DSWD chief bears brunt of Sen. Santiago’s furyBy Cathy Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
What should have been the confirmation hearing of Corazon “Dinky” Soliman as social welfare secretary turned into a theology rant from Senator Miriam Santiago who blasted the Cabinet official’s association with a group antagonistic to beleaguered Chief Justice Renato Corona and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“You know what is good and evil because God says so? Oh, yeah? Did God speak to you, members of the Black and White Movement (BWM)?” Santiago fumed during a Commission on Appointments hearing Wednesday.
Soliman is a convenor of the BWM, a group that was launched in mid-2005 to call for the ouster of the then President Arroyo.
Last week, the BWM asked Corona to inhibit himself from the Supreme Court cases involving Arroyo, whom Corona served successively as chief of staff and spokesperson when she was vice-president, and as presidential chief of staff, presidential spokesperson and acting executive secretary.
Santiago, who is friendly with Arroyo and her allies, has been expressing her irritation for some time over what she said was the BWM’s interference in the decisions of President Benigno Aquino III, particularly on matters of government appointments.
Guardian of morality
“Some insinuations are wrong,” the senator said.
She is particularly irked by the group’s seemingly appointing itself the guardian of all morality, targeting unpopular officials for censure and calling for their removal from office.
“Who understands the mind of God? Who has a direct line to God? Does God say you are right and everyone else is wrong? I would like to see the appointment papers signed by God to prove they were given powers of attorney (to decide on these matters),” she challenged the group.
“Even the best theologians would not say ‘this is wrong,’ or ‘that is right.’ Are you telling the rest of us that God only talks to you?” the senator asked.
“What about the rest of seven billion human beings? That’s the problem with Black and White. Why don’t you run for public office and study theology, so you’d understand what you’re talking about, Black and White?” she added sarcastically.
Pure human arrogance
Santiago also accused the BWM of “pure human arrogance” for speaking as if it is the only party that can decide whether a group or issue is in accordance with its moral stance.
“Just because you go to church (does not mean it) makes you better. It just shows you believe in rite and ritual. They cannot say they are the only ones who know what is right or wrong. Are they the presidential spokesman of God?” she said.
Santiago accused Soliman and the BWM of adhering to two philosophies—Manichaeism and Populism-—that she said have been discredited by scholars.
“Manicheaism or the dualistic philosophy has already been discarded by philosophers for centuries,” she explained in an ambush interview.
“Meanwhile, the problem with Populist philosophy is that it tends to destroy the system of electoral choice by the citizenry (by) substituting an elite who claim they are in touch with the people who don’t know they are being touched,” she said.
Soliman, who remained meek and calm during Santiago’s tirade, said BWM members “are God-fearing people. We start meetings with prayers and believe God is the highest power.”
She said the group believes “God is the one who sets the norm for what is good and evil.”
Soliman was a member of the so-called “Hyatt 10” group of Arroyo Cabinet members who resigned following allegations that Arroyo had cheated in the 2004 elections.
Originally posted at 11:51 pm | Monday, December 14, 2011
Tags: Black and White Movement , Cabinet , Commission on Appointments , Congress , Dinky Soliman , DSWD , Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo , Government , Miriam Defensor-Santiago , Miriam Santiago , news , Politics