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Vol. 42 No. 12 • DECEMBER 2008
IMPACT • December 2008 2

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Quote in the Act
“Our hands are clean.”
Shah Mehmood, Pakistani foreign minister; reacting to potential reprisals by
India over the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the Pakistani government insisted
that it had not been involved and promised to take action against Pakistan-
based militants if found to be implicated.
“The world is a safer place today.”
Richard Moyes of the Cluster Munitions Coalition; after 100 nations signed in
Oslo, Norway, a landmark treaty banning cluster bombs, amid calls for major
arms producers such as China, Russia and the US to join in.
“The time to prepare a new government is now.”
Angel N. Lagdameo, archbishop of Jaro and president of the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of the Philippines; in a press statement with other four bishops
denouncing the Arroyo government for massive corruption, which he calls
“social and moral cancer.”
“Everything I do is forever.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger, California governor and action star; on his
commitment to continue promoting environmental issues especially one that
combats global warming which has become ingrained in him as the career
that began his rise to international fame—bodybuilding.
“I don’t think the CBCP will say that ‘you
should go to the streets and bring down the
present government’.”
Deogracias Iñiguez, Caloocan bishop and head of CBCP’s Public Affairs
Committee; in answer to pressures from militant groups and civil society,
adding that leading a political revolution is beyond the role of the bishops
who have already declared strongly and repeatedly the moral bankruptcy of
the Arroyo government.
“It is very funny that you have twice hung up
on me.”
Barack Obama, US president-elect; after Republican congresswoman
Ros-Lehtinen hung up on her cell phone twice on Obama thinking it was
prank—until she got an urgent call from Rep. Howard Berman, Chairman of
the Foreign Affairs Committee, informing her that the president-elect was on
the line.







Volume 42 • Number 12
December 2008 / Vol 42 • No 12
Changing the Constitution .............................. 27
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is
60, but the painful struggle continues ......... 16
Small-Scale Mining—A Looming Menace to
Salcedo, Eastern Samar ..................................... 4
Mining and Its impact to the Indigenous
Peoples and the Local Community ................ 7
World Population Collapse: Lessons for the
Philippines ....................................................... 10
The culture of impunity and press freedom ... 13
The Samurai with the Cross .............................. 15
Born in a Manger: God among the Poor and
Simple ................................................................ 20
Quote in the Act ................................................. 2
News Features ................................................... 22
Statements .......................................................... 24
From the Blogs ................................................... 26
From the Inbox .................................................. 28
Book Reviews ..................................................... 29
Entertainment .................................................... 30
News Briefs ........................................................ 31
he year 2008 is in a hurry. Or
so it seems. The US economic
meltdown which has now
become global is a revolution of the
moneyed that has left the rest of us
with nothing to lose in the banks
and investment houses but merely
gazing at the sky and see, albeit
unexcitedly, what the zodiacs have
in store for us next year.
Political leaders, nursing with
jitters and eye bags, should be
relieved to close the books and
jump on a new year just to lessen,
perhaps, another bout of linger-
ing paranoia. But, again, not the
rest of us who habitually lag like
driftwoods and feel neither sense
nor consequence to whatever
happen to fnancial wizards and
political dumbledores who, any-
way, are both driven by greed and
But forecasts are prophets of doom
and that’s what makes the trade of
forecasting professional and oc-
cupied. According to predictions,
or better, conjectures, 2009 will see
more people in this archipelago
relishing deeper their ingrained
poverty. Well, it has been so since
Magellan set foot on Homonhon is-
land. The only difference was there
were then no liars and politicians
unlike the proud
vermins of today.
Call it a dog barking
on a wrong tree or a
demigod—who, un-
like the likes of Zeus
who did mostly heroics, thinks nothing
but selfsh survival and perpetuity in
power—but the solution to the global
economic downturn forwarded by the
present dispensation is changing the
Law of the land. It may be too much
for the imagination of technocrats or
shameless for the simple, but Cha-
Cha (Charter Change that is presently
pursued through a Constituent As-
sembly of self-interested legislators)
is the opted panacea against economic
regression by the Arroyo’s and their
lackeys in Congress. This is one of the
modern behaviors that escape both
philosophy and decency.
Another creepy contraption is solving
an age-old poverty problem through
a reproductive health bill that capi-
talizes on maternal and child health
care without directly addressing the
fundamental demands of a plummet-
ing economy. Though obliquely, this
logic is premised on a theory that the
swelling of demography is the prime
suspect to have caused the massifca-
tion of poverty. This, of course, is a
myth. But myth is the stuff that sto-
rytellers and government spinners
are made of.
At the end of the day, all that seem
to matter is politics or, better, the
economy of politics where domi-
nance and the struggle for power
defnes the passage of time—and
not the common good that, ideally,
should have been the raison d’être
of the art of good governance.
This issue opens with Maria
Perez’s investigation into small-
scale mining that, built to skirt
the law, thrives on deception and
begets the same high-end proft
with the same social and environ-
mental destruction brought about
by the large-scale ones. There is
no contention to the fact that local
government units have found a
gold mine in small-scale mining.
In celebration of the 60th anniver-
sary of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, Daisy Valerio
writes our cover story. Read on.
IMPACT • December 2008 4
Text and Photos By Maria
Cadahia Perez
orking as volunteers in Natural
Resource Management (NRM)
and Sustainable Development
Planning in Salcedo, Eastern Samar in the
Philippines, we found it incredible and frus-
trating to witness the demonstrated threat
of small-scale mining making strides as an
alternative livelihood to locals while at the
same time pushing the sustainability of the
natural resource base and the welfare of the
population to the shadow of uncertainty.
Salcedo, is a small, rural, 5th class mu-
nicipality on a scale of 1 (most developed)
to 6 (the least
developed). People’s live-
lihood depends mainly on natural resources
in coastal and upland areas where farming
and fshing are the dominant activities. The
natural environment of Salcedo has been
continually degraded through the years
by deforestation and unsustainable agro-
forestry practices in the upland areas and
over-exploitation and destructive fshing
practices along the coast. All these together
with demographic increase have resulted to
dwindling local people’s incomes and poor
standards of living. The Local Government
Unit (LGU) has been inadequately equ ip-
ped to respond to this challenge and since
the last fve years, has been supported by
technical assistance from international
volunteers who specialize in NRM.
But the technical support provided
by the interna-
tional volunteers and their
partner organizations to enhance the lives
of the local population and reverse the
negative trends threatening the environment
and progress of the municipality, seems to
have been set aside as the Eastern Samar
provincial government and its constituent
municipal governments started facilitating
small-scale mining to “address the needs
of development.”
In 2007, the provincial government of
Eastern Samar issued an ordinance setting
aside sizeable portions of land exclusively
to small-scale mining. In the municipality
of Salcedo, the provincial law set aside
around 2,853 hectares for small-scale
chromite mining. At the same time, the
Mines and GeoSciences Bureau (MGB) is
processing an application for an offshore
nickel and iron mining exploration permit
in the ecologically important Matarinao
Bay which is a breeding/spawning ground
Mining—A Looming
Menace to Salcedo,
Eastern Samar
Volume 42 • Number 12
for marine life and an important fshing
area to hundreds of coastal families in the
municipalities of Hernani, MacArthur,
Quinapondan and Salcedo.
Is mining really the appropriate de-
velopment strategy, or is it just being
pushed for the enrichment of the few? In
the context of this small community, the
popular answer given by residents seems
to be the latter.
In Salcedo, there is now an alarm-
ing increase in the number of small scale
mining operations (about 20 pockets of
small scale mining at the very
least) particularly in
t h e
s o u t h e r n
barangays where a lot of
irregularities are now being committed
which put into question the desirability
of the mining operations. We conducted
feld surveys of the mining areas in vari-
ous months of 2008 and found a lot of ir-
regularities and violations of the law such
as: the use of child labor, employment of
heavy equipment, burning of forests, and
stockpiling of chromite deposits 20 meters
away from mangrove and seaside areas,
among others.
The mining operators are also conduct-
ing a misinformation campaign to trick
local offcials and residents to believe that
the activity would beneft agriculture since
it would result to the removal of chromite
which is a toxic substance in the soil.
However, the same misinformation cam-
paign does not explain that mining would
involve the excavation of the soil which,
if done haphazardly, as it is being done by
the mining operators, would result to the
disruption of the soil structure and water
infltration capacity, as well as erosion and
leaching of nutrients which, when added all
together, would render the soil unsuitable
to agriculture.
Due to the inherently destructive nature
of mining and the fact that at this early stage,
a number of abuses are already being com-
mitted by the mining operators, further live-
lihood, health and environmental problems
would arise which in the long run could create
more damages than gains. This is especially
so since the number of small-scale mining
operations in the municipality are expected
to increase dramatically and cover various
parts of 2,853 hectare mining block,
as had happened in
many parts
of the country where size-
able chunks of land have been declared for
small scale mining. It is therefore imperative
that the people and the local (provincial,
municipal and barangay) government units
be informed, organized and equipped to
properly evaluate, monitor, regulate, control
or even stop the activity if need be.
Environmental and social damages
For sure, the mining operation would
bring immediate gains such as employment
and increased income from a few to possibly
hundreds of families if the mines would
operate for years, and also increased LGU
revenues from fees and tax collections that
could range from a few hundred thousands
to a few million pesos a year if a lot of
miners would operate in the large tract of
land that paradoxically, has been allocated
to small scale mining.
However, all these projected benefts
should be weighed against the possible
adverse effects which include an alarmingly
huge number of interconnected environ-
mental and social damages. The negative
environmental effects include the following:
1) permanent loss or disruption of natural
habitat through the conversion of forest and
agricultural areas to mining land, 2) loss of
soil through excavation which would result
to the disruption of soil structure and function
and the consequent decline in soil fertility,
and accelerated erosion due to removal of
vegetation 3) contamination and disruption
of fow of ground and surface water due to
damage to the soil’s water infltration and ab-
sorption capacity, release of mine tailings and
sedimentation 4) reduced slope stabil-
ity and higher risk of
slides and
environmental catastro-
phes particularly in Barangay Palanas
which is prone to geologic hazards as per
2006 Mines and GeoSciences Bureau (MGB)
Rapid Field Assessment, 5) loss of biodi-
versity, 6) further disruption of off-site or
downstream land and water (fshing/spawn-
ing) areas including streams, mangroves,
sea grass beds and corals, particularly in
Leyte Gulf, and possibly even Matarinao
and Quinapondan bays, due to the fact that
the mining area covers the municipality’s
three critical watersheds.
Social damages or the direct negative
impacts of mining to the people include
the following: 1) loss of agricultural and
forest based livelihood and decline in farm
yield and fsh harvest due to degradation
of habitat, 2) displacement of households
due to damage to environment and liveli-
hood on and off-site, 3) restricted entry to
hunters, food gatherers and shifting cul-
tivators, 4) reduced water availability for
domestic consumption and irrigation due
to contamination and disruption of ground
and surface water, 5)immediate illnesses
and long-term adverse health effects (such
as lung infection, skin allergy, poisoning,
among others) not only from inhalation and
skin contact, but also through the entry of
large amounts of chromite into the food
chain and water supply system, 6) lesser
Small-Scale Mining—A Looming Menace to Salcedo, Eastern Samar
Mining—A Looming
Menace to Salcedo,
Eastern Samar
IMPACT • December 2008 6
Small-Scale Mining, page 22
recreational resources and activities, and
fnally, 7) decline in long-term income and
exacerbation of the poverty cycle situation
due to the synergistic interplay of all the
negative consequences cited above.
Need for assessment
Ideally, a thorough cost and beneft
analysis should be undertaken to carefully
and accurately assess the pros and cons and
provide suffcient information to
guide the people and
d e c i s i o n
ers on the issue.
However, even with the
limited information available, it is
already clear that small scale mining would
grossly be more of a bane than a boon
to Salcedo. This would be evident if we
consider the fact that the 2,852.89 hectares
set aside by the provincial government
exclusively to small-scale mining covers
24% or about a quarter of the total land
area of the municipality.
If this declared area would be peppered
with or subjected to numerous small scale
mining operations, then it would certainly
destroy the environment and resource base of
nearly half of the municipality as the impact
area covers not only the declared block of
mining land, but also covers the downstream
and coastal areas. If small scale miners
would fully operate in the area, perhaps 3
to 10% (90 to 300) of the more than 3,000
households or families in the municipal-
ity would beneft temporarily in the short
and medium term from employment and
increased income, but about 30 to 40% (900
to 1,200) of the total households/families of
the municipality, including the downstream
and coastal communities in the nearby towns
of Quinapondan, Gen. MacArthur, and even
Hernani and Mercedes would have their
livelihoods disrupted or destroyed, since the
mining area covers three major watersheds
and impacts from mine tailings would reach
the important fshing grounds such as Leyte
Gulf, Matarinao and Quinapondan bays.
All these negative impacts would be felt by
those affected not only for a few years but
for the entire lifetimes of the present and
succeeding generations.
Once again, it would be the outsiders
or the mining companies (those organizing
the small scale miners) that stand to gain
windfall benefts, including perhaps a few
politicians and supporters who would strike
it rich with grease money from the opera-
tions. For instance, in the November
19, 2008 issue of the Daily
Tribune, Mr. Er-
nest o
‘Mr. Ex-
pose’ Maceda men-
tioned that “The Bishop and
civil society leaders also decry Governor
Evardone’s indiscriminate issuance of small
mining permits. The talk around town is
that the permits are allegedly issued for a
paayment of P2 to P3 million each.”
All these benefts would be reaped by
the few, while majority of the people would
be poorer than ever and would be left with
limited livelihood options and dwindling
income. The windfall benefciaries would
soon disappear after the closure of the
mines, and the few million pesos that the
LGU would stand to gain from the mining
operations would never be enough to pay
for the restoration of the soil, habitat and
resource base of the municipality. Poverty,
environmental degradation, famine, sick-
ness, diffculties in water supply, among
others would then prevail in the long
term, and Salcedo may partly become a
ghost town with a signifcant portion of its
population moving out to fnd livelihood
and salvation elsewhere.
With the foregoing considerations, it
is clear that the costs of mining in Salcedo
would far outweigh the gains from the
activity. It is therefore recommended that
the LGU close the mining operations in
order to rescue and sustain the life support
system and the resource and livelihood base
of its constituents.
The grounds for closing the mining
operations are plenty. First, the provincial
ordinance that allocated 2,853 hectares of
land “to be exclusively intended for small
scale mining” in Salcedo is unconstitutional
in that it impinges upon prior rights. The
area covers several hundred hectares of
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform (CARP)
and Community Based Forest Management
(CBFM) lands that were awarded years
earlier to local communities such
as the one in Barangay
C a g a - u t
a n d
nei ghbor i ng
It also covers hundreds of hect-
ares of very steep sloping lands which are
protected by national law, as well as locally
declared protection areas such as the Salcedo
Community Watershed Management (SAL-
COWAREM) zone, the communal forests
in the vicinity of Barangay Naparaan, and
special use areas such as the Eastern Samar
State University (ESSU). The constitution-
ally guaranteed prior rights of stakeholders
are in confict with the intent of the provincial
ordinance, and therefore the latter being more
recent, should be repealed.
Aside from the repeal of the provincial
ordinance, it is also recommended that mea-
sures be undertaken to improve the capac-
ity of provincial, municipal and barangay
Small-Scale Mining—A Looming Menace to Salcedo, Eastern Samar
Volume 42 • Number 12
By Renato G. Mabunga
he Philippines is consid-
ered the world’s 5
prolifcally mineralized
country. It is a signifcant pro-
ducer of gold, copper, nickel
and chromite, and has in the
recent past ranked among the
world’s top 10 producers
. It is
also abundant in non-metallic
and industrial minerals such
as marble, limestone, clay,
feldspar, aggregates
In an effort to revitalize
the mining sector in the Philip-
pines, the Government banked
on instituting policy reforms
that would encourage foreign
direct investment in the indus-
try that neglect basic economic,
social and cultural rights of the
Indigenous Peoples and the
Local communities affected by
the mining industry. This led to
the adoption of the Philippine
Mining Act of 1995 which has
been described as a blanket
legislation in favour of inter-
national mining companies to
carry out mining activities on
indigenous lands and hailed as
“one of the most favourable
to foreign mining companies
anywhere in the world.”

