I was not able to attend today’s "Mass for Jun Lozada and family," at La Salle Greenhills; I was back at work, after almost a week in sick bay. But I did get a (corrected) copy of the "clear and effective" homily (Torn & Frayed’s first-to-market review, at least among the 70 blogs whose feeds I subscribe to). The homilist, by the way, was Manoling Francisco, SJ (the musical genius who wrote "Hindi Kita Malilimutan" when he was 13 and in first year high).
I tweaked this post’s title a bit.
RECLAIMING OUR HUMANITY
On this Second Sunday of Lent, during which we are asked to reflect on the
Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, I wish to touch on three themes that have
to do with our moral transformation as a people: first, Ascertaining
Credibility; second, Rediscovering our Humanity; and third, Witnessing to
the Truth. In so doing, I hope to invite all of you to reflect more deeply
on how we, as a nation, might respond to the present political crisis in
which our identity and ethos, our convictions and integrity, in fact, who we
are as a people, are at stake.
I. ASCERTAINING CREDIBILITY
Jun, as Sen. Miriam Santiago has grilled you to ascertain your credibility
(or was it to undermine your credibility?), allow me to raise some important
questions to consider in the very process of discerning your credibility.
Allow me to do so by drawing on my own counseling experience.
Very often, a young rape victim initially suppresses his or her awful and
painful story, indeed wills to forget it, in the hope that by forgetting, he
or she can pretend it never happened. But very often, too, there comes a
point when concealing the truth becomes unbearable, and the desperate
attempts to supposedly preserve life and sanity become increasingly
At this point the victim of abuse decides to seek help. But even after
having taken this step, the victim, devastated and confused, will tell his
or her story with much hesitation and trepidation. It should be easy to
imagine why. In telling the truth, one risks casting shame on himself or
herself, subjecting oneself to intense scrutiny and skepticism, and
jeopardizing one’s safety and those of his or her loved ones, especially
when one dares to go up against an older or more powerful person.
Similarly, it is easy to imagine why Jun would initially refuse to challenge
the might of Malacanang. Who in his or her right mind would accuse
Malacanang of crimes against our people and implicate the First Family in a
sordid tale of greed and corruption, knowing that by doing so, one endangers
one’s life and the lives of his or her loved ones? We are, after all, living
in dangerous times, where the government has not hesitated to use everything
in its power to keep itself in power, where it has yet to explain and solve
the numerous cases of extra-judicial killings.
But Jun is in his right mind. His story rings true especially in the face
of the perils that he has had to face. And by his courage, Jun has also
shown that it is not only that he is in his right mind; his heart is also in
the right place.
Hence, my personal verdict: Jun, I believe that you are a credible witness.
And if hundreds have gathered here this morning, it is probably because they
also believe in you. Mga kapatid, naniniwala ba kayo kay Jun Lozada?
Naniniwala ba kayo sa kanyang testimonya? Kung gayon, palakpakan po natin
ang Probinsyanong Intsik, si Mr. Jun Lozada.
Jun, we hope that by our presence here, you may find some consolation. Pope
Benedict XVI writes that "con-solatio" or consolation means "being with the
other in his or her solitude, so that it ceases to be solitude." Jun, be
assured that your solitude is no longer isolation as we profess our
solidarity with you. Hindi ka nag-iisa. We are committed to stay the
course and to do our best to protect you and your family and the truth you
II. REDISCOVERING OUR HUMANITY
What makes Jun a credible witness to us?
I think Jun is credible not simply by virtue of his being an eyewitness to
the unmitigated greed of some of our public officials. Perhaps more
importantly, Jun is credible because he has witnessed to us what it means to
be truly human.
Which leads me to my second theme: What does it mean to be human? How
might we rediscover our humanity?
Allow me to quote Pope Benedict XVI, who in his latest encyclical, Spe
Salvi, has written: "the capacity to accept suffering for the sake of
goodness, truth and justice is an essential criterion of humanity, because
if my own well-being and safety are ultimately more important than truth and
justice, then the power of the stronger prevails, then violence and untruth
reign supreme. Truth and justice must stand above my comfort and physical
well-being, or else my life becomes a lie. . . For this . we need
witnesses-martyrs .. We need them if we are to prefer goodness to comfort,
even in the little choices we face each day."
Our Holy Father concludes, "the capacity to suffer for the sake of the truth
is the measure of humanity."
Isn’t this the reason we emulate our martyrs: Jose Rizal, Gomburza, Evelio
Javier, Macli-ing Dulag, Cesar Climaco and Ninoy Aquino? They have borne
witness for us what it means to be truly human-to be able to suffer for the
sake of others and for the sake of the truth.
I remember Tita Cory recalling a conversation she had with Tito Ninoy while
they were in exile in Boston. Cory asked Ninoy what he thought might happen
to him once he set foot in Manila. Ninoy said there were three
possibilities: one, that he would be rearrested and detained once more in
Fort Bonifacio; two, that he would be held under house arrest; and three,
that he would be assassinated.
"Then why go home?" Cory asked.
