An invitation to a
By ABRAHAM V. LLERA, firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to invite
non-Catholics to a formal debate on Facebook on a topic of their
choice using only the Bible as proof. We can have this on
“Discussions” of my Facebook account or anywhere there’s a
considerable number of people looking.
There are plenty of
forums on Facebook where Catholics and “Protestants” discuss doctrine,
but most of them invariably become unfinished business when
“Protestants” suddenly stop responding to points raised by Catholics.
I don’t know why, but this is fairly common. Only through a formal
debate, in my opinion, could a discussion be seen to its logical
My debate partner and
I could follow the following format: Opening Statement period (2,000
words each). First Rebuttal period (2,000 words each). Second
Rebuttal period (2,000 words each). Cross Examination - each side
asks 5 questions alternately one after the other (responses limited to
1,000 words each). Closing Statement period (2,000 words each).
I’d much prefer the
following topics: papal infallibility; the Immaculate Conception; the
Holy Eucharist; the primacy of Peter; the Church being hierarchical;
Sola Scriptura; Sola Fidei; eternal security; or idolatry, but I’d be
open to suggestions. Or, we can have specific passages, e.g., “Romans
3:28 clearly supports “faith alone”; “John
3:16 clearly supports
Baptists of every
kind, Evangelicals of every type, Reformed Evangelicals of every hue,
Lutherans, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses – it doesn’t
matter, I’m okay with any.
My debate partner
doesn’t even have to introduce himself. He can have an assumed name,
a profile picture of anything but himself, and we could start
immediately. It seems that non-Catholic churches frown on their
members joining debates, I don’t know why. But nobody could stifle,
in my opinion, the right of their members to the truth, which, again
in my opinion, could come only from an intelligent study of the
subject, a study that could be tremendously aided by a healthy
discussion with another from the opposite side.
Another advantage is
that we could do this on our free time, in the comfort of our homes,
with our notes and/or buddies nearby – I don’t mind debating with
someone who has a battery of friends to assist him. I also don’t mind
my debate partner doing cut and paste – I will be doing much the same.
This is not an ego
trip. It’s just that so many “Protestants” have the horribly wrong
concept of Catholicism – Catholics worship our Lady; Catholics have
placed a lot of things into their beliefs that are not only absent
from the Bible but, in fact, contradict the Bible, etc. – that I think
Protestants have to be informed as to what, really, is the Catholic
faith. The same goes for Catholics, many of whom are woefully
ignorant of their Catholic faith making them easy targets for
conversion by “Protestant” proselytizers.
could get in touch with me at email@example.com.
The significant role
of media in the society today
By GINA DEAN-RAGUDO
“Liberal Party’s Legal
Adviser Roger Casurao said that the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
is the most convenient and appropriate way of approaching the problem
in order to prevent the province from releasing the budget. The
passage of the 2010 budget was declared null and void because the
procedure adopted by the board members present was improper and
illegal as it failed to meet the necessary requirement for approval
which requires the majority vote of all the members of the
Majority pushes TRO
to block budget release ]
This paragraph caught
the attention and produced an adverse effect on the part of the
respondents Gov. Sharee Ann Tan, et al as represented by their counsel
during the hearing for the extension of the TRO filed by the
petitioners Majority Floor Leader Charlie Coñejos et al in the
September 3, 2010 at
RTC Branch 31 in Calbayog City.
Who would have thought
that my article, a banner story of Samarnews.com published on that
very day would be the last subject of argument during the TRO hearing?
I would like to share
how they deliberated on it:
In this press release your honor, it was stated that Liberal Party’s
Legal Adviser Roger Casurao said that the
TRO is the most convenient and appropriate … Sangguniang
Your honor please,
this is very prejudicial to our client. There is no showing that the
2010 budget was declared null and void; and also your honor, that is
misleading to the public and to the constituents of the province. For
that purpose your honor, may we please request the parties to give the
issue for the decision of this honorable court and never give
misleading information to the public.
Court: Who wrote that
Respondent’s Counsel: I believe your honor that the author of this
press release was Gina
Then the Counsel asked
Is the statement in
paragraph 2 a correct statement?
Writer’s Answer: Yes,
as stated by the legal adviser of the Liberal Party based on the
interview I conducted.
Your honor, may we request the parties to prohibit them from giving
You read very well the article Mr. Counsel. Is there any showing that
I said it was declared null and void by the court?
The court read the
Who declared it null and void?
