Insights and opinions from our contributors on the current issues happening in the region



Bring in the Christian perspective

June 20, 2020

IN tackling issues that are always open to a variety of opinions, we should always let the Christian perspective to bear on them. If we are truly faithful to that Christian perspective, we would know how to resolve contentious matters with a certain precision that is never just a matter of a simplistic black-and-white approach but rather one that will always be characterized by a sober pursuit for truth and fairness in the spirit of charity.

It’s when we depart from this Christian perspective and would just rely on some ideologies, and much less on mere off-the-cuff opinions based simply on what we consider as common sense and other human ways of perception, that we can get into trouble. Instead of attaining the real common good, we can only generate more division and polarization that will leave a trail of anger, hatred and the like.

We have to seriously take this duty of learning how to bring in the Christian perspective into our collective discussions and exchanges. We cannot deny that this way of discussing about issues is lamentably missing. We can even say that some people have gone to the extent that this so-called Christian perspective is unrealistic and impractical.

To be sure, to have a Christian perspective in tackling issues does not mean that we can only have one uniform position or view. It can lend itself to a variety of legitimate positions given the variety of situations and circumstances that we can find ourselves. Its precision is never rigid. It will always be open to any position no matter how different and conflicting they may be, as long as in the end that position or view is animated by charity.

Let’s remember that it is charity that will always presume and perfect the other two theological virtues of faith and hope. Without it, no matter how much we think we are right in something because of our faith and hope, we would still be wrong.

Remember St. Paul talking about the preeminence of charity over all the other virtues: “Love never fails. Where there are prophecies, they will cease. Where there are tongues, they will be stilled. Where there is knowledge, it will pass away…Faith, hope and love remain. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13,8.13)

And this charity is shown to us fully in Christ who commands us to live it ourselves also. “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you,” he said. (Jn 13,34)

The Christian perspective is always characterized by charity more than anything else. It is this charity, as shown by Christ, that is willing to take on anything, understanding everyone, giving compassion and offering mercy to everyone, willing to suffer and die for everyone.

The truth according to our faith, of course, would be offered, explained and clarified, propagated and defended, but in the end the ultimate truth is in the charity as shown and lived by Christ.

So, let us train ourselves always to be charitable in our discussions and exchanges. This may involve a certain open-mindedness, willingness to listen to everyone, the practice of restraint, moderation and delicacy even as we may push our position forcefully.

Definitely, we need to be humble because it is pride that can spoil everything. With humility we can actually continue to learn even from our mistakes and those of the others.

We have to be quick to ask forgiveness if we happen to commit a mistake which is always a possibility, as well as to be quickly forgiving when other parties commit mistakes. Yes, we have to be prudent and tactful in our speech. Most of all, we should be willing to suffer, because in this life, no matter how right we may be in a certain issue, suffering and misunderstanding can always arise.

The Christian perspective is not so much in determining who is right or wrong. It’s in living charity in our diversity!





Rape Culture vs. Culture of Holy Purity

June 17, 2020

For a while now, I have noticed mainstream Filipino media adapting themes popular in liberal American mainstream media. Among these are transgenderist and feminist themes. In the past few days I noticed much talk of rape, rape culture, and modesty (especially in dress). I would agree that in cases of sexual offences, the offender is to be blamed. Yet on top of this assertion, I also find a denial that modesty in clothing (for it is much broader than that), does not affect these cases.

First, this seems to be coming from third wave feminism which views modesty in clothing as a form of misogyny as well as the strong assertion that men are to blame for everything. This movement is a category of postmodernist philosophy which has the feature of not being rational and not in talking terms with the metaphysical principles.

Secondly, it seems to be denial of reality.

Throughout history, women understood that men have certain tendencies that are more in men than in women- propensity to violence and sexual tendencies. While some have done a good job in controlling these tendencies, there are some who have problems with this. Upon this realization, women have taken precautionary measures that prevent cases in which men might act on those tendencies–such as high walls and spiked grills in nunneries, having chaperones, and dressing in a way so that those tendencies would not be stirred.

