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Two sets of jewels

Reforms started by Robredo crucial for nation-building

Frequently Asked Questions on Executive Order 79 (Mining Reform)

Why is the Filipino special?

Chief Justice’s credibility crossroad

Good Friday people

Removing Lady Justice’s blindfold

Our sexual identity

Impeachment: What to Expect?

Agenda item for 2012





October 2, 2012

“Our guardian angels can act as our security guard, our errand boy, a finder of lost items, a memory guide, etc.”

There used to be some kind of fad on angels before. This was some years ago when all of a sudden a lot people took interest in these spiritual beings. Even the media reflected this phenomenon by publishing pictures and articles about them.

But now, it seems this fondness has evaporated. And if there happens to be some mention in the media about these spiritual beings, it usually has something to do with some people’s encounters with so-called “ghosts” or paranormal experiences that cannot be clearly verified.

But angels really do exist. They are not myths, figments of our piously fertile imagination. They are pure spirits, and that’s why they cannot be perceived normally through the senses. We know them more by faith and the devotion arising from that faith.

Our Catechism, for example, tells us that “the existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls ‘angels’ is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.” (328)

Thus, the Catechism continues, we have abundant references to them in the Bible. “They closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham’s hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets.” (332)

“Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.” (332) An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to tell him the real story about Mary’s pregnancy. An angel comforted Christ after being tempted by the devil.

Our intelligence, of course, can somehow discern them. If we too have something spiritual, precisely because of our capacity to think, know, judge, reason, love, etc., thereby making us persons and not just things, there must be beings too that are pure spirits, unlike us whose spirit is integrated with our body.

Being pure spirit, angels live and operate in ways very different from ours. They are created directly from God, unlike us whose life depends both on God and on our parents.

And upon creation, angels immediately have to make the choice, being free beings like us, between wanting to be with God or against God. This is the peculiar property of spiritual beings. We, on the other hand, make this choice in our whole lifetime.

But for angels, they make this choice upon creation, and their choice determines their status as good or bad angels permanently. They don’t change midway. In our case, we can change status many times in our lifetime. And our choice becomes definitive only at death.

It’s good that we strengthen our faith in the angels and develop the appropriate devotion to them. In fact, it would really be good if we can spread this devotion more widely, because it would be a pity, a real waste of precious resource, if we ignore them.

We are told that angels do nothing other than to serve in “the accomplishment of the divine plan.” They serve the Church as well. “In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance.” (335)

More, “from its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth, the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.” (336)

Many saints have very interesting personal testimonies about angels. St. Josemaria Escriva, for example, believed it was his guardian angel who saved him when he was suddenly attacked on the road by a madman.

A stranger just came to his rescue and told him something that St. Josemaria was telling to himself in private. “How are you, donkey with sores?” In those years, St. Josemaria called himself “donkey with sores” as some kind of ejaculatory prayer. He never told anyone about this very private practice of his.

Our guardian angels can act as our security guard, our errand boy, a finder of lost items, a memory guide, etc. A friend of mine once told me that in a trip to Hongkong by boat, he arrived with his sick mother at the port when a heavy downpour took place.

There were many passengers trying to get a taxi. Since he could not get a taxi because of the competition and his mother was getting tired, he prayed to his guardian angel, asking for a taxi. And behold, in a few minutes, an empty taxi just stopped in front of him.





Honor your parents’ struggle vs. Martial Law through stopping all human rights violations

September 21, 2012

On the 40th commemoration of the declaration of Martial Law, the bishops and priests of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG) call on President Benigno Aquino III to meaningfully honor his parents’ struggle against Martial Law, through stopping human rights violations such as militarization, demolition and eviction of urban and rural poor communities, summary killing of media people and environmentalists, and other forms of human rights abuses.

Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI said, “Those with greater political, technical, or economic power may not use that power to violate the rights of others who are less fortunate. Peace is based on respect for the rights of all” (Pope Benedict XVI, in his Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 2007).

Despite its insistence on “daang matuwid”, human rights violations and the impunity of perpetrators continue to characterize the Aquino government.

Two years into his presidency, 99 extra-judicial killings have been recorded, 11 enforced disappearances, 60 frustrated extra-judicial killings, 222 illegal arrests without detention, 216 illegal arrests with detention, 185 illegal search and seizure, and 7,008 forced eviction/demolition.

