OB listing by the military in Northern
A Press Statement by
October 21, 2009
A copy of an Order of
Battle (OB) list was given to the National Fact Finding team who was
investigating the killing of human rights advocate priest Fr. Cecilio
Lucero last October 9, 2009 in
Northern Samar. An unidentified state forces asset handed over the
copy of the document to one member of the team. The
OB list revealed that the military listed several members and
former members of legal progressive organizations in the
province of Northern
The document revealed
that it was a MONTHLY INTELLIGENCE SUMMARY (Period Covered 06 July
2009 - 09 August 2009) dated August 9, 2009 submitted by Cpt. Husain
A. Esmael, Acting Brigade S2. It stated that the Task Group
Peacemaker, from the 803rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army, based in
Catarman, Northern Samar “was deployed to the area of Catarman” and
has conducted “information drives on AFP Education and Awareness
program” and from these activities, “knowledge on CT
(communist-terrorist) dominated organizations and activities from some
of the students and residents came out.” Because of the “activities
initiated by the task group” they have “inflicted fear unto the CT
In this report, names
of personalities of progressive and party-list organizations in
Northern Samar were listed in the OB of the Philippine Army. The
organizations listed were Gabriela, Bayan Muna and BAYAN. Included in
the list is Bayan Muna Partylist member Dr. Bartolome Resuello who was
ambushed-killed last April 1, 2009 in Pambujan, Northern Samar by
still unidentified men while Fr. Cecilio Lucero who was also
September 6, 2009 in San Jose, Northern Samar was also mentioned.
of the University of Eastern Philippines (UEP) who are members of the
University Student Council (USC) and also affiliated with the League of Filipino Students (LFS),
and the university’s student publication who are affiliated with the
College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) are also included in
the OB list.
The report also
reflected the Task Group Peacemaker’s move in “neutralizing” some
members of the LFS by talking to their parents and showing them videos
like “Knowing the Enemy” which links legal progressive organizations
to the revolutionary group New People’s Army (NPA).
intelligence report is quite alarming because names listed under the
military’s OB are subjected to surveillance, especially the students,
while two of the mentioned names in the list turned out dead this
year. It has been experienced in the past that names that are listed
in an OB experienced harassment, some were abducted, and worst,
killed. This has been experienced, not only in the region but also in
other parts of the country where human rights violations is rampant.
The disclosure of this
military intelligence report only further proves our claims that under
the government’s counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya II,
members and leaders of legal progressive organizations are equated
with the armed revolutionary group to justify the killings and
abductions of legal personalities and other human rights violations
perpetrated by the U.S.-Arroyo regime.
We must not be
deceived by the lies that the Army’s 8th Infantry Division is
propagating that they respect human rights because victims of military
abuses and their own documents says otherwise.
The situation tells us
the need for our firm resolve and unity to defend and promote human
rights in order to prevent further human rights violations committed
by state forces. Only through the united effort of the people of
will we be able to defeat Oplan Bantay Laya II.
Beware of the
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA
PHENOMENA like young
men and even women already taking beer at 6 in the morning in
convenience stores, seminarians engrossed in Facebook but cannot
master the Latin declensions even after one year of classes, etc., are
getting rampant these days.
They indicate a big,
worrying shift not only in behavior but also of attitudes and values
that is now asking to be regulated properly. This is a challenge for
everyone. Of course, the elders and those in authority – parents,
teachers, clergy, public officials – should take the lead.
Those call center
workers are inverting their days and nights. To some extent this can
be done and is necessary. But identifying the limits, and respecting
basic, unchangeable values can be a tricky problem. They tend to
invert things indiscriminately.
seminarians remiss in their academic requirements while immersed in
cyberdistractions are just a thumbnail image of a widening problem
besetting our youth today. Obviously, the computers and the internet
can stimulate their thinking, but they can also stimulate other
unwelcome practices in them.
actually has deeper causes and needs to be framed within a wider
perspective. Pope Benedict hits it bull’s eye when he said in his
encyclical “Caritas in veritate” (Charity in the truth):
development can give rise to the idea that technology is
self-sufficient when too much attention is given to the ‘how’
questions, and not enough to the many ‘why’ questions underlying human
This is the problem we
have to tackle. We are slowly being lulled and intoxicated by the many
wonders of the technological potentials. We are being detached from
our true human foundation as we are slowly being made into slaves,
victims and preys of the predatory side of our increasingly
With this frame of
mind, our grip of reality hardly goes beyond what is instantly
practical, pleasurable, popular. We get hooked to a knee-jerk,
Pavlovian way of reacting, without giving any thought to long-range
We get restricted to
the material and sensual aspects of our life, forgetting the spiritual
and supernatural. We find it harder nowadays to pray, to find leisure
time with family and friends, etc. We get prodded to act without
giving due attention to thinking and planning.
