cooperate with ICC in line with international obligations
A Statement by the Asian
Human Rights Commission
February 13, 2018
On 8 February 2018, Fatou
Bensoula, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at
the Hague announced her decision “to open a preliminary examination”
into the Philippine government’s war on drugs, which ‘potentially
falls within the Court’s jurisdiction’ (read full text of her speech
here). The Republic of the Philippines is State party to the Rome
Statute, which established the ICC to investigate international
crimes, since 2011.
The Asian Human Rights
Commission (AHRC) welcomes Prosecutor Bensoula’s decision to
“analyse crimes allegedly committed in the context of the war on
drugs”. Her “preliminary examination” could provide a platform to
initiate an impartial and independent inquiry into allegations of
extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals, drug dealers and
addicts in the context of war on drugs. Bensoula has stated that
this preliminary examination is not an investigation, but a “process
of examining the information available” to ascertain if “there is a
reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation”. In other words,
it is the equivalent of an investigation by a public prosecutor with
the mandate to determine whether or not there is “probable cause”
that a crime has been committed.
It is of concern however,
that President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, has
described the ICC’s decision as “a waste of the court’s time and
resources”. If the Philippine government is committed to clearing
its name and ending allegations of extrajudicial killings, it should
fully cooperate with the ICC. Roque’s remark is not helpful as it
undermines the international human rights mechanism, which the
Philippines has a duty and obligation to support.
Bensoula has said that the ICC’s examination still acknowledges the
national jurisdiction’s primary responsibility to investigate and
prosecute those responsible for international crimes, it must be
asked whether an impartial and independent investigation is possible
in the Philippines. It is already widely reported that President
Duterte has openly intimidated the Supreme Court, the Commission on
Human Rights and the Office of the Ombudsman. The Department of
Justice, the agency with power to prosecute, has openly defended
President Duterte’s war on drugs, and denies there were
extrajudicial killings. It is under these circumstances, with the
repressive political climate and the politicization of ordinary
criminal procedures, that intervention by international human rights
bodies seem to be necessary.
The AHRC has already
observed that even if there are national investigations and
prosecutions, as in the case of teenager Kian delos Santos, who was
last seen alive on CCTV on 16 August 2017 being taken by policemen
in Caloocan, they can occur only after strong local and
international condemnation. But what about the cases in which the
arrest and killings were never captured by CCTV? To clear the
government of its alleged involvement, either through the direct
actions of the security forces, or through actively endorsing the
killing of criminals so President Duterte could fulfill his election
promise, it is imperative that the government fully cooperates with
the ICC. The ICC should be allowed to examine allegations to
determine whether or not the government has criminal liability.
The Philippine government,
as party to ICC and numerous international covenants on the
protection of human rights, should demonstrate its full commitment
to the international human rights system. Any remarks that go
against the intention of the ICC will only indicate that the
government is either unwilling or incapable of conducting an
impartial and effective investigation and prosecution of
constitutional change ignores protection of rights
A Statement by the Asian
Human Rights Commission
February 6, 2018
As widely reported, the
Philippines House of Representatives (Congress), the country’s
legislative body, is lobbying to change the political system by
amending the 1987 Constitution. President Rodrigo Duterte’s
political allies in Congress are proposing to change from a
presidential form of government, to a federal one. The main reasons
given for this are twofold: first, to devolve power to local
government; second, a federal state would allow equal distribution
of wealth among local government units.
According to the
proponents of federalism, their constituencies have been neglected
by “Imperial Manila”. This supposed governmental neglect and unequal
distribution of resources by the national government is being blamed
for poor performance. This argument is not entirely accurate, as a
Local Government Code empowering local government units already
exists. As former chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. had said, to
amend the distribution of resources from the national government
does not require amending the Constitution, only the Local
The Asian Human Rights
Commission (AHRC) is thus curious as to why President Rodrigo
Duterte’s political allies are so bent on changing the 1987
Constitution within his term. The 1987 Constitution contains the
aspirations of the Filipino people in reaction to the Marcos
dictatorship: notably the Bill of Rights, and provisions on social
justice. Ignored by Marcos, these were inscribed and explicitly
written down afterward. It is unfortunate that over three decades
after Marcos’ dictatorship ended, these aspirations are yet to be
realized. In fact, the current debate on the proposed constitutional
change is silent on constitutional rights. Moreover, the
institutions built to protect these aspirations are being
The Commission on Human
Rights (CHR) and the Office of the Ombudsman, two independent
constitutional bodies created by the 1987 Constitution, have
recently been targeted by President Duterte’s political allies in
Congress. The Congress attempted to deprived the CHR of its
operational budget by funding it only P1,000 pesos. Had it not been
for the protests against it, the lawmakers would not have
reconsidered the funding. Since assuming office, CHR chairperson
Jose Luis Martin Gascon has been a target of President Duterte’s
harsh critics, for standing in his way on the drug war. Meanwhile,
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales recently locked horns with
President Duterte as she refused to implement his order suspending
her Overall Deputy Ombudsman, Melchor Arthur Carandang. He
reportedly leaked the bank transactions of Duterte and his family
without their consent.
Whether or not President
Duterte’s allies will succeed in their plan to change the political
system from a presidential to federal one, the current debate
excludes any discussion on how constitutional rights should be
protected. This is hardly surprising, given President Duterte’s
rejection of human rights as values, and his intimidation of
institutions that check abuses. The current administration and its
political allies have no thoughts of protecting the constitutional
rights of their constituencies. This can only worsen in a federal
state, with local bosses lording over their constituents in complete
disregard of their rights.
Any debate on
constitutional change must include discussion on the protection of
constitutional rights. Where are Filipinos to turn to seek
protection for their yet to be fulfilled aspirations? Those
proposing amendments to the constitution owe an explanation to the
people they intend to rule in a federal state. Those who oppose
constitutional amendments, also owe it to the Filipino people, to
discuss what it means to overhaul the Constitution without any
dialogue on the protection of constitutional rights. The pain,
suffering, insights, and aspirations of those who suffered the
dictatorship must be taken into account in any political change.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 4, 2018
HELL, of course, is one of
the eternal last things, together with death, judgment and heaven,
which we are encouraged to consider every so often, if only to
derive some appropriate resolutions as to how we ought to live our
life here in this world.
The considerations of the
so-called last things would give us a global picture of things that
should guide us better in our choices and decisions. Let’s hope that
we understand this point well and take it to heart and to practice.
With respect to hell,
however, we have to understand that it truly exists in spite of all
the goodness and mercy of God. It is the place, or better said, the
eternal state of those who are all-out against God, their opposition
to God not only incidental but formal.
But we need to talk about
hell with great delicacy. It is not meant to scare us, to bully us
to behave properly, although some fear would be good for us. But it
should be a fear that is out of love of God, not simply because of
the punishment. We should be driven by filial fear, not servile
God must have thought of
hell when he decided to create. And that’s simply because there is
nothing that exists that was not thought of by God from all
eternity. Otherwise, God would not be God. Just the same, God
decided to create in spite of that possibility because he also knows
that good will in the end triumph. God, in his own wisdom and ways,
will always have the last word.
Hell came to be because of
some angels who chose to be by themselves instead of being with God.
Being pure spirits, their choice is instantaneous and has eternal
effects. When they are good by choosing God, they would really be
good always. And when they are bad by rejecting God, they would
really be very bad always. There’s no state of in-between in them.
They are either very good or very bad.
With us, since we are body
and soul, our choices are always conditioned by many factors. In
fact, as long as we live, our final choice, either to be with God or
to be by ourselves simply, is always a work in progress.
The choices that we make
in life should always be viewed in this context of being
conditioned. That’s why even if we make a bad or sinful choice,
there is still hope because we can still correct it. And we should
not forget the all-powerful and abiding mercy of God. Remember St.
Paul saying, “Where sin has abounded, God’s mercy has abounded even
more.” (Rom 5,20)
Besides, we really cannot
deny the fact that our proneness to sin is such that it will need
only God’s grace to combat it. We do our part, but we know our
efforts would not be enough. St. Paul dramatized this when he said:
“I delight in the law of
God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war
with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin
which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver
me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ
our Lord!” (Rom 7,22-25)
Before God, we are like
little children who try to behave well but who cannot avoid bumbling
down. The consideration of hell is not meant simply to scare us, but
to encourage us to go always to God.
PMPI statement on
the appointment of charter change consultative committee
January 26, 2018
On January 25, President
Rodrigo Duterte finally named 19 out of the 25 members of the
Charter Change Consultative Committee on amending the 1987
constitution, after several months of the committee’s establishment.
We, the Philippine
Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI), a network of NGOs,
religious/church-based organizations, and people’s organization,
welcomes this new development. Finally, and soon we will stop
groping in the dark; there will be concrete and real proposals for
charter change that we can discuss and reflect on. This is also
positive as it gives us a glimpse of the character of the group that
was given the huge responsibility to re-write our current
constitution, fashioned to strengthen democracy and social justice,
and prevent a dictatorship to ever happen again.
The changing of the new
constitution is touted and being framed by the current government as
a way to usher the development that the 1987 constitution allegedly
failed to effect.
While we believe that
there are sections in the current constitution that needed updating,
we do not agree in fast-tracking the process of changing the
constitution within 6 months as per instruction from the President.
We are deeply concerned of its effects as failures and instability
in governance from the past continue to plague our nation.
The constitution is the
heart of any government and of any institution for that matter. It
is the fundamental law that governs and prescribes the life of a
people. Thus, there should be a recognition that changing the
constitution would require that every citizens’ concerns, every
epoch’s milestone, and every historical experiences are considered
and studied thoroughly.
Every Filipino needs to
know the following:
- What is the current
national situation that warrants a change in the constitution?
- Is the current political
condition a good environment to carry out this process?
- Is constitutional change
the ONLY way to address the identified current national situation?
Have we exhausted all options that will bring the same change we
- Is 6 months enough to
disseminate information, carryout conversations, and install
mechanisms that will ensure that transparency and accountability in
the process of constitutional change?
- Is the Constitutional
Assembly the best form to change the current constitution? Is the
composition of the current congress carry the aspirations of the
majority of people?
- How is the common
Filipino being engaged and informed on the change issues that will
affect his/her future?
conversation should be encouraged for every Filipino to understand
the context of the proposed processes, thereby owning it.
We call on the government
not to take the charter change process in haste. We urge the
government to involve various stakeholders from different sectors of
society in crafting the needed change in the constitution and take
part in policy making.
The participation of
various sectors will ensure that these changes in the constitution
meet expectations for equal rights, effective delivery of resources,
protection of lands and indigenous territories, provision of social
services, stop political dynasty and corruption with respect to the
rule of law.
