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ASIAN MAGAZINE FOR HUMAN TRANSFORMATION
ASIAN MAGAZINE FOR HUMAN TRANSFORMATION
AUGUST 2016 VOL. 50 NO. 08
AUGUST 2016
VOL. 50 NO. 08
Is there food Is there Food in the Duterte in the Duterte Revolution? Revolution?
Is there food
Is there Food
in the Duterte
in the Duterte
Revolution?
Revolution?

IMPACT

ISSN 0300-4155 / Asian Magazine for Human TransformationThrough Education,SocialAdvocacy and Evangelization / P.O.Box 2481,1099 Manila,Philippines © Copyright 1974 by Social Impact Foundation, Inc.

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Editor

PEDRO QUITORIO III

Associate Editor

NIRVA'ANA DELACRUZ

Staff Writers

CHARLES AVILA

EULY BELIZAR

ROY CIMAGALA

ROY LAGARDE

LOPE ROBREDILLO

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GLORIA FERNANDO

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MERCEDITA JUANITE

design artist

RONALYN REGINO

Cover Photo By

ROY LAGARDE

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EDITOR'S NOTE

KILLINGS or the relentless and brutal war on drugs by the Duterte administration is the most precarious policy statement this new government has launched, literally hanging like the sword of Damocles not only over the heads of drug dealers and users but even of suspected ones, which could be anybody. Ironically, this government that is supposed to protect its citizenry, irrespective whether they are law-abiding or otherwise, is fast becoming a mass murderer of its very own people—at least, the way it is seen and portrayed by international media the likes of CNN, Aljazeera and BBC which are reputable. Seemingly not bothered neither by law nor mores, this government has a one-track mind to deliver Duterte’s election campaign promise to rid this country of illegal drugs in three to six months. The local Philippine Daily Inquirer came up with a “The Kill List” that chronicles since early July the people that are killed presumably by the police, by contract hit men or by the mercenaries from the dark underbelly of the drug world. Saying in effect that the government does not sanction extrajudicial killings, police chief Ronald dela Rosa clarified during a recent Senate hearing that “We are not butchers!” He justified that those killed by the police are suspects that resisted arrest by engaging in a gun battle. But a lady contract killer interviewed on video by BBC said that she was hired by “Our boss, the police officer.” Of course, Duterte himself has been blatant in saying during press conferences that he has given shoot-on-sight order to the police. The United States has expressed concerns over the extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the country. Two United Nations human rights experts called on the Philippines to halt extrajudicial killings. The UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callmard, said that President Duterte has ordered the police a “license to kill”. Reacting like a Duterte should, the Punisher bad-mouthed the UN and wished that a separatist group of nations be formed with China at the helm. Will killing most if not all those involved with illegal drugs solve the drug menace in the Philippines? The experience of other countries such as Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela says otherwise. Obliterating drug traders and users from the face of the earth— granting that such is ever possible—is merely palliative. Such raw solutions will never be sustainable because the drug problem is deeply rooted in economics and in moral or cultural values. When the lucrative business of drugs bumps into a country with values that are susceptible to drug use then the drug problem proliferates. The drug scourge maybe diminished with the indiscriminate use of guns but only for a brief lull. Sooner than later it will bounce back even harder if the economic and cultural landscape in the country is still the same. Our cover story for this issue is penned by our staff writer Charles Avila. How we wish that the aggressive war on drugs may also be harnessed in the agricultural backburner of the country. Is there food in the Duterte Revolution? Read on.

CONTENTS

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Activity not passivity

 

Editorial

16

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Is there food in the Duterte Revolution?

Cover story

| Is there food in the Duterte Revolution? Cover story Articles 6 | Duterte administration and

Articles

6

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Duterte administration and poverty reduction

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The Green Platfom, the positive force for change

11

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The transgender agenda: Forcing us to lie

21

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Summary killings and human rights

26

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Religious values are not politically incorrect

13

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News Features

23

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Statements

28

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From the Blogs

30

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Entertainment

31

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Asia News

quote the act in

"If you are in the rural area, some people take drugs in order to forget the miseries of life. The first thing is really to make our people empowered by giving them a chance to live a quality life."

Arturo Bastes, bishop of the Diocese of Sorsogon; called for a more concentrated efforts to alleviate poverty instead of just killing suspected drug traffickers and users as a means to end the drug trade; he believes poverty has much to do with the massive spread of illegal drugs.

"These harmful and dangerous affiliations lead to dangerous and fatal consequences. Our OFWs should avoid anything or anyone that sows destruction and death."

Ruperto Santos, bishop of the Diocese of Balanga and Chair of the CBCP Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People; on the issue of OFWs joining ISIS after a Filipino woman was arrested in Kuwait over allegiance to the Jihadist group.

"We know that the living wage is about One Thousand per day, our minimum wage now is only Php 491… hopefully our minimum wage now will not be regionalized but implemented all over the country."

Broderick Pabillo, Manila auxiliary bishop and chair of the CBCP Commission on the Laity; It is not enough just to give 14th month pay to non- government rank and file employees as provided by Senate Bill No. 2, it’s more just to legislate a realistic minimum wage for all, he argues.

"We are all sinners, we have our own weakness but we’re all given the change to transform and be forgiven—an opportunity that those killed were denied of."

Atillano Fajardo, a Vincentian missionary who heads the public affairs ministry of the Archdiocese of Manila; on backing the Senate investigation over the spate of alleged extrajudicial killings that became prevalent during the Duterte administration.

FEATURE ARTICLE

Of drugs and fullness of life

A Pastoral Letter of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro issued on August 4, 2016, Feast of St. John Mary Vianney, Universal Patron of all Pastors

of St. John Mary Vianney, Universal Patron of all Pastors Fr. Arnold Abelardo addresses a group

Fr. Arnold Abelardo addresses a group of drug addicts that will go through the PNP’s rehabilitation program known as the "House of Hope" Reforma- tory Center in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, Aug. 24, 2016. VINCENT GO

TO: the clergy, religious and laity and all men and women of good will

The current problem concerning drugs cannot escape anyone’s attention. The problem with drugs has reached the level of a calamity and an emergency situation. It is systemic, having its roots in poverty, woundedness, greed and abuse of power. It has become a plague afflicting the whole society. The drugs issue is not only about individual users and pushers but also about families and communities affected by this pervasive problem. It cuts across all strata of society from the poorest to the wealthiest and most powerful. If there is a positive side to the current war on drugs, it is the fact that thousands have surrendered and hundreds more arrested and put to jail. The problem with the latter is that our jails have become extremely congested since they were built for a limited number of detainees only; but now the number has been multiplied many times over. This poses a lot of risks and dangers. In Cagayan de Oro alone there are already at least 4,000 responders who, after presenting themselves to the police station, return to their homes with the promise not to engage in drug use or drug-dealing again. They have yet to be classified according to the extent of their addiction – i.e., those who need residential rehabilitation or community- based intervention. Many of these responders are baptized Catholics and people from other faiths and religious denominations who may be suffering from all sorts of psychological, moral, spiritual and financial difficulties. As a Church we cannot remain indifferent to this reality. Pastoral

charity urges us to concretize the challenge of this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Communities of

faith are called to become

of mercy” and “field hospitals,” in the words of Pope Francis. Thus, we have initiated the coming together of various stakeholders to assess the current situation and look into possible responses to the drugs crisis. In as much as the problem is systemic, we want to address it communally and systematically. On the part of the Archdiocese, we have declared a Jubilee of Mercy for drug responders and collaborators. Availing of the Season of Grace we also take this opportunity to launch our program involving activities towards immediate and long-term rehabilitation and intervention. This will take place on August 22 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City. The activities include: Recollection (9 am – 12 nn), Penitential Service and Confessions (1 – 4 pm), Procession to San Agustin Cathedral entering through the Door of Mercy (4:30), and Eucharistic Celebration (5:30 pm). I am asking all pastors in the Archdiocese to open available facilities such as churches and parish halls for community- based recovery programs. I also enjoin all ministries, religious organizations and lay ecclesial movements to be actively involved in these collaborative efforts to accompany responders/recoverers, together with government agencies, NGOs and private institutions. The church with her charism in moral and spiritual matters can be a safe oasis for silence, prayer, reflection and sharing through retreats and recollections. For the Catholic responders, the church possesses the great treasure in the

“islands

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FEATURE ARTICLE

We are opposed to any form of extrajudicial killings as a means of addressing the issue of drug use. We cannot solve a crime by committing another crime.

Sacrament of Reconciliation which they can avail of. We are deeply aware that behind the problem of drugs is the inner longing for authentic tranquility which according to St. Augustine can only be found in God: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee.” We want to be proclaimers of the gospel of Jesus who said, “I have come that you may have life and have life to the full.” Thus, while we commit ourselves positively to these tasks, we uncompromisingly uphold the sanctity and dignity of human life. We are opposed to any form of extrajudicial killings as a means of addressing the issue of drug use. We cannot solve a crime by committing another crime. As St. Paul says, we conquer evil by doing good. This was the path chosen by St. Monica in accompanying her wayward son, Augustine. If not for her relentless faith and compassion, we would not have a St. Augustine today. Our steadfast journeying with and care for the wayward on the road to recovery is the same path that leads all of us to holiness and fullness of life.