The 1995 Mining Code
contradicts the application of
the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights
Act (IPRA) or is being used to
avoid the proper application of
the latter. Despite the apparent
legal protection of indigenous
peoples’ economic, social and
cultural rights, mining repre-
sents a concrete threat to in-
digenous peoples’ lands, since
signifcant mineral deposits lie
on indigenous territories. In
many cases, the Mining Code
offers mining permits on indig-
enous lands that are in theory
protected under the IPRA.
In January 2003, Presi-
dent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
issued Executive Order No.
270, a National Policy Agenda
Revitalizing Mining in the Phil-
ippines otherwise known as the
National Mineral Policy (NMP).
It provided for the formula-
tion of a Mineral Action Plan
(MAP) through Memorandum
Circular Number 67 issued last
September 2004 as guidelines
for all concerned government
agencies on the implementa-
tion and the guiding principles
contained in the NMP. The
Mineral Action Plan is specif-
cally geared towards addressing
issues obstructing the full revi-
talization of the mining sector. It
contained the important issues
to be addressed, the strategies
adopted, the activities to be
undertaken, the implementing
agency and the timetable of its
Some of the major strate-
gies and actions included in
the MAP are the streamlining
of governmental procedures
in granting mining permits;
harmonization of ‘conficting
laws’ concerning mineral de-
velopment; and expedition of
the resolution on the Supreme
Court decision on the consti-
tutionality of the Mining Act
of 1995.
The processing of min-
ing applications, which nor-
mally took between one to
three years, was cut to fve
months. The environmental
compliance certifcate (ECC)
is now to be granted within 120
days or less. This deliberately
weakens and dilutes the already
“fraud-susceptible” safety nets
and guarantees of acquiring
the substantial participation,
consultation and consent of
affected local communities and
Indigenous Peoples.
In December 2004, after
intensive lobbying and presen-
tation of arguments by the gov-
ernment and some actors in the
mining industry, the Supreme
Court reversed its earlier deci-
sion nullifying provisions of the
Mining Act on the participation
of foreign companies in mining
in the country. In a 246-page
decision, penned by Associate
Justice Artemio V. Panganiban,
the Supreme Court upheld the
constitutionality of all provi-
sions on foreign participation
including the FTAA of the
Philippine Mining Act and its
Implementing Rules and Regu-
lations by a vote of ten to four
with one abstention.
On July 18, 2007, Presi-
dent Gloria Macapagal-Ar-
royo issued Executive Order
Number 636 transferring direct
supervision of the exploring,
development and mining ac-
tivities in the country from
the DENR to the Offce of the
Policies promoting invest-
ment in mineral extraction do
not take into account the rights
of the people affected. These
provoke demonstrations that are
often met with violent reactions
by private security forces. Such
was the case of the fatal shoot-
ing of Brgy, Councillor Armin
Marin on October 6, 2007 in
Sibuyan while he was leading
a picket against joint venture of
Pelican Resources, an Austral-
ian company, and the Sibuyan
Nickel Properties Development
Corporation (SNPDC), under
the guise of small-scale mining
Poorly regulated mining
projects, ostensibly aimed at
increasing employment and
improving living conditions
of the population, do not repre-
sent a sustainable development
Since 1990 until July 2007,
the government has approved
a total of 322 applications for
various mining rights.

