Showing posts from 2009

An Open Letter to DENR Secretary Jose L. Atienza

Pastoral Letter on Urban Planning and Development Policies

Unless the lord builds the house, those who build it labor
in vain. (PS 127, 1)

AFTER the terrible destructions brought about by typhoon Ondoy in our metropolis, we now embark in rebuilding our lives and our cities. Life must go on. We must move on. We move now to the arduous work of rehabilitation. Let us do this not haphazardly and superficially so that we rebuild on firm foundations and the sufferings of others may not be aggravated. Let us allow ourselves to be guided by the Lord and his teachings.

On October 9, Aling Myrna and her teen-age son, residents of a community living in North Fairview, were shot to death by a private security guard as they protested the location of a fence being put up to keep them and their community “out of danger!”
Why do the thousands of people, people like Aling Myrna, cling to their homesites even in danger areas, and resist relocation to safer sites outside the city? The answer is simple. Their sources of livelihood are in the city, and there …

Letter of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Manila to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Aerial Spraying

October 29, 2009

Dear President Arroyo:


For many years now, families living in the surroundings of Cavendish banana plantations in Mindanao have been complaining of getting sick, their crops dying and water resources contaminated because of aerial spraying. The chemicals sprayed from airplanes used for bananas indiscriminately expose the people and the environment to poison.

Various international and local studies point to the hazards of aerial spraying of pesticides on humans and the ecosystems. This was recently proven by the technical review made by the World Health Organization on the DOH commissioned study few years ago.

We are one with all affected people of Mindanao in working for their deliverance from this immoral practice of aerial spraying that infringes upon human health and dignity. We cannot allow their suffering to go on any longer for anything that offends people, especially the least of our brothers and sisters, is an offense to God.

As Pope Benedict XV …

Letter of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Manila to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on the Laiban Dam Project

September 14, 2009

Dear Pres. Arroyo:

Greetings of Peace!

As Pastors, we are one with the outrage expressed by our people against the Laiban Dam project of your administration. The project is made worse with SMC’s offer of US $2B government guarantee with “take or pay” provision in a proposed Joint Venture contract with MWSS.

“In these trying times when uniting the people is more urgent, any project that can be a cause of suspicion and division should be avoided.” What may be perceived as common good of the present generation may turn out to be a cause of suffering for the next. Even with the best intention of providing more water to the people can spark protests when it ignores and violates framework for sustainable development, ethical and legal considerations.

The project will submerge 28,000 hectares of a biodiverse-rich forest-ecosystem, under a 113-meter high Laiban Dam. Moreover this dam is situated on top of a seismic fault line with historical record of 7.6 intensity. It …

Time to Become Accountable

When I, together with some other bishops and members of the urban poor, joined the farmers who went on huger strike in December, 2008, I prayed fervently not so much for strength of body but for elasticity of patience and continuous belief in good faith. It was heart-rending for me to see how everyday the farmers would fight against weakness and call on the congresspersons to give them their due, in so few but sincere words. I fought hard as well, trying not to hate the men and women legislators who would continue to disregard the farmers and pass by them in a hurry to get to their Christmas parties…to enjoy their bounty. Every time I felt discouraged I would close my eyes and assure myself that justice would come, maybe during the six-month period the legislators afforded themselves to study and introduce “perfecting amendments” to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.It has been more than five months since that day Congress issued that Joint Resolution which to me was a promise…

Protecting Whose Agenda?

I recently visited the lobby of the House of Representatives session hall. I immediately noticed the newly renovated walls bearing pictures of significant events in Congress’s history. Among those pictures pertaining to the present Congress was a photo of a booklet with the following words printed on its cover:

“Sustaining the Growth, Spreading the Benefits:
A Legislative Reform Agenda for the House of the People.” – House Speaker Prospero Nograles

This made me ponder for a while. Amidst all the seemingly unsound and doubtful legislative proposals and policies cropping up in Congress these days, I could not help but wonder. Whose growth are our national leaders trying to sustain? Are the laws churned out by this body upon which we, as a people, have entrusted our wisdom really for the benefit of the Filipino? There is one House measure which has piqued my concern at the moment. I came across this House Resolution (HR) No. 737 which, essentially, proposes to grant ownership of Philippin…