+ANTONIO J. LEDESMA, S.J. Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro

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ARTICLES

Duterte administration and poverty reduction

By Bernardo M. Villegas

ONE of the benefits of a President coming from the island of Mindanao will be the greater probability that poverty reduction will be given the highest priority by the Duterte Administration. Whereas the national average of poverty incidence is about 25 percent, in many regions of Mindanao (especially the Muslim Mindanao areas), poverty incidence can be as high as 60 percent. There is enough evidence that decades of neglect by imperial Manila have led to the impoverishment of this potentially rich island that is well endowed with natural resources. From the early pronouncements of President Rody Duterte, even before he was elected, we can expect his Government to break the cycle of poverty and economic isolation, not only of Mindanao, but in all the rural areas of the Philippines, where 75 percent of the very poor reside, by investing in countryside infrastructures, rural education, health and access to basic utilities, especially potable water and electricity. At the core of the fight against poverty in the Duterte Administration will be a shift form dole-outs to empowerment, so that through private initiatives the

Filipino people can take responsibility for their community’s development. After all, this is the rationale for President Duterte’s preference for a federal form of government. From pronouncements of the key members of the Cabinet, especially those constituting the economic cluster, I foresee the following areas of priorities:

1. Promote modern agribusiness

technologies and practices: There will be emphasis on the cultivation and production of high-value crops through natural farming for local consumption.

The Davao model will be replicated in other regions of Mindanao and throughout the whole Archipelago. This will lead to the expansion of local employment and income opportunities, while reducing wastage by shortening the logistics and travel time of agricultural produce from farm to market. Private investments through build-operate-transfer (BOT) or similar schemes will be encouraged to build

cold storage, public markets, and similar support infrastructures to expand rural economic activities.

2. Operationalize the concept of

“business islands” by transforming certain locations as regional growth centers along the lines of special administrative regions similar to Hong Kong. With fiscal transparency and efficiency, these locations are envisioned as magnets for investments to disperse and broaden economic activities away from the National Capital Region. The low hanging fruit is the Clark area. I find it strange that some people are still talking about an international airport along Manila Bay. Making Clark as the

premier international port is a no brainer.

3. Refocus and wind down the

activities of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). Very early in the campaign trail, President Duterte was already expressing his disappointment with the failed land reform programs of the past. Contrary to the noise being heard from the new Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform, it is expected that President Duterte will focus on making the more than four million farmer beneficiaries of CARP finally earn a living by endowing them with farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, post-harvest facilities and the agricultural extension services that were long denied them by previous Administrations. From

ARTICLES

ARTICLES A homeless man sleeps on a pavement in Quiapo district in the City of Manila

A homeless man sleeps on a pavement in Quiapo district in the City of Manila where the homeless population is reportedly one of the highest in the

world. ROY LAGARDE

his great familiarity with the success stories of high-value crops in Mindanao, President Duterte is expected to move on from overemphasizing land ownership and land fragmentation and focus instead on farm productivity and modernization He would rather see our farms populated by prosperous farmers who will till the land, rather than impoverished landed poor that the failed agrarian reform programs of the past have inflicted on Philippine society. We shall see more consolidation of land through farmers’

cooperatives or nucleus estate systems along the lines of Malaysian palm oil plantations.

4. Make education relevant and

reward our teachers. We should review

our curricular offerings, in view of the transition to K to 12, to make our education relevant to the needs of an

agro-industrializing

require a greater focus on science and technology, while strengthening the

foundation of our education offerings based on values, virtues, civics, and

society. This would

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ARTICLES

ARTICLES Scavengers collect recyclable waste materials from a dump in the district of Tondo in Manila.

Scavengers collect recyclable waste materials from a dump in the district of Tondo in Manila. ROY LAGARDE

ethics. To attract the best talents into education, teachers will be rewarded with higher pay (in tandem with the military personnel). To sustain their continuing relevance, teachers will be supported in their never ending formation and studies, making sure that

their career progression will be based on merits.

5. Refocus the Conditional Cash

Transfer Program as a bridge towards self-reliance. Although this Program will continue to be an emergency solution to assist poor families to meet their immediate needs of survival, the cash transfers should be an occasion for the beneficiaries to gain skills while receiving benefits to improve their employability or income prospects. Especially critical is to continue tying the cash transfers to assuring that the children of the poor will not drop out

from formal schooling at the basic education levels. The Government will

partner with private foundations that are improving the quality of basic education in the rural areas. It is heartening to learn that the Budget Secretary is willing to increase the

fiscal deficit with the view of allocating more Government expenditures to rural infrastructures and improving the quality of the services to the poor in the rural areas. I am sure that the Secretary of Education will make basic education a most potent tool for poverty

It is time that we make use

of our good international credit standing to bring down our much vaunted economic progress to the poorest of the poor. I have no doubts that with the above priorities, there will be the much desired “trickle down” in the next six years. Inclusive growth will not just be a motherhood statement but a happy reality at

eradication.

(For comments, my email address is bernardo.villega@uap.asia)

ARTICLES

The Green Platform, the positive force for change

By Fr. Shay Cullen

in dreadful circumstances and many children are trafficked into the sex

A

FRIEND of mine wrote a dedication

industry and many more are sexually

to

his latest publication, a book titled

assaulted, it’s natural to feel at times

“Living the Green Platform.” In the

hopeless. But he is right- we can find

dedication, he said, “Continue to find joy

hope and joy and happiness in the lives of

in

your life and bring joy to others. You

the positive people and events around us.

are truly Good News for the suffering poor.” He is one of the most positive and

After rescue, affirmation, therapy and freedom in a family of friends, the children change to a positive

affirming persons I have ever met. And it

self-affirming way of understanding

is

from this belief in the goodness that is

themselves and base their good choices

in everyone and the capacity of everyone

on this.

to

be positive, self- affirming and

In the training program, we follow

affirming of others that he has developed

the Green Platform and teach the

a

basic philosophy of positive living

children who see themselves as victims

which he names “The Green Platform.” This is taking a dedicated, positive view of life even amid hardship, loss

of brutality and abuse to throw out the negative feelings of hatred and anger and have emotional relief and then choose to

and setbacks in life as opposed to taking

embrace the positive values that we show

a

negative self-defeating position. The

them that they have within themselves.

contrast he makes is with the opposite, the negative “Red Platform” where many people unfortunately stand. That is an attitude to life we are challenged to leave and transfer to the positive “Green Platform.” Declan Coyle is a brilliant and inspiring

This is transforming. It brings a great sense of inner freedom and confidence that one can face the world and its challenges. This is what I learn from Declan- think and act positively especially when the negative aspects of the world challenge us.

public speaker. He sees positivity almost everywhere and calls on everyone he comes in contact with to step away from

When others fail us, we need to choose to take a positive attitude or we fail others and ourselves. We can choose our

a Red Platform of negativity that has

response. We can take responsibility for

a defeatist attitude and a loss of self-

ourselves.

confidence and self-worth to a conscious effort to have a positive view of one’ self and life itself. It’s a very real challenge to live out his affirming statement for me to find joy in life when our team at the Preda Foundation in the Philippines is faced with so many social and personal problems of the neglected, abused children and the poor. In the challenging situation where children as young as ten are routinely and casually imprisoned behind bars

That is where we need to be strong, determined and have a positive approach and avoid falling into despair and blaming ourselves or others for everything that goes wrong. We have to accept responsibility for our own decisions. We need to choose wisely. In our work it is the children who recover that bring us joy and hope. I cannot forget one of the many abused children, call her Mae Anne. At eleven years old, her parents separated. She was continually sexually abused by her

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ARTICLES

ARTICLES Girls pray at a shelter for abused women and children in Tacloban City. ROY LAGARDE

Girls pray at a shelter for abused women and children in Tacloban City. ROY LAGARDE FOR GOETHE-INSTITUT PHILIPPINEN

father and was taken from place to place when neighbors became suspicious of the

relationship. Mae Anne was totally in his power and control. She was submissive and subdued. she was defeated and lived in fear. At 14, she was made pregnant by her father and gave birth in a local government hospital. Yet no one challenged the father when he signed

a document of live birth to say he was

the father of the baby by his 14-year-old daughter. And yet, there were people of concern in the village when she returned with a baby. They contacted the Preda child rescue team and the team immediately got Mae Anne and her baby to the safety and caring staff at the Preda Home for Girls. Her father was arrested and is in jail and on trial. Today a year later, with help and support, therapy, affirmation, encouragement inspiration, typical of the Green Platform, the young teenage mother and the child are well and she has

a positive, hopeful attitude for the future. Her recovery has brought us joy, too.

