Fr. Bernas, SJ and the RH Bill by Dino Crescini

Will Father Bernas be cowed by higher authority & fall silent on the RH bill?
Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J. is a known authority on Catholic Theology and the Philippine Law and Constitution.

During Martial Law, there was this document that narrated a raid at the Loyola House of Studies inside the Ateneo de Manila University campus by Metrocom on April 10,1978. A 17-year-old student named Teotimo Tantiado was forcibly picked up.

When the Jesuits sent a priest to the Metrocom HQ to inquire about the student, he was told that Tantiado was under the care of Col. Rolando Abadilla. He was assured that the student was alright, only to learn that on that very same day, Tantiado was found dead of “mysterious causes” at V. Luna Hospital.

A week later on April 22, Gen. Fabian Ver issued a statement to the press that there was no foul play over the death of the student who was “arrested on suspicion of involvement in subversive activities.”

During the 14 years of Martial Law, thousands of students like Tantiado were similarly “arrested on suspicion of involvement in subversive activities.” And it is for this reason why the Marcos presidency is to be harshly condemned and Marcos should never be given a hero’s burial.

Father Joaquin Bernas, who was then the Jesuit Provincial immediately issued a carefully-worded media release. It said – “no Jesuit had a part in preparing the Fabian Ver press statement” which said that Jesuit priests had taken part in a joint investigation to determine the student Teotimo Tantiado’s cause of death. Fr. Bernas had in effect called the military top brass, including Marcos, and Martial Law administrator Enrile – liars.

An American Jesuit priest named Walter Hogan likewise wrote a separate media release saying: “It is my opinion that Teotimo died as a direct or indirect effect of the treatment he received while in custody of the military. I base this opinion on the general record of the military during five years of martial law. There is a rather long list of people who are known to have been arrested by the military and who made their next appearance as dead bodies.” In the long run, however, the Jesuit experience became embedded in our present Constitution when Father Joaquin Bernas was appointed to help craft the 1986 Constitutional Commission.
Now, will Father Bernas bow to more senior clerics who tell him to seal his lips? Or will fellow Jesuits come together as they did during Martial Law? Your guess is as good as mine. But let us remember that Jesuits, as well as Ateneo alumni are fearless in the midst of pressure or even death. The writer of this article adheres to the basic principle of journalism — no fear, no favor.