The Aquino government also committed 29,465 acts of forced evacuation, 19,325 threat/harassment/intimidation, 6,721 indiscriminate firing, 45 forced/fake surrender, 296 use of civilians in police and/or military operations as guides and/or shield, 14,620 use of schools, medical, religious and other public places for military purposes, 2,099 restriction or violent dispersal of mass actions, public assemblies and gatherings, among others (Karapatan Quarterly Monitor, 2012).

In Cebu, violent demolition and eviction of urban poor communities have continued; and more than 30,000 households in Metro Cebu are facing demolition. There are also farmers’ leaders who have asked helped from Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma as they are being harassed for asserting genuine agrarian reform. Fisherfolks in Cordova, Cebu and other areas in the province are being displaced from their livelihood due to reclamation projects for ports, golf courses, and others.

We recall the Church’s social teachings on integral development. In any program for development or progress, the government must make sure that everyone affected by it, especially those who don't have the means to have their voices heard or who can’t defend themselves, is given the chance to be listened to or consulted. The government should ensure that its decisions are not biased in favor of those who have more in life, at the expense of those who have less. Each one's rights should not be violated in the name of progress.

Yet amidst increasing human rights violations, we are dismayed with the continuing impunity of perpetrators. Impunity or exemption from punishment of perpetrators has become so common that it has become just another matter of routine. Impunity denies the victims their right to justice and redress.

For example, General Jovito Palparan, who is facing two charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for allegedly masterminding the 2006 abduction of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, continues to elude the law. The late Sec. Jesse Robredo in his talk in the Cebu Discernment of Public Servants last July 20, 2012, even said that Palparan can’t be arrested because “may kasabwat sa kapangyarihan.”

Many other government military officials and personnel accused of perpetrating human rights violation continue to enjoy impunity under the current dispensation.

We ask the Aquino Government to denounce Martial Law through doing all it can to stop impunity and stop all human rights violations.

We also challenge ourselves, and everyone concerned. To attain lasting peace, all of us must promote human rights and justice. We are one with Pope Benedict XVI who said, “Peace for all is the fruit of justice for all, and no one can shirk this essential task of promoting justice” (Message for World Day of Peace 2012, Pope Benedict XVI).

As Christ lives,

Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro/
Head Convenor of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG)





Pass the Freedom of Information Bill now!

By CBCP Caritas Filipinas Foundation, Inc.

Our peoples’ right to information – access to the records, documents, papers of/on contracts, transactions, decisions, programs, data, regulations, and all other official acts of government – provides greater opportunity for peoples’ participation in good governance. It is a constitutional right of every Filipino to be informed of the governmental affairs to ensure healthy social environment for democratic peoples’ participation in the delivery of programs, projects and services of the government.

The National Secretariat for Social Action - Justice and Peace (NASSA), the social action and development arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), calls upon our legislators to PASS THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (FOI) BILL in the 15th Congress. CBCP-NASSA strongly believes FOI adheres to the principle of transparency and accountability. It is an important component to appropriately ensure the flagship governmental advocacy on “MATUWID Na DAAN.”

Lack of access to information systematically subjects our concerned sectors – farmers, fisherfolks, Indigenous peoples, workers and rural and urban poor, particularly the Basic Ecclesial communities – to become vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation by bad elements in the society. Unfamiliarity and ignorance of government processes, contracts, activities and services, together with lack of formal education cause deprivation of rights and poverty. Our people then become mere objects of government policies rather than subjects/ participants in their development.

Without access to information, these sectors as well as other sectors in the Philippine society gain no knowledge as to what government plans. They would be unaware of the projects and contracts the national and local governments make for them. Even now, although some of these communities and/ or sectors are consulted, their issues and concerns are not being heard. Our people then eventually tend to develop distrust in government institutions and activities.

CBCP-NASSA finds several questions worthy of reflection:

- Why is it that in 14 years the FOI bill has still not been passed?

- Why did the Aquino Administration not certify FOI as one of the priority bills when the President demands for transparency and accountability in his effort to eliminate corruption in his government?

- Why has the Congress not called committee hearing on FOI? Why is Malacanang not following-up the calling of hearings if there is nothing to fear about the legislation?

- How can the government be true to its mandate according to the 1987 Philippine Constitution Art. III, Section 7, stating “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized” if there is no political will to take concrete steps to adopt FOI?

CBCP-NASSA believes that the passage of the Freedom of Information bill enhances people’s participation in politics and governance. The passage and enforcement of FOI would be a great service to the people; it empowers people with a new tool of information, especially the poor; it promotes social justice by giving the opportunity for social auditing of previously inaccessible public information, all geared towards the pursuit of the common good.

