Is there Food

in the Duterte
Revolution?

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
Staff Writers
CHARLES AVILA
EULY BELIZAR
ROY CIMAGALA
LOPE ROBREDILLO
Sales & Advertising
Supervisor
GLORIA FERNANDO
Circulation Manager
MERCEDITA JUANITE
Design Artist
RON REGINO
Cover Photo by
ROY LAGARDE

impact

Editorial Office: Areopagus
Communications, Holy Face
of Jesus Convent and Center,
1111 R. Hidalgo St., Quiapo,
Manila • Tel (632) 404-2182 •
Telefax (632) 404-1612 • Visit
our website at www.impactmagazine.net • For inquiries,
comments, and contributions,
email us at: impactmagazine2012@gmail.com

2

EDITOR'S NOTE
“VIOLENCE is not the cure for our broken world.” Thus speak Pope
Francis in his message for the 50th World Day of Peace that will be
observed on January 1, 2017, but already released on December 12,
the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Titled “Nonviolence: A style of politics for peace,” this may be the
first extensive treatment on nonviolence by a pope, although St.
John Paul II tackles this issue in three paragraphs in Centesimus
Annus and stressed in passing the fact that momentous change in
the lives of people, nations and states had come about “by means
of peaceful protest, using only the weapons of truth and justice… by
the non-violent commitment of people who, while always refusing
to yield to the force of power, succeeded time after time in finding
effective ways of bearing witness to the truth.”
The devastation of two world wars and other forms of “piecemeal”
violence has lead humanity nowhere closer neither to peace nor
progress. The Pope asks, “Can violence achieve any goal of lasting
value” Or does it merely lead to retaliation and to a cycle of deadly
conflicts that benefit only a few ‘warlords.’?
Indeed, violence is not one of the paths to peace. “Countering
violence with violence leads at best to forced migration and
enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted
to military ends and away from the everyday needs to your people,
families experiencing hardships, the elderly, the infirm and the
great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the
death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not all.”
Pope Francis says that active nonviolence is more powerful than
violence. He cites history to prove that. He quotes Mother Teresa
when she received her Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, “We in our family
don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace—just get
together, love one another…and we will be able to over all the evil
that is in the world.” He says, moreover, that decisive and consistent
practice of nonviolence had encouraging fruits in peace building.
“The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar
Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten. Women
in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was
Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who
organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in highlevel peace talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.”
In the Philippines were violence was congenital with the Martial
Law of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, active nonviolence had
encouraging results that finally conscientized people into the
bloodless EDSA revolution in February 1986. Among the more
prominent names in the active nonviolence initiatives was the Jesuit
Fr. Jose Blanco who made living and preaching active nonviolence
his ministry.
It is sad that hereabouts violence has become the centerpiece
of politics. Six months into his presidency, Mr. Rodrigo Duterte has
riddled his political path with blood with more than six thousand
people now dead in the euphemistically crafted “war against drugs.”
One of the “unimaginables” that the Philippine government would
take is the unilateral “separation” of the Duterte administration from
Uncle Sam, a longtime ally. It may be good to see what “friendship”
with the United States has done to the Philippines so far. Read our
cover story.

IMPACT

DECEMBER 2016

CONTENTS
28
16

|

Killing fields

|

Then and now:
US economy intervention
in the Philippines

4

10
12
15

|

Death penalty:
Retaliation or restoration?

|

Children are not criminals

|

Food banking

|

Prepping the kids for the future

QUOTE IN THE ACT

"The death penalty is contrary
to our Catholic moral life."

Socrates Villegas, archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan; in a recent Circular exhorting the faithful of his
archdiocese “to resist the threat of the death penalty in our country” and join a prayer rally to be
held December 12, 2016 at one of the parishes of the archdiocese.

24
26
30
31

|

News Features

|

Statements

|

From the blogs

|

Asia briefing

"Using condom
is not even safe
regarding the
protection against
HIV/AIDS."
Arturo Bastes, bishop of the Diocese of Sorsogon; commenting
on the recent move of the government’s health and education departments to distribute condoms
to student in order to promote
“safe sex.”

"Schools should give
knowledge not condoms."
Jerome Secillano, a priest of the archdiocese of Manila; on the recent drive of the Department of Education to distribute free condoms to
students as a way to ensure “safe sex” which according to Secillano will only promote sexual promiscuity among students and, therefore, HIV/
AIDS susceptibility.

"Have we become to
heartless that we cannot
anymore feel for them, their
families and those loves ones
they have left behind."
Joel Baylon, bishop of the Diocese of Legazpi;
on the alarming rise of murders in the government’s initiated “war on drugs” now counted by
the thousands; and the equally alarming apathy
of the citizenry.

"While we do not negate his accomplishments,
we do not lose sight of what he did."

QUOTE IN THE ACT
Gerardo Alminaza, bishop of the Diocese of San Carlos; on the raging issue of the burial of
former president Ferdinan Marcos at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani which, though upheld
by the Supreme Court, is being opposed by a growing number of citizens.

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 12

3

FEATURE ARTICLE

DEATH
PENALTY:
Retaliation or restoration?
By Atty. Jo Aurea M. Imbong

T

he Death Penalty was
“abolished” under the 1987
Constitution and with that,
the Philippines became the first
Asian country to abolish the death
penalty for all crimes. The 1987
Constitution reads: “Excessive
fines shall not be imposed, nor
cruel, degrading or inhuman
punishment inflicted. Neither shall
death penalty be imposed, unless,
for compelling reasons involving
heinous crimes, the Congress
hereafter provides for it. Any death
penalty already imposed shall be
reduced to reclusion perpetua.”
(Article III, Section 19 [1] )

4

IMPACT

DECEMBER 2016

Note that as worded, Congress
may restore the death penalty at
some future time. But on what
condition? The Constitution
itself provides the criteria
for Congress to so act: One,
“compelling reasons”; two,
“heinous crimes.”
That was 1987. Something
happened six years later. On
December 13, 1993. R.A. 7659,
the “Death Penalty Law” law was
passed, imposing a progressive
penalty of Reclusion Perpetua
to death for heinous crimes.
Question: What crimes were
listed as “heinous?” The law
enumerates: Treason, Piracy,
Qualified Bribery, Plunder,

FEATURE ARTICLE

PNP chief Dir. Gen. Ronaldo Dela Rosa presents to the media the 22 kilos of shabu seized from two drug suspects in a buy-bust operation in Makati
City, November 21, 2016. The violations of the anti-drug trafficking law is among those punishable by capital punishment under a proposed measure
to revive the death penalty in the country. PNP-PIO

Murder, Parricide, Infanticide,
Kidnapping for ransom, Robbery
with violence against persons,
Arson, Rape committed under
specific circumstances, Carnaping,
when the owner, driver or
occupant of the motor vehicle is
killed or raped, Violations of the
Dangerous Drugs Act.
We should also ask: Was
the re-imposition of capital
punishment based on “compelling
reasons” as required by the
Constitution? According to one of
the “Whereas” paragraphs of the
law— “ . . . an alarming upsurge
of such crimes which has resulted
in the loss of human lives and
wanton destruction of property

but also affected the nation's
efforts towards sustainable
economic development and
prosperity while at the same time
has undermined the people's faith
in the Government and the latter's
ability to maintain peace and
order in the country . . .”
The law listed those crimes
“by reason of their inherent or
manifest wickedness, viciousness,
atrocity and perversity. . .
repugnant and outrageous to the
common standards and norms
of decency and morality in a just,
civilized and ordered society.”
From then on, the death
sentence consisted in putting the
person under sentence to death by
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 12

electrocution. It had a mitigating
factor by requiring that so far
as possible, the sufferings of the
person under the sentence during
electrocution as well as during
the proceedings prior to the
execution should be minimized.
If the person under sentence so
desires, he shall be anaesthetized
at the moment of the execution.
The same law also provided that
as soon as facilities are ready,
the method of carrying out the
sentence shall be through gas
poisoning. There were exceptions.
Death penalty shall not be
imposed—
1. When the guilty person is
below eighteen years of age at the

5

FEATURE ARTICLE

time of the commission of the
crime or is more than seventy
years of age, or when upon
appeal or automatic review of
the case by the Supreme Court,
the required majority vote is not
obtained for the imposition of the
death penalty;
2. Execution shall be suspended
when the convict is a woman
while she is pregnant or within
one year after delivery, nor upon
any person over seventy years of
age.
Three years after, another law
was passed strengthening the
death penalty. On March 20,
1996, Republic Act No. 8177, AN
ACT DESIGNATING DEATH BY
LETHAL INJECTION AS THE
METHOD OF CARRYING OUT
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT was
passed.
In 1994, one Leo Echegaray
was found guilty of assaulting
his 10-year old stepdaughter.
The date of the crime was never
established, the forensic evidence
was inconclusive and there were
no corroborating witnesses.
Echegaray, a house painter from
a poor Manila neighborhood,
maintained that he was innocent
and had been framed because of a
family land dispute.
The lawyers of the convict
contested in the Supreme Court
the legality of the death penalty,
in light of the 1987 Constitution,
but their efforts failed. And so,
for the first time in 23 years (that
is, since Martial Law days), the
death penalty was carried out in
the Philippines. Leo Echegaray,
39, died shortly after 3 p.m. on
February 5, 1999 having been
injected with lethal chemicals
at the execution chamber of the
New Bilibid Prison. At one point
before carrying out his execution,
his lawyers asked for a Temporary
Restraining Order which was
granted by the Supreme Court,
delaying only the date of his
execution. The Supreme Court
decision upholding the TRO (and

