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

insight 74


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Good Friday people

Removing Lady Justice’s blindfold

Our sexual identity

Impeachment: What to Expect?

Agenda item for 2012

Enact Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill now!

RH is unreasonably expensive!

A stranger's thoughts of a place in her country

Laudable efforts of Kaisampalad Inc.

Basey Water District finally audited by LWUA






Chief Justice’s credibility crossroad

May 25, 2012

Many are either worried or excited just about how the impeachment of Philippine chief justice Renato C. Corona will turn out within this incoming week at which the Senate Impeachment Court is resolved to make its final judgment, final decision, or final verdict.  Some, though, are no longer interested to know the results. For few others, they have already made their own verdict.  The most worrisome of the predicted results is a verdict of acquittal.  As of this writing, though, there’s no clear official and final position taken by the senator-judges.  The nation cannot even conjecture what the uncertain “6 senator-judges”, who are thought of to be hiding under their togas the so-called “sway votes”, will take at the end of the day.  To many observers, the upcoming senatorial elections (though yet on May 13, 2013) serve as a barometer watched on by these “uncertain” judges.

Let me share with you here some of the reactions to my propositions in this column last Thursday (May 24) which referred much to the infamous discourteous walkout of Corona from his impeachment trial sans leave of court (QN: ‘I will join the NPA, if Corona’s May 22 statements will be believed by the SIC’).

KellyGuy emailed me his honest thoughts:

“I had been avidly watching the impeachment proceedings. (For many of the 41 sessions) To be honest... I also noted that Senator Enrile was more than lenient (i.e allowed court rules to be ignored) with Supreme Court Justice C. J. Corona.  Having said that, being the highest ranking Judge in the country, CJ made a mockery of the Court while vehemently thumbing his nose at not only Enrile, the attending Judge Senators but, the entire Impeachment process.  He should have known that he was only there to testify on articles 2.2 and 2.3 of initial charges.  His long dissertation about his meager lifestyle and how he constantly sacrificed to save money was the reason he was able to afford multiple properties, just did not pass the common sensibility test.  By doing so, he degenerated his own personal integrity and credibility.  I could go on about his conduct and testimony but it would be pointless.  His actions on the stand and subsequently excusing himself / exiting without being discharged from the impeachment proceedings has vividly demonstrated that he (CJ) does not support the justice system he was tasked to lead.  His gross misconduct during and after his testimony should be grounds for immediate removal from his appointed position as THE Supreme Court Head Justice.  Even if the release of any and all SALN supporting documents could somehow prove his innocence, his conduct was such that he should not be permitted to continue as THE Supreme Court Justice.  The misconduct was so grave that his eligibility for retirement should also be revoked.  {His attempt at cover his gross error in judgement by walking out failed miserably!   Hopefully the Philippine movie industry does not attempt to make him the lead actor in ANY movie.} Additionally... if you’re ill... you show very visible body language signs of an illness.  The only illness I saw was a minor stress that he experienced which arose from his very own personal failure.  The please sign with me the waiver / release of SALN and supporting documents was just one more demonstration of extreme incompetence.  Even a Freshman Congress person knows that any waiver can only be signed by the SOLE person wishing to release that information.

“I could continue to mention all of the things CJ Corona did WRONG but, why waste my precious time!??  The man proved his incompetence live on TV for all to see. The bottom line... CJ is not fit to be a Judge, Atty., Brgy. Chair or a mere Brgy. Tanod.  The sooner he is removed for incompetence the better for all of us.  I seem to recall that one of our SC Justices was removed for seeing dwarfs... CJ Corona has reached the same credibility crossroad.  Let us hope that wiser people come to the same conclusion and no only accept his resignation but, ensure that he does not qualify for a retirement.”

Others may even have been thinking ahead of my propositions.

Francis, a highly respectable government servant, chimed in, thus: “Idol Chito: I'm with you on this...count on me if you organize a group. I enjoyed reading your article. MABUHAY KA!”

Pastor Guil Gacutan, meanwhile, sent in this message: “God’s word for today, Matthew 24:35: Christ says, Heaven and Earth shall pass away but my words shall never pass away.  Yes, this universe and the planets (the second heaven) will come to an end.”  Guil has reminded QN readers and my FaceBook followers in another message: “The purpose of our lives is not just to establish a temporal relationship here on earth but everlasting relationship with the Almighty God in heaven through genuine faith in Christ”.

