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FROM Imelda's shoes or the favorite subject about Filipinos being exporters of domestic helpers, international media is back to talking about the Philippines, including late-night comedy TV shows in the US, which are very popular and replete with sarcasm. The talk now is all about the war on drugs of the Duterte administration, portrayed mostly as extrajudicial killings or plainly summary killings that has claimed over three thousand targets, and counting. Telling the most of late is the cover story of the TIME magazine that bannered "Nights falls on the Philippines: The tragic cost of President Duterte's war on drugs." Written by Rishi Iyengar, the story paints the pain of the government's campaign against illegal drugs, which is borne by those in the lowest stratum of society. He writes, "The poor in the barangays--as the smallest units of municipal organization in the Philippines are called--pay the highest price." The cover photo convincingly portrays this perspective: a body of an alleged drug dealer whose face was fully covered with packing tape. In August, the New York Times published an editorial cartoon depicting Duterte with a shoulder-launched assault weapon aimed at a wormy apple on the head of a poor man representing the Philippines, apparently doing a parody of William Tell's heroic archery feat. The Guardian, which is a reputable British newspaper, came up with the editorial comparing Duterte's anti-drug war to the 2003 anti-drug campaign in Thailand that miserably failed resulting in the death of some 2,800 people, half of whom were later found to have no connection to illegal drugs at all. The

editorial goes, "Such drives inevitably claim innocent lives and kill users as well as dealers. But the core objection is simply that no one should die like this. Extrajudicial executions undermine the rule of law. They make a country less safe, not more." While the chorus of international media is increasing, local apologists and an army of Duterte netizens are saying that international media is clueless of what is happening within. A senator on privilege speech commended, amid the lamentations of human rights groups and families of the fallen, Duterte's war on drug, saying that the country is now safest and with almost no crime at all--as if the killings are nary a crime. With an average of 13 killings a day since the Duterte assumed office, how can a senator say that crimes have almost disappeared? But what boggles a simple mind is the onion-skinned President. If the war on drugs is waged out of legitimate principles and methods, why the ire and profanities against those who criticize this bloody war? Even presidents and the head the group of nations have been blasted with expletives from a dirty mouth

that may have been deprived of an elementary urbanity.

creating enemies with powerful nations like the United States of America and the European Union has become a tactical foreign policy, spewing an indiscriminate and unprovoked word war is not going to be very productive. For our cover story, Ibon Foundation's Sonny Africa writes about the tax reforms engineered by the Department of Finance, which is seen to be more of a burden to the poor while a relief to the wealth. Read on.





What's next?





DOF’s reforms tax the poor and relieve the rich

Cover story

reforms tax the poor and relieve the rich Cover story Articles 4 | Towards nonviolence and




Towards nonviolence and just peace



The vulnerable children of the Philippines



Where to find peace



Love is a verb



News Features






From the Blogs






Asia News

quote the act in

"There are illegal drug searches in practically any neighborhood. Why not try looking for verifiable illegal drug connections among inveterate gamblers and illegal drug providers?"

Oscar Cruz, an antigambling crusader who founded Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng; urging the Duterte administration to look into the possible links of people with severe gambling problems to the illegal drug trade.


extrajudicial killings."

Ramon Arguelles, archbishop of Lipa; on the planned six-month extension on the war on drugs by the Duterte Administration that elicited apprehension among Church leaders that it may also mean an extension of extrajudicial killings.

worried about more


am also

"Lead the process of bringing formal closure to the longest standing war before you leave your post at the United Nations."

130 female activists, from 38 countries pressed United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to fulfill a goal he declared after assuming his post a decade ago: the establishment of a permanent peace treaty to end the Korean War.

"The Syrian tragedy shames us all. The collective failure of the international community should haunt every member of this council."

Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations; commenting that the continued fighting and horror in Syria, that has claimed about 470,000 lives and forced 4.8 million refugees since 2011, shows the failure of the international community.


Towards nonviolence and just peace

Rallyists call for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines during a gathering at Mendiola to celebrate President Rodrigo Duterte’ inauguration in Malacañang, June 30, 2016. ROY LAGARDE


By Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ

LATELY, the Philippines under a new administration seems to be entering a new phase in its quest for a “just and lasting peace.” On the one hand, the recently concluded first round of negotiations between the GRP and NDFP panels in Oslo in August has brought about an indefinite ceasefire and hopeful prospects for reaching a peace agreement in the near future. On the other hand, the deadly bombing of a crowded night market in Davao on September 2 has raised the specter of more terroristic acts in other parts of the country. It is in this light that the gathering of Catholic peace advocates in Rome last April 11-13, 2016, can provide a broader context for the Philippine situation. The conference on “Nonviolence and Just Peace” was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International. It brought together lay people, members of religious congregations, theologians, priests and bishops to share peace-building efforts in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania. (I was invited to share some of our peace-building efforts in Mindanao. Ms. Loreta Castro and Jasmin Galace of the Miriam College Peace Center also shared their ongoing activities in peace education). The final statement of the conference issued “An Appeal to the Catholic Church to re-commit to the centrality of Gospel nonviolence.” It first cited concrete experiences of people engaged in work for peace – e.g., negotiations with armed groups in Uganda, Colombia, South Sudan; advocacy for retaining the peace clause in the Japanese Constitution; accompaniment in Palestine; peace education efforts in the Philippines, etc. Looking at our world today, the conference statement pointed out:

We live in a time of tremendous suffering, widespread trauma and fear linked to militarization, economic injustice, climate change, and a myriad of other specific forms of violence. In this context of normalized and systemic

violence, those of us who stand in the Christian tradition are called to recognize

the centrality of active nonviolence to the vision and message of Jesus; to the life and practice of the Catholic Church; and to our long term vocation of healing and reconciling both people and the planet. Looking at the example of Jesus, the conference statement continues:

In his own times, rife with structural violence, Jesus proclaimed

a new, nonviolent order rooted in the

unconditional love of God. Jesus called his disciples to love their enemies (Mt. 5:44), which includes respecting the image of God in all persons; to offer no violent resistance to one who does evil (Mt. 5:39); to become peacemakers; to forgive and repent; and to be abundantly merciful (Matthew 5-7). Looking towards the future, the conference participants reflected on recent pronouncements of the Popes:

We need a new framework that is consistent with Gospel nonviolence. A different path is clearly unfolding in

recent Catholic social teaching. Pope John

XXIII wrote that war is not a suitable

way to restore rights; Pope Paul VI linked

peace and development, and told the

UN “no more war”; Pope John Paul II said that “war belongs to the tragic past, to history”; Pope Benedict XVI said that “loving the enemy is the nucleus of the Christian revolution”; and Pope Francis

said “the true strength of the Christian is the power of truth and love, which leads to the renunciation of all violence. Faith and violence are incompatible”. He has also urged the “abolition of war”. In its concluding section, the conference statement focused on its key


We propose that the Catholic Church develop and consider shifting to a Just Peace approach based on Gospel

nonviolence. A Just Peace approach offers

a vision and an ethic to build peace as

well as to prevent, defuse, and to heal the damage of violent conflict. This

ethic includes a commitment to human

dignity and thriving relationships, with specific criteria, virtues, and practices




ARTICLES Militants rally for peace in Manila. VINCENT GO to guide our actions. We recognize that

Militants rally for peace in Manila. VINCENT GO

to guide our actions. We recognize that peace requires justice and justice requires peacemaking. Among the

concrete actions that could be taken, the conference listed the following:

• Continue developing Catholic social

teaching on nonviolence. In particular,

we call on Pope Francis to share with the world an encyclical on nonviolence and Just Peace;

• Integrate Gospel nonviolence explicitly

into the life, including the sacramental life, and work of the Church through

dioceses, parishes, agencies, schools, universities, seminaries, religious orders, voluntary associations, and others;

• Promote nonviolent practices and

strategies (e.g., nonviolent resistance, restorative justice, trauma healing, unarmed civilian protection, conflict transformation, and peacebuilding strategies); • Initiate a global conversation on nonviolence within the Church, with people of other faiths, and with the larger world to respond to the monumental crises of our time with the vision and strategies of nonviolence and Just Peace; Hopefully, this broader framework of the Catholic tradition can shed some light for our responses to incidents of un- peace as well as current peace efforts in Mindanao and the rest of the country.


The vulnerable children of the Philippines

ARTICLES The vulnerable children of the Philippines Red light district in Angeles City, Pampanga. By Fr.

Red light district in Angeles City, Pampanga.

By Fr. Shay Cullen


THE death of two small Filipino children caught in the gunfire of the vigilante assassins sent to kill suspected drug users and peddlers is an unfolding tragedy. The shoot-to-kill policy that has claimed as many as 2500 people marked as suspects and killed in the past few months is a descent into hell. Five-year old Danica Mae Garcia was shot dead when two men on a motorcycle stopped at the house of Maximo Garcia when he was having lunch with his wife Gemma and their two grandchildren in the village of Mayombo, Dagupan City. They opened fire as he jumped up and ran out the back. Danica, his granddaughter, was shot in the hail of bullets the assassins fired at Maximo. He was hit three times but survived and went into hiding. Danica died. Maximo had been called to the office of the barangay district official to con-fess he was a drug user and sign a paper. He said he had long stopped using.

Althea Fhem Barbon, four-year old girl from Guihulngan, Negros Oriental, died also in a hail of gunfire by police when they opened fire on her father Aldrick Barbon from behind while he was riding his motorcycle. Althea was sitting on the gas tank in front of him. The bullets passed through Aldrick’s body and hit the child. He died and so did Althea. He was listed as a suspect drug seller. The shoot-to-kill is a policy that has divided the nation. There are those who want the po-lice to uphold the constitutional rights of all and follow the rulebook of investigation and due process based on evidence. They want Universal Human Rights respected and the right to life upheld. They want the sanctity of their homes protected and safe from inva- sion without a detailed search warrant. They want their families protected from harm and violence and false charges and abuse of authority. They want a civilized society under the rule of law. They want their constitutional rights to be honored.




