Good Friday people
By JUAN L. MERCADO, email@example.com
“Ironically, it is often non-believers who
seem closest to following Christ.”
[ Looking for a book that will carry you beyond Palm Sunday?,
we asked a few Lents back. Written by Dr. Shiela Cassidy, “Good Friday
People” looks at broken men and women – and the grace that shines
through them. She was jailed and tortured by the Chilean military, for
treating rebels. Dr Cassidy is a
hospice medical director – JLM ]
"Good Friday people is
a phrase I coined, for those who find themselves called to
powerlessness and suffering,” she writes. “(These) are men and women,
broken in body and assaulted in mind – deprived not merely of things
we take for granted.
"God calls them to
walk the same road His Son trod.... I have no clever answer to the
eternal 'Why' of suffering. But whatever its cause and outcome, it is
never without meaning."
Nobel laureate Elie
Wiesel captures this “sense of the absence of God”, Cassidy notes.
Then 14-years old, Weisel was forced along with other Jewish prisoners
at Auschwitz, to watch the Gestapo execute a child.
"Where is God? Where
is He now?’ someone behind me asked, Weisel recalls in his book: Night
"And I heard a voice within me answer him: ‘Where is He? Here He is –
He is here hanging on this gallows.
“Never shall I forget
these moments which murdered my God and turned my dreams into dust,"
Weisel added. "Never shall I forget even if I am condemned to live as
long as God Himself. Never."
Weisel had the look of
a “Lazarus, risen from the dead yet still a prisoner…stumbling among
shameful corpses,” recalled Catholic philosopher Francois Mauriac. In
his foreword to Night, Mauriac wrote: "And I, who believed that God is
love, what answer could I give my young questioner whose dark eyes
still held the reflection of that angelic sadness which appeared on
the face of the hanged child?
"Did I speak to him of
that other Israeli, his brother – the Crucified, whose cross conquered
the world? Did I affirm that conformity to the Cross and suffering
was, in my eyes, the key to that impenetrable mystery whereon the
faith of his childhood had perished?
"We do not know the
worth of one single drop of blood, one single tear. All is grace. If
the Eternal is the Eternal, the last word for each one of us belongs
to Him. This is what I should have told this Jewish child," Mauriac
adds. "But I could only embrace him weeping."
In her book, Cassidy
accompanies "Good Friday people" – from El Salvador’s Oscar Romero,
the timid priest who emerged into a fearless defender of the
descamisados, sick people, Maryknoll nun Eta Ford to Marxist folk
singer Victor Jara.
Their suffering "make
us want to screen our faces, to turn away," Cassidy writes. "Yet, is
through them that the grace of God flows to our arid souls... There is
a terrible agony in watching someone hollowed out with a knife… even
if the end result is an instrument on which is played the music of the
There is Beth and her
third bout with cancer. "Unable to wait for her to die, her man had
gone off with another woman. She “spent a life of drawing short
straws'." Or the dying Katie. "Day after day, she waited. But the
visitor never came: not her mother, nor her lovers, not even her
Catherine’s tumor had
spread to her brain. She had few symptoms but soon she’d be in deep
trouble. Radio therapy could only buy time. “I just want whatever is
best for my daughter,” she said as tears fell.
“There is rare beauty
in selflessness of this kind,” Cassidy writes. “Some go to their
deaths grasping everything. These are people who will call you away
from another patient’s deathbed to adjust their television.”
Jesuit priest Rutilo
Grande insisted his
seminarians live among slum dwellers and landless peasants. “However
much one may know about poverty and oppression at an intellectual
level, meeting the poor themselves is something quite other.”
Like that of
Archbishop Oscar Romero, Father Grande’s efforts, helped the poor
"rediscover the Old Testament concept of God as liberator of his
oppressed people." It was the poor who showed Grande and Romero “what
they required of their church,” Cassidy notes. “Not just the catechism
and the sacraments but something much harder: to speak out against
The military junta
goons killed both of them, of course.
But Grande’s system of
exposure to “Good Friday people” anchors seminary training today,
including the Philippines. And Romero’s address, on receiving the
Nobel Peace prize in 1980, still resounds: “There are those who sell a
just man for money and a poor man for a pair of sandals…It is the poor
who force us to understand what is really taking place…The poor are
the body of Christ. Through them, He lives on in history.”
Ironically, it is
often non-believers who seem closest to following Christ. Chilean
singer Victor Jara abandoned studies for the priesthood “and put his
‘honest guitar’ to work on behalf of the marginalized. He too was
“Should I be speaking
of a Marxist folk-singer in the same breath as Jesus?,” Cassidy asks.
