Thursday, December 29, 2011

Letter of Appeal for the Calamity Victims of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro and Diocese of Iligan

Our dear Bishops, SAC Directors, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we celebrate the coming of the Lord during this Advent season, we are challenged all the more to be in solidarity with the needy, to enkindle hope and to share God’s loving presence among us.

We find ourselves again in the middle of another tragic calamity in the eastern province of Agusan del Sur and northern Mindanao. Typhoon Washi (local name “Sendong”) made landfall on Friday evening causing severe flash floods on Friday night and early Saturday particularly in Cagayan de Oro City in Misamis Oriental and Iligan City in Lanao del Norte province.

As of today, December 19, 2011, 23 barangays in Cagayan de Oro are still flooded. The city still had no potable water. According to DSWD’s data, some 3,500 families are being assisted in 7 evacuation centers. The Red Cross reported that the death toll from the floods was now at 652 with 808 others missing.

In Iligan City, at least 24 villages are flooded according to NDRRMC report and more than 200 people are still missing. There are other affected communities in CARAGA region. The Diocese of Dumaguete is also asking for help for the 2nd District of Negros Oriental was declared under the state of calamity.
NASSA is working to complete the ground assessment in view of submitting the EA (Emergency Appeal) to Caritas Internationalis hopefully before Christmas. We can raise considerable amount given the scale of the calamity. But it may take some days. That's why we need to mobilize our local support to immediately respond.

This is a distress call to our network. We urgently solicit your support and contributions so we can help save lives and respond to the emergency needs of the calamity victims in eastern province of Agusan del Sur and northern Mindanao and in other dioceses as well.

For those who may wish to channel their donation to NASSA, you may send your check payable to CBCP Caritas Filipinas Foundation, Inc., and please deposit to Bank of the Philippine Island (BPI), Account Number: 4951-0071-08.

You can also deposit your donations directly to the Diocesan Social Action Centers, with the details below:

For the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro:
Bank Acct: Bank of the Philippine Island (BPI) - CDO
Acct. Name: Roman Catholic Archbishop of CDO Inc.
Acct. Number: 9330-001442
Contact Person: Fr. Nathan Lerio
Mobile Phone Number: 09177195626

For the Diocese of Iligan:
Bank: Philippine National Bank (PNB)
Acct. Name: Social Action Center
Acct. Number: 418290500013
Contact Person: Fr. Albert Mendez
Mobile Phone Number: 0918-7194847

We continue praying for the affected individuals and families as we carry out our Christian duty to comfort and give hope to those who need it most.

In the service of the poor and the needy,

Auxiliary Bishop of Manila
Chairman of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Social Action – Justice and Peace
December 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When will the killings stop?

The Church has offered once again another precious life in its service to God’s people and the poor.

The CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace expresses deep anguish and condemnation over the horrific murder of Fr. Fausto Tentorio. He was shot eight times by an assassin as he was getting into his pick-up truck parked at the Mother of Perpetual Help Church compound in Arakan, North Cotabato.

Fr. Pops was a staunch advocate against mining and other extractive operations that threaten the indigenous people. He had been an inspiration to his parishioners as wells as the lumads who have been opposing activities that are harmful to the environment.

We join Fr. Pops’ brothers at the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), the Diocese of Kidapawan, and the hundreds of human rights activists that demand justice for our slain priest.

No peace workers and human rights defenders should ever live in fear or shed blood because of what they believe in and what they stand for.

Fr. Pops’ murder reveals a culture of impunity that has prevailed in our society because of the lack of protection and justice that our government affords to human rights defenders.

Beyond the usual expressions of “condolences” and “condemnation”, the government and state authorities have not really done anything that will reverse the trend of senseless killings in the country.

But the victims, their families and friends don’t need these futile words.

Rather, we desire to see these killings stop than be consoled by the platitudes they give in exchange of our grief.

National Secretariat for Social Action

Friday, August 19, 2011

People first before profit

“The points raised by PALEA in its motion for reconsideration are mere rehash of those considered, discussed and ruled upon by the Secretary of Labor…” declared Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa as he endeavored to justify Malacanang’s approval of PAL’s plan to terminate and outsource approximately 2,600 employees.

Ochoa’s pronouncements dashed the hope of thousands of workers who had appealed to Malacanang to end the labor row by way of harmonizing the interests of both the workers and the PAL management. Instead, his statement suggests the government’s insensitivity to the predicament of the workers.