There are those who support a shoot- to-kill policy where no evidence of a crime is need-ed to mark a suspect for a hail of bullets. No warrant or proof of guilt or innocence need-ed. All those named as suspects are judged guilty by being on that list of suspects. The death list is a call to action by paid assassins, police and now under the emergency pow-ers, the military. Local district officials and law enforcers draw up death list based mostly on hearsay. It is like the age of the inquisition. You will be called to confess your crime and sign a paper, that is your death warrant and you must accept the punishment. No trial needed. Such a policy has left anyone and everybody vulnerable to be listed as a suspect and marked for death. The door is open to those with a grudge or an evil purpose against their rival, enemy or competitor to denounce them as a drug pusher. Then vigilante killers will shoot them and leave a placard with the words, “I am a pusher.” There will be no questions asked, no in-vestigation. Case closed before it is opened. It is a policy that has put the power of hearsay and the dubious list of suspects in the place of hard evidence. It has bypassed the rule of law and entered the realm of lawless-ness. The gun has replaced the courtroom and the balance of right and wrong. There is no need to listen to the pleas of innocence or recognize the truth. No more the plea of guilty or not guilty, no more the presentation of evidence and the rebuttal. There is no place for reasonable doubt. There is no need for the passing of just judgment. It has already been made once your name is listed. Sentence is passed with a nod and a promise of payment and the motorbike killers target their quarry. Such is the process of extrajudicial execu-tion. While the attention of government is apparently focused totally on the war on drugs, abuse crimes against children is increasing. The abduction of children by human traffick-ers who take them from

of children by human traffick-ers who take them from Girls stand outside bars in the red

Girls stand outside bars in the red light district of Angeles City in Pampanga. ROY LAGARDE

their villages and pick them up on the streets and sell them into thriving and ever increasing sex bars and brothels goes on right before the authorities. This is not new. It is the cruel sex slavery that is common and ongoing in the Philippines for fifty years. The rights of the children and youth are being violated daily in a slow, spiritual death and at times by physical death as illegal drugs and the HIV-AIDS spread among the enslaved young sex workers. The new danger of the Zika virus being passed by sexual transmission is also present. The sex industry is run on illegal drugs. Shabu and other drugs are available in the sex industry, sex bars and brothels to elate the customers and keep the young girls docile and submissive. It is a business that is not a target of the war on illegal drugs. The girls are victims and can be rescued by the authorities, helped recover and testify against the oper- ators and pushers. Justice will be done under the rule of law and not the rule of violence and the gun. (For comments:


Where to find peace

ARTICLES Where to find peace The Last Supper by Juan de Juanes By Fr. Roy Cimagala

The Last Supper by Juan de Juanes

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

TRUE peace can only come from Christ. “Peace is my farewell to you, my peace is my gift to you,” Christ says. “I do not give it to you as the world gives peace.” (Jn 14,27) We have to understand these words well, accepting them first of all by faith, and then analyzing them with all the resources of our God-given human powers. We should never depart from this peace of Christ. All our efforts to come up with an estimation of peace for our personal health or for social, economic or political well-being, should always be inspired by this peace Christ gives us. It cannot be any other way. Christ is the prince of peace. He knows how to tackle any and

all causes of trouble, conflict and war. He meets them head-on, not escaping from them, and in fact converts these causes of evil and war into paths to goodness and human redemption. He goes straight to the very core of evil, the malice that can spring in the hearts of men, the primal source of all our troubles, conflicts and wars. And he does the ultimate to annul the effects of evil, by assuming them himself, killing them with his own death, and conquering them with his own resurrection. He always has the last word. While in pursuing and trying to gain peace we may have to do some practical and temporary things, we should never forget that the ultimate source of peace


is Christ himself who is God who became man for our sake. We should always go to him, praying and asking for his help. We should never set him aside. Following him will indeed involve effort and sacrifice, but we have to look at the bigger picture, the long-range vision. We will be asked to deny ourselves and to carry the cross, we will be asked to undertake a continuing ascetical struggle, but all these come with the territory. The peace Christ gives us is the peace he himself won for us on the cross. It is a peace that comes with some war, with some violence—against our weaknesses, our temptations, and sins in all their forms and variety. He himself warned us about this.



ARTICLES John the Baptist in the Wilderness by Caravaggio “From the days of John the Baptist

John the Baptist in the Wilderness by Caravaggio

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Mt 11,12) We should be wary when we are presented with an easy program of life that can give us some instant advantages but will certainly lead us nowhere but disaster. This is the kind of peace the world gives

us, as our Lord hinted. Its perks and advantages are actually only ephemeral, short-lived and shallow. To have peace in each one of us and later in the world, the kind that abides and lasts, and that leads to the everlasting peace in heaven, we need to wage war here on earth, a constant war that goes on until death.

This is part of our human condition. Our weakened, wounded nature requires it, not to mention, the objective reality that we have enemies all around us. Our Catechism tells us of the seven capital sins with which we have to contend with all throughout our life. They are: pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth. These capital sins are embedded in us. No use denying them. We have to acknowledge their existence and learn how to deal with them. Besides, St. Paul also tells us about the formidable spiritual enemies around us. ¨For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.¨ (Eph 6,12) How true! The Catechism also tells us that “peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is the tranquility of order. Peace is the work of justice and effect of charity.” (CCC 2304) All these requirements of peace necessarily involve some struggle, some warfare. We have to learn how to make a war of peace and joy, and at the same time how to suffer, since suffering will be unavoidable. The secret is simply to identify ourselves with Christ who identified himself with his Father whenever we suffer in any form, physical, mental, emotional, psychological, moral, spiritual, etc. This act of identifying ourselves with Christ is simply reprising in ourselves what Christ himself did—believing and following his Father’s will, ‘Not my will but yours be done.’


“Love is a verb”:

The corporal and spiritual works of mercy

is a verb”: The corporal and spiritual works of mercy Pope Francis greets Cheryl Tobin, who

Pope Francis greets Cheryl Tobin, who has stage 4 cancer, during his general audience at the Vatican, May 12, 2016. L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO/CNS

By Fr. Eutiquio ‘Euly’ B. Belizar, Jr., SThD

THE culture of death is alive in the Philippines, and with a vengeance. It is like a diva that has been given a newer and bigger project and whose performance is so impressive it is cited for having created “a state of lawless violence”. Various quarters object to the declaration for being an overreaction. But haven’t we been living in a ‘state of lawless violence’ for years (if we understand violence to also mean beyond physical)? Incidentally the word ‘corporal’

(paired with ‘works of mercy’) comes from the Latin ‘corpus’ which simply means ‘body’. There is now a huge number of ‘dead bodies’ from the ongoing campaign against illegal drugs, more than 2,000 as of the latest count. Add to this the recent ‘dead bodies’ of soldiers (14 or 15?) and Abu Sayyaf terrorists (30) and the victims of the Davao blast of last Friday, September 2, 2016 (14 fatalities). The agony is even more exacerbated by fears that other places may be next in line. From all indications, once the spears of death are unleashed, there’s no telling when or even whether it


could end. But it’s not only bodies that fall victim to the Grim Ripper. Our spirits are also constantly given lethal exposure to unbridled violence in words and rhetoric, threats and counter threats, allegations and counter allegations in the media and in official pronouncements. Meanwhile pornography and licentious entertainment still thrive. Poverty continues to slay the dignity of a great majority of our people. Social injustice begets hopelessness, at the same time driving countless souls to uncertain fates in foreign shores, only to come home



later with shattered dreams and empty pockets. Others come back inside caskets. Ironically, while remaining blind and deaf to their own people’s problems, many Pinoys prefer to be glued to their pokemon apps. Yet, owing to the decisive and courageous acts of the present DENR leadership, we have become more privy to the unspeakable destruction God’s creation has been suffering in the country’s environment due to irresponsible mining and many other abuses. No wonder our spirits are hardly moved to the praise of our God, seeing the wounds inflicted on our portions of humanity’s “common home” (in Pope Francis’ words). That is to say, there is just so much evidence of the ‘corporal and spiritual works’ of the ‘culture of death’ in our midst. Indifference is a costly luxury. Many thanks to the Year of Mercy, our faith now makes clear to us how the answer has been, partly, just staring us in the face. From the days the Good News reached our corner of the earth, the Master has been reminding us that we actually have the answers to the ‘corporal and spiritual works of death’. They are called ‘the corporal and spiritual works of mercy’. The usual victims of the culture of death are the poor. It is not the frontrunners but those left behind in the race to wealth or prosperity, power or development that are found wrapped up dead by the wayside. It is people from what Pope Francis calls “the outer fringes of society” whose wounds the Church is called to respond to with the works of mercy. Why? Says the pope: “Jesus introduces us to the works of mercy so that we can know whether or not we are living as his disciples” (MV 15). But I have a proposition

to the Holy Father: Even the frontrunners, the powerful, the violent, the wealthy—are in dire need of the works of mercy. They also have bodies and souls that are as hungry for redemption as those on the margins of society. And, even admitting that they have been receiving more attention from the Church in the not so long ago, not giving them any now may not be wise. The ‘corporal works of mercy’ (namely, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming strangers, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison and burying the dead) and the ‘spiritual works of mercy’ (namely, counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing sinners, comforting the afflicted, forgiving injuries, bearing patiently ills done by others, and praying for the living and the dead) tell us a powerful statement: From the start, the Church’s mission addresses the whole human person. Not just the soul, not just the body, but both the body and the spirit of human beings are objects of our mission. This is not a late realization; it is a perennial truth, only more later emphasized. Moreover, the works of mercy also are a testament to the truth that God’s love is not abstract. It is as concrete as the acts of Jesus himself who, as Pope Francis says, is “the face of God’s mercy”. It is Jesus who feeds the hungry crowds, cures the sick, welcomes strangers even if sinners, sets free prisoners as well as counsels the doubting Thomas, instructs the ignorant Peter, admonishes the woman caught in adultery, comforts the widow of Naim, forgives his tormentors on the cross, while praying for them to the Father. In the Eucharist Jesus continues to feed and give us drink

