Nuance and necessity

It is difficult to take a nuanced position, or strike a balance, if you’re an eminent public figure up against the necessarily simplifying drive of mass media. Consider the case of Archbishop of Manila Gaudencio Rosales.

I understand his remarks on last week’s "wet" dispersal near Malacanang as a delicate attempt to look at the picture whole. But because some of his remarks (here’s the Inquirer story, and here’s the Star version) are an implied rebuke to the three bishops who were present at Friday’s prayer rally, mass media has had no choice but to treat his statement as us vs. them.

To me, the most striking thing about his statement yesterday was the following:

"Leadership without vision is treason — I’m betraying my God and the people I serve," he said, adding:

"Filipinos do not know where they are going. They just move from one crisis to another, from one rally to another."

Treason! That is hardly a vote of confidence in the President. But because the most recent major event happened to involve three of his fellow bishops, his words about their protest action — as a "personal decision," as an attempt to "sneak" into Mendiola, and so on — ended up, necessarily, as head and lead.

Dong Puno has the luxury of columnhood (or columny, as more than one wag has said, in general, of the commentariat) of doing exactly what Archbishop Rosales did, and by and large be taken on his own terms. He strikes a balance. For instance:

In addition, if the PNP wants to rely on provisions of B.P. 880 to justify its actions, it should apply all the provisions, not only those which appear to advance its cause. Under that law, the operative policy is "maximum tolerance" not "calibrated preemptive response" (Sec. 10(a)). Subparagraph (c) of Section 10 prohibits the use of "…water cannons or any similar anti-riot device" unless "the public assembly is attended by actual violence or serious threats of violence, or deliberate destruction of property" …

Rally organizers should not play games either. B.P. 880 clearly requires that a written permit is required for any person or groups to organize or hold a public assembly in a public place. There is no exception for "prayer rallies." The only exceptions are assemblies in designated "freedom parks," private property or "the campus of a government-owned and operated educational institution." Unless B.P. 880 is invalidated for unconstitutionality, there is no escaping its requirements.

Straight down the middle.

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7 Comments

Filed under Readings in Politics, Readings in Religion

7 responses to “Nuance and necessity

  1. manuelbuencamino

    Funny how the Star omitted the most telling comment of Bishop Rosales.

  2. The government is in offensive mode, no disrespect to journalist, but sometimes I do believe that the right hand of anarchy is the media owned by those powerbrokers.

  3. eman

    We just have to pray for Bishop Rosales to be enlgihtened.

  4. acidboy

    i’d rather pray for those who are weak in mind to be enlightened, to be less gullible, to discern facts from propaganda, and to not let themselves be used by power-hungry scoundrels hitching on every issue they can to propagate themselves back to power.

  5. John,

    As a leader of the flock, a shepherd’s role is keep the baying and hungry wolves away from his sheep, not to mediate a pact with the vile beasts knowing any pact mediated will be broken.

    His prime duty is to lay down his life for his sheep. His other duty is: realizing that things in this world are not equal, his is not to balance it but to prefer the lowly to the mighty. That is the preferred option for the clergy.

    Bishop Rosales’ effort to come out with a balance statement can never end up being balanced. Any statement seeking to level the blame on both sides will be spun by the administration as an endorsement, as it is being done right. You delete the negative and highlight the positive. We have seen that time and again.

    And that is why, to the best of my youthful recollection, I dont recall Cardinal Sin ever issuing a hermaphroditic statement. A statement can always be twisted.

    For that reason, I am afraid Bishop Rosales is as naive as he is timid. He has yet to learn to wield his shepherd’s rod as a weapon.

  6. Dawin, I owe you too many replies! I plead a heavy caseload, but pledge to think through to possible answers in, well, the fullness of time.

    Just a quick response though: I think we should also be open to the possibility that Archbishop Rosales brings a different charism to his seat, and it’s the kind of gift we need at exactly this time — even if we cannot “see” it just yet. Just a (half-formed) thought.

  7. Just a quick salute to Dawin. I completely agree, I don’t understand why a lot of our supposed moral leaders are trying to fall all over themselves trying to come up with a “balanced” view, when in fact they should be striving to speak the truth, condemn wrongdoings and fight for what is right. No half-assed statements please. That “cannonization” of a peaceful assembly was just indefensible.

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