We need hope and determination and never to allow a setback, human mistakes, misunderstandings to stand in the way. As Declan writes in the preface of his latest book “Living the Green Platform,” the Green Platform is an inner place where we consciously choose all that is positive, uplifting, creative joyful, inspiring, compassionate and generous. It’s where we generate positive energy and choose actions that bring joy to others. Declan Coyle’s excellent life changing books “The Green Platform” and “Living the Green Platform by Declan Coyle are available from ballpointpress1@gmail.com. As Declan says, the power to choose how to respond to a given situation is at the heart of the Green Platform. We can choose our response. What makes us truly human is the power to choose, free will, and the power of reason to direct that choice with wisdom. This power is what will empower each and every one of us and transform our

(For comments: shaycullen@gmail.com)

ARTICLES

The transgender agenda:

Forcing us to lie

ARTICLES The transgender agenda: Forcing us to lie Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual,

Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community join a pride parade in Manila, June 25, 2016. VINCENT GO

By Dale O’Leary

THE USA is in the midst of what has been called the “bathroom wars”; however, access to bathrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex for the so-called transgendered is only a means to an end. The real objective can be discerned from ACLU’s press

release supporting U.S. Department of Education’s demand that the Palatine High School in Illinois (and by extension all schools receiving federal funds) allow a boy, who wants to be accepted as a girl, unrestricted access to the girls’ locker room. The transgendered and their supporters claim that people are

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merely assigned a sex at birth, their gender identity (how they feel) may or may not match their assigned sex. The goal is to force everyone to accept that gender identity should take precedence over the biological reality of sexual identity and men who claim to be women should be treated as though they were women.

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ARTICLES

The ACLU complained that the school district challenged their “client’s identity as a girl,” which is true because their client is not a girl, but a boy. According to the ACLU, all “she wants to be accepted for who she is.” The problem is that he wants to be accepted for who he is not. Their client claims that not allowing him to change with the girls stigmatizes him, “making me feel like I was not a normal person.” The simple answer is that it is not normal for a male to want to be accepted as female. The Bruce Jenner celebrity blitz and the battle over bathrooms, have brought the issue of gender to the fore and people are wondering how we got to the point where boys who think they are girls can use the girls’ locker room. What happened to common sense? Unfortunately, many people thought that gender was just a synonym for sex, and could be substituted for it without causing any harm. However, for activists on the far left, sex and gender are not the same. Sex is biologically determined. Gender is socially constructed and does not have to correspond to sex. There are two sexes –male and female, but an unlimited number of genders. Once identity is divorced from reality, chaos ensues, fantasy rules. The Obama administration is determined to force everyone to accept the demands of transgender activists. Girls would have to pretend that they are comfortable with a boy who wants to be a girl using the girls’ locker room, because if girls complain or show any sign of disapproval, they will be judged guilty of “transphobic discrimination”. Everyone would have to accept that wanting to be the other sex or believing that one can become the other sex is just

normal diversity, when in fact it is

a symptom of disordered thinking.

Even if a person doesn’t believe that people can change their sex, he would have to pretend they do

and call what is obviously a male

a woman. The media has accepted

this demand. using feminine pronouns for Bruce Jenner, who in spite of all the make-up, surgery, clothes and fancy photographers is still male.

Transgendered persons point to the psychological suffering they endure because people don’t accept

them. Their suffering is real. They are engaged in a comprehensive denial of reality. Such a denial is hard to sustain as they must continually shut out the truth. The transgendered delight in “passing”

– being accepted as the opposite

sex in public. It hurts to be told that even if they can pass they are not and can never truly be the other sex. The government does not have the right to force a citizen to say something he knows is a lie or to be silent in the face of evil. The people have a right to freedom of speech, which includes the right to speak the truth, even if the truth hurts another person’s feelings. So-called “hate speech” rules are unacceptable because they allow one group to veto the speech of another. Some may argue that this is just about words, but as G. K. Chesterton said, words “are the only thing worth fighting about.” Careless use of language caused this mess and needs to be remedied, first by never saying gender when you mean sex. The school under attack tried to accommodate the boy who wanted to be a girl. This was a mistake. They should have told the parents that their son is a boy and must use the boys’ facilities. If this is not possible, he needs counseling.

Halfway accommodation won’t work; the Department of Education demands total capitulation. The defenders of the reality of sex difference should learn from this mistake. They cannot compromise the truth. They should not force the other students to accept the lie that gender trumps sex, just to avoid hurting a troubled boy’s feelings. The LGBTQ activists and their ACLU lawyers are not tolerant liberals who respect other people’s rights. They are pushing a type of political correctness which is a manifestation of a totalitarian, Marxist-influenced ideology. Theodore Dalrymple, an expert on totalitarian societies explains how activists triumph:

In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. The girls forced to accept a boy in their private space are being targeted for just this kind of humiliation. This is about much more than

(Dale O’Leary is a US writer with a special interest in psychosexual issues and is the author of two books: One Man, One Woman and The Gender Agenda: Redefining Equality. She blogs at What Does the Research Really Say? This piece is sourced from MercatorNet)

NEWS FEATURES

Church officials back Senate probe on summary killings

MANILA— Church officials give Senator Leila de Lima a pat on the back for leading a Senate investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and Fr. Atillano Fajardo of Manila archdiocese’s Public Affairs Ministry urged De Lima to pursue the probe and to not be deterred by Duterte’s tirade against her. “I hope the probe would really be true and the senators be not cowed. I admire the determination of De Lima,” said Pabillo on Aug. 26.

Personal attacks He asked all the concerned agencies to cooperate in the Senate hearings in order to put a stop to the growing number of summary executions. “These are crimes that plague our country. Let fear not prevent people from cooperating,” said the prelate, who also chairs the bishops’ Commission on the Laity. Fajardo also assured De Lima of his prayers and said the senator should remain strong despite Duterte’s personal attacks against her. “What she’s doing is not easy. She should not be discouraged because what she is fighting for [is] the country,” he said. “We are all sinners, we have our own weaknesses but we’re all given the chance to transform and be forgiven—an opportunity that those killed were denied of,” added Fajardo.

More thorough investigation De Lima is set to lead a Senate inquiry into the spate of drug-related killings under the Duterte administration on Aug. 22 and 23. The Council of the Laity of the Philippines (CLP), the bishops’ implementing arm in promoting initiatives and national programs of the laity, has earlier urged the authorities to investigate the summary killings. “We call on them as well to investigate with care, prudence, and diligence all recent killings as a result of police operations or those committed by vigilante groups,” added the group. (CBCPNews)

by vigilante groups,” added the group. (CBCPNews) Rodolfo Diamante of the bishops' Commission on Prison

Rodolfo Diamante of the bishops' Commission on Prison Pastoral Care holds a copy of the Church's sourcebook on death penalty and restorative justice during a book launch at the CBCP headquarters in Manila, Aug. 15, 2016. ROY LAGARDE

CBCP office launches death penalty sourcebook

MANILA— The bishops’ prison ministry has released a book on capital punishment and restorative justice to help push its stand against death penalty. “Affirm an option for life” is an 88-page sourcebook on basic information, issues, and standpoints pertinent to death penalty as well as to “justice that heals.” Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the bishops’ Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, said the book aims to “educate the public” about the death penalty. “We are once more challenged to intensify once more our educational campaign on the issue of life,” he said. “There is a movement going on to revive the death penalty and we think that this book could help explain why the revival of death penalty shouldn’t continue.” The book was launched before a concelebrated Mass held at the CBCP chapel in Intramuros, Manila on Aug. 15. Initially, the CBCP office printed 3,000 copies that will be distributed to the Office of the President, to lawmakers from both houses of Congress, and to the public. This is the second time the Church released a book on the death penalty. The first one was published in 1996 when a law was passed prescribing death by lethal injection for offenders convicted of heinous crimes. Diamante is hopeful the book, which also features various pronouncements of Pope Francis for better treatment of prisoners, would help fight the “culture of killing” in the country. He also challenged those involved in prison ministry to help bring the campaign against death penalty to the local level “by holding forums or summit for life.” (Ysabel Hidalgo/ CBCPNews)

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NEWS FEATURES

Church group ‘optimistic’ about peacetalks with Reds

Church group ‘optimistic’ about peacetalks with Reds Negotiating teams tackle several issues in the first round

Negotiating teams tackle several issues in the first round of talks, August 24, 2016. OPAPP

MANILA— A network of Church and labor groups is “optimistic” that the talks between the government and the National Democratic Front will be productive under the Duterte administration. The Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS) said it supports the efforts to finally address the roots of the ongoing civil war by going back to the negotiating table. “CWS is convinced that it is only by addressing the roots of the armed conflict in the country and by engaging in principled dialogue that peace can be achieved,” said Fr. Rudy Abao, CWS convenor. “We hope that through the resumption of the formal peace talks, social justice and the need for fundamental socio-economic reforms will finally be tackled,” he said. Abao also said they support initiatives to address the roots of the ongoing civil war and the promise to release political prisoners, including NDF consultants “as a confidence building measure” for the peace talks. The CWS also urged the administration to immediately disband paramilitary groups “which continue to sow terror” among Lumad communities in Mindanao. “We call on all peace-loving Filipinos to continually pray and tirelessly work for peace by supporting these new initiatives toward peace by the administration,” he added. The government and the NDF panels resumed the formal peace negotiations in Norway on Aug. 20 to 27. (CBCPNews)

OFWs warned vs joining Islamic State

MANILA— A Catholic bishop has warned the faithful against being radicalized into violent extremism after a Filipino woman was arrested in Kuwait over alleged allegiance to jihadist group ISIS. Bishop Ruperto Santos particularly urged overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) not to be lured by ISIS, adding that people from a wide range of backgrounds are being recruited. “We call on our OFWs not to be taken in

by ideologies that sow violence and hatred,” Santos, who chairs the bishops’ Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said Aug.

12.

