Beware of the
excesses of idealism
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
November 28, 2020
TO pursue ideals is always
good. In fact, we have to encourage everyone to do so. It would show
in some way that we are driven with love, with a desire to do good.
That would be the best condition for us to be in. It would keep us
from falling into lukewarmness, complacency and laziness. And, to be
sure, we would be productive and fruitful that way. We fulfill God’s
will for us.
Just the same, we have to
be aware of the dangers that this attitude can also occasion. And
that happens when we become too idealistic that we fail to be
realistic. We get too attached to the ideal that we avoid
considering the bare realities on the ground.
In a sense we fall into
the excesses of idealism. That’s when we tend to build some kind of
ivory tower, enclosing ourselves in our own ideas, theories and
doctrines that, while useful to a certain extent, always need to be
adapted properly to the objective situation or issue at hand.
That’s when we become
armchair players in the drama of life, not realizing that ideas,
theories and doctrines are no cold, frozen things, but are meant to
dynamic, subject always to some development, deepening, and
What is worse is that when
our ideals are not attained precisely because they are badly applied
and adapted to the realities on the ground, then we can either fall
into a deep state of disappointment and depression or into the other
extreme of forcing the ideal by using violence and even terrorism.
Both can be a consequence
of perfectionism brought about when we are too idealistic. Sad to
say, we are actually seeing both cases taking place in the world
Another danger of idealism
is the common tendency to make people associate themselves only with
those who hold the same ideas as they have. This is not just a
matter of having the legitimate specialization that all of us have,
but rather of becoming a closed group that is unmindful of the
objective needs of the others. Thus, we can have the anomaly of
It’s a subtle form of
self-indulgence that can make people unaware of their failure to
serve the real and objective needs of others because of the
badly-based self-esteem they have due to their erroneous sense of
idealism. In other words, they will not serve others if they fail to
meet the standards and criteria of their idealism.
We have to be most careful
with these dangers of idealism. What we should rather do is to be
always mindful, thoughtful and eager to know, love and serve the
others in their objective needs. In a sense, we have to get dirty
with them, because no matter how sublime our human dignity is, we
cannot deny that we always have weaknesses, failures and sins.
We have to understand that
the road to our proper human and Christian perfection, which is to
be like God as God wants us to be, is by truly serving others in
Of course, we have to see
to it that our serving them should be oriented in the end to the
glorification of God, and not just the meeting of some human,
natural and temporal needs. But we have to do it by considering them
in their objective condition and circumstances in life, no matter
A press statement by the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines on the slaying of Atty. Eric Jay
Magcamit of Palawan
November 26, 2020
The Integrated Bar of the
Philippines welcomes the filing of criminal charges against the
suspects in the slaying of Atty. Eric Jay Magcamit of Palawan.
IBP leaders at the
national and provincial levels and his brother- lawyers have been
quietly in touch with his bereaved family and have coordinated with
intelligence, law enforcement, investigation, and prosecution
agencies under our Lawyer Security Program. Within a week, the
suspected killers and their cohorts were identified, arrested, and
charged. We appreciate and commend the swift action and all those
who helped bring the suspected murderers before the bar of justice.
We are working for similar results in the more recent killing of
Atty. Joey Luis Wee in Cebu City.
Beyond the consistent
condemnation and justified outrage, we must act resolutely on
lawyer-killings because violence against judges, prosecutors,
lawyers and our fellow-workers in the justice sector mocks and
erodes the rule of law. For if those who administer justice are
themselves killed with impunity, how can the ordinary citizen
believe in due process or feel safe and secure?
There are other
lawyer-killings that remain unsolved by law enforcers or unresolved
in the courts of law. We share the fear and frustrations of many
about the brazen violence, continuing criminality and appalling
impunity in our country. Justice is distant and delayed for too many
victims. Since lawyers administer the justice system and occupy key
positions in government, we must humbly recognize our individual and
collective responsibility and shortcomings so that we may
courageously do JUSTICE WITHOUT DELAY. Let us promptly finish the
long-pending cases, pass the much-needed remedial laws and rules,
enforce the law fairly and without favor. Accountability and
“justice bilis” are long-term and sustainable solutions to our
As Filipino lawyers do
their sworn duty, we seek the vigilance, cooperation, and
involvement of all sectors. Justice, and ultimately peace, are
Atty. Domingo Egon Q. Cayosa
National President and Chairman of the 24th Board of Governors
Integrated Bar of the Philippines
The challenge of
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
November 23, 2020
WE cannot deny the very
important and crucial role journalism plays in our life. It is
supposed to bring us relevant pieces of news and information daily
or in some regular fashion.
tremendous influence in forming and shaping public opinion which is
always a very dynamic thing, marked by many different and even
conflicting views. It definitely is a necessity in any given
society, let alone, the whole world. That is why it has to be
practiced with a lot of care and sensitivity.
