EJK and human
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
August 18, 2016
THE Cebu clergy had their
monthly recollection the other day. The invited guest speaker, both a
lawyer and journalist, among other things, was one known for her
advocacy in human rights. We were given a drill on human rights, rule
of law, due process and other related topics, all of them as some kind
of reaction to the rise of extra-judicial killings (EJK) that we are
hearing about these days.
From where I sat, I noticed
that the priests were especially attentive, except of course for a
few. There will always be exceptions, but this time, I noticed more
rapt attention. The archbishop was around, together with the two
auxiliary bishops. There were also all ears.
I was happy to note that the
talk presented the nuances of human rights as articulated by
institutions like the UN and, of course, our constitution, and other
personalities of some standing. Since the speaker was a lawyer and not
a theologian, there was hardly any theological explanation beyond the
fact that human rights spring from man’s being the image and likeness
The reaction of the priests
in general was mainly that of grave concern, since it cannot be denied
that the drug problem we have is a first-class crisis. Recent
developments have lifted the lid on this crisis whose scary dimensions
are getting far worse than what are generally suspected.
Somehow priests get to know
more details about this crisis because they preside over funerals of
drug-related deaths in their parishes, they get to receive information
from their parishioners, they hear confessions and they also are
sought for some pieces of advice from people. They are near the
They have mixed feelings
about this issue. While they are somehow happy with the current
campaign against people involved in drugs, they are also alarmed at
the rise of these extra-judicial killings whose perpetrators we cannot
be sure of – whether they are done by some vigilantes, or the police,
or drug people themselves in their own internecine conflicts.
What comes to my mind is
that this development we are having at this time, provoked by the
ascendance of our new president, has good aspects as well as poses new
challenges that we have to tackle.
Definitely, the drug problem
has to be tackled head-on before it gets any worse. As it is now, it
is really ugly. But we need to further develop our systems – police,
judicial, penal, medical, political, economic, social, etc. – to cope
with this highly complex problem.
Let’s hope that our
lawmakers can craft better laws that are more effective in blending
our need to get the culprits as well as our need for respect of human
rights, rule of law and due process.
We obviously cannot remain
at the current state of our laws that are now found to be ineffective
or lacking in something necessary. We have to understand that our
human laws need to evolve without abandoning their essential purpose.
They need to be updated to adapt to current situations.
A more appropriate system of
checks and balances among the different branches and agencies of our
government should be put in place.
This should be a serious
affair that should not be trivialized by too much politicking and
grandstanding. Let’s hope that we can choose lawmakers and public
officials who are competent to carry out their responsibility.
As to the clergy, a great
challenge befalls us. But before we start thinking of building rehab
centers and the like, we should intensify our spiritual and pastoral
ministry. We have to keep the priority of Mary over Martha. While the
state and civil society aim at making people responsible citizens, we
in the Church have to focus on encouraging people to be saints.
As one saint once said,
today’s crises are basically a crisis of saints. People are not
praying anymore. They are simply guided by their emotions and
instincts and some questionable ideologies. There’s a lot of doctrinal
ignorance and confusion, and religious indifference.
Today’s drug problem is just
a result of many previous crises that have not been effectively
resolved: corruption, deceit, infidelity, lack of temperance, etc.
There is little authentic spiritual life in many people.
If these basic problems in
people’s spiritual life are made to persist, then we can expect graver
crises after the one on drugs. In other countries, this is what we
observe. They are now into terrorism and massacres and mindless
Everyone has to be involved,
but I imagine that the clergy has to focus more on strengthening the
spiritual and moral lives of people. These aspects are basic and
Forum supports the GRP and NDFP resumption of formal peace talks
Genuine and lasting peace
has always been an urgent need as far as our country and people are
concerned. The non-stop offensive and defensive armed conflict between
the armed forces of the Government of the Philippines and the New
People’s Army led by the Communist Party of the Philippines and the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines has been going on for
more than four decades now, and has caused thousands of precious
Filipino lives to perish.
Considering that life is
God’s gift, death is always senseless; it is not the Creator’s will.
