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



Our Nanays, our community heroes

CARD MRI Founder and Chairman Emeritus
May 28, 2021

An online carinderia, livelihood trainings via video calls, online coaching for the elderly on how to use digital banking apps… the list is endless as to how creative and innovative CARD nanays can become in support of each other amidst the toughest of times.

More than a year has passed since we started battling COVID-19. We witnessed how critically it can affect our economic activities and health. But for us Filipinos, one thing remained true: no problem is big enough to faze us. Our courage, resilience, and sense of community are stronger now more than ever.

Amidst the surge of cases in NCR and surrounding provinces in April 2021, our spirit of bayanihan to lend a helping hand to our kapwa also became more evident. We were witnesses to how our frontliners kept on giving the best medical services even when circumstances were difficult. As vaccines started to become available, doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners across the country volunteered to hasten the roll-out of the vaccination program.

As the new health and social measures were put in place, many workers were again deprived of their sources of income, with food insecurity not far in the horizon. Ignited by Patricia Non in Quezon City, at least 1,500 community pantries sprouted all over the country to help the needy, giving vegetables, rice, groceries, and other essentials for free. People were urged to give according to their capacity and take according to their needs [“Magbigay nang ayon sa kakayahan. Kumuha nang ayon sa pangangailangan”]. Indeed, the Filipinos never run out of ingenious ideas to show that we are united in this fight.

Pagkakapit-kamay to address various challenges is not new among CARD MRI communities. For more than three decades, CARD MRI has been promoting women empowerment, transforming housewives into entrepreneurs and community leaders. True enough, they learn to gain collective understanding of our recent situation in extending their hands to help each other. These values and culture have been deeply engraved to our nanays.

To know their stories of struggles and heroism in the face of COVID-19, we came up with “SaNaySay Challenge” on our official Facebook page. Through this, they are given a platform to express their ideas and plan of action in responding to the pandemic for themselves and their communities.

Our Nanays and their stories

The result of our effort in building responsible communities is further proven when we have received thousands of comments from our Facebook followers to share their stories of acts of kindness for their community. Even the pandemic can never silence their brilliant ideas. More so, it only amplified them.

One nanay who constantly leads her community is Margie Olanday. She saw what their CARD center is capable of and shared with her co-members what they can do best with their resources. It was her idea to plant vegetables and flowers in their center members’ sizeable backyard, and she would help sell it by marketing it on social media. Since their other members are skilled when it comes to cooking, Margie also suggested using the vegetables they sowed as ingredients for healthy and appetizing dishes. Residents in their area benefitted from this initiative, especially as they are fond of buying already cooked and hot meals for their families.

True enough, Margie’s plan had come to fruition. Many have come to buy fresh vegetables and sweet-smelling flowers which were sold at a very affordable price. Aside from this, residents in their community did not have to go to more public spaces and expose themselves to the virus just to buy meals. They must only step out of their homes and head into their neighborhood to buy what they need.

Not only did Margie help her center members generate extra income for their families, but she has also helped her community thrive during a time when food security and nutrition are essential. Indeed, what Margie has done for their center and their community is proof of her great stewardship over the resources they already have.

Meanwhile, the knowledge we shared with our clients through the trainings delivered by CARD-MRI Development Institute (CMDI) are also creating ripples of hope for their communities. Adela Bautista, a microentrepreneur in Malita, Davao Occidental, initiated to conduct online livelihood training to its community using a messaging app. Adela generously shared her acquired knowledge from her trainings in CMDI to help her community thrive as the economy is still slowly re-opening. Aside from this, Adela has more than enough to provide relief goods to her fellow clients.

Our trainings go beyond one person. It can flow from other people and transpire change to local communities. Their knowledge can help them become resilient from the uncertainties of tomorrow.

In these extraordinary times, and despite the real danger, there are individuals who have shown great courage to help the vulnerable communities. Elderly, children and pregnant women face the greatest risks. They have more limited movement in the outside world. We recognize people like Roma Sevidal Altovar for having the bravery of initiating help in her community.

