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

insight 57


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For the greed for money, corruption persists

Yellowing journalism

An invitation to a formal debate

Police torture video affirms police stations are 'torture chambers'

Freedom of religion under threat

Sex Ed a wedge issue

What’s wrong with sex education in schools?

What do YOUTHink?

Condoms a dead man walking

Manganese, Copper… and other questions





No change in the Church’s teaching on condoms

November 22, 2010

(Credit: Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press and Pia de Solenni.)

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.”

The above is what the Pope says in his book “Light of the World.” This is what the Inquirer, regrettably the worst example of Philippine journalism, trumpets: “Pope: Condom use OK in AIDS fight.” “Using condoms may sometimes be justified to stop the spread of AIDS, Pope Benedict XVI says in a new book, in surprise comments that relax one of the Vatican’s most controversial positions.”

And here’s how the granddaddy of the anti-life movement Rep Edcel Lagman calls it: “A departure from the strictly very conservative approach of the papacy and the Catholic Church.”

Lagman could be forgiven – congressmen are notorious for opening their mouths first before learning all they can about the subject, but the Inquirer’s lapse is unforgivable: the high standards of journalism require the Inquirer to do much more, way, way more.

Here’s where the two went wrong:

First, the Pope has not made any new pronouncement, LEAST OF ALL, changed any Church teaching. All he did was, in the words of Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press, “put a spotlight on a nuanced discussion within the church about how best to address the scourge of AIDS.”

Indeed, Fr. Martin Rhonheimer, an Opus Dei priest and ethics professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, argued as long ago as 2004 that “an HIV-infected married man who uses a condom to protect his wife from the virus is not trying to block a pregnancy, but to prevent infection; his actions, therefore, could be seen as in accord with Catholic teaching.”

Nicholas Cafardi, a canon lawyer and former dean of Dusquesne University School of Law, agrees: "It's an interesting application of ancient moral principles. Even if you are performing an otherwise evil act, you can mitigate the evil of the act."

Michael Baur, a philosopher at Fordham University, observes that the Pope could be making a distinction between greater and lesser evils, or what moral theologians call “double effect”: an evil may be tolerated for an intended good, in this case, the spread of AIDS.

Fr. Joseph Fession of Ignatius Press, the book’s publisher, insists that the Pope is NOT justifying condom use, but was merely giving his observation that the male prostitute who uses condoms to protect another from contracting the disease is showing signs of taking moral responsibility for another person.

Here, again, is the verbatim quote from the book:

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.”

Pope Benedict XVI is NOT endorsing condoms. All he is saying is that the action of the male prostitute could be the first step in the male prostitute’s realization that his (the male prostitute’s) action (being a male prostitute) is wrong.

Neither should Pope Benedict XVI’s statement be interpreted as the Church’s endorsement of male prostitution.

Should readers entertain any residual doubts, here’s the pertinent section of the book (pp 117-119) courtesy of Pia de Solenni:

INTERVIEWER: On the occasion of your trip to Africa in March 2009, the Vatican’s policy on Aids once again became the target of media criticism. Twenty-five percent of all Aids victims around the world today are treated in Catholic facilities. In some countries, such as Lesotho, for example, the statistic is 40 percent. In Africa you stated that the Church’s traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV. Critics, including critics from the Church’s own ranks, object that it is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.

POPE BENEDICT XVI: The media coverage completely ignored the rest of the trip to Africa on account of a single statement. Someone had asked me why the Catholic Church adopts an unrealistic and ineffective position on Aids. At that point, I really felt that I was being provoked, because the Church does more than anyone else. And I stand by that claim. Because she is the only institution that assists people up close and concretely, with prevention, education, help, counsel, and accompaniment. And because she is second to none in treating so many Aids victims, especially children with Aids.

I had the chance to visit one of these wards and to speak with the patients.

That was the real answer: The Church does more than anyone else, because she does not speak from the tribunal of the newspapers, but helps her brothers and sisters where they are actually suffering. In my remarks I was not making a general statement about the condom issue, but merely said, and this is what caused such great offense, that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms. Much more needs to be done. We must stand close to the people, we must guide and help them; and we must do this both before and after they contract the disease.