Yet third wave feminists deny that this makes any difference. The most popular argument is that in some cultures, with different dress codes, rape or sexual assault is not an issue or is non-existent -a fair point. Except it lacks evidence. There is no data that suggests that rape or sexual offences do not exist in these cultures. I shall love to see evidence and, if it convinces me, to revise my position. Until then, this does not hold water.

The ideology that modesty is misogyny takes form in negating that modesty (esp. in clothing) affects sexual assault. Don’t get me wrong, sexual assault is the crime of the offender and that the victim, even if she was dressing modestly or not, is the victim. Yet it is a denial of reality and common sense to say that immodesty does not affect these.

Take a man having trouble controlling his sexual tendencies. Which is more likely to stir those tendencies, a sexy woman in a bikini caressing him in sensitive parts or a woman in a Carmelite habit who does not even make eye contact, with a spiked grill separating her from the man? Common sense tells us that it does make a difference. Perhaps some individuals would disregard this, then these individuals would have seriously twisted minds. Yet in general, it makes a difference. It is more likely for a man to act on his sexual tendencies when facing a sexy woman in a bikini acting inappropriately than with a woman in a religious habit or modest dress acting reservedly.

Again, the sex offender is the criminal and it is his fault for which he should have the severest penalties. Yet women and children (now that pedophilia is a thing), must take precautions that prevent them from being in such situation.

In the end, we must go to the root of this problem: a culture of impurity. Whether or not rape culture is real or whether it is a myth propagated by liberal media, we can get rid of it or prevent it by promoting a Culture of Holy Purity.

**Lance Patrick Enad y Caballero. Instaurare omnia in Christo et Maria Immaculata!





Microfinance, an essential tool for the poor’s recovery

Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. AlipBy Dr. JAIME ARISTOTLE B. ALIP
CARD MRI Founder and Chairman Emeritus
June 15, 2020

In the mid-1980’s, at a time when the poor is clamoring for change and transformation, microfinance institutions (MFIs) started offering microcredit for capital with low interest rates, flexible loan terms, and no collateral. This provided the low-income sector with opportunities to establish microenterprises to augment their family’s income towards a more sustainable future.

While many has doubted the capacity of the poor to pay back their loans, MFIs went full swing in giving them their trust. Credit is paired with education, which then resulted to a firm credit discipline among its clients. As an effect, mutual trust between the MFIs and their clients is cemented. The repayment rate of these microfinance clients has been commendable ever since.

Now, another challenge for the low-income sector unfolded before our eyes. MFI clients, most of whom belong to the fringes of the society, felt the disquieting effect of the community quarantine to their livelihoods and sources of living due to the restricted movements in order to contain the spread of the virus. As municipalities and cities move towards general community quarantine with more relaxed restrictions this June 2020, MSMEs can start their businesses again.

This 2020, we again became witness to how the poor is clamoring for change.

An unexpected outcome

In compliance to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, MFIs across the country implemented a 30-day grace period for all loan payments. However, something unexpected happened.

CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI), a group of organizations that provides microfinance, microinsurance and other community development services, opened majority of its branches and units nationwide upon the recognition of microfinance as an essential service under the Omnibus Guidelines in the Implementation of Community Quarantine. Our branches re-opened in GCQ and MECQ areas particularly to provide what we anticipated to be essential to them during this time: savings withdrawals, deposits and remittance.

Because we understand that our MSME clients faced tight liquidity due to the enormous impact of COVID-19, the least of our expectation is for them to prioritize payment of their loans. As our banks opened, clients started to inquire if they could settle the remaining balance of their loans. In response, we gave them the discretion to accelerate settlement of their loans without obliging those without capacity to pay yet. The outcome is overwhelming.