Along with her husband, she goes to the houses of her co-members, especially to the senior citizens, to tend their loan payments minimizing their outside activities. As a Center Chief who sees CARD as an important institution to them, she uses social media to keep her CARD co-members updated about the organization. The smiles and gratitude she received from her members and buyers always warm her heart. Roma is an exemplary member of CARD MRI who wholeheartedly helps her community during these troubling times.

More stories of hope

While the SaNaySay Challenge will run until the end of May 2021, our Facebook Page have already received almost 1,000 responses on its first week alone. It has also sparked conversations among CARD MRI members on how they can support each other at this trying time.

Among the responses received, 30% cited that their greatest contribution is following the health protocols to keep their selves, their families, and their communities safe. The recent crisis also opens the mind of the communities to be more prepared for the uncertainties of tomorrow. As they realized the many uncertainties, they are promoting savings and financial literacy among their communities. Moreover, a number of CARD MRI members who had surplus agricultural produce such as vegetables, rice, and fruits gave them away to their neighbourhood and communities even at the start of the lockdowns last year – a sign of helping one another in need.

Since most people halted their source of income, they encouraged one another to create a livelihood like gardening, contribute to established community pantries and community stores. The pandemic teaches us the meaning of teamwork.

These are some simple but impactful contributions of our fellows to their local communities. While we are proud of assisting people to improve their quality of life, we also feel uplifted that we have developed CARD communities who know to create better solutions and carry their communities to progress. Remaining true to our mission, we build communities composed of responsible citizens of the country and are always ready to help.

The pandemic can never deter our values as Filipinos. We have shown our pagdadamayan long before the COVID-19 pandemic. We are always working together to help one another. Generosity, bravery, and kindness are the values our modern heroes have. It is time for them to be seen and recognized.

There are so many ways to help our community. Just like the stories of our nanays, our hands and minds are never empty to extend it to people in need. We can always provide material and non-materials needs to somehow ease the hardship of one family. Our collective efforts, big or small, can offer relief to distressed families.

These CARD clients are igniting hope during this crisis. With CARD MRI, we will always champion their advocacies and empower them so they can empower other people. In the midst of adversity, we join all our nanays and the Filipino communities in celebrating kindness and bayanihan spirit.

About the Author
Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip is the founder and chairman emeritus of CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions, a group of 21 institutions that envisions eradicating poverty in the Philippines. He is the recipient of the 2019 Ramon V. del Rosario Award for Nation Building.





Giving due attention to the family

May 19, 2021

BECAUSE of our current condition where we are restricted in our movements and somehow forced to stay home most of the time, we can say that we have more time to spend with the family which is a good and welcome development. We should try to exploit this turn of events to the hilt.

Just the same, we can also say that due to the same reason, we may be so eaten up with all kinds of concerns and challenges that we can neglect our duty to give due attention and, in fact, can give bad influence to the family. We have to be ready to counter this possibility.

Whatever it is, it is important that we realize that the family be given utmost care and attention since it is the primary school of each individual and the basic unit of society. How a person is and how a society in general is depends or reflects the kind of family there is. If the family is strong and healthy, then a person and society would also be strong and healthy. Otherwise, a person and a society can only be weak and sickly also.

We need to give quality time to the family. Thus, we have to come up with plans and strategies so that the family can be as it should be—where the rudiments of love in all its aspects are learned and developed. We should not just be improvising in this responsibility. The concern for developing the true spirit of love should be addressed as seriously as possible.

It’s in the family where we learn how to be concerned with one another. We should see to it then that the culture of love, concern, compassion, mercy, understanding, etc. is strongly established there. Everything should be done such that everyone in the family learns and acquires as fully as possible all the qualities that are proper of a human person and a child of God.

It would be good if the parents establish a healthy family atmosphere where everyone feels loved and is enabled to love. The specifics of this lifestyle can lend itself to a variety of possibilities, but I suppose what is needed is to have a lot of time together—as much as possible taking meals together, praying together, and just having regular family get-togethers. But more than anything else, it is in forming a healthy spiritual life among the members that should be given priority.