I will make the
clarification. I said that the most convenient way of approaching the
problem on this impasse now on the budget is a judicial relief. My
saying… that is null and void because the board made it. I was
referring to a Letter of Disclaimer. The 7 board members declared it
null and void. Is there any gag order for the board members from
declaring it null and void? I never used the name of the court in
declaring it null and void.
Respondent’s Counsel: I never said that…
I would like to
manifest that this be submitted for record purposes.
The use of the term
press release by the respondent’s counsel is incorrect. Said article
was taken from the statements of the interviewee on the interview
conducted by the writer 2 days after the filing of the petition for TRO. In my own understanding, a press release is an announcement
distributed to members of the press in order to supplement or replace
an oral presentation, or a public statement containing information
about an event that has happened or is going to happen; the
announcement appeared in several newspapers or radio/television
What I am trying to
convey here is that – the name of the writer is posted in the article
published only in Samarnews.com and the writer’s Facebook Account
unless another colleague in the industry has copied (plagiarism) it
Anyhow, the intention
of the story was not to preempt the decision of the honorable court
because the petition was already granted when the story was published
in the website. In fact, no issue ever came out on the day when the
petitioners filed the “Injunction Declaration of Nullity of
Appropriation Ordinance # 13-002 Series of 2010 of the Province of
Samar with a Prayer of Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order”
before the court.
source of the story was the Letter of Disclaimer signed by the
majority members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan addressed to the
Provincial Budget Officer. The source and the story itself did not
implicate the name of the court when “null and void” issue was
mentioned. The source, as the legal adviser of the Liberal Party was
just conveying his legal opinion based on the Letter of Disclaimer
issued by the petitioners the day after the controversial budget was
approved. [ Letter
of Disclaimer ]
cloistered way of independence and established anti-political shield
is highly regarded by the media as we are aware of our responsibility
when delicate and complex issues evolve.
The intent of the
story is not to mislead the public and the constituents of Samar
because there was no exaggeration or “embellishment” when it was
effect of bringing the issue in court, the media is pleased how the
people reacted to a particular subject matter. It upholds the
significant role/s of media in the society. Responding to President
Noy Aquino’s call in his SONA that media should be fair, truthful and
elevate the level of public disclosure, we are encouraging the
Samar to exercise vigilance and participation. Regardless of your
political preference or “color”, we should adhere to a pattern of
advocacy – take part in matters involving the “coffers” of the
province. It’s not THEIR (politicians) MONEY; it’s OUR MONEY that is
being deliberated upon.
A Letter of
Disclaimer on the approval of the 2010 Annual Budget of the province of Samar
Republic of the Philippines
PROVINCE OF SAMAR
TANGGAPAN NG SANGGUNIANG
STEPHEN JAMES T. TAN
Province of Samar
The undersigned are members
of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Samar.
This is to formally and
officially DISCLAIM the validity of ordinance for the approval of the
2010 Annual Budget of the Province of Samar that transpired during the
regular session of the Sanggunaing Panlalawigan on august 26, 2010 at
the Samar Provincial Capitol Building.
The procedure adopted by the
members present for the alleged approval of the 2010 annual Budget was
IMPROPER and ILLEGAL as it failed to meet the necessary requirements
for approval of an appropriation ordinance which requires the MAJORITY
VOTE OF ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN,
Moreover, the 2010 annual
Budget was UNCEREMONIOUSLY, CLANDESTINELY AND SURREPTITOUSLY treated
during said regular session as it was not calendared on the said
session and it was only brought on the item for Other Matters despite
the fact that said 2010 budget is already with the proper Committees
and is under treatment and consideration of the concerned Committee.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan
of the Province of Samar is composed of FOURTEEN (14) MEMBERS
including the Vice Governor as the Presiding Officer. A simple
mathematical computation would clearly show that a vote of SEVEN (7)
members is necessary to meet the requirement of MAJORITY VOTE OF ALL
THE MEMBERS OF THE SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN for the approval of an
NOW, THEREFORE, We are
FORMALLY and OFFICIALLY DISCLAIMING the validity of the ordinance for
the approval of the 2010 annual Budget and any transactions and/or
dealing pursuant to said invalid ordinance shall be ineffective and
has no force and effect of the law.
Thank you and we are hoping
that you will give this matter a preferential attention.
(SGD.) HON. CHARLITO
(SGD.) HON. NOEL L.
(SGD.) HON. JIMMY R.
(SGD.) HON. RENATO P.
