29.1 C
Monday, June 24, 2024


"Five hundred years of the Church"

- Advertisement -


Let me start with a salute to the late Horace Gillego, a fraternity brod of mine who became one of the newest victims of the implacable virus. He was a charter Alpha Sigman and the son of the redoubtable nationalist politician Boni Gillego.

Horace’s death reminds us that the grim statistics of the pandemic are piling up again. Daily new cases are again exceeding 5,000, numbers we thought we had left behind last October. It’s no time for our courage amid the lockdown to flag, not when help, in the form of the new vaccines, is literally already at hand.

* * *

The latest dust-up between government and the violent Left features the reported circulation of internal memos within government agencies urging employees to identify members of the militant labor group “Courage” and refrain from joining their ranks.

This group—the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees—has been trying hard to get into Congress as a party-list. Its former president, Congressman Ferdinand Gaite, did get himself elected, as a representative of Bayan Muna. Obviously, both groups are interchangeable.

Now what could be more anomalous than a bunch of government employees signing up with a group that’s part of a movement dedicated to the overthrow of the Philippine government, by any means including violence? Again, don’t take our word for it: Ask the guys in Courage to denounce the NPA in public. But don’t hold your breath waiting.

* * *

At about the same time, some bright boy in the provincial ranks of the PNP took it upon himself to ask the local courts for the names of lawyers who’ve been representing radical activists in court. No reason was given for the request, but the authority of the PNP higher-ups was invoked—a claim that was roundly denied by the top brass.

It’s clear to the generals that the system needs lawyers who’re willing to defend anyone and everyone, no matter how execrable the defendant might be. Without them, due process simply falls apart, and our justice system ends up no better than the kangaroo “people’s courts” that the CPP-NPA uses to inflict “revolutionary justice.” At that point, consider the war against them lost.

Now, committing to lawyer for anyone who asks—in the interest of upholding the adversarial nature of our justice system—is quite different from signing up with a movement that harbors only contempt for what it calls “bourgeois justice”. If the rank and file of, say, the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL) bear no such contempt, you can be sure that the members of the Party group who run NUPL for the CPP-NDF, in fact do.

Therein lies the paradox of conceding democratic space to government officials and lawyers who’re willing to violate their professional oaths in order to bring down—together with their armed comrades—the guarantors of such space. How do you deal with people who won’t condemn Red violence, but who’ll condemn being Red-tagged?

On such conundrums may rise or fall the Republic. We can only pray for persistence—and a little circumspection—among those charged with its defense.

* * *

Exactly today marks the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan stumbling across the island of Homonhon after a gruelling two-year sea journey. Fittingly, today’s liturgy is a “watery” one.

In the first reading (Ez 47: 1-9, 12), an angel shows the prophet Ezekiel the river flowing out of the temple of the Lord; wherever it flows, “every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live”. The trees on the riverbanks need only be “watered by the flow from the sanctuary” to bear fruit.

In the Gospel (Jn 5: 1-16), the blind, lame and crippled are seen lying by the healing waters of the Bethesda pool in Jerusalem. Jesus arrives and commands one of them to “rise, take up your mat, and walk”, and the man is immediately cured. He didn’t need the pool waters to be healed, only the miraculous powers flowing from Christ, the new sanctuary, the new temple of the Lord.

Five hundred years ago, Christianity was an inadvertent gift from Magellan. Today, the faith is a river that’s flowing right back to his descendants in Europe—a gift being returned many times over by the millions of Filipino Catholics who’re now working there and elsewhere abroad.

Those OFWs are also caretakers of families, their own as well as their hosts. They’re the modern-day successors to the head of the Holy Family himself, St Joseph. When we celebrate the saint’s solemnity this Friday, let’s also remember the courage—the real kind—of these (mostly) women and men who, like him, are also bringing the Child Jesus in their bosoms—often at great personal cost–to an increasingly faithless world.

Readers can write me at


Popular Articles