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Souls of prayer

Stop the killings! End impunity! Human rights for all!

Overcoming the 'tambay' lifestyle

EJK and human rights

Cultivating a sense of media responsibility

Time for US to step aside and let the Philippines give peace a chance

When religion is abused

Loving the cross is genuine sign of hope

Pinoy in Rome: At the Door of the Jubilee Year of Mercy (IV)

Outgoing regime, unaddressed violations

 

MATA-Samar

 

 

 

Ghosts? Spirits? Demons

By LANCE PATRICK ENAD*
October 31, 2017

Amidst the prevailing existentialist view of life and the moral-therapeutic deist views of religion, which even those who go to church every Sunday are guilty of, it is good to note that there are those who experience phenomena that are seemingly unexplainable by science.

These experiences could be beautiful, indifferent, and several times fearsome. This write-up does not intend to scientifically disprove the existence of what we call “demonic forces” (for he would most likely flunk science subjects) or to philosophically prove the existence of these forces (as the author has not yet attained sufficient philosophical awesomeness to do so). This write-up intends to spill some useful knowledge about such fearsome phenomena and perhaps to give practical guidelines on how to deal with them, well, if you must know, some catholic guidelines on how to deal with these.

Whether we believe it or neglect it, evil does exist. This could be interpreted to morally evil things, figurative evil, or the existence of demonic forces that influence our world (I hope I don’t sound like a character from the Harry Potter franchise) in the most discreet to the most unexplainable ways. I would limit myself to the topic of demonic forces.

It is important to distinguish that unexplainable occurrences can be classified into two: supernatural, those things or happenings that are beyond the laws of nature, and preternatural, those that are beyond what is normal (not necessarily the laws of nature). Supernatural would be those things we consider as miracles and are coming from forces that are not within the bracket of natural law and preternatural would be those things that are seemingly not normal but are not necessarily outside natural law.

Filipino tradition would tell us that there are spirits that reside in nature or in houses or in regular things. These spirits, could be good, could be evil, or could be temperamental. There are also beliefs that these spirits are the souls of our loved ones or are “earth-bound spirits.”

While the author does not wish to impose catholic doctrine, as a reference, the Catholic Church teaches that the souls of the dead, after death, proceed immediately to judgment and to heaven or hell (or purgatory for those who have a little bit of prelude before heaven) and cannot remain here on earth. The spirits, therefore, that are considered “earthbound souls” or the spirits of the dead are not what we believe them to be.

Furthermore, there are spirits that are invisible to us, namely, the angels. These Angels, like us have free will, however, they have no physical bodies. These heavenly spirits have greater knowledge and intelligence compared to us. They were created to minister to God and to carry out the orders of God.

On account of their great knowledge and intelligence, they cannot afford repentance after they have committed even a single sin. If they have committed a sin, they are expelled from heaven and are therefore fallen angels, angels that are eternally damned. Fallen Angels, although, good in their former state, because of their incapability of repentance after sin, are no longer capable of doing good. Hence, those seemingly good or temperamental spirits that reside in nature or in our homes or in our neighbors are not what they are believed to be. To put it bluntly, are fallen angels, demons.

It could be asked why is it that demons are in our world when they are in hell. Well, heaven and hell are states and supernatural places not physical places. It is a state of the being. The demons then are carrying hell with themselves as the turtle carries its shell.

In this sense, the spirits then that could be residing in our neighbor’s house, in our backyard tree, or in our basements, the “nuno sa punso”, or the “white lady” next door, are no other than the demonic spirits that are hostile and are bent on harming us, whether spiritually, mentally, or even physically.

These demonic spirits influence men from the smallest temptation to the most fearsome manifestation. These at first could appear indifferent or even good but in truth, these spirits are really laboring to make men share in the sufferings they share in hell and they cannot withstand, out of selfishness, the thought that man is capable of enjoying the beatific vision of heaven, the heaven that they once enjoyed.

These thoughts should not contribute to the greater fear of demons, shrieking at the slightest sound we hear at night, but should exhort us to love God more solidly. The only way to battle with these evil spirits is by building a solid relationship with God, who loves us infinitely. Practical ways of building a relationship with God is by spending times of prayer each day, reading the word of God, devotion to our guardian angels and to the Mother of God, making sacrifices.

In conclusion, in our efforts to Love God and to build a solid spiritual life, it is important to remember that the Devil does not appear in a red cape with a pitchfork; he appears, many times, in the smallest of our selfish desires. This should lead us to follow our Lord Jesus Christ more genuinely by denying ourselves and taking up our crosses everyday.


*Lance Patrick Enad is a Grade XII Seminarian in the Archdiocese of Cebu. He will turn eighteen on the fourteenth of November.

 

 

 

 

Duterte’s ‘revolutionary government’ is nothing but dictatorship

A Press Statement by the Movement Against Tyranny
October 15, 2017

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s idea of a “revolutionary government” is nothing else but the one-man dictatorship that he has been repeatedly dreaming of since last year.

Duterte merely wants to concentrate all governmental power to himself as president. He wants to further dismantle whatever little is left of the system of checks and balances provided by a rubber stamp Congress, a Supreme Court dominated by his and former Pres. Arroyo’s appointees, and easily intimidated Constitutional bodies like the Office of the Ombudsman and Commission on Human Rights.

He aims to further intimidate the critical press and overwhelm social media with his fake news-churning troll army.

Worse, in order to impose his “revolutionary” regime on the people, he will have to declare martial law nationwide, He will have to ban all forms of public criticism and dissent: protest rallies, strikes, political demonstrations of any kind, not even cultural shows, art works or social media posts. There will be wide-scale and utter disregard for due process, human rights and civil liberties.

Meanwhile, the same old oligarchic interests will remain, with Duterte’s family and friends as the favored cronies. The same old kowtowing to foreign interests. The same old corruption and criminality except cornered by the Duterte clique, the Davao group and even the ascendant mafia in the illegal drugs business.

Marcos tried the same thing before, resulting in 14 years of cronyism, plunder of the national treasury and economy and wholesale human rights violations of the worst kind.

The Movement Against Tyranny denounces Duterte’s so-called “revolutionary government” as nothing less than the usurpation of all powers to impose one-man rule and trample on the people’s democratic rights. We will not be cowed. We will not be silenced.

 

 

 

 

Making Christ alive

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
October 11, 2017

THIS is no gratuitous, baseless pursuit. We are not indulging in some fantasy when we exert the effort to make Christ alive in us. In the first place, because Christ himself is alive. He continues to be with us and is, in fact, actively intervening in our lives. We are not in some make-believe world.

It’s us who have the problem since we tend to ignore him. It’s the same problem once articulated by St. Augustine: “You were with me, but I was not with you.” And even the things around all point to us about Christ’s constant interventions in our lives. Still, we fail to be aware of him.

Christ, of course, died, but then he rose again, never to die again. And even if he rose again, he after so many days ascended into heaven. He should not be around anymore. But, no, he continues to be here, this time in the Holy Spirit!

Let’s remember that before he went up to heaven, he promised the coming of the Holy Spirit who would bring to us everything that Christ did and said. More than that, the Holy Spirit brings Christ alive in us.

This is how God works. The entire trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is involved in this continuing divine effort to bring us back to where we came from – that is, from God himself in whose image and likeness we have been created. And God in his work cannot be frustrated despite the mess we make.

We just have to exercise our faith to the hilt. With it we enter into a reality that goes beyond what we simply can see and touch and understand. With it we can feel at home even with mysteries which, by the way, abound in our life since we are not confined only to the sensible and material realities. Our world includes the spiritual and the supernatural.

Exercising our faith means constantly dealing with the Holy Spirit. Dealing with the Holy Spirit involves certain requirements, like deepening our knowledge of the truths of our faith by meditating on the gospel, studying the catechism, following the teachings of the Pope, etc.

It also involves constant spiritual struggle against our weaknesses, temptations and sins. It certainly involves developing virtues so that we gradually can be more perceptive of the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Also indispensable is the recourse to the sacraments which are the very channels of grace that Christ himself instituted so that his presence and the effectiveness of his redemptive work on us can be perpetuated till the end of time.

This is how we can make Christ alive in us, Christ who will always understand us even if we many times fail him. We just have to do our part, and do it as best as we can, even to the point of heroism and martyrdom. This, in fact, is also the extent Christ does to reach us and to save us.

If we correspond actively to what Christ has done for us, we in the Holy Spirit can truly manage to make Christ alive in us. It is really just a matter of being consistent with our faith that brings with it the other virtues of hope and charity. In that way, we would be dealing with the Holy Spirit who will bring Christ to us alive.

 

 

 

 

From self-denial to self-fulfillment

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
September 30, 2017

THE secret is to follow Christ. He himself said so. “If you want to follow me, deny yourself, carry the cross and follow me.” (Mt 16,24) We need to be most familiar with this very useful formula in our life and try our best to live by it.

The self-denial asked by Christ is not of the kind that leads us to our self-annihilation. Far from it. It will rather lead us to our self-fulfillment. It is asking that instead of our own selves, we should have Christ as the center of our attention always, the very core and substance of our consciousness. We need, of course, to exercise our faith to live by this divine indication.

And the reason is simple. Christ is the very pattern of our humanity in its original state and the redeemer of our damaged humanity. It’s him in whom we can have our ultimate fulfillment, our true and lasting joy and peace. That’s why Christ said he is “the way, the truth and the life” for us. We cannot go to God, our Father and creator, except through him.

We have to be wary of certain ideologies, cultures and lifestyles that tend to replace Christ as the cause of our self-fulfillment. Sad to say, these appear to be proliferating these days. We have to learn to do battle with them.

The self-denial asked by Christ will obviously require a lot of effort and sacrifice. That’s because we have to contend with our tremendous tendency to stick to our own selves – our own ideas, desires, ambitions, etc. Besides, this tendency is constantly reinforced now by the many allurements of the world, not to mention, the tricks and wiles of the devil himself.

