Archive for the ‘church’ Category

Editorial Cartoon: Sour Grape

July 14, 2008

Pity

Student’s movement commends CBCP stand on economic crisis

July 13, 2008

MANILA, July 12, 2008—As they joined the students’ walkout last July 10, members of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) thanked the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for finally “breaking up their silence” about the current economic and political crises facing the country today.

In a statement sent to CBCP News, Biyaya Quizon, SCMP president, said that the members and officers of their group commend the CBCP leadership, through its president Jaro Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo, D.D., for speaking about social justice and the moral and just demands of the impoverished.

“We believe, however, that there should be greater actions to show that Christians are not silent and are taking an active stand on all these issues,” Quizon said.

SCMP also asked, not only the CBCP, but other religions as well to declare July 28, the day when Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will deliver her 7th State of the Nation Address, a national day of prayer and action for justice, and called on all Christian students to “heed the call of God’s suffering people.”

“We should combine prayer and action, and journey with our people towards a new Exodus,” Quizon ended her statement.

Meanwhile, during the July 10 student protest, the young lay leader lambasted Arroyo’s impermanent solutions to the current social and economic problems that the Filipino people face today.

“It can only do as much like giving alms. Tomorrow, the poor will think again how to survive from hunger and poverty,” laments Quizon.

She also said that instead of heeding the suffering of the people, the Arroyo government insults them more with its actions and statements.

It’s easy for Malacañang to say that it cannot allow another wage increase now, but it cannot stop oil companies from increasing oil prices! It cannot bend its policies towards our people’s demands, while it wholeheartedly allows laws such as the Oil Deregulation to be implemented to the poor people’s demise,” Quizon exclaimed.

“The Arroyo government says that only the rich pay the VAT (value-added tax) while they are raking millions from every single commodity we buy and are only brought back into a one-time subsidy,” added Quizon.

Joining the said rally are students from Philippine Christian University, Jose Rizal University, University of the Philippines Manila and Diliman and University of Santo Tomas, which is the only university in the Philippines that bears the Papal seal. (Noel Sales Barcelona)

Bataan Bishop cautions gov’t not to open Nuclear Plant

July 13, 2008

MANILA, July 11, 2008—Bataan Bishop Socrates Villegas cautioned the government not to open the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant citing it may cause hazards to environment and people.

“Our country’s leadership has floated the idea of reviving this monument of greed and incompetence in an effort to address the global energy crisis. This move follows what is being seen as the increasing incidence of unbridled and shameless graft and corruption that the country had in the 1970s and ’80s,” said Villegas in a pastoral statement dated July 7.

Villegas also advised the government to seek other feasible answers to meet the country’s energy crisis.

“We appeal to the national leadership to look beyond the present energy crisis and see the adverse effects of nuclear power in the rest of the world,” the bishop said.

In June, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said the government was thinking to open mothballed 630-megawatt nuclear power plant to boost the country’s energy supply as the country foresees energy scarcity next year.

Former president Ferdinand Marcos pursued in establishing the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, which was reportedly tainted with corruption. (Santosh Digal)

Marcos’ legacy lives on under Arroyo’s presidency, says biking priest

July 13, 2008

DAVAO CITY, July 12, 2008―Ferdinand Marcos the dictator is gone, but his legacy lives on under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said Redemptorist priest Amado Picardal.

Recalling the 23rd anniversary of the disappearance of Redemptorist Fr. Rudy Romano, then assigned in Cebu, Picardal said Romano was actively involved in struggle against the Marcos dictatorial regime.

“As we remember Fr. Romano, I am appalled that cases of forced disappearances and political killings are still happening under this supposedly democratic government. Many continue to be missing – among them Jonas Burgos. Marcos the dictator is gone – but his legacy lives on under the presidency of Arroyo. Some of those involved in the abduction and death of Fr. Romano are probably still around and occupying high positions in the military, hiding their dirty secrets and continuing their dirty war,” said Picardal in his blog http://amadopicardal.blogspot.com.

Under the presidency of Arroyo, hundreds of extra-judicial killings of media persons and human rights activists and several instances of allegedly forced disappearances have been reported, most of the cases are linked into politics and military, which the present administration has denied.

Romano courageously spoke out against the abuses of military under martial law. On July 11, 1985, he was abducted by military intelligence agents and since then has not been found. Romano is presumed to be dead, according to Picardal.

“Romano was one of the hundreds of disappearance-victims of the dictatorial rule. After Marcos was deposed by people power (EDSA I), we heard from sources within the military that he died during interrogation. Until now we still don’t know where they buried him,” said the biking priest.

Picardal have known Romano since 1972 when he was assigned in Iligan. He accompanied Romano in the parish mission in Balingoan during Picardal’s summer vacation in May 1972, a few months before the declaration of martial law. Picardal recalled how he was impressed by Romano’s missionary zeal as both moved from village to village conducting mission evangelization seminars among the people.

“Never again! This was our cry after the fall of the dictator Marcos. Now we have more of the same. When, O Lord, can we be truly freed from evil? When can we be freed from corruption and abuses of those in power?” Picardal asked.

“I hope that someday, the truth will come out and those responsible for the abduction and death of Fr. Romano and thousands of disappearances under the Marcos regime and the Arroyo administration will be brought to justice,” said Picardal.

Picardal (54) has been based in Davao as professor and academic dean of St. Alphonsus Seminary. He is also a theologian and BEC expert, poet, environmentalist, occasional hermit, healer, musician, scuba diver, tai-chi practitioner, mountaineer, cyclist and peace advocate. He biked for peace across the Philippines in 2000, 2006 and 2008.(Santosh Digal)

Pinoy ‘healing’ priest barred from saying Mass in Toronto

July 7, 2008

MANILA, Philippines—“Healing” Filipino priest Fernando Suarez has been barred from saying Mass in Toronto, Canada, according to Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros.

Oliveros said Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Toronto told him during the 49th International Eucharistic Congress held recently in Quebec, Canada, that the reason was Suarez’s healing activities.

Oliveros said it appeared Suarez had violated a Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith directive—Article 4, No. 3, of the disciplinary norms contained in the Instruction on Prayers for Healing issued in 2000.

For his part, Oliveros said he was bent on pursuing his complaint against Suarez for holding healing Masses in Malolos City in Bulacan province last year without his permission.

“Although I had said in January that I would lodge a complaint against Suarez for holding Masses in Malolos without my consent, I could not do so due to so many commitments,” Oliveros said in an interview posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ website.

Suarez, a Philippine-born member of the Canada-based Companions of the Cross, has been drawing crowds to his healing Masses in the country and abroad.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz has also barred Suarez from Pangasinan province.(PDI)

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My Take:

Tsk! Pera-pera kasi ito eh.  These very act of Fr. Suarez violates the basics of the Social Doctrine.  Dun pa lang sa pagbebenta nila ng mga CD? Tsk. I smell another filthy scam here.

My apology to his followers, pero he is not God.  And as he defies some rules, he should be reprimanded, just like what the lord did to lucifer (ooops, im not saying that he is that evil). :)

PPCRV Tawi Tawi thankful on release of Dinampo, journalists

June 19, 2008

DAVAO CITY, June 18, 2008–The deputy coordinator of Basilan–Sulu-Tawi-tawi (BASUTA)-Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) expressed gratitude after the release of Prof. Octavio Dinampo, ABS-CBN senior correspondent Ces Drilon and cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion late Tuesday night.

Boy Avendaño, deputy coordinator who is based in Tawi-tawi said the release of the captives is a gesture of kindness but he added that any act of kidnapping for whatever reason should not be tolerated.

Dinampo also works as volunteer of PPCRV in Jolo, Sulu.

Avendaño in a telephone interview early dawn, Wednesday also thanked the bishops, priests, religious and lay people nationwide who offered prayers for the release of the victims.

He is also grateful to the Philippine military that in one way or another put pressure on the kidnappers to release their captives.
The bandits agreed to have Mayor Isnaji, a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader to be an emissary. The negotiating team was led by Sulu Governor Sakur Tan and Vice-Governor Hadja Nur Ana Sahidullah.

Avendaño also praised the efforts of the local leaders of Sulu who helped in the negotiation for the safety release of the captives.

The PPCRV team in Sulu will also meet their volunteer Dinampo.

NO RANSOM

Avendaño, who also monitored the plight of the captives, confirmed that there was no ransom paid for the release of the victims.

Earlier, the Abu Sayaff group suspected to be behind the abduction demanded a P15–million ransom for the release of the hostages.

The kidnappers gave Tuesday noon as deadline for the ransom money to be delivered.

“We are just happy that the captives are freed. As to the ransom, it is not an issue as of the moment,” Avendaño said in vernacular.

The group was abducted by armed men on June 8. They were held in captivity for nine days. (Mark S. Ventura)(CBCPNews)

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My Take:

Di na lang sya dapat nagkmentaryo pa sa ransom issue.  tsk.  PPCRV pa naman siya, makakasama sa image niya at iisipin pa ng iba na nagagamit ang PPCRV bilang mouthpice ng gobyerno.  (no ransom paid, is the gov’ts line now, despite the fact that they did paid money and livelihood projects. both are technically known as ransom.)

COAL POWER OR RENEWABLE ENERGY?

June 17, 2008

We are stewards of this earth, God’s earth, we are not the absolute owners of this earth. We are caretakers, custodians and stewards of this earth – whether it is here in Antique or there in Panay.

Whatever is your position in society, an ordinary member of civil society or an official of Government or plain user of the environment, you are challenged to leave behind a legacy for this earth, a legacy that the earth has become better or has lessened the earth’s problem, and not a legacy of destruction.

One of our concerns, we are told, is power shortage. There is discussion going on as to the cause of power shortage: is it real shortage or power crisis? Or is it caused by management crisis? Or even worse, is it caused by leadership crisis? Study shows that we have surplus power in Panay until 2010. But there would be gradual shortage of power in 2011.

You here in Antique with the launching of Villasiga and Guianon – San Ramon Mini Hydro Project are leading the way. Congratulations to your Governor who is also the Chairperson of Regional Development Council, the Honorable Sally Z. Perez. You are one step ahead of a future problem. And you are using renewable energy, hydro or water, which is environment and people friendly. It is conceived that by harnessing hydro-renewable energy in this project you will have enough electric power to light the entire province of Antique. Together with the investors, you are impacting a legacy for the province.

I agree with the sentiments expressed by environmentalist, technical groups, scientists, as well as those in the medical profession. We cannot support those who propose the establishment of coal plants anywhere in Panay as we would be party to the commission of the SOCIAL SIN of polluting our environment and putting at risk the health of our communities. We strongly advocate for sustainable solutions – the harnessing of God–given energy from water, wind and sun. We shall support only those who propose renewable energy projects.

Here in Antique water resources are found in the rivers of Sibalom, Valderrama, Tibiao, Culasi and Patnongon. In Panay, God has gifted us with water to harness for electricity in San Joaquin, Igbaras, Lambunao, Maasin, Barotac Viejo, Lemery, Leon, Janiuay and Miag-ao. The big question and challenge is why waste money on importing expensive coals from other countries? Knowing the Filipino propensity for short-cuts and ningas-cogon, the cleanest coal will come out polluting Panay.

Antique is leading the way. We would like the Secretary of DENR, the Honorable Lito Atienza and the Secretary of DOE, the Honorable Angelo Reyes to please reserve Panay or Western Visayas for renewable energy of water, wind and sun for electric power.

The seven bishops of Western Visayas and Romblon in a Pastoral Letter last January 16, 2005 have already expressed their objection to the entry of coal-fired power plants.

We are challenging the leadership in Panay to leave a clean legacy for the province. Clean Coal is a misnomer, a myth. Coal is a pollutant of the environment, its effects in the air and water have been proven to cause asthma, cardiac problems, upper and lower respiratory tract problems. Pollution from dirty power plants kills more people every year than drunk drivers and murderers. The elderly the children and those with respiratory diseases are more severely impacted by this pollution. Coal plants contribute greatly in global warming. Let us not condemn the future of young Filipinos who will blame us without end for having cared less for their future.

Antique is leading the way. Thank you for showing Panay the way.

Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
June 5, 2008

Church youth join leaders in call for truth, accountability

June 12, 2008

STA. CRUZ, Ilocos Sur — “Let these young people lead the way in our quest for truth and accountability.” These are the prayers led by the various church leaders in the Summer Youth Camp of the Ilocos Sur Ecumenical Movement (ISEM) at Sevilla, Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur last May 26-27, 2008.