As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work. This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being.

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

INTERVIEWER: Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?

POPE BENEDICT XVI: She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.





19th (MASSACRE) Infantry Battalion strikes again!

A Press Statement by KATUNGOD-Sinirangan Bisayas-KARAPATAN
November 18, 2010

November 15, 2010 at around 12:00 noon when a team from the 19th IB peppered with bullets a team of researchers from the PNOC-EDC Environmental Management Department (EMD) killing three persons on the spot: botanist Leonardo Co, forester Sofronio Cortez, and local guide and member of Tongonan Farmers Association Julio Borromeo and wounding another one (name is withheld for security reasons). The dead bodies were hit by bullets from M16 armalite rifle and M203 rifle grenades.  The team of researchers was strafed for the sole reason that they were mistaken to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) at first, then the military changed their storyline by saying they were caught in the crossfire.

Worth noting is the fact that the incident happened within the vicinity of the PNOC-EDC, Pad 403 of the Mahi-aw Plant to be specific and that in this area there is a camp of the SCAA – special CAFGU unit and a camp of a team of the 19th Infantry Battalion. Given the position of military installation in the area, the allegation of the presence of New People’s Army (NPA) is very remote and at the same time, a shame for the military to admit under normal circumstances: enemy right under their noses (?).

Worth condemning is the fact that despite the shout of pleas of the team pleading for the military not to shot still the military continued to shot for straight 15 minutes at their direction and the military even used explosives from M203 rifle grenade launchers.

It is worth condemning the fact that despite this glaring murder, the military is without shame and without respect to the dead and to the families of those they murdered, libelously branded them as members of the New People’s Army and then suddenly changes their allegation that they were just caught in the crossfire!

It is worth condemning the fact that the 19th IB is without shame when it visited the wake of Julio Borromeo and offered flower for the dead. It is a great insult to the family of the dead when the ones responsible for the murder of their loved one offers flowers and condolences while their whole propaganda machinery is blackening the memory and the name of those whom they murdered by dragging it as members of the NPA or just plain collateral damage in their make-up “legitimate encounter” scenario.

We in KATUNGOD-SB-KARAPATAN strongly condemn this barbaric act committed by the 19th Infantry Battalion.  Indeed they are living up to their name as the MASSACRE Battalion! This is again a glaring fact that state agents are the ones responsible for the series of extra-judicial killings happening not only in Eastern Visayas but in other parts of the archipelago and, as expected, the military is concocting all sort of web-like lies, alibis, and escape-goats to evade culpability and responsibility and arrogate in them the culture of impunity.

How many massacres did the 19th IB have on their belt? In 2003 nine (9) farmers (including minors) were massacred also in Kananga, Leyte and in 2005 who can forget the Palo Massacre wherein seven (7) farmers died on the spot, one died on the hospital and one died while incarcerated in jail. All these cases of massacre were all made and perpetrated by the 19th Infantry Battalion.

We call on all peace loving people of Eastern Visayas to make a stand to condemn this barbaric murder committed by the 19th (MASSACRE) Infantry Battalion and to prosecute the 19th Infantry Battalion who killed the nine farmers in 2003, nine farmers in 2005, and three researchers in 2010. We have in our hands the power to give justice to those whom they have murdered and blacken the names and memories. We can prevent other cases of human rights violation if we take a stand, join hands in seeking justice, and collectively assert our human rights.

Justice for Kananga 9!
Justice for Palo Massacre victims!
Justice for Kananga 3!
Justice to all victims of human rights violations!
Prosecute the 19th (MASSACRE) Infantry Battalion!
Defeat Oplan Bantay Laya II!