We reject the
Constitutional Assembly as a way to change the constitution. We do
not trust that the current lower house will represent the genuine
voice of the people by the way they have repeatedly conducted
themselves in addressing social issues since the assumption to power
of President Duterte.
We say NO TO CHARTER
CHANGE IN HASTE. We say NO TO CON-ASS.
great treasure in the Sto. Niño
January 13, 2018
WE really have to be most
thankful that even up to now we as a people still have a great
devotion to the Sto. Niño. Instead of waning through the years, this
popular piety we have toward the Child Jesus has grown.
Yes, there are still
things that should be made right and purified, (I suppose we will
never run out of them), but we cannot deny that this devotion has
helped us greatly in a world and in times that are increasingly
secularized and paganised. Think of the many so-called liberal
people in the world who have considered faith, religion and piety as
Thanks to God the image of
Christ as both a child and king has truly so captured the Filipino
heart (especially the Cebuano heart) that whatever situation we may
find ourselves in, whether good or bad humanly speaking, we still
keep our Christian faith and try our best to live by it.
Let’s hope that this
devotion continues to develop and to spread more widely, especially
among the young ones who are most vulnerable to the faith-killing
and piety-numbing ways of the world today. In this, we have to use
both the human and supernatural means of prayer and sacrifice, and
to involve as many people and institutions as possible.
That the Sto. Niño is both
child and king somehow reminds us that we need to be like a child to
attain our ultimate kingly goal of human maturity and Christian
perfection. As we grow older, more exposed to the world and gaining
a lot of experience, we need to be more like a child, deepening and
enriching our spiritual childhood in Christ.
Let’s always remember what
Christ himself said: “Unless you change and become like little
children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18,3)
Yes, children and heaven
are almost synonymous to each other. No wonder we feel like we are
in heaven every time we see children around. Every time a baby is
born, we are very happy because we somehow know that he just did not
come out of his mother’s womb, but rather from the very hands of God
who created him before the parents procreated him.
In spite of the many
limitations of children, what makes them always desirable is their
pure, innocent heart, incapable of malice, ambition, pride and
haughtiness. They are a source of many other good things.
Their heart is always
trusting in the Lord always, just like a little kid is always
confident with his father. Faith and hope easily grow and acquire
strength when nurtured in a child's heart. It's this attitude that
leads them to go on and move on no matter what, for life to them
could only be an adventure of discoveries.
It's this kind of heart
that makes them transparent, sincere and simple, not afraid to be
known as they truly are. They may still lack the subtlety of
prudence and discretion, and be prone to spontaneity, but they
hardly mind these deficiencies.
They are only interested
in doing what they think is good and enjoyable. Suggestions and
corrections do not humiliate them. Rather, they welcome these
suggestions and corrections.
Children are humble,
teachable, flexible and docile. You can tell them anything, and they
always tend to believe and obey. Attainments, achievements and
successes do not spoil them. Neither do difficulties, temptations
and failures crush them and plunge them to sadness or bitterness.
They are easy to motivate,
to be consoled, to be optimistic. Falls and mistakes are easily
forgotten. They only leave a mark that becomes a source of precious
lessons for them to learn. They are quick to heal when wounded.
Christmas Message by the Asian Human Rights Commission
December 23, 2017
Thinking purely in
symbolic terms, Christmas celebrates a fascinating event. Jesus was
born in a cattle shed. This was where sheep slept. From a power
point of view, it was so completely different from the way other
religious or political leaders are presented to the world. Links to
royalty or nobility, or at least some affluence, and education, were
considered qualities of leaders. But here, none of those symbols of
power was present.
From the point of view of
value systems, this symbolic birth presents very different
appreciation of values than what we see in many other models. A
human being is born the midst of cattle. Human beings are part of
nature, and that is more important than any symbols of status and
This is a message that has
been largely lost. Perhaps, at the heart of the moral crisis in the
world is this problem of being unable to consider that human beings
are a part of nature. As St Francis wanted, genuine relationships
should be established with ‘Brother Sheep and Sister Bees’.
This symbolism is even
more important for the new world, which began with the first testing
of the atom bomb in New Mexico in 1941, a test which was nicknamed,
quite inappropriately, Trinity. The success of the explosion that
happened on that day posed a moral crisis which baffled the most
talented scientists, and changed their own views on their
achievements. Robert Oppenheimer and, later, his counterparts in
other countries, like the Russian Andrei Sakharov and others like
them, all lived to regret what they initially thought was the
highest achievement of their lives. The plea to end this experiment
was their final message.
The dilemmas posed on that
day by Trinity remain not only unresolved, but appear to be
unresolvable. The creative capacity of human beings resulted in a
situation where they became their own annihilators.
In terms of political
civilization, this “achievement” of Trinity also posed the greatest
threat to liberal democracy itself. The value of the political was
diminished, creating a higher place for those who manage security
apparatuses. This is now reflected everywhere, including those
places that were considered the most developed democracies in the
Now, on the one hand,
security agencies, including intelligence agencies, have truly
become the final arbiters of human destinies. On the other hand,
this has become an unacceptable situation for everyone, including
the persons in these agencies. Yet there is no way out to be seen.
Human intelligence is trapped within this great contradiction.
In creating the atom bomb,
the argument in the United States was that this was essential in
order to save western civilization. However, the achievement of the
dream has posed not only a threat to western civilization, but to
human civilization as a whole. Yet, to those who are most powerful
in the world, the crisis of human civilization as a whole has not
been taken as seriously as it should be.
The Christmas symbolism
must be treated a powerful reminder of humanity’s link to the
totality of the world. That realization should transcend all
considerations of wealth and power. This is no longer a sentimental
aspiration. The practical survival of the world depends on the
capacity to bring back the natural link between human beings and the
rest of creation. This has become the challenge of ‘to be or not to
be’ for everyone.
expecting any return
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
December 16, 2017
THIS is how we should give
if we want to follow the example of Christ. We have to give to
others not only things but also our own selves without expecting any
recognition nor any reward.
This was clearly taught by
Christ when he said that when we hold a banquet, we should not
invite those who can invite us in return, but rather those – “the
poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” – who are unable to invite
us in return. (cfr Lk 14,12-14)
“Blessed indeed will you
be because of their inability to repay you,” he said, “for you will
be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (cfr Lk 14,12-14)
Let’s always keep these words of Christ that assure us of what we
are going to receive in heaven if we are generous with others here
We have to make an effort,
always asking, of course, for the grace of God first of all, so that
we can learn to assume this attitude with respect to our
self-giving. In the end, this will make us to be like Christ who
gave himself totally to us, including giving his life for our sins.
Let’s remember what he
told his disciples: “Freely you have received, freely you have to
give.” (Mt 10,8) Gratuitousness should characterize our self-giving
to God and to others, just as gratuitousness characterizes God’s
love for us. Such gratuitousness will gain us much more than what we
In this regard, we have to
do some continuing battle against our unavoidable tendency to be
calculating in our self-giving. Not only do we have to contend with
our personal weaknesses in this regard. We also have to contend with
a tremendous cultural environment, so prevalent these days, that not
only is not conducive to this attitude of Christian generosity but
is also hostile to it.
We constantly have to
rectify our intentions when we have to give to others – be it
things, a service, or matter of attention and affection. This is
especially so when our giving is for God. Let’s never forget that
God cannot be outdone in generosity.
Remember that episode of
the couple Ananias and Sapphira as recorded in the Acts of the
Apostles. (cfr 5,1-11) They sold a piece of property, but instead of
giving the whole proceeds to the apostles, they gave only a part and
kept the rest, lying to the Holy Spirit in the process. For this,
they met sudden death.
We should see to it that
our gestures of self-giving is whole-hearted and is inspired by true
love that can only come from the love of God for us. We have to
avoid playing games in this regard, for God knows everything and
would deal with us the way we deserve.
We have to learn to be
truly generous, neither counting the cost nor expecting any return.
This obviously is not easy to do, given our wounded human condition.
But if we always go to Christ to get inspired by his example and to
ask for his grace, we can do it. The impossible becomes possible!
Everyday, we have to find
opportunities to practice and grow in this virtue of generosity,
always aware that Christ is always with us and is showing us the way
and how to behave and react to any situation we find ourselves in.
So when we find ourselves
in some difficulties or are hounded by temptations, let’s never
delay in going immediately to him to ask for help and guidance.
Mary of the
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
December 4, 2017
WE once again celebrate
this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin
Mary on December 8, a holy day of obligation in our country. With it
we are reminded of the great privilege given to one of us, Mary of
Nazareth, who was chosen many centuries ago to be the mother of the
Son of God who had to become man to save us and to bring us back to
God, our Father.
With this celebration, we
are told that Mary was conceived without original sin. This is how
the Eucharistic preface of the solemnity explains the reason why.
“For you (referring to God
the Father) preserved the Most Blessed Virgin Mary from all stain of
original sin, so that in her, endowed with the rich fullness of your
grace, you might prepare a worthy Mother for your Son and signify
the beginning of the Church, his beautiful Bride without spot or
The Eucharistic preface
continues: “She, the most pure Virgin, was to bring forth a Son, the
innocent Lamb who would wipe away our offenses; you placed her above
all others to be for your people an advocate of grace and a model of
It’s good that we go
through these words, this prayer, slowly if only to savor the
tremendous, awesome truth of faith that should richly nourish our
souls and inspire us to pursue holiness wholeheartedly no matter
This truth about Mary in
relation to us should fill us with joy and a great sense of
confidence that what seems to us to be impossible to reach and
attain can indeed be achieved.
We may not have the
privilege that Mary had of being conceived sinless and remaining
sinless all throughout our life, but it’s good to look at Mary, now
our Mother as given to us by Christ himself, so we can be inspired
and consoled to pursue holiness in our vale of tears here on earth.
To be sure, Mary, though
conceived without sin and sinless all throughout her life, was
exposed to all the temptations and the sins of men, because she was
and continues to be most close and most identified with her Son who
bore all the sins of men.
Her sinlessness was not
one of a blissful ignorance of the reality of sin. Her closeness and
complete identification with her Son made her know the very core of
evil and sin in the world. But like her Son too, she knew how to
handle all those. And that is by suffering the way Christ suffered
for our sins. That’s why she’s referred to also the Mother of
It’s true that she was not
crucified the way Christ was crucified. But her suffering perfectly
mirrored the extreme suffering of her Son. In fact, we can consider
her suffering a very heroic since it was experienced in a quiet and
While all of us who try to
follow Christ can be regarded as co-redeemers with Christ in the
sense that we also have to suffer, die and resurrect with Christ,
Mary can be described as the co-redemptrix par excellence.