Given its fast-moving and
delicate character, it behooves everyone engaged in it to really
find the proper spirit that should animate his journalism. It should
not just be at the mercy of first impressions, knee-jerk reactions,
off-the-cuff comments or shooting from the hips. It requires a lot
of study and research.
Neither should journalism
be at the mercy of mere common sense and the possession of some
so-called facts and data. These things, while having their
legitimate value, can hardly capture the whole or global
significance of any event that journalism is supposed to report on.
Facts and data need to be
carefully verified. And more than that, they need to have the
motives, reason, if not the spirit behind them probed thoroughly.
Just citing facts and data is not a standard of objectivity, and
much less, of fairness. A lot more than merely presenting them is
We need to realize that
facts and data are not purely inert things that would simply tell us
the whole truth. They spring from our human condition that would
necessarily involve spiritual and even supernatural realities. Thus,
they depend also on how we select them, how we present them, how we
understand them, etc. Given this condition, facts and data can
indeed come up with a great variety of consequences.
And neither should
journalism be inspired merely by some ideological mindset. Again,
ideologies can offer some help in analyzing and explaining certain
events. But they do not and cannot capture the whole significance of
the things reported.
Sad to say, because of
this ideological flavoring of today’s journalism, we end up very
divided and confused, as people become too partisan, biased and with
deep prejudices. News items and commentaries can give out completely
different and contradicting reports and views.
As a result, we are now
fragmented into liberals or conservatives, progressives or
traditional, capitalist, socialist or communist, etc. We do not
anymore would know which is right. And this, of course, is no good
news for all of us!
There is now a crying need
for everyone engaged in journalism to return to God, to have a good,
healthy relation with God, for only then can journalism be in its
best condition. It’s amazing that this fundamental requirement for
journalism, as in any other human endeavor, is often flouted by
so-called professional and veteran journalists.
With God as the beginning
and end of journalism, one would know how to be a good journalist,
having a clear understanding of what his contribution to the common
good is, what means, resources and possibilities he can make use of,
as well as the limitations he has to contend with.
He would present things
with great tact and delicacy. He would avoid absolutizing what only
has a relative value, dogmatizing what only is an opinion, etc. In
the end, he should do journalism such that God is brought to the
people in the different issues of the times.
socio-economic impact of coal-fired power plants on everyday life
FREDDIE R. OBLIGACION
November 10, 2020
Against the backdrop of
controversy surrounding the effects of coal-fired power plants on
people’s lives, I embarked on an original study regarding the
socio-economic impact of 4 major Philippine coal-fueled power plants
in Luzon and Visayas Islands. The data generated highlighted the
personal perspective of residents living in close proximity to the
Included in my research
were the Calaca Power Plant in Batangas, Luzon (600 megawatts); the
Mariveles Power Station in Bataan, Luzon (651.6 megawatts); the La
Paz Coal Plant in Iloilo, Visayas (164 megawatts); and the Masinloc
Coal Station in Zambales, Luzon (630 megawatts).
I limited my study to
residents living with a quarter of a mile from the coal plants and
randomly sampled 410 out of 3,000 households, resulting in a 99
percent confidence level, with a 6-percentage-point margin of error.
Personal interviews were guided by a questionnaire tapping
perceptions of coal operations’ impact on the environment, health,
income, and life satisfaction, as well as, evaluation of the value
and future of coal plants.
average of 92 percent of respondents felt that they enjoyed cleaner
air before the coal plant's establishment in their villages. Sounder
sleep, pre-coal plant, was reported by 89 percent of respondents. A
sizeable majority of 74 percent observed that overall environmental
quality deteriorated post-coal plant; only 16 percent thought
Health-wise, an average of
80 percent of the sample believed that they had better health before
the coal plant's installation. Fewer illnesses, pre-coal plant, were
indicated by 77 percent of the sample. The most frequently cited
diseases were lung disease, asthma, primary complex, cough, colds,
skin allergies, cardiovascular diseases, fever, infections,
headache, and diarrhea. The root cause of these diseases was the
coal plant, according to 69 percent of the sample.
As to economic well-being,
the average daily income of respondents from Calaca, La Paz, and
Mariveles decreased with statistical significance from P199 pre-coal
plant to P105 post-coal plant.
Masinloc's average daily
income increased from P285 pre-coal plant to P623 post-coal plant.
Statistically, however, this increase was not significant. In
effect, there was no change in the average daily income.