The usual victims of the culture of death are the poor. It is not the frontrunners but those left behind in the race to wealth or prosperity, power or development that are found wrapped up dead by the wayside.

through concrete bread and wine nourishing our bodies but also through his Body and Blood that

vivifies and strengthens our spirits. Actually many saints have survived on the Eucharist alone during long fasts. In a word, Jesus himself does the corporal and spiritual works of mercy on us even now in and through the Eucharist. By the way, the expression “love is a verb” comes from a story I came upon lately. It seems an English language student in the Philippines was asked by her teacher to use the word ‘love’ in

a sentence. She stands and says:

“My family is my first love”. The teacher asks: “Is the word ‘love’ in your sentence a noun or a verb?” She answers: “A verb, Ma’am.” The teaches reacts: “That is not correct. ‘Love’ in your sentence is a noun. It is a name, not an action.” The student says: “Not in our family, Ma’am. Love is not a word we use to call anything. It is something we do. That’s why I say love is a verb.” Grammar-wise the student is

wrong; Gospel-wise no one is more right than she. For Jesus and his followers love is not so much

a word to call something by; it is a

series of acts to do. We call them ‘the corporal and spiritual works of mercy’.


Bishops fear more summary killings

NEWS FEATURES Bishops fear more summary killings A police crime investigator gathers evidence next to a

A police crime investigator gathers evidence next to a drug suspect who was killed by authorities during a buy bust operation in Caloocan City, Sept. 30, 2016. MARIA TAN

MANILA— Catholic bishops fear an increase in cases of summary executions after President Rodrigo Duterte asked for a six-month extension for his war on drugs. Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said he is worried that fighting fire with fire is likely to fail. “But I am also worried about more extrajudicial killings,” said the prelate.

6 months more Duterte yesterday said he needs another six months on top of his self-imposed deadline of three to six months to solve the country’s drug problem. He said there are too many people, including politicians, involved in the illegal activity and he “cannot kill them all.” “There is narco-politics on the lowest government unit, and that will be the start of our agony,” explained Duterte in a press conference Sunday evening in Davao City. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo also said Duterte’s approach to the drug problem would not work.

Anti-poverty campaign “It should be rehabilitation and stronger anti-poverty campaign,” stressed Pabillo. He said Duterte should instead root out corruption within the government and not be selective in his anti-illegal drugs campaign. “In the campaign, he categorically said that the drug problem would be solved in 6 months or he will step down, but of course he is not a man of [his] word,” Pabillo said. He added: “Anybody in his right mind cannot claim that. Can’t he see that his method is not effective?” (Ysabel Hilado / CBCPNews)

his method is not effective?” (Ysabel Hilado / CBCPNews) Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato FILE PHOTO

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato FILE PHOTO

Quevedo laments ‘indifference’ to terror attacks in poor

MANILA– Speaking before religious leaders in Italy on Monday, a Filipino cardinal has lamented the world’s seeming indifference to terror attacks in poor countries. As the world mourned for terrorism in rich nations, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato said he is wondering why some people are not deemed worthy of the same collective grief. “We need to overcome the global indifference to bombings in different parts of the world as well as the violent persecution of Christians,” he said at the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi. “There seems to be a tragic indifference when they happen in Thailand or Malaysia or Indonesia or the Philippines,” said Quevedo. Cardinal Quevedo also called on the participants to take a cue from Pope Francis who has been calling for unity against terrorism. He said that the powers

of the world have to act “in concert” in responding to the menace of terrorism. “Active solidarity with victims of terrorism is a gift from the God of compassion of mercy. This is the call of the hour for humanity in the face of terrorism,” added Quevedo. The three-day global gathering is part of an annual meeting of hundreds of religious leaders who come together to pray for peace and to discuss critical issues of interreligious dialogue. Pope Francis will also take part on the final day of the meeting when he travels to Assisi on Tuesday, Sept. 20. According to the Vatican, the pontiff will be greeted by a group of faith leaders, including the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The visit will also include afternoon prayer in St Francis’ basilica and a meeting with some “victims of war”. (Roy Lagarde/ CBCPNews)




Tagle opens Manila archdiocese to drug dependents

MANILA— To address the local drug problem, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has opened the doors of the Manila archdiocese to those battling drug addiction to help them recover. The prelate hopes the community-based rehabilitation program to be set up in different parishes will encourage anyone struggling with addiction. “We are here for you. Let us not waste life. It is important and it has to be protected and nurtured,” he said. The archdiocese said the program is designed to help anyone in need of support in terms of spiritual formation, skills formation, and livelihood. The archdiocese, through its Restorative Justice Ministry, has also partnered with other organizations and concerned government agencies to get drug dependents the treatment and recovery services they need. Among them are the Center for Family Ministries, UST Graduate School Psycho- Trauma, Department of Health, Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Philippine National Police. On Sept. 13, the program kicked off at the San Roque de Manila Parish in Sta. Cruz, Manila to reach out to people who have been excluded by the church or judged harshly. “We, in the Church failed to address the issue, we failed to be a companion to these people. So now, we are trying what we can do given the urgency of the need,” said parish priest Fr. Tony Navarette. The archdioceses of Cebu and Cagayan de Oro have also offered help to drug dependents who are seeking rehabilitation and healing. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)

Bishops mourn victims of summary killings

MANILA— As drug-related violence shows no sign of stopping, the Catholic hierarchy, the Catholic bishops, have spoken with one voice, saying deaths from summary killings is cause for mourning. In a statement issued on Thursday, the feast of the Our Lady of Sorrows, they said all “offenses against life”, including abortion and the recent bombing in Davao City, are sins that “cry to heaven for divine justice.” “Like murder, these sins cry to heaven for divine justice,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. “We mourn with you the deaths that we have seen in our communities,” he said. The bishops also called on the police authorities to ensure human rights are respected in the government’s war on drugs. “…Human dignity always protected and the nobility of every human person shine forth despite the scar of crime and sin,” said Villegas. The bishops urged the families of those who died in extrajudicial killings and other crimes not to seek revenge and call it justice.

“We beg for divine mercy from the bereaved and grieving families of the dead. Seek justice but not revenge,” they said. According to police records, more than 3,500 people have been killed in the past ten weeks—about 1,400 were drug suspects killed in police operations and the rest by unknown assailants. The CBCP said drug addicts must be given a chance to reform because they too are “children of God equal in dignity with the sober ones.” “Drug addicts are sick brethren in need of healing … deserving of new life not death,” Villegas said. “They are patients begging for recovery.” “They may have behaved as scum and rubbish, but the saving of love of Jesus Christ is first and foremost for them. No man or woman is ever so unworthy of God’s love,” he added. The prelate also called on those caught in the chains of drug addiction “not to be afraid” and to reform themselves. “Dead in their addictions, ‘living dead’ in the eyes of an unforgiving world, we bid our addicted brethren to rise up and live again,” he said. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)

Wage hike long overdue, says bishop

MANILA— A Catholic bishop has thrown his support behind a proposal for a P125 across-the- board wage increase in the private sector. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the amount may not be enough but it could help ordinary workers cope up with their daily needs. “It is already better than nothing,” Pabillo said. “Our call has always been to

increase the salaries of workers because of the rising prices of basic commodities,” he said. The prelate said the wage increase proposal is “long overdue” because there’s a lot of low income people. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has ordered the review on the legislative measures proposing for a P125 wage hike DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III instructed all Regional Wage Boards to convene and study the measures, saying that all workers “deserve equal treatment under the law.” The consolidated findings from the consultations conducted by the 17 RWB will be submitted to the DOLE chief not later than Wednesday, Sept. 14. Various labor groups have consistently lobbied for a salary increase since the 13th Congress in


“We foresee that the same measures will be re-filed in the 17th Congress,” said Bello. (CBCPNews)


Bataan folk firm against nuke plant revival — bishop

Bataan folk firm against nuke plant revival — bishop Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) MANILA— An

Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP)

MANILA— An overwhelming majority of people in the Diocese of Balanga oppose the revival of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), a Catholic bishop said. Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said community acceptance will be a big issue if the government pursue its plan to restore the country’s lone nuclear plant built four decades ago. “It is common knowledge that the Diocese of Balanga is completely against rehabilitation of the BNPP. And whole province accepted and agreed. It is a closed case for us,” he said.


Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier said the government is looking into operating the nuclear power plant to meet the country’s energy needs. The prelate, however, said the diocese will not change its position against the facility and will counter plans to revive it. In 2014, the diocese issued a pastoral letter emphasizing that the BNPP would endanger the lives of many people. It called on the government to instead focus on other alternatives for power generation that are safe and sustainable. (CBCPNews)




DOF’s reforms tax the poor and relieve the rich

COVER STORY DOF’s reforms tax the poor and relieve the rich A general view of a

A general view of a large slum area in Manila. VINCENT GO

By Sonny Africa

THE Department of Finance (DOF) will submit a tax policy reform program to Congress in September. The administration’s economic managers are using President Rodrigo Duterte’s current popularity to push an unpopular pro-rich neoliberal tax agenda. The proposed program lowers the tax burden on the rich and on big corporations and offsets this with greater taxes on the country’s poor majority. Every government taxes to fund its operations and provide public services. The Philippine

national government and local government units do this. Even alternative centers of political power in rural areas such as the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and Moro Islamic Liberation front (MILF) do this. Taxation is central to governance. The Philippines certainly also badly needs better social and economic services. The public education, health and housing systems are decrepit and grossly insufficient for people’s needs. Current transport, communication, power and water infrastructure cannot support real national

development. Worryingly, oligarchic private sector interests have already seized on these public scarcities as opportunities to further amass private monopoly profits. So tax reform is needed and integral to developing the economy. It is important to make real headway in ending chronic poverty and joblessness for tens of millions of Filipinos. Tax reforms are undoubtedly long overdue.

