Wednesday, February 20, 2013


After last Sunday’s Mass, my barber called to check if I could lend some time in the next few weeks to express my thoughts on whether Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle could, should, and would be Pope.

My response was, "For this, my time in the next few weeks... consider it LENT! :) :) :)

May the Holy Spirit guide us!

The truth is, for LENT, I have decided to give up a substantial portion of my leisure and/or pleasure time to research on the Papacy and the prospects of somebody like Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle – a Pinoy Pastor and Professor who lived in Washington, D.C. area while writing his doctoral dissertation on “Systematic Theology” on his way to earning his Doctorate of Sacred Theology, SUMMA CUM LAUDE.

PAPA (of 3) Ben with CARDINAL “Chito” Tagle
Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation Letter


  1. Repeatedly examining his conscience before God;
  2. Looking at the rapid changes in today’s world; and
  3. Shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith;
  1. Strength of mind and body are necessary; and
  2. Ministry be carried out with words and deeds;

He concluded that because of:
  1. Advanced Age; and
  2. Deteriorating strength;

He is no longer:
  1. Suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine Ministry; and
  2. Capable to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted on him.

Therefore: He is resigning as the Bishop of Rome (POPE).

A careful analysis of the resignation letter would show that there is an emphasis on the Age and Strength required to run an institution like the Catholic Church with 1.1 billion members internally, and its relations and relevance to this ever-changing material world externally.

Perhaps, a review of the Age qualification would be a good start in looking at whether Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, indeed, is the Pinoy Pastor who could be Pope.

Many Vaticanists have predicted him to be a future Pope. But how soon was never clear. Surprised by the sudden and unexpected resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, some have initially excluded him among the Papabili because of his “youth”. In fact, this position was even echoed, unfortunately, by a couple of older Filipino Bishops. But that line of thinking is changing systematically.

Could Cardinal Tagle be Pope at his age?

My research shows that the Pinoy Cardinal has all the basic qualifications and none of the disqualifications to be a Pope.

According to some experts on Vatican affairs or what they call “Vaticanists”, under Canon Law (749), under the chapter “The Cardinals of the Holy Church”, it states, “that the cardinals of the church shall make up a special (exclusive) college that has the prerogative to elect the Pope…which however, will be done per ‘norm of special law’.

According to Vaticanist Anura Guruge, by inference and by practice, papal elections shall be governed by apostolic constitutions and papal edicts. Hence, due to Pope John Paul II’s and Pope Benedict XVI’s constitution and edict respectively, only Cardinals below 80 are allowed to vote, and two-thirds of them are required to elect the new Pope.

Pope Nicholas II’s papal edict of 1059 states, that the electors must choose only among cardinal priests and cardinal deacons within the Roman churches. Although it also says that, if necessary, a cleric from other churches could be elected.

Also worth noting is that between 1059 and 1389, 11 of 47 Popes were not cardinals. After that to the present all 63 of the Popes elected have been cardinals. Undoubtedly, the next Pope will be chosen among the cardinals.

A priest must be at least 25 years old to be ordained as one. To be a Cardinal, one must be ordained to priesthood. By inference, a 25-year old priest who became a Cardinal could be Pope.

Under Canon Law (378), to be considered a Bishop, one must be at least 35 years old. So to be a Bishop of Rome – meaning to be a Pope, must you be at least 35 years old?  Guruge made a distinction.  Ordinary Bishops are APPOINTED, but the College of Cardinals - who has the exclusive prerogative to decide the qualifications and choice of a Pope, ELECTS the Bishop of Rome.

Pope Leo X who was selected a Cardinal at the age of 13 became the youngest Pope since 1400 at the age of 37. The second youngest was 45-year old Pope Clement VII.

As written by Vatican Watcher Anura Guruge in his blog, “there had been four other Popes who were elected prior to turning 50 since 1400”.  In the same period to the present, “the average age of the 62 Popes elected was 62.39 years.”

Pope John Paul II was 58 when elected.  Pope Pius IX was 54 when elected. Pope Benedict XVI was, at the age of 78, the 5th oldest Pope since 1400.