The repetitive points raised by PALEA, which failed to impress Malacanang, only reflect the apprehensions felt by its members in the face of impending job loss. They failed to recognize the fact that the “rehash” merely indicates PALEA’s persistence to appeal for the reversal of the flawed and unfair decision issued by former labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and which Malacanang now sanctions. By calling the spinoff program a management prerogative, the government precariously confers license to contractualization and random termination that could set precedence to other violators of labor laws.

In the midst of this turmoil, the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace expresses solidarity with the members of PALEA, especially the 2,600 workers, who face unemployment. At the same time, we express grave disappointment over the government’s manifest partiality towards PAL, whose recent financial report belies claims of “massive losses”.

We believe that the outsourcing and spinoff program was conceived mainly to dismantle the union and abolish its collective bargaining powers. Such a move by the management is a poor recompense to the very same people who worked hard for nine years to pull PAL out of fiscal insolvency in 1998. We fail to grasp the extent of their thirst for profit especially in the wake of their anticipation to rake in P1.6B in annual revenues.

The government has done a grave disservice to the people. While it has responsibility to recognize the rights of employers to protect their business interest, it has equal responsibility to ensure that they do so within the bounds of labor law. Any action to the contrary already borders on political favors and unjust concessions.

The Church maintains its appeal for a just resolution of this case. Government decisions must be conducted within the prescriptions of labor’s primacy over capital – people first over profit. We continue praying that the government may finally find the wisdom to render pro-people decisions and provide opportunities for the workers and the management to work tirelessly for the common good.

In this we remind President Aquino’s promise to the people: Kayo ang Boss ko!

Friday, August 12, 2011

“Proclaim liberty to the captives… Set free the Oppressed”

A Statement of Concern on the Plight of Political Prisoners in the Country

Nearly three weeks ago, July 25, hundreds of political detainees around the country began a synchronized hunger strike to protest the government’s inadequate agenda on human rights protection and its seeming disregard of the conditions of political prisoners.

Since the early ‘80s, more than 300 political prisoners have been languishing in prison cells throughout the country without explicit assurance of judicial remedy or executive clemency. Some of whom have already died or gotten ill in custody as a direct result of the government’s inability to provide for their medical treatment. The circumstances of neglect and eventual demise of some of these prisoners qualify as violations against human dignity and protection.

The National Secretariat for Social Action – Justice and Peace expresses deep concern over the condition of the political detainees, especially those on hunger strike. Three weeks without food will have surely and rapidly deteriorated their conditions. We wish to solicit the immediate action of the government to prevent unnecessary deaths.

We also denounce the underhanded conduct of law enforcement agencies that oftentimes criminalize the legitimate struggle of some groups and individuals.

We call on the judiciary to expedite the process of review of the detainees’ cases and grant the immediate and unconditional release of those whose arrests are deemed to be politically-motivated.

President Aquino abstractedly speaks about improvements in human rights situation in the country. The call for a clear human rights framework by the political detainees is a judicious opportunity for him to demonstrate his sincerity to uphold peace and national reconciliation.

We appeal to the President to grant executive clemency on political detainees who have already served long and completely unjust sentences. May he accede to the humanitarian character of this appeal and make progress towards the full respect of human rights in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, we express solidarity to the struggle of our political prisoners. We wish to assure them that the Church, as it has always done so in the past, will always defend human rights and the sacredness of life as stated in the Gospel.


Monday, June 13, 2011


CBCP-NASSA’s Statement on Hacienda Luisita

"The joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these too are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ." --(Opening line of The Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, of VC II).

The CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA JP), lobbying for the proper implementation of agrarian reform, expresses solidarity with the landless farmers and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita.

In exercising our prophetic ministry, we pursue the calls (1) to revoke the stock distribution option (SDO) - a scheme that runs contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, and (2) to lift the TRO on the compulsory acquisition of Hacienda Luisita.

Cries for justice reach the ears of the Lord; we are one with our small farmers. NASSA recognizes that the most fundamental pillar of agrarian reform is the enforcement of the “land to the tiller principle”. Land distribution, with sufficient support services, holds promise as a means to stem rural poverty and the wave of rural-urban migration. History shows that the redistribution of land to landless and poor farmers can be a very effective way to improve rural welfare. Thus, it is disappointing to note that the Cojuangcos have managed to evade agrarian reform for more than five decades, even as the legitimate beneficiaries of the land continue to live in grinding, abject poverty.