Wrong direction But the DOF’s proposed tax program is not what the country needs and on the contrary is a big

step in the wrong direction. The tax reform program seeks to raise an additional Php600 billion by 2019 ostensibly to fund priority investments of the Duterte administration. Most of this will come from taxing the poor to make up for revenue losses from taxing the country’s rich and ultra-rich less. Php400 billion will come from raising taxes and another Php200 billion supposedly from tax administration reforms, spending efficiency, and higher economic growth. The DOF tax program is still being finalized but its key elements have already been identified. The program consists of four (4) bills each constituting a package of measures. These are targeted to be passed in January 2017, June 2017, June 2018 and January 2019 respectively. Congressional deliberation on the first tax package is seen to start in October or November this year. Taken altogether, the program includes measures that will lower taxes paid by the rich.

Rich will be paying less Personal income taxes will be lowered towards an eventual maximum rate of 25 percent. The DOF says that the highest income earners may still be taxed higher than this but does not offer any figures. Around Php139.0 billion in revenues is expected to be foregone from lower personal income taxes. Lowering personal income taxes starts with coming up with new tax brackets to reflect changes since the existing brackets were drawn up in 1997. Rising incomes have pushed taxpayers into higher income brackets--with correspondingly higher tax rates- -even as rising prices have eroded the real value of these incomes. The ultra-rich and wealthiest who

were already in the highest tax brackets meanwhile still pay the same tax rate. The tax brackets and taxes due will be changed so that those earning up to Php250,000 per year--or about Php19,230 monthly (computed at 13 months of pay in a year)--will pay a fixed amount of Php2,500. This is up to Php47,500 less than they are paying today, according to IBON estimates. This is very welcome relief for these low income taxpayers. But those earning a million pesos a year for instance will also be paying less--around Php92,700 less in the first year of implementation and then Php130,700 less in the second year of implementation. Those earning Php5,000,000 a year will save even more--paying Php112,500 less in the first year of implementation and then Php260,000 less in the second year. The tax these wealthy individuals pay may even fall further after the third year as the DOF continues to adjust personal income tax rates downward. This reduction in income taxes paid by the ultra-rich and wealthiest Filipinos only reduces potential revenues for the government and worsens inequality in the country. Corporate income taxes will be lowered towards an eventual maximum rate of 25 percent. The DOF says that other corporate income tax provisions will be “simplified” to improve compliance. The details are not clear but the DOF’s logic generally seems to be that “simplifying” means reducing taxes to enjoin tax evaders to start paying properly. Corporations will be paying Php34.8 billion less in income taxes. As with personal income taxes for the rich, this reduction in income taxes paid by corporations reduces potential revenues for the government and worsens


inequality in the country. The rich get further benefits. The tax rate will also be lowered on many property-related transactions involving mainly the wealthy: estate taxes, donor taxes, transaction taxes on land (ex. documentary stamps tax, transfer tax, registration fees). The DOF for instance said that it wants the estate tax of 20% cut to as low as 6% of the value of property being transferred. The rich will pay Php3.5 billion less in estate and donors taxes. The capital income tax rate will also be lowered. The tax on interest income earned on peso deposits and investments will be lowered from 20% to 10%, mainly benefiting the rich with massive peso deposits. The rich will pay Php1.0 billion less in capital income taxes. The few rich Filipinos will pay much less taxes so the DOF offsets this by increasing taxes on the majority poor that will raise the prices of goods and services that they consume.

Majority will be paying more VAT (value-added tax) will start to be charged on previously exempt items. Examples of currently VAT-exempt transactions are raw agricultural and marine products, livestock and poultry, breeding stock, fertilizers, seeds, fingerlings, feeds and ingredients for feeds, and personal and household effects brought into the country by returning overseas Filipinos or by non-residents settling in the country. Imports of professional instruments, clothes, domestic animals, direct farm inputs, farm machineries and equipment, fuel and goods used for shipping and air transport are also currently VAT-exempt. Likewise with services by agricultural contract




growers and millers, sales by agricultural cooperatives, lending by credit cooperatives, and sales by any other cooperatives. Services of banks and non-bank financial intermediaries – which also includes money changers and pawnshops – are VAT-exempt as are various sales of real property. The DOF is also proposing to limit VAT zero-rated transactions only to direct exporters. It is not yet clear what items will begin to be charged VAT but the DOF has already said that exemptions will be limited to raw food and necessities like education and health. This means that the prices of many non-raw food items and many non-education and non-health services will increase because of the newly-imposed VAT on them. This will be paid for by Filipino consumers, the majority of whom struggle to pay for their basic needs with the little disposable income or savings they have. This so-called expansion of the VAT base– a euphemism for imposing new VAT on the people – is seen to raise Php163.4 billion in revenues taken from consumers’ pockets. The government has been using the regressive VAT as an easy way to raise revenues since 1988. The excise tax on all petroleum products will be increased and thereafter indexed to inflation. The petroleum excise tax is a fixed peso amount levied on every liter of particular petroleum products. Indexing this to inflation means that the tax will be periodically adjusted higher which means a perpetually growing tax on petroleum products and correspondingly higher prices. Fuels with direct effects on consumers such as diesel, LPG and kerosene but also items like bunker oil and asphalt are currently not levied an excise

tax. On the other hand, there are excise taxes of up to Php4.50 per liter or kilogram on oil products like gasoline, aviation fuel, lubricating grease and oils, naptha, and others. The DOF said that it wants to impose a tax of Php6 per liter on diesel, among others, which is commonly used by public utility vehicles and by trucks transporting goods, as well as on LPG and kerosene which are directly consumed by poor households. It may also raise existing excise taxes to up to Php10 per liter or kilogram. The higher excise tax on oil products will raise Php178.2 billion in revenues. These billions are ultimately taken from consumers’ pockets when they buy oil products directly or when these are passed on in higher prices of goods, services and transport fares. There will also be a tax on sugary products that will also be indexed to inflation. The sugar excise tax starts at Php5 per kilogram. This will increase the price of raw sugar to Php52 per kilogram (a 10.6% increase from Php47 pesos/kg) and of refined sugar to Php55 per kilogram (a 9.1% increase from Php55/kg). The prices of fruit drinks, sodas, sweetened tea and coffee, sports and energy drinks, and many other non-alcoholic drinks in liquid or powder form will increase. This will mean some Php18.1 billion pesos taken from consumers’ pockets directly when they buy sugar or when food manufacturers pass on the tax to them in the price of the food and drinks they produce. There is even a proposal for a legislated final tax amnesty, except for criminal cases. The proposed minimum amnesty payment is 40% of the basic deficiency with no further amnesty for 25 years. This is intended to clear all tax

dockets in the BIR, BOC and in the courts. But this is too lenient on tax evaders and in effect even rewards them for non-payment. A more determined implementation of tax laws is a better option. The net result of all these is straightforward: the poor are made to shoulder taxes that the rich will no longer pay.

Misdirection The DOF will create a smokescreen for its proposed regressive measures. It will play up how lowering income taxes will benefit middle- income families who suffer tax brackets that are unchanged since 1997. They fully deserve this income tax relief because they really are paying much more than they should. The existing tax brackets have not kept pace with their growing incomes and rising prices of goods and services. This group will be understandably vocal in the mass media and social media. But IBON estimates that only some 6.7 million deserving wage and salary earners will actually gain from the adjusted tax brackets. There are 23 million wage and salary workers in the country but 16.3 million of these are already exempt from paying income tax because they earn just the minimum wage (4.1 million) or less than this (7.5 million). Yet all of them will have to deal with higher prices from the DOF’s higher taxes on so many goods and services. The DOF will also claim that the way to fix the tax system’s inefficiency is to simplify it. The argument will be that treating the rich too differently and having too wide a gap between the treatment of the rich and the poor is too “complex”. “Inefficiency” is in effect resolved not by improved

A resident crosses on makeshift bridge in the Tondo slum district of Manila. VINCENT GO

A resident crosses on makeshift bridge in the Tondo slum district of Manila. VINCENT GO

enforcement against the wealthy, which is the logical thing to do, but by enjoining them to pay the lower taxes under a “simplified” tax regime. This really means that the poor are made to bear the burden of the government’s inability to tax the rich. The DOF knows that its tax program will mean higher prices for the goods and services the poor consume and lower real incomes for them. The DOF will divert from this new normal of eroded real incomes of the poor by claiming that this is compensated by targeted cash transfers and other social protection schemes. This includes 4Ps cash transfers, which the poorest are already getting, and the proposed additional rice subsidy. Senior citizens may also be given slightly higher pensions and allowed a larger senior citizen’s discount; but unlike the proposed tax increases

these are not yet certain. There will also supposedly be discounts on public utility vehicles to moderate the cost of commuting a little, more lifeline subsidies for low income consumers, and higher PhilHealth coverage and benefits for persons with disabilities. The problem however with such targeting and selective support is that they do not really address the problem created of higher bus, jeepney and tricycle fares, more expensive electricity, and more expensive privatized health services. This government-funded social protection is also logically going to be less than the taxes the poor are made to pay because if it were the same then the desired net revenue increase would not materialize. Significant additional revenues can be raised with some basic reforms in the country’s regressive and pro-elite tax system. This is


the most rational and sustainable way of ensuring that there are resources for social and economic spending biased for the needs of the poor majority of Filipinos.