Take the case of Lalaine Cabusas, a member of CARD Bank Pasay since 2015. She has been selling different banana varieties in a cart. As her business grew, she was able to build a stall in front of her rented house, at the same time selling the bananas on consignment through three magkakariton, including her husband, while she tended the store and took care of their young son. The ECQ did not deter them from continuing the business, as demand continued to be strong. Not aware that she can pay her loan amortization even on ECQ, she nevertheless went to CARD Bank every week to deposit her profits. Thus, when she later learned she could pay back her loan balance in full, she did so voluntarily in the expectation of a bigger next loan. Though she already has a second-hand Kia Vista Van to pick up shipment of banana from the Manila port, she and her husband are eyeing another van. They plan to expand their market through wholesale delivery to Laguna and Cavite. Like many migrants to the city (Lalaine is from Sultan Kudarat while her husband is from Agusan), they both maintain that despite the congestion and the pollution, it is where they found their pot of gold.

On the first week of May, when we started resuming our operations, more than 300,000 clients volunteered to pay their weekly dues which amounted to a total of P169M. This further went up on our second week of operations on May 11-15 as our weekly loan payments increased to P425.8M from 715,209 clients. On May 18-22, our loan payments totaled to PhP739.2M from more than 1.3 million clients. By the end of the month, more than 1.67 million clients, which is 25% of our total clients nationwide, voluntarily paid their loans amounting to a total of P765M. The increasing number of volunteer payments continued to increase in June as we recorded P1.03 Billion loan payments from 2.27 million clients on the first week. By June 8-11, we have gathered P1.06B voluntary loan payments from 2.3M clients.

One of the critical factors affecting our clients’ behavior towards their loan is because CARD MRI successfully maintained its strong credit culture. Before lockdowns happened in March, we maintained a healthy repayment rate of 99.01%.

Since inception, CARD MRI built a good company culture and credit discipline among its staff and clients. We provide imperative trainings about value formation, project management, savings and credit management, and other socio-economic topics through our weekly Credit with Education (CwE) service conducted during center meetings. With their willingness to repay their weekly obligation even facing a crisis, this proved that our decades of financial literacy have been effective as our clients’ credit discipline are strong and evident.

Stories of Recovery

While the moratorium and loan payments on a voluntary basis has been helpful to microentrepreneurs during the lockdowns, access to capital to fuel the recovery of their businesses is essentially needed as we move towards GCQ. In an article by Dumlao-Abadilla from, MFIs are described to be “critical in post-crisis rehabilitation process”. In response to this, CARD MRI started to provide loans to its targeted clients so that they will have the means to restart their income generating-activities. Those in the agri-related businesses, health-related ventures, sari-sari store and other small entrepreneurs are the top priorities.

The resumption of the operations of MFIs sparked hope for many microentrepreneurs. For Florenda Tamayo, a CARD SME Bank client, resuming the releases of loans is a welcome development for her family. They have been ambulant vendors of fish, seafoods, chicken and meats for 20 years now. Now that tricycles cannot take a backrider, her husband do the rounds of their suki by himself. He is able to sell 80-100kg of fish and seafoods a day, as more people tend to wait a home for vendors rather than beat the intense heat and long queue in the market. Their sarisari store has been doing well also, as other stores are located far from the center of their community. They are sharing their good fortune with family, even as Nanay Flor said, “hindi naman kami makatiis na kumakain ng husto at masarap, samantalang ang ibang kamaganak ay wala ng makain.” Even the pandemic cannot kill the Filipino’s entrepreneurship, hard work and family spirit.

The same is true for Mildred Diniega. Her family has been farming since she can remember. Her mother joined CARD, Inc. (A Microfinance NGO) and was able to send a daughter through college, the only one among her siblings to get a diploma. An agricultural engineer, she is employed by the Department of Agriculture in Bacarra. She is a source of pride and financial support for her family.

Before the lockdown, Mildred was raising 4 fatteners. They were able to harvest their rice crop but opted to keep them for consumption. The PhP 48,000 from the sale of the hogs, the milled rice, her sister’s salary, the 400 pesos a day income from the kuliglig and LGU ayuda saw their family of 10 through the most difficult times during ECQ. They were even able to extend help to relatives who did not have anything to eat.

