Killing Kian: A
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
the President driving us to rebel?
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.
opens heaven’s gate
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
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
“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
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!
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.
President Duterte’s meeting with Bayan leaders ahead of the SONA
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
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
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
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
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
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
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
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.
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
“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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.”
His reply gave me pause, and
I immediately knew where it was going. She’s one of those in the
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
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
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
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
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
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
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
As the Muslim ummah enters
Ramadhan, we can only pray for wisdom, peace, and understanding.
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
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
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!
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
I'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
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.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
“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
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
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
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
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
Our CAB. Our Peace.
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.
in the Philippines – complicity in murder
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
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
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
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
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.”
Souls of prayer
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 11, 2017
We really need to be souls
of prayer. This is what is proper to us. It’s a fundamental need
because when we pray we connect ourselves with our ultimate life
source who is God. Our need for prayer is infinitely more than our
need for air and food. Before anything else, it is what truly makes us
a human person and a child of God.
That is why Christ preached
abundantly about it, and encouraged us always to pray. He himself, who
is both God and man, prayed all the time. He prayed before he started
his public life, when he began his day of work as well as at the end
of the day, when he performed miracles, when he had to make big
In the end, he clearly told
us to pray always and not to lose heart when he talked about the
parable of the persistent widow (cfr Lk 18,1ff). He also told us about
the basic characteristics of our prayer – that it should be sincere,
confident, humble and constant.
We have to be wary of our
great tendency to be dominated by worldly and temporal concerns such
that we fail to pray. That would be a disaster since that would be
like being deluded that we are doing well in life when in fact we are
failing big time.
We have to start to pick up
the rudiments of prayer and begin the process of becoming authentic
souls of prayer, such that wherever we are, whatever situation we may
be in, somehow we are always praying, we are always in touch with God.
This should not be difficult
because we know that God is always around. He is everywhere. Besides,
he is always solicitous of us. He cannot fail to love us. We may fail
him and earn his anger, but that anger would only be for a while,
since his mercy is forever. We can always manage to pray any time any
place if we just would have the proper disposition.
Definitely, we need to
exercise our faith and be willing to exert effort and make sacrifices.
That is how we can aspire to make our prayer alive always. We should
put ourselves in God’s presence always so we avoid anonymity in our
intimate conversations with him.
What can also help is to
train and use our imagination in our prayer. In fact, we have to use
all our human powers and faculties – our intelligence and will, our
feelings and memory, etc. – in our prayer.
And we should be ready to
handle the unavoidable difficulties in our prayer. There will be times
when we would feel dry and uninspired or when we would be tempted to
think that our prayer is going nowhere.
Those difficulties are
actually opportunities to improve our prayer and to grow in our
spiritual life. If we persevere in praying, using all the means that
are always available, we will see how this improvement and growth are
taking place, and be filled with joy and satisfaction.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 7, 2017
APPARENTLY an American actor
expressed the view recently that if he does not read the newspapers,
he obviously would be uninformed of developments around. But if he
reads them, he most likely would also get misinformed, considering the
way the papers are now, he said. He found himself in a dilemma.
This is the challenge we all
face at present. The truth is that we have to get informed, but
informed properly. We simply have to find ways of how to get out of
the state of being uninformed and misinformed.
This will require some
skills, of course. But the basic and relevant virtue to live here is
that of prudence. That’s what would enable us to judge whether we
should read the papers or not, now or later, or to “smell” whether a
piece of information is good or not, useful or useless, relevant or
irrelevant, true or false.
Nowadays, the need to be
most discerning is getting urgent precisely because of the
proliferation of useless information, not to mention, misleading and
deceptive ones and fake news that are laced with all sorts of biases
and prejudices of those who make them. It’s not only political
partisanship that occasions this phenomenon. It’s deeper than that.
It’s now ideological partisanship.
This virtue of prudence, of
course, presumes some criteria to guide our judgments. In this regard,
it has to be made clear that we have to start with God’s moral law. We
just cannot set aside this indispensable requirement and plunge
immediately to merely earthly and temporal values like practicality,
profitability, popularity, etc., to guide us. That would be like
sailing a boat without the North Star, or the GPS.
Prudence, of course,
presumes a certain hierarchy of values that we should respect, uphold
and defend. It should be vitally connected with wisdom that in the end
connects us with God and all others, as well as all things in the
world, through love and truth.
We have to make sure that
our prudence is not only motivated by secondary criteria, like
efficiency, effectiveness, practicality, profitability, convenience,
etc. If these criteria do not lead us to a closer relation with God,
with others and the rest of the world, but would rather reinforce our
self-absorption, then it would not be true prudence.
