Insights and opinions from our contributors on the current issues happening in the region

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CCJP calls for immediate release of Ka Randy

Bias for Life vs. Demands of (National) Security?

Let us continue our march for progress

The story of Samar congressman-elect Doloy Coquilla

Economic gains do not justify strength of democracy

An Initial Statement of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial killings

Condemnation on the brutal assassination of Prof. Jose Ma. B. Cui of COURAGE-NS

Never trust a communist!

Bunang and the Pulahanes

Tabang Palo




RP government’s report to the UPR inconsequential to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances

A Press Statement by Philippine UPR Watch
April 25, 2008

We, the members of the Philippine UPR Watch, return to the country hopeful that we have fulfilled our mission to thwart the Philippine government’s brazen attempt to conceal the truth through a deceptive report at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

We felt duty-bound to lobby with foreign missions to inform them that the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance and political repression are caused by a national policy as was the findings of UN Special Rapporteur Professor Philip Alston. This policy is continuously wreaking havoc on the lives of Filipinos notwithstanding the Philippine National Report (PNR).

It is reassuring that the world continues to be vigilant on the human rights situation in the Philippines as indicated by the concerns and questions raised by at least sixteen countries during the review.

The Arroyo government has inundated its Philippine National Report to the UPR with measures taken purportedly to promote human rights. But these measures are inconsequential to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.  At the end of the day, what matters to most Filipinos and to the world is that: (a) Jonas Burgos and many others remain missing; (b) justice has yet to be served to the victims and relatives of extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations; (c) perpetrators have yet to be prosecuted; and, (d) extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances still go on with impunity.  All these in the name of national security.

The political persecution being launched against the Batasan 6 remains to be one of the examples of the Arroyo government’s continuing repression against principled dissent.  Secretary Ermita has boasted of a vibrant democracy in the Philippines in his UN Report, citing the partylist system as one feature. Yet, a trumped-up murder charge against Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño, a member of the Philippine UPR Watch delegation, and his fellow party-list lawmakers, has been resurrected and all are threatened with arrest.  Many of the trumped-up charges against known oppositionists and leaders are orchestrated by the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), a Malacañang creation which Prof. Alston said should be abolished.

Finally, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve our people, especially the victims of this tyrannical regime.  We are grateful to the national and international organizations that supported the Philippine UPR Watch in this endeavor. We likewise thank the Missions who have raised the most essential issues that were surreptitiously obscured in the Philippine National Report.

We pledge our commitment to continue being part of the vigorous domestic and international campaign against the wanton human rights violations of the Arroyo regime.





Basey appealing to Pres. Arroyo to finish irrigation project sourced at Bugasan

April 21, 2008

Samar Vice-Governor Jesus B. Redaja’s farm tractor with a 12-horsepower generator is the newest boon to rice and tikog farmers in Old San Agustin (Bariwon) of Basey, Samar.  Punong barangay Calixtro Ocier is very happy about this latest assistance from the good and helpful vice-governor.  The farm machines were delivered last week, temporarily kept at the ground floor of the barangay hall of Palaypay which is just next to the elementary school of Palaypay in Basey.  Former councilor Anie Ogrimen attended to the men whom JBR requested to deliver the tractor and engine from Catbalogan City to Basey.  Teodorico D. Porbus, president of Baktas Kabub’wason Rural Workers Association, Baktas member Myron and myself later on took pictures of the machines.

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Mayor Wilfredo O. Estorninos of Basey is strongly supporting the proposal to create a new province from out of the existing province of Samar because he is convinced that the move will mean a lot of improvements that will be fast in coming, for the benefit of, first, those who will be part of the new province that will be called Northwestern Samar, and second, those from the remaining 16 towns that have since been known already as the Second Congressional District.

That is why, when Vice-Gov. Redaja sent him a letter of invitation to attend the follow-up hearing by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on the same proposal, mayor Estorninos did not hesitate to join the other mayors in attending the SP session on the matter which served as the main agendum for the provincial board’s session scheduled for April 17 at the Capitol’s SP session hall in Catbalogan City.

Estorninos has earlier received expressions of support from many Basaynon who had long ago been yearning for a new province so that the provincial government of the new province could closely attend to the basic needs of the constituents in its component towns and the old province could do the same.

