PCID Statement on
the signing of the Annex on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing
The Philippine Center for
Islam and Democracy (PCID) congratulates the negotiating panels of the
Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) for the signing of the Annex on Revenue Generation and
Wealth Sharing. We laud the panels’ steadfast resolve to achieve a
compromise regarding such a contentious and important issue. PCID
welcomes the signing of this annex as a step forward towards achieving
lasting peace in Mindanao. PCID hopes that this annex will strengthen
the foundation for genuine fiscal autonomy for the Bangsamoro. PCID
believes that this signing of the annex will boost the people’s
optimism that a final peace agreement is within reach, this year.
Although challenges are in
the horizon as talks about Power Sharing and Normalization are about
to commence, PCID acknowledges that the signing of the Annex on
Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing is a good sign that both panels
are committed towards achieving a just and fair agreement. PCID,
however, sees that the annex is just an initial step towards fiscal
autonomy and economic development in the Bangsamoro. PCID considers
fiscal autonomy as an integral part of genuine autonomy but it also
recognizes that achieving this would require fiscal responsibility
from the people and their officials.
PCID recommends that in
order to fully actualize the visions in this annex, the Bangsamoro and
National Governments must capacitate local officials to adequately
implement the taxation provisions in what would be the Bangsamoro
Basic Law. We also hope that the Transition Commission will develop
the appropriate implementing and monitoring mechanisms as part of the
Basic Law. There is also a need to educate the people on how these
taxes will facilitate development in their region, and to train them
to expect transparency and accountability from their government.
Lastly, we assert the
primacy of the peace process and ask both Panels to continue
fast-tracking the remaining Annexes of the negotiations. We also ask
the Transition Commission to conduct parallel efforts in preparing for
the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law. We, as civil society, are prepared to
assist in any way.
By JUAN L. MERCADO
July 14, 2013
Ferdinand Marcos’ coconut
levy robbed impoverished farmers blind long after the dictatorship
collapsed in 1986. The Supreme Court, last week, shredded crony
Eduardo Cojuangco’s claim for sequestered 700 million San Miguel
Corporation shares. Should we cheer?
President Benigno Aquino froze tapping into the SMC kitty, until the
high court handed a final decision. That came Tuesday.
In a unanimous resolution, the Court declared Cojuangco shares in
United Coconut Planters Bank as government-owned. It affirmed the July
2003 Sandiganbayan decision that his UCPB shares were swiped coco
levies. The SC upheld shredded “with finality” a May 1975 Philippine
Coconut Administration decision: “Compensate” Cojuangco with 10
percent from the 72 percent First United Bank (now UCPB) stocks.
“Farmers hail court ruling in UCPB case,” an Inquirer banner read.
Government will sell P14.4 billion worth of the stocks, Philippine
Deposit Insurance Corp. president Valentin Araneta said. That’d go
into a trust fund for coconut farmers.
Under martial law, Marcos signed Presidential Decree 276. It directed
that “coco levies” be clamped in 68 provinces. These would be owned by
cronies “in their private capacities.” Taxes became individual loot.
If PD 276 is not scrubbed as unconstitutional, “Marcos found a legal
and valid way to steal,” wrote then columnist Antonio Carpio. As
Supreme Court justice today, Carpio finds himself vindicated.
Cojuangco was martial law coconut czar, until People Power drove him
into Haiwaiian exile with the dictator. In between, levies bankrolled
a hydra of coco mills, a bank, even a producers’ federation that never
mustered names of supposed one million members.
Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, in August 1998, presented to President Joseph
Estrada a Catholic Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference memo. “Abuse of
state power” wrung those monies from impoverished coconut farmers, it
said. They should be returned.
But just before People Power II, Erap signed Executive Orders 313 and
315. These delivered the levy – estimated at over P100 billion then –
to cronies,” “It was grand larceny that needed ever-larger doses of
hypocrisy. Today, Manila Mayor Estrada pledges honest government.