Said youth camp was attended by more than 90 church youth from the Roman Catholic Church, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), United Methodist Church (UMC), Logos Full Gospel Church and Church of God.

With the theme, “Panagkaykaysa dagiti Agtutubo nga agpaay ti kinatakneng ken kinapudno kas bunga ti pammati ken Cristo,” (Unity of students which for integrity and truth as a result of faith in Christ), the said youth camp is an effort of the ISEM in support to the calls of church leaders for truth and accountability.

Fellowships and discussions of issues concerning the youth and people in biblical perspective are highlights of the summer youth camp.

Johanna Dela Cruz, National Auditor of the Kalipunan ng Kristyanong Kabataan sa Pilipinas (KKKP) said during her discussion that this is an opportunity to dialog, and experience learning, living, worshiping and struggling together, and redefining their perspectives in life to be of service to God’s people.

Dela Cruz challenged the delegates to see the affliction of the people and hear their cries. “With the worsening plight of the people, what is our role? Do you hear God’s voice speaking to us again? Journey with God’s people.” She stressed in her forum discussion on Youth for Truth and Accountability.

During the solidarity night, young leaders from the Roman Catholic Church, IFI, UCCP, UMC and Logos Full Gospel Church led a ritual where they ensured that the candle is balanced by the strings. This ritual, according to Rev. Marcelino Mariano, “serves a one light in the people’s journey towards Shalom”.

Appointed conveners were Jimarie Snap Mabanta (IFI), Rowanne Ursulum (UCCP), Marissa Taqueban (UMC), Jenielyn Habon (Logos Full Gospel Church) and Joanna Dawn (Roman Catholic). The ISEM Youth Conveners affiliated the organization to KKKP.

According to Jimarie Snap Mabanta, one of the conveners of the ISEM Youth and Diocesan President of the Youth of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (YIFI), said that this is the first time that youth in various Christian churches unite in their common faith in God. “We hope that this will serve as a venue for fellowship, study and interaction among us.” Mabanta furthered.

The ISEM initiated the Summer Youth Camp as part of their call for truth and accountability to the Arroyo government and in support to the expose’ of Rodolfo “Jun”Lozada on the NBN Controversy. Last March, about two hundred (200) church leaders and members attended the Ecumenical Service for Truth and Accountability led by the ISEM. # Rod Tajon

Protest meets Arroyo anew in Baguio

June 12, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — As President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo emerged from the Baguio Cathedral after the pontifical mass here, a group of protesters gave her another surprise rally.

Members of Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students and Progressive Igorots for Social Action tried to block and get the attention of the presidential convoy on its way to the Mansion House dinner. They chanted, “Papet, pasista, pahirap sa masa, patalsikin si Gloria,” (Puppet, fascist, burden to the masses, oust Gloria) while holding placards.

When alerted, the protesters were too quick for the police as they scattered as quick as they appeared. Instead, the few amused, more than surprised, police allowed the protesters to proceed down Session Road.

On March 18, several young students also surprised security in a lightning rally in front of the Mansion. Probably because of that, security in the Mansion was tightened today. But this time the protest was waiting for Arroyo right outside the Cathedral of the Holy Atonement.

Anakbayan said this is its way of condemning Arroyo’s lack of concrete action to solve the worsening economic crises like the continuing rise in prices of basic commodities like oil and rice, and in services like electricity.

“Hangga’t hindi pa siya umaalis sa pwesto, lalakas at lalakas ang pagkilos ng mamamayan para sapilitang tanggalin siya,” (While she does not leave her post, people’s actions to remove her from office will continue to strengthen) said Anakbayan Metro-Baguio’s John Voltaire Dalangin.

The group also said that this proves wrong the administration’s claim that Cordillera is behind her. “They could only claim the support of local officials, not the people of Baguio,” said John Panem of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP).

Earlier inside the Cathedral, members of Youth for Accountability and Truth Now (Youth ACT Now) wore t-shirts bearing “Ang masama ay masama” and a cutely-rendered devil face that looks like Arroyo. # Cielo Marie Bayson(NorthernDispatch)

Thunder and lightning strike as PGMA prays

June 12, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — As soon as the opening mass of the Luzon North Regional Rural Congress in the Baguio City Cathedral begun with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a guest, unexpected bolts of lightning and bursts of thunder, followed by a sudden and heavy down pour reverberated over the church.

“It was like in a horror movie,” said one of the bystanders outside the church kidding her companion that it was because PGMA was inside and God is just fidgeting.

Just before the mass started, the weather was perfectly sunny with cotton-like clouds and blue skies and it has been days since the last rains.

Because of the security concerns for the president, the Presidential Security Group (PSG) on orders, did not allow several of the regular Baguio churchgoers attend the mass Wednesday.

“I do not care about the president, I just want to go to mass,” said one lady as she turned her back after giving up on trying to enter the Cathedral.

But one lady did not give up and instead loudly berated the PSG causing a scene in front of the church’s main entrance.

Halfway through the mass, a Malaca–ang staff ordered the PSG to let the people in.

As soon as PGMA exited the church through the side door, one of the mass-goers said aloud “Ayan, nag-simba na siya, sana bukas mura na ang bigas,” (There, she heard mass already, I hope the price of rice goes down tomorrow) and the people around her started to laugh as if it was a funny joke.

When the presidential convoy left the church premises, one old lady carrying several plastic bags tapped the shoulder of this reporter and asked if the president has left.

When asked why she was looking for the president, she just frustratingly replied, “Gusto ko lang sana humingi ng tulong,” (I just want to ask for help) then started to walk away.

The convoy was met by protesters just outside the Cathedral gate. (See story in this issue.)

PGMA was invited to grace the opening mass with the Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines the Most Reverend Edward Joseph Adams as the main celebrant and homilist. # Cye Reyes

Painful realities in rural poor congress

June 12, 2008

BAGUIO CITY — Luzon rural poor gathered here in a three-day congress and unfolded “heart-breaking situations,” as they called on the Church that has professed to love and uphold the dignity of the rural poor to respond to their plight

In congress since June 3, among the issues pointed out in the declaration of commitment to unity and action forged Friday is the inclusion of the situation and issues of state harassment, human rights violations and development aggression, which according to the participants are salient features of the present period.

The declaration also identified neglect of the total well-being of people; poverty; landlessness; discrimination; irresponsible management of God’s creation; biased implementation of the laws that results in graft and corruption, politicking; the lack of harmony; and unequal opportunity as the culprits plaguing the rural populations.

Mostly farmers and fisher-folk in Luzon’s marginalized areas, the delegates pointed out land tenure, poor government support in irrigation, marketing and other post-harvest facilities; high cost of pesticides, fertilizers and seeds; inadequate government program for farmers; no livelihood opportunities and poverty.

Discussions among the participating indigenous peoples zeroed-in on ancestral lands and indigenous people’s rights.

Issues on the phenomenon of rural traders, immorality, and little opportunity for education are among the concerns raised by women and children.

Development aggression and human rights violations such as harassment and political killings were common concerns of all the sectors represented.

The declaration responded to the homily of the Most Reverend Edward James Adams, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines who was the main celebrant in the Eucharistic Celebration at the Cathedral of the Holy Atonement Wednesday.

He said, “We should not close our eyes to the anguish around us… we should be ready to run wherever there is a brother in need.”

Tabuk Apostolic Vicar Prudencio Andaya Jr’s presentation about the Catholic Social Teachings Friday morning iterated the importance of dignity of human beings; common good and communion; preferential option for the poor; global solidarity; peace and disarmament; stewardship of God’s creation; economic justice; spirit of mission in governance; the right of people to participate; and the protection of people’s rights and responsibility.

“Packaged as the church’s response to the plight of rural poor, the ten social teachings of the Catholic Church were coined from write-ups of the Holy Fathers,” according to Rev. Nestor Romano, of the Diocese of San Jose in Nueva Ecija.

The gathering of some 200 representatives of 21 dioceses from Tuguegarao in the northernmost tip of Luzon to Antipolo, a little south of Metro-Manila, is one of 14 regional consultations with rural poor in preparation for the Second National Rural Congress being called by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in July.

The first rural congress some 41 years ago called on the church to go to the barrios Romano said. “This is the chance of the clergy and the bishops to listen to the voice of the people who are generous in articulating their plight,” he said in an Nordis interview.

The Luzon North Rural Congress also gathered 18 bishops from archdioceses, dioceses and apostolic vicariates from the the Ilocos, Cordillera, Cagayan and Central Luzon regions, including Antipolo, a diocese in Metro Manila,.

The congress focused on validating results of earlier consultations from the different archdioceses, dioceses and apostolic vicariates; for the church’s response the Declaration of Commitment to Unity and Action.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who addressed the opening mass said the church is the ultimate hope for the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized as she acknowledged the parishes who helped distribute government-subsidized rice. # Lyn V. Ramo

Farmers Ask CBCP: Support GARB, Not CARP Extension

June 11, 2008

Calling the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the Aquino regime “bogus,” farmers from Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Mindanao regions ask the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to support House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran filed in the 14th Congress.

BY NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 18, June 8-14, 2008

Calling the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) of the Aquino regime “bogus,” farmers from Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Mindanao regions ask the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to support House Bill No. 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which the late Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran filed in the 14th Congress.

This developed as some 1,000 farmers from Southern Tagalog were staging a “Lakbayan para sa Lupa, Pagkain at Hustisyang Panlipunan” (March for Land, Food and Social Justice).

In the weekly Kapihan sa CyPress media forum at the Treehouse Restaurant, Matalino St., in Quezon City last June 7, Orly Marcellana, secretary-general of the Katipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK or Association of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog), a local chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines ), and currently the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance or Bayan) regional chair, said that history has already proven the futility of the existing agrarian reform program, which is now 20 years old.

“In the two decades of CARP’s implementation, the farmers in the region remained landless, hungry and poor. We have enough of this bogus land reform,” said Marcellana.

Marcellana insisted that only GARB can introduce an almost-perfect solution to the landlessness problem of farmers in the country.

Rev. Ray Galloaga of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), who works closely with the peasant folk in the region, cited the Scriptures and said that as part of the social justice program of Yahweh, Israelites-through their judges and kings-have implemented their own version of agrarian reform program

“Thus, it is rightful to support what the peasant-folks are fighting for right now and that is the passage of a progressive legislation on agrarian reform,” Galloaga said.

Earlier, Second National Rural Congress (NRC2) Chair and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, expressed support to the extension of CARP.

CBCP even asked the President to certify the bill extending the CARP as urgent. She certified it as urgent early last week.

The Central Luzon experience

United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) president and now Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA or Union of Agricultural Workers) Rene Galang shared his own experience with CARP inside the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

“Instead of giving the lands to the farmers and farm-workers for them to till, they (the Cojuangcos) have given us the Stock Distribution Option (SDO), a scheme that paved way for more abuse. Now that the Supreme Court has finally decided in favor of the farmers, the Cojuangco clan still refuses to give the farmers’ part of the hacienda which our colleagues have already shed their blood for,” Galang said, referring to the November 16, 2004 massacre.

Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL or Alliance of Peasants in Central Luzon) chairman  Joseph Canlas said more and more lands are being grabbed by unscrupulous landlords and developers thus leaving more and more farmers landless and hungry.

Among the schemes used are crop conversion and land use conversion, in which lands are being developed into industrial and residential uses, and instead of being used for production of rice and other food lands are planted with cutflowers and other high-yielding crops, threatening the country’s food supply, Galang elaborated.

“That’s why, we are strongly supporting the bill that our beloved Ka Bel, filed in Congress,” said Galang.

CARP: the Mindanao experience

Mindanao has the same experience, said Antonio “Ka Tonying” Flores, KMP officer in Mindanao.

“Many lands have been classified as corporate farms, which can only be distributed if the corporation owning the farm voluntarily submits to CARP, as provided for by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988,” said Flores.

GARB

Incoming Anakpawis Rep. Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, said that he would be fighting hard for the passage of the GARB and will ensure that the farmers would win this battle.

Mariano joins thousands of farmers that are expected to flock the foot of Mendiola bridge, this June 10, CARP’s 20th anniversary. Contributed to Bulatlat

The scourge of child pornography

June 10, 2008

CHILD pornography is here—and quite for some time now. While everybody is busy brawling about the anomalies of this government that is doubly busy, too, doing a wag-the-dog to distract the populace from falling further into the pit of dismay, child porn producers are busy prowling the streets for more and more victims.

