Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Moralist or President? An 8-point response to Mocha Uson on Mayor Duterte



Mocha Unson made her reply to Gab Valenciano's comments regarding Mayor Duterte. Mocha's comments are interesting, because she pose tough questions. Let's analyze the text of her blog post:

1. Many anti-Duterte focus on the issue of morality. But the real question is - do we need a good role model or a capable President?... Eto ang tanong, ano ba ang kailangan natin MORALISTA O PRESIDENTE?

Can't we aim for a good role model and a capable President? Just like in looking for a husband, a woman must look for a man who would be a good role model for their children and who is competent enough to have a stable job. Why should a woman look for someone less? In the same way, why should we Filipinos be contented that our leaders are less than what they should be ?

2.  Simple lang naman po ito, our country is so sick and we need a good doctor to help us. And here come the moralists questioning the doctor's righteousness and morality? Shouldn't we be more concerned about the doctor's experience and capability to treat disease and illness? Now do you get my point? 

What is a doctor?

We know that a sick man needs a doctor. If the problem is physical, a medical doctor can determine whether it is caused by bacteria or virus. He can also determine if a limb was broken, a muscle was cut, or a skin was burned. 

But if the problem is mental, then the doctor has to be a psychiatrist, because the problem concerns not only about the parts of the brain and their functions, but also about intangible things related to the mind or the psyche (the soul or the Anima in the Aristotelian sense):
Though the medical specialty of psychiatry uses research in the field of neuroscience, psychology, medicine, biology, biochemistry, and pharmacology,[12] it has generally been considered a middle ground between neurology and psychology.[13] Unlike other physicians and neurologists, psychiatrists specialize in the doctor–patient relationship and are trained to varying extents in the use of psychotherapy and other therapeutic communication techniques.[13] Psychiatrists also differ from psychologists in that they are physicians and have post-graduate training called residency (usually 4 to 5 years) is in psychiatry; their graduate medical training is identical to all other physicians.[14] Psychiatrists can therefore counsel patients, prescribe medication, order laboratory tests, order neuroimaging, and conduct physical examinations.[15] (Wikipedia: Psyche(Psychology))
But man does not consist only of a body: he also has an immortal soul. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
362 The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that "then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."229 Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God.
366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.235
If you believe that Man (and that includes the Mocha girls) is made up not only with body--even a beautiful body--but also has an immortal soul as well, and that this soul can go to heaven, hell, or purgatory depending on what the person does while the soul is still connected with the body during our earthly life, then we need another kind of doctor: a Doctor of Divinity. A bishop, for example, is a doctor of divinity, that is why you see the initials D.D. after a bishop's name, e.g. Bishop Socrates Villegas, D.D. The role of the bishop is to help all those under his care to go to heaven. So if there are things that would prevent us to go to heaven, such as murder and sexual immorality, then it is his job to point these things out, such as what Bishop Villegas has done to Mayor Duterte by saying to him:
The usual face of corruption that we recognize easily is stealing from public funds. Corruption, like a monster, is a devil with many faces. Killing people is corruption. Killing is a crime and a sin whether it is done by criminals or public officials no matter what the intention. Adultery is corruption. It makes married love cheap and uses people for pleasure. Adultery corrupts the family; it destroys children and victimizes the weak. Vulgarity is corruption. When we find vulgarity funny, we have really become beastly and barbaric as a people.  (Bishop Villegas)
For what is a doctor but a Latin word for teacher:
The doctorate (Latin: doceĊ, I teach) appeared in medieval Europe as a license to teach (Latin: licentia docendi) at a medieval university.[2] Its roots can be traced to the early church when the term "doctor" referred to the Apostles, church fathers and other Christian authorities who taught and interpreted the Bible.[2] The right to grant a licentia docendi was originally reserved to the church which required the applicant to pass a test, to take oath of allegiance and pay a fee. The Third Council of the Lateran of 1179 guaranteed the access – now largely free of charge – of all able applicants, who were, however, still tested for aptitude by the ecclesiastic scholastic.[3] This right remained a bone of contention between the church authorities and the slowly emancipating universities, but was granted by the pope to the University of Paris in 1213 where it became a universal license to teach (licentia ubiquie docendi).[3] However, while the licentia continued to hold a higher prestige than the bachelor's degree (Baccalaureus), it was ultimately reduced to an intermediate step to the Magister and doctorate, both of which now became the exclusive qualification for teaching.[3]