“The answer is surely yes. For did he not embark on his road to
Calvary in response to a call to serve the poor.”
"(Yet), we are all
potentially Good Friday people. We are all frail earthen vessels who,
should the potter choose, be fashioned in His image and for his own
mysterious purposes….And we tremble because we too may be called to
ANAD warns NPA: Do not
ever provoke us!
By ANAD Partylist
goriest of all killings of innocent and helpless Filipinos are
justified by the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples
Army-National Democratic Front as revolutionary acts (sic!). Yet they
have the stomach to demand justice from the government that they’re
obsessed in destroying! They recklessly murder people without serving
out the required due process mandated by international covenants on
the protection and promotion of people’s right and welfare! This,
notwithstanding the guarantees and mandates enshrined by our country’s
constitution that the Maoist terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF blatantly defied,
time and again!
The statement by a
certain Simon Santiago, self-claimed Political Director of the NPA’s
Medardo Arce Command in Southern Mindanao, last March 16, sends more
chilling signals against our people’s peace instead of giving adequate
and clear responses to the unfettered violence and inhumanity they
purposely committed and permeated, in the countryside.
There is no instance
that the Maoist terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF could easily justify their
killing of helpless civilians, extorting money and goods from hapless
civilians and legitimate businesses, proliferation and use of the
prohibited improvised explosive devices (IEDs), recruit minors and
exploit them as child warriors in combat, and in spreading scurrilous
lies and deceptions to mislead our people and sway public opinion
against the constitutionally mandated government of the Republic of
demands the institutionalization of due process and the observance of
the equal protection clause before any penalty is meted out against
anyone. Sad is the fact that this is strikingly most violated and was
never complied by the Maoist CPP-NPA-NDF! They’ve maintained their
propensity to shoot first before justifying (sic!) any of their acts
against humanity! They shamelessly cower behind the issues raised by
their minions, in the political sectoral-front groups, against retired
Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan to hide their dastard and irresponsible
conduct against humanity! This surely is ‘COLD BLOODED’ murder!
In the case of Patrick Winiger, his death was indeed one of the many coldblooded killings
perpetrated with impunity by the terrorist NPAs. Contrary to the
sickening allegations made by Santiago, an acolyte of Maoist
terrorism’s demonic icon, Jose Ma. Sison, Patrick’s strong faith in
God did it all for him! His unswerving love for and loyalty to our
Creator and his fellowmen, in North Cotabato, fueled the outburst of
the NPA’s hate on him. Again, his unwavering faith in God that he
obligingly shared with the people of Makilala, North Cotabato, caused
thousands of its residents to directly refute the NPA Medardo Arce
Command’s mischievous accusation that he masterminded the killing of
Fr. Fausto Tentorio. Instead, the people raised their accusing finger
and pointed it against the NPAs as behind Fr. Tentorio’s death.
The NPA’s lies and
pretensions persists in the same manner that their comrades in the
Maoist sectoral front and pseudo partylist groups deliberately
displayed, while the latter prominently manifesting viciousness in the
hallowed halls of the House of the Peoples Representatives!
We should not forget
that the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) still maintains
its full adherence to a non-violent advocacy in confronting and
opposing the evils of Maoist terrorism methodically spread by the
tentacles of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), e.g.
violent of the New Peoples Army (NPA), and the lies and deceptions of
the National Democratic Front (NDF) through its legal front
organizations under Bagong Alyansa Makabayan (BAYAN), pseudo partylist
groups led by Bayan Muna (BM), and its political party Makabayang
Koalisyon ng Mamamayan (MAKABAYAN).
officers and members will not be prevented from protecting themselves
against any forms of threat from the violent NPA. Indeed, violence
begets violence! We dread that day when the situation shall be - -
TOOTH FOR A TOOTH!
If and when this
condition and situation happens because of government’s abject failure
to protect her citizens from harms way, then we shall be compelled to
protect ourselves! We are reminded of that situation, in the middle
and late 70’s, when the residents of Agdao,
banded themselves and formed the widely known Alsa Masa of
They stood firm against the barbarism of the Maoist terrorist NPAs.
This fervor spread like wildfire, all over the country.
We strongly warn the
Maoist terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF not to start the fire!
Surely, ANAD will not
douse water to put out the fire but shall hit back once provoked. We
know your weak points! Surely, retribution shall be initiated against
your political and legal-sectoral personalities in the community, all
over the country.
