PACQUIAO, PABILLO and Walden BELLO : Twisted by Faith?

Elpidio V. Peria
16 December 2012

Twisted by Faith?

The previous two weeks that just passed where this writer got busy with the Doha Climate Change Conference saw three well-known Filipinos expose their inner selves leaving the ordinary reader scratching their heads asking : what has happened to these people?

Let’s start with the beloved Manny Pacquiao, a once-invincible eight-world-title-holding boxer but to his Sarangani lone legislative district, a superman who not only doles out the goodies via his pork barrel (he announced at the start of his legislative term three years ago the construction of a seemingly difficult-to-maintain tertiary hospital in Sarangani Province and support to the construction of a new Hall of Justice inside the Provincial capitolyo of Sarangani, where else) but also a reliable presence in key functions ( I remember a Philippine Judicial Academy event in Gensan back in 2011 where the famously coiffed, prim and proper lady Justices and the stiff Judges attending the conference fell over their heels screaming and sighing like teen-agers who rushed to the podium just as Manny was about to close his speech, just to get his autograph and have their pictures taken with him. DISCLOSURE: I joined in the foray, what else would one do in such frenzied circumstances?).

My friend multicab driver Nong Nitz said that this is due to the fact that Manny, since the start of the Bradley fight has begged off wearing his rosary each time he fights, swiping away long-time buddy Buboy Fernandez’s attempt to put it on him before the start of that fight. That, according to my friend, is the start of the downhill slide of the champ, validated no less by Nanay Dionesia’s lament in Philippine Daily Inquirer that not only do these born-again Christian pastors take Manny’s money for their supposed noteworthy evangelical initiatives but they also sap his strength by constantly asking him to do Bible-reading sessions each night. If only Manny finished his college courses patiently organized for him by the venerable educational institution in General Santos City, the Notre Dame of Dadiangas University, that would have sharpened his critical faculties a little bit making him wary of these pious prophets-for-profits that come to him with seemingly unnecessarily unceasing smiles.

So, is Manny affected by his newly-found faith? We don’t really know, maybe we will find out in the coming days how this will play out. Word is that his brothers and sisters who are now comfortably ensconced in key political posts in General Santos City, have vowed to stop him in his next fight. But where will they get the means to support their political outing this May 2013 elections?

Then we have the much-beloved Bishop Broderick Pabillo, of the Roman Catholic Church’s social action arm, who, he must be ruing why he made that statement, though he must just be acting like a true shepherd of his wayward flock, linked the Pablo superstorm to the RH bill deliberations in Congress and if I recall right what came out of the papers when he said his piece, he somehow noted a pattern of disasters that befall the country each time the RH bill is taken up.

What has happened to the Bishop, a staunch defender of the oppressed in his initiatives in the Church’s social action arm? Was he blinded by his faith that he wants to uphold it in the context of the RH bill fight against all costs including by throwing out of the window, reason? Hopefully, such strong attachment to his faith should accept the reality that the RH bill is already approved on 2nd reading and that he should not work anymore with anti-RH advocates in the House and Senate to stop its approval in 3rd reading.

Then we have the well-known (at least to activist circles of the RA and RJ variety and colegiala-types who were his students or have heard him speak at countless rallies here and abroad) Walden Bello of AKBAYAN Party-list who asked, through a press release, the Philippine delegation to the Doha Climate Change Conference (also called the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC) to be “independent” of either China or the US in its positioning in the climate negotiations that recently happened in Doha, Qatar from 26 November to 7 December. In later postings in his social media page, attributing his call now to his Party, he, or Akbayan, believes that “any global deal, in order to be effective in addressing the problem, requires an agreement between the world’s two biggest carbon emitters, United States and China, to mutually undertake deep cuts in carbon emissions.”

A reasonable reaction to this is, fine, that seems noteworthy, but pray, tell, how should it be done?

Indeed, the good Congressman, a formidable academician fond of alternative theories and ideas may have something new or different to suggest this time in the context of the UNFCCC negotiations but it should also be asked whether this new paradigm he is trying to propose will be pushed within the UNFCCC and if not there, in whatever international arena which he may have already figured out.
Maybe he doesn’t have in mind anymore the UNFCCC, since how will these two protagonists get into a climate deal only among themselves and exclude the rest. He may also be aware that the theoretical underpinnings of the US push to de-legitimize the UNFCCC is because of its belief in a multi-track climate framework where major economies negotiate a comprehensive package comprised of different commitment types or tracks, as what has been foreshadowed by Daniel Bodansky and Elliott Diringer in their 2007 paper “Towards an Integrated Multi-track Climate Framework”.

China, on the other hand, espouses the line of the G77&China, and they are said to be “hiding under the skirt” of the group on this, whereby the international law principle of common-but-differentiated-responsibility (CBDR) is asserted, which recognizes that developed countries that have started industrializing back during the time of the Industrial Revolution and afterwards have a greater duty to cut back their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to provide funding and technology support to attain the objectives of the UNFCCC.

So, whatever deal the two may have, would inevitably involve the jettisoning of this key sustainable development principle of CBDR and the adoption of any of the working principles of the US multi-track climate framework. But what will be the assurance that this non-binding multi-track climate framework would be as equally effective as the supposedly difficult legally-binding regime of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol? Maybe if the Chinese will put in the line their Treasury bill purchases of US debt, which they can call in anytime each time the US cheats, that will indeed make the multi-track climate framework, truly “multi” as it will involve other issues and concerns apart from climate. If this is so, why not stop there? The Philippines, to push China to action, should also bring in the West Philippine Sea, as a bargaining chip, and we will stop bringing up the issue in UNFCCC provided China undertakes serious GHG emissions cuts.

Recently, the German Spiegel magazine in its online issue 14 December 2012 reported on several leading experts at internationally renowned institutes in Germany demanding an end to the climate summit charade, where after 18 years of yearly summits have not produced anything substantial to address the worsening climate situation. They are proposing the doing away of the 2 degree centigrade target since it gives too much emphasis to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, which for them has largely become unattainable. They are proposing instead actions aimed at dealing with the inevitable consequences of climate change, like including local initiatives in the broader UN approach rather than just focusing on average global temperature. Germany, for example, has moved ahead with a multi-billion euro plan to protect its coasts from rising sea levels and worsening storm surges. But such issues are left largely unaddressed at UN climate conferences.

Based on their recommendation, these scientists may have overlooked that the measures they are proposing are the ones already being discussed and considered in the adaptation cluster of issues in the UNFCCC.

So, what to do with three venerable personalities and their faiths? Perhaps it should be tested by reality so that we’ll see where it will go from here. As they speak, it will be sooner rather than later.


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