“These harmful and dangerous affiliations lead to dangerous and fatal consequences. Our OFWs should avoid anything or anyone that sows destruction and death,” he said. The prelate of Balanga in Bataan requested the faithful to continue praying for OFWs to be safe from harm. The Filipino, who works as a house maid, was reportedly detained while being investigated by Kuwaiti authorities. The prelate also urged the Philippine government to provide the needed legal assistance for the Filipino woman accused of planning an ISIS attack. “Our government should exert all efforts to verify this report and determine her situation, lend her assistance, and provide legal representation,” he added. “We, in the Commission, sincerely hope that we can obtain credible information, especially for her family,” the bishop also said. (Kevin Cariño / CBCPNews)

No to 14th month pay, yes to minimum wage – bishop

MANILA— Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – Episcopal Commission on the Laity (CBCP- ECL), gave a thumbs down to Senate Bill no. 2, filed by Senator Tito Sotto, while demanding the implementation of the minimum wage rate and the abolishment of regionalized salaries. In his statements, the prelate believes the said bill, which entitles non-government rank and file employees to receive 14th month pay once passed, will only benefit some while ignoring the true need for salary increase. “The first thing we should do is at least implement the minimum wage. Execute minimum wage and then walk towards living wage. That (bill), only few will benefit if a 14th month pay will be given while not everyone is receiving a minimum salary,” explained the prelate. In an interview over Veritas, Pabillo noted that instead of prioritizing Sotto’s bill, the government must first eradicate regionalization that causes unfair wage rates across regions and then to implement the minimum wage rate in the country to meet the living wage. “We know that the living wage is about one thousand per day, our minimum [wage] now is only Php 491 … and hopefully, our minimum wage now will not be regionalized but be implemented all over the country,” he added. According to the research group IBON Foundation, the living wage now is at least Php 1088 per month exclusive of education and hospital emergency expenses, clearly not enough to meet the daily needs of a family. (Kevin Cariño/CBCPNews)

NEWS FEATURES

needs of a family. (Kevin Cariño/CBCPNews) NEWS FEATURES Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Caritas Philippines executive secretary,

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Caritas Philippines executive secretary, joins a "climate walk" in Manila to call on the government to address climate change, October 4, 2015. FILE PHOTO

CBCP exec lauds CHR probe on carbon producers

MANILA— An official from the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has lauded the move of the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to act on the petition filed against 47 of the world’s largest producers of oil, gas, and cement for allegations of human rights violations resulting from climate change. National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines executive secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez, who was among those who filed the petition last year, said the latest development is a step closer to the call for climate justice. “We do hope that perpetrators of climate change be held accountable for their actions. We also pray that the CHR recommend to policymakers effective accountability mechanisms that victims of climate change can easily access,” said the priest. The CHR recently ordered the so-called “carbon producers” to respond within 45 days to the complaint accusing them of

violating people’s rights to “life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and self-determination.” These include companies which have branches and subsidiaries in the country, namely: ExxonMobil, Chevron, Total, Royal Dutch Shell, BHP Billiton, BP, Anglo American, Lafarge, Holcim and Taiheiyo Cement Corporation. The CHR is expected to start its full investigation in October after a response from the said companies. The companies will be ordered as well to attend public hearings but only those with offices in the Philippines can be compelled by the CHR to appear. According to the 2016 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, the Philippines ranked 13 among the countries “extremely” vulnerable to climate change. “The Philippines, being an archipelago, is prone to climate-induced disasters. The catastrophic effects of super typhoon Yolanda in our country could attest to this vulnerability,” explained the Goldman environmental prize awardee. (NASSA/Caritas Philippines/ CBCPNews)

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Is there food in the Duterte Revolution?

By Charles Avila

THE Duterte Revolution is on, no doubt

about it. The big noise now is in the area of illegal drugs. Did Digong read the famous lines two score and seven years ago that

“a revolution is not a picnic” nor is it as

civil and polite as “writing an essay” or academically debating an issue? He did not have to. By a native instinctual savvy he may have always known that a revolution is a strong, decisive violent act that turns an existing order upside down. A revolution is often violent because it feels that it knows where it is going and is rushing there—

setting aside niceties like legal procedures in the interests of effectivity. A revolutionis “not a dinner party or painting a picture, or doing embroidery,” said Mao Zedong.“It cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, re-strained and magnanimous. A revolution is an act of violence” by which an old order is toppled and a new one installed.

A revolution is for “people” and its targets

are “enemies of the people.” The two, in this view, are not the same: the former are “humans” while the latter are not; the two simply are not the same. Down through history in many parts of the world, once this threshold of thinking and feeling was reached by enough number of true believers, one could only expect a dramatic rise in the number of the dead and the murdered and a collective violent impatience to usher in the “new” dispensation. Can this revolutionary decisiveness and intensity find application then beyond the drugs scene? Will it be felt in food and agriculture, in labor and social justice issues? In the care of the envi-ronment the appointment of Ms. Gina Lopez is more than symbolic. In agriculture and food a close friend of the President has been taken on board to lead the way—a farmer and a

journalist, a former Mayor of his town and former Governor of his province, Emmanuel “Manny” Piňol.

Irrigation Piňol hit the ground running with his views on irrigation. He knows just how important water is for agriculture. As governor, Piñol helped push the Malitubog- Maridagao irrigation project in Cotabato area. He knows that the probability of being nonpoor for farmers increases when they till irrigated land. Farmers who till irrigated lands are thrice more likely to be nonpoor than those who till non-irrigated lands. As it is, 30% of all rice lands produce 60% of total domestic rice production. The remaining 70% of rice lands produce only 40% of total national rice production. The 30% are irrigated and the 70% are not. Therefore, quite simply, if we increased the number of irrigated farms ASAP, we would easily become exporters instead of remaining importers of rice. But, of course, irrigation costs. The Duterte Revolutionary approach then would be to make it free for rice farmers. The Free Irrigation Program became part of the Duterte campaign and Sec. Piñol hastened to implement it as soon as it was announced he would head Agriculture. And who would oppose such a scheme? Who? The National Irrigation Administration, no less. NIA, which is a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), collects P1.8 billion to P2 billion in irrigation fees annually—60 percent of which it uses for employees’ salaries and allowances, with the rest going for operations and maintenance of existing irrigation systems na-tionwide. At the same time its mandate is very clear—to provide irrigation to produce food for the people. Thus Piňol instructed NIA’s top guys to think out of the box—to design a strategy for free irrigation by next year. The stealthy

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» A farmer harvests rice, Philippines’ main crop. ROY LAGARDE VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 08 1

A farmer harvests rice, Philippines’ main crop. ROY LAGARDE

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“debate,” not all smiles, continued all the way to the bank—to the Congressional Appropriations Committee. There Sec. Piñol saw again what he called

a “sinister attempt to derail” the Duterte

Revolution in Agriculture. He discovered during the Dept. of Agriculture Budget hearing on Aug. 25th that “the additional P4-B intended to cover the Irrigation Service Fees was not included in the NIA budget for 2017.” What he did was to “immediately manifest during the hearing my position as

Agriculture Secretary that Free Irrigation is

a commitment of President Duterte to the

Filipino farmers and that it must be fulfilled. Luckily for the Filipino farmers, all of the Congressmen present during the hearing— administration, opposition and even the party list representatives—were all supportive of

the Free Irrigation advocacy of the President." “Roma locuta,” it used to be said, “causa finita.” [“Rome has spoken, end of debate.] In a revo-lutionary situation, even without

a revolutionary government, once the leader

has spoken, give way to the revolutionary line. It is not a question of following something arbitrary.

In his case Sec. Piñol explained: “I proposed that the NIA charter be amended to bring

it back to its old status as a service agency

rather than a government corporation. This proposal is support-ed by several house and

senate bills but since it would still take some time before the amendment could be made,

I proposed that an additional P4-B should

be added to the NIA budget to cover the ISF collections for 2017.” NIA did not cooperate with him in making the proposal but in the end the latter had his way. The PNoy hold- overs had to give way. There will be free irrigation for farmers by 2017 but corporate farms will have to pay.