Life satisfaction was
negatively impacted by the coal plant. Seventy percent of declared
that they were happier, pre-coal plant. Only 14 percent disagreed.
Seventy percent said that their quality of life was better, pre-coal
plant. Only 11 percent believed otherwise. Nineteen percent were
uncertain about the coal plants’ impact on life satisfaction.
Regarding the usefulness
of coal plants, 45 percent opined that these energy sources brought
about more costs than benefits. Only 21 percent saw coal plants as
more beneficial than detrimental.
Asked about the future of
the coal plants, 61 percent preferred a future without coal plants.
Only 17 percent desired a future with coal plants. Fifty-seven
percent signified that if they had the power, they would shut down
coal plants as soon as possible. Only 20 percent expressed support
for continued power plant operations.
In conclusion, it is my
hope that environmental decision-makers worldwide consider
scientifically-derived data before crafting and implementing
environmental policies and laws. An integral part of these processes
must be grassroots consultation. My research reveals that only 45
percent of households were consulted by government agencies.
Participatory democracy must be ingrained in the political zeitgeist
for countries to succeed in their complex search for cleaner but
reliable and economically viable renewable energy which benefits the
FREDDIE R. OBLIGACION. The author, a senior management consultant,
mentor and scholar of the environment, gender, race, and social
psychology, holds a PhD and MA in sociology from the Ohio State
University-Columbus, MBA and BS Psychology (magna cum laude) from
the University of the Philippines-Diliman. He is currently studying
the social-psychological correlates of environmental activism,
gender inequality, and racism, as well as, presidential polling
techniques and leadership preferences.
Beware of the
Judas Iscariot syndrome
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
October 28, 2020
THIS is about people who
are close to us but who can betray us, much like what Judas Iscariot
did to Christ. Imagine, Judas was already one of the apostles, so
close to Christ that he must have directly experienced the goodness
of Christ. And yet he managed to betray him!
Of course, God’s
providence is so wise and powerful that a greater good was derived
from this truly horrible act. It’s nothing less than gaining the
possibility of our own salvation, the reopening of heaven for us.
But it should never be for this reason that we can even be cavalier
in our attitude toward this possibility of betrayal.
possibility can also happen to us when we only go through the
motions of friendship, especially with God, but only up to there.
It’s just appearances that we would be making, giving lip service
left and right, but not the real thing. When the opportunity comes,
we can betray them.
To be sure, this is not
just a simple act of infidelity. It’s a much graver type of
infidelity that is played out in deceit. Its other name is
treachery. It involves a network of hypocrisy, cheating and
double-dealing, hidden and unexpressed critical thoughts, etc.
Sincerity and transparency are thrown out of the window while
retaining their masks.
This possibility is always
around. We cannot dismiss it as something impossible to happen. Our
human condition here on earth where we are always engaged in the
constant battle between good and evil, between grace and our
weaknesses and temptations around, can always make this possibility
When we are not true to
our word and to our commitments, renewing and strengthening our
fidelity to them from time to time, or when we do not correct our
mistakes and sins as soon as we can, or when we are not sincere and
transparent, we would actually be giving an opening for such
possibility to happen. If we are not careful, the slide to betrayal
can come quietly and surely.
We have to be most guarded
against this possibility and try to nip in the bud whatever slight
traces of its symptoms come to our awareness. This is also true in
our duty to take care of others who can also succumb to such
possibility. Once we notice the symptoms in others, we should
already start thinking, praying and devising some strategy to help
In this regard, we can
never overemphasize the need to be constantly vigilant in our
responsibility over our own spiritual lives and those of the others.
When we notice the onset of complacency and spiritual lukewarmness
whose signs can easily be detected, we should already be amply
warned and start to do something about it.
When we notice certain
inconsistencies between the expressed intentions and words, on one
hand, and deeds, on the other, we should already consider them as
Truth is all of us have
the duty to take care of everyone else, especially those who are
close to us. And one concrete way to carry out this duty is to
consciously bring to our prayer each person with whom we have some
special or close relations, or with whom some commitments are
This is not, of course, a
matter of spying, but rather an expression of genuine love and
concern for the others. We should never be indifferent to anyone.
Once we notice some symptoms of what we may refer to as the Judas
Iscariot syndrome, we have to start to do something, praying first,
asking God for some light and guidance, and coming up with some
Usually, what is just
needed is to shower the person concerned with more affection and
understanding, giving him always good example. In other words, to
drown him with a lot of goodness with the view of leading him to a
resolution on the Philippines: A time of reckoning shall soon come
A press statement by the
National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)
October 8, 2020
The National Council of
Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), as a co-convener of the
Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (EcuVoice),
has engaged in international advocacy and lobbying, including in the
UN Human Rights Council, in relation to human rights violations in
the Philippines since 2008. In light of the dismal human rights
situation under the government of President Duterte, the NCCP, along
with other human rights organizations, lobbied the UNHRC and its
member states vigorously because domestic remedies have failed and
we are compelled to seek to justice for victims and survivors as
well as accountability from those responsible for such violations.