Changing direction What does a progressive tax system look like? Some elements of the proposed tax reforms can be useful as part of a genuinely progressive tax reform program. It is useful to remove redundant fiscal incentives on corporations and to make these more transparent, targeted, performance-based, and time- bound. The DOF estimates up to Php50 billion in foregone tax revenues from special rates given to large firms; some Php33.8 billion is expected to be gained from rationalizing fiscal incentives. It would however be even better if more of these incentives were given to Filipino industrial firms




COVER STORY A woman passes by piles of garbage in Tondo, Manila. ROY LAGARDE rather than

A woman passes by piles of garbage in Tondo, Manila. ROY LAGARDE

rather than to the foreign and commercial or service enterprises that dominate the local economy. It is also useful to adjust the valuations of properties to earn more from real property taxes. The DOF has for instance reported that the assessed LGU market value on Ayala Avenue is just Php40,000 per square meter even if actual market value is at least Php400,000 per square meter. This has helped make land developers among the richest oligarchs in the country. Up to Php43.5 billion can be raised from more accurate valuations on real properties. Tax administration reforms in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) are sorely needed. The government’s tax efficiency is among the lowest in the region-- meaning that it is not collecting as much as it should at current tax

rates. The government’s tax effort, or total tax revenue as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), is around 12.4% which is slightly higher than Indonesia’s (11.8%) but much lower than in Vietnam (24.3%), Thailand (17.1%), Malaysia (15.3%), and the average for East Asia and the Pacific (16.3%). This is despite the Philippine’s VAT (12%), corporate income tax (30%), and highest personal income tax rate (32%) being mostly higher than in these countries. This is also an indicator of how much corruption has to be resolved in the BIR and BOC. Likewise with budget reforms to reduce leakages from corruption and inefficiencies. But then claims at budget reforms are undermined by allegations that the 2017 budget retains pork barrel for legislators and still gives the executive branch undue discretion over trillions of

pesos of special purpose funds. Relaxing bank secrecy for fraud cases potentially allows the BIR to more fully audit people who do not pay the right taxes. The DOF explains that 40% of income comes from professionals and the self-employed but they pay only 20% of income taxes, indicating high tax evasion. Including tax evasion as a predicate crime to money laundering is also potentially useful against tax evaders. However the danger in the Philippine context of severe inequity is that these just end up being used against middle class taxpayers rather than the very rich and well-connected. These expanded powers may also be abused for self-serving political purposes, such as how the previous Aquino government apparently used anti-money laundering powers against former

chief justice Renato Corona and other political opposition.

Right direction But the most important tax

reform is really to come up with

a genuinely progressive program

that taxes those few but with a huge ability to pay more while relieving the overwhelming majority who are struggling with

such low incomes. The country’s tax system should be designed according to the country’s concrete condition of severe inequality and widespread poverty--not from what is seen as ‘doable’ for being unopposed and supported by the rich and by big corporations. Some 17 million Filipino families (80% of all families) earn at most around Php20,000 a month; the poorest half (53%) try to live off less than Php13,000 a month and the poorest fifth (20%) on an average of less than Php5,600

a month. These poor and low

income families should be taxed as lightly as possible while being given as much publicly-provided social and economic services as they need. On the other hand the country’s richest 326,000 families (1.5% of all families) earn an average of Php106,000-191,000 a month. The CEOs of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), First Philippine Holdings (FPH) and Meralco earn Php5.0-5.9 million a month. The country’s 50 richest oligarchs have a combined net worth of US$79.5 billion or Php3.8 trillion at current exchange rates. There are also at least 690 “ultra high net worth” Filipinos with at least Php1.4 billion in assets each. The country’s top 1,000 corporations meanwhile made over Php1.1 trillion in combined annual profits and the 265 Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE)-listed firms some Php581 billion. These rich families and large

corporations are the biggest beneficiaries of the Philippine economy, natural resources, government, and the labours of the Filipino working people. They can and should pay more taxes to fund social and economic services for the majority. Taxes on income, wealth, property, investments and the biggest corporations have to be increased rather than decreased. Paying taxes are the most systematic expression of social responsibility and far superior to individual charity or even so-called corporate social responsibility (CSR). The worsening inequality in the country indicates how such voluntarism is not really effective in distributing gains from the economy. For instance raising income taxes on just the richest 1.5% of Filipino families will not only reduce the extreme inequality in the country but also raise some Php91 billion. The richest 156,000 or 0.7% of families had a cumulative income of Php356.9 billion in 2012 with an average annual income of Php2,287,836. Taxing just an additional 20% of this income will raise Php71 billion. The next richest 170,000 or 0.8% of families had a cumulative income of Php198.4 billion with an average annual income of Php1,271,484. Taxing just an additional 10% of this income will raise Php20 billion. Higher top personal income tax rates are needed. It will be recalled that these reached as much as 70% in 1973 and 60% in 1982 before being cut to 35% in 1986, 33% in 1999, and finally to 32% in 2000. Higher corporate income tax rates on large corporations are also needed. For instance, restoring the corporate income tax to its 35% rate before 2009 would also immediately raise at least


Php20-30 billion. Micro, small and medium enterprises should meanwhile be supported with lower income taxes than charged to large corporations. This is aside from how as much as Php409 billion more can be raised from aggressive collection of corporate income taxes especially from large corporations. IBON estimates up to Php780 billion in potential tax revenues from firms in 2012 yet only Php371 billion was actually collected by the BIR. Wealth should be taxed when it is accumulated or transacted such as through higher wealth, capital gains and inheritance taxes. Actually more effective collection of estate taxes on super-rich families could already raise hundreds of billions more in revenues. The BIR’s average annual collection of estate taxes of less than Php600 million in the decade 2000-2009 compares poorly with the Php3.8 trillion in wealth accumulated today by the 50 richest Filipino oligarchs and their families. The distractions and indulgences of the rich should also be taxed more. It is possible to design a tax regime of excises taxes or higher VAT on luxury spending such as on high-end automobiles, yachts, jewelry, five-star hotel bars and restaurants, casinos and others. The DOF has estimated at least Php7.7 billion in revenues from taxing luxuries but it is not clear how this will be raised.

Taxation for development Progressive tax reforms raises government resources for directly providing free or affordable education and health, financing public utilities in water, electricity and transportation, subsidizing pensions and other social security benefits, and providing for other socioeconomic investments. It



COVER STORY Children play along streets in Paradise Heights in Tondo, Manila. The village is one

Children play along streets in Paradise Heights in Tondo, Manila. The village is one of the relocation sites for thousands of families living in creeks or danger zones threatened by flash floods during heavy rains. ROY LAGARDE

also lessens inequality and may contribute, even if only slightly, to eroding the economic base that oligarchic elites wield to dominate Philippine economic and political life. But such tax reforms are of course just part of an overall development policy offensive. Complementary economic reforms are crucial including real asset redistribution, fair distribution of gains from growth, and the general direction of national industrialization for the economy. The solid and equitable economic growth from these will also make government revenues increase even more. The administration’s

economic team sees a window of opportunity to push this regressive neoliberal tax program. The team senses the public clamor for changes in the traffic situation, bad public health and education, government red tape and bureaucracy, poor government services, and others. They are also aware that the public perception is of real change happening under the Duterte administration-- coming from his unorthodox manner, open criticism of the country’s oligarchs and even the United States (US) government, the appointment of Leftists in his cabinet, the determined push for peace talks with armed revolutionary groups, enabling

freedom of information by executive order, coming down hard on illegal drugs, and others. The economic team will exploit this desire for change with the argument that its tax program will give more and better public services. But while it is true that the people need vastly improved public services this should be financed by those who have already accumulated so much and not by those who have so little as it is. The Duterte administration proclaims a pro-poor bias and is challenged to muster the political will to tax the rich.

(Sonny Africa is the executive director of Ibon Foundation.)



We believe in peace!

An interfaith statement of peace from the religious leaders of Pangasinan

WE, leaders of various faith traditions, pastors and ministers of various Christian Churches in Pangasinan came together today in prayer and fellowship for peace in the world, peace in our country, peace among us and peace within ourselves. The spirit of all religions is peace and it is a great offense against the majesty of God Almighty to use religion to sow division, discord and dissension in our society and the world at large. If we have contributed in any way to the absence of peace and the reign of violence in our society, we bow down our heads with utmost repentance and seek pardon from the God of Peace and beg for forgiveness from one another. We believe that we have the power within us coming from God Himself, despite our human limitations, to contribute to the reign of peace and put an end to hate and violence in our society. That power is prayer. Our weapon against violence is prayer. There is no peace without prayer. There is no peace without God. Therefore, we the religious leaders of Pangasinan, respectful of one another’s faith traditions and even more aware of the unresolved killings of suspected criminals and deaths of innocent victims caught in conflict, of police officers and military men who, in the call of duty and for our sakes, put their lives in danger to maintain peace and order in our nation, enjoin our brethren and members of our religious communities to come together in prayer at NINE 0’CLOCK IN THE EVENING EVERYDAY wherever we may be and pray for peace in Pangasinan and for the whole nation. We believe together that:

The words of hate must stop and give way to hope and brotherhood. The fearsome sound of gunshots must be silenced and the voice of those who in pain must be heard.

The threat of criminality and violence must now give way to the ministry of mercy and compassion. The distortion of truth must end for only the Truth can set us free. The bickering and quarreling must cease and let the balm of kindness now flow. The nation must be purged from drug dealers yet the rule of law must prevail and human rights must at all times be respected. Hypocrisy and dishonesty must melt and be replaced by sincere zeal with humility. Peace is life. If we do not work for peace, we shall all perish.