To which Ninoy answered: "Because I cannot allow myself to die a
senseless death, such as being run over by a taxi cab in New York. I have
to go home and convince Ferdinand Marcos to set our people free."
Witnessing to one’s deepest convictions, notwithstanding the consequences,
is the measure of our humanity. Proclaiming the truth to others, whatever
the cost, is the mark of authentic humanity.
Jun, we know you have feared for your life and continue to do so. But in
transcending your fears for yourself and your family, you have reclaimed
your humanity. And your courage and humility, despite harassment and
calumniation by government forces, embolden us to retrieve and reclaim our
humanity tarnished by our cowardice and complicity with sin in the world.
You have inspired us to be true to ourselves and to submit to and serve the
truth that transcends all of us.
III. WITNESSING TO THE TRUTH
This leads us to our third and last theme: witnessing to the truth. In his
encyclical, Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII exhorts that it is the
fundamental duty of the government to uphold the truth: "A political society
is to be considered well-ordered, beneficial and in keeping with human
dignity if it grounded on truth." Moreover, the encyclical explains that
unless a society is anchored on the truth, there can be no authentic
justice, charity and freedom.
Every government is therefore obliged to serve the truth if it is to truly
serve the people. Its moral credibility and authority over a people is
based on the extent of its defense of and submission to the truth. Insofar
as a government is remiss in upholding the truth, insofar as a government
actively suppresses the truth, it loses its authority vested upon it by the
At this juncture, allow me to raise a delicate question: At what point does
an administration lose its moral authority over its constituents?
First, a clear tipping point is the surfacing of hard evidence signifying
undeniable complicity of certain government officials in corruption and
injustice, evidence that can be substantiated in court.
Hence, during the Marcos Regime, the manipulation of Snap Election results
as attested to by the tabulators who walked out of the PICC was clear
evidence of the administration’s disregard for and manipulation of the
collective will of the people in order to remain in power..
During the Erap Administration, the testimony of Clarissa Ocampo, claiming
that Pres. Erap had falsified Equitable Bank documents by signing as Jose
Velarde, was the smoking gun that triggered the rage of our people.
Allow me to respond to the same question by pursue an alternative track of
argument: an administration loses it moral authority over its people when it
fails in its fundamental duty to uphold the truth, when it is constituted by
an ethos of falsehood. When a pattern of negligence in investigating the
truth, suppressing the truth and harassing those who proclaim the truth is
reasonably established, then a government, in principle, loses its right to
rule over and represent the people.
Regarding negligence: Do the unresolved cases, such as the failed automation
of the national elections, the fertilizer scam, the extra-judicial killings,
and the "Hello, Garci" scandal, constitute negligence on the part of the GMA
Administration to probe and ferret out the truth?
Regarding covering-up the truth: Does the abduction of Jun Lozada and the
twisting and manipulation of his narrative by Malacanang’s minions
constitute concealment of the truth? Was the padlocking of the office of
Asst. Gov’t Counsel Gonzales who testified before the Senate regarding the
North Rail project anomaly an instance of covering-up the truth?
Regarding the suppression of the truth: Does the issuance and implementation
of E.O. 464, which prevents government officials from testifying in Senate
hearings without Malacanang’s permission, constitute suppression of the
truth? Was the prevention of AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Senga and six other
officers from testifying before the Senate with regard the "Hello, Garci"
scandal tantamount to a suppression of the truth? Was disallowing Brig.
Gen. Quevedo, Lt. Col Capuyan and Lt. Col. Sumayo from appearing before the
Lower House an instance of hindering the truth from surfacing?
And regarding harassment of those who proclaim the truth: Are the abduction
of Jun Lozada and the decision to court-marshal Gen. Gudani and Col. Balutan
for disregarding Malacanang’s order not to testify before the Senate
examples of punishing those who come forth to tell the truth?
By conflating one’s responses to all these questions does one
arrive not at hard evidence showing culpability on the part of some
government officials, but a gestalt, an image which nonetheless demands our
assessment and judgment. I invite all of you then to consider these two
methods of evaluating and judging the moral credibility of any government,
the moral credibility of our present government.
Allow me to end with a few words about an Ignatian virtue,
familiaritas cum Deo. To become familiar with God involves the illumination
of the intellect, coming to know who God is and what God wills. But it also
involves the conversion of the affect, the reconfiguration of the heart.
Becoming familiar with God entails transforming and conforming my thinking,
my feeling and my doing in accordance to the Lord’s, which can only be the
work of grace.
Familiarity with God thus entails rejoicing in what God
delights-the truth; abhorring what God detests-falsehood; being pained by
what breaks the heart of God-the persecution of truth-seekers. Familiarity
with God means sharing the passion of God for the truth and the pathos of
God whenever the truth and the bearers of truth are overcome by the forces
of the lie.
On this Second Sunday of Lent, as we contemplate the
transfiguration of Jesus Christ on Mount Horeb, we pray that our hearts and
minds be so transfigured and so conformed to the mind, heart and will of the
Jesus, our way, our life, and our truth.
May the Lord bless and protect you, Jun, and your family. May
the Lord bless and guide us all into the way of truth. Amen.