Patriotic fervor flows on a Sunday

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THERE COMES a point when concealing the truth becomes unbearable.

This was how Fr. Manoling Francisco, S.J., main celebrant of the Mass in support of Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada, Jr. last February 17 at La Salle Greenhills high school, described the sufferings the latter had to face to expose the truth on the controversial NBN-ZTE deal.

“We understand how Jun feared for his and his family’s life,” Father Francisco said. “(By) telling the truth, one risks casting shame on himself, subjecting one’s self to intense scrutiny and skepticism and jeopardizing one’s safety and those of his loved ones, especially when one goes up against a powerful person.”

Father Francisco cited a rape victim’s story as example.

“The victim of abuse decides to seek help. But even after he had taken the step, the victim, devastated and confused, will tell his story with much hesitation,” said Francisco.

“Similarly, it is easy to imagine why Jun initially refused to challenge Malacañang.”

The clergy and faithful at the Mass showed Lozada that he is no longer alone in his crusade.

“Be assured that your solitude is no longer isolation as we profess our solidarity with you,” Father Francisco told Lozada.

The priest said he was firm in his belief that Lozada is a credible witness, because he “showed how it is to be truly human.” Father Francisco quoted Pope Benedict XVI as saying that one’s capacity for suffering for the sake of the truth is the measure of his humanity.

“We emulate our martyrs and heroes because they proclaimed the truth to others whatever the cost may be. This is the mark of authentic humanity.” Father Francisco added.

The Jesuit priest then enumerated a list of excesses committed by the Arroyo administration, and repeated moves to conceal the truth about government dealings.

“I invite all of you to evaluate and judge the present government’s credibility and integrity,” Father Francisco said, pointing to extra-judicial killings, the “Hello Garci” scandal, and the issuance of Executive Order 464 to prevent Arroyo officials from being called to Senate investigations.

“We are all, indeed, living in danger. The government has a lot to explain,” Father Francisco said. “As the government actively suppresses the truth, it loses its authority vested upon it by the people.”

The holy mass was organized by former President Corazon Aquino, who wore her signature yellow dress. Around 4,500 Filipinos from all walks of life filled the La Salle Greenhills campus.

Deeply touched, Lozada said, “Before, I thought I was all alone. Now I know there are people who are willing to adopt me.”

Among those who attended the Mass were former President Aquino’s son, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, Sen. Manuel Roxas II, former senators Franklin Drilon and Ramon Magsaysay, Jr., former House Speakaer Jose de Venecia and son, Joey, and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

 

A credible witness

In an interview with the Varsitarian, Senator Aquino said he believes in Lozada because the latter has nothing gain from his revelations.

“In this era, sometimes you don’t really feel the people caring. Then, here comes a person who suddenly comes forward and stands up for truth,” Senator Aquino said.

The United Opposition spokesman, lawyer Adel Tamano, said that it was refreshing to see someone like Lozada who admits in public that he too committed mistakes.

Forty-year-old N. Javellana, who came all the way from Bacolod to attend the mass said: “It is hard not to believe a person who would constantly think of the welfare of his family. When you see Lozada worrying about his family, his country, and his job, it’s hard not to believe in him.”

Good turnout

The original whistleblower in the broadband controversy, Jose “Joey” de Venecia III, son of former House Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr., noted the huge turnout at La Salle Greenhills.

“I think this is a good event because of the good turnout of people. This is a good way to show the people that we are here for the truth and we are fighting for it,” he said.

National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera described Lozada as a “perfectly credible” witness who was able to win the sympathy of a vast majority of people from various social and political demographics.

Association of the Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines executive secretary Sr. Estrella Castalone announced that the group was able to collect P186,253.75 for the “sanctuary fund” to be used for Lozada’s legal fees.

In his speech, Lozada, expressing his gratitude, said, “When I did this, I was just trying to save my soul; I didn’t know I was saving the nation’s soul,” With reports from Anthony Andrew Divinagracia and Levine Andro H. Lao

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