In the spirit of truth and justice, CBCP-NASSA calls upon President Benigno Aquino III to immediately certify the FOI bill as a priority, and urge all the members of the House of Representatives especially his party members, to support the passage of the FOI. Unless the President sees the urgent need to pass the FOI bill, his campaign on “Matuwid na Daan” is only a slogan, and has no firm basis.

We urge Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. to immediately direct their respective Chairpersons of the Committee on Public Information to conduct committee hearings on the said bill. Both houses of Congress should deliberate and decide on the bill before the 15th Congress ends.

CBCP-NASSA also prays for the support of every individual and groups who want to transform Philippine politics into an art of good governance. Let us encourage our respective district representatives and senators to vote for the passage of FOI. As our representatives in the government, their authority resides and emanate from us. Let them truly represent us in Congress by supporting the passage of FOI.

National Director
20 September 2012





“Shaping the Future of Mining”

Vice President Jejomar C. BinayA speech delivered by Vice President Jejomar C. Binay during the Mining Philippines Conference and Exhibition
Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Pasay City
September 19, 2012

I thank you for the very kind introduction. I am honored to join this conference of the mining industry as you convene to tackle the vast prospects that lie ahead. I see many familiar faces in the crowd this morning and I believe our paths first crossed when I spoke before the 2nd Mining Convention of the Philippine Society of Mining Engineers in Davao. I am truly happy to see you here in Manila.

We gather during a time of intense debate. Mining has become a polarizing issue and whenever talks drift to this industry, unmovable lines tend to be drawn, with each camp boldly championing their cause. But amidst these discussions, I propose that the ultimate concerns of both sides can and should be tackled in unity. When I last spoke in Davao City, I submitted that the real question was not whether we should mine or not, but how we can mine responsibly wherever mineral wealth lies.

Mining and responsibility are inherently joined at the hip for good reason. The target of mining is wealth of finite quantity that is usually non-renewable. The environment can be affected by mining activity, and communities both proximate and remote from the mining areas are not immune to the changes that mining brings. Our environmental and social ecosystems are profoundly touched by our actions and we must move with purpose, knowing full well that our deeds breed lasting consequences.

The fears are real. However, man and science has evolved at paces unheard of as recently as the 20th Century. The technologies we have at our disposal are impressive and all of these should be brought to bear so that mining becomes a unifying issue, rather than a divisive one. Wherever mining shall be permitted by law, to miners of whatever scale, it is important that we apply every measure and technology to ensure that the impact on the environment is managed to acceptable degrees and that after the operations have ceased, proper rehabilitation is undertaken.

Of greater importance, the gains of mining should trickle down to empower and improve the lives of those who truly own these resources: the Filipino people. Though we live in an era where knowledge is fast becoming the foremost commodity of value, minerals still hold a durable and lasting worth, and we should be able to use the gifts bestowed by Providence to close the gap between poverty and development.

Certainly, the issue of mining is very complex, one that unleashes a host of arguments and statistics both for and against its pursuit. At the very core are mining’s economic benefits. But these are not the only essential considerations. The real issue is how mining can advance social justice – how it can improve the lives of not just an elite few, but those in the middle class and most especially, our countrymen living below the poverty line.

At the end of the day, mining should help raise the economic bottom line for the average Filipino and allow him or her to pursue a dignified and productive life. This is the context within which the future of mining must be shaped.

And so I stand before you today to ask all to rise to this challenge: Let social justice be one of the hands that shape the future of Philippine mining.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This challenge is made even more urgent by recent news and encouragements. A few weeks ago, an article published in the New York Time heaped praises on the Philippines and called us the “economic bright spot” of Asia.

Last July, Standard & Poor’s raised the country’s debt rating to just below investment grade. This is the highest rating we have obtained since 2003 and the confidence that S&P has affixed shows that we are certainly blazing the right trails.

The same New York Times article cited a study done by banking giant HSBC projecting the world’s top economies in 2050. This research highlights – at the very top of its list – “[t]he striking rise of the Philippines, which is set to become the world’s sixteenth-largest economy, up 27 places from today.” HSBC forecasts that in 38 years’ time, the Philippines will be third on the list of countries with the fastest growth, next only to China and India.

The article also cited areas where we can do better. In listing “real weaknesses” of the country, Frederic Neumann, a senior economist of HSBC claimed – with basis – that we have “traditionally underexploited” our natural resources.

The Philippines has always had the potential to be one of the most viable mining sites in the Asia Pacific region. According to the Asian Development Bank, the Philippines is the 5th most mineralized country in the world and ranks second in gold reserves, 4th in copper, fifth in nickel, and sixth in chromite.