The UNHRC resolution on
technical cooperation and capacity building for the promotion and
protection of human rights in the Philippines falls short of our
expectation. Truth be told, it does not mirror the findings and
recommendations in the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights. This is most apparent in that it does not answer our fervent
call for an independent international investigation. Still, this
resolution does not exonerate the Philippine government from
accountability for its many human rights violations among its
citizens. It is, in fact, an acknowledgement that there is a serious
human rights problem in the country: a crisis that is not being
adequately addressed by the Philippine government.
Furthermore, we are
disappointed that the resolution does not guarantee the entry of UN
Special Rapporteurs and other special procedures to the Philippines.
For example, this means that the new Special Rapporteur on the
rights of indigenous peoples, Jose Francisco “Pancho” Cali Tzay,
will not necessarily be allowed to see first-hand the plight of the
Lumad in Haran, a church-declared sanctuary of the United Church of
Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). As such, his much-needed
assistance in correcting the false accusations made by Sec. Carlito
Galvez that Haran, a church ministry, is allegedly being used by
communist rebels to solicit support from international donors, can
still be impeded by the Duterte administration.
This latest resolution
only strengthens our call for the Philippine government to stop the
killings and other human rights violations. We will maximize any
venue opened by this resolution that can advance the pursuit of
justice for the victims and survivors of human rights violations;
however, we will continue to advocate for an independent
international investigation. The NCCP is resolved to uphold God’s
gift of human dignity. We will pursue our work with other rights
defenders and with the international ecumenical community to engage
with UN human rights mechanisms, the International Criminal Court,
various governments and intergovernmental forums, so that those who
violate human rights and undermine civil liberties will face justice
and be held accountable for their transgressions. A time of
reckoning shall soon come and God will “…let justice roll down like
waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
September 16, 2020
REMEMBER Christ telling
his disciples, “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives
me receives the one who sent me.” (Mt 10,40) These words clearly
show that we are meant to be so identified with Christ that anyone
who receives us receives Christ.
In another gospel, Christ
said something similar also. “He who hears you hears me. He who
rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent
me.” (Lk 10,16) These words tell us that there has to be some kind
of organic continuity between Christ and us.
Tremendous words, indeed,
pointing to a tremendous reality about ourselves! And these words
are meant not only for the original apostles or for a few people.
They are meant for all of us, since we are supposed to be patterned
after Christ, the Son of God who is the perfect image God has of his
Since we have been created
in God’s image and likeness, we can say that we are patterned after
Christ. We are supposed to be like Christ, or as some theologians
have described it, we are supposed to be “alter Christus,” (another
We can never overemphasize
our need to be so identified with Christ that we really have to do
everything to acquire the very mind and spirit of Christ which are
where our identification with Christ takes place. In fact, we are
meant to have the very sentiments of Christ as we face all the
possible situations of our life.
The identification with
Christ should be such that whatever we think, say and do, it is
always Christ that we perceive, understand, follow and live. It is
his goodness, wisdom, mercy, charity, compassion, etc. that should
guide the way we understand and react to things. The way he reacted
to things should also be the way we react to them.
No matter how mundane and
technical the things are that we get involved in, it should always
be Christ that we give or receive. Not in the sense of the physical
Christ, of course, but rather in his mind and spirit. This way, we
live out what Christ told his first disciples: “He who receives you
This, of course, will
require a lot of discipline on our part, since we always and
strongly tend to be guided only by our human estimation of things.
We get contented with just staying in that level. And often as a
consequence, we find ourselves unable to handle our differences and
conflicts, and the many difficulties and mysteries in our life. We
find it difficult, if not impossible, to love everyone as we should.
Little by little, but in a
lifelong and continuous way, we have to know more about Christ, as
he presents himself in the gospels, in the teachings of the Church,
in the sacraments, and in the many other acts of piety. We should
pursue this path until we can say with St. Paul that we already have
the mind of Christ. (cfr. 1 Cor 2,16) We have to remember that we
can never know him enough, no matter how much we study him.
Anyway, we should not
worry too much since Christ himself will take care of everything in
the end. He will be the one to finish and perfect everything. Ours
is simply to try to be with him. We may still commit some mistakes
along the way. But if committed in good faith, it will be Christ who
will correct them.
