‘SILENT PROTEST.’ Akbayan members flash protest placards during a SONA Mass for Peace and Justice on Monday (July 27, 2020) at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila. The incident angered some netizens and disappointed church officials. (Photo courtesy of Radio Veritas 846)
MANILA – Church officials and netizens on Thursday expressed disapproval over the flashing of protest placards of activists inside a church in Quiapo while mass is ongoing.
Ranhilio Callangan Aquino, dean of San Beda Graduate School of Law and also a priest, said in a post that “these people should be arrested”.
“The Mass and the Church are not the place for partisan, ideological posturing. People gather to pray, and to gain respite from the divisiveness outside, and these people slither into churches, seize the opportunity of a congregation of people and hijack religious services for their purposes,” he said.
A video that went viral on social media showed two police officers confiscating a bag and some protest placards from an Akbayan member attending mass.
Another photo made rounds showing the same man and his companion flashing “anti-terror law” placards inside the church.
Netizens were upset over the incident, saying the church is not the right place for a protest.
“Those carrying the placards are wrong, obviously they have an intention when they flashed their propaganda materials inside the church. They were the ones who did not respect the Church, and maybe the police could no longer wait until the end of the mass so they acted. The protest was an obstruction of the Mass),” Lucky Siri said in a post in Filipino.
“No, sa labas dapat. Proper place to voice out your hinaing..outside the church kung may placards. Kung kailangan nila si Lord, lumuhod sila at ipagpray nila need nila (It should be done outside the church, its the proper place to voice out their sentiments, especially if they have placards. If they need God, get on their knees and pray),” Tes Santiago, meanwhile, said.
Oresliv Lariza, meantime, said the move of police personnel to confront them was right.
“I think they should be doing that outside the church. If they were warned and still they did it, I guess the police are right. If they follow the rules, it will not arrive at that),” she said in Filipino.
Another priest, Fr. Fitz Azul, said protests are “not okay while mass is ongoing”.
“Actually, during masses or any religious service, I don’t want groups or people going around distributing protest flyers or anything. I don’t want any distractions. Kahit nga cellphone pinalalagay sa silent mode (even cellphones are being put on silent mode),” he said.
Meanwhile, other netizens branded as inappropriate the move of police officers to confiscate the bag and the protest materials of the individuals.
“The place may not be right but there is also a right way to stop them. They should have confiscated it outside the church so as not to disrupt the mass,” Mike Francisco said.
Meanwhile, Raul Garcia said police personnel should have confronted the activists once they went out of the church.
“This is freedom of choice. The police were wrong here because they did not respect the Catholic Church. They should have let those people pray and waited outside the church,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Malou Pana Laureano, on the other hand, said some police personnel are “overacting” in implementing laws.
“There are many police officers who are overacting in implementing the law. Sen. (Panfilo) Lacson and an attorney already clarified that protests may be done. Policemen should be properly oriented. For the rallyists, even if they flashed their placards inside the church, they did not cause any commotion. It was a silent protest and even priests at times say their sentiments during masses),” she said.
‘Not the right venue’
Rev. Fr. Douglas Badong, Parochial Vicar of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, expressed his dismay over the incident.
In an interview over Radio Veritas on Wednesday, Badong said the church was not the proper venue for such silent protest.
“It was not the correct venue to express and show those placards. Maybe the police just took the bag in that manner because these activists or rallyists refused to listen. The mass is not the right time to give out flyers),” he said. “Kasi nandun naman yung Plaza Miranda, Plaza Carriedo, pero wag sa loob ng simbahan (Plaza Miranda and Plaza Carriedo are there, not inside the church)”.
He added that they launched an investigation first to check what really transpired that time since it has come to their attention that a number of people posted negative comments on the two policemen.
However, he said when they saw their CCTV footage and talked to their staff, they found out that their guard and some staff of the church already called the attention of the Akbayan members to hide their placards and flyers.
“Our staff said they already approached and talked to the Akbayan members, the group with (Sen. Risa) Hontiveros, they asked them not to bring out their materials. But slowly, they flashed them out and we have a picture, there are media there,” he said in Filipino.
Badong said a true devotee knows what to do and how to respect activities inside a church, and that maybe, the rallyists just really want to get the attention of people.
“Sabi ko nga ang simbahan ay kasama nila sa laban, against tayo sa pagpapasa ng ganyang mga batas pero me oras at tamang lugar para ipahayag yan. Sabi ko nga dun tayo sa tama dun tayo sa katotohanan (The church is with them in their fight. We are against passage of laws like those, but there is a right time and right venue to do that. Let’s stand for what is right and truthful),” Badong said. (PNA)