But as the lockdown continues, and her only source of cheap loan, CARD, Inc., remains closed, she began to worry how they can buy the inputs for their rice crop. She did not want to borrow from moneylenders, the most common source of funds for farmers like her. She knows that the exorbitant interest charged will cut deeply into her earnings. Thus, when CARD, Inc. reopened in May and she was able to secure P33,000 loan, she heaved a sigh of relief. Immediately, she bought fertilizers and chemicals needed in the farm. Her daughter, with God’s help, will be able to continue her studies at the Mariano Marcos State University. CARD Microfinance NGO rekindled her hope that despite the pandemic, soon, her daughter will become a teacher.

For CARD MRI stakeholders, especially the clients, the resumption of CARD MRI’s operations is considered the refreshing first drops of rain (Agua de Mayo) after a prolonged lockdown. We disbursed loans amounting to more than P1.68B to 139,427 clients for the period of May 4 to June 11, 2020. These clients have also been reported to be voluntarily and diligently paying their loans weekly.

Call for Government’s Support

Terrie Rose Munar, a client of CARD Bank in Tarlac, owns a computer shop (Pisonet) and sari-sari store. To restock their shop during the community quarantine, her husband had to cross a river, by foot, to get supplies in the población. Still, they plodded on and as a result, their business thrived despite the pandemic.

Her business did well, being the only store open in her community. To help her married sister, she pays her brother-in-law to tend the store/ computer shop at night, thus her microenterprises serve the community 24/7. She has 14 computers in her shop, operated by customers themselves by just putting in coins. Her customers come for entertainment or to fulfill requirements for work or school. As the lockdown relaxes, she intends to restart the other Pisonet shops she put up in different barangays under a 60/40 arrangement with store owners like her. Restocking her store is less difficult now as tricycles can take one passenger to bring her to the big market.

It is because of the Philippine’s conducive environment for microfinance that microentrepreneurs like Terrie Rose is able to carry on despite the challenges we are facing. Over the years, MFIs have grown and expanded its reach and impact, implementing holistic approaches to development through financial and non-financial services. Recognized as an effective tool for development, it has served more than 9 million families. This success can be attributed to several complementing factors, including the support from the government.

The contributions of the microfinance industry to poverty eradication was highlighted when Republic Act of 10693 or the Microfinance NGOs Act was signed into law in 2015. This gives Microfinance NGOs a 2% preferential tax that enables us to expand financial and community development programs. However, the impact of microfinance would be threatened should a tax reform program repealing Section 20 of RA 10693 become implemented. As microfinance proves to be critical in the development of the low-income sector, the industry seeks for the government to continue strengthening the environment for microfinance operations.

With the immense programs and services of MFIs to move the Filipinos out of poverty, we hope that the government can consider allocating concessional funds to refinance the MFIs, especially the smaller ones. With liquidity problems bringing their operations to the brink of collapse, these smaller MFIs may have difficulty continuing to support their clients. When this becomes articulated in the economic stimulus fund, MFIs will be able to refinance the businesses of microentrepreneurs.

Microfinance and microinsurance always go together. We learned as an industry that the poor needs assurance whenever uncertain events happen. Microinsurance-Mutual Benefit Associations (Mi-MBAs) provide protection for more than 27 million poor and low-income individuals in the country. Meanwhile, non-life insurances provide coverage for calamities, business recovery, and health protection. A more enabling environment for microfinance institutions is one that would also support these Mi-MBAs and non-life microinsurance companies. As such, we also urge the government to uphold the tax exemption for Mi-MBAs and a lower tax rate for insurance premiums for non-life insurance companies. Everyday, even while the pandemic is raging, these institutions pay millions of pesos in terms of insurance claims of poor Filipinos, assisting the government in its goals for development.

MFIs are frontliners in terms of the economic frontier, serving as the bridge between banks and the financially excluded and vulnerable. They are also the last mile financing conduits to the hard-to-reach communities like island towns and ethnic minorities. We hope that the government will continue considering MFIs as partners for development by strengthening policies and reforms that truly support our mutual goals.

