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Sunday, July 21, 2019
CEBU

Bzzzzz: What Catholic Church loses if gov’t. keeps its hands off 500th rites

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and Councilor Bebs Andales (SunStar file photo)

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* ANOTHER OSMEÑA IN TOMAS’S POLITICAL STABLE. In addition to his wife Margot (who served as acting mayor in 2016 and has been a three-term councilor) and their son Miguel, outgoing Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña may have another Osmeña who might run in a future election. She is Bea Villegas-Osmeña, his daughter-in-law and Miguel’s wife. Bea finished her doctorate in jurisprudence at the University of San Carlos last May 31.

Others more blunt

FROM what Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma publicly says about the 2021 celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines, he appreciates the attendance of President Duterte at the activities. Foreign dignitaries are expected to be invited to the festivity and as President of the host country, Duterte will be missed by attendees and his absence will be highly conspicuous.

Palma sounds prepared to accept the possible snubbing of the affair by the president. Duterte already said he wouldn’t attend, criticizing the observance as celebration of “subjugation and imperialism.” “It is his choice,” Palma says, “if he chooses to attend, well and good. If he does not, that is his freedom.”

Other bishops -- Ruperto Santos of Balanga, Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao and Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon -- are more direct and blunt. “We do not need the opinion of Duterte. We will celebrate it without Duterte.”

‘Merely incidental’

If the presence alone of Duterte were the sole casualty of the announced snub, it would look unseemly to the nation and the rest of the Catholic world. But because of his dispute with the church, the president might withhold government help to the bishops in the “quincentenary” celebration.

In similar big celebrations in the past, government funds, equipment and other resources – from infrastructure to keeping peace and order – were allotted to support religious activities.

Supreme Court decisions have upheld the spending of public funds for such purposes, provided the basic purpose is promoting public good, and benefit to the church is “merely incidental.”

Duterte can order government agencies to stay off the church activities related to the 500th anniversary rites.

Andales as ‘consiglieri’

A radio broadcaster called Cebu City Councilor Sisinio "Bebs" Andales a “consiglieri” of Mayor Tomas Osmeña, following the series of resolutions/ordinances aimed to tie the hands of the incoming administration regarding South Road Properties land. Andales reportedly sponsored them.

The word “consiglieri” initially referred only to an adviser of the Italian Mafia in the 1969 novel “The Godfather” and in three films that book spawned. The meaning though, by popular usage, has expanded to include any adviser to a plot, legal or otherwise.

And at City Hall, the alleged plot includes moves (1) to take away the power of the Labella-Rama administration to dispose of the remaining SRP lots, (2) to declare null and void the sale of the lots to the Ayala, et. al. business consortium, and (3) to stop the new officials from spending any of the P83.5 billion down payment on the sold lots.

“Consiglieri” may not be apt. Andales is suspected by Barug councilors of executing orders from the boss or “capo.”

While Councilor Bebs is a lawyer, he is not just an adviser. He is the executioner as well. He reportedly sponsors the series of resolutions, carrying out the boss’s plan, in the dying days of the current City Council.

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