Large Scale Mining is a Hu-
man Rights Issue
The Philippine govern-
ment’s program to liberalize the
Mining and Its impact to
the Indigenous Peoples
and the Local Community
IMPACT • December 2008 8
mining sector and its position
making mining the primary
tool for job creation and pov-
erty alleviation, has resulted in
outright violations of people’s
basic right to life, liberty and
security. It has likewise resulted
in violations of people’s rights
to participation, self-determi-
nation, health and sustainable

Right to Development and
The right to development
provides that people, in the case
of mining, the host communi-
ties, should be at the center, the
primary benefciary and active
participants of development
initiatives. It further provides
that the people have the right to
determine the kind of develop-
ment which they think is most
suited for them. However, this
development framework not
being rights-based has resulted
in a legal and policy envi-
ronment which sacrifce the
people’s right to development.
The present mining legal en-
vironment is primarily geared
towards attracting foreign in-
vestments and providing for a
wide leeway of protection for
the interests of these foreign
investors including tax holi-
days, tax breaks, and a more
convenient way of transacting
business in the country.
The Constitutional provi-
sion on limitations of foreign of
business entities in the country
has been circumvented by the
Mining Act of 1995 as it allows
up to 100% foreign ownership
of mining operations in the
country under the Financial or
Technical Assistance Agree-
ment (FTAA).
The people’s right to de-
termine the kind of develop-
ment which is deem to be most
suitable to them is continu-
ously being violated because
the government is pushing
mining as the only develop-
ment tool which answers the
issues of poverty and lack of
job opportunities. Even if the
host communities, (barangays
Didipio and Pao in Nueva
Vizcaya as cases in point,) have
opposed mining in the legal
arena, the government is still
imposing mining operations
in the areas.

Right to Participation
The right of the people to
participate in decision-making
and implementation of pro-
grams and initiatives especially
if the people will be directly
affected by these programs is
another right being ignored and
violated in the process of revi-
talizing the mining sector.
Residents of Didipio and
Pao, both in Kasibu, Nueva
Vizcaya, have related instances
where they were made to sign
“attendance sheets” which they
later learned were being used
by the mining company as a
sign of their consent to the
entry of large-scale mining in
these areas.
In Barangay Pao, only the
Bungkalots who are the recog-
nized owners of the ancestral
domain which covers the area,
have been consulted in the
entry of mining. This even as
majority of the residents of the
barangay is non-Bungkalots.
The process of consultation is
also being questioned as it is
said to have been done with
The residents of Baran-
gay Didipio, also in Kasibu,
were told that they do not
have to be consulted on the
entry of mining because the
mining company has already
been granted with an FTAA
and that the consultations were
made between the Philippine
government and the mining
Meanwhile, in the case
of the Mangyans of Orien-
tal Mindoro and the mining
company Mindex Resources
Development, members of the
Mangyan tribe have alleged
that the Mindex has formed
a bogus tribal council of the
Mangyans, KABILOGAN,
which gave their consent to
the entry of the company to
their ancestral domain. This
was done in order to brush aside
the opposition of the genuine
Mangyan tribal council.

Right to Health and Sustain-
able Environment
Large scale mining opera-
tions in the Philippines have
a long list of violations on
the people’s right to health
and sustainable environment.
Mine tailings spills appear to
be a common occurrence in
existing mining operations in
the country which results in
the health of the residents, the
environment and the sources
of livelihood in the area being
Perhaps the most popular
of these mine tailings spill,
and the most recent, was the
October 2005 mine tailing spill
of the Lafayette Mining in
Rapu-Rapu Island off the coast
of Albay. The spill was a result
of heavy rainfall which caused
the overfow of combined tail-
ings, and process water from
their dam. This resulted in
pollution and fsh kills in the
water bodies in the area due to
the presence of cyanide in the
water from the spill.
In Siocon, Zamboanga del
Norte where Canadian based
TVI Resources Development
is operating, residents suffer-
ing from various skin diseases
as a result of the contamination
of the water of Siocon River
have been reported. Members
of the Siocon Fish Farmers As-
sociation have also reported a
marked decrease in their fsh
catch due to the heavy silta-
tion of the river as a result
Volume 42 • Number 12
Mining and Its impact to the Indigenous Peoples and the Local Community
of the mining operations of

Right to Life, Liberty and
Militarization of mining
host communities follows as a
result of the desire of mining
companies to protect their op-
erations and equipments. This
tactic is also used by mining
companies to intimidate and
silence those who are opposing
their operations.
TVIRD in Mount Siocon,
Zamboanga del Norte is said to
be employing a unit of Special
Citizens Armed Forces Geo-
graphic Unit (CAFGU). The
heavy militarization in the area
and the threats to the life and
security of a known anti-mining
leader, Timuay Jose Anoy, is
being cited as the reason why he
has not been able to go back to
his house in Mount Siocon.
Most recently, the residents
of Barangay Pao, Kakidugen,
Bilet, Biyoy and other baran-
gays in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya
who are barricading in a road
leading to Barangay Pao to
prevent the entry of exploration
equipments of Oceana Philip-
pine Inc. have been subjected
to force and manhandling by
members of the CAFGU.

Action must be taken to
protect indigenous people and
rural communities from the vio-
lation of their human rights by
mining activities. This should
Revision of the 1995 Min-
ing Act or preparation of a new
draft alternative legislation on
mining policy. The revision or
the new legislation should be
based on a participatory process
that more effectively protects
the interests of the affected
local communities, including
indigenous peoples;
Halt immediately all min-
ing activities that have or risk
having a serious impact on the
human rights of those commu-
nities concerned;
Halt to the issuance of
mining licenses until adequate
and viable legislation, along
with monitoring mechanisms
to protect the environment and
the economic, social and cul-
tural rights of the indigenous
peoples and others concerned
have been established;
Enforcement of the re-
quirement of a free, prior and
informed consent of affected
communities, as provided by
the IPRA, and investigating
cases where this obligation
has been violated, neglected or
inadequately respected;
Ensure that mining activi-
ties respect the human rights
of those concerned, including
labour rights, women’s rights
and property rights and that the
resettlement of people respects
international standards;
Establish an independent
commission to review respect
for the rights of the local popu-
lation in connection with min-
ing projects and to seek ways to
protect their rights in the future
and consider calling on the
UN Special Rapporteur on the
human rights and fundamental
freedoms of indigenous people
to assist the independent com-
Ensure that an equitable
share of the revenues of min-
ing projects go to the local
communities concerned, once
the community itself has ex-
pressed clear and unquestion-
able consent.
Preventing or reducing
violence, including torture is by
acting on its root causes. This
is often found in the very heart
of human rights protection
especially on the economic,
social and cultural felds.