God wants only the best for all. “Every good gift and every perfect
gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom
there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he
brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of
first fruits of his creatures” (James 1:17-18, English Standard
But delivering death and/or
accepting death becomes meaningful and relevant to those who do it
fighting for a cause against something and/or for something. A
government soldier who truly believes that he is putting his life on
the line because he is defending his country from those who seek to
destroy it will be ready to kill a fellow Filipino. A brilliant young
student who sees the vast difference between the ideal he/she learns
from the university and the actual reality of life which is hellish,
will not hesitate going up the mountains to make sure that his/her
beloved country will be free from the rapacious greed of big foreign
mining companies who ruin our land and destroy the future the next
generations of our people in spite of his/her full consciousness of
the danger of his/her decision. He/she is well aware that he/she is
bound to face military people armed to the teeth to protect the
violators of Mother Nature.
The factory worker who
receives less than the minimum wage cannot use his most effective
weapon to protest as the worker’s unions have effective been defanged.
Where will he to go and what is he to do? The poor peasants and the
indigenous peoples whose small family farm and ancestral lands
respectively had been taken away from them by rich businessmen
protected by the military lost their livelihood. What will they do to
regain their property and ensure the future of their children? Then
small fisher-folks who can no longer catch fish as they used to
because the lakes are full of fish pens of the wealthy and powerful
politicians and because they are being driven away and threatened by
the Chinese have nothing to support their families. They are among
those to find meaning in taking up arms in order to simply live.
There are root causes to the
armed conflict. Unless and until these root causes are addressed,
armed conflict is bound to continue.
As far as the bible is
concerned, “the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through
this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced
their hearts with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10, Revised Standard
Version). The love of money or the greed for it has led to all kinds
of evil, including invading nations and oppressing and exploiting
peoples, wrecking havoc to the whole of life that God has wonderfully
How does this greed manifest
in Philippine politics, economy and culture? How come that our
officialdom is reserved to the rich and powerful? Why is the vast
majority of Filipinos poor? Why are education, sports and mainline
music being tailored to cater to the needs of the foreign and local
elite? Won’t the presence of all these things ensure the perpetuity of
people’s perplexity and strife?
Only an honest-to-goodness
discussion to address the root causes of the armed conflict will
resolve our age long situation of bondage. Rooting out these root
causes will render the struggle meaningless and irrelevant. Fighting
shall cease, death shall be avoided, life shall persist. And this
state of things will be in accordance with the will of the Lord.
“And you shall eat your
bread to the full and dwell in your land securely. I will give peace
in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid…”
(Leviticus 26:5b-6a, ESV).
We therefore appreciate the
decision of the GRP and the NDFP to resume the formal peace talks. The
return to the negotiation table and agree on how to bring peace to our
people is most important. There may be obstacles to the talks. There
may be lots of differences. But that is precisely why talking is made
Both claiming to represent
the Filipino people and their interest, it is incumbent upon them to
do all things in their power so that genuine and lasting peace will
descend upon our land.
Issued and signed this 8th
day of August, 2016:
BISHOP ELMER M. BOLOCON,
MOST REV. DEOGRACIAS S.
IñIGUEZ, JR., D.D.
BISHOP FELIXBERTO L. CALANG,
What politics needs
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 1, 2016
The immediate answer is to
humanize and Christianize it. Politics all over the world has been at
the mercy of man’s baser passions for so long that it now screams to
high heavens for its humanization and Christianization.
And this can only mean that
it is in dire need of charity. It has to be guided by the requirements
of charity, which should not be considered as some kind of drag or
hindrance but rather as the perfection and fulfillment of politics. It
just cannot be left alone, fully under the power of our passions,
brute force and worldly forces. In fact, it can and should be a
massive way of sanctification of the people.
Politics ought to be pursued
always in charity. It cannot be any other way, since charity is the
mother of all virtues and good values. If we want justice, truth and
fairness, charity has them all. If we want competence, order,
discipline, etc., again charity has them. If we want objectivity,
charity has it. And that’s because charity covers all our needs.