At the risk of over-emphasizing, Jesus Christ started his ministry at the age of 30 and none of his disciples was older than 35 when they joined him. In fact, John the youngest in his 20s had the clearest “vision”.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle is 56 years old - in between the ages of Popes John Paul II and Pius IX when they became heads of the Catholic Church. He is even older than some earlier Popes. Under Canon Law, Special Law (Apostolic Constitutions, Papal Edicts), by inference and/or by practice, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle is without a shadow of doubt qualified to head the Catholic Church.

In fact, as required by the times and as implied by the current Pope, among others, a Cardinal NOT of Advanced Age and NOT of deteriorating strength is needed. Cardinal Tagle fits that description.


Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle could be Pope not mainly because he is of the right age, and is healthy and strong. He could, should, and would be one because he is the right man for the growing Catholic world at these challenging times.

As I will show in subsequent articles, in words and in deeds, he has shown and has been described by others to be a great Pastor and Teacher, and a politically and theologically balanced minister. He is known as a “thinker of real value”; a talented and serious priest and yet warm, witty, and with a great sense of humor.  A simple man, he has the ability to express complex ideas in attractive and understandable language, balanced, and open.

He is best described as one who has a “theologian’s mind, a musician’s soul, and a pastor’s heart”. A bike riding and bus taking humble pastor to “combat isolation”, he invites beggars outside the Cathedral to come in and eat with him.

A great communicator, he is as great a writer/editor, and a sought after speaker and media personality. He knows the role of the regular and social media in evangelization as he speaks the Truth and spreads the Word of God. His homilies, his use of YouTube broadcasting, his Facebook page, his Twitter account, and other forms of social media reflect his pro-poor agenda and his daring questions re priest shortage, priest abuses, and other relevant issues.

He also knows the potential role of the ten million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in worldwide evangelization and propagation of the Faith.

Most importantly, in this 21st Century, a Vatican expert says that he has become an “important face and voice of the burgeoning Catholic population of Asia.”  Tagle shines as the young and cultured Cardinal in the largest continent where, as the same expert claims,  “the Catholic Church is wagering its future.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013


"You can only play with the cards you are dealt with.” Play them under Casino House or Las Vegas Rules.  You are free to play whatever way you want but subject to conditions that you do not necessarily control.

I grew up with this thought embedded in both my conscious and subconscious mind. This is true in politics, in economics, in religion and in fact, with life in general. It is a reality that we have to recognize and face if we are to ride out the ups and downs of day-to-day living.

President Benigno Aquino III is about to finish half of his presidential term. The country will be electing a new set of 12 Senators and installing new local government officials nationwide.

Qualified voters or democratic players are free to choose whoever would represent them subject to certain rules and to the “cards dealt” to them.

Strictly speaking, political dynasties are prohibited by the Constitution from participating as ratified by the sovereign people or the players themselves. But in the same prohibition, it also states that the law may define political dynasty.

Is there any law that basically defines the prohibition re ensuring political or governmental power of relatives?

There are Primary and Secondary Authorities to support an affirmative answer.

Primary Authorities would include (1) the Constitutional provision under Section 13, Article VII prohibiting the appointment of “The spouse and relatives by consanguinity or affinity within the fourth civil degree of the President” to certain positions in government; (2) the rule on nepotism under Administrative Code of 1987 which prohibits appointments in the national government made in favor of relatives within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity of either the appointing authority, recommending authority, chief of bureau or office, or persons exercising immediate supervision over the appointee; (3) the Local Government Code of 1991 which states that nepotism exists when an appointment is made within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity of the appointing or recommending authority; and (4) Philippine Jurisprudence defining relationships covered under Nepotism. There is also the view of Justice Antonio Carpio in Navarro vs. Ermita defining political dynasties as a "phenomenon that concentrates political power and public resources within the control of a few families."

In law, a secondary authority is an authority purporting to explain the meaning or applicability of the actual verbatim texts of primary authorities such as Law review articles, comments and notes.  

