouth of the devil, others from the mouth of God. Vox populi, vox Dei, the voice of the people is the voice of God. It’s time we undertook People Power once again. That is the voice of the people.
That is the voice of God.
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