September 21, 2016

• United Methodist Church of the Pangasinan Central East District

• Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lingayen


• Christian Evangelical Ministries Federation of Dagupan City

• Dagupan Chinese Baptist Church

• Radha Krisna Hindu Temple, Urdaneta City

• The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Bayambang

• The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Urdaneta

• The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Philippines Urdaneta Mission

• The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Calasiao

• The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day

Saints – Dagupan

• Iglesia Filipina Independiente

• Bugallon Christian Church

• Muslim Community, Dagupan City

• Jesus Christ Saves Global Outreach Ministry

• Good News Community Church

• New Life in Christ Foursquare Gospel





Faiths and cultures in dialogue

CBCP in spiritual communion with Pope Francis at the Interreligious World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, Itlay on September 20, 2016

WE have been given by God, as a nation, the rich diversity of ethnicities, cultures and religions that make up the Filipino people. From the dawn of our history, we have flourished from the exchanges that trade between the peoples of our region and the flow of ideas and ideologies from as far as China and India have brought us. We are a richer people because of our plural-ethnicity. We rejoice in the multicultural character of Philippine society. Our faiths our strengthened when we witness how the One God whom we worship and adore has made Himself known in the various faiths and creeds that we encounter in our pluralistic society. But we are not oblivious to the challenges as well for when people must live together and count themselves as one nation with different ways of looking at the world and at themselves, different norms to live by, and different faith to which they have staunch allegiance, there will be problems--most of which are spawned by the lack of respect to which everyone is due! The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines enthusiastically unites its voice and its resolve to that of the Holy Father and the

Holy See as the Church sets its attention on the dialogue of faiths and cultures, one that, because of its urgency and what it means for our lives both as individuals and as collectivities, cannot and should not be put off. A particularly beautiful line from the Catechism for Filipino Catholics captures how we have dealt with multi-cultures and a plurality of faiths. “Who, then, are Filipino Catholics? We are a people who have experienced in one way or another that our Filipino identity, meaning suffering, commitment and world=-

view are all tied to Jesus Christ. Like

a diamond with a thousand facets,

Christ is able to reveal to every person and nation, their very own unity, truth and value.” (n. 52) This then has been our key: Not mere tolerance, and definitely more than merely making room but recognizing Christ revealing

himself in a thousand faces – like

a diamond with a thousand facets!

This is also our project, and the challenge to all Filipinos. And the Year of Mercy is the perfect setting for a recommitment to this love--that love that prevails over differences and makes of them not stumbling blocks but paths to

richer national and individual lives! We have tried the weapons of war, and all we have to show for years of conflict are piles of lifeless bodies and a war-scarred countryside. We must now try the eternal precept of love that recognizes no conditions, that stops at no boundaries, that considers irrelevant differences in culture, ethnicity, ideology and yes, even the different ways we call on and worship God! While we Catholics remain convinced with firm faith that in the Catholic Church we will encounter the fullness of the Lord’s Revelation, we will embrace those who do not share our beliefs nor profess our creed, acknowledging that they too like us are guided by conscience and the earnest desire to do what is right. And we will bend to wash their feet for that is how Christ’s disciples are to manifest their fealty to Him! Let the bells of peace ring! Let the hearts that seek the Lord proclaim the Good News of Peace! From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, September 20, 2016

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan President, CBCP

Statement on the bombing at the corner of Padre Gomez Street, Roxas Avenue, Davao City

WE, the local Church of

Davao, are deeply saddened by the explosion that happened at the night market at Corner Padre Gomez Street, Roxas Avenue, Davao City in the evening of September 2,


We condole with the

families of those who lost their lives even as we pray for the eternal repose of those who died in this most unfortunate incident. May there be no more loss of lives among those who were injured and are current-ly in the hospitals. We also pray for calmness

among our people, and at the same time we ask everyone to be vigilant. As Dabawenyos let us continue to care for one anoth-er as brothers and sisters. For all the people of Davao City, let us continue to offer prayers to the Lord to grant us peace in

our community and in our country. May our Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Peace, continue to intercede for us.

+ROMULO G. VALLES, D.D. Archbishop of Davao September 3, 2016



Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!

A Pastoral message read on September 4, 2016 in all Churches and Chapels in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan

WE are here because it is Sunday. Sunday is the day of the resurrection. Sun-day is the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit. Sunday is family day. Sunday is our day of rest. On the first Easter Sunday the apostles, gathered in fear inside a locked room, were talking among themselves about the events of the first Good Friday. The Teacher was killed last Friday. It was a violent death in the hands of violent men. Blood, sweat and tears intermingled on His mangled face and body so se-vere that he looked more like a worm than a man. The apostles were downcast. They were afraid, frustrated, angry, ashamed, guilty and anxious altogether. Are we next to die? It is Sunday again. The killers of Jesus didn’t kill on Sundays. Dead bodies had to be buried before Sabbath. Even killing took its rest on Sundays. Will there be no killing in the streets today? Will today be different from the other days? Like the apostles, we are afraid to be the next. We are anxious that a loved one will die next. But does killing still jolt us? Have the statistics numbed us?

The Bloodied Soil, Ruined Lives Sin has not stopped. Violence has not ceased. Murders continue. The ground continues to cry with the pitiful voice of the blood of our brothers and sis-ters. Their blood cries not for vengeance. Their blood pleads for an end to vi-olence. Every person killed is a brother and sister. They may be offenders but they are God’s children nevertheless. The plan of the Lord for them is not death but life.

Innocent lives, young lives, promising lives have been ruined by drugs. When dealers offer drugs to our children, they kill our children even before our children die. Drug pushing is murder because drugs do kill. Narcotics kill dreams and hopes, drugs ruin lives and families; drugs destroy society and nations. To these sons and daughters struggling to be free from the chains of drug abuse, we offer the healing of the Lord. Peace to all whose lives drugs have destroyed. Indeed we must protect our society from drug dealers. By killing them, there are many who think that such will prevent them from repeating their crimes. By killing criminals, justice will be restored to those they have been offended. By killing them, the other criminals will be discouraged from continuing their criminal activities. So they think. But what does God think? Do we still care about God?

We Offer Hope not Despair We can fight criminality without killing the law offenders. Who are we to judge that this offender is hopeless? Death ends all possibilities to change. We do not hold the future in our hands. There is no certainty that someone is be-yond correction. The goal of justice is not revenge. The goal of justice is resto-ration of harmony. Hatred can only be appeased by love not vengeance. Who does not need mercy? In our pursuit of criminals, innocent lives have become victims of mistaken identities. We know it. Nobody is perfect. Even those who work for peace and order can be mistaken. Our hearts grieve for the innocent murdered ones. Guns do not make mistakes. Trigger happy vigilantes do.


It is Sunday. It is family day and yet there are nearly one thousand families grieving right now because the family is not complete. A parent, a promising child about to graduate, a wife or husband has just been killed. They are cry-ing and they can see no light ahead. No one is there to console. No one is there to assure them their loved one’s killing will be the last.

What shall we do? We shall pray for those who have been killed. Innocent or guilty, they need our prayers. Whoever has no sin be the first to kill! We shall pray for those who kill. With the best of intentions or not, they have violated the Fifth Commandment and their brother’s blood cries out from the bloodied soil. We pray for those ruined by drug dealers now dead even if they still breathe. Let the Lord be their hope and God’s grace lift them up from darkness into light.

Shall we only pray? If you agree with us that killing suspected criminals is a crime and a sin itself, why do you just stay seated there in comfort keeping quiet? Whatever you do or not do for the least of your brethren you do to Christ. At the sunset of life, the blood that has spilled all over our sidewalks and streets will judge us be-cause when we could do something, we chose to keep quiet. There is no peace for cowards. The next life to be snuffed could be yours. Wake up my people! Wake up!

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan September 1, 201`6




Statement on the Davao City Roxas Avenue Night Market bombing

Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. | Davao Region Cluster

THE Davao Region Cluster (DRC) of the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc., (PMPI), a local conglomeration of a nation-wide network of faith- based, non-government, academe, civil society, and people’s organizations imbued by our virtues of love, hope and charity and strengthened by the spirit of justice, peace and reconciliation today manifests our solidarity with the families of 14 fallen victims and more than 70 other wounded in the September 2, 2016 night market bombing in Davao City; Like the mangled bodies of innocent victims including children, our bodies, hearts and spirits are aching in pain, calling for justice of the dastardly act of the group whose members may not have families and children of their own, and have not experienced the loss of their loved ones because of anger, ha-tred, prejudice and reasons that their callous hearts can only surmise; The people of Davao City is once again made to endure yet another deadly in-cident after the Easter Sunday mass bombing at San Pedro Cathedral in1981, another Sunday mass bombing at the same place in 1993, and the successive bombings at the old airport terminal and Sasa wharf in 2003 that will surely leave indelible memories of fear, hopelessness and foment anger among the people; We are worried that the on- going peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the CPP/NPA-NDF on the one hand, and the inclusive peace agreement on the Bangsamoro with the MILF and MNLF on the other, will come to naught by this incident which has no other ulterior motive but to sow terror on peace-loving innocent Christian settlers, moro and Lumads

in Mindanao in particular, and the country in general; We are therefore appealing to President Rodrigo R. Duterte not to be swayed by dilatory tactics of self- interest groups, terrorists and those who refuse to pursue the road of peace which his neophyte administration is seriously working on since day one in office. By all legal means bring the perpetrators and their cohorts to justice and let them pay for what they have done; The hope for a lasting peace is in the heart and mind of every Filipino. Indeed this is a time of grief, and we solemnly pray for the repose of the souls of those who died and for early recovery of the injured. We also pray for the grieving families and those who are watching over their loved ones struggle to recovery that they remain steadfast in their faith, and find forgiveness in their hearts. However, let us show to the world that we are steadfast in our resolve towards peace and development because no amount of bombs can scare us from our work of promoting peace, justice and reconciliation; and As challenged peace-loving Davaenos, as peacekeepers in today's volatile world, let us be reminded and those who cry for justice of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, which says:

“Make me a channel of your peace:

Where there is hatred, let me bring you love; Where there is injury, your healing power, And where there's doubt, true faith in you.”






