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Vol 42, No 9 • SEPTEMBER 2008

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Quote in the Act
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“An affront to civilized standards.”

Dick Cheney, U.S. Vice President, criticized Russia’s military incursion into Georgia; Russia on the other hand has accused the U.S. of propping up Georgia in order to have an ally in the region.

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IMPACT
REMITTING ADDRESSES

“He has looted all the money of Pakistan. How can people like such thieves?”
Akhlaq Abbasi, a fabric and tailoring shop owner, delivering the sentiments of some Pakistanis on the election of Asif Ali Zardari, widower of the slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, on his election as president of Pakistan; Zardari, who spent 11 years in jail on corruption charges that were never proven in court, succeeds Pervez Musharraf.

“Am I ashamed that my office has been taken over? I have to say, yes.”
Samak Sundaravej, Thailand’s Prime Minister, after relocating his office due to anti-government demonstrators that prompted him to announce the holding of a nationwide referendum to let the public decide how the paralyzing standoff with protesters should be resolved.

“How can the King live in luxury while his people suffer.”
Siphiwe Hlophe, human right activist, with a thousand marchers protesting the lavish spending of Swaziland’s king Mswati III; as news circulated that his 13 wives and their entourages had gone on an overseas shopping trip aboard a chartered plane while his people are hungry and reeling in deep poverty.

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“The only correct and ethical action…would be to end the ruthless and cruel economic, commercial and financial blockage imposed against our Motherland for almost half a century.”
Foreign Ministry, Cuba, on rejecting Washington’s offer of hurricane assistance, saying in a statement that the best way for the United States to help Cuban victims of Hurricane Gustav is to left the economic embargo on the island.

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“Migration is a wonderful opportunity for evangelization.”
Angel Lagdameo, Jaro Archbishop and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines; but bewailing, on the other hand, the social costs of migration especially to families that has posed as a grave pastoral concern for the Church.

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IMPACT • September 2008

CONTENTS
EDITORIAL

IMPAC T

September 2008 / Vol 42 • No 9

New form of government .................................... 27
COVER STORIES

The Life of Seafarers ................................................... 6 Peace: A Chance to End the Longest War .............10 The new central economic planners ......................14 Our culture war .........................................................20
DEPARTMENTS

Two Fundamental Postulates for Lasting Peace in Mindanao ................................................................ 16 A General Roadmap towards Lasting Peace in Mindanao ................................................................ 18
ARTICLES

Commitment of the Laity in Public Life .................4
THE Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was a disaster. It was done for a wrong motive–at least that’s how public perception goes– at a wrong time, and by wrong protagonists. Whoever crafted and advanced this ironic accord must either be too intelligent that the moves were too far advanced to be tactically imperceptible or too nincompoop to miss the elementary lessons of history. The perception parlayed by both columnists and bystanders was that this chronically cracked administration was doing a “wag-the-dog” to prop up its penchant for changing the charter. The “cat is finally out of the bag” went some news and blogs when the charter change issue came looming consequently in the horizons. The logic seems to be this: amidst the trouble in Mindanao, charter change maybe the only way out. Plausible as it may seem, but this move is too long a shot. Because, in the first place, the Commander-in-Chief (who is always referred to by bloggers as the Malacañang occupant or tenant, obviously because of unsettled wholesale discrepancies) will never ever get away with changing the charter. And everybody, including the barber at the corner, knows it. The current credibility crisis is too heavy to lift a heavier agenda as amending the constitution. All its promotional ads seem to be disproving the subliminal principle of advertising such as when one reads, “Ramdam ang kaunlaran” and gets nauseated. The Philippines maybe is the only country in the world and in political history, where every president always becomes obsessed with changing the very

Quote in the Act ....................................................... 2 News Features .......................................................... 21 Statements ................................................................ 24 From the Blogs ......................................................... 26 From the Inbox ........................................................ 28 Book Reviews .......................................................... 29 CINEMA Review .................................................... 30 News Briefs .............................................................. 31

basic law of the land. (e.g. the CHA-CHA of Ramos, the CONCORD of Estrada). If that is not any indication of political wizardry, then every Filipino should worry about a political culture that has gone awry. Charter Change has been a regular feature in every political season, habitually revered by the political majority more than the exigency to attend to basic services. In Philippine history, changing the constitution only happened in extreme situations: first, in 1973 during the extreme power of Marcos, second in 1987 during the extreme euphoria of the yellow politics of Aquino. History tells that changing the Charter does not happen simply because of the deception surrounding signature campaigns or the maneuverings of a Speaker of the House. Other reasons for the thud of the MOA-AD were: the lack of popular consultation, the fear that the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity may simply be just another name for an Islamic State, the agenda of the Americans who wish to put up a military base in Mindanao, the untrustworthiness of a world-renowned corrupt government, among many others. Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, O.M.I., of Cotabato writes our cover story with his “Two Fundamental Postulates for Lasting Peace in Mindanao.” Interestingly, he gives a different perspective. Read on.

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Dr. Linda T. Tacorda, PhD. id you know that there was a time the Council of the Laity was not existing among the dicasteries of Vatican? Who started it? When? How?

D

A short history recall Due to the renewal brought about by Vatican Council II in the 60s, there was a revamp of the entire office structures in the Holy See. The reform of the Roman curia was implementing the Apostolic constitution Regimini Ecclesiae universae dated 15 August 1967. Among the new dicasteries created was the Pontifical Council for the Laity (PCL)1. (Actually this PCL originated from a proposal formulated in par. 26 of Vatican Council II decree titled Apostolicam actuositatem on the apostolate of the laity. Its birth was made official by Pope Paul VI with his motu propio titled Catholicam Christi Ecclesiam (6 January 1967). At the end of the experimental five years, the Pope declared: No one can fail to see that the Laity Council is destined to have a privileged place within the Church.2 Ten years later, on 10 December 1976 with another motu proprio titled Apostolatus peragendi, Paul VI reformed it and included it among the permanent dicasteries of the Roman Curia. Today, its basic competence and structure are defined in the context of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus on the Roman Curia, of 28 June 1988.3 The same document tells us that within the secretariat, there are sections whose tasks concern, respectively: International movements and associations of the lay faithful; The vocation and mission of women in Church and society; and Youth ministry. Two-fold fruitful approach of John Paul II Pope John Paul II saw to it that a two-fold, indivisible and fruitful approach is basic to the PCL service. This is expressed, thus: “We have to realize that the laity can only be rightfully understood in the light of an ecclesiology of communion and mission and with reference to the concrete situations existing in the world.” So that the role of PCL is to promote “the interrelationship of the apostolate of the laity with that of the Hierarchy: two forces which it is impossible, in the constitution of the Church, to imagine divergent”.4 Also, the PCL must help bring about a “current” within the “living organism” of the Church through which the head and the members will be closely united in the same love for Christ the Savior, where the children’s concerns will be known to the Father and shared by him while the Father’s words will be heard by all its children, understood and put into practice.5 The PCL and the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas What is the connection between the international Pontifical Council for the Laity to Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas? If PCL is to the Roman Curia, Laiko is to CBCP. The constituent sections corresponding to areas or tasks concern coordinat-

In observance of the National Laity Week, Septemb

Commitment of the
ing/networking with movements and associations of the lay faithful; youth ministry; women’s vocation and mission of the PCL is true to the local Episcopal Conference. CBCP has added a component focused on family and life ministry. However, the observation is while the different ministries are well clustered under the Department for Lay Formation, CBCP has not provided or assigned at least a rotating coordinator or teams to monitor if not encourage collective effort and support besides common direction. Commitment of LAIKO in Public Life6 What is right with our nation? I thought this kind of question can provoke curiosity rather than the usual one: “What is wrong with our country? “If we dare ask, What is right with our nation? And also ask, Has LAIKO contributed to its betterment somehow? What then are the lay faithful’s role in a changing world, in issues that affect us in the Local Church and in society in general? Realities like: a) the increasing jobless population; b) the increasing incidence of natural disasters; c) the inroads of technology and instant communication; d) the world energy crisis; e) the migration of overseas workers affecting family life; f) the political governance tainted with corruption; g) the dearth of formed lay leaders for wholesome collaboration with the parish priest/s in the community, etc. Biennial conventions Every two years, LAIKO organizes a national assembly of Laiko leader-representatives of its affiliate members. Either they are from the national lay organizations, movements or private associations of lay faithful, or Diocesan Councils of Laity. We revisit the themes, with resolutions and action plans resulting therefrom. The trajectory of resolutions begs for an honest assessment as well as recaptures the intense desire to effect needed changes. The themes chosen are from the current topics - issues affecting the people, the society, the government, which

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Commitment of the Laity in Public Life
Pastoral councils, Diocesan Pastoral councils, and Diocesan councils of the Laity in Canon Law. In 2007, the theme was A Path to Unity, aimed to get acquainted with Pope Benedict XVI’s teachings on love and charity. The speakers discussed the topics of Deus Caritas Est and Unity; Petrine and Marian Profile of the Church; Benedict XVI Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis; and Reciprocal love. This year’s (2008) theme focuses on The Laity: Primary Agents of Change, Towards Honesty and Integrity for Good Governance. A call to change All these years, especially since 2003, there was a recurring call to change. Clearly then, the overall message of the 2008 poster is a renewed call and challenge to the Laity to ACT. It is the PRIMARY agent of change. This year’s observance of the National Laity Week commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici, the magna carta on the laity, a post Synodal document on the vocation and mission of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world. An on-going challenge to LAIKO As lay people, our effort should be towards Christian transformation. We must help raise the level of faith and morals. Let us not lose sight and be limited to do social transformation that social workers can deliver. Our work must make a difference from what social workers do. The social teachings of the Church are the best instruments for social transmission. Thus, when we speak of Christian social transformation we do not look only at the others, we examine ourselves, firstly…We work at Christian social transformation based on the realm of faith and morals, based on the realm of grace, of the Divine…of the eternal. Christian social transformation is something we should do in our lifetime, and to pass it on to our children. If we put really our hearts and minds together, we are capable of doing something for this Church and our society, no matter how small, we can make a difference. I
Dr. Linda T. Tacorda, PhD. is the National President of the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas, the lay arm of the Episcopal Commission on the Laity of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. Notes 1 The Council for the Laity uses the preposition for and not of. Why? Take note that this is one of the offices of the Vatican and the heads are the cardinals. Thus it seems contradictory that a cardinal who is not a lay person heads what is supposed to be a group of lay people. That is why, it uses a preposition for to indicate that this is a pontifical council servicing for the affairs of the lay faithful. 2 PAUL VI, Insegnamenti IX (1971), 1051 as cited in “The Pontifical Council for the Laity” (Vatican City: 1997), 7. 3 “The Pontifical Council for the Laity” (Vatican City: 1997), p. 7. 4 “The Pontifical Council for the Laity” (Vatican City: 1997), p. 9. 5 Ibid. 6 The necessity of a consistent and effective presence of lay Christians in sectors of vital importance for society, implies priority for the adequate formation and pastoral accompaniment for lay people who have posts of responsibility in the “secular city”. This clearly supposes a deep knowledge of the Church’s Social Teaching. The Pontifical Council for the Laity therefore takes a particular interest in programmes and initiatives directed towards the study, dissemination and concrete implementation of this teaching in political life, in work and industry, in trade unions, in the university world, etc.

