Cong Corrales .
I WAS scanning for something to watch on the television on Sunday when I chanced on a news report on CNN. It was about a Roman Catholic group’s early morning protest dubbed “Walk of Life.”
It ended its report on the event with a video clip of Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas’s sermon on Sunday. In it, he rhetorically asked when will the people start to make a stand against sin, when bishops will start to get killed one by one?
“Kailan kayo magagalit sa kasalanan? Kung ako ay papatayin, magagalit na ba kayo sa kasalanan?” he asked his flocked.
That bit didn’t get to me. What did get to me was the expression on the faces of his flock when the camera panned to the audience as Villegas was speaking.
Blank stares. I could almost hear an imaginary director shout: Cue in sound effects of crickets and roll down the tumbleweeds!
You see, I’ve had an encounter of sorts with this archbishop when I worked in Quezon City years back.
I was participating in a multisectoral protest action against the ratification of the Cyber Crime Prevention law that would be signed into law by the then President Benigno Simeon Aquino III on Sept. 12, 2012. Organizers told protesters to gather at the Edsa Shrine since it was also the anniversary of the Feb. 25 People Power Revolt.
However, when we arrived at the venue we were repelled by a phalanx of antiiot police of the QCPD. We demanded to talk to their ranking officer.
Much to our surprise when the ranking officer showed us a memorandum issued by Villegas banning any political protest actions at the Edsa Shrine because it would disrupt those who are praying inside the chapel of the shrine.
Without batting an eyelash, the officer told the organizers that they were just following the order of Villegas because the shrine is a private property of the Roman Catholic church.
We were stunned.
We were protesting against a sin. A law that would curtail the citizens’ right to express and for an independent press.
Witnessing events coming to a full circle, to me, is sort of closure in the most tragic way, I must say. Such tragic ironies like the fencing of the Press Freedom monument in Cagayan de Oro.
Will Villegas now permit the people to congregate at the Edsa Shrine to protest against what he called sin because the Roman Catholic Church is now at the other end of persecution?
Will he repeal his standing order to the police this coming Feb. 25 and let the people protest at the shrine?