Mr. Archbishop

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

LINGAYEN-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas did it again. He just couldn’t help dipping his fingers in politics, not as a politician or as member of a party list, but as a bishop of the Catholic Church.  It grates one’s nerves seeing his messages and language pretentious, invoking the image and words of God but speaking like a dyed in the wool trapo. Hence, the moniker “Mr. Archbishop.”

Take his tirade against President Duterte last March 5: “The Lord said, ‘Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’ My dear brothers and sisters, are you going to betray God, are you going to deny your faith, by your vote?” Mr. Archbishop asked in the video. Wow! Thenhe proceeded to show edited video clips of PRRD that show his statements in the wrong context.

In that video, he chose to invoke several verses in the Bible that apparently made him feel justified in making his tirades vs. President Duterte. (For still unknown reasons, that video has been taken down since Thursday). If he found nothing wrong talking like a traditional politico, why did he have to cite the Biblical verses in those instances? 

No doubt, Mr. Archbishop is lending himself to the campaign of Otso Deretso by maligning and discrediting PRRD before the voters since not one of the LP candidates would risk doing it.  Clearly, Mr. Archbishop volunteered to be the proxy for the LPs lost cause.

 But more than just speaking the role, Mr. Archbishop is living it. I found out to my and many others’ chagrin that he invited Dagupan’s incumbent politicians and candidates in this year’s elections to his residence ostensibly to remind them “to serve their city well”.  Duh? Did they honestly need to be reminded by Mr. Archbishop?  It’d be interesting to know what his visitors honestly thought of being “reminded”.  At no time in the past did we hear of any of our past respected archbishops found it necessary to invite politicians to his residence for a get-together and a hosted meal during an election year!

Mr.  Archbishop’s affair was clearly an attempt to show his influence over local politicians,  especially those whom he knew would not mind being seen fawning over his “blessings for good wishes”. Unfortunately for the De Venecias, Mayor Belen, city councilors and her candidates, they were unwittingly made players in Villegas’ power play, framing them as his allies against the Duterte administration. Tsk-tsk. 

It is in this light I dare ask Mr. Archbishop (in his own context invoking God):

  1. Why do you keep on betraying God by defying His words found in Matthew 22:21 Jesus said “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” and, Romans 13:1 “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God.”?
  2. Why do you keep on rejecting our faith in God’s plan by continuously lending yourself to efforts to destabilize the government instead of leading prayers for our country’s deliverance? Your recent video could not have made it as plain as it could get. 
  3. Why do you weaken our faith in the Catholic Church by opting to be a spokesman of politicians opposed to the present government?
  4.  Why do you continue to deny Jesus by remaining in denial of the clergy’s wrongdoing and abuses in the past that continue to this day? How can you possibly not know about our priests in our diocese who sired children, keeping lovers?  Why do you lend yourself to the cover-up of these abuses instead of acknowledging these like Pope Francis did?

Mr. Archbishop: Please stop betraying God. Stop breathing politics while garbed in the Church’s garments. Your voice cannot possibly be that of and from God because you speak of hatred, not love; you divide God’s people, not unite them

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HUAWEI’S SAFE CITY. Last year, I’ve been advocating in this column the adoption of a strategic plan that would make Dagupan City, the safest city in the region if not in the country. Specifically, I’ve recommended the installation of more CCTV cameras by the city government and the passage of an ordinance requiring establishments to install the same in front of their buildings, stores, banks and offices.

Little did I know that as early as 2005, a “Safe City” concept was already established and implemented by Huawei Technologies around the globe. More and beyond the benefits of a “Smart City” that seeks to make delivery of government services more efficient, “Safe City” delivers security benefits to city/town residents 24/7!

Using its advanced technology, Huawei established the “The Safe City” concept “to return security, safety and quality of life to today’s complex cities through the use of ICT technologies, infrastructure, personnel and processes… that can be extended to any physical environment where citizens require a safe, comfortable environment.

In brief, the “Safe City” concept combines digital, intelligent, smart and sustainable initiatives using technology to enhance security and information flow.

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PROVEN BENEFITS.  To prove the effectiveness and viability of the “Safe City” concept, Huawei worked with the city government of Shenzhen in China which city was wracked with street crimes. After installing cameras in critical areas, the crime rate dropped by more than 20% each year from 2016 to 2018.

By 2018, 80% of cases were solved with the help of clues from video surveillance system, and in 40% of cases, video clues alone played an important role in solving murders, robberies, rape, drugs. By Shenzhen police’s estimation, 5 cameras’ contribution are equivalent as 1 policeman on duty.

For instance, in January 2017, a 3-year-old child went missing during the Chinese New Year celebration that caused widespread concern. Shenzhen police solved the case within 15 hours with Safe City video cloud and big data techniques. Cases of missing children stopped thereafter.

In Kenya, the city of Nairobi faced a major security challenges, including an undermanned police force, frequent traffic accidents, criminal incidents, and terrorist attacks. After Nairobi adopted “Safe City” in 2015, the crime rate reduced by 46% and the police conviction capability increased by 31%. The police satisfaction rating improved by 21%, tand the safety in public leisure and entertainment for tourism increased by 32%.

Singapore, in spite of its reputation already as the one of the safest in the world, continues to build a “Safe City” to maintain its technology-led international status and image of the safest city.

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ANINAW AWARDS. On behalf of the editors and staff of the PUNCH, I sincerely thank the Communication Arts Department of PHINMA University of Pangasinan. Their Annual Aninaw Awards program serves as an inspiration to media practitioners to constantly seek to earn public trust.

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