As it is today, the provincial government of Samar has its hands full that it cannot introduce much-needed improvements, specifically cemented roads that will replace constantly deteriorating roads leading to interior barrios and linking top producing barrios to the poblacion and interconnecting those that promise to work together harder to achieve a common goal.

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The Basey River Irrigation Project that will tap the enormous water supply at Bugasan River north of the interior barrio of Mabini is already 17 years behind its original schedule of completion.  Mayor Estorninos shares the sentiment of Basey rice farmers that unless the national government siphons down all the money that the project needs, the Government of the Philippines will one day wake up to find the project a ghost for nothing.  The project was originally conceived to irrigate up to 3,000 hectares, from Mabini to San Antonio or more than 15 rice-producing barrios, and was seen to fulfill a dream of making Basey a rice granary.  Today, when the country needs more rice, the need to complete the irrigation project in Basey is felt most relevant, pressing and in order.  President Gloria Arroyo is perhaps not properly informed by all executives who have something to do with the irrigation of Basey.  Engr. Oscar Salamida, provincial irrigation officer for Samar to whose competence the Basaynon immediately hitched their wagon of hope upon his own hopeful acceptance of taking the reins of the National Irrigation Administration in the province, has been doing his level best to access the funds from the national government, but his efforts could not shake the giants up there.

Some intellectuals in Basey are entertaining the fear that unless the project is completed within the next few months, that failure will once again be exploited by the New People’s Army as a very valid cause to draw in to its side the hopeless rice farmers.  When that happens, that will again mean another hundreds of millions of pesos spent unnecessarily just to quash insurgency that is already about to be eradicated in Basey.

Perhaps, if the Regional Development Council is not keen in pushing for Basey and the cause of the nation’s self-sufficiency in rice through increased rice production powered by the necessary engine of growth that an irrigation dam is, then President Arroyo herself should look into this matter.  The people of Basey may have voted for Joseph Estrada but immediately after Gloria was proclaimed as duly elected President of the Philippines, they have recognized that fact and thrown in their support for her and her avowals.   That’s why, the people of Basey are now knocking on the doors of Malacañang.  With their appeal comes their promise to shut all doors to insurgency that has been there since the first year of Martial Law, developing year after year while the town was continually being ignored.





NPA flushed out of Ogbok lair?

April 14, 2008

An unconfirmed report reaching this column said that 2 New People’s Army members were killed in a 3-hour firefight that occurred in the hinterland sitio of Ogbok in Villa Aurora, Basey, Samar, Wednesday morning.  To some public officials, the news is welcome as it meant the beginning of the end of the insurgency problem in the once-NPA-beleaguered town which is home to a thousand-and-one wonderful natural attractions.

The government troopers, according to a civilian account, had earlier spotted the presence of the armed rebels whom the 62nd Infantry Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Jonathan G. Ponce, believes to be remnants of the NPA groups operating in the Calbiga-to-Marabut area of Samar which had been splintered and deteriorating in strength following the incessant civilian-backed-up military operations initiated by Lt. Col. Ponce since his assignment to Samar that began on November 3, 2006.

The rebels were believed to have gone to their hideouts in certain interior zones of Basey.  They could have been subjugated last March if not for “humanitarian reasons”.  Operationally, however, Basey was already cleared about 90% as of December, 2007.  It is believed by some quarters that Lt. Col. Ponce would not let the rebels – some commanders of whom have been identified to be residents of three barrios of Basey – lawlessly free beyond April 15 this year unless they earlier surrender to him, to rejoin the free democratic Philippine society.

The rebels scampered away in frantic panic to save their own souls from the valiant Unifiers – the name carried by the soldiers belonging to the 62IB, true to their mission of unifying people of all creed under one government.

It was reported earlier this week that Ponce welcomes the proposal in a pending House bill to have any surrendering NPA member enlisted and regularly paid as member of the Philippine Army.

Some civilian opinion makers say the proposal may not be at all good if the government could not be sure if the integrees among the NPA surrenderees will only be like the monsters that came out of the Moro National Liberation Front integrees into the Army.  Yet, they believe, the proposition is better for now, as it would open employment to many NPA members who have been forced to join the NPA due to hardship caused by the absence of a long-term-paying job in government.  Ponce believes that making the NPA surrenderees work in the government, as soldiers ready to die for the country against all enemies of the Philippine State, will socially and economically solve the rebel problem.  I agree absolutely.