But again, we can be sure that all this effort and sacrifice is all worth it. We need to do everything to wean ourselves from our own selves and start to rely on Christ completely. That absolute reliance on Christ does not annihilate us. It will simply bring us to our most perfect and ideal state. We should have no doubts or qualms in pursuing that ideal.

With Christ, we would know how to use our powers and faculties properly. We would have a clear idea of the real and ultimate purpose of our life here on earth. With him, we somehow would know how to cope with all the possible situations we can have here, including our problems, mistakes and failures.

The self-denial asked by Christ does not remove our involvement and engagement in our earthly and temporal affairs. It simply puts them in the right context and the right direction. We cannot deny that especially these days, we are exposed to many and complicated distracting elements which we have to learn to handle.

The self-denial asked by Christ frees us from unnecessary baggage. It improves our vision and understanding of things, and predisposes our heart to the real love which can only be a sharing in God’s love and, therefore, our true fulfillment.

We therefore should not have superfluous things, creating needs that are really not needs, and thereby generating attachments that can be a hindrance in one’s relation with God and with others.

 

 

 

 

How should the work on the Asian Charter for Human Rights be carried forward?

By BASIL FERNANDO, AHRC
September 22, 2017

The following is a presentation made at a workshop organized by the Asian Human Rights Commission and the May 18th Foundation (14-16th September 2017) on the preparations for the 20th Anniversary of the Asian Human Rights Charter 1998. This paper addresses the direction the Asian human rights movement should take in order to contribute to the improved enjoyment of rights in Asian countries.

The Asian Human Rights Charter (hereinafter ‘the Charter’) was aimed at changing how human rights work was conducted in developing countries. This remains relevant to the context of most Asian countries, particularly because of the lack of developed systems for the administration of justice. The aim was to improve the actual realisation of human rights by the people. The institutions and systems required for the administration of justice are primarily the policing system, which plays the vital role of investigating into human rights violations; the prosecutions department, which is meant to call out violations of the law; and the judiciary, which is meant to adjudicate competently and impartially. All of these institutions and systems had to undergo significant improvements;

How were we to do that? That was what the Charter was meant to address.

The general human rights movement engages in calling for inquiries into massacres and other gross human rights abuses, and demands the prosecution of the perpetrators.

The Charter introduced the approach of investigating into the actual capacities of the institutions required for the administration of justice, in order to discover the defects that prevent people from accessing their rights. After establishing what was wrong with the system, the goal was to then engage in work that could help to overcome these defects and improve the enforcement of human rights.

For example, women in most Asian countries are denied their rights to liberty, education and equal opportunities for employment, and many suffer sexual abuse and associated forms of violence. Why is it that the police, prosecutions department and judicial system in their countries are unable to protect the rights of women? Why can’t women travel in the evenings and at night like men? Why are the police, prosecutions department and the judiciary unable to ensure the rights of women to move about in the way that men are able to move about? If the rights of women are to be enforced, it is necessary to find out why the institutions responsible for enforcing these rights have failed. In the same manner, we can discuss other examples like the rights of minorities, such as Dalits in South Asia. To discuss the rights of women or other groups without discussing why the institutions of justice fail them is to leave human rights purely as a dream or a pie in the sky.

What the AHRC wanted to suggest is that, in the same way that human rights groups advocate fact-finding missions into massacres and other crimes, there must also be fact-finding missions to discover the defects of the systems of justice that deny people redress for crimes and deprive them of their rights. Unfortunately while the human rights movement advocates fact-finding missions into massacres, it is not a mainstream practice to engage in fact-finding missions into problems of the justice system. This may be because the issues about defects of justice systems do not arise in developed countries under normal circumstances. Therefore, human rights investigations are confined to especially horrifying events and humanitarian catastrophes. This piecemeal approach is not suitable for countries that do not have the kind of institutional development that developed countries have because the day-to-day practices that lead to such catastrophes inevitably involve the administration of justice.

To be practical, let us ask the following questions:

a) Can the human rights movement engage in fact-finding missions with the view to make a proper assessment of, for example, the state of judicial independence in their countries? Can they look into the reasons why impunity prevails while the judiciary claims that it is independent? Is it because judicial officers are ill-educated or politically influenced, or because they do not really appreciate the idea of equality before the law? Or are there other reasons? If we know the reasons, then we can address the issue of impunity and take corrective actions to end it. Without this step, we will only be forever complaining about impunity. Impunity will continue despite such complaints. Ultimately, without the ability to understand the changes that need to be made and then taking steps to change things, the human rights movement could be seen as unable to show people what it can really offer to improve lives.

b) We can also undertake fact-finding missions into ineffective police investigation systems, with the view to finding out why such incompetence, which often leads to corruption, remains unchallenged. What are the causes of this situation and what is the way to change it?

c) The same questions could be raised about prosecutions, by undertaking similar fact-finding work.

The fact-finding methodologies may vary. It could be similar to the fact-finding missions into massacres. It could also be by way of extensive documentation work into the attempts taken by victims to seek justice and to find out why they have failed. It could also involve academic forms of fact-finding. Whatever be the method, the ultimate aim is to find the real causes of the defects in the system, with the view to work towards overcoming these problems.

This whole approach calls for a different type of activism. In assessing whether human rights defenders are sufficiently equipped to do their expected tasks, we must ask the questions that are raised above. There is no other way for human rights defenders to be well equipped to do their work.

Can this last year before the 20th anniversary of the Charter be the year in which we could experiment with new approaches to fact-finding and other human rights work, including advocacy and monitoring, which are directed towards the improved knowledge, and thereby increase the capacity of human rights defenders to improve their justice systems? This would increase the practical usefulness of human rights work for the people of their countries.

How can the advances that have come about in modern technology be used for the above purpose of fact-finding about justice system problems? And how could it further improve methods of advocacy so that more people could be influenced to undertake various types of functions as change makers? Additionally, how can we learn about the negative uses of modern technology, through which repressive states could use technology to repress work for the advancement of human rights? And how could we learn to counteract such methods?

Freedom of expression being the key to the improvement of human rights, how could this freedom be used for gaining and spreading a critical understanding of the defects of justice systems? These defects obstruct the enforcement of human rights, and it is important to develop ways to give expression to these problems so that whole nations and the international community could have a better understanding of the local situations, and thereby be in a position to take effective actions to overcome these problems.

Can we recondition activists to expand their work beyond the limited methods that they have gotten used to in accordance with earlier practices, and thereby learn to develop more efficient ways of showing people that their frustrations about human rights can in fact be explained, and that, with a proper understanding of defective systems of justice, actual improvements and even great changes could be brought about?

In short, can we envisage a new form of activism and dynamism and create a new type of human rights defender, one who does not merely talk about defending rights but can really protect the rights of the people they are working with?

 

 

 

 

Make war to gain peace

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
August 29, 2017

WE have to understand the proper relationship between war and peace. Christ himself who is the prince of peace recommended a kind of warfare that we have to undertake all the time. This can be gleaned from the following words of his:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword…Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me…” (Mt 10,34 ff)

In another part of the gospel, he also said: “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent bear it away.” (Mt 11,12)

We have to understand though that to be violent in this sense does not mean to be destructive but rather constructive, driven by love and the desire to be united with God and with the others in a way proper to us as children of God and brothers and sisters among ourselves.

Our life here on earth cannot but be in some form of struggle. Aside from our innate urge to grow and develop that requires some effort, we also have to contend with enemies whose sole intent is precisely to bring us down, to divert us from our proper path toward holiness.

We are not simply ranged against natural difficulties, challenges and trials in life, but rather with very powerful and subtle nemeses. The natural enemies alone are already formidable.

But we still have enemies tougher than these. As St. Paul said, “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” (Eph 6,12)

Truth is many people – in fact, I would say all of us one way or another – are looking for effective ways to develop our spiritual life and to be skillful in the unavoidable spiritual warfare in this life.

People, including the young ones whose stirring for the spiritual can be sharp and intense if hidden, want to know, for example, how to pray, or how to keep it going amid the many concerns in life. Getting engaged with God all throughout the day eludes them.

They actually want to know how to grow in the virtues but do not have ample support to pursue the goals. For example, to remain chaste, if the interest still flickers, remains an impossible dream.

They see glimpses of the need for the cross, for sacrifices in this life, but they get stalled if not hostaged by worldly distractions. Many want to get out of their self-absorption, but no one helps them, giving them ideas or simply encouraging them.

We need to find ways of how to wage war to gain the peace that is proper to us. We have to do a lot of personal apostolate based on friendship and confidence. We should teach our friends in personal direction and confidential chats how to wage this spiritual struggle in the concrete environment they are in.

One clear principle to follow here is to motivate them to truly fall in love with God and with everybody else. That love has creative ways of waging war against the enemies of God and of our soul.

 

 

 

 

Justice for Kian, justice for all!

A press statement by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN on the death of Kian delos Santos
August 26, 2017

BAYAN joins the nation in grief and outrage over the death of Kian delos Santos. We march today to bring Kian to his final resting place and to support the call for justice for all victims of Duterte’s fascist drug war. We call for accountability of the police officers directly involved in the killings as well as accountability of the commander-in-chief who sanctioned the killings.

President Duterte's war on drugs is a war on the poor. It falsely claims to be a solution to the proliferation of illegal drugs but targets mostly street-level dealers and not the big criminal syndicates in and out of government. The killings themselves corrupt the police force through a system of quotas and financial rewards for police officers. Rather than eliminating crime, Duterte's grotesque drug war has spawned new crimes and encouraged impunity on an entirely new level.

Duterte's drug war is a fascist non-solution to the problem of illegal drugs. So long as corrupt bureaucrats and their criminal syndicate partners remain untouched, and so long as poverty drives people to desperation, the problem of illegal drugs cannot be decisively resolved. No iron-fisted approach will succeed.