We might enjoy some perks
that these secondary standards may give us, but it would not be true
prudence when it fails to lead us to our proper relationship with God,
others and the rest of the world.
Of course, true prudence
springs first of all from our intimate personal relation with God, the
source of all good things, of all truth, of all love. Without that
foundation, our prudence would be limited to mere appearances of
prudence that would be nothing other than the prudence of the world
and the prudence of the flesh, if not the prudence of the devil.
Again, we cannot
overemphasize the need to be vitally united with God for us to be
truly prudent and able to discern all types of information that are
being fed to us these days.
In the name of
Fr. Roy Cimagala,
January 12, 2017
WE should form the habit of
frequently invoking the name of Jesus. If there’s any name that we
should call most often, it should be that of Jesus. It is the most
important and necessary name we can call, as attested by St. Paul
himself who said:
“God greatly exalted him,
and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the
name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth
and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is
Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2,10-11)
Calling his name, for sure,
is never just an empty form of pietism, or some kind of superstition.
Calling his name corresponds to a basic necessity of ours who always
need to be helped, enlightened, strengthened and ultimately redeemed.
We are assured that Jesus
always listens to us and promptly attends to our needs, although in
ways that may be different from our own expectations. It’s not in
Jesus to be indifferent to our needs, no matter how unworthy and
undeserving we are. His great love for us will always lead him to
intervene always in our life.
The name of Jesus means “God
saves.” Invoking that name will always remind us of our need for
salvation, that is, our ultimate salvation from sin, from death, from
all pain and suffering. It’s not simply liberation from some
transitory hunger or worldly need. It’s liberation to eternal life.
If invoked with faith and
love, if done with great piety, calling the name Jesus can only give
us a lot of good. It can even give us an immediate relieving and
I remember that one time, I
had some muscle pain in my legs and in my back. A ‘manghihilot’ was
recommended to me, and he told me to have strong faith and to follow
him in calling the name of Jesus as he did his therapy. I must say
that it worked.
But more importantly, we
need to call Jesus’ name when we are faced with big challenges and
difficult, if not irresistible, temptations. Somehow doing so
generates a certain kind of spiritual strength that would enable us to
handle these situations effectively.
When we feel our weaknesses
stirred up, or when, for some mysterious reasons, we seem to be
strongly drawn or lured to do something sinful, calling the name of
Jesus would really help. More than just recovering our senses, we can
feel a strong mysterious spiritual force that will enable us to do
what we ought to do.
And if, in spite of
everything, we still manage to fall, then calling Jesus’ name
facilitates our repentance and reconciliation with God and with
others. We do not actually need to go far or do extraordinary things
for us to be helped, guided, enlightened, strengthened and redeemed.
We just need to call Jesus’ name, and the process of healing starts.
Some people question whether
it is practicable to be truly holy in the middle of the world that is
full of sin and temptations. The answer to that is a resounding,
‘yes.’ Christ would not command us to be holy if that is not doable.
And the practicability of holiness can start simply by calling the
name of Jesus – with faith, love and piety.
The lives of saints can
attest to this. And even our own personal experiences can prove it.
Calling Jesus’ name can immediately soften our mind and heart that can
tend to harden due to the pressures of life, not to mention, the
temptations and sin around.
Calling Jesus’ name will
always remind us to be good to others, to be charitable, understanding
and compassionate with them. It will prod us to think well of the
others, to be quick to serve and help them. It will push us to do a
lot of good, never saying enough.
Calling Jesus’ name will
help us to be quick to ask for forgiveness if we commit a mistake as
well as to forgive others. It will lead us along the way of humility
Calling Jesus’ name will
strengthen us so we can tackle the many and endless challenges and
problems of life. It will help us to handle situations when we are
insulted, mocked and offended. It will encourage us to identify with
him on the cross when we suffer all kinds of injustice.
Calling Jesus’ name will
also show us what else to do to follow him all the way to the end.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
January 8, 2017
LEST you get scandalized, it
was Christ himself who said so. Let us cite the exact quotation:
‘“Which of the two did what his father wanted?’ ‘The first,’ they
answered. Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax collectors
and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.’”
Of course, the context was
the precious lesson Christ wanted to highlight as to what would
comprise fulfilling God’s will. He mentioned about two brothers. The
first was asked to work in the vineyard, and said no, but later on,
changed his mind and went to work. The second said yes, but actually
did not go.
The precious lesson Christ
wanted to impart is that what really matters is doing and not simply
saying to do God’s will, even if at the beginning one declines to do
God’s will. An important part of this lesson is the need for
repentance and conversion in our life.