Statement calling for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995 and to stop mining exploration in Region 8

United Church of Christ in the Philippines
UCCP Balangkayan, Balangkayan, Eastern Samar

November 18, 2010

“As stewards of God’s creation, we should protect, promote and enhance the ecological balance and the integrity of creation.” [UCCP Declaration of Principles]

The Samar Island District Conference of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines-East Visayas Jurisdictional Area which is composed of 36 local churches, seven worshipping congregations and fifteen mission outreaches from the provinces of Eastern Samar and part of Western Samar, strongly affirms its stand against the liberalization of the country's mining industry by calling for the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. The Mining Act has allowed the intensified extraction of our mineral resources endowed by the Almighty Creator.

Mining permits have been granted in Eastern and Western Samar in spite of a moratorium on mining by the provincial governments. Municipalities of General McArthur, Hernani and Llorente are now alarmed by the existing Open-pit Mining in Eastern Samar which recently based their exploration camp site at Barangay Binalay, Gen. Mc Arthur, Eastern Samar which is just near to a military camp.  People also from Jiabong, Motiong and Paranas in the Western part of Samar are also expressing their apprehension for the possible dreadful effects of the existing mining exploration to their environment and to their livelihood and even to their security and possible threats through militarization if ever they will resist against these mining explorations as it happen in the other parts of the country.

To recall, Arroyo has issued Memorandum Circular No. 67, "Directing the Operationalization of the Mineral Action Plan for Mineral Resources Development", and Executive Order 270 and 270-A, "National Policy Agenda on Revitalizing Mining in the Philippines". These memos basically lay out the major policy guidelines to "revitalize" the mining industry by giving more economic and political privileges to mining companies. The MPA signals a renewed effort of the government for the complete sell-out of the people’s mineral resources, sacrificing the rights and welfare of affected communities, and the protection of the environment in the process.

With this, we are one with those who uphold the integrity of God’s creation in challenging and pushing all the people in the region and in the country to resist against these mining explorations, which is, by and large, in the hands of foreign mining companies, and protect our national patrimony as it stands on the unconstitutionality of the Mining Act of 1995.

We also call on our government officials and lawmakers to repeal this very destructive law. No amount of financial or fiscal crisis can justify the devastation of our God-given surroundings that is our legacy.

We know we will be facing harsher conditions but we cannot just close our eyes, shut our ears and do nothing. We will defend our land and resources for our children and for the future generations. We realized that we have to link with the broader public for strength and support. We also realized that it takes courage, sacrifice and patience amidst fear to do the right thing for the people.

OUR RESOURCES ARE NOT FOR SALE! We shall defend them with all our might and power as a people of God of Justice and Righteousness!

Reference: Rev. Jerome Baris, Conference Minister, SIDC





Press Statement by the 19th Infantry “COMMANDO” Battalion on the 3 civilians killed in crossfire

Commanding Officer, 19th Infantry “COMMANDO” Battalion
8th Infantry “STORMTROOPERS” Division, Philippine Army

November 17, 2010

KANANGA, Leyte  –  The Energy Development Corporation (EDC), formerly the Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC), based in Barangay Tongonan of Ormoc City and Kananga, both of Leyte is once again under threat by the Communist Terrorists in the area. The 19th Infantry Battalion of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Kananga, Leyte under the command of LT COL FEDERICO J TUTAAN, INF (GSC) PA launched its security and combat operations within the said complex on 14 November 2010 to preempt the hostile plan of the CT’s.

The said operations were in response to intelligence reports received by the unit, and likewise gathered by the EDC Security Division, stating that more or less thirty (30) armed elements of the communist terrorist group were within the vicinity of the complex, planning to conduct sabotage of the EDC facilities. This enemy intent, it was learned, was due to the refusal of the EDC to give “revolutionary taxes” to the communist terrorist group. It would be worthy to note that the EDC and the 19IB have always been in close coordination regarding security matters, particularly threats to the aforementioned facilities.

