By Raïssa Robles
This is a strange bunch championing the Catholic Church stand against a law that would allow, among others, the government to provide family planning information and contraceptives to the poor: a fondler of a Catholic parish employee; an endorser of condoms; and a boxing icon whose wife used the pill as shield against his libido.
I know that the proposed Reproductive Health measure deals with much more than condoms. It seeks to provide pre and post natal care, information on all methods of limiting and spacing pregnancies, as well as services and supplies on such methods. It categorically states that abortion is not one of these methods.
The Church, however, has branded all methods of birth control as abortion, including the use of condoms. To Church officials, the use of condoms even by married couples is a sin against morality. To the Church, condoms are bad because they are like the marijuana of promiscuity. Condoms will inevitably lead to very, very bad sexual behavior and abortion, which will lead to moral depravity and the destruction of the Filipino family.
I have no problem with Bishop Oscar Cruz railing against the RH bill. His life has so far been consistent with his religious actions.
But allowing Bishop Teodoro Bacani to be at the forefront of the Church fight against the RH bill could deal a big blow to the Church cause. During a recent debate on the issue over GMA-7 TV, Bishop Bacani insisted that the RH Bill was not a public health issue but a morality issue. He said the bill “ignored” morality:
Ang nakakalungkot sa bill na ito ay hindi nito binibigyang pansin ang moralidad. (What is saddening about the bill is that it overlooks the issue of morality.)
The statement would have been accepted without question had it come from another senior cleric. But not from Bishop Ted Bacani. Social networking sites were at once atwitter, questioning Bacani’s own morality.
Bishop Ted Bacani fondled his own female secretary
In April 2003, the monsignor was accused by his 33-year-old female secretary of sexual harassment. According to Philippine Star, the bishop had embraced her from behind and “touched sensitive parts of her body” while inside his office at the Novaliches Parish which he used to head then.
According to Newsbreak, which broke the news on the sexual misconduct, the accusation became credible after running priest Fr. Robert Reyes had referred the cast to a women’s rights group. No wonder Fr. Reyes was exiled all the way to China. Hmmm.
Monsignor Bacani initially hotly denied the accusations but later modified his statement saying he was “deeply sorry for the consequences of any inappropriate expression of affection to my secretary”. In other words, he had the hots for his secretary and since the secretary took offense, there was nothing consensual about his actions.
In fact he should have been charged under the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 because it happened in a work-related environment. This law, by the way, carries a jail term of one month to six months and a fine of not more than P20,000 or both.
But it seems, even Filipino bishops have diplomatic immunity in the Philippines because they are employed by Vatican City. And, as my husband Alan now reminds me – “The capital of the Philippines is Vatican City.”
Seven months later in November 2003, then Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Antonio Franco wrote a letter to Reverend James Reuter, director of the Catholic Church’s National Office of Mass Media. In that letter, Monsignor Franco abruptly announced that bishop Bacani was being replaced by La Union Bishop Antonio Tobias ( who remains there to this day).
Monsignor Franco said:
This appointment ends the controversy that has disturbed the Diocese of Novaliches for many months. Bishop Bacani remains as a bishop in good standing with all rights and powers as bishop. But at the moment, he is not in charge of any particular diocese…(This settles the sexual harassment charge and) no further word is expected from the Vatican.
The monsignor even named the bishop’s accuser as his former secretary, Ms. France Elaine C. Ventura. I guess the monsignor felt free to disclose the woman’s name because she was not covered by the 1998 Rape Shield Law.
Before this incident, I had looked up to Bishop Bacani as one of the most erudite Catholic scholars. He was at the forefront of the fight against the Marcos dictatorship. He provided the theological muscle for rebelling against an immoral government.
That incident with his secretary – I’m sure it was a series of incidents and not just one to warrant his suspension by Vatican – broke my trust in him.
The point I’m making is, by being at the forefront of this debate, Bishop Bacani reminds Catholics of the serious contradiction between what he preaches and what he did.
By allowing him to constantly speak out on the subject, it gives me the impression that the Catholic Church in the Philippines seems to think it is but a small thing to Filipino Catholics for its priests to commit sex-related sins. After all, the Filipino culture actually raised the status of women made pregnant by priests.
It’s not. Sexual harrassment, committed by anyone, is a despicable crime because it treats women like playthings.
