Just a few days prior to the Papal visit of Catholicism's Pope Francis. Francis is the successor to Simon Peter, whom Jesus Christ appointed as the head of his church on earth. His visit to the Philippines comes at a time when the Church is perceived to be losing political influence in this island archipelago, the strongest bastion of Catholicism in Asia.
Just last year, the Catholic church lost one battle dearest to its heart--the argument against the use of contraceptives in the Philippines. As it licks its wounds, the Church again got another--the permanent appointment of Undersecretary Garin as Health secretary. Garin is now head of the department which will implement the highly controversial 2 billion peso contraceptive program of government.
Remember that Garin spearheaded the campaign for the passage of this controversial law. She now is being considered to permanently replace Ona. Take note that Garin's possible appointment was made days prior to the Pope visit. How ill-time this is, you tell me.
Many says that Garin's ascension to the top post is a political decision. The former health secretary Ona is a technocrat, not a politician. Ona belongs to the group of Foreign Affairs secretary Alberto del Rosario, who is close to the Aquinos. The buzz says Ona is not a party man--meaning he is not a member of the Liberal party, which is now, according to several people, on a fund-raising mode.
That explains why Garin replaced him because Garin, again according to several people, was tasked as one of the party's "fund-raiser." I don't know what this meant and I do not attest to the veracity of this assertion.
What I can say is that Garin is a loyalist--she gives her all for the party to which she belongs. During Arroyo's time, Garin stood by the former president until the end. Now, she is a member of the Liberal party, and owns her appointment to his closeness with DILG secretary Mar Roxas, who happens to be the "sentimental choice" for president by the party, according to Senate president Franklin Drilon. Garin is expected to "stand by until the end", and behind the party.
What does this mean, I"ll just leave it up to your imagination, my dear readers.
Apart from its religious or spiritual nature, there is a reason why the head of the Vatican, the smallest state in the world, chose to visit the Philippines a year and a half from Aquino's term end and the holding of the presidential elections. Surely, as head of state, Pope Francis is expected to discuss the bilateral relations between the Vatican and the Philippines.
Will Garin's appointment as health secretary be discussed between Pope Francis and Pinoy? What would be their agenda of talks?