‘Idealism vs. realism’ – case of Fr. Panlilio

Today – 20 July 2009 – historically enough, is ‘one of mankind’s great moments in time’. Why? Neil Armstrong had this said to some 600 million people on worldwide TV when he first set foot on the moon – “That is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”. In other words, in plain realism than mere idealism does a man accomplish a great achievement – not just for himself but more so for others.

To draw parallelism, is Fr. Panlilio telling 90 million Filipinos on Old Media that what looks like one small job as governor is actually one giant leap for the presidency? Put simply, can his idealist utopia against corruption in government extend realistically as far as Malacanang – in the service of politics than of the Church or the proverbial ‘City of God’?

Now, time to piece the whole puzzle together. Let us bottom-line, a bit for the purpose.

Corruption has always been a constant for a battle cry. Why not poverty which is a far easier job to address? Well, at least, the Harvard Business School defines this pestering social concern of poverty as simple as this – “It is badly distributed wealth.” By some stretch of logic, if Fr. Panlilio can distribute wealth more manageably, then I guess, even corruption would have been addressed in the unseen process. At least, perhaps, the “loot” should be equitably distributed among ‘favored patrons’? As once said, we have to ‘moderate greed’.

What is Fr. Panlilio really apt to? Like Neil who chose to go to the moon, he wants to go to Malacanang without Apollo 11 but a newly-born movement called – ‘Kilos Na Movement ‘ – a political org that would back his chosen bid.

While at this orgy, Fr. Panlilio appears rather confused whether to choose politics over priesthood since apparently, the bishops are already applying the pressure. It is said that as soon as the Pope himself grants so-called ‘dispensation’, poor Panlilio cannot return to the priesthood. In other words, what he sought to exchange for the moon, in a manner of speaking, cannot return him back safely to earth, or the Church in this case.

It is ironic that largely, Panlilio’s superiors, not just the bishops, as well as fellow priests are in the reject mode of his rather too idealistic plan to be the next president. That alone does not usher well to the priest cum politician. It is their own Canon law that says that one cannot be a priest and a politician at the same time or in the same respect?

But little did we know that when he won as governor, the good Panlilio has only an edge of 1,147 votes over that of his political rival and a COMELEC recount is actually upheld. Certainly, Fr. Panlilio petitioned against the recount. Supposing that a recount is done and yields findings that Pineda won over Panlilio, what will the state of affairs be?

From where I stand, there are no writings in the wall that would even remotely tell us that the next president will be a priest. In his own political turf alone, the priest’s brand of leadership is found wanting. And I am not sure if it is not symptomatic of unhealthy bureaucracy when the mayors under his governorship are not heard to toe his line.

To lead on a national scale is a far more difficult job. Fact is, it appears that not few political leaders do resist Panlilio’s ‘moral charm’. In short, it is not gathering adherents on territory-specific basis. Besides, who really knows about this Kilos Na Movement anyway for it to gain popular support? Thus, the case of Fr. Panlilio in the final analysis is one of the ordinary clash between being idealistic against being realistic. No one-man crusade can overhaul the whole system of bureaucratic ‘dysfunctionality’ especially in a situation of divided commitment. Panlilio needs everyone to believe in his cause – not just him alone – and it remains a tall order.