At 10 o’clock in the morning of November 15th, in the vicinity of the EDC Mahiao Complex, in Barangay Lim-ao, Kananga, Leyte while his troops were conducting observation in the area spotted a group of more or less seven (7) men carrying high powered firearms, later learned to be led by Communist terrorist leader identified as alias Matus. Said personality is known to be the leader of the “advance guard” of the CT’s regional forces. As the troops approached, the said as the CT’s approximately thirty (30) meters away sensed the government forces and immediately fired with fully automatic gun bursts. A fierce exchange of gun fire ensued between the elements of CTs and 19IB which lasted for about ten minutes. Immediately the enemy disengaged from the scene and fled to Northwest direction. The encounter resulted to the undetermined number of CT’s wounded in the gunbattle.

Unfortunately, however, three (3) civilians who were in the area were caught in the crossfire since they were incidentally located within the line of fire. The encounter site was generally a thickly forested and vegetated area and at the time covered with low fog that made the said civilians hardly discernible to the government forces. The victims were identified as Dr. Leonardo Co, an EDC environmental consultant, Sopronio Cortez and Julio Borromeo both EDC regular employees. Said group from EDC were later found to be conducting surveys and studies on the trees and other vegetation in the area when the encounter occurred.

Prior to the incident, the EDC facilities had been planned by the CT’s to be attacked, as what had happened in 2004 wherein several were killed and injured in the sabotage of facilities together with ambush within the road net. Of late, reports have been received and constantly monitored that more or less 30 fully armed CT’s were sighted within the EDC area near the vital installations. This report was confirmed on 12 November 2010 which stated that the CT’s are poised and about to attack the EDC installation in the area. This report triggered the implementation of full combat alert status of all troops of the 19IB as well as the security forces within the EDC compound. Coordination with the EDC Security Department and management was also conducted in connection with the security measures as well as the operations planned by the unit. Axis of advance of the operating troops were carefully identified and well defined and coordinated with the security department of EDC prior to the launching of combat operation.

At present, operating troops are now conducting pursuit operations to the fleeing CT’s which are believed still scattered in the vicinity. Again noteworthy is that more reports have been received in the evening of November 15th that the CT’s are still going to push through with their plans to sabotage the EDC facilities. Hence, all forces are on offensive and defensive alert.

The 19th Infantry Battalion feels remorseful of the unfortunate incident, and particularly sympathetic for the loss of lives, and condole with their families.


Last July 12, 2010, the troops of 19IB encountered a group of more or less 30 CT’s within the EDC Complex and a few days later, the pursuit operations led to the discovery of two enemy encampments in the area. The bigger enemy encampment is believed to be the base of the Regional Guerilla Unit of the CPP/NPA while the other served as its satellite base.

On October 1, 2010 elements of 19IB found and discovered a terrain model made by the CT’s about a kilometer down slope from the EDC Rig 14, its newest and most expensive project so far, costing more than a billion pesos to undertake. The terrain model was a good and impressively accurate model of the Rig 14, which the enemy would use to conduct their planning and briefing prior to attacking the rig. Intelligence later revealed that the enemy plans were thwarted by the discovery of their terrain model.

On November 12, 2010, information was received stating that the enemy in the area were organized into four (4) groups. Three of the groups, with seven to eight members each, were in the distant barangays adjacent to EDC, while the main group composed of thirty (30) armed terrorists were within the vicinity of the EDC complex itself. That main group had an advance guard of seven to ten men, which eventually were encountered by the 19IB troops.





The Philippine Reproductive Health Bill (HB 5043) and abortion

November 14, 2010

Below is a commentary of a former faculty member of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City who now lives in the United Kingdom. In his analysis, he sees a link between the bill and the possibility of abortion in our country.

The Philippine Reproductive Health Bill (HB 5043) and abortion
A comment by Atty. Ariel Anthony A. Tizon, LLB, LLM (UCL), PGDL

There is no proposed law bill in recent times that has actively involved the Roman Catholic Church more than HB 5043. If enacted into law in its current form and content, the Bill will strike at the very heart of Filipino family, society, morality, and consciousness.

