Retired Supreme Court (SC) Justice Antonio Carpio, the founder of 1Sambayan and the instigator of the disqualification petitions filed against Bongbong Marcos (BBM) in the Commission on Elections (Comelec), is afraid to go out in the open.
Like a typical corporate lawyer with many vested interests to protect, Carpio prefers to have others do the dirty work for him.
In June 2021, Carpio created a so-called “convenor group” called 1Sambayan, which unilaterally appropriated for itself the role of unifying the political opposition in the country, with the objective of fielding only one candidate for president in the 2022 elections.
To make his one-man show look like a group act, two more senior citizens entered the picture, namely, retired Ombudsman and former SC Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, and ex-Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
In 2010, SC Justice Carpio-Morales broke tradition by accepting President Noynoy Aquino’s request that she administer his oath of office as president. To insulate the SC from politics, that role is traditionally given to the Chief Justice of the SC. A month after Carpio-Morales retired from the SC, a grateful Noynoy Aquino appointed her Ombudsman.
Del Rosario served as Noynoy’s foreign affairs secretary from 2011 up to March 2016, when he resigned supposedly because of failing health. I suspect del Rosario has a difficult time speaking in Tagalog.
The launching of 1Sambayan on June 12, 2021 was a dud.
One by one, candidates for president “shortlisted” by 1Sambayan turned down their “endorsements” and, to all intents and purposes, did not want to have anything to do with 1Sambayan.
Only the discredited and desperate ex-Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was willing to get himself anointed by Carpio’s pretentious group.
As quickly as it entered the political scene, 1Sambayan faded to obscurity.
It resurrected anew in late 2021 to announce its endorsement of the presidential run of Vice President Leni Robredo. For her part, however, Robredo was lukewarm to the 1Sambayan endorsement and decided to let the driftwoods of her old Liberal Party manage her campaign.
When 1Sambayan was still new, Carpio was at its centerstage.
Now that 1Sambayan is insignificant, Carpio has lawyer Howard Calleja manage 1Sambayan for him. It seems to me that Carpio does not want to be associated with a group endorsing a loser.
Analysts believe that if Robredo has a chance to win the presidency in 2022, Carpio will re-enter the scene and make his presence known again. Carpio’s sidekick Calleja will be marginalized, where he actually belongs.
It was Carpio who instigated the issue regarding the supposed disqualification of BBM as a candidate for President. According to Carpio, a decision of the Court of Appeals rendered in 2001 in a tax case involving BBM when the latter was still a provincial governor (1982-1985) provides a valid ground to disqualify BBM from running for any elective public office, including the presidency, in May 2022.
After Carpio published his opinion in his regular column in another newspaper, radicals and red sympathizers took their cue from Carpio and filed the corresponding petitions in the Comelec against BBM. Those petitions quoted Carpio’s arguments. Even Calleja, was part of the anti-BBM ruckus.
Weeks after Carpio first raised the issue in his column, additional petitions were filed. None of them were filed by Carpio himself.
If Carpio is so sure about his arguments against BBM, how come Carpio isn’t brave enough to file a petition on his own behalf? Why does he let Calleja do the fighting for him?
At any rate, Carpio is stealthy and scheming.
Being a justice of the SC, Carpio must have known all along about the 2001 Court of Appeals decision he cited against BBM, and long before he even wrote about the disqualification issue against BBM in his newspaper column last year.
Why didn’t Carpio raise that issue against BBM when the SC, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, was hearing the vice presidential election protest filed by BBM against Robredo back in 2016?
More specifically, if Carpio already knew that BBM had been disqualified from elective public office since 2001, why didn’t Carpio say so in the final decision of the PET which came out last year?
Why is Carpio raising the issue only now?
The answer: Carpio knew that his argument against BBM would not hold water if he raised it in the proceedings in the PET. If Carpio’s argument against BBM was rejected by the PET, the stealthy Carpio would have deprived himself of a legal weapon which he can use to harass BBM in the event that BBM does run for president in 2022.
Let’s face it. Carpio has no credibility in his actuations against BBM for the simple reason that he is rooting for Robredo as president.
