When your Chair Wrecker read the June 6 CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) News story about a so-called Malacañang plot to “silence” Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, my immediate reaction was that it was information that came from a dubious source and was echoed by a long-time Aquino hater.
Citing Jueteng operator Sandra Cam as his source, Cruz said: “She told me that a certain Zuñiga, some kind of a right hand if not a staff member of Llamas, approached her with this question: “How can Oscar Cruz be quieted?” Llamas is, of course, Presidential Adviser Ronald Llamas. Mind you, Cruz himself admitted that the so-called approach was done several months ago. Cruz explained the time gap by saying: “I don’t think it was time for it. But now that it was openly said that the President does not mind me at all and I understand that because Malacañang hates my guts so to speak… That’s why this intervention of Llamas is not only credible but also definitely true.”
From his own words, it would seem that Cruz is a classic case of what we call kulang sa pansin (missing attention). Is this then his way of getting the attention of the president? That would make him no better than a spoiled brat.
Cruz added: “I understand that Malacañang does not like me because I do not flatter it, I don’t scratch its back, I don’t ask favors so when I’m interviewed about my perceptions, I’ll say what I think although I may be wrong but I say what I think.”
As to flattery, back scratching, seeking favors — these are easily debunked. President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) isn’t the unlamented and now detained former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, legendary for her immense patronage to the “needs” of the Bishops. This latest concoction of Archbishop Cruz appears more of a desperate attempt by a self-styled administration critic seeking to grab a few headlines. The fact that Cruz has been much overlooked lately by the media may have driven him to undertake this wild claim, which is untypical of the P-Noy administration.
The P-Noy administration will undertake political give and take but done within ethical guidelines. This is seen in the dealings with non-Liberal Party (LP) members of Congress and the Senate. The pork barrel is a legitimate area for give and take. Another is the appointment of worthy candidates for executive positions being pushed by non-LP Congressmen or Senators.
Silencing an administration critic is not in the P-Noy administration’s choice of remedies. It would violate the image of Ninoy and Cory as icons of democracy and that P-Noy will never do. My take on this is that this is precisely being floated in order to erode the strong Aquino political brand. Llamas has made a few foot in mouth blunders in the past but he’s not stupid to attempt something like this.
What for? Cruz isn’t registering and isn’t in a position to undermine the P-Noy administration. How many folks listen to Oscar Cruz and are swayed by Oscar Cruz? Uncontrolled rising prices, caused by external factors, diminished P-Noy’s approval and trust ratings — but not the wild assertions of Oscar Cruz. In fact, P-Noy’s diminished trust and approval ratings are still considered an all-time high for a president already on his second year in office.
The Gospel of St. Mark (12: 38-44) strikes us as a warning from Jesus Christ about our modern-day Pharisees. St. Mark wrote: “38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Despite a clear separation of the Church and the State in our country, there have been shameful attempts by the Roman Catholic Church to influence policies and decisions of the government. It’s within the job description of the Bishops to alert Catholics about the dogma on abortion, but they’re not supposed to take an active role in shaping legislative and executive actions on abortion. It’s within the job description of the Bishops to guide their flock that they must not favor the RH Bill — but they’re not supposed to actively lobby for its non-passage by Congress.
The actuations of the Iglesia ni Kristo (INK), a sect that isn’t Catholic and even dubiously Christian, do not provide the Catholic Church justification for behaving like power brokers. The very Gospel, the bedrock of the Church’s doctrine, condemns these acts that tend to mix up what is for Caesar and what is for God. While it’s justified for the Church to become the voice of the truth when tyranny suppresses the high crimes the State may have been committing, that doesn’t mean that the Bishops should get involved in the policy formation and protocols of the justice system.
In the case of Archbishop Oscar Cruz, he has a track record for maligning and accusing a lot of people but has never proven any of his charges. He has been a critic of our late president Cory C. Aquino, P-Noy’s mother, and that animosity was extended to this administration.
Lately, Cruz has gained a comic partner in the person of Batangas Archbishop Ramon Arguelles — big fan and pastor of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Renato C. Corona. While Cruz postures as non-partisan, Arguelles isn’t shy about demonstrating his affection for some of the most disliked and distrusted persons of the nation. Like Cruz, Arguelles also comes close to frothing in the mouth when attacking P-Noy.
Let’s not forget that Arguelles called for a stop of the Corona impeachment trial. While many called the impeachment trial a historical landmark, Arguelles felt it was senseless and was just a media vehicle for Senator-Judges. In his hatred for P-Noy, it’s not beyond Arguelles to make a mean, personal remark that’s very unbecoming of an Archbishop of the Catholic Church.
Indeed, Christ had warned us. Well, there they are.
* * *
Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”
* * *