We hope and pray that
Patrick shall be the last one in the long list of the thousands of
ANAD officers and members killed in cold-blood by the NPAs.
Do not ever provoke
the government should be concerned with the welfare of the poor
A Lenten message by
the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group
March 20, 2012
We, the bishops and
clergy of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group are one with Pope
Benedict XVI in his Lenten message to be “concerned for each other, to
stir a response in love and good works” (Heb 10:24).
This Lenten Season,
the Holy Father invites us to reflect on the heart of Christian life
which is charity. “Being concerned” means being responsible for our
brothers and sisters and not being indifferent to their plight. The
true followers of Christ hold the griefs and sufferings of the poor as
their own (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 1).
In the context of the
Philippine society, we witness the miserable situation of a sizeable
number of our people who are hungry, jobless and homeless. The
unabated oil price increases result to the skyrocketing price of basic
commodities, which in turn, add a heavier burden to our already
Pope Benedict XVI also
exhorted in his Lenten message that we must not remain silent before
With the resurrection
of Jesus Christ, He conquered sin, death and the law. His resurrection
spells hope and total salvation, the salvation of the whole person.
implication of this is that God chose to partner with us in his
project of salvation. Since salvation is both a gift and a task, we
have to struggle untiringly for the salvation of all.
In this light, we echo
Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation in Caritas in Veritate that
governments must safeguard and value the human person who is the
source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life (cf.
Caritas in Veritate, 25).
institutions, however, have recently reported that oil companies have
overpriced the pump price of oil by 8% - 43%. In addition, the
government is said to have benefited from the unregulated oil price
increases as it earned revenues of P48 billion pesos annually or a
total of P239.6 B in the last five years due to the 12% VAT on oil.
We thus call on the
Aquino Government to manifest that it is indeed concerned with the
well-being of the Filipino people by taking steps to alleviate their
sufferings such as: regulating the oil industry so that oil companies
will be stopped from overpricing the price of oil; removing the VAT on
oil; and instituting price control over basic commodities.
May Jesus Christ’s
death and resurrection inspire all of us to work for a transformed
world: a new heaven and a new earth where there is no more hunger,
injustice, oil price hike, exorbitant taxes, skyrocketing prices of
basic commodities, graft and corruption, unfair labor practice, land
monopoly, profit-orientedness and insatiable greed; where all people
enjoy the fullness of life, truth, justice and genuine peace.
As Christ lives,
(Sgd) BISHOP GERARDO ALMINAZA, D.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro/
Head Convenor of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG)
An ecumenical pledge to condemn and
oppose large-scale mining in Eastern Visayas, Masbate province and all
over the country
A unity statement by
the Eastern Visayas Ecumenical Forum during the People’s Mining Forum
at the Cawaksi Learning Center, San Jose, Tacloban City
March 19, 2012
Biblical Text: Romans
8:22-24a - “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning
together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the
creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit,
groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for the adoption as sons, the
redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.”
With this FORUM, we
are launching in our churches and communities in Eastern Visayas and
Masbate province our sacred crusade to stop large-scale commercial
mining and thereby preserve what is left of the natural wealth of the
land, rivers, seas God has endowed Eastern Visayas and the province of
Masbate. We believe it is a demand of our faith to show our commitment
to uplift the poor and the hungry in the rural areas using the
resources of our land and seas to our advantage.
The integrity of God’s
creation given to the people of Samar, Leyte, Biliran and Masbate has
been desecrated and destroyed for ages now by a few and powerful
mining foreign investors with their Filipino counterparts as their
dummies and in cahoots with the government. This problem has been with
the Eastern Visayanos and Masbateños for almost a century now. This has made
impossible the distribution of unused public lands and the tenanted
lands of the rural landlords to the landless farmers. In spite of all
this exploitation that could be valued in billions, we know there are
still trillions of pesos worth of bauxite, chromites, pyrite, nickel,
copper, gold, uranium, coal, aluminium, vanadium, titanium, and 20
other mineral deposits left in the whole of Eastern Visayas.
To be more specific,
they are in the municipalities of Laoang, Mapanas and Palapag of
Northern Samar province; Guiuan, Salcedo, Gen. McArthur, Hernani,
Llorente, Maydolong and Borongan of Eastern Samar province; Gandara,
Jiabong, Motiong, Paranas, San Jose de Buan, Hinabangan, Calbiga and
Basey of Western Samar province; Ormoc, Albuera, Abuyog, Mahaplag,
McArthur, Baybay, Inopacan of Leyte province; Hilongos, Bato, Matalom,
Tomas Oppus, Bontoc, Macrohon, Pintuyan, Hinunangan, Hinundayan, and
the Panaon Islands in Southern Leyte province; the island province of
Biliran; and, Aroroy, Masbate.
