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Efren N. Padilla

Team Patay vs. Team Buhay: The new Inquisition?

March 4, 2013 1:20pm
The Diocese of Bacolod City in Negros Occidental, headed by Bishop Vicente Navarra, through its counsel Ralph Sarmiento has taken its fight against the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to the Supreme Court (SC).

It is petitioning the high tribunal to permanently stop the removal of its oversized poster that violates the COMELEC’s regulation on campaign materials mounted on the right side of the Diocese’s San Sebastian Cathedral façade.

Never mind that the poster is really about the Diocese’s vociferous stance against the Reproductive Health (RH) Law (signed by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III last December 21, 2012).

Never mind that the poster is really about the Diocese’s declaration of the RH Law as anti-life, anti-morals, anti-family, anti-marriage, and anti-church teachings.

What makes it controversial for me is not so much that the Diocese of Bacolod keeps peddling lies about the RH Law, but is now insisting that the poster is not a political campaign material at all.

How can it not be a political campaign material when the poster reeks of partisanship?

How can it not be a political campaign material when it lists senatorial candidates Alan Peter Cayetano, Juan Edgardo Angara, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Teodoro Casiño and Jack Enrile, and partylist groups such as Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Akbayan and Anak Pawis as alleged members of “Team Patay” (Party of Death)?  

And how can it not be a political campaign material when it lists senatorial candidates Joseph Victor Ejercito-Estrada, Antonio Trillanes, Gregorio Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Koko Pimentel and Cynthia Villar, and partylist groups such as Buhay and Ang Pamilya as alleged members of “Team Buhay” (Party of Life)?

It is disingenuous for the Diocese of Bacolod to speak of being apolitical when it is willfully politicizing its stance against the Reproductive Health Law.

I wouldn’t say that the Diocese of Bacolod and its ilk are poor losers. I’d say that they hate the idea that they lost and are now having a hard time dealing with it.

I just wish that they’d learn to lose gracefully and learn to be a good sport about it. As they say in sports competitions: “you lost, get over it, and move on, man!”

But I know my wish may not come true. Today, the majority of its followers are out in force again trying to impose its own version of a religious imperative.

This is really the matter that gets my goat because it is insulting not only to our political process, but also to the dignity of our democratic voice.

Interestingly, world history is replete with examples of deadly consequences when one imposes a religious imperative.

Consider this. The 15th century Dominican friar Tomás de Torquemada, the first Spanish Grand Inquisitor sanctioned by the Pope, expelled Jews in Spain and burned alleged offenders of the canon law at the stake or the 20th century German dictator Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party who was convinced that his policy of genocide against the Jews was doing the Lord’s work. As he aptly puts it:  “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord” (Mein Kampf).

How then can we allow a particular group of believers to con us into thinking that they are the ones who absolutely speak God’s words?

More so, how can we allow them to disrespect the heterogeneity of our beliefs by imposing their own version of hegemonic belief?

As a Filipino, I have accepted Catholicism as part of our colonial history. Without Spanish colonization, Catholicism might not have been the dominant religion in our country. I have also accepted the fact that just like other religious organizations in the country, it is a force to be reckoned with in shaping our national identity into a diverse and multicultural society.  And I truly respect the many Catholics I know for that.

But when a particular Catholic organization or any religious organization rears its ugly head of intolerance and bigotry by agitating its laity into a fool’s errand of frenzied cultural ethnocentrism or hegemonic moralism, expect me to batten down the hatches.

I like what Steven Weinberg, an American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate has to say: “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
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