Led by Chief Justice Hilario Davide, the Supreme Court ruled the levy
were public funds. A furious Cojuangco unleashed, in November 2003, a
“Brat Pack” of Nationalist People's Coalition congressmen to impeach
”Is this a coalition of cretins?” snapped Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. “The
conundrum of the House is: how to climb, out of the shit hole in which
a third of its members descended with such stealth…” The House spurned
On the coco levy, the Corona Supreme Court flip-flopped four times. It
somersaulted also four times on the bill that turned 16 unqualified
towns into cities. Flight attendants, won final judgement on their
case, were stunned to learn it had been reversed – by a “final
The Corona Court issued March 2011, an “entry of judgment”:
Cojuangco’s P56.3-billion SMC shares are now “final.” SMC stock
certificates in blank, found in a Malacañang vault when the Marcoses
scrammed for Hawaii, “legally” belong to Cojuangco.
“The joke of the century,” snapped then Justice Conchita Carpio
Morales. Cojuangco “used for his personal benefit the very same funds
entrusted to him,” Morales’ dissenting opinion states. “[These] were
released to him through illegal and improper machination of loan
transactions. [His] contravention of corporation laws … indicates a
clear violation of fiduciary duty…”
Before Tuesday’s decision, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad suggested
in an Inquirer interview: Go through the fine print of proposed
conversion of SMC shares. It had a curiously “stitched-in
qualification”: Should the government sell its shares, San Miguel
Corp. “shall have (a) exclusive option to buy said shares and (b) at
P75 per share.”
Wait! Isn’t that a Court-sanctioned fire sale for a cozy monopoly? A
share commanded P114 at the stock exchange at that time, Coconut
Industry Investment Fund chair Wigberto Tañada said. In a free market,
government would probably earn P87 billion for the small farmers. But
this booby-trapped provision would shackle the government into
settling for only P57 billion.
Who’d pocket the P30 billion “diff” this time around?. Farmers would
be suckered again – That “joke of the century 2.” But, Tuesday’s
decision scrubs that rewind.
This greed plays out in a country where the richest 10 per cent, in
mansions, with four-wheel drives and bodyguards, consume 31 centavos
out of every peso. In contrast, the poorest 10 per cent, huddled in
slums, make do with three centavos. When a crisis hits, the poor pare
that down to two centavos. The rich rearrange their menus.
“Here, net worth equals self-worth,” a banker explained. Bank balances
and car models set the pecking order. You cornered the coconut levy?
You get first places at table, plus a Supreme Court justice or two as
Some call that “pecuniary decency”. And poverty becomes the original
sin. Transporting gold to the grave is the end-all and be-all.
Official position evolves into a tool for conserving perks of the
What does it profit a man if he grabs all the levy but in the end have
the poor piss on his grave?
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
May 16, 2013
IT’S either a bright sunny
day or the blues. That’s what happens after the elections. Not
everyone can be winners. There will always be losers. But whether one
is in or out, what we should try to avoid is to become spoiled winners
or sore losers.
The political exercises we
just had are just that – some kind of sports. We play to win, we do
our best, yet in spite of all, we should not be surprised if we lose.
And we just have to move on. Of course, if we win, then we should also
be ready for the usual bad elements that go with the winning.
Now is the time for
magnanimity, deleting the heady, intoxicating surge of victory or the
depressing load of defeat. This is not the end of the world yet. And
while we are still on the road, we just have to try our best to learn
precious lessons along the way.
We need to enlarge our
heart, to make it more universal to accommodate everyone and any
situation and condition properly. We should evade being caught by the
grip of our strong views, and even our positions that we think are so
essential that they are not anymore subject to opinion.
This is our usual pitfall
that we should try to be wary about always. We have the strong
tendency to dominate others especially in a game or exercise for which
we give an all-out interest and spend so much money and effort.
In the first place, we
really need to purify our intentions before, during and after any race
or contest. The intention should be to give glory to God, to show our
love for him and for everyone, the common good, through acts of
When that intention is
corrupted, that is, when it orients itself to oneself rather than on
the common good based on God’s will, then we enter into a predicament,
a highly toxic situation. We actually would be setting ourselves for a
most painful fall.
We need to be very attentive
to this need because many are the elements and factors every step of
the way that would tend to grab us to make rash judgments,
uncharitable thoughts, petty envies, raging anger and hatred.
We are prone to fall into
what is called as bitter zeal and self-righteousness, and a spiral of
worries, anxieties and resentments. That’s when we think we are the
sole owner of what is right, true and fair. We would become
Machiavellian to protect and defend our positions.
