Punchline

Father Soc’s moral howitzer

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

AS I recalled the recent mischiefs of the provincial board members, i.e., threatening retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz to declare him persona non grata and advocating the entry of Small Town Lottery in Pangasinan, a popular Christmas ditty for kids came to mind soon after Archbishop Soc Villegas issued his Pastoral Statement on Gambling two weeks ago.

And as I thought about the holiday season, carolers ought to include that song in their repertoire when singing in front of our board members, whether in session or at their homes with the new lyrics:

“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why, Archbishop Villegas is now in town. He sees you when you’re praying, he knows when you’re elsewhere, he knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake! Oh, you better watch out, you better watch out, you better watch out, I’m telling you why, Father Soc is headed for war.”

Perhaps the “Singing Priests of Pangasinan”, they who became instant celebrities after their hit October concert in Lingayen, should consider caroling all the elected officials in the archdiocese with this song for  “Tuwid na daan“.

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Late as it may seem, Archbishop Villegas’ pastoral statement reiterating his predecessor Archbishop Oscar Cruz’s advocacy was like a calm, cool breeze that dawned on the province one Sunday morning in the aftermath of a raging storm. It came when no one expected it. In fact, when the good archbishop was eerily silent even after Archbishop Cruz was being vilified in the media by the board members last month, people began to doubt whether he would ever dare pick up the cudgels for his predecessor anytime soon.  Some even thought the board members had correctly calculated his disposition by brazenly discrediting Cruz in his face.

How wrong they were! Father Soc responded with his damning moral howitzer designed to cut deep inside trapos’ brains. In my book, his pastoral statement qualifies him to be in the company of those who are close to being declared persona non grata by the provincial board.  He not only threatened to label the Espino administration as a “morally corrupt government” if moves to revive the jueteng in the province persist, he told off the board members for attempting to revive jueteng under the guise of a legitimate small town lottery.  Father Soc believes the STL will “breed greater moral evils in government service” and therefore, rejects it totally.

If the provincial board members decide to respond with a similar resolution as they did to Cruz, then I must doff my hat off to them for being foolishly courageous at being consistent in their principles as cock-eyed politicians. If they decide to step back and take Villegas’ ala Pacman punches in stride, then they would regrettably expose their hypocrisy further. Matapang pag hindi  kaharap ang kalaban. Tsk-tsk.

But Father Soc, like the Pacman, offered a graceful way out for them and other public officials who are similarly inclined. Paraphrasing his statement, he told them he was still wiling to work with them “to restore integrity in public life” despite their being sinners against God and society, specifically for merely accepting illegal gambling as a way of life and not fighting it

Only the clueless will not take him up on his benevolent offer of reconciliation and forgiveness.

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FACEBOOK TAGS. The PUNCH was “tagged” in Facebook about a discussion on two interesting local issues: one is an allegation of corruption in Calasiao town depicted by the ritzy mansion being built by the Macanlalays in Baguio City and the other, an account of the hardships and realities faced by an OFW

The first one was triggered by an “expose” by “Baley Calasiao” blogger. He posted a picture of a mansion under construction allegedly owned by the Macanlalays. He questioned the sources of the newfound wealth and affluence of the family whose only visible sources of legitimate income are limited to being elected officials of Calasiao. The sentiments expressed were predictably mixed; some found it as a clear evidence of corruption, Macanlalays’ allies pooh-poohed it while still others were unaffected. The latest in the thread was a declaration of the blogger of a threat to his life.

The other is a truly moving black-white text video presentation in Pangasinan by “Rose Lyn R”, currently employed as a caregiver in Israel, on her thoughts about the travails, hard life and sacrifices of an OFW.  Bereft of any literary pretenses, she articulated the thoughts of an OFW. “Siyopa ed sikayo ra so walad abroad so asawa, anak, ateng, kaaro tan kanayon? Tan saray pirawat day man-abroad? Antoy pakatolos yo na OFW?” she asked her readers and proceeded to detail both the daily struggles and anguish of an OFW and the inspiration from which the OFW derives strength. It is a timely piece as the province seeks to repatriate 3 Pangasinan OFWs who died in a fire that gutted their poorly built apartment in Dubai. While the news can easily be dismissed by most as another tragedy for families with OFWs, Rose Lyn’s piece will change that perception instantly. It’s like listening to the torments of the 3 before they perished.

FB users who wish to be tagged to read and view either, simply send a message to “Baley Calasiao” or “Rose Lyn R”.

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WHEN PARENTS CORRUPT KIDS. If you think the unabashed scandalous display of corruption at the height of the Sangguniang Kabataan elections has abated, you are dead wrong.

Check out the activities of the parents of the newly elected SK presidents in the barangay level.  Determined not to be outdone in the election of the president of the SK federation in the municipal and city level, parents of candidates in contention are not sparing anything to ensure the election of their children.

Not a few parents of elected barangay SK presidents are being wooed with oodles of cash by the parents (of children in contention) to get the former’s commitment that they compel their children to vote as directed. Through it all, the children are told to simply keep their mouths shut as their parents engage in “haggling and negotiation” (translation:  corruption by bribery) for the election of the federation president!

Why the big fuss?  Parents, not the kids, now take to losing or winning in the federation election as a matter of family honor. The honor not only translates to receiving a councilor’s pay and allowances with a scholarship to boot but the privilege of appending the title “Honorable” to their children’s name.  So wonder no more what happened to the touted aspirations of the law’s authors for the youth because they’re doggone gone!

If the law has to be amended, I submit that it should be renamed SMPP: Sanggunian ng Mga Pasayaw na Magulang, and the provisions in the law be modified accordingly to suit the elders’ propensity for corruption.

Shame on these parents who teach their kids that honor integrity can be sold and bought. Shame on the children for not knowing any better and don’t feel accountable.

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