The earliest doctoral degrees (theology, law, and medicine) reflected the historical separation of all university study into these three fields. Over time the D.D. has gradually become less common and studies outside theology, law, and medicine have become more common (such studies were then called "philosophy", but are now classified as sciences and humanities – however this usage survives in the degree of Doctor of Philosophy). (Wikipedia: Doctor (title))
Christ is the good doctor in both senses, because not only does He teach right conduct, to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect (c.f. Mt 5:48), but He also heals the sickness of the whole man--both the body and soul--as a sign of the truth of His teachings:
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? 5Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6* But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”c 7  He rose and went home. 8* When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings. (Mt 9:4-8)

If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; 38but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize [and understand] that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”w (Jn 10:37-38)
Now, if we follow your analogy of the Philippine state as a sick man, we must realize that the state consists of men and women. We have shown earlier that human beings consists of both body and soul. So if Mayor Duterte is a good doctor who can cure the ills of the nation, then he must also focus not only on the concerns of the body of the nation (e.g. food, shelter, and clothing), but also on the soul of the nation--that which animates the nation as if it were a single organism. It is in this sense that we speak of the Filipino soul or the Filipino spirit. Thus, Duterte must also concern himself with the soul of the nation and in doing so he cannot escape facing the problems of morality, e.g. whether it is moral to divorce one's wife or murder a criminal without him being tried in court. To deny the prime importance of morality for molding the soul of the nation is to make Filipinos akin like wild animals who are slaves of their passions and instincts. As Shakespeare's Mark Anthony said in Caesar's funeral:
O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason. Bear with me. My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, And I must pause till it come back to me.
3. If you want a morally "righteous" leader then let's vote for the priests and the religious people. Now how do you catch drug pushers? How do you pursue corrupt policemen and politicians? How do you put an end to the LAGLAG BALA syndicate? Call the priests?

It is forbidden for priests to participate in public offices.  According to the Code of Canon Law:
283 §3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.
The task of catching drug pushers, pursuing corrupt policement and politicians, and ending the laglag bala syndicate is the province of the laity. As the Catechism said regarding the Vocation of the Laity:
898 "By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will. . . . It pertains to them in a special way so to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are closely associated that these may always be effected and grow according to Christ and maybe to the glory of the Creator and Redeemer."431

899 The initiative of lay Christians is necessary especially when the matter involves discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. This initiative is a normal element of the life of the Church...
900 Since, like all the faithful, lay Christians are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, they have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is the more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ. Their activity in ecclesial communities is so necessary that, for the most part, the apostolate of the pastors cannot be fully effective without it.433
But what the priests can do is to preach about evils of drug pushing, corruption, and all other sins to prevent men and women from doing them in the first place through their consciences. A well-developed conscience, more than the Pre-Cogs in Minority Report film, can really stop a crime before it happens.

4. Morality should not be the deciding factor in choosing our next president. MORAL STANDARDS mean different things to different people according to their belief. What is morally right to you might be morally wrong to me, and what is morally wrong to you might be morally right to me. 

This is Moral Relativism:
Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity within themselves, but they only have relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration.[1] As moral relativism, the term is often used in the context of moral principles, where principles and ethics are regarded as applicable in only limited context. There are many forms of relativism which vary in their degree of controversy.[2] The term often refers to truth relativism, which is the doctrine that there are no absolute truths, i.e., that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference, such as a language or a culture (cultural relativism).[3] (Wikipedia: Relativism)
Moral relativism is Einstein's Theory of Relativity theory applied to morality. But even in Einstein's theory of relativity, there is still something absolute: the speed of light in vacuum. In the same way, even if we were reared differently, we all have something absolute to judge what is good and evil. As Aragorn said to Eomer:
Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men.  It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in in his own house. (Aragorn, Riders of Rohan, Lord of the Rings, p. 438)
God has engraved His law in our hearts so that we can judge what is good and evil. This is the nature of our conscience:
For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law.k 15They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts,* while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them 16on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus. (Rom 2:14-16)
As the Catechism says:

1778 Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law.... 
1789 Some rules apply in every case:
  • One may never do evil so that good may result from it; 
  • the Golden Rule: "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them."
 Nevertheless, it is our task to make sure that our conscience is well-formed, because our conscience can also err:
1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed. 1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin."59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits. 1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct. 1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.  (Catechism)
In the Ten Commandments, for example, the first three commandments are about God. These are revealed truths that are difficult to deduce from the golden rule (c.f. Ex 20:2-10):
  • 1. I am the LORD your God...3You shall not have other gods beside me.
  • 2. You shall not invoke the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.*
  • 3. Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy.
For example, saying "Oh my God!" as a habitual expression is a sin against the 2nd Commandment.