e Laity in Public Life
the Church and CBCP, in particular need to guide the faithful, addressing them according to the Social Doctrines of the Church. Themes and topics of Conventions In 1999, the theme chosen was “Christian Stewardship -Renewing Social and Economic Order.” The speakers discussed topics on how to Combat Drug abuse; Empower the Poor; and Preserve the Integrity of Creation. Convention resolutions were along the levels of the family, the youth, the Church of the Future; on poverty -- urban and rural poor. In 2001, the theme was “Duc In Altum -- Meeting the Challenge of the Philippine Church”. The topics dwelt on Integral Faith-formation; Lay Empowerment towards social transformation; and Family as a focal point of Evangelization In 2003, there was the National Conference on Social Transformation (held in Philippine International Convention Center) with the theme: “Behold… I make all things new” (Rev 21, 5). The topics discussed focused on Education, Local Governance, Business, and Basic Ecclesial Community. This Conference highlighted the mandate of the Laity whose task and responsibility is primarily to make our Church an active frontline participant servant-leader in the social, political and cultural transformation of this country. In 2003, the theme was “The Laity Taking on the Challenge in Transforming Society.” Held in Tagaytay City, the topics discussed by speakers were: Education -- the liberating and equalizing effect of education to a transforming society; Business -- Doing and Being Good, a corporate responsibility; Governance -- Vigilance, a Critical Element in transforming society; and Values Formation -- Key to Social Transformation. In 2005, the convention theme was Lay Empowerment According to Vatican II and the Code of Canon Law. The keynote speech was Empowering the Laity Today. Other topics discussed included Lay Empowerment according to Vatican Council; Lay Empowerment according to the Code of Canon Law; Associations (Private and Public) of Christian People in Canon Law; Parish

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ARTICLES

The Life of Seafarers

In observance of the National Seafarer’s Day, September 28

Photo courtesy of Fr. Savino Bernardi, CS

F

By Fr. Savino Bernardi, CS industry. One million families in the Philippines depend on their work and earnings while the seafarers brave their long and lonely absence from home and the uncertainty of the sea. Judging from known data, about one percent of them meets the deadly perils of the sea and still more suffer from accidents or sicknesses. For the reason of their endurance and bravery and the undisputed professionalism, the Filipino seafarers remain sought out in the international employment. In these days, the whole world is asking for more of them, from the rank of officers particularly. Now, the world turns to the Philippines to source out 15 to 20 thousand and more officers, in the next 10 years to man their ships. This is an awesome challenge putting the maritime schools, training centers and the whole of the regulatory system under an enormous pressure. But the Philippines must and, I am sure, will deliver, and in the process modernize and perhaps re-invent its system to successfully meet the challenging demands of the time. These are the realities and challenges the Filipino seafarers are facing. In the last 30 years, they grew in number from 60,000 to the about 300,000, or 25 percent of the crewing hands in the world. They have made the Philippines shine and in the process they have helped the country’ economy with two to three billion dollars each year. The much higher salary in US dollars is attractive and many parents encourage their children to take up maritime education to redeem their family from poverty or to subsidize the education of their younger siblings. Once the maritime profession becomes more established, they look into the acquisition of a lot and house, a family car or business. Full of risks and challenges The life of a seafarer, however, is fret with risks and challenges, and this not only by

ilipino seafarers are the prime movers of the maritime transportation industry in the world. They are found on board in all kinds of ships: yachts in Greece, containers ships in Rotterdam, tankers in Nigeria, general cargo ships in Buenos Aires. They keep the goods moving and delivered to all ports, at times in risky weather or in difficult conditions. The Filipinos serve the maritime world with professionalism, reliability and with a smile in most of the 55,000 ships moving around the globe. They number about 300,000 in international vessels, and perhaps 100,000 more in the domestic routes and deep-sea fishing

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The Life of Seafarers
storms and waves, but due to the nature of the forever-temporary or casual employment. The good salary is the primary attraction of many young people as they choose which college course to enroll in. In the Philippines, the seafaring profession begins with the dream of many thousands of young people enrolling into one of the 94 Nautical Schools in the country. Often the parents are behind them to encourage their son (mostly) to take up the maritime course so that one day they could contribute to bring the family out of poverty or to provide a good education for their siblings. The fees are high and the chances of success very slim. Three years later, only about 15 percent successfully complete their academic course. They are still under-graduates but they can already apply for deployment on board as ordinary seafarers (OS). The 4th year is designed to acquire “on job training” (OJT) experience which would seal their professional preparation as graduate seafarers or “able seamen” (AB), and open the door to the seafaring career. To succeed on this is the second hurdle of the profession as opportunities are limited and often given only to the brightest students. In the end only about 5,000 succeed, while the remaining thousands settle for an undergraduate position of “ordinary seamen” (OS). In any case, all come to swell the number of new applicants into the job market already saturated by at least 300,000 “unemployed” seafarers. For many it is the beginning of the “Luneta Park experience”, and the endless and frustrating application journey to several of the 360 Manning Agencies in Manila. Many end up as “utility boys” struggling an existence in Manila with a promise of a position onboard as it may come available. Each year only about 8,000 – 10,000 new hires can be counted. For hundreds of thousands of them, remains the cruel prospect of a costly and miserable life in Manila, away from their families and with a slim or no-chance of landing a job onboard. The Filipino seafarers are indeed professional and sought out by international shipping companies and the number of Filipino seafarers onboard is increasing steadily every year. Among the many reasons of preference for Filipino seafarers are the professional preparation, the knowledge of English, the Filipino cultural and social characteristics and his ability to adapt. Furthermore, in the profit-oriented shipping industry, the relatively low wages makes their employment still very attractive. However, not infrequent would be cases of exploitation for even lower wages, place-

Photo courtesy of Fr. Savino Bernardi, CS

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ARTICLES
ment fees (not allowed), payment delays, contract substitution on board, early termination of contract, endless litigation on compensation, age-limit restrictions, blacklisting, unnecessary re-training demands, etc. In ultimate analysis, a contract on board is, for most of them, often hanging on a thin thread of good luck, good health, good records and good submission to a system at times less than fair. Meeting challenges head on It is often heard in these days that the maritime industry is moving fast to a higher level of technological developments and there is a need to prepare seafarers for these new challenges. T h e demand is to forge officers who will stay longer on this profession with the assistance of a thorough and continuous training. On the o t h e r hand, the ratings will need to be encouraged and helped to look beyond the opportunistic dollar-earning job for few years only and instead to make of it a career possibly also by rising on the ranks of officers themselves. In other words, the maritime industry is looking for stability in employment, in capital investment and in a reservoir of professional and dedicated personnel to draw from. This vision intends to elevate the maritime employment to a “career” for life and a “love” for the sea. Where are the Filipino Seafarers in this vision? They still hold a prime position for the foreseeable future, but some improvements must take place. I am happy to hear, sometimes softly other times loudly, the mention of some important factors for better employability: commitment, dedication, responsibility, trustworthiness, reliability, men of character and high moral standards. A seafarer must be a “solid” person in character, personality and motivation. Efforts are made from several directions to achieve this objective. Already during the educational years Nautical Schools are training future cadets with strong elements of discipline, respect, reliability and commitment. However, from experience of the environment in several of these schools, more must be expected starting from selfdiscipline and improvement on ning edge on employability. However, development is needed just like in the field of knowledge and professionalism. It is particularly the development of the camaraderie spirit that comes to bridge all differences in harmony and direct the attention of all toward a positive and dynamic inclusion of each individual. The objective is a good level of sharing as a gift of one to all and all to one on board as well as in the social inclusion of all stakeholders of a particular agency: directors, officers, ratings, and their families. The Apostleship of the Sea has always been committed to help develop the human and Christian values on seafarers. Perhaps it is only in the Philippines that value programs have been conducted through seminars and spiritual retreats for maritime students, Christian leadership courses, and communication on values during the pre-departure information and family apostolate for the families of seafarers. A wealth of opportunities are available therefore, and the increasing number of Filipino seafarers in the international maritime sector—regardless of wage competition—indicates that the effort is rewarded. Highly professional Officers In this field of employment, the international maritime transportation industry is now shopping for highly professional, skillful and versatile officers to whom entrust their ships and crew. As ships are becoming more computerized and automated in these days a cadet contingent will always be necessary, but in an ever shrinking number. On the other hand, the quest is on to entrust expensive ships and cargo to officers of quality and reliability. Who will these be? This multi-million dollar opportunity is there for the Philippines to take or lose it depending on the quality of officers the system is willing to produce. Is the Philippines up to the challenge?

Among the many reasons of preference for Filipino seafarers are the professional preparation, the knowledge of English, the Filipino cultural and social characteristics and his ability to adapt. Furthermore, in the profit-oriented shipping industry, the relatively low wages makes their employment still very attractive.
group dynamics. Crew must be cohesive to make the life of each one on board easy. Individuals must prioritize the wellbeing of all even before personal considerations. In the pre-departure seminars, value formation should be an integral part of the program together with practical pointers on professional seamanship, good relationships and team-ship with company authorities and officers. A “solid” character is built from within and the output in performance reflects the sound, clear and strong motivations of the inner-self. It is a wide perception that Filipinos have the “ingredients” for it and that is the reason why they have the win-

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IMPACT • September 2008

Photo courtesy of Fr. Savino Bernardi, CS

The Life of Seafarers
What appears to be clear are certain given factors. Every maritime employer will base his decision on the quality of the crew, education and training as major factor for employment. About 25 percent of ship owners are prepared to pay good price for “good quality” crew. These may also be willing to support continuous training of their crew. About 20 percent of ship owners care less about “quality” and go for “cheaper” crew. These are not prepared to spend for re-training any more than necessary. The remaining 55 percent of ship owners mix the two standards within the regulatory and commercial pressure. Cost of re-training could be taken up for selective personnel. Reputable companies are not willing to sacrifice safety and standards for a cheaper deal. However, they may accept different standards of crew depending on area of operation, flag of registry, pressure from charterer, etc. Generally, employers will not ignore cost, but they constantly search for officers (and crew) who offer the “best value” for the price they pay. The answer to the challenge for more and better Officers remains in the commitment to invest now and wisely for the future by all concerned parties: the principal, the agent, the training center, the government and the seafarer. All have a part to share to establish a lasting partnership which in time will be rewarded with success. I

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Peace: A Chance to End the Longest War
By Charles Avila

A

biblical background on Peace. In biblical revelation, peace is much more than the simple absence of war: it represents the fullness of life (cf. Mal 2:5), the effect of God’s blessing on his people (Num 6:26). Peace produces fruitfulness (Is 48:19), well-being (cf. Is 48:18), prosperity (cf. Is 54:13), absence of fear (cf. Lev 26:6) and profound joy (cf. Pr 12:20). On the eve of his death, Jesus made peace the seal on his spiritual testament: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (Jn 14:27). And the ministry he entrusted to his disciples was always to begin with the proclamation of peace: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house! ‘ (Lk 10:5; cf. Rom 1:7). He had earlier proclaimed at the mountain: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Mt 5:9).) On the other hand, the failure of peace is war. In the words of recent Popes: war is “the failure of all true humanism”, and is “always a defeat for humanity.” Hence, cried Paul VI at the United Nations on 4 October 1965, “never again some peoples against others, never again! ... No more war, no more war!”

