The Honorable Rodante D. Marcoleta, said to be eyeing a seat as senator in the 2022 elections, once said in a July 2016 interview: “Affected na affected ako na ang rule ay puwedeng baluktutin (I am very affected that rules can be easily twisted)!” That was way back when he was with the “Legitimate 8,” the protest group that called themselves the “true fiscalizers” when a pseudo minority House leader was elected. So who is Marcoleta fiscalizing for?Let us begin with his House Bill No. 4633 that aims to remove crucifixes in hospitals. His explanatory note reasons thus: “Presence of crucifixes in many hospital suites appears normal but it raises serious interfaith issues. First of all, the crucifix is the most salient representation of the Catholic church. Its existence in these health care institutions presupposes singular church membership.”
“In our country, where people are ultra-sensitive about their faith, a minor swipe at their religion is such a major slight. Hence, a non-Catholic patient would be ill at ease to find a crucifix hovering in his or her room.”
If Marcoleta’s bill becomes law, the freedom of those who want to hang crucifixes in their places of confinement will be infringed. Healing is an act of religious view freely chosen. Instead of fostering tolerance, religious intolerance for diverse beliefs would be fostered.
Some hospitals are sectarian-owned (Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventist, Protestant), many are not. A crucifix or cross on the wall is a choice of the hospital proprietor. A patient freely chooses the hospital.
Religious tolerance is a reality in many Mindanao hospitals where patients can be of the Islamic faith. Nurses, many of whom are now trained in transcultural health praxis, know what to do when a patient expresses insecurity at the presence of the crucifix or cross. When a request is made for such to be removed, the patient’s wish is followed out of religious respect. After all, love begets love. There begins interfaith dialogue.
Marcoleta’s bill calls for a removal of crucifixes, however optional. That is contrarian to religious freedom.
Is he being dictated upon? Consider his political affiliations. He started his congressional seat as representative of the party list Alagad (2004-2007, 2009-2013). In the 2016 elections, Marcoleta ran under another party named 1-Sagip, also associated with his sect. That was the time of the Legitimate 8 when he objected to the election of Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez as a fake minority leader. And then he bolted the 8. Asked why, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said, “His church wanted him to join the majority.”
That is quite a powerful church then, able to decree the legislative agenda of a member. “Unity is part of the church’s doctrine,” explained Marcoleta.
Winning under 1-Sagip in 2016, he joined the administration “supermajority.” Marcoleta shocked the public when in 2018 he authored the motion to give the Commission on Human Rights a paltry 1,000-peso budget. On interpellation, Marcoleta slammed the CHR for supposedly acceding “more to the United Nations special rapporteur” rather than protect the human rights of President Duterte in the bloody war on drugs. His church, the Iglesia ni Cristo, has been known to oppose former justice secretary and detained political prisoner Sen. Leila de Lima.
Marcoleta supported the dual citizenship law, the same law he had questioned on Gabby Lopez’s citizenship. He had also authored the franchises of Bohol Chronicle Radio Corp., Rajah Broadcasting Network, TV5, GMA Network, and other networks that have been in operation for more than 50 years.
What was it again that he once said? “I am very affected that rules can be easily twisted.”
We carry a cross each time we vote into office congressmen who bend the law according to the will and welfare of their oligarchic patrons. In developing spiritual forbearance, we are often told to embrace our cross. That is true. But in electing officials who crucify us with their astonishing ability to sink our spirits, we don’t embrace them. We vote them out of office to spare the nation from crucifixion.
On Twitter: @AntonioJMontal2. Email: [email protected]
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