ARCHBISHOP Oscar Cruz did not cheat during the 2004 election, or bribed election officials with jueteng money. Neither did he have anything to do with the fertilizer scam, the north and south railway projects or any other gargantuan corruption and mega anomalies that trampled this country underfoot to emerge bleeding with undeserved poverty.
All he does is denounce irregularities—but most especially the most uncomfortable irregularity that is the present dispensation which he has tagged as the biggest gambling operator in the country.
Maybe the most courageous man-of-the-cloth there is in the country today, he has pursued his advocacy against gambling—and all the evils that come with it—up to the senate floor in a long battle of probing the fact that while Columbia had narco-politics, in the country it is jueteng that decides who seats in the uneasy chair of politics or not.
He could have chosen to settle comfortably in his cathedra and savor daily the courtesies and the more substantial returns regarded the dignitaries of the Catholic Church. But he has decided to walk the streets and suffer the brunt of an urban missionary, crucified almost daily with death threats and wanton attacks from those within who see Christianity at its best only in dispensing the sacraments and living within the framework of a baroque ecclesiology.
In June 2004, he assailed the government-owned casino operator, PAGCOR, for exploiting its female employees who were reportedly made to entertain the guests of the First Gentleman who was celebrating his birthday at the Malacañang Park, like “pitiful GROs” (guests relations officers).
Almost immediately the female employees, at the prodding of PAGCOR, filed a libel suit against the Archbishop who ironically was in fact defending their right against exploitation. The case was, of course, dismissed by the Manila prosecutor’s office for insufficient grounds.
But today Archbishop Cruz was issued a warrant of arrest after Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, reportedly on Malacañang’s order, decided to resurrect the “long-dead” libel suit after failing to muzzle the Archbishop through relentless efforts of harass and intimidate him.
The same thing happened to John Baptist who denounced the immoralities of the king. The only consolation is, his head was placed on a platter.