(Renato G. Mabunga is
the Secretary-General of the
Philippine Alliance of Human
Rights Advocates (PAHRA).
The above was the intervention
he made at the 41st Session of
the Committee on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights
(ECOSOC) in Geneva on No-
vember 11, 2008.)
1 This paper is culled mainly from
the research of the Philippine
Human Rights Information Centre
(PhilRights), an institution of the
Philippine Alliance of Human
Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and
from the alternative report of
the OMCT in collaboration with
Karapatan and PAHRA for the
41st session of the Committee
on Economic Social and Cultural
Rights. Delivered at the NGO
meeting with the Committee
members on November 10,
2008 at Palais Wilson, Geneva ,
2 Ibid.
3 Mines and Geosciences Bureau
powerpoint presentation on
“Revitalization of the Philippine
Mineral Industry Program”: for
June 24, 2003. Available at http://
IMPACT • December 2008 10
By Fr. Gregory D. Gaston, STD
emember the population
bomb? The new threat to the
planet is not too many people
but too few.”
After describing daily news, warnings,
and “proofs” of overpopulation, the author
of this Newsweek article writes: "Yet this
is not the full story. To the contrary, in
fact. Across the globe, people are having
fewer and fewer children… The world’s
population will continue to grow—from
today’s 6.4 billion to around 9 billion in
2050. But after that, it will go sharply
into decline. Indeed, a phenomenon that
we’re destined to learn much more about—
depopulation—has already begun in a
number of countries. Welcome to the New
Demography. It will change everything
about our world, from the absolute size
and power of nations to global economic
growth to the quality of our lives" (Michael
Meyer, Sept. 27, 2004).
In general, a TFR (Total Fertility Rate,
or children per woman) of 2.1 is neces-
sary to replace a country’s population. In
the Philippines, where mortality rates are
World Population
Collapse: Lessons for
the Philippines
higher, it is estimated to be around 2.29.
Below this level, population could still
grow temporarily, because of population
momentum (relatively many women of
reproductive age), reduced deaths (longer
life expectancy due to better health care
and less wars, hunger and calamities)
and immigration (which is not the case in
the Philippines). But some two or three
generations after the TFR goes below
replacement level, as the country eventu-
ally loses its population momentum (as
the bulk of its women age) and lifespan
reaches its maximum, population decline
will take place.
The UN Population Division (UNPD)
states, “The primary consequence of fertil-
ity decline, especially if combined with
increases in life expectancy, is population
ageing, whereby the share of older persons
in a population increases relative to that
of younger persons” (World Population
Prospects. The 2004 Revision: Highlights).
It adds, “Globally, the number of persons
aged 60 years or over is expected almost to
triple, increasing from 672 million in 2005
[that is, 10.34% of world population] to
nearly 1.9 billion by 2050 [that is, 20.88%
of world population].”
The situation that those in favor of
population control want us to foresee is
when there will be few children to care
for, and by that time, they say, the Philip-
pines will become well-off. But they never
explain what will happen beyond this
stage: population ageing and decline. By
then, a huge number of elderly have to be
supported by a smaller number of working
people. Families with only a few members
will fnd it more diffcult to care for the
elderly than those with more members,
unless they are extremely rich. The pension
fund and the social security system will be
overburdened. There will be a decline in
the number of new workers, and the labor
force will be older and less effcient. Hav-
ing fewer and older people means a smaller
market, especially for certain sectors such
as baby food, clothing, vaccines and certain
other medicines, sports facilities, offce
equipment, education, etc.—products and
services the elderly employ less.
Having only a few births today will
lead to having more coffns than cradles
two generations or so later. Gone were the
days when the mass media overwhelm-
Volume 42 • Number 12
World Population Collapse: Lessons for the Philippines
ingly advanced the doctrine of world
overpopulation—a quasi-dogma in public
opinion that turned out to be nothing more
than a well-crafted heresy.
Babies desperately needed
Because of the consequences of having
an elderly and a collapsing population, Dr.
Joseph Chamie, former UNPD Director,
explains that, "governments are seeking to
address the underlying causes of low fertil-
ity and adopting polices…to increase their
child bearing," including… "1. Restrict
or limit contraception, 2. Restrict or limit
abortion … 6. Match making to encourage
marriage … 7. Public relation campaigns
for marriage, childbearing and parenthood,
8. Make child-raising a fnancial option
for women (e.g., paid job)… 10. Paid
maternity leave, 11. Paid paternity leave,
12. Cash bonus for birth of child… 25.
Political/legal system more responsive to
couples with children, e.g., granting extra
voting rights to adults with minor children”
(Low Fertility: Can Governments Make
A Difference?, address to the Population
Association of America, April 2, 2004).
They pay parents to have more children.
In an extreme scenario, a city in southern
Italy near Naples named Laviano offers
10,000 Euros for each new baby.
Government programs pushing for in-
creased fertility have not succeeded so far (J.
Chamie, Low Fertility: Can Governments
Make a Difference?). If ever they succeed
in increasing birthrates some generations
from now, their workers will have to care
not only for their big population of elderly
dependents, but also for the increasingly
big batches of children they want to have,
the young dependents. This will mean a
double economic burden for them.
They hope to return to the scenario
they were in 50 years ago: to have many
babies who would eventually replace the
work force, and in turn care for both the
young and the elderly dependents. That is,
they seek a normal population pyramid,
shaped like a real pyramid, with a wide base
and a narrow tip, and not like a diamond,
a toy top, an inverted pyramid, or an hour-
glass. They want to revert to the pyramid
they had 50 years ago, the pyramid that
the Philippines still has today, but which it
can eventually lose if its TFR continues to
decline. Within a few decades, our country
can easily fall into the same trap where
ageing countries fnd themselves in and
want to escape from right now.
Lessons for the Philippines
The UNPD fgures indicate that it is
not an exaggeration to say that as early as
now the Philippine TFR is already danger-
ously low. Whereas in the early 1970’s the
average Filipina had six children, today she
has around three, and in another 20 years,
only two. Shortly after 2020, or just ffteen
years from now, the Philippine TFR will
sink below its replacement level of around
2.29. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference
of the Philippines pointed out way back
in 1990, “The government’s intensifed
program will push our fertility levels to the
edge of irreversibility. When this comes to
pass, on whose conscience will this crime
fall?” (Love is Life. A Pastoral Letter on the
Population Control Activities of the Philip-
pine Government and Planned Parenthood
Associations, October 7, 1990).
It will be too late and useless to wait
for the TFR to go below replacement level
and then try to raise it up again. The only
solution would be to try to prevent its
further decline today—an effort that will
probably not succeed within a few decades,
but will hopefully at least lessen the impact
of an ageing population.
If approved, the bills promoting
population control will certainly plunge
the Philippines’ TFR further down. The
replacement TFR assumes an average of
2.29 children for all women in the Philip-
pines; the bills on the other hand propose
2.0 children not for all women, but for
women who have families. Assuming that
95% of all Filipinas raise a family while
the other 5% remain single, what the Bill
proposes roughly speaking is a TFR of
2.0 x 95%, or 1.9, which is way below
the replacement level. This computation
furthermore assumes that the families will
actually have two children. Experience in
other countries shows that when the target
is to have two children, the tendency is to
have less (one or even zero child) rather
than more children. This will send the
country’s TFR further down.
The Philippine population pyramids
of 2000, 2025 and 2050 refect the TFR's
downward trend, as shown in the charts.
The country’s 2050 population pyra-
mid’s lowest segments (0-19 years old)
will be progressively narrower than the
ones above them. From this projection,
it can be reckoned that the country’s
population pyramid will be diamond-
shaped towards the third quarter of the
21st century, and could later be inverted.
We can no longer sit back, relax and think
of “just crossing the bridge when we get
there,” because we have already reached
the bridge. We have started crossing it,
not safely in the middle, but at the border,
where the risk of falling is great. Some
confdently state that there is no need to
IMPACT • December 2008 12 IMPACT • December 2008 12
World Population Collapse: Lessons for the Philippines
the number of children they can gener-
ously and responsibly raise and educate.
For some spouses, this means being open
to having one child or two; for others,
fve, ten, twelve, or in some cases, ffteen
or even more.
Neither the government nor the
Church may compel, instruct, or encour-
age spouses to raise a specifed number
of children, as what population control
programs defnitely try to do, either through
massive propaganda, or through deceptive
and coercive policies. Rather, the govern-
ment and the Church should form and
guide the people to refect on their actual
circumstances, and to freely, generously
and responsibly decide whether to have
another child now, or not to have another
child for the time being or indefnitely.
Population control has to be ruled out
as a quick-fx solution to poverty. On the
contrary, any economic, social or political
policy proposed to solve poverty should
take advantage of, rather than suppress,
our abundant human resources. As Dr.
Gary Becker, 1992 Nobel Prize winner
in economic science, explains, “human
capital,” which refers to the skills, educa-
tion, health and training of individuals,
comprises around 80% of the wealth of
advanced countries, and hence “can be
neglected [only] at a country’s peril.”
(Human Capital and Poverty, in Familia
et Vita, 1996).
Any solution to poverty furthermore
has to take into account, support and
promote our closely knit family ties, the
time and dedication parents give to their
children, the care children and extended
families give to the elderly whom we truly
love, the moral principles and holistic train-
ing children receive from their parents, and
all the other values that the Filipino family
has until now maintained, in spite of the
pressures exerted upon it by secularism.
The contribution to the national economy
of these services and values that fnd their
dynamism within the family is impossible
to calculate, but they provide a key—the
most important one—to good governance
in the public and private sectors, a condition
sine qua non to attain stability in society,
reach economic development and dimin-
ish poverty.
(Fr. Gaston is currently a Formator
at the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary in
Makati. This piece is an excerpt from
his article at Familia et Vita (2007), the
Quarterly Review of the Pontifcal Council
for the Family, Vatican, where the author
served for fve years.)
be extremely paranoid, or to exaggerate
the facts for the sake of discouraging
the people from using contraceptives
and thus committing mortal sins. But
absolutely no paranoia or exaggeration
is involved here, just hard facts. At the
rate its TFR is declining, the Philippines
will, within 20 years from now, join the
other countries that have fallen into the
river. It will be a point of no return, or at
least, of extremely diffcult return. Why
go there in the frst place?
It has to be stressed that the Philip-
pine TFR will probably reach below
replacement levels within two decades
even without additional population control
efforts. The truth is that until now, the
Philippines’ contraceptive prevalence rate
is much lower than that of many other less
developed countries, although it is gradu-
ally rising; therefore it can be said that
other factors aside from contraceptive use
contribute greatly to the country’s fertility
decline. Filipinos now marry later in life,
marital unions have become less stable,
emigration to urban centers makes rear-
ing children more diffcult, emigration to
other countries is on the rise (physically
subtracting members from the country,
especially those of reproductive age, and
reducing the number of children those left
behind beget), decisions on how to spend
money have left having more children
out, and the mass media greatly infuence
more and more spouses to have less and
less children.
Conclusion: Rule out population control
Countries that were already rich 30 to
40 years ago when their TFR’s started to
decline, and are now ageing, encounter ex-
treme diffculty in solving their economic
problems today. Their efforts to encourage
their citizens to produce more children
have not yielded acceptable results after
a decade. They depend on immigration
to maintain their population growth. The
Philippines is not a rich country today, and
may or may not be rich within 50 years.
How will it support its ageing population?
Will it also invite workers from other coun-
tries to replace its dwindling workforce?
How will it attract immigrants if it has no
jobs to offer to its people in the frst place?
Even if it becomes rich by then, it will have
to face the same problems rich countries
face now, and will have to tell the people
to raise more children. We simply cannot
afford to fall into the trap rich countries
have fallen into 30-40 years ago, and from
which they desperately try to escape today.
Graphically speaking, we cannot afford to
have in the future a population pyramid
like theirs now, and then, like them today,
wish to regain the population pyramid we
have now.
Population control has to be ruled out
as a solution to poverty. This in no way
means telling the people to have as many
children as they can, to uncontrollably “go
forth and multiply” (as some erroneously
claim the Church teaches). Rather, parents
should be guided and supported to attain
Volume 42 • Number 12
The culture of impunity
and press freedom
By Jose Torres Jr.
mong journalists in
the feld, there is no
doubt about the so-
called "culture of impunity."
Although many among media
practitioners don't know what
this "culture" means, much
more understand its nuances,
they know that impunity stares
at them every moment of their
lives—killers drink with them
Friday evenings, masterminds
of heinous crimes attend Mass
with them on Sundays, drug
traffckers and pickpockets,
kidnappers and even terrorists
are sources of information.
Through the years, Fili-
pino journalists, especially
those based in the provinces,
have become witnesses of how
society and its actors—crimi-
nals, government offcials, the
police and the military—work.
Journalists do their job to
witness and chronicle events
around them. There was a time
in the past that the media and
media practitioners played
active roles in resolving con-
There was also a time,
not so long ago, that from the
eyes of criminals, the media
and media practitioners were
not threats to illegal activi-
ties. There were times that
even some media practitioners
were into illegal activities
The media and most
media practitioners are well
aware how wide and broad the
reach of criminals. Journalists
know how criminals work.
That is why when media prac-
titioners become the target,
they are afraid.
In the early 1990s, I went
home to Mindanao to write a
story about a family of politi-
cians who lorded it over in
at least three provinces since
1945. Many of their political
opponents were killed, law-
yers who handled the cases of
the victims were either killed,
threatened or "bought." So
were the judges and prosecu-
tors. I still remember how
one courageous prosecutor
was ambushed while he was
on his way to court one early
Monday morning.
I wrote the family's story.
My report came out in the front
pages of several national and
local papers. Days later, some
of the newspapers retracted the
story and apologized; one con-
tinued to publish my follow-
up reports and was sued. The
editor of the local paper that
reprinted the story was killed.
The culture of impunity
and press freedom
The culture of impunity
and press freedom
The culture of impunity
and press freedom