So the prostitutes referred
to in this particular episode are those who repented and who actually
did what Christ wanted them to do. They did not enter as prostitutes,
but as sinners who have repented.
A significant lesson we can
also gather from this particular story, and one that should serve as a
constant warning to all of us, is that we have to be most careful when
we think we are already good enough because of certain good things we
have or have done, but still have failed to be very faithful to God’s
This is the lesson embedded
in that saying that “the good is the enemy of the best,” that is the
very germ of that most insidious spiritual illness called spiritual
complacency and lukewarmness. That’s when we think we are good enough.
There’s no need to be better.
We have to understand that
conversion is a continuing need for all of us. We can never say that
we are good enough and that we do not need further conversions. We
should not forget that we are all sinners even in the best condition
of our earthly life.
For this to happen, we need
to be humble, which can be the result of the keen awareness of our
sinfulness. It’s when we think we are sinless or with little and
negligible sin that we fail to realize the need for conversion.
We should never allow
whatever good we have done to lull us to think that we are good enough
and that we don’t need another conversion.
I refer more to people who
have been doing good all these years, but somehow are stuck at a
certain point in their spiritual life. Doing good for them has become
a kind of set routine that is turning to be more mechanical than
spiritual, leaving an impressive shell but slowly being deprived of
substance, desensitizing them from the urge for another conversion.
The mark of true saints is
precisely this hunger and thirst for repentance and conversion.
Whatever good they did humbled them instead of leaving them proud.
They knew who and what was behind all the accomplishments they made,
and were more keenly aware of their inadequacies, their mistakes,
faults, infidelities, etc.
It’s not that they led a
miserable life of having a dark outlook in life and a negative
attitude toward their own selves. They were a happy lot, whose joy
sprang from their living and faithful union with God, their father,
but aware of their total dependence on God.
It’s their driving love for
God and souls that keep them feeling always the need for penance and
conversion. It’s not just fear of sin and evil that provokes this
hunger. It’s love of God and souls. It’s this love that made them see
more things that they need to do. It’s this love for God and souls
that would make them feel that they have to go further than what so
far they have accomplished.
This love has no limits. It
does not have the word ‘enough’ in its vocabulary. It always urges
them to do more to be more and better.
That is why it is often
given as a spiritual advice that one forgets himself completely and
just thinks of God and the others. Not only that, but also that one’s
true growth and development toward human maturity and Christian
perfection is measured to the extent that one thinks of God and the
others and does things for them.
It might be good to
replicate in oneself a true act of contrition that is involved in a
conversion of a prostitute.
Good news and the
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
December 13, 2016
There's a new scourge in the
media today. It's called the fake news. It had its most devastating
display during the last US presidential election where one candidate
was touted practically by all the major news sources to be the winner,
The outcome was, of course,
different. The upset was shocking. And the world woke up to the
realization that it has been fed, maliciously or not, systematically
or not, with fake news.
That this phenomenon
happened certainly deserves a more in-depth study. How could such
powerful news agencies, pollsters, etc., fail to read the mind of the
people in general? What an epic, big-time fail it was!
There can be many, endless
reasons behind it. But offhand, what I can say is that there certainly
was a very devious virus of bias and prejudice involved among the
media people that now include millions of netizens with their blogs
and social media accounts.
It was a virus that found
its host in the passion-filled arena of the political warfare, where
the light that was shed blinded more than made people see things
properly. It generated what may be termed as agenda-dictated
journalism, where self-serving slanting of data and the objective
assessment and the fair treatment of the issues were set aside.
Words were inflated or
deflated to serve the biases and prejudices of those in media. More
than words, ideologies corrupted the minds of people to the extent
that the people could not judge things properly anymore and resorted
instead to a simplistic black-and-white tack on the issues.
These ideologies tried to be
the core basis for the people's faith and reasoning. But we know that
for all their valid points, no ideology has exclusive right to be the
sole holder and owner of what is true, right and fair in our human
affairs. It's amazing that many people now turn to ideologies as the
bedrock of their beliefs.
God, his word, his will and
ways – in short, the Good News – are all but dismissed completely.
They are considered irrelevant, a drag and an unnecessary baggage in
resolving issues political or otherwise.
Many people have not come
any closer to the realization that in fact God has to be in the middle
of all our earthly affairs, be it business or politics, etc. No
ideology, no personal convictions can replace him.