There are still close
to half a million hectares of virgin forests and centuries-old trees
in our hinterlands, plus the hundred thousand metric tons of fish and
sea resources in our ten seas, bays and rivers. With the lifting of
the 1995 ban on mining, the “revitalization program”, and the transfer
of direct and exclusive control on mining to the Office of the
President of the Republic of the Philippines, this remaining wealth of
God’s creation meant for us and those coming after us is in serious
danger of being taken away again, even with planned Executive Order on
Mining by the P-Noy government.
We believe it is an
imperative of the faith of the religious in our region to join hands
and lives to preserve and defend the wealth God has bestowed on the
people of Eastern Visayas and Masbate. We are happy with the six
Bishops and their clergy in the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Catarman,
Calbayog, Borongan, Palo, Naval, and Maasin; with the Conference
Ministers, Pastors and Lay Leaders led by the Area Bishop in the East
Visayas Jurisdiction of the United Church of Christ in the
Philippines; and with the Bishops and Priests of the Diocese of
BILLESA (Biliran, Leyte and Samar) of the Iglesia Filipina
Independiente. They have already shown their unequivocal position
against the large-scale mining in more ways than one. We join hands
with them and the religious organizations and groups in
and all over the country in this action of protest against destructive
With this FORUM, we
want this CALL:
1. Stop the wanton
anti-people exploitation of our wealth by foreign and local mining
2. Junk or repeal
Mining Act of 1995;
3. Support and uphold
People’s Mining Bill 4315
4. For all
parishioners of Roman Catholic, Iglesia Filipinas Independiente and
United Church of Christ in the Philippines to participate in the
education, mobilization and organization programs and activities on
upholding the People’s Mining Bill 4315.
We must remember that
we are part of the four million people of the region in their
collective efforts to sustain, develop and make these natural
resources useful to our quest for survival and decent living.
Indeed, the region’s
natural wealth of mines and lumber is estimated to be more than $33.33
billion or P1.833 trillion, or 27% of the natural resources of the
entire country. Yes, the region is rich, but the people are poor and
hungry. Out of the 4.2 million people in Eastern Visayas alone, 1.9
million have no work, under-employed, and under-salaried. Most of them
earn P100 a day, far below the minimum wage of P238, and P496 as
family wage. Ninety percent (90%) of these who are without work,
under-employed and under-salaried are rural peasants, tenants and
agricultural workers. Ten percent (10%) are urban poor: the region’s
counterpart of the national sectors of the teachers, the students, and
the government employees, the transport drivers of buses, vans, jeeps
and tricycles, as already mentioned earlier.
We appeal for
steadfastness and perseverance in this crusade to obey God’s mandate
to take organized care of our land, its minerals and trees, our seas
and rivers here in Samar, Leyte, Biliran and Masbate. With this, we
will all the more strongly expose, oppose and stop the exploitative
mining activities of any corporation, foreign and local, in Eastern
Visayas and Masbate.
The problem of
mining and in the rural areas in Eastern Visayas, Masbate and the
entire archipelago is a clear challenge to us Christians to show to
the world that the churches we have decided to belong to are indeed
the churches of the poor!
By JUAN L. MERCADO, firstname.lastname@example.org
“Reform is the last
thing in many politicians’ minds.”
“Is this Wang-Wang
Two?”, some people ask. The query masks deeper concerns that anchor
Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo’s most recent memo-circular.
Don’t plaster your
names – or mug shots – on Government’s Conditional Cash Transfer
projects, Robredo reminded local government officials. Otherwise known
as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program, CCT provides direct help
to the poorest.
In 2012, President
Benigno Aquino proposes to pump P49.2 billion into this center piece
program. Cash transfer are made directly to poorest families. In
return, the families commit to keep children in school and undertake
Do we really grasp the
desperate straits of the country’s poor? We know the “stats” by note.
exceeds 33 percent, we say. Thus, only six out of 10 kids tip the
scales for normal weight-for-age standards. Over 162 mothers die in
every 100,000 live births. Only 70 percent of students, who enroll in
Grade 1, make it to Grade 6. And one in five kids, between 6-11 years
of age, are not in school.
Thus, the country lags
in meeting 2015 Millennium Development Goal targets. The gaps are in
key areas: universal primary education, maternal mortality, and access
to reproductive health services.