In its wake, we can
find the debris of disorder not only in the physical and external
order, but also and more seriously in the internal side, since our
sense of values and priorities are pressured to go haywire.
In short, we are being
emptied of our substance as persons and as children of God, and are
massaged to become hollow automatons, reacting only to external or
mechanical stimuli, and not anymore acting from a soul.
For sure, technology
offers us a lot of advantages. As the Pope says, technology “draws us
out of our physical limitations and broadens our horizon.” But we have
to make sure that technology is used properly, that is, directed by a
solid sense of moral responsibility on our part.
It should not just be
allowed to fascinate us with its many possibilities. The immense sense
of freedom that it gives should be accompanied by a well-grounded
sense of responsibility.
Therefore, we have to
work out a program of formation on the “ethically responsible use of
technology.” This obviously will require an interdisciplinary
approach, since the requirements of our spiritual and material
dimensions, of faith and science should be met.
There can be the usual
learning-curve involved here, where the beginning of the process would
involve a lot of effort, investments, the mess of the trial-and-error
or the experimentation stage, etc. But the basic principles and goals
should be made clear.
serve us in our objective needs, and not the other way around. It
should make us better persons, better parents and children, better
workers and students.
Most of all, it should
make us better children of God, who know how to live the fullness of
charity in the very midst of our mundane and temporal affairs that now
rely a lot on technology.
The program of
formation should focus on how virtues can be pursued and continually
developed amid many competing values. The skill of discernment should
be enhanced. When to say, yes and go, and when to say, no and stop and
reject, should be learned.
Again for Christians,
the ultimate test is whether the use of technology will make us be
more like Christ! Short of that, we open ourselves to danger.
Saints as suicide
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA
SORRY to hijack your
attention. But let me explain.
Precisely because of a
biting sense of helplessness, of being on the brink, we often wonder
what to do with suicide bombers. We try to understand these creatures.
We overwhelmingly disagree with their actions and motivations. But we
cannot deny the glaring fact that they do it out of a sense of
wrong… These can immediately come to mind to describe that sense of
commitment. Still, the reality remains that, right or wrong, they do
it in their own subjective calculation as an act of heroism. It can be
their ideal for sainthood.
We even try to
downgrade that part by claiming that these suicide bombers are mad,
out of their own will, completely deprived of reason, made an
Granted they are true,
still the people around them, those who manage and direct them
undeniably hold a burning sense of commitment that they extend to a
human instrument, whose freedom cannot be totally wiped out no matter
what the conditioning.
certainly disturbs us. The often unspoken conclusion is whether we too
can have that sense of commitment, of the kind that goes all the way
to death, even if we follow a route different from the terrorists’
kind of life offering.
In my reading of the
lives of saints, the answer can be found. A common element in many of
them is precisely their willingness to offer their lives for the
salvation of souls.
It’s their ultimate
and total sacrifice, which they do consciously and freely. Of course,
the standard here is no one else than Christ himself who offered his
life lovingly for our redemption. Remember what our Lord said:
‘No man takes my life
away from me. I lay it down of myself, and I have power to lay it down
and I have power to take it up again.” (Jn 10,18)
The saints believe in
these words of Christ, and follow them. They are convinced that if
they die with Christ, they also will rise with Christ. Death for them
acquires a very special meaning, infused with powerful redemptive
We need to penetrate
into this reality of our life and death. We cannot remain in the
superficial, in the level of self-serving reasoning, confined only in
the fields of politics, diplomacy, pragmatism, etc. They certainly are
important, and also indispensable, but they are not meant to be
Death, to a consistent
Christian believer, is not simply the end of one’s earthly life. It
can be his final act of love and reconciliation with God. It has
tremendous nuclear power to effect goodness in the whole network of
humanity known in Christian doctrine as the communion of saints.
The little act of
love, done even in isolation, affects not only the one who does it,
but also everybody else. And somehow an element of dying is involved
in loving, not matter how little that loving is.
This is simply because
love involves a certain self-denial to be able to give oneself to
others. That is the ultimate essence of love. It entails a dying to
oneself to be able to give oneself to the other.
Thus, the example of
our Lord who told us to learn of him, “for I am meek and humble of
heart.” (Mt 11,29) There’s a mysterious constructive force that is
released whenever one dies to himself through humility, obedience,
meekness, and ultimately our physical death. This is what
said to refer to this truth:
“The foolish things of
the world has God chosen, that he may confound the wise. The weak
things of the world has God chosen that he may confound the strong.