May God bless us all today and always.  May God enlighten the chief justice, the associate justices, the administrator and all other officials and employees of the Philippine Supreme Court, and all those who insist in glorifying and exalting sinful top government officials.  Say, “Amen, Amen!”

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Kudos to PNP! – Congratulations to the joint elements of Samar Police Provincial Office and Gandara (Samar) Police Station for successfully collaring last May 18 at past 9 a.m. the top number 29 in the list of most wanted persons in Eastern Visayas (Region 8).  Arrested was Noli Mabahin Fornillos, 29, of barrio Pasigay, Calbiga, Samar.  He was arrested at Lot 21, Block 13, Village Park, Barangay Langkaan 1, Dasmariñas City, Cavite.  He carried a P90,000 reward on his head. The nabbing officers were led by police chief inspector Marben Manaog Ordonia and Gandara, Samar town police inspector Fritz Bioco Blanco of Gandara police station under the direct supervision of police senior superintendent Eusebio Adamero Mejos.  The arrest was in pursuance of an arrest warrant issued by regional trial court (branch 33, in Calbiga, Samar) judge Carmencita Cuares.  Fornillos was eventually detained at Samar PPO.

Just a by the way, what happened to the reward?  Did the arresting policemen get it? The Filipino public of this republican government deserves to know.

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“The Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism has two outstanding characteristics. One is its class nature: it openly avows that dialectical materialism is in the service of the proletariat. The other is its practicality: it emphasizes the dependence of theory on practice, emphasizes that theory is based on practice and in turn serves practice. The truth of any knowledge or theory is determined not by subjective feelings, but by objective results in social practice. Only social practice can be the criterion of truth. The standpoint of practice is the primary and basic standpoint in the dialectical materialist theory of knowledge.” – Mao Tse Tung (Note: ‘See Karl Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach". Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, in two volumes, Eng. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1958, Vol., Vol. II, p. 403, and V. I. Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, ring. ed., FLPH, Moscow, 1952, pp. 136-4.’)





Stop magnetite mining in Eastern Visayas now!

A Position Paper by Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (SAGUPA-SB) for the Magnetite Mining Committee Hearing
May 23, 2012

We oppose the black sand or magnetite mining in Eastern Visayas for the following reasons:

1. Massive Fish Mortality in Lake Bito, Mac Arthur, Leyte

The two waves of fish kill in Lake Bito, Mac Arthur, Leyte which losses 22 tons of tilapia amounting to 1.87 million pesos on the first wave from March 14 to April 15 and the second wave on May 12, 2012 which did not killed the tilapia alone but also affected the shells, shrimp and ducks within the lake were not prevented to happen by the government agencies. Even with the “strict compliance” of Environmental Compliance Certificate and other pertinent documents of the Nicua Mining Company mining magnetite sand since November 2012 in the area and the “close monitoring” of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, DENR, EMB, LGU and other government agencies did not also prevented the damage to the source of food and livelihood of the 90% of the people of Barangay Imelda and its neighboring communities.

Situations similar to this are highly to occur again and again if the concerned government agencies don’t have the capacity and the willingness to strictly supervise mining operations according to the standard procedure which will protect the environment and the source of livelihood of the people.

2. Dislocation from food source, livelihood and habitat and destruction of environment and agriculture due to extensive area for the Approved and Application for Magnetite Mining in the Region

Mining tenements in the region as of February 2012 cover 507,746.4729 hectares or 24% of the total land area of the region. For the magnetite mining alone it covers 149,535.3760 hectares of 7% of the land area in the region. Approved magnetite exploration and mineral production sharing agreement reaches 53,833.8150 while pending applications cover 95,701.5610 hectares. Magnetite mining comprises 29% or almost one-third from the total mining area application.

3. Insignificant benefit for the people compare to the wanton destruction to environment, agriculture and livelihood

With the present orientation of mining industry in the Philippines which is not geared towards national industrialization very little benefit is derived from it by the people.

It is in this light that we strongly propose for the following:

1. Total stop of magnetite mining operations and moratorium on the applications on magnetite mining in Eastern Visayas and the whole nation.

2. Enact Peoples Mining of 2011 or House Bill 4315 of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, ACT Teachers and Kabataan.

3. Strengthen the power/capacity of the communities in decision-making for the issuances and/or cancellation of mining permits and monitoring of mining activities.





