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.