In short, we have to listen
to the Good News God has given us through Christ and now in the Holy
Spirit that animates the Church and its many instrumentalities. We
have to understand that this Good News is the foundation of whatever
opinion, view, philosophy, ideology that we may use to pursue our
In other words, God’s word
is the first and last word. Any word we coin and use in the fields of
our sciences, arts, technologies, politics, business, culture, etc.,
should begin and end with God’s word. Otherwise it will have no proper
foundation and orientation.
St. Paul has amply warned us
about arrogating our words to be simply our own. “Let no man deceive
himself,” he said. “If any man among you seems to be wise in this
world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of
this world is foolishness with God…Let no man therefore glory in men.”
(1 Cor 3,19-21)
That's simply because God's
word or the Good News, as described in the Letter to the Hebrews, is
“living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing
even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and
marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Its primary purpose is to
bring us back to God through our temporal affaris. And so more than
just giving us some helpful earthly knowledge, it gives us the
ultimate spiritual knowledge we need to return to God, even through
the very contentious field of politics.
Christ himself said: “Heaven
and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Mk 13,31)
We need to echo that response of St. Peter who, when asked if the
apostles would also go away from Christ when he talked about himself
as the bread of life, said: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words
of eternal life.” (Jn 6,68)
We certainly have to sit
down and see how we can be more aware of grounding and orienting our
words with God’s word, the Good News. Otherwise, we will be wallowing
in fake news.
Heroes and saints
ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
December 8, 2016
HEROES need not be saints,
but saints are always heroes in the sense that whatever their vocation
and mission, they always live them with heroicity even if their heroic
lives may not be publicly known in some political, social, historical
or cultural terms.
Saints can even live their
heroicity hidden from the public eye, and often they live it by going
against the current obtaining in a certain society. They can be
unpopular, in fact, as St. Paul once said: “We have become the scum of
the earth, the garbage of the world...” (1 Cor 4,13)
Heroes obviously can be
saints too, as long as they live their vocation and mission in strict
and heroic obedience to God's will and ways. They definitely have done
some acts that we consider as heroic. They serve a certain purpose in
But what we usually consider
heroes are defined more in political, social, historical and cultural
terms, and need not accord with the spiritual and supernatural
criteria of sainthood.
In fact, there are many
heroes now who can hardly qualify as saints, precisely because their
heroism may go against spiritual and supernatural standards. Heroes
work for some worldly values like nationalism, save-and-rescue
operations, efficiency and effectiveness, etc. Saints work only for
the fidelity to God's will.
While heroes are always
involved in some extraordinary events, saints need not get involved in
those kind of events. Most of them become saints simply doing very
ordinary things but doing them extraordinarily well, that is, with
great love of God and of others, with extreme fidelity to their
vocation and mission.
Most saints live their
heroic lives in secret. They don't show off their goodness, imitating
Christ who said: “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door
and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in
secret will reward you...And when you fast, do not look dismal, like
the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may
be seen by men...” (Mt 6,6&16)
Saints live their heroic
lives consistently, in season and out of season, when times are
favorable and when they are not. They hardly are influenced by the
opinions of people. They can go against the general trends, if need
be. Theirs is in strict obedience and fidelity to God's will.
The distinction between
heroes and saints is crucial because we need to realize that we have
to aim more at becoming saints than at becoming heroes. If we happen
to end up both saints and heroes, then that's good. It's quite a
privilege. But if given a choice, we have to opt for sainthood rather
than for being a hero.
What is truly important is
that we are with God rather than with our own selves. We have to aim
at heaven rather than some earthly advantage. “What does it profit a
man,” Christ says, “to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul.” (Mk
This does not mean that we
have to belittle the value of the world. Not at all. The world and the
things in it, our temporal affairs, are important and even
indispensable in the pursuit of sanctity. But the world and things in
it are simply means. They are never the end.
Thus, the call to holiness
and sanctity is universal. It's meant for everyone, while the call to
be heroes is quite selective. Not everyone can be heroes, but everyone
is expected to be a saint. The occasions to become saints are always
available, while those to become heroes are few and far between.
That is why even with his
apostles, Christ would just choose practically anyone at random,
including the one who would betray him later. And the reason is simply
because all of us come from God and belong to him.
To become a saint is not so
much a matter of the kind of skill, talent, position, etc. that one
has. It's simply a matter of a total self-giving to God and to others,
irrespective of the conditions and circumstances one may be in.
In this regard, we have to
develop the appropriate passion. That's simply because to become a
saint just cannot happen without fully involving all our faculties,
including our passions. Let's remember what Christ told us about the
greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mt 22,37)
To become a saint is to
achieve the fullness of our humanity. Our fullness is not to become a