Not in a manger It was not always like this. In our country Christianity was not born like a babe in a manger, with angels on high singing the songs of peace. No, rather, it was literally born out of the mouth of roaring cannon. Magellan fired his cannons for demonstration purposes, and 800 Filipinos wanted to be baptized. The Christian cross and the Spanish sword became indistinguishable in both form and functional aim to conquer new lands for the Catholic monarchs of Spain. In our country in the mid-sixteenth century, Catholic Spaniards and Muslims who had battled each other for nearly 800 years on the plains of Spain now came face-to-face again. The Catholic Spaniards still hated Muslims for having ruled Spain too long, and the Muslims did not forget the massacre of more than three million Muslims when the Christians recaptured Spain in 1492. And so they fought again – here, in this archipelago, not for a day or two but for a few hundred years and more, or to be exact, for 320 long years – from 1578 to 1898. The best Spanish generals were pitted against them and had to admit that these Muslims were far from easy pickings. The Spaniards called their new-found foes “Moros”. This was not a new name. It was taken from the ancient Mauri or Mauritania, applied on the Berbers of North Africa to those who came and conquered Spain. So, the name was not limited to a group of people

The Moros were so-called as a result of animosity and warfare and their resistance to foreign pressure, while Indio or, later, Filipino signified allegiance or subservience to Spain. Thus, if Filipino referred to a people conquered and owned by Felipe, a Catholic monarch half-way across the world, Moro referred to a people who were determined to own themselves.

or distinct nationality but to religious adherents transcending geography, race and time. Thus, in fact, the first to be called Moros in the Philippines were not the Islamized inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu but the people of Manila and neighboring towns who were already Muslims. In the speculative realm, it is said that if the Catholic Spaniards did not come at the time they did, if they had been delayed by only 50 years, this archipelago would have had three or four kingdoms today: one in Manila, one in Sulu, and two in Mindanao. Most of the people, as in nearby Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia, would have become Muslims. As it was, Luzon and the Visayas were not Islamized enough to withstand the Christian conquistador. But Sulu and Mindanao were different for they already had centralized governments patterned after the Arabian model and, later, on the Turkish example. At one time, a great Moro sultan like Maguindanao Sultan Dipatuan Muhammad Qudarat was strongly organized enough to collect tributes from Basilan, parts of the Visayas, and from as far as the Coast of Borneo. European powers and even the USA before her conquest of the Philippines dropped anchor at Sulu and Maguindanao ports, signed friendly treaties with the Moro rulers as they did with other sovereign states. This is all a matter of record.

What's in a name? The Moros were so-called as a result of animosity and warfare and their resistance to foreign pressure, while Indio or, later, Filipino signified allegiance or subservience to Spain. Thus, if Filipino referred to a people conquered and owned by Felipe, a Catholic monarch half-way across the world, Moro referred to a people who were determined to own themselves. In sum, Filipino signified “vanquished” by colonialism and Moro meant “unconquered” and anti-colonial, generally speaking. “But even before the coming of the Spaniards,” wrote Salah Jubair, “the Moro had already perfected the art of governance, a well-set code of laws, songs and poetry, such as the Darangan, Indarapatra and Solaiman, and the adat and customary laws. He already had trade and diplomatic relations with the other states of Southeast Asia, Arabia, India, Japan, and China. Sulu and Maguindanao were already emporia while America was still a wilderness.” The Moros, however, fought less out of nationalism than out of loyalty to Islam that was under threat from advancing imperial

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Peace: A Chance to End the Longest War
Catholicism. As such fighters they firmly saw with the eyes of faith that “in the last day wounds of those who have been wounded in the Way of Allah will be evident, and will drip with blood, but their smell will be perfume of musk. The fire of Hell shall not touch the legs of him who shall be covered with the dust of battle in the road of God.” They never forgot what their Holy Qur’an said in Chapter 111, Verse 103, to those who fight in the Way of Allah: “Think not of those who are slain in God’s way as dead. Nay, they live finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord; they rejoice in the bounty of God.” And so, down the decades and the centuries, there was no lack of volunteers of conscience with a strong will to fight – and to die – striving in the Way of Allah. From the very beginning, the Moros were aware that defensive war was the beginning of defeat; so, they brought the war over into enemy territory in the Visayas and Luzon and netted tens of thousands of prisoners, jewelry, cannons and other valuable materials all year round – actions that designed the physical face of towns all over the archipelago where we now find remains of watch towers and balauartes and stone churches and forts and cottas and little else besides – concrete reminders of a long defensive history of nervousness and deep forebodings. Yes, for better or for worse, the Philippines looks the way it does because of the Moro wars. In response, Spain passed a Royal Decree encouraging private individuals to organize mercenary expeditions against the Moros. The incentives were big: all enlistees were exempted from paying tribute and entitled to four-fifths of the booty. Criminals who enlisted were given unconditional pardon. The long list of Spanish invasions into Mindanao and Sulu showed the participation of thousands of Indios serving their colonial masters in wreaking havoc in Moroland. In the end, however, one could only say that Spain came and stayed a few hundred years but never really acquired Moroland either by conquest, purchase or any other means. In the words of O.D.Corpuz, “Spain never had control, government, or possession of the Moro territory.” Her sovereignty was never imposed except inside the confines of her garrisons and fortifications. American calibration The next colonizer, however, the American forces, fared differently. Superior in deceit, the Americans also had superior firepower, and employed superior integrative tactics. They deceptively made “friends” with the Moros when they were still tied up with the FilipinoAmerican War in the North. After the war, they immediately moved to extend American control and sovereignty over Moroland by all means and at all cost. The massacres perpetrated by the Americans here topped the savagery they exhibited in their genocidal wars against the Native American Indians. One time they followed a Scorched-Earth Policy. At another time it would be a Policy of Attraction. Sultans, Datus and other Chiefs would be flattered and praised, given doles and donations and masterfully utilized to neutralize resistance till they were finally won over to the American side. This learning animal called the American imperialist quickly understood how to calibrate physical massacres of the Moros, and there were unbelievably many as in their own massacres of the Indians at home, with benign, attractive policies of “national integration”.
Photo courtesy of Tom Greenwood

Before the turn of the 20th century, 98 percent of all the lands in Mindanao and Sulu belonged to the Moros. American-style legalized land grabbing changed this picture fast. Early on, various Public Land Acts were passed to dispossess the Moros of the landholdings they had occupied since time immemorial. And, of course, with the passage of unjust laws came an imperial insistence on everyone following the “rule of law.” For instance, registration acts ensured the Moros could be deprived of their lands because they never heard nor knew how to go about registering lands of their ancestors or lands everybody knew belonged to them but now, because unregistered, were deemed public lands. Then laws were passed promoting the creation of agricultural colonies by Filipino migrants from the North in so-called public lands of Mindanao and Sulu. One law awarded each Filipino settler with a 16-hectare lot but the Moro was permitted to own only eight hectares. The worst part came on November 7, 1936 under nationalists President Manuel L. Quezon and Senator Claro M. Recto. A law was promulgated, CA No.141, declaring all Moro ancestral landholdings as public lands. By a stroke of the pen, Moros became landless, deprived of their ancestral lands. The Moro was allowed to apply for only four hectares while a Christian was entitled to own up to 24 hectares, and a corporation, even those not wholly owned by non-Moros, was permitted to get 1,024 hectares. American companies were almost unhampered in their operations, even acquiring mineral rights, timber rights and agricultural lands to the thousands of hectares beyond constitutional limits. They were matched only by home-grown oligarchs who not only enriched themselves from the wealth of Mindanao but also contrib-

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uted directly to the sufferings and deprivations of the local people. Thus it happened that Moros who owned all the land in Mindanao and Sulu on the eve of colonization now owned less than 17 percent of it in remote and infertile mountain areas which lacked marketing and infrastructure facilities. Over 80 percent of them had now become landless tenants. To strive in the Way of Allah It was then inevitable that the valiant Moro would fight again, and fight again they did – this time for independence from the Philippine state in which they had no future. All-out war ensued between the Moro secessionist fronts and the Philippine government. This particular stage of the centuries-old Moro wars has been going on since the early 1970s. For many long periods the government was spending more than a million dollars a day and playing with 5,000 lives daily in military operations. Said Secretary Eduardo Ermita who has been close witness to these chapters of our history from the very start: “Sixty-one percent of our Army and Marine battalions…more than 40 percent of our artillery capability and 50 percent of our armor assets…63 percent of our tactical aircraft [were committed to the Mindanao conflict].” It may not be wise but it is quite possible to forget that in our lifetime hundreds of thousands have been killed and millions dislocated because of the Moro wars. The past four and half centuries have seen many changes in the Philippine archipelago but the chronic Moro war resurgence remains the same. It is one of the longest lasting wars in the history of the world. At root is the fact that so many of us just continue to close our eyes and deny the existence of a Moro nation afraid that such an acknowledgment may undermine the unitary character of the Philippine state. A Catholic priest, Father Romeo Intengan, S.J., urges us to see clearly before all else, in the interests of peace, that there exists a Moro nation separate and distinct from the mainly Christian Filipinos. The Philippines is a nation of nations. Nationhood being an analogous concept, there exists in our country two distinct nationalities with their particular patriotism, the mainly Christian Filipinos and the predominantly Muslim Moros. “Between the two,” says Intengan, “Bangsa Moro nationality and patriotism are older. The Bangsamoro were ahead of the Filipinos in developing state structures and in acquiring a unifying ideology – Islam. They developed the capacity for resisting invasion by their control of international trade in Southeast Asia in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.” The second nationality in our country, Intengan continues, “is that of the Indios and mestizos, later called Filipinos, who became politically one because of the unitary political structure of the Spanish colonialist regime. Our ancestors also found a unifying ideology in their Catholic Christian faith.” By the late 19th century “they acquired enough resources – the wealth of the native and mestizo ilustrados and principales – to assert our nationhood and to struggle to throw off the colonial yoke when we launched the Revolution of 1896.” Salam, Peace But where are we today as war and talk of an all-out war constantly hug the headlines? How deeply do our moral leaders care for peace in our times? Following the government’s peace dialogue with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1996, Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla and the late Mahid Mutilan, president of the Ulama League of the Philippines, held the Bishops-Ulama Forum to discover the role of religion in peace and development in Mindanao. In 1997 Protestant bishops in Mindanao led by Bishop Hilario Gomez joined the forum, which was changed to a conference in 2003. So the Bishops Ulama Conference or BUC now has a membership which includes from all Mindanao bishops of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), members of the Ulama League of the Philippines (ULP), and bishops of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP). This group, the BUC, intimately knows the human cost of war in Mindanao. They know how unarmed civilians outnumber casualties of armed combatants by a ratio of more than 90 to 10, how so many have become casualties not because they were attacked by soldiers, but because of the havoc wrought by the fighting. Together with the destruction of lives and livelihoods, war inevitably destroys croplands, forests, water and sanitation systems, and other key resources that support communities. And, of course, war has never been good for business because it creates an environment of insecurity and fear. The BUC said eight years ago: “We recognize that peace is the key to development. We recognize that without peace in Mindanao, sustainable development for the Philippines cannot be attained.” Or, as one poster put it then: “War is simply not good for babies, animals and other living things.” At their 13th Assembly on May 18, 2000 they urged “the government and the MILF to heed the overwhelming cry for a cessation of hostilities.” They urged the two “to return to the negotiating table and begin traversing the road to lasting peace in Mindanao. We recommend that the peace panels of both sides be given sufficient authority so that agreements like the April 27th accord be honored… Towards this end, we suggest that a neutral but concerned third party should be invited to sit with the