One could not objectively assess the possible impact of HB 5043 in Philippine society without taking into consideration events in international law that informed the Bill’s content and purposes. For decades now, there has been a steady, conscious, and progressive trend for international treaties, conventions, conferences to promote and deal more with the rights of individuals [human rights based ethos] rather than the traditional subjects about states and relations between states and entities with international personalities. The consequences of a human right based international regime are clearly defined by its pervasive effects in practically all aspects in the domestic affairs of states that the legality of the latter’s internal actions may now be questioned and determined by the norms of international law ( i.e. UK and the European Court of Human Rights). Hence, one could not honestly deliver a discourse about the bill without recourse to this development.

As a Filipino citizen, it is my duty not to “stand by the wayside”, as it were, and so manifest an observation about the Bill HB 5043 in the context of the proposition that HB 5043 would legalise eventually legalize abortion on the premise that the Bill would be enacted into law in its current form and content.

The central precept of HB 5043 is the recognition and enforcement of a woman’s Reproductive Health Rights as a basic human right in the Philippine Jurisdiction. To begin with, proponents of the Bill assure the Filipino nation it does not allow abortion with the obvious intent to placate and appease pro-life groups and the Philippine Roman Catholic Church that have been rattling their sabres in opposition against it. Such assurance lies exposed against a closer scrutiny of the Bill. At first blush, the Bill would seem to confirm the Bill’s proponents by its Sections 2 and 4c. However, Section 2 reveals a caveat, that the respect for life must be, “in conformity with internationally recognized human rights standards” (underscoring supplied). Here lies the rub. At the moment, “Reproductive Human Rights” as a human right has been repeatedly mentioned in different international treaties, conventions, conferences, consultation documents, and may already have attained the status of an international customary right. In fact some international law practitioners and academicians have raised the awareness of an international effort, whether concerted or not, to promote the concept of Reproductive Human Rights as an international customary right. The impact of transformation into an international customary right would have profound and disturbing resonances in the Philippine legal jurisdiction because of the aforementioned proviso.

The concept, “Reproductive Health Rights”, in HB 5043 is defined adopting its internationally accepted meaning that arguably includes abortion as an element of the right. If HB 5043 is enacted in its current form and content, these rights would become entrenched in our domestic laws. As a result there would no longer be any hindrance for the pro-choice camp and proponents of the Bill to petition for the repeal of anti-abortion provisions in the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines and other domestic laws inconsistent with it on the strength of the proviso in Section 2 of the Bill. With the Reproductive Human Rights as an international customary human right, repeal of anti-abortion laws would become academic on the simple arguments that the Philippines must comply with international human rights standards (hence must arguably allow abortion), and on the sensible interpretation that to fully exercise a woman’s reproductive human rights, an abortion of an unwanted pregnancy, for example, must be afforded as an option.

More importantly, Section 4d of the HB 5043 that specifically defined Reproductive Human Rights (practically copied from international conventions/treaties) supports abortion as an option as it is not qualified by the same proviso found in Section 4c (... Provided that these are not against the law). The omission of the Section 4c limiting proviso in Section 4d is a telling strategy, a sleight of a dubious hand. To have the right to decide and carry out decisions concerning the number, timing, and spacing of children specifically enumerated in Section 4d necessarily connotes abortion of unwanted or mistimed pregnancies. As an international customary right, it would become incumbent on the Philippine government to provide services and make abortion legal, safe, and accessible to all women to comply with its international obligations. No amount of semantics could hide the very fact that a woman’s reproductive human rights, to make full sense, abortion of unwanted pregnancies is inherently a sub context.

Finally, Philippine criminal anti-abortion laws are gender discriminatory, being applicable only to women in general and arguably contrary to Gender Equality (Section 4e) and Gender Equity (Section 4f) of the Bill. Pro-choice proponents would no longer be precluded from campaigning and lobbying the Philippine Congress to pass a law repealing anti-abortion laws on the foregoing arguments. In fact, an implied repeal of current anti-abortion laws may also be construed pursuant to Section 26 (Repealing Clause) of the Bill itself.

In conclusion, HB 5043, if enacted into law in its current form could be a precursor to the ultimate repeal and abolition of Philippine anti-abortion laws.