IMPACT • December 2008 14


I haven't dared go back to that province.
The family of warlords still reigns, al-
though some of them met violent ends.
Nobody dared to write another story
about that family.
In a celebrated case of a journalist's
murder, the gunman was convicted, but
was not brought to the national peniten-
tiary until media groups discovered that
the convict was operating a videoke bar
beside the provincial jail and was playing
tennis with the jail warden once a week.
The mastermind or masterminds of the
murder are still at large. A high-ranking
intelligence offcial in the province said
he has an inkling who the mastermind
was, a gun for hire said he knows the
mastermind. The gunman refused to talk.
Those in the know said the gunman prefers
to be in jail and keep his silence than end
up silenced himself. Local journalists who
know the real story left the profession and
also kept their silence.
In another case of media killing
where a policeman was charged, a wit-
ness was arrested by police offcers
inside the courtroom when he was about
to testify. The arresting offcers said the
witness was a suspect in an estafa case.
The judge did not do anything. There
was no objection from anyone. The case
remains in limbo.
In the case of the killing of an
environmental journalist somewhere
in Luzon, the gunmen confessed to the
crime. He said the mastermind was the
town mayor who was not charged by the
prosecutors. Media groups raised hell
and even some police offcers—were
There are many reasons given why
the cases are not moving. The media
understand these reasons. Journalists
talk to lawyers, judges, and attend court
hearings. Many reporters even go to law
school. The media can understand the
many weaknesses in the system. What
is diffcult to understand, however, is
the seeming apathy even among people
who are supposed to be in the know—
journalists and lawyers—in responding
to the situation.
In 2005, there were about 50 journal-
ists killed since 1986, but nobody wrote
about it, talked about it, met about it,
much more fle a case in court, until the
international community started to look
into the situation.
Who would want to write about
what's really going on in the southern
Philippines? Who would want to write
about drug syndicates and kidnap-for-
ransom syndicates? Who would dare talk
about the real story of the Abu Sayyaf,
the corruption in government involving
those in power? Nobody seems to dare
write about the truth these days because
people—witnesses, journalists, lawyers,
police offcers—are afraid. Those who
dare talk are silenced and those behind
the attacks remain unpunished.
What press freedom? There is none
until the so-called culture of impunity
continues to reign in this country.
(Jose Torres Jr. is a journalist based
in Manila)
until the Justice department transferred
the case to Manila. The mayor was ar-
rested and charged but tried to negotiate
a deal with the victim's family.
These are clear examples how im-
punity in the cases of the killings of
journalists in the country hinders, if not
threatens, press freedom. About a hundred
journalists were killed for various reasons
since 1986. Whether their deaths were
related to their work or not is supposed to
be for the courts to determine. But until
now, the cases are not prospering in the
courts. In the few instances when cases
prospered, people in power—politicians
The culture of impunity and press freedom
Volume 42 • Number 12
By Sandro Magister
samurai carrying the cross is not a conventional image.
But there were some of these among the 188 Japanese
martyrs of the seventeenth century who were proclaimed
blessed on November 24, 2008 in Nagasaki. There were noble-
men, priests—four of them—and one religious. But most of
them were ordinary Christians: farmers, women, young people
under the age of twenty, even small
children, entire families. All of them
were killed for refusing to renounce
the Christian faith.
The beatifcation of "Fr. Peter
Kibe and his 187 companions"—as
the title of the ceremony put it—was
the frst ever celebrated in Japan.
The new blesseds joined 42 Japanese
saints and 395 blesseds, all of them
martyrs, elevated to the honors of the
altar beginning with Pius IX.
The new blesseds were martyred
between 1603 and 1639. At the time,
there were about 300,000 Catholics in
Japan, evangelized frst by the Jesuits,
with St. Francis Xavier, and then also
by the Franciscans.
The initial fowering of Christian-
ity was followed by terrible persecu-
tions. Many people were killed, with
an unprecedented cruelty that did not
spare women and children. In addition
to the killings, the Catholic community
was decimated by the apostasy of those
who abjured the faith out of fear. But
it was not annihilated. Part of it went
underground, and kept the faith alive
by transmitting it from parents to chil-
dren for two centuries, even without
bishops, priests, and sacraments. It
is recounted that on Good Friday in
1865, ten thousand of these "kakure
kirisitan," hidden Christians, emerged
from the villages and presented them-
selves in Nagasaki to the astonished missionaries who had just
recently regained access to Japan.
As it had been three centuries before, in the beginning of
the twentieth century Nagasaki again became the city with the
strongest Catholic presence in Japan. On the eve of the second
world war, two out of three Japanese Catholics lived in Naga-
saki. But in 1945 came a terrible new extermination. This time
it was not from persecution, but from the atomic bomb dropped
on their city.
Today, there are just over half a million Catholics in Japan.
They are a small proportion in relation to a population of 126
million. But they are respected and infuential, thanks in part
to an extensive network of schools and universities. And if to
those of Japanese birth are added the immigrants from other
Asian countries, the number of Catholics doubles, and exceeds
one million.
"But I do not believe that the crite-
rion of statistics is the best for judging
the value of a Church," said Cardinal
Peter Seichi Shirayanagi, archbishop
emeritus of Tokyo, in an interview
with "Asia News" on the eve of the
beatifcation of the 188 martyrs.
The diffculty that Catholicism
has in spreading not only in Japan,
but in all of Asia, is a problem that
has long troubled the Church.
The Jesuits, for example, were
convinced that after the Second World
War Japan was fertile soil for a great
missionary expansion. For this reason,
they sent some of their most talented
people to the country. The current
superior general of the Society of
Jesus, Adolfo Nicolás, 71, lived in the
Far East beginning in 1964, mainly in
Tokyo, as a professor of theology at
Sophia University, as the provincial of
the Jesuits in Japan, and most recently,
from 2004-2007, as the moderator
of the Jesuit conference of East Asia
and Oceania. In addition to Spanish,
Italian, English, and French, he speaks
Japanese fuently. Fr. Pedro Arrupe,
superior general of the Jesuits from
1965-1983, also spent many years
in Japan. And so did Fr. Giuseppe
Pittau, who was interim director of
the Society.
The beatifcation of the 188 mar-
tyrs has in any case brought the atten-
tion of all of Japan back to the presence in its midst of the "little
fock" that is the Catholic Church. Their martyrdom for faith in
Christ has become known to a much wider public. And it is a
story that in many ways recalls the acts of the martyrs of the frst
Christian centuries, in imperial Rome.
"Semen est sanguis christianorum," the blood of the martyrs
is fruitful seed, Tertullian wrote at the beginning of the third
On November 24, another 188 of them were proclaimed blessed, all of them killed
for the faith. It is about the mystery of Christianity in the Land of the Rising Sun,
repeatedly persecuted but always reborn, even from the harshest trials.
The Samurai with the Cross
IMPACT • December 2008 16
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is 60, but the painful struggle continues
By Daisy Valerio
he adoption of the Universal Dec-
laration of Human Rights (UDHR)
on the eve of 10 December 1948 in
New York by the then member-states of
the United Nations gave new hope to the
world. An embodiment of the civil, politi-
cal, socio-economic and cultural rights of
every member of the global human family,
the UDHR was a welcome declaration
expected to guide UN member-states in
their conduct of governing their countries
to usher in societies where justice, peace
and prosperity for all would prevail.
Eleanor Roosevelt, the then Chair of
the UN Commission which drafted the
document cited: “Where after all do hu-
man rights begin? In small places, close
to home—so close and so small that they
cannot be seen on any maps of the world.
Yet they are the world of the individual
person; the neighborhood he lives in; the
school or college he attends; the factory,
farm or offce where he works. Such are
the places where every man, woman, and
child seeks equal justice, equal opportu-
nity, equal dignity without discrimination.
Unless these rights have meaning there,
they have little meaning anywhere. Without
concerned citizen action to uphold them
close to home, we shall look in vain for
progress in the larger world.”

