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You cannot govern a kingdom with prayers! On the Inquirer's Editorial

The Philippine Daily Inquirer's (PDI) editorial for today is entitled "Holy Innocent" in which the blurb suggests that Reverend Ed Panlilio return the money to the Palace. As I have earlier made clear Panlilio made himself walk a spaghetti thin moral tightrope when he accepted the money. So the legal step to be taken is to return the money. I would agree but as usual the Inquirer editorial has serious logical flaws and non-sequiturs!

First the PDI assumes that the priest is trained to be obedient. Possibly. But is Panlilio obedient to his bishop now that he is governor? I doubt it if he were he should have obeyed the Pope and not run for office. Thus we cannot really assume that Father Panlilio and Governor Panlilio are the same men now.

Also read this

"A pastor is bound by divine law. The politician’s actions, on the other hand, are permanently circumscribed by secular law. When the politician tries to be a pastor, the law becomes an obstacle to the higher purpose, but that is what the law is precisely supposed to prevent. The politician, being a public servant, is not meant to have the discretion pastors possess of invoking a higher law than the laws of man."

I have to tell the possibly agnostic Inquirer editors that everyone is bound by divine and even natural law!

Also the Inquirer editorial despite the supposedly libertarian orientation of the blurb actually suggests a limit on the preeminent practice of one's conscience (in this case Governor Panlilio's). Conscience cannot be limited by anyone on heaven and earth. A limited conscience means a man or woman is enslaved.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer has fallen into the trap of political convenience once more. Worse the Inquirer does get mixed up on what it means to be faithful to the truth and faithful to the law.

This reminds us that memorable scene in "Man for all Seasons" when Cardinal Wolsey, the Chancellor summoned Thomas More to Hampton Court to get More's explanation why he opposed the Chancellor of England in Council.

More placed his conscience above what political expediency and Wolsey's law would dictate.

To which Wolsey sarcastically asked More "You would like to govern the country with prayers?" More replied that he would, and Wolsey said "I'd like to see you when you try." Governing the nation with prayers means chaos according to Wolsey. And More said then you would have my prayers!

My only criticism of Panlilio is that he did not resign his Holy Orders and govern his province as a layman. Then he can share fully what moral dilemmas laymen in public office face in the midst of evil.

But perhaps Panlilio recalled the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King's famous line

"On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right?"

That is a question Ed Panlilio can only answer. In the end it is a matter of conscience.


DJB Rizalist said…
I agree! PDI can be so infuriating some times. They get religion and politics all mixed up, using one for the other and vice versa.

But here is a really interesting letter to the editor they got and, surprisingly published (I think without realizing that it really goes against their usual stance of picturing the Philippines as weak and oppressed:

10/15/07) stated that the Philippines is “one small and weak country.”
This statement is not true. It is a myth. It is a lie.

The Philippines is the 12th largest country in the world. It is larger
than any European country. It is larger than any but one country in
Africa. It is larger than any but one country in South America. There
are over 160 countries in the world smaller than the Philippines, most
barely a fraction of its size; over 150 less than half its size. Metro
Manila alone is bigger than half of all the countries of the world.
The Roman Empire at its height only had 60 percent of the people that
the Philippines has.

Neither is the Philippines weak. To put it simply, a country that is
twice the size of 90 percent of all the countries in the world is not
weak. A country whose largest city is larger than most countries is
not weak. Further, the Philippine economy is in the upper quartile as
is the size of its military. The Philippines is an English-speaking
country, giving us, in this “English-speaking” world, influence much
larger than our size. Filipinos also go abroad in disproportional
numbers, making many important key industries dependent upon them.

Adding to the Philippines’ importance is that we are in Asia, a far
more important corner of the world -- geopolitically that is -- than,
say, Africa or Latin America. The Philippines has played important,
influential roles in such events as World War II, the Vietnam War and
the Cold War. We will be a key player in such continuing issues as the
“War on Terror” and Chinese and Indian growth.

The statement that the Philippines is small and weak is only true when
the country is compared with the United States. But the United States
is a historical anomaly. No country has ever been as big, powerful or
dominant as the United States, particularly in the last generation or
so. That country is odd. We should not look to the United States for
comparison but to countries more like the Philippines, countries like
Indonesia or Columbia.

Instead of asking, “Why are we not like the United States?” we should
look at countries like Nigeria, Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, Afghanistan,
and ask, “Why are we not like them?”

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