Thursday, February 20, 2020

Robredo urges priests to keep speaking against tyranny

Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday called on Catholic priests to continue to speak out against tyranny, citing their significant role during the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled the 20-year Marcos regime.

“EDSA had many defining moments and countless heroes. But the fact that we remember it now as we do – as a revolution of flowers and rosaries rather than of bullets and blood – can perhaps be traced to the Cardinal’s short radio address,” Robredo said in her speech at the 28th Canon Law Society of the Philippines National Convention in Taguig City. She was referring to the historic radio address of the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin on Feb. 22, 1986, calling on Filipinos to support then defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces chief Fidel Ramos.

“In his humble voice, he spoke the twin threads of EDSA’s narrative weave: it was powered by the people and it was peaceful,” the Vice President said.

On Tuesday, Filipinos will commemorate the 34th anniversary of the EDSA revolt, which ousted the late dictator.

“In the 34 years since EDSA, by and large, we have seen the Catholic Church attempt to guide the Philippines along its meandering national path. It has engaged in public discourse on issues that are important both to its doctrine and to the day-to-day lives of our people. It has had its share of crises, but it has not turned away those who might seek refuge,” Robredo said. “It has had its priests pilloried, harassed, even murdered right in front of the altar. It has spoken out against tyrants, and for this it has been attacked by tyrants,” she added.

Robredo said the Catholic prelates’ role “has become more challenging in recent years.”

“We see the face of the common Filipino who wakes before dawn to battle traffic; who breaks his back planting seeds, only for his crop to be swept away by storms long before harvest morning. They have become disillusioned with institutions whose promise of a baseline of dignity remains largely unfulfilled,” she said.

“I see that the Church has been most effective in moments when it found ways to be relevant in the daily lives of the people. Christ’s voice is loudest, and my conscience most fearless, when I see the servants of my Church likewise being loud in their compassion and fearless in their willingness to stand with their flock,” she said. In a speech in 2018, President Duterte said the Philippines is better off with a dictator than Robredo.

The Vice President had opposed Duterte’s approval of a hero’s burial for Marcos, criticizing the secretive burial as  being “like a thief in the night.”