This piece was first published on on March 7, 2012.


VATICAN CITY (L’Osservatore Romano) — A Catholic priest accidentally sent a residential area of Afterlife reeling in fear and confusion when he consigned a Philippine senator to Hell for publicly insulting prosecutors in the impeachment of the country’s top jurist.

Father Catalino Arevalo declared in a homily that Sen. Miriam Santiago deserved “the fires of Hell” for calling prosecutors fools for their mishandling of their accusations. The priest’s pronouncement immediately sent shivers to residents of the Hellfire and Brimstone neighborhoods of Hell.

“We’re okay with the eternal scorching and scalding, but adding nonstop, high-decibel diatribes to that would be intolerable,” complained Lucrezia Borgia, who hurriedly packed her exotic poisons to evacuate to a truly violent but quieter neighborhood, Circle Seven.

Panicked residents like Borgia learned of the looming crisis triggered by Santiago’s possible arrival when the piped-in music system abruptly stopped playing “Unchained Melody” and began airing ominous choral passages from “Carmina Burana,” which were made famous by horror movies.

Legions of fallen angels, including incubi and succubi, were seen scampering to emergency posts to await further orders. Three-headed hellhounds closed the famous Tunnel of White Light, which will remain shut until further notice. Extra units of disembodied Nephilim guards were posted to make sure Santiago does not arrive before the neighborhood’s evacuation is completed.

Satan Shocked

In a hastily called press conference, Hell’s president, Satan, expressed shock and dismay and criticized Fr. Arevalo’s “unilateral and egregious judgment.” Satan told reporters who were standing knee-deep in excrement that short-listing Sen. Santiago for Hell was cruel and unusual punishment.

“Jesus Christ! Can’t this priest see people here are suffering enough already? It’s just not fair to them. She’s the last thing we need,” hissed the old devil, who fidgeted and nervously chewed his barbed tail.

The outspoken Philippine senator added to the confusion when in response to Fr. Arevalo she confidently declared, “There is no Hell as a geographical place,” which made demons pinch themselves frantically to confirm their existence.

Satan explained that he was simply not prepared for the sharp-tongued senator to take up residence in his realm. “I pray to God that we be spared the logistical requirements of her arrival here. Where will I get a megazillion earplugs to protect my citizens’ eardrums?”

Satan also defended his lack of preparation, arguing that Sloth was clearly in his job description. “And the prospect of being scolded again and again by Senator Santiago would be too damaging to my self-esteem, and you know I must maintain a certain amount of Pride to be worthy of my name.”

Asked if he was just scared there was not room enough in Hell for the both of them, Satan became extremely irritated and sidestepped the question. He excoriated the reporters instead.

“The mainstream media’s effort to quote unquote demonize Senator Santiago is grossly unfair to demons. The MSM is gratuitously tainting our already bad name.”

Before Satan retreated into the Inner Mouth of Hell, which reporters thought was just a big pothole on EDSA courtesy of the Department of Public Works, he clarified that he did not have the power to determine any government official’s ultimate fate, contrary to popular belief.

“I can’t stop Ms. Santiago or any Filipino public official. Let’s make one thing clear, people. I’m just the Prince of Darkness, not Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”

Some prominent hell-raisers, however, disagreed with Satan’s “overreaction” to Santiago’s pending sentence and saw economic potential to her coming.

“I foresee a spike in the number of masochists looking for entertainment, ditto for sadists—Miriam is going to be in great demand,” predicted Dante Alighieri, CEO of Infernal Tours and Cruises, Inc.

Alighieri added, “Satan shouldn’t worry too much about the logistics of Santiago’s permanent residency.”

“Three words,” he explained. “Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure.” Alighieri believed Santiago would cause little trouble if the accommodations made her feel welcome.

“Give her a nice new suite, say, in the Eighth Circle, Malebolge, for narcissists, with state-of-the-art voice monitors so she could hear herself talk all the time.”

St. Peter Cautious

Aftershocks of the crisis in Hellfire corner Brimstone were felt in the Upper Reaches of firmament.

According to unconfirmed reports, Saint Peter has ordered new deadbolts and sophisticated combination locks for the Pearly Gate. A top cherubim guarding Eden disclosed that he heard Saint Peter issue a warning.

“With these Filipino senators you can never be too careful,” said the old saint, gently stroking his… rooster.

“Most of them are lawyers and some are even fond of being the Devil’s Advocate. If you’re not careful, their tangled interpretations of Biblical tenets can spin your head around —and boom, one is slipping through our Gate before you know it.”

Saint Peter cautioned his celestial jurors that Sen. Santiago has a master’s degree in theology. “If anyone can sneak through the eye of a needle, it’s a lawyer with a real graduate degree to boot, not one of those made-up ones from the University of Santo Tomas.”

Jiggling his keys, the top saint asked Angel Gabriel if egress to the Kingdom was securely shut and that all cherubs, seraphs, ophanim and archangels have been properly briefed so they would not mistake Senator Santiago for someone who should be let in.

“Don’t worry, my dear master,” Gabriel replied, “it will be a cold day in Hell before that happens.”