the key to strengthening resiliency
JAIME ARISTOTLE B. ALIP
CARD MRI Founder and Chairman Emeritus
April 14, 2020
While the global community
seeks for ways to stop the COVID-19 outbreak, keeping free from the
virus is just one of several anxieties faced by the low-income
sector in their everyday lives these days. Accidents, illness and
deaths remain a reality for the poor.
Ninfa E. Beraminde has
been a client of CARD, Inc. for almost five years in Isabela,
Basilan. When her husband died on March 23, 2020, she did not expect
to be able to claim her death benefits as mobility was hampered with
the imposition of community quarantine. Likewise, CARD MRI members
or their dependents get sick, figure in a fire, or die even in the
midst of the pandemic. Four of our clients are now part of the
statistics of COVID-19 positive patients who succumbed to the
Clients of CARD MRI
automatically become members of CARD Mutual Benefit Association
(CARD MBA), which enables them and their families to become covered
under its life insurance. From Aparri to Zamboanga, Ninfa’s story
mirrors every poor families’ struggles amidst the pandemic.
beneficiaries are required to submit documents for claims
settlements in the Mi-MBA offices. However, through online claims
validation by fellow members who serve as Claims Processor right
there in their communities and submission of death and marriage
certificates through the Messenger app, members’ survivors were able
to receive from P30,000 to P55,000, depending on length of
Combined data from CARD
MBA and CARD Pioneer Microinsurance Inc. (CPMI), which are both
microinsurance companies that are part of CARD MRI, show an average
of 161 claims payment made amounting to P6 million per day from
March 16 to April 3, 2020. Industry-wide, the 18-member Mi-MBA
Association in the Philippines, RIMANSI, also pay claims in this
time of crisis Without microinsurance, less fortunate families will
plunge deeper into poverty due to the lack of safety nets from
Response to the pandemic
Resiliency is a common
theme for microinsurance companies. As such, member-institutions of
RIMANSI has been showing its flexibility to cater to the needs of
its members even during the COVID-19 outbreak. Since members of
Mi-MBAs are mostly from the bottom of the pyramid, the industry
declared a moratorium on the weekly insurance payments until April
12, 2020. During this period, the members will remain covered under
the life insurance offered by the Mi-MBAs. As the ECQ was declared
extended up to April 30, 2020, the microinsurance industry is
compelled to extend the moratorium until the ECQ is lifted.
Further, Mi-MBAs vows to
continue to provide fast claims settlements. The process is relaxed
such that claims validation are made through phone calls while
documentary requirements can be submitted online through messenger
platforms. As one member’s survivor from Batangas attested through a
text message, “Gusto ko lang pong magpasalamat sa CARD MBA sa
benepisyong nakuha ng aking ina na si Joy Austria.
Napakalakingtulong po nito para samen lalong lalona at wala kami
financially. Sa kabila po ng COVID nanararanasan ng bansa naten
ngayon, di ko po inaasahan na mabilis na mapaprocess ng CARD
insurance ang benepisyong ito ng aking ina through online. Madale
namen itong na claim… kaya nagamit naming ito pangbayad sa lote na
paglalagyan ng aking ina.”
Using technology and
available remittance services, claims payments are done within 24
hours, where physical barriers allow, a feat that is especially
appreciated by the survivors.
A tool for empowerment
With the emergence of
COVID-19, not only health but also the livelihood of small
entrepreneurs are jeopardized. The Mi-MBA industry with the
microinsurance industry plan to formulate new policies to address
the needs of the poor during a pandemic. The industry aims to
improve its regulation to provide a wider range of insurance
products for the poor in protecting them not only from death,
injury, and illnesses but also to the potential losses of their
income due to a national crisis.
To be able to do so, the
help and support of the national government will be much needed by
Mi-MBA and other microinsurance players to fulfill their duty in
providing extensive protection coverage to the most vulnerable
sectors in the country. The industry recognizes the current efforts
of the Insurance Commission headed by Commissioner Dennis B. Funa to
enable Mi-MBAs to be as responsive to clients’ needs under normal
times as the regulations allow. However, the industry’s services
need to be more proactive in times of national emergencies and
crisis and it will happen if other government agencies adopt
policies that will strengthen the Mi-MBAs and microinsurance
companies in the country. For example, tax exemption for Mi-MBAs
owned by the communities should be upheld so that they can have
adequate funds to create better products that will address the
insurance needs of the marginalized sectors during extraordinary
In the case of non-life
insurance (i.e. disaster insurance, agriculture insurance, and
property insurance among others) for the poor, a 2% reduction in tax
on premium will be a welcome development. In addition, a calamity
fund to assist its millions of members in times of national state of
emergency should be established.
As CARD MBA and CPMI,
together with the rest of the microinsurance industry, provide
affordable and relevant risk protection to more than 27 million poor
and low-income individuals in the country, they have become a
partner of the government in empowering the poor and creating
resilient communities. With the government’s continued support,
microinsurance will remain a beacon of hope in this time of distress
Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip is the founder and chairman emeritus of
CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions, a group of 23 institutions
that envisions to eradicate poverty in the Philippines. He also
serves as the chairman emeritus of RIMANSI, the MI-MBAs Association
in the Philippines. He is the recipient of the 2019 Ramon V. del
Rosario Award for Nation Building.
Christ’s 7 last
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
April 8, 2020
IN case you will miss the
broadcast of the seven last words of Christ, given our present
condition, I am repeating them here with some commentaries for
whatever it is worth.
Indeed, I must say that
the seven last words of Christ have a special and unique importance,
and are always relevant to all of us, since they represent the
ultimate desire of Christ for us, summarizing everything that he did
and said that were all meant for our redemption.
They have the power to
instantly bring us back to the most fundamental reality about our
life from whatever man-made Lalaland we have gone. Or they can
correct our tone-deaf religiosity.
These are words that
simply drip with pure and completely gratuitous love, a love that is
meant also for us to learn and live. They speak of God’s mercy for
us, his assurance and guarantee of our salvation, the comfort we can
have by providing us with the care of Our Lady, Our Mother, the cost
involved in saving us, etc.
The first one, “Father,
forgive them for they know not what they do,” (Lk 23,34) cannot but
be a sheer show of magnanimity, of unmitigated goodness. Not only is
he asking for forgiveness for those who crucified him, who in the
end are all of us. He looks for an excuse for all of us. There we
can already see how much he loves us.
This supreme goodness is
reiterated in the second one, “Today, you will be with me in
paradise,” (Lk 23,43) addressed to the good thief who just had the
audacity to ask for a favor, never mind what he had been accused of.
This word simply validates what is said of God, that even if he can
get angry due to our sin, he is always ready and quick to forgive.
The third one, “Woman,
behold thy son…Behold thy mother,” (Jn 19,26-27) is a very endearing
one where even in the middle of extreme pain, Christ has that
mindfulness to give us whatever would provide with some comfort in
this vale of tears of ours. He gives us his own mother to be our own
mother too, a mother who will always be a mother to us all
Mary will not only be a
temporal and earthly mother to us, whose motherhood is subject to
time. She will be a mother to us even beyond time. And her
motherhood would not be confined only to our earthly needs, but also
and most especially to our spiritual needs.
The fourth one, “My God,
my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mt 27,46) speaks to us of the
depth of suffering Christ had to undergo to save us. He feels that
God, the source of all goodness, has abandoned him, and that
therefore all the pain as the consequence of all the evil of this
world is what he is experiencing.
Try to imagine a situation
where all is dark, all is pain, all is evil, without a dot of
goodness! If we suffer in some way, just remind yourselves of this
word of Christ. For sure, somehow we would feel lightened.
The fifth one, “I thirst,”
(Jn 19,28) to be sure is not an expression of physical thirst, but
rather of his thirst for souls, his ardent desire to fulfill his
mission to save mankind.
The sixth one, “It is
finished,” (Jn 19,30) simply expresses that he has fulfilled his
mission, whatever it cost him. This word should remind us that we
should finish what we have begun, though we know it is God who
started everything and it will also be him who will complete and
The last one, “Father,
into thy hands I commend my spirit,” (Lk 23,46) shows the proper way
of ending things, especially when we see our life ending.
It would be good if each
of us makes his own personal considerations from Christ’s seven last
JAIME ARISTOTLE B. ALIP
CARD MRI Founder and Chair Emeritus
March 29, 2020
It is around this time of
the year when our farmers would harvest the produce they have
tirelessly worked hard on for months. Instead of a full table and an
income that would support their family until the next harvest
season, they are left with uncertainty and instability due to the
COVID-19 outbreak that none of us expected.
Focusing on protecting
people from COVID-19, the local and national government declared
lockdowns and community quarantines in many cities and
municipalities across the nation. This severely curtailed movement
and public gatherings that made the operations of microfinance
institutions untenable. In response, microfinance institutions,
declared a suspension of operations in their covered areas,
including moratorium on loan payments while the community quarantine
is in effect. Many of these institutions are members of APPEND and
MCPI whose combined outreach is 9 million poor and low-income
families served by more than 50,000 staff and an estimated 70B loan
With the expected decrease
in business activities, the reprieve will allow clients to channel
their budget to basic needs. Even so, an unsettling voice still
lingers: is the delay in the collection of loan payments ever enough
to sustain their needs after all of this is over?
The bigger picture
experience in community development, microfinance institutions (MFIs)
have seen poverty-stricken families rise above poverty through
access to and ownership of financial and non-financial services.
Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, all of this could potentially go
down the drain. The low-income sector, who are mostly clients of
MFIs, are greatly distressed by the effects of the pandemic and the
necessary measures imposed by the government.
Since main bank branches
of CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI) nationwide are
still open for services like withdrawals and remittances, our
skeleton workforce still has interactions with our clients. Field
staff have also remained connected with clients through cell phones
and/or social media that enabled them to communicate to management
what was happening to their communities. Our Regional Directors have
reported that many of the clients are experiencing devastating
effects on their livelihoods. Most of them have products to sell but
are restricted by the physical barriers of community quarantine,
severely affecting their income to support their own families. For
example, in the National Capital Region and elsewhere, in order to
implement social distancing, marketing hours were imposed,
compelling many small eateries and stalls in the public markets to
Microentrepreneurs in the
agriculture sector also have a crucial role in society. Most of our
farmer-clients in Luzon end up selling their produce at bargain
prices, or giving them away to neighbors, or worse, leaving them to
rot because they could not travel to the market due to strict rules
on movement being implemented. In Masbate and Marinduque, our
clients can neither send their seafood products to key cities nor
let their wholesale buyers come because seagoing vessels are no
longer allowed to leave or enter their ports.
enough capital would be needed by these farmers to buy inputs such
as seeds and fertilizers. But given the situation we have today,
transporting and selling their produce becomes a challenge. If they
cannot sell their products, then they would not be able to farm
again. Ultimately, it is not only the farmers who would face the
consequences. We might be dealing with a possible food shortage if
our supply is not enough to meet our country’s demands.
Some of these
microentrepreneurs also employ other members of the community,
therefore contributing to the enrichment of the local economy. While
the success of one microentrepreneur has proven to affect a
community positively, its downfall can also ripple to many families
and eventually, to the whole community.
With all these challenges
faced by microentrepreneurs, the microfinance industry anticipates
reduced capacity of clients to pay after the outbreak. Even with the
high risk of low repayment, MFIs continue to provide financial and
non-financial services to the low-income sector during the period of
quarantine. In fact, industry leaders continuously think of ways
that could still support the economic activity of these
However, we recognize that
we could not do it alone. Expecting negative effects on liquidity,
MFIs are seeking for potential interventions to continue its
business of eradicating poverty in the country.
MFIs are looking for
support from organizations and institutions who can provide
additional credit facilities and funding to support its cause in
helping people improve their lives while facing this global health
emergency. We are also convening partners and industry leaders to
discuss this pressing issue to mitigate the effect of the pandemic
in the industry.
Most importantly, the
support from the government is most crucial at this time. The
Philippines has proven to be a conducive environment to implement
microfinance. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has repeatedly recognized
MFIs as champions for financial inclusion. Further, laws such as RA
10693 or the Microfinance NGOs Act, which was signed on November
2015, enables Microfinance NGOs to expand outreach to greater number
of poor people especially in the hard-to-reach areas and implement
community development programs funded by tax incentives. These
programs include medical missions, scholarships, and livelihood
trainings, among others.
