President Noynoy Aquino forgives Carlos Celdran like other allies but not his enemies

Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino has weighed in on the “Damaso” dilemma and has showed his inconsistency yet again. He “urged the Church to follow the Pope’s example and forgive” tourist guide and part-time activist, Carlos Celdran. The latter was found guilty of violating Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code (for “offending religious feelings”) after he disrupted a service at Manila Cathedral wearing a 19th Century costume and holding up a sign with the word “Damaso,” – a reference to a villainous priest in Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere.

There are a few issues that come to mind when a head of state intervenes in criminal cases. First, BS Aquino appears to be violating the separation of Church and State. A decision has been handed down but the President, the head of state, felt compelled to lecture the Church on a matter that was brought before a local court. Second, BS Aquino appears to have violated Article 133 – the same provision that Celdran himself was found guilty of violating. By urging the members of the Philippine Catholic Church to forgive Celdran, BS Aquino seems to be insinuating that one, they are not practicing what they preach and two, he is in a way, dismissing the “feelings” of the members of the Church towards Celdran.


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By asking the Church to “forgive and forget”, BS Aquino seems to believe that what Celdran did inside the Church premises – accusing all priests of being “Damasos” or bad men – is not a big deal. The President himself is forgetting that one cannot presume to know how the other party is feeling. What he is asking the Church to do is equivalent to asking a victim of any criminal activity to just “forgive and forget”. Never mind if someone had robbed you of your dignity or your face in society and never mind what the law says. According to BS Aquino, just “forgive and forget”.

Even in the study of psychology, in dealing with children, they do not recommend that grown-ups make light of what a child is feeling. If the child feels scared of something that a grown-up would find ridiculous, the child should not be made to feel silly about it. Otherwise, the child will feel there is something wrong with him and could develop insecurities and other psychological problems that could affect him as an adult. In other words, what seems stupid to some like the practice of religion, is not stupid to others. This is the reason why the Constitution guarantees the freedom to practice religion and assures us that making fun of or insulting the feelings of those who do is wrong.

President BS Aquino’s penchant for meddling in criminal cases also further weakens our institutions. Like what I have said before, a weak leader in a country like the Philippines, which has weak institutions will tend to succumb to the world-renowned Filipino “padrino” system — a system that trumps any other system in place. Worse, such a leader will mask his weakness or understanding of the law by acting like he is above the law. It has been a well-documented fact that BS Aquino and Celdran are both supporters of the reproductive health bill, which gives some people enough reason to suspect that the padrino system is working once again when BS Aquino called for the Church to “forgive and forget”.

As some of us know, this is not the first time that BS Aquino intervened in a criminal or court case. Whether he is for or against, BS Aquino has a penchant for meddling depending on how strongly he feels for the respondent. If you happen to be a Liberal Party ally, he will extend a helping hand; but if you happen to be considered a political enemy, he will use everything in his power to crucify you in public. The signing of the impeachment case against former Chief Justice Renato Corona is just one of the growing number of cases that the President is said to have used his magic wand on. Congressman Toby Tiangco even testified in court that majority of the congressmen who signed the badly-written impeachment complaint against Corona did so without reading it and did so to accommodate the wishes of BS Aquino.

In another case, President BS Aquino posted PhP70,000.00 bail for Grace Padaca, a Liberal Party member who was charged for “alleged irregular disbursement of a P25-million grant to the Economic Development for Western Isabela and Northern Luzon Foundation Inc. without public bidding in 2006.” Aside from bailing her out of criminal prosecution, Padaca now enjoys the lucrative post of Commissions on Elections (COMELEC) head. The padrino system trumped the justice system in Padaca’s case indeed. The Filipino people seems to have now “forgiven and forgotten” the case against Padaca particulary since BS Aquino insisted that she is not guilty of her crimes.

The set of precedents have some people holding their breath on how BS Aquino will treat future cases particularly the charges against Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection Nereus “Neric” Acosta and his mother, Socorro who were charged with the “alleged anomalous transfer of P5.5-million priority development assistance fund to the Bukidnon Vegetable Producers Cooperative, a non-government organization run by his family, when he was still congressman representing Bukidnon”. Some members of Philippine society are assuming that BS Aquino will help him get off the hook. Obviously there’s a lot at stake if and when Acosta is found guilty. BS Aquino seems to have trusted him with a few government positions. Acosta is also serving as the general manager of the Laguna Lake Development Authority. Some say that it’s just a matter of time before BS Aquino ask the courts to “forgive and forget” the cases against Acosta.

When it comes to inconsistencies, BS Aquino’s treatment of former President Gloria Arroyo is the mother of all inconsistencies. His message not to forgive and forget GMA’s alleged indiscretions during her term still rings in the Filipino people’s ears considering he repeated it again in his recent speech in Davos in front of a small international delegation who were largely clueless as to what he was ranting about. In his speech, he emphasized once again how corrupt the previous administration was compared to his own. Never mind that the charges against GMA have yet to be proven in court.