“Give peace a chance to reign in our land”

Ecumenical Bishops Forum, North Luzon

“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” (John


TO the Christian faithful of all ecclesial denominations, To all people of good will, advocates of peace,

Greetings! We, the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum of Northern Luzon, issue this pasto-ral statement for your consideration and guidance in our nation’s urgent task to “seek peace and pursue it” (Ps 34:14). Formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philip-pines (NDFP) have been on and off since these began in September 1992. We have not stopped yearning and praying for peace. Yet the en-emies for peace somewhat reigned supreme for almost 15 years, in the incumbency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Simeon Aquino III as President and principal of the GRP. Clearly, the road to peace is a long way to go. It is good to know that peace negotiations under thispresent admin-istration have gone back to the negotiation table. We rejoiceover the outcome of the formal talks just concluded in Oslo, Norway. We con-gratulate the negotiating panels of both the GRP and the NDFP for their willingness to look for avenues of peace. We laud them for:

1. Reaffirming the previous Agreements: The Hague Joint Declara- tions of 1992; JASIG of 1995; The Joint Declaration on the For-mation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Work-ing Committees (RWC) of the GRP and NDFP of 1995; and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law

(CARHRIHL) of 1998

2. Reconstitution of JASIG List

3. Working for the acceleration of

the Peace Negotiations through the

Reciprocal Working Committee – Socio Economic Reform (RWC-SER);

Reciprocal Working Group – Political and Constitutional Reform (PWG – Political and Constitutional Reform (PWG-PCR); Reciprocal Working Group – End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (RWG-EHDF) and the Joint Monitoring Committee 4. Releases of peace consultants of the NDFP

5. Amnesty Proclamation

6. Ceasefire

It is good to see a chance that peace talks seem to push through, to a vic-torious end. Despite the Aquino government’s ridicule of The Hague Joint Declaration as “document of perpetual division”, and the uncon-scionable subtle sabotage of the US Government putting the CPP-NPA-NDFP in its list of terrorist organizations. We note the confidence building measures done by both parties—the Release of the Peace consultants of the NDFP by the GRP; and in the same breadth, the releases of Prisoners of War (POW) by the New Peo-ple’s Army that has been on going. We view these as signs worthy of commendation. On the other hand, we hope that the Joint Monitoring Committee for CARHRIHL be reconstituted and put to task immediately. We prevail upon them to work for active monitoring; for it is upon vigi-lance that violations of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is deterred if not eliminated. With agreements forged on these matters, the panels can then tackle a new Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) that aims to resolve major historical and structural imbalances in Phil-ippine society.


Dearly beloved peace advocates,

how shall we judge the correctness,

the quality, the worth of proposals to be presented to the nation and the world? As your pastors, we offer these guidelines for reflection and ac-tion. We invite all to a common effort to urge the GRP and NDFP through their respective peace panels to negotiate terms of a lasting peace based on justice and righteousness. We invite all to participate in creative ways as individuals, local

church-es and organizations,to present suggestions to the panels –

procedural guidelines, actual proposals

and implementaries, and above all, to cri-tique proposals in the light of Gospel values and human rights of persons, family, and community. Proposals are deemed just and acceptable if they are in accordance with:

• The right to life, food, jobs, and decent social services

• The right of the people to genuine agrarian reform

• The right of the people to

nationalist industrialization

• The right of the people to national sovereignty against monopoly capi-talist globalization and foreign aggression

• The right of the people to gender

and racial equality and religious freedom

• The right of Indigenous Peoples

to ancestral domain and to self de- termination

• The right of the people and of

creation to ecological integrity.

Let us pray for the success of the peace talks, and renew our lives to be worthy to receive from above graces of justice and peace and prosperity for all. That in all things God maybe glorified!

Ecumenical Bishops Forum, North Luzon, City of Baguio, Philippines, September 02, 2016


FROM THE BLOGS Abortion: A heinous crime REASON and ethics, morals and faith, criminal law and

Abortion: A heinous crime

REASON and ethics, morals and faith, criminal law and constitutional policy-- all these personal and social, rational and spiritual, legal and judicial provisions are against deliberate and procured abortion. Translation: Do not kill. Do not kill yourself, your neighbor, your fellowmen. But over and above all, do not kill the unborn who did not ask to be conceived, who is innocence unborn but whose life you grossly ended, whose being you licentiously destroyed. This is criminality incarnate. This is inhumanity unlimited. Abortion is definitely a heinous – gross, repugnant, abominable--crime. “You shall not kill.” (Exodus 20:13). There are practically a million and one things that are vicious and devious, and wherefore categorically considered as outlawed, taboo, anathema. But the Sacred Scriptures recorded nothing more but the Ten Commandments given and imposed on man by God Himself. And one of them is precisely on the matter of respect for and protection of human life. Life is precious. Life has no price. Life is singular in nature and implications. So it is that without life, what is there left if any at all? “The State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.” (Phil. Constitution, State Policies, Sec. 12). The Constitution defines the nature and attributions of a nation, specifies the rights and obligations of the citizens – among other significant and relevant national realities. And there is the 1987 Philippine Constitution that precisely found it not simply relevant but definitely imperative to protect the life of the yet unborn human being – absolutely without reference as to who and why, when and where. “A person who actually procures

an abortion incurs an ipso facto excommunication.” (Canon 1389 CIC). So it is that as far as the Church is concerned, the downright murder of an unborn is such an abominable crime that once done, the following are therein involved – such as the father and/or mother, the physician and/or the nurse, the abortive pills provider and/or herbalist concerned – all these, yes, all of them, incur the penalty of downright

exclusion from the life and spirit of the Church. They are thus “Ousted” from the Church. It is interesting to note that even brute animals--such as pigs and monkeys, dogs and cats and the like--do not commit abortion. When pregnant, they take care of themselves, they behave accordingly and eventually give birth to their offspring and care for the latter. Translation: Abortion is contrary to nature such that even irrational animals do not commit it. Conclusion:

Plain and simply said, animals are better than humans who engage in abortion. This is abominable but true. It is understandable then that Divine Law and Civil Law plus Canon Law all censure the heinous crime of abortion.

A man and a woman, a husband and a

wife consummated their union with joy, with pleasure and delight. Thereafter, they become three with their conceived and yet unborn child. But hereafter, they have the latter killed one way or another – or ask others to kill the same at the option of either or both parents. Too bad that their fathers and mothers were allowed by their grandparents to be born. Too bad that nobody else than the parents had the unborn killed. Instead of loving, caring, and protecting their yet to be born child, they themselves had this aborted, killed, murdered and thrown

away. How shameless! How gross!

EDITORIAL What's next? W ill the Philippines ever remain not only as a steppingstone of


EDITORIAL What's next? W ill the Philippines ever remain not only as a steppingstone of big

What's next?

W ill the Philippines ever remain not only as a steppingstone of big

and powerful nations to siphon off its natural wealth, to protect their frontiers, to fight their wars? Will the country that

is not only small but even separated by islands continue to be divided as well by dissonant beliefs, contrasting cultures and consequent animosity? Will the Filipinos remain ever poor and miserable except those few chosen and blessed families in wealthy, famous and exclusive


The Spaniards arrived and are gone. The Japanese owned the land and thereafter let it go. But the Philippines has remained weak, disunited, and impoverished by violence from within and by alienation from without. Lately, there even came to fore the loud and alarming declaration of the "state of lawless violence” nationwide with its disturbing counter-action and reaction patterns all over the land. It is not enough that the country has become the exemplar

The Chinese came and left.

of graft and corrupt practices, the land of criminality 24/7 especially during the reign of the previous administration. It was neither enough that the Philippines in fact became an illegal drug haven that brought to fore the likewise 24/7 killing of drug users, drug pushers and drug producers. It even came to a point when a big and deadly bomb explosion recently took place, leaving people dead and decimated, dying if not forever disabled. So it is that some not only relevant but also serious questions come to mind. Why was the singular, merciless, inhumane mortal violence precisely held in Davao when there are a good number of places all over the country that are more populous and thus open to more killings and destruction? It does not seem hard to conclude that the truly deadly and cruel massacre is intended to send a message to the now very distinct and famous figure in the Philippines who is from Davao from his childhood to his presidency. And the message seems to be squarely premised

on one or both of the following rationale:

The drug war and/or ideological war being waged by the same now famous personality. In other words: “Beware, Mr. President. Vengeance is ours!” Who was really the singular or composite mastermind of the massacre? Who thought of it and had it executed as a very loud and very clear message sent for the serious consideration of their perceived capital enemy? The answer to this questions appear simple enough:

Either those damaged in their illegal drug industry and/or those suffering from their diminution in number through a downright war brought to their own territory, their own haven. The message sent seems loud and clear: Get off our back! Get out of our way! Or else Will the Philippines be eventually, sadly and pitifully at war with itself from within? Will the country continue to bear the cross of injustice, the absence of peace? Will the nation fail to redeem itself from poverty and want? What’s next?





