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Tuesday, March 12, 2013
THE reported maltreatment of Filipinos in Sabah by the Malaysians is very disturbing.
In the words of Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, abuses against our people are unacceptable. But talk is cheap. Our government should come to the rescue of our citizens who are unjustly being made to suffer as an immediate result of the standoff between armed followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and the Malaysian police.
I hope that the Malaysian government will listen to reason and not allow their baser instinct to dominate their action. It doesn’t matter whether the violence against Filipinos, many of them long-term Sabah residents, is an official policy or a personal initiative of the soldiers and policemen.
It is the duty of Malaysia, as member of the community of civilized nations, to see to it that the human rights of everyone are protected. Otherwise, there are consequences that are too severe to even imagine.
Now we are seeing how the ill-advised invasion of Sabah to reclaim it for the Sultanate of Sulu has brought misery to the lives of so many innocent people. The 800,000 Filipinos, who have found their places in the sun in the disputed island, will from now on be living under a cloud of suspicion. Any move they make that would as much as suggest ever so slightly that they sympathize with the sultan could lead to dire consequences.
But even if our government had nothing to do with the creation of the hostile atmosphere, it must nevertheless intervene and strive to defuse it in its capacity as parent of the nation. Of immediate concern is the condition of Filipinos who have been arrested and detained in the aftermath of the standoff.
Our government should insist in being granted access to hem. Also, we should look into reports of summary executions involving innocent Filipino civilians. If these reports are true, if our countrymen have been tortured and maltreated, we should not hesitate to hold the Malaysians to account even at the risk of straining our diplomatic relations.
After Team Buhay and Team Patay, now comes Team Tatay?
The report from Bacolod City is that a list containing the names of five priests who are fathers in the true sense is being circulated in that city, along with the advice not to hear masses officiated by them. The list is appropriately called Team Tatay.
This is obviously an offshoot of the decision of the Archdiocese to hang Team Buhay and Team Patay posters, first in the San Sebastian Cathedral and, later, in all churches in Bacolod, as a means of campaigning against senatorial candidates who supported the RH law and in favor of those who opposed it.
The Bacolod archbishop has reportedly lamented the circulation of the Team Tatay list as unchristian, explaining that the priests in the list have already atoned for the indiscretion that they committed in the past.
Pardon me but isn’t that a case of the pot calling the kettle black? What is more unchristian: revealing that a priest fathered a child or insinuating that a candidate is an agent of death?
Would the good bishop rather that the cases of the five priests are swept under the rug, just as the Church had sought to hide cases of sexual abuses by men of the cloth all over the world, while they continue to demonize certain candidates?
This is what I had warned about the perils that a priest faces in casting away the robe of the neutral referee and donning the colors of a partisan. He loses all immunity and becomes fair game to anyone with a motive.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 12, 2013.