Deepening our devotion to
Mary of the Immaculate Conception can only help us to effectively
handle the reality of evil and sin in this world as we pursue the
real and ultimate purpose of our life. And that is to be holy as our
heavenly Father is holy.
Deepening our Marian
devotion should be a task that we carry out daily. We lose nothing.
Rather we have everything to gain!
We always need
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
December 2, 2017
MAKE no mistake about it.
We always need God’s grace. On our own, we can only do evil.
Whatever good we think we can do without God’s grace is only
apparent. Sooner or later, that good will have no other fate but to
degenerate into something evil.
Actually, God’s grace – at
least what is known as the actual grace – is always available. But
we need to be aware of it by constantly asking for it so that our
actuations will always be according to God’s will and ways even as
they are also according to ours.
Let’s always remember that
our life is always a life with God. Considering that we have been
created in God’s image and likeness and are children of his,
everything in our life is infused with God’s spirit which we have to
learn to be aware of and to correspond to as best as we can.
Christ affirmed this truth
when he said he is the vine and we are the branches. “If you remain
in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can
do nothing.” (Jn 15,5)
We have to overcome our
strong tendency to think that we can be just on our own, wrongly
thinking that this is how we exercise our freedom. Our freedom can
only be true freedom when it is exercised with God who is its
source, its power and its end.
The autonomy that we enjoy
in this life, especially in our temporal affairs where we are
legitimately allowed to have different views and opinions, should
never be understood as being totally independent of God such that we
can even go against God’s will.
Without corresponding to
God’s grace, we are bound to misuse our human powers. If our first
parents, still in their state of original justice, managed to sin
because in a moment they lapsed into forgetting God and following
the suggestion of the devil, how much more us who have been born
already with the handicap of the original sin.
Without corresponding to
God’s grace, the use of our human powers will be distorted and will
just convert into all kinds of isms. Our intellectual activity, for
example, will fall into intellectualism, the exercise of our will
into voluntarism, the joy of our sentiments into sentimentalism.
These human powers become easy prey to the wiles of our wounded
flesh, the deceptive charms of the world, and the tricks of the
Our will, for example,
which is what enables us to be the image and likeness of God and is
therefore our most powerful human faculty, can be misused such that
instead of becoming like God, we can choose to become like the
For us to correspond
properly to God’s grace, we need to be always humble, always feeling
the need to be in his presence and to know his will in an abiding
manner. May it be that no moment passes without being with God and
interacting with him.
We have to regularly
examine ourselves to see how we can plug the hole that takes us away
from God’s presence. This hole usually takes the form of the pride
that we can derive from enjoying our God-given endowments. Instead
of thanking God for them and using them for God’s purposes, we
simply enjoy them on our own, using them entirely according to our
will and designs.
May we always be desirous
of God’s grace!
“Keep the doors
of the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks open”
A Statement of the
Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform on the GRP-NDFP peace talks
November 24, 2017
The Philippine Ecumenical
Peace Platform (PEPP) is saddened over the government’s
“cancellation of all planned meetings” and its pronouncement that
“there will be no peace negotiations” with the National Democratic
Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The official statement by Sec.
Jesus Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace
Process (OPAPP) states that the decision was “in line with President
Duterte’s directive that there will be no more peace talks with
them”. The reason stated for the cancellation was due to “…recent
tragic and violent incidents” committed by the rebels. The PEPP
believes that this cancellation of peace negotiations is equally
tragic, if not more.
As church people, we find
nothing more tragic than the refusal of warring parties to continue
to open the doors for dialogue that can result to further escalation
of violence. President Rodrigo Duterte stated that he does not want
talk to the NDFP especially after an ambush by the New People’s Army
(NPA) has resulted in the death of an infant. The NDFP on the other
hand have accused the military of attacking communities suspected of
supporting the NPA. The war is intensifying, and it can only get
We have always maintained
that outstanding and delicate issues should be resolved through
principled dialogue over the negotiating table. Both the Government
of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP have made
pronouncements that great strides towards peace have been made in
the several formal rounds of talks between the two parties under the
Duterte Administration and facilitated by the Royal Norwegian
Government (RNG). These positive results from the talks should be
pursued and not abandoned. The roots of the armed conflict should be
addressed and this could be achieved through the negotiations.
Furthermore, both parties
have already signed agreements that will address incidents of
violence. The Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights
and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the supplementary
agreement to revive and strengthen the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC)
is a feasible instrument to use in times like these. Both parties
have also shown a sincere willingness to resolve this conflict that
has been ongoing for close to 50 years through peace talks. There
were already advances in the negotiations for the Comprehensive
Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and a possible
bilateral ceasefire agreement.
We call on both the GRP
and the NDFP to stay the course and resume the peace talks, for a
better “...future awaits those who seek peace” (Psalms 37:37). It is
in this spirit that we also appeal to the government to reconsider
its plan to categorize the NPA as a terrorist organization as this
will incite more violence and virtually close the door to the peace
We enjoin all peace-loving
Filipinos to continually pray and tirelessly work for peace. May the
blessing of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, who came into the
world as a vulnerable child, remind us that our calling as
Christians is to pursue peace both in our individual lives and in
the life of the nation.
November 24, 2017
It is a sad reality that
the world is undergoing a very quick moral decadence. The loss of
the sense of sin is probably one of the worst calamities that have
befallen mankind. Urged by some force, man seems eager to return to
the chaos of paganism that was miraculously conquered by Christ.
Somehow connected to this
loss of the sense of sin, there seems to be a popular belief –
whether silently practiced or explicitly professed- that demands God
not to be mentioned, invoked, or remembered, in any place apart from
churches. This aggressive hostility towards God is sadly
accommodated by many baptized catholics. Secularism has been adapted
by numerous Christians who attend mass on Sundays and who seem to
forget the words of the Divine Redeemer, “Whoever is ashamed of me
and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in
his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels ( Lk
This dictatorship of the
enemies of Christ seems to laughably forget that the infinity of God
cannot be confined in the church yard.
There is no human action
from which God can exclude himself. Whether we believe it, like it
or not, God is present in all things; the reign of God encompasses
all things, all of man’s actions.
In this sense, the reign
of Christ our king should dominate all aspects of human life, human
actions- from the greatest of our endeavors, to the slightest use of
a toothpick. The reign of Christ then is totalitarian- not the
totalitarianism of tyranny but the totalitarianism of Love, Justice,
and Mercy. This totalitarian reign does not violently impose itself;
it lovingly invites all men to be subjected to it.
Men who have the privilege
of receiving the sacraments are rightly privileged to be subjected
to the gentle rule of Christ. It is therefore unbecoming of
catholics, soldiers of the Lord of the universe, to think that the
name of their king, Jesus Christ, can only be mentioned in the
Church, to think that God has no place beyond the parish parking
lot, that God cannot be remembered, mentioned, invoked in other
areas of human life. It is then unbecoming for the soldiers of
Christ to laugh at, accommodate, or tolerate blasphemies against
their Lord in any form. It is unacceptable for the sons of God,
soldiers of Christ to be the source of blasphemies, be they blunt or
discreet. It is unthinkable for a Christian to concede to secularism
or to anything that ignores or his hostile to Christ.
Christ cannot be king only
in our hearts- the world is enormous and we only give him this
handful of flesh?!- He has to be king in all aspects of our lives.
All human actions should be undertaken in his honor. All our
endeavors should contribute to the greater glory of God in the
salvation of souls.
Sons of the Church,
soldiers of Christ must then oppose, by all means, secularism. The
sons of Holy Mother Church must then vanquish this weapon, this tool
of the perfidious enemies of Christ who labor to return the world to
the chaos of paganism, to the chaos of sin. “The manifold evils in
the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust
Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no
place either in private affairs or in politics… and as long as
individuals and states refuse to submit to the rule of our Savior,
there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among
nations (Quas Primas, Pius XI, 1925).” Secularism will bring nothing
but confusion and discord. Men of God must oppose this notion even
to the shedding of their blood – as a witness to Christ their King.
The World, all things, all
men must be subjected to the kingship of our Lord and savior for
true order, peace and justice to remain. Christ must reign not only
in our hearts; “He must reign in our minds, which should assent with
perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the
doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey
the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which
should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and
cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our
members,which should serve as instruments for the interior
sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle
Paul, as instruments of justice unto God (Quas Primas, Pius XI,
The malice of the enemy,
of the devil could never be extinguished until the glorious coming.
The sons of the Church must then struggle against them, as long as
the Church stands- she will stand until the end of time-, as long as
the Judge of mankind has not returned to purge this world of evil.
Blessed then are these men for God shall reward them for their
unwavering resolve, they “shall flourish like the palm tree,shall
grow like a cedar of Lebanon” (Ps XCII, 13).
Arise, therefore, men of
God, Sons of the Church! Soldiers of Christ-whose reign will not
end, cuius regni non erit finis-, to arms in the name of your king!
Crush by the power of God, the enemies of Christ who labor to bring
these world to the chaos of sin. Bring this world into the loving
empire of Christ. Let Christ your king conquer, reign, and command-
Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat!
*Lance Patrick Enad y
Caballero (firstname.lastname@example.org), 18 is a Grade XII seminarian in
Pope John XXIII Seminary of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
The purpose of
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
November 21, 2017
WE really have to know why
the cross is essential and indispensable in our life. And by knowing
the purpose of the cross, we mean that we need to refer everything
in our life to the passion, death and resurrection of Christ where
the cross plays a crucial role.
Yes, that’s right. We need
to refer everything to the cross because that is how everything in
our life, whether good or bad, big or small, spiritual or material,
would find its true and ultimate meaning and purpose.
We need to know the
purpose of the cross because in the first place Christ himself said
that to follow him, we need not only to deny ourselves but also to
carry the cross daily. (cfr Lk 9,23)
Christ, who as the Son of
God and the perfect image that God has of himself, is the pattern of
our humanity since God created us in his image and likeness. As the
Son of God who became man, he is the redeemer and restorer of our
damaged humanity. That’s why he described himself as the way, the
truth and the life for us. (cfr Jn 14,6)
We need to know the
purpose of the cross because the cross, through Christ’s passion,
death and resurrection, is where everything in our life is resolved.
Christ’s passion, death and resurrection is the culmination of
Christ’s redemptive mission on earth.
Yes, Christ preached. He
performed miracles. But in the end, he had to offer his life on the
cross because no matter what he did, our sins are such that they
simply cannot be undone and forgiven through the preaching of the
truths of our faith and the tremendous effects of the miracles.
Christ has to offer his life on the cross!
We might ask, if Christ is
God, why did he have to go through all that suffering and death? Why
not just say, “Everything is now all right, guys.” As God, nothing
is impossible with him. With the movement of his will, with a flick
of his hand, everything would be as it should be.