The UDHR celebrates its 60th an-
niversary this 2008. Sixty years is a long
In celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of
Human Rights is 60, but the
painful struggle continues
Human rights violation clatters up human history.
But why has human rights violation been associated mostly with the struggle
for political power?
time and this urges us to revisit some Asian
countries particularly in relation to the
issue of enforced disappearance. These
countries were focused on in the book
titled: Reclaiming Stolen Lives published
and launched by Asia Federation Against
Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) on
the eve of the International Day of the Dis-
appeared (IDD) on 29 August of this year
namely, China, India (particularly Jammu
and Kashmir), Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan,
Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. (Note:
These countries will henceforth be referred
to as “the countries.”)
Likewise, the UN adopted the Dec-
laration on Human Rights Defenders on
9 December 1998 so that this year is also
the 10
anniversary of yet another historic
document. The Declaration is intended to
protect those who are directly involved in
human rights work so that they can freely
perform their tasks. Paradoxically though,
many victims of human rights violations
including disappearances over the years are
human rights defenders, themselves. They
were and are at the forefront of repression
and harassment by their own governments
as they perform their tasks.
A Flashback to 1948
When the UDHR was adopted in 1948,
the world was reeling from the cruelties of
World War II particularly the loss of mil-
lions of lives and destruction of property.
Parents lost their children, wives lost their
husbands and children were orphaned.
As a whole, the world was wounded and
in pain and moving on took such a great
effort. Such a global reality prompted the
then young UN to adopt the UDHR.
A brief glance at some Asian countries
when the UDHR was adopted… In China,
the civil war between the Communist Party of
China (CPC) and the Kuomintang was about
to end. With the war having ended in 1949, the
country came to be called People’s Republic
of China (PRC) and was run by the CPC under
a single party system since. In Jammu and
Kashmir, the state became a part of India in
1947, and in 1948, the Indian forces arrived
prompting the frst war between Pakistan and
India over the disputed territory. Indonesia
was struggling to be freed from its Dutch
colonizers after Japan (which occupied the
country in 1942) surrendered in 1945. The
country gained independence in 1949. Ne-
pal devised its own constitution called “the
Government of Nepal Act 1948” under the
Hindu monarchy. Pakistan was engaged in
war with India over the disputed territory of
Jammu and Kashmir. The Philippines was
struggling over the effects of World War II
where millions of Filipinos were killed and
Manila left in shambles. While the country
was supposed to have gained “independence”
in 1946, the then present government contin-
ued to be dictated upon and controlled by the
US politically and economically. Sri Lanka
gained its independence from its British
colonizers in the same year of 1948 and was
Volume 42 • Number 12
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is 60, but the painful struggle continues
In celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of
Human Rights is 60, but the
painful struggle continues
Human rights violation clatters up human history.
But why has human rights violation been associated mostly with the struggle
for political power?
consequently ruled by a Prime Minister who
remained under British tutelage. Thailand
was never colonized but was also involved
in World War II.
In terms of the countries’ member-
ship in the UN
, China, India and the
Philippines became members in 1945 while
Pakistan and Thailand became members
in 1946 and 1947 respectively so that the
fve countries were with the body that
adopted the UDHR. Indonesia, Nepal
and Sri Lanka became UN members later
in the 1950s so that they too are parties to
the UDHR for many decades.
Enforced Disappearances in Asia
Some common trends are manifested
in the above mentioned countries. Over the
past six decades, those who suffered most
were the masses of poor people while the
few elite ruled and amassed for themselves,
their families and cohorts, the wealth of the
earth. From the ranks of the poor and also
from other sectors rose heroic individuals
who fought for the interests of society and
became known as human rights defenders.
They fought for justice along with their
people often at the cost of their lives.
In terms of the phenomenon of enforced
disappearance, the book, Reclaiming Stolen
Lives, has established that the situation of
Asia today is similar to that of Latin America
some three decades ago. The common
trend in the countries is exemplifed in
the fact that when the poor and oppressed
peoples fought for their basic rights, their
governments fought back with full force
and violated their rights including that of
disappearing them. Reclaiming Stolen Lives
presents a total of 5,326 recorded cases of
enforced disappearances in the countries but
this fgure is miniscule compared to those
cited by AFAD’s member-organizations.
Accordingly, it is very diffcult to present
a complete documentation of cases. Some
families are continuously threatened so that
they are forced to remain silent while others
have gone back and forth to the police to
report their disappeared loved ones but are
largely ignored.
However, most families search for
their loved ones for years without let-up
even amidst repression and threats to their
lives. Many formed organizations and ac-
tively participate in the justice campaign
nationally, regionally and internationally.
Developing a strong, united voice, they
confront their governments in various
ways asking for the whereabouts of the
disappeared. In the process, they developed
to become human rights defenders them-
selves and earn the ire of their governments.
To date, human
rights defend-
ers within the
AFAD network
have been and
continue to be
persecuted. To
mention some:
then chairper-
son, Munir was
poisoned by a
lethal dose of ar-
senic on 7 Sep-
tember 2004, on
a Garuda fight
from Jakarta
to Amsterdam
via Singapore.
Munir, a law-
yer by profes-
sion, bravely
defended many
cases of human
rights viola-
tions particu-
larly enforced
es, was very
vocal against
the unjust and
policies of the
government and
had co-founded
several human rights organizations in In-
donesia including Imparsial, KontraS and
IKOHI. His death was a major blow to the
Federation which was actively participating
in the negotiation process of the then UN
Inter-Sessional Working Group to Elaborate
a Draft Legally-Binding Normative Instru-
ment for the Protection of All Persons from
Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
Munir, together with AFAD’s Secretary-
General, were supposed to participate in
the September 2004 session of the then
drafting body for the international treaty
against enforced disappearances. Suciwati,
the widow of Munir is unrelenting in her
efforts to fnd truth and justice for her
husband‘s murder.
In May 2005, during the 75th session
of the UN Working Group on Enforced or
Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID),
the AFAD Council received a letter from
KontraS, its member-organization in In-
donesia. The letter cited threats to the
life of incumbent AFAD Chairperson
Mugiyanto, KontraS Coordinator Usman
Hamid and two others within the network.
An attached letter from alleged members

IMPACT • December 2008 18
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is 60, but the painful struggle continues
of the defenders of the New Order stated
that these four persons were enemies of the
state and if they continued working on the
case of Munir, they would be killed within
fourteen days. The threat was brought to
the attention of the UNWGEID which
immediately wrote a letter of concern to
the Indonesian government. In 2002, 2003
and 2004, the KontraS offce was raided by
armed men who destroyed offce facilities.
KontraS fled a case in the frst raid but
only seven persons were brought to court
and imprisoned for three months. For the
second raid, they were looking for Munir
who was not there. The raiders said that
KontraS was anti-Indonesia. The two
raids were reported to the police but no
progress was ever achieved.
Aasia Jeelani, former editor of Voices
Unheard, a women‘s publication in Srina-
gar, Kashmir and a volunteer of AFAD's
member-organization, the Association of
Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP),
was killed by a landmine on 20 April 2004
while on an election monitoring exer-
cise. Her driver was also killed while two
of her colleagues were wounded. One of
them, Khurram Parvez, an active member
of the AFAD Council, who was with her
during the monitoring exercise, had his
leg amputated. Khurram Parvez is one of
the 2004 recipients of the Reebok Human
Rights Award. Atty. Parvez Imroz, the
patron of APDP, and a recipient of the
Ludovic-Trarieux International Human
Rights Prize in 2006, has undergone three
assassination attempts the last of which
was on 30 June 2008.
Somchai Neelaphaijit, former Chair-
man of the Thailand‘s Muslim
Lawyers‘ Association and former
Vice-Chairman of the Human
Rights Committee of the Law-
yers‘ Council in Thailand, disap-
peared while he was representing
fve persons arrested because of
the militant raid on the Narathiwat
Rajanakarin Camp on 4 January
2004. He was last seen at the
Chaleena Hotel on Ramkham-
haeng Road in Bangkok on 12
March 2004. His car was found
abandoned in Kamphaeng Phet
Road near Mor Chit bus termi-
nal. Prior to his disappearance, he
was threatened for taking on the
cases of two Thai alleged mem-
bers of the Jemaah Islamiyah,
a Southeast Asia based Islamic
group accused of carrying out
bomb attacks in Thailand. The
Asian Human Rights Commis-
sion (AHRC) based in Hongkong,
gave a Human Rights Defend-
ers‘ Award to Somchai in 2006.
Somchai‘s wife, Angkhana Nee-
laphaijit, has been persistent in her efforts
to obtain justice, unsparing in her criticism
of government authorities, and has taken
the lead role as an articulate and courageous
spokesperson for the families of disap-
peared persons in Southern Thailand.
Human rights violations continue in
China. The Tibetan Centre for Human
Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) appealed
through the World Organisation Against
Torture (OMCT) and the International Fed-
eration for Human Rights (FIDH) about the
enforced disappearance of fve monks from
Ramoche Temple namely 39-year-old Mr.
Sonam Rabgyal, Damdul, Rabgyal, and
two other monks who were arrested during a
midnight raid on the monks’ residence on 7
April 2008. On that night, around 70 monks
of Ramoche Temple, which is located to the
north of Lhasa city, were detained after the
Public Security Bureau (PSB) and People’s
Armed Police (PAP) forces carried out a
midnight raid on the monks’ residence.
While most of them were released a few
days later after having been interrogated,
the whereabouts of Mr. Sonam Rabgyal,
Damdul, Rabgyal and two other monks
remain unclear. Aside from the fve cases
of disappearance, the TCHRD in its press
release of 25 September 2008, cited that after
the outbreak of the major protests across
the Tibetan plateau since 10 March 2008,
cases of enforced disappearance of Tibetans
surfaced. TCHRD cited “there are at least
more than a thousand Tibetans whose current
whereabouts and well-being remains com-
pletely unknown to their family members
and their affliated monasteries.”

In Sri Lanka, human rights defenders
continue to be harassed. In another urgent
appeal dated 30 September 2008, the Obser-
vatory for the Protection of Human Rights
Defenders, a joint programme of the World
Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and
the International Federation for Human
Rights (FIDH), requested urgent interven-
tion. The Observatory cited a grenade attack

Volume 42 • Number 12
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is 60, but the painful struggle continues
Human Rights, page 23
on the residence of Mr. J.C. Weliamuna, a
human rights lawyer and Executive Director
of the Sri Lanka chapter of Transparency
International. Accordingly on 27 September
2008, at 11.40 PM, an unidentifed gang
lobbed two hand grenades at the residence
of Mr. J.C Weliamuna. Property was dam-
aged but fortunately no bodily harm was
caused to Mr. Weliamuna or members of
his family.
In the Philippines, a new case of
enforced disappearance of a human rights
defender was reported. Based on the report,
Mr. James Balao disappeared on 17 Sep-
tember 2008 on his way to visit his family
in La Trinidad, Benguet. He had earlier sent
a text message (SMS) to his family that he
was on his way home coming from Baguio.
He never reached home. Belonging to the
Ibaloi and Kankanaey tribes, Mr. Balao
is a member of the Cordillera People’s
Alliance (CPA) and the president of the
Oclupan Clan Association, an organiza-
tion that works for self-determination of
the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera.
Prior to his disappearance, Mr. Balao had
informed his immediate family that he
noticed an unknown group of men rou-
tinely watching and following him. After
his disappearance, Mr. Balao’s family has
been continuously searching for him in all
places possible including various military
detachments in Northern Philippines—in
La Trinidad, Benguet, Lagangilang, Abra
and San Fernando, La Union. As of this
writing though, nothing is known of the
whereabouts of Mr. Balao.
In Pakistan, some sectors hope that
with the new government headed by the Pak-
istan People’s Party (PPP) led by President
Asif Ali Zardari, enforced disappearance
and other human rights violations would be
resolved and the rule of law would fnally
prevail in the country. Zardari took the lead
in the PPP after his wife former Prime Min-
ister Benazir Bhutto was slain in December
2007. He was elected to the presidency in
September 2008 not by public vote but by
lawmakers in the
two houses of the
National Assembly
and in the four pro-
vincial assemblies
in the country.
The Human
Rights Commis-
sion of Pakistan
(HCRP) cited in
its 2007 report that
at least 600 people
disappeared in Ba-
lochistan in 2007.
In the same report,
it also stated that
the “missing in
Balochistan could
run into the thou-
sands, according
to some politi-
cal organizations
in the province.”
Before Musharraf
deposed the Chief Justice, the Supreme
Court had been hearing cases of disappear-
ances leading to the tracing of 56 victims,
45 of whom surfaced in April 2007.
Meanwhile, the Asian Human Rights
Commission (AHRC) cited in its statement
dated March 3, 2008 that the Lawyers’
Movement in Pakistan which started in
March 2007 is at the “vanguard of de-
mocracy” in the country.
The movement
was ignited by then General Musharraf’s
move to illegally and unconstitutionally
depose Chief Justice Iftekhar Choudhry.
Thousands of lawyers from all over the
country along with civil society and human
rights organizations, ordinary folk, media
and other sectors consistently fought for the
ousting of Musharraf, the reinstatement of
the Chief Justice, the return of the rule of
law, the supremacy of the judiciary and the
restoration of the constitution. The people’s
rallies, marches, and other mass movements
in 2007 until the frst half of 2008 composed
of thousands of people led to the resignation
of Musharraf on 18 August 2008.
Earlier, Amnesty International (AI)
delivered a report titled: Denying the
Undeniable: Enforced Disappearances
in Pakistan
in July 2008. AI cited that
its report makes use of “Offcial Supreme
Court transcripts, together with affdavits
from people released following periods of
enforced disappearance and communica-
tions from lawyers representing persons
subjected to enforced disappearance.” The
report provides details on cases of enforced
disappearances and the justice campaign
espoused by the families of victims. In
September of this year, AI supported Ms.
Amina Masood Janjua, the wife of a disap-
peared in Pakistan and leader of an advocacy
group called “Defense of Human Rights,” in
her travel tour to some European countries
including the US to speak on enforced disap-
pearance and gather international support.
She made her trip to Europe but her visa
to Washington, DC was revoked by the US
embassy in Islamabad.
In Nepal, the Human Rights Watch

