Being at the helm of the incident, I am rather compelled to share what had happened, whereupon behind the scene, in the recent occurrence about suspicious individuals inside our Cathedral during the celebration of the Holy Mass which I presided. I am also thinking that what had transpired could also be a very good vantage point in the realm of ethics, which is the very line of my field of research in the academe. The experience has become a virtual classroom. Life’s lessons are real.
We are thankful for one vigilant and responsible churchgoer who informed us through text about suspicious foreign-looking nationals. Having been informed, we immediately checked with the CCTV accompanied by the security guard and two youth-leaders who happened to be in the vicinity. We were one and the same in the evaluation of what we had seen – “merong kakaiba sa mga kilos nila.”
From there, we instructed our security guard on duty to report to proper authorities.
We also asked the youth choir, who were rehearsing then, if they had noticed something during the afternoon Mass since they were the ones assigned to sing that time. Nothing. Several of them, however, had already an idea about what we had seen on CCTV.
It was past 11 p.m. when a Facebook post went viral. We were all caught off-guard. While it asked for prayers for safety, yet the content, the timing, and the manner were downright off (careless and unwise). It was panicky. It was also discriminating, singling out a certain stereotype. What made it even more problematic was when something of this kind was being shared hastily without verification. It manifested the lack and the need of formation of people on the responsible use of social media. Our young people should be given a priority lane for that matter. On the other hand, the concerned young individuals had already acknowledged and had apologized saying, “Pasensya po. Napangunahan namin ang Simbahan pati ang investigation.”
In time, the Cathedral issued a statement. Concise and precise. In any way, it facilitated to calm undue alarm and sprayed off further speculations.
We commend our authorities who responded in no time. The military and the police with their other counterparts were calmly at the top of the situation. Their collaboration with each other was impressive, to say the least.
Media people came too in no time. We received a list of calls and messages which was unprecedented in my phone in terms of number. Nonetheless, we were not able to reply to any. What we had in mind was to respect the process of the investigation. “… so as not to preempt nor to cause panic,” an officer confided. Cautiousness is a necessary virtue. But I scowled at one who said, “Paano ‘to kapag wala akong mai-report? Lagot ako… “ But concern for the greater good over the self is also another necessary virtue. In sports, a post-game interview is rather convenient and advantageous to many.
All told, what had happened is an eye-opener to everybody. This is the first of this kind. We should never miss the lessons. General Rene Medina, our Wescom Commander, has expressed, “the vigilance displayed by the parishioners is applaudable…” And that of Officer Aristotle Castillo of City PNP, “the test of public vigilance” because reports were immediately made to authorities.” And according to Bishop Soc Mesiona, “Better on the side of caution.