On behalf of our small farmers, we appeal for truth, equity, dignity and justice. The SDO not only allowed the HLI to retain its ownership of the land but also “legitimized” the giving out of paltry shares of stocks to the farmers. NASSA’s opposition to SDO is grounded on the social teachings of the Church, which explicitly condemn exploitation of human labor, especially when rewarded with wages or other forms of payment that are unworthy of human dignity, such as in the case of the farmers in Hacienda Luisita.

We rely on the integrity of the Supreme Court to exercise its intrinsic political independence and resolve the case according to the spirit of distributive justice of the Constitution. The High Court, we are certain, knows full well the fact that political “issues” impede the implementation of agrarian reform. Hence, we call on the Supreme Court to facilitate the birth of institutional reforms capable of activating all factors that

will seriously implement agrarian reform. This is best done through the speedy dispensation justice that is devoid of political color and solely based on the merits of the case.

We call on the government to activate an efficient agrarian reform program which is respectful of the people’s needs for justice and answers in an adequate way their needs for integral development. Both former President Cory Aquino and President Benigno Aquino III promised the distribution of the land during their election campaigns. But now, PNoy is taking a hands-off stance on the issue on the account of his owning only “insignificant” share in the HLI. If the so-called compromise agreements hold out, the farmers will end up, after five decades without land, without jobs and in deep poverty, with only 1,400 hectares out of the original 6,443, while the Cojuangcos get to keep 4,227 hectares (about 800 hectares having been sold or used by HLI). This, certainly, is not what agrarian justice is about.

As president of the people, PNoy can no longer stay neutral on this issue. We call upon him to intervene on the side of the farmers. Whatever decision he arrives at will have huge moral and political implications particularly on the current peace process with National Democratic Front (NDF) in which agrarian reform is a central issue, and on the poor’s reception of his affirmations that he is for the poor. As President, he “swore to preserve and defend (the) Constitution and execute its laws.” The Constitution categorically states that the farmers should get the land based on their “right to own directly or collectively the lands they till.”

The resolution of the Hacienda Luisita case is a test of the administration’s political will. It will send a strong signal for the successful, or failed, implementation of agrarian reform. The administration will have moral high ground in distributing the remaining 1 million hectares of agricultural lands if the President’s own landholding will be given back to its rightful beneficiaries.

Finally, we recognize the important role of the civil societies and lay faithful in the promotion and delivery of social justice. We call on the people to support the farmers and take up their campaign against SDO and the lifting of the TRO on compulsory acquisition of Hacienda Luista. We bid everyone to recognize the divine presence in each other, particularly in those who are without "voices or choices" in their lives. We continue to pray that there will be peaceful resolution to the issue of Hacienda Luisita and that the farmer may finally be able to enjoy the fruits of the land. Let us face the future bound together by the faith, hope and charity that is our legacy as children of God.

For the Social Action Network,

Auxiliary Bishop of Manila
National Director of CBCP-NASSA
June 11, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

CARP 23rd anniversary

Today CARP (Comprehensive Land Reform Program) celebrates its 23rd anniversary. I celebrated mass outside of the DAR office this afternoon. We were only a handful – some 40 persons, but the variety of the groups present well made up for the small number. There were people from DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform), farmers from Pampanga, Tarlac, Aurora, Quezon and southern Tagalog. There was a group of Aetas from Porac. Present too were workers from many support NGOs, seminarians, a religious sister, two priests and some media people. All were gathered, decrying the slow implementation of Land Reform in the country, yet hoping that with enough mix of goodwill and political will many more will benefit from this asset reform. CARP is not a failure. Many have benefited from it but its implementation has much to be desired due to corruption, political maneuverings of landed political families and the greed of big business. It is sad though that there is not enough support from the public at present for the proper implementation of this program, which has still 3 years of life with the passage of the CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Extension and Reform) two years ago.

Our main concern this afternoon was the Hacienda Luisita case. It has been in the Supreme Court since 2005. It had been decided both by the DAR and the PARC (Presidential Agrarian Reform Council) that the stock distribution option of the Hacienda Luisita was a failure and the land should be physically subdivided to the farmer beneficiaries according to the real intention of CARP. However at the behest of the Cojuangcos the Supreme Court issued a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order). All this time, for almost 6 years, more than 10,000 farmers suffer want and even hunger while the Conjuancos continue to benefit from the land. And the Supreme Court is taking its sweet time with the TRO! There is talk that it will issue its decision – at last! But will the decision be for justice for the poor or be a political concession in legal jargon for the powers that be? The resolution of the Hacienda Luisita case will give the tenor on the seriousness of the government, the whole government mechanism, to fulfill the mandate of CARP or not. Agrarian reform had been the centerpiece of the program of the late President Cory – and the Hacienda Luisita has been a glaring taint on her seriousness to implement this centerpiece program. Will Hacienda Luisita continue to taint the seriousness of PNOY to serve the poor? This we are eager to see!!!