The Black’s Law Dictionary is the authority in definitions used in legal briefs and court opinions and has even been used as a secondary legal authority in an abundance of U.S. Supreme Court cases.

The Black's Law Dictionary defines dynasty as a "succession of rulers from the same line or family."

Furthermore, using the “plain and ordinary meaning” principle in constitutional construction, the meaning of political dynasty is quite clear even to the plain and ordinary sovereign citizen.

Yet, the Dealer-COMELEC has checked the cards and has dealt them to us sovereign citizens. The choices offered by the contending major parties/coalitions for the national and local positions are clear violations of the spirit if not the letter of the law on political dynasty as interpreted by COMELEC and the executive/enforcement agencies. COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brilliantes himself suggested that a law should be passed using the People’s Initiative to resolve this dilemma.


As I have stated in previous columns, it would take a whole generation to institute socio-economic and political reforms in the Philippines. So far, PNoy and his Executive Team have given us Honesty (Anti-Corruption), Humility (No Wang-Wang), Honor (International Recognition) and Hope for a peaceful, better and more prosperous Philippines.
To continuously institute needed reforms, PNoy needs a better Legislative Team to work with. It is a necessary ingredient to push the “DAANG MATUWID” principles and programs more aggressively.

PNoy has chosen the group that he trusts to help him in this endeavor not only for the next three years but also beyond. It is critical that whatever laws necessary to implement the “DAANG MATUWID” programs be passed for faster realization of PNoy’s vision for the Filipino people.

There is no doubt that all the members of the PNoy Team are qualified. Depending on one’s relative criteria, it is possible that each candidate could be more or less qualified than the others.  But what is more dominant in this period of our history is for the Filipino people to show its continued trust and confidence on PNoy in fathoming a brighter tomorrow. This trust and confidence may be manifested in a vote for the entire TEAM PNoy. Doing so would actually mean voting for TEAM PINOY or the Filipino people and their future.


The Filipino is a social, economic, and political being. As such he always displays a rational behavior in decision-making. There must be a rationale behind a particular choice in a given environment.

In my previous article, “Drawing the Battle Lines: Defining and Delivering the Message” (, I actually provided possible rationale and choices in the following Battles:

1. Message: Daang Matuwid; 2. Shepherds: PNoy over Binay, Enrile and Estrada; 3. Seniors: Jun Magsaysay over Maceda; 4. Military Rebels: Trillanes over Honasan; 5. Magsaysay Legacy: Jun Magsaysay over Mitos Magsaysay; 6. Mindanao: Senator Pimentel over Zubiri; 7. Senatorial Brothers: Senator Cayetano over Ejercito; 8. Senatorial Sons: Rep. Sonny Angara over Rep. Enrile; 9. Return of former Senators and Ex-Presidentiables: Madrigal over Gordon; 10. Political Wives: Villar over Cojuangco; 11. Party List Leaders on the Left: Risa Hontiveros over Teddy CasiƱo; and 12. Future vs. Past: Bam Aquino (35 years old) over Maceda (77 years old). 

COMMON CHOICES: MTRCB Chief Grace Poe Llamanzares; Senator Loren Legarda; and Senator Chiz Escudero.

The right of suffrage indeed is the most important weapon that the sovereign citizen could exercise in a republican and democratic state like the Philippines. Voters may choose to follow the spirit of the Anti-Dynasty provision of the Constitution using my explanation above. This could mean that the voters are getting to be wiser and more mature. They could also vote for the entire TEAM PNoy using the rationale that I also explained above.

Or they could continue what they have done in the past, thinking only of the present, and without regard to the future. In which case as my Ilocano barber would say, “Kasta yon.” (Tagalog: Ganyan na lang kayo; English: You are doomed.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


My barber asked me, “If you were a Republican Senator, would you vote to confirm former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense?”

“Absolutely YES! It makes no sense for a Republican Senator NOT to vote for his confirmation,” I responded.

“Why?” he followed up.

First, he was elected as a Republican in the Senate twice. He obtained over 56% of the votes in his first election, and over 84% in his second election. As a Senator, he was in the Armed Services Committee and he and his department would easily be accessible to the same committee.

