EDITOR'S NOTE

IMPACT
ISSN 0300-4155 / Asian Magazine for Human
Transformation Through Education, Social Advocacy and
Evangelization / P.O. Box 2481, 1099 Manila, Philippines
©
Copyright 1974 by Social Impact Foundation, Inc.
Published monthly by
AREOPAGUS
COMMUNICATIONS, INC.
Editor
PEDRO QUITORIO III
Associate Editor

ROY LAGARDE
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EULY BELIZAR
ROY CIMAGALA
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Circulation Manager
MERCEDITA JUANITE
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RONALYN REGINO

Cover Photo By
VINCENT GO

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email us at: impactmagazine2012@gmail.com

2

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. Unless
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.
IMPACT

SEPTEMBER 2016

CONTENTS
29 |

Editorial

16

DOF’s reforms tax the poor and relieve the rich

|

What's next?

quote in
the act

Cover story

"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.
Articles

4

|

Towards nonviolence and just peace

7

|

The vulnerable children of the Philippines

9

|

Where to find peace

11

|

Love is a verb

13

|

News Features

23

|

Statements

28

|

From the Blogs

30

|

Entertainment

31

|

Asia News

"But I am also worried about more
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.

"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.

FEATURE ARTICLE

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

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IMPACT

SEPTEMBER 2016

FEATURE ARTICLE

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
resolution:
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

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 09

5

ARTICLES

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

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IMPACT

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 unpeace as well as current peace efforts in
Mindanao and the rest of the country.
SEPTEMBER 2016

ARTICLES

The vulnerable children of the Philippines

Red light district in Angeles City, Pampanga. ROY LAGARDE

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 invasion 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.

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 09

7

ARTICLES

There are those who support a shootto-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

8

IMPACT

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 operators and pushers. Justice will be done
under the rule of law and not the rule of
violence and the gun. (For comments:
shaycullen@gmail.com) •

SEPTEMBER 2016

ARTICLES

Where to find peace

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
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 09

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.

9

ARTICLES

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

10

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.
IMPACT

SEPTEMBER 2016

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.’ •

ARTICLES

“Love is a verb”:
The corporal and spiritual works of mercy

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
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 09

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

11

ARTICLES

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

12

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
IMPACT

SEPTEMBER 2016

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’. •

NEWS FEATURES

Bishops fear more summary killings

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)

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
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 08

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)

13

NEWS FEATURES

Bishops mourn victims of
summary killings
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 PsychoTrauma, 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)

14

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.

IMPACT

SEPTEMBER 2016

“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)

NEWS FEATURES

Wage hike
long overdue,
says bishop
MANILA— A Catholic bishop
has thrown his support behind
a proposal for a P125 across-theboard 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
2006.
“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 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.

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 09

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)

15

COVER
STORY

DOF’s reforms tax the poor
and relieve the rich

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

16

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
IMPACT

SEPTEMBER 2016

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

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 09

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

17

COVER
STORY

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

18

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
IMPACT

SEPTEMBER 2016

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 middleincome 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

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
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 09

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 timebound. 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

19

COVER
STORY

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

20

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

ARTICLES

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

21

COVER
STORY

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

22

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.)

STATEMENTS

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
Dagupan
• 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

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 09

23

STATEMENTS

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,
2016.
We condole with the

24

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
IMPACT

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

SEPTEMBER 2016

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

STATEMENTS

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.
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 09

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

25

STATEMENTS

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 faithbased, 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 ongoing 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
IMPACT

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 selfinterest 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.”
PEACE & HUMAN RIGHTS WORKING
GROUP
Davao Region Cluster-PMPI

SEPTEMBER 2016

STATEMENTS

“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
14:27)
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 Declarations 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.
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 09

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 determination
• 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 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

28

IMPACT

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!

SEPTEMBER 2016

EDITORIAL

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
villages? The Chinese came and left.
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

What's next?
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
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 09

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?