I must say, it is a good
question to ask. Indeed, nothing is impossible with God. He does not
have to do anything spectacular to repair what was damaged. A word
from him, and everything would be as he wants it to be.
Be that as it may, the
fact is that Christ chose the way the Father wanted it. “Not my
will, but yours be done,” Christ said. (Lk 22,42) And I imagine the
reason behind this is because God respects our human nature as it
is, as it has been created by him, capable of loving and hating, and
also capable of being faithful and unfaithful and faithful again
after some conversion.
The return to fidelity,
given our nature, will unavoidably involve suffering and death which
Christ took to himself shows us the way of how to go about these
consequences of our sins.
That is why, it’s always
recommendable to meditate often on the passion, death and
resurrection of Christ, so we would learn to have some healthy
abhorrence against sin and temptations, as well as to develop the
capacity to suffer calmly with Christ to make up for our unavoidable
This is the purpose of the
cross in our life. It is to instill in us the proper attitude and
virtues with respect to our sin, before it is committed and also
after it is committed.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
November 17, 2017
WE need to learn to
distinguish between the two and to make the proper choice. Nowadays,
with all the noise and constant barrage of ideas, words, views,
opinions, doctrines, etc., we get the impression that we do not know
anymore whether we are being brainwashed or are really fed and
nourished by the truth, and everything that truth brings with it –
charity, fairness, justice, peace, joy, order…
In the social media that
includes not only written words but also videos, we get to see
fierce exchanges from different parties with all sorts of ideologies
and cultures and religions. Of course, we strive to live in a
democratic world where tolerance and diversity are fostered, but we
can wonder if we are actually fed by the truth or are simply
indoctrinated, conditioned and mind-controlled.
I am reminded of what St.
Paul once said. “For the time will come,” he said, “when people will
not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires,
they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what
their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Tim 4,3)
In other words, many
people nowadays are not anymore interested in really knowing and,
much less, living the objective universal truth about the world and
us. They are more interested in pursuing what they want to the
extent that they now try to impose their ideas and biases on others.
There seems to be a systematic way of brainwashing people.
That is why there is so
much nitpicking and fault-finding, so much casuistic and polemical
argumentation in the discussions. A toxic atmosphere of
contentiousness is generated where intrigues, discord and division
This is not anymore
happening solely in the world of politics and business where a
certain diversity of positions and opinions is legitimate. It is now
also happening in the world of faith and beliefs where truths that
are supposed to be objective and universal are meant to keep us in
unity, though not necessarily in uniformity.
The secret of knowing how
to distinguish and of properly choosing between being brainwashed
and being truth-fed is simply by being truly with God. After all,
God is the Creator of the whole universe. He is the author of
reality in all its aspects, material spiritual, natural and
supernatural, temporal and eternal, etc.
With him we can discern
the truth that always goes together with charity and all its
complementary virtues. Let’s remember that charity is the mother
virtue, the one that gives all the other virtues their true
character as virtues.
The truth in charity is
also the one that will last forever, that will bring us to our
eternal destination with God in heaven. It is what fully satisfies
our dignity as image and likeness of God, children of his.
We need to be in vital
union with God, something that is always possible since God always
makes himself available to us, in order to be in the truth that goes
together with charity. Otherwise, there is no other way but to be
brainwashed by certain false ideologies and unsound doctrine.
As St. Paul would put it,
with God “we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and
carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in
craftiness, after the wiles of error...” (Eph 4,14) We need to
dominate the world of public opinion, not dominated by it. We need
to be its master, not its slave.
development and synergy
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
November 13, 2017
IT’S, of course, good that
our political leaders are talking about inclusive development and
growth. Let’s hope the interest in genuine and is sustained to its
last consequences. We just have to clarify what “inclusive
development” really means, see what ways we can achieve it and what
things it requires.
Inclusive development is
when such development and growth is a product of the work or due
contribution of all the components of a given society. It also means
that the fruits of development are equitably distributed and enjoyed
This is the ideal. The
reality is, of course, always a work in progress with all kinds of
hurdles to overcome. But one thing is clear. All efforts to pursue
this ideal simply cannot be based on some economic, social or
political maneuverings alone, much less, on some systems and
The first requirement is
that all efforts in this regard, be they economic, social or
political in character, should be an offshoot of a genuine spirit of
a universal and inclusive love and concern for the integral
development of everyone.
Without this spirit
clearly motivating all these efforts, things just cannot prosper and
are doomed to collapse sooner or later. There might be some
temporary advantages and benefits, but for sure these cannot last
long and may even be a sweet poison.
And this spirit is none
other than the spirit of Christ who is the pattern of our humanity
in all its aspects, and the redeemer of our damaged human condition
here on earth. This spirit of Christ continues to intervene in our
life, shaping and directing it to its proper end. We need to
correspond to this reality as fully as possible.
When we have this spirit
of Christ, we will realize that inclusive development is a matter of
truly loving everyone as he or she is, and also as he or she ought
to be. It does not treat everyone in the same way, since not
everyone is the same. The distinctions and differences are
acknowledged and are acted upon accordingly.
It’s an ever-dynamic
process, guided by some rules that in themselves also have to be
dynamic, never frozen and static and simply applied blindly or
indiscriminately. These laws and rules have to continually evolve
and refine themselves to better adapt to the conditions on the
Of course, these laws have
to be clear about what are of absolute value that should not
changed, and what are of relative value that can change and
sometimes, should change.
With this Christian
spirit, inclusive development is a matter of creating a synergistic
mechanism where all the components and sectors of a given society
mutually help each other.
This Christian view of
inclusive development is not blind to the fact that there are people
and sectors that can be considered as weak, helpless and
unproductive like children, the old people, those with disabilities
of all kinds – physical, mental, emotional and even moral.
The quality of inclusive
development can somehow be gauged by its efforts to look after the
weak sectors of our society. In other words, more than just
economic, social or political measures, it is the kind of charity
that is involved that would determine the kind of inclusive
development we are pursuing.
This Christian view of
inclusive development certainly requires that each one of us truly
care for one another. Our concern for the others should go all the
way to their spiritual and moral needs, not just their economic
LANCE PATRICK C. ENAD*
November 4, 2017
“If you go to hell, you’ll
be so busy shaking hands with people you know”- so says a satirical
post in social media. This implies that in eternal damnation, one’s
thoughts and perception will be overwhelmed by the multitudes of
acquaintances that ended up in the same fate. Most of the people one
knows would probably end up in hell as much as you would and that
would make hell more comfortable and more enjoyable.
Forget about God then I
wouldn’t exchange hell for anything else! If this were true, then
the suffrage for souls in purgatory we have offered during All
Souls’ Day would prove to be mistaken and futile as we wouldn’t let
the souls of our loved ones go to such a boring place… although it
would be nice to think that our enemies would be eternally bored-
for nothing maddens man more than boredom.
One saint, one who I
couldn’t remember, however, would disagree with this delightful idea
– that hell is enjoyable. He/ she would however agree that the pains
of hell would be overwhelmed by something… something much more worth
This saint who had the
privilege (as if it was something enjoyable) of having a vision of
hell had the chance to ask a soul in eternal damnation. The question
he/ she asked the soul was what their greatest suffering was. The
soul replied that their greatest suffering was the never-to-be
quenched thirst for God. Man, from his creation, was embedded with a
deep nostalgia for God, so says Salvatore Canals in his book ‘Jesus
This nostalgia for God is
not something emerging from a collective human subconscious, as Carl
Jung would argue, but truly from the depths of our hearts. As
children yearn for their parents, so does our hearts long for God.
The ultimate end of man would yield our often ignored nostalgia for
God hence hell would be so horrible because those in it would be
unable to satisfy their natural cravings for God.
It is important, however,
to note that heaven and hell are not physical places but are states.
These supernatural places are last states of being, for man, that
is. This means that heaven wouldn’t be a night club with a bouncer
preventing selected people from admission or that hell would be a
barangay party that’s open to all, general admission. This would
mean that heaven and hell are states of a person and that a person’s
soul would be carrying heaven or hell in them as turtles carry their
It is also important to
note that God does not send anyone to hell. Souls who deliberately
refuse to be united with God in His divine life hurl themselves to
hell. Although this pains God so much, God respects man’s freedom
and is therefore respectfully withdraws himself from souls who
refuse to be with Him out of His Love.
Given the thought that
hell would be the least comfy place, it is important to ask about
heaven. We hear of heaven in the soap operas as a really beautiful
mountain paradise in which everyone would be smiling and wherein
lovers separated by death would live their happy ever after.
Reading the life of
saints, we read that it is a place wherein we worship God endlessly;
that we meet God face to face. This would seem like heaven is a
boring place. Everyone will be singing twenty-four seven. And we’ll
only see the face of God. It would be like an endless church
service. How boring and predictable would heaven be! Everyone’s
vocal chords would be inflamed due to the unending singing and
praising. Better stay away from heaven… how unfortunate would death
This would be what follows
if eternity was, as we perceive it, an endless succession of time.
But such is not a case. Perhaps, God in his eternal wisdom has saved
us too from eternal boredom. However, eternity is not an endless
succession of time; it is an endless and everlasting today.
Hell would be a
never-ending moment of pain and would be terribly inescapable.
Heaven would be a never-ending moment of glory, a never ending
moment of love. Heaven would be the best and most noble moment of
our lives-prolonged but without the influence of face and time.
Boredom wouldn’t be something conceivable in a place uninfluenced by
space and time.
The beatific vision of
heaven would be something inconceivable. Heaven would be a longed
for thing. Given this idea of heaven, what beauty awaits those in
purgatory! How little are our sacrifices to attain Eternal Life! How
little have we done to inherit “What eye has not seen, nor ear has
heard what God prepares for those who serve Him! (1 Corinthians
Patrick Enad y Caballero is a grade XII Seminarian from Pope John
XXIII Seminary of the Archdiocese of Cebu. He will turn eighteen on
the fourteenth of November.
LANCE PATRICK ENAD*
October 31, 2017
Amidst the prevailing
existentialist view of life and the moral-therapeutic deist views of
religion, which even those who go to church every Sunday are guilty
of, it is good to note that there are those who experience phenomena
that are seemingly unexplainable by science.
These experiences could be
beautiful, indifferent, and several times fearsome. This write-up
does not intend to scientifically disprove the existence of what we
call “demonic forces” (for he would most likely flunk science
subjects) or to philosophically prove the existence of these forces
(as the author has not yet attained sufficient philosophical
awesomeness to do so). This write-up intends to spill some useful
knowledge about such fearsome phenomena and perhaps to give
practical guidelines on how to deal with them, well, if you must
know, some catholic guidelines on how to deal with these.