War and peace

May 8, 2012

Is peace elusive these days? I refer more to peace of mind more than anything else, though we can not discount the fact that we can get the sensation that peace is also slippery in the social, political, ideological and even religious spheres.

We just have to look around to see that some trouble and disturbance are erupting in many parts of the world, and even in our own country, our own province, town or city, and even in our places of work and in our homes.

Of course, we know that even in our own selves, we can not have peace. We can also see tension and conflicts among the different parts and aspects of own selves – the mind warring against the heart, reason against feelings, etc.

This is unavoidable, and therefore, understandable, given the delicate status of our human condition, assailed as it is by human frailty, mistakes and failures, if not sin and malice pursued with hellish intentions. Yes, we can go to that extreme too.

We need to understand what true peace is, because there are now many ideas, definitions and descriptions being attached to it, and frankly, they sound more nice than true, more feel-good and subjective than objective, more false and illusory than real.

There is peace offered by drugs, or by some escape mechanisms like sex, exercise and body cult, and other forms of panacea and psychological conditioning. These are Faustian bargains that sooner or later will just fall through.

Peace in society or in the political and ideological fronts is often an artificial, plastic product of all kinds of consensus and deterrents to war that are at best shaky and volatile. It’s a peace built on sand, not on solid rock.

True peace can only come from God. “Peace is my farewell to you, my peace is my gift to you,” Christ says. “I do not give it to you as the world gives peace.” (Jn 14,27) We have to understand these words well, accepting them first of all by faith, and then analyzing them with all the resources of our God-given human powers.

We should never depart from this peace of Christ. All our efforts to come up with an estimation of peace for our personal health or for social, economic or political well-being, should always be inspired by this peace Christ gives us. It cannot be any other way.

Christ is the prince of peace. He knows how to tackle any and all sources and causes of trouble, conflict and war. He meets them head-on, not escaping from them, and in fact converts these causes of evil and war into paths to goodness and human redemption.

He goes straight to the very core of evil, the malice that can spring in the hearts of men, the primal source of all our troubles, conflicts and wars. And he does the ultimate to annul the effects of evil, by assuming them himself, killing them with his own death, and conquering them with his own resurrection. He always has the last word.

While in pursuing and trying to gain peace we may have to do some practical and temporary things, we should never forget that the ultimate source of peace is Christ himself who is God who became man for our sake. We should always go to him, praying and asking for his help. We should never set him aside.

Following him will indeed involve effort and sacrifice, but we have to look at the bigger picture, the long-range vision. We will be asked to deny ourselves and to carry the cross, we will be asked to undertake a continuing ascetical struggle, but all these come with the territory.

The peace Christ gives us is the peace he himself won for us on the cross. It is a peace that comes with some war – against our weaknesses, our temptations, and sins in all their forms and variety.

We should be wary when we are presented with an easy program of life that can give us instant advantages but will certainly lead us nowhere but disaster. This is the kind of peace the world gives us, as our Lord hinted. Its perks and advantages are actually only ephemeral, short-lived and shallow.

We have to strengthen our faith in Christ and hope in the promises he made for us. We can use these words contained in the prayers of the Mass: “Father, make our faith strong and our hope sure. May we never doubt that you will fulfill the promises you have made. Amen!”





Constants for a free press

April 19, 2012

Seventy six national and community newspapers will gather for a two day Philippine Press Institute conference on “Media Accountability and Public Engagement.  President Benigno Aquino will key note this two day meeting.

Discussions will include sessions on a Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism presentation on an “Asian Media Barometer”, “Self-Regulation” to “Reporting the Environment”.

It promises to be a useful exercise. Far too many today take liberty of expression as a constitutional given, “constant as the northern star,” Shakespeare would write.

This was not always so. In fact, a free press had to be fought for every step of the way from World War II resistance papers to the “mosquito press” that struggled against the Marcos dictatorship’s gag. That, too, remains a “constant.”

“When you do battle for press freedom, don’t put on your best trousers,” old editors tell their cubs.   But we’re also craftsmen with abbreviated memories.

“Baby-boom-ers” in our newsrooms never saw Juan Ponce Enrile’s photocopied arrest-and-seizure orders.  Few recall how Metrocom troops padlocked the Manila Times and Manila Chronicle as well as various radio stations.