That way everyone gets to know each other very well and would be in a better position to help each other. More than that, each one gets to have a good relationship with God. And the dynamics of love, which can be complicated given our unavoidable differences and conflicts, can be played out. A certain intimacy with each other is developed. This is an ideal condition to have since we are made for that.

Especially these days when life is becoming more fast-paced and there is always the tendency to simply be casual in our relationship with others, the need for a healthy family life should be felt and pursued very seriously.

This is a good investment whose returns cannot be matched by any material benefits. We should do everything to make family life healthy and vibrant, so that everyone would be happy and be properly oriented in life.





Chaste sex?

May 15, 2021

WHY not? In fact, that’s how sex should be if we have to remain truly human and a child of God. Sex is a human act that is meant not only for our own good but also and primarily as a means to glorify God. Yes, to put it bluntly, sex is also meant to work out our own sanctification, which is the real purpose of our life here on earth.

Sex is not just an expression of our animality, a function purely of our hormones and instincts, a pursuit for dopamine. It’s supposed to be guided rationally and most especially by faith, hope and charity.

We have to overcome the idea that chaste sex is a contradiction in terms. Sad to say this is how many people regard this God-given human power. It’s time to extricate sex from such primitive mind-frame, and put it on the path where it is supposed to be, a path that leads us to God.

In this regard, of course, we have to deal with this very delicate issue properly. Enough with treating it as some kind of taboo that should not be talked about. Obviously, we have to be discreet and prudent in discussing it, but it should be tackled head-on.

I find it quite funny that about the only time sex is openly discussed in public is when it is about the different techniques one can use to derive the greatest pleasure from it. That’s how sex education is done these days. But about how sex can be made chaste or a means of our sanctification, there is almost complete silence.

And because of that set-up, the anomalies that issue from this human faculty of ours have proliferated beyond recognition. Self-abuse, pre-marital sex, infidelities, sex addiction, and all kinds of perversions are practically exploding, and they now involve children and old people, and even those we normally expect not to get involved in this kind of problem. This problem has been a quiet pandemic for a long, long time already.

Abetting this problem now, of course, is the easy access to pornography which, thanks and no thanks to our new technologies, has already created a formidable network that is now very difficult to resist. It has caught many people in its web.

We have to bring out more often the true beauty of sex as a gift from God that is governed by certain laws that are meant to give us our true joy, not the fake, deceptive and harmful one. And we need to talk more about how sex can be lived or resorted to according to God’s will.

Obviously there is need to talk more about the practical means of discipline and self-control in order to make sex chaste, given our weakened or wounded condition here on earth. But these prudential norms should be portrayed in a positive manner.

Also there is need for practical and immediate guidance especially to the young ones who are already feeling the stirrings of sex, and also to those who have some special needs with respect to sex. Let’s hope that we can count on a good number of people who can carry out this delicate task.

We should try our best to put up a working culture of chastity around. This should not be a laughing matter anymore. It may require some major effort at readjusting our understanding of this matter and our ways of handling it, but it would be all worthwhile.





The cross as our constant companion

April 30, 2021

LET’S hope that we can develop a deep devotion to the Holy Cross of Christ, perhaps by carrying a crucifix with us all the time, saying some pious ejaculatory prayers everytime we see a cross and even kissing it, celebrating well the feasts dedicated to it in our liturgical calendar, etc.

Such devotion should always bring to mind what Christ himself said, that if we want to follow him, we should deny ourselves and carry the cross. (cfr. Mt 16,24) It’s in the cross that we can truly find Christ, and Christ in his supreme act of redemptive love for us.

Certainly, the cross is an unavoidable and even an integral part of our earthly life. But we should regard it the way Christ regarded it. We should be attracted to it the way Christ was attracted to it.

Thus, we need to overcome the awkwardness, if not, the resistance we may have against this devotion. We have to realize that our faith in Christ should filter down to the level of our heart, our senses, our feelings and emotions. It should not just get stuck in the intellectual and volitional level.

