Mention of Cullen in Senate angers Gordon
During the Senate deliberations on the 2017 budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development last Nov. 16, Sen. Richard Gordon stopped Sen. Risa Hontiveros from reading a newspaper column written by Fr. Shay Cullen, describing the awful conditions inside detention centers in the Philippines, and on how the children must be helped. When Gordon heard the name of Father Cullen, he angrily interrupted Hontiveros and ordered her to stop reading the article.
“I don’t normally intervene when somebody is questioning me, but I will, because we have all had enough of this man who pretends to be a priest, but in reality he is like Judas Iscariot. I am taken aback. If you are gonna use him, I don’t think we should even listen to this,” Gordon, a former mayor of Olongapo City, told Hontiveros, adding that if she insisted on reading it, he, Gordon, would filibuster her presentation.
Father Cullen, writer and journalist, is founder of the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City. Preda (People Recovery Empowerment Development Assistance) is an organization protecting vulnerable and abused children and victims of human trafficking.
Gordon effectively denied Senator Hontiveros her constitutional right of freedom of speech by using his position as a senator and refused to have his remarks against Cullen stricken off the Senate records.
In a subsequent article, Cullen said that it is fair to say that the abuse of the senator’s privilege speech to damage and destroy the reputation of those who question the social and economic problems of the country is deplorable. “It diminishes the senators themselves and causes the people to lose faith in the institutions that are supposed to uphold the highest standards of human behavior and respect for the rights and dignity of everyone. This is what Senator Gordon has failed to do,” Cullen said.
—ARNOLD VAN VUGT,
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