IMPACT • December 2008 20
By Fr. Melvin Castro
remember when in the past Christmas
times, each home would have its own
Christmas tree but always at the foot
of the tree were not boxes of gifts but the
belen. And, I am sure, all of us are happy
that we live in a time of rediscovering the
Nativity/Manger Scene.
In the Diocese of Tarlac, Fr. Alex
Bautista, an architect by profession and
who earned his Theology baccalaureate
from the University of Navarre (Navarra,
España), had this inspiration of Belenismo.
Well, he actually coined the word, to mean
the art of making the Nativity Scene. It will
serve as a solemn and prayerful reminder
what the true meaning of Christmas is,
which is the solemn and joyful remem-
brance of the Birth of the Savior.
When in other places of the world
people have started to avoid or even dis-
dain anything in reference to Our Lord
Jesus Christ, we Filipinos have not only
preserved our Christian roots but are in
fact enriching and deepening our Christian

The Manger
After his return to Italy from a voyage
to Egypt and Acre in 1220, St Francis of
Assisi introduced three-dimensional nativ-
ity scenes. Some accounts state that he used
statues or costumed people, but Thomas
of Celano, the biographer of Francis, tells
how he only used a straw-flled manger set
between a real ox and donkey. According
to Thomas, it was beautiful in its simplicity
with the manger acting as the altar for the
Christmas Mass. Francis's frst biographer,
Brother Tommaso da Celano, says that
Francis was merely emulating what he had
seen elsewhere in previous years when,
in 1223, he asked his friend Giovanni
Velita, a nobleman from the nearby town
of Greccio, to construct a nativity scene,
consisting of the straw-flled manger, ox
and donkey, in a cave near the town of
Born in a Manger: God among the Poor and Simple
Christmas Refections based on the Church Fathers and Spiritual Writers
Greccio, for a Christmas Eve mass at which
Francis preached.
In 1562 the Jesuits put up a crib in
Prague which is considered the frst crib
of the modern kind.
Why did the Lord choose to be born
in a manger? The Venerable Bede tells us:
Straightly is He, Whose Throne is in the
heavens, confned in the narrowness of a
crib, so that He might open wide to us the
joys of His eternal kingdom. He that is
the Bread of Angels reclines in a manger
that we as sancti-
fed beasts might be
fed with the corn of
His fesh.
St. Cyril adds
as well: He found
that man had be-
come a beast in his
soul, and so He is
placed in the man-
ger, in the place
of fodder, that we,
changing our ani-
mal way of living,
may be led back
to he wisdom that
becomes human-
ity: stretching out,
not towards animal
fodder, but to the
heavenly Bread
for the life of this
Bethlehem: House
of Bread
the name of the
town where the
Lord was born lit-
erally means House
of Bread (in Arabic
it is translated as
House of Meat).
In Bethlehem, Ver-
bum caro factum
In the business of our work, in the weariness
of our labor, in the exhaustion that we meet in
life, or in the sheer complexity of situation that
we fnd ourselves, Christmas is not an escape.
It is the ultimate solution. Christ came that we
might have life, and have it to the full.
Volume 42 • Number 12
Born in a Manger: God among the Poor and Simple
Christmas Refections based on the Church Fathers and Spiritual Writers
est, The Word was made Flesh. This
Flesh of His, He gave to us as our living
St. Gregory the Great in his Christmas
Homily tells us: Also was He, fttingly,
born in Bethlehem: since Bethlehem is
interpreted as the House of Bread. For
this is He who says: I am the Living Bread,
which came down from Heaven. The place
therefore in which the Lord was born
was formerly called the House of Bread,
because there it was to be that He would
appear in future
times, in the sub-
stance of our fesh,
who would fll the
hearts of the faith-
ful with inward
We remember
as well that the frst
group of people to
whom the Birth of
the Messiah was
announced was
the group of shep-
herds who were
tending their fock
that night. It was to
the poor working
people that Good
News was frst de-
clared: Gloria in
Excelsis Deo et in
terra pax homini-
bus bonae volun-
tatis! Glory to God
in the Highest and
peace on earth to
men of goodwill.
Peace on
earth, to men of
good will! Were
not these poor peo-
ple to whom the an-
gels were referring
to as men of good
will? Most prob-
ably. In the Beatitudes, the Lord repeats
the blessing of the poor: Blest are the poor
for they shall inherit the land.
St. Symeon Metaphrates refects: O
wondrous bondage and sojourn which He
endured, who holds the world in His hand!
From His frst day He seeks only poverty,
and honors it in His own Person. Had He
wished He might have appeared mowing
the heavens, shaking the earth, hurling
down the lightnings. But not in this way
did He come. He wished to save, not to
cast down, and from the beginning to tread
under foot the foolish pride of man. So He
not alone became man, He became a poor
man; and chose a poor mother, who had
not even a cradle wherein her new born
Babe might lie.