Second, he is a Reaganite. His first involvement in politics was as an organizer for the successful presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan. The latter appointed him later as the Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration (VA).

Third, he is a proven Conservative. When he was a Senator, his over-all Conservative rating was 81% - higher than Senators McCain (73%), Murkowski (62%), Collins (72%), Corker (80%), Alexander (73%), Hatch (77%) and Cochran (68%) when they served with him. They are still serving as Senators currently.

Principal opponents of his confirmation are Senators McCain and Graham. Yet, when they served as Senators together, the TVC Conservative group gave Hagel a 100% rating while it gave both McCain and Graham only 80%. Another Conservative group RTL gave Hagel a 100% rating while giving McCain only 75%.  It is even worse in the case of the Conservative FRC – Hagel’s rating was 100% and McCain was only 42%. In the same period, American Conservative Union even rated Hagel – 75% to McCain’s 65%.

Even from the point of view of Liberals, current Senators like Grassley (30%), Hatch (33%) and Alexander (26%) were considered more Liberal than Hagel whose rating was only 25%.

Fourth, he is a Vietnam War Veteran. He knows what war is and its impact on the men and women in uniform and their families. He knows it from the point of view of the infantry and the NCOs, not just the officer corps. This explains his being cautious about wars and about risking the lives of young men and women.

Fifth, he is a genuine WAR HERO. He knows whereof he speaks. He has medals and awards to prove it – Two Purple Hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, Army Commendation Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Sixth, he was a successful businessman and entrepreneur as well as a proven, competent, efficient, and effective Chief Executive of profitable companies. His experiences in co-founding and running Vanguard Cellular, a mobile phone service carrier,  and an investment firm would be plusses in managing an enterprise as large as the Defense Department especially in this Digital Age where Cyber warfare is an added component.

Seventh, he was a media man who had an early experience as a radio newscaster and as a talk show host. He knows how to deal with the media and its thirst and hunger for news both in times of peace and war.

Eighth, he was a beneficiary of the GI Bill and a strong advocate for veterans. He understands the needs of all the men and women in the uniformed services.

Ninth, he is currently a professor at the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Chairman of the Atlantic Council, and Co-Chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board. He knows, feels, and understands the security needs of America.

Tenth, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft endorsed him. These are all Republicans in the security establishment. Nine other retired military officers; nine former U.S. Ambassadors including five former Ambassadors to Israel also endorsed him. Even Reaganite Pat Buchanan who is noted for his conservatism wants Hagel to be Secretary of Defense.

Lastly, he speaks the truth. When he says that the Israeli lobby is very influential in Washington, D.C., he is telling the truth.  Every lobbyist, legislator, advocate and organization engaged in influencing American policy knows it. I know it.

I remember when we were forming an umbrella organization of Asian Businesses in the 1980s. We decided to name it APACC (Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce) because we wanted it to sound like AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee), the most influential lobby group in Washington, D.C.

In fact, President Reagan even rewarded us with a grant and called it “the fastest growing ethnic business group in the country.” I was its first Executive Director.

Tom Dine, a former Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines, later led AIPAC as its Executive Director. He and I worked in the presidential campaign of the late Senator Ted Kennedy.  In this part of the world, they remain, “the chosen people.”

AIPAC touts itself as the premier advocacy group in the Capitol. While many organizations or lobby firms try to emulate it, I have yet to see to date anyone that could be close to being one.

This does not mean that Hagel loves Israel less. He just loves the people of Israel and of America more. He feels that people need not sacrifice their lives for wars that could be avoided by means other than killing one’s enemies. While war remains as an option for deterrence, peaceful negotiations should be explored to the maximum. This is why Rabbi Aryeth Azriel, the Senior Rabbi at Temple Israel of Omaha Nebraska whole-heartedly endorses him for Defense Secretary.

For the reasons cited above in his DEFENSE, the Republican Senators should vote AYE to confirm Chuck Hagel as DEFENSE Secretary.