We encourage you to think
about the low-income sector; the landless farm workers, the small
farmers, the fisherfolks, the maglalako, the sari-sari store owners,
and other microentrepreneurs. The lockdown and community quarantine
may end soon but if we do not act now, their sufferings will worsen
even after the outbreak. Because health protection and financial
inclusion goes hand in hand, may we not forget to balance the scale
in favor of one over the other. Let’s ensure no one gets left
As a Consultative Group to
Assist the Poorest blog concludes: “It seems likely that without
significant support and concerted action, many MFIs are at risk in
the coming storm. The question is: what steps can we take now to
ensure the industry survives and can contribute to the eventual
economic recovery? Without taking on hard questions and beginning to
put plans in place for COVID-19, it won’t be poverty that is in a
museum, but potentially the modern microfinance movement.”
About the Author:
Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip is the founder and chairman emeritus of
CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions, a group of 23 institutions
that envisions to eradicate poverty in the Philippines. He is the
recipient of the 2019 Ramon V. del Rosario Award for Nation
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
March 27, 2020
WE need to strengthen our
faith in our life after death. We need to reinforce that belief
especially because nowadays there is clearly an ebbing away from
that truth of our Christian faith. We tend to get distracted by the
things of this world, and worse, to get too attached to them as to
ignore our life after death.
The readings of the Fifth
Sunday of Lent, Year A, clearly tell us about this truth. We are
meant for eternal life. We are meant for a life with God forever.
But we have to be ready for it, deeply realizing that what we have
now in our earthly life is precisely the means and the path, not an
obstacle, for us to enter into eternal life. We need to see the
vital link between time and eternity, the material and the
spiritual, the natural and supernatural.
From the Book of Ezekiel,
we read: “The Lord Yahweh says this, I am now going to open your
graves. I shall raise you from your graves, my people, and lead you
back to the soil of Israel.” (37,12) Here, we already have an
allusion of the truth about life after death.
This truth is reiterated
in the second reading from the Letter to the Romans: “If the Spirit
of him who raised Jesus from the dead has made his home in you, then
he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your own
mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.” (8,11)
And all this point is
rounded off with that beautiful story of the raising of Lazarus
where Christ clearly said: “I am the resurrection. Anyone who
believes in me, even though that person dies, will live, and whoever
lives and believes in me will never die…” (Jn 11,25-26)
We need to develop a sense
of the eternal life, making ourselves eternity-ready all the time,
knowing how to connect our earthly time with the heavenly eternity.
We have to constantly remind ourselves of what the Letter to the
Hebrews has told us clearly. “We don’t have a permanent city here on
earth, but we are looking for the city that we will have in the
We have to train our mind
and heart, as well as our feelings and senses, to conform themselves
to this truth of our faith. In our personal prayers and meditations,
let us consider from time to time the reality of heaven and
reinforce that primitive yearning we have in our heart for a life
without end, for a happiness that has no limits, which can only take
place in heaven.
Let us remind ourselves
frequently that our faith tells us that we actually come from God,
and not just from our parents, and that we are meant to be with God
forever in heaven after our earthly sojourn which is meant to test
us if we want to be with God or just with ourselves.
We have to learn how to
link our earthly time with the eternity of heaven by nourishing our
belief that there is God and that he is our Creator who gives us our
very existence and that he continually, without any gap or break, is
intervening our life. We have to be more aware of this truth, and
more importantly, know how to deal with it.
We have to know what is of
absolute value in this life and what only has a relative value. We
have to be more aware of the ever-abiding providence of God. That
way, we would always have optimism despite the difficulties,
challenges and possible mistakes we can commit.
Thus, it is important that
we know how to pray, how to strengthen our faith, hope and charity,
how to relate everything in our life to the ultimate eternal life.
We need to be eternity-ready, not just future-ready, with the
figurative go-bag always by our side.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
March 16, 2020
WITH all this talk about
lockdown, quarantine and voluntary self-isolation for about a month
or so due to this Corona virus, we need to learn how to make good
use of our time when we are forced to be indoors.
We have to welcome this
rare opportunity. It at least offers us a chance to rehearse when
due to some emergency situation we are made to stay put in a place
longer than usual.
We can never tell what the
future holds for us. So far, we already had a volcano eruption, some
earthquakes, and we are still in the first quarter of the year. We
can expect typhoons sooner or later. And there might still be more.
Who knows? It’s always good to be prepared for any eventuality.
At the very least, what we
can do is to grow in the inside when on the outside we cannot do
much and our movements are restricted, or when we are practically
confined and yet we are still in normal condition physically,
mentally and even emotionally.
Most important of all
would be that we be spiritually fit and healthy, and still
productive in a sense. This aspect of our life is fundamental and
should not be compromised just because of these forced restrictive
measures imposed on us.
Definitely, we can make
use of the time praying and studying better than usual. These very
important human necessities are usually taken for granted during
ordinary days. Now is the time to make up. Besides, we have a very
good and immediate reason to pray and study more, given the current
When we are more with God,
we can see things better. We can always make good use of any
situation that humanly speaking may be considered as a disaster.
With God, we would know how to adjust and adapt. With God,
everything, including some negative events, will always work out for
the good, as St. Paul once said. (cfr. Rom 8,28)
It would be a good idea to
pick up some spiritual books, to know more about the life of Christ
and those of the saints. It’s also a good time to live a more
intense spirit of sacrifice and penance, and to practice the
different works of mercy, if not directly then by virtual means
through the Internet, by spreading good pieces of news or just good
spirit. We would be doing a great service that way, given the
conditions of people these days.
We can also attend to
certain concerns to which we only paid a lick and a promise during
our normal working days. There may still be some books to be read,
some assignments to be done, some repairs to be made in the house.
The garden may need better attention and care than what was given it
before. There will always be items that we left behind because we
cannot attend to them during normal days.
Family life definitely can
be given more attention too. Parents who still have children at home
can spend more time with them, though this would require of them
more creative initiatives so that the children would learn how to
take advantage of their forced vacation. The parents have the grave
duty to give good example to their children. They would also have
more time to show affection to their children.
Let’s consider these days
of confinement like the gestation period of a living being that
needs to be well taken care of precisely at that most crucial stage
for its development, so that when the time comes for it to be born,
it comes out very healthy.
Let’s have a very positive
outlook at this turn of events. There’s no use lamenting over this
somewhat drastic change of circumstance. That would only be
counter-productive, a pure waste of time.
Let’s never forget that if
we are forced indoors, God must have allowed it to happen. And if he
allows it, there must be a reason and a greater good that can be
derived from it.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
March 11, 2020
FEAR, of course, is one of
our emotions. It is our natural reaction when we perceive something
to be a danger to us or is so incomprehensible that we feel
helpless. Fear is one of our natural and instantaneous defense
Since we are exposed to
all kinds of things in this world, we should not be surprised that
fear comes to the surface from time to time. We can even fall into
panic. But we should relieve ourselves of it as soon as we can.
We just have to see to it
that like the other emotions, we do not let it stay simply in the
level of raw, unprocessed instincts or that of a reflex reaction. It
has to be processed and has to be dominated and directed by reason,
and ultimately by our faith in God. Fear that is unguided by reason
and faith would not be a healthy one. It would destroy us rather
than defend us.
Amid the spreading scare
of the Corona virus that we are having these days, we need to
distinguish between a healthy fear and an unhealthy one, a normal
fear and what may be described as a paranoia that is already a
A healthy fear does not
freeze us into inaction for long. It would immediately lead us to
study things well so that we can act with prudence, and as a
consequence we can manage to have peace of mind and continue with
our duties and responsibilities in spite of the ongoing danger or
When our fear is of the
unhealthy type or, worse, has degenerated into panic and paranoia,
we continue to feel helpless and unable to function well as we
should. It is kind of obsessive that leaves us feeling insecure and
always in the state of fright. It’s a fear that finds no relief. It
is actually an over-reaction that does not seek support from reason,
and much less from faith. It makes things worse.
What we have to do is to
immediately go to God. He has the answer to all the questions that
we may even be unable to ask. He has all the solutions to all the
problems that we may not know we have. He will enlighten us as to
what concrete steps we can do. He will reassure us and will infuse
courage to our weakening or wavering heart.
Let’s remember what Christ
said once: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I
have overcome the world.” (Jn 16,33) These reassuring and comforting
words of Christ had always been repeated many times in the gospel.
“Fear not, it is I,” Christ said to the disciples when they saw him
walking on the water. (Jn 6,20)
From the Book of Isaiah,
we have these reassuring words from God: “Fear not, for I am with
you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes,
I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
(41,10) We really have no reason to be afraid of anything for long.
We just have to be strong
in our faith that in turn will guide our reasoning and strengthen
our emotions, especially when we encounter situations and problems
that humanly speaking seem to have no more solutions. We have to
expect this possibility to take place and we should just abandon
ourselves in the wise and omnipotent providence of God.
We are told that God is
always in control of things and that there is always time for
everything to happen, “a time to be born and a time to die…a time to
kill and a time to heal…a time to weep and a time to laugh…”
To repeat we should not
allow our fears to stay long on the level of raw, unprocessed
instincts and reflex reactions. With God, we will find a reason for
everything, and that everything will somehow work out for the good.
(cfr. Rom 8,28)
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 20, 2020
PEOPLE have been asking me
about how the homily in the Mass should be. I, of course, find it
difficult to answer that question, knowing that behind that question
are often critical observations people make, and that every priest
has his own style, has his own merits and limits which should be
But what I can say is
that, first of all, the homily is an integral part of the Mass, and
as much as possible, should not be omitted, especially on Sundays
and holy days of obligation. It should be given its due importance
and understood properly by both the priests and the faithful
attending the Mass.
Pope Francis said that the
homily “is not a casual discourse, nor a conference or a lesson, but
a way of ‘taking up anew that dialogue which has already been opened
between the Lord and his people.’” In other words, the homily is a
continuing dialogue that Christ initiates with the people, applying
the perennials truths of faith to the current circumstances of the
The homily is not
therefore some kind of class or lecture, but rather Christ
continuing his redemptive work on us, inspiring and edifying us.
Pope Francis said that priests should deliver good homilies so that
the “Good News” of the Gospel can take root in people’s hearts and
help them live holier lives.
What is clear is that the
priests in delivering the homily should be very conscious that he is
assuming the very person of Christ as head of the Church. He has to
project and channel Christ there, not himself. He should be careful
not to “steal the spotlight” from Christ.
And the priest should be
most aware that he is speaking to the people with the view of
helping them to become more and more like Christ, who is pattern of
our humanity and the savior of our damaged humanity. He is not there
to entertain them, or to give them a class.
While the priest, of
course, can and should make full use of whatever would help the
people to listen to him during the homily, the net effect should be
that it is Christ whom the people listen, and not just him. The
priest should regularly examine himself if such is the case when he
delivers the homily.
In this regard, it might
be helpful to make use of some words of St. John the Baptist who
said, “He (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn 3,30) Or
some words of St. Paul who said, “It is no longer who lives but
Christ lives in me.” (Gal 2,20)
The priest should find a
way of how he can put these words into his life, into his over-all
attitude toward things, and especially when he is giving the homily.
He should know well the art of passing unnoticed so that only Christ
would shine out.
Indeed, he has to spend
time meditating on how he can assume the mind and the presence of
Christ wherever he is and especially when he is celebrating the Holy
Mass and giving the homily.
He should try his best
never to depart from this state of mind, since he is already
sacramentally conformed to Christ head of the Church whether he is
saying Mass, walking in the street, or doing sport, etc.
Yes, he has to spend time
studying the gospel thoroughly so that he can truly incarnate it in
himself and express it in ways that can really present Christ who
would like to continue his redemptive dialogue with the people of
There should never be room
for improvisation. And when for some reason one is caught unprepared
because of some emergency situation, he should implore the Holy
Spirit to guide him, and let the tremendous wonder of the Spirit
speaking through him take place.
indispensability of the cross
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 19, 2020
That’s right. The cross,
given our human condition, is absolutely necessary in our life here
on earth. We cannot even be human, much less, Christian, without the
Without the cross, we
think that we can be absolutely on our own. Without the cross, the
only possibility we have is to sin, to go against God, to demean our
dignity as a human person and a child of God, meant to be in God’s
image and likeness.