Making Christ’s cross a constant companion of ours will definitely help us to feel that we are never alone in our daily affairs. Christ is always with us, guiding us, enlightening us and empowering us to accomplish what is even beyond our human powers to accomplish. With the cross, we can manage to feel secure and confident despite whatever.

Especially in our moments of difficulty, trials and temptations, having the cross as a companion can truly help us to be strong and hopeful, preventing us from falling into our weaknesses. With it, we can manage how to suffer and to find meaning in suffering. We can manage to be at peace, and even cheerful, amid the pain.

And that’s because this devotion to the cross assures us that Christ is suffering also with us, a suffering that has redemptive effects for all of us. We get to realize that suffering is not purely a negative thing. Christ has turned it into a means of our purification, our strengthening, and ultimately, our salvation.

When we have those moments of vulnerability, as when we are tired and lonely, disappointed, frustrated and sad over something, or severely tempted, looking, clutching and even kissing a crucifix can truly help us to remain steadfast in our faith and trust in God’s merciful providence. We can feel his tremendous love for us.

It would be good if we can spread this devotion to Christ’s cross more widely. If properly understood and lived, there is no doubt that it can help all of us to live a good and happy life and to know how to deal with all the unavoidable negative elements in our earthly sojourn.

Let’s try to market this devotion especially now when we are celebrating the 500 years of Christianity in our country. This devotion will definitely be a sign of a certain maturity in our Christian life. And given the growing and more complicated challenges of our times, this Christian maturity is what we all need.

With the cross, we can attain what St. Paul described as “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Eph 4,13-14)





Consequences of addiction to pornography

April 29, 2021

SORRY if I have to bring up this topic. But we cannot deny that nowadays this addiction to pornography is getting widespread. It’s now all over the place, even affecting little children. We have to do something drastic about this problem that is eating away the strength of the people, and weakening the spiritual and moral fabric of our society.

We have to know more about the bad effects of this addiction if only to be more wary about it and be more ready to protect ourselves from it. Pornography, like drugs and alcohol, creates a certain state of euphoria which the addict longs for, yet which never completely satisfies him.

There are studies that show that pornography strongly affects the brain, such that the addict gets an irresistible attachment to pornographic images. It somehow modifies the workings of the neurons that can even lead to the diminution of the grey matter of our brain that can impair our decision-making.

Over time, a compulsion can develop when the addict needs more of it, and even more hardcore versions. What may start as a way to achieve pleasure can become later on as an irresistible urge to pacify whatever anxiety or negative mood the addict can have. The urge can be so strong that the addict would still resort to it even if no pleasure can be derived from it anymore.

This addiction will obviously affect the addict’s understanding of sex, love and relationships. It can even dramatically affect the addict’s sexual preferences. He loses his sense of autonomy and his ability to relate to others properly. He can tend to see others merely as objects of pleasure. From here, other forms of perversions can emerge.

The addict would likely be dominated by whatever sexual inclination he happens to have—heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc. And this will start the move to legalize certain practices that normally are considered sinful and immoral.

In this addiction, unlike some other addictions, there is no such thing as a moderate or temperate use. The usual experience is that it leads the addict toward a downward spiral, as the normal stimuli of sex becomes substituted by exaggerated ones that can lead to violence.

This addiction can affect even the so-called holy and pious people who are not sincere in their interior struggles during their confessions and spiritual direction, or worse, who refrain from seeking help. Things would be much worse for them since their double life and hypocrisy can become almost invincible.

And yet, in spite of all these bad effects of this addiction to pornography, not everything is lost. There is always hope. That’s because the same process which shaped the brain’s addiction can also form the mind in healthier ways.

Just as wayward cravings grow stronger over time when acted upon, such desires also become weaker if they are not acted on. A repetition of virtuous acts can create a positive ‘virtuous cycle’ that can lead the person toward higher ideals.

