Punchline

Death threat?

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

DID Archbishop Soc Villegas, our Mr. Archbishop, also receive a death threat?

Unlike Caloocan Bishop Pablo David, and recently, Fathers Robert Reyes, Flavie Villanueva, and Albert Alejo who made public their claim that they received death threats through their mobile phones, Fr. Soc never went public to say he did.

But when Alejo made public the claimed threats, it included excerpts from the texts messages received by Mr. Archbishop!

So we now have a situation that suddenly after 2 years of being critical of the Duterte administration the five members of the clergy claim they have been receiving death threats lately and at about the same time.

But what befuddled me and readers of the post by Rappler that showed several “excerpts” of “death threats” was the message received by Mr. Archbishop.

I had to read the post twice to make sure I understood the context of the post.

First it was made to appear that Mr. Archbishop, indeed, received the following death threat: “Pakisabi sa olopong mong obispo na sila Villegas pati na din sa mga kauri mong pari na sila Alejo at Reyes – pagsisisihan nyu kapag di kayu sumunod sa gusto ko.”

Secondly, it was supposed to be a text message to him but the message was not talking to him, but was about him! Which leads me to ask:

  1. Did Mr. Archbishop, indeed, receive a death threat as early as February 14? He never claimed he did but neither is he disclaiming that he received the death threats. 
  2. Did he forward those texts to Fr. Alejo? If not, he has not disowned the text message.
  3. Was Mr. Archbishop aware that his “death threats” would be made public and did he agree to their release to the media??
  4. If Mr. Archbishop did not receive that “death threat” and neither did he send the death threat text messages, who authorized Mr. Alejo to release and make the claim as true?

Whether Mr. Archbishop confirms that he was threatened or not and the threats as

posted were known to him, he was clearly misleading if not lying to his flock for his personal political agenda.

Isn’t that a sin,  Mr. Archbishop?

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BEBOT VILLAR’S LEGACY. Last week, we missed writing our personal thoughts on the passing of our former columnist, the late Bebot Villar. I thought that when we put out the news about his passing, I had said my piece. My serious oversight.

Perhaps unknown to many, Bebot and I were together at the St. Louis University in high school but only for a year.  I lost track of his personal activities since except from news reports from our correspondent Eva Visperas all those years, mostly about his activities as Mayor of  Sto. Tomas, as founder of Biskeg na Pangasinan until he moved on to Metro Manila where he served in various positions under PGMA.

After more than 20 years, I heard from him. He asked me to be his consultant at the Dangerous Drugs Board as its chairman. He was aware of The PUNCH’s campaign vs illegal drugs in Pangasinan so could I help him and DDB? I readily agreed to help.

My first recommendation to him was to write a weekly column for The PUNCH. And he found it practical. And “Deretsahan” was born to wage a campaign against illegal drugs.

But PUNCH readers got more! He became the PUNCH’s pointman in the campaign against corruption in local governments as well!

From his articles, I sensed that Bebot was not holding back punches. He called out mayors whom he suspected were protecting the illegal drugs and other illegal activities in their towns and cities. involved in corruption.

I’ve always known Bebot as a tough guy for the law, and he was living up to the billing and expectations of many. I and everyone who new him were not surprised to be told that his town was the only drug-free town all these years, even before PRRD launched and waged his War on Drugs.  

 Alas, it had to end after two years. His deteriorating  health kept him away. At that point, he told me: “Sorry partner, kailangan iretire mo na Deretsahan… kailangan pahinga na ako…” And that was the last I heard. I had hoped he would reconsider but I was advised his health had not improved.

Bebot lived his legacy. How one saw him, interacted with him, or fought against him, they were with a man who had no pretensions in life. His column “Deretsahan” was about his persona.

Bebot’s name will be etched in Pangasinan’s history as the man from Sto. Tomas town who showed how political will works and what it can do for a community.

Frankly, I wish Bebot had his sights on the province’s top post and we would have seen an honest-to-goodness war on drugs and corruption in the province.

With his passing, Deretsahan officially writes “30”.

*                *                *                *                *

VICTORY PARADE. The triumph of the Balon Dagupan Team at the R1AA in Laoag City is a testament to the truism that vision, dedication, discipline, commitment of resources are all that’s needed to ensure success.

There can be no other and better  proof of the city’s young boys and girls successful mission  but by the number of medals they hauled back to the city.

It’s a truly a reason for celebration in the city. The kids deserve a victory parade around the city’s streets in their honor. And if I may suggest the order of the parade should be: Regardless of events :  1) Gold medalists 2) Silver medalists 3) Bronze medalists 4) Coaches and trainers 5. Delegation officials, and members of the Dagupan City Sports Commission and 6) Mayor Belen Fernandez, whose vision and commitment ensured the children’s triumph in their quest for glory for the city and for themselves.  

I urge the bashers who belittle the achievement of the kids and refuse to be happy for their  success not to show themselves in and around the city during the testimonial and victory parade! They don’t deserve to share in the pride and joy of the triumphant athletes and players.

*                *                *                *                *

DEFENSIVE CAMPAIGN. The inclusion of Rep Boying Celeste in the PRRD’s narco-list is unfortunate mostly for Alaminos City Mayor Art Celeste and his other brother Bolinao Mayor Noli Celeste, who is running for congressman in the First District.

Cong Boying is not running for any electoral post, and he’s a big boy so he can very well take care of himself but the major collateral damage of his inclusion is the campaign of his brothers.

Sure as the sun rises in the east, the political opponents of two Celeste siblings will surely buttonhole the Celestes’ campaign with insinuations of drug connections that could make their campaign distracted by it.

The two Celestes’ only defense-offense strategy is to stand firmly on their own merits, character and achievements. I even seriously doubt if a debate will help their situation at all given today’s development.

A defensive political campaign will be an uphill battle. So a victory in the end will certainly be one for the books!  I won’t write them off just yet.

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