Padre Damaso preaches hatred, division

Last Sunday, the family and friends of the late ex-Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. marked the 39th anniversary of his death with a highly politicized Mass officiated by Pangasinan Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

In his homily, Villegas praised Aquino and delivered veiled tirades against President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Aquino and President Bongbong’s late father, President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., were political adversaries during their time.

Villegas said that while one “can win an election, only truth tellers can enter the gates of heaven.”

The partisan prelate added, “You can be rich by accepting bribes and not paying taxes, but only men and women of integrity have credibility to lead by example. You can allow the trolls to top you in the surveys, but only humble, selfless leadership can inspire. You can kill your opponents by a bullet, but only God can make the dead live forever.”

Villegas also snapped, “You can rewrite history and you can call plunderers heroes, but there will be no secrets that will not be revealed, and the Lord does not sleep.”

Obviously, Villegas was referring to the alleged unpaid estate taxes on the estate of President Marcos Sr. That issue is groundless because the estate of the deceased president is still the subject of an ongoing court litigation, which means taxes are not yet demandable from the estate.

Villegas’ reference to trolls is an insinuation that President Bongbong Marcos won the May 2022 presidential election supposedly because his camp manipulated social media to make him lead in the preelection surveys. The opinionated archbishop, however, was unable to cite evidence to substantiate his tall tale.

From what he said, the biased Villegas wanted his audience to believe that President Marcos Sr. was responsible for Aquino’s death, and that the late president should not be considered a hero because he was a plunderer. Villegas further insinuated that any pro-Marcos narrative is tantamount to revising history.

As usual, the one-track minded Villegas was unable to back up his insinuations with evidence. He conveniently overlooked that the late President Marcos Sr. had already passed away before he could even defend himself in the cases filed against his estate. Apparently, Villegas does not understand the meaning of due process of law.

Likewise, Villegas has forgotten that in November 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that President Marcos Sr. can be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Inasmuch as Villegas is in a criticism frenzy anyway, he ought to criticize his fellow friars for the criminal case they filed against Carlos Celdran, the activist who, in 2010, publicly protested Church meddling in the affairs of the State.

Ironically, Padre Damaso preaches forgiveness, but he was unforgiving when the friars felt offended by Celdran.

Undoubtedly, the Villegas homily was highly politicized. That he left Pangasinan just to officiate in a Mass outside his jurisdiction confirms his political purpose in that mass.

Moreover, the remarks made by Villegas are inappropriate for a man of the cloth. He engaged in accusatory insinuations, and he was preaching a homily of hatred and division among the Filipino people.

It looks like Padre Damaso and his gang have not recovered from their disappointment that their anointed candidate for president, the incompetent, pretentious and church-subservient Leni Robredo, lost miserably in the May 2022 elections.

If Villegas is vehemently opposed to rewriting history, he should begin by correcting the Catholic Church’s version of the 10 Commandments. The version taught by Padre Damaso and Madre Damasa in Catholic schools does not match the one explicitly stated in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible.

Taxpayers have the right to criticize the State because tax money pays for the operations of the government. Precisely because the Church does not pay taxes, Padre Damaso has no moral authority to criticize the government.
Instead of preaching hatred and division among the Filipino people, Padre Damaso should mend his worldly ways.

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