The brutality of the drug war reflects the same fascist mentality and policies that have resulted in the militarization of the countryside and gross human rights violations against farmers, Lumad and Moro people. It is the same fascist mindset that has resulted in abuses under Martial Law and the US-led war on terror. Meanwhile, the shameless lying and fabrication of evidence committed by the PNP in the case of Kian has long been a practice of the police and the military when they file trumped-up charges against activists.

The fight against impunity is a shared struggle of all freedom-loving Filipinos. The murder of Kian is an assault on all of us, especially the poor.

As Kian is laid to rest, we call on the Filipino people to continue the fight against tyranny and abuse, against fascism and impunity. We call on the people to resist the fascist, US-backed Duterte regime.

 

 

 

 

Killing Kian: A Nationwide Phenomenon

A press statement by Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas - Karapatan Eastern Visayas chapter
August 21, 2017

The Worsening Cases of Human Rights Violations Nationwide

The human rights situation in the Philippines has become far worse than how it was in the first quarter of President Duterte’s term as head of the Republic. Almost 10 months ago, Rodrigo Duterte shot out words that out-rightly called on his military and police forces to run amok and kill people who are implicated in the illegal drug trade even if it is in the most remote of ways. His statements that tolerated extra-judicial killings were taken as nothing short of formal policy and resulted, 10 months later into a total of 8000 victims of the administration’s War on Drugs.

Now that Duterte has completed a total of 14 months in office, his War on Drugs has claimed more than 13000 civilians under the operations of the Philippine National Police and their toleration of vigilante groups wantonly wreaking havoc on urban poor communities.

Claiming the Lives of Minors

Last August 18, a Grade 11 student by the name of Kian De Los Santos was killed in a police operation meant to raid a drug den in a local village in Caloocan. The operation took the life of Kian, who the PNP claimed was implicated in drug-related activities and had presented earlier this morning alleged collaborators and partners of the said 17-year old.

Amid the release of a CCTV footage which showed how Kian was defenseless in the presence of police officers who were visibly harassing him, the PNP still claimed the police they were on the defensive when they shot Kian whom they asserted “fought back” and “threatened” the security of the officers.

We call on all human rights groups, organizations and formations to condemn the blatant murder of Kian De Los Santos, who is one of many victims across the entire nation who’s lives have been claimed by the police’s war against the poor. There is also particular weight on the murder of Kian because his is one of many cases where the police has been implicated in the murder of minors, the youngest was that of a 4-year old girl in 2016 and a similar case of a 5-year old boy in Pasay of the same year.

The War on Drugs in Tacloban City

In Eastern Visayas, there have also been reports of extrajudicial killings committed by the Philippine National Police. Just last August 16, a Kenneth Bertes was killed in a police operation for being implicated in illegal drug trade. According to the mother of Kenneth Bertes, the boy was unarmed and defenseless against the police who were armed and greater in number. In 2016, there were also similar cases of reported extra-judicial killings committed on children belonging to the urban poor communities of downtown Tacloban and near the airport area.

The mere fact that these executions are taking place, not just in Caloocan but in different parts of the country is evidence that the murder of Kian Delos Santos is not an isolated case but a national phenomenon. And despite the growing public clamor to end the killings, Duterte has expressed support over the rise in the death toll. This is a clear indication that the president no longer wants to represent what is best for the people and operate within a framework of justice, from this we can predict that the killings will persist and will worsen throughout the rest of his term.

As a convener of the Rise Up for Life and for Rights Alliance, we believe that human rights is of paramount concern and must be upheld on all fronts.

JUSTICE FOR KIAN DELOS SANTOS! JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF STATE FASCISM! STOP THE KILLINGS!

 

 

 

 

Never be afraid to approach God

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
August 17, 2017

NOR be ashamed. Even if we have offended him big time or find ourselves in a most shameful condition, let’s never hesitate to approach God to ask for pardon or any kind of help. God is always a Father whose only delight is to love us all the way. He is ever ready for that, and, in fact, very eager too. He will do everything to help us in any way.

This is what we learn from the episodes of the Canaanite woman (cfr Mt 15,21-28), the official whose daughter just died, and the woman suffering from hemorrhages for 12 years. (cfr Mt 9)

In the case of the official, Christ dropped everything to go to the house of that official and along the way happened to help the woman also.

In the case of the woman, it has to be noted that she was publicly regarded as an outcast. But she was determined to approach Christ even secretly, and even if only to touch Christ’s cloak.

“If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured,” she said to herself. Her strong faith, her confidence, her humility, all contributed to the granting of her desire. “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you,” Christ told her. And she was cured.

Let’s take note that more than just the cure of her hemorrhages, Christ told her she was saved. Christ is more interested in the salvation of our sinful soul, which is more important than in the cure of any health problem.

In the case of the Canaanite woman, Christ readily saw how great her faith was, and so he relented even if at the beginning he ignored her. Christ was simply testing her faith. And by so doing, he also showed that faith can transcend and cross racial and cultural boundaries.

Let’s hope that we can have the same attitude as the Canaanite woman, the official and the sick woman. Let’s not delay in going to Christ by whom all our needs are satisfied. Let’s have the same attitude, the same faith, confidence and humility that these three characters had shown.

More than that, let’s also show among ourselves the same attitude that Christ had toward these three characters. Let’s be quick to help others, to understand them, to be patient and merciful with them. Let’s develop a universal heart that can accommodate everybody with love.

Let’s remember that we have to like him, since as the Son of God, he is the very pattern of our humanity, and as the Son of God who became man, he is our redeemer who definitely resolves our earthly human predicament.

Let’s spend time meditating on this wonderful truth about the fatherhood of God to us in the hope that we can develop that intimate spirit of filiation to him. Let’s remember that our divine filiation should be the foundation of our relationship with God.

We are not just one more creature of his. We are the masterpiece of the whole of his creation. We are children of his, yes, in spite of the mess that we can manage to create because of the misuse of our freedom.

We have to learn not to be afraid of him, nor ashamed to approach him because of our stupidities. The fear of the Lord, which is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, is simply the fear of offending him, but not the fear to approach him after we may have offended him.

God looks kindly on sinners. The divine justice that our sins deserve does not undermine at all the divine mercy he is always eager to give us. So, let’s take heart, just like what Christ told the woman.

 

 

 

 

On threat to bomb Lumad schools

Is the President driving us to rebel?

By SANDUGO
July 28, 2017

It’s logical. If the Philippine President himself threatens to bomb a school of indigenous peoples (IP), where else can we run to?

These self-help schools were built by the bare hands of the Lumad people because there were no schools in their communities. The schools such as ALCADEV in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, whose executive director Emerito Samarca was killed with Lumad leaders Juvelio Sinzo and Dionel Campos in 2015, were expressions of Lumad people’s hunger for genuine development while preserving their culture of collectivism and care for environment. It is a way of the Lumad elders to secure the future of their next generations and equip the youth to protect their ancestral lands from corporate plunder and land grabbing.

The US-Duterte regime is now taking the anti-people road. This road will eventually lead him to accountability unless he makes a turn left, the road to just and lasting peace, through the NDFP-GRP peace talks, and make radical changes in his policies which will address the basic problems of the Filipino people.

Instead, Pres. Duterte bellied us indigenous peoples and Moro who joined the people’s protest during his State of the Nation Address by saying “Umuwi na kayo.” We came all the way from Mindanao to call to stop the All-out War, martial law and the bombing of our communities. Thousands have evacuated due to threat of bombings and human rights violations of military and paramilitary groups.

And we were bullied by no less than the President.

Our situation as national minorities is already worse as it is. The Maranaw people continue to suffer in evacuation centers as the Armed Forces of the Philippines refuses to end the firefight to justify the extension of martial law. The IPs are still facing the wrath of the All-Out War through intensified military operations in communities. Political killings against national minorities continue with 21 victims under the Duterte regime.

With President Duterte’s threat to bomb Lumad schools, violence is encouraged against Lumad and Moro.

If the schools were destroyed, so is our future. Essentially, it is to destroy our race.

If so, we are left with no choice but to resist.

 

 

 

 

Christ’s cross opens heaven’s gate

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
July 23, 2017

INDEED, it is Christ’s cross that does the trick. Our own salvation, our capacity to open heaven’s gate has to pass through the cross of Christ, and not just any cross. Christ’s cross is the key.

It’s in Christ’s cross that all our sins are borne by Christ himself and forgiven. It’s where our death leads to our life everlasting. It’s where we can truly say we are united with Christ.

We need to carry that cross, as Christ himself said. "Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mk 8,34) We need to do everything to fulfill this indication of Christ everyday.

Any suffering we have in this life, be it physical, moral or whatever, can be considered as the cross of Christ as long as we unite that suffering to Christ’s redemptive suffering and death on the cross. That’s simply because Christ has made as his own all the suffering we can have.

We can make use of some human devices so that we can be reminded of this wonderful truth of our faith. One such device can be the practice of carrying a little crucifix in our wallet, and taking it up from time to time to kiss it.

This can be done especially just before going to bed so that we can associate the ending of our day with this sublime sacrifice of Christ which we should try to reflect in our life. We should try to end our day the way Christ ended his life here on earth.

We can also do it upon waking up in the morning to signify our intention to carry the cross the whole day. It should mean that we are willing to suffer the way Christ suffered. We should be willing to take on any offense the way Christ accepted all the offenses and sins of men by accepting his death on the cross.

We should try not to over-react to any suffering that can come our way. As long as we unite with the suffering of Christ, we can manage to echo what St. Paul once said:

“We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor 4,8-10)

These words were spoken by St. Paul in the context of showing how our weakness and suffering – the fragile clay jars that we are, as St. Paul describes us – can actually show God’s power working in us. In the same letter, St. Paul precisely said that it’s when we are weak that we are strong. (cfr 12,10)

It’s important that our attitude and reactions to suffering of whatever kind conform to this reasoning of faith expressed by St. Paul. It’s a reasoning that perfectly captures the reason behind Christ’s willing acceptance of his suffering and death.

It is this kind of suffering, this kind of cross that led to Christ’s resurrection, and that will lead to our resurrection too. This is the kind of cross that opens the gates of heaven for us!