6

Death penalty opponents participate in a prayer rally held Bacolod City on Dec. 12, feast of the Our
Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Unborn and of the prolife movement. PHOTO COURTESY OF ADSUM

the law itself on death by lethal
injection) is significant, not for
the decision of the majority court,
but for the separate dissent of two
Justices who maintained to the
end that the law on death by lethal
injection is unconstitutional.
Prohibited again — On June
24, 2006, seven years after the
execution of Echegaray, Pres.
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed
into law R.A. 9346, PROHIBITING
THE IMPOSITION OF DEATH
PENALTY IN THE PHILIPPINES.
The law provided that reclusion
perpetua, or life imprisonment
shall be imposed instead on
heinous crimes.
The new administration — At
his first press conference after the
May 9 elections, Pres. Rodrigo
Duterte said he wanted Congress
to restore the death penalty “by
hanging”, for convicts involved
in illegal drugs, gun-for-hire
syndicates, and those who commit
“heinous crimes” like rapists,
robbers or car thieves who kill
their victims. In his own words—
"Para ma-discourage ang tao
IMPACT

DECEMBER 2016

mag-commit ng crime because
there is the death penalty. Iyong
death penalty to me is retribution.
Magbayad ka sa ginawa mo sa
buhay na 'to."
As though taking a cue from the
President’s statement, on July 26,
2016, prospective House Speaker
Pantaleon Alvarez and Capiz
Rep. Fredenil Castro authored
House Bill No. 1 to repeal RA
9346 so as to restore the death
penalty through lethal injection.
The crimes identified as heinous
include the crimes in the previous
law, RA 8177, namely— Plunder,
Treason, Qualified Piracy,
Parricide, Infanticide, Bribery,
Kidnapping, Illegal detention,
Robbery, Arson, Rape, Carnaping,
and (the obligatory) Drugs-related
cases. To this list, HB 01 added
three more crimes: Terrorism,
Human trafficking & Illegal
recruitment.
What compelling reasons impel
the filing of HB 01? According to
its authors, “there is evidently
a need to reinvigorate the war
against criminality by reviving

FEATURE ARTICLE

Panfilo Lacson also filed a bill
providing for the penalty of lethal
injection for similar crimes. “[A]
death penalty law is appropriately
necessary due to the alarming
upsurge of such crimes,” he said.

a proven deterrent coupled by
its consistent, persistent and
determined implementation,
and this need is as compelling
and critical as any,” adding that
“the imposition of the death
penalty for heinous crimes and
the mode of its implementation,
both subjects of repealed laws, are
crucial components of an effective
dispensation of both reformative
and retributive justice.”
Cong. Alvarez and Cong. Castro
point out that the national crime
rate has grown to an “alarming
proportion” that it requires an
“all-out offensive against all forms
of heinous crimes.” In the Senate,
Sen. Manny Pacquiao has also
filed bills seeking to re-impose
the death penalty for heinous
crimes involving illegal drugs,
kidnapping and aggravated rape.
In the good Senator’s words, “You
commit a crime – you must pay
for it. But the punishment must
be commensurate to the crime
committed.” The Senator also
added that the death penalty “has
legal and biblical basis.” Senator

Let us examine the arguments
for its re-imposition.
1. Deterrence—The Public
Attorney’s Office (PAO) cites a
study on death penalty in the
Philippines, where Amnesty
International found out that:
1) innocent people may be
sentenced to death through
judicial error; 2) death penalty is
the ultimate cruel and inhuman
punishment; and 3) it has no
unique deterrent effect.
2. Upsurge of crime—In more
recent news it is reported that
the present administration’s
crackdown on illegal drugs and
criminality has pulled down crime
rates nationwide, the Philippine
National Police (PNP) claimed last
August. At one Senate inquiry
on drugs-related killings, PNP
Director Ronald dela Rosa said
index crimes nationwide went
down by 31 percent—from 17,105
incidents in July 2015 to 11,800
in July this year. The PNP defines
index crimes as crimes against
persons (rape, murder, homicide,
etc.) and crimes against property
(robbery, theft, etc.). Director Dela
Rosa said rape cases saw the most
significant decrease at 49 percent,
presenting the trend in graphic
terms, thus:
The Police Head also said that
the nationwide daily average of
focused crimes also slid by 49
percent, from 499 incidents in the
second semester of 2015 to 256
cases during the same period this
year. The generally improving
crime situation, he said, is also
reflected by daily crime trends
which reached a peak of 353
cases on July 4, but dipped to 23
incidents on August 21.
Apparently, this was also the
crime situation when Congress in
the 1990’s debated whether or not
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 12

to re-impose the death penalty. In
those debates , statistics from the
Dangerous Drug Board indicated
that in 1987— the year when the
death penalty was abolished—the
persons arrested in drugs-related
cases were 3,062, and the figure
dropped to 2,686 in 1988. But
in 1987, when the death penalty
was abolished, as far as the drugrelated cases are concerned, the
figure continued a downward
trend, and there was no death
penalty during this time, from
1988 to 1991.
3. Sen. Manny Pacquiao believes
that the bill has legal basis. On
this, we refer to the discussion
of Justice Panganiban in his
Separate Opinion in People of
the Philippines vs. Leo Echegaray
y Pilo (G.R. No. 117472, February 7,
1997). There, the good Magistrate
wrote that the 1987 Constitution
did not merely suspend or
prohibit imposition of the death
penalty. Rather, he held the
position that:
1) The 1987 Constitution
abolished the death penalty from
our statute books
2) The Constitution effectively
granted a new right: the
constitution right against the
death penalty, which is really a
species of the right to life.
3) Any law reviving the capital
penalty must be strictly construed
against the State and liberally
in favor of the accused because
such a stature denigrates the
Constitution, impinges on a basic
right and tends to deny equal
justice to the underprivileged. x
x x
4) Congressional power (to
restore the death penalty)
is severely limited by two
concurrent requirements:
5) First, Congress must provide
a set of attendant circumstances
apart from the elements of the
crime and itself, and explain why
and how these circumstances
define or characterize the crime as
"heinous".

7

FEATURE ARTICLE

6) Second, Congress has also
the duty of laying out clear and
specific reasons which arose after
the effectivity of the Constitution
compelling the enactment of the
law. The compelling reason must
flow from the heinous nature of
the offense.
7) In every law reviving the
capital penalty, the heinousness
and compelling reasons must
be set out for each and every
crime, and not just for all crimes
generally and collectively.
In past Senate debates, then
Senator Francisco Tatad pointed
out that the death penalty
bill violates the country’s
international commitment
in support of the worldwide
abolition of capital punishment
since the Philippines is a signatory
to the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights and its
Second Optional Protocol. PAO
has argued that imposing the
death penalty violates the right to
equal protection of the poor; that
it is imposed disproportionately
upon those whose victims are
rich and influential, and upon
offenders who are poor and
uneducated.
The Free Legal Assistance
(FLAG) Group’s "Profile of 165
Death Row Convicts" found
that the death penalty militates
against the poor, the powerless
and the marginalized. The
Profile, based on age, language
and socio-economic situations,
shows that RA 7659 ( re-imposing
the death penalty in 1993) has
worked against the poor and the
powerless — those who cannot
afford the legal services necessary
in capital crimes, where extensive
preparation, investigation,
research and presentation are
required. As expected, the
Commission on Human Rights
opposed the re-imposition of the
death penalty. In its view, the
State Policy, as embodied in the
Constitution is abolitionist in
perspective, and embodies the
core value of protecting the right

8

to life and upholding human
dignity.
4. Does the death penalty have
biblical basis? Some advocates
of the death penalty are of the
opinion that “an eye for an eye,
a tooth for a tooth” means that
retribution must equal the crime;
that what it means is “a life for
a life.” One reason offered is
that, “If I seriously injure or kill
another, I must also be seriously
injured or killed. Killing is wrong,
however, the Bible says it is right.”
Does Holy Scripture talk of
retribution? Far from it. In the
context of biblical law, “an eye
for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” is
meant to emphasize the grave
and terrible nature of injuring
or killing another human being.
The passages cited to restore the
death penalty are known as the
lex talionis—the law of retaliation.
This law of retaliation was used
by the early Babylonians to limit
retaliation and stop the unending
feuds, so it meant, “take only an
eye for an eye.”
Lex talionis is borrowed by
ancient Israelites, but in the
context of the Torah and God’s
covenant, the phrase takes
on a different meaning. The
so-called law of talion can
be understood “to mean that
monetary compensation equal to
the injury is to be paid.” In short,
restoration is the goal. The phrase
“an eye for an eye” is not to be
taken literally as retaliation.
Similar figurative language
is used in Holy Scripture. In
Matthew 5:29: “If your right eye
causes you to sin, tear it out and
throw it away.” The meaning of
this phrase is not literal so that, in
terms of personal injury or death,
“an eye for an eye” means those
no recompense—no sacrifice
or restitution on part of the
offender—is too great. In other
words, compensation must be
given, but the offender is called
also to seek forgiveness and atone
for the wrong done. “A life for a
life” indicates that someone who
IMPACT

DECEMBER 2016

kills another must give all of his
life over to the restitution of the
victims.
Holy Scripture talks of
restoration, not vengeance.
More than expressing the
extreme gravity of the deed,
Scripture emphasizes—and
even commands—the need to
repair the harm done. Without
restitution, the condemnation
of a vile deed will remain
simply a condemnation with no
redeeming end in sight. God’s
call to us, however, is a call to
restore brokenness rather than
to destroy the sinful person.
Remember the call of Jesus to the
woman caught in adultery?
There is more to the imperative
of restoration. In Matthew 5:3839, Jesus proclaims—“You have
heard that it was said, “an eye for
an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But
I say to you, offer no resistance to
one who is evil. When someone
strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.”
Christ did not resist when he
was arrested in the Garden of
Gethsemane. When temple guards
and chief priests arrive, one of the