The name of columnist Antonio Abad Tormis, who was the first to be gunned down for exposing corruption in Cebu rings few bells in the young. Tormis’ killing foreshadowed today’s body count. Since 1986, over 130 journalists have been murdered. In a “culture of impunity,” no one has been called to account.

“The Philippines is in danger of becoming the new Colombia as one of the world’s most dangerous places to practice journalism,” the International Federation of Journalists warned in 2003.

Just last Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists published in New York, it’s 2012 impunity survey. A dysfunctional justice system wedges the Philippines, third among the four nations, failing to nail journalist murderers.  The other three “black sheep” are: Iraq, Somalia and Sri Lanka.

Journalism students learn, early on, the law shields reporters from revealing their sources of information. But who recalls that five newsmen chose jail in the 1950s, rather than finger their news sources? Congress thereafter wrote into the books “journalism’s most inflexible rule.”

Joaquin “Chino” Roces and Teodoro Locsin Sr. didn’t flinch when the dictatorship seized the Manila Times and Philippine Free Press. Marcos claimed this ensured “press responsibility.” That “New Society” excuse was a patent fraud.

Sadly, it resurfaced in bills, filed, to legislate right of reply, already a recognized duty in our Code of Ethics.  If enacted into law, this would convert government into editors.

Failure, by some in our ranks, to curb “abuse of press freedom as a marketing strategy” would be compounded by government intrusion – minus military jackboots – into a constitutional no man’s land.

The media meanwhile basks complacently in these liberties. The Philippine Press Insitute conference reminds us that “we drink from cisterns we never built; and we reap from vineyards we never planted.”

The People Power Constitution, indeed, guarantees a free press. “Liberty is the right not to lie,” Albert Camus reminds us. Thus, the flip side is: The press itself should guarantee a fair – and a perceptive – one.

That task demands unflagging dedication to standards for daily truth-seeking, a grueling task in a society of skewed privileges. Here, “the powerful extract what they want and the poor grant what they must.”

New technology’s ever-accelerating speed renders the job more complex. Google’s News Frontpage, for example, is “rematted” every 15 minutes worldwide. And the fax, cellphone and e-mail have loosened traditional editorial oversight.

“Cadres of people who pronounce” deafen us with unedited bombast. “Visual tv soup” spills from tar-and-feather exercises, dolled up as legislative probes. Police blotter-type reporting is applied to complex issues to democratic survival.

As a consequence, lies are re-cycled in print or aired without challenge. This is journalism of unedited assertion.

Media do not operate in a vacuum. We live in a “constrained democracy.” Institutions rebuilt from Marcos’ scorch-earth rule remain frail. They’re constantly besieged by power-seekers, through “coups for rent” or systematic smearing.

Have our constitutional reflexes so atrophied, we glamorize junta builders? And why are we so superficial? Are we addicted to the soundbyte, rather than substance? Do we prefer the obvious instead of reporting “deep-running currents? Corruption in our ranks?

And what can we do as the country stumbles into what will be probably the most bitter election of this century?

Those called to the “priesthood of journalism,” Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez insists, must examine ourselves. Do we measure up? The call is for balance. We all need perspective. What advances the common good – not what entertains – should command priority.

Journalists who come after us will also need cisterns of press freedom. We too, must replenish that for them.





Statement of the Eastern Visayas Ecumenical Forum on the fish kill in Lake Bito, Barangay Villa Imelda, MacArthur, Leyte
April 18, 2012

“I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruits and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and you made my inheritance detestable” (Jeremiah 2:7)

The Eastern Visayas Ecumenical Forum (EVEF), an ecumenical alliance of various church denominations and individuals was saddened and alarmed by the fish kill incidence happened in Lake Bito of Barangay Villa Imelda, MacArthur Leyte. With this, we conducted an Environmental Investigative Mission (EIM) in partnership with the Center for Environmental Concern (CEC) in the affected areas last April 16-17, 2012 to come-up with an objective and scientific findings before making any preemptive pronouncements and baseless statements without having yet on our hand the results of the water and fish analysis, nor relying on previous studies conducted without validating it in the present context.

Based in our actual ocular investigation and on the data that we have gathered, through the interviews that we have conducted from the people of Barangay Imelda and neighboring barangays; and from the personnel of Nicua Mining Corporation, we find it necessary to issue this initial statement.

