PDU30 attacks clergy, not the church

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


AS I read the full statement issued by the clergy in the Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocese for the “Day of Reparation,“ my initial impression was it was an appropriate and timely call for prayers for Fr. Richmond Nilo and two other slain priests, and yes for President Duterte to stop  the “verbal persecution of the Catholic Church.”

While I sincerely share our church leaders view that, indeed, the president should tone down his rhetoric debasing the values and teachings of the church, I surmise that the president’s verbal attacks on the church were actually aimed at specific members of the clergy out to discredit and destabilize his administration.

As I read on, I sensed we can expect more verbal tussles from the president. In between the calls for prayers, the statement was peppered with clergy’s provocative rhetoric . Sadly, what started as a rally for prayers, had to end on a sour note.

Read: “ We seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit that our leaders in government may arrest the further erosion of law and order in the country and restore respect for human life and human dignity, keeping in mind that they are “the king’s good servants but God’s first” (Saint Thomas More).

“We beg the Lord to wake up our people, now walking in darkness and numbed by fear, to stand up for the Lord and courageously correct error and sin. May we find among our lay people the readiness to work actively for social and political changes grounded in Catholic moral teachings and Christian social ethics.”

“By the rosaries at EDSA 1986, we cast the dictator from his throne. Courage is contagious. Cowardice stinks. Prayer heals. Penance revives the dead.”

That last paragraph echoed its undisguised call for people power to oust the president. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern that last statement.

So if Mr. Duterte is not about to stop attacking the church, unstatesmanlike and blasphemous he may be, now you know what prompts him to respond viciously.

If the clergy honestly wants to work with government, and want the president to stop attacking them and the church, then they must stop using the pulpit to rally the faithful to turn against the government. The president had since indicated that if the clergy can’t respect the godly purpose of the pulpit, he said he will be the last to respect it.

To sum it: Because our church leaders insist on throwing stones, not bread, and refuse to turn the other cheek, Mr. Duterte is convinced that an eye for an eye is the right response to the clergy’s rhetoric.

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SELECTIVE HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES. We have every reason to be seriously alarmed and concerned that criminal minds have no more qualms about killing priests for whatever reason or motivation.  

I can almost hear the hitmen telling us ”Walang personalan, trabaho lang,”  meaning it’s all about the money paid for the job. It doesn’t matter who their targets are as long as the price is right.

But curiously, as the murderous hitmen are making heyday in their newfound industry, the Commission on Human Rights has been ominously silent. Is it because Administrative Order No. 35 didn’t cite the killing of members of the clergy as violations of human rights?

But then, CHR has not also not heard protesting the recent series of deaths of journalists as human rights violations although the killing of journalists is listed as among the cases for human rights violations.

But here’s the rub. A.O.  No. 35 doesn’t cite killing of drug suspects as violations of human rights but the detractors of the Duterte administration vehemently insist that deaths in the hands of the police in whatever situation are deemed human rights violations.  Tsk-tsk.

We are seeing a selective application of human rights violations in this country under the watch of Chairman Chito Gascon, former LP secretary-general and secretary for political affairs in the PNoy administration.

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WEAPONS VS. HITMEN. Every day, we hear and read reports of men and women being waylaid by motorcycle-riding hitmen.

Nothing can seem to stop the mindless killers or so we think. But we have the tools and capabilities to counter them: an efficient intel network, an involved citizenry, CCTV cameras on the streets, dash cams on cars and Go-pro cameras on motorcycle riders.

All these address the hitmen’s main weapon – concealment of faces, plate numbers and escape routes. If the hitmen are aware that cameras are all over the place, they will begin to think twice before accepting a hit-job knowing they can be traced.

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COVER-UP IN MANIPUD SLAY. Last week, I wrote about an information relayed to me by Jasmin Manipud-Elepano, daughter of the late Atty. Godofredo Manipud, about her suspicion of an attempt to manipulate the legal process in favor of one Fritzagerald Ruedas, a prime suspect in the suspected killing of her father.

Over the week, I again received a copy of a letter addressed to Mayor Belen Fernandez and members of the Dagupan Sanggunian. The suspicions she described therein are worrisome but with credible basis.

She expressed fears that at the center of what she suspects as a conspiracy to cover-up is the Dagupan City Police Station!

She cited among other things:

  1. The family was misled to believe initially that a complaint was filed with the Prosecutor’s Office by her brother only to find out that the complaint form was by the same police officer who was recently charged administratively by the PNP for mishandling the report on the incident that led to Manipud’s death. She is convinced that the filing of the case prematurely was to ensure the dismissal of the case since the circumstances in the complaint were erroneous and conflicting.
  2. The main suspect, Ruedas, is a bodyguard of one city councilor and was accompanied by the city councilor at the police station.
  3. The son of the former mistress of Manipud is an employee at the city hall.
  4. Another son of the mistress, misrepresented himself as the son of late lawyer and attempted “to settle” Ruedas’ case. 
  5. The bail for the accused was reduced from P30k to P20k without an information from the family’s lawyer, Atty. Albino Gonzales.    
  6.  The response of Dagupan Police Chief, Superintendent Jandale Sulit, was curious because he appeared hostile in spite of the fact that he was not the chief of police when the incident happened. He allegedly cited her complaint as “malicious” even before the investigation could be completed.

She listed specific instances and situations, identified her suspects and attached official documents (one from the NBI) to bolster her suspicions. She wrote that she intended to know how high up is the involvement of the police in the cover-up.

She sent copies of her letter to the DOJ Sec. Menardo Guevarra and NBI Director Dante Gierran, PNP chief Oscar Abayalde, PNP. Regional Director Romulo Sapitula in the hope of getting some support to stop the cover-up.

She indicated in no unmistakable terms that the Manipud family is determined to get justice for its patriarch, regardless of who gets in its way.   Bless her.

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