“And the base things
of the world, the things that are contemptible, has God chosen, and
things that are not, that he might bring to nought things that are.”
(1 Cor 1,27-28)
We have to learn to
relate all our human efforts to solve our problems here on earth,
including terrorism, to the requirements of the spiritual and
supernatural character of our human condition.
Our life cannot be
viewed only on its temporal and material dimensions alone. Our life is
one and indivisible. It has natural and supernatural dimensions that
we need to learn how to integrate together. Death is actually not an
end nor a rupture, but a transition, a passage from time to eternity.
That’s why saints
are not afraid to die. They welcome it.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA
Chaplain, Center for Industrial Technology
Prophet in politics
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA
WE have to clarify the
concept of prophet these days. Sadly, even as a word, it’s now hardly
heard. No one talks nowadays about being a prophet. That’s unfortunate
because to be a prophet is an integral part of our Christian identity.
We all share in
different ways in the prophetic mission of Christ and the Church,
because we are made in God’s image and likeness, raised to the level
of grace to be God’s children, and somehow commissioned also by Christ
to go “preach to all nations….”
The ideal is that we
all think and speak as God thinks and speaks. That’s God’s will.
That’s how we are also made. Obviously, given our human condition this
ideal has to be pursued in stages, in varying levels and degrees, and
to contend with all sorts of factors, conditions and challenges.
It’s also because of
this that certain persons are given special gifts of prophecy to help
others to become prophets themselves eventually. St. Paul says:
“He that speaks in a
tongue, edifies himself, but he that prophesies, edifies the church.”
(1 Cor 14,4)
But we should never
understand this to mean only a few are meant to be prophets. All of us
are meant to be prophets!
What makes this whole
business more exciting these days is that it seems to be prophetic is
concerned almost exclusively about politics. We get the impression
that prophesying is reduced to things political.
Some priests and
religious talk about being prophets only when they want to say
something about political issues. Now that elections are coming, we
hear this word more often in that context.
themselves as mystic-prophets, often to denounce and condemn both
persons and problems, many times straying already into partisan
politics. Others are organizing seminars to know how to be a prophet
Not that they can’t.
In fact, they should in some opportune moments. To be sure, to be a
real prophet in politics can be considered as one of the highest, if
most difficult, way of exercising the prophetic mission. It’s just
that being a prophet involves a lot more than what they so far are
showing in public.
It requires not only
the sacraments, but also the doctrine well assimilated and lived. It
requires a living union with God, a real sanctity and genuine
integrity, and not just put-on patina of righteousness.
It requires a lot of
patience, broadness of mind, prudence, flexibility, capacity to
integrate varying and often competing factors. It requires discretion,
fortitude, rectitude of intention, good manners and even cheerfulness,
and, of course, charity.
It also involves a
constant effort to evangelize, not only in the big things like
business, politics and other social concerns, but also and mainly in
the little and ordinary things that are with us always.
To be a prophet in
politics is actually a must. We just need also how to respect the
nature and character of politics, just like any other temporal and
earthly affairs we have.
There is a certain
autonomy in politics that needs to be understood and handled well.
It’s this autonomy that precludes easy dogmatization of views and
positions that in itself are open to opinion. It attracts pluralism of
views that should be respected.
We have to be
understand well that the subject of rights that should be respected
always are the persons who have to be considered in their concrete
circumstances, with all their positive and negative traits.
It’s not the “truth”
understood as the many views and opinions we have regarding certain
issues that have the rights. Thus, even if we are sure that our views
are the correct ones, we need to learn to discuss, dialogue,
negotiate, practice tolerance, etc., in the political space that
should be given to all of us.
Preaching Christ in
politics is in this kind of attitude and practice. It’s not in ramming
our views on others just because we think they are the right ones.
That would be a kind of tyranny and dictatorship, of unhealthy
clericalism. Christ preferred to die on the cross than fall to these
Besides, if present
examples are to be considered, many of these views are outright
partisan and often based on biases, hearsays, anger, etc.
We need to learn
how to be real prophets in politics! We need to purify and upgrade our
understanding and culture regarding our prophetic mission in politics.
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA
LIKE love and freedom,
justice is a big word that means many things to many people.
It has suffered so
much stretching that it often appears distorted, warped and made use
of. Its basic element is forgotten under so much clever overlays,
questionable leavenings or sheer malice. Sometimes we are not even
aware of it.
These distortions and
selfish use of justice, of course, generate their own drama that leads
us to extended conflicts, usually framed within the arena of the
inconsequential aspects of the issue, but not the root of the issues
There’s often much ado
about nothing. Only self-interests are disturbed, feelings strained,
biting discord generated. The higher common good is ignored, the
bigger picture neglected, blinding passions revved up.