(SGD.) HON. JASPER R.
(SGD.) HON. PRUDENCIO
A. DY, JR.
(SGD.) HON. EUNICE U.
A media statement on
P-Noy’s recent anti-divorce but pro-remarriage pronouncement
By ELIZABETH ANGSIOCO
National Chairperson, Democratic Socialist Women of the
August 26, 2010
President’s pronouncements on divorce made me cringe. When President
Benigno S. Aquino III stated that divorce in the Philippines is a
no-no, but in the same breath said that those who want to remarry may
just use legal separation, my initial reaction was – “Does he know
that legal separation does not allow remarriage?” The President
contradicted himself and his statement may be described as confused,
or perhaps, misguided. Unfortunately, Presidential pronouncements are
usually taken as the administration’s positions on issues and strongly
influence Congress decisions. In this case, the President’s message
His statement that
legal separation should be enough for couples who cannot stay together
and who want to remarry reveals wrong appreciation of existing laws.
Legal separation does not dissolve the marriage and only settles
separation of abode, and in some cases, of properties. Our work with
women from all over the country taught me that some marriages break
down, divorce or no divorce. Many times, women’s decision to get out
of relationships is due to abuse and violence they suffered for years
and could no longer bear. For these women, legal separation is not
enough even if they do not have plans of remarrying. Reports
consistently show that in this country, violence and other forms of
abuse against women are primarily committed by husbands and partners,
the very same people who vowed to love and protect them ‘till death do
they part’. We know of cases where even if legally separated, women
are unable to escape abuse from husbands because they remain “owned”
by them in marriage.
President Aquino also
said that the sanctity of marriage must be protected and I agree.
However, this should not be at the expense of women, particularly
those who are victims of abuse. Does the President really believe
that those abused should not be given another chance at life? Would
the President prefer women to suffer in silence for the sake of making
it appear that their marriages are intact even if in reality, they
have broken down? Mr. President, many women want to be free from
abusive relationships. The goal is to get their lives back. Whether
they will remarry or not is beside the point. The government, which
you lead, should make possible women’s freedom from abuse within
marriages. Legalizing divorce will help and we hope that you will side
with us on this urgent matter. We want to know if you are for or
'experts' is pointless
A Statement by the
Asian Human Rights Commission
August 24, 2010
The widely publicised
video of a police torture has drawn mixed reactions and opinions from
the public, including lawmakers, lawyers and human rights groups, who
have all joined in the chorus condemning such a barbaric and cruel
act. Most of them share the opinion that 'lack of education of the law
enforcers' is to blame for it happening but the Asian Human Rights
Commission (AHRC) strongly argues that this is not the case.
While educating law
enforcers about the content of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 is
necessary the lack of education of this law cannot be used as an
excuse to justify the said incident. If there is anyone who are
'experts and well-educated' on the use of torture, it is the law
enforcement officers themselves. Torture is not something so new that
one has to be told that it is abhorrent and prohibited.
The enactment of the
Anti-Torture Act in December 2009 did not mean that the term 'torture'
just came into existence and was an alien concept to the law
enforcers. The term torture itself has been widely used and understood
to refer to violence and cruelty perpetrated against a person. Before
the right not to be tortured was included in the 1987 Constitution,
the police and the military had already been practicing it,
particularly during Martial law period against political dissenters.
Therefore, it would be too naïve to argue that the lack of education
amongst law enforcers is to blame as to why it continues to persist.
For any police officer who thinks with reason, torture is absolutely a
condemnable act undeserving of those who wear the uniform of the
Philippine National Police.
Some of the authors of
the Anti-Torture Law were victims of torture themselves during the
Martial Law regime. It is their experience, and that of countless
others, that made the enactment of this law possible. It was also
after the Marcos regime that the concept of the right against torture
was first introduced in the Philippine Constitution. The torture
victims, most of them in disbelief as to how cruel people of their own
nationality could become, felt the depth of what torture really is. It
meant being a witness of their own suffering long before this was
written into law. Those who 'survived' have to suffer and live with
the trauma of having been tortured for the rest of their lives.