Sec Robredo keynotes gov’t-private sector conference

November 10, 2010

DILG’s Secretary Jesse M. Robredo will keynote the 1st Gov’t-Private Sector Conference On Our Country’s Economic Prospects Under the Aquino Administration on November 18, 2010 at 2:00 PM at the Xavier Sports & Country Club in Cagayan de Oro City.

An estimated 94 mayors and 5 governors together with around 100 business leaders will come together to see how they could work together to hasten the realization of a bold Goldman Sachs prediction: that eleven more countries – in addition to the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) will become the world’s largest economies in the 21st century. One of the countries Goldman Sachs identified is the Philippines.

The acronym was coined by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs, a global investment banking and securities firm, and his team of economic researchers, in a paper called “The World Needs Better Economic BRICS.” Former Goldman Sachs employees include Robert Rubin who became Bill Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury, and Henry Paulson, who occupied the same post under George W. Bush.

In November 2001, Goldman Sachs published its paper where it predicted that Brazil’s, Russia’s, India’s, and China’s combined economies would make the combined economies of the world’s current wealthiest countries in the world look like peanuts. In other words, Jim O’Neill and his team predicted a shift in global economic power away from the developed economies toward the developing world.

More incredibly, Goldman Sachs followed this up with another prediction about the Next Eleven (N-11) – those countries that could potentially have a BRIC-like impact in challenging the G7. Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey, Vietnam, and, hold your breath now, the Philippines!

“What are the prospects for the N-11 over the next few decades? Can the N-11 dream become a reality? What are the obstacles to success, and what would need to change to make success more likely?” asks Goldman Sachs in its paper, questions which could well be ones that should be asked of the Philippines. Conference speakers Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas and Dr. Rolando Dy will try to answer these questions during the conference.

The event is made possible with the help of BPI Family Savings Bank, United Coconut Planters Bank, Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), and Rep Maximo B. Rodriguez (ABAMIN). A Brown Co Inc, worked closely with the University of Asia and the Pacific to put flesh into the idea. Dr. Villegas felt strongly that the LGUs should be involved as either the government or the private sector working independently would not be as effective as both working together. Thus it was decided to seek the help of DILG R10, which readily, agreed to help. The Oro Chamber was the final group whose help was tapped.

Invitations have been sent, but anyone who feels he has a contribution to make to the success of the discussions may still get in touch with the Secretariat at 858 8937 Dresden Inocian or Mernita Ventura, or leave messages at where updates about the event could be had. Or interested parties may text or call 0908 865 9183.





The earthly and religious aspects of politics

November 7, 2010

THIS is an attempt to make some crucial distinctions in this heady field of politics. Hopefully the effort will pay off, especially where the need to clearly delineate the different but complementary roles of the clergy and the laity in politics is involved.

This issue has been wallowing in the mire for quite some time, with even our educated class clearly confused about it. Everytime they talk about separation of Church and state, for example, most likely they are off course, as they repeat old errors that seem hard to correct.

So this piece is not political in the sense that it is partisan in political matters that, given their autonomous character, are open to opinion. In that regard, priests would do well to keep quiet and allow the play of opinions to be directly handled by the laity.

If ever there is a need for priests to comment in this aspect of politics, it has to be made clear that their views are mere opinions. As such, they are not binding in conscience, but obviously they may be given due consideration by the people.

But this piece is political in the sense that it considers politics an indispensable part of our life, where the fullness of Christian life, the full play of faith, hope and charity plus all the other virtues, are supposed to be pursued.

Politics does not put the Christian spiritual and moral standards in brackets. It's where these ideals are put into action, in fact. But given it's nature and character, its purpose and the varying ways it is lived in different places and cultures, the clergy and the laity, while all involved in it, play distinctive roles.

First of all, we have to understand that politics is not exclusively an earthly affair, with no spiritual, moral and therefore religious foundations. Since it is an exercise of our freedom, it has spiritual and also supernatural repercussions that need to be given due attention.