A captured top-ranked NPA commander in Samar recently disclosed that he was among those who were deceived to join the NPA because of an offer of handsome compensation and available food and clothing for their families.  This was not true, he was said to have revealed a few hours after his capture by the 62IB.

Ogbok was a preferred lair of many NPA commanders for many years.  On top of its mountain is a little valley where sweet clear water satisfies one’s thirst.  Villagers from nearby barrio Cancaiyas – home of Elizabeth Gutierrez, an NPA amazon whom the NPA forcibly dragged away from her campaign to victory in the last election for punong barangay and who had not been heard of since then after National Democratic Front spokesperson Sanny Salas was reported in the NPA website to have said that she was meted out death by the NPA – had taken initial efforts to tap the Ogbok water source for their own drinking water needs.  Cancaiyas needed only about P50,000 for the installation of a 1.5-kilometer pipeline from a small impounding dam to be constructed at the base of the mountain in Ogbok.  The amount the barrio needed was not forthcoming due to technical maneuvers somewhere.

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 The Samar Provincial Agrarian Reform Coordinating Committee may wish to take up once again during its April 18 meeting at Waling-Waling in Catbalogan City the needs for the development of the Basey – side of the Samar Settlement Project (christened as the Samar resettlement area by Proclamation 2292 of President Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1983), as well as the irrigation project for some 3,000 rice lands in the same town.  Mayor Wilfredo Estorninos is very much ready to present the official position of the local government unit of Basey during this meeting, in case he will be invited.  Mayor Estorninos had repeatedly been knocking on the doors of several government agencies in the past, and during his present regained administration, so that enough and responsive attention could be given to Basey.  He is looking forward to a sincere and genuine response this time, especially now that the government is campaigning for a massive food production nationwide.





RP made to account for killings, disappearances in UN

A Statement to the Media by Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño
April 12, 2008

My trip to Geneva, Switzerland as part of the Philippine UPR Watch delegation culminated yesterday in a picket-protest in front of the United Nations headquarters.

After listening to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita deliver the Philippine National Report to the UN Human Rights Council, I joined some 30 Filipinos and Swiss citizens who had put up a picketline right outside the UN gates to dramatize our people's continuing quest for an end to the killings, disappearances and the impunity by which human rights atrocities are committed in the Philippines.

The Philippine report, presented by no less than Sec. Ermita with his extraordinarily large contingent of bureaucrats flown in from Manila, was a self-serving, selective and totally one-sided depiction of the Philippine human rights situation. The aim of the report was to depict the Arroyo administration as a vanguard defender of human rights and good governance in the country.

I was particularly flabbergasted to hear Sec. Ermita boast of the government's superlative gains in fighting graft and corruption in the Philippines. I almost fell from my seat listening to him expound on government efforts to strengthen the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan, the success of its electronic procurement system, and effectivity of its lifestyle checks. In the light of the latest swine scam and the NBN-ZTE deal, this is chutzpah of the highest degree, inspired by no less than a cheating, lying and stealing President.

Fortunately, not all countries took this line hook and sinker. At least 16 countries expressed concern on the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances and, in typical diplomatic language used in the UN, practically told the Philippines it was not doing enough on the matter, especially with regards to the recommendations of UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston.

Other issues of great concern to the international community were the violations of the rights of Filipino migrant workers and those of women and children.

In other words, the Philippine government's attempt to downplay the killings and disappearances and project the image that the situation was improving did not wash. In part through the efforts of the Philippine UPR Watch, the truth came out and the Arroyo government was held to account for its failures by the international community.

I am leaving Geneva with the knowledge that the world is watching the Philippines and is in solidarity with its quest for truth, justice and accountability.


Picture taken inside UN Human Rights Council session hall while the Philippine government delegation was delivering its report and answering questions. Note the "stop the killlings and disappearances" pins were worn as soon as Gen. Ermita started to speak.
  (Philippine UPR Watch)





Hold the Arroyo government accountable for human rights violations

A Press Statement by the Philippine UPR Watch
April 3, 2008

We the victims, families of victims and human rights advocates call on the United Nations Human Rights Council to hold the Arroyo regime accountable for the human rights violations in the country during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on the Philippines in Geneva, Switzerland next week.

Our organizations, whose members bore the brunt of the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other forms of human rights violations, have banded to form the Philippine UPR Watch. We will send a delegation to Geneva to bring to the attention of the international community the truth about the gory human rights record of the Arroyo government.