They remind us of what
St. James says in his Letter: “Where jealousy and selfish ambition
exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from
above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of
mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.” (3,16-17)
What is this basic
element, or the nucleus of justice? It is none other than an abiding
sense of what we owe to others – first to God, then to others. Our
main problem is that when we see others, we tend to think only of what
they mean or have to do with us.
others-oriented, we are self-oriented. This is a predicament we have
to be more aware of, so we can be properly guided and reminded of our
duties. We need to continually indulge in certain exercises to put us
in the right track. Hopefully the proper attitude becomes second
nature in the future.
Let us examine
ourselves: What do I think every time I see a person, or consider a
person in my mind? If it’s duties we owe to them, then we are starting
to live justice. If we get stuck in the externals and, worse, pursue
thoughts about how they can mean to us, we are taking the wrong turn
of the crossroad.
We also need to
realize ever deeply that justice is an always concern. We don’t think
of it only when big problems – usually causing us some discomfort –
erupt. It has to be a permanent attitude which we put in active mode
both in ordinary and extraordinary situations. It should never be
allowed to sleep.
Obviously, all this
will depend on an objective law of right and wrong, good and evil.
This law just cannot be generated from within oneself. It has to come
from outside us – more correctly, from above us, God himself.
Thus, we need to
understand that justice can only be properly lived if there is an
abiding relationship between a person and God, between a society and
God, between our legal system and God, etc.
For sure, this is
going to be a dynamic relationship which can admit some errors and
confusion. So we need to give allowance to these possibilities. But if
it is earnestly pursued, I’m sure we can see the true face of justice.
Short of that, let’s
not deceive ourselves and say we have justice. We will never have
justice. At best, we can have an appearance of justice, which can be
worse, since it will be a very treacherous kind of justice.
Sad to say, this is
what we have aplenty. Without a strong mooring on God, we go about
trying to have justice in our own conflicting terms. Things can get
worse when the media come in, since another agenda alien to the
original intent of justice can be pursued.
The recent Simala
controversy is an illustrative example. I suppose all parties involved
have a point to make, as in all other controversies. When the media
joins in, usually already with a defined, if hidden, bias, the picture
which in the first place is not supposed to be seen by all, gets more
I wonder what kind of
justice will be achieved here. Just the same, some good can always
come out. In this particular case, I’m happy that allegations about
gay presentations within the shrine are emerging, so that these
anomalies can be corrected, if painfully.
In one Christmas
clergy party (not in Cebu), I was devastated to see a priest, who
acted as the emcee, dressed as a girl with wigs, screaming make-up and
revealing off-shoulder gown. Some bishops were there, and a good
number of the laity also.
This kind of jest
is simply foul!
An Open Letter to Commissioner Leila De Lima of the
Commission on Human Rights of the
Ms. Leila De Lima
Commission on Human Rights
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Commissioner De Lima:
The Commission on
Human Rights is urged to initiate a dialogue with President Arroyo
asking her to sign the Anti-Torture law promptly.
The Asian Human Rights
Commission (AHRC) writes to express its appreciation of the recent
developments that the bill, which seeks to criminalize torture, has
been ratified by the Philippine Senate and the House of
Representatives on August 17, 2009. Though the bill has already been
ratified, it has yet to be signed by the President into law.
The bill would make it
possible to prosecute members of the security forces and state agents
for committing acts of torture, as defined by the Convention against
Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(CAT). Since the Philippines is a signatory to the CAT, it is
incumbent upon the state to ensure domestic legislation in compliance
with the Convention.
The AHRC is aware that
your office is one of the government agencies monitoring this
As you are aware,
freedom from torture has long been recognized under the Article 3 of
the 1987 Philippine Constitution. This is a Constitutional right;
thus, this measure criminalizing torture, once signed into law, would
certainly uphold the Constitutional right of the victims and
facilitate the possibility for them to seek legal redress,
compensation and rehabilitation, of which they have been deprived for
However, a month after
the legislative body ratified the bill there has been no substantial
progress. In fact, the bill has yet to reach the Office of the
President (OP) in order for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to sign
it into law. Furthermore, even before the bill reaches her office for
signature there has been an 'unofficial announcement' that it might be
Once again, the AHRC
expresses its deep concern about this delay merely, as it appears, due
to the 'procedural issues'. After over two decades of failing to have
a domestic law on torture legislated, and now that the legislative
body has come out with a commonly agreed version and has ratified it,
any further delay merely on the 'procedural issues' cannot be
The AHRC is aware of
the CHR's proactive measures in recent times. An excellent example is
the investigation about the vigilante killings in southern Mindanao
and there have been others which have often yielded positive results.