Hunger and a closer look at some of the neglect and shortcomings Over the past two decades hunger is a fact of life for more than 40% of people in this paradisic Philippine archipelago. The situation is not getting any better. We are far from reaching the zero hunger goal of any social revolution worth its name. From food net exporter in times past the Philippines has become a net agricultural

in times past the Philippines has become a net agricultural A farmer harvests crops in a

A farmer harvests crops in a rice field in Alabat Island, Quezon province. JP ACUÑA

importer today of mainly rice, beef, corn, pork, dressed chicken, wheat, soybean oil, milk and cream and a whole lot more one sees on the table. These imports amount to some US$ 9.632-billion annually whereas our exports of mainly coconut oil, banana, tuna, and pineapple amount to only US$ 6.546-billion for a trade deficit of US$3.085- billion. It is well-known that when Presidents brag about the country’s economic growth the agriculture sector is the grim downer. For instance, it registered a negative 4.4% in the first quarter of this year 2016 when total growth was almost 5%. Should we not blame such ugly performance on El Nino and La Nina, the two brats of drought and heavy rains that keep Philippine agriculture down? Yes, why not? Sec Manny could accept that but not without having first noted “the ne-glect and misdirection by previous leaders who also made very ill-advised investments and im-plemented poorly-planned projects in the past.” Indeed it is very instructive to scan Sec. Piñol's reports. Let’s consider a few: over P2-B worth of farm implements, including very expensive rice and corn harvesters, were

kept in the DA re-gional compounds all over the country, undistributed simply because of would-be recipi-ents’incapacity to put up the 15% cash equity needed so that the equipment could be released to them. And, Piňol says, “add to that the modern rice processing centers which are not operational until today simply because the farmer beneficiaries do not have the money to connect the facility to a power line.” A third case, costly infrastructures that remain non-functional such as the P800-M Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center and 20 other similar trading centers all over the country costing the gov-ernment billions of pesos. Another item: hundreds of millions of pesos wasted in the purchase of livestock from other coun-tries—goats, sheep, and cattle both for meat and dairy—which were grossly overpriced. “Worse,” Sec Manny says, “they were passed off as materials for genetic improvement when, in truth, many of the goats were of very poor quality and mostly crossbreds.” Fifth, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), supposedly the farming knowledge improvement arm of the DA, was “spending its money on non-essential projects like the making of candies instead of focusing on the technology transfer and training of farmers in modern rice and corn farming, vegetable production and fisheries. With a budget of about P1.6-B, the ATI was a dis-mal failure and hardly contributed to the upgrading of the skills of the farmers and the fisher folk, an important factor in attaining greater productivity.” Sixth, the Dept. of Agriculture virtually abandoned the high-value crops sector. It is only now that something is being done as in the programmed establishment of a regional laboratory in Da-vao City for plant and animal diseases, and soil and water analysis. Seventh, the fisheries sector hardly received any support from the Dept. of Agriculture. Fishpond operators could not even get production loans from government banks. Only the big fishpond and fish cages operators who had the money to finance their business survived and developed. Today, Sec. Piñol is rushing fiberglass fishing boats to as many fisher folk as he can reach.

Sec. Piñol lamented: “I could list down many more shortcomings by government which ultimate-ly led to the spiraling downfall of the agriculture and fisheries sector if only to emphasize what needs to be done to reverse the downtrend. I am learning from their mistakes and hopefully, with proper planning and consultation, we will be able to reverse the situation.What needs to be done is to really focus on the President’s commitment: Available and Affordable Food for the Filipino People.”

Agrarian credit To attain that goal, Sec. Piñol realizes that there will be a need for timely agrarian credit. He has set aside the availability of Php 15,000 per farm per hectare per season for hybrid seeds and aq-uaculture on a non- bank basis. Households who have access to credit are more likely to be nonpoor. The odds of a household being nonpoor are .72 points higher when the household has access to credit. The timely supply of credit at reasonable interest rates is a vital measure in food production. In the past, our small farmers depended on their former landowners for credit. Today, because we haven’t really implemented the support service aspect of agrarian reform effectively, the ma-jority of farmers depend on usurers for rural credit. They do so because usurers know the para-mount importance of timely loans for agriculture. “Five-six” operations which are so rampant continually attest to the almost total irrelevance of our banking system as far as the majority of small farmers are concerned. Government support funds should not be coursed through traditional banks which have defined the small farmers as frankly “unbankable” or they will hardly make a dent in the improvement of the farmers’ lot. This is the classic case of the end being frustrated by inappropriate means. For one thing, in the name of avoiding the dreaded word “dole-out”, government often ends up transmuting support funds into well-nigh impossible loans: that take so long in approval, that cannot be released on time, that scare away small farmers who cannot

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effectively tackle the seemingly interminable paperwork. Hence the incredible continuing scandal of Filipino farmers waiting for Indian creditors who fly from thousands of miles away and arrive in their barangays at bicycle speed to release farmers’ loans on time even at usurious rates (“five-six”). And not quite underscored enough these days is the fact that more than 80% of cash costs in-curred by the small rice farmer go to chemical fertilizers that deplete the organic matter of his soil and make him more dependent, in a manner worse than drug addiction, on more and more of the same chemical fertilizers that cause an increase in production but even more so in production costs. Farmers can’t help concluding that all- too-often working so hard and spending so much may not be worth it at all. Hence, our massive importations and food insecurity. In the Philippines, particularly, the rice producer, for instance, is also the rice consumer and of-ten may not be able to make up his feelings about importation of cheaper rice… not knowing how to bring down the cost of production that surely affects product pricing. But if small farmers are sincerely assisted to have good framework conditions arising from small farms consolidation such as affordable credits, good seeds and other agricultural inputs friendly to the environment, and access to marketing facilities their yields per hectare may even be much higher than the yields in super-big- sized modern agriculture. The UN-FAO has had many studies attesting to this.

Who will conduct the agrarian revolution? Under EO 1, the Cabinet secretary—a post

currently held by Secretary Jun Evasco—will super-vise the following agencies:

• Cooperative Development Authority

• Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council

• National Anti-Poverty Commission

• National Commission on Indigenous Peoples

• National Commission on Muslim Filipinos

• National Food Authority

• National Youth Commission

• National Food Authority • National Youth Commission File photo shows women farmers from Bukidnon, Davao

File photo shows women farmers from Bukidnon, Davao Oriental, Negros Island and Batangas march to Malacañang while carrying squash on their head to press the then Aquino administration to pursue the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with reforms. ROY LAGARDE

• Office of the President - Presidential Action Center

• Philippine Commission on Women

• Philippine Coconut Authority

• Presidential Commission on the Urban

Poor

• Technical Education Skills Development Authority

The 12 agencies are tasked to evaluate existing poverty reduction programs and formulate pro-jects that seek to reduce poverty and improve the lives of the most venerable sectors of the socie-ty. "They shall conduct consultations with LGUs for the proper allocation of resources and program implementation and recommend courses of action for the government to adopt to achieve a sus-tainable system of meeting the needs of the people, while ensuring resiliency for vulnerable communities," the EO states. Thus aside from Secretary Piňol, Secretary Evasco will supervise the Duterte social revolution-ary agenda. Between the two of them the movement pace is quite uneven, so far. So many ap-pointments of key officials have yet to be made, so many programs yet to be started. Do they know what they are doing? If so, we bid them good luck with their “festina lente”—like the ever victorious Julius Caesar of old they are, indeed, hurrying slowly. Or is it merely the noise in the drug scene which is too loud? .

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Summary killings and human rights

» ARTICLES Summary killings and human rights By Fr. Roy Cimagala THE Cebu clergy had their

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THE Cebu clergy had their monthly recollection the other day. The invited guest speaker, both a lawyer and journalist, among other things, was one known for her advocacy in human rights. We were given a drill on human rights, rule of law, due process and other related topics, all of them as some kind of reaction to the rise of extra-judicial killings (EJK) that we are hearing about these days. From where I sat, I noticed that the priests were especially attentive, except of course for a few. There will always be

Bystanders encircle Jennelyn Olaires and her husband Michael Siaron, who was shot dead by

an unidentified gun-

man and left with

a cardboard sign

with a message “I’m

a pusher” along a

street in Manila, July

23, 2016. VINCENT GO

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 08

exceptions, but this time, I noticed more rapt attention. The archbishop was around, together with the two auxiliary bishops. There were also all ears. I was happy to note that the talk

presented the nuances of human rights as articulated by institutions like the UN

and, of course, our constitution, and other

personalities of some standing. Since the

speaker was a lawyer and not a theologian,

there was hardly any theological explanation beyond the fact that human rights spring from man’s being the image and likeness of God. The reaction of the priests in general was

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mainly that of grave concern, since it cannot be denied that the drug problem we have is a first-class crisis. Recent developments have lifted the lid on this crisis whose scary dimensions are getting far worse than what are generally suspected. Somehow priests get to know more details about this crisis because they preside over funerals of drug-related deaths in their parishes, they get to receive information from their parishioners, they hear confessions and they also are sought for some pieces of advice from people. They are near the frontline. They have mixed feelings about this issue. While they are somehow happy with the current campaign against people involved in drugs, they are also alarmed at the rise of these extra-judicial killings whose perpetrators we cannot be sure of— whether they are done by some vigilantes, or the police, or drug people themselves in their own internecine conflicts. What comes to my mind is that this development we are having at this time, provoked by the ascendance of our new president, has good aspects as well as poses new challenges that we have to tackle. Definitely, the drug problem has to be tackled head-on before it gets any worse. As it is now, it is really ugly. But we need to further develop our systems—police, judicial, penal, medical, political, economic, social, etc.—to cope with this highly complex problem. Let’s hope that our lawmakers can craft better laws that are more effective in blending our need to get the culprits as well as our need for respect of human rights, rule of law and due process. We obviously cannot remain at the current state of our laws that are now found to be ineffective or lacking in something necessary. We have to understand that our human laws need to evolve without abandoning their essential purpose. They need to be updated to adapt to current situations. A more appropriate system of checks and balances among the different branches and agencies of our government should be put in place. This should be a serious affair that should

People are not praying anymore. They are simply guided by their emotions and instincts and some questionable ideologies. There’s a lot of doctrinal ignorance and confusion, and religious indifference.