We expect that the Philippine government report will conceal its bloodstained record the same way it hides the truth of its corrupt and immoral practices from the public.  We respectfully urge the UNHRC to read through the lines and the lies of the Arroyo regime in the report.

The Philippine government brags of “a clean human rights record” following the perception of the European Union that there is a decline in the number of killings and disappearances.  In fact, the Arroyo regime has done nothing to put a stop to the violations. It has done nothing to prosecute the real perpetrators.  It has done nothing to give justice to the victims and their families.  It has not taken seriously any of the recommendations of Professor Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.  At the outset, the government denied any human rights violations in the country. It was the domestic outcry and international pressure that compelled the Philippine government to undertake steps that are, by and large, token measures if not window dressings. The remedies opened up by other branches of the State continue to be unavailing and ineffectual to the victims.

Cover-ups and false attributions aggravate the impunity. No one has been credibly convicted even as the killings, disappearances, torture, illegal arrests and political persecution continue without let up. One more killing or disappearance is one too many.

In 2007, a human rights defender was killed every week while one disappeared every other week. In 2005 and 2006, killings took place every other day.  The 'de-escalation' of killings and enforced disappearances committed by government troops on the population lends credence to the UN expert’s findings that these violations are centrally-directed under Arroyo’s counterinsurgency program.

We hope that the UNHRC will listen to the Filipino people’s call for justice and help stop further impunity and human rights violations in the country.  At the same time, we continue to call on the European Union, the US and all foreign governments to stop financial and military aid and all forms of support to the Philippine government in light of the gross and systematic violations of human rights it is committing against the people.

Reference:  Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes, Jr., NCCP General Secretary and Head of Philippine UPR Watch delegation (09189447538)





Wanted: More Gender-Responsive LGUs

March 31, 2008

Critical to the goal of achieving a better quality of life for everyone in the community, is being able to address the specific needs of women and men.

This means that the Local Chief Executive and the local government officials must be gender-responsive, which unfortunately can not be said to be true to many local government units.

There is a need to remind the local chief executives that being Gender-Responsive means that it is important to be sensitive to gender in determining the needs and resources of the locality, in planning and carrying out programs, and in running the local government machinery itself.

Being Gender-Responsive also means ensuring that the human rights of constituents, especially women and children, are protected and promoted.

Being Gender Responsive means that the gender blindness that has hampered much of local development efforts in the past will be corrected, and that women and men constituents, led by the Local Chief Executives, will consequently be empowered to work together in elevating their community to the level of sustainable development they envision.

Gender Responsive development at the local level is basic to achieving the gender equality provided for in the Constitution, laws, and even in the Millennium Development Goal (2015-2020) wherein one of the eight goals identified is "to promote gender equality and empowerment of women," which affirms once more that women concerns are a priority agenda of the global community. The Local Chief Executives and the local government officials are the primary agents in making this happen.

Because of the resources at its command, the local government has the lead role in correcting inequalities and in establishing an environment where everyone is afforded the chance to become a productive member of the community.

Local Government Units are duty-bound to implement the law and to carry out their duties. The 1987 Constitution says that the State recognizes the role of women in nation building, and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men (Art.II, Sec. 14).

RA 7192 directs all government agencies to institute measures that would eliminate gender bias in government policies, programs and projects, and to ensure that women are given the means to participate fully in development and nation-building.

It also requires the allocation of a substantial portion of all Official Development Assistance to women and development projects starting with at least 5% in the first year of the implementation of the law, and gradually increasing in subsequent years.

RA 7160 or the Local Government Code also puts emphasis on the role of women in community development. It has a provision for women’s representation in local policy making in the provincial and municipal councils. To make this operational, the Department of Interior and Local Government with the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women and the Department of Budget and Management issued Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2001-01 giving guidelines on how the GAD approach can be incorporated into the local planning and budgeting system through the formulation of GAD plans.

Local Chief Executives are judged in their performance by how well they practice good governance which the Local Government Code defines as the process by which communities address their own needs, problems and priorities through more responsive and accountable local governments.

LGUs cannot achieve good local governance without being transparent, participatory, equitable and gender responsive.