Father Damaso campaigning for Robredo
Father Damaso, the villanous friar in Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere, is hardly fictional. Rizal’s infamous, randy Spanish priest who enjoyed political power in his ecclesiastical territory is alive and kicking in the Philippines today. Today’s Father Damaso, however, is no longer a Spaniard but a Filipino. And unlike Rizal’s villain, the contemporary Father Damaso is almost everywhere in the country.
During the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines, Spanish friars assigned to the Philippine Islands were rotten to the core. They were foul-mouthed, lewd, lustful and lascivious, and took advantage of the gullible young women in their parishes.
Because the Spanish colonial authorities enforced the union of church and state in the Philippine Islands, those prurient friars wielded nearly absolute political power and immense religious influence in their jurisdictions.
No wonder the Filipino revolutionaries hated them. Rizal made them the villains in his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and Marcelo del Pilar wrote a parody of The Lord’s Prayer where the stealing, cheating and foul language of the Spanish friars are memorialized. Del Pilar’s version is available online.
After Spain lost its colonial hold on the Philippine Islands in 1898, the United States, as the new colonial overseer of the archipelago, institutionalized the separation of church and state.
Under the Americans, the likes of Father Damaso and his cohorts, the salacious Father Salvi and the libidinous Father Camorra, among others, in the Philippine Islands lost their power and influence. Those who chose to remain in the Islands were confined to saying masses, and running Catholic schools.
In 1956, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 1425, which mandated the inclusion of Rizal’s novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo in the curricula of all public and private schools, colleges and universities. Politicians supported by the Catholic church opposed the bill that initiated Republic Act No. 1425, but they failed.
I remember that during my time in a Jesuit-run Catholic high school, the priests made sure that only their censored versions of Noli and Fili were read by their students. Later on, I also found out hat the nuns of Catholic high schools for girls practiced the same kind of censorship.
Father Damaso and his kind reacquired immense political clout when President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino seized power in February 1986. Because Jaime Cardinal Sin, who was then the archbishop of Manila, had a pivotal role in the so-called 1986 EDSA Revolution, Aquino became a virtual lackey of the cardinal. Sin became a regular feature in Aquino’s Malacañang, and a de facto union of church and state was in force in the Philippines.
As a consequence, friars held many government posts under Mrs. Aquino. Friars meddled in legislation and unofficially screened candidates for public office. Even the film censorship body had a friar. I am told that the friar was such a cheapskate that he brought home with him the newspapers in that government office for him to read in his own sweet time.
In 1996, Cardinal Sin told the Catholic faithful not to watch The Priest, a British film about a homosexual man of the cloth, then playing in the cinemas. The cardinal’s ban backfired because the film became a box office sensation in Metro Manila.
During the time of President Gloria Arroyo, Cardinal Sin used hurting language against the film censors’ chief over the public exhibition of Sutla, a local movie that purportedly had nudity. It turned out that the permit for the film was issued not by Tiongson, but by his predecessor, Armida Siguion-Reyna, when the latter was the censors boss.
Father Damaso and his fellow friars returned to power under President Noynoy Aquino. A member of the religious establishment was Noynoy’s education secretary. At that time, the Department of Education published public school textbooks that had endless factual and grammatical errors.
When President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, the friars lost their power anew. Since then, the friars have been continuously criticizing the President for flimsy and imaginary reasons. Even Aquino’s education secretary publicly campaigned against Duterte’s senatorial candidates in 2019.
It has been almost six years since Father Damaso and his sidekicks lost political power. They want it back.
For the friars, their return to power is possible only if the over-ambitious Leni Robredo is elected president in 2022. That’s because Robredo has not bothered to hide her subservience to the Catholic church because she considers the friars as her supporters.
A Robredo presidency means the de facto return of the union of church and state.
Suffice it to say that there is no such thing as a Catholic vote. Moreover, Father Damaso and his ilk do not have any credibility in this day and age.
Robredo is better off without any endorsement from Father Damaso, Father Salvi, Father Camorra and their kind.