 

 

 

 

 

President Duterte meeting with Bayan leaders
The delegation included BAYAN secretary general Renato Reyes, Jr, former Representative Neri Colmenares. Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, Anakpawis representative Ariel Casilao, Rep. Sarah Elago fo Kabataan, Jerome Adonis, KMU Secretary General, Antonio Flores of KMP, Gabriela sec gen Joms Salvador, Lumad leaders Michelle Campos and Eufemia Cullamat, and Mindanao activists led by Sheena Duazon of BAYAN SMR. We were joined by NAPC Convenor Liza Maza who helped arrange the meeting.

On President Duterte’s meeting with Bayan leaders ahead of the SONA rallies

A press statement by BAYAN
July 19, 2017

We thank President Rodrigo Duterte for taking time to meet with Bayan leaders in Malacanang last July 18, 2017. We sought a meeting to inform the President of the planned nationwide SONA protest actions on July 24 and to relay to him 20 urgent people’s demands. The meeting lasted for nearly two hours. The Bayan delegation consisted of representatives from workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, Mindanao activists and progressive lawmakers from the Makabayan coalition.

Unlike past meetings, the atmosphere was somewhat tense, more serious and revealed glaring differences on major issues. After the meeting, it was clear why there should be nationwide mass protests during the SONA. The people must persevere in the fight for genuine change.

After a brief introduction, we went straight to the issue of Martial Law. The President is bent on extending it. We have consistently opposed it. He said that it was not intended to target the Left. The Mindanao activists said that that was not reality on the ground. They related how Martial Law is being used to militarize communities and attack Lumad schools. Several communities have been displaced as a result. Lumad leaders showed the President pictures and other documentation.

On the issue of the stalled peace talks with the NDFP, the President echoed the line of his security cluster that there should first be a prolonged ceasefire before there could be any talk of reforms. We reiterated our position that the peace talks must continue because it is in the interest of the people and that the surest way to achieve peace is through socio-economic and political reforms. It appears that the fate of the talks and the people’s desire for a just peace will again be held hostage by the ceasefire issue.

The President gave no commitment on the issue of militarization of communities, saying that this was a reality in the ongoing civil war. For our part, a condition of extended Martial Law can only mean that military abuses and attacks will increase.

While there remain openings and agreements in principle on several issues, these will still require firm government commitment and militant struggle by the people. During the meeting, we sought to find common ground on the issue labor contractualization, free tuition for State Universities and Colleges, land reform and the issue of destructive mining. There is no clear indication that the President will fulfill his pledge of upholding an independent foreign policy by abrogating the Visiting Forces Agreement any time soon. Meanwhile, he was responsive to calls for the release of elderly and sickly political prisoners and received personal letters and appeals form them.

We again informed the President of the upcoming SONA rallies. He said he will not stop these and will allow protesters to air their demands near Batasan.

After the meeting, we returned to Mendiola to report the results to the Mindanao workers and other sectors who were camped-out since Monday. We would have wanted to bring more good news to them, but such was not the case.

From the foregoing discussion – with Martial Law’s extension under way and the people’s economic conditions worsening – the people are more than ever justified in waging militant struggle for change. We are determined to further expand people’s resistance to the anti-people and anti-national policies of the regime.

The SONA rally will see huge delegations from Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Metro Manila, as well as delegations from Mindanao. Protests will be conducted in almost every urban center in the country, from Ilocos to General Santos. On July 23, participants for the SONA rally will begin arriving in Quezon City and hold vigils near Commonwealth Avenue.

On July 22, we are calling on the people to gather at Batasan to protest the Congress special session to railroad the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao.

 

 

 

 

CHINA: A state built on graves will not last

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
July 14, 2017

China has lost yesterday one of its great sons, Nobel Laurate Mr. Liu Xiaobo. Indeed, Liu Xiaobo was a criminal for the Chinese administration. They had sentenced him to undergo a prison term of 11 years, after being convicted by what is passed off as ‘judicial process’ in China. The crime for which Liu Xiaobo was convicted is ‘inciting subversion of state power’ by co-authoring the Charter 08 pro-democracy manifesto, which called for the Communist Party in China to uphold the commitments made in the constitution.

Anything that is even remotely possible to be interpreted by Beijing as ‘organising for a cause’ is perceived as a threat by the Chinese administration. This approach is the defining character of a state that feels weekend internally and a government that has no moral standing to remain in power. The legislation Beijing enacted controlling all civil society activities, internal and those that are supported from external sources is a legislated evidence to this fear. So much so, today, a non-Chinese seeking a language interpreter’s service within China has to be reported to the authorities. Failing to do so is a crime.

Since its formation, China has used its courts and the prosecutorial department to silence all forms of public opinion, that the administration conceives as a threat that could over time challenge the absolute authority of the Central Party. Even lawyers appearing for their clients are not spared.

Make no mistake. What is passed off as ‘judicial proceedings’ in China has no justice element in it. It is merely a process, that serves the absolute authority of the state and nothing more. Besides, the individuals who run these institutions are deeply corrupt, like those in the administration. And many of them are known to have ‘parked’ their ill-gotten wealth outside the country.

China is one of the worst economic examples of today. Its riches are built upon absolute negation of freedom of the silenced. Anyone engaging in business with China is merely supporting this inhuman process. This includes international agencies, business houses and governments across the world.

The only way for China to change, is for the international community to call the black pot, black. No government has dared to do this, as was in the case of Liu Xiaobo. There has been not a single co-ordinated and sustained attempt by the governments of the world, to publically place pressure upon China to allow Liu Xiaobo to obtain proper medical treatment. At the age of 61, his life rotted in detention.

Today heads of states have made public statements condemning Liu Xiaobo’s untimely death. They should also perhaps ask themselves in what length they have contributed to this murder when they rolled out red carpets to Chinese leaders visiting them?

 

 

 

 

Our spiritual and supernatural world

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
July 9, 2017

WE need to be more adept in attending to the world of the spiritual and the supernatural which is where we also live, whether we like it or not, aware of it or not.

That it’s part of our objective reality can be verified from the fact that we can think and reason out, discover and invent things, and do many others that tell us we are capable of spiritual operations that presume that we also live in the world of the spiritual.

The supernatural aspect of our objective reality can be verified by the fact that there are many mysterious, naturally inexplicable things that take place in our life. There are miracles and other wonders that simply go beyond the limits of our nature.

We have to learn how to deal with our spiritual and supernatural world because that is where the real action is and where our ultimate goal is. That’s where we are truly defined, where our radical dignity is established. That’s where we can have our encounter with God.

For us, the material and natural world is nothing if not related to the spiritual and the supernatural world. Our material and natural world can only have meaning and purpose if related to the spiritual and the supernatural, that is, if related ultimately to God.

Of course, God made himself man in Jesus Christ so that our material and natural world, damaged by sin, can have a way to reconnect with our Creator and our Father. And Christ’s presence and redemptive action continues to take place with the action of the Holy Spirit.

This is a truth of our faith that should ever be made alive in us, kept sharp in our mind, and deeply felt in our heart. For this, we have to submit to a certain discipline that may involve a number of things.

We have to learn to be recollected all the time, keeping effective control and supervision of our senses and other faculties so that wherever we are, we could manage to be always in the presence of God.

We have to learn to pray and meditate on the word of God, for it is there where we begin to get in touch with Him on a day-to-day basis. If we truly exercise our faith, our prayer should always be exciting since we would be dealing with the Holy Spirit who knows all the truth and who can tell us of things to come.

We need to do everything to make sure our prayer is a real encounter with God, a direct conversation with the Holy Spirit who always intervenes in our life with his constant promptings.

For this, it is truly helpful to know more about the gifts of the Holy Spirit so we may be able to correspond to those gifts properly. Obviously to be most docile to the Holy Spirit, we need to clean up our mind and heart through penance. Let’s see to it that our heart is rid of any impurity that could prevent us from discerning the Holy Spirit’s promptings.

These are, at least, a few of the things we can do to take care of our spiritual and supernatural world.

 

 

 

 

Release of cops in rub-out case in Leyte, non-release of political prisoners, clear signs of impunity under Duterte

A press statement by KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
June 20, 2017

“We express our condemnation and extreme disappointment on the release on bail of police officers involved in the Espinosa case, as among the clear indications of prevailing impunity under Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. We remind the President that his job as commander-in-chief does not entail protecting State security forces from accountability on their crimes,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay on the release of the nineteen (19) accused policemen involved in the killing of Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa.

Former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 chief Superintendent Marvin Marcos, along with 18 others, were initially charged with murder after they launched an operation to serve a warrant against Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa last November 5, 2016; the operation led to the killing of Espinosa inside his jail in Baybay, Leyte. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the senate investigation ruled the case as a “rub-out.”

On June 2, 2017, the Department of Justice downgraded the charges against the 19 cops from murder to homicide, with the regional trial court allowing bail of P40,000 each. On June 16, all the accused were released on bail. Earlier last April, President Duterte said that he will not only pardon cops involved in the Espinosa slay case should they be convicted, but that he will also promote them.

“Duterte apparently remains true to his words when it entails ensuring the continued support of institutions who might be detrimental to his presidency. When it comes to promises he made for the welfare and benefit of the marginalized, however, he falls short, or at numerous occasions, makes a reversal. This is true for the issue of the release of political prisoners, especially those for humanitarian considerations,” said Palabay.

As of May 15, 2017, Karapatan puts the number of political prisoners in the country to 402 – with 39 political detainees arrested under the Duterte administration. Palabay added that “there is a clear State policy of absolving culpable policemen in the war on drugs campaign and soldiers in their counter-insurgency war against the people, while maintaining the continued imprisonment of political prisoners jailed for trumped-up charges. It is deplorable to see scalawags being out on bail while those unjustly kept behind bars remain fighting for justice.”