Optical Media Board chief Edu Manzano reports of kids (who should be attending kindergarten but are not because their parents are either busy queuing up for a square meal of rice or selling their kidney for a day of opulence) who are brought by their very own mothers to pose as “talents” in a porno film of sorts. Disgust is a very mild reaction to seeing a 4 or 6 year old forced to do a sexual deviance that normal couple would not even dare. While adult pornography is bad enough, child pornography is indescribably worse.

It is the market, which no longer hides in the closets but even shouts in Quiapo and in malls, that dictates the course of child pornography. And while it is presently getting insatiable, the producers will be there to fill the “need”. Reports have it that it only takes Ten Thousand US Dollars for foreigners to produce a full-length child porn film. And parents of child porn talents go home seemingly well compensated with Forty Thousand Pesos after all is done.

It is cold. It is silent. It is devastating.

In a pastoral letter entitled “Welcoming Them for My Sake”, issued in 1998, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), says: “Our voices cannot be loud enough, our words strong enough to condemn this evil among us. The cries of abused children reach up to the God of justice in a call for vengeance. We know that their lament invokes compassion from the God of Love…And to those who inflict pain and wound the innocent, our Lord has harsh words: ‘it is better for anyone who leads astray one of these little ones who believe in me, to be drowned by a millstone around his neck in the depths of the sea.’ (Mt. 18:160).

The blight of child pornography may be traced mainly to poverty—the kind of poverty that has emboldened unprincipled producers, business and pedophiles. But the evil of destroying our very own children simply transcends the social impact of poverty. Virginia, there is really more to it than just the exigency of an empty wallet.(CBCPNews)

Muzzling Archbishop Cruz

June 10, 2008

ARCHBISHOP Oscar Cruz did not cheat during the 2004 election, or bribed election officials with jueteng money. Neither did he have anything to do with the fertilizer scam, the north and south railway projects or any other gargantuan corruption and mega anomalies that trampled this country underfoot to emerge bleeding with undeserved poverty.

All he does is denounce irregularities—but most especially the most uncomfortable irregularity that is the present dispensation which he has tagged as the biggest gambling operator in the country.

Maybe the most courageous man-of-the-cloth there is in the country today, he has pursued his advocacy against gambling—and all the evils that come with it—up to the senate floor in a long battle of probing the fact that while Columbia had narco-politics, in the country it is jueteng that decides who seats in the uneasy chair of politics or not.

He could have chosen to settle comfortably in his cathedra and savor daily the courtesies and the more substantial returns regarded the dignitaries of the Catholic Church. But he has decided to walk the streets and suffer the brunt of an urban missionary, crucified almost daily with death threats and wanton attacks from those within who see Christianity at its best only in dispensing the sacraments and living within the framework of a baroque ecclesiology.

In June 2004, he assailed the government-owned casino operator, PAGCOR, for exploiting its female employees who were reportedly made to entertain the guests of the First Gentleman who was celebrating his birthday at the Malacañang Park, like “pitiful GROs” (guests relations officers).

Almost immediately the female employees, at the prodding of PAGCOR, filed a libel suit against the Archbishop who ironically was in fact defending their right against exploitation. The case was, of course, dismissed by the Manila prosecutor’s office for insufficient grounds.

But today Archbishop Cruz was issued a warrant of arrest after Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales, reportedly on Malacañang’s order, decided to resurrect the “long-dead” libel suit after failing to muzzle the Archbishop through relentless efforts of harass and intimidate him.

The same thing happened to John Baptist who denounced the immoralities of the king. The only consolation is, his head was placed on a platter.(CBCPNews)

Militant priest hails Meralco refund

June 10, 2008

MANILA, June 9, 2008—A militant Catholic priest has favored the recent order of the government for the Manila Electric Company to refund meter deposits to its clients.

Solidarity Philippines convener Fr. Joe Dizon said the refund is a valid decision because the money should be returned to its real owners.

“The public earned a social justice victory after this order. Meralco should do that (give refunds) because the fact that it is a deposit means it belongs to the people,” Dizon said.

The ERC last week approved the policy of returning the meter deposit that Meralco subscribers have been paying since the 1980s.

The electric company said they would make the refund based on the prescribed period of the ERC, which is six months after issuance of the order.

The Meralco will have to return a 6 percent interest for those who paid for meter deposits before 1995, and 10 percent from 1995 until 2004, when meter deposit collection was stopped.

Dizon also said he is hoping the current brawl between the government and the Meralco would end up with something beneficial for the public.

“The government should resolve the Meralco issue to help the people and not for the political vendetta,” he said. (Roy Lagarde)(CBCPNews)

Church officials prod gov’t to lift EVAT

June 10, 2008

MANILA, June 9, 2008—A ranking official of the Catholic bishops’ leadership appealed to the government to put more effort to grapple spiraling oil and electricity rates in the country.

CBCP-Public Affairs Committee head Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez said the Energy Regulatory Commission should take absolute action on the growing challenge to advance the common good.

“They (ERC) have to put more extra efforts to help the people against the high electricity rates,” he said.

Iñiguez said he is certain the authorities know very well the main key to lower power bills of consumers if only they have the will to do it.

Senator Joker Arroyo over the weekend likewise asked the ERC to take serious moves to lower down electricity rates without solely depending on altering the Electric and Power Industry Reform Act.

The prelate also urged the government to consider the public clamor of repealing the oil deregulation law to somehow mitigate the effects of escalating global fuel prices.

“The government should instead regulate oil prices because it’s getting higher causing the public to suffer,” Iñiguez said.

Last week, Consumer and Oil Watch chairman Raul Conception warned that the global oil prices are still set to jack up.

The Church-based group Solidarity Philippines also stressed the need to at least reduce the expanded value added tax (EVAT) on oil and the power sector.

Solidarity Philippines convener Fr. Joe Dizon said it was unjust for the government to rake in billions in EVAT collections at the expense of consumers.

“Life is very hard now. The government should be the first to sacrifice. And EVAT is big burden for the people,” Dizon said. (CBCPNews)

Kalibo bishop opposes new plans for casino in Boracay

June 8, 2008

Kalibo, Aklan Bishop Jose Romeo Lazo has come out against revived plans to establish a casino on the world famous island resort of Boracay.

“Let me be clear. I have opposed and will continue to oppose casino gambling. I will not cooperate with any effort to establish casino gaming in Boracay,” Lazo said in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website.

The Kalibo prelate was reacting to the reported construction of a casino inside the posh Fairways and Bluewater Resort at the northern end of the 1,000- hectare island resort.

Lazo said he is worried a casino, with unlimited jackpots, would be a greater harm to his flock. Besides, he said, the tourism industry on the island has long been standing even without a casino.

“Boracay is a natural treasure of Aklanons and the Filipino people. We are for a family-oriented and wholesome island resort and we therefore want a drug-free and gambling- free Boracay,” he said.

He urged his parishioners and religious organizations “to unite, pray, reflect and act to express your stand and sentiments against gambling in Boracay.”

Last month, Lazo sent a letter of protest to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the planned casino but he has not receive any reply.

“Because Pagcor is under the authority of the President, the ace is still in Arroyo’s hands. I hope she will come out with a favorable response,” said Lazo.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) first pushed the plan of a casino complex in 2003 but President Arroyo ordered it shelved following a public protest. (Leslie Ann G. Aquino)

(MB)

Bukidnon clergy: all eyes on BOR decision on CMU’s Lao

June 8, 2008

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/5 June) – The Bukidnon clergy, led by Bishop Honesto Pacana, has remained steadfast in its position against Central Mindanao University President Mardonio Lao, who defended himself last week amid calls for his ouster due to tenure and land-related issues.

Fr. Jonathan Tianero, speaking on behalf of Pacana, said the bishop won’t fire back at Lao because “he knows where he stands” even if Lao accused the prelate of helping an investigation for his ouster.

Instead, Tianero said, they are looking forward to the upcoming CMU Board of Regents meeting, where they expect Lao to be stripped of his post and a search committee for his successor would be formed.

He said the BOR, headed by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Romulo Neri, is expected to meet tomorrow, June 6.

Tianero said they are optimistic about a BOR decision against Lao since the CHED’s legal opinion on the extension of Lao’s “services” as CMU president was “void and illegal.”

In a press conference on May 30 in CMU, Lao told members of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas – Bukidnon chapter that it was Pacana who reported him to Malacañang.

Tianero said Lao even allegedly accused the bishop of railroading the investigation conducted by the Presidential Management Staff, following a trail of letters for a probe coming from Pacana and Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr.

The bishop’s letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Tianero said, was based on documented complaints not just from the priests but also from the students, faculty, farmers and lumads.

“There is nothing personal in it. He only did it to help the people who sought the aid of the Church,” Tianero said.

Tianero said the process could take a long time involving more people.

Lao said last week he would await a decision from the Court of Appeals on a motion for reconsideration the university filed over the land dispute involving Presidential Proclamation 310 delineating at least 670 hectares of CMU lands to lumads.

CMU has taken a legal course to evade the order, invoking its rights to the titled lands.

“We will give in if there’s a decision on that but until there is none, we won’t allow them (lumads) in,” Lao said earlier.

Tianero claimed the BOR under Neri may treat the issue of land dispute and Lao’s tenure as two separate issues. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)

Conal Holdings to build coal-fired plant in Maasim

June 8, 2008

MindaNews
Saturday, 07 June 2008 20:30
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Coal is one of the oldest sources of fossil fuel and when burned, produces energy but it also emits toxic gasses, such as carbon monoxide, when unchecked.

In a press statement, Gregorio S. Gonzales, Kamanga Power Plant general manager, said the company will use limestone to capture sulfur in the carbon that will fuel the plant. Sulfur, when mixed with limestone, will produce excellent material as additive to cement.

“With Maasim as a rich source of limestone, it is not remote that investors may build a cement plant in Maasim. Limestone is a major component of cement manufacturing,” Mr. Gonzales said.

The Alcantara Group is also a known player in the cement industry through the Alsons Cement Corp., majority of which was acquired by Holcim Philippines, Inc, said to be the country’s leading cement manufacturer.

Gonzales’s statement was not clear if he was referring to Holcim as among the cement investors who may come to Maasim.

Sarangani Gov. Rene Miguel A. Dominguez, whose mother is an Alcantara, earlier said the provincial government expects the coal-fired power plant to pull in the entry of other industrial investors.

The governor said they are hoping they can emulate the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority in the area with the coal-fired power plant as the magnet.

But Fr. Romeo Catedral, social action director of the Diocese of Marbel, earlier said the priest assigned in Maasim is rallying the Catholic faithful against the coal-fired power plant project citing environmental and human health concerns.

“The information and education campaign (on the evils of the coal-fired power plant) is continuing especially at the level of the Basic Christian Communities,” Catedral said.

While conceding that the issues raised by the opposition are for real if the power plant is not built and maintained properly,

Gonzales said the company will employ technologies in accordance with Philippine laws, as he allayed fears the plant would be harmful to the people and their environment.

Nitrogen oxide emissions, for example, will be at a maximum of 150 milligram per normal cubic meter (mg/Nm3), a target which is way below the 1,000 mg/Nm3 set by Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act, he said.

Sulfur oxide emissions will also be set at 150 mg/Nm3 which is significantly below the 700 mg/Nm3 standard also set by the same law, he added.

The same is true with its carbon monoxide emissions (at 200 mg/Nm3 as opposed to the ceiling of 500 mg/Nm3). Particulate matters will be at 50 mg/Nm3, also below the 150 mg/Nm3 provided by RA 8749,  he said.

Gonzales, a mechanical engineer, said mercury emission in gaseous form will be strictly monitored not to exceed 0.02 mg/Nm3, also way below the 5mg/Nm3 volume set by the Clean Air Act of 1999.

The company is open to dialogues with groups opposing its venture, he said.

“We will always open our doors to everybody and anybody who have reservations and those who are opposed to the project. We have nothing to hide. And we will welcome suggestions on how to help protect the environment,” he said.

The Kamanga Power Plant project aims to initially generate 200 MW of electricity by 2011 with two incremental expansions of 350 MW over a period of 15 years.

Construction of the first phase will take three years and would employ at least 1,000 laborers and 300 regular workers during the operation stage, the statement said.

Mindanao has an existing generating capacity of 1,850.4 MW beginning 2008 but the dependable capacity is only 1,520 MW. Peak demand starting this year is projected to hit 1,440 MW.

Industry  regulations require the Mindanao Grid to maintain a reserve capacity of at least 23.4% of their generating capacity.

Peak demand for power supply by 2015 is expected to hit 1,750 MW but only the Sibulan 70MW Hydro Power Plant Project in Sta. Cruz, Davao is under construction.