By our own government estimates, there are around 21.5 billion tons of metal deposits buried beneath our soil. This includes nickel, iron, copper and gold. But for all the wealth that lies waiting to be unleashed for the benefit of its true owners, mineral extraction has not been as great an economic driver as it could be. Ghosts from the past such as mismanagement and fear and ignorance have all served to clip our wings, and deny us even the dream of flight.

But all that is now past. I am proud to say that our dreams of prosperity can now be attained. Executive Order No. 79 has been signed by President Aquino.

The Mining Act of 1995 may have attracted praises and objections from various sectors. It is not a perfect law but experts from countries where mining thrives have paid tribute to this legislation by calling it one of the very best in the world. EO 79 has elicited similar receptions from society and while it too, is not perfect, it is a well-conceived policy.

Dean Antonio La Viña, an environmental policy expert and dean of the Ateneo School of Government, calls EO 79 “a good and progressive issuance for which President Aquino merits congratulations.”[1] He goes on to comment that while the government’s mining policy, as illustrated by the EO, may not be perfect, it is good. “In fact, it is very good,” he says.

The good dean is not alone in seeing the value of this Executive Order. Many more now see a clear path and structure towards a responsible and profitable growth in the mineral industry. The Mining Act, together with EO 79, provide firm basis upon which those who invest can make a decent profit, and a country hungry for development can reap just gains from the treasures it holds.

The Executive Order shows what is possible when government takes on the challenges of our times with transparency and good governance in mind. The President and I are one in the conviction that good governance and transparency will always encourage businesses to flourish and drive economic growth. The fruits of our labors prove just that, and serve to strengthen our resolve to infuse all other efforts with the same spirit.

A multipartite approach – one that involves industry experts, the academe, the local and national government and civil society leaders – can help redefine the mining industry. We can achieve sustainable, environmentally-sound mining principles and continuously refine such a framework that upholds both economic and social justice.

This conference happens at the best possible time. As you gather over three days, and with the EO as your guide, the entire nation looks forward to all the dreams you can make real, and all the lives you can change.

Thank you very much.

Mabuhay kayong lahat.





A guide to boosting cultural pride among Filipinos


Even though some claim that tradition is falling to the wayside, it looks like both religious and cultural practices are really hear to stay. Whether Filipinos are residing in their country of origin or abroad, they want to ensure that they display their cultural pride. How can they go about doing this?

Starting at Home

The best place to start any cultural teachings is at home. From the time they are young, parents can teach their children about the cultural traditions of their ancestors. In addition to learning the stories, they can also eat cultural foods and celebrate holidays in the traditional manners. Some parents tend to flounder away from tradition as the children become teenagers; however, those concerned with showing pride will keep them up.

Religious Organizations

While there is not one religion to which all Filipinos belong, the Roman Catholic faith has a large majority. 86 percent of people in the Philippines practice this faith according to Northern Illinois University's article written by Jack Miller entitled "Religion in the Philippines." When Filipinos are living abroad, they can seek out Roman Catholic churches with a high percentage of Filipinos who attend them. Through this, they will be able to build both stronger cultural and religious ties. Both of these components of life are so intrinsically tied to have pride in one's background.

Starting Committees

When individuals are really interested in promoting their Filipino pride, they should consider starting a committee in the community. Doing so will likely be easier in communities that have high concentrations of Filipinos living within them. They might propose that the community has a Filipino pride day, or they may promote more education about the Philippines in schools. In order to start such committees, interested parties should talk to the local government. Additionally, they could also head to the local library and contact the department of parks and recreation. These two establishments are usually the hub of activities and events in many towns in the United States.

Education and Knowledge

Perhaps you are not a Filipino who is looking to boost your own pride in the culture. However, you are trying to inspire a love for it in others. Host an international day at your school where everyone brings a different dish that represents their background. This will give Filipinos a chance to present their own unique dishes. You can also hand out pamphlets or provide brochures to individuals who are visiting places that have ties to the Filipino culture. The more people know, the more they are intrigued to learn even more. Ultimately, you want to ensure that individuals know as much as they can about this unique culture.

Boosting cultural pride can be difficult, especially when people are living away from their homeland. However, one of the great parts about the world is that people are different, and they have so much to offer to one another. Make sure you take the opportunity the next time you have the chance to display pride in the Filipino culture.

Ryan Meadows writes about culture, travel & more at
Guest Post U
The University of Great Content



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