“The Filipino people have been promised change, and we hold Duterte accountable that these changes be for the better. Instead, we now have martial law in Mindanao, aerial bombings and other community violations committed with impunity, the non-release of political prisoners, a militarized bureaucracy, a war on drugs that has claimed the lives of thousands, and an enabled and abusive State security forces with guaranteed protection. We urge Duterte to look closer, because for the most part, he has largely contributed to the worsening of the same oppressive and repressive system inherited from his predecessors,” concluded Palabay.

 

 

 

 

Joint statement on Marawi, martial law and internet freedom

By CPU, TXTPOWER and AGHAM
June 15, 2017

After Camp Aguinaldo spokesman Colonel Edward Arevalo warned that the military would exercise an alleged “right to censure”, DICT Head Rodolfo Salalima has announced arrests for “cyber sedition”.

It must be clear by now: Whether you’re in Marawi, Mindanao or Manila, we’re all unsafe from martial law’s effects on our basic rights. And nowhere is this more obvious than the internet and the basic rights we enjoy online and offline.

These threats by the military and DICT don’t strike fear at the heart of terrorists. They dampen civic engagement and attempt to negate the public’s right and duty to see to it that martial law is required, that martial law is actually aimed at the terrorists, and that martial law is not being implemented against the public.

We warn the military and the DICT not to overstep their bounds. Censorship, whether prior restraint or subsequent punishment, does not help combat terrorists. We urge the military to revisit their claim of a “right to censure”. It is an invention, with no legal provenance or constitutional basis.

We also warn against network shutdowns under martial law. Network shutdowns in Mindanao are unacceptable. It would isolate and disconnect Mindanao from the rest of the country and the world. Mindanaoans should not be silenced. It would be bad for business, commerce, education, governance and other aspects of our daily lives.

The dress rehearsals for turning off our internet have started many years back. In the name of counter-terrorism, the police, the military and the government have taken down mobile and internet access in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and other parts of the country.

All the shutdowns have been applied for and granted in an questionable manner, without hearing and without assessment. It is not farfetched that the government would use this if the “online noise” of widespread criticism becomes intolerable to them.

If there’s any event and place where the public would understand a network shutdown, it is this incident and Marawi City from the very start. Based on "practice", shutting down all communications there would deprive the terrorists any means to communicate among themselves and the outside world. It is now a virtual ghost town, with most of its 200,000 inhabitants already transformed into evacuees.

But this appears to be impossible. Because it would affect the military operations, coordination between the Commander-in-Chief in Manila and the ground forces in Marawi and media reportage that has been so kind to the military.

We urge citizens and organizations to be vigilant and jealous of the rights we enjoy, offline or online, against any arrogant overreach by the military and government. They have a track record of abuse, and have also made threats of doing under martial law.

Let’s keep the Philippines' and the internet free.

 

 

 

 

Tender Mercies

By ROBERT Z. CORTES
June 12, 2017

Three Saturdays ago, I and two of my friends met a lady who can easily qualify as the coolest and funniest octogenarian of our lives - even if she could hardly walk. (She's not in the picture though :) )

She lived in a house also occupied by her older brother and his wife who, she later told us, both hardly minded her. She had one little corner in that house but it was practically a separate unit since it had its own private entrance from one side of the house.

Our random meeting happened through the recommendation of a barangay counsellor-friend who knew her semi-abandoned plight. That first meeting was unforgettable. There was a kind middle-aged lady who led us to Lola, and what followed was easily an hour of laughter and deep insight when we thought it was just going to be 10 minutes of expressing our piety and pity.

The upshot of that first meeting was that we resolved we were going to visit Lola more regularly - bringing our other friends. Pope Francis, after all, has been very clear about not abandoning our elderly – they’re one of those in the peripheries of the Church. And here was one who would not only give us an opportunity to obey the Pope; she was even one who could make our and our friends’ Saturday mornings much more meaningful. Most importantly she pleaded with us to please come again.

Last Saturday, we made that next visit. It was raining but it didn't matter. When we arrived at Lola's side of the house we saw that the main door was open, but the screen door was locked. We then called out to Lola. However, instead of her, someone else heard us who came out from another door. Seeing the apparition was like an encounter with Medusa: we froze.

And it was not because she had snakes on her head (in fact, she only had a fake flower stuck on top of her left ear). It was rather because she was someone we knew as the "pious lady" of the parish church nearby: always hopping around busily fixing things on the altar, approaching people nicely, making sure shawls were placed on "errant" girls who insisted on wearing sleeveless tops, etc. But she was now anything but that. She had been transformed to the imperious lady boss of the compound.

Looking at us like we were masked men about to take Lola hostage, she asked us what we were doing there. When we told her we were going to talk to Lola she asked what for. And before we could answer, she asked what we were going to do after we talked to her. And while we were formulating the answer to that last question – wondering if we were still going to answer the previous – she asked how long we were going to talk to Lola. This time one of us was quick enough to say “around 30 minutes,” and she replied, "one hour?" I then realized she really was paying attention. And very interested in our answers.

Seemingly satisfied that she had made quite an impression on us, she then pounded on Lola's door with all the vigor that her imperiousness could muster, as if she were demanding the Maute rebels to come out or else. She muttered impatiently under her breath why on earth Lola locked her door. (I thought I saw some flames coming out of her nostrils, but most probably I was just seeing things.) Very condescendingly, as if taking pity on the suffering we were about to be subjected in the visit, she advised us to be patient with Lola since Lola was "baliw." She then walked away.

I was interiorly shaken when I entered Lola's unit. I had begun to understand that Lola was around someone who didn't regard her the same way we did and wondered what other sort of abuses she received from this woman the rest of the time. Thankfully, Lola was her old self the last time we met her. We again laughed and learned from each other. We soon found out that she was the ignoble sister-in-law (ISIL) and Lola gestured that the lady was "baliw" by waving her two hands in circles near her head. The feeling was clearly mutual. That fact was a source of a good laugh for all of us and we continued our gossip in whispers. It was good, albeit innocently mean conspiratorial fun.

Pretty soon the meeting had to end earlier than we had wanted. After all, we were painfully aware that someone was timing our stay. When we went out of the door, planning to pay our respects to the ISIL before we left, we realized she was nowhere to be found. We then headed to the gate fearing she didn’t want to be disturbed anymore. And just when we were opening the gate, she made her second apparition – and she was definitely no Lady of Fatima.

Nope, after all, she caught us "red-handed" leaving without even the decency to say goodbye to her. Didn't she see us opening the gate, and we never even bothered to look for her? There’s a door, you should’ve knocked! Is this how you do things - you are welcomed like decent guests and you sneak out like thieves? Don't do that to me or anyone else ever again you understand? Sige, umalis na kayo!"

That was the end of the rope for me. As we were out of earshot I said, “What a disgusting creature.”

One of my friends asked me, “Why do you say that?”

I said, “Don’t you realize that the Gospel this morning was about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who paraded their piety outside but were full of wickedness inside? Didn’t she hear the priest’s homily this morning? She was right there in front, piously folding her hands.”

My friend meekly answered, “Well, maybe she needs a visit herself.”

Well... yes.

His reply gave me pause, and I immediately knew where it was going. She’s one of those in the peripheries, too.

I also quickly realized that he was right, but I just wasn't willing to fully admit it. Not yet. Darn it – how can someone so mean be in the same peripheries as such nice people as Lola? In fact, I wanted to resist the idea so much I managed to quip, “Well, I can ask a psychiatrist to visit her.”

But a few more steps, I had to accept a fact that was as clear as day: I was now like her. By putting her in the category of the disgusting, I was now in that same category. What a sad thing: many times we don't realize that we who think ourselves very much within the Church are in reality in its peripheries.

But with acceptance comes hope. Thankfully, the source of hope is clear. "Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy." It's the very same idea that brought me to the coolest and funniest octogenarian I've ever met. Only now I understand better how much more deeply I still need to understand that word "mercy."

 

 

 

 

The goal of education

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
May 31, 2017

THIS is none other than for us to be another Christ. After all, he is the very pattern of our humanity in the beginning and the redeemer of our damaged humanity. If education is for us to achieve the fullness of our humanity, we should not look at anything, no matter how lofty and useful, other than at Christ.

St. Paul, in his Letter to the Ephesians, describes it this way: “His (Christ’s) gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ...” (4,11-13)

Yes, education is not simply about acquiring some worldly knowledge and skills. It’s about achieving this “mature manhood” St. Paul was talking about, a mature manhood that is “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

Obviously, knowledge and skills are important and are, in fact, indispensable. But they have to be oriented toward the ultimate goal of education which is the pursuit for the fullness of Christ in us.

We have to be wary of the strong, almost irresistible temptation to downgrade the purpose of education to simply achieving some worldly values like wealth, honor, popularity, efficiency, etc.

These worldly goals, if not related to the ultimate goal, can very well be sweet poisons that can corrupt the process of education.

Some sectors may claim that putting Christ as the main goal of education undermines the technical rigor that should accompany the task of learning the sciences and the arts. They claim that that approach would be too other-worldly as to restrain us to go to the last consequences of our studies.

We should not be deceived by such claim, because the opposite is, in fact, the case. When we put Christ on top of everything else in our education, we would be most motivated and pressured to be thoroughly exacting in our studies. Christ himself would require nothing less than that.

Thus, the ultimate goal of education is when we learn to deal in an abiding way with the Holy Spirit, who is the spirit of God, who will remind us of everything Christ taught us, who will lead us to the complete truth and would tell us of things to come.

At this time of the world’s life, we should do much better than the early Christians who, when asked by St. Paul whether they have received the Holy Spirit, answered that “we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” (Acts 19,2)

All the technical things involved in our education should somehow tend to the learning of how to deal with the Holy Spirit. For this, it might be useful also to know the gifts of the Holy Spirit which enable us to know things the way the Holy Spirit knows them.

We should never marginalize, much less, ignore, the Holy Spirit in our education.