Torture is not a
result of ignorance and lack of education by the law enforcers. It is
the absence of an effective mechanism that would hold them
accountable. It is also this absence that breeds and develops a
culture of violence amongst the law enforcers. When a law enforcer or
torturer cannot be held accountable for torture or any other form of
violence he would commit, this becomes an accepted norm which we know
to have been thriving in the police force for decades. This is what
happened in the
The policeman who tortured the suspected thief in the video did not
become a torturer overnight, but had learnt and developed his
expertise of using torture and the accompanying mindset to an extent
that has become acceptable to him because it is a commonplace
also do not become police officers overnight. The Philippine National
Police (PNP) and the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), two
agencies who are responsible in training and recruiting applicants
into the police force, require highly competitive academic
qualifications, accomplishments and intensive training before it
awards a policeman the rank of a police captain, the rank that the
policeman in the video held. They also undergo civil service
examinations, regular background checks and continuing education on
Also, the Philippine
National Police Academy (PNPA), one of the highly competitive police
training academies, even conduct background checks of their recruits,
by way if interviewing their family and persons who know the
applicant, before admitting him for training to ensure that immoral
persons or those with psychological problems would not be allowed in
the academy. This is in addition to passing a lengthy qualifying
Apart from training in
the police academy, the
PNP and NAPOLCOM also absorb applicants with a bachelor's degree in
criminology and those who had already earned units from any social
sciences course but were unable to graduate. This is also after
passing a civil service examination. Thus, those who are absorbed into
the police force are either university graduates or have studied for
years in a university. They are educated people and need not be told
that torture is prohibited. They are have completed, at least the
rudimentary teaching on logic, ethics, philosophy and the morals in
the universities. They are certainly not uneducated.
When the policeman
tortured the victim in the video, he did it consciously. It was not
indiscriminate or an isolated case, as earlier mentioned by the police
establishment. It reflects the tip of the iceberg as to the state of
policing in country. The emergence of further complaints on torture as
reported in the media, after the video had been exposed, only
demonstrates the ugly reality of the country's policing the surface of
which has yet to be scratched. It is a matter that most of the people
knew and had live with. Any further complaints must therefore be
seriously acted upon under the law.
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
FORMS of activism have
definitely multiplied in trickier, more sinister ways these past
years. The original form is obviously when a person just acts without
much thinking. Even common sense is neglected, and the result can only
unfortunately, can be infectious, taking advantage of people’s
weaknesses, ignorance and confusion, and thus can be so generalized as
to become part of a society’s culture, with structures to perpetuate
And thus, we can have
such anomalies as workaholism or professionalitis, where action, work
and profession become the be-all and end-all of life. They set aside
time for prayer, family life and our other responsibilities.
But the root cause of
activism is when we detach ourselves from our objective source of
wisdom and truth, and this is nothing other than God. This sadly is
becoming prevalent because of the increasingly secularized environment
we are having these days.
Instead we depend on
our own ideas, mesmerized by their borrowed brilliance and buoyed by
our own pride and vanity. In short, we make ourselves our own God.
This irregularity is reinforced by a badly understood doctrine of the
separation of Church and state that many of us are suffering.
According to this
understanding, the Church cannot say anything on state affairs. In a
worse case, religion or anything that has to do with faith is
automatically banned from making any influence on a country’s
political life. And yet all sorts of ideologies are made to hold sway
over the people.
With this frame of
mind, we start to create a bubble, we start to live in a cocoon.
Reality becomes man-made. We follow a logic that while accompanied by
reason, is ultimately based on hot air. This is where we can talk
about an activism that is driven by ideologies founded on reason alone
Its allure derives
from the immediate practicality it gives, the instant, short-term
advantages and benefits it produces. But it’s notoriously shallow and
short-sighted, and worse, it tends to be dressed in deceptive devices
to attract attention.
Thus, in the recent
past, we had this disturbing phenomenon of street rallies, where noise
replaced thinking, slogans substituted arguments, and ideologies
attacked faith and our faith-derived culture.
Its falsehood and
inherent infirmity obviously cannot keep the craze long. In time, all
the shouting and marching petered out. It had no genuine soul. It
cannot go far in its dream.
And so, other forms of
activism had been resorted. Lately, we had been “regaled” for a while
by the news that an American judge did what was tantamount to a
judicial activism. That’s when he overturned the results of a
plebiscite that banned same-sex marriage in California.
In his view, there was
no sufficient reason to ban gay unions. He had the pluck to insinuate
that there was more than enough reason homosexual marriages were ok,
were constitutional, if not were moral and natural.
It’s good that a court
stopped his decision, at least for a while, from being implemented. We
have to be ready for this kind of activism that tries to usurp the
right of the majority of the people to be heard in their beliefs.