For this to happen, we may launch a campaign of building positive atmospheres, fostering positive freedom in the face of instincts and opening new horizons. The bottom line here is not so much just a matter of leaving this addiction behind as re-centering the focus of our life on God, of faith and piety.





The vocal prayers

April 14, 2021

IF we only know the real beauty and power of the vocal prayers! It’s a pity that nowadays these prayers are practically regarded of little importance, if at all. Many people treat them only casually. They are resorted to simply out of mindless habit or out of mere compliance to some social or cultural expectations. But the spirit of these prayers is often missed.

It’s a pity because these vocal prayers are actually very special prayers. They are given directly by Christ himself as in the case of the Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father), or are composed by saints and the Church herself. They are truly inspired prayers. They are not mere words conveying some literary message and beauty. They convey the Holy Spirit himself.

As such, they are very helpful prayers. They easily connect us with God or with whomever is the object of some pious devotion to whom we go to ask for some favors. They help us in articulating the deep yearnings of our heart that we often find hard to express. They are an effective doorway to a contemplative life which we all should aim at, since at the end of the day, that’s what we are meant for.

We have to recover, if not develop in the first place, the proper attitude toward these prayers. We have to give this concern some special attention since we know that these days especially, with the mainstream lifestyle of activism generated by our new technologies and other allied developments, the life of piety of the people is fast fading away. Many people are drifting toward hardened secularization or paganism.

We need to pause and consider once again the origins of these vocal prayers. We have to develop a certain sense of being duty-bound to have recourse to them. And for that to happen, we really would need to realize from whom these prayers come, to whom we are addressing them, what they are telling us, etc.

As usual, we need to activate our faith that would always require of us to humble ourselves so that we could feel the need for prayer, for connecting and being with God. Without humility, we would just be full of ourselves and fail to consider the most important dimension of our life—our relation with God which is crucial in developing our proper relation with others and with everything else in our life.

The vocal prayers, in fact, can be and should be a constant companion of ours, considering that we are often easily swallowed up and trapped in our worldly affairs. Without the vocal prayers, we become easy target to our own personal weaknesses and the many temptations around. The vocal prayers help us in keeping a spiritual and supernatural bearing which is proper to us.

We truly need to popularize the recourse to the vocal prayers that should start with oneself, then with the family, the school, offices and other work places. We need to constantly remind everyone of the importance of vocal prayers without, of course, compromising the naturalness that should go with it. We have to make it attractive, always highlighting its beauty and power.

As we celebrate the 500 years of Christianity in our country, I believe that highlighting the importance of the vocal prayers would be one most helpful contribution that can make the celebration most meaningful.





Modules and online classes

March 26, 2021

AS we all know by now, this is how most classes are conducted these days. Students are given modules and they are expected to study them mainly on their own. And whatever classes the teachers have to give, they are done online.

This, of course, requires a lot of adjustments by both students and teachers. In the first place, a lot of self-discipline is required from both. Teachers have to see to it that they still are in control of the class, able to deliver their lessons as effectively as possible and to closely monitor the learning process of the students. Indeed, a tall order!

Students, on their part, have to be strongly motivated to study mainly on their own and to closely follow whatever online classes they have to attend. Obviously, they need to be closely supervised.

It is indeed in this kind of scenario that while all helpful and relevant technical skills have to be resorted to, a great revitalization of everyone’s spiritual life is needed. There is simply no way things can be done and handled properly if the spiritual life of both teachers and students would not be up to it.

Obviously, this adjustment period will have its learning curve. But I would say that among the first things to be done is precisely to instill in everyone the idea that a lot of sacrifice would be needed here and that to make such sacrifice is actually a vivid expression of love.

Unless this basic principle is understood and lived well, we can only expect failure in the learning process. The teachers, for example, should try their best to prepare their lessons really well, considering that they have to make up for the lack of physical contact which is the usual way to conduct classes. They have to be more aware of how each student is taking the lessons imparted.

As teachers, they are expected to exert more effort to understand and to adjust to the students than the students to their teachers. While the students also have to do their part, the greater responsibility in the learning process would fall on the teachers.