Politics, as a human
necessity and as a free act of man, is definitely subject to the moral
law, and as such, should also have a proper spirituality to animate
it. This is a truth of our faith that should never be lost in our
mind, and much less, in our culture. The autonomy we enjoy in our
politics is never to be taken to mean that God has nothing to do with
Politics just cannot be left
to the raw forces of our human nature, which has the capability of
detaching itself from its creator and his law. It just cannot be
subject to the law of the jungle. Without God, politics would be left
to our own ideologies, historico-cultural conditions, our own personal
hunches of how things ought to be, etc.
The way politics is
practiced today, we need nothing less than a revolution, a drastic,
radical conversion of heart among our political leaders and the
citizenry in general.
We need to redeem politics
from being a devil’s game and to recover its true lofty nature and
character based on our innate dignity as human persons created in the
image and likeness of God, and made children of his.
In many Church teachings, we
are reminded that while the technical formation of politicians does
not enter into the mission of the Church, the Church has the mission
of giving “moral judgment also on things that pertain to the political
order, when this is required by the fundament rights of the person and
the salvation of souls…using only those means that conform to the
Gospel and the good of all, according to the diversity of the times
and situations” (Gaudium et Spes 76)
Commenting on this part of
the above-cited Church document, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said:
“The Church concentrates particularly on educating the disciples of
Christ, so that, increasingly they will be witnesses of his presence
everywhere. It is up to the laity to show concretely in personal and
family life, in social, cultural and political life, that the faith
enables one to read reality in a new and profound way and to transform
He batted for a unity of
life, a consistency in peoples’ behavior based on faith that would go
together with hope and charity. In fact, he added that “Christian hope
extends the limited horizon of man and points him to the true of
loftiness of his being, to God, and that charity in truth is the most
effective force to change the world.”
He also said that the
“Gospel is the guarantee of liberty and message of liberation; that
the fundamental principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church, such
as the dignity of the human person, subsidiarity and solidarity, are
very timely and of value for the promotion of new ways of development
at the service of every man and of all men.”
To translate all this
wonderful doctrine about politics into reality, we should realize that
all of us who are in different ways involved in politics should not
avoid the cross, but rather look for it and embrace it. We need to
realize that the cross would comprise the fullness of any political
work, and indicate the authenticity of one’s motives in politics.
Just as the cross is the
summit of Christ’s redemptive work, and also the life of every
Christian believer, the cross has to be the crown of this human affair
we call politics. It cannot be any other way.
Our reminders and
challenges to President Duterte in light oh his State of the Nation
By Philippine Movement for
July 26, 2016
President Duterte said in
his State of the Nation Address, that there are "a few concerns" that
he wants to "convey to all" so that "these concerns will not dissipate
or get lost along the way."
The Philippine Movement for
Climate Justice would like to share its own concerns regarding several
points in his speech – as reminders and challenges to the President –
so that people's concerns will not dissipate or get lost in his
1. ON CLIMATE POLICY – PMCJ
welcomes the statement of President Duterte that addressing global
warming will be a top priority and that he is committed to a "fair and
equitable" solution. Indeed, current global targets to address global
warming and climate change are still very far from equitable, with the
rich industrialized countries pledging actions that are very short of
their fair share. A serious consequence of this inequity is that the
aggregate impact of all country targets will still condemn us to
nearly 3 degrees Celsius increase in the earth's temperature. This is
not consistent with the avowed goal in the Paris Agreement of limiting
global warming to below 1.5 degrees.
However, we are worried by
the President's qualifier to his global warming solution – that "it
must not stymie industrialization." Is President Duterte advocating
unhampered industrialization? We hope not. Industrialization must be
pursued within the bounds of sustainable, rights-based and
climate-friendly development pathways, and not the other way around.
We believe there are ways to achieve development that is equitable and
is in harmony with the welfare of the planet – that is the only kind
of development that is in the interest of our people.
We are also alarmed by the
President's reference to "clean coal." Is President Duterte falling
for this dirty lie, this outdated and false information that coal is
cheap? The cost of coal is more than the financial cost of mining coal
and building and running coal plants. Even the most state of art in
coal energy technology has huge harmful consequences to people's
health and environment, that cannot be fully compensated for
financially. President Duterte should know that Renewable Energy is
not only clean and healthy, the financial cost of building and running
renewable energy systems has already achieved parity with coal.
