Sunday, February 13, 2005  

  OPINION

         
      For quite a while, Filipinos seemed to keep a respectful silence about the ubiquitous presence of so-called running priest Fr. Robert Reyes in the pages of newspapers and television news clips.

     They had no choice. Nagging suspicions about a hunger for publicity have to be swept side in favor of a ready alibi called running for causes. How indeed could he further his causes if he does not attract media attention, even if more often the attention is to himself than his causes?

     But when Reyes came to Cebu and started running with a group lobbying for the innocence of Paco Larraņaga, one of those convicted in the celebrated Chiong Sisters abduction, rape and murder case, it seems the running priest has overextended his stride. 

     We can understand the concern of this lobby group of Paco being friends and relations to the convicted youngster. But for a priest to lend his support for a cause that had seen its day in the mmmmmm

proper legal forums is to run into a different track.

     Before Reyes even took the first running step, had he even taken the time to perhaps call any of the friends and relatives of the victims of one of the most brutal crimes to have happened in contemporary Cebuano history in order to be morally convinced about his position?

     We stress moral conviction because, one, he is a priest, and two, because the legal conviction is over and done with in court. But for one to be morally convinced, one has to sift through his soul only after going over all the facts from both sides of the story.

     Reyes cannot just be the exclusive father confessor to the group lobbying for the innocence of Paco without betraying his real motives, or has he forgotten that man does not live by bread alone? 

     The lobby group of Paco has largely been left alone to pursue every legal avenue open to them. At the very least they enjoy that guarantee in our system of democracy. But Reyes belong to the realm of spiritual and moral discernment. 

     Simply put, he cannot just pass judgment without listening to all sides and claim it a product of spiritual and moral enlightenment. That is unfair to Filipino Catholics who look up to priests for guidance precisely because of their belief in that proposition. 

     For most Cebuanos, the Chiong case is over. It is a black chapter in their history that is better left closed. Those who still feel the need to argue are, however, free to do so. But an outsider like Reyes is an unwelcome disturbance to the general peace. 

     Reyes may be a priest, but that does not make him a qualified expert of the law. The Chiong case has reached the highest levels of the judicial system in the land and legal judgment has been passed and carried out. 

     If Reyes wants to be of service to anyone, he should drop to his knees and pray instead of running around the country looking for causes as if that is a means of livelihood. Again, man does not live by bread alone.  

NOTE:   THE ABOVE TEXT IS THE FAITHFUL REPRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL
                                  DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR  CLEARER APPRECIATION.                                        

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