It is for the priests to give primary concern for its spiritual and moral dimensions. These dimensions basically refer to whether the political exercise, the options involved, etc., conform to fundamental moral requirements of good moral object, right intention and appropriate, moral circumstances.

For as long as all the political elements fulfill these requirements, there can be as many choices, options, programs and projects as possible, with their own advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses, and all of them must be respected. It now belongs to each one to choose freely what he thinks will work out best for all.

The moral object is in the end about whether the option presented and to be chosen can be said to be part of God's will, since it at least does not go against his commandments. If not, then it has to be rejected right from the start.

Thus, any political option clearly violative of God's commandments, like an open endorsement for contraception, sterilization, divorce, euthanasia, institutionalized cheating and all forms of injustice, should be rejected, obviously in a way that is charitable and fair.

Obviously, any political platform that sets aside God and puts man, an ideology or, worst of all, oneself as the ultimate source of wisdom, of good and evil, of truth and falsehood – and we already have some traces of this at present – should not be voted.

Aside from the moral object of the political elements, we also have to consider the intention and the circumstances which should be found to be all good and appropriate.

Since we do not live in a perfect society, and since everyone has the right to express his ideas, there should always be a climate of freedom, respect, dialogue, sportsmanship, etc.

Having said that, I must admit I felt happy at the outcome of the midterm elections in the US, because it's clear the majority of the American people are rejecting a politics that tends to put God, his commandments and Christian morality aside.

The issues involved there, for sure, are not purely economic or social in nature, which is what some American politicians are trying to project. But that is not true. There are some serious spiritual and moral issues involved, and it seems the American majority rejected the wrong positions.

We in the Philippines need to be wary of these developments, since we tend to imitate or, at least, now that we are highly globalized, it's likely we can be influenced wrongly.

All of us, depending on our possibilities, should take active but proper participation in our country's political life.





In search of the disappeared

A Press Statement by the KATUNGOD-Sinirangan Bisayas-KARAPATAN
November 2, 2010

The whole Christian community celebrates November 1 and 2 (All Saints Day and All Souls Day) in remembrance of their departed loved ones. This is the time where the whole family come together to offer flowers and prayers and light candles on the tomb of their loved ones.

KATUNGOD-SB-KARAPATAN, the regional alliance for the advancement of people’s rights, has long been commemorating November 3 as the regional day of the disappeared.

Enforced disappearance is termed as the worse case of human rights violation. It puts into uncertainty the family and loved ones of those who become desaparasidos. Families of the disappeared are forever in the dilemma on whether to offer prayers for their loved one or to continue their search, to accept the loss or to find ways to ascertain the whereabouts, to be forever filled with questions whether their loved one is in good condition, being treated humanely, being provided with food, clothing, and shelter, or whether their loved one will still be coming home. This dilemma creates the cruelest form of mental torture known to man.

In the Region, the implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya I and II under the fascist US-Arroyo Regime have left 28 families feeling this mental torture. The alliance have documented 28 cases from 2004-2009. These cases includes the abduction of Jacquiline Paguntalan and Rolando Fortaliza in the year 2004, abduction of Narciso Parani, Jovito Velasco, and Patricio Abalos in the year 2005, Gloria Pabillon, Mary Joy Opo, and Romualdo Balbuena in the year 2007, and Ruth Gecaro and Nito Dacles in the year 2009. Majority came from the peasant sector and peasant organizers. They were abducted on reasons that they were suspected and branded as members of the New People’s Army (NPA). Circumstances of these cases lead to the conclusion that these cases were perpetrated of agents of the State. The case of Paguntalan and Fortaliza points to members of the Internal Security Unit (ISU) while the cases of Parani, Velasco, and Abalos points to the participation of members of the military then under the command of Ret. General Jovito Palparan.

On this day, the Regional Alliance calls upon the people of Eastern Visayas to never forget the cases of the desaparasidos, to be vigilant in condemning this acts made by agents of the State, and to show support and to be one with the families of the desaparasidos in  their search for their loved ones.




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