not be trivialized by too much politicking and grandstanding. Let’s hope that we can choose lawmakers and public officials who are competent to carry out their responsibility. As to the clergy, a great challenge befalls us. But before we start thinking of building rehab centers and the like, we should intensify our spiritual and pastoral ministry. We have to keep the priority of Mary over Martha. While the state and civil society aim at making people responsible citizens, we in the Church have to focus on encouraging people to be saints. As one saint once said, today’s crises are basically a crisis of saints. People are not praying anymore. They are simply guided by their emotions and instincts and some questionable ideologies. There’s a lot of doctrinal ignorance and confusion, and religious indifference. Today’s drug problem is just a result of many previous crises that have not been effectively resolved: corruption, deceit, infidelity, lack of temperance, etc. There is little authentic spiritual life in many people. If these basic problems in people’s spiritual life are made to persist, then we can expect graver crises after the one on drugs. In other countries, this is what we observe. They are now into terrorism and massacres and mindless rampage. Everyone has to be involved, but I imagine that the clergy has to focus more on strengthening the spiritual and moral lives of people. These aspects are basic and

STATEMENTS

STATEMENTS

AMRSP statement on extrajudicial killings

WE, the members of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, acknowledge our active role in being a visible force and a prophetic voice, in participating in social life, in working for the common good. This was a role taken by the Lord Jesus himself when he quoted the prophet Isaiah as he began his ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Luke 4:18–19). It is this role that we exercise when we look around at what has been happening in our country in these past two months: we have seen a consistent surge in the number of extrajudicial killings, now about a thousand, and counting. Most of these deaths are related to the problem of illegal drugs—alleged drug pushers or users being put to death in the name of vigilante “justice,” but all these bereft of warrant of arrest or proof of guilt. In the midst of this alarming situation, as a group of religious and consecrated persons, we make our stand. We express our full support for the government’s serious crusade against the problem of illegal drugs in our country. We admire the leadership that the President has taken in this campaign and the determination of the people under him in working to rid our society of such menace. Nevertheless, we are alarmed at the continued extrajudicial killings, which seem to go unchecked, without trial or investigation. We are alarmed at the silence of the government, groups, and majority of the people in the face of these killings. Ubi boni tacent malum prosperat. Evil prospers where good men are silent. Is this lack of public outcry a tacit approval of what is happening? Is it fear that prevents people from speaking out? Whatever the reason,

this problem, if it remains unchecked, leads to a culture of impunity. As religious and consecrated persons, we believe that the wheels of justice should take their course following the proper procedure and operate within the bounds of the law. We demand that the concerned government agencies continue apprehending those involved in

drug trafficking but avoiding extrajudicial killings, and pursue and apprehend vigilantes who carry out such illegal actions. As men and women of consecrated life, we commit ourselves to the following:

1. For our communities, parishes, apostolates

and educational institutions to study, reflect on and act on these unabated killings.

2. To care for the violated, the orphaned and

the widowed through counseling, sharing and integration with Gospel values.

3. To stand with people of other faiths and

other beliefs in the inviolability and sacredness

of life. In the Year of Mercy, let our humanity and compassion reach those who are the least and the powerless.

4. To recognize that the drug problem is a

complex and deeply-emotional issue that needs to

be addressed holistically, with great understanding and compassion for both victim and perpetrator for we are all dehumanized by this culture of death.

5. To recognize and support the need for

reforms in the criminal justice system and the need for rehabilitation for drug dependents. We need to weed out the corrupt in our security forces as well as in the prosecution service as well as the judiciary. The drug menace is an intricate

web of corruption and patronage that feeds on the insatiable desire of people for profit.

6. To hold Masses and prayer vigils for peace

and justice in the affected communities.

7. For the bells to toll at a designated hour

in solidarity with the poor and in upholding the sacredness of life. Pope Francis has repeatedly urged the leaders of the Church to go to the frontiers: “A Church which ‘goes forth’ is a Church whose doors are open.” Through this pastoral statement, we heed the Pope’s word and move to the peripheries. Given in Quezon City, at the OFM Provincial House on August 17, 2016.

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Provincial House on August 17, 2016. VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 08 Fr. Cielito Almazan, OFM Sr.

Fr. Cielito Almazan, OFM Sr. Regina Kuizon, RGS AMRSP Co-Chairpersons

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STATEMENTS

STATEMENTS
STATEMENTS Students light candles as they call for an end to extrajudicial killings around the country

Students light candles as they call for an end to extrajudicial killings around the country in the wake of war on drugs campaign by President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday evening, Aug. 31 outside the Dominican-run Colegio de San Juan De Letran in Intramuros, Manila. ROY LAGARDE

de San Juan De Letran in Intramuros, Manila. ROY LAGARDE WE are deeply saddened and totally

WE are deeply saddened and totally alarmed by the many reports of killings of suspected criminals and drug offenders. The arbitrary killings of more than 100 suspected offenders done by the police and unidentified people, violate their right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, right to due process and right to fair trial. And most of the victims are of the lower strata of the society—the least and the weak. The silence engulfing the phenomenon shows the tacit approval of the citizenry. Once more the body of Christ is pierced by these reckless and wanton disregard for the sanctity of life. A culture of violence and death threatens to engulf us all. This is not the way of

Echoing the Cry

Christ. We have strayed from the path of love, tolerance and peace. As Franciscans, we cannot be complicit or silent on these assaults to human rights and human dignity. We would like to voice out our opposition to these daily killings. In our 1987 Constitution, a Filipino is endowed with fundamental, political, civil, social, economic, and cultural rights and is entitled to the protection of the law. The Constitution’s Bill of Rights states that: “No Filipino shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.” And that “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself

and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.” Everyone is entitled to the right to life and its protection by the State. No one has the right to take life unjustly. Thus we advocate addressing the drug menace within our legal framework and the principles of human dignity— not through vigilantism. We support the campaign against illegal drugs in the country. But we denounce the sins of injustice and violence perpetrated against the least, the powerless and the weak. We stress fortifying our institutions and educating people of their democratic rights in the fight against crime, drug addiction and corruption. A drug-free society basically relies on its educated and empowered citizenry.

As Christians, it is our fundamental ethical, moral, and religious duty to promote and support human life and human dignity. St. Francis of Assisi sees every human person as the image and likeness of God. This policy of extra-judicial killing is very far from the spirit of the liberating Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is an obstacle to the realization of the God’s kingdom. Our faith tells us to treat the vulnerable segments of our society with mercy and compassion. It is our mission to promote justice and to critique policies/structures that are unjust (see PCP-II, 248). We uphold the value of love, brotherhood and peaceful solidarity (John Paul II, To the People of Tondo, Feb. 18, 1981, no. 7).

STATEMENTS

STATEMENTS

STATEMENTS Activists lie on the ground outside the Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City to protest

Activists lie on the ground outside the Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City to protest the rampant sum- mary executions in the country, Aug. 31, 2016. MARIA TAN

mary executions in the country, Aug. 31, 2016 . MARIA TAN LAIKO Statement on Extrajudicial Killings

LAIKO Statement on Extrajudicial Killings

WE are now facing an important reality in our life as a nation in the matter of extrajudicial killings. Reports and statistics may vary from different sources but this issue has reached an alarming proportion. To some people, these killings have become acceptable since they argue that if these criminals are not eliminated, they will continue to kill our people through drugs. They opined that the next generation of Filipinos faces serious challenges in the future if extreme measures are not undertaken. However, even the intention is good; the end does not justify the means. With the increasing reports of unsolved extrajudicial killings, cases

of mistaken identity, stories of people killed under questionable circumstances

– we may ask the question:

How many more lives, whether guilty or innocent be killed before we are convinced that there is something terribly wrong with what is happening in our country right now? As Christians who believe in the value of human life, we cannot continue being passive and indifferent amidst these spate of killings.

Two concerns come to mind:

1. The increasing culture of violence where our people become desensitized to the fact that killing are

a deterrent to criminals

and this will help solve our

problem of drugs and bring

it under control.

2. The matter of due

process which may give

rise to the nation becoming

a police state. While we

want to give our police much needed support, abuses are always a reality. We don’t want to give authorities that much power to live by the gun in the name of law and order. And when law enforcers make mistakes, innocent lives are endangered. We need to observe all constitutional means as to the right to life.

We call on our national leaders, both the executive and the police to observe due process in the discharge

of their responsibilities in dealing with criminality

in general and the drug

problem in particular. We call on them as well to investigate with care, prudence and diligence all

recent killings as a result of police operations or those committed by vigilante groups. We pray that all peace- loving Filipinos will stand for life and for us all to do what we can that evil and lawlessness will not prevail. “… I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19) For the Laiko Board,

ZENAIDA F. CAPISTRANO President August 12, 2016

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ARTICLES

Religious values are not politically incorrect

ARTICLES Religious values are not politically incorrect President Rodrigo Duterte. CBCPNEWS By Fr. Jerome R. Secillano,

President Rodrigo Duterte. CBCPNEWS

By Fr. Jerome R. Secillano, MPA

BY cursing some bishops and calling the Church the most hypocritical institution, President Duterte has virtually stripped the Philippine Catholic Church of the “political power” it once had, especially in the subsequent years following the first EDSA revolution. It came as no surprise that majority of the Filipinos are appreciative of what the President did, even if the comments are downright disrespectful and rude towards an institution that ought to command deference and reverence. Filipinos are fed up with the Church’s “interference” in the public sphere. And the fact that the President commands a high degree of approval from a populace that has grown tired of the status quo in our society, his comments are, unfortunately, almost always believable if not admirable. In a statement, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said “the Church is not an enemy of the government”. The Church, in many instances, may differ from how the government does things, but it should not in any way be considered adversarial towards a popular President. It is simply playing the role of conscience in a society that has seemingly embraced the absence of the rule of law, disregard for basic human rights, dearth of morality and decency, and a lack of rationality in the formulation and implementation of public policies. The Church in the public sphere should not be a cause for alarm and harm. What should alarm the Filipinos are the growing number of dead people executed without the benefit of due process and the passage of impending bills