Without the cross, our
freedom would easily go haywire, get unhinged and proceed to pursue
false, albeit quite attractive goals. Without the cross, pride,
vanity and their cohorts would easily dominate us. Humility and the
privations and sufferings that it occasions automatically become a
disvalue and are thrown out of the window.
That’s the reason why
Christ, who only has our own good in his mind and heart, commanded
us that if we want to follow him, we should deny ourselves and carry
the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24) We need the cross more than we need air
to breathe, food to eat.
We have to understand then
that the cross is not something optional, though it has to be
embraced as freely as possible. We should avoid thinking that since
the cross is necessary, we should just force ourselves to accept it.
That would be a wrong and dangerous attitude to have.
Thus, we have to spend
time meditating on this indispensability of the cross in our life so
we can form the proper attitude and the relevant skills. We cannot
deny that our human condition at the moment is quite averse even to
the mere mention of the cross. But this condition has to be
overcome, with God’s grace, of course, but also with our own effort.
Just like anything else in
life that we want to master, we need some training here. Thus,
instead of just waiting for the cross to come, we should actively
look for it. At the beginning, it is understandable that we take on
small crosses so we can be prepared for the big ones. There has to
be gradual assimilation of the importance of the cross in our daily
life until the cross becomes an organic part of our life.
I remember a saint who
wrote on the first page of his personal diary the following words:
“In laetitia, nulla dies sine cruce.” (In joy, there is no day
without the cross.) I think it’s a good motto to have and to guide
us. We really should try our best to look, find and love the cross
The cross, of course, can
come in many forms. There are the physical ones, the internal and
external ones, the emotional and mental ones, the spiritual and
moral ones. There also are the ordinary, small ones and the
extraordinary, corporal and special ones.
We can start with the
small crosses like eating less of what we like, guarding our senses
like our eyes and mouth. We can put a tighter grip on our
imagination and judgments, etc. Perhaps a relevant mortification
would be to limit our use of the internet and the many gadgets that
tend to distract us from our more important duties.
The more subtle forms of
mortification are to develop the ability to put order into all the
things of our day, observing the proper priorities, while at the
same time, trying to be as productive as possible by learning how to
put together in some kind of synergy the different tasks we have
during the day.
When we are faithful in
bearing these little crosses, then we can be more ready for the big
ones, as when we are severely misunderstood and mistreated, when we
fall into some serious sickness, when we suffer some crisis of one
kind or another.
That’s when we can be
ready for the final one: when we face our death and our transition
to eternal life.
Police reforms cannot be achieved through ultra-violent methods
A Statement by the Asian
Human Rights Commission
February 12, 2020
The South China Morning
Post recently published a report quoting Colonel Romeo Caramat
stating that the Philippines’ ultra-violent approach in curbing
drugs has not been effective. He further went on to say that "shock
and awe definitely did not work”. The drug supply is still
widespread and illicit drugs can be obtained anywhere, anytime in
Colonel Caramat, earlier
on, was one of the toughest enforcers of President Duterte's
ultra-violent Illicit Drug Policy. He was responsible for the
killing of 32 people. These killings took place within 24 hours in a
Province north of Manila when he was Chief of Police there. Now he
is the head of drug enforcement for the Philippine National Police.
He had to admit the failure of President Duterte’s policy pursued
for three to five years. President Duterte's spokesman claimed that
the drug policy was winning. However, President Duterte himself, on
several occasions, recently admitted that the war on drugs, with a
call to kill addicts and traffickers, has failed in many key
objectives. He attributed the failure to rampant corruption
prevalent in the Philippines.
It was predictable that
President Duterte's ultra-violent approach to curb the Entry/Illicit
Drug Policy was doomed to fail. What has to be achieved, through
significant reforms in the Institutions of Justice, particularly in
the Policing System, cannot be achieved with the extreme violence
existing in the Philippines. The root cause of the failure to curb
the spreading of illicit drugs was that a LAW ENFORCEMENT capacity
does not exist in the Philippines. This is due to the failure of the
Justice System as a whole and in particular the Policing System. The
extent of the corruption within the Policing System as well as the
complete ineffectiveness of the system is widely known.
The Asian Human Rights
Commission, in one of their reports published in their quarterly
magazine, Article 2, entitles its report as the Philippines having a
ROTTEN system of justice. It is this rotten system that has to be
cleansed as the substantial menace of the spread of drugs is being
handled by ineffective law enforcement personnel. However, neither
President Duterte not his predecessors have shown any political will
in this situation. They need to touch on these important areas of
national life and protection of the people. They need the return of
a RESPONSIBLE Police Force together with reform in other sections of
its Justice System.
The overall perception in
political circles is that dealing with the Policing System is far
more difficult than dealing with the illicit drug problem.
Therefore, a shortcut was attempted by using ultra-violent means to
curb the illicit drugs. However, such shortcuts cannot work in a
country where law enforcement itself is the UMBRELLA under which the
drug dealers and traffickers take shelter.
Not only the illicit drugs
problem but also every other major problem in the Philippines is
rooted in the ineffective administration of its Justice System. It
is the primary evil that prevails in the country as a whole, giving
rise to other evils like the spread of illicit drugs. Without
addressing the root causes of the most significant aspects of their
nation's failures, it is not possible to overcome any major problems
that come up. The ultimate result of this bad Justice System
affecting every area negatively, is the ever-increasing increasing
POVERTY of the people in the Philippines. Extreme poverty creates
victims who take refuge in the use of drugs. However, the extreme
poverty issue cannot be dealt with without the support of a
WELL-FUNCTIONING ADMINISTRATIVE JUSTICE SYSTEM.
It is not only the
Government which has failed to realize the importance of dealing
with the issue of a failed Justice System. Even the Civil Society
has not demonstrated a will to fight this pronounced evil which
effects every aspect of Philippine life. Great achievements were
made through “People's Power” to overthrow the President Ferdinand
Marcos dictatorship. But, attempts were not made to achieve
structural changes that supported authoritarianism. Thus, the
emergence of authoritarian methods and authoritarian rule have been
operative up to the present. The challenge facing the Philippine
people is that there will be sufficient political will within the
population to address the paramount problem they are fronting
This failure is their
SYSTEM OF JUSTICE, particularly the failure within their POLICING
Fake news - a
major threat to the work for promotion of rule of law and human
Asian Human Rights Commission
January 23, 2020
The world over a great
threat has emerged against civilization as a whole. This is the
power of fake news used with the technological assistance of a
highly sophisticated modern technological industry. A vast body of
daily reports of all types are spread through the internet and
These publications cannot
be held accountable for the truth or falsehood of what they publish.
There are so many ways of circumventing even a proper attribution of
a credible source for such information. All the legal principles
used earlier regarding print media cannot be used effectively
against the spread of false news items. Examples are the Laws of
deformation, fraud or misinformation leading to damage for
individuals or property. And this legal vacuum cannot be easily
overcome. The fake news makers are aware of these limitations with
regard to accountability. They can spread whatever they wish to
spread without accepting any responsibility for their acts.
What makes such fake news
so powerful is the fact that such news can be spread instantly to
vast audiences within a very short time, counted by minutes or
seconds. The very fact of publishing and distributing material on a
vast scale creates a kind of impression--if the news is so spread
there must be some truth behind whatever is being published. These
impressions are the stuff with which credibility is attained about
any sort of news. And now fake news uses this situation to their
Countering fake news is a
very difficult, arduous and time-consuming exercise. To erase the
impressions created by a single news item or a fake letter sent to a
number of persons can take years. Fake news writers professionalize
the creation of such fake news. Out of their own imagination they
make up a variety of stories looking at which is impossible to
dismiss altogether. Most people who get such news do not have the
time to look for verification. They may even dismiss such news items
at a conscious level. However such information does make
impressions. These impressions give rise to doubts which lead to
behavior and reactions which may affect other persons adversely or
There are different
tactics adapted by fake news writers, such as selecting words, that
may arouse a certain dislike or repugnance on just hearing them. For
example, a fake news writer may refer to a person as not
credit-worthy, with a bad reputation or having engaged in activities
which society may condemn. Or, perhaps, calling someone an
anti-Semite or a sexual abuser when there is no basis for these
accusations or others like embezzlement, fraud or similar
allegations. With that, goes adjectives, which create the feeling
that the person or the organization referred to, is quite bad. By
using such questionable words they can create mass impressions.
These impressions are in articles which of themselves do not have
any kind of real information or any provable actual information.
All over the world today
we are seeing this in terms of electoral politics, whether it be in
the United States of America or in Great Britain. This also includes
almost every other country where enormous amounts of false
accusations are lodged against popular political leaders. The main
idea in promulgating such fake news items is to create bad and wrong
impressions. As a result, at the polls, people may have doubts in
supporting such a person or cause.
In third world countries
this situation is even worse. A few persons who may have access to
mass media channels could create a virtual reality which has nothing
to do with the actual situation of a country. They effect this by
hiring persons with an ability to engage in this kind of manufacture
and distribution of particular fake news stories.
The worst aspect is that
criminal justice institutions when manipulated by authoritarian
governments can develop its own fake news industry. Before a person
is arrested or exposed to some serious charges a huge campaign could
be developed. So, when the actual violation of the rights takes
place many people begin to have doubts as to whether these
allegations can, in fact, be true. Such doubts prevent immediate
reactions to what appears to be blatantly unjust and violative acts
of the basic rights of the individual. This lack of resistance can
also be a factor in discouraging persons who are more knowledgeable
about the situation. Their intention was to place the truth before
people in society as the fake news industry overtakes them and
creates false impressions at every turn.
Worse affected in this are
the people who express dissent. In the past the very fact of
representing dissent carried a certain moral prestige. Today, more
and more with the use of fake news, industrial dissent can be
discredited by attributing multiple motives to it. How do they do
it? They portray a person or organization as agents of people having
such agendas. They represent such dissent not as people who are
exposing a worthy cause. They are doing these things for their own
personal or political agendas.
This situation creates
enormous demoralization and discouragement among persons who want to
stand up for what they think is right and reasonable. Standing up to
what they think is wrong, morally wrong and unreasonable, is less
and less attractive. Any efforts in getting involved in genuine
protests against people raises more problems than could be imagined.
Both the fake news
industry and the criminal underground often have very close links.
When the fake news industry portrays some person or organization as
not credit-worthy or having anti-social or anti- patriotic agendas,
then the criminal gangs could be mobilized to attack such persons.
This is constantly taking place with many reports coming in weekly
of such attacks. Here the interested parties mobilize the criminal
gangs to do what they want. If any blame is placed it will be on the
criminal gangs rather than on individual persons who are the real
motivators of such attacks.
The direct victim of the
fake news industry is the Criminal Justice System as a whole. This
means the Police investigating systems, Attorney General’s
Department (Prosecutor’s office) and the Judiciary itself. The fake
news industry could even attack the Courts because they could hide
their identities. The Courts themselves, by their very profession,
are unable to engage in such activities as social media in order to
defend themselves. While cases are filed for wrong reasons by
interested parties, massive propaganda that percolates through the
fake news may create another kind of trial. Serious crimes committed
by accused persons thereby develops another kind of attack on the
criminal justice system which is the trial by publicity.
There are two ways that a
trial by publicity takes place. One is to portray a person or any
group as guilty of what they are being accused of, thereby making
them the target of social attacks. Then exert pressure on them. They
would rather seek to find a compromise or a sentence of mitigation
rather than to fight their cases in public. Public trials on
sensitive cases become more and more dangerous for the public.
The second way the fake
news industry affects criminal trials is by making or portraying the
complainant as not a credit-worthy person. Therefore, the whole
story about the violation is in fact made up. For example, if a
murder takes place, this sensational type of news spreads quickly.
Perhaps it was due to some personal affair than to a deliberate,
intentional killing of someone in particularly. But it could be that
someone happens to be a politically interested person, trying to
achieve his or her aims through murder. Or it may be a woman
subjected to rape or even gang rape. The fake news industry then
will begin to spread derogatory remarks about the complainant. In
such cases they make them appear to be persons of a bad character or
a person making up these stories for some other dubious purpose.