We prayed in the mass this afternoon that the Supreme Court will uphold its integrity and not compromise itself and offer the poor as collateral damage in the political games being played!


With local Church of the Apostolic Vicariate of Infanta, we in the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), strongly condemn the murder of one of our advocates for indigenous peoples’ rights in Casiguran, Aurora. Armando Maximino, Chieftain of the Agtas in Sitio Delebsong, Barangay Nipoo was shot dead last May 17.

The suspected perpetrators belonged to the security personnel enlisted by the contesting party that falsely claims ownership of the ancestral domain, even with the reported knowledge of the city mayor, local police, and other officials. Denied burial at his property among departed kin, Armando was instead laid to rest at the site where he took not one but several bullets.
When the Agtas briefly left their vigil at the grave, they returned to find six of their houses burned. Previously, barbed-wire fences were installed around their property by the suspects. When they questioned the move, five members of their tribe were arrested, with some women wounded from the resulting scuffle, but eventually released because there were no grounds to file charges against them.

Despite longstanding and rightful ownership of 49 hectares of the disputed land, supported by official documents and upheld by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Armando, members of his family and community, have endured threats, harassment, and outright violence. Against powerful enemies, the Agtas have retreated out of fear and left the area.

The Church, in its prophetic ministry of promoting social justice, stands in solidarity with the indigenous people’s in their struggle for their rightful claim for the land. We condemn the senseless killing of the Agta Chieftain, Armando Maximino, and the continuing suppression to silence the protest of the community against the impending development aggression.

We enjoin all Filipinos to do the same and demand the impartial and comprehensive investigation of the incident, and its swift and just resolution.

We appeal to President Benigno Aquino III and concerned government agencies to uphold our laws on indigenous peoples’ rights and agrarian reform, in order to safeguard the welfare of our local communities, as well as the fundamental freedoms violated by Armando’s adversaries.

His death exemplifies a recurring cautionary tale, when equal access to resources and justice by vulnerable sectors is continually denied. It underscores the need to address the absence of truly participatory and people-centered development programs, in order to bridge the social, political, and economic divide that bring about conflict in areas like Aurora.

And in fulfillment of our mission we believe that “before today’s forms of exploitation of the poor, the Church cannot remain silent . . . she condemns many injustices which unfortunately, even today are committed to the detriment of the poor” (Pope Jouh Paul II, quoted in PCP II, Acts No. 131).

Auxiliary Bishop of Manila
Chairman of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Social Action – Justice and Peace
9 May 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do we need this RH Bill HB 4244?

THE Philippine Constitution states:
The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the government”. (Sec 12, Art II)
The State shall defend the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood”. (Sec 3(1) Art XV)
The State shall defend “the right of families or family associations to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and programs that affect them.” (Sec 3 Art XV)

1. Due commendation is to be given to the authors of the bill 4244 when they made several amendments to it on March 15, 2011. The amendments take away some of its objectionable features. The amendments are:
a. The wording on Sec 13 asking the barangay health workers and volunteers to “be capacitated to give priority to family planning work” was changed. The phrase “give priority to family planning work” is deleted. Barangay health workers are not there to prioritize reproductive health. There are so many health issues to be addressed, and very grave and basic ones too, in our barangays.
b. In Sec 15 the Mobile Health Care Service that each congressional district are mandated to have will no longer be funded from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), popularly known as the Pork Barrel, but instead “the procurement and operation of which shall be funded by the National Government”. This may be a way to get the support of some congress men and women who do not want their Pork Barrel to be reduced. This is more of a political ploy.
c. The controversial Sec 16 which deals with sex education entitled: “Mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health and sexuality education” has been diluted with the addition of another paragraph which reads: “Parents shall exercise the option of not allowing their minor children to attend classes pertaining to reproductive health and sexuality education.” This may be a concession but how many parents will exercise this option, and whether their option will be respected in our public schools.
d. Sec 20 on the “Ideal Family Size” has been totally deleted, and rightly so. While this section recognized the rights of parents on how many children they may have, still it is suggested that two children is the ideal. A law, if it is a law, is mandatory and not exhortatory.
e. Sec 21 on “Employers’ Responsibilities” has been entirely deleted on the reason that “this provision is a restatement and amplification of the existing Art 134 of the Labor Code.”
f. Another contentious section is on the Prohibited Acts, Sec 28 (e). One of the prohibited acts is “any person who maliciously engages in the disinformation about the intent and provisions of this act.” This infringes on the freedom of expression. This part is deleted.