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IMPACT • September 2008

Photo courtesy of Keith Bacongco

Peace: A Chance to End the Longest War
negotiating parties.” Looking back the past eight years, this desire of the BUC actually came to pass. Malaysia heads the International Monitoring Team. Some Ulamas of the BUC reminded others that Verse 151 of the Quran’s Sura 6 states: “You shall not kill – for that is forbidden by God – except for a just cause.” Meanwhile, Verse 191 of Sura 2 says: “Fight for the sake of God those that fight against you, but do not attack them first. God does not love aggressors.” At that time eight years ago the BUC came out with a Program for Peace. Like good shepherds looking at their flocks, they saw thousands upon thousands of families displaced by war and deprived of basic needs – food, shelter, health-care, schools, etc. , and so their first point had to do with demanding “immediate cease-fire in Central Mindanao, and emergency assistance for all evacuees and displaced communities –– Muslim, Christian, and Lumad alike.” Not perfectly but quite substantively, this, too was realized – precariously, true enough, absent as yet an authentic peace agreement, which had to be the fruit of a long process of negotiation that should now be about to conclude. After urging government and the MILF to return to the negotiating table, the BUC said that “We must continue to seek a political solution that addresses the legitimate demands of cultural communities and brings about a just and honorable peace for all. “ Actually most, if not all the BUC demands have been met or are being met. Thus they would naturally now wonder why some quarters are suddenly afraid of peace, and its instrument, a peace agreement, when they should rather be justifiably afraid of war and all its consequences. Are some afraid of peace NOW because of how it might affect their narrow personal plans for 2010? In their Ninth Point, the BUC had invited “the people in media to clarify their ambivalent role in the Mindanao conflict… Media coverage can slant the news towards either a culture of violence or a culture of peace.” Indeed, we cannot underestimate the prejudice that is so deep-seated among so many who silently believe that the only good Muslim is a dead one, a prejudice fanned by war-mongering individuals who think they have everything to gain from people’s fears and confusions. In their Tenth Point, the BUC urged “the government to give Mindanaoans a bigger share of responsibility to work for peace in our land.” They themselves “offer to take a proactive role in pushing forward the peace process through consultations with our communities and attending to the root causes of conflict. Total peace, not total war, is the answer to Mindanao’s problems.” Let the cease-fire hold It is a wonder that what the BUC urged eight years ago, viz. that “the government and the MILF heed the overwhelming cry for a cessation of hostilities... return to the negotiating table and begin traversing the road to lasting peace in Mindanao” actually came about. In fact, government and MILF were in third-party Malaysia ready to sign a Memorandum of Agreement when some elements who often attended the briefings on the progress of negotiations and were even given a chance to write their position papers went up to the Supreme Court to claim, less than honestly, that they were never consulted at all. In the belligerent context that was ultimately overcome by dialogue, it is a fact that two words were initially too hot to use: “sovereignty” and “independence”. The MILF had always publicly demanded independence. Governor Zacaria Candao who hosted the first chapter of the peace talks categorically said recently that Chairman Salamat finally agreed to not uttering “independence” so long as the GRP not prematurely shout “sovereignty.” The absence of these two words made possible the start of the dialogue. Implicitly, of course, if not explicitly, the MILF recognizes the Philippine Constitution, for it recognizes the authority of the President of the Philippines to negotiate with them, a hitherto secessionist revolutionary group. On what is the President’s authority based? Is it not on the Constitution? The MILF agrees to the holding of plebiscites and the Congressional amendment of laws, like the Organic Act, if need be – constitutional processes all. Again, given the context of belligerence-to-dialogue, isn’t the implicit mode of respect and recognition not good enough? As the BUC said eight years ago, what we need to seek is not a dead-legalistic but a living “political solution that addresses the legitimate demands of cultural communities and brings about a just and honorable peace for all. “ Never underestimate what Peace Agreements can do not only in terms of lessening the people’s direct suffering but also in terms of greater chances for the increased creation of new wealth. This is the age-old story of regions and nations. When one looks at those who were in KL ready to witness the signing one will easily believe that the peace process, if not stopped, will mean great support from all over. For the first time in such an event, one saw the likes of the official representatives of the United States, the European Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, etc. so expectant and eager that those who had hitherto been at each other in land, sea and air wars would now take pen and ink and sign a piece of paper that would put an end to all that violence and cruelty and death in favor of peace, prosperity and greater life. I

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The new central eco planners

© Dennis M. Sabangan /epa/Corbis

By Francisco S. Tatad

E
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conomics, “the dismal science,” may be getting even more dismal still, as some 26 economists from the University of the Philippines attempt to tackle the complex and complicated question of procreation and population. The economists are urging Congress to pass the highly questionable Reproductive Health bill proposing that the State actively promote and provide contraception (to women) and steriliza-

tion (to both men and women) to bring down further the country’s population growth, now 2.04 percent according to the National Statistics Office, or 1.72 percent according to the CIA World Factbook, 2008. Under this bill, the State will be made to provide contraceptives and abortifacients, free of charge as “essential medicines,” to an otherwise healthy population. These would include oral

contraceptives which the World Health Organization’s International Research Agency on Cancer has determined to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans. The economists worry that if the population continues to grow, the poor will only multiply. They want it checked via a state-funded program of contraception and sterilization. To them (as it is to the authors of the bill) it is not

IMPACT • September 2008

The new central economic planners
more. The statistic reads like one of those manufactured electoral counts in one of our notoriously crooked elections. It smells. These economists have been known to espouse “liberalization, privatization and deregulation.” Although there is no attempt at full disclosure, many of them identify with international institutions and agencies that swear by the same principles but are simultaneously engaged in funding population control in the Philippines. Now, what they want done to the population is nothing short of “central economic planning,” which they purportedly abhor in principle. The subject of their central planning is not the economy though, but the private lives and social behavior of people. Quite a promotion. Economics, by definition, concerns itself with the equitable allocation of finite resources among recipients with competing needs. But what our economics professors want to do is to allocate the human being–or the human family– according to the finite resources available. And they want to put the State in charge of the allocating. That is no longer economics but population engineering. You do not find that in a well-ordered liberal democratic state; you find it in a totalitarian system. We have a pro-life Constitution, but we have no penal law barring anyone from using contraceptives, abortifacients or sterilization devices or agents. The Church continues to teach these things are wrong and harmful, just as it continues to teach that killing, stealing, adultery and fornication are gravely sinful. But just as the Church does not have the means to prevent anyone from violating any of God’s commandments, it does not have the means to prevent anyone from using contraceptives and abortifacients, from getting sterilized, or even from contracting abortion. The actual situation then is that no one is prohibited by law from practicing contraception. In fact, across the nation, the contraception prevalence is reported at 50 percent. The real issue behind the RH bill, therefore, is not whether everyone should have free access to RH information and services, which they already have, but whether the State should now enter the bedroom, supervise the conjugal intercourse of married couples, and spend taxpayers’ money to try to cure pregnancy, which is not a disease, even though it sees no need to provide free medicines and medical care to men and women dying from killer-diseases. This is not an economic question at all. The issue is primarily moral and constitutional. Morality–the rightness or wrongness of an act–is the basis of law; the Constitution is the fundamental law of the land. No enactment of Congress may disregard or dispense with either. But we don’t have the space for a thorough discussion here. The first question to resolve is whether the State has the right or the authority, as distinguished from naked and unlawful power, to redefine the fundamental rights of man as man, such as his right to embrace his wife and to father her children. These rights precede the rights of the State and are not subject to its consent, concurrence or modification. Our Constitution correctly recognizes the primacy of such rights. Section 12 of Article II recognizes “the sanctity” of family life, and the family as the “foundation of the nation.” It binds the State to “equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.” This constitutes an outright ban on abortion, which is a punishable crime. It does not prohibit any individual from practicing contraception, but it necessarily prohibits the State from funding its own program of contraception or permitting any foreign-funded program of contraception to be incorporated into its own education and health delivery systems. Why the distinction? Simply because if it is the constitutional duty of the State to equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception, it cannot be its right or duty at the same time to prevent women from conceiving. If as a result of couples contracepting on their own, no pregnancies occur, then the State would have no one to answer to, and nothing to answer for. But if as a result of the State’s program of contraception no pregnancies occur, then the State has made a mockery of the Constitution. We would have perverted our laws and human reason itself. So many sophisms have been thrown in to muddle this point. But you don’t need a PhD in economics or a master’s degree in law from an Ivy League University to understand it. A short home schooling on basic logic will do. I Volume 42 • Number 9

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enough that there be free and unlimited market access to contraception and sterilization, as there is right now–the State must use the taxpayers’ money to provide the harmful agents to the population. Against all existing evidence of a steadily declining family size with an average of three children, the economists reportedly claim that 57 percent of Filipino families have nine children or

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Is peace still possible in Mindanao?

Photo courtesy of Tom Greenwood

Two Fundamental Postulates for Lasting Peace in Mindanao
By Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I. FTER the tragic fiasco regarding the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), I presume as a matter of course that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are in contact with each other. As a contribution to any backdoor channeling, I address myself to both Moros and non-Moros, and those who claim to represent them. The following, I believe, are the two fundamental bases for the forging of lasting peace in Mindanao. At the very beginning of any peace negotiation, there has to be a clear and explicit recognition, mutually accepted: (1) of the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution; (2) of the Moro aspiration

A

for self determination and its concrete realization in a manner in accord with the Philippine Constitution. It seems to me that these fundamental concepts are at lease implicitly accepted by both groups. I believe that the lack of clarity in the MOA-AD with regard to the above twofold fundamental concepts, aggravated by lack of consultation and reinforced by anger, misinformation, misconceptions, biases, prejudices, and resistance to change, led to the present grave uncertainties regarding the peace process. The first postulate is clear to nonMoros. The second is not. For most of us the recognition of Moro self-determination and the Bangsamoro Juridical entity in which it is exercised are tantamount to giving away parts of Philippine territory and establishing a Moro independent

State. It does not matter if there are several examples in the world, where self-determination is recognized and implemented without necessarily establishing an independent State and dismembering a Republic. It does not matter if the rejected MOA-AD does not in any way express such establishment or dismembering. Great anger and violence have resulted from this situation. The non-Moro should begin with Moro history to understand Moro selfdetermination. It is undisputed that Islam was brought to the Philippines before the Spaniards came, even before there was such a name as “Philippines.” It is undisputed that Muslim Sultanates exercised sovereignty and wielded political power over most of Mindanao, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, a territory considerably larger than the present ARMM or the “expanded

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Two Fundamental Postulates for Lasting Peace in Mindanao
ARMM” that the MOA-AD envisions. It is undisputed that the demographic composition of the population and the subject of political authority in Mindanao were completely reversed from Moros to nonMoros within only the 50 years between 1920 to 1970, such that Moros became a minority in the large swath of territory over which they, through their Sultanates, once held sway. We, therefore, need to accept the fact that the Moro aspiration for self-determination is based on indisputable recorded history. Our historical consciousness needs to go back to the times of the southern Sultanates and the religion they professed. There we see a people from the Malay race but with a distinct religion and political identity. They had been part of the indigenous peoples who had converted to Islam. We know that the term “Moro” came much later in their history, introduced by Spanish colonizers to refer derogatively to the people who had the same religion as the Moors that had conquered southern Spain. Through the Sultanates this distinct people from various indigenous tribes held political sway, sovereignty, if one may use the term, over a territory covering most of Mindanao and Sulu. Through the Sultans they governed themselves. At documented periods and occasions, Moros expressed their aspiration for self-determination either by peaceful means or by armed interventions. This aspiration has endured through four centuries of relative peace and short periods of war. Restlessness for self-determination lies deep in the collective Moro subconscious. Like Rizal and the Filipino elite of their time, Moro scholars, intellectuals, writers, warriors and leaders kept this aspiration alive. The desire for self-determination we recognize now as a fundamental right. It does not necessarily mean an independent State. It simply means as a common attribute of all peoples an option for selfgovernment outside or within a national community. It is an option that is enduring, lying deep in the subconscious of the human community, part and parcel of that divine gift we call freedom, or self-determination. It does not die. It maybe dormant, it might be repressed, but sooner or later it will want to surface either in rebellion or in peaceful assertion. War will not defeat this fundamental human option. It cannot be killed. Without recognition and some form of implementation, peaceful co-existence is simply an artificial temporary veneer. That is the human condition, the condition of human communities with distinct cultures and identities, especially with a history of self-determination. Recognizing that legitimate aspiration, we also need to recognize the realities that came during the American period of our history. Spain ceded the entire islands to the United States. It was the United States that eventually and effectively placed all the islands under its political power. Yet even the United States recognized the aspiration of the Moro people with the creation of a “Moro province.” Historical records tell us that from time to time, Moro leaders would remind the ruling power of their right to self-determination, of not wanting to be under “Filipino” sovereignty. But we cannot also escape the development of history. The historical reality is that the United States, followed by the Philippine government, exercised political power over all of the Philippines. And so we have the concepts of national sovereignty and territorial integrity enshrined in successive Constitutions. Even if one might not accept the Constitution, the reality of national sovereignty and territorial integrity predates the Constitution which simply came later to express or articulate the reality. These then are the two-fold realities that are fundamental to any peace negotiation: the recognition of Moro self-determination and the acceptance of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. These two concepts are not contradictory. They do not cancel each other out. One can exist with the other. It is the balancing and concrete implementing of these two fundamental postulates that is the central task of peace negotiating. I

© Roy Lagarde \ CBCP Media

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n the light of the impasse, lack of clarity, and confusion that have resulted from the MOA-AD fiasco, may I respectfully submit the following suggestion for the peace process to move forward. As essential talking points representing a roadmap towards lasting peace in Mindanao, I believe that the following issues should be agreed upon by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF):

A General Roadmap towards Lasting Peace in Mindanao I
By Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.