Hope for the marginalized

The Filipinos are ever resilient. No matter how big the challenges are, we manage to bounce forward. The new normal may demand new ways for us to respond to the needs of the low-income sector, but we are positive that we will cope with these new changes with the support of the government and the capacity of our microentrepreneurs. The COVID-19 pandemic may be the greatest threat in recent history, but this will not stop us from pursuing our goal of poverty eradication. Instead, the crisis led us to think of innovative ways to respond to the changing needs of our fellow Filipinos amidst the new economy. As Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno succinctly put it during a Forum: “With our collective efforts, may we be able to look back at this crisis with no regrets for wasted opportunity.”

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 Building.





“In the absence of Clear and Measurable outcomes from domestic mechanisms, consider options for international accountability measures”. UNHR Commissioner for Human Rights tells the Philippines government

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
June 5, 2020

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights submitted repot to the UN Human Rights Council on 4th of June. Very compressive report on serious violations of Human Rights that has taking place in the last few years. In concluding remarks the High Commissioner’s report says:

“The legal, constitutional and institutional framework in the Philippines contains human rights safeguards, as well as checks and balances. The challenge has always been one of implementation – and circumvention. The long-standing overemphasis on public order and national security at the expense of human rights has become more acute in recent years, and there are concerns that the vilification of dissent is being increasingly institutionalized and normalized in ways that will be very difficult to reverse.”

The list of recommendations made by the High Commissioner is as follows.

a. In context of its campaign against illegal drugs:
1. Repeal PNP Command Memorandum Circular No. 2016-16, cease ‘Project Tokhang’ and urgently put an end to extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and other violence targeting suspected drug offenders and people using drugs; Abolish the compilation and publication of ‘drug watch lists’ at all administrative levels;
2. Undertake a comprehensive review of legislation and policies relating to narcotics, including revisiting the mandatory penalties for drug offences; Consider decriminalization of personal possession and use of certain drugs; Implement alternative measures to conviction and punishment and other human rights-based responses;
3. Ensure adequate assistance to families of victims of drug-related killings, including financial aid, legal support and psycho-social services.

b. National security laws and policies:
1. Rescind Memorandum Order 32; Ensure emergency measures are necessary, proportionate and time-bound, limited to those strictly required by the exigencies of the situation;
2. Urgently disband and disarm all private and State-backed paramilitary groups;
3. Review Executive Order 70 and its implementation to ensure compliance with the rule of law and international human rights norms and standards, and that political and socio-economic grievances are tackled through meaningful, participatory consultation;

c. Accountability:
1. Empower an independent body to conduct prompt, impartial, thorough, transparent investigations into all killings, and into alleged violations of international humanitarian law, with a view to prosecution and remedies for victims and their families;
2. Improve systems to compile and publish consistent, disaggregated data on all allegations of extrajudicial killings;
3. Improve cooperation between law enforcement bodies and the Commission on Human Rights; strengthen its investigative and forensic capacity, including through adoption of the Commission on Human Rights Charter; Adopt legislation establishing a National Preventive Mechanism on Torture;

d. Civic space:
1. Take confidence-building measures to foster trust with civil society organizations and facilitate their engagement with State institutions mandated to respond to human rights concerns, without reprisal; Halt - and condemn – incitement to hatred and violence and other harmful, threatening and misogynistic rhetoric against human rights defenders and other Government critics – offline and online;
2. Ensure that the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are respected and protected; Drop politically-motivated charges against human rights defenders, political opponents, journalists and media organizations, legal and judicial officials, trade unionists, church workers, and others; Take legal measures to ensure their protection, particularly following threats, including of gender-based violence; Ensure there are no reprisals against those persons and entities which have engaged with OHCHR for the present report;

e. Indigenous peoples:
1. Fully and comprehensively implement the Indigenous People’s Rights Act and address, together with affected communities, the major challenges impeding its proper functioning;
2. Ensure full respect for the principle of free, prior and informed consent and meaningful participation at all stages of development projects that affect indigenous communities;
3. Ensure universal access of indigenous children to quality education in line with their cultural identity, language and values.

f. Cooperation with OHCHR and UN human rights mechanisms:
1. Invite Special Procedures mandate-holders to monitor and report on specific human rights concerns in the Philippines and provide relevant technical assistance;
2. Invite OHCHR to strengthen its provision of technical assistance, inter alia, to advise on reviewing counter-terrorism legislation, adopting human rights-based approaches to drug control, strengthening domestic investigative and accountability measures, improving data gathering on alleged police violations, and to assist in bridging the gap between civil society and State authorities.

