Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms.  This article was published in Business Mirror April 11, 2007 edition, p. A6

Last Holy Wednesday, this paper reported that Monsignor Pedro Quitorio, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), finally put to rest an issue that has been troubling Filipino Catholics for many years.

He said bathing on Good Friday would not bring bad luck. “Take a bath. These are superstitious beliefs. They have no religious bearing,” he said.

Isn’t it wonderful to hear someone from the CBCP speak out against uncleanliness?

After all, quite a few CBCP members are famous for tolerating the winner of a dirty election and accepting donations from a tiny hand tainted by corruption and stained with blood from extra-judicial killings.

Msgr. Quitorio proved, to me at least, that there are still some clerics who won’t endure unseemliness … even if it’s only smelly armpits.

I’m also encouraged that Msgr. Quitorio is trying to wean Filipinos away from superstitions about bathing. However, the more important question for the CBCP is the superstition about a so-called mandate from heaven that a certain Assumption Convent alumna has been peddling since 2001.

In December of 2001, the product of Assumption Convent stood before “Martha’s Vineyard” at the Shangrila Hotel in Makati and claimed without flinching, I might add:

“It is now more than ten months since Edsa Dos, when I assumed the presidency through the process of constitutional succession and on the shoulders of people power, spontaneous people power, not people power mobilized by any one organized group. (Although Atty. Jose Miguel Arroyo painted a different picture in his interview with Nick Joaquin.)

“I stress this point because it was my discernment on January 20th that God was speaking through the almost one million people who were in Edsa, saying, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“For many months, the organized protesters were frustrated in their efforts to mobilize sustained people power. Then I, on January 16th, it was I, the Lord your God, who inspired My beloved Filipino people in the hundreds of thousands and also million to go to Edsa and create the vacancy that allowed you to ascend to the presidency.

“Therefore, this is my discernment. “God said to me that His expectation is that I will work constructively for the benefit of the Filipino people whom He loves so much, the only Catholic nation in Asia, the nation to whom He showed His love in an extraordinary way in Edsa One, and again in Edsa Two. And for my part, I hope that in these last ten months, I have kept faith with what I perceived to be that mandate from Divine Providence.”

Fortunately, many Filipinos are not as gullible as some bishops. They refused to accept heaven’s so-called mandate. Despite her appeal, “Let us use our strong faith in God to discern between the truth and false promises, between good intentions and evil designs, between genuine harmony and actions that bring conflict to our people,” they didn’t heed her.

They didn’t discern between her true and false promises, her good intentions and evil designs, and her efforts to simultaneously unite and divide the nation. They simply said they wanted her out of their lives.

Ordinarily, anyone so unappreciated would have started packing. But not Gloria Arroyo. She listens only to God.

And God listens to Gloria Arroyo… according to Gloria Arroyo.

Newsbreak magazine reported her saying, “God heard my prayers that he win,” upon learning that Manny Pacquiao defeated Hector Velazquez.

God won’t let Gloria Arroyo down. Within a month of the Lakas-CMD convention, her political machinery will belie every survey taken since she was caught on the phone with an election commissioner who possessed Divine powers. Between now and May 14, her political machinery will magically turn a hostile people into adoring fans.

At least, that’s what she’ll try to pass off once again. And that’s why it’s my fervent hope that this time around, the CBCP will speak out against true filth and superstition. Otherwise, if the CBCP repeats what they and Namfrel said in 2004— “that the people have spoken… as far as they could tell”— Filipino Catholics will have nowhere to turn to for guidance on matters beyond silly superstitions and personal hygiene.