Thus, teachers have to be extra kind and charitable to their students without, of course, undermining their authority. As much as possible they have to very friendly, with a very approachable presence in the online classes, so that a certain closeness between them and the students that is conducive to learning can be achieved.

So, teachers should do away with the old style of projecting a strict and demanding image toward their students. This is especially so since in a class there can be a wide variety of the capabilities of students. We can expect that the classes would not be as homogeneous as they used to be in former times. The fast learners can be mixed with the slow learners.

Teachers should find ways of how to motivate each of the students. This definitely would require more than technical skills. A lot of prayer and sacrifice would be needed here. We have to ask for God’s grace since we would be dealing with many unknown and mysterious elements in this process.

It is important that even by their presence alone, teachers can inspire and generate interest on the part of the students who should see in them their genuine dedication to the students’ welfare.





What’s mine is mine: The intensifying fight of indigenous peoples vs. mining companies in the Philippines

March 20, 2021

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown last April, one of the worst standoffs in recent history between the Philippine National Police and indigenous peoples’ defenders took place. The venue: the Didipio mining site in Nueva Vizcaya.

IP miningSince the 1990s, the Didipio mining site – a 27,000-hectare biodiversity corridor where the Bugkalot tribe resides – has been exploited and mined for gold and copper, first by the Arimco Mining Corporation, then by the Australasian Philippine Mining Inc., later known as OceanaGold Philippines Inc. (OGPI). Studies have shown that the mining site, which spans the border between the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino, holds over 1.4 million ounces of gold and 169,400 tons of copper.

Yet OGPI’s 25-year Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), essentially its permit to operate in the mining site, expired last June 2019. Due to the extensive damage wrought by the mining operations in the communities in Didipio, both the Nueva Vizcaya provincial government and indigenous peoples’ groups have opposed OGPI’s application for renewal.

The wily company, however, sought help from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, which endorsed their renewal application despite the local government and the people’s opposition. This led to the stand-off last April 2020, where around 100 police dispersed about 30 indigenous leaders who were blocking three fuel tankers from entering the Didipio site.

In a statement, several UN special rapporteurs have denounced the stand-off, saying, “The protesters were exercising their right to freedom of assembly to object against the continued operations in the Didipio mine. The government and mining company should have engaged them in peaceful and constructive talks instead of dispersing the crowd forcefully. The use of force by the police was unnecessary and disproportionate.”

Despite having an expired permit, OGPI remains adamant about continuing its mining operations, opposition be damned. Such a situation is not uncommon in the Philippines, where the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples are usually sacrificed in the name of profit.

Toothless law

Indigenous peoples in the southern Philippines face a similar predicament. Despite concerted opposition by indigenous communities and anti-mining groups, the Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) was able to extend its mining permit for the Tampakan project – a 23,571-hectare mining site located at the intersection of the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and Davao del Sur. Like Didipio, Tampakan holds an estimated 12.8 million metric tons of copper and 15.2 million ounces of gold.

The Tampakan mining permit was supposed to end last March 2020, yet SMI was able to secure a 12-year extension without the benefit of public scrutiny or consultation. SMI reasoned that it estimates that it would need at least 70 years to extract all mineral deposits in Tampakan, as it is considered the largest copper mine in the Philippines.

Like the indigenous peoples of northern Philippines, most affected by the large-scale mining operations is the Blaan tribe, whose ancestral domain lies in the Tampakan mining site. Some 4,000 Blaan tribespeople are expected to be displaced by the continued mining activities.

How large mining companies can discreetly renew their permits without the benefit of public scrutiny brings to light questions on how “toothless” the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) is when it comes to providing mechanisms for the protection of indigenous ancestral domains and the resources contained therein. While the IPRA enforced the concept of “free and prior informed consent” (FPIC) to supposedly protect indigenous rights and interests and give them a voice in matters that affect them, rarely is this enforced when it comes to mining activities.