2. With these amendments, can we say that the bill 4244 is now acceptable? I say no! The some basic objectionable elements are still there.

3. Reproductive Health is now seen by its international promoters as including the control of population, the provision of abortion, the promotion of contraception (including agents and methods known to be abortifacient), promotion of a particular form of sexuality education, and the promotion of an ethic with regard to sexuality that separates it from life and self-giving love. Though the present bill says that it does not promote abortion yet it cannot detached itself from the ideology espoused by the language of reproductive health. The elements of the reproductive health ideology are in the present bill.

4. There is no mention of the sexual act. Mention is made of pregnancies and HIV and STI, which are results of sexual actions. The bill wants to prevent the results but do not attack the root. Results are to be controlled but not the sexual actions. In a way it brings the message: any sexual activity is alright, just prevent its undesirable consequences, which are sexuality transmitted deceases and pregnancy!

5. There is no mention of the value of life of the unborn, the value of family, and the value of the sexual act. However, by promoting contraception devices a value is being subtly put forward without even mentioning it: one can engage in sex as long as one does not get unwanted pregnancy or one does not get sick. In truth if one does not want to get unwanted pregnant and sexual disease the solution that is and without cost and complication is to abstain from any inappropriate sexual behavior. But proper sexual values are not promoted. There is even no mention of abstinence and fidelity in marriage in the bill.

6. There are many provisions that say that devices, commodities, and supplies are to be promoted, made available and provided. This already shows the bias towards artificial family planning methods which would have need of these supplies. Money is to be given for these supplies and commodities to make them available while no mention of money being spent on teaching people, which natural planning methods require. The mention of the natural family planning is just a palliative in the bill with no real intention of promoting it. Instead there is great intent to promote the “devices”.

7. Sec. 10 entitled “Family Planning Supplies as Essential Medicines” is totally unacceptable! Medicines are for the sick. What sickness do “Family Planning Supplies” cure? These supplies are surely contraceptive pills, IUDs and condoms. Except in particular cases contraceptives do not treat any medical condition. On the contrary they are used upon perfectly healthy women to restrict a natural function. The government cannot even procure real basic medicines as paracetamols, anti-biotics and other basic medicines, and we will stretch out our meager resources to buy commodities that can be done away with with enough information and responsible self-control. By labeling these agents as essential medicines, the bill promotes inaccuracy. They place matters within the province of choice alongside those which are largely outside of it. That is to say, healthy people can choose whether to use contraceptives or not, unhealthy peoples’ choices are seriously limited and their need for genuinely essential medicines is realistic and warranted.

8. The money to be spent to provide for this “essential medicine” will be taxpayers’ money. Most of the taxpayers are Catholics in this country and their money will be spent on something that they believe to be wrong and immoral. (Will you allow your money to be used to buy condoms and pills to be given to the people?) Let the people who believe in the good of these devices provide them freely to others. No one is hindering them from doing it. They have freedom of choice. These devices are already available in the market in the first place. If the government wants to help the poor let it give them the basic necessities: light, water, truly basic medicine, free hospitalization, basic education, and the like.

9. The basic presupposition of this bill is that the number of children and consequently the number of population is a hindrance to sustainable development. This has already been debunked by many studies. This fallacy is so prevailing that great responsibility to execute this bill, if it becomes a law, is given to the Commission on Population both in the LGU and the national level. For the authors of this bill reproductive health is an issue of population and not of health. All the talks about “reproduction” and “health” are misnomers or may even be an intent to deceive. Yes, it is true that the PopCom is under DOH, but why should it be? Is population a disease?

10. It is known in the medical field that the artificial planning devices that are in use are not 100% sure both in protecting oneself from STI and “protecting” oneself from pregnancy. This makes the idea of “protection” dangerous. With the confidence given by this “protection” as advertised by the proponents, people will engage more, and not less, in inappropriate sexual activities. With more frequent sexual activities the effectivity of their “protection” lowers down. They put themselves all the more at risk.