The High Commissioner calls on the international community, including the Human Rights Council to:
1. Encourage and support technical cooperation between the Government and OHCHR to implement the recommendations of this report, with the participation of the Commission on Human Rights and civil society:
2. Mandate OHCHR to continue monitoring and documenting the situation of human rights in the Philippines, and to regularly report to the Human Rights Council, including on progress in technical cooperation;
3. In the absence of clear and measurable outcomes from domestic mechanisms, consider options for international accountability measures;
4. Remain engaged with regard to possible reprisals against human rights defenders;
5. Bolster implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and conduct strict human rights due diligence in carrying out investment and development cooperation, particularly in relation to infrastructure projects, extractive industries, and cooperation involving the security sector.

For the Full report Kindly see the following Link.





Our Opposition to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is Our Peace

A Pastoral Statement by the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP)
June 5, 2020

The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), is saddened by the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (House Bill 6875), by the House of Representatives which will now be submitted to the President for final action. We are concerned that the Bill will greatly impact on the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Our alarm on the Bill’s passing stems from the recent practice of using the terms Terrorist and Terrorist Groups loosely and indiscriminately in defining enemies of the State and in derailing the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. Even several civil society organizations, including our member confederation, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) have been tagged as such, placing them in grave threat.

At a pivotal moment in the possible return to the peace talks on December 5, 2017, President Rodrigo R. Duterte declared the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army as a terrorist organization beginning an era of referencing the NDFP as Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) and closing the door to peace talks. On November 5, 2019, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense in a Congressional briefing listed the NCCP along with various humanitarian organizations as among “CTG Front Organizations”.

PEPP upholds the primacy of principled peace negotiations to end the ongoing armed conflict between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (House Bill 6875), only gives further legitimacy to the criminalization of expressions of freedom and democracy and will translate into more repression in the short term and more violence in the long term.

At a time of great national humanitarian crisis when the country is faced by a pandemic that threatens everyone and when the reality of hunger and other health concerns stalk the people in ways never before experienced, it is the call for national unity against the pandemic and its serious long-term implications that is more urgent than ever. The Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform appeals to President Rodrigo R. Duterte to hear the voices of Filipinos who bear the promise of peace in their hearts and veto this Bill when it comes to him for action.

At times like these, the Anti-Terrorism Bill will not serve to end the conflicts of our land. The meager resources of government are most needed not for anti-terror expenditures but for setting and re-building the economic and social structures that everyone needs as we fight the pandemic before us.

As Christian leaders, our opposition to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (House Bill 6875) is based on our enduring call for broader peace. A peace that is not just silencing of the voices of dissent and the incarceration and destruction of lives that are defined as terrorists. But a peace that addresses the root causes of dissent and seeks resolution by negotiation. This call reflects our deep affinity with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who speaks of a people, a nation, a brotherhood and sisterhood that is called to settle disputes in peaceful dialogue, the words of Jesus teaches us that where there is conflict, “first be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gifts.” (Matthew 5:24).

Issued and signed on the 5th of June 2020.

Co-chairperson, PEPP
Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro

Co-chairperson, PEPP
Ecumenical Bishops Forum

General Secretary
National Council of Churches in the Philippines

Office of Women Gender Commission
Association of Major Religious Superiors

Executive Director
PCEC Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission

(Sgd.) BISHOP Deogracias S. Iniguez, Jr., DD
PEPP Head of the Secretariat
Co-chair, Ecumenical Bishops Forum



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