Along with the apparent inadequacy of extant laws, many point to the complicity of state agencies and officials in robbing indigenous peoples of the right to defend their land from further damage caused by large-scale mining operations. Even in 2021, indigenous peoples and advocates remain fighting with bare hands against business interests.





Attacks on lawyers and associated impunity worse with terror law

A press statement by the Public Interest Law Center (PILC)
March 13, 2021

The Public Interest Law Center condemns and views Calbayog City PNP’s letter to a local court asking for names of lawyers handling cases of alleged members of communist-terrorist groups as a downright admission that attacks on human rights lawyers is a government-sanctioned plan.

Profiling is not only an attack against human rights lawyers but is also an affront against the legal profession. It shows that lawyers, considered as officers of the court, are themselves being targeted by the government merely for defending their clients. It runs contrary to the basic international principle that lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients' causes as a result of discharging their functions.

The government’s myopic view that lawyers handling cases of perceived terrorists are terrorists themselves is a danger to all. The many petitioners against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 claim in some way or another real and credible threat of labelling and prosecution as terrorists. Ergo, under dangerous police presumptions, their lawyers are targets as well. With no restraining order or dismissal of the terror law in sight, the government can wield any or all of the overreaching powers on surveillance, arrest, and detention.

It is no secret that the Duterte administration has amped up a campaign against lawyers who choose to help those who speak out against government abuses, and most especially those who do so themselves. In between the red-tagging, maligning, and insulting, it has sat on or bungled investigations on intensifying attacks against human rights lawyers, most recent of which was the gruesome stabbing in the head of NUPL-Panay Secretary General Angelo Karlo T. Guillen.

Notwithstanding an apology and a retraction of the letter by the police, fact remains that lawyers are being attacked and killed extrajudicially in the Philippines at an alarming rate and with unimaginable impunity. They join a roster of the most beleaguered, alongside activists, journalists, the political opposition, those singled out and identified by Duterte for elimination. Nowhere is safe so long as the Duterte government is hell bent on eliminating any form of dissent, human rights be damned.





Overcome evil with good

March 13, 2021

THIS is a very intriguing part of our Christian faith. Not only should we love our enemies, as Christ taught us, but we also need to drown evil with an abundance of good. This was specifically articulated by St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans where he said:

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Rom 12,17-20)

We have to try our best to erase whatever disbelief, doubt or skepticism we can have as we consider this teaching, since most likely, our first and spontaneous reaction to it would precisely be those conditions. We can ask, even if done only interiorly, “Is Christ really serious about this? Can this thing that Christ and St. Paul are telling us, possible, doable?”

When these reactions come to us, it is time to remind ourselves that we just have to follow our faith that definitely contains a lot of mysteries and things supernatural that we are not expected to understand fully. Like Our Lady and all the saints, we should just believe and do what we are told because it is Christ who said so, and because it is the Church that teaches us so.

That’s what faith is all about. By believing first, then we can start to understand things that are hard to explain or articulate in human terms. As they say, that’s how the ball bounces. We should not waste time trying to understand everything at once or at the beginning. Let’s be game enough to go through some kind of adventure that, no matter how the outcome would be, we know that God is in control of everything.

In the meantime, guided by our faith, let’s begin to develop the appropriate attitudes, practices, habits and virtues. We have to learn the intricacies of charity, like being patient, magnanimous, compassionate and understanding, merciful, always friendly with everyone even if not everyone is friendly with us. We should be willing to suffer for the others and to bear their burdens.

We have to see to it that our thoughts, desires and intentions, our words and deeds are always animated by charity. There should no negative elements in them, even if we notice the defects, mistakes and sins of the others, and even if they have wronged us.

We have to have a good grip on our emotions, able to dominate and properly orient our biases, preferences and other idiosyncracies that constitute our differences and even conflicts with others. We have to learn to focus more on what we have in common rather than what divides us. We have to learn how to dialogue with everyone.

We can always do all these things because of our spiritual nature and also because of God’s grace, in the first place. By living by this Christian teaching when faced with evil and wrongdoings others may do on us, we become more and more like Christ. And that in the end is what truly matters in our life!



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