POSTSCRIPT / March 24, 2009 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

Share This

'Among' for president? Dios co, mete cu abe!

CLARK FIELD — Maybe I haven’t been talking to the right people, but eight out of every 10 cabalen I have asked what they think of Gov. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio running for president respond with a big laugh.

The sense I get, especially when I ask them why, is that it is grand delusion for the priest-turned-politician to dream of ruling this country of some 90 million when he cannot even run Pampanga.

The only notable thing he has done since he slipped through as governor in 2007 (winning by a slim 1,147 votes) is to increase collections from the quarrying of lahar, a sandy deposit spread by the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. That is good, but not enough.

Many other essential services the governor is expected to deliver with renewed vigor are in gridlock, because he is unable to make his fellow officials and civil servants move with every swing of his baton.

It seems that the 55-year-old former parish priest of Betis lacks management and political skills, the essential oil that make the laggard bureaucracy move to better serve the people.

*      *      *

DISTORTED IMAGE: Many of those itching to inflict Panlilio on the rest of the country are academicians and theoreticians from far away Manila who are quite removed from the realities of ground zero.

In the real world, textbook lore, romanticism and musings from an ivory tower will not work. Neither will hypnotism.

For sure, Panlilio has many good qualities. But these are more appropriate for the priestly ministry for which he was ordained than for dabbling in public administration.

Some of us in media — who are eternally searching for heroes and miracle workers — have hypnotized ourselves and our audience that we have found in this priest an answer to corruption and all things wrong with traditional politics.

The same media must pause and refocus the image, correct the distorted reflection.

*      *      *

WHERE’S THE MONEY?: Many Filipinos abroad reportedly have been pledging money — the way supporters did during the campaign of Barack Obama — for Panlilio to spend in case he runs for president.

Before the sparks of pledges ignite a forest fire, media should also ask Panlilio to produce first an audited accounting of the contributions he received when he ran for governor in 2007.

That last time, according to some disillusioned donors, substantial amounts of money, some evidenced by cancelled checks, have not been properly reported to the Commission on Elections as required by law.

Until the old ledger is cleared, prospective campaign donors should not dig into their pockets or whip out their checkbooks.

*      *      *

CANON VIOLATED: In fairness to God, Panlilio should stop saying that he would run for president if it is His will. The governor would see the heavenly green light presumably by discernment. Problem is only he knows it.

God should not be the excuse for hasty decisions or the fall guy for wrong judgment.

In this day and age when God is not expected to talk to us from up there, Panlilio can do the logical thing: Consult his superiors in the Church, starting with Archbishop Paciano Aniceto of San Fernando (Pampanga).

Unfortunately for him, Monsignor Aniceto has said time and again that Panlilio violated canon law by his running for and holding public office.

*      *      *

CBCP COLD: Another prelate, Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan, said that Panlilio must leave the priesthood for good if he wants to run for president in 2010.

Cruz, former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said the Catholic Church is not inclined to support Panlilio in case he tries to become the first clergyman to become president.

Section 3 of Canon 285 of Code of Canon law (1983) commands: “Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.”

Panlilio has tried rationalizing his plunge into politics by saying that the extraordinary situation in Pampanga in 2007 required his running for governor. His superiors are not impressed, however.

*      *      *

BLAIR VISIT: An interesting footnote to the Manila visit of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is the prominent Anglican’s conversion to the Catholic faith in 2007, shortly after he left office.

Blair was guest speaker in leadership forums yesterday at the Ateneo de Manila University and the Sofitel Philippine Plaza hotel. He also conferred with President Gloria Arroyo at Malacañang.

His conversion was widely expected. His wife and children were already Catholics while he was in office and he was undergoing a program of formation while going to Catholic services. He had an audience with the Pope shortly before he left office.

*      *      *

RELIGIOUS: Blair’s staying on as Anglican while he was Prime Minister prevented a mixup of his politics and religion. He had espoused policies and voted in the House of Commons on issues, such as on divorce, that did not hew to Catholic teachings.

According to Anthony Seldon, Blair’s biographer, his faith had always been a major influence on his politics. He said: “He’s a profoundly religious figure. Religion brought him into politics in the first place, not reading Labour Party history.

“Catholicism has been the religion of his wife. Cherie Blair has been incredibly important to him throughout his political life, encouraging him to go into politics and adopting many of his positions, so I think it was the obvious part of the Christian faith for him to come into.”

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 24, 2009)

Share your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published.