(death penalty, same-sex union, and divorce) that are expected to destroy the moral fiber of a society that used to put more premium on religious values like respect for life and basic human rights, strong families, social justice, equality, and human solidarity more than the secular principles advanced by the men and women in our government. While the debate as to whether the Church should or should not be allowed to participate in the public sphere rages among scholars, Filipinos were cheering on Duterte while the latter was lambasting the institution for its supposed hypocrisy. Such a reaction is a strong rebuke against the Church and a vehement expression that religion for the most part should remain a private and domestic matter strictly separated from the public world of politics. The privatizing of faith and the marginalizing of religion, sadly, leads to a diminution of the Church’s significance in societal life. Interestingly, Jurgen Habermas,a secular and agnostic thinker widely recognized as one of the world's leading intellectuals, and who has written extensively on the public sphere and communicative rationality, believes that “religion has a lot of important things to contribute and to offer in the public sphere.” Habermas' reading of religion essentially belies the collective reaction of Duterte’s supporters who, I presume, must have reacted exasperatedly based on an idiotic understanding of what the Church and the public sphere are all about. For Habermas, the public sphere is a body of “private persons” assembled to discuss matters of “public concern” or “common interest.” It is to be characterized by rational

critical discourse and wide participation, despite inequality and differences among contributors. In essence, the public sphere is to be thought of as the articulation and engagement with the ideas and thinking of civil society. With this rational and scientific treatise, must the Church, then, not be allowed a place in the public sphere, including politics? Hannah Arendt, a German born American political theorist, provides a fascinating insight in what politics is about. She says, “Politics is founded on a human condition of plurality”. In her view, it is not enough to have a collection of private individuals voting separately and anonymously according to their private opinions. Rather, these individuals must be able to see and talk to one another in public, to meet in a public-political space, so that their differences as well as their commonalities can emerge and become the subject of democratic debate. In an era of pluralism, we should expect different and multi-faceted ideas and principles to emerge. A working democracy is best exemplified by a deep respect for what others have to say and to offer. The President of the Philippines may be very popular and enjoys a high degree of acceptance, but popularity and acceptance should not lead us to believe that he has the monopoly of everything that should be good for the country. The Church, after all, is not asking the people to believe in one God and three Divine Persons, nor is it commanding everyone to accept the “original sinlessness” of the Blessed Virgin Mary; all it is asking is for them to listen to its policy views, and to respect

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ARTICLES

its right to participate in public debate without its religion and ministers being impugned. I guess this is not too much to ask in a democracy. Some would strongly argue for the separation of Church and State. But the Church is not advocating that its ministers become lords of the State as they are servants of the Church; to be government legislators as they are implementers of God’s laws; nor judges in civil courts as they are counsellors of lost souls. There is no need to overemphasize this doctrine as the Church knows its boundaries. At any rate, those who wrongly use this separation to shut the Church out of the public sphere merely seek to redefine our cultural and religious character as a predominantly Catholic nation and they express hostility towards religion as a legitimate source of political ideas. Noah Webster, who served in government and was the first to publish the first American dictionary in 1828 using Bible verses as definitions, believed there is no false dichotomy between personal faith and public service. He said, “The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of our constitution and laws. All miseries and evils which men suffer proceed directly from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.” It seems that arrogance is the trademark of the strong. When the Roman Empire was falling, its ruthless Emperors and arrogant politicians could do nothing to save it. But fortuitously, Rome was not entirely obliterated. It, in fact, retains some amount of relevance to this day and it is simply because of one enduring institution, the Roman Catholic

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FROM THE BLOGS

FROM THE BLOGS Temporal goods of the Church accord with Natural Law, pursuant to sound I

Temporal goods of the Church

accord with Natural Law, pursuant to sound

I reason and consequent ethical norms—with or without the sanction of Positive Law as may be provided by Civil Law according to a given Constitution provision or otherwise—the Church which is now more than 2000 years old and counting, has the inherent right to own and administer temporal goods for the needs of her apostolic works, the demands of

funding social services and the grant of fitting support not only to her ordained ministers but also to lay workers in different ecclesiastical endeavors. The government through different ways and means, can deny this right, render it futile and inutile even through either pursuant legislation or through the imposition of Martial Law of one kind or another. But the aforesaid right remains and eventually continues to be exercised after a sound and sane government takes over. This is the standing truth as proven by time and affirmed by history: Governments come and go. Government officials live and die. But the Church goes on and on existing, evangelizing and serving—until time there is none to look back at or forward. Whereas time has a beginning, so an ending it also has.

n

It is good to take note of the following

universal Ecclesiastical Law specifically in conjunction with temporal goods officially owned by the Church the world over: First, they are not in any way personally owned by any Churchman such that this could then have the personal option to dispose of them according to his personal option. Second, they are in fact owned by a given ecclesiastical jurisdiction such as a Diocese or Archdiocese— or their territorial equivalents as provided by Church Law. Third, they are then administered or managed by the one after another incumbent Bishop or Archbishop of the place. Fourth, the Bishop or Archbishop exercises his management faculty with the intervention of the Financial Council and/or the Council of Priests plus lay professionals. Fifth, the said management faculty is regulated by Universal or Particular Church Laws strictly in accord

with the said three-fold finality inherent to the Temporal Goods of the Church. Sixth, the

inherent to the Temporal Goods of the Church. Sixth, the A Catholic bishop prepares for a

A Catholic bishop prepares for a Mass inside the sacristy of a parish church in

Cavite. ROY LAGARDE

Diocese or Archdiocese remains obliged to pay income taxes to the government for any and all taxable incomes it may have. Seventh, the out- going Bishop or Archbishop is strictly obliged and held fully responsible in giving an accounting of and entrusting the Temporal Goods of the Diocese or Archdiocese to his Successor. The Church has no army, has no weaponry, has no prisons, no brute power, no secular authority. But She has a Divine Founder, a spiritual strength, an eternal mission. This is why so many governments, so many political authorities, so many secular forces tried and are still trying and hoping to subjugate, neutralize, if not altogether get rid of the Church. But history is the witness that while all such quasi-omnipotent entities and individuals are gone and done away with, while one government after another appear and disappears, the Church remains in her evangelizing existence and apostolic service. Those committed to fight the Church come and go. Those dedicated to get rid of the Church undergo birth, death, and decay. But the Church stands and evangelizes, lives and serves from her Foundation Day until the end of time. There were—and there still are—supposedly all- knowing and almighty individuals who fought Church doctrine, who did everything to subjugate her if not even get rid of her altogether. They lived and died, were buried and dust they become. But the Church simply continues to live, to teach, to serve one century after another. www.ovc.blogspot.com

EDITORIAL I n one of his significant and memorable addresses to the young people from

EDITORIAL

EDITORIAL I n one of his significant and memorable addresses to the young people from all

I n one of his significant and memorable addresses to the young people from all the continents of the earth on the occasion of the much-renowned “World Youth Day” recently held in Poland—wherefrom the world known and much-revered Pope John Paul II was born and whose pastoral activity historically changed the socio-political face of his own country—Pope Francis expressly and clearly challenged the youth of the world to assume an active role in the socio-political plight of their respective nations. No. He was not fomenting activism but denouncing passivism. Reason: The youth are the heirs of their respective countries and they may not but be concerned with its present socio-political affairs that cannot but eventually bring about its curse or blessing, its malady or well-being in the years to come. So it was that Pope Francis himself proclaimed and promoted the known “Principle of Participation”: What is the connotation—significance,

implication, consequence— of the said principle? Such is the fundamental feature and concrete premise of democracy in action. And when the said reality is not merely set aside but actually denied, such is a marked demonstrative element of dictatorship, authoritarianism and the like. And from the start of human history to the present times, such dictatorial or authoritarian denial of the “Principle of Participation” is the eventual cause of social unrest, violence, deaths very well included. Needless to say, said principle has a special significance and relevance to the Philippines during these perceived uncertain times. The truth is that the “Principle of Participation” is but a consequence of the “Principle of Subsidiarity”. One without the other is falsity. In other words, the very fact that subsidiarity means not only allowing but also urging the able members of society to do what they can do for their own good as well as the welfare of their country, and furthermore means that the public authorities concerned should not bar no less that their sovereign constituents to intervene, to promote and sustain

Activity not passivity

their own public welfare, their own common good. Otherwise, a dictatorial regime comes to fore and the citizens—the active young people well included—have no reasonable and laudable option but to have it done away with. In other words, the characteristic implication of subsidiarity is participation, which is essentially expressed in a series of moves through which the young and their elders, either as individuals or in association with other groupings, decidedly move and act to regain what is their right, to re-establish what is true and just, what is right and proper for their own selves and their country as a whole. These are no longer the times when people can justify the well-known censurable position of the infamous “Three Monkeys”:

One sees nothing. The other hears nothing. The third says nothing. So it is that all three of them do nothing! Such are the significance and implication of the papal call to the youth for Activity not Passivity particularly in conjunction with the social concerns and political matters in their respective countries. This is markedly dissonant with the posture of indifference, the option for quietism, the preference for passivity.