2. ON HUMAN RIGHTS – PMCJ's
brand of climate justice is well founded in the defense, protection
and fulfilment of human rights. We believe that human rights is
central to the principle and goal of climate justice, just as we
believe human rights is at the heart of the principle and goal of
We are gravely concerned
about the President's qualifier to his commitment to human rights,
that "human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy
the country." Is President Duterte referring to the many calls and
reminders for his administration to uphold human rights in the face of
the significant increase in extra-judicial killings? Is this statement
a defense is his defense of how his war vs. drugs is being carried
out? Yes, we would like to see the illegal drugs industry end. But we
are alarmed and condemn the fact that the war on drugs has already
claimed the lives of more than 500 individuals without the benefit of
due process, many of them from poor and marginalized communities.
President Duterte, you
mentioned in your speech that you are going to "wage war against those
who make a mockery of our laws." You also said that "equal treatment
and equal protection" are what you ask for our people. We will hold
you to your words, we will remind you and challenge you to practice
what you preach.
While Philippine Movement
for Climate Justice will be open to and welcome positive policies of
the Duterte Administration, we will be vigilant and relentless in
challenging him to pursue genuine change that will truly benefit the
people and will be in harmony with environmental and climate justice.
hold high hopes for building a just and enduring peace in the
A statement by the Pilgrims
for Peace on the possible resumption of the GPH-NDFP peace talks
June 25, 2016
Winds of hope continue to
sweep the whole archipelago as the Government of the Philippines (GPH)
and the National Democratic Front in the Philippines (NDFP) take steps
in close coordination toward resuming the long-suspended, formal peace
From parishes and churches
to schools and local communities, peace advocates stir interest in and
disseminate information about the GPH-NDFP peace talks. Excitement
grows for the resumption of talks focused on forging the requisite
agreements for building just and lasting peace for the Filipino
people. Peace advocates, who steadfastly affirm that peace building
must address the roots of armed conflict, enjoin the people to engage
in meaningful discussions on what will make for peace in our land.
Significant positive changes
in the new GPH leadership’s commitment and readiness to continue and
complete the peace negotiations have bolstered our hopes. Not only has
it completed the new GPH negotiating panel, but it has also been
demonstrating active leadership in resolving hurdles to clear the way
for resuming the formal talks. Our ardent hope is that the new
leadership will honor its commitment to release the political
prisoners who are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and
Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). In this regard, we urge President Rodrigo
Roa Duterte to exercise political will.
The National Democratic
Front of the Philippines has not relented on its commitment to pursue
the peace talks. Sending a representative to personally meet with
President-elect Duterte soon after his proclamation – which led to the
holding of bilateral preliminary discussions and tentative agreements
in Oslo on June 14-15, the NDFP has likewise demonstrated active
leadership in resolving problems hindering the resumption of the
talks. Beyond the peace talks, the NDFP responded positively to
President Duterte’s unilateral gesture of cooperation; endorsing
progressive leaders for consideration as appointees to the Cabinet
posts he had offered, appointments were made in due time.
With GPH-NDFP peace talks
shaping up to resume on August 20-27, 2016, peace advocates foresee
that the two parties will affirm previously signed agreements and
proceed to hold negotiations on the next substantive agenda, namely
Socio-Economic Reforms. There are positive signs that the two parties
will seriously and steadfastly take up this important agenda, referred
to as the “meat” of the peace negotiations. To be tackled are issues
such as persisting inequitable and unjust control of land by the few
and proposals to achieve national industrialization. Peace advocates
encourage every Filipino to join the discourse and contribute ideas
and positive energies to the formulation and crafting of
Socio-Economic Reforms that will address the roots of armed conflict
and build justice, peace, freedom and democracy in the Philippines.
In the immediate days ahead,
we encourage peace advocates throughout the nation and around the
world to support our just call for the release of the 22 JASIG-protected
political prisoners, who have tasks to perform for the peace
negotiations. Moreover, their immediate release – as well as most, if
not all, of the political prisoners – is an issue of justice: they are
charged with trumped-up common criminal offences, generally non-bailable
and multiple counts to make it hard for them to be released on bail.