FEATURE ARTICLE

Thousands of people gather in San Carlos City, Pangasinan for a prayer rally against the reimposition of the death penalty on Dec. 12, 2016. Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said
improving the country’s criminal justice system is an effective deterrent against crime, not the
capital punishment. PHOTO COURTESY OF FR. JEFFREY SEGOVIA

disciples, Peter, strikes a servant of
the high priest and cuts off his ear.
Jesus immediately heals the servant.
At the moment when he is suffering
an injustice, betrayed and falsely
arrested, Jesus heals a member
of the arresting delegation. Jesus
refuses to retaliate against those
who arrest, accuse, convict, and
cry out for his execution—but his
refusal accomplishes our salvation.
His way of non-retaliation puts in
place God’s loving answer to our
rejection of God (the root of sin).
More than that, His way of peace
accomplishes something good.
How?
“Turning the other cheek” is
a way to respond with good. It
is not cowering and hiding; it
is not backing down. Turning
the other cheek is “standing up
straight so that the injustice can
be seen plainly, for hitting back
only keeps the evil in circulation.”
Forgiveness allows a person to
take control of his own life, no
longer controlled by the evil acts
of the murderer. The gospelbased convictions of the civil
rights movement attributed to
Martin Luther King, Jr. say it all:

“Non-violent resistance is not a
method for cowards; it is directed
against forces of evil rather than
against persons who happen to
be doing the evil . . . It avoids not
only external physical violence
but also internal violence of
spirit.”
Turning the right cheek is
directed against the forces of
evil rather than against persons.
Turning the right cheek avoids
not only external physical
violence but also internal violence
of spirit. Turning the right cheek
is not meant to annihilate the
offender. Turning the other cheek
is loving your enemies! In the
words of The Word: “Love your
enemies, and pray for those who
persecute you.” (Matt 5:44)
Like “turning the other cheek,”
loving our enemies and those
who persecute us is not a passive
response. It is, rather, taking
action for the good. (Matt.
5:43-48). Note that love is not
necessarily liking a person; it is
not accepting another person’s
sinful actions.
Loving our enemy is wanting
and working for another person’s
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 12

good. It is seeing the goodness
of others. We do not have to like
them, nor accept what they do or
have done. Loving our enemy is
assertive and does not ignore the
wrongs done.
Loving our enemy is mercy. And
mercy does not contradict justice.
Mercy is wanting another person
to be free of his own injustice. The
mercy of requiring compensation
rather than death enables the
offender to live to restore what
cannot be restored, a burden so
understandably great since the
person will never be able to do
enough. But it is a burden that
opens the possibility for acting
meaningfully and deeply for
another.
A final query is, will the
permanent annihilation of the
offender bring true peace to
victims? That question should
bother us. Crucial in the equation
for restorative justice is the
attention to a victim’s rights
and needs. It must carry with
it victims’ peace. In wielding
restorative justice, penalty for
crime should address both the
offender and the victim. “In this
way, authority also fulfils the
purpose of defending public order
and ensuring people’s safety,
while at the same time offering
the offender an incentive and help
to change his or her behaviour
and be rehabilitated.” (Evangelium
Vitae)
Man has yet to invent a better
fountain of justice side-by-side
with the courts. It is a wellspring of
peace where justice will bloom only
when we can prevent reason to be
blown away by the winds of rage.
The flame of the rule of law
cannot be ignited by rage,
especially the rage of the mob
which is the mother of unfairness.
To borrow from PAO, “death
penalty is legalized murder.
Being a crime itself it cannot, and
can never solve the crimes in our
society.”
After all, no human being is
illegal. •

9

e
r
a
n
e
r
d
Chil
s
l
a
n
i
m
i
r
c
t
no

ARTICLES

By Fr. Shay Cullen

T

here are some haunting
images from the past when
children as young as 6
years old were incarcerated in
jail behind iron bars and mixed
with adults in prison cells where
they were abused by pedophiles.
Hungry children jailed as
criminals for begging on the street.
That’s what some congress people
want to bring back by lowering the
minimum age of criminal liability
from 15 years old to nine or 12
years old. It’s a return to the penal
code of 1930.
The jailing of small children
as in the past is still happening
today and kids are put behind
bars. It is forbidden by the law
Republic Act 10630. Lowering
the minimum age of criminal
liability will make this all
the more common. Local
governments do not have a
proper home for detained
children in conflict with the
law (CICL) and children at risk
(CAR). They have jail cells. How
much more will it happen if the
congress changes and amend the
law to allow nine or 12-year old
children to be held criminally
liable even for misdemeanors?
Children, boys and girls, are
being picked up in violation of
a curfew decree and held in jail
cells. They are vulnerable to sexual
and physical abuse under those
conditions and are frequently
left unfed and sleeping on the
concrete floors. Is that what the
People of the Philippines want
to do to the most abused and
neglected children?
The criminalization and jailing
of children is in violation of the
best interests of the child. It is
a violation of their rights and
forbidden by the Convention
on the Rights of the Child and
Philippine law under RA 7610
.The best interests of the child and
respect for human rights of the
child is number one and much
more important than lowering

10

IMPACT

DECEMBER 2016

the age of criminal liability which
is branding them as criminals at
nine or 12 years old. It is clear that
the congress people rooting for
the lowering the minimum age of
criminality from 15 years to nine
or 12 have never met or seen the
majority of street children and
youth who are taken from the
streets and jailed.
They will see that they are small
malnourished ordinary children
desperate for respect, attention,
affection, friendship, food,
education, skills training and if
16 and older they need a job and
a chance of reconciliation with a
solid family.
The UNICEF, DSWD and NGOs
have repeatedly stated this fact.
The child is a child in need of
childhood, not jail and criminal
court proceedings. Although
bad as it is, it is less violent than
just shooting them dead by a
death squad as is apparently and

ARTICLES

Children behind bars. PREDA FILE PHOTO

allegedly a state policy if they are
branded drug suspects. As many as
5000 people, some minors, have
been allegedly shot dead.
The teenagers are in need of
education and skills training
also and not to be treated as
criminals for they will soon
become one. As they are treated
so they will become. For fortyfour years, the Preda Foundation
has given rehabilitation and
recovery therapy to youth living
as a therapeutic community in
an open home. There is no need
for guards and cells, gates or
fences. The youth are children in
need, not criminals. The proven
track record shows this to be
true. They recover from abuse
and neglect with respect and
dignity restored with therapy.
Youth and children in conflict
with the law take any chance to
grow and reform their neglected
and broken lives. But once badly

treated and abused by authority
and treated as a criminal, it is very
hard to convince them that they
are not criminals and can have a
new life.
Lowering the minimum age of
criminal liability and treating the
youth and children as criminals
will make them like criminals.
Congress will sow the seeds of
anger and revolt in the hearts of
these children. They will grow to
be anti-social and seek revenge on
those who tormented and abused
them.
With the punitive abuse,
government and society becomes
the “punisher” of children not
the healer and protector. If we
allow this to happen we will lose
thousands of youth to the world
of criminality instead of saving
them for the future-building of
the country. They are poor and
helpless before the authoritarian
law.
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 12

When criminals exploit children
then the police and authorities
must go after the adult criminals
and not be afraid of them and
not just arrest and prosecute
children. The adults exploiting the
children can be prosecuted more
easily under RA 7610- the child
protection law.
The children so victimized
can testify against the suspected
abusers and exploiters and
convictions will follow. We
appeal to the intelligent and
wise congress people to leave
the minimum age of criminal
liability at 15 years. Instead what
must be done is to protect and
help them through diversion
and rehabilitation and to strictly
implement the law that says
local governments must have
proper therapeutic homes for
children in conflict with the law
and children at risk, not jails and
prison cells. •

11

ARTICLES

FOOD B

By Bernardo Villegas

C

ONSISTENT with its
strong commitment to
poverty eradication in
the Philippines, the Center for
Research and Communication
held last June 17 a Focused
Group Discussion (FGD) on
Food Banking. A small group
of economists, management
specialists (especially in supply
chain management), officials
of NGOs and individual
philanthropists was briefed
by some officials from Second
Harvest Japan that already has
years of experience in food
banking, not only in Japan but in
a good number of Asian countries.
Second Harvest Japan establishes
and develops partnerships with
manufacturers, wholesalers,
importers and restaurants and
encourages them to donate excess
or surplus food or grocery items
to institutional or individual
beneficiaries like orphanages,
women’s shelters, aid agencies,
welfare institutions, community
centers and soup kitchens.
We learned the fundamentals of
food banking. Food banks collect
surplus food that is still safe for
consumption and redistribute
them to those in need. On the
one hand, there is surplus food,
and on the other there are those
in need. Food banks are a bridge
between the two. They connect
“donors” who have surplus food
(e.g. canned goods that are about
to expire and will just be destroyed
to ensure that they will not be
sold anymore) and “beneficiaries”
who are in need of food support
(in the Philippines, for example,

12

there are numerous orphanages,
elementary schools with feeding
programs for very young children,
homes for the aged, shelters for
street children, etc.).
In the case of processed food,
Second Harvest Japan prefers
to have at least one month left
before expiration so that the
donations can be safely delivered
well ahead of its expiration. They
do now deliver expired food and
request agencies to dispose of
any donations that have expired
after being delivered. Among the
preferred donations are canned
food, agricultural products,
emergency supplies, rice and
other grains, bread and pastries
and temperature controlled
(frozen or chilled) food products.
What are rejected are lunch
boxes, fast food sandwiches, rice
balls, hamburgers, prepared
food such as leftovers from
banquets and parties, food
without any expiration date on
the package and home cooked
food. Fortunately, among the
participants in the FGD there
were officials of NGOs that
already are implementing some
sort of food banking linking
restaurants like Jollibee and
Contis with establishments that
are within walking distance from
the beneficiaries like orphanages,
public schools and feeding
clinics. The problem of storage or
spoilage is minimized if the initial
attempts to link those having
surplus food with those in need
are location specific. It was agreed
that we can start with these lowhanging fruits of food banking.
In fact, I shared with the group
my experience with the students
IMPACT