What MILFBy ArchbishopOrlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.
What is the MOA-AD? It is the Memorandum of Agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines that consists of statements agreed upon by consensus between the peace panels of both parties. It deals with Concepts and Principles, Territory, Resources, Governance of the Ancestral Domain of the Bangsamoro. What is the Bangsamoro people? According to the MOA, the Bangsamoro people “refers to those who are natives or original inhabitants of Mindanao and its adjacent islands including Palawan and the Sulu archipelago at the time of conquest or colonization and their descendants whether mixed or of full native blood. Spouses and their descendants are classified as Bangsamoro. The freedom of choice of the indigenous people shall be respected.” What is the Bangsamoro homeland? Historically the Bangsamoro homeland consisted of the territory under the control or influence of the Moro Sultanates. But now as described by the MOA, the Bangsamoro ancestral domain would only include the present territorial territory of the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) as its core and additional barangays in Region IX, XII, and Palawan. More than 700 barangays outside ARMM would be restored to the ancestral domain, subject to plebiscite

1. Any peace process in Mindanao must accept two basic principles: the Moro fundamental aspiration for selfdetermination and the Philippine government’s right to national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The beginning of a solution to balance Moro asp iration for self-determination and Philippine national sovereignty and territorial integrity as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution is already partly expressed in the concept of ARMM. Despite its many inadequacies the ARMM is an exercise of self-determination in the form of autonomy within the framework of the Philippine Constitution. A more developed balancing, elaborating constitutes the road to lasting peace. 2. The road to lasting peace involves a wholistic solution, political, economic, cultural, and religious. A political solution, much less a military solution, will not suffice nor will a simply economic one, without the political and cultural/ religious. The ill-fated Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) is an attempt to provide a wholistic solution. 3. The road to lasting peace must resolve the following issues: (a) the issue of representation in the peace agreement – does the GRP panel really represent

the Philippine government; does the MILF really represent the Bangsamoro and the Lumad; (b) the issue of prior and informed consultation with their respective constituencies; (c) the issue of the territorial coverage of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE); (d) the issue of the powers (e.g., judicial, executive, legislative, economic, diplomatic, military, territorial) of the BJE; (e) the issue of the relationship between the BJE and the Republic of the Philippines (e.g. is the BJE clearly understood as part and parcel of the Republic of the Philippines); (f) the issue of disarmament, demobilization, and rehabilitation/ reintegration (while the actual implementation could wait for the endgame of the peace process, its discussion should be introduced much earlier as in the experience of successful peace processes). 4. Given the above roadmap, the road ahead consists of the following elements: (a) continuing the peace process within the parameters presented in number one above; (b) resolving the questions enumerated in number three above; (c) forging a unity of opinion–consensus–on the basis of all the above points through widespread consultations by both sides; (d) building constituencies in order to support the peace process; (e) stopping all armed conflicts during any peace negotiation. Any military or violent reaction to respond to the striking down of the MOA-AD would merely reinforce the mindsets of bias, prejudice, anger, and resentment. Even now the volatile situation is threatening to explode through further acts of terrorism and the arming of civilians on both sides of the cultural divide. I

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IMPACT • September 2008

ARTICLE S

is the MOA-AD in the -GRP Peace Process?
within 12 months after the signing of the MOA. More towns would be included, again subject to plebiscite after 25 years. Moreover, this Bangsamoro ancestral domain would consist of land, waters, seas, air, and other resources. What is the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE)? The territory described above would have a juridical personality. It is a juridical entity that would have its own form of government and would exercise authority and jurisdiction over the Bangsamoro ancestral domain. ments” will continue even after the JBE shall have been “fully entrenched and established in the basic law of the BJE.” Will private owners lose their properties in the BJE? The MOA expressly enjoins that “Vested proprietary rights on the Bangsamoro people have asserted and exercised self-determination and sovereignty over their ancestral domain, until the effective political power of the sultanates faded away. The Bangsamoro people came under the control of the Americans. The ancestral doMindanao people, with a minority of Muslim and IPs. In other words the Bangsamoro became a minority in their own ancestral domain. Difference in concepts regarding land ownership also contributed to these major changes in the ancestral Bangsamoro ancestral domain. How does the MOAAD respond to the loss of ancestral domain? The MOAAD restores a certain selfdetermination and sovereignty to t h e Bangsamoro people in their own homeland. Because of historical development since the 1900s the Bangsamoro ancestral domain/ homeland is no longer of the same extent over which the sultanates once held sway. It is now limited territorially to what is described in the 3rd question above. The MOA-AD also follows the principle that the IPRA law grants to the Indigenous Peoples, i.e., that their ancestral domain is not part of the public domain. The many details regarding concepts and principles, territory, resources and governance remain subject of negotiations in view of a Comprehensive Peace Pact. The concrete type of governance that would be established by and in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity would be determined by a basic law. Ultimately the changes regarding territory will depend on the Congress of the Philippines and peoples’ referendum. I

The MOA-AD restores a certain selfdetermination and sovereignty to the Bangsamoro people in their own homeland. Because of historical development since the 1900s the Bangsamoro ancestral domain/ homeland is no longer of the same extent over which the sultanates once held sway.
upon the entrenchment of the BJE shall be recognized and respected subject to paragraph 9 of the strand on Resources.” Paragraph 9 of the strand of Resources refers to forest concessions, timber licenses, contracts or agreements, mining concessions, mineral production and Sharing Agreements, Industrial Forest Management Agreements, etc. By such reference, privately owned farms and other properties would be respected by the BJE. What changes took place through the years in the Bangsamoro ancestral domain? To answer the question and to have a better understanding of the MOA-AD, we need to have a quick recall of history. Islam arrived in the Philippines 200 years before Christianity arrived. Eventually and before the Spaniards came a regime of sultans began. From that time main of the Bangsamoro people became public domain. But even when the Americans gave independence to the Philippines, many of the Bangsamoro people continued to assert their claim to self-determination and sovereignty rather than be under the authority of the Philippine government. Successive waves of migrants from the Visayas and Luzon in the 1900s, authorized by a series of public laws, gained land titles in the form of torrens titles as against the native titles of the Bangsamoro people. The population pattern in Mindanao significantly changed from the 1920s to the 1960s. In the 1930s the great majority of Mindanao people were Muslims and Indigenous Peoples (IP), with a small minority of Christians. By the time the waves of migrations ended in the 1960s, Christians constituted the great majority of

How will the BJE relate to the Republic of the Philippines? The MOA is silent about the issue whether or not the JBE is part and parcel of the Republic of the Philippines. Instead it recognizes “the Central Government,” and establishes “associative relationship and associative arrangements” between BJE and GRP, as well as “shared authority over territory” “shared responsibility” “sharing of resources,” etc., with a period of transition specifying the relationship. But the MOA also states that “The Parties shall faithfully comply with their commitment to the associative arrangements upon entry into force of the Comprehensive Compact.” Therefore, it may be understood that the “relationship of associative arrange-

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ARTICLES

Our culture war
By Fr. Roy Cimagala e have to be more aware and familiar with this phenomenon. We have to learn how to deal with it. Man, we can not avoid it anymore. Aware of it or not, it’s with us. This is actually raging in many developed, multicultural countries, like the United States. And since the world is now interconnected, synchronized and shrunk into a global village, we in the Philippines cannot escape from getting involved in it, such that we somehow have our own version of it. First, let us remember that war or conflict, whether we like it or not, is part of our life. Even in Christian teaching, some warfare is, in fact, both to be expected and recommended, though it’s waged more in the spiritual and personal side— against temptations, sin and our weaknesses. Of course, given our human condition, with the run of life, this spiritual and personal battle will sooner or later show its effects externally and socially until its elements can form part of our culture. This is where we can talk about a certain culture war, an ongoing public debate involving not only arguments and doctrine but also attitudes and lifestyles, focusing on what’s right and wrong in some hot-

W

button defining issues. The debate is usually in the area of religion, faith, and morals in all their different levels and aspects. It involves values, and things related more to the human soul than to our bodily and material welfare. In short, it involves things happening in our mind and heart from which our life is shaped. The problem starts when these fine distinctions are ig-

Of course, in each category, we can have endless varieties. What is important is that we know how to identify them in their cultural orientation. This knowledge, which is at best tentative, can help us to effectively tackle the intricacies of the culture war. The burning issues that can trigger this culture war, at least in the US context, can be contraception, abortion, homo-

Even in Christian teaching, some warfare is, in fact, both to be expected and recommended, though it’s waged more in the spiritual and personal side—against temptations, sin and our weaknesses.
nored, and people start weaving their own world-view rooted more on the material and temporal values, while neglecting the reality of the spiritual and supernatural values. Thus, we come out with categories of people like the more spiritually-inclined as contrasted to the more worldly and materially-attached type, the conservative, traditionalist person and the secular, liberal, progressive one, etc. From another angle, we can identify this culture war’s protagonists as believers and faithbased people, or non-believers, atheists, agnostics, skeptics, pragmatists, positivists, ideologues whether of the left, right or center, etc. sexuality, same-sex unions, environmental extremists, radical feminism, public morality, discrimination against religious schools, etc. They divide the parties into either pro-life or anti-life, culture of life or culture of death, etc. Somehow they are distinguished by their attitude toward faith and religion, the role of reason and affectivity and their relationship with faith, etc. Also, they are identified by the tools and weapons used. The Christian-inspired use truth with charity as lived by Christ and now taught by the Church. They are expected to practice patience and to face trials, insults, sacrifices. Those less Christian if not

anti-Christian and non-believers, can use anything and are prone to bullying their opponents. Remember what our Lord said: “The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” (Lk 16,8) But I believe the last laugh belongs to the believers. In our country, this culture war can be dramatized in the current debate over the socalled Reproductive Health bills now being deliberated in Congress. I consider them as likely provoking a seismic shift in our culture, since they involve basic realignment of personal and social values. In spite of their proponents saying the bills are actually prolife, pro-family and even proGod, our Church leaders have considered them precisely the opposite because of their suspicious inspiration and their association of a certain world network whose ideology is incompatible with Christian faith and morals. I personally think these bills are meant to get a foothold in our society via our legal system, a wedge that will later open the floodgates of atheistic and agnostic opinions and ways into our country. Our culture war is on. We need to know how to deal with it! I

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IMPACT • September 2008

N E W S FEATURES

Bishop urges probe in Compostela landslides
MANILA, September 9, 2008— A Catholic bishop has called on for a complete safety investigation on the killer landslides in Compostela Valley, an area known for vast mining operations in the country. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, National Secretariat for Social Action head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said justice must be served to those who perished in the tragedy. “It should be investigated to know what really caused the tragedy and if irresponsible mining which is [thoroughly] opposed by the CBCP has something to do about it,” Pabillo said. The Church hierarchy is firm in its stand against largescale mining operations, which according to the bishop, is almost synonymous to “irresponsible mining.” Pabillo, however, underscored that the CBCP does not automatically encourage smallscale mining operation, saying they have to be judged on a case-to-case basis. At least 15 people were confirmed killed in two separate landslides in Mindanaobased gold mining village of Masara. Several houses at the foothills of a steep mountain were completely destroyed buried by two landslides Saturday and Sunday, which forced hundreds of families from Masara and from adjacent villages in Southern Maco township to flee. The tragedies also injured 14 other people and left at least 25 other missing. Pabillo said mining should not be allowed by the government because of areas prone to natural calamities like landslides. The prelate said what happened is a sad thing and asked the faithful to pray for the victims and their families. (CBCPNews)

Sisters of Mother Teresa under investigation for ‘child kidnapping’
NEW DELHI, India, September 8, 2008— No change in the situation of the four children in police custody, following charges by Hindu radicals that they were “kidnapped and converted” by four sisters of Mother Teresa. The incident is a further sign of the campaign that Hindu fundamentalists have launched against the Christians. Yesterday, an Anglican church was burned in Madya Pradesh. Last September 5–the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta– four of other Teresa’s sisters were attacked by about 20 Bajrang Dal activists at the train station in Durgh (Chhattisghar). The Hindu radicals forced them off the train and handed them over to police agents while chanting anti-Christian slogans. The Hindu fundamentalists accused the sisters -- Sr. Mamta, the superior, Sr. Ignacio, Sr. Josephina, and Sr. Laborius -- of the “kidnapping and forced conversion” of four children between one and two years old, whom the sisters were taking from their house in Raipur to the Shishu Bhava charity center in Bhopal. The sisters had documents attesting to their responsibility for the children, in need of care. While waiting for the verification of all the documents, the sisters spent the night of September 5 in prison. This morning, Sr.