Without magnanimity, we
easily become emotional, that is, we think with our emotions rather
than with reason, and much less, with our faith, hope and charity. We
caricaturize the positions of opponents while canonizing ours.
Without magnanimity, we fail
to understand why others think the way they do. There’s always some
reason, perhaps flimsy to us but very convincing to them, as to why
they think they do. But we tend to make our own views the absolute
In short, without
magnanimity, we become rigid, short-sighted and narrow-minded, unable
to go through the humane process of analyzing and clarifying issues.
Obviously, it would be difficult for us to be tactful and courteous in
the discussions and argumentations.
Let’s be sport and
magnanimous. We should think well of the others no matter how
different and even in conflict our views may be. The ideal is that
while we can have different and even conflicting views, we manage to
be friendly to everyone. We would have no enemies.
We should focus more on what
is essential rather than on the incidentals. And if the discussion
centers more on what is essential and what is incidental, then we
should proceed with extreme caution and prudence, knowing to choose
the right words and the right timing.
We need to have a firm grip
on our feelings and passions. That’s why we should make part of system
the practice of self-discipline. We cannot overemphasize this. A
person who may be bright and articulate but lacks self-discipline
would be a pure pain in the neck.
There are times when that
self-discipline expresses itself in just absorbing all the dirt that
can be thrown to us without reacting immediately. Self-discipline
enables us to see things in a much wider perspective, and equips us
with the skill to know when to wait and when to move, when to speak
and when to keep quiet.
Let’s take advantage of the
little daily opportunities to practice and grow in magnanimity in our
dealings with people.
Walking and Talking Peace”
A press statement by the
National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)
May 8, 2013
From the beginning, the
National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), has been
praying for and supporting the peace negotiations. We celebrated every
step forward both parties made. We were disappointed each time peace
negotiations were suspended or fell into an impasse. But, we never
lost hope. Our statement in November 13, 2002, affirmed this prayerful
support saying “it is better to talk peace rather than engage in war”.
The NCCP supports the principled negotiations to thresh out the
issues, unearth and address the root causes of the conflict. The peace
negotiation is a way to just and lasting peace. It is a way to end the
armed conflict that has claimed the lives of thousands of Filipinos,
combatants and non-combatants alike.
The NCCP is very much concerned over the recent statements of the
Chairperson of the Philippine government panel, Atty. Alex Padilla of
the “collapse” of the peace talks between the Government and the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). From our
perspective, a government instituted for the peace and welfare of the
people, should be the last to give up on any measure intended for a
just and lasting peace. The NCCP recognizes the frustrations arising
from the interruptions and we hold no illusion that the process is
easy. But we know that obstacles are surmountable. The peace
negotiation is itself our example. The statement of Atty. Padilla that
“nothing happened in the last 27 years” fails to take into account of
the achievements of the peace negotiations.
Most assuredly, the people have long awaited the current segment of
the peace negotiations. On top of its agenda is the second one – a
comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms. Beyond doubt, this
agenda is the most essential of the substantive agenda agreed on by
both parties in The Hague Joint Declaration. A comprehensive agreement
on socio-economic reforms is a major breakthrough in addressing the
issue why there is an armed conflict in the first place. We hope the
statement that the peace negotiations collapsed is not an indication
of a refusal to address the fundamental issue that has fostered
unpeace and injustice in our country for a long time.
The NCCP holds that the approach taken by both panels from the start
of the peace negotiations was painstaking but worth holding on to.
These are mutually agreed principles which when complied with
faithfully by both parties, can propel our country to what we all long
for – Shalom upon our land. This approach, we maintain, leads to
We urge both parties to hold on to mutually agreed processes and
persevere in talking and walking peace. Beyond the exigencies of the
present is our serious accountability to future generations. Their
welfare cannot be ensured by calling for the elimination of Filipinos
who dissent with government on principled grounds. Rather, it is for
government to take leadership that future generations will not “learn
of war anymore”.
Even as we make this appeal, we likewise call on the churches, faith
communities and the general public to pray and support the resumption
of the formal peace talks. Just and lasting peace is our collective
legacy to those after us. We have everything to gain especially if the
panels of both parties are resolute in ushering in the peace of God,
which may be beyond our understanding but which we can experience when
there is justice.