A further way by which the
fake news industry affects criminal trials is through various
pressures created through false news events in the investigation of
crimes. The investigators themselves get these investigations
accredited without any real grounds for doing so. It makes the whole
exercise of the investigation simply due to political purposes. And
for a particular crime, things such as the murder of a journalist or
an attack on some groups or persons or corruption are not motivated
by genuine reasons.
The result of all these
explorations is: the investigators themselves running an
investigation are otherwise punished. This is based on a massive
propaganda campaign which goes to discredit persons who are involved
Another section of people
who are seriously affected by the fake news industry are the human
rights defenders themselves. Human rights defenders are engaged in
numerous activities which include: defending the civil and political
rights of others, defending environmental rights, fighting against
corruption, defending the right of freedom of expression or assembly
and lastly the rights for education and health. All these persons
could be brought under severe attacks by the fake news spreading
that all these activities are motivated not for altruistic reasons
but for personal gain. In addition, there is corruption and other
things involved in these activities or these activities are purely
the propaganda work of interested powerful countries whose sole
ambition is to destabilize other countries. Therefore, nationalism
could be evoked against the human rights defenders who are often
brought into disrepute and doubts about their work. The fake news
even reaches the agencies funding support for these groups. They
provide completely false information about allegations such as
sexual abuse which has never happened or corruption or fraud or the
like for which there is not the slightest evidence. And quite
manipulatively these fake news makers use the languages or ethics
that are respected in the West. They are trying to show that the
ethical codes honored in the West have been violated by the groups
that they support.
The fake news industry is
not only widespread but it is also sophisticated and very subtle.
Therefore, in the years to come, protecting and promoting the work
towards the Rule of Law and human rights, will certainly be attacked
manifold through these fake news channels and individuals. So we see
that what is needed is to develop ways of dealing with these issues.
In particular, the human rights and democratic organizations
themselves should develop their own capacity to deal with in-coming
information. They need a way to capably counteract problems in their
initial stages, thus controlling the damage easily created by the
fake news conglomerates.
Discussions by the public
should necessarily involve discussions on the impact of fake news.
Specifically, impact on humane causes, ways of evolving global
consensus and dealing with this enormous threat--not only to the
work of human rights and democracy but to civilization as a whole.
Sex should be
taboo no more!
January 7, 2020
WHAT I mean is that the
open discussion of sex in public should not anymore be considered as
taboo. Given the terrible state in which this basic human faculty is
massively abused and misused today, we should proclaim the true
gospel about sex relentlessly, “in season and out of season” as St.
Paul once said. (cfr. 2 Tim 4,2)
I believe that a great
contributing and aggravating factor to this mess is precisely to
consider talking about sex in public as taboo, a no-no. This allows
the demons to pull their tricks on us unchecked. They would have a
heyday. And we, of course, become their sitting duck.
Of course, the discussion
should be done with tact and prudence. This is always the case
whatever the topic or issue is involved. But such tact and prudence
should not be taken to mean that we should be shy about talking
openly about sex.
Given the fact that people
nowadays can talk openly about anything, including the frivolous and
inane topics, we should be quite open also in talking about sex
which plays a very important role in our life.
The gospel truth about sex
is that it is a God-given human faculty that is charged with the
procreation itself of man. What that means is that through sex, man
cooperates with God in the creation of another man. It is therefore
a very sacred faculty, given the fact that of all God’s creation, it
is man who is considered his masterpiece.
This gospel truth about
sex should sink in deep in the consciousness of everyone. It should
produce the appropriate attitude, skills and virtues to conform
ourselves to such truth. It should be the seed for the development
of a very important virtue of chastity.
How to make this gospel
truth about sex to sink in deep in the mind and heart of everyone
should be challenge to all of us. We really should help one another
here, and find effective ways to counter, if not remedy and heal the
many disorders and anomalies associated with the grave abuses of
We cannot deny that for
many people, especially the young, their understanding of human
sexuality is practically detached from the law and nature of sex as
defined by our faith and as lived in union with Christ. It is all at
the mercy of their blind and erratic bodily and earthly conditions.
There is a lot of sexual
addiction and aberrations and perversions nowadays. People are
starting to even legalize and normalize them. Even little children
are not spared from this mess. Pornography is rampant and easily
accessible. Many people are not anymore in control of their
sexuality that has gone practically amok, in runaway wildness.
But despite this very dark
development in the world today, there is always hope. God never
leaves us despite terrible things we do to go against his will. In
fact, this serious world predicament of ours can occasion a great
and strong intervention of God.
But, definitely, we have
to do our part. Aside from relentlessly proclaiming the gospel truth
about sex in public and in private, let us promote the practice of
spiritual direction and confession, impart the skill of developing a
true spiritual life of prayer, sacrifice and recourse to the
sacraments, the development of virtues, especially chastity. The
virtue of chastity has to be ceaselessly given witness to and
The usual problem we have
is that we are not with God, although God is always with us. With
that condition, we have no way to resist the temptations that come
from our wounded flesh, the sinful allurements of the world, and the
tricks of the devil.
We have to understand that
we are nothing with God, a truth that up to now seems still to be a
breaking news to many people.
If you are an experienced
or a fresh business owner, you must be familiar with emergency
business loans. Whether it is to expand your business locally or
internationally or find some more cash-flow stability, sometimes any
business can be in a situation where an emergency business loan can
be a life savior. Even if you have enough savings, maybe this money
is not something that you should consider “touching” as in general
the rule “business and private should stay apart” is a wise one. You
probably have saved for your kids' university or other unforeseen
events in life, such as sickness or your pension, so that money is
sacred. Thus the business emergency loan could be a very viable
Before choosing the organization that will provide you with a
business loan, it is essential to know that interest rates on
business loans can be high. This is the case, especially if you do
not have a reliable company history or your business's financial
situation is unstable. Comparing your options is crucial. Also,
online business loans are something worth looking into.
One of the great options to consider for a business emergency loan
is “UpFinance service” that helps you find the right emergency
business loan with the best conditions.
overworked, isolated, etc.
December 11, 2019
A NEWS item recently from
the US reported that many American priests are stressed out, burned
out due to the load they carry, and that many of them feel isolated.
To top it all, they are assailed now by a lot of scandals ranging
from financial mismanagement and sexual abuses.
My immediate reaction to
this item is, of course, to pray for them. Let us hope that both the
concerned Church authorities and the priests themselves would find
some effective solutions to these problems.
I also felt that there
must be some relation between these problems of overwork and
isolation, and the consequent scandals that now stain the image of
priests in the US. When one is tired, exhausted, feeling isolated
and uncared for, I believe we have a terrible mix that makes one
most susceptible to all kinds of anomalies and disorders.
What also came to my mind
is that more or less the same problems beset many of our local
priests also. At least the few I know complain about having so much
work that they can hardly cope and that they want to have someone
who can listen to them and share their plight. They want to vent out
some bad air that is compressing in their heart.
These problems are always
a challenge to the Church authorities who should come up and animate
appropriate programs, structures and networks. More than these, they
should find ways of how to go to the personal level of each of the
priests in their care.
The care for priests
should step out of the impersonal bureaucratic mold. The relation
between bishops and priests and among priests should be fraternal
and friendly. If this atmosphere is missing, something drastic and
immediate should be done to resolve it.
One idea in this direction
could be the promotion of priestly societies that would foster
priestly fraternity that is vivified by a particular charism or
spirituality. All priests should be encouraged to join these
societies. These societies can help eliminate or at least minimize
that dangerous situation where priests would feel isolated and
The practice of spiritual
direction, confession or just friendly chats where issues, problems
and difficulties are brought out should be constantly encouraged. It
cannot be denied that many of the priests have the tendency to keep
to themselves, not wanting to open up to anyone.
In that way, they do not
become transparent which is a condition the enemies of God and of
our soul like so much. Priests should learn to be brutally sincere
about the condition of their spiritual and priestly life. They have
to call a spade a spade. Hiding things that are significant in
priestly life would be like keeping a pact with the devil.
It is when priests have
spiritual direction, confession or chat with a friend that they can
be better helped in their life of prayers and sacrifice, so
indispensable in priestly life and ministry. It is undebatable that
when a priest’s life of prayer and sacrifice is not in order, his
priestly life and ministry will simply collapse sooner or later.
In spiritual direction,
confession or chats, priestly problems and issues can be better
sorted out and given appropriate solutions, suggestions and action.
I know that dioceses hold
for their ongoing formation for priests regular annual retreats and
monthly days of recollection. These means of formation are always
good, except that many priests attend them mainly for compliance
Hardly anything about
spiritual conversion or growth and enrichment is achieved. How to
have the proper effects of these means of formation is indeed a
great challenge for everyone! But no matter how daunting the
challenge is, both Church authorities and priests themselves should
just persist in finding the appropriate solutions.
Peace Talks: The Way Forward”
Statement of its 8th Ecumenical
Church Leaders’ Summit on Peace
December 8, 2019
The Philippine Ecumenical
Peace Platform (PEPP), gathered for the 8th Ecumenical Church
Leaders’ Summit on Peace in Silang, Cavite, under the theme: “Being
a Church for Transformative Peace in these Challenging Times”. The
Summit brought together 110 church leaders – clergy, women
religious, and lay – from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao representing
five major religious federations/groups* in the Philippines with the
participation of international partners, youth and other peace
advocates from civil society and other faith traditions.
The Summit participants
heard testimonies from the three (3) major regions of the country,
expressing the common experience of worsening poverty, especially
among rice farmers, and intensifying violence, with seemingly no end
in sight. There was shared sadness over the loss of innocent lives,
those who by virtue of serving the poor and oppressed, are maligned
as supporters or members of front organizations labelled as
“Communist Terrorist Groups”. There was shared recognition that
dialogue and peace talks are urgently needed but effectively
unworkable when the Government of the Republic of the Philippines
through the Department of National Defense (DND), has demonized the
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)/New People’s Army (NPA)/National
Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), as a Communist Terrorist
The PEPP Summit took time
to pray and remember those peace advocates who have been
incarcerated and even murdered for their principled commitments to
work for peace and justice. The Summit lifted up Atty. Benjamin
Ramos assassinated in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, whose murder
remains unsolved. Mr. Rey Claro Casambre, of the Philippine Peace
Center, who was arrested on December 7, 2018 and is languishing in
jail for a year, due to charges he denies and is presently proving
in court to be false accusations against him. The Summit unanimously
voted to call for his immediate release and those of other peace
consultants as well. The participants also prayed for and expressed
deep concern for Sister Ellen Belardo facing a warrant of arrest
following a perjury case filed against the Rural Missionaries of the
The PEPP Summit entered a
process of discernment on how to be a light and salt of the earth
for transformative peace. It drew out suggestions from the
delegates, strategies and best practices for peace. The recurring
theme was dialogue, reconstituting the Peace Panels and the
resumption of the Peace Talks as the only way forward.
The discernment process
also emboldened the delegates to continue expanding and reaching out
to the Filipino people and offering a message of positive peace. A
peace that is not won by the barrel of a gun, nor by demonizing the
enemy, but through constructive dialogue. This is through the
pursuit of a peace agreement that is mutually acceptable and will
address the root causes of the longest-running armed conflict in
Asia to date.
The PEPP Summit welcomed
and celebrated the recent news reports received on December 5, 2019,
that President Rodrigo R. Duterte is sending his emissary, Labor
Secretary and erstwhile head of the government peace panel, Sec.
Silvestre Bello III, to meet with the NDFP leadership in Utrecht,
Netherlands, to commence back channel negotiations toward the
possible resumption of the formal peace negotiations. The news was
also positively welcomed by NDFP Chief Political Consultant, Prof.
Jose Ma. Sison. The PEPP Summit hopes that these developments will
pave the way for the immediate resumption of formal peace talks.
After three days of
reflection and discernment, our calls remain resolute:
For the Government of the
Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front
of the Philippines (NDFP) to work towards the resumption of the
formal peace talks to address the roots of the armed conflict. To
immediately work for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on
Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and a bilateral ceasefire
For the Government to
immediately release Rey Claro Casambre and other political prisoners
including NDFP peace consultants on humanitarian grounds and for the
CPP-NPA-NDF to release prisoners of war as well.