Condom’s poster boy, Robin Padilla, suddenly anti-RH
Yesterday afternoon, I heard two ABS-CBN radio commentators discussing action star Robin Padilla’s surprising stance against the RH Bill. The announcers laughingly pointed out that Padilla was the ad endorser of Trust condoms.
I haven’t heard the Catholic-turned-Muslim actor elaborate on why he’s on the same side of the Catholic Church on this issue.
But I’m wondering if this is his way of cajoling the Church to allow him to grant the wish of 27-year-old model-actress Mariel Rodriguez to marry Robin, 41, in a Catholic Church this June. Last April, Bishop Oscar Cruz had turned down the couple’s request for a church wedding saying:
Hindi naman ito nakukuha sa appeal, hindi naman cardinal ang may gawa ng batas dahil gaya nga ng sinabi ko, batas iyan ng kalikasan, ng katuwiran, at ng simbahan sa buong mundo. Ang isang lalaki ay dapat sa isang babae lamang. Di gaya ng sa Muslim, ang katumbas ng isang lalaki ay isang babae, dalawang babae, tatlong babae at apat na babae at iyan ang problema ng ating mga kapatid ng Muslim. (“This matter cannot be settled through an appeal. A cardinal does not make this law. as I said, this is the law of nature, of righteousness and of the Church in the entire world. One man is only for one woman (in marriage). Unlike among the Muslims where one man can be for one, two, three ir four women and that is the problem with our fellow Muslim brothers.)
Robin’s eldest daughter, Roselle Elizabeth, is only eight years older than Mariel. Aside from his four children with estranged wife Liezl, Robin has a son and a daughter with two other women.
Boxing icon’s wife was on the pill
The third champion against the RH bill is world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. The eight-division boxing icon wants eight children while his wife, Jinkee, would like to stop with the four they now have. In fact, she has confided to media that she once took the pill but stopped after Manny Pacquiao found out.
Manny Pacquiao wants a baby machine. But at the same time, he wants a wife who looks like a sexy starlet.
According to actress Ruffa Gutierrez, Jinky had confided to her mom Annabelle why Jinky had tried out Bodytite, a procedure that apparently “sucks out excess fat as it tightens loose skin” brought about by pregnancy. Ruffa said :
When Jinkee told my mom that Manny started being loyal to her (after BodyTite), I said to Dr. (Vicky) Belo, okay, let’s do it.
The point I’m making is, many Filipino males are like Manny Pacquiao. They want to have it all. They don’t want to use condoms nor their wives to use the pill, but they still want them to submit whenever the urge moves them (which, judging by the growth of Philippine population) is many, many times – making the natural rhythm method favored by the Church useless.
Maybe it is for this reason why a couple’s marriage vow in Church only says they will remain faithful “in sickness and in health” but not “through fat and thin” nor “eyebags and saddlebags”. No way can many Catholic Filipino males make good on this vow.
When the wife loses her looks due to giving birth and caring for their numerous children, the Filipino male goes a-hunting.
This was what happened to Pacquiao’s mother Dionisia. If you look at the Wikipedia entry on Manny Pacquiao, it says that he is the son of Rosalio Pacquiao and Dionisia Dapidran-Pacquiao:
His parents separated when he was in sixth grade, after his mother discovered that his father was living with another woman. He is the fourth among six siblings: Liza Silvestre-Onding and Domingo Silvestre (from first husband of his mother) and Isidra Pacquiao-Paglinawan, Alberto “Bobby” Pacquiao and Rogelio Pacquiao.
So you wonder, how many husbands did Dionisia actually have? Did the first one die?
And this came to light: Dionisia’s first husband, Alfonso Silvestre, left her for another woman while she was two months pregnant with her second child, Domingo.
But remember, Manny Pacquiao is Dionisia’s fourth child.
To support her children, Dionisia baked doughnuts and other native delicacies and sold these in the neighborhood.
Dionisia herself came from a broken family. Her mother, Cristina Mejia Dapigran, 82, was a battered wife. Dionisia, the third of nine children, takes care of her to this day.
Pacquiao’s family is typical of many, many Filipino families. And my beloved Catholic Church simply shuts its eyes on this very sordid reality. And leaves women to bear much of the burden. The RH bill is intended to help ease that burden but the Church has taken an all or nothing approach.