That, all the people we have interviewed had asserted that the fish kill was caused by the mining operation adjacent to the Lake Bito which greatly affects their livelihood as 90% of the residents of Villa Imelda depended on fishing as their source of living. This statement was blatantly disclaimed by the key personnel of the Nicua Mining Corporation by categorically stating that, their mining operation has nothing do with the fish kill in Lake Bito. To recall, this mining area was previously an agricultural land sustaining the source of living of the people of Pongon, the adjacent barangay of Villa Imelda, now occupied by the magnetite mining operation. These contending statements as to the cause of fish kill can soon be clarified as the results of the water and fish analysis of the samples we have taken from the lake is already available.

However, EVEF firmly maintains our stand against all activities which are destructive, unjust, that exacerbates poverty, causes dislocation of livelihood of the people, and even threatens the base of life and life itself.

We uphold our stand against corporate greed that deprives the poor people to partake the abundance of God’s creation which has been abused and monopolized by the few, more so, when it is rapaciously and wantonly exploited by foreign corporations at the expense of the suffering Filipino people.







The holiest of weeks

April 3, 2012

The Holy Week is, of course, not just like any other week. It is THE week, the mother of all weeks, the most important week in the liturgical year, when we end the long penitential preparation of Lent and celebrate nothing less than the climax of Christ’s redemptive work with his passion, death and resurrection.

When we say “celebrate,” we are referring to a liturgical celebration where the events celebrated are not simply remembered, but are actually made present. This is the essence of liturgy, as taught by the Church that in turn received this truth from Christ himself.

In the liturgy we become contemporaries of Christ and direct witnesses of the events. That’s how the reality portrayed by our faith is. It is a reality that, of course, goes far beyond what our senses can capture and what our intelligence can grasp. That is why we have to work out our faith. Otherwise, we would be hanging in the air.

It is this passion, death and resurrection of Christ, also known as the Paschal or Easter mystery, that summarizes everything that our Lord taught and did for the sole purpose of saving us, and giving us a way to reconcile ourselves with our Creator and Father, the way to say yes to God’s will for us.

It is in Christ’s passion and death that all the sins of men, past, present and future, are assumed by Christ himself, dying to them so that all these sins would be dashed to nothing, and then resurrect.

What we are invited to do is to somehow share in Christ’s passion and death, so that dying with him, we too can resurrect with him. Christ takes up what is ours so that we can take up what is his. A liturgical hymn describes this as a “happy exchange.”

There is no sin too big or grave enough that cannot be part of Christ’s passion and death. The only sin that can elude this universal mercy of God is the sin against the Holy Spirit, when we precisely reject this truth of God’s omnipotent mercy.

Now all these events of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, is made into the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, instituted at the Last Supper of the first Holy Thursday.

It is this sacrament that makes present these saving events of the paschal mystery. These events are not simply recalled and dramatized by some ceremony. They derive their vital and perpetual character from our Lord’s words, “Do this in remembrance of me” (or “in memory of me”)

When Christ said these words, he said it not as man only, subject to time and space, and therefore unavoidably swallowed up in the past, in history. But being our redeemer, he said them also as God who is eternal.

Therefore, these words acquire an eternal value where all things are made present. Eternity is not simply a vague sense of having no beginning and no end. Eternity is also about making everything present. What happens in time with its flow of past, present and future becomes all present in eternity. Eternity transcends time.

This is the very lofty, mysterious truth that is at play when we celebrate the liturgy, especially the Mass that has its beginning in the Last Supper that in turn anticipates and perpetuates what happened in the first Good Friday and the first Easter Sunday – our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection.

That’s why the Holy Week culminates with the Easter or Paschal Triduum, starting evening of Holy Thursday with the celebration of the Mass of the Last Supper then goes to the passion and death of Christ on Good Friday, then to his resurrection Easter Sunday.

There is a certain unity in the celebration of the Easter Triduum which we all should try to capture. That’s why we need to pause, reflect and meditate. We should be wary when we convert the Holy Week into mere holidays of fun and vacation.

The way the world is evolving these days when we are pressured to be practical and to go for material and temporal goals, we need to apply the breaks to feed our soul and to strengthen our grip of the spiritual and supernatural realities in our life.

The Holy Week is the best time to form and strengthen the beliefs and convictions of our faith that our efforts, always with the help of grace and the promptings of the Holy Spirit, would give us. It is also the best time for another conversion.



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