Whether we believe it or
neglect it, evil does exist. This could be interpreted to morally
evil things, figurative evil, or the existence of demonic forces
that influence our world (I hope I don’t sound like a character from
the Harry Potter franchise) in the most discreet to the most
unexplainable ways. I would limit myself to the topic of demonic
It is important to
distinguish that unexplainable occurrences can be classified into
two: supernatural, those things or happenings that are beyond the
laws of nature, and preternatural, those that are beyond what is
normal (not necessarily the laws of nature). Supernatural would be
those things we consider as miracles and are coming from forces that
are not within the bracket of natural law and preternatural would be
those things that are seemingly not normal but are not necessarily
outside natural law.
Filipino tradition would
tell us that there are spirits that reside in nature or in houses or
in regular things. These spirits, could be good, could be evil, or
could be temperamental. There are also beliefs that these spirits
are the souls of our loved ones or are “earth-bound spirits.”
While the author does not
wish to impose catholic doctrine, as a reference, the Catholic
Church teaches that the souls of the dead, after death, proceed
immediately to judgment and to heaven or hell (or purgatory for
those who have a little bit of prelude before heaven) and cannot
remain here on earth. The spirits, therefore, that are considered
“earthbound souls” or the spirits of the dead are not what we
believe them to be.
Furthermore, there are
spirits that are invisible to us, namely, the angels. These Angels,
like us have free will, however, they have no physical bodies. These
heavenly spirits have greater knowledge and intelligence compared to
us. They were created to minister to God and to carry out the orders
On account of their great
knowledge and intelligence, they cannot afford repentance after they
have committed even a single sin. If they have committed a sin, they
are expelled from heaven and are therefore fallen angels, angels
that are eternally damned. Fallen Angels, although, good in their
former state, because of their incapability of repentance after sin,
are no longer capable of doing good. Hence, those seemingly good or
temperamental spirits that reside in nature or in our homes or in
our neighbors are not what they are believed to be. To put it
bluntly, are fallen angels, demons.
It could be asked why is
it that demons are in our world when they are in hell. Well, heaven
and hell are states and supernatural places not physical places. It
is a state of the being. The demons then are carrying hell with
themselves as the turtle carries its shell.
In this sense, the spirits
then that could be residing in our neighbor’s house, in our backyard
tree, or in our basements, the “nuno sa punso”, or the “white lady”
next door, are no other than the demonic spirits that are hostile
and are bent on harming us, whether spiritually, mentally, or even
These demonic spirits
influence men from the smallest temptation to the most fearsome
manifestation. These at first could appear indifferent or even good
but in truth, these spirits are really laboring to make men share in
the sufferings they share in hell and they cannot withstand, out of
selfishness, the thought that man is capable of enjoying the
beatific vision of heaven, the heaven that they once enjoyed.
These thoughts should not
contribute to the greater fear of demons, shrieking at the slightest
sound we hear at night, but should exhort us to love God more
solidly. The only way to battle with these evil spirits is by
building a solid relationship with God, who loves us infinitely.
Practical ways of building a relationship with God is by spending
times of prayer each day, reading the word of God, devotion to our
guardian angels and to the Mother of God, making sacrifices.
In conclusion, in our
efforts to Love God and to build a solid spiritual life, it is
important to remember that the Devil does not appear in a red cape
with a pitchfork; he appears, many times, in the smallest of our
selfish desires. This should lead us to follow our Lord Jesus Christ
more genuinely by denying ourselves and taking up our crosses
*Lance Patrick Enad is a Grade XII Seminarian
in the Archdiocese of Cebu. He will turn eighteen on the fourteenth
‘revolutionary government’ is nothing but dictatorship
A Press Statement by the Movement
October 15, 2017
Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s
idea of a “revolutionary government” is nothing else but the one-man
dictatorship that he has been repeatedly dreaming of since last
Duterte merely wants to
concentrate all governmental power to himself as president. He wants
to further dismantle whatever little is left of the system of checks
and balances provided by a rubber stamp Congress, a Supreme Court
dominated by his and former Pres. Arroyo’s appointees, and easily
intimidated Constitutional bodies like the Office of the Ombudsman
and Commission on Human Rights.
He aims to further
intimidate the critical press and overwhelm social media with his
fake news-churning troll army.
Worse, in order to impose
his “revolutionary” regime on the people, he will have to declare
martial law nationwide, He will have to ban all forms of public
criticism and dissent: protest rallies, strikes, political
demonstrations of any kind, not even cultural shows, art works or
social media posts. There will be wide-scale and utter disregard for
due process, human rights and civil liberties.
Meanwhile, the same old
oligarchic interests will remain, with Duterte’s family and friends
as the favored cronies. The same old kowtowing to foreign interests.
The same old corruption and criminality except cornered by the
Duterte clique, the Davao group and even the ascendant mafia in the
illegal drugs business.
Marcos tried the same
thing before, resulting in 14 years of cronyism, plunder of the
national treasury and economy and wholesale human rights violations
of the worst kind.
The Movement Against
Tyranny denounces Duterte’s so-called “revolutionary government” as
nothing less than the usurpation of all powers to impose one-man
rule and trample on the people’s democratic rights. We will not be
cowed. We will not be silenced.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
October 11, 2017
THIS is no gratuitous,
baseless pursuit. We are not indulging in some fantasy when we exert
the effort to make Christ alive in us. In the first place, because
Christ himself is alive. He continues to be with us and is, in fact,
actively intervening in our lives. We are not in some make-believe
It’s us who have the
problem since we tend to ignore him. It’s the same problem once
articulated by St. Augustine: “You were with me, but I was not with
you.” And even the things around all point to us about Christ’s
constant interventions in our lives. Still, we fail to be aware of
Christ, of course, died,
but then he rose again, never to die again. And even if he rose
again, he after so many days ascended into heaven. He should not be
around anymore. But, no, he continues to be here, this time in the
Let’s remember that before
he went up to heaven, he promised the coming of the Holy Spirit who
would bring to us everything that Christ did and said. More than
that, the Holy Spirit brings Christ alive in us.
This is how God works. The
entire trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is
involved in this continuing divine effort to bring us back to where
we came from – that is, from God himself in whose image and likeness
we have been created. And God in his work cannot be frustrated
despite the mess we make.
We just have to exercise
our faith to the hilt. With it we enter into a reality that goes
beyond what we simply can see and touch and understand. With it we
can feel at home even with mysteries which, by the way, abound in
our life since we are not confined only to the sensible and material
realities. Our world includes the spiritual and the supernatural.
Exercising our faith means
constantly dealing with the Holy Spirit. Dealing with the Holy
Spirit involves certain requirements, like deepening our knowledge
of the truths of our faith by meditating on the gospel, studying the
catechism, following the teachings of the Pope, etc.
It also involves constant
spiritual struggle against our weaknesses, temptations and sins. It
certainly involves developing virtues so that we gradually can be
more perceptive of the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Also indispensable is the
recourse to the sacraments which are the very channels of grace that
Christ himself instituted so that his presence and the effectiveness
of his redemptive work on us can be perpetuated till the end of
This is how we can make
Christ alive in us, Christ who will always understand us even if we
many times fail him. We just have to do our part, and do it as best
as we can, even to the point of heroism and martyrdom. This, in
fact, is also the extent Christ does to reach us and to save us.
If we correspond actively
to what Christ has done for us, we in the Holy Spirit can truly
manage to make Christ alive in us. It is really just a matter of
being consistent with our faith that brings with it the other
virtues of hope and charity. In that way, we would be dealing with
the Holy Spirit who will bring Christ to us alive.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
September 30, 2017
THE secret is to follow
Christ. He himself said so. “If you want to follow me, deny
yourself, carry the cross and follow me.” (Mt 16,24) We need to be
most familiar with this very useful formula in our life and try our
best to live by it.
The self-denial asked by
Christ is not of the kind that leads us to our self-annihilation.
Far from it. It will rather lead us to our self-fulfillment. It is
asking that instead of our own selves, we should have Christ as the
center of our attention always, the very core and substance of our
consciousness. We need, of course, to exercise our faith to live by
this divine indication.
And the reason is simple.
Christ is the very pattern of our humanity in its original state and
the redeemer of our damaged humanity. It’s him in whom we can have
our ultimate fulfillment, our true and lasting joy and peace. That’s
why Christ said he is “the way, the truth and the life” for us. We
cannot go to God, our Father and creator, except through him.
We have to be wary of
certain ideologies, cultures and lifestyles that tend to replace
Christ as the cause of our self-fulfillment. Sad to say, these
appear to be proliferating these days. We have to learn to do battle
The self-denial asked by
Christ will obviously require a lot of effort and sacrifice. That’s
because we have to contend with our tremendous tendency to stick to
our own selves – our own ideas, desires, ambitions, etc. Besides,
this tendency is constantly reinforced now by the many allurements
of the world, not to mention, the tricks and wiles of the devil
But again, we can be sure
that all this effort and sacrifice is all worth it. We need to do
everything to wean ourselves from our own selves and start to rely
on Christ completely. That absolute reliance on Christ does not
annihilate us. It will simply bring us to our most perfect and ideal
state. We should have no doubts or qualms in pursuing that ideal.
With Christ, we would know
how to use our powers and faculties properly. We would have a clear
idea of the real and ultimate purpose of our life here on earth.
With him, we somehow would know how to cope with all the possible
situations we can have here, including our problems, mistakes and
The self-denial asked by
Christ does not remove our involvement and engagement in our earthly
and temporal affairs. It simply puts them in the right context and
the right direction. We cannot deny that especially these days, we
are exposed to many and complicated distracting elements which we
have to learn to handle.
The self-denial asked by
Christ frees us from unnecessary baggage. It improves our vision and
understanding of things, and predisposes our heart to the real love
which can only be a sharing in God’s love and, therefore, our true
We therefore should not
have superfluous things, creating needs that are really not needs,
and thereby generating attachments that can be a hindrance in one’s
relation with God and with others.
How should the
work on the Asian Charter for Human Rights be carried forward?
BASIL FERNANDO, AHRC
September 22, 2017
The following is a
presentation made at a workshop organized by the Asian Human Rights
Commission and the May 18th Foundation (14-16th September 2017) on
the preparations for the 20th Anniversary of the Asian Human Rights
Charter 1998. This paper addresses the direction the Asian human
rights movement should take in order to contribute to the improved
enjoyment of rights in Asian countries.
