Penance, atonement for PNoy

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Sunday, March 29, 2015


PRESIDENT Aquino wanted closure when he said last March 26 before National Police Academy graduates that it would be his last word on the Mamasapano controvery. Acting police chief Leonardo Espina, visiting Cebu at weekend, told PNP personnel that it’s time “to move forward” after the Jan. 25 firefight with MILF rebels that killed 44 police commandos.

Closure, moving on: shouldn’t that come after contrition?

PNoy’s critics insist on a public apology but this president won’t apologize. Is he beyond penance and atonement then?

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Penance is described as sacrifice, “a voluntary punishment to show remorse.” Atonement, according to St. Thomas Aquinas’s ransom theory, is “mending back what has been broken, paying back what was taken,” a punishment “to meet demands of divine justice.” Not necessarily to gratify but to “make restitution.”

But PNoy refuses to publicly admit culpability. While he said earlier he would “carry the responsibility until the end of his days,” that was negated when he heaped the blame on two key police officials and skipped his misjudgments.

PNoy though must privately agonize over what he did and failed to do in the PNP mission.

Bead of rosary

While the nation doesn’t see him beating his breast in a “mea culpa,” he must know the personal cost: his popularity ratings plunge and his legacy of fighting corruption is tainted.

But what if he truly believes he did nothing wrong? As novelist Ian McEwan said in “Atonement,” guilt refines “methods of self-torture, threading the beads of detail into an eternal loop, a rosary to be fingered for a lifetime.”

Not when PNoy thinks he’s not guilty.

[paseares@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 30, 2015.

Opinion

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