Rejoice! For unto us, a Child is given
We may have lost our innocence,
but we can always regain simplicity.
Christmas is not only for children. It is
for the child-like. In the business of our
work, in the weariness of our labor, in
the exhaustion that we meet in life, or
in the sheer complexity of situation that
we fnd ourselves, Christmas is not an
escape. It is the ultimate solution. Christ
came that we might have life, and have
it to the full.
St. Leo the Great exhorts us: Our
Saviour, dearly Beloved, was born this day.
Let us rejoice. Sadness is not becoming.
Upon the Birth Day of Life itself, which,
now that the fear of death is ended, flls us
with gladness because of our own promised
immortality. No one is excluded from shar-
ing in this cheerfulness for the reason of
our joy is common to all men. Our Lord,
the Conqueror of sin and death, since there
was no one free from servitude, came that
He might bring deliverance to all.
Let him who is sanctifed rejoice, for
he draws nigh to the palm. Let the sinner
rejoice, since he is invited to grace. Let
the Gentiles exult, for they are called to
In the business of our work, in the weariness
of our labor, in the exhaustion that we meet in
life, or in the sheer complexity of situation that
we fnd ourselves, Christmas is not an escape.
It is the ultimate solution. Christ came that we
might have life, and have it to the full.
IMPACT • December 2008 22
Political uncertainty and
corruption favor greater
role for sultans
Bishops encourage
help and reconciliation
among two Koreas
ROME, December 1, 2008—Fides news agency reported this
week that during a recent meeting in Suji, South Korea the
Church in South Korea said that continuing the humanitarian
aid to North Korea is the key to bring about reconciliation
between the two nations.
The meeting was part of the “White Book of Reconcilia-
tion” initiative, which is meant to help foster gradual reunifca-
tion with North Korea and will be “published and distributed
in 2009.”
During his remarks, Father John Kim Hun-il, representative
of the Committee for Humanitarian Aid for North Korea, said
the evangelization strategy for the country includes “offering
humanitarian help and cooperation for development, establishing
friendly relations, carrying out common initiatives, celebrating
the Sacraments and proclaiming the message of Christ, with a
view towards the reunifcation of the two nations.”
Father Petr Im Eul-chul said, “The key path for establish-
ing cordial relations with the civil authorities of North Korea
and for gaining the trust of the people is that of humanitarian
aid and cooperation.”
During the meeting, Fides reported, there was also dis-
cussion about opening a new aid center in Pyongyang with a
Franciscan brother as the director. (CNA)
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, December 1, 2008—Malaysian
opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is seeking the support of the sul-
tans, in order to overthrow the government. Scandals and political
uncertainty favor a gradual recovery of power by the royals.
Wan Azizah, Anwar's wife and the president of his Keadilan
Party (in the photo, next to her husband), has told them that "we
are willing to return royal immunity and power to veto laws in the
spirit of constitutional monarchy."
The proposal comes just one day after Tunku Naquiyuddin,
the regent of Negri Sembilan, presented the government with the
request to restore royal powers. The government's response was
tepid: justice minister Nazri Aziz responded only that such proposals
must come from the Conference of Rulers, a body that represents
all nine sultans.
Veto power was taken away from the sultans in 1984 by prime
minister Mahathir Mohamad, through a constitutional reform, making
the government the highest authority in the country. In 1993, royal
immunity was eliminated. The sultan nevertheless has the discre-
tionary power to convene and dissolve parliament and to appoint
the chief minister, judges, and other public offcials.
Wan's initiative has ignited debate, because part of society is
in favor of giv-
ing more power
back to the royals.
Provided that—as
constitutional law
expert Shad Sal-
eem Faruqi com-
ments—there is a
strict code of con-
duct that would
prevent the abuse
of power.
For some
time, the royals have been taking on a more active role in the
country's politics: for example, against the decision of the national
council for the fatwa (highest religious authority) to prohibit Mus-
lims from practicing yoga, as well as against widespread judicial
Political expert Ramon Navaratnam tells the South China
Morning Post that "the royals have an expanding role as a check on
government excesses. We should not reject their suggestion outright,
but examine it carefully." (AsiaNews)
Small-Scale Mining, from page 6
been subjected to mining. This would
help insure that funds are made available
for rehabilitation work, even if the mining
operators would leave. At the same time, it
would be a good gauge to test if an applicant
is a responsible miner since fy-by-night
companies that intend to only make profts
without regard to the negative consequences
would be deterred to apply for mining if
such bond would be required.
All these and perhaps other innovative
strategies and measures would have to be
identifed and undertaken soon in order to
thwart the looming menace of small-scale
mining in Salcedo. The fate of the people
lies in the hands of the powerful few. Time is
ticking, the menace grows and the onslaught
continues. As we continue with our volun-
teer work, we just hope that things will turn
out well for the people. God help us. I
governments to effectively evaluate mining
projects, and to properly plan, monitor and
regulate land use in their respective jurisdic-
tions. Local land use plans should clearly
identify areas that should be set aside for
protection and off-limits to mining.
At the regional level, provincial plans
should be properly integrated, and priority
projects, be it in agriculture, forestry, protec-
tion or mining should be clearly identifed.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)
should be an active member of the Regional
Development Council and should be very
involved in the formulation of the Regional
Development Plan, particularly the Regional
Physical Framework Plan or Regional Land
Use Policy which should likewise, clearly
delineate which areas should be set aside
for protection and off-limits to mining. And
since the Plan would refect the development
agenda for the region as agreed by all sectors,
then the processing of mining applications
and permits should be made in accordance
with it. And as active member and supporter
of the Council (RDC), the MGB would no
longer have to process mining applications
that fall in areas off-limits to mining, and
the tensions and conficts that arise from
unplanned development initiatives would
be avoided.
Lastly, it is recommended that the
various levels of government (provincial,
municipal and barangay) pass a well co-
ordinated ordinance that would require
mining frms to comply with policies and
regulations as articulated. For instance pay
a reasonable amount before, during and
after the conduct of mining operations, as
environmental bond or insurance to cover
for the rehabilitation of areas that have
Volume 42 • Number 12
Muslim women in the streets against ‘talak’ or Islamic divorce
KATHMANDU, Nepal, December 1, 2008—Hundreds of Muslim
women along with their supporters took to the streets of Nepalgunj, a
town in western Nepal, to protest against ‘Talak’ or Islamic divorce.
The demonstrators, including 465 divorced Muslim women, hu-
man rights activists and about 100 Muslim men, marched on 26 and
27 November to demand immediate compensation from the women’s
former husbands as well as equal division of assets after divorce.
Many Muslim women said that after divorce they were left with
no support. Some said that they had to go
back to their original families or fnd shelter
at human rights organizations.
“Muslim men release (talak) their
wives from the marriage, i.e. divorce them,
but then no one thinks about them,” said
Sima Khan, president of the Muslim Aware-
ness Federation, one of the protest groups
that organized the demonstration.
“Women don’t get any of their husbands’
assets, or any support. This has increased the
incidence of divorce in the Muslim commu-
nity. We must achieve equal rights for these
women,” she added.
“My husband divorced me fve years ago. Now all my children
are with him and I live with my parents,” said Roni Ansari, 39, who
marched in front of the demonstration.
“I don’t have anything except a small job for my basic needs.
Where will I be if my parents did not allow me to stay with them in
my old age?” Ansari asked.
Homelessness is in fact a problem for many Muslim women. Some
are driven out of their parents’ home once the latter pass away.
“I escaped when my husband and mother-in-law tried to burn
me with kerosene,” said Shano Khan, 17, who divorced three months
ago. “Now I am staying with my parents who are not that happy for
me to live with them. I don’t have a job. What can I do?”
“Many women go hungry or get into prostitution to make
ends meet after divorce,” explains Nitu Haluwai, a Muslim human
rights activist.
The situation is due to the fact that Ne-
pali Muslims do not adhere to the country’s
divorce law which requires both parties’
consent. Instead, under talak if a woman wants
to divorce she must ask for her husband’s per-
mission, and then pay him a certain sum.
“The existing divorce law does not
respect our religious precepts,” said Naz-
rul Hassen, president of Nepal’s Muslim
National Federation. “We have a different
system and therefore do not consider it [the
national law] as binding on us.”
As reported by the Nepali Times the situation is dramatic in
Nepalganj where 236, mostly rural Muslim women have been di-
vorced by their husbands on the basis of talak.
However, Muslim leader Maulana Abdul Jabbar said that talak, which
is based on the Qur’an, has been badly interpreted over the years.
“Divorce proceedings ought to take place in accordance with the
law but without transgressing religious values,” he said. (AsiaNews)
forms of human rights violations, some of
which were committed from decades back
remain unresolved to this day in the very
countries which are parties to the UDHR,
the Declaration on Human Rights Defend-
ers and many other universal treaties.
As the situation persists, the wounds
and pains suffered by families and relatives
of victims remain and societies continue
to be unhealed. A big achievement though
is that people from all nooks and corners
of the region and in the world along with
their advocacy groups and human rights
organizations continue to struggle for
justice and for the implementation of hu-
man rights in their own countries amidst
repression and threats to their lives. Cer-
tainly, the achievements in each country
are achievements for the continent and the
whole global society.
(Erlinda Timbreza-Valerio or Daisy as
she is known in the human rights community
in the Philippines lost her husband Nilo
Valerio, a desaparecido during the Marcos
dictatorship. The couple has two sons,
Albert and Gerry, who were barely 3 and 4
years old when their father disappeared in
1985. This article has also been published
in December 2008 issue of The Voice, the
offcial publication of the Asian Federation
Against Involuntary Disappearances.)
(HRW) and Advocacy Forum (AF) came
out with a report on 11 September 2008
titled: “Waiting for Justice: Unpunished
Crimes from Nepal’s Armed Confict.”
In said report, the two organizations call
on the new Maoist-led government of
Nepal “to investigate and prosecute those
responsible for thousands of extrajudicial
killings, torture, and enforced disappear-
ances during the country’s decade-long
armed confict.”
The report documents
in detail 62 cases of killings, disappear-
ances, and torture between 2002 and 2006
perpetrated by the security forces but
including a couple of cases involving Mao-
ists. The families of victims have earlier
fled complaints with the police seeking
investigations but these complaints were
not responded to.
As we commemorate the 60
niversary of the UDHR and the 10th an-
niversary of the Declaration on Human
Rights Defenders this year, 2008, the
implementation of human rights—“…in
small places, close to home – so close and
so small that they cannot be seen on any
maps of the world …”—cited by Eleanor
Roosevelt in 1948 has still a long way to go.
Certainly, the updates cited above are but
a small part of what is actually happening
in the above countries. It is, indeed, very
sad that enforced disappearances and other
1 Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the former USA
President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Chair
of the United Nations Commission that wrote
the Universal Declaration in 1948; www.udhr.
net/index.php/eleanor-roosevelt, retrieved
October 13, 2008
2, retrieved
October 14, 2008
3 More cases of Enforced and Involuntary
Disappearance surface from Tibet, Tibetan
Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
retrieved October 16, 2008
4 HCRP Annual Report, State of Human
Rights in 2007, www., retrieved
October 20, 2008
5 Pakistan: Lawyers’ Movement is at the
‘vanguard of democracy,’ a Statement of the
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC),
March 3, 2008, retrieved Oct. 20, 2008
6 Denying the Undeniable: Enforced
Disappearances in Pakistan by Amnesty
International published July 2008, www., retrieved Oct. 16, 2008
7 Waiting for Justice: Unpunished Crimes
from Nepal’s Armed Confict, A Joint Report
of Human Rights Watch and Advocacy
Forum, September 11, 2008,
reports/2008/nepal0908, retrieved Oct. 16,
Human Rights, from page 19
IMPACT • December 2008 24
uman life is sacred be-
cause from its beginning
it involves the creative
power of God (CCC 2258). The
Church carries out the mandate of
the Lord to go and proclaim to all
the nations the Gospel of Life. The
protection and preservation of hu-
man life and the preservation of
the integrity of the procreative act
of parents are important elements
of our mission from the Lord. It is
our fdelity to the Gospel of Life
and our pastoral charity for the
poor that leads us your pasators to
make this moral stand regarding
Reproductive Health Bill 5043
that is the object of deliberation
in Congress.
The Bill makes a number of
good points. Some of the issues
that it includes under reproduc-
tive health care, for instance, are
the kind of things no humane
institution would have any reason
to oppose—maternal, infant and
child health and nutrition, promo-
tion of breastfeeding, adolescent
and youth health, elimination of
violence against women, etc.; but
the Bill as it stands now contains
fatal faws which if not corrected
will make the Bill unacceptable. It
is our collective discernment that
the Bill in its present form poses a
serious threat to life of infants in
the womb. It is a source of danger
for the stability of the family. It
places the dignity of womanhood
at great risk.
The Church has always con-
cerned itself with the poor. It has
innumerable institutions and pro-
grams meant to help the poor. Our
objection to this Bill is precisely
due to our concern that in the long
run this Bill will not uplift the
poor. “The increase or decrease
of population growth does not by
itself spell development or under-
development”. (CBCP Statement,
July 10, 1990)
Even as we recognize the
right of the government to enact
laws, we also reiterate that there
must be no separation between
God and Man. We appeal to our
legislators to state in the Bill
Pastoral Statement
Standing up for the Gospel of Life
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
in clear categorical terms that
human life from the moment of
conception is sacred. We appeal
to our legislators to insure that
the Bill recognize, preserve and
safeguard freedom of conscience
and religion. The Bill must in-
spire parents not only to be re-
sponsible but to be heroic in their
God-given and State-recognized
duty of parenting. Without these
conditions, the Bill if enacted into
law will separate our nation from
Almighty God.
Sacredness of Life from
Conception. The current ver-
sion of the Bill does not defne
clearly when the protection of
life begins. Although it mentions
that abortion is a crime it does not
state explicitly that human life is
to be protected upon conception
as stated in the Constitution.
This ambiguity can provide a
loophole for contraceptives that
prevent the implantation of the
fertilized ovum. The prevention
of implantation of the fertilized
ovum is abortion. We cannot
prevent overt abortions by do-
ing hidden abortions. It is a
fallacy to think that abortions
can be prevented by promoting
contraception. Contraception is
intrinsically evil (CCC 2370,
Humanae Vitae, 14).