DECEMBER 2016

of a leading technical school that
grants scholarships to out-ofschool youth in a training program
for electro-mechanical workers
who are in great demand among
the factories in CALABARZON.
These children of poor families
are not only given tuition
scholarships but also receive some
stipends to cover living expenses.
Because the families of these
youth are so poor, it is a practice
for many of them to send even
their stipends to their families for
their basic needs. They heroically
scrimp even in their food budget
so that we soon discovered that
some of them have only one meal
a day consisting of a pandesal and
a bottle of coke. Obviously, this
diet has a negative impact on their
ability to study and on their longterm health conditions. Food
banking can definitely target these
technical schools so that they can
offer very nourishing lunches to
their students. Restaurants close
to the site of this technical school
can share their surplus food with
these hungry students.
As surveys after surveys of
the Social Weather Station have
revealed, there is no shortage
of hungry and malnourished
Filipinos, even among those
who are not exactly considered
as living below the poverty line.
For a good number of years now,
those who earn income below
the poverty line ($1.50 to $2.00
per person per day) have been
25% of the entire population.
But those who report that they
have experienced acute hunger
in some of the SSW surveys
can be as high as 50% or more
of the population. Hunger and

ARTICLES

BANKING
malnourishment are, therefore, a
problem not only of the poorest of
the poor but of millions of lowmiddle income families who may
encounter short-term financial
crises because of family tragedies,
natural calamities, temporary
unemployment, and other events
that drastically reduce their food
budgets.
To encourage readers to help in
any way they can this movement
of food banking in the Philippines,
I enumerate below what the
officials of Food Harvest Japan
told us are the advantages of food
banking, not only for the donors
and beneficiaries, but also for
government agencies. For the
partner agencies, the following are
the obvious advantages:
1. Reduced food costs. Welfare
agencies and NGOs are able to
economize on food expenses and
direct funds toward other welfare
activities. For example, the
experience in Japan showed that
one welfare agency cut its average
cost per meal by as much as 40% as
a benefit of food banking.
2. Access to new and better
quality products. Most welfare
agencies purchase food based on
cost rather than on quality and
nutritional content. Through
food banking, these agencies can
receive donated premium ice
cream, milk products, sweets or
quality seasonings that they could
not normally afford to purchase
with their limited budget. In the
Philippines, for example, some
of the actual or potential donor
companies are in the manufacture
of canned tuna, milk products,
and canned sardines which can
significantly enhance the nutritive

values of the food served to the
orphans, elementary school
children, and other beneficiaries.
3. Meeting nutritional and
emotional needs. Prior to
food donations, the staff at
one orphaning noticed sugar
disappearing from the kitchen.
Because of tight funding, the
facility was unable to provide
sweets or snacks for their children,
and so some of the children
started to steal and eat the sugar
used for cooking. With the
assistance of the food bank, the
facility is now able to provide
the children with nutritious food
as well as occasional sweets and
snacks.
To the donor companies, such
as food manufacturers, farm
enterprises, restaurants and food
retailing outlets, the benefits of
food banking are as follows:
1. Reduction in disposal cost
and environmental benefits: By
donating rather than dumping
their surplus food, companies
can reduce their disposal costs.
Second Harvest Japan estimated
that the average cost is about 100
Japanese yens per kilogram. In
2012, companies who donated
their surplus food saved
approximately 300 million yens.
The additional benefit of donating
is that companies can help protect
the environment and meet
environmental quotas by cutting
out the CO2 emissions that would
have resulted from their disposing
of their food wastes.
2. Raising employee morale:
No one likes to see food being
destroyed, least of all those who
took part in manufacturing it. By
donating rather than destroying
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 12

surplus food, companies can boost
the morale of their employees by
assuring them that some needy
persons are benefitting from their
hard work.
3. Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR): Donating
surplus food is one form of
CSR. It serves the common
good of society. It confers
tangible economic benefits to the
community without involving a
direct financial donation. Since
2002, Second Harvest Japan has
donated food worth 4.7 billion
yens to the community.
4. Free marketing: Welfare
agencies are bulk purchasers
of food products. Delivering
donations to them is a means of
distributing free samples. When
the beneficiaries become familiar
with the products donated, there
would most likely be purchases
in the future. At the very least,
the recipient agency develops a
favorable image of the donating
company.
Finally, local government units
who participate in food banking
will obtain the following benefits:
1. Local government units have
targets for organic waste reduction
in their respective communities.
Donating is one means to
reach the goal. By working
with their local food bank, local
governments can reduce food
waste and its negative impact on
the environment.
2. According to the 2010
Ministry of Health, Labor and
Welfare of Japan, the relative
poverty rate in Japan is 16%. This
was the highest recorded poverty
rate since surveys were started in
1986. Fifty-five percent of single-

13

ARTICLES

mother households and 51% of
single elderly women live below
the poverty line. By ensuring
that citizens have adequate access
to food, local governments can
improve the lives and health of
their citizens. Using donated
food to support welfare recipients
and aid those in need can help
supplement welfare budgets and
enrich the nation as a whole.
3. Increased citizen participation
and regional revitalization. In
addition to those in need, it is
important for local communities to
support the elderly. By encouraging
citizens to volunteer, and by making
use of food banks to support both
the elderly and those in need,
local governments can work with
NGOs, faith-based groups and
welfare agencies to create “food
safety net” for their community.
This is especially a great service
in the coming years when the
greatest threat to both developed
and developing economies will no
longer be the lack of energy but
shortages of food and water. If
Second Harvest Japan has found
many opportunities to help the
needy in super-rich Japan, one can
imagine what can be accomplished
in the Philippines that has the
highest rate of poverty in East
Asia, despite its being very rich in
agricultural resources. It must be
pointed out that the largest sector
in Philippine manufacturing is
the food and beverage industry. It
is not surprising then that many
of the leading conglomerates,
as well as small and mediumscale enterprises, are food
manufacturers or retailers, e.g. San
Miguel Corporation, Universal
Robina, Monde Nissin, Jollibee,
MacDonalds, Nestle, Alaska Milk
Corporation, Century Canning,
Liwayway Manufacturing, Del
Monte, Southeast Asian Food,
NutriAsia, etc. It would be relatively
easy to convince these corporations
involved in food manufacturing
and retailing to get involved in food
banking in the Philippines.
One action program that the

14

Sacks of rice are stacked at the National Food Authority warehouse in Manila. NFA PHOTO

participants in the FGD agreed
upon was to start operations
in Metro Manila which has a
population now of more than
10 million. Even if the poverty
incidence in the National Capital
Region is only 4%, much below
the national average of 25%, the
absolute number of the very
poor is still 400,000 individuals.
Three or four foundations in
which some of the participants are
involved can divide Metro Manila
and implement small initiatives
in certain geographical districts,
e.g. Quezon City, Manila, Makati
and Paranaque. For example,
the Madrigal Foundation that is
already active in Payatas among
the relocated informal settlers
can lead the initiative in Quezon
City. Whatever template this
Foundation can develop in
Quezon City can be replicated
by other foundations in the other
IMPACT

DECEMBER 2016

specified districts. Second Harvest
Japan can be asked to help in
transferring their technology to
these initial steps which can be
eventually expanded at the right
time with the help of the big
corporations. As I emphasized
in the FGD, it is always wise to
start small and learn from our
experiences.
Transferring technology from
one country to another is always
tricky. Those who are interested
in participating as partner
agencies, donor companies or
Local Government Units may
get in touch with Mr. Gregorio
Mabbagu at gregorio.mabbagu@
uap.asia or Maria Socorro
Bautista at coritob2009@gmail.
com or Mr. Charles E. McJilton
at charles@secondharvestasia.
org. For comments, my email
address isbernardo.villegas@uap.
asia. •

Prepping
the kids
for the
future
ARTICLES

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

S

IMPLY looking around,
one can readily conclude
that the future is going to
be more complicated and more
challenging. And one worries
about today's youth, about how
they can cope with all these
complications and challenges.
Let's hope and pray that families
and schools and all other entities,
especially the faith-based groups
like parochial organizations and
many others are up to all this. Yes,
we have to invest a lot of prayers
and sacrifices for this intention,
but these should be matched by a
more systematic way of imparting
the youth with the relevant
attitudes, virtues and skills.
Offhand, what I can say is that
there should be an effective
mentoring system where the kids
are more personally attended
to. Other than the formal classes
and other collective means of
formation and education, there
should be this more personal and
individualized attention given
to them, so that their peculiar
conditions can be better addressed.
Yes, the formal and collective
means should never be sacrificed.
They are always necessary and
also need to be improved and
updated, attentive to new relevant
developments, insights and lessons.
But the individualized attention

is now urgently needed. There
is great need to enter into their
minds and hearts, and to know
their character and temperament,
their strengths and weaknesses.
It cannot be denied that wide gaps
now exist between what are taught
and encouraged in the collective
means, on one hand, and what is
personally learned and lived, on
the other. We should aim at greater
consistency between the collective
and the personal means, between
what is taught and what is lived.
Most important is that the kids
should have the proper priorities.
They should know the value and the
relation between the material and
the spiritual, the flesh and the spirit,
the natural and the supernatural,
the technical and the essential, etc.
In the area of attitude alone, a lot
needs to be done. The kids have
to have a healthy attitude toward
work in general, and should know
its proper role and purpose in
their lives. They should have the
proper intention. It's amazing that
many do not know what the proper
intention should be.
In this regard, they need to
acquire a more comprehensive
understanding of how their work
relates to their spiritual life and
the supernatural goal of man.
They have to learn how they can
convert their work into prayer,
into a continuing dealing with God
and with others, as it is meant to

be, and how their work actually
reinforces their dignity as a person
and as child of God.
In the area of virtues, again a
lot needs to be learned. First and
the more immediate would be
order—order in the way they think,
judge and evaluate things in general.
Nowadays, because of the many
things coming out, there is a great
tendency to create a lot of clutter, not
only in tangible things but also and
most especially in the intangibles—in
their thoughts, plans, desires, etc.
Of course, we need to see how
they are developing all the other
virtues—humility, prudence,
temperance, justice, fortitude, etc.
This is going to be an endless task.
As to skills, they need to be
shown how to bolster their
strengths as well as how to
deal with their weaknesses and
temptations. Nowadays, they have
to learn how they can live out that
gospel indication of being “simple
as doves and shrewd as serpents.”
They should develop a keen
sense of ethics and morality.
Since evil cannot be avoided and
today's evil can be most deceiving,
they have to know up to what
extent they can cooperate with
evil without compromising their
spiritual and moral life. Yes, they
have to know how to develop a
certain resistance and immunity
in an environment that can be
filled with temptations and sin.
They need to be encouraged
to always to aim higher in their
personal goals, not out of pride
and vanity but rather because
of love of God and others. Basic
skills like the proper use of time,
money, talents and other resources
need to be taught.
There are a lot more that can be
said in this issue. But to conclude
for now, what is important is that
the mentors, be they the parents,
teachers, priests, friends, etc.,
should try to win the trust and
confidence of the kids. And they
themselves have to be demanding
on themselves, since they cannot
give what they do not have. •