The Asian Human Rights
Charter (hereinafter ‘the Charter’) was aimed at changing how human
rights work was conducted in developing countries. This remains
relevant to the context of most Asian countries, particularly
because of the lack of developed systems for the administration of
justice. The aim was to improve the actual realisation of human
rights by the people. The institutions and systems required for the
administration of justice are primarily the policing system, which
plays the vital role of investigating into human rights violations;
the prosecutions department, which is meant to call out violations
of the law; and the judiciary, which is meant to adjudicate
competently and impartially. All of these institutions and systems
had to undergo significant improvements;
How were we to do that?
That was what the Charter was meant to address.
The general human rights
movement engages in calling for inquiries into massacres and other
gross human rights abuses, and demands the prosecution of the
The Charter introduced the
approach of investigating into the actual capacities of the
institutions required for the administration of justice, in order to
discover the defects that prevent people from accessing their
rights. After establishing what was wrong with the system, the goal
was to then engage in work that could help to overcome these defects
and improve the enforcement of human rights.
For example, women in most
Asian countries are denied their rights to liberty, education and
equal opportunities for employment, and many suffer sexual abuse and
associated forms of violence. Why is it that the police,
prosecutions department and judicial system in their countries are
unable to protect the rights of women? Why can’t women travel in the
evenings and at night like men? Why are the police, prosecutions
department and the judiciary unable to ensure the rights of women to
move about in the way that men are able to move about? If the rights
of women are to be enforced, it is necessary to find out why the
institutions responsible for enforcing these rights have failed. In
the same manner, we can discuss other examples like the rights of
minorities, such as Dalits in South Asia. To discuss the rights of
women or other groups without discussing why the institutions of
justice fail them is to leave human rights purely as a dream or a
pie in the sky.
What the AHRC wanted to
suggest is that, in the same way that human rights groups advocate
fact-finding missions into massacres and other crimes, there must
also be fact-finding missions to discover the defects of the systems
of justice that deny people redress for crimes and deprive them of
their rights. Unfortunately while the human rights movement
advocates fact-finding missions into massacres, it is not a
mainstream practice to engage in fact-finding missions into problems
of the justice system. This may be because the issues about defects
of justice systems do not arise in developed countries under normal
circumstances. Therefore, human rights investigations are confined
to especially horrifying events and humanitarian catastrophes. This
piecemeal approach is not suitable for countries that do not have
the kind of institutional development that developed countries have
because the day-to-day practices that lead to such catastrophes
inevitably involve the administration of justice.
To be practical, let us
ask the following questions:
a) Can the human rights
movement engage in fact-finding missions with the view to make a
proper assessment of, for example, the state of judicial
independence in their countries? Can they look into the reasons why
impunity prevails while the judiciary claims that it is independent?
Is it because judicial officers are ill-educated or politically
influenced, or because they do not really appreciate the idea of
equality before the law? Or are there other reasons? If we know the
reasons, then we can address the issue of impunity and take
corrective actions to end it. Without this step, we will only be
forever complaining about impunity. Impunity will continue despite
such complaints. Ultimately, without the ability to understand the
changes that need to be made and then taking steps to change things,
the human rights movement could be seen as unable to show people
what it can really offer to improve lives.
b) We can also undertake
fact-finding missions into ineffective police investigation systems,
with the view to finding out why such incompetence, which often
leads to corruption, remains unchallenged. What are the causes of
this situation and what is the way to change it?
c) The same questions
could be raised about prosecutions, by undertaking similar
methodologies may vary. It could be similar to the fact-finding
missions into massacres. It could also be by way of extensive
documentation work into the attempts taken by victims to seek
justice and to find out why they have failed. It could also involve
academic forms of fact-finding. Whatever be the method, the ultimate
aim is to find the real causes of the defects in the system, with
the view to work towards overcoming these problems.
This whole approach calls
for a different type of activism. In assessing whether human rights
defenders are sufficiently equipped to do their expected tasks, we
must ask the questions that are raised above. There is no other way
for human rights defenders to be well equipped to do their work.
Can this last year before
the 20th anniversary of the Charter be the year in which we could
experiment with new approaches to fact-finding and other human
rights work, including advocacy and monitoring, which are directed
towards the improved knowledge, and thereby increase the capacity of
human rights defenders to improve their justice systems? This would
increase the practical usefulness of human rights work for the
people of their countries.
How can the advances that
have come about in modern technology be used for the above purpose
of fact-finding about justice system problems? And how could it
further improve methods of advocacy so that more people could be
influenced to undertake various types of functions as change makers?
Additionally, how can we learn about the negative uses of modern
technology, through which repressive states could use technology to
repress work for the advancement of human rights? And how could we
learn to counteract such methods?
Freedom of expression
being the key to the improvement of human rights, how could this
freedom be used for gaining and spreading a critical understanding
of the defects of justice systems? These defects obstruct the
enforcement of human rights, and it is important to develop ways to
give expression to these problems so that whole nations and the
international community could have a better understanding of the
local situations, and thereby be in a position to take effective
actions to overcome these problems.
Can we recondition
activists to expand their work beyond the limited methods that they
have gotten used to in accordance with earlier practices, and
thereby learn to develop more efficient ways of showing people that
their frustrations about human rights can in fact be explained, and
that, with a proper understanding of defective systems of justice,
actual improvements and even great changes could be brought about?
In short, can we envisage
a new form of activism and dynamism and create a new type of human
rights defender, one who does not merely talk about defending rights
but can really protect the rights of the people they are working
Make war to gain
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
August 29, 2017
WE have to understand the
proper relationship between war and peace. Christ himself who is the
prince of peace recommended a kind of warfare that we have to
undertake all the time. This can be gleaned from the following words
“Do not think that I have
come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace
but the sword…Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not
worthy of me…” (Mt 10,34 ff)
In another part of the
gospel, he also said: “From the days of John the Baptist until now,
the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent bear it
away.” (Mt 11,12)
We have to understand
though that to be violent in this sense does not mean to be
destructive but rather constructive, driven by love and the desire
to be united with God and with the others in a way proper to us as
children of God and brothers and sisters among ourselves.
Our life here on earth
cannot but be in some form of struggle. Aside from our innate urge
to grow and develop that requires some effort, we also have to
contend with enemies whose sole intent is precisely to bring us
down, to divert us from our proper path toward holiness.
We are not simply ranged
against natural difficulties, challenges and trials in life, but
rather with very powerful and subtle nemeses. The natural enemies
alone are already formidable.
But we still have enemies
tougher than these. As St. Paul said, “Our wrestling is not against
flesh and blood, but against principalities and power, against the
rulers of the world of darkness, against the spirits of wickedness
in the high places.” (Eph 6,12)
Truth is many people – in
fact, I would say all of us one way or another – are looking for
effective ways to develop our spiritual life and to be skillful in
the unavoidable spiritual warfare in this life.
People, including the
young ones whose stirring for the spiritual can be sharp and intense
if hidden, want to know, for example, how to pray, or how to keep it
going amid the many concerns in life. Getting engaged with God all
throughout the day eludes them.
They actually want to know
how to grow in the virtues but do not have ample support to pursue
the goals. For example, to remain chaste, if the interest still
flickers, remains an impossible dream.
They see glimpses of the
need for the cross, for sacrifices in this life, but they get
stalled if not hostaged by worldly distractions. Many want to get
out of their self-absorption, but no one helps them, giving them
ideas or simply encouraging them.
We need to find ways of
how to wage war to gain the peace that is proper to us. We have to
do a lot of personal apostolate based on friendship and confidence.
We should teach our friends in personal direction and confidential
chats how to wage this spiritual struggle in the concrete
environment they are in.
One clear principle to
follow here is to motivate them to truly fall in love with God and
with everybody else. That love has creative ways of waging war
against the enemies of God and of our soul.
Justice for Kian,
justice for all!
A press statement by
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN on the death of Kian delos Santos
August 26, 2017
BAYAN joins the nation in
grief and outrage over the death of Kian delos Santos. We march
today to bring Kian to his final resting place and to support the
call for justice for all victims of Duterte’s fascist drug war. We
call for accountability of the police officers directly involved in
the killings as well as accountability of the commander-in-chief who
sanctioned the killings.
President Duterte's war on
drugs is a war on the poor. It falsely claims to be a solution to
the proliferation of illegal drugs but targets mostly street-level
dealers and not the big criminal syndicates in and out of
government. The killings themselves corrupt the police force through
a system of quotas and financial rewards for police officers. Rather
than eliminating crime, Duterte's grotesque drug war has spawned new
crimes and encouraged impunity on an entirely new level.
Duterte's drug war is a
fascist non-solution to the problem of illegal drugs. So long as
corrupt bureaucrats and their criminal syndicate partners remain
untouched, and so long as poverty drives people to desperation, the
problem of illegal drugs cannot be decisively resolved. No
iron-fisted approach will succeed.
The brutality of the drug
war reflects the same fascist mentality and policies that have
resulted in the militarization of the countryside and gross human
rights violations against farmers, Lumad and Moro people. It is the
same fascist mindset that has resulted in abuses under Martial Law
and the US-led war on terror. Meanwhile, the shameless lying and
fabrication of evidence committed by the PNP in the case of Kian has
long been a practice of the police and the military when they file
trumped-up charges against activists.
The fight against impunity
is a shared struggle of all freedom-loving Filipinos. The murder of
Kian is an assault on all of us, especially the poor.
As Kian is laid to rest,
we call on the Filipino people to continue the fight against tyranny
and abuse, against fascism and impunity. We call on the people to
resist the fascist, US-backed Duterte regime.
Killing Kian: A
A press statement by
Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas - Karapatan Eastern Visayas chapter
August 21, 2017
The Worsening Cases of
Human Rights Violations Nationwide
The human rights situation
in the Philippines has become far worse than how it was in the first
quarter of President Duterte’s term as head of the Republic. Almost
10 months ago, Rodrigo Duterte shot out words that out-rightly
called on his military and police forces to run amok and kill people
who are implicated in the illegal drug trade even if it is in the
most remote of ways. His statements that tolerated extra-judicial
killings were taken as nothing short of formal policy and resulted,
10 months later into a total of 8000 victims of the administration’s
War on Drugs.
Now that Duterte has
completed a total of 14 months in office, his War on Drugs has
claimed more than 13000 civilians under the operations of the
Philippine National Police and their toleration of vigilante groups
wantonly wreaking havoc on urban poor communities.
Claiming the Lives of
Last August 18, a Grade 11
student by the name of Kian De Los Santos was killed in a police
operation meant to raid a drug den in a local village in Caloocan.
The operation took the life of Kian, who the PNP claimed was
implicated in drug-related activities and had presented earlier this
morning alleged collaborators and partners of the said 17-year old.