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ENTERTAINMENT

DIRECTOR:

Timur Bekmambetov

LEAD CAST:

Jack Huston, Tobby Kebbel,

Morgan Freeman, Rodrigo Santoro, SCREENWRITER: Keith Clarke; John Ridley PRODUCER: Mark Burnett; Sean Daniel EDITOR: Dody Dorn, Richard Francis-Bruce Bob Murawski

MUSICAL DIRECTOR:

Marco Beltrami

GENRE: Drama, Action

CINEMATOGRAPHER:

Pliver Wood

DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pics, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

FILMING LOCATIONS: USA, Italy

RUNNING TIME: 150 minutes

FILMING LOCATIONS : USA, Italy RUNNING TIME : 150 minutes CATHOLIC INITIATIVE FOR ENLIGHTENED MOVIE APPRECIATION
FILMING LOCATIONS : USA, Italy RUNNING TIME : 150 minutes CATHOLIC INITIATIVE FOR ENLIGHTENED MOVIE APPRECIATION

CATHOLIC

INITIATIVE FOR

ENLIGHTENED

MOVIE

APPRECIATION

TECHNICAL ASSESSMENT

★★★★

MORAL ASSESSMENT

★★★★

CINEMA RATING:

PG 13

MTRCB RATING: PG

★★★★ ☆ CINEMA RATING : PG 13 MTRCB RATING : PG Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) is

Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) is falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, Messala Severus (Tobby Kebbel) who had since leaving home been appointed by Pontius Pilate as an officer in the Roman army. Stripped of his rank and dignity, and separated from wife Esther (Nazanin Boniadi) and his family, Judah is forced to hard labor at sea in a Roman warship. After five years of enslavement, he is washed ashore and rescued by Sheikh Ilderim (Morgan Freeman). Pleading with Ilderim to take him with him to Jerusalem, Ben Hur wins the favor of the wealthy sheikh by proving himself as an expert at the treatment of horses. Ben Hur soon agrees to Ilderim’s scheme to have him race chariots in the circus against the reigning champion, Messala. Offering a hefty wager in exchange for Ben Hur’s freedom, Ilderim persuades

Pilate to accept Ben Hur in the races. Seeking revenge, Ben Hur instead finds redemption. Ben Hur is one proof that a compelling story can be the foundation of a marvelous film. A re-imagining of Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel “Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ”, the 2016 film is helmed by Timur Bekmambetov who found in the script an “incredibly meaningful story, impressing with not just sensational action but with line-up of amazing life-like characters and deep thinking, with emotions and actions that are relatable and have a modern, universal resonance.” The smartly chosen cast and their superb performances provide the spine for the realism of the film, enhanced by spot-on cinematography an dialogue, fabulous production sets, costumes (clothes of biblical times with a 21st century twist), sound effects, music, and CGI that

portrays history without the histrionic outbursts of computer driven action movies. Ben Hur teaches without preaching, and respects the intelligence of the viewer. Noteworthy is the subtle interweaving of Ben Hur’s journey and the mission of Jesus—two parallel threads that pull the pieces together towards a logical and satisfying resolution of a fraternal conflict. Ben Hur is more than just a story of chariot racing. Families can relate to the characters, for it is a story about brothers, about family, about love and hate in equal parts and the unique conflict the mixture spawns. It reminds families of how our loved ones disappoint us, how badly we treat the ones we love, how often the call for forgiveness falls on our deaf ears, and how freedom may be won through forgiveness and compassion. A must-see.

■ MONGOLIA. Country ordains first na - tive priest On Aug. 28, Mongolia witnessed the

MONGOLIA. Country ordains first na- tive priest

On Aug. 28, Mongolia witnessed the ordination of its first indigenous priest, Fr. Joseph Enkh Baatar, a 29-year-old man who represents the first fruits of 24 years of missionary work in the east Asian country. Bishop Wenceslao Padilla, the prefect of Ulaanbaatar, ordained Joseph Enkh Baatar a

priest at anAug. 28 Mass at St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in the Mongolian capital.The first modern mission to Mongoliawas established

in 1922 and was entrusted to the Congrega-

tion of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But under a communist government influenced by the Soviet Union, religious expression was soon thereafter suppressed.Bishop Pa- dillawas one of the first three missionaries allowed into Mongolia in 1992, after the fall of communism. He became superior of the mission in Mongolia, and was instrumental in helping to discern Fr. Baatar's vocation. (Antonio Anup Gonsalves/CNA)

INDIA. Archbishop Cheenath dies at 81

ArchbishopRaphael Cheenath,wholived through one of the worst Christian persecu- tions inmodernIndia andspent the remainder

of his life fighting for justice for those who suffered in the Kandhamal massacre, died Sunday at the age of 81.Cheenath had been Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar from 1985 to 2011. He passed away Aug. 14 at Holy Spirit Hospital in Mumbai, after a battle with colon cancer. His death followed the successful outcome of a legal battle he brought forward to gain an increase in relief

to the victims of the 2008 attack against the

Christian community in the Indian district of Kandhamal. (CNA)

Guam priest admits guilt amid ongoing abuse scandal

A priest in Guam has admitted to abusing around 20 children, a revelation that comes amid an ongoing investigation into abuse ac- cusations surrounding the local archbishop. Accusations against Fr. Louis Brouillard, 95, were made during a public hearing last week

to lift Guam’s statute of limitations on child abuse. The accusations were raised by a man who lives in Hawaii and said he was sent to

a Catholic school in Guam, where he was

abused twice, including by Fr. Brouillard in the 1950s.The priest served in Guam between the 1940s-1970s, during which he taught

at San Vicente and Father Duenas Memorial Catholic schools. (CNA)

PAKISTAN. Archdiocese of Lahore gets a record five new priests

The Archdiocese of Lahore has made a record of ordinations. Yesterday in the Ca- thedral of the Sacred Heart, the ordination ceremony for five deacons took place in the

presence of hundreds of faithful and the rela- tives of the new priests. Lahore Archbishop Sebastian Shah said that the group of priests

is the largest since 1994. "So far we had only

had one or two priests (a year). Five priests are really a record.” This year, a total of 21 priestly ordinations took place in Pakistan, three next October in the Archdiocese of Karachi.Fr Joseph Louis, a former executive secretary of Caritas Lahore, believes that the rise of terrorism since the attacks on 11 September 2001 in the US "increased local vocations.” (Asianews)

VIETNAM. Gov’t speeds up approval of new religious law

The Vietnamese government is speed- ing the approval process of its new law on religions and beliefs, which has been sharply criticized by the country’s religious leaders since April 2015.Overshadowed by the 12th Communist Party Congress last January and the election of the new National Assembly in May, the draft has taken centre stage again in mid-August with the government pledging to have it adopted this year. The Patriotic Front, an organization linked to the Communist Party, met on 17 August to discuss ‘expert opinions on the draft law on

beliefs and religions’.The meeting resulted in

a new version of the law, which has not been made public for now. (Asianews)

TAIWAN. Taipei in favour of talks be- tween China, Vatican

“Taipei and the Holy See are diplomatic allies connected by the same values, shar- ing a consensus on many aspects, including religious freedom, democracy, human rights and humanitarian aid,” said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Wu Chih-chung at a forum on the island’s democratic development. Wu also noted that, due to its mission to promote human rights and religious freedom, the Vatican is supposed to engage in dialogue with China, something thatTaiwan is not only not opposed to, but also thinks is positive.

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ASIA BRIEFING

After Mao Zedong seized power, Taiwan has led a parallel life from mainland China. Until the 1970s, it was recognized by the international community as the legitimate seat of the Chinese government, albeit in exile,buttherapprochementbetweenBeijing and Washington changed things. Since then Taipei has had to struggle to maintain diplo- matic relations with other countries, whose number has steadily dropped. (Asianews)

LAOS. Cost of living up by 30 per cent, but wages stay the same

The cost of living in Laos has been rising this year despite a stagnant minimum wage, making it difficult for many low-income people to afford staple foods and other daily necessities.In the capital Vientiane, food prices have increased by an average of 30 per cent since last October, said a senior official in the Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce, who declined to be named. A kilogram of sticky rice, a daily dietary staple, has shot up to .50 from .05.ManyLaotians are not surprised about the rising prices because theysaythe Communist government has not been able to control them. (Asianews)

MYANMAR. Peace confab ‘inclusive of minority ethnic groups’

A long series of conflicts between the army and ethnic minority groups living in the country are among the issues to be ad- dressed after half a century of military rule in Myanmar. "It is very important that the new government promotes lasting peace with these groups", says Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon. "The government is trying to solve the situation, but the building of peace will take time". Authentic peace "is built only by including all stakeholders involved and not by excluding them from the upcoming peace conference in Myanmar", he continued, urging every- one to "reiterate their willingness to work for reconciliation”."Leaders, armed groups, political parties: all have a moral obligation to pursue a path of peace", notes Cardinal Bo, urging to also involve organizations that have not signed the truce in the highly anticipated event of the "Panglong Confer- ence of the XXI century" to be held on 31 August. The Conference will have the theme of peace talks that the government led by the League for Democracy (NLD) is organizing with the army and all ethnic groups who for years fought for autonomy. (Agenzia Fides)

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