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Monday, October 16, 2017

The Bishop’s Move

Archbishop Ramon Arguelles D.D, Archbishop of Lipa

His eyes squinted as the glorious rays of the morning sunshine hit his face. Around him was a sizeable group of men, women, children, youngsters, and elders; they all came to participate in that morning’s event: A Million Prayers, Walk for Life. He could tell that his presence made so much difference to the people around him; it wasn’t easy being there while a nationwide conference was being held in his own diocese. But still, he managed to find time to be with these band of prayer warriors, many of them grizzled veterans of this fight against RH. One can tell that he didn’t want to call attention to himself, but his custom-made red vest made it impossible. The vest read: ANTI RH LAW TILL MY DYING BREATH.

Archbishop Ramon Arguelles is not a striking figure. Without his vest and without his alb, one will mistake him for an ordinary lay man joining the prayer event. And yet he remains one of the most vocal and outspoken among the bishops we have this days. Beneath the cool surface is a sense of urgency, a fire raging within: his firm and unshaking belief that RH cannot and must not pass.

He clutched his rosary with his fingers, leading the crowd in praying to the Blessed Mother, each Hail Mary a fitting reminder of the battle for life that we are waging. It is a battle not only waged in the streets and in congress, but ultimately a battle to defend the sacredness of life inside the womb. For now, he leads this noble defense from the front lines, as he has always done before.


The audience at the halls of Congress held its collective breath. It was the second reading for the RH bill, and every vote against the bill was utterly essential. Along with several other  bishops like Bishop Gabby Reyes, Bishop Arguelles was there in the gallery, hoping against hope, praying thousands of Ave Marias only Heaven could hear, the sea of pro-lifers in red praying with them.

The second reading ended, as we all know, with only seven votes separating those who oppose the bill and those who support it. To lose the second reading and fall short of a couple of votes, especially because of known anti-rh congressmen suddenly either switching sides or abstaining from voting, is painful for any staunch pro-lifer who had worked the past few years to promote life and to mitigate the effects of the culture of death creeping in our society.

Archbishop Arguelles was aware of this pain. Together with several bishops vocal against those who promote the culture of death, he pushed for the idea of not voting for anti-life politicians. It was a legitimate leverage that Catholics and pro-lifers used in the last elections; if you do not respect life, you do not deserve our vote. The monicker “TEAM PATAY” wasn’t his idea, but he was aware that dirty politicians will listen to the only language that they can understand – the language of votes.

It is believed that RH stalwart Risa Hontiveros, along with the Ang Ladlad Partylist, lost the last elections because of the TEAM PATAY campaign.


Two years after RH has passed, pro-lifers have managed to freeze it in the Supreme Court through a Status Quo Ante order, though many government officials have admitted that they continue to implement the law despite it. The enemy never sleeps, nor does it rest.  The crowd assembled in Luneta had prayed for more than an hour, braving the morning sunshine, bearing the heat with umbrellas and a collective stoicity. If the Supreme Court decides to rule in favor of RH, we would be enduring more than this morning’s heat.

Archbishop Arguelles knows all too well what will happen to this country if and when RH passes the Supreme Court. It will be an uphill battle for Catholics from that moment, and will spell doom for the country’s moral and economic foundations. It wasn’t easy for him to leave the conference held in his diocese in order to be with us and to pray with us, but he showed everyone that every pro-life warrior needs the weapon of prayer. Thus, he chose to be with us to pray. One can always admire a man who prays, and leads others towards prayer.  Although he never liked to call attention towards himself, that day, our good bishop led us to pray and to trust in God,

The benevolent Archbishop of Lipa is a simple shepherd with a simple message: Seek God first in everything, and fight for the rights of those who are unable to do so.

We finished our prayers around ten in the morning, and by this time the sun shone brightly and the heat was becoming a tad unbearable by the minute. There was the occasional breeze that comforted us, and the birds chirped as if telling us that God continues to love us still. Our bishop needed to hurry back to Lipa to catch what was left of the conference, and his work here is done. In his eyes one can see fatigue but also faith, and persistence. There is no fear in his eyes, nor any shade of defeat.

In chess, the bishop is the only piece that moves within its own color. That’s Bishop Arguelles for you. Anti-RH and Pro-life he is – for the rest of his days. 

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