We have to overcome the
usual awkwardness we feel when we take this truth of our faith
seriously and start to act on it. If we simply persist with faith
and humility, time will surely come when this identification with
Christ becomes second nature to us.
And whatever we think, say
and do, whatever we give or receive, it is always Christ who is
presented and perceived, followed and lived!
Let’s always have
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
August 28, 2020
WE have to convince
ourselves that the best way to resolve our unavoidable differences
and conflicts in the area of politics, social life, and other fields
prone to contention and controversies, is for us to always engage in
civil discourse, in cordial dialogue.
We have to avoid as much
as possible engaging in discussions where we think our views and
positions are the only correct ones, the only fair ones, etc., and
those of the others have no validity whatsoever. That’s definitely
the wrong way to look at things.
It’s unbelievable that
some politicians, for example, claim that they have all the truth,
that they are practically infallible about their views and ways, and
that their opponents have nothing whatsoever of what may be
considered as true and fair.
We need to listen to
everyone, no matter how different and even in conflict their views
are from ours. They will also have some good reason for their
opinions and we just have to learn to respect them.
Even in their clearly
wrong views, as in being immoral and sinful, they can always be
handled properly without sacrificing charity, since evil can only
have a power that is borrowed from what pertains to its
corresponding good. All we have to do to rebut evil is to appeal to
the good and the truth that is being distorted or denied.
It’s important that we
presume that everyone has good intentions. We have to avoid calling
to question the intentions behind the views of others, unless it can
be clearly ascertained that there is malice.
And even if that is the
case, it should be brought up in as cordial a manner as possible. To
be avoided are the ways of sarcasm and ironies, direct, frontal
attacks, insults and mockeries, name-calling, etc. In other words,
to respond without charity. Charity and good manners should never be
Let’s never forget what
Christ told us about loving our enemies. St. Paul reiterated that
point when he said, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil…If it is
possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge…but leave room for God’s wrath…Do not be
overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12,17-21) St.
Peter also said something similar. (cfr. 1 Pt 3,9)
While we can have our
partisan position in political issues, we have to remember that such
condition should not undermine our universal goal for the common
good that can be pursued in different and even in legitimately and
morally conflicting ways.
Let’s not forget that
temporal matters, as in politics, can follow some political
doctrines that at best can only have a tentative effectivity and
varying interpretations, and are always in need of updating,
purifying and contextualizing.
These temporal matters
hardly have dogmas where everyone is supposed to agree and to follow
all the time. Temporal matters do not have the same status as
religious faith and creed. And even in the latter, their dogmas are
not supposed to be forced on anyone.
We all have to create the
proper environment and atmosphere for a civil discourse, a cordial
dialogue to take place. This is especially incumbent on our leaders,
both the civil and the spiritual. Everything should be done to keep
this environment as it should be – clean, open, welcoming, always
working for unity.
The different actors and
parties should do their part. The media especially should be fair
and balanced in monitoring the developments. Everyone should have a
clear idea of what can be tolerated and what not in the exchanges of
opinions. Everyone should agree that some compromises may have to be
made to reach a certain consensus, so everyone can move on.
There has to be some set
of ground rules that everyone should accept. Of course, these ground
rules may also be modified as we go along, but such modification
should also be done gradually, not violently!
On the killing of
human rights worker Zara Alvarez
A press statement by
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
August 17, 2020
We are in deep grief and
indignation. Today, we laid to rest Ka Randy Echanis, one of those
who helped established Karapatan and staunch peacebuilder and land
rights defender. Tonight, we learned of the sad news that our former
campaign and education director and paralegal in Negros, Zara
Alvarez, was killed in Bacolod City.
Zara, 39, was imprisoned
for nearly two years and after her release, she continued to work as
Karapatan’s paralegal and as research and advocacy officer of the
Negros Island Health Integrated Program.
Like Ka Randy, she was
included as among those tagged as “terrorists” in proscription case
of the Department of Justice filed in 2018. Her name and that of
many others were stricken off the list, but the threats against her
by alleged State forces continued.
We extend our condolences
to Zara’s family and friends, as we and many other colleagues mourn
the killing of a beloved human rights and health worker. We will
never relent in pursuing justice for Zara, Ka Randy and all victims
of extrajudicial killings. We will honor Zara’s legacy as a
passionate, selfless and dedicated human rights worker, by
continuing the struggle for the realization of people’s rights.
Justice for Zara Alvarez!
Justice for all victims of
Alvarez (center) together with Rev. Jeong Jin Woo (second
from left) in a high-level delegation visit in Negros Island
last December. (Photo by ICHRP)