For faith communities to
expand the effort to conduct creative activities (formal and
non-formal education, both in public and private schools) and
dialogue under the banner of PEPP, and to further broaden the
support for resumption of the GRP-NDFP formal peace talks.
We vow to continue to use
our faith resources and moral leadership to further expand the work
of PEPP throughout the Philippines. We will not stop and we will
break the walls among religions and build bridges instead. As we
pursue the promise of peace and the reign of God, we affirm the
words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: “Blessed are those who
hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.”
Issued and signed on this
6th day of December 2019.
PEPP is a platform for 5 church institutions/groups, namely, the
Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), National
Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Association of Major
Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) with organizations of
Religious, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) and the
Ecumenical Bishops' Forum (EBF), in working for a just and enduring
peace by supporting the peace process between the GRP-NDFP. ]
Message of Filipino youth to world leaders on the 25th UN Conference
of Parties by the Stewards and Volunteers for the Earth Philippines
December 4, 2019
We are sending this
message from the Philippines where currently, we are being hit by
typhoon Tisoy’s (Kammuri) heavy rainfall and flooding.
We are sending this
message to all of you, our supposed leaders, who have the time to
gather and do prestigious planning while many of us here are
preparing for what could be another rock bottom for us and our
countrymen. This may just be the last time that some of us in the
Global South will ever have the chance to relay this message of
urgency where climate-induced disasters have become the new normal.
You all constantly speak
of development. You all speak of eternal economic growth. You all
make promises of wealth, abundance and change, which get our hopes
high at first. But your promises fade just as quick as the time you
pronounced them leaving us desperately hanging with all your empty
You talk and forget, but
We remember the lives that
have been washed away by your criminal neglect and compromises. All
the nameless numbers that drowned in heavy floods, the poor who died
of hunger in droughts, and the indigenous and urban communities
displaced for the sake of your “development” projects.
The science has always
been clear: it is the profit-centered economy that is destroying our
planet. Call it whatever you want: business, entrepreneurship,
capitalism, whatever. One thing is clear: the unhindered pursuit of
outrageous amounts of super profits for a powerful few is what
brings about disaster and even death to the global population.
Life is even more
difficult for us here in the Philippines. We are a tiny,
archipelagic nation with the least carbon footprint and greenhouse
gas emissions, yet we are among the ones who suffer the worst
impacts of this climate crisis. We who live in the Pacific bear the
amplified effects of unstable climate conditions.
And for this, we would
like to address in particular our dear leader, President Duterte.
The moment you became the
16th President of the Philippines, we knew change has come. But not
in a way that is favorable to us. Your campaign was very promising
on letter, but you did not deliver. Poverty is still rampant.
Ecological devastation has worsened, and is increasing at an
You even had the nerve to
tell ASEAN leaders to “not sacrifice environmental for progress,”
and you wanted to enforce “sanctions vs. violators” of the Paris
Agreement on climate action. But how about the continuing operations
and expansions of coal-fired power plants here in our country? How
about the development projects under your Build, Build, Build
program to entice foreign investments at the expense of our
We would like to remind
you of how empty and devoid of meaning your words are. We would also
like to remind you of your responsibility, as the sworn leader of
this nation, to ensure the welfare of your constituents and our
We expect nothing less but
the declaration of a climate emergency. We shall see you amend all
policies that exacerbate our already vulnerable situation, and
allocate all resources for ordinary Filipinos to successfully adapt
to the impacts of climate change. We demand that you, as well as
your delegates, hold accountable the rich developed countries in the
Global North to pay their climate debt and push for maximum
reduction in their GHG emissions.
For you, and for the rest
of our global leaders in the 25th Conference of Parties, our message
is simple: NO MORE COMPROMISES.
Act now, or we will. We
are watching you.
The value of the
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
November 15, 2019
WE should never
underestimate the power of the vocal prayers. They may sound trite
and worn-out after years of simply mechanically praying them, but
they actually are the quickest and easiest way we can make use of to
put ourselves truly and divinely inspired.
And the simple reason is
that these prayers are truly inspired prayers. They are not just
human inventions, products of our pious creativity. They come
directly from Christ, as is the case of the Lord’s Prayer, or from
the lips of important biblical characters as is the case of the Hail
Mary and many other prayers.
Of course, there are also
many other vocal prayers that are composed by saints and by Church
authorities who are given such power by Christ himself. The
liturgical prayers at Mass and in the celebration of the other
sacraments, as well as breviary of the priests, are very
enlightening and helpful, to say the least.
If we would just put our
mind and heart into praying them, if we would just pray them with
faith and piety, there is no way but for us to be transported deep
into the spiritual and supernatural world where our deepest
yearnings are satisfied, at least for a time.
These prayers also teach
us what to say when we pray, what to ask from God, what attitudes
and sentiments we ought to have toward God, others and everything
else in this life, especially the different situations and
predicaments that we can encounter in life.
They have the power to
educate our mind and heart, conforming them to the mind and heart of
Christ, which is what actually is proper to us, since we are being
created and redeemed to be God’s image and likeness, children of his
In fact, when we pray the
vocal prayers, we would praying together with and through the Holy
Spirit. Our prayer would not just be our own prayer, but also that
of the Holy Spirit, of Christ and of his Church, since the Church is
the mystical body of Christ! We should never feel alone when we pray
the vocal prayers. We have to realize that we are in very good
company when we pray them.
If we only know what is
involved when we pray the vocal prayers, I am sure that we would be
deeply motivated to make use of them very often, especially in our
moments of difficulty and special need.
That is why the vocal
prayers should be taught to everybody as early as possible, as in
teaching them to little children, explaining well their importance
and effectiveness, and supporting such catechesis with clear
examples of the elders.
Let’s remember that the
little ones learn more from what they see than from what they hear.
When they see their parents and older siblings praying the vocal
prayers with fervor and piety, it would not take long before these
kids would do the same. Their capacity to follow or imitate what
they see is big. Thus, the practice of the family rosary is most
Of course, we should pray
these vocal prayers with naturalness, without exaggerated gestures
that can only betray some hidden motives of a misunderstood sense of
holy pride, vanity and piosity, the caricature of piety.
But naturalness does not
mean that we shy away from some public display in praying the vocal
prayers, as when we do pilgrimages, etc. The vocal prayers should
not be considered as simply something personal and private. They
have a strong social and public character also. They actually do a
lot of good to people in general.
These prayers should not
be regarded as only for children or old women who have nothing
better to do than to pray the whole day. Such attitude can only
betray one’s ignorance of the value of the vocal prayers, if not
one’s defense mechanism to justify his laziness, lack of faith, etc.
form human barricade outside their office vs. threat of AFP-PNP
office raid. Tarp behind them says, "AFP-PNP, Back Off!
Bawal magtanim ng ebidensya rito!"
terrorism! Defend rights and freedom! Uphold democracy!
A Press Statement by the
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines on the AFP-PNP
crackdown on activists
November 7, 2019
The Alliance of Concerned
Teachers (ACT) Philippines condemns the Duterte administration’s
intensifying attacks on the Filipino people who continue to struggle
for peace and democracy in the country. The series of raids and
arrests of progressive organizations in Negros and Metro Manila aims
to sow terror among dissidents and to quell the growing unrest of
the people who have long been suffering due to state neglect.
The crackdown on civilian,
unarmed, and legitimate activists and organizations expose the sham
that is President Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 which supposedly
aims to end local armed conflict in the country, but is a mere
cover-up for the administration’s more vicious attempts at
establishing a tyrannical rule. This is further exemplified by the
exposed connivance between the state’s machinery for war, the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police
(PNP) – particularly the NCRPO – and a member of the judiciary, the
Quezon City RTC Executive Judge Cecilyn E. Burgos-Villavert. Such
proves that Philippine democracy is under attack.
We, as teacher-unionists,
are not spared from these state attacks. Two teachers have been
gunned down, 2 more were attempted to be killed, and one ACT
coordinator is jailed on a trumped-up charge in a period of less
than a month. Offices and homes of teachers’ organizations as well
as leaders who are vocal in advancing their rights and welfare face
the threat of raids, harassments, and other rights violations.
Mouthpieces of the state mock legal and legitimate teachers as
'teacher-actors' while they hurl us with red tags and despicable
lies that only aim to smear the teaching profession and our rightful
unionism. These have persisted since the state launched the illegal
nationwide profiling against ACT late last year, upon the signing of
EO 70 or the whole-of-nation approach on counterinsurgency.
As educators, it is our
duty to uphold democracy and defend people’s rights and freedoms. We
teach our students to practice critical thinking for the pursuit of
social justice. Our fight for livable wages, better working
conditions, and better social services is an exercise of all that we
espouse in class. It is therefore imperative that we continue to
stand our ground and assert our rights. We shall continue to build
unities within our ranks and forge solidarities with other sectors
as we jointly register our strong resistance and defiance of the
increasingly fascist Duterte regime.
We likewise call on all
freedom- and democracy-loving members of the local and international
community to join us in this fight. An attack on one of us is an
attack on all of us. We must stand together and fight back against
oppressive and tyrannical regimes. Stop state terrorism!
Fear the cross no
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
October 15, 2019
WE have to learn to lose
any fear of the cross. That instinct of ours to be afraid and to
flee from the cross has to be reversed, and made into an instinct of
love for the cross.
This may take time and
effort, this may require a lot of thinking and discipline, this may
involve some drastic and even painful adjustments in our
understanding of things, but it is all worthwhile to do so.
When we lose the fear of
the cross and develop the love for it instead we would have the
proper light to guide us in our life here on earth. Not only that,
we can have the invincible peace and joy that is proper to us as
persons and as children of God.
Opus Dei founder, St.
Josemaria Escriva, often repeated the motto, “Lux in cruce, gaudium
in cruce, requies in cruce,” (light in the cross, joy in the cross,
peace in the cross), to remind himself and everybody else that it is
in the cross of Christ where we have the path and the instrument of
our human salvation.
Again it’s good to be
theological in our understanding of the cross because the mere human
attitude toward the cross can never fathom the crucial and
indispensable significance the cross of Christ possesses.
Christ’s cross, which
Christ himself told us to carry (cfr. Mt 16,24), converts that tree
of death that led to the downfall of our pristine humanity in Adam
and Eve into a tree of life that brings us back again to God, our
Father and Creator.
It is this cross that
assumes all the sins of men and destroys them. It is this cross that
reopens the gates of heaven to us after it was closed due to our
sins. We need to engrave these theological truths of the cross so we
can be guided properly.
In other words, this cross
enables us to handle the worst condition that can happen to us in
this life, and to convert that condition into a means of our
salvation. Thus, whenever we have the cross, in whatever concrete
form it comes – whether physical, moral or spiritual – we have to
bear it with Christ always. It would then become Christ’s cross, and
not just any cross, and as such it is a redemptive cross.
It would also be a cross
that is not simply ours, borne only by our own selves. It becomes
the cross of Christ who has assumed all the sinfulness of men
without committing sin. (cfr. 2 Cor 5,21) Somehow it is a cross that
is not as heavy as when it is simply ours, carrying it without
Christ carrying it for and with us.
We obviously have to adapt
our attitude, thinking and reactions towards the cross according to
what our faith teaches us. We have to go theological in this, not
merely physical, emotional or mental. Thus, we have to be ready to
follow what Christ told us whenever we encounter crosses in our
Like, we have to learn to
love our enemies, to pray for them. We have to offer the other cheek
when we are slapped in one cheek. We have to learn to be charitable
and magnanimous when we are misunderstood, mistreated, insulted,
offended. We have to learn to be patient and humble when humiliated.
We have to regard others as better than us, always concerned about
their interest rather than focusing simply on ours.
There are many more forms
of how to bear our cross the way Christ bore his, and thus make our
cross also the cross of Christ, a cross that is redemptive and
worthy of being loved and exalted.
We should not only lose
fear of the cross, but rather love it, and actively look for it,
since that is the only way to our salvation, given our wounded and
May 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) remains
inadequately justified, and will extend terms of office without
A press statement by the
National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL)
September 24, 2019
The National Citizens’
Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) reiterates its position that
the May 2020 Barangay and SK Elections be held as scheduled.
Moving the date of the
• Contravenes the
principle of regularity in the conduct of an election;
• Extends the terms of
elected officials without a fresh mandate from the electorate;
• Deprives the electorate
of seeking accountability from elected officials through the ballot.