29

ENTERTAINMENT

CATHOLIC
INITIATIVE FOR
ENLIGHTENED
MOVIE
APPRECIATION

DIRECTOR: OLIVIA LAMASAN

PRODUCER: CHARO SANTOS-

LOCATION: SPAIN, PHILIPPINES

LEAD CAST: DANIEL PADILLA,

CONCIO, MALOU SANTOS

RUNNING TIME: 125 MINUTES

KATHRYN BERNARDO, AIKO MELENDEZ,

EDITOR: MARYA IGNACIO

TECHNICAL ASSESSMENT: 3

MARIA ISABEL LOPEZ, JOEY MARQUEZ,

MUSICAL DIRECTOR: CESAR FRANCIS CONCIO

MORAL ASSESSMENT: 3

RICKY DAVAO

GENRE: DRAMA, ROMANCE

CINEMA RATING: PG 13

SCREENPLAY: OLIVIA LAMASAN,

CINEMATOGRAPHER: HERMANN CLARAVALL

MTRCB RATING: PG

CARMI RAYMUNDO

DISTRIBUTOR: STAR CINEMA

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 anakmayaman 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 pagiibigan 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

30

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

IMPACT

SEPTEMBER 2016

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 kaduluduluhan, 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.

ASIA BRIEFING

VIETNAM. Catholics seek compensation
for marine disaster

INDONESIA. Church backs govt treeplanting initiative

Hundreds of fishermen in Vietnam affected by a marine disaster are swamping a
court to sue a Taiwanese industrial plant that
polluted the coastline. Some 600 Catholic
fishermen led by Father Anthony 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 reportedly discharged 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 kilometer stretch of coastline killing hundreds
of tons of fish. The Formosa unit is based
in Ky Anh district. (UCAN)

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 encyclical 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 Affairs Ministry, among others, on the project.
"We support the government's initiative,"
Bishop Fransiskus Kopong Kung, head of
the Indonesian Bishops' Commission for
Family, told ucanews.com. "We are glad that
protecting the environment is becoming a
movement for all — both the Catholic Church
and society.” (Katharina Lestari/UCAN)

BANGLADESH. Unabated border killings
dismay church, activists

A Catholic bishop has joined rights activists in condemning what they say are the
unabated killings of Bangladeshi civilians
by Indian border guards on the BangladeshIndia 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 Kurigram district was gunned down by Indian
soldiers on Sept. 25. (UCAN)
INDIA. Christian, Muslim leaders demand
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 secularism and democracy. "These incidents
indicate a particular ideology being imposed
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)

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 illegally 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,
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 09

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
associated with the campaign. Saudi activist
Aziza Al-Yousef told the BBC she felt "very
proud", but now answers from the authorities 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 published online. The court's decision came
today after a month-long trial: "Amos Yee’s
actions--said judge Ong Hian Sun--could
generate social unrest”. The young man’s lawyers have not commented on the ruling, which
is criticized by several human rights lawyers.
Condemning Yee, 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 pollutes river after polluting sea

Thousands of residents in Kỳ Anh district
have been peacefully demonstrating against
the government and its decision not to close
a steel plant owned by the Formosa Plastics
Group. The plant has polluted coastal waters
of Vietnam’s central provinces over several
months. A few days ago, it received authorization 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 its waste 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)

31

Related Interests

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 reportedly discharged 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 kilometer stretch of coastline killing hundreds
of tons of fish. The Formosa unit is based
in Ky Anh district. (UCAN)

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 encyclical 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 Affairs Ministry, among others, on the project.
"We support the government's initiative,"
Bishop Fransiskus Kopong Kung, head of
the Indonesian Bishops' Commission for
Family, told ucanews.com. "We are glad that
protecting the environment is becoming a
movement for all — both the Catholic Church
and society.” (Katharina Lestari/UCAN)

BANGLADESH. Unabated border killings
dismay church, activists

A Catholic bishop has joined rights activists in condemning what they say are the
unabated killings of Bangladeshi civilians
by Indian border guards on the BangladeshIndia 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 Kurigram district was gunned down by Indian
soldiers on Sept. 25. (UCAN)
INDIA. Christian, Muslim leaders demand
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 secularism and democracy. "These incidents
indicate a particular ideology being imposed
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)

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 illegally 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,
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 09

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
associated with the campaign. Saudi activist
Aziza Al-Yousef told the BBC she felt "very
proud", but now answers from the authorities 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 published online. The court's decision came
today after a month-long trial: "Amos Yee’s
actions--said judge Ong Hian Sun--could
generate social unrest”. The young man’s lawyers have not commented on the ruling, which
is criticized by several human rights lawyers.
Condemning Yee, 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 pollutes river after polluting sea

Thousands of residents in Kỳ Anh district
have been peacefully demonstrating against
the government and its decision not to close
a steel plant owned by the Formosa Plastics
Group. The plant has polluted coastal waters
of Vietnam’s central provinces over several
months. A few days ago, it received authorization 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 its waste 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)

31

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