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.