Periodic elections are an
institutionalized governance feature in countries that have chosen
democracy as their form of government. The Philippines has an
obligation under international law to conduct periodic and genuine
elections, as articulated in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR). Further, the ICCPR stipulates that every citizen
must be provided the right and opportunity...to “vote and to be
elected at genuine periodic elections.” Thus, the regularity of
elections is important to establish the mandate, legitimacy and
moral authority of elected leaders. Not holding elections regularly
could undermine the democratic process of ensuring the citizens’
right to choose their leaders and make them accountable.
On postponing BSKE to save
P5 billion to P6 billion: Recent reports said that the country loses
P700 Billion annually due to corruption, P50 Billion annually due to
illegal wildlife trade, P105.7 Billion annually due to road crashes,
and P3.5 Billion daily due to traffic congestion in NCR alone, among
others. These reports indicate that the government can source enough
funds by addressing several key issues. Why do so at the expense of
a Constitution-mandated process?
On postponing BSKE due to
election fatigue and not having enough time to prepare: The May 2020
BSKE comes a full year after the May 2019 elections. Preparations
for a manual election is not as complex and as time-pressured as
that of an automated one. The Comelec has acknowledged that they are
implementing the 2020 BSKE calendar and are in the thick of
preparations (ie. voter registration, outreach to IPs, voters’
education, etc.). Comelec's request is just to not conduct the BSKE
at the same time or less than a year before or after national
On postponing BSKE because
terms of office will be cut short: When the sitting barangay and SK
officials filed for their candidacy for the May 2018 BSKE, they were
fully aware of and accepted a shortened term, itself brought on by a
previous postponement of BSKE. NAMFREL believes that, instead of
length of term, a major determinant of success besides qualified and
committed elected local officials is the existence and proper
execution of concrete plans for the barangay, guided by established
guidelines and implementing rules and regulations. In the absence of
these, no amount of term extensions would ensure accomplishment of
expectations and deliverables. If they do a good job in their
shortened term, let their constituents judge them through the
Moreover, moving the date
of elections set by law can only be justified when any of the
conditions mentioned in Section 5 of the Philippine Omnibus Election
Code exist: any serious cause such as violence, terrorism, loss or
destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and
other analogous causes of such a nature that the holding of a free,
orderly and honest election should become impossible in any
political subdivision. It is the task of the Commission on Elections
(Comelec) to make such determination, which in turn should be
through public hearings. None of these conditions exist, and no such
consultations with the voting public ever took place.
martial law! Resist dictatorship and attacks on people’s rights!
A Press Statement by
KARAPATAN on the 47th anniversary of martial law
September 20, 2019
47 years ago, darkness
reigned, but it did not prevail against the force of a united
Darkness may reign now,
but it will be defied.
47 years ago, the Filipino
people went through one of the darkest and bloodiest periods in our
nation’s history. With the declaration of martial law on September
21, 1972, the late Ferdinand Marcos unleashed the horrors of a
brutal fascist dictatorship: civil liberties and people’s rights
were brazenly attacked and violated; democratic institutions were
dismantled in consolidating authoritarian rule; the free press was
shut down; millions were plundered from the country’s coffers to
fatten the pockets of the Marcoses and their corrupt cronies as the
nation suffered under extreme poverty; and hundreds of political
opponents and critics along with thousands of activists, organizers,
and unionists were illegally abducted and detained, tortured, killed
or forcibly disappeared – some of whom are still missing to this
Today, September 20, on
the eve of the 47th anniversary of the declaration of martial law,
Karapatan joins the Filipino people in remembering all the victims
and martyrs of the Marcos dictatorship. We remember their lives, we
remember their sacrifices, and we remember their struggle for
democracy, freedom, and justice – culminating in the toppling of the
Marcos regime by a united Filipino people against tyranny and
dictatorship. However, the fight for a just and humane society is
far from over.
Today, we are confronted
yet again with the horrors and brutalities of Marcos’ martial law,
as we see a creeping dictatorship taking form, helmed by dictator
wannabe Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte is an altogether
different monster. He has coddled the Marcoses and enabled them to
shamelessly return to power and escape accountability, with Imee
Marcos even securing a seat in the Senate while Imelda Marcos was
able to walk free despite being convicted of 7 counts of graft.
Duterte, like a true Marcos fanboy, is now eagerly following the
Marcosian playbook of repression and oppression. We are once again
promised a golden age, no doubt marked by a ballooning debt and
worsening economic crisis.
Martial law and de facto
martial law have been put in place. Martial law in Mindanao has been
repeatedly extended without basis, and has enabled State forces to
commit more atrocities with astounding impunity. The Lumad and Moro
people have been subjected to killings and intensified
militarization, justified by the military through scare tactics and
feeding public paranoia. Transparency is not the priority of fascist
regimes. This same arrangement, sans the formal declaration, is also
creating havoc in the regions of Negros, Samar, and Bicol under
Memorandum Order No. 32. Whatever the name, the impact of formal and
de factor martial law remains salient – unhampered human rights
Alongside this, the
Duterte regime is preparing a long list of repressive policies.
Under Executive Order No. 70, coupled with efforts to revive the
Anti-Subversion Law, mandatory Reserve Officers Training Course
(ROTC), death penalty, and plans to amend the Human Security Act,
the fascist Duterte regime is parroting the Marcosian tactic of
propping up a McCarythite communist hysteria to justify its
draconian measures and crackdown on opponents and critics. To the
greedy who want to tighten their grip on power, every resistance is
akin to sedition and all – including church leaders and workers,
journalists, youth activists, and human rights defenders – are
tagged as terrorists.
This is all under the
framework of Oplan Kapanatagan. The bloodbath happening in all
regions of the country are systematic and orchestrated attacks. This
“whole-of-nation” approach seeks to penetrate the core of
government, to blur civilian and military functions, to remove
civilian and combatant distinctions.
Despite these draconian
measures, the people, who have been long suffering under extreme
poverty, joblessness, and landlessness only find more reason to
fight and resist with the exposition of the regime’s corruption and
brazen abuse of power – from the freeing of big-time criminals
convicted of heinous and drug-related charges to the increase in
pork barrel funds of Duterte’s allies in Congress, as well as his
own pork and P2.5 billion worth of confidential intelligence funds.
Moreover, in the face of anti-poor economic policies, Duterte’s
puppetry and surrender of national sovereignty to the interests of
China and the United States, and the ballooning infrastructure debt
with his billions worth of loans from China, plunges the country
deeper and deeper into an economic crisis. This regime is a sham, a
sell-out, and a failure.
The people are made to
suffer for speaking out. As the people grow more and more
disgruntled with the fascist regime every day, we are moving closer
to the tipping point.
We have been here before,
and we are treading dark times once again, with our hard-won freedom
under threat of being taken away from us. In these trying times, we
are once again called to stand united in resisting the new
dictatorship and its attacks on people’s rights. On September 20, on
the eve of the 47th anniversary of the declaration of martial law,
we return to the streets with our clenched fists raised in defiance.
We march as one to Luneta once more, united in the call to demand
accountability and justice from the plunder and atrocities of the
Marcoses and Duterte, and to resist the darkness of tyranny and
dictatorship under Duterte’s de facto martial rule.
Darkness may reign now,
but it will never prevail against the force of a united people.
Judge not to
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
September 3, 2019
JUDGING, of course, is
basic and indispensable to us. It is the first step we do to know
things. As soon as our senses apprehend certain things, our
intelligence is immediately activated and starts to make judgments
so we can start knowing. From there, we can make many other
intellectual operations – like more judgments and reasoning – to be
able to know more things and in a better way.
We have to take this basic
fact of life into consideration whenever we try to understand
Christ’s words when he said, “Judge not and you shall not be
judged.” (Mt 7,1) He did not mean that we should not judge at all,
because that would be inhuman, that would be against the very nature
God designed for us.
In fact, the succeeding
passages of those words of Christ presume that we make judgments as
a natural thing we do. “For with what judgment you judge, you shall
be judged,” he said. “And with what measure you mete, it shall be
measured to you again.” (7,2)
From these words, what we
can conclude is that we should be careful with our judgments. We
should see to it that our judgments are in accordance with our
dignity as children of God who have to judge people and things the
way God judges them, that is, full of charity and everything else
that flows as a consequence of charity. Most prominent in these
consequences of charity would be prudence and discretion.
This can mean that there must be times when we have to judge not to
judge because we have no basis for making such judgments. Otherwise,
we would commit what is called rash judgments. In other words, there
are times when we have to withhold our judgment, or at least make
only a tentative one that has to be handled with a lot of
Of course, we can have
suspicions, which are already a form of judgment. We can also
theorize and hypothesize, if only to understand something to a
certain extent or to be able to deal in some practical way with a
certain issue. These are already forms of judgment, albeit tentative
and not definitive.
We have to be always wary
of the need to judge not to judge when the occasion calls for it. We
should not be “trigger-happy” with our judgments. We need to study
and weigh things first before we make any judgments or we decide to
withhold making any.
This is especially so when
we are fed only with gossips and hearsays, or when we are confronted
with questions and issues that are beyond our competence. Especially
in the area of politics, where there is intense bias and prejudice
because of its extremely partisan character, the need to judge not
to judge should be deeply felt.
At best, we can only make
tentative judgments that, as said above, should be handled with
discretion. We need to have a good grip of our emotions and
passions, because otherwise, they would usually lead us to make rash
We also have to be careful
with our “small talks” that usually are none other than gossips and
other inane, frivolous chats that cause harm on the name of others.
What is most important is
that we fill our mind and heart with the spirit of Christ so that in
everything that we think, judge and speak, there is always charity
and prudence and discretion.
Let’s remember what St.
Paul said about having the spirit of Christ in this regard: “The
spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is not subject to
anyone’s judgment. For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to
instruct Him. But we have the mind of Christ…” (1 Cor 2,15-16)
In other words, the only
way we can judge properly is when we are truly identified with
Christ, animated by the same spirit, having the same mind as he has.
Stepping into the
ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 21, 2019
WE need to realize more
deeply that everytime we participate in any liturgical act, we are
actually stepping into the supernatural world of God. We are made
contemporaries with Christ as he continues his work of human
redemption until the end of time.
And that’s simply because
in the liturgy, as in the celebration of the sacraments, especially
the Holy Eucharist, Christ is made present and continues to act. The
liturgy is a divine initiative, not ours. It’s God who brings us to
his supernatural world. Ours is simply to express and articulate in
human forms this divine initiative as commanded by Christ, and to
participate in its supernatural dynamics.
This is why we should
develop and keep a very special consideration, attention and
devotion to the liturgy, especially the Holy Mass. In it, we have to
give our all, carrying out what Christ commanded us to do: to love
God with all our might, and our neighbor as ourselves, which he
later perfected by saying that we have to love one another as he
himself has loved us.
If this truth about the
liturgy is understood and upheld properly, you can just imagine how
we ought to behave when we participate in a liturgical act! We can
never exaggerate the intensity of our devotion, prayer and worship
to God. Our best will always be found wanting. But the point is that
we just have to do our best even if our best can still be made
We need to do a more
effective and abiding catechesis on this very important aspect of
our Christian life. We cannot deny that there are many things that
indicate that the people’s understanding and attitude toward the
liturgy is inadequate, marked by ignorance, confusion and error.
This sorry state about how
the liturgy is understood can even start among the clergy. Though we
cannot generalize, neither can we deny that in many instances the
sacredness of the liturgical acts appears to be missing due to the
way they are celebrated. More than faithful ministers of Christ,
some clerics reduce their status into simply being performers and
Being a divine initiative,
the liturgy, as in the celebration of the sacraments, derives its
supernatural effectiveness more from God’s power (ex opere operato)
rather than from our dispositions (ex opere operantis). Just the
same, it will always demand of us the best dispositions that we can
give. So we cannot overemphasize the need for the appropriate
preparation we ought to have before celebrating or participating in
a liturgical act.
Our participation in it
can be likened to the most pliable clay in the hands of the potter
(God) so that we can be as God wants us to be. We need to be as
malleable as possible to God’s will and ways. He is very eager to
make us like him.