Few of us really sense
the pain in the cold data of men and women deprived. “Who made him
dead to rapture and despair?, Edwin Markham wrote. “A thing that
grieves not and that never hopes… Whose breath blew out the light
within this brain?
Government sold the
poor short. In the twilight of the Arroyo regime, “national
government spending on social services was only 5.9% of gross domestic
product”. Asian Development Bank notes spending on social protection
dipped even lower to only 1.2%”.
These crumbs were
“further compromised by weak targeting systems to identify
beneficiaries and high leakages to the non-poor.” Escalating food
prices whittled down by over 9 percent average standard of living.
Severity of poverty doubled in the absence of appropriate safety nets.
Both World Bank and
Asian Development Bank support President Aquino’ CCT program, now in
its second year. Robredo has moved to insulate this program further
from deeply-engrained self-aggrandizement practices of politicians.
“It was sickening”,
wrote Rolly Espina of Visayan Daily Star. “Earthquake victims in
Guihulngan, Jimalalud, Tayasan, and La Libertad lined for relief items
bearing the slogan of Governor Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental.
President Aquino, Vice-President Jejomar Binay and Red Cross Governor
Migz Zubiri appealed to politicians not to fight for the credit.”
Scores of poiticians
posters still dot Zamboanga del Norte or Davao del Sur, among others.
Reform is the last thing in many politicians’ minds.
Senate Bill 1967,
filed by of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago if approved, would become an
“Anti-Epal Law”. These provide penal sanctions for horn-tooting by
politicians. Until then, ”we cannot sanction them,” Robredo said.“ But
we can rip the streamers that have their names and photos.”
President Aquino set
the pattern on Day One of his administration. “Enroute to take his
oath, as the Republic’s 15th president, Benigno Aquino III yanked the
plug on his car’s wang-wang, this column noted in “Contrast Tutorials”
(Sept 27, 2010). That silenced car sirens of politicians elsewhere.
“Convoys of Ampatuan
warlords would “wang-wang” citizens aside when they barreled through
Maguindanao’s rutted streets. They’ve stopped. “Example moves the
world more than doctrine”, says author Henry Miller.
In his first State of
the Nation message, Aquino deployed the wang-wang as symbol for a
mindset of privilege. “Utak wang wang”, he said gouges a people of
wealth – and worse of values.
That theme resonates
today in the impeachment of Supreme Court chief Justice Renato Corona.
“We’ve had hints as to the Chief Justice’s character, “Inquirer’s Rina
Jimenez David wrote.
One is his penchant
for special treatment, whether it be a doctoral degree “summa cum
laude” without putting in the requisite academic work or
appointment as Chief Justice even it fractured the Constitution.
Will we find out later
about his using power to sway decisions of high court colleagues?,
Jimenez David wonders. For now, we have stories about his use of
power to prevail over his wife’s family members – what P-Noy calls the
Hannah Arendt calls normalizing of the unthinkable the “banality of
evil.” Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann ensured that “cobblestones,
which paved the path to Auschwitz’s gas chambers, where six million
died, were perfectly scrubbed.” And are Mr. Corona’s Statement of
Assets and Liabilities equally polished?
Surface Artemio and
A press statement by
March 11, 2012
Last March 4, 2012 at
around midnight, a group of soldiers from 87th Infantry Battalion of
the Philippine Army abducted Barangay Kagawad Artemio Labong, of Brgy.
Samar and his son Ruel, 21 years old. Barangay Kagawad Labong was
interrogated and was tortured in front of his 12 year old daughter.
That was the last time that Artemio and Ruel was seen.
The family members of
Artemio and Ruel saw that those who have taken them were members of
the Philippine Army. They were in full battle gear and in uniform.
The Regional Alliance
for the advancement and promotion of human rights, KATUNGOD-SB-KARAPATAN condemns this act of abduction by the members of
the 87th Infantry Battalion and demands the immediate release of the
The Regional Alliance
is in apprehension that the two will be surfaced as members of the NPA
caught in the alleged raid of an NPA camp at the boundary of Pagsang-an
and Anagasi in Paranas Samar last March 5, 2012. This practice of
implicating innocent civilian has been a long practice of the 8th
Infantry Division of Armed Forces of the
We call on all
concern government office and agencies: the Commission on Human
Rights, the Local Government of Paranas, the Provincial Government of
Samar, to name a few, to look after the welfare of the people and took
decisive steps for the resurfacing Barangay Kagawad Artemio Labong ang
his son Ruel Labong. Further, to strike down with condemnation the
continued violation by the military on the human rights of the people.