Government should serve the truth

A Statement by Former Senior Government Officials
March 5, 2008

We are former senior government officials who have served the government in the administrations of Presidents Marcos, Aquino, Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo. Today we see how the institutions of government are being manipulated, weakened, and corrupted. We are committed to help rebuild and strengthen the government institutions in which we worked to serve the public good rather than personal and partisan interests.

Our people can only trust a government that governs with truth. We grant government so much power over our lives, resources and shared future because it governs with truth. When there are serious doubts about government's adherence to truth in matters of vital public interest, no real peace or substantive unity is possible until such doubts are resolved. We cannot move on without the truth.

We are now in the midst of great disturbance because we doubt the truth behind the NBN-ZTE deal. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had belatedly cancelled the contract because of reported "anomalies." Hence, most Filipinos reasonably conclude that corruption tainted this deal. For several months now at the hearings of the Senate investigation, we have all seen disturbing glimpses of the truth about alleged corruption that attended the NBN-ZTE deal. We are outraged by what we have seen thus far.

The President said recently: "Ang taumbayan galit sa katiwalian. Ganoon din ako, galit din ako sa katiwalian."  We affirm the first sentence. We ask that the second sentence be demonstrated in action. Having belatedly cancelled the contract to show her supposed anger with reported corruption in this deal, the President must now follow through with actions to determine the actual "anomalies" and establish responsibility for these. Otherwise, canceling the contract could be interpreted as an effort to cover up corruption rather than to pin it down and root it out.

Government should serve the truth and the President should act immediately and decisively to enable the truth to emerge. The most credible forum thus far to establish the truth behind the NBN-ZTE controversy is the Senate investigation that has persevered in seeking facts and witnesses. The Senate is a functioning democratic institution that can help the people recognize the truth about this divisive matter. We thus call on the President to cooperate fully with the Senate and stop denigrating it so that its investigation can be completed as soon as possible. In particular, we ask the President to lead in showing government's commitment to the truth by taking the following actions which can reasonably be done within one week:

First, order acting Chair Romulo Neri to resume his testimony before the Senate investigation without any restrictions or limitations;

Second, order the release and delivery to the Senate of all public records pertaining to the NBN-ZTE deal, starting with the minutes of the NEDA Board meetings on the project;

Third, suspend DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza and Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso, as the DOTC was the lead agency for this project;

Fourth, suspend DENR Secretary Lito Atienza, PNP Director General Avelino Razon, Deputy Executive Secretary Manuel Gaite, Deputy NAIA Chief Angel Atutubo, Senior Supt. Paul Mascarinas and all those involved in the attempt to prevent Senate witness Jun Lozada from testifying; and

Fifth, order a halt on any further attempts by such agencies as the DOJ, DENR, NBI and BIR to harass Senate witness Jun Lozada and those who are testifying in behalf of the truth.

The Filipino people can make democratic institutions work to fight corruption by even the most powerful people in our midst. We can do this based on the power of reason and the power of the people's communal action. We deserve a government that governs with truth.

The President must demonstrate her commitment to the truth through these actions within one week as more and more of our people make their judgment. She must do these or be condemned as complicit with, and in fact, as being at the center of, the lies surrounding the NBN-ZTE deal.

The President must do these or the people will make their judgment and act on the basis of their conviction.





Truth-telling in my country, flooding in my province

Fr. Euly BelizarBy Rev. EUTIQUIO ‘Euly’ B. BELIZAR, JR.
February 21, 2008

“What is Truth?” Pilate once asked Jesus. Never did it occur to him that Truth was right before his very eyes. And right before my eyes, even as my country is glued to the televised truth-telling Senate appearances by Jun Lozada, I am seeing our rivers swelling like they never did before, sweeping away scantily-built huts by their banks, bridges being washed away to the sea or to heaven knows where, roads being swamped by water from several days of rain to a traveler’s knee or to his neck.

La Niña and the effects of global warming are suddenly so real, so true, to our poor folks in Eastern Samar, not simply to some distant environmentalists. And the trouble is, we are so ill-prepared that all we (especially our older folks) could do is exclaim, “We never had flooding this big before! Why now?” Now all these things, too, are part of truth. But hardly do we get any attention, televised or printed (till now).