In our own country, we
have another disturbing phenomenon that is emerging. We can call it
legislative activism, because it involves lawmakers, our congressmen
and congresswomen, who now want to redefine marriage according to
This time, they want
marriage not to be a lifelong commitment but a renewable affair after
every few years. This is really a wild idea that only shows what’s
inside their mind and heart.
definition, is a lifelong commitment, because it involves everything
of the parties concerned. We, as persons and especially if we are
aware that we receive grace from God through the sacrament of
marriage, are capable of such commitment.
I’m sure the
proponents want to solve some screaming marital and family problems,
but the proposed solution can open a Pandora’s box of many other worse
problems. With such attitude, where the nature and sanctity of
marriage are eroded, people would have more reason not to take it
Besides, the proposal
to legalize “renewable” marriage goes with another on divorce.
Actually these two are twin bastard children of a man-made
understanding of marriage.
We have to
understand that the nature of marriage is given to us by God, written
in nature, and for us to find, discover and live. It’s not for us to
fabricate nor to revise. We need to go back to this basic truth about
SP Committee Hearings
reveal lapses in the AIP/Budget Preparation
By EMY C. BONIFACIO, Samar
The 2010 Annual Budget
of the Provincial Government of Samar is presently being subjected to
a keen scrutiny from members of the two committees. A series of
marathon hearings jointly held by the Committee on Finance and
Appropriations and the Committee on Laws and Legal Matters have called
on the different agencies and the Local Finance Committee to defend
the appropriations/items incorporated in the proposed budget.
Based on my personal
accounts on the hearings conducted, the Committees have already noted
major procedural lapses in the budget preparation. First, it was only
last July 22, 2010 that the budget was calendared for deliberation.
Secondly, it has questioned in particular, the absence of an Annual
Investment Plan that was duly approved by the Provincial Development
Council prior to the submission of the Annual Budget. Furthermore, it
was observed that the plans and programs contained in the AIP did not
pass the consultative process since there were proposed projects that
are already implemented from other sources of funds; specific places
for project implementations are not provided; resource persons/offices
for various social/promotional programs are not identified and
priority programs are not reflective of the needs of the Samarnons.
It may be recalled
that Samar has been operating under a re-enacted 2008 budget since
2009. The succeeding proposed annual budgets failed to get the SP's
approval after the Tan's administration has continually been bombarded
by criticisms for irregularities in its financial transactions,
unfinished infrastructure/road projects, poor governance and more
other administration lapses. In fact, former Governor Milagrosa Tan
was meted a 90-day suspension last December 2009 to February 2010 for
graft acts committed.
With the new set of
provincial employees sworn in, the budget controversy becomes a hot
issue putting more pressure on both the Executive and the Legislative
Branches. The seven (7) Board Members (Magnificent Seven), whose
numbers control the Sangguniang Panlalawigan decisions, are decided to
protect the coffers of the province. Hon Eunice Babalcon, Chairwoman
of the Committee on Laws and Legal Matters, was even quoted with these
pronouncements. "We don't want to take part in the approval of a
budget that is not beneficial to the people. Himay-himayon ta ini para
hingadto ha maupay nga kakadtuan".
Likewise, Hon. Noel
Sermense, Committee Chair for Finance and Appropriations bluntly said
approving the budget hastily, will not solve the problems of Samar.
This was Sermense's reaction to Governor Sharee Ann Tan's statement
that, the delivery of the basic services is hampered because of an
unapproved operating budget. Employees were even motivated to lobby
with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for their benefits and salary
differentials. Placards were displayed at the lobby of the session
hall urging the legislators to immediately pass the budget. Governor
Tan, in a press conference, blamed the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for
the delay in passing the budget. She had posed a challenge to the
Board Members to approve the budget now with the assurance to deliver
the services, and that if she fails to deliver the basic services
provided in the budget, they can disapprove the 2011 budget. It is to
the perception of Hon. Charlie Conejos that these activities are
orchestrated by the administration to pressure them into signing the
budget. Onlookers are waiting for the outcome of this tug-of-war
between the executive and the legislative branches.
While most people
perceive the sincerity of the younger Tans in pursuing a transparent
administration, the opposition has not forgotten yet the corruption
cases that keep haunting the older Tan. People continue to doubt the
role of the previous governor in the present administration. Whoever
gets the people's sympathy with the word war circulating around, the
Samarnons are still hopeful that these officials will be acting on
their independent decisions and in the end, people's welfare wins.