Prepping
the
kids
Prepping
the kids
for
the
for the
future
future
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 12

15

ARTICLES

A 2013 file photo shows US Nave ship docks at the Subic
Bay Freeport Zone in Pampanga. ROY LAGARDE

16 16

IMPACT
DECEMBER
2016 2016
IMPACT
DECEMBER

ARTICLES

THEN
AND
NOW
US economic
intervention in
the Philippines
By Ibon Features

VOLUMEVOLUME
50 • NUMBER
12
50 • NUMBER
12

17 17

COVER STORY

D

URING the swearing-in
of the new United States
(US) ambassador to the
Philippines in early November,
US Secretary of State John Kerry
stressed that the “logic” of the
“indelible” US-Philippine alliance
is “as compelling today as [it
has] ever been”. Newly sworn-in
US ambassador Sung Kim in
turn highlighted the “ironclad”
Mutual Defense Treaty, the US
being “among the Philippines’ top
trading partners and its largest
foreign investor”, and how USAID
and the Millennium Challenge
Corporation “promote inclusive
and sustainable economic growth”.
This year marks the 70th
anniversary of formal USPhilippines relations on top of
almost 50 years of direct US
occupation. The Philippines seems
to have gained so much from its
relations with the US, to hear top
US diplomats speak. Much of this
is in response to Pres. Rodrigo
Duterte’s recent statements
asserting an independent foreign
policy including a drift away from
the US.
Yet US intervention in
Philippine economic policymaking for instance has always
been to serve its own economic
interests and not to develop the
country. Then and now, this has
been about ensuring that US
corporations benefit from cheap
Filipino labor, the country’s
natural resources, and selling
goods and services that the local
economy is stifled from producing
for itself.
History of intervention
Direct US colonial rule lasted
from 1898-1946 but the Americans
ensured their control of the
Philippine economy even after this
with various US-biased treaties
and laws. The most brazen was
in giving American corporations
and citizens the same rights and
privileges as Filipinos. This was
achieved through the 1946 US-RP
Treaty of General Relations and

18

the infamous Parity Amendment
to the Philippine Constitution
in 1947 which was reiterated and
expanded by the Laurel-Langley
Agreement in 1954. Until as late
as 1974, American monopoly
capitalists could exploit natural
resources and engage in public
utilities and other industries as if
they were Filipinos.
The US also ensured free
trade with the Philippines for
easy access to the country’s vast
natural resources and to be able
to easily dump its surplus goods
into the domestic market. The
Bell Trade Act of 1946 was explicit
in providing for continued free
trade. This agreement and the
Laurel-Langley Agreement also
ensured that subsequent tariffs
and quotas would protect US
access to Filipino resources and
markets.
The US also installed American
“advisers” in Philippine
government offices including
even the Central Bank. This was
done with the Quirino-Foster
Agreement and US-RP Economic
and Technical Cooperation
Agreement in the 1950s. These
so-called advisers pushed
pro-US measures such as the
use of American and Philippine
funds to support US activities
and clinch projects with private
American contractors in the
country. They also formed the
Macapagal administration’s
policies in the 1960s on ‘free
enterprise’, removing foreign
exchange controls, fiscal austerity,
and discarding the “Filipino First”
policy favoring Filipino business.
The US was at the forefront
of putting neoliberal economic
policy measures in place during
the Marcos dictatorship in the
1970s and 1980s. This started
with cheap labour export, export
processing zones, and wage
repression. The US then used
International Monetary (IMF)
stabilization programs and World
Bank structural adjustment
programs to aggressively
IMPACT

DECEMBER 2016

intervene. Trade and investment
liberalization, privatization, and
deregulation was implemented
across the breadth of the
economy.
By the 1990s, 100% foreign
ownership was allowed in most
sectors. This was followed
by the liberalization and
deregulation of water transport,
telecommunications, banking and
shipping, airlines, oil and retail
trade, among others.
Nationalists criticized these
as an affront to sovereignty
that compromised Philippine
development. Sure enough,
the early 2000s saw official
unemployment rates breaching
11% to reach the highest since the
1950s and some 75% of Filipinos
struggling to live on Php82 or
less a day. Neoliberal policies
did not bring progress but
instead reinforced the economy’s
backward, agrarian and preindustrial character. More than
ever, the country’s resources
was not being used to provide
for the needs of its people or for
the requirements of national
development.
Neocolonial economy
The US remains the singlebiggest foreign influence on
Philippine economic policymaking today. It imposes
neoliberal globalization policies
on the Philippines to benefit
American corporate export and
commercial interests as well as to
create the kind of free marketdriven trade and investment
system in the Asia-Pacific that
allows it to maintain its hegemony
and dominant economic position.
The US Agency for International
Development (USAID) plays a
major role in crafting Philippine
economic policy. This is consistent
with how US Pres. John F.
Kennedy decades ago described
aid as “a method by which the US
maintains a position of influence
and control around the world.”
USAID’s US$25-million

«
Activists protests the US
military presence in the
Philippines, in front of
the US EMbassy in Manila. ROY LAGARDE

Accelerating Growth Investment
and Liberalization with Equity
(AGILE) project started in
1998 created ‘satellite offices’
in 11 key government agencies
to produce at least ten major
economic laws promoting the
free market. AGILE was renamed
and extended into the Economic
Governance Technical Assistance
(EGTA) project (2001-2004) and
was succeeded by three other
programs from 2004 until 2011.
Since 2011, the US government
has been using the so-called
Partnership for Growth (PFG)
initiative. This program has at
least US$739 million in funding
and is the most comprehensive
US intervention in Philippine
economic policy-making in
decades. Aside from seeking
to consolidate US economic
control over the Philippines,
the PFG is also part of the US
government’s larger effort to
dominate Asia-Pacific economic
integration through the TransPacific Partnership (TPP). The
Obama administration pushed

the TPP as the economic aspect of
the US pivot or rebalance to Asia
against China. The new Trump
administration has been very
critical of the TPP so it remains
to be seen if this will be scrapped,
modified, or pushed in some other
form such as through bilateral
agreements.
Meanwhile, this is the last year
of the US$1 million USAIDfunded The Arangkada Philippines
project (TAPP) which started in
2010. Still under the PfG initiative,
the project is administered
by the American Chamber of
Commerce and implemented
with the Joint Foreign Chambers
of Commerce in the Philippines.
TAPP lobbies policymakers on
471 policy recommendations and
reports that, by 2015, 75% of these
recommendations have been
started or already completed. It is
also among the most aggressive
groups seeking to change the
1987 Philippine Constitution and
remove the last legal impediments
to foreign capitalism in the
country.
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 12

There are also four other USAID
economic policy intervention
projects cumulatively worth
some US$50 million (Php2.4
billion): Trade-Related Assistance
for Development (TRADE),
Facilitating Public Investment
(FPI), Investment Enabling
Environment (INVEST),
and Advancing Philippine
Competitiveness (COMPETE)
Project. Even granting that
these projects are for 2-5 years,
it remains striking that their
combined budgets rival the
personnel expenses of the
government’s entire economic
planning agency National
Economic and Development
Authority (NEDA).
From 2006-2014, the World
Bank provided US$1.1 billion in
“development policy” loans to
the Philippines. These resulted
in greater health, education and
power privatization, higher VAT
and other taxes, and reduced
government spending. As it is,
the World Bank, International
Finance Corporation (IFC),

19

ARTICLES STORY
COVER

and Multilateral Investment
Guarantee Agency (MIGA) have
a 2015-2018 Country Partnership
Strategy (CPS) for the Philippines
purportedly to promote inclusive
economic growth, end extreme
poverty, and boost prosperity. The
World Bank commits an average
of US$800 million annually and
the IFC already has a portfolio of
US$792 million in the country.
The IMF meanwhile
continues to issue regular
country monitoring reports
and recommendations. The
Philippines is no longer subject
to an IMF program but its
reports and recommendations
influence credit ratings agencies
who in turn establish the terms
of the country’s access to
commercial banks and global
capital markets.
The US also benefited from
pushing the Philippines to enter
the World Trade Organization
(WTO), such as with greater
imports of Philippine raw
materials and larger exports of
American products. For instance:
80% of coconut oil exports go
to the US and the Netherlands;
80% of sugar exports to the US
and Japan; and 72% of pineapple
exports to the US, Singapore
and Japan. Meanwhile, 91% of
imported wheat comes from the
US and Australia, 70% of imported
milk and cream products from
the US and New Zealand, and
94% of imported soya from
Argentina and the US. The
Philippines’ agricultural trade
deficit has drastically worsened
after entry into the WTO which
reflects growing food insecurity
and bankruptcy among Filipino
farmers.
Biggest investor, biggest PH
beneficiary?
The US is the biggest foreign
direct investor in the Philippines
with US$4.7 billion worth of
investments last year—being the
biggest investor also makes the US
the biggest foreign exploiter of