Amid the release of a CCTV
footage which showed how Kian was defenseless in the presence of
police officers who were visibly harassing him, the PNP still
claimed the police they were on the defensive when they shot Kian
whom they asserted “fought back” and “threatened” the security of
We call on all human
rights groups, organizations and formations to condemn the blatant
murder of Kian De Los Santos, who is one of many victims across the
entire nation who’s lives have been claimed by the police’s war
against the poor. There is also particular weight on the murder of
Kian because his is one of many cases where the police has been
implicated in the murder of minors, the youngest was that of a
4-year old girl in 2016 and a similar case of a 5-year old boy in
Pasay of the same year.
The War on Drugs in
In Eastern Visayas, there
have also been reports of extrajudicial killings committed by the
Philippine National Police. Just last August 16, a Kenneth Bertes
was killed in a police operation for being implicated in illegal
drug trade. According to the mother of Kenneth Bertes, the boy was
unarmed and defenseless against the police who were armed and
greater in number. In 2016, there were also similar cases of
reported extra-judicial killings committed on children belonging to
the urban poor communities of downtown Tacloban and near the airport
The mere fact that these
executions are taking place, not just in Caloocan but in different
parts of the country is evidence that the murder of Kian Delos
Santos is not an isolated case but a national phenomenon. And
despite the growing public clamor to end the killings, Duterte has
expressed support over the rise in the death toll. This is a clear
indication that the president no longer wants to represent what is
best for the people and operate within a framework of justice, from
this we can predict that the killings will persist and will worsen
throughout the rest of his term.
As a convener of the Rise
Up for Life and for Rights Alliance, we believe that human rights is
of paramount concern and must be upheld on all fronts.
JUSTICE FOR KIAN DELOS
SANTOS! JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF STATE FASCISM! STOP THE KILLINGS!
Never be afraid
to approach God
August 17, 2017
NOR be ashamed. Even if we
have offended him big time or find ourselves in a most shameful
condition, let’s never hesitate to approach God to ask for pardon or
any kind of help. God is always a Father whose only delight is to
love us all the way. He is ever ready for that, and, in fact, very
eager too. He will do everything to help us in any way.
This is what we learn from
the episodes of the Canaanite woman (cfr Mt 15,21-28), the official
whose daughter just died, and the woman suffering from hemorrhages
for 12 years. (cfr Mt 9)
In the case of the
official, Christ dropped everything to go to the house of that
official and along the way happened to help the woman also.
In the case of the woman,
it has to be noted that she was publicly regarded as an outcast. But
she was determined to approach Christ even secretly, and even if
only to touch Christ’s cloak.
“If only I can touch his
cloak, I shall be cured,” she said to herself. Her strong faith, her
confidence, her humility, all contributed to the granting of her
desire. “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you,” Christ told
her. And she was cured.
Let’s take note that more
than just the cure of her hemorrhages, Christ told her she was
saved. Christ is more interested in the salvation of our sinful
soul, which is more important than in the cure of any health
In the case of the
Canaanite woman, Christ readily saw how great her faith was, and so
he relented even if at the beginning he ignored her. Christ was
simply testing her faith. And by so doing, he also showed that faith
can transcend and cross racial and cultural boundaries.
Let’s hope that we can
have the same attitude as the Canaanite woman, the official and the
sick woman. Let’s not delay in going to Christ by whom all our needs
are satisfied. Let’s have the same attitude, the same faith,
confidence and humility that these three characters had shown.
More than that, let’s also
show among ourselves the same attitude that Christ had toward these
three characters. Let’s be quick to help others, to understand them,
to be patient and merciful with them. Let’s develop a universal
heart that can accommodate everybody with love.
Let’s remember that we
have to like him, since as the Son of God, he is the very pattern of
our humanity, and as the Son of God who became man, he is our
redeemer who definitely resolves our earthly human predicament.
Let’s spend time
meditating on this wonderful truth about the fatherhood of God to us
in the hope that we can develop that intimate spirit of filiation to
him. Let’s remember that our divine filiation should be the
foundation of our relationship with God.
We are not just one more
creature of his. We are the masterpiece of the whole of his
creation. We are children of his, yes, in spite of the mess that we
can manage to create because of the misuse of our freedom.
We have to learn not to be
afraid of him, nor ashamed to approach him because of our
stupidities. The fear of the Lord, which is one of the gifts of the
Holy Spirit, is simply the fear of offending him, but not the fear
to approach him after we may have offended him.
God looks kindly on
sinners. The divine justice that our sins deserve does not undermine
at all the divine mercy he is always eager to give us. So, let’s
take heart, just like what Christ told the woman.
On threat to bomb Lumad
the President driving us to rebel?
July 28, 2017
It’s logical. If the
Philippine President himself threatens to bomb a school of indigenous
peoples (IP), where else can we run to?
These self-help schools were built by the bare hands of the Lumad
people because there were no schools in their communities. The schools
such as ALCADEV in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, whose executive director
Emerito Samarca was killed with Lumad leaders Juvelio Sinzo and Dionel
Campos in 2015, were expressions of Lumad people’s hunger for genuine
development while preserving their culture of collectivism and care
for environment. It is a way of the Lumad elders to secure the future
of their next generations and equip the youth to protect their
ancestral lands from corporate plunder and land grabbing.
The US-Duterte regime is now taking the anti-people road. This road
will eventually lead him to accountability unless he makes a turn
left, the road to just and lasting peace, through the NDFP-GRP peace
talks, and make radical changes in his policies which will address the
basic problems of the Filipino people.
Instead, Pres. Duterte bellied us indigenous peoples and Moro who
joined the people’s protest during his State of the Nation Address by
saying “Umuwi na kayo.” We came all the way from Mindanao to call to
stop the All-out War, martial law and the bombing of our communities.
Thousands have evacuated due to threat of bombings and human rights
violations of military and paramilitary groups.
And we were bullied by no less than the President.
Our situation as national minorities is already worse as it is. The
Maranaw people continue to suffer in evacuation centers as the Armed
Forces of the Philippines refuses to end the firefight to justify the
extension of martial law. The IPs are still facing the wrath of the
All-Out War through intensified military operations in communities.
Political killings against national minorities continue with 21
victims under the Duterte regime.
With President Duterte’s threat to bomb Lumad schools, violence is
encouraged against Lumad and Moro.
If the schools were destroyed, so is our future. Essentially, it is to
destroy our race.
If so, we are left with no choice but to resist.
opens heaven’s gate
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
July 23, 2017
INDEED, it is Christ’s cross
that does the trick. Our own salvation, our capacity to open heaven’s
gate has to pass through the cross of Christ, and not just any cross.
Christ’s cross is the key.
It’s in Christ’s cross that
all our sins are borne by Christ himself and forgiven. It’s where our
death leads to our life everlasting. It’s where we can truly say we
are united with Christ.
We need to carry that cross,
as Christ himself said. "Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny
himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mk 8,34) We need to
do everything to fulfill this indication of Christ everyday.
Any suffering we have in
this life, be it physical, moral or whatever, can be considered as the
cross of Christ as long as we unite that suffering to Christ’s
redemptive suffering and death on the cross. That’s simply because
Christ has made as his own all the suffering we can have.
We can make use of some
human devices so that we can be reminded of this wonderful truth of
our faith. One such device can be the practice of carrying a little
crucifix in our wallet, and taking it up from time to time to kiss it.
This can be done especially
just before going to bed so that we can associate the ending of our
day with this sublime sacrifice of Christ which we should try to
reflect in our life. We should try to end our day the way Christ ended
his life here on earth.
We can also do it upon
waking up in the morning to signify our intention to carry the cross
the whole day. It should mean that we are willing to suffer the way
Christ suffered. We should be willing to take on any offense the way
Christ accepted all the offenses and sins of men by accepting his
death on the cross.
We should try not to
over-react to any suffering that can come our way. As long as we unite
with the suffering of Christ, we can manage to echo what St. Paul once
“We are afflicted in every
way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always
carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that life of Jesus
may also be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor 4,8-10)
These words were spoken by
St. Paul in the context of showing how our weakness and suffering –
the fragile clay jars that we are, as St. Paul describes us – can
actually show God’s power working in us. In the same letter, St. Paul
precisely said that it’s when we are weak that we are strong. (cfr
It’s important that our
attitude and reactions to suffering of whatever kind conform to this
reasoning of faith expressed by St. Paul. It’s a reasoning that
perfectly captures the reason behind Christ’s willing acceptance of
his suffering and death.
It is this kind of
suffering, this kind of cross that led to Christ’s resurrection, and
that will lead to our resurrection too. This is the kind of cross that
opens the gates of heaven for us!
delegation included BAYAN secretary general Renato Reyes, Jr,
former Representative Neri Colmenares. Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos
Zarate, Anakpawis representative Ariel Casilao, Rep. Sarah Elago
fo Kabataan, Jerome Adonis, KMU Secretary General, Antonio
Flores of KMP, Gabriela sec gen Joms Salvador, Lumad leaders
Michelle Campos and Eufemia Cullamat, and Mindanao activists led
by Sheena Duazon of BAYAN SMR. We were joined by NAPC Convenor
Liza Maza who helped arrange the meeting.
President Duterte’s meeting with Bayan leaders ahead of the SONA
statement by BAYAN
July 19, 2017
We thank President Rodrigo
Duterte for taking time to meet with Bayan leaders in Malacanang last
July 18, 2017. We sought a meeting to inform the President of the
planned nationwide SONA protest actions on July 24 and to relay to him
20 urgent people’s demands. The meeting lasted for nearly two hours.
The Bayan delegation consisted of representatives from workers,
peasants, indigenous peoples, Mindanao activists and progressive
lawmakers from the Makabayan coalition.
Unlike past meetings, the
atmosphere was somewhat tense, more serious and revealed glaring
differences on major issues. After the meeting, it was clear why there
should be nationwide mass protests during the SONA. The people must
persevere in the fight for genuine change.
After a brief introduction,
we went straight to the issue of Martial Law. The President is bent on
extending it. We have consistently opposed it. He said that it was not
intended to target the Left. The Mindanao activists said that that was
not reality on the ground. They related how Martial Law is being used
to militarize communities and attack Lumad schools. Several
communities have been displaced as a result. Lumad leaders showed the
President pictures and other documentation.
On the issue of the stalled
peace talks with the NDFP, the President echoed the line of his
security cluster that there should first be a prolonged ceasefire
before there could be any talk of reforms. We reiterated our position
that the peace talks must continue because it is in the interest of
the people and that the surest way to achieve peace is through
socio-economic and political reforms. It appears that the fate of the
talks and the people’s desire for a just peace will again be held
hostage by the ceasefire issue.