Let us, everyone, unite our voices and efforts for the common good and
“because everyone will work for justice, there will be peace and
security forever”. (Isaiah 32:17)
JUAN L. MERCADO, email@example.com
April 28, 2013
It’s dolled up as “permit to
campaign”. In remote Northern Luzon outposts or Mindanao backwaters,
candidates cough up cash for a clearance, from armed groups, before
they pitch for votes.
“”The permit is exchanged
for a cash “contribution” to the kilusan (movement),” wrote Inquirer’s
Randy David.“ “(That’s) a cryptic reference to… the Communist Party
and New People’s Army…But some may be no more than extortionists,
posing as revolutionaries…”.
NPA North Central Mindanao
Regional Command spokesman apologized for their attack on 78-year old
Gingoog Mayor Ruth de Lara-Guingona and companions. Self defense, he
claimed, and repeated warnings against armed escorts. “There’s no
mention of the permit-to-campaign fee”, David writes. “But…that is
what this is about.”
The assault came at an NPA
roadblock collecting “revolutionary taxes”, Inquirer’s Conrad de
Quiros wrote. Fine, if you accept NPA has every right to mount
checkpoints to fleece candidates. “The NPA calls it tax, everybody
else calls it extortion”.
There is only one government
and one president, (former Vice President and Foreign Secretary)
Teofisto Guingiona said. “That’s not the NPA”. Understandably, TG is
unforgiving of the NPA. Laudably, he looks beyond retribution. “It is
only when we have a genuine peace agreement that we can move forward.”
Peace talks resumed in
Norway 2011 – six years after they broke down. The Oslo negotiations
aim at ending the “longest-running Maoist insurgency in the world.”
Diana Rodriguez and Soliman M. Santos, Jr wrote in their 2010 book
“Primed and Purposeful.”
Armed clashes, across almost
five decades left 4,745 killed and injured 1,534, incomplete tallies
claim. Most were civilians. And 1.2 million became refugees. Bogged
down in strategic defense of it’s ‘protracted people’s war’, the Reds
never achieved a “great leap forward” of mass adherents, Rodriguez and
Will events on the ground
outpace the Oslo initiative?
NPA still reels from
paranoid purges of the late 80s. Over 1,400 were slaughtered, from
‘Cadena de Amor', in Bicol-Quezon zone, in 1982 to “Olympia” in Metro
Manila in 1989. A “Cannibal Revolution” devoured its own children,
noted Inquirer (Jan. 2, 2004) “Remains of comrades” killed without
pretense of trials molder today in unmarked graves, reminiscent of
Cambodia's “killing fields”.
Some NPA executioners today
are button-down executives in Metro Manila offices. “The Party already
condemned the abuses,” wrote Anne Buenaventura of the party's
information bureau to Inquirer. But it shredded names of the victims
and location of their graves.
From it’s peak in the 1980s,
CPP ‘withered and splintered”, Australian National University’s
Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet wrote in “Philippine Human Development
Report”. Weakened by internal pogroms, an CPP evaluation confirms
Mindanao’s communism party
building was notably weak. Communist ideology is part of leaders’
vocabulary. But even among students, analytical sophistication and
ideological understanding was inadequate. Cadre training was limited,
Lack of ideological cohesion
and policy disagreements, after “People Power” toppled the Marcos
dictatorship, “contributed to splits and splits-within-splits” in the
CPP into the 2000s. That trigged clones of Luzon pogroms. Hundreds
died and chaos rocked the party.
Studies in Mindanao, Negros,
Nueve Ecija or Cordillera show a large majority of guerrillas and
supporters have neither been CPP members, believers in communism nor
seekers of a communist run state.
“Their framework in most NPA
areas is systematic oppression of the many by a few in Philippine
society. And they speak in terms of “no rich and no poor”, rights to
land and decent human living conditions.
“In recent years, some
analysts find that the guerrilla organization has become a kind of
business enterprise. (It) sells protection in exchange for money and
other compensation. Customers include corporations, gambling and drug
syndicates, government agencies and large landowners…
"Some NPAs are akin to
employees who receive monthly wages. Local NPA leaders (resemble)
branch managers. And high NPA officials are the enterprise’s central
managers and board members.” Kerkvliet urges further studies into this
corrosion. But there is hard and repeated evidence of cash for permits
make up a constituency for peace, PulseAsia says. Out of every 100
respondents, 35 cited “peace in the country as an urgent national
concern. That ranked up there, with inflation (45%) and graft (36%).