20

Philippine resources and market
opportunities. The US invested
some US$1.8 billion from 20112015 which accounted for 27.4% of
total inflows; inflows from Japan
trailed with 21.8% of the total.
US corporations are among
the biggest direct beneficiaries of
US-designed economic policies.
In 2014, for example, US firms
accounted for 45% or US$466
million of the country’s electric
power systems imports. US firms
also accounted for 25% or US$635
million of aerospace imports
including for airport projects.
Moreover, US firms accounted
for 24% or US$92 million of
medical equipment imports
and 10% or US$40 million of
water equipment and services
imports. US firms also accounted
for 26% or US$394 million of
information technology imports
aside from 31% of foreign equity
in business process outsourcing
(BPO) companies.
People’s assertion
Despite supposed independence
in 1946, all post-colonial
Philippine governments have
maintained a foreign policy
tradition of aligning with and
upholding US geopolitical,
military and economic interests in
the region. The country’s onesided military ties with the US for
instance remain cemented by the
still-existing 1951 Mutual Defense
Treaty, 1998 Visiting Forces
Agreement (VFA), 2002 Mutual
Logistics Support Agreement
(MLSA), and 2014 Enhanced
Defense Cooperation Agreement
(EDCA). The administration
economic team’s socioeconomic
agenda also remains consistent
with US-designed neoliberal
policies with, so far, little signs of
being reformed.
Nonetheless, Pres. Duterte’s
statements about charting
independent foreign policy are
potentially significant. They can
be the starting point of a real shift
in how the Philippines relates
IMPACT

NOVEMBER
DECEMBER 2016

with other countries to uphold
and defend the nation’s and the
people’s interests.
In particular, independent
foreign economic policy can
immediately be concretized by: 1)
withdrawing from the intrusive US
Partnership for Growth program;
2) actively exploring economic
relations outside accustomed
US-, Japan- and Western Europecentric circles; 3) renegotiating or
withdrawing from international
economic deals that damage the
national economy and prevent the
country from using protectionist
policies that developed countries
themselves continue to use; and
even 4) taking the lead to build or
join a regional or global united
front against the biggest and most
aggressive advanced capitalist
powers.
But these are by no means
easy and go against decades of
deeply ingrained and especially
pro-US neocolonialism in the
country’s economy, politics,
and culture. The strongest
impulse for these already comes
from the progressive people’s
movement which has long stood
for nationalism and democracy.
A determined push by the
administration would go far in
further developing the critical
mass needed for the country
to break free from foreign—
especially US—dictates. These
would mark decisive steps towards
a more genuinely independent
and sovereign Philippines. •
Sources: A Continuing Past (Renato
Constantino);
International
People’s Tribunal 2015 (IBON
submission);
Fifth
Arangkada
Assessment
2016
(Arangkada
Philippines); IBON 2016 Midyear
Birdtalk “End of the Road: Real
Change
Ahead?”;
Philippine
Neocolonialism
and
APEC
and 4 Decades of Neoliberal
Globalization (IBON Powerpoint
presentations); On Duterte’s 100
Days (IBON Features)

ARTICLES

A past that

lies unburied
By Fr. Eutiquio B. Belizar, Jr.,
SThD

N

OTHING divides the
Filipino nation like the
Marcos question. This
is glaringly evident these days
not only because the “sneaky”
burial of the late strongman has

sparked angry protests across
the country but also because it
has reopened old wounds that
up until now remain untreated.
This deep-seated division is
clearly obvious even in the local
Church herself. No one fails to
notice how several bishops and
priests have joined the protestors

in condemning the burial of
the strongman’s remains at the
Libingan ng Mga Bayani (‘Heroes’
Cemetery’). Yet did anyone miss
that prelate who even graced the
last rites at the hallowed ground?
He too represents a not-toonegligible section of the Church
in the Philippines, one that sees

Nuns from different
congregations carry
placards during rally to
protest the hero’s burial
for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the
People Power Monument in Quezon City,
November 30, 2016. ROY
LAGARDE

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11
12

21

ARTICLES

nothing wrong in Marcos, his ilk
and his era. Since the Church
is, as Vatican II teaches us, the
sacrament of mankind’s union
with God and with fellow human
beings (Lumen Gentium, no. 1),
we all must be deeply concerned
over this continuing saga plaguing
the nation. The Year of the Parish
as Communion of Communities,
which the local Church is
launching for the new Church year
in the Philippines, is inevitably
confronted with a sharply stinging
rebuke and challenge.
How do we address this
constantly recurring reality?
We wish and hanker for answers
but the truth is, they are not easily
forthcoming.
First, Filipino Catholics may listen
politely to, but do not necessarily
follow, the hierarchy’s evaluations
and directives on the question.
There are other factors that come
into play more effectively: parental
or ancestral political leanings,
collective cultural biases, school
and peer pressure, social and mass
media exposure, leanings of idols
and celebrities, and so on. The
Church must humbly acknowledge
the factual extent of her reach and
influence without giving up on her
prophetic role. She necessarily has
to ask where she needs to improve
and how.
Two, open-mindedness on
the Marcos question is pretty
tricky. Our old and well-worn
mindsets and attitudes keep
getting in the way. For instance,
my experience as a seminarian
of seeing rigged referenda and
elections in the Marcos era, the
underdevelopment of my beloved
Samar Island while neighboring
Leyte (where Imelda is from)
was abundantly blessed, personal
visits to detention cells where
activist friends were confined and
tortured would not easily convince
me of so-called “golden age” that
was 1965-1986. Yet I do struggle to
open my mind to the intellectual
brilliance of Marcos, the boom of
infrastructural and agricultural

22

development in certain places
of the country (again except
in my native Eastern Samar
and many others), Madame
Imelda’s cultural and social
uplift of the nation’s capital are
too hard to ignore.
Three, alas the pluses of
the Marcos era came with so
many undeniable cases of
torture, repressions of basic
human rights to life and liberty
(freedom of speech and the
press were sacrificed for what
the late Cardinal Sin called
“Praise Releases”), cronyism
at its worst in the name of
stopping the oligarchs. Even
Pope St. John Paul II could not
refrain from pointing this out
to the strongman himself, his
family and his cabinet during
his 1981 visit to the Malacanang.
He tersely reminded his hosts
that political and economic
development cannot be
IMPACT

NOVEMBER
DECEMBER 2016

“Furthermore, you
shall select out of all
the people able men
who fear God, men of
truth, those who hate
dishonest gain…as
leaders of thousands,
of hundreds, of fifties
and of tens” (Exodus
18:21)

»
Students express outrage
against the hero's burial of
the late dictator Ferdinand
Marcos during a protest
action at the People Power
Monument in Quezon City,
November 30, 2016. ROY
LAGARDE

ARTICLES

«
A student shouts a slogan
denouncing the burial of
former dictator Ferdinand
Marcos at the Libingan ng
mga Bayani as they hold
rally at Mendiola Bridge in
Manila, November 30, 2016.
ROY LAGARDE

“I have sworn upon the
altar of God eternal hostility against every form
of tyranny…” (Thomas
Jefferson)

pursued at the expense
of human rights and
human dignity. The
enormity of human
rights abuses during the
Marcos regime are only
partially dramatized by
their victims who have
been identified and
partly compensated.
Ironically till now the
victims themselves
have not forgiven
their Tormentor and
tormentors. As a placard
put it, “How can I
forgive when you did
not say, ‘I’m sorry’?”
Unless the injustices
wrought on them,
their loved ones and
the nation itself are
addressed adequately,
the greater irony could

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11
12

be the Church in the Philippines
claiming to be a Communion in an
actually deeply wounded nation.
Four, the manner in which
the strongman was buried was
strongly reminiscent of the
Marcosian style of what I may
call as “hide and inflict” strategy.
Marial Law was hidden but
suddenly inflicted; his ill health
was well-hidden but inevitably
inflicted on the country in
terms of governance disarray
(even recently acknowledged by
President Duterte himself); his
colossal wealth was hidden until
its truth was inflicted by actual
millions recovered and actual
billions lost in terms of national
debt. In other words, the Marcos
burial in the way it was carried out
was very true to character. At first
it was hidden, then inflicted in one
fell swoop. This complicates any
attempt on their part to
call for unity or, on the
part of the Church, to
take their call seriously.
Pope Francis has
recently urged Christian
believers as well as
everyone to have
recourse to forgiveness
precisely because our
world is presently
locked in various
forms of “hatred” and
“resentment”. There
is wisdom there. The
nation cannot forever
be stuck in perpetual
un-forgiveness. But
forgiving does not mean
letting injustice have the
last say. It only means
not allowing hatred to
propel our continuing
effort to rebuild and reestablish Communion
in the Philippine
Church on charity
founded upon justice.
If not, despite the
sneaky burial, one
starkly dark chapter
of our past will stay
unburied. •

23

NEWS FEATURES

Oppose death penalty,
Filipinos urged
MANILA— Filipinos need to
unite against the reimposition
of capital punishment more
urgently than ever amid attempts
to “railroad” the passage of the
death penalty bill, a ranking
Catholic archbishop said.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas
of Lingayen-Dagupan said it is
a “tragedy” that the proposed
measure is being pushed for
approval in Congress before
Christmas.
“In resisting the threat of the
restoration of the death penalty,
we cannot be disunited or
indifferent. On this pro-life issue
let us truly unite. Come out and
make a stand!” said the prelate.
Voting 12-6-1, the bill restoring
the death penalty for all heinous
crimes hurdled the House justice
committee on Dec. 7.
House Speaker Pantaleon
Alvarez, one of the co-authors of
the bill, said he is confident the
measure will be approved by the
Lower House by Christmas.
Railroad
Rodolfo Diamante, executive
secretary of the bishops’
Commission on Prison Pastoral
Care, said lawmakers allied with
the Duterte administration are
“trying to railroad” the passage of
the bill.
This was despite the fact, he
said, that during the committee
hearings the anti-death penalty
advocates presented pieces of
evidence that the death penalty is
not a deterrent to crime, is antipoor, and violates international
agreements.
“The majority bloc
Congressmen just wants it
passed, period. And they want it
fast as it is among the campaign