Mamta told AsiaNews that “the children are still in the government hospital, while the police are investigating the authenticity of the documents.” A police official of the district of Durg (Chhattisghar) says that “the case is

under the responsibility of the railway police.” “All of our documents are valid,” Sr Mamta continues, “but we are truly powerless: the police will take a long time to verify them. For our part, we have regis-

tered an initial complaint, but these procedures will take a long time, and our concern is that we will not have enough time to dedicate ourselves to the sick and to the children who need us.” (AsiaNews)

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N E W S FEATURES

Orissa: no peace for Christians even in refugee camps
NEW DELHI, India, September 9, 2008 -- There is no end to the tension in Orissa, where for two weeks a pogrom has been underway against Christians. Many of the faithful who have taken shelter in the refugee camps after their homes were destroyed and burned have found themselves threatened in the camps as well, where they should be protected by the police. The threats come from the Hindu radicals of the VHP (Viswa Hindu Parishad) and of the RSS (Rastriya Swyamsevak Sangh), who force the tribals to convert back to Hinduism, or suffer new violence. Some of the priests and theirrelativeshavealsobeenthreatened, and as a sign of their “reconversion”, they are shaved bald like sadhus (Hindu ascetics). According to accounts sent to AsiaNews from Bhubaneshwar, the fundamentalist groups are also spreading through the villages and forcing the Christians to sign papers saying that they are “freely” returning to Hinduism. Those who refuse are beaten, and their homes are burned. Sometimes -- sources tell AsiaNews as a sign of their “new life”, they are forced to burn the churches and homes of other Christians. And the destruction itself is becoming more “intelligent”. Sometimes, instead of burning homes, the fundamentalists content themselves with taking all of the furniture and objects out of it, and destroying them. In this way, they say, they make the families poor and exclude them from reimbursement by the government, which has promised money for those who have had their homes burned. This method is also useful in case the fundamentalists are arrested by the police: arson is punishable with years in prison, but the distraction of objects with only a few months. In the area of Kandhamal, a list has been drawn up of Catholic priests and pastors accused of being the killers of Swami LaxmananandaSaraswati,theradical Hindu leader killed last August 23 by Maoist guerrillas, whose death the Hindus continue to blame on the Christians.” (AsiaNews)

False priests appear on Hanoi media to discredit Catholics

Gov’t should pursue peace, says CBCP President
MANILA, September 5, 2008 -- CBCP President and Jaro (Iloilo) Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo said despite the abolition of the current peace panel representing the Philippine government, the country’s leadership should consider other opportunities to pursue peace. Interviewed over Catholic-run radio Veritas 846, Lagdameo said the government should not adopt a “closed door policy.” “Let us hope for another opportunity for another group who will compose the Peace panel to be engaged in the [peace] process in Mindanao,” the prelate said. He said consultations with the concerned communities should also be pursued especially if it concerns the “people’s welfare.” Consultations should be part of the general policy to pursue the peace process, he added. “Let us not be discouraged by the recent events as there are many obstacles to peace and we should never succumb to these trials,” the 68-year old prelate said. Lagdameo said the Catholic Church should not take the lead in pursuing peace in the country simply because we do not control the country’s resources and government. “We can simply help in our advisories, we can give our opinions, we can share our perspectives, other than that, it is the laity’s role to pursue peace,” he added. (CBCPNews)

HANOI, Vietnam, September 9, 2008 – Some priests have appeared on Vietnamese state TV and have been interviewed by government newspapers speaking out against Thai Ha parishioners who want the restitution of parish property, except that these men of the cloth are neither priests nor Catholics. At least one of them has in fact been identified as a Communist party official. “They were ‘ordained’ by the government,” was the scathing comment from the diocese of Hanoi. As this is happening Catholics are still carrying on their peaceful protests in Hanoi. Flyers expressing solidarity to the parishioners and the Redemptorist Fathers, the original owners of the disputed land, are being handed out all over the place. Msgr. Anthony Vu Huy Chuong, bishop of Hung Hoa, a diocese on the border with Laos in the country’s extreme north, sent a ‘Letter of Communion’ to the provincial superior of the Redemptorists of Vietnam and to the superior of Thai Ha Monastery. “I have prayed,” Bishop Vu wrote, “that justice and the

truth may be honoured not only in Thai Ha but also everywhere people have to suffer injustice and dishonesty.” “Recently,” he added, “the vicar of Can Kiem told me that the man who appeared on TV against Thai Ha claiming to speak on behalf of Can Kiem parishioners is in fact a government official, and not even a Catholic.” Faced with such a “sad and wearisome” campaign of falsehoods and disinformation by state media, the bishop called on Catholics to pray. Similarly, Pham Huy Ba and Nguyen Van Nhat, the two men who were introduced on state TV last Sunday as priests speaking out against Thai Ha parishioners, are further evidence of what Msgr. Vu Huy Chuong said. In a statement the diocese of Hanoi flatly dismissed any claim by these ‘clergymen’. “They have never been priests,” the statement read. “One may suppose they were ‘ordained’ by the government,” it added. In the meantime in Thai Ha thousands of Catholics (see photo) are still meeting every day to pray. (AsiaNews)

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IMPACT • September 2008

N E W S FEATURES

Church matches condom ads with pro-life DVDs
MANILA, September 10, 2008—Advertisements promoting artificial family planning has found a match from its major opponent, the Roman Catholic Church. The Archdiocese of Manila’s Ministry for Family and Life has produced a digital video disc (DVD) aimed at raising awareness about issues affecting family and life. The seven DVD series, entitled S.A.F.E Aboard: Attacks against the Family and Explained, is part of the Church’s effort to support the family amidst the “challenges of the modern times.” The DVD sets tackle issues about demography; New Age spirituality; sex education; the “truth and meaning of human sexuality”; violence and pornography in the mass media; the Gospel of Life; and marriage and family in God’s Plan. Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales said all the said topics were discussed by professionals and experts in their respective fields. All those, he said, were conceptualized to help families become “a visible sign of truth and love and recognize the values which are written in human nature itself and are therefore common to all humanity.” “These are principles not derived from a particular confession of faith alone but from the application of a truth respectful of the rights of each human being,” said Rosales. “May I highly recommend that each family, diocese, parish priest, seminary, catechist, schools, religious men and women, worker in the family life ministry and indeed any searching individual be equipped with this indispensable catechetical tool,” he added.

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales watches a video entitled S.A.F.E. Aboard: Subtle Attacks against the Family Explained, produced by the Ministry for Family and Life of the Archdiocese of Manila, as part of the Church's effort "to support the family amidst the challenges of the modern times." The video expounds on 7 relevant issues affecting family life such as: demography, the new age spirituality, sex education, the truth and meaning of human sexuality, violence and pornography in the mass media, the Gospel of life and marriage and family in God's plan.

The DVD sets were launched on Monday at the height of the intensifying debate against a pending reproductive health bill that pushes artificial contraception to con-

trol population growth. The educational materials cost P1,500 each and can be ordered through email at familyandlifeministry@yahoo.com. (Roy Lagarde)

First Christian militia set up in village near Nineveh
neighbours. Now Kurdish peshmerga control the area around the village whilst some 200 armed Christians are in charge its entry points. According to Middle East Online, since the arrangement was introduced, Christian militiamen have never had to use their weapons. Last year the village was hit by a truck bomb that killed seven people and since then it has been the frequent target of Sunni and Shiite fighters. “The terrorists want to kill us because we are Christian,” said militia group leader Abu Nataq. But “if we don’t defend ourselves, who will?” he asked. “We asked for the help of Kurdistan, the peshmerga,” Nataq said. The latter provided Kalashnikov rifles and radios and Christian militiamen get about 200 dollars a month from the Arbil administration. Christian fighters are stationed at the village’s four entry points and mobile teams patrol the streets, especially those around the Chaldean Catholic church of St George. “In Mosul, my children were not able to play in the street. I didn’t want to let my 12-year-old daughter go to school. I was so worried about her,” said one of the fighters. “We are virtually living on top of one another and everything is expensive because the shopkeepers know that we cannot make the trip to Mosul,” he added. But he is one of those who guard the church. (AsiaNews)

BAGHDAD, Iraq, September 10, 2000– The place is called Tal Asquf and is located in northern Iraq, not far from Nineveh. It is the first Christian village to have taken security into its own hands. Tired of paying jizya or protection money to al-Qaeda’s men, the village of 8,000 inhabitants turned instead to its Kurdish

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STATEMENTS

BISHOPS-ULAMA CONFERENCE
URGENT APPEAL from the Convenors of the Bishops-Ulama Conference 10:20 A.M. 20 August 2008 WE, the undersigned convenors of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, most earnestly and urgently appeal to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and to the Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to put an immediate STOP to the fighting between their respective combatants, to order them back to their barracks and headquarters, to release captives and hostages, and to arrive at an immediate ceasefire agreement. We also appeal most earnestly and urgently to the Philippine National Police, their CAFGUs and CVUs as well as to the local MILF Security Forces to restore order in the affected areas in North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte including the contiguous cities of Kidapawan and Iligan respectively. We call on local, national, and international aid agencies to provide immediate assistance to the displaced residents, and their damaged houses, chapels and properties, with special attention to the poor, the sick, the babies, and the little children. We call on all religious leaders in Mindanao—our bishops, ulama, ai’mah, ustadzes, pastors, priests, religious men and women—to help us make this our earnest and urgent appeal heard, accepted, and answered throughout the region. We likewise strongly and urgently appeal to print and broadcast media to take utmost care in reporting only the facts and to avoid spreading disinformation, incendiary comments and unconfirmed rumors. Finally we respectfully remind everyone who believes and loves God, whom we call by many names, to intensify sustained personal and communal prayer accompanied by self sacrifices, to ask Him for an enlightened use of our reason, for calmness and sobriety in our emotions, for compassion and forgiveness in our hearts. For we believe that Christian, Islamic, and indigenous faiths put great emphasis on the power of sincere and constant prayer. To the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) we offer ourselves and our confreres to be facilitators of your intensive information campaign regarding the peace process in general and the peace negotiations in particular especially the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) so that our people especially the Mindanaoans may know, understand, and accept whatever you decide and agree on their behalf.