In addition, JASIG-protected political prisoners should have been
IMMUNE from arrest for as long as the peace talks, or the JASIG, have
not been terminated.
Respect for the JASIG and
the 11 other signed agreements is an obligation of the GPH. Peace
advocates are confident that the release of the JASIG-protected NDFP
peace consultants and the other political prisoners will contribute
much in facilitating the resumption and earnest pursuance till
completion of the GPH-NDFP peace talks!
Our life in public
July 22, 2016
WE need to give due
attention to this aspect of our life. Our life in public is an
integral and unavoidable part of us.
In the first place, to be
born we need to have parents and a family, then a community, a school,
a market, a church, etc. We can never be alone. Our life is at once
private, individually ours, and public, always with others, if not
physically then at least intentionally.
Thus we need to know the
purpose of our life in public, what it involves, what it requires,
what duties we have toward it, what benefits it can give us and what
dangers it can pose.
I think that as we develop
fast because of our technologies, we have to know how to pull the many
levers at hand to reach our proper goal.
For example, how do we
handle the many inter-generational and inter-cultural demands of our
times? Our public and social life now has certain complexities unknown
before. It now is much more diverse. And we need to master them, and
not be their slaves or pawns.
It’s a pity to see many
people, especially the young, getting lost in the dizzying swirl of
our life in public. Many of us are left badly equipped to tackle the
intricacies involved. There’s the pressure of the peers and “barkada,”
the pull of the mob, the lure of the entertainment world, the tricks
and ambitions of business and politics, etc.
We often get stuck in the
externals and appearances without getting into the essence of things.
Our reactions are mainly knee-jerk and Pavlovian. We hardly think, we
barely reflect and study things.
We generate a lifestyle
based mainly on feelings and impressions, often fleeting and unstable,
rather than on one that has a solid foundation, able to guide us
consistently through the different phases and situations of our lives.
As a result, we enter into a
spiral of a worldly way of life with barely any soul in it. We begin
to treat each other merely as facades or masks, quite plastic.
Pretensions and hypocrisy become salient features of our society,
begetting the other forms of deceit and conceit.
Instead of being persons, we
become simply as actors, performers or robots. Our heart is slowly
turned from flesh to stone. We become users, manipulators and
exploiters of others. The others become mere objects, products,
Subjectivity, where respect
for everyone’s spiritual character and personhood should be enhanced,
ebbs away. Instead, objectification of persons takes place, drying us
up to make us things instead of persons.
The dynamics created by this
set-up allows people to swing from self-absorption to self-assertion,
from self-seeking to self-promotion. Thus, the truly human ways to
link us into communion with others start to disappear. It’s all about
the ego. The “we/us” vanishes.
The field gets littered with
the remains of envy, greed, lust, sloth and other capital sins. And,
sad to say, there are many exploiters and predators in this field who
take advantage of the situation and the vulnerability of the weak and
the gullible. We need to expose them and their tactics.
We have to put a stop to
this vicious cycle, and reverse it to become a virtuous cycle. This
will depend on whether we first establish and strengthen our personal
relationship with God.
We have to be most wary of
the rise of secularism and relativism in society. They come as a
result precisely of setting God aside from our life in public.
And so, we can see in many
countries today delicate moral issues that need to be resolved very
clearly: abortion, confusion about sexual identity and human nature,
divorce, disconnection of science and technology from morality, lack
of respect for freedom of conscience, questionable educational thrusts
in schools, etc.
These issues are slowly
invading our shores, and we just have to strengthen our faith,
especially that of our leaders, for this eventuality.
Faith and religion are
always involved in these issues. While these issues have to be
considered under many aspects, we have to understand that the
considerations of faith and religion, being so basic in us, should be
It’s in our faith and
religion that the fundamental and ultimate meaning of the issues are
given. It’s where our ultimate common good is determined. The
practical, the legal, the social, cultural and historical aspects have
to somehow defer to them.
Contrary to some views,
being consistent to one’s faith and religion in public office does not
make him a fanatic, a fundamentalist or detached from reality. Quite
the opposite is true.