SI ELY (Daniel Padilla) ay nasa Barcelona, nagpapakadalubhasa sa Arkitektura, at kumakayod bilang waiter, tour guide at assistant photographer, habang pilit na hinihilom ang pusong sawi sa pag-ibig. Makikilala niya rito si Mia (Kathryn Bernardo) na malaki ang pagkakahawig sa babaeng dahilan ng kanyang kasawian. Baguhan si Mia sa Barcelona, magkakaroon ito ng matinding problema at mangangailangan ng trabaho. Tutulungan siya ni Ely subalit lagi siyang pumapalpak at nagkaka-problema sa mga pinapasukan. Palibhasa pala’ý anak- mayaman si Mia na tumatakas lamang sa galit ng ama kung kaya’t nagpakalayo-layo sa Barcelona. Unti-unting mapapalagay ang loob ni Ely kay Mia ngunit hindi nito tiyak kung handa na siyang magmahal muli. May puwang ba ang kanilang pag- iibigan sa buhay na pilit nilang tinatakasan? Maraming sanga-sangang masasalimuot na kwento sa loob ng Barcelona: A Love Untold. Nakapaligid sa kwento nina Ely at Mia ay ang kanya-kanyang kwentong-pamilya sampu ng kanilang ilang mga kaibigan at kaanak. Pagkat sa Barcelona ang setting ng kuwento, hindi rin maiiwasan na masaling ang mga isyung kinakaharap ng mga kababayan nating Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) na sa paghahanap ng magandang kapalaran sa ibang bansa ay namumamulat sa katotohanan na hindi pala ito magiging madali. Marahil sa sobrang dami ng kuwento nakapaloob sa isang makulay na lugar at makulay nating kasaysayan bilang isang lahi na halos nararating ang lahat ng sulok ng mundo, hindi rin napigilan ng pelikula na magtambak ng napakaraming problema, kuwento at alalahanin sa mga bida nito. Bagama’t nagkaron naman ng resolusyon ang lahat, sayang pa rin sapagkat mas napagyabong pa sana ang bawat isa sa mga kuwentong ito kung hinayaan na

pa sana ang bawat isa sa mga kuwentong ito kung hinayaan na MOVIE CATHOLIC INITIATIVE FOR
pa sana ang bawat isa sa mga kuwentong ito kung hinayaan na MOVIE CATHOLIC INITIATIVE FOR








lamang na bumida pansamantala ang kuwentong pag-ibig nina Ely at Mia. Kung tutuusin kasi, ang totoong mabigat na kwento ay yung mga sugat ni Ely na hindi pa naghihilom, hindi ang papausbong pa lamang nilang romansa ni Mia. Maging ang problema ni Mia ay nag-anyong mababaw din sa gitna ng lawak ng sakop ng suliranin ng mga OFWs. Mahuhusay naman lahat ng nagsiganap. Ang tambalang Kath-Niel ay unti-unti nang umuusbong bilang mga seryosong aktor ng kanilang henerasyon. Ngunit sadyang hindi maitatangging musmos pa rin silang tingnan sa kabila ng lalim ng kanilang hugot sa emosyon—kaya’t tila sila ipinilit na maging mature agad sa pelikulang ito. Pero sa kabuuan, hindi hindi naman ganoong kasama ang pelikula kung usaping teknikal ang pag-uusapan. Maganda ang napiling lugar na Barcelona, bago at interesante sa paningin ng manonood. Sinasabi ng Barcelona: A Love Untold na hindi kailanman maaaring matakasan kung anong hapis ang nasa puso ng isang tao, saan man siya magpunta ay mumultuhin siya nito kung kaya’t nararapat niya itong harapin at bigyan ng kaukulang pansin. Pagmamahal na hindi nadama, hindi naihayag at hindi naranasan mula sa kanyang ina ang naging ugat ng malalim na sugat ni Ely. Pinaigting pa ito ng kanyang kabiguan sa isang pag-ibig na natapos sa panahong di niya inaasahan at sa pagkakataong babagabag sa kanyang kalooban. Kung kaya’t hindi magiging madali sa kanya ang magbukas ng sarili at magmahal ng buo dahil sa pakiwari niyaý hindi siya karapat-dapat. Malalim ang pinaghuhugutan nito sapagkat

siya karapat-dapat. Malalim ang pinaghuhugutan nito sapagkat naka-sentro ito sa pamilya na dapat ay laging sama-sama

naka-sentro ito sa pamilya na dapat ay laging sama-sama sa hirap at ginhawa ngunit pinaglalayo ng pagkakataon at kahirapan ng buhay. Isa itong matinding usapin na kinakaharap ng mga pamilya ng OFW. Sayang at pahapyaw lang ang pagtalakay sa aspetong ito ng kwento sa loob ng pelikula. Si Mia naman ay ganun din, pamilya pa rin ang naging ugat ng marami niyang hugot sa buhay. Sa kadulu- duluhan, sa pamilya pa rin magmumula at magbabalik ng paulit-ulit ang pagmamahal kaya dapat itoý pinagtitibay. Bagama’t walang eksenang nakababahala, liban sa pagdadampi ng labi ng dalawang bida, kailangan pa ring patnubayan ng mga magulang ang mga batang manonood sapagkat may kabigatan ang kabuuan ng kuwento at may ilang mga eksena pa ring marahas at maselan.

VIETNAM. Catholics seek compensation for marine disaster Hundreds of fishermen in Vietnam af - fected

VIETNAM. Catholics seek compensation for marine disaster

Hundreds of fishermen in Vietnam af- fected by a marine disaster are swamping a court tosueaTaiwanese industrial plant that polluted the coastline. Some 600 Catholic fishermen led by FatherAnthony Dang Huu Nam been flocking to the People\'s Court in Ky Anh town, northern Ha Tinh province, since Sept. 27 to file their petition suing the steel plant owned by Formosa Plastics that reportedlydischarged hundreds of tons of toxic waste into the sea in April. Toxic waste, including phenol and cyanide, from the Taiwanese-built steel plant in Ha Tinh province poisoned water along a 200 kilo- meter stretch of coastline killing hundreds of tons of fish. The Formosa unit is based in Ky Anh district. (UCAN)

BANGLADESH.Unabatedborderkillings dismay church, activists

A Catholic bishop has joined rights ac- tivists in condemningwhat theysayare the unabated killings of Bangladeshi civilians byIndian border guards on the Bangladesh- India border. Despite repeated promises by Indian authorities for "zero casualties" some 28 Bangladeshis have been shot dead so far this year by the Indian Border Security Force, according to Ain-O-Salish Kendra, a Dhaka-based rights group. Over the last three years the casualties have numbered 26, 33 and 46 respectively the group, said. In the latest incident, Baharul Islam, 25, a villager from northern Kuri- gram district was gunned down by Indian soldiers on Sept. 25. (UCAN)

INDIA.Christian,Muslimleadersdemand action against cow vigilantism

Christian and Muslim leaders in India have demanded government action to combat increasing cow vigilantism, which they say is a threat to the country's secu- larism and democracy. "These incidents indicateaparticularideologybeingimposed on others. A great civilization does not target people for what they eat," Father Savarimuthu Sankar, spokesperson of Delhi Archdiocese, said. "On one hand India talks of protecting cows, yet on the other hand expensive designer goods made of cow leather are being sold in the country," he said. (Ritu Sharma/UCAN)

INDONESIA. Church backs govt tree- planting initiative

The Catholic Church has expressed support for a government initiative to encourage couples to plant trees, saying that it's consistent with the pope's encycli- cal Laudato si’. Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar announced the initiative last week, to address the 24.3 million hectares of Indonesian land that is currently in a critical condition. The minister said that she will work with the Religious Af- fairs Ministry, among others, on the project. "We support the government's initiative," Bishop Fransiskus Kopong Kung, head of the Indonesian Bishops' Commission for Family,"Wearegladthat protecting the environment is becoming a movementforall—boththeCatholicChurch and society.” (Katharina Lestari/UCAN)

MYANMAR. Illegally built mosques in west Myanmar to be demolished

The proposed destruction of illegally built mosques and madrasas in Myanmar's religiously--divided Rakhine state is an attack on religious freedom, according to frustrated Rohingya Muslim leaders who say the buildings were erected because local authorities consistently denied them permission to renovate or build religious structures. Rakhine's security and border affairs minister, Colonel Htein Linn told media Sept. 20 that the government is planning to bring down 12 mosques and 24 other religious buildings that were il- legally built in the state's Muslim-majority townships of Maungdaw and Buthidaung. Other illegally built structures will also be demolished. (John Zaw/UCAN)

SAUDI ARABIA. Women calls for for an end to male protection

Thousands of women in Saudi Arabia have signed a petition calling for an end to the system that demands male protection for a variety of activities, from marriage to simple movements outside the home. In Wahabbi kingdom, where there is a strict Sunni interpretation of Islam, women are not allowed to drive and must receive the consent of a man - father, husband, brother or son if widows--even to work or study. At least 14 thousand women have joined the campaign and signed the document,



which will be delivered to government leaders shortly. An initiative that has had great response on social media and gained more and more support, taking advantage of the progressive growth of the hashtag associatedwiththecampaign.Saudiactivist Aziza Al-Yousef told the BBC she felt "very proud", but now answers from the authori- ties are required. (Asianews)

SINGAPORE. Teen blogger jailed for insulting Islam, Christianity

The 17 year old blogger Amos Yee has been sentenced to six weeks in prison for six counts of indictment, including having "offended religious sentiments" criticizing Islam and Christianity in a few posts pub- lished online. The court's decision came

today after a month-long trial: "Amos Yee’s actions--said judge Ong Hian Sun--could



is criticized by several human rights lawyers.

CondemningYee, they say, violates freedom of expression in Singapore and generates further attention to the contents of the blog they want to obscure. It is not the first time that Amos Yee has been convicted of similar crimes. Last year, the boy served four weeks in prison for posting a video online critical of Lee Kuan Yew, the historical founder of the city-state who died last March 23 at the age of 91. On that occasion he had also offended the Christian religion. (Asianews)

VIETNAM. Formosa Plastics Group pol- lutes river after polluting sea

Thousands of residents in Kỳ Anh district havebeenpeacefullydemonstratingagainst

the government and its decision not to close

a steel plant owned by the Formosa Plastics

Group.Theplanthaspollutedcoastalwaters of Vietnam’s central provinces over several months. A few days ago, it received autho- rization to dump effluent into the Quyên River, causing panic among local residents. In April, 70 tons of fish died because of pollution caused by the Taiwanese-owned plant,which released itswaste into the sea. The Church and civil society groups have continued to criticize the government in Hanoi, which they blame for delaying the investigation, failing to protect the health of residents and cracking down on violence against peaceful protests. (Asianews)