The fourth to the eighth commandments may be deduced from the golden rule (i.e. do to others what you want others to do to you) and may be classified under Natural Law (c.f. Ex 20:12-16):
  • 4. Honor your father and your mother.
  • 5. You shall not kill.
  • 6. You shall not commit adultery.
  • 7. You shall not steal.
  • 8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
For example, killing criminals outside the law and sharing a bed with a woman who is not your wife as claimed Duterte are sins against the 5th and 6th commandments.

Lastly, the ninth and tenth commandments may not be deduced from the golden rule, but they are reasonable safeguards for not committing the sins against the 6th and 7th commandments (c.f. Ex 20:17):
  • 9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
  • 10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. 
For example, Christ has expounded on covetousness as sin, especially in regards to lustful thoughts:
“You have heard that it was said,r ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Mt 5:27-28)
Therefore, it follows that a woman who purposely wear skimpy clothes (or none at all) so that men would lust for her is also guilty of sin.

5. Mr. GAB VALENCIANO, I remember you posted a few months ago on your FB that you "don't owe it (Philippines) a thing" and now here you are tweeting your sentiments toward our country - "how socially uneducated the country has become. What has happened to my fellow countrymen? It’s so sad". (@gabvalenciano twitter) Wala ka namang alam sa tunay na kalagayan ng mga Pilipino because you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth and you are not even here. You don't know what's really happening in our streets. 


There are two ways of knowing. One is by direct observation. The other is by testimony of others who have seen or heard such and such a thing. I know what happened at UST during Pope Francis' visit if I saw the events happening with my own eyes. But since my point of view is limited, I would listen to what others say about their experience at UST during the pope's visit, e.g. I would listen to news reports in radio, TV, and social media. Both forms of knowing complement each other, but because of media bias and our own biases as well, we have to separate the wheat from the chaff, the truth from the falsehood.

So in the case of Gab Valenciano, he may not be in the Philippines and he may have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but he can still know the state of our country through the testimony of others, such as what we can find in social media.

In a similar way, in the case of Mayor Duterte, even though we have not seen him in person, we can still get a a good picture of the man and his platform of governance from TV, radio, and social media, and from these derive certain conclusions regarding the kind of presidency that we shall expect under him.

6. Our country is radically ill and we need a radical leader to create radical change. 

The words "radically ill", "radical leader", and "radical change" were left undefined by the author. We need to define them precisely, so that dialogue is meaningful. Otherwise, it would be futile for two sides to argue if they don't agree on the meaning of words.

But let us suppose that the author assumes that the meaning of "radical" is defined by what Duterte proposes:
  • Abolish congress and replace it by parliamentary federal form of government
  • Streamline bureacracy, privatize Bureau of Internal Revenue, and other government agencies
  • Tax exemption of private and government workers earning Php 25,000 per month and below
Let's consider these proposals one by one.

The shift to parliamentary federal system requires a constitutional change. This is radical indeed. President Ferdinand Marcos already attempted his radical change by employing a unicameral system of government with himself as the President. Marcos, with all his brilliance, attempted to make a radical change in the country by writing the laws himself and putting the country under dictatorial rule. If Duterte wishes to emulate Marcos, he must study history and try to prevent another EDSA Revolution sooner along the way. 

Streamlining bureacracy is easier said than done. Privatization of BIR and other government agencies may sound like a good policy, until the country is held hostage by private corporations who collect the taxes, control the energy distribution, and command the army. Also, since Duterte claims to be a socialist (and not a communist), his proposals may run counter to socialist ideas, which is the state ownership of industry, as done in the aftermath of the revolutions in Russia and China.