Our participation in it
can also be likened to the relation that good labourers have toward
God, the owner of the vineyard or faithful servants in God’s
household. We need to work with the will of God as owner always in
We therefore cannot
overemphasize the need to participate in the liturgical acts as
actively as possible. In this regard, it would be helpful if we
familiarize ourselves with the prayers and the different parts
involved in the liturgy. We need to spend time for this purpose so
that hopefully we can go along with the liturgy actively aware of
what is happening and not just coasting along passively.
The prayers involved
usually are most inspired prayers that will always be helpful to us.
They express the proper attitude and sentiments we ought to have
toward God. They are always worthwhile to be internalized so that we
can truly enter into the spirit of the liturgy and not just get
entangled in its externals.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
July 10, 2019
WE have to be familiar
with the so-called pro-choice position that is now becoming the
prevalent ideology affecting many countries and especially the young
ones, the so-called millennials. We need to be familiar with it so
that we can be better prepared to deal with it, since it is now
invading our own country. In fact, there is now a strong
foreign-funded pressure to instil this kind of liberal pro-choice
view on us.
The pro-choice position,
of course, refers to the so-called life-issues, like abortion,
population control, same-sex marriage, divorce, euthanasia, etc. It
has an eminently moral question that we need to be clear about.
We need to understand that
there are moral principles that derive from the very nature of
things, and especially of our own. And they have a universal
applicability, going beyond our natural and artificial differences
in race, culture, religion and other categories.
In a nutshell, the
pro-choice position can be expressed in the following words as
expressed by many of its advocates and followers: “I am pro-choice,
even if that means abortion. I am also for same-sex unions, and I
also support legalizing divorce. What people want to do with their
lives and their body should not be controlled by other people’s
“If you do not want
abortion, don’t get one. If you don’t want to marry one of the same
sex, by all means, don’t. Don’t divorce if that’s what you prefer.
But to take away other people’s choices because you don’t agree with
them is evil and wrong. The terrible thing is that many people can
only imagine a world where their religion is absolute. What
It’s incredible that this
view can be held even by very educated people, and people who are
even products of Catholic schools and other very prestigious centers
At least two possibilities
can explain this disturbing phenomenon. One is that these schools
are not anymore teaching morals and are just focusing on technical
things. And two, that the students may be taught morals but are not
internalizing them. Of course, there are still many other possible
With this pro-choice
position, one is practically saying that there are no absolute moral
principles with a universal applicability, that everyone is
absolutely free to do whatever he wants to do. In other words, one
makes himself his own lawgiver, if not his own god. He cannot be
told and taught anything. He has to be left alone. He can do
anything he likes.
It is amazing that many
people with this position do not realize that they are going against
even the very basics of common sense. We are never alone. We can
never be alone. We have to live by certain laws. We cannot escape
the fact that we have to submit to certain do’s and don’ts.
Abortion is not about
exercising the right over a woman’s body. Whether one is a believer
or not, abortion is simply killing a human person. A fetus inside
the mother’s womb is not just a clump of cells. A fetus just cannot
be but a baby.
And the so-called same-sex
marriage is a contradiction since marriage can only be between a man
and woman. It is not meant only for good-time, for giving in to what
our flesh desires. It is meant for procreation, for education and
upbringing of children and family, and the good of society.
Divorce simply goes
against the very nature of marriage. It is rejecting one’s
commitment of love however the marriage may go. The concerned
parties in marriage promise “to have and to hold, from this day
forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness
and in health, until death do us part”
Let’s hope that families,
churches, schools, offices and the government units help in
clarifying these moral life issues both with clarity and charity
always. Hardly anything is gained when we start fighting.
Failure to investigate killings demands UN action
A statement by the International
Commission of Jurists (ICJ), urging the UN Human Rights Council to
take action on the reported human rights violations in the
July 3, 2019
The ICJ today joined other
NGOs in urging the UN Human Rights Council to take action on the
The joint oral statement
was delivered by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) on
behalf of OMCT, Amnesty International, the International Commission
of Jurists (ICJ), Franciscans International, Swiss Catholic Lenten
Fund, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH),
FORUM-Asia. It read as follows:
“In March 2019, the UN
High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that several sources
“estimate that up to 27,000 people may have been killed in the
context of the campaign against illegal drugs since mid-2016.”
including of children, carry on, and President Rodrigo Duterte and
his administration continue to explicitly encourage these acts. In
June 2019, the scale and seriousness of the reported human rights
violations prompted 11 UN human rights experts to call on the
Council to establish an independent investigation into such
government officials at the highest levels against politicians,
human rights defenders, journalists, and several Special Procedures
mandate holders have also been rising.
At the 35th, 36th, and
38th sessions of the Council, Iceland, on behalf of a group of
States, explicitly called on the government “to take all necessary
measures to bring killings associated with the campaign against
illegal drugs to an end and cooperate with the international
community to investigate all related deaths and hold perpetrators
In light of the failure of
the government to effectively investigate and bring to justice those
responsible, we urge all States to support the adoption of a
resolution on the Philippines at this session, mandating the OHCHR
to monitor and provide regular updates on the human rights situation
to the Council, as the first step toward establishing an independent
international investigation into extrajudicial killings and other
human rights violations committed in the government’s ‘war on
Such a response is all the
more important given the Philippines obligations to uphold the
highest standards in human rights as a member of the Council.”
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
June 28, 2019
SOMEONE sent me an article
that was proposing for the abolition of the priesthood. The reason
behind are the many clerical scandals that have been plaguing the
Church for years now, mostly in the US and other countries but also
– at least a few cases – in the local scene.
Of course, my immediate
reaction was that while it is unfortunate to hear about these
scandals, abolishing the priesthood is not the solution at all to
the problem. Rather, it will make things worse.
And that is because
abolishing the priesthood is practically like abolishing the Church,
or worse, abolishing Christ in our life, since the priest, in spite
of his unworthiness, is the sacramental representation of Christ,
head of the Church.
Abolishing the priesthood
is like throwing the baby together with the bath water. Yes, we have
to do something about what is wrong in these scandals. It may be a
long, painful process, but it is all worthwhile. But what we cannot
do is to abolish the priesthood.
The priest, of course,
should be constantly aware of his sacramental identity and try his
best to live up to that dignity. He should be keenly aware that with
his ordination he is conformed to Christ as head of the Church, and
not just a member of the Church capable of participating in the one
sacrifice of Christ to his Father for our salvation.
His priesthood, which is
called ministerial or hierarchical, is different from the common
priesthood of the lay faithful of the Church that is based on his
baptismal status, not only in degree but in essence. The priest acts
“in persona Christi capitis,” in the person of Christ as head of the
As such, he renews in the
whole course of time till the end the very sacrifice of Christ, and
everything else that is oriented to that sacrifice of Christ. He
makes present the whole redemptive work of Christ.
The lay faithful who have
the common priesthood do not have the power to renew this sacrifice.
What their priesthood empowers them is to offer their whole life as
a sacrifice to God, doing so by uniting their sacrifice with the
sacrifice of Christ as renewed in the Mass that is celebrated by the
Of course, human as we
are, the priest will always have his own share of shortcomings,
weaknesses, and yes, sin. This should not surprise anyone. Even
Christ was not spared of Judas, one of his original apostles. But
like anybody else, and in a sense, even more than anybody else, the
priest should really take extreme care of his spiritual life.
The priest should be
keenly aware that the lay faithful depend on them. How he is somehow
determines how the lay faithful will be. If he is faithful to his
identity as another Christ head of the Church, then the lay faithful
will also most likely be like Christ as they should.
But such state of affairs
should not make the priest feel superior to the lay faithful, but
rather should keenly feel the duty to serve them, as Christ loved
and served all of us by offering his life on the cross. Like Christ,
he should have the attitude of wanting to serve and not to be
served. (cfr. Mt 20,28)
He should never feel
privileged, assuming the mentality of entitlement or falling into
the anomaly called clericalism. Rather he has to assume the mind of
Christ, a servant and a willing sacrificial lamb for all of us.
He has to continually wage
a personal spiritual struggle to keep his priestly identity intact.
For this, he has to continually purify himself and renew his
Of course, it would be
most helpful if the lay faithful will also help in making the priest
a priest through and through, totally living out his sacramental
identity as Christ head of the Church.
How can I look
after my children during a divorce?
One of the biggest worries
that couples who are considering or going through a divorce have is
the worry about the impact it will have on their children. Divorce
can be a stressful process for all involved, especially if you don’t
agree on certain aspects. You’ll want to do all you can to minimise
the impact on your children, so these issues have to be dealt with
carefully and sensitively. Above all, you must remember to put the
In this article, we’re
going to go over some of the biggest questions about divorce and
How will my children cope with divorce?
A relationship breakdown
can have a big emotional impact on children, even if it doesn’t
initially seem like they’re affected. It can lead to feelings of
sadness, anger, bewilderment, anxiety, loneliness and more. Children
can also feel like they are the cause of the issues between their
Children can also become
confused, wondering if the separation is temporary. Younger children
may even cling on to the hope that their parents will suddenly get
back together, even after long periods of separation.
It’s important to be aware
that children may try to hide their feelings or may even tell each
parent something different, depending on what they think that parent
wants to hear. Parents can sometimes believe that it’s not having
much impact on their children when, in reality, the situation is far
worse than they think.
How can I help my children through a divorce?
Always try to give your
children as much reassurance as possible and try to clearly explain
what is happening in a way that they can understand. Try to avoid
changing the family routine and encourage them to still have a
relationship with both of you. Make them aware that it’s ok to talk
about their feelings with you and how they feel about the other
parent so that they don’t feel like they have divided loyalties.
What you should never do
is be critical of the other parent in front of the child, or do
anything that will undermine their relationship with said parent.
Never ignore your children’s feelings, and even ask older children
for their advice on the situation. Above all, never involve the
children in your battles with the other parent or try to use your
children against your partner.
How do I ensure my children’s interests are put first?
The simple answer is to
remember that, regardless of what has happened between you and your
partner, you will still need to work together as parents in the
future. It does children no good to see their parents constantly
fighting. So your first responsibility will be to minimise conflict
with your partner and support each other in the future.
It may be useful to
discuss a parenting plan with your partner.
What if we don’t agree about our children?
With such an emotionally
charged situation, it’s unsurprising that parents may not agree with
arrangements regarding children. As mentioned earlier, ensuring that
putting children first is always on your mind, is the key to
maintaining a friendly and civil relationship with your partner.
This will allow the practicalities of childcare to be discussed
freely. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go that smoothly.
If you can’t come to an
agreement over your children, mediation or collaborative law (in
which each parent hires a solicitor who will sit in with you on a
series of ‘four-way meetings’ between you, your solicitor, your
partner and their solicitor) may be introduced. It may also help if
you attend counselling sessions or family therapy. Going to court
should always be a last resort.
Even if you already agree
with how you will handle the arrangements around children, it’s
still important for parents to get expert legal advice from a
law solicitor, to help understand their position and consider all
the options available to them.
Conduct an investigation into the killings of activists, and take
genuine steps towards addressing the violence
A joint press statement by
the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and
Front Line Defenders
Bangkok, June 21, 2019
The Asian Forum for Human
Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and Front Line Defenders
strongly condemn the unabated killings and violence against
activists, human rights defenders, and civil society organisations
in the Philippines, particularly those of Leonides ‘Dennis’ Suquena,
Ryan Hubilla, Nelly Bagasa, Nonoy Palma, and Neptali Morada earlier
this month. FORUM-ASIA and Front Line Defenders urge the Government
of the Philippines to immediately conduct a transparent
investigation into these killings, to take genuine steps towards
addressing the continuous violence, and to provide justice for all
On 2 June, labour union
organiser Leonides ‘Dennis’ Sequena was gunned down by unidentified
men in the province of Cavite. Ryan Hubilla and Nelly Bagasa,
members of the human rights network Karapatan, were killed on 15
June. Hubilla, along with other Karapatan members had earlier raised
concerns about being subjected to state surveillance. On the same
day, Nonoy Palma, a member of a farmers' group was killed in
Bukidnon province. Two days later on 17 June, the former campaign
leader of the leftist group Bayan, Neptali Morada, was gunned down
in the Bicol region, also by unidentified individuals.