24

promises of the incumbent
President,” he said.
Diamante urged those who
believe in the sanctity of human
life and the dignity of every
person to “stand up and resist
this railroad attempt to pass this
anti-life and anti-poor measure.”
“Let us make a more forceful
stand against the death penalty,”
he said. “Now more than ever
we need to act fast and swiftly to
counteract the prevailing culture
of death in our society.’
Work together
Next week, the death penalty
bill is expected to be debated on
second reading.
Diamante called on the faithful
to show their opposition to
capital punishment and show
support for anti-death penalty
lawmakers.
“Let us all work together to
uphold the sanctity of life! No to
the death penalty! Yes to justice
that heals!” he added.
In Pangasinan, Villegas also
called on the faithful to join a
prayer rally at the Parish of St.
Dominic in San Carlos City on
Dec. 12.
“I am calling on the God-loving
people of the Archdiocese of
Lingayen – Dagupan to come
together in prayer to resist the
treat of the death penalty in our
country. The death penalty is
contrary to our Catholic moral
life,” he said in a circular that
enjoined the faithful in his
archdiocese to hold a “Prayer
Rally for Life” on Dec. 12,
2016, the Feast of Our Lady of
Guadalupe.
“This is a conscience call to
stand up for life,” said Villegas. (R.
Lagarde / CBCPNews)
IMPACT

DECEMBER 2016

Gov’t urged: Stop
recruitment of
child soldiers
MANILA— A Catholic bishop has
called on the government to act
now to stop the recruitment of
children into dissident groups.
Newly-installed Ozamiz
Archbishop Martin Jumoad
condemned the alleged
involvement of minors who may
be forced to fight.
“Our government must double
their efforts to win the sympathy of
our young (people) [on] the side of
goodness,” said Jumoad, a former
bishop of Basilan, on Dec. 7.
Poverty, lack of guidance
According to him, recruiting
child warriors is not new in
Mindanao like what is allegedly
being done by the Maute group,
one of several Islamist groups in
the country’s troubled south.
He said young people are
sometimes enticed to join rebel
groups because of two reasons:
poverty and lack of guidance from
parents.
The prelate also called on local
catechists and Islamic leaders to be
more concerned about the issue and
help prevent the recruitment and
use of children in armed conflict.
“Ustadz and catechists must do
our share in reaching out to the
periphery so that the values of the
Almighty be heard and lived by
them,” he said.
Jumoad reiterated that
recruiting child soldiers is
unacceptable because it violates
human rights.
“It is unbelievable that children
are used as soldiers,” Jumoad
previously said.
“Mindanao will never become
peaceful if children are exposed
to violence. Children must be
in school so that Mindanao will
have a bright future,” he said.
(CBCPNews)

NEWS FEATURES

Priest alarmed
by HIV ‘youth
epidemic’
MANILA—As the country witnesses a
rising number of HIV/AIDS infections
among the youth, a Catholic priest said
it’s time to redouble efforts to raise
awareness and prevent the spread of the
virus.
Official figures showed that from 1984
to 2016, about 10,279 of the total number
of HIV/AIDS cases were in the 15-24
years-old range.
But records also revealed that of the
total number of youth cases of 9,066
was reported only in the last five years,
prompting the government to tag it a
“youth epidemic.”
Fr. Dan Cancino, executive secretary of
the bishops’ Commission on Health Care,
said necessary actions should be taken to
reduce them in future data, noting it is “a
cause for alarm.”
“This is a day for us to increase our
knowledge, awareness, consciousness
[about HIV/AIDS], especially because
of the youth affected now by this global
problem of HIV and AIDS,” Cancino told
Manila archdiocese-run Radio Veritas on
World AIDS Day, Dec. 1 in Filipino.
The priest said the lack of adequate
information as well as the prevalence of
pre-marital sexual activities among the
youth are among the main reasons of the
spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
“Most of those affected are our youth.
Cases are rising among the 15 to 24year olds. So they are the future of our
country, our high school and college
students,” explained the priest.
In an effort to further raise public
awareness, the Church is calling on
young people to join the celebration
of National Catholic AIDS Sunday on
Dec. 4.
The activities include the HIV
Awareness Conference that will be
held at the Chapel of the Eucharistic
Lord located in SM Mega mall in
Mandaluyong City. (CBCPNews)

Bishop: Make Duterte
keep labor promises
MANILA— A Catholic bishop
is urging stakeholders to
be more vigilant than ever
when it comes to the Duterte
administration’s labor
policies.
San Carlos Bishop Gerardo
Alminaza, chairperson of
the Church People-Workers
Solidarity (CWS), said labor
leaders must particularly
demand that Duterte make
good on his promise to
protect workers’ rights.
During the campaign,
Duterte promised to stop
the practice of “endo” or
labor contractualization in
the country by providing
workers’ wages that can
support themselves and their
families.
“These promises are
beacon lights that could
inspire us to struggle
more and push forward
our demands for just
wages, job security, right
to organize, and an end
to forced migration,” said
Alminaza.
“We gather in order to
be more vigilant, proactive
and consistent in asserting
pro-labor codes, laws, and
policies that would protect
and guarantee labor rights,”
said the prelate during a
recent gathering of church
and labor leaders to mark
the CWS’ 5th anniversary in
Manila.
Various labor union
leaders, however, are
disappointed over the lack of
progress in Duterte’s vow to
address the issue.
The bishop said many
workers have yet to see the
end of contractualization

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 12

“that has enslaved us for so
long.”
He also said the country
has yet to get the national
minimum wage that
somehow will put all
workers on equal footing,
regardless of the sector,
industry, and location they
belong to.
Established in 2011 during
the 30th anniversary of St.
John Paul II’s encyclical On
Human Work, the CWS was
formed to campaign for
just labor policies that give
workers their right to security
and decent living.
Five years on, they have
witnessed how attacks on
workers’ rights had been
“relentless and multi-faced
as neoliberal globalization
rages on and capitalist crisis
deepens.”
Alminaza said that the
“crisis of capitalism” and the
neoliberal policies it pursues
continue to accelerate the
process of extracting profits
from the surplus capital
created by labor.
“It is continually
increasing casualization and
employment of short-term
contractual apprentices and
the like to cut the number
of workers with tenure,
reduce costs while inducing
maximum profits,” added
Alminaza.
“I urge everyone here to
include the study of the ways
how neoliberalism attacks
… the workers, the labor
movement, the marginalized,
and the planet we live in,
and discern also the ways of
combating such attacks,” he
said. (CBCPNews)

25

STATEMENTS

Statement of Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas
on House Bill 01, the ‘Death Penalty Law’
AT present there is an insistent
attempt both in Congress and
in the Senate to reimpose death
penalty in our country. Such an
attempt is supported by no less
than President Rodrigo Duterte.
In 1987, death penalty was abolished
in the Philippines. Its abolition
clearly reveals a strong message that
it has no place in our society where
preservation and respect for human
life is of utmost importance.
Based on their in-depth
worldwide study on death penalty,
Amnesty International itself
concludes that Capital punishment
does not work. There is a wealth
of mounting evidence that proves
this fact. “Death penalty is a
symptom of a culture of violence
and not a solution to it”. It is

likewise discriminatory because
poor and marginalized people
have no access to legal resources to
defend themselves. Aware of how
our legal and justice system works,
death penalty will never bring real
justice. Further, it breaks essential
human rights such as the right to
life.
Pope Francis in his message
during the recently celebrated
Jubilee Mass for Prisoners calls
for a Criminal Justice System that
gives hope. He specifically calls for
an improvement in the condition
of life in the prison cells so that
human dignity of the detainees
is fully respected. He calls for a
criminal justice system that is not
exclusively punitive but open to
the prospect of reinserting the

convict in society.
Therefore we, at the
Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas
appeal to our lawmakers to reject
and oppose the restoration of
Death Penalty. We also call on our
God fearing countrymen to work
for the respect and protection of
human life.
For the Laiko Board of Directors,
ZENAIDA F. CAPISTRANO
National President
Noted by:
+MOST REV. BRODERICK S.
PABILLO, D.D.
National Director
Chairman, CBCP Episcopal
Commission on the Laity
22 November 2016

Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan
Circular 2016-14: On the Death Penalty
MY dear people of God:
The death penalty bill is being
pushed for approval in Congress
before Christmas. What a tragedy
if this would be passed in this
holy season of Christ’s birth. The
death penalty is “prowling like a
roaring lion looking for someone
to devour” (1Peter 5:8)
I am calling on the God loving
people of the Archdiocese of
Lingayen-Dagupan to come
together in prayer to resist the
threat of the death penalty in our
country. The death penalty is
contrary to our Catholic moral life.
In all the anticipated Masses on
December 10 and in all the Masses
of December 11, Third Sunday
of Advent, the enclosed Prayer
Against the Death Penalty must be
prayed instead of the Prayers of

26

the Faithful.
All the parish church bells must
ring for 15 at six o-clock in the
evening for three evenings on
December 10, 11 and 12. This is a
conscience call to stand up for life.
On December 12, 2016, Feast
of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we
shall hold a prayer rally for life at
the Parish of Saint Dominic, San
Carlos City.
I am calling on all our Catholic
schools, social action ministers,
catechists, youth leaders, BEC
leaders to encourage our Catholic
faithful to attend this prayer rally
and defend human life.
There will be a Mass at 3:00 pm
inside the parish church. Right
after Mass, we shall hold a March
Against the Death Penalty around
the plaza. We will converge at
IMPACT

NOVEMBER
DECEMBER 2016

the city plaza and hold a candle
lighting memorial prayer for all
the victims of violence afterwards.
Please wear white.
We know that Pope Francis
blesses us as we rally, because the
Holy Father himself has called
for a worldwide abolition of the
death penalty declaring that the
commandment “Thou shall not
kill” is valid for the guilty as for the
innocent.
In resisting the threat of the
restoration of the death penalty,
we cannot be disunited or
indifferent. On this pro-life issue
let us truly unite. Come out and
make a stand!
Sincerely yours,
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan

STATEMENTS

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11
12

27

EDITORIAL

Killing
fields

28

GOING six months and with
about 6,000 people dead, the
Duterte government does not
look too rosy. But it does not
appear too scary either, because
nobody seems bothered about it.
Earlier on, the popular logic was
drug pushers and users deserve
to disappear because they are a
scourge to the country anyway.
That was when the dead littered
on the streets were counted only
by the hundreds.
Now the count is going by the
thousands. And by the looks of
it, it is exactly running by the
campaign rhetoric of President
Duterte that he will kill criminals
and drug pushers by the
thousands in his first six months in
office and “dump all of them into
Manila bay… and fatten all the fish
there.” The average 25 or so dead
people sprawled on the streets
every night certainly do not tickle
any popular conscience to mount
a popular protest. Curiously
enough, the Marcos burial at the
Libingan Ng Mga Bayani, which
IMPACT

DECEMBER 2016

unearthed a sentiment of more
than four decades ago, cajoled
more people to go to the streets in
protest. Not the thousands of dead
people, Filipinos nonetheless, who
died days, weeks or months ago—
just over our noses.
More people now are glued to
their TV sets watching, or enjoying
if you may, to the congressional
hearings where “frailties of a
woman,” sex and conflict are given
prominence as in a telenovela.
Seemingly, the frailty of a woman
has beclouded the mortal frailty
of a mind that can sleep soundly
in the face of a killing field. And,
as if this is not enough, the Death
Penalty Bill is now being cooked
up in the House, though rather
hastily.
Have we been so numb and so
desensitized? “What is happening
to us? Have we become so
heartless that we cannot anymore
feel for them, their families and
those loved ones they have left
behind?” Bishop Joel Baylon of
Legazpi asks.

n
o
i
t
a
r
g
i
Imm

FROM THE BLOGS

30

IMMIGRATION per se can be a rightful response to the
quest for subsistence, for having a bet-ter life, for living
a more viable family life—for a better tomorrow of the
immigrants in gen-eral—considering the huge socioeconomic development contrasts between the countries they
leave behind and those they make the option to migrate
to. The truth is that unless such a rather serious decision is
undertaken to escape criminal liability in the country left
behind and/or cause criminal acts in the opted country of
destination, immigration for good intentions or salutary
purposes eventually brings about the development not only
of the migrants themselves but also the country they opted
to live and work in.
Such thinking could be immediately considered taboo at
first hearing. But considering the now obtaining down-toearth realities in the world, the standing truth is that there
are grave inequali-ties between the wealthy and destitute
people, the rich and poor Countries. And in principle,
immigration done with the right intention or salutary
motives is a phenomenon contributory to the socioeconomic welfare of both the migrants and of the Country
they migrate to. So it is that the objective truth and standing
fact is that the now-considered most wealthy and most
powerful Nation in the World became such because of white
and black “migrants”—so to speak. So it is that:
1.
When immigrants bring benefits not only to their
families—be these with them or left behind—but also to
the Country they migrated to and find good compensation
usually on ac-count of their needed profession and/or
industry, this is immigration really contributing to human
and economic development to both migrants and Countries
they migrate to.
2. Let it be expressly said that the immigration of no less
than entire families is still ac-ceptable when these go to and
stay in a foreign Country for their own domestic good and
pro-gressive economic welfare. This presumes that a family
stays together and together lives with more than enough
temporal possibilities that usually lead to financial realities.
3. But the immigration of not only heads of families but
all the members thereof, viz., fa-ther, mother, and children
primarily because of the poverty and even misery in their
own Coun-try, in effect means that something is very wrong
with the way its government manages the na-tional socioeconomic order, spends public funds supposedly for public
welfare.
4. The truth of the matter is that there are rather few
Countries that suffer from destitu-tion for dire lack of
natural resources. Still, naturally affluent Countries may still
suffer from want and destitution on account of the ingrained
incompetence and/or the incarnate corruption of their
public officials—a reality that is not hard to understand.
5. But then, phenomenon of the “Overseas Contract
Workers” is humanly and ethical costly for various reasons—
such as the division of the families as domestic units, the
absence of complementary parenting of children, not to
mention the not really rare factual separations of spouses.

IMPACT

NOVEMBER
DECEMBER 2016

ASIA BRIEFING

SRI LANKA. Gov’t halts bid to erect
world's tallest Christmas tree

is devoted to the promotion of a relationship of cooperation with China. (UCAN)

Sri Lanka has halted its bid to construct
the world's tallest Christmas tree after it
was criticized for being a waste of money
by the Catholic archbishop of Colombo.
Construction ground to a halt on Dec.
6 following Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith's
comments at a press conference the
same day."Those who are responsible for
this construction should use these funds
to provide scholarships for poor children
or construct houses for poor people,"
said Cardinal Ranjith. The government
announced that they were halting construction following discussions between
Mangala Gunasekara, chairman of the
organizing committee, and Ports and
Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga who
is also a Sri Lankan cricketing legend.
(UCAN)

PAKISTAN. Province bans forced conversions

BANGLADESH. No peace in Chittagong
Hills
Indigenous leaders and activists have
slammed the Bangladeshi government
for not implementing a peace accord
signed in 1997 that was supposed to give
them land and respect. The failure to fulfill
the peace accord is responsible for ongoing sectarian violence between indigenous people and settler Bengali Muslims
in the southeastern Chittagong Hill Tracts
(CHT), according to activists."Over the past
19 years, six governments have come to
power but none of them had any intention of implementing vital components of
the peace accord," Jyotirindra Bodhipriya
Larma, president of the United People's
Party of CHT, said during a press conference in Dhaka on Nov. 30. (UCAN)
HONG KONG. China's state-run Catholic congress scheduled after Christmas
China's communist government will
hold its Ninth Congress of Catholic Representatives for party-approved Catholic
officials in late December, providing yet
another hurdle for the normalization of
relations between Beijing and the Holy
See. The Catholic congress, usually held
every five years, was delayed by a year to
accommodate discussions between the
two sides. The running of the conference
is a curve ball for the Vatican, said Fr.
Jeroom Hendryckx, founding director
of the Ferdinand Verbiest Foundation at
Leuven Catholic University in Belgium that

The government of Pakistan's Sindh
province has banned people from grabbing Hindu girls and forcing them to
convert to Islam, often as a prerequisite
for marrying a Muslim man; it is the first
province to do so. The law was passed on
Nov. 22 and carries prison sentences of
five years to life for anyone found guilty
of changing the religion of a minor.
Anyone facilitating the crime will be
imprisoned or forced to pay compensation to the victim. "We welcome the
historic verdict. It has been very painful
for local Hindu families who have no
hope of seeing their child after they are
abducted. The matter is made worse
when the police and courts side with
the Muslim party," said Fr. Abid Habib,
former president of the Major Superiors
Leadership Conference of Pakistan.
(Kamran Chaudhry/UCAN)
PHILIPPINES. Church to unveil world’s
tallest Divine Mercy statue
With a towering height of 100 feet, the
world’s tallest statute of the Divine Mercy
will be unveiled in Bulacan province early
next year.“This will be the biggest statue of
the Divine Mercy around the world,” said
World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM) Asia Secretary General Fr. Prospero
Tenorio during a press briefing in Manila
on Thursday. The statue is seen standing
atop a four storey multi-purpose building
constructed at the National Shrine of the
Divine Mercy in Marilao town, located
some 24 kilometers north of Manila. Its
blessing and unveiling will be held on
Jan. 19 as among the highlights of the
4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy
(WACOM) to be held in the Philippines.
(CBCPNews)
VIETNAM. Pollution emergency destroys tourism
The pollution emergency that hit
Vietnam’s central provinces has delivered
a heavy blow to the local tourism industry. On top of job losses in the fishing
industry, locals complain of the drop in
tourists, discouraged by the poor quality
of water and fish. Compared to 2015, the
provinces of Quang Bình, Quang Tri, Thua

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11
12

Thiên and Hà Tĩnh have lost a million visitors. Tourism Office statistics show that "
marine tourism-related business in Hà
Tĩnh dropped by 90 per cent. Sales and
services fell by 40-50 per cent." Quảng
Bình province lost revenue worth 1,900
billion dong (US$ 85 million), including
restaurants, hotels and handicraft products. According to the Provincial People’s
Committee, "local tourism has been seriously damaged. More than 4,000 workers
are in precarious conditions; 30,000 direct
and 7,200 indirect jobs have been lost.”
(Asianews)
NEPAL. Poverty, emigration, the main
causes of AIDS
Poverty and emigration, especially in
India and the Middle East, are the main
causes of the spread of HIV in Nepal,
where more than a thousand new cases
are recorded each year. The data were
released yesterday to mark World AIDS
Day. According to the National Centre for
AIDS and STD Control (NCASC), 28,865
people, mostly men, are living with AIDS,
victims of discrimination at the social and
educational levels. Children born with
the virus are denied access to education
and can only enroll in separate schools,
ostensibly to avoid spreading the virus to
other pupils. A NCASC study found that
the virus is spread through unprotected
sex in more than 85 per cent of the cases.
(Asianews)
ISRAEL. UNESCO: no one can deny
biblical history hit
The Vatican has joined the critics of the
UNESCO decision to use only the name
Arabic name of holy places in East Jerusalem, leaving out their Hebrew version. The
Joint Commission of the Chief Rabbinate
of Israel's Delegation for Relations with the
Catholic Church and the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the
Jews issued a joint statement noting that
the UNESCO decision’s denies on political
and polemical grounds the relationship
between Jews and Temple Mount and
the biblical story. The communiqué states
that it is necessary now more than ever to
promote peace at a time when violence
is perpetrated in the name of religion. In
view of today’s challenges and human
tragedies, it goes on to emphasize the
importance of religious leaders setting
an example for tolerance and respect.
(Asianews)

31