FERNANDO R. CAPALLA Archbishop of Davao BUC Co-Convenor

HILARIO M. GOMEZ, JR. UCCP Bishop Emeritus BUC Co-Convenor

HAMID A. BARRA OIC Ulama League of the Philippines BUC Co-Convenor

he conflict and crisis occasioned by the controversial and delicate Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the Republic of the Philippines and the MILF—in the absence apparently of due consultation with concerned parties—has developed in the last few weeks into a war. As is already being done in several dioceses, we urgently and strongly recommend that we pray for Peace

Praying for peace in Mindanao T
in Mindanao. We may use the following prayer and/or similar prayer for this intention: God our Father, you reveal that those who work for peace will be called your children. Help us to work without ceasing for that justice which brings true and lasting peace. Hear our prayer and grant peace to Mindanao that we may rejoice in your mercy and praise you without end. Mary, Virgin of Light, remember your first shrine in Mindanao and let “the dawn from on high break upon us, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Lk. 1:79) Amen. We offer this prayer as one nation and in solidarity with the Mindanao Bishops as well as with the thousands of innocent people who are forced to evacuate and live in uncertainty and fear because of the current crisis and war. Instead of only blaming

the people who are responsible for this unfortunate happening in our country, let us also pray, approaching Mary, the Virgin of Light to help us. We are confident that She who is the Mother of all Abrahamic children will unite us in peace +ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, DD Archbishop of Jaro President, CBCP August 27, 2008

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IMPACT • September 2008

STATEMENTS

of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bishops of Mindanao

Joint Communique

T

he first-ever peace dialogue be tween the Catholic Bishops of Mindanao and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held at the Archbishop’s Residence in Davao City on August 14, 2008 was capped with utmost sincerity, trust and cordiality, a historic significant initiative as a way forward in advancing the common quest for genuine peace, unity and development in Mindanao. Both the MILF and the Bishops reiterate their unwavering moral commitment to pursue the path to peace, solidarity, justice and development in Mindanao, and resolve and support to the continuation of the peace process between the MILF and the government until its successful conclusion is achieved. The Bishops and representatives of the highest leadership of the MILF called on all sectors of the society for sobriety and calmness in confronting and resolving the issues besetting the forging of the GRP–MILF Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain. Both Parties appealed for an immediate declaration of ceasefire to the ongoing armed clashes in some towns of North Cotabato, and immediate provision of relief assistance and rehabilitation programs for the affected communities by all concerned institutions, local and international.

Dialogue and educational programs must be intensified, particularly by the religious leaders and aca demic institutions, relative to the ongoing peace process in Mindanao. The Bishops were led by Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao, co-convenor of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, and the MILF officials by Mohagher Iqbal, who is also the Chairman of the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel. Those in attendance are Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of Cotabato, Bishop Honesto Pacana of Malaybalay, Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan, Bishop Nerio Odchimar of Tandag, Surigao del Sur, Bishop Edwin dela Peña of Marawi City, Bishop Antonieto Cabajog of Surigao City; MILF Peace

Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, MILF Senior Peace Panel Member Atty. Datu Michael Mastura, Ustaz Mohammad Montasir and Ustaz Mohammad Abdullah, both members of the MILF Central Committee, MILF AHJAG Chairman Atty. Abdul Dataya, MILF Peace Panel Head of Secretariat Jun Mantawil, MILF Peace Panel Secretariat Member Mohajirin Ali, and MILF CCCH Secretariat Head Rasid Ladiasan. Done this 14th day of August, 2008 in Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines. For the Mindanao Bishops: ARCHBISHOPFERNANDOCAPALLA Archbishop of Davao For the MILF: MOHAGHERIQBAL Chairman, MILF Peace Negotiating Panel

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FROM THE B L O G S

t last, the proverbial cat is out of the bag. Now, it can be told openly and conclusively. It is devious but ingenious. It does not really care how many people are displaced and impoverished or how many individuals are hurt or killed. Charter Change: this is the ultimate target, the primary objective of Malacañang. This explains the why the infamous “deal,” “agreement”— or whatever it is eventually called—cannot be reasonably explained, much less made really understandable without Charter Change. This covert accord has been uncovered, more so certain provisions that are not only untenable but also unbelievable if the Philippine Constitution would not be changed. It would not matter at all if the said avidly desires and assiduously designed Charter

A

Cat out of the bag
Change (CHA-CHA) were done through a Constituent Assembly (CON-ASS) or a Constitutional Convention (CON-CON). The priority concern and pursuant compelling Malacañang agenda once again all lead to a constitutional change (CON-CHA). But more than just accommodating the said secretive consensus, there is something much more deviate and sinister in the CHA-CHA about which Malacañang has been long since salivating. In other words, any constitutional change done in anyway and anyhow before May 2010, is primarily geared at extending the reign of the present national leadership. Either CON-ASS or CONCON is not only acceptable but also very promising as far as Malacañang is concerned. In the event of a CON-ASS, the ruling administration has a good number of well established allies in the present Congress. In the case of CON-CON, the same reigning Malacañang occupant also has a big number of obedient subjects in the persons of many provincial, city and municipal lead public officials. The key Malacañang preoccupation wherefore is having a CHA-CHA approved in principle—and everything else follows as a matter of course. Once the needed change in the Fundamental Law of the land supposedly to accommodate the “Piece of Paper” is on deck, then there is no plausible reason why another constitutional amendment could not be also readily proposed—such as changing the form of government to Federalism, Unicameral or anything at all, on condition only that Malacañang tenure of power is extended. Is it true that someone has already acquired the addiction to power? By the way, the inherent nature and immediate implications of addiction to power are barred for its indefinite extension. This is especially true when the power is intimately accompanied with immunity from suit, not to mention the encompassing privilege to secrecy, not even to think of the national wealth at its complete disposal. More than any other known addiction, somebody addicted to power would leave no stone unturned, would spare no one and nothing, would continue holding on to it as long as possible and through any conceivable means. What is proper or gross, reasonable or indecent—all these do not really matter in the case of addiction to power. be officially non-existent. Only a measly 10 percent is taken from the said total shares. This includes all “expenses” for the gambling operation, all “prizes” included. The big 90 percent goes everywhere else in the province. The said multi-million amount of money, of course, in no way includes the likewise millions of dirty money also taken away from the poor bettors of “Jueteng” that is an infallible accompaniment of STL. Wherefore, various gambling formed are “Games of Chance,” as fondly said: Tell it to the marines!
www.ovc.blogspot.com

www.ovc.blogspot.com

A

mong the many things deviously invented and the many words deliberately invoked to hide the viciousness of gambling and to assiduously cover up its deceitful nature and intention, nothing beats the long perpetuated nonchalantly invoked phrase “Games of Chance.” This is why even the infamous and infectious government downright entity is ridiculously called “Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.” The truth is that no form of gambling is either a “game” or any venture of “chance.” No matter how one looks at it, a game basically means fun, entertainment, pastime

and it does not require much learning to know that a “chance” is just that, i.e., a possibility, a potential, a prospect. The 2008 Olympics amply say just that. They are games wherein athletes take their chances of winning. There is a lot of cheering, clapping and shouting on the part of the on-lookers. Theirs is much joy and fun. On the other hand, the athletes all try their best to win first, second or third—with none of them sure of really winning until so declared by the judges. This is why the different forms and designs of gambling can be any-

Games of Chance
thing by honest to goodness “Games of Chance.” And this is true for the so-called “legal” and “illegal” gambling. The title is not only a falsity but more particularly a deception. While in games, practically any participant has a chance of winning, in gambling, it’s the capitalists who are sure winners. And no matter who are the gamblers who might win and how much these could win, one thing however is definite and defined, viz, the gambling operators rake in much, much money ever. It is enough to know how many billions of pesos PAGCOR cleans their clients off

every quarter of the year. (Never mind where these billions go, what they are spent for, who gets big chunks of it). Even the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, which has not long since pitifully engaged in gambling such as Small Town Lottery (STL), has records to show how much money is taken from presumably poor bettors. For example, in the Province of Albay alone for the month of April 2008, the STL “Gross Sales” amounted to no less than Php12,968,713.00. And this amount excludes even its Fourth District where STL appears to

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IMPACT • September 2008

EDITORIAL

f late, there were again much talk--propositions, speculations, projections--about the form of government that this country supposedly needs and yearns for. While many say the present bicameral form of government should be retained, some are looking forward to a federal system of government. While others are contemplating over a parliamentary form of government, millions of Filipinos on the other hand are not the least interested in the political intramurals, saying these have no bearing on their empty and aching stomachs. In all probability, practically the entire people of the Philippines would agree that this long and much suffering country has the distinction of having in fact found another form of government--without intending much less desiring it. For purposes of historical records, the Philippines has so far managed to live in a novel form of government since the incumbency of the ruling administration. It can be legitimately and realistically called a “Depressing Form of Government.” In its popular understanding, depression is a state of gloom and dejection. It is the same as despondency and desolation. A dispirited present and helpless future--this is what a depressed person feels and foresees, and this is exactly what the people of this country experience. Of course, there is an exception to this real and factual state of the nation. These are precisely those running the depressing government by impoverishing the people

O

New form of government
while enriching themselves, by wielding power and influence while oppressing the citizens. Ever since it took over the running of the government, its Chief Executive, together with privileged allies and blessed cohorts, is very successful indeed in causing one distressing problem after another at the expense of the people. It is very agile in bringing about a long litany of tormenting graft and corrupt practices at the cost of public welfare. Glorious promises became shameful realities. Glowing predictions turned into pitiful situations. What it says, the opposite is true. When it predicts the best, expect the worst. This is how depressing the present government has become. And at the eve of its demise, hopefully, lo and behold what this government has for the people: War! Guns fire, and lives are lost. Anger and hatred are let loose, and houses are burnt while livelihood is lost. As usual, the biggest victims of war are precisely those who want nothing of it. Yet the deaths of innocent people, the destructions of their little properties plus the dislocation of their dear families–all these are very conveniently and neatly called “collateral damage.” The government initialed an agreement it could not deliver. It wanted a charter change it could not sell. It aimed at an extension of office it could not cut. All these were the preamble of the war now raging in Mindanao. Poor Filipino people for having a depressing form of government!

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FROM THE I N B O X From the emails of Lan Bergado, lanspidey@yahoo.com

Devil’s most used instrument

I

S

Scars of Love
little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms, were deep scratches where his mother’s fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved. The newspaper reporter, who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, “But look at my arms. I have great scars onmyarms, too. I have them because my M o m wouldn’t let go.” You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars, too. Not from an alligator, but the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly and have caused us deep regret. But, some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of your struggle, he’s been there holding on to you. The Scripture teaches that God loves you. You are a child of God. He wants to protect you and provide for you in every way. But sometimes we foolishly wade into dangerous situations, not knowing what lies ahead. The swimmingholeoflifeisfilledwithperil— and we forget that the enemy is waiting to attack. That’s when the tug-of-war begins—and if you have the scars of His love on your arms be very, very grateful. He did not and will not ever let you go.

T was advised that the devil was going to put his tools up for sale. On the date of the sale, the tools were placed for public inspection; each tool being marked with its sale price. They were a treacherous lot of implements… Hatred, Envy, Jealousy, Deceit, Lying, Pride, and so on. Laid apart from the rest was a harmless looking tool, that appeared to have been heavily used, and was priced very high. “What’s the name of the tool?” asked one of the purchasers, pointing to it.