11. The artificial devices also have medical side-effects and are shown to lead to certain diseases, such as cancer, high blood and cardiovascular diseases. Naturally so! One is putting something in the body that should not be there! There is no mention in the bill that the women who are victims of these devices will be provided with free health care afterwards. The bill claims to champion the health of women but in truth and in the long run it does harm to them. Besides, with the claim of men that they are now “protected” they will easily deal with the women as objects to be used and not as persons to be respected.

12. Other countries have the reproductive health services in place for many years already but they still have the problems that our law makers claim will be solved by this bill:
a. Even more abortions. In fact they have to legalize abortion in these countries. In international circles abortion is part of the reproductive right! Either the promoters of HB 4244 are naïve or they are cunningly deceptive when they say that they are not for abortion. All those who promote contraception end up upholding abortion, if they are consistent with their position of contra-ception!
b. Even more teen-age pregnancies, so more unwanted pregnancies. This is the result of more promiscuity and less respect which stems from the ideology of contraception. By the way, there is no mention the word ‘contraception’ in the bill but its ideology is all over in the language of ‘Reproductive Health’.
c. Their poor people are not improved by the availability of these devices. The poor do not get a better chance in life even if they have fewer children if basic services are not given to them and if the perspective of governance is pro-foreign investment rather than harnessing local resources, pro-investor rather than pro-labor, increased GDP rather than equity.

13. There is the concern that many people die because of unwanted pregnancies. Many of these devices, IUDs and Pills among them, are contraceptives and abortifacients. They really kill the life that is already there. The bill and the contraceptive mentality behind it do not recognize the equal dignity of life of all—preferring that of the woman than that of the child that she had engendered. It is killing the ones who are innocent and defenseless. No wonder insensitivity to life in contraception eventually leads to abortion.

14. In is noteworthy that the bill speaks both of the youth and the adolescent. It defines who the adolescent is but not who the youth is. It really targets the adolescent, both for its sex education and for the services of its “devices.”

15. There are several good provisions in the bill. Among them are Sec 5 “Midwives for skilled attendance” and Sec 6 “Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care”. Both demand that there beenough personnel and hospital facilities to address maternal care. Both end with this sentence: “Provided that people in geographically isolated and depressed areas shall be provided the same level of access.” Beautiful words, but will the government do this? The bill does not provide where the money shall come from for these services, and this is indeed a very basic need which can really address a lot of deaths and sufferings among women and children. Are these then just dressings to the real intent of the bill, not to really help the poor and the women but to put forward the contraceptive mentality?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Calling evil good

IN the headline of Philippine Daily Inquirer last February 10, retired Philippine Navy chief Mateo Mayuga was quoted as saying that Angelo Reyes’ act of taking his life by shooting himself in the chest showed “extreme courage” and that it was an honorable thing to do.

I am not a military man so most probably I do not understand what exactly are the ‘extreme act of courage’ and the ‘honorable thing’ in taking one’s life. In plain language that is suicide, and every act of suicide is wrong. I do not and cannot judge the state of mind of General Angelo Reyes when he committed suicide. In this, he renders personal account with his Creator. What I am referring to is the act itself of taking one’s life. Yes, we condole with the family, the loved ones and friends of General Reyes. I personally felt extreme sadness at his action and prayed for his soul. But sympathizing with him should not induce us to saying what he did was right. Let us not send a wrong message to the people, especially the young, that suicide is alright. No, it is all wrong! Whatever troubles we find in life, we should be brave enough to face them. We are not owners even of our lives. We are but stewards. Taking one’s life is an act of escapism. It does not even serve the country in this case. The country, especially the foot soldiers who are struggling it out on the ground, need to know how the military spends its moneys. I hope that this very unfortunate and sad end of General Angelo Reyes will not make the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Ombudsman and the Aquino Administration soften its commitment to root out corruption in our country. The corrupt people in government do not care at all at the grave sufferings they inflict on the nation and on the nameless people who are deprived of what is rightfully theirs. Let us not also be soft in the quest to right this wrong!

The Sacred Book warns us: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness” (Isaiah 5,20)

Auxiliary Bishop of Manila
Chair, Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace

Seeing through the smokescreen

IN the last two weeks, Duterte was relentless in his tirades against the Church and against religion. All of them unprovoked! He sha...