Time and history have moved
on. Communism as an ideology has collapsed. “It is glorious to be
rich,” Den Ziao Peng said. Rebel leaders Jose Maria Sison and Luis
Jalandoni (a Dutch citizen) are in their late 70s. They wage
“revolution” by fax, then Internet, now by twitter and Facebook from
Their contact, let alone
control over NPA units in backwaters here, are tenuous at best. Few
NPA units would carry their signatures on “permits to campaign”.
JoMa’s ill-disguised bid is to sit down with President Aquno, one on
one, as MILF leader Mohagher Iqbal did. This is illusion at it’s most
“In Europe, only two
communists are left,” the late Indonesian editor Sumono Mustoffa mused
over coffee. “Both are Filipinos.”
Is the Church in
ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
April 16, 2013
To give a quick, blunt
reply, the Church has always been in crisis. That’s its character, it
goes with the territory, since it has to deal with all kinds of
people, some brilliant and faithful, others not so, etc. That it
appears in crisis today is no breaking news.
I suspect that the question
is raised today because of that survey that reportedly showed
dwindling numbers of churchgoers. But I consider that question moot
and academic, with hardly any practical use other than to provoke or
embarrass some people.
Ok, there is some supposedly
serious reason why such decline is happening. But that’s precisely the
reason why the Church continues to be in some trouble. Even with
Christ, there already was severe crisis. He had Judas and some Jews
pestering him. He was crucified, remember, for carrying out his
After him with the Church
established, the crisis has not stopped but continues to fester under
different forms and ways and in different circumstances. The problem
the Church has to contend up to the end of time will be lack of faith
and everything that follows it.
Try imagining persuading
people about a supernaturally mysterious God, about spiritual and
supernatural realities like faith, hope and charity, God becomes man
who is Christ, the role of the Holy Spirit, the nature and mission of
the Church, etc.
To top it all, try imagining
making people understand about our weakened human condition, the
reality of the devil, sin and temptations, and the need for abiding
ascetical struggle, the development of virtues, the recourse to the
But remember Christ and his
apostles. Many times, Christ had to scold his apostles for their lack
of faith even in the face of the obvious. Such will be our
predicament. We just have to learn to live with it, and continue to do
something about it, always with the help of grace. It’s an exciting
life, what we have.
The survey, I suspect, was
clearly politically motivated. It came out all of a sudden. I’ll see
if I have enough motive to bother to check who were behind it. It was
meant to be like the North Korean threat, to pressure the Church to
bend to the preferences of some politicians.
Remember that we are in an
election campaign season, and the RH issue is kind of hot. Even some
clerics put themselves at odds with the official Church stand on it
and are twitting and facebooking their questionable views among which
is precisely the claim that with the Church position on RH, many
people are deserting the churches.
Critics of the Church will
always exhume past scandals, slamming it with the current ones and
even inventing some, to support their claim. Well, we are in this
imperfect world. Nothing is new. We just have to try our best to be
hopeful and do whatever we can to spread the truth in charity and
As to the survey result that
many are deserting the Church, many of my friends echo the same
observation that I have. The churches here in the country are filled
with people. More Masses are scheduled. The churches have to be
expanded. And during big feasts, one has to be blind not to see the
tremendous popular piety flooding even the streets.
That there are many
imperfections in this public display of piety should not surprise us.
We just have to look at our individual selves and see how even with
our best efforts we are still short of what we ourselves consider to
be the ideal Christian life.
And try to extrapolate this
situation to the whole of society, and, thus, we should not be
surprised to see the many gaping imperfections around. But it would be
wrong to stop there. What we have to do is to continue with the effort
to improve in all aspects and in all levels of Christian life.
Christian life is a matter
of faith, hope and charity put into action. It’s not just something to
be desired and professed. And we are given all the means so we can
truly live it.
It can be both easy and
difficult, depending on how we look at it. It’s easy because God is
behind it. Difficult, because there are truly tremendous challenges
involved plus our weaknesses and temptations and the complications we
At the moment, we have to
figure out how to go about untangling those under the spell of
atheism, agnosticism, relativism, etc. These are the ones deserting