“That is Discouragement,” replied the devil. “Why have you priced it so high?” “Because it is more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open and get inside people’s hearts with that when I cannot get near them with my other tools. Once I get inside, I can make them do what I choose. It is badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since very few people know that it belongs to me.” Never get discouraged! Keep your head up, keep the faith!

ome years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cold water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward t h e middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. His mother in the house was looking out the window and saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could. Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his mother. It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him. From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tugof-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator. Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the

© The Gallery Collection/Corbis

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IMPACT • September 2008

B O O K REVIEWS

Apostle & Martyr Igino Giordani
Originally published in Italian, this book by Igino Giordani was translated into English by two nuns of the Religious of Our Lady of the Cenacle. This Philippine edition by St. Pauls was published in commemoration of the 2,000th birth anniversary of the great apostle. The book which details the life of Paul from his youth, conversion, travels to different communities he founded, up to his martyrdom, presents to the reader a man so taken up by the power of the word of God that he would do anything to make that word known by all. Though the volume is a product of scientific research and profound study, it is presented in a way that would appeal to any ordinary reader who wants to deepen his/her knowledge of the life and ministry of the great apostle. In his foreword Richard Cardinal Cushing aptly describes how relevant St. Paul is to the modern generation, “This story of St. Paul should inspire the modernday laborer, the housewife, the intellectual, the businessman, the politician, the statesman.” The author, a Catholic journalist and cofounder of Focolare Movement died in 1980, and is now a candidate for beatification.

St. Paul

Detrimental and Beneficial Social Doctrine
Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz, DD
This volume, the latest of the author’s voluminous titles that have been published so far, tackles the issue of disparity between faith and action among many Filipinos who call themselves Catholics. In his presentation the author poses s e v e r a l questions that hit right on target: Why does a Christian country like ours, considered the only Catholic nation in Asia, also have the most corrupt government? Why do most Catholic Filipinos find it easy to live a dichotomized life–separating their Catholic faith and morals? And considering all these disturbing realities – another question comes to fore%has the Catholic Church failed in her work of integral evangelization? These and the many other problems put forward will surely challenge readers and set them think and look inwardly, and ask themselves the same queries. In the light of all these uncertainties, the book explores the social doctrine of the Church which, as the author explains it, basically “all about God and man, His glory and his welfare, His commandments and his obedience, His praise and his good.”

Celebrating the Joys, Mending the Tears in Women’s Relationships Joy Carol
An interesting take on the issue of women’s friendships, this book by Carol provides valuable insights on the aspect of relationship between and among women. The author posits that “women’s friendships are some of the most intense relationships in the universe— both in terms of their positive, supportive aspects as well as their negative, problematic characteristics.” All in twelve chapters, Carol expounds on the subject dexterously, exploring gamut of issues such as anger, envy, competition, the need to belong and feel accepted, concerns that often invade and affect relationship between friends. An upshot of years of involvement in women’s issues and research study, the ideas found in this book will surely give women (and hopefully, also men) a deeper understanding on how women’s relationship work. Certainly, the real stories on women’s experiences scattered through the pages will provide readers some insights on how to transform and nurture their own relationships with their women friends. The author, who has written a number of books on various topics and numerous articles on women issues, is the founder of Union Center for Women. This book is published locally by Paulines Publishing House.

The Fabric of Friendship

The Greatest Marian Titles
Their History, Meaning and Usage Anthony Buono
Contemporary society puts too much emphasis on titles. With the title given to a person, a certain distinction is accorded to the individual thus distinguishing him/her from others while providing the necessary recognition or respect that accompanies the name. Just like in modern society, early Christians too made use of titles to identify great men and women of faith, who are looked up as role models of Christian life. Christians have also specific titles on Mary, which emphasizes her unique relationship to God and us. In this volume, Buono, an Italian author who has written a lot on Liturgy, picked twenty four among many titles accorded to the Blessed Mother. The author explores the h i s t o r y, meaning and usage of what he considers the greatest of all Marian titles. Published by St. Pauls, this book is an interesting read, at the same time a useful reference for anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of Mariology.

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ENTERTAINMENT

C ATHOLIC IN ITIATIVE FOR ENLIGHTENED MOVIE APPRECIATION
Cast: KC Concepcion, Richard Gutierrez, Nor Domingo, Jake Cuenca, Carla Humphries, Denise Laurel, Candy Pangilinan, Beatriz Saw Director: Joyce E. Bernal Producer: Malou N. Santos Screenwriter: Vanessa Valdez Editor: Marya Ignacio Genre: Romance/ Drama Cinematography: Shayne Clement Distributor: ABS-CBN Film Productions Running Time: 110 min. Technical Assessment: Moral Assessment: CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

SI Pia (KC Concepcion) ay isang real estate executive sa kompanya ng kanyang Daddy (Philip Salvador). Hirap si Pia na patunayan ang sarili sa kanyang ama at matindi ang pressure na binibigay sa kanya nito. Sa gitna ng pagkaabala sa trabaho, itinuloy ni Pia ang bakasyon sa Santorini, Greece upang makapag-isip-isip kung dapat pa niyang ituloy ang pagtatrabaho sa ama. Sa di inaasahang pagkakataon ay magku-krus ang landas nila ni Seth (Richard Gutierrez), ang mayamang playboy na naging ex-boyfriend ng kanyang mga kaibigan kung kaya’t matindi ang pagkainis niya rito. Pero dahil si Seth ang may-ari ng kanyang tinutuluyang hotel sa Santorini, napilitan siyang pakisamahan

ito. Isinumpa ni Pia sa kanyang sarili na hindi siya pwedeng mainlove kay Seth dahil bukod sa ito ay certified babaero, hindi si Seth ang tipo ng l a l a k i n g magugustuhan ng kanyang Daddy para sa kanya. Pero sa pagdaan ng mga araw sa Santorini, sa gitna ng romantikong lugar, ay tila magbabago ang ihip ng hangin sa dalawa. Si Pia na kaya ang huling babae sa ni Seth. Mapanindigan kaya ni Pia and sumpa sa sarili? Isang karaniwang kuwentong pag-ibig ang For the First Time na inilagay lamang sa ibang lugar. Matagumpay ang pelikula sa pagdadala sa manonood sa matulaing lugar ng Santorini, Greece. Napakaganda ng tanawin na tila nanaisin ng sinumang

makakapanood ng pelikula ang puntahan ang lugar na ito. Pasado ang pag-arte ni KC Concepcion kahit pa ito ang una niyang pelikula at hindi maitatangging napakaganda ng kanyang rehistro sa kamera. Si Richard Gutierrez ay wala namang bagong ipinakita. Hindi gaanong ramdam ang kilig sa dalawa at tila mababaw ang kuwento sa kabuuan. Masyadong mataas ang antas ng pamumuhay ng mga karakter sa pelikula na hindi arok ng masa. Ito ang klase ng buhay na papangarapin lamang ngunit hindi ang lahat ay mabibigyan ng pagkakataong maranasan. Labas tuloy ay isang artipisyal na daigdig ang ipinakita ng pelikula at malayo sa katotohanan. Hindi rin

gaanong nakakadala ang daloy ng emosyon ng mga tauhan. Salamat na lamang sa ilang epektibong patawa ni Candy Pangilinan at nagkaroon kahit paano ng buhay ang pelikula. Makapangyarihan ang tunay na pag-ibig lalo pa’t wagas and hangarin nitong alalahanin ang kapakanan ng minamahal. Ito ang nais sabihin ng For the First Time sa kabuuan. Pero sa likod Pero sa likod ng mensaheng ito ay makikita ang mga karakter na bulagsak sa salapi, walang pakialam sa paligid at sadyang napakadali ng buhay. Bagay na hindi magandang halimbawa sa sinumang kabataang makakanood. Hindi malinaw ang naging pagbabago ng karakter ni Seth. Sadyang nakakailang at mahirap

paniwalaan ang paghingi niya ng tawad sa lahat ng babaeng kanyang nasaktan. Pawang peke ang dating nito. Si Pia naman ay pinapatunayang pilit ang sarili sa ama gayong malinaw na hindi buo ang kanyang loob na kontrolin ang kanyang emosyon. Talaga bang hindi na uso ang pagakyat ng ligaw sa mga kabataan at ang pakikipag-relasyon ba’y talagang palihim na sa mga magulang? Nakakabahala ang ganitong umuusbong na kultura. Hindi gaanong napalalim ng pelikula ang maraming dahilan ng paghihiwalay ng mga relasyon at pagkawasak ng pamilya. Pawang ang mga ito ay normal lamang at karapat-dapat na tanggapin bilang bahagi ng buhaypamilya.

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IMPACT • September 2008

N E W S BRIEFS PAKISTAN

US blamed for attack on Pakistani village
At least 11 people were killed in a missile strike by suspected US drones on a Pakistan tribal town near the Afghan border. Officials said two drones or US unmanned aircraft fired several missiles at a house near an Islamic seminary, that locals say was founded by a friend of Osama Bin Laden. Three militants are reported dead, but witnesses say the main targets were away at the time.
MALAYSIA

sleeping Buddha believed to have been seen by a Chinese pilgrim centuries ago when it came upon the relics in the central province of Bamiyan.
E. TIMOR

Court rejects petition vs president
A group of politicians and human rights advocates in East Timor are furious at a decision by the court of appeal not to accept their petition against president Jose Ramos Horta’s decision to pardon 94 criminals. The group led by MP Fernanda Borges say the decision by the court not to consider their petition strengthens impunity, weakens the people’s faith in the justice system and undermines the rule of law.
INDONESIA

says another military coup is possible if the political strife in Thailand continues to drag on. Public lobby group People’s Alliance for Democracy and Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej are still at loggerheads, despite parliamentary mediation attempts. Samak said he would stay on as prime minister, to defend democracy and the monarchy.
NEPAL

says she wants to draw attention to her unfair imprisonment and that of her two maids. One of her maids was taken to hospital on Friday night with kidney trouble.
JERUSALEM

Police recommends charges vs Olmert
Israeli police recommended that the attorney general file corruption charges against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Senior police officers alleged that the 62-year-old former mayor of Jerusalem accepted as much as $150,000 in bribes since the 1990s that were stuffed into envelopes by a prominent Jewish American businessman. They also accuse him of committing fraud by double billing non-profit organizations for dozens of trips he and his family took to the United States. An investigation into other potential corruption offences continues.
IRAN

Slavery criminalized in Nepal
Peace and Reconstruction Minister and former Maoist commander, Janardan Sharma, said from now on anyone who practises the slavery-live Haliya system will be punished. Under the system, prevalent for decades in nine districts in western Nepal, moneylenders force poor villagers who borrow money to farm their land until they repay their debt. He said the government has set up a panel to consider rehabilitation of the former slaves and their families.
BURMA

NZ, Malaysia resume free trade talks
New Zealand has announced the resumption of free trade talks with Malaysia. It ends a break of more than two years in negotiations. New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, says a refreshed mandate has been issued and negotiations with Malaysia will start again. The talks opened in 2005, but were put on hold in April 2006.
AFGHANISTAN

Koran tests underway prior to Indo polls
Aceh province will begin testing candidates on the Koran for next year’s provincial elections from this month. Under Aceh’s sharia law, all Muslim candidates must be able to read the Koran. Aceh province, on the westernmost end of Indonesia, is the only area officially allowed to use sharia, or Islamic law, as part of a local autonomy deal.
THAILAND

Buddha statue, historical relics found
Archaeologists have discovered a 19-metre Buddha statue along with scores of other historical relics in central Afghanistan near the ruins of the giant buddhist statues destroyed by the Taliban seven years ago. The team was searching for a giant

No Suu Kyi hunger strike: police
Police officials here denied detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is on hunger strike. She receives daily rations from the regime and has no other source of food. San Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy claims she has been refusing food supplies for the past three weeks. It

Election to be held June 2009
Iran will hold its 2009 presidential election on June 12, when conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is widely expected to stand for a second four-year term, despite criticism over his economic policies. Iranian media said yesterday the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog, and the interior ministry had agreed on the date.

Military coup still possible
A Thai military general

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