We are of the opinion that your office can play an important role, in
addition to monitoring the legislation process, by lobbying to ensure
that this bill is signed into law promptly.
Thus, we are once
again urging the CHR to use your power and authority by way of taking
the lobbying further. We urge you to exercise your power under section
3 of Executive Order No. 163, in particular, of "request(ing) the
assistance of any department, bureau, office or agency in the
performance of its functions".
The CHR, as an
independent body, would have had enormous weight in terms of
influencing policy made on the part of the executive branch. Thus, we
urge you to initiate a direct dialogue with President Macapagal-Arroyo
so as to emphasise to her the importance and necessity of having this
law signed promptly.
The AHRC shares your
observations that the lack of domestic legislation criminalizing
torture is one of the obstacles as to why victims cannot obtain legal
remedies and prosecute the perpetrators who violate their rights. To
have this bill signed into law is a crucial step, fundamental to the
protection of human rights in the country.
Asian Human Rights Commission,
Religion in school
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA
September 16, 2009
THE role of religion
in school is fast becoming a controversial topic these days. To me,
this is one more sign of the bleeding secularist mentality that’s
emanating from many so-called developed, but actually troubled,
countries like the US and those in Europe.
What’s a secularist
mentality? That’s a mindset that has driven away God and anything
related to him, the spiritual and supernatural truths, from their
man-made world. Not only, driven away. Some have gone berserk in their
hostility toward God.
Obviously, this is a
sociological assertion at best, a generalized view that admits of a
lot of exceptions, some small, but others can be qualified as
So we should approach
this topic with a grain of salt. We should never be too negative and
pessimistic about the problem. There’s always hope. We just have to
continue supplying reasons for our beliefs, and to keep the channels
of healthy dialogue with different parties open and active.
Truth is there are
expanding sectors that, for example, would not like to have any kind
of prayer done in public or religious figures displayed. Obama, for
example, had the crucifix covered when he gave a speech in Notre Dame
That, to them in their
so-called enlightened logic, would already constitute a breach of
freedom and human rights. It certainly is an issue worth pursuing in a
development has led the
particularly its Congregation for Catholic Education, to recently send
a circular letter to Bishops and those involved in education all over
In it, basic
principles about the nature, character, function and purpose of
Catholic education or, in short, the role of religion in school, are
It might be good to go
over them, also because in our midst, though we still can brand
ourselves as a religious and pious country, there are indications of
neglect, confusion, even outright error, in this delicate area of
There are four main
parts of the letter, each of them quite self-explanatory but
worthwhile re-articulating, since with all the information overdrive
we have, we tend to have only partial, incomplete and unsystematic
grasp of the issue.
These parts are: (1)
the role of schools in the Catholic formation of new generations; (2)
nature and identity of the Catholic school – the right to a Catholic
education for families and pupils; subsidiarity and educational
collaboration; (3) religious education in schools; and (4) educational
freedom, religious freedom and Catholic education.
Perhaps to put these
four parts in a more organic whole, we can say that while schools are
needed for the Catholic education of children, Catholic schools,
mainly established by parents who are the primary educators, have a
right to exist.
These Catholic schools
should not be subjected to undue pressures. Quite the contrary, they
should be not only welcomed but encouraged by the civil authorities
who also have a right to check on them for some basic civil
This parental right is
not meant to contravene other initiatives originating from the state
or special groupings that may wish to put up schools. It’s just a
basic right that needs to be recognized, respected and where possible
fostered and assisted by higher entities.
highlight the crucial role of religion in the education of children.
While they respect those with different views, those behind these
schools believe religion is indispensable in forming children to be
mature, responsible citizens and believers.
Thus, these schools
should not treat religion as a marginal subject, but should rather
treat it as the queen of all the sciences taught there. That might
sound too big to say, but it has real basis. It just needs to be
reiterated, renewed and constantly revalidated, especially by the
life-witness of those involved.
This has to be said
because there are now so-called Catholic schools that are increasingly
diminishing the importance of religion in their educational efforts.
Their Catholic identity is wavering, as if gripped in fear or shame.
It also has to be said
that these schools are a result of educational and religious freedom.
But it’s a freedom that is not of the anything-goes type, but
recognizes the authority of the Church that has the duty to set
There are questionable
ideas of academic freedom that need to be corrected. Sadly, they can
sometimes dominate in some big Catholic centers of learning.
In short, there are
many things to be taken care of to see that the nature, rights and
duties of Catholic schools in teaching religion in schools are
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA
Chaplain, Center for Industrial Technology