Whether Celdran gets a reprieve from serving time in jail or not will matter very little to the tour guide’s business. Reports say that criminal activity in particular, random and premeditated murders have risen in the Philippines under BS Aquino’s watch. This is obviously another blow to the tourism industry which Celdran is a part of.

Unfortunately, members of the Philippine National Police and military are even implicated in the crimes. This despite BS Aquino boasting of improvements in his so called “Daang Matuwid”.

A sure sign of a country having weak institutions is when members of law enforcement agencies like the police and military engage in criminal activity. They know the the rule of law and the principle of due process are hardly being upheld, which is why they can plant or remove evidence whenever they want. Certainly, BS Aquino’s dismissive attitude towards crimes committed by his allies will worsen our already ailing institutions.

25 Replies to “President Noynoy Aquino forgives Carlos Celdran like other allies but not his enemies”

  1. p-noy likes to stick his **** where it shouldn’t go.
    a case study in what democracy should not be – seperation of powers, checks and balances, bribery and corruption.
    you elect a boy to do a mans job, and he will prefer to play house with children. Mmm.
    what would freud say.

      1. cory: what are you doing
        benny: just playing house
        cory: why are the boys naked
        benny: it’s michael jackson’s house!

        the aquino’s were always a dysfunctional family, and still are, but sad that a country has to pay the price for bad parenting.
        same with other ‘leaders’ past and present.
        psychological tests would have saved the country a lot of trouble.

  2. According to BS Aquino, just “forgive and forget”.

    Talk about “practicing what you preach”,well, that one is staring him straight in the eye.

    Nicely written artice, Ilda.

  3. I said it before. I feel so blessed to be living in this time that we have this clairvoyant President who knows who is guilty and who is not that our legal process is superfluous. It’s not like he has ever had experience in the judiciary or anything like that. His first fifty years of life was very similar to the life of Jesus Christ from 12 to 30 years old. I will let you scholars figure that out. Yet for some reason when Noynoy gives his best Emperor Palpatine “I foresaw it” . The whole country takes him seriously. That Noynoy is such a magnificent specimen we should all be just basking in his glory.

    1. It’s just a matter of time before PNoy is proven to be a great pretender. In one report, he admitted that jailing GMA and ousting Corona was not enough to bring real change but legislation will. This coming from a guy who said that when he was a senator, he didn’t feel the need to come up with bills because the country already has enough laws.

      In another report he was “alarmed at spate of robbery”. Obviously, reality is biting him hard.

  4. So surprise since they both supported the RH Bill. Actually, it seems Da Prez could actually have the RH Bill passed without any activist’s help.

    1. You’re right, Chino. The RH bill was passed because some members of congress allegedly wanted to accomodate the wishes of the President.

  5. BSA is practically ruling by decree. I don’t why do we even have to bother with due process and rule of law when BSA whims are translated into state policy. Can he be held responsible for this whims of his?

  6. There are transgressions that have to be punished even if the original victim has forgiven the transgressor because the crime committed is not only against the victim but also the state. The Revised Penal Code effectively made Carlos Celdran’s actions an affront to the state and not just the persons he offended. True, Pope John Paul II forgave the man who shot him but he still had to serve time for what he did. A victim can forgive those who bullied him in school but the bullies still have to answer to the school. In crimes against persons, the perpetrator is not spared from punishment even if the victim chooses not to pursue the case. It may lighten the penalty though to the mandated minimum. For example, a lawyer who committed adultery will surely be disbarred if the spouse complains. If the spouse chooses to forgive the lawyer, the lawyer is likely to get away with suspension. The reason for the punishment is for bringing the profession into disrepute.

    1. He does when one thinks about it logically. Anything that will give him BSA’s LP an advantage (aside from cheating) can be useful

  7. One has really got to be off his rocker if he can forgive an offender who is not sorry for what he did. A wife commits adultery right under the nose of her husband and the poor man can forgive and forget in the spirit of christian charity? Hitler killed millions of Jews and they can forgive him? Hitler perhaps was sorry that he did not kill more.

  8. Exactly! It’s funny how BS Aquino is asking the Church to forgive Celdran for voicing out his criticism of the Church inside the Cathedral but he hasn’t forgiven retired colonel Generoso Mariano for voicing his criticism of the administration. There’s a rule for active military personnel to not criticize the commander? Okay.. well.. there’s also a rule not to offend religious feelings inside a place of worship. If Col. Mariano deserves to get punished for what he has done, doesn’t this apply to Celdran as well? Dura lex sed lex.

    1. @Pablo

      Which part of my article does it say that I am asking PNoy to forgive the Arroyos? What is there to forgive anyway? Please be specific.

  9. “All past persecutors of the Church are now no more, but the Church still lives on. The same fate awaits modern persecutors; they, too, will pass on, but the Church of Jesus Christ will always remain, for God has pledged His Word to protect Her and be with Her forever, until the end of time.” St. Don Bosco

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