A senior government official has accused a Benedictine sister of being a “long-time ally of a communist terrorist organization” after condemning the libel conviction of top journalist Maria Ressa and news writer Reynaldo Santos, Jr. Sister Mary John Mananzan called Ressa’s conviction an attack on press freedom in a recent social media post. Much of her criticism was aimed at the judge in the case, Rainelda Estacio Montesa, who she said studied at St. Scholastica, a Benedictine school. Sister Mananzan said she was saddened that the judge did not show the values of a “scholastican” education. “Whatever successes you [Judge Montesa] may have attained, I am afraid you are a failure as scholastican. Some consolation is that Maria Ressa is also a scholastican,” Sister Mananzan added.
Presidential communications undersecretary Lorraine Badoy responded to the nun’s post by linking her with the Communist Party of the Philippines. “I am not intolerant of MJ’s [Mary John’s] views. If she thinks Maria Ressa is the best thing since sliced bread, what do I care? We are a democracy after all. Not communist like others strive for us to be,” she said on social media. Sister Mananzan was founder and chairperson of the leftist Gabriela Women’s Party for 18 years. The group was founded in 1984 to advocate for women’s issues and later became one of the biggest groups to fight the Marcos regime. Undersecretary Badoy also said Mananzan’s close ties to a “communist terrorist group” had made her sound hateful and divisive, as communists are. “Why is Mary John Mananzan so closely allied to a group that has brought this country so much grief and destruction and that has, as its main goal, the overthrow of the government?” she said. The official’s post drew demands for a public apology from women’s and human rights groups. “Sister Mananzan is only the latest on a long list of activists and Duterte critics red-tagged by Badoy and the agencies she works with. We demand a public apology from Badoy retracting and correcting her condemnable Facebook post,” said the lay group Movement Against Tyranny in a statement. The group also said the undersecretary had gone too far in red-tagging and accusing one of the pillars of Philippine activism. “Such wild and baseless accusations coming from an undersecretary and official not only defames Sister Mary John’s person and reputation but puts her life and liberty in peril,” the group added. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Badoy’s comments fell within the realm of freedom of expression. “That was her personal view. We are in a democracy ... Freedom of expression is guaranteed under the Bill of Rights,” he told reporters. When a papal diplomat goes rogue
Support UCA News...
As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.
That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.
Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.
UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.
We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.
Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...