Tax exemption is always a populist policy to get votes of low-income citizens. But the government needs cash to finance its operations. Where will the government get its money? From taxes, of course. If a chunk of the population won't pay taxes, the government has to get that tax from somewhere else. And you'll see the rise of road tax, alcohol tax, tobacco tax, film tax, etc. Also, some of those who earn more than Php 25,000 may end up getting less than those who earn only Php 25,000, and the higher-income earners would think this is unfair. And the net result of this would be there will be no workers who will accept salary over Php 25,000 but less than or equal to Php 30,000, for example, because the tax of an employed but unmarried man with a Php 30,000 monthly income is 4,167 + 0.30(35,000 - 25,000) = 5,667, so that Php 30,000 - Php 5,667 = Php 24,333. This is already less than Php 25,000. (Note that for simplicity, we did not discuss contributions like SSS, Philhealth, etc.) So overall, the companies would suffer who hire the best talent, because they have to push the salaries of high-income earners to higher than before. Or the other extreme may happen: companies would put a salary ceiling of Php 25,000 for their workers, so that the company won't anymore have an administrative overhead costs for computing and processing tax payments.

As you can see, once you tinker with one part of the system, it will affect the other parts as well, and these effects may not be what we envisioned or prepared for.  Also, there is no such thing as free lunch. Somebody really pays for that lunch, even if it appears the money did not come from your own pocket.

7. We need a leader who's willing to sacrfice himself for the sake of his country.

"Sacrifice" was not defined by the author. So let us consult Merriam Webster on the meaning of sacrifice:
  • the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone
  • an act of killing a person or animal in a religious ceremony as an offering to please a god
  • a person or animal that is killed in a sacrifice
We can assume that the author is not referring to the second or third definition. Otherwise, Duterte would kill himself (or have himself killed) for the sake of the country. But we know that one man really sacrificed himself on the cross not only for the Jewish nation, but also for the salvation of the human race (c.f. Jn 18:14: "It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.").

So this leaves us with the first definition: "the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone." What did Duterte gave up for the sake of the country? We surely know one thing: he gave up to run for the position of Mayor of Davao, so that he can run for the position of President of the Philippines. I am not sure if this qualifies the word "sacrifice". Ambition may be closer. But if Duterte decides not to run for President for the sake of the country, then this truly is a great "sacrifice" for his part.


8. "I do not care if I burn in hell for as long as the people I serve live in paradise" - Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte.

There was a similar statement by President Quezon before:

I prefer a government run like hell by Filipinos to a government run like heaven by Americans.

Here, because of the word "like", heaven and hell may be interpreted as metaphors denoting peace and chaos, respectively.

But Duterte's words are already difficult to justify as metaphor:
"I do not care if I burn in hell for as long as the people I serve live in paradise."
There are two possiblities: (1) Duterte is careless in his speech. (2) He knows what he is saying. If the first is correct, then Duterte should correct himself. But since he did not correct himself, perhaps he really knows what he is saying and this can be terrifying. 

I don't know how Duterte will accomplish his statement. One way is for Duterte to let us all Filipinos say that Jesus is the Christ. After we have done this, Duterte would then execute all of us using diverse means--bullets, gas chambers, or beheadings. This is forced martyrdom.

Another way is for Duterte to sell his soul to the Devil in exchange for a Philippine paradise, which we can define as a rich and powerful country. This is possible, since the Devil even tempted Christ with food, fame, and glory:
  • If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread. (Mt 4:3)
  • Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, 6and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” (Mt 4:5-6)
  • Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, 9and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”* (Mt 4:8-9)
Actually, according to the vision of Pope Leo XIII in 1884, the 20th century is Satan's century and God gave him more power, so that he can test the faith of the Church, in the same way as he tested Job. In this century, we have seen the rise of radical ideologies, governments, and institutions which made radical changes to society: Communist Russia, Nazi Germany, Planned Parenthood, LGBT, and the Islamic State to name a few.  Would Philippines, the bastion of Catholic Faith in Asia, be far behind? We have Communists in Congress, Demagogues for Presidents, RH Law, Anti-Discrimination Bill for LGBT, and the Bangsamoro Basic Law.  And soon we may yet elect Duterte as as a radical President for 2016 who support all these things for the country. God help us all.
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