Fake news from the archdiocese


By Ermin Garcia Jr.

I fully support and join the call for communio as described in the “Post Synodal Message” authorized by Lingayen–Dagupan Archdiocese Bishop Socrates Villegas to be read last in all Sunday masses on September 10 in all churches in the archdiocese.

However, there was one claim in that message that I must take issue with, and by all standards should be labeled as ‘fake news’.

It read: “We celebrated the synod under the grieving shadow of the more than 13,000 countrymen who have been killed in the anti-drug campaign.”

Nothing can be further from the truth.

I seriously doubt if the archdiocese has the data to back this claim because as of August 29, 2017, PNP only registered 3,811 drug-related deaths in the war on drugs.

Not even the Commission on Human Rights recorded and investigated over a thousand drug-related deaths.

I can only surmise that the closest that the claimed 13,000 figure was lifted from the PNP that registered 12,426 homicide cases as of May 20, 2017, but out of which only 2,091 were confirmed to be drug–related!

So the 13,000 estimate actually lumped all deaths whether caused by rape, robbery, vehicular accidents, etc. with drug-related cases in attempt to exaggerate the situation obviously to stir anger among the populace.

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IRONIC.  While the post-synod message was critical of trolls in social media that constantly challenged the truth, among them claiming 13,000 drug-related deaths without an iota of evidence of data, echoing the same made the clergy no better than the trolls employed by the groups out to destabilize the Duterte administration.

Is the archdiocese lending itself to the political destabilization of the government?

I have no doubt the Church can be more effective in delivering its message of peace and communio if it only uses validated facts from either CHR or any political party or the PNP that can produce the data to back up any claim.

By simply parroting baseless claims, the motive of the Church becomes suspect as well. 

The Church can and should challenge official police, PDEA and or NBI records, if it feels the data and explanations, clarifications, don’t add up but to simply ignore official data and invoke mere unverified claims as facts does not make the clergy’s prayers and appeals credible and engaging.

The Church has repeatedly said it must stop fake news, then it must do what it preaches.  No fake news in homilies and statements to media, please!

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COMMNUNIO IS PRACTICED.  If only the Synod cared to look beyond its walls and its bias against the war on drugs, the clergy would have been gratified to note that communio is being celebrated and shared by the faithful today.

It would seem that the clergy are missing out on the sincere and determined efforts being exerted by the police, local governments, national agencies and religious volunteers to reform and rehabilitate the thousands of self-confessed drug pushers and users in Pangasinan.

These efforts are not being organized to counter efforts of the anti-Duterte administration. They are organized to look after the surviving victims of the illegal drugs. There is no talk of number of kills that the national media have focused on but talks of providing better future and chances to reform for the sake of their families.

Have Fr. Soc and the archdiocese’s parish priests taken time to observe the conduct of the community-based rehabilitation programs because if they haven’t, they are missing out on the new brand of bayanihan that the synod speaks of.

My appeal to the clergy: Please desist from invoking 13,000 deaths which is fiction but cite the more than 1,000 people working for the early rehabilitation of close to 10,000 drug-affected members of troubled families, which is the truth and a fact.

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HONOR AND INTEGRITY. Our editorial spoke of mental dishonesty of Dagupan Vice Mayor Brian Lim and Councilor Redford Erfe-Mejia when they pursued their opposition to the transfer of the city hall to another location.

Little did I know that Mr. Lim had a broadside specifically aimed at The PUNCH. 

Mr. Brian was heard inside the session hall and on radio, to quote:  

Pwede pang baguhin ng ombudsman, sandiganbayan, court of appeals at ng supreme court… hindi po batas ang opinion. dahil ang opinion napakadaling bilhin… tignan ninyo ang diyaryo na nasa harapan ninyo, di ba. ….”  Apparently, there were copies of the ‘Pangasinan’s News Leader’ on the desks of the councilors inside the hall.

Well, tell you what Brian boy… shame on you! Obviously, you never learned to spell the words “honor” and “integrity” in your lifetime because your father never learned to spell them as well.  Forget the title “honorable” appended to your political title because in your case it can only mean “Onor-onor” to where money can be had by any means!

I can only pray that Dagupan will never have to suffer another Lim administration that knows no honor and integrity.  (My only deep regret is that my relative Red Erfe-Mejia has chosen to sidle up to him, and threw out everything he had learned about the two words in his life!). 

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REMEMBER 1.5 M? Speaking of Red, as I perused his written objection to the passage of the two ordinances, I suddenly realized I didn’t know him.

I would have thought he would be decent enough not to talk about ill motives surrounding the urgency of a special session to pass a resolution accepting the donation of the right of way. It was about accepting a donation.

In April 20, 2012, I saw Councilor Red and the rest of the Judas 9 (led by Councilor Brian) how they eagerly responded to the call for a special session by then Mayor BSL to pass a resolution authorizing him to sell MC Adore.  That special session took less than 3 minutes to throw their honor and integrity out the window.

Then last week, Red sheepishly talked about hearing of P250,000 being handed out to his colleagues who supported the acceptance of the donation for the city hall relocation. Tsk-tsk.  He thought people would no longer remember that the talk about him and his fellow Judas 9 in 2012 that each received at least P1.5 million!

(Readers who may have a short memory of ‘Judas 9’ or reading it here for the first time, the phrase was coined for the 9 who betrayed the city for holding that special session for a sellout.)

Red wrote: “As I have said in my Dissenting Committee Report on Ordinance 0-608, the Dagupan City is worth infinitely more than two hundred fifty thousand pesos (P250,000) and a handful of emergency ghost employees.”

Geez…I had goosebumps as I recalled his and Brian’s faces on April 20, 2012.

Sayang ka Red.

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