As “Engr. Lozada” was being grilled intensely on the now-infamous ZTE broadband deal, I received a desperate text message from a teacher in Brgy San Jose national high school (well within our parish). “Father, four of us teachers r trapped with some parnts & studnts in our skul sins lst nte at arnd 11 bicoz our bridgs got washd out by floods frm the ovrflowng strim arnd us” or words to that effect. I frantically sent urgent messages to our mayor, governor, DepEd authorities and simple ordinary citizens who, I know, would do something to help. I did all these while keeping an eye and an ear on the now heightening tension caused by Jun Lozada’s revelations on the extent of corruption in government.

Meanwhile, rescue efforts for Brgy. San Jose’s flood victims were themselves stymied by the floods. Well-meaning rescue groups were blocked by mudslides and impassable dirt roads. The four teachers, with the parents and students, had to wade through flooded waters, prodded by fear and hunger, till they reached safe grounds. Some seventy or more families, I’m told, are trapped in the mountains towards Brgy. San Gabriel. The helicopter rescue we’ve been appealing for from government on their behalf is still never heard from.

But we are not complaining. The reason is mainly because the country is going through a worse case of flooding in our souls and spirits. Claims and counter claims on the truth on the Arroyo government inundate us. The upside is that many unbiased patriots in the country appear to have found a hero whose heroism consists largely on his decision to tell the truth on a failed and cancelled business deal. But what is being uncovered has gone beyond it. One truth seems to have led to another; we seem to be moving from shock to shock, rather than from realizations to solutions, although ultimately we hope they finally await us at the end of the tunnel.

Many compare the situation now in the Philippines to the last days of the Marcos and Estrada regimes in that the uncovering of truth contributed greatly to those regimes’ unraveling. The hidden health, the hidden wealth and the hidden guilt of Marcos before, during and after the snap elections erupted into a revolt of some of his most trusted men (Ramos, Enrile et al) who were themselves rescued by People Power Edsa 1. The 2001 impeachment hearings on the Jose Velarde account uncovered sordid details of plunder that led to the ouster of President Estrada by Edsa 2. In same way the present exposè of the “web of corruption” in the Macapagal-Arroyo regime may or may not trigger its own undoing. But, quite apart from this, what also concerns us is truth. From our historical experiences it seems we have basically reduced truth to the accumulation of facts with cumulative impact on our personal and national consciousness, decisions and actions, as parts become pieced together sometimes without even forming the whole.

And perhaps therein partly lies the reason behind our failure to be set free by truth. We haven’t really reached the whole truth about Marcos, Estrada, Macapagal-Arroyo and even of ourselves. The whole truth certainly includes us there. The sad, unjust and shameful realities of those regimes are, to a great degree, of our own making. We, as a nation, are from whom Marcos, Estrada and GMA came. We have created them, not only by our long-standing tolerance of wrongdoing until it explodes in our faces but also by our spawning the culture of wrongdoing from our very first act of political involvement, that is, from our tainted elections (there is very little denying the fact that we elect those who, in one way or another, can buy us). From this one wrong follow all other wrongs.

Truth will not set us free until we trace it all the way to where it is from – the God of Truth, the God who is Truth. We seem to have taken “objective reality” or its “unveiling” as the sum of truth. But the unveiling of objective reality is hardly truth if it excludes the author of all reality. We need a profound catechesis on truth that sees it in the quality of our relationship with one another as grounded in God who is Truth, who is revealed by Jesus Christ, the Way, the “Truth” and the Life (Jn 14:6), and enlivened by the Spirit of Truth (Jn 15:26).

The truth about the “web of corruption” in our land includes our not being true to this God who, in Jesus Christ, tells us to, like him, “testify to the truth” because anyone “committed to the truth hears my voice” (Jn 18:37). The truth about our fundamental malaise is that we detach truth from the whole of who we are. We are not simply material or economic, political or social animals; we are spiritual and moral beings as well. We are not only for ourselves or only for our families (Filipinos cannot be reminded enough of this); we are first for God and for our fellow Pinoys and human beings too. We are not only the words we speak; we are also the actions we do. We really should have the “whole truth and nothing but”.

Let me go back to our parish. The other priests and myself in our Team Ministry spoke last Sunday of the sufferings of our flood victims and appealed for extra clothes, blankets, rice, canned goods or even extra time to offer them words of consolation. In no time we saw, to our happy surprise, some kind of ‘flooding’ of these goods in our parish hall which we now call a “charity center”. After giving out some clothes to people who lost theirs to the floods, a volunteer texted me, “Father, I’m so happy to have helped people truly in need.” Now, I said to myself, there goes the truth that sets people free.




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