“We expect power supply to become tighter and tighter over the next three years, edging towards a shortage 2012 onwards. This is the main objective of the Kamanga Power Plant project, to fill the gap between supply and demand,” Gonzales said.  (MindaNews)

Prelate hits plan to submerge brgys for electric source

June 1, 2008

BALOI, Lanao del Norte, May 30, 2008—The bishop of the Prelature of Marawi criticized the proposal of the National Power Company (NAPOCOR) to submerge seven barangays here mostly ricelands to give way to its electric project.

Bishop Edwin Dela Peña said the proposal is compromising the welfare of the people as it may result to loss of livelihood and displacement.

He added that on top of development, the primary concern must be the wellbeing of the people and not solely the interest of progress.

Dela Peña said that the Ranaw Pat A’ Pangampong composed of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Iligan City and Marawi City is against the proposal to swamp under water the 7 barangays of Baloi.

Baloi is a 4th class municipality in the province of Lanao del Norte. It is the home of the Agus IV Hydroelectric Powerplant located in Barangay Nangka, which is 18 kilometers from Iligan City,

The Agus IV is the first underground hydroelectric plant in Mindanao and the third in the Philippines located 120 meters below ground face. The plant is said to be sufficient to power a city more than 12 times the size of Iligan City or to run 20 cement factories.

Dela Peña told CBCPNews that he is supporting the clamor of the people here to prevent the implementation of the project.

He added that by submerging the 7 barangays it is also tantamount to destroying the seat of power of the Sultanate of Baloi.

The proposal to submerge the 7 barangays is intended to augment the power supply needed for Mindanao.

“If we allow this project to continue we are tolerating the massive destructions to our lands and communities,” said Dela Peña.

Dela Peña said that he is not against development especially if it will benefit the people but if progress will lead to destruction then the Church will not tolerate it.

“We acknowledge the need for development but in such a way that it will not prejudice the lands, lives and livelihood of our people,” he clarified.

However, Dela Peña said that if the people will soon consent to the proposal then he will respect the decision of the denizens in the communities. (Mark S. Ventura)(CBCPNews)

Archbishop nixes gov’t takeover of Meralco

June 1, 2008

MANILA, May 30, 2008—Saying the government is “not known as a good businessman,” a Catholic archbishop is opposing its take over the operations of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).

Archbishop Oscar Cruz said the eagerness of the Government Insurance System to gain control of the electric firm is nothing but a worrying move from Malacañang.

“This is very ominous because Malacañang would control, not only National Transmission Corporation and National Power Corporation, but also Meralco. Whoever controls power controls industry and commerce,” he said.

Cruz said a government clampdown should target all power distributors in the country to dispel impressions that it is not biased against any business group or that its intentions are political.

“The government should take in utilities that the private sector does not enter because it is a losing proposition. But the government should not take private business corporations that is money-making because, otherwise, it will lose money again,” Cruz said.

The influential Lopez family retained control of the power firm over the stiff competition posed by the GSIS, led by its general manager Winston Garcia, at its annual stockholders’ meeting on Tuesday.

Results of the board of directors’ elections showed that Garcia’s camp would have wrested five of the 11 directors had the votes of the contested proxies been excluded.

Garcia then urged the Securities and Exchange Commission to nullify the poll results, claiming the Lopezes insisted to pursue the meeting despite a cease-and-desist order invoked by the latter.

The noise between the government and Meralco soar after President Arroyo had earlier rallied the business community to join the fight versus the firm’s alleged overcharging of consumers. (CBCPNews)

Child rights group fear rise in children victimized by armed conflict and development aggression

June 1, 2008

The KABIBA Alliance for Children’s Concerns is alarmed over the increasing number of children affected by armed conflict and development aggression in the countryside of southern Mindanao.

According to KABIBA’s monitoring, for January-May 2008, an estimated 2,380 children have been affected by militarization and development aggression. These are in the areas of Talaingod, Davao del Norte; Baganga and Cateel, Davao Oriental; New Bataan, Compostela and Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province; and Brgy. Manuel Guianga, Tugbok District, Davao City.

Among the young victims, two from Brgy. Mangayon, Compostela, ComVal Province were physically assaulted and harassed by military elements last May 2, 2008. Another two children were wounded due to a crossfire in San Isidro, Monkayo, ComVal Province. Two children were also wounded in a massacre in Manuel Guianga, Tugbok District, Davao City. Meanwhile, four children died while evacuating from their homes in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and New Bataan, ComVal Province. The four fell sick from the lack of food.

Undeniably, there is an ongoing civil war in the country instigated by chronic socio-economic crisis, bad governance and wanton violations of human rights. However, armed conflict in the countryside is being escalated by the Arroyo government’s all-out war policy through the Oplan Bantay Laya 2. The implementation of Investment Defense Force (IDF), which results in massive deployment of military and paramilitary troops to clear the way and/or protect the interests of large-scale mining and pesticides-dependent monocrop plantation companies.

Militarization is happening now in southern Mindanao, particularly in the mineral-rich and alluvial soil-rich Compostela Valley Province, Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte. Indeed, the Arroyo government has declared southern Mindanao as a hub for mining and agribusiness plantations and one of the priority areas for IDF implementation. The massive deployment of troops in rural areas to facilitate development aggression and landgrabbing is displacing hundreds of families of peasants and indigenous peoples.

These non-peaceful and unjust situations in the countryside make children further vulnerable. Already, rural children are burdened by poverty and lack of social services. Indeed, they are more vulnerable because they are physically weaker, still in the process of developing their own competencies. They are usually dependent on adults. They are greatly affected by the ongoing armed conflict not only in terms of the dire consequences of shooting wars and combat operations, but also in terms of rights abuses.

Child-focused groups under KABIBA are calling the parties of armed conflict to strictly observe Geneva Protocols on War, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

We are also demanding the cancellation of all large-scale mining applications, stoppage of expansion of monocrop plantations and other pseudo-development projects. Likewise, we are also demanding the pull-out of all military and paramilitary troops who are being used by mining and plantation companies and influential people to displace the peasants and indigenous peoples in the rural areas.

We are also calling for an impartial and no-nonsense investigation on the increasing number of violations against children’s rights in the course of militarization and development aggression cum grabbing of peasants’ and indigenous peoples’ lands, most especially the involvement of Task Force Davao-trained SCAA of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in the massacre of a tribal chieftain’s family.##

For reference:

HONEY MAY IDUL-SUAZO

Executive Secretary, KABIBA Alliance for Children’s Concerns

Contact Number: 09284917899

Implement RA 9286 — Cruz

June 1, 2008

DAGUPAN CITY — Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, a critic of illegal gambling, has called on the government to sincerely implement Republic Act (RA) No. 9286, a law against illegal gambling.

Its sincere implementation, he said, will end once and for all the proliferation of jueteng and other illegal numbers games in the country.

Known for his stand against illegal and legal gambling, Cruz, chairman of the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng (KBLJ), criticized the government for the non-implementation of RA No. 9287 or the law that increased the penalties on illegal numbers games in the country.

He lamented that despite RA 9286’s enactment more than four years ago, it remains unimplemented, to the delight of illegal gambling operators.

“Its implementation is one big fat zero to this date. Thus, it is that jueteng has in effect, become more rampant, particularly in Pangasinan, better organized and is much alive,” Cruz said. (Mar T. Supnad)

May 30, 2008

A new Auxillary Bishop for Jaro?  Well, its true! Read more about it here. :)

Rural Missionaries of the Philippines to hold human rights walk

May 29, 2008

DUMAGUETE, May 29, 2008—The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), Church Peasant Conference (CPC) and Promotion of Church People’s Rights (PCPR) are jointly going to hold a human rights walk, peace and social justice.

Prior to the walk, a forum at the Chapel of Evangel at the Divinity School of Silliman University will be held, said Melvin Rabelista-Koerkamp, coordinator for Negros Oriental of the RMP, in a statement.

He said the activity aims to inform the public and condemn the prevailing state of affairs on human rights violations in the country.

“By taking part, we may contribute to the spreading of God’s liberative teachings and pave the way for genuine peace,” said Koerkamp.

The human rights walk is one of the answers of the church groups to the escalating human rights violations, including arbitrary and unlawful detention; forced and fake surrender, threats, grave coercion, illegal search, seizure, enforced disappearance, forcible evacuation and displacement of the rural folks, said Joseph Lagorra, coordinator of PCPR.

“The Church faces the challenge of protecting God’s flock from evil and oppression violating their human dignity. In any way possible within each of our ministries and mission (the challenge) is to evangelize the truth and to stand with the marginalized struggling poor,” said Lagorra. (Santosh Digal)(CBCPNews)

Another PCPR member abducted

May 29, 2008

QUEZON CITY, May 27, 2008 –Another member of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) was reported to have been abducted at 9:00 A.M., Tuesday, May 6.

PCPR Secretary General Amie S. Dural said unidentified men on board an unmarked van abducted UCCP Pastor Rodel Canja while was on his way to the Annual Conference of the UCCP Northeast Southern Tagalog Conference.

“One man casually invited him to ride in the van and warned him not to ask any question. Inside the van, another man pointed a gun at him while the man who invited him to ride in the van placed a handkerchief in his nose that left him unconscious,” said Dural in an interview with CBCPNews.

When the pastor regained his consciousness, the men began torturing and interrogating him about the personality of UCCP Pastor Berlin Guerrero, now detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s Camp Pantaleon in Imus, Cavite.

Guerrero was abducted last May 27. 2007. Police authorities reportedly said that he is an active member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Dural said, for four days, two to four men alternately interrogated him about Pastor Berlin and two other UCCP ministers. While clicking their guns, the men repeatedly asked Pastor Canja to confirm that Pastor Berlin was a member of the “P”, a code referring to CPP.

As part of the psychological torture, one of the abductors fired his gun, giving the cleric a false feeling that he was wounded, added Dural. His wallet and money were confiscated, too, she further said.

“And when they saw the pictures of his two siblings, they threatened the pastor to kill his siblings if he would ever talk about his experience,” Dural said. The pastor is reportedly suffering from psychological trauma.
“With the hundreds of cases of abductions and extra-judicial killings in the country, the AFP mastered the scheme of identifying legitimate people’s organizations as ‘front’ of the CPP. The Armed Forces of the Philippines insists on linking activist citizens to the CPP and its armed group to justify attacks on their lives and liberty,” Dural lamented.

From 2001 to present, 27 church people including Bishop Alberto Ramento of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) have been victims of extra-judicial killings.

“To date, none of the assailants have been brought to justice,” she said. (Noel Sales Barcelona)(CBCPNews)

Editorial Cartoon: OBL is Anti-People and Anti-Christian

May 27, 2008

Demonyo!

(Ang 23 dito ay tumutukoy lag sa mga church-workers na pinaslang.)

More church people become victims of HR violations—Karapatan

May 27, 2008

MANILA, May 26, 2008—More and more church peoples become victims of various human rights violations since Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s coming into power after the peaceful Edsa People Power 2 in 2001.

In the latest report of the human rights alliance Karapatan, there have been 23 church workers extrajudicially executed from January 2001 up to March 31, 2008.

Most of them are members of Kapatirang Simbahan para sa Sambayanan or Kasimabayan, an ecumenical organization of pastors, priests and religious coming the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR), the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), and from churches including Catholics, Aglipayans and Protestants.

Besides the summary executions, there had been one (1) victim of enforced disappearance, according to the report.

Southern Tagalog region has recorded the most number of extrajudicial killings, not only among church workers but other sectors as well, totaling to 163, followed by Central Luzon with 137 victims.

Last month, Karapatan and the newly formed human rights watchdog, UPR Watch, told the media that they will tap the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to look into the matter and if possible, to help them reach the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and ask the pontiff to personally review the human rights situation in the Philippines. (Noel Sales Barcelona )(CBCPNews)

Native folk cries foul on army’s brutality

May 27, 2008

DAVAO CITY, May 26, 2008—A member of the Matigsalog tribe cried foul on what he called as the “injustices” he experienced in the hands of the military early this month.

Allan Causan, from the Matigsalog tribe said, he and his other six companions were held by military men in Purok 4, Barangay Mangayon, Compostela Valley, ComVal province. Four out of the six that were detained were children.

In a documented interview furnished to CBCPNews, Causan said he was on his way home on May 02 after a long day’s work in his farm when suddenly some elements of the army’s 28th Infantry Batallion (IB) held him for interview.

One soldier who identified himself as from the 28th IB collared Causan and asked the question, “Kabalo ba ka asa ang kampo sa NPA? (Do you know where the NPA camp is?).”