The President gave no
commitment on the issue of militarization of communities, saying that
this was a reality in the ongoing civil war. For our part, a condition
of extended Martial Law can only mean that military abuses and attacks
While there remain openings
and agreements in principle on several issues, these will still
require firm government commitment and militant struggle by the
people. During the meeting, we sought to find common ground on the
issue labor contractualization, free tuition for State Universities
and Colleges, land reform and the issue of destructive mining. There
is no clear indication that the President will fulfill his pledge of
upholding an independent foreign policy by abrogating the Visiting
Forces Agreement any time soon. Meanwhile, he was responsive to calls
for the release of elderly and sickly political prisoners and received
personal letters and appeals form them.
We again informed the
President of the upcoming SONA rallies. He said he will not stop these
and will allow protesters to air their demands near Batasan.
After the meeting, we
returned to Mendiola to report the results to the Mindanao workers and
other sectors who were camped-out since Monday. We would have wanted
to bring more good news to them, but such was not the case.
From the foregoing
discussion – with Martial Law’s extension under way and the people’s
economic conditions worsening – the people are more than ever
justified in waging militant struggle for change. We are determined to
further expand people’s resistance to the anti-people and
anti-national policies of the regime.
The SONA rally will see huge
delegations from Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Metro Manila, as
well as delegations from Mindanao. Protests will be conducted in
almost every urban center in the country, from Ilocos to General
Santos. On July 23, participants for the SONA rally will begin
arriving in Quezon City and hold vigils near Commonwealth Avenue.
On July 22, we are calling
on the people to gather at Batasan to protest the Congress special
session to railroad the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao.
CHINA: A state
built on graves will not last
A Statement by the Asian
Human Rights Commission
July 14, 2017
China has lost yesterday one
of its great sons, Nobel Laurate Mr. Liu Xiaobo. Indeed, Liu Xiaobo
was a criminal for the Chinese administration. They had sentenced him
to undergo a prison term of 11 years, after being convicted by what is
passed off as ‘judicial process’ in China. The crime for which Liu
Xiaobo was convicted is ‘inciting subversion of state power’ by
co-authoring the Charter 08 pro-democracy manifesto, which called for
the Communist Party in China to uphold the commitments made in the
Anything that is even
remotely possible to be interpreted by Beijing as ‘organising for a
cause’ is perceived as a threat by the Chinese administration. This
approach is the defining character of a state that feels weekend
internally and a government that has no moral standing to remain in
power. The legislation Beijing enacted controlling all civil society
activities, internal and those that are supported from external
sources is a legislated evidence to this fear. So much so, today, a
non-Chinese seeking a language interpreter’s service within China has
to be reported to the authorities. Failing to do so is a crime.
Since its formation, China
has used its courts and the prosecutorial department to silence all
forms of public opinion, that the administration conceives as a threat
that could over time challenge the absolute authority of the Central
Party. Even lawyers appearing for their clients are not spared.
Make no mistake. What is
passed off as ‘judicial proceedings’ in China has no justice element
in it. It is merely a process, that serves the absolute authority of
the state and nothing more. Besides, the individuals who run these
institutions are deeply corrupt, like those in the administration. And
many of them are known to have ‘parked’ their ill-gotten wealth
outside the country.
China is one of the worst
economic examples of today. Its riches are built upon absolute
negation of freedom of the silenced. Anyone engaging in business with
China is merely supporting this inhuman process. This includes
international agencies, business houses and governments across the
The only way for China to
change, is for the international community to call the black pot,
black. No government has dared to do this, as was in the case of Liu
Xiaobo. There has been not a single co-ordinated and sustained attempt
by the governments of the world, to publically place pressure upon
China to allow Liu Xiaobo to obtain proper medical treatment. At the
age of 61, his life rotted in detention.
Today heads of states have
made public statements condemning Liu Xiaobo’s untimely death. They
should also perhaps ask themselves in what length they have
contributed to this murder when they rolled out red carpets to Chinese
leaders visiting them?
Our spiritual and
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
July 9, 2017
WE need to be more adept in
attending to the world of the spiritual and the supernatural which is
where we also live, whether we like it or not, aware of it or not.
That it’s part of our
objective reality can be verified from the fact that we can think and
reason out, discover and invent things, and do many others that tell
us we are capable of spiritual operations that presume that we also
live in the world of the spiritual.
The supernatural aspect of
our objective reality can be verified by the fact that there are many
mysterious, naturally inexplicable things that take place in our life.
There are miracles and other wonders that simply go beyond the limits
of our nature.
We have to learn how to deal
with our spiritual and supernatural world because that is where the
real action is and where our ultimate goal is. That’s where we are
truly defined, where our radical dignity is established. That’s where
we can have our encounter with God.
For us, the material and
natural world is nothing if not related to the spiritual and the
supernatural world. Our material and natural world can only have
meaning and purpose if related to the spiritual and the supernatural,
that is, if related ultimately to God.
Of course, God made himself
man in Jesus Christ so that our material and natural world, damaged by
sin, can have a way to reconnect with our Creator and our Father. And
Christ’s presence and redemptive action continues to take place with
the action of the Holy Spirit.
This is a truth of our faith
that should ever be made alive in us, kept sharp in our mind, and
deeply felt in our heart. For this, we have to submit to a certain
discipline that may involve a number of things.
We have to learn to be
recollected all the time, keeping effective control and supervision of
our senses and other faculties so that wherever we are, we could
manage to be always in the presence of God.
We have to learn to pray and
meditate on the word of God, for it is there where we begin to get in
touch with Him on a day-to-day basis. If we truly exercise our faith,
our prayer should always be exciting since we would be dealing with
the Holy Spirit who knows all the truth and who can tell us of things
We need to do everything to
make sure our prayer is a real encounter with God, a direct
conversation with the Holy Spirit who always intervenes in our life
with his constant promptings.
For this, it is truly
helpful to know more about the gifts of the Holy Spirit so we may be
able to correspond to those gifts properly. Obviously to be most
docile to the Holy Spirit, we need to clean up our mind and heart
through penance. Let’s see to it that our heart is rid of any impurity
that could prevent us from discerning the Holy Spirit’s promptings.
These are, at least, a few
of the things we can do to take care of our spiritual and supernatural
Release of cops in
rub-out case in Leyte, non-release of political prisoners, clear signs
of impunity under Duterte
A press statement by
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
June 20, 2017
“We express our condemnation
and extreme disappointment on the release on bail of police officers
involved in the Espinosa case, as among the clear indications of
prevailing impunity under Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. We remind the
President that his job as commander-in-chief does not entail
protecting State security forces from accountability on their crimes,”
said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay on the release of
the nineteen (19) accused policemen involved in the killing of Albuera
mayor Rolando Espinosa.
Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 chief Superintendent
Marvin Marcos, along with 18 others, were initially charged with
murder after they launched an operation to serve a warrant against
Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa last November 5, 2016; the operation
led to the killing of Espinosa inside his jail in Baybay, Leyte. The
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the senate investigation
ruled the case as a “rub-out.”
On June 2, 2017, the
Department of Justice downgraded the charges against the 19 cops from
murder to homicide, with the regional trial court allowing bail of
P40,000 each. On June 16, all the accused were released on bail.
Earlier last April, President Duterte said that he will not only
pardon cops involved in the Espinosa slay case should they be
convicted, but that he will also promote them.
“Duterte apparently remains
true to his words when it entails ensuring the continued support of
institutions who might be detrimental to his presidency. When it comes
to promises he made for the welfare and benefit of the marginalized,
however, he falls short, or at numerous occasions, makes a reversal.
This is true for the issue of the release of political prisoners,
especially those for humanitarian considerations,” said Palabay.
As of May 15, 2017,
Karapatan puts the number of political prisoners in the country to 402
– with 39 political detainees arrested under the Duterte
administration. Palabay added that “there is a clear State policy of
absolving culpable policemen in the war on drugs campaign and soldiers
in their counter-insurgency war against the people, while maintaining
the continued imprisonment of political prisoners jailed for
trumped-up charges. It is deplorable to see scalawags being out on
bail while those unjustly kept behind bars remain fighting for
“The Filipino people have
been promised change, and we hold Duterte accountable that these
changes be for the better. Instead, we now have martial law in
Mindanao, aerial bombings and other community violations committed
with impunity, the non-release of political prisoners, a militarized
bureaucracy, a war on drugs that has claimed the lives of thousands,
and an enabled and abusive State security forces with guaranteed
protection. We urge Duterte to look closer, because for the most part,
he has largely contributed to the worsening of the same oppressive and
repressive system inherited from his predecessors,” concluded Palabay.
Joint statement on
Marawi, martial law and internet freedom
By CPU, TXTPOWER and AGHAM
June 15, 2017
After Camp Aguinaldo
spokesman Colonel Edward Arevalo warned that the military would
exercise an alleged “right to censure”, DICT Head Rodolfo Salalima has
announced arrests for “cyber sedition”.
It must be clear by now:
Whether you’re in Marawi, Mindanao or Manila, we’re all unsafe from
martial law’s effects on our basic rights. And nowhere is this more
obvious than the internet and the basic rights we enjoy online and
These threats by the
military and DICT don’t strike fear at the heart of terrorists. They
dampen civic engagement and attempt to negate the public’s right and
duty to see to it that martial law is required, that martial law is
actually aimed at the terrorists, and that martial law is not being
implemented against the public.
We warn the military and the
DICT not to overstep their bounds. Censorship, whether prior restraint
or subsequent punishment, does not help combat terrorists. We urge the
military to revisit their claim of a “right to censure”. It is an
invention, with no legal provenance or constitutional basis.
We also warn against network
shutdowns under martial law. Network shutdowns in Mindanao are
unacceptable. It would isolate and disconnect Mindanao from the rest
of the country and the world. Mindanaoans should not be silenced. It
would be bad for business, commerce, education, governance and other
aspects of our daily lives.
The dress rehearsals for
turning off our internet have started many years back. In the name of
counter-terrorism, the police, the military and the government have
taken down mobile and internet access in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and
other parts of the country.
All the shutdowns have been
applied for and granted in an questionable manner, without hearing and
without assessment. It is not farfetched that the government would use
this if the “online noise” of widespread criticism becomes intolerable
If there’s any event and
place where the public would understand a network shutdown, it is this
incident and Marawi City from the very start. Based on "practice",
shutting down all communications there would deprive the terrorists
any means to communicate among themselves and the outside world. It is
now a virtual ghost town, with most of its 200,000 inhabitants already
transformed into evacuees.
But this appears to be
impossible. Because it would affect the military operations,
coordination between the Commander-in-Chief in Manila and the ground
forces in Marawi and media reportage that has been so kind to the
We urge citizens and
organizations to be vigilant and jealous of the rights we enjoy,
offline or online, against any arrogant overreach by the military and
government. They have a track record of abuse, and have also made
threats of doing under martial law.
Let’s keep the Philippines'
and the internet free.