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Our issue for April 11, 2009

Philippines FREE PRESS

April 11, 2009 Issue

Main Features

On the Cover: Pampanga Gov. Eduardo Panlilio

1. Fr. Eduardo Panlilio, President of the Philippines

Filipinos fed up with politicians and hungry for good government are encouraging Pampanga’s priestly governor, Eduardo Panlilio, to run for Malacañang in next year’s general election. They suggest that he pick Isabela’s reformist governor, Grace Padaca, as his vice-presidential running mate. Panlilio, who has only one supporter on Pampanga’s 15-member provincial board, says he is open to a presidential run, but needs to go through a “period of discernment,” meaning he will study the matter. Meanwhile, he is campaigning for support among civil-society groups and nongovernmental organizations for a reform candidate—who can very well be him, as there is nobody around who can be seen as a real reformist, unless Pope Benedict XIV discovers that he is a Filipino and migrates to the Philippines tomorrow to meet the one-year residency requirement. Not all Catholic clerics are glad about Panlilio’s setting an eye on Malacañang. There are those who like the idea of a priestly president, like Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, who says canon law does not really prohibit priests from going into politics, and those who believe Panlilio must first leave the priesthood before running for the presidency, like Dagupan-Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz, for whom service to God is the sole vocation of a priest. But that is not really a problem, because if Panlilio really wants to serve as president, then he can leave the priesthood. The real question is his readiness to run the Philippines. As Sen. Manuel Villar, a declared presidential candidate, says, the presidency is not for OJTs.

     By Ricky S. Torre

2. Let the Debate Begin

The Commission on Elections can go ahead and automate next year’s general election—it will need the computers anyway. But the votes to be counted will not be for the usual local and national offices. They will be for local offices and members of parliament. As we have been saying in past issues, the allies of President Arroyo in the House of Representatives will force the revision of the Constitution before June, and sure enough Speaker Prospero Nograles has given approval for the start of the debate when Congress returns on April 13. Mrs. Arroyo says she wants the election to go through, but is doing nothing to stop her allies. Would she say no if this emergency project hurdles the Supreme Court?

         By Guiller de Guzman

3. See, She Is No Coddler

Facing impeachment charges in the House of Representatives, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has brought corruption charges against 17 former officials of the Public Works Department for the rigging of bids for road contracts in projects financed by the World Bank. The impeachment complaint against Gutierrez has stemmed from her sitting on the investigation of this scandal for one year and the likely reason is the involvement of her friend, Jose Miguel Arroyo, husband of President Arroyo. Now the complainants can withdraw the charges. She has brought charges against the corrupt officials. The contractors involved will be investigated separately, but, rest assured, charges will be brought against them, too. How about Mr. Arroyo? Well, Mr. Arroyo is a private citizen, right? Is there a complainant?

         By Guiller de Guzman

4. Leave No Trace

After the European Union raised a collective howl against the continuing political killings in the Philippines, President Arroyo ordered her security forces to stop unauthorized hits. More than 800 activists, trade unionists and human-rights workers and nearly the same number of journalists have been killed or kidnapped by the military or the police since Mrs. Arroyo came to power in 2001. In addition, more than 800 criminals have been killed in Davao City by groups believed to be vigilantes, although that city’s mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, and his hit men could behind the extrajudicial killings. Mrs. Arroyo’s order for a stop is more likely for the newspapers only. Her national security adviser, Norberto Gonzales, wants to know what killings the European Union is talking about. So don’t expect the abduction, rape and murder of an NPA commander’s daughter to be the last.

         By Guiller de Guzman

5. Holy Week Feature: Apostle to the Apostles

Chapter 20 of John’s Gospel has a literary anomaly. The race between Simon Peter and an unnamed disciple to the tomb of Jesus interrupts the narration of Mary Magdalene’s seeing the risen Lord. Scholars have been quick to notice the irregular position of the race to the tomb between Mary Magdalene’s going there and her seeing the risen Jesus and concluded that the present shape of chapter 20 is not its original form. The final redactor of John’s Gospel interpolated chapter 20 after the death of the evangelist (and also added chapter 21) for a particular reason, which had nothing to do with the Resurrection.

         By Guiller de Guzman

6. Features

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