Trembling in fear, Causan begged to be freed for he knew nothing about the camps and operations of the New Peoples Army in their barangay.

But, the soldier was so furious and slapped Causan saying, “Bakakon gyud ka” (You’re a big liar). With that, he begged the soldiers not to hurt him but one soldier got a rope and tied his hands.

Another soldier, he said, walloped him from the back and as a result, his face hit the ground. “Nagkalapok-lapok akong nawong, Sir. Tapos, gibira napud ko sa usa ka sundalo (My face is soaked in mud. Then one soldier dragged me.)”

He added that one of those soldiers who hit him, even threatened to kill him, if he will continue to be silent and refuse to disclose information about the NPA.

“Giingnan nako ang mga sundalo Sir, sa tinood lang nga pagkasulti, wala man gyud ko ideya anang NPA. Mag-uuma ko ug ang ako lang nga mabuhi nako akong pamilya. Wala man koy kalabutan anang mga rebelde,” (I honestly told them (soldiers), Sir, I have no idea about the NPA. I am just a farmer and my concern is how to feed my family. I am in no way related to NPA),” said Causan.

Despite this, the uncompromising soldiers even continued to inflict severe pains on him. They invited Causan to go with them to a place where the soldiers referred to as “another investigation” but he refused.

The next thing was, his wife arrived hysterically and lambasted the soldiers after she saw her husband in agony. My wife asked the soldiers, he said, “Unsay gihimo ninyo sa akong asawa? (What did you do to my husband)?” While his children sobbed and trembled in fear.

Causan added that the soldiers only replied, “Gi-interview lang namo imong asawa misis, wala namo na gihilibtan. (We just interviewed your husband. We have done nothing.)”

Causan narrated that because of the arrival of his wife; the soldiers allowed him to rest and after almost two hours in their custody released him.

He added that the soldiers even offered two canned sardines for him, but he declined to accept.

Earlier, a military encounter broke in Compostela Valley and the lumads evacuated to the capitol to find shelter because of fear that they might be involved in the war.

Causan said the lumads appealed to the provincial government not to allow the military to enter the evacuation centers, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.

Instead, on that evening, six battalions of the military went to the evacuation sites and took the names and pictures of the evacuees. Some of them, he said, harassed the male evacuees and forced them to disclose information about the NPA.

That forced the evacuees to leave the evacuation center in Comval and went to Davao City .

“Nawala na ang among pagsalig ug kumpiyansa sa mga sundalo. Dati abi man gud namo mo-protekta sila sa amo, dili man diay kay mga dautan pud sila. (We lose our trust and confidence to the military. We thought before that they will protect us but now we see them as monsters),” he said.

“Mohangyo unta mi sa gobyerno nga dili mi nila apilon kay dili man unta mi mga rebelde. Mangayo pud unta mi tabang sa mga grupo nga adunay pagpakabana nga tabangan mi kay daghan kaayo pagpang-abuso nga ginahimo sa mga lumad sa kabukiran. (We appeal to the government not to include us in their encounter against the NPA because we are not rebels. We are also asking other concerned groups to help us because there are so many abuses perpetrated against the lumads),” Causan added.

To date, the Indigenous Peoples Apostolate (IPA) in the archdiocese of Davao is presently soliciting help for the evacuees.

The transcript of the interview of Causan is now in the safekeeping of IPA for documentation purposes. (Mark S Ventura)(CBCPNews)

BORACAY CASINO Malay officials give nod amid Church protest

May 26, 2008

By JUN ARIOLO N. AGUIRRE

BORACAY – This island resort is inching closer to having a casino. The Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Malay, Aklan endorsed the operation of a casino in the municipality.

Although the municipal council did not specify which part of Malay will the casino operate, it is believed that the move will pave the way for legalized gambling in Boracay, which is under the geopolitical jurisdiction of the town.

Councilor Rowen Aguirre, chairman of the SB Committee on Laws, said the casino proponent presented all the documents needed and these were all legal.

“We were told by the representatives of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) that they need our endorsement. We are only doing our job,” added Aguirre.

The SM member also said that with their endorsement, it is now up to PAGCOR to deal with the possible opposition of some sectors.

It was learned that a certain Base Game Corp. wants to operate a casino in this resort island.

Early this month, the Catholic Church reiterated its opposition to plans of having casinos in Boracay.

Sources at the Diocese of Kalibo disclosed that a PAGCOR representative visited the Kalibo Diocese adjacent to the Kalibo Cathedral to discuss the casino two weeks ago.

“The representative explained to us that they are looking for three possible resorts in Boracay interested in putting up a casino. But the Kalibo Diocese is still vigilant and we will oppose the operation of a casino in the resort island,” the source, who requested anonymity, said.

In the early 1990s, the Kalibo Diocese also led campaign rallies against PAGCOR’s proposal of putting up a casino in Boracay.

Then Jaime Cardinal Sin intervened and asked the state not to allow the establishment of the casino.

Several years after Cardinal Sin’s death, Boracay stakeholders also attempted to push for the operation of a casino but President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reportedly intervened.

“Now, they are back again to push for the casino. No matter what they do, we will still oppose all forms of gambling in Boracay,” said the source, a priest.

It was learned that Kalibo Bishop Jose Romeo Lazo is preparing a pastoral letter condemning the possible operation of casino in this resort island.

Sources said the casino operation will be free against the moratorium of construction issues in this resort island since three large resorts have already expressed its intent of running the casino operation in their respective establishments./PN

Christians, Muslims promote peace through “harmony chain”

May 26, 2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 25, 2008—Twenty Christians and Muslims from Mindanao recently pledged to promote peace in the region through sharing of faith and spirituality.

“The first experience in my commitment, the harmonious relationship of my mind and my heart make me a better person. Dialogue becomes an attitude, it helps me to establish harmonious relationships with others. Every day I am confronted on how to purify my thought, my interpretation,” said Aileen from Cotabato a participant.

Aileen and others who hailed from Antipolo, Basilan, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Cotabato, Davao, Ipil, Kabasalan, Zamboanga and Canada, gathered to share their experiences in the own areas on the journey proposed by initiative of prayer for peace, called Harmony Chain (HC), May 8.

The theme was “to link the link persons” to know Muslims and Christians, united by God and religious experiences.

The Silsilah Dialogue Movement in Mindanao started the HC initiative as a response to the declaration by the government of a “total war” against the Moro rebels in 2000.

The HC links people of every age, nation and religion—praying for and building peace. It is an inter-faith initiative of meditation and prayer for dialogue and peace. Because the people who hold hands together in prayer, with hearts burning for peace, are in different places in different time zones, the HC is a continuous prayer for peace, 24 hours a day.

It is a chain of friendship, freedom and respect—a chain of prayers to break the chain of violence, hatred, biases and fears. Besides the 36 localities in the Philippines (mostly in Mindanao) where the Harmony Prayer is already well known , there are small groups in 14 countries—Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand, USA and Vietnam—linked in prayer.

“Cry peace with your prayer and your life-in-dialogue” is the slogan of the HC.

“The recent development of the HC inspired us to gather in order to define better the role of the link persons, as animators, bridges between the members, to care for the spiritual growth of the committed members,” said Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, founding director of Silsilah.

The HC initiative is neither a movement nor an organization with a heavy structure. An attitude of volunteerism, of service, is a characteristic of the link person moved by their spiritual commitment made of faith and conviction. “We love peace, and we entrust our mission to God,” said D’Ambra.

Ms. Minda Saño, president of Silsilah, said that the development of the HC would reach out many people of many organizations and living faiths.

“Prayer is power, God’s power! It is important to achieve peace; it is a contribution to peace in Mindanao and in the world, transforming the lives of those who pray,” said Fr. Vincent, a resource person.

The HC links both Christians and Muslim by the same spirit and the will to spread the prayer and dialogue for peace in each own area, challenged by the commitment of each one to learn more and more how to bring peace with spirituality, said Fr. Vincent.

“We want to start from the spiritual values of each people and religion for a more sustainable peace,” according to Saño.

Where there is lack of faith in God, an absence of a spiritual dimension, there is also lack of comprehension and harmony. Tension, division, violence, conflict in the families, communities, friends, societies and nations will surely follow, Sano believes.

“Prayer for peace is good, but not enough! “The goal of peace on earth will come not without some personal pain. But the effort to make peace in our homes, in our personal relationships and at work, puts flesh and bones on our prayers for peace,” said Ms. Lilhy, a participant.

“To pray for peace is demanding and at the same time transforming our lives. If we are unwilling to work to help peace break out in our homes and lives, then why should we be surprised that our prayers for peace seem to go unheard by God? Lilhy asked.

The harmony prayer is an answer or prevention to a conflict. Reconciliation is necessary after a conflict to build peace. Let us not wait for war to think about peace. Accumulating offenses, hurts and unforgiveness will only escalate conflicts and accompanying terrible damages. Accumulating seeds of understanding, patience, attention to the needs of the others, sharing and solidarity will preserve peace in families, working places and communities, explained D’Ambra.

“HC is not only in the context of Christian-Muslim dialogue; it is also in the context of every intercultural and inter-religious dialogue. We need dialogue in the life of couples, families, communities (whether civil or religious), groups and movements, in a pluralistic society with many nationalities living together in our global village. Dialogue for better understanding is a present necessity of our world and peace of heart above all, peace in the family to avoid conflicts,” Aileen said. (Santosh Digal)(CBCPNews)

NFA, church ease up rice distribution

May 25, 2008

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:52:00 05/24/2008

CABANATUAN CITY, Philippines—To remedy the queue of residents buying government-subsidized rice, the National Food Authority in Nueva Ecija has started allocating more supply to families in the province.

Edelino Alejandro, NFA manager in Nueva Ecija, said his office has distributed allocation cards that entitle each family to buy up to seven kilograms of NFA rice twice weekly.

“Through this scheme, we are certain that we can ease the problem of many consumers here who go out early to join lines of buyers to buy two to three kg of rice in our outlets,” he said.

Alejandro said the system, which was implemented this week, would reduce the travel expense of buyers and time they were spending in line.

He said more than 1,000 allocation cards have been distributed to poor families in villages near the NFA warehouse in this city. The city welfare and development office provided the list of beneficiaries.

The cards have been “color coded” and could be used only on days specified there, he said.

Alejandro said other families not given allocation cards could buy their supply from several “Tindahan Natin” outlets in public markets, from several outlets authorized by the NFA and from three other NFA warehouses in the province.

The NFA sells rice at P18.25 a kilogram. The cheapest commercial rice is sold for P31 a kg.

Laguna

In Laguna, 14 more churches were expected to sell NFA rice to poor members of the community from the present nine parishes, according to a church worker last week.

Kelly Beltran of the San Pablo Diocesan Social Action Center told the Inquirer that nine parishes are selling rice at P18.50 per kilo under the Bigasan ng Parokya (BNP) program.

Beltran said the BNP rice project authorizes the parishes to dispose of at least 20 cavans of NFA rice every delivery schedule on a “consignment basis.”

Proceeds from the sale would be used for payment of the next batch of 20 cavans of rice, she explained.

Each poor family with six members and below is allowed to buy five kilos per selling schedule.

Buyers must be holders of a valid rice card pass (RCP) to be able to avail of the privilege with only one member of the family allowed to buy.

Relocation site

The nine parishes selling cheap NFA rice to poor families for months now include the St. Polycarp Parish in Cabuyao, particularly the Southville Relocation site, where four separate BNP centers are located.

This site is host of the Southville Housing Project, where around 10,000 families from demolished communities in Makati and Paco, Pandacan and Tondo, Manila are resettled.

Other parishes included in the program are St. John the Baptist Parish in Liliw; St. Magdalene in Magdalena town; St. Michael Archangel, Rizal town; St. Vincent Ferrer, Mamatid, Cabuyao; St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Calihan, San Pablo City; Nuestra Señora Del Remedios Parish, San Pablo City; San Antonio Parish, Kalayaan town; and San Sebastian Parish, Lumban.

Beltran said that among the 14 additional parishes expected to start selling cheap NFA rice were the San Pablo the First Hermit Cathedral Parish, San Pablo City; San Isidro Labrador Parish, Biñan town; and St. Gabriel Archangel Parish, San Pablo City. Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon; Romulo Ponte, Inquirer Southern Luzon

Lozada unfazed by move to cut out-of-town trips

May 24, 2008

NBN-ZTE star witness Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada yesterday said the Senate has told him to stop his out-of-town speaking trips, saying that it could no longer afford the expenses of providing security.

Lozada was unfazed. Told that there may have been Malacañang pressure to gag him, he said no amount of pressure or threats could force him to stop his crusade.

“Tuloy pa rin ang krusada at wala na itong atrasan,” he said.

The Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) which has taken Lozada under its protection was disappointed.

Sr. Estrella Castalone branded the order as a “way to scare off” potential witnesses from coming out in the open against corruption in the administration.

“What about the risks taken by Jun when he came out of the open? I don’t think this is the right decision. I don’t think money is the reason here, there’s something other than money here,” she said.

She said they had been repeatedly assured by Senate President Manuel Villar and Blue Ribbon chair Alan Peter Cayetano that money was no problem.

But she said that Lozada’s security detail complained they were having a hard time getting travel orders.

She said Senate officials told her on May 1 the Senate could only provide a four-man security detail.

Lozada originally had an eight-man security detail which was later cut to six, four of whom covered his out-of-town trips.

Castalone said if money was the problem, the ARMSP and other non-government organizations were more than willing to shoulder the expenses but said that what is at issue is not about the money but rather the truth.

“They are practically accomplices to the move to gag Lozada. Is Jun’s life worth only P2 million considering that what he told enabled the country to save P16 billion?” Castalone said. – Ashzel Hachero(Malaya)

KMP female worker arrested, detained in Oroquieta on rebellion raps

May 24, 2008

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews /May 23)- A female worker of the  militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Lanao del Norte turned up in a provincial jail in Oroquieta City in Misamis Occidental, five days after she was last seen forcibly dragged into a  waiting van.

Bernadith Dignos, 26, married, turned up in the Oroquieta prison after informants told other nongovernment organizations that she was jailed in Oroquieta.

Ramsey Llanos, a member of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, did not say who informed them but said they located Dignos in the Oroquieta prison, facing rebellion charges.

“It’s only today, May 23, that we were informed that Dignos is detained at the provincial jail of Oroquieta city,” he said.

“They illegally arrested Dignos and illegally detained her,” he added.

Dignos was nabbed on May 18 by three plainclothesmen suspected by Karapatan group as agents of the government. Witnesses siad that she was forcibly arrested at broad daylight, at around 11:00 am in front of Mr. Beefy Burger here.

Two witnesses described the van as orange-colored Isuzu Crosswind with plate number LDU 925.

Dignos was with her three friends that day for a medical check up at Dr. Uy Hospital of Iligan city for her pneumonia.

Dignos has been working as a peasant organizer in Lanao del Norte, dealing with landgrabbing problems.

Llanos said that the victim was “already tailed while inside the hospital.”

Llanos said several people witnessed the whole incident “because it happened at the heart of the city but no one dared to respond”.

Llanos said Dignos’ friends were still able to talk to her in her mobile phone hours after the incident “but they’d overhear a man dictating the victim on what to say.”

Dignos was able to call her parents also on that day where she informed them that “she was abducted and that she already met those military men who frequented in their house few months back looking for her and that they shouldn’t worry about her condition”.

At 6:00 pm on the same day, the victim called again her friend Jovelie Maniego and asked her to inform her husband. Maniego was one of two friends who accompanied her to the hospital,.

“Her friend told us that she also heard incoherent male voices which were heard instructing the victim on what to say,” Llanos said.

Thirty minuets later, one of the suspected abductors called up Maniego and asked Maniego to contact Dignos’ husband immediately. He refused to identify himself and informed them of their exact location.

Llanos and Dignos family have already sought legal assistance from lawyers.

Fr. Nazer Zaragoza, of the Social Action Center of the Iligan Catholic diocese and the co-chairperson of Movement for Truth, Justice and Peace has also assigned a monitoring on the condition of the victim “to protect her.” (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)

Ex-PNP chief now ‘jueteng operator,’ says Archbishop Cruz

May 23, 2008

OUTSPOKEN Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz alleged Wednesday that a retired Philippine National Police (PNP) director general is the operator of “jueteng,” an illegal numbers game, in the whole province of Pangasinan.

“Totoo ‘yan [That’s true],” Cruz told reporters at the weekly “No Holds Barred” forum of the National Press Club of the Philippines.

Cruz said the illegal operation translates to an estimated daily net earnings of P8 million to P9 million, or some P270 million a month.

Cruz, founder of the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng, did not identify the former PNP chief who retired years back.

The prelate said that jueteng is again rampant in the whole country, particularly in Northern, Central and Southern Luzon areas, and also in part in the Visayas; while “masiao,” another form of illegal numbers game, is more popular in Mindanao.

“It’s very, very rampant,” Cruz said, even as PNP Chief Director Gen. Avelino Razon had given him the assurance that the whole PNP is one with Krusada’s anti-gambling advocacy.

Asked why jueteng is unstoppable despite PNP’s support, Cruz explained that it is so because the equation now is different than it was several years ago.

“Before it was the police who acted as protector of jueteng and gave money to politicians. Now, it’s the politicians who are the protectors and give money to the police,” Cruz said. “Police authorities are afraid of the politicians.”

He added that the much ballyhoed “small town lottery” or STL, which the government-run Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office launched several years ago to stop the operations of jueteng in the provinces, is a paper tiger.

Cruz said that the majority of STL franchises are also owned by known jueteng lords in the provinces and likewise used the existing jueteng structure.

“There is one person, a jueteng lord, owning as many as 23 STL franchises listed in different corporate names,” Cruz said.

The influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had come up with strong collective statement two years ago against STL.

“This is an urgent and ardent plea addressed to our government officials from the local to the national level. It is also a straight and strong appeal to private individuals and corporate entities involved in the same serious moral issue with socio-political undertones,” CBCP President and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said in behalf of the CBCP.

The STL, according to the CBCP, is no doubt the “legal cover-up for the illegal numbers of game of jueteng,” which simply worsened the problem of gambling because the operation of jueteng now goes side-by-side with STL with the same operators and collectors and the same poor victims twice exploited.

“STL and jueteng together is legal and illegal gambling combined. They are a dangerous and insidious pairing,” it pointed out, adding that as a result, the poor people become poorer while the gambling operators and payola recipients become twice enriched.

Likewise, the CBCP, in a pastoral statement dated March 10,2003, bluntly stated that gambling is a moral and social cancer. It also said that gambling in the country has become an insidious subculture of pervasive corruption.

It was followed by a collective policy last year, wherein the CBCP has directed Church personnel and Church institutions to refrain from soliciting or receiving funds from illegal and legal gambling so as not to promote a culture of gambling.

“Gambling that is organized, widespread and systemic, whether legal or illegal, is not desirable. It creates a culture that seriously erodes the moral values of our people,” the CBCP further said in its collective policy.
– William B. Depasupil (ManilaTimes)

Military tags churchmen as NPA members

May 22, 2008

BAGUIO CITY (May 12) — Even the church is not safe from the recent military occupation at the tri-boundary of Abra, Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur provinces.

In a press conference of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance at the Cordillera Peoples Alliance office, two churchmen professed they were allegedly tagged by the military as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

During the military operation at the tri-boundary, Deacon Pedro Dungoc from Pananuman, Tubo, Abra and Father Mario Oplawan from Lamag, Quirino, Ilocos Sur said military men were telling the villagers that they are members of the NPA and that they have guns hidden in the church.

“While I was away, the military entered the church without any permission searching for weapons,” Oplawan said.

According to Oplawan, the military was making stories to cause fear on the people and to make the people mad at the church. The military were allegedly telling the people of Lamag that he (Oplawan) and his sakristan (assistant) are members of the NPA.

Oplawan denied being a member of the NPA and maintained he does not have any weapons such as a gun. He said, “The church is against the use of bombs and guns.”

“The military allegedly found a gun among my personal things,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dungoc was interrogated by the military during the military operation in Pananuman. The military asked him questions such as “where does the fund of the church come from” and “what is the orientation of the church.”

According to Dungoc, the military was trying to tell him that he should admit that he is a member of the NPA.

“They intimidate us by visiting us everyday. They threaten us by telling that we are members of NPA,” Dungoc added.

Several activities by the church were disrupted during the military operation in the said places. One project such as the fish pond for the community was about to be finished when the military came and built there camp in the same place according to Dungoc.

“They do not respect even the church. They came without any notice or permission by the villagers and then they tag us as NPAs,” Dungoc added.

Since the military pulled out its troops last April, Pananuman is still recovering from the severe damage of their crops. Several human rights violations such as forced entry into the villagers’ houses, threats to their lives, aerial bombings over the agricultural fields and stealing of agricultural animals were recorded by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Monitor. # John Eric B. Escalante for NORDIS

Capital punishment is not the answer—bishops

May 20, 2008

MANILA, May 20, 2008—It was a call that caught the Roman Catholic Church’s serious concern.

Administration Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri’s proposal to revive the death penalty in the wake of Friday’s bloody bank robbery in Laguna got off to a rough start.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, as expected, is not impressed with the lawmaker’s proposal and instead ignited strong reactions.

The bishops said the death penalty feeds frenzy for revenge, which neither ennobles the victims of crimes nor solve the country’s problem with criminality.

The CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, headed by Bishop Pedro Arigo, is the vanguard of the opposition to death penalty in nearly all cases, and prelates have been equally vocal about the subject.

Within the boundaries of Arigo’s Commission lies the promotion of the total development of the members of the prison society often regarded as undeserving of concern protection.

The bishop too has been involved in a whirlwind of vigils and community meetings seeking for the abolition of the capital punishment.

Arigo said that the death penalty is nothing but a “cosmetic solution” that will give “an illusion that we are doing something about crime.”

He said the killing in Laguna that prompted Zubiri to call for the restoration of death penalty is condemnable.

However, he also said, the killing of the convicts will not really address the root as well as the immediate cause of crime.

“It is an easy way out addressing the complex and pervasive problems of criminality. Killing people is never the answer,” he said.

“We appeal to Senator Zubiri to stop giving us false hopes that we will be safe and secure by putting people to death,” Arigo added.

CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life chairman Archbishop Paciano Aniceto said the revival of the capital punishment is nothing but “a step backward” for a country already “progressing.”

“Death penalty is not a solution. There are many detainees in the maximum security facility, including those facing the death penalty, but we still do not see improvements in our society,” he said over Church-run Radio Veritas.

“One solution lay with the family, with the emphasis on the value and the sacredness of life among its members,” said Aniceto.

The Pampanga archbishop also reiterated the Church’s position that only God can take away what he gave to man via a natural death.

At least 10 persons were killed when still unidentified men robbed the Rizal Commercial Bank Corporation in Cabuyao, Laguna Friday morning.

The incident immediately drew condemnation from various Church and government officials with Zubiri calling for the revival of the death penalty law.

Two days after, eight people, including five children died after gunmen opened fire at four homes in Calamba, Laguna.

San Pablo (Laguna) Bishop Leo Drona described the incidents as the work of criminals “worse than animals.”

Drona called on the authorities to speed up its investigation and ensure justice is committed for the victims and their families.

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad echoed the same sentiment, saying that the immediate resolution of the case if the best remedy.

Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, for his part, tagged the Zubiri’s proposal as “anti-life and anti-love.”

The death penalty law was last abolished on June 24, 2006 by President Arroyo to serve as her gift to Pope Benedict XVI, whom she was to visit the very next day.

It was on June 24, 2006 when President Gloria Arroyo signed in a law abolishing the death penalty.

As a result the sentences of the 1,200 inmates on death row were commuted to life imprisonment. (Roy Lagarde) (CBCPNews)

Church addresses concerns of Mindanao nomads

May 20, 2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 20, 2008—The Catholic Church in Mindanao has been spearheading concerted efforts to provide pastoral care to nomads.

“SAMA-Bajau” is a name tagged to a group considered the poorest among the poor tribes known especially in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga Peninsula.

The third National Assembly for the Pastoral Care of Nomads and Bajaus in the Philippines was held at Samal-Bajau to address pastoral issues surrounding these tribes, April 4-6.

Through the contact of Fr. Renato Rosso, a missionary in Mindanao, with the nomads of the region since 2004, Church’s pastoral concern for nomads was initiated. Since then, about 20 people work with the Samal-Bajaus in Isabela City, Maluso, Siasi, Jolo, Bongao, Pagadian, General Santos, and Zamboanga since 2005.

To address issues and concerns of the nomads, a coordinating body has been formed comprising of Bishop Angelito R. Lampon, OMI, of Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo as President; Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF, Prefect of Apostolate Claretian Missionaries, Zamboanga as Vice President; Fr. Dennis G. Tamayo, CMF, Project-In-Charge, Claret Samal Foundation, Inc., Townsite, Maluso, Basilan Province as Secretary; and Sr. Norma N. Capampangan, FMM, and Sr. Julie Calumpang, FMM, Notre Dame of Siasi as Treasurer.

It is overwhelming to note that many church leaders, lay people and others are showing greater interest to initiate and facilitate efforts to take care of nomads pastorally, said Rosso.

Many others have also extended their support for the cause of nomads including 30 concerned partners coming from Claret Samal Foundation, Inc., Community Extension Services of Notre Dame of Jolo College, Asia Foundation, Catholic Relief Services, Asisi Foundation, Peace Advocates Zamboanga, Lumah Ma Dilaut: Center for Living Traditions, National Commission on Indigenous People-Region IX, ARMM, Notre Dame of Mapun, Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo, Maluso Bajau People’s Organization, National Sama Badjao Movement, and Sama Bajau Tribal Group.

In the past, documentation of the Samal-Bajau cultural elements and comprehensive program for the welfare of the nomads were established.

In addition, a Comprehensive Problem Analysis and Programming was intended to serve as a baseline data for the third Assembly and meant to improve the programs and efforts of the organizations committed to address the plight of the Samal-Bajaus.

During the meeting, participants discussed to come up with a document on the recent Bajau cultural condition in the southern Philippines.

The most significant output of the gathering was to achieve a draft of the Assembly’s vision, which will strengthen the unity and deepen the pastoral commitment for nomads. (Santosh Digal) (CBCPNews)

Catholic school head asks justice on killing of Datu

May 17, 2008

THE president of the Assumption College of Davao pressed local authorities to hasten the investigation on the strafing incident that killed a tribal chieftain and wounded his wife and two daughters in Sitio Kahusayan, Barangay Manuel Guianga last April 29.
An article on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines website (cbcponline.net) posted on May 13 stated it has been two weeks since K’lata-Bagobo chief, Datu Dominador Diarog, was killed. “We appeal to the city government for a speedy investigation so that justice will soon be served,” the article quoted Sr. Marietta Banayo of the Missionaries of the Assumption as saying.Banayo said the killing of an innocent tribal chieftain “deserves condemnation as it blatantly shows disrespect to the indigenous peoples’ culture.”
She added the government should be sensitive with the issue since it also affects the peaceful existence of the indigenous communities in the city.”It is sad to note that sometimes justice is being compromised in favor of the mighty while the least of our citizens who were victims still suffer,” Banayo said.Police investigators are looking into the land dispute as the possible motive into the killing. Diarog’s family members and relatives, however, placed the blame on the expansion of the Prayer Mountain of Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy.
The slain tribal chief’s two-hectare property sits at the boundary of barangays Manuel Guianga and Tamayong, where the Prayer Mountain is located.
Earlier, the victim’s widow, Emily Diarog, said Tamayong barangay chief Gregorio Canada has been offering them money to sell their land to Quiboloy, the last time was in March when the barangay official attempted to give them P50,000 in exchange for their land.
Quiboloy has denied the allegations.
“We do not wish to dignify the initial reports linking our congregation to the unfortunate incident that happened in a nearby barangay adjacent to the covenant mountain and prayer center in Tamayong,” Quiboloy said.”We strongly deny these as totally false and baseless, if not ridiculous,” the pastor added.Meanwhile, Banayo said it is imperative for the local government to come up with a proper and impartial investigation. “We trust in God that in due time the truth shall come out,” Banayo said, who also asked the people to pray for justice for the Diarog family. (MindanaoTimes)

Right to Information

May 17, 2008

Fr. Roy Cimagala

HANDLING DATA and information has its proper requirements and ways that all of us have to learn. Considering both the level and pace of our development now, this responsibility acquires even greater urgency.

Let’s not be casual about this business because it truly is a serious responsibility. We cannot afford to be tepid, confusing it with being open, because what is needed is a clear and strong commitment to the common good.

We cannot be naïve in thinking that the field is always safe. There are many crooks around, and let’s never forget the real existence of the devil who can cleverly take advantage of our weaknesses to advance his agenda.

We have to be forever vigilant, always checking the different elements involved in handling information. The field is more of a seascape ever dynamic and fluid, with different currents. We need to learn how to navigate it properly.

Let’s first quote what the Catechism says about this duty. It’s a good starting point for our discussion, giving us some guiding criteria.

In point no. 2494, we read: “Society has the right to information based on truth, freedom, justice and solidarity. The proper exercise of this right demands that the content of the communication be true and—within the limits set by justice and charity—complete.”

It continues: “This means that in the gathering and in the publication of news, the moral law and the legitimate rights and dignity of man should be upheld.”

As we can readily see, handling information requires a number of considerations that have to be deftly integrated so that what comes out in the papers and in the broadcast really suits our dignity.

Both the media people and the media audience are not mere objects, much less, animals that can just be handled without care for understanding and compassion. We are persons, and more importantly, we are children of God, even if sometimes, nay, many times, we do not behave as such.

We have to be wary of that subtle but dangerous attitude consisting of thinking that to be fair and objective, we in the media should just be open and simply report the event. We are just reflectors, not light givers.

That’s not quite correct. We reflect things, indeed, and we have to reflect them with objectivity and fairness. But we also affect and effect things. We in the media figure prominently in at least creating the temper of our public opinion.

While openness, fairness and objectivity are always good values to uphold and defend, they easily get abused and are prone to our predatory tendencies for sensationalism, shallow, knee-jerk reactions, reckless inanities if they are not clearly grounded on charity, goodness, understanding, compassion, etc.

There has to be a strong commitment to the common good, a commitment that has to be revved up everyday, renewing and whetting our eagerness to do good and to serve others properly, without ever playing on their vulnerabilities.

Alas, in many instances these guiding principles are violated. And even with flaunting impunity!

In some radio talk shows these days, for example, even the basic laws of logic and good manners are abandoned. One wonders if we are still in the stone age.

We always have freedom of expression, but that is never meant to be a cover for malice or an excuse for irresponsible commentaries. Name-calling and other vicious “ad hominem” arguments are aplenty. Exaggerated and often unfounded claims are made.

Foul words are often used. Wild innuendoes are sounded off. Again one wonders if these commentators have passed basic psychological tests. They seem to spew only venom into the airwaves. And no one seems to call their attention.

Of course, they can enjoy a big following, often composed of a silent, passive and hidden gallery, just like those who secretly read and watch pornography. This is actually a problem and a challenge to our leaders.

We have to teach media users to be vigilant and discerning consumers. We have to learn to discuss issues civilly, using reason rather than emotions. We can disagree, and even with forcefulness, but always within the ambit of charity and genuine, dispassionate search for truth and justice.

(ThePalawanTimes)

Directional drilling at Kanlaon ‘unrealistic’

May 17, 2008

THE proposal for an oil company to only conduct directional drilling at the buffer zone of the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park (MKNP) for geothermal exploration is unrealistic.

Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra’s proposal for the Philippine National Oil Company-Energy Development Corporation (PNOC-EDC) for a directional drilling according to PNOC-EDC’s Rei Medrano is impossible.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

“Unlike in oil exploration, directional drilling might melt all the wells to be used during the process of earth steam because it’s so hot…very hot.”

Medrano, the company’s manager for its Corporate Social Responsibility Department, explained that based on the advised of expert geologists here and abroad, directional drilling is not feasible on geothermal exploration.

Navarra, however, was reportedly banking on the earlier presentation of Agnes de Jesus, PNOC-EDC’s senior vice president, who vowed to look into the feasibility of the directional drilling.

But after three months of research and consultation, De Jesus was convinced by the company’s experts that directional drilling won’t work for Mt. Kanlaon.

Under this proposal, PNOC-EDC will be allowed to explore geothermal sources at their present North Negros Geothermal Power Plant (NNGPP) in Mailum, Bago.

At the same time, the oil company will look for rigs as sort of connections within the 169 hectares buffer zone.

This way, there will be no more harm to Kanlaon’s flora and fauna.

But Medrano assured the bishop that only .01 percent of the 169-hectares buffer zone will be utilized for a 30-megawatt (MW) geothermal exploration.

As per the company’s plan, it will explore only about 12.52 hectares of the buffer zone and not 29 hectares as earlier proposed.

Project cost is P300 million.

It aims to produce about 30 MWs geothermal power to augment the present six MWs production capability of the company in Mailum.

It could also arrest the projected power shortage in Negros and Bacolod soon.

“Bishop Navarra, among other environmentalists in Negros, should not worry about our commitment to take care of the MKNP as we start drilling at the buffer zone,” Medrano said.

“We’re serious and transparent in all our undertakings, especially when it comes to environmental programs like what we’re doing at Mt. Apo where we also have the same geothermal project.”

At Mt. Apo, Medrano said that of the 70 hectares protected area they explored, about 500 hectares were devoted to reforestation.

“We also have an ultimate goal that every time we plant trees, we want to make these trees be the mother trees in the forest in the next future.” (SunStarBacolod)

Bishop to bishops: Fight hard vs. corruption

May 17, 2008

MANILA, May 16, 2008—For active Roman Catholic bishops, a piece of advice from a retired fellow.

Vicar Apostolic-emeritus of Bontoc-Lagawe Francisco Claver said the Catholic church should do more to fight corruption and push economies that put people’s needs ahead of selfish gains.

Claver said the gains of democracy could easily be wiped out if the Church with the help of the civil society will not renew their resolve to fight the ogre of corruption especially in the government.

It is a fact, he said, that poor people are getting poorer because of corruption and the country wasted opportunities for growth because of it.

“The Church could do something just to stop corruption, so that these money of corruption could go to the poor for the development of all,” Claver told CBCPNews.

The 79-year old prelate said it’s sad that corruption in the country is still prevalent despite Church’s never-ending teachings about morality in public governance.

He said corruption has increased due to public cynicism, so greater and wide efforts are needed to foil, monitor and prosecute corruption.

“It’s sad to say that corruption here last years and years and nothing is being done even though the bishops are teaching painstakingly the authentic Christian love that people must do,” Claver said.

So Claver said the bishops still has to make stronger stand against corruption, adding that it has very detrimental effects on the country’s poor people.

He stressed such problem is a moral issue that bishops must address and they must take a stronger stand on what’s going on in the government.

Claver said the Church should not only give guidance but also provide leadership so that people will be properly guided.

In its earlier statement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines lamented that corruption has become a “pervading cancer” that has spread “from top to bottom of society and government.”

“As we evaluate them, the people at the top are the corruptors and it seems that nothing could stop them,” Claver said.

The matter, he said, must serve as a challenge to all and not just by entirely relying it to the Church people.

Claver said the real motivation to fight corruption has to come from all of us.

He also said such problem has become so ingrained that the fainthearted cannot imagine that the problem can be eradicated or even contained.

That precisely, is according to Claver, why the fight has to be systematic and persistent to flush out the masters of pay-offs and crooked officials blocking economy growth.

“Let us talk about how to correct this… talk about the basic of everything and about the basic of everything and about to practice without corruption. It has to be done! We can do something about this issue,” Claver stressed. (CBCPNews)

RP should be a model of justice, says Sorsogon Bishop

May 17, 2008

MANILA, May 16, 2008―The Philippines, being a Christian country should be a model of justice, in that every individual is accorded what is due him or her by right, said Sorsogon Bishop Arturo M. Bastes, SVD.

“Our Christian country should be a model of justice as taught to us by the prophets. The fundamental element of justice is that it gives every person his/her due and what belongs to him/her by right,” said Bastes in a statement.

Bastes, who is also chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Biblical Apostolate of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Philippine Bible Society (PBS) said he is dismayed to see so many Filipinos suffer injustices and deprived of their basic rights as human beings.

“Sad to say, there is a glaring state of injustice in our nation where so many Filipinos remain oppressed, marginalized, destitute and deprived of their rights as human beings who are equal in dignity as children of God,” said Bastes.

The prelate surmised that the cause of rampant injustices in the country is the gap that exists between faith and praxis.

“Perhaps it can be said that the cause of injustice in our land could be the way we practice religion, which is not profound enough, not touching our hearts, consisting only in the observance of external rites,” the prelate said.

This is what prophets of the Old Testament and Jesus Christ precisely condemn. “God what’s us to do if we have true faith in Him manifested by a genuine practice of religion. Only if we fulfill what God requires of us, can we eliminate injustice in our midst,” he said.

Injustice, a situation where human persons are not given what is due to them, causes division, conflicts and even fratricide. The insurgency that has been going in the Philippines for 38 years, the deep political rupture and the pervading economic inequality are among the signs that the country is in a situation of injustice, said Bastes.

“We have been longing for peace, the biblical ‘shalom’, which does not mean only the absence of war or trouble but the enjoyment of all what is good, a foreshadowing of the dawning of God’s kingdom. But peace cannot take place unless we are fully reconciled to God and to all our brothers and sisters,” he said.

For the Philippines to achieve peace, the elusive dream of the land, all Filipinos must learn how to reconcile with each other, forgiving one another from their hearts just as God does.

“But full reconciliation will take place only when we do what God requires us: to do what is right, to show constant love and to walk humbly with Him. May Mary, ‘the mirror of justice,’ intercede for us so that our country will finally enjoy the peace of all Gods’ children,” Bastes concluded. (CBCPNews)

Editorial Cartoon: The Youth and the Young

May 16, 2008

Honorary Youth

Youth groups support Abp. Cruz, lambast move to “silence”government’s number one critic

May 16, 2008

MANILA, May 14, 2008—Militant youth alliance, Youth for Accountability and Truth Now! (YOUTH ACT NOW!) condemns the arrest order issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court against Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz, D.D. for the “resurrected” libel case which 20 female employees of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) filed against the prelate in 2004.

Alvin Peters, spokesperson of YOUTH ACT NOW!, told CBCPNews that the pending arrest of the good archbishop is yet another dirty tactics of the Macapagal-Arroyo government to silence its critics.

“We are yet again disgusted at how this administration sinks to the lowest of the low just to silence its critics. Bishop Cruz is a role model of youth and students and we admire him for standing up to his convictions despite political harassment,” said Peters.

“If they dare arrest the good bishop, they’ll be up against youth and students. Bishop Cruz once said in a gathering that he decided to break his silence in order to inspire and propel the youth into collective action for truth, accountability and social change. He has likewise always had the youth’s support,” he added.

On the other hand, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the oldest and prestigious organization of college and university publications in the Philippines also announced their support for Archbishop Cruz.

“The case is just another harassment against those people who expose the rottenness of this government,” explains CEGP spokesperson Vijae Alquizola.

He compared the present libel case against the prelate with the 2006 “libel case filing spree” made by the First Gentlemen, Atty. Juan Miguel Arroyo against 26 journalists from different mainstream publications.

“This case is another clear attack on freedom of expression. Like the other 45 libel cases, FG Mike Arroyo is once again involved. Where in the world can you find no less than the DOJ assaulting the rights of an elderly and respectable bishop just because he managed to annoy some very influential people? Only in the Philippines,” Alquizola said.

He also said that they cannot simply allow the likes of Arroyos and Gonzalezes to go on freely brandishing out libel cases against known critics of the government with neither rhyme nor reason.

The groups said that they will push for the decriminalization of libel so that it cannot be used by the authorities as a tool against its critics.

Meanwhile, YOUTH ACT NOW! committed to support Archbishop Cruz if he so decides to file a libel case against DOJ Sec. Raul Gonzalez.

“He should be given a taste of his own medicine,” ends Peters. (CBCPNews)

More youth leaders behind Archbishop Cruz

May 16, 2008

OZAMIZ CITY, May 15, 2008—Various youth groups from the Archdiocese of Ozamis and the Dioceses of Pagadian and Iligan expressed their full support for Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz now facing libel charges at a local court in Manila.

They described the recent action of the Department of Justice as one of the dirty tricks of the Arroyo administration to silence its foremost critic from the Catholic church.

Nena Porol, Archdiocese of Ozamis’ Bible Youth Facilitator from the Paul VI Biblical Center said they are all behind the prelate in his continued criticism of the administration.

“The resurrection of libel case by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez against Archbishop Cruz is clearly an outcome of being number one critic of the current administration,” Porol said in an interview with CBCPNews.

She added the Archbishop had no intention to offend the 20 female employees of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation when the he referred to them as if working as Guest Relations Officers (GROs) in a birthday party of the First Gentleman, Atty. Jose Miguel T. Arroyo. “There was no malicious intent because the prelate didn’t call them prostitutes,” she added.

On the other hand, Diocese of Illigan Bible Youth Coordinator Julius Mirafuentes said the usual practice nowadays in the government is to create problems in order to cover up the real issues.

He further added that the revival of libel case is to instill fear among known Arroyo critics.

“As youth leader in our local church, we strongly condemn such uncalled for scheme of Arroyo’s Government,” Mirafuentes explained.

Meanwhile, Diocese of Pagadian Parish Youth coordinator Albin Jim Genon told to CBCPNews that Archbishop Cruz is an inspiration to the youth in fighting against immorality but libel case is the weapon of certain government officials to silence its critics. (CBCPNews)

Court orders arrest of bishop

May 14, 2008

THE Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Tuesday issued a warrant of arrest against former Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz.

Bishop Cruz was charged with libel by a group of lady employees of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) whom he said became “pitiful GROs (guest relation officers)” during the 2004 birthday celebration of First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo.

Judge Antonio Rosales of the Manila RTC Branch 52 issued the arrest warrant even after it granted the motion of Cruz’s lawyer, Estelito Mendoza, to post bail last May 9 to satisfy procedural requirements.

The court set the bail at P10,000 for the temporary liberty of Cruz, a known critic of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The prosecution did not oppose the court’s ruling.

Mendoza filed a motion before the trial court to allow Cruz to post bail on April 28.

The libel case stemmed from the April 14 decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) reviving the four-year-old libel case lodged by 17 female Pagcor employees who were vexed by Cruz’s column that came out in a daily broadsheet.

In the assailed column of the prelate, Cruz said the Pagcor employees were allegedly forced to look and act like “pitiful GROs” to entertain the presidential spouse and his friends during his June 27, 2004 birthday.

The DOJ decision, penned by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr., reversed on review an initial finding of prosecutors that dismissed the libel complaint filed by the Pagcor employees and three others working under the Office of the First Gentleman. They felt alluded to in Cruz’s article and which were circulated and came out in Malaya and other broadsheets and tabloids.

Gonzalez said that Cruz “acted with reckless disregard” of whether the report was true as he did not conduct an inquiry into the veracity of the information he received.

He said under contemporary cultural standards, the word GRO has become synonymous and used sparingly or alternately with the words “hostess, bar girl and prostitutes.”

“That the word ‘pitiful’ was added thereto did not in anyway remove the defamatory character that the term ‘GRO’ connotes,” the DOJ resolution stated.

Even assuming that respondent Cruz has good motives and justifiable ends in causing the publication of article, it does not mean that it is not actionable since it is but a matter of defense, Gonzalez said.

The DOJ further said the unnecessary publicity that the event garnered in circulating and publishing the story to media practitioners covering the church beat, “destroyed whatever good faith and good motives or justifiable ends the respondent had.”

Records showed that on June 28, 2004, complainants alleged that Cruz wrote an article entitled “Sad and Saddening,” copies of which were transmitted to the media by telefax.

In the said article, Cruz claimed that the state-run gaming corporation exploited its women employees officially detailed as marketing assistants by assigning them as usherettes during the birthday celebration of the First Gentleman in Malacañang at midnight on June 27, 2004.

Cruz said the women employees, chosen for their physical attributes and winning personalities, were made to dress exceptionally well, courtesy of Pagcor, and were told not to wear wedding rings, if any, and jewelries. (SunStar)

Transport strikers are caught between two forces, says Cagayan de Oro Prelate

May 13, 2008

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, May 13, 2008—Cagayan de Oro archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, said that public utility drivers are caught between two forces: the rising cost of petroleum products and the equally soaring price of basic commodities, especially rice.

The local Solidarity of Transport Alliance of Region X (STAREX), a transport group in this city and cause-oriented groups including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and various sectoral groups led the transport strike to oppose the unabated increase in petroleum prices.

Among the demands was for the Senate to scrap the controversial oil deregulation law and the nationalization of local oil industry.

While clamoring for 25% wage increase, the strikers also called for the immediate ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In an interviewed with CBCPNews, Archbishop Ledesma said the drivers are simply exercising their right to protest and seek redress of grievances.

“Government officials should confront the issues on the increase in prices of petroleum products and prime commodities and with this I would like to sympathize with them,” the prelate said.

“Dili kaayo mi caught sa rice kai ang bugas masulbad ra samtang ang problema sa oil lisud kay kani nakatapat sa oil deregulation law,” (We are not that caught with the rice problem since it can be resolved, while the oil increase is a difficult crusade since it is associated with the oil deregulation law.) said Amando Naul, Secretary General of STAREX.

Public transportation in Cagayan de Oro City was paralyzed by 97% in the city-wide mass action that began at 4:00 A.M. until 3:00 P.M. Monday.

Naul said his group expects to talk with Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma to discuss the issues affecting them and the community.

(CBCPNews)

Revitalized youth participation in renewal movement seen

May 13, 2008

BINMALEY, Pangasinan, May 13, 2008—Concerned over the decline of youth involvement in Catholic renewal movements, Fr. Anthony B. Layog, Archdiocese of Lingayen–Dagupan Charismatic Movements (ALD-CM) Spiritual Director, hopes to implement a comprehensive plan to assure a more aggressive participation from the young.

In a recent interview, Fr. Layog said the number of younger Catholics in the renewal movements have decreased due to the proliferation of other forms of youth-oriented activities outside the parish church.

“The generation today is easily lured by other forms of activities outside the church and this is quite alarming,” Fr. Layog emphasized.

He said their attendance in prayer meetings has been affected by the existence of several trans-parochial youth groups and other religious congregations outside the realm of the Catholic Church.

Layog noted the Church should do its share to keep the young from joining other denominations because without proper catechesis, they become easy prey to preachers.

“There are many youth organizations in our parishes and it will be a great idea to get them together in weekly gatherings,” he said.

Hoping to bring together the renewal movements from the four vicariates of the archdiocese for a combined weekly prayer meeting, Layog and the respective representatives of parish-based charismatic communities have established a Archdiocesan Service Committee (ASC) presided by Bro. Sonny V. Espinoza, head servant of Cristo Divino Tesoro BEC Charismatic Community, in Calasiao.

The ASC aims to address the issues and concerns that the various renewal movements in the archdiocese and come up with timely solutions.

He said while they are appreciative of the contributions of the more senior parishioners of the archdiocese, they have to be complemented by the youth.

To prepare the ASC, its ministries will undergo a Formation Seminar to be able deal positively with concerns that surround the renewal movement especially among youth. “Of course, I’d like to see the youth contribute to this activity,” Layog concluded.

The six ministries of the ASC are Worship, Social Action & Services, Temporalities, Education, Youth, and Music.

(CBCPNews)

Archbishop Dosado reiterates church position against Freemasonry

May 13, 2008

OZAMIZ CITY, May 13, 2008—The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Ozamis, Archbishop Jesus A. Dosado, CM reiterated the church’s position against Catholics joining the Freemasonry.

“This position is not new but Catholic Church since time immemorial had stood pat against Freemasonry in spite of the fact that some good members of the flock were misled,” the prelate said.

Catholics who joined Masonic lodge must be disciplined by local ordinary and a just punishment is to be meted out. These punishments may not allow to the Catholic who joined Freemasonry to receive Holy Communion nor stand sponsor in baptism, confirmation and wedding.

“He may not be admitted as member to any organization under the banner of the Catholic Church,” the prelate said.

He added “in case of death, he will not be accorded Catholic funeral rites nor be allowed interment in a Catholic cemetery.”

The local ordinary explained during Holy Communion if anyone admits before him that he has joined Freemasonry he will deny him communion.

Meanwhile, Catholic Faith Defender National Vice President for Internal Affairs Bro. Cleb Calimotan, in an interview with CBCPNews said the position of the Archbishop against Freemasonry is consistent with the statement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The statement stressed Church’s negative judgment in regard to Masonic associations remains unchanged since their principle have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrines of the Church and “as such membership in them remain forbidden.”

The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion, says the statement.

In a separate interview CFD National Treasurer and Chairman on Education Committee Bro. Adolfo Amper said there is an escalating confusion regarding Freemasonry among Catholics. “Many joined Freemasonry for the sake of camaraderie and status symbol.” Amper noted.

“Catholics who belong to a Masonic lodge are not ipso facto (automatically) excommunicated from the Church. But if, knowing the prohibition against joining a Masonic lodge, they nevertheless persist in retaining active Masonic membership they should not receive the Sacraments from the Church” Amper concluded.

(CBCPNews)


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