The ongoing ‘war on
drugs’, which has resulted in an estimated 27,000 extrajudicial
killings, has further exacerbated the culture of violence in the
country. Human rights groups have long expressed concern that
tactics used in the ‘war on drugs’ are now being used to target
political activists, human rights defenders and other critics of the
Government, in efforts to instil fear and stifle dissent.
These killings continue to
occur within an environment of impunity, where both police officers
and civilians overwhelmingly escape accountability for extrajudicial
killings. The normalisation of the violence has gone so far that
even the former police chief responsible for the operationalisation
of the ‘war on drugs’, Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa, will take his seat
as an elected Senator in July 2019. Of the killings against
activists and ordinary individuals within recent years, only a few
have led to criminal prosecutions or convictions.
organisations have also raised concerns over the heightened use of
red-tagging and terrorist-tagging. In such cases, individuals
appear, with their name and organisational affiliation, on lists
drawn up by the security sector. Having your name appear on such a
list basically declares you to be a legitimate target for harassment
and violence from both state and non-state actors. Many of these
killings have been conducted under the cover of the country’s
counter-insurgency programme, with very little transparency.
Security sector officials behind these actions continue to face
little to no accountability for their actions.
FORUM-ASIA and Front Line
Defenders call on the Government of the Philippines to address the
rise in the killings, including through acknowledging its role in
the continuous violence, taking steps to provide protection, and
ensuring accountability. Ahead of the 41st session of the UN Human
Rights Council, FORUM-ASIA and Front Line Defenders reiterate their
call to States to actively support a resolution establishing an
independent, international investigation into the extrajudicial
killings in the ‘war on drugs’, and mandating the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor and report on the situation
in the country, including the targeting of activists, human rights
defenders and civil society.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
June 5, 2019
IT’S really a matter of
faith, of how strong our faith is. With faith, we know that whatever
be our condition and situation in life, God is always there and will
never abandon us. He is there to help us. He actually takes care of
It’s this faith that
springs and strengthens our hope and charity, which is the essence,
purpose and fullness of our life. With faith, we can manage to be at
peace all the time, to experience joy and awe even in the midst of
our unavoidable earthly suffering, and to go on and move on despite
To battle our fears,
worries and sadness, we need to strengthen our faith and live it to
the hilt. And let us allow it to educate all our human powers and
faculties – our intelligence and will, our emotions and passions,
our memory and imagination, etc. Let us take time and learn the
relevant skills to achieve this ideal.
Let us remember that we
are a composite of body and soul. And since our soul is spiritual,
it has its life and origin in the Spirit of God himself. We need to
develop our life following the ways that would reinforce the unity
of the composite parts of our life in their proper order. We have to
realize that our life is mainly spiritual and supernatural, not
simply material and natural.
That way, we remove
ourselves from being entirely dependent on merely human, earthly and
temporal factors. We allow ourselves to be governed by a much
powerful agency that can effectively cruise us through our life’s
ocean of mysteries. Faith enables us to cope with the reality of our
life that includes the spiritual and the supernatural.
With faith we will never
feel alone. We will always feel accompanied by God, by his angels
and saints, all helping and interceding for us. With faith, we know
that everything that happens to us, good or bad, has a reason and a
purpose, and all of them working for our own good. (cfr. Rom 8,28)
We really have no reason
to fear, nor to wallow in worries, anxieties and sadness. Let’s
remember that these unfortunate states are fertile ground for the
enemies of our soul, especially the devil, to take advantage of us.
About the only reason to
fear, worry and be sad is when we lose our faith, when we lose touch
with God. We have to pray and pray so that our doubts and fears
would not undermine our faith.
What also helps is to
develop a sporting attitude in life, because, to be realistic about
it, we will always have frustrations, disappointments, mistakes,
failures, sins and defeats in our life. But we just have to learn
how to move on, just like a good sportsman.
We should always be
cheerful in life, and strive to show it even externally with smiles
and happy, warm and encouraging dispositions. Even in our grief and
mourning, we should manage to learn how to be serene, knowing that
suffering and death have already been redeemed by Christ and are now
endowed with redemptive power.
Let’s not waste time and
energy by falling into the grips of fears, worries and sadness. When
we notice that we are having some languid moments, it can be a sign
that our faith is not working, and that we are succumbing to the
laws of the flesh and the world, if not, to the tricks of the devil.
We have to extricate
ourselves as quickly as possible from that predicament. The ideal to
have is to be always cheerful and eager to do things, no matter what
the cost involved.
We should be doing a lot
of good, constructive work, rather than stuck in the mode of ruing
and brooding, sinking in self-pity, etc.
Statement of ICRC
President Peter Maurer following visit to the Philippines
4 June 2019
his visit to Bualan spring, ICRC President Peter Maurer met
community leader Datu Caloy Amer, who let the organization
improve the water and sanitation facility on the land his
family owns. (ICRC/Alecs Ongcal)
The remarkable resilience
of the Filipino people became clear to me when I first visited after
the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. I returned this week to
listen, to discuss, to offer support and encourage action as the
country again embraces challenges and assists those in need.
This second visit affirms
my view that the suffering people endure in natural and manmade
disasters is universal. People lose loved ones. People lose their
homes. Individuals and whole communities face an uncertain future.
In my interactions with
conflict-affected people around the globe, their questions are
strikingly similar: When are we going to be safe from fighting? When
can I rebuild my house? How can I earn a more stable income? Where
can I get clean water today? When can I be reunited with my loved
The 2017 devastation of
Marawi City brought the Philippines’ armed conflicts to the global
forefront. But for decades, many more communities in Maguindanao,
Basilan, Sulu and portions of eastern Mindanao have been forced to
flee their homes multiple times. Sporadic clashes deeply affect
these families’ livelihoods, their ability to put food on the table,
and their ability to send their children to school. It is a life of
instability and uncertainty, and many people are living it daily,
often long after the news headlines move on to another crisis or
In my visit to Marawi City
this week, I saw a community dealing with the physical and
psychological impact of conflict. I met a family of a missing person
that hasn’t lost hope that news about their relative will arrive
soon. I also saw how people we are assisting are making the most of
that support, for instance a mother that has opened a small business
selling food. I observed firsthand a people that will not let the
conflict of 2017 defeat their spirit. Local Red Cross volunteers I
met have been unrelenting in their support to the displaced people.
In my discussions with
high-ranking officials, I felt a commitment and resolve to find
effective, long-term solutions to humanitarian issues of concern,
despite considerable constraints they deal with. The people need to
be able to count on the authorities to be responsive to their needs.
I see indicators of hope,
fortitude, and of shared determination to rise from the ravages of
the conflict in Marawi and other areas in Mindanao still affected by
sporadic armed fighting.
Nevertheless, in talking
to victims, responders and authorities, I can see that the work is
not yet done. Though responding to humanitarian needs due to
conflict is the work of the International Committee of the Red
Cross, I believe equally that all members of society have a shared
responsibility to provide reprieve to those affected by fighting.
We all need to do more in
our respective roles. We need to do better at addressing the
consequences of conflict, but also, we need to do better in
preventing or reducing those consequences.
The ICRC has long
experience in dealing with conflict situations, as an impartial and
neutral organization. We offer our varied expertise and support.
Together with our partners in the Red Cross, we will strive to reach
and assist those affected by conflict, no matter who or how far they
The ICRC will continue to
promote principles of humanity and maintain our positive
collaboration with the Philippine authorities at national and local
levels, as they have the primary responsibility to address
humanitarian concerns of their people.
If our common aspiration
is that no person suffering the consequences of conflict is left
behind, then let’s all get to work.
COMELEC: Heed the President’s advice to junk Smartmatic
A press statement by the
National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL)
May 31, 2019
National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) calls on
the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to heed President Rodrigo Roa
Duterte’s advise to “dispose” of Smartmatic.
NAMFREL has taken note that the conduct of the automated elections
since 2010 is not without the participation of Smartmatic, a foreign
company. The conduct of Philippine elections, automated or not,
should be left at the hands of Filipinos.
The President’s pronouncement opens up the opportunity to look for
other election technologies. It should be noted, however, that
Republic Act No. 9369 (RA9369) or the Automated Election Law
prescribes that the automated election system “x x x must have
demonstrated capability and been successfully used in a prior
electoral exercise here or abroad.” This provision effectively
prevents local systems developers from participating in the
development and supply of an automated election system. RA9369 needs
to be revisited and amended to open up opportunities for local
technology providers to supply locally developed election solutions
that protects the secrecy of the ballot and ensures transparency of
the vote count.
NAMFREL has proposed going back to manual voting and counting.
NAMFREL clarifies that it does not mean going back to the old manual
vote counting process. The proposed process involves the following:
1) Manual voting using ballots with blank spaces per contest where
the voter writes the names of this choices and the ballot to be
dropped in a ballot box,
2) Computer assisted vote counting using laptops and LCD projectors
to publicly display the progress of the vote tally, thereby doing
away with the tally boards pasted on all four walls of school
classrooms that served as voting precincts.
3) Electronic generation of the election return based on the
computer assisted vote count followed by printing of the election
returns. The contents of the printed copy of the election returns
may be compared with its electronic counterpart displayed via LCD
4) Electronic transmission of election returns to the corresponding
city/municipal canvassing server, and
5) Automated canvassing and consolidation of election results
through the ladderized canvassing hierarchy.
It is high time that the Philippines’ IT talents are harnessed for
our elections. While our IT community works on the appropriate
responsive technology, interested stakeholders should push for the
law to be amended.
NAMFREL calls on election lawyers, IT experts, election reform
organizations, and other interested groups to come together and work
with the COMELEC to look for the appropriate responsive, election
We are not God’s
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
May 28, 2019
WE are children of God,
and not his puppets or robots. The freedom he gives us is real
freedom because it can even enable us to go against the true nature,
source, meaning and purpose of freedom itself. We can use it – or
better said, misuse or abuse it – to go against God himself.
While it is true that God
is always on top of things, he allows us to use our freedom the way
we want it. Remember those famous lines in the Book of Ecclesiastes
that articulate this truth: “There is a time for everything, and a
season for every activity under the heavens…” (3,1)
Even if he is on top of
everything, he does not treat us as his puppets or robots whom he
controls. He treats us as his children, for that is how he has
created and designed us. We are supposed to be his image and
As such, his dominion over
us is a dominion of love. It is a dominion that is akin to that of
the parents over their children, but much, much better than that. In
fact, it is infinitely better.
There is some forcefulness
involved there, but one that is not coercive. There is obedience and
docility involved also, but one that does not compromise freedom.
When we obey God and follow his will and ways, we do it because we
want it and we know that it is good for us. Yes, there is some fear
involved, but not of the servile kind, but rather of the filial
This dominion of love
comes as a result of the abundant and gratuitous outpouring of God’s
goodness over us – his grace, his blessings, his inspirations, etc.
He is full of compassion, slow to anger, quick to forgive.
He provides us with
everything that we need, especially the things that we most need in
our quest for true happiness, our ultimate salvation, our
fulfillment as image and likeness of God, children of his.
It is because God loves us
first that we learn to love him and others in return. It is this
love that enables us to live and use our freedom properly. And this
love-inspired freedom leads us to our true joy where truth, beauty
and everything that is good for us are integrated.
This love-inspired freedom
makes us realistic with the realities of our earthly life where
there will always be mixture of good and evil, successes and
failures, joy and sorrows, health and sickness. It’s not afraid of
suffering. In fact, it welcomes suffering. Neither does it spoil us
when we happen to have good things in life.
We understand that freedom
as the freedom of the children of God, where we are willing to unite
our will with the will of God. We would never feel that we are
enslaved or tied down by God.
conditionings that our earthly life entails will never be regarded
as limitations. They would be assumed willingly and lovingly. They
would be regarded as means and occasions to further our development
as a person and a child of God, despite the cost, inconveniences and
sacrifices that they may involve. In short, they are seen as what
would enhance our freedom, not what would deter it.
To be sure, God does not
want us to be mere puppets and robots of his. He wants us to be like
him, full of love and goodness. We just have to understand that for
our freedom to be true freedom, we have to live and exercise it
always with God’s will and ways in mind.
That is why we need to
develop a close relationship with him who actually initiated an
intimate relationship with us. It was he who started that
relationship. We just have to try our best to correspond to that
relationship, in spite of our weaknesses and mistakes.