 

 

 

 

Statement on the Marawi Crisis

By Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy
May 25, 2017

The Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy strongly condemns the violent attacks perpetrated by lawless elements in the Islamic city of Marawi and Lanao del Sur, made more heinous as it occurred as the Muslim faithful are preparing for the holy month of Ramadhan. Any act inciting to terror in the hearts of defenseless civilians, the destruction of places of worship and properties, the murder of innocent men, women, and children irrespective of one’s faith are all forbidden and detestable acts according to Islam. Sowing terror through force and violence has always been an invalid means of attaining societal changes, and cannot be justified through faith or religion. The Qur'an says: "If any one slays a person- unless it be as punishment for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew all people. And if any one saves a life, it would be as if he saved the lives of all people." (Surah 5, verse 32).

We urge the Philippine Government to ensure that the declaration of Martial Law will not, in any way, compromise the lives of our people and the principles of democracy that we hold dear. PCID believes that the peaceful resolution of the armed conflict Marawi is needed, through tempered and calibrated responses that will prevent further casualties and damage to property and livelihoods.

We ask fellow Filipinos to stay informed based on facts, especially with the prevalence of unverified information and unsupported theories regarding the crisis. We also ask the media to take extra precautions in their reporting, and to prevent framing the crisis as a binary conflict between Muslims and Christians. We should focus on uniting and working together for just peace and human rights, instead of holding unfair and preemptory judgments that can only lead to a perilous cycle of fear, ignorance, and worse, more violence.

More than ever, preventing violent extremism is needed, so we are urging all sectors to immediately address the worsening issue at its roots. First and foremost, our government officials, particularly the elected leaders, should be accountable for good governance and rule of law as well as the deterioration of the peace and order condition in conflict affected communities of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Without good governance and the rule of law, government cannot be effective in improving the socio-economic and political conditions of our people, and the delivery of basic services long denied in the Bangsamoro.

As the Muslim ummah enters Ramadhan, we can only pray for wisdom, peace, and understanding.

 

 

 

 

Workers’ group rejects military rule in Mindanao

A press statement by Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
May 24, 2017

The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), a socialist national labor center, added its voice today to all those who oppose President Rodrigo Duterte’s imposition of martial law in the whole of Mindanao. Our position in based on the following grounds:

1. Mindanao is not in a state of lawless violence, nor is it facing invasion or rebellion, which are the only cases where Martial Law could be legally imposed.

The Marawi attack does not justify the imposition of military rule in a region that is now pursuing peace through revived negotiations between the Philippine government and the various armed groups of the Moro self-determination movement.

2. Unlike in the 1973 and 1935 constitutions, where imminent danger or mere threat to public safety is enough to justify military rule and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, the 1987 Constitution requires that there has to be an actual uprising or insurrection in the entire Mindanao region before a justified declaration of Martial Law.

In forty eight (48) hours, Duterte is required, by law, to reveal to Congress the factual and legal basis of his imposition of Martial Law.

We demand that Malacañang to also present its case on why military rule is its solution to the terror attacks, as it is contradictory to statements by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which declared that the situation in Marawi is now “under control”, and to declarations by Rodrigo Duterte himself, who has said that a purely military solution will not address the historical roots of the Mindanao conflict.

3. The legal minds of Malacañang – especially President Duterte – may argue that safeguards to civil liberties and political rights are in place even with the imposition of Martial Law. But formal recognition is different from actual realities. The Bill of Rights is often illusory in a warlord-ridden region such as Mindanao, even during peace-time but certainly more so during martial rule.

Since the imposition of martial law in Mindanao has no factual and legal basis and because Malacañang rushed into martial rule, without exhausting all other options, we fear that the fascist tendency of the Duterte regime is nearing its full bloom, through the re-imposition of open dictatorship in the entire country, which Digong has repeatedly threatened to do during the campaign and throughout his first year in office.

The BMP demands that the Duterte administration immediately (a) end the martial law in Mindanao; (b) uphold civilian supremacy over the military; (c) protect people’s rights – especially the rights to freedom of association and legitimate dissent; and, (d) address the longstanding conflicts in Mindanao by satisfying the Filipino people’s demand for peace and equality and the Bangsamoro people’s right for self-determination.

 

 

 

 

Priests should only talk about God!

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
May 14, 2017

THAT’S right. And especially, when it involves bishops. When they, we – me included, stray into commenting about politics, even if we have the good intention of evangelizing it but cannot avoid taking a partisan position, we would be doing wrong and be causing great harm to everyone.

Christ himself, living at a time and place where the political conditions were far from ideal, refrained from making any comments about politics. About the only time he could be said to have made a political comment was when he referred to Herod as a fox. (cfr Lk 13,32) Other than that he was silent and resisted any attempt to drag him to the political scene.

In fact, he submitted himself to the prevailing laws at the time, highly imperfect as they were, even if as the Son of God and our Redeemer, he could have been exempted from them. This was the case of whether he had to pay the temple tax or not. (cfr, Mt 17,24-27)

Current Church laws and praxis have always discouraged the clergy from getting mixed up in political issues. Part of the reason is the autonomy that temporal matters like politics enjoys and has to be respected no matter how much we may disagree with certain political views.

But the other part of the reason is the obvious danger of alienating some people. Priests, consecrated to be the sacramental personification of Christ as head of the Church, should always be an agent of unity and redemption, concerned mainly with the spiritual and supernatural life of the people.

Even if we have the better political view, we do not have the privilege to participate actively in the political discussions. Even when the issues involved already have direct repercussions on faith and morals, we should refrain from making comments that can be interpreted as politically partisan.

The reason behind is that even in the worst scenario, there is always some good that can be derived from it. If we follow by our faith, if we follow by the example of Christ, we just have to go along with whatever political temper there may be at a given time and place and focus more on what we are supposed to do.

Of course, we as pastors can make moral judgments on political issues that clearly violate faith and morals, but these should be done with utmost delicacy and charity.

In this regard, we should not be afraid to be misunderstood and to suffer all kinds of persecution, reflecting Christ’s character as a sign of contradiction. What we cannot do is to fall into a kind of bitter zeal that would leave charity behind in pursuit of what we consider to be the truth and the requirements of justice.

Actually, talking only about God already entails a lot of things and can demand everything from the clergy. It covers everything that is of real and eternal importance to us. Preaching the mysteries of our faith alone is no small matter. This is not to mention that we have to journey pastorally with the people, both in their collective and individual/personal aspects.

All these require nothing less than full identification with Christ in whose priesthood we participate. The social-action aspect of the clergy’s work should never be interpreted as a ticket to get involved in partisan politics.

 

 

 

 

National ID system, amid militarization of gov’t bureaucracy, will lead to wholesale rights violations

A Press Statement by the KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
May 12, 2017

Amid the growing number of military generals holding top posts in the government bureaucracy, the proposed bill on the national ID system, which was recently approved by the House Committee on Population, is bound to lead to wholesale violation of people’s rights to freedom of movement and privacy, right against surveillance, and right to unhampered and non-discriminatory provision of social services.

Such proposed measures will legitimize the already existing violations of the rights of the people. Many activists and political dissenters were subjected to surveillance by the state. Worse, their names were listed in the so-called “order of battle” by the Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) and other similar lists as part of the counter-insurgency program of the government. With the continuing spate of illegal arrests and detention of activists, we believe that this policy and practice continues to this day.

The proposed National ID system will aggravate the already bleak human rights situation in the country where human rights defenders and political dissenters are subjects of surveillance, threats, illegal arrests and detention, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. Its conspicuous timing is also in the context of increased militarization of the civilian bureaucracy, the continuing implementation of counter-insurgency programs, and killings in line with the war on drugs.

We take exception that such draconian measures are being pursued in the guise of purportedly addresses problems in the bureaucracy on the delivery of social services. The inefficiency in government transactions is deeply rooted in a corrupt system. A more productive response to the need for an efficient system of delivering government service to the people is through the prioritization and allocation of necessary funds for the social services, instead of giving a lion’s share of public funds to the unproductive concerns of the defense sector. A more comprehensive response to criminal activities should start with the investigation and prosecution of criminal elements mostly in the Philippine National Police itself and the political biggies who protect these syndicates.

 

 

 

 

Statement of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on vote to Gina Lopez

By Office of Senator Alan Peter S. Cayetano
May 5, 2017

Good evening everyone! Greetings from Geneva.

I will always decide on what is right and not what is popular.

Senator Alan Peter CayetanoI'm not surprised to see so much support and so much opposition to the voting of the C.A. re DENR Secretary Nominee Gina Lopez. I thank those who are open minded and asking why? I'm not surprised that Sec. Gina and her group will go so low as to cast aspersions on why I voted the way I did and even accuse me of being in the pockets of the mining industry.

Since the 2007 campaign my stand on responsible mining and the strictest, highest standards for industries that affect the environment has been consistent.

At the time of the voting, I felt that for me to explain my vote at that time would be like rubbing salt in a wound, because I would have to enumerate all the reasons why she is not fit to be DENR secretary. I felt it would be cruel to reject then put her down.

Yet she now singles me out when a vast majority of the CA voted to reject (after giving her a year to prove herself) her appointment.

I want to clarify that I gave Ms. Lopez enough chances to dispel fears that she would not observe the legal process in regulating the mining industry. I supported her in closing down mining sites that were not compliant with the highest standards. Moreover, illegal mining and logging continue to proliferate, while other sectors that need both strict regulation continue to destroy the environment.

Unfortunately, the Secretary was adamant in defending her illegal actions. If she had carried on with her mindset, it would have embarrassed the Duterte Administration sooner or later. She would have placed the administration in a predicament that would be hard to defend.

I respect Ms. Lopez's passion as an advocate for the environment, but she fails to understand that she cannot arrogate unto herself Constitutional powers reserved exclusively for Congress.

Many officials have invoked good intentions when they violated our anti-graft and corruption laws, and President Rodrigo Duterte was left with no choice but to terminate them. Ms. Lopez's recent acts already bordered along these lines. Going by her unwillingness to comply with institutional processes, she is not fit to head the DENR. She would have embarrassed the President in no time.

We are all for alleviating poverty and the strict enforcement of our laws, but we cannot and should not do so by being whimsical in imposing regulations that violate Constitutional processes.

I hope that the President will appoint another Ms. Lopez with the same zeal, yet still mindful of the requisite that one must be faithful to the mandate and dictates of our laws and processes.

 

 

 

 

God and evil

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
April 23, 2017

A usual question many people ask is, If God is good, is goodness himself, if he is truly omnipotent and provident, why is there evil? It’s definitely a very complex question that is hard to answer. In fact, the Catechism recognizes this.

“To this question, as painful and mysterious as it is”, the Catechism explains, “only the whole of Christian faith can constitute a response.” (Compendium 57) It hastens to reassure us that “God is not in any way – directly or indirectly – the cause of evil. He illuminates the mystery of evil in his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose in order to vanquish that great moral evil, human sin, which is at the root of all other evils.”

Then in the next point, it says: “Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil. This was realized in a wondrous way by God in the death and resurrection of Christ. In fact, from the greatest of all moral evils (the murder of his Son) he has brought forth the greatest of all goods (the glorification of Christ and our redemption). (Compendium 58)

We also know about the story of Joseph, the son of Jacob, in the Old Testament who was sold by his own brothers out of envy but who later became a prominent man in Egypt. When that dramatic reunion between him and his father and brothers took place, the brothers were very apologetic for what they did to him and expected to be duly punished.

But Joseph, with utmost magnanimity, the magnanimity of God, simply told them: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen 50,20) Once again, the divine principle that God knows how to derive good from evil finds its proof.

It’s important that when we consider the very many different forms of evil that can come to us and that we see around, we should immediately have recourse to our faith and not stay too long in our merely human estimations that are usually based on our emotions only, our prejudices, our sciences that cannot fathom the many mysteries in life, etc.

We should not waste too much time lamenting and complaining, and worse, drifting towards the loss of faith. We need to go to our faith as soon as possible, and there find some refuge for our troubled souls.

But for this to happen, we need to practice some emotional and intellectual humility, otherwise that faith cannot shed its proper light, and we would be held captive by our limited ways of understanding things. We cannot deny the fact that our emotions and our intellectual pride can easily dominate the way we think and react to things.

We have to find ways of embedding this attitude in the people and in our culture itself. We should not be too afraid when some forms of evil come our way. We just have to ask: “Lord, what do you want me to learn from these?”

 

 

 

 

What the Holy Week teaches

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
April 9, 2017

MANY precious insights and lessons can be derived if we enter into the spirit of the Holy Week. Let us thank God for all of them and strengthen our resolve to go through the Holy Week keeping our faith and piety as vibrant as possible. That way, we can predispose ourselves to continually discern these insights and lessons, refining, polishing and deepening them as we go along.

Among these precious insights and lessons is the idea of human and Christian perfection which, I believe, is patently shown by Christ as we liturgically celebrate his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

For many of us, our usual understanding of what is perfect and complete is when we manage to pass a certain test, conquer a certain battle, win in a certain contest, all measured in human terms.

That is to say, that the victory and conquest is measured in terms of points scored, wealth earned, popularity gained, or in terms of mere physical and mechanical perfection.

Those standards of perfection and completion obviously have their proper value and place in the sun, but they definitely are still far from what is ideal to us as persons and as children of God.

They are far too exclusive, not inclusive, and are unable to find value in suffering, and reason and meaning in the many human imperfections and natural limitations that we all have.

It’s an understanding of perfection that is not realistic, given our wounded human nature and damaged condition. It fails to consider many other things that are unavoidable in our earthly life.

In this Holy Week, from Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, to his death on the cross and resurrection, what we see is Christ’s determination to perfect and complete his redemptive work by obeying the will of his Father, no matter what it costs.

Our idea of human and Christian perfection has to conform to that model shown to us by Christ. It can be very strict and demanding insofar as the human and natural standards are concerned, but all of that should not in any way undermine the charity and mercy that has to be extended to everyone no matter how they are.

We have to realize that our human and Christian perfection is achieved to the extent that we follow Christ all the way to the cross so that we too can share in his resurrection. It is a perfection that will always involve suffering, that is, the cross of Christ that paved the way to his resurrection.

What the Holy Week teaches us is to train ourselves to suffer with Christ, to take up the cross of Christ without fear. We should be reassured of the victory that can be the consequence of this attitude, banking also on the reassurance that was once expressed by St. Paul:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor 10,13)

 

 

 

 

Our CAB. Our Peace. Our Future

A Press Statement by All-Out Peace (AOP) & Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW) on CAB’s 3rd Anniversary
March 27, 2017

As we commemorate today’s 3rd Anniversary of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the All-Out Peace (AOP) and Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW) renew and further strengthen our support for this historic peace agreement, and reiterate our collective resolve for a genuinely inclusive peace roadmap that secures the present and the future not just of Bangsamoro but of the whole nation.

AOP and MPW believe that CAB, an instrument of genuine peace, “embodies and recognizes the “justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic process that will secure their identity and prosperity, and allow for meaningful self-governance”. It is in this context that we register our support and call for the immediate enactment of a Bangsamoro enabling law that reflects all principled and meaningful solutions to seek a final answer to the Bangsamoro question and resolve the decades-old Mindanao conflict.

Today, we re-affirm with utmost urgency, our commitment to contribute, more significantly, to peacebuilding – a strategy crucial to finding a viable peace formula to help see through the conclusion of the Bangsamoro peace process that would finally seal the democratic aspirations of the Bangsamoro for their inherent right to self-determination towards a meaningful and enduring peace.

Despite the setbacks suffered by the CAB in recent years, starting with the unfortunate incident in Mamasapano and the failure of the 16th Congress to pass a BBL, we believe that the CAB, and those who believe in it, have weathered the storm. Believing that the CAB is a product not only of political negotiations between the Bangsamoro and the Philippine government but of the peacebuilding communities’ decades of peacemaking, we are here today, stronger and with a firmer resolve to persevere and defend the political promise and peaceful vision of what we claim as Our CAB.

In the immediate, we respectfully urge the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the implementing peace panels, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to fast track the peace process as we cannot afford anymore delay. The strategy of the new administration to actually build on what has been accomplished in the past and to continue previous commitments, including the implementation of signed agreements from past administrations is a welcome development.

Already, even if an enabling law is yet to be hammered by the BTC and enacted by Congress, a Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission mandated by the CAB has delivered on its major task by issuing a report and proposing recommendations primarily based on extensive consultations in the Bangsamoro areas. We urge President Duterte to heed its recommendations particularly of establishing a Transitional Justice and Reconcilation Commission for the Bangsamoro (NTJRCB) that shall ensure the implementation of the ‘dealing with the past’ framework and promote healing and reconciliation.

Now, more than ever, we are optimistic and hopeful that in the spirit and principles of the CAB and other related peace agreements, history will be on our side and will offer a new round of golden opportunity for the enactment of a Bangsamoro enabling law to rectify the injustices committed not just against the Bangsamoro, the indigenous peoples of Mindanao, but for all the oppressed peoples of our nation. We are determined to win this ‘war’ against war. In the success of the peace process rests our peaceful and democratic future.

 

 

 

 

Political killings in the Philippines – complicity in murder

By ANDREW ANDERSON, Executive Director, Front Line Defenders
March 10, 2017

On Thursday, 2 March, Jimboy Tapdasan Pesadilla was contacted by a neighbour to go to his parents’ house urgently. When he got to the house, he found several neighbours outside the house and a team of police inside, taking pictures. His father and mother had both been shot dead.

Ramon Dagaas Pesadilla and his wife Leonila Tapdasan Pesadilla were both active members of the Compostela Farmers’ Association (CFA). The CFA has been vocal in its opposition to major mining projects in the area, and as a result their members have been regular targets for the security forces and thugs hired by the mining companies. Ramon and Leonila had recently donated land for a Lumad (the non Muslim indigenous people of the southern Philippines) community school. This had made them a particular target for attack as the security forces accuse indigenous community schools of fostering support for the New People’s Army, the NPA. Human rights groups have reported an upward trend in human rights violations against indigenous people ever since fighting resumed between communist rebels and government forces following the termination of both parties' unilateral ceasefires early last month.

These latest killings bring to 17 the number of HRDs killed since the start of 2017.

When President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines left office in June 2016, he could at least claim some credit for a significant drop in the number of extra-judicial executions, even through the activities of government-backed death squads still remained a major cause for concern. Since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte, killings are once more on the increase. These crimes are rarely investigated or the perpetrators held to account. According to Human Rights Watch's 2016 Annual Report “Among the reasons are lack of political will to investigate and prosecute abuses by state security forces; a corrupt and politicised criminal justice system; and a traditional “patronage politics” system that protects officials and security forces”.

In its 2016 Annual Report, Front Line Defenders reported 281 killings of human rights defenders (HRDs) around the world. Thirty-one of those killings took place in the Philippines, the largest number of killings of HRDs in any country outside the Americas. By calling for the extra-judicial killing of those involved, or suspected of being involved, in the drug trade, President Duterte has sent a signal that murder is an acceptable way of dealing with certain social problems. The ending of the peace talks and the ceasefire has made an already volatile situation even more dangerous, especially for indigenous peoples or environmental HRDs who object to mining or other polluting industries.

The Philippines is now one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a HRD and the government of President Duterte must act urgently to break the cycle of violence, ensure the security forces operate within the rule of law and bring the perpetrators to justice or stand accused of complicity in murder.

The recent decision to involve the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the war on drugs, especially in the lands of indigenous peoples, is a dangerous development which will do nothing to solve the drug problem or resolve the decades-old conflict, but will certainly increase the death toll.

Since the beginning of February there has been a catalogue of killings of Lumad community leaders. On 3 February, Matanem Lorendo Pocuan and Renato Anglao, were gunned down in separate incidents. On 6 February, Emelito Rotimas was shot eight times by suspected military agents, while later the same day Glenn Ramos, was shot dead by personnel of the Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG). On 16 February, Edweno ‘Edwin’ Catog, was shot by two men, believed to be linked to the 46th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA). He had previously been warned by a relative that he should go into hiding because he was on a military hit list. On 19 February, Willerme Agorde of Mailuminado Farmers’ Association Incorporated (MAFAI) was shot by suspected members of the Bagani paramilitary group.

According to Cristina Palabay of human rights organisation Karapatan, “There is a consistent pattern in these killings. Every political killing is justified by the military with claims that victims are members of the New People’s Army (NPA), and have been killed during ‘legitimate’ encounters’. In the cities, we are being fed a similar narrative – with the police justifying drug-related killings during ‘legitimate’ police operations. These killings are perpetrated by state security forces who seem to think that they have been granted the right to kill indiscriminately.

President Duterte has encouraged the killers and must be held responsible for his actions. The international community must challenge President Duterte’s endorsement of murder. Failure to do so will send a signal to dictators everywhere that they can wage war on their own people with impunity.

The number of killings is not just a measure of entrenched violence, but an indicator of the failure of successive Philippine governments to deal with issues of poverty, corruption and discrimination, as well as the lack of economic or social opportunities for the vast majority of the people of the Philippines. A key step towards addressing this issue is for the government to recognise the key role of HRDs in helping to create a more just and equal society in the Philippines.

 

 

 

 

Why do we fast?

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
March 9, 2017

CHRIST was once asked this question. The disciples of John the Baptist and of the Pharisees wondered why they had to fast much while those of Christ did not. (cfr Mt 9,14-15)

The answer came immediately. “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

I suppose Christ was referring to himself as the bridegroom. In fact, in his Letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul referred Christ as the groom of the Church, that is, us. (cfr 5,22-32)

Christ can be regarded as the bridegroom who actually is with us always, but also not yet fully with us, given our human and temporal condition as of yet. We are still on our pilgrim way on earth toward our eternal destiny in heaven where Christ will be fully with us.

That is why Christ can be considered somehow as not yet with us, and that’s the reason why we have to fast. It is to train ourselves to seek him. It is to make us realize we need him, and that we actually will find our true and lasting joy with him. At the moment, we are still kind of mourning, as Christ said, because we are not yet fully with him.

We have to be clear about the reason why we fast. We should not just fast because we have been commanded to do so. We have to fast because, especially at these times when we are easily carried away by earthly pleasures, we need to sharpen our longing for Christ.

Fasting has a dual effect. One is the passive or the negative effect, which is that of disciplining ourselves – especially our senses and our other bodily faculties. This is the self-denial part. And the other is the active or the positive one, which is that of honing our hunger for Christ. This is the following part, as illustrated in the very words of Christ: “If any man wants to follow me, he must deny himself, carry the cross, and follow me.”

This two should go together, mutually affecting each other. One without the other would distort the true character and purpose of fasting.

And nowadays, we have to understand that fasting should not be limited to matters of food and drinks. It has to be extended now most especially in the use of the many conveniences that we now enjoy, like our new technologies, that have an effective way of enslaving us and blunting our love for God and for others.

We need to concretize our resolutions with regard to this need for fasting. This may mean that we have to set aside our cellphones from time to time, that we use the gadgets with clear rectitude of intention, that we refrain from complaining when these same gadgets give us problems as they often do also, etc.

We have to understand that everyday, the element of fasting as a sacrifice is actually a necessity to all of us.

 

 

 

 

PMCJ’s statement on President Duterte’s signing of the Paris Agreement

March 6, 2017

The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) welcomes President Duterte’s signing of the Paris Agreement as a step towards the Philippines commitment to the 1.5 degree aspirational goal laid out in the Paris Agreement.

However, signing the Paris Accord still will not ensure a world beyond the climate crisis and the Philippines climate-proofed from extreme weather events. However, the Philippine Government will once again lead the various countries in demanding the historical responsibilities of rich countries and the higher commitments in polluter countries in mitigation action. As of now, the NDCs submitted by all countries which ratified the Paris Agreement falls short of preventing catastrophic climate change.

With this, PMCJ stands firm that the Paris Agreement is not enough to enact effective and genuine climate actions. The group calls for stronger and concrete policy actions that can directly address and develop programs towards Philippine economy achieving growth not tied with increased consumption of coal.

We demand the president’s full support in implementing policies to reduce the dependence of our country to the use of dirty fossil fuels and spearhead the transition towards 100% renewable energy. Moreover, we call on the President to use its mandate to ensure that government agencies will be working hand-in-hand and will serve and protect the interest of the people who are being directly hit by the impacts of the exacerbating global climate change.

So far, the Philippines energy consumption exhibits an increasing CO2 emission due to undesirably increasing number of existing coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) in the country – counting 26 operational and 36 more CFPPs in the pipeline. In fact, President Duterte himself has inaugurated 3 CFPPs in his term.

The Philippines still remains as one of the most vulnerable countries. According to the 2016 Global Climate Risk Index our country ranked 4th globally after being visited by strong typhoons like Typhoon Yolanda for the past decade and the succeeding typhoons. As a result it exacerbated further poverty, massive inequality due to the extent of damage and dislocation. The continued burning of coal and other fossil fuels globally will be detrimental to most climate vulnerable countries like the Philippines where economic growth are being eaten up by destruction and devastation.

Typhoon Yolanda’s effects and impacts include high percentage of destruction of framed homes, total roof failure and wall collapse, isolation of residential areas due to fallen trees and power poles and power outages (NOAA, 2013c), and left the country with 6,201 dead, 1,785 missing and 28,626 injured. All of these resulted to P296 million total damages in agriculture and infrastructure which caused a 1% total decrease in gross domestic product (GDP).

 

 

 

 

Lent, seeing the light in darkness

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
March 5, 2017

WE are now again the in season of Lent. It’s important that we know how to see the good, bright and happy side of this season that otherwise is usually considered as dark, and also associated almost exclusively with pain, suffering and sacrifice.

We need to confront the dark reality of our sinfulness as well as the reassuring reality of God’s mercy. These two realities should go together, and the Lenten period is the good time to strengthen our conviction about the helpful relationship these two should have with each other.

Whenever we feel the sting of our weaknesses and sinfulness, together with their antecedents and consequences, their causes and effects, let’s never forget to consider also God’s mercy that is always given to us, and, in fact, given to us abundantly.

We have to avoid getting stuck with one while ignoring the other. Our sinfulness should be viewed in the context of divine mercy. And vice-versa: God’s mercy should be regarded in the context of our unavoidable sinfulness.

And from there, let us develop the unshakable conviction that no matter what sins we commit, no matter how ugly they are, there is always hope. God’s mercy is never lacking.

May it be that while our sinfulness would have the understandable effect of making us feel bad and sad, we should not allow it to scandalize ourselves to the point of running away from Christ rather than going back to him contrite.

Let’s strengthen our conviction that Christ has a special attraction to sinners, that he is ever willing to forgive us as long as we show some signs of repentance that he himself, through his grace, will stir in us.

Let’s play the part of Peter who, after denying Christ three times, realized his mistake and wept bitterly in repentance. Christ looked kindly on him and forgave him and even made him the prince of the apostles.

But we have to learn how to handle our weaknesses and temptations. And the secret is always to be with God. The more we are stirred and bombarded by them, the more we should be with God. That’s the secret. To distance ourselves from him can only mean disaster.

Truth is, we always need God in our battle against temptations. We should disabuse ourselves from the thought that with our good intentions and our best efforts alone, we can manage to tame the urges of temptations.

We cannot! That’s the naked truth about it. We only can if we are with God. And we have to be with him in a strong, determined way, not in a passive or lukewarm way. Do flies flock on a hot soup? No. But they do on a cold or lukewarm soup.

We need to do everything to be with God. Our mind and heart should be fully and constantly engaged with him. We always have reason to do so – at least, we can thank him for what we are having at the moment: health, food, air, work, etc. Let’s never leave him!

 

 

 

 

God yes but religion no?

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
February 22, 2017

WE have to be clear about this. We cannot have God without religion. They go together as far as we are concerned. Religion is precisely our relationship with God. It’s an unavoidable thing, whether we like it or not. It has its laws and requirements that flow from God himself and that ought to be followed. Without religion, what would God be to us?

There are some people who profess that they believe in God but not in religion. Perhaps what they mean is that they indeed believe in God but do not want to be hampered by certain “requirements” that religion demands from them. Or they do not want what they call as “organized religion” with its doctrine and practices.

It’s like saying that they want a God that is according to their own liking, their own designs, their own terms. They do not want to be told what to do in their own so-called relation with God.

Of course, they are quick to say that these “requirements” are simply man-made, or are mere legalisms that really have nothing to do with the essence of our relation with God. They seem to be the only ones capable of knowing how their relation with God should be. No one should intervene.

Worse, they are quick to point out the many inconsistencies that people who occupy positions in the Church and those who call themselves as pious, holy and religious make, to justify their rejection of their own idea of religion. They are deflecting the issue, as if the mistakes and sins of these men and women detract from the objective need for religion.

This is unfortunate because such understanding of God and religion is fatally flawed. While religion is personal in the sense that it is unique to each individual, it is also personal in the sense that it is by definition relational and subject to the laws of God and the laws that the divinely founded Church stipulates.

To be personal is not only to be a unique individual but also to be related to God and to everybody else. A person is always a religious and social being. That is how a person is wired, and in these relations, there are universal God-given laws that need to be followed.

Of course, these laws are articulated in human terms and therefore cannot fully capture the mysterious laws of God. That is why they need to be updated, improved, polished, enriched, etc. as time goes on. But they have to be followed just the same, unless it’s clear that a particular law does not apply to a concrete situation of the person.

Some people say that they believe in God but they do not want to do anything with the Church. But God without the Church is not God. He would be a man-made god. The bishop-martyr St. Cyprian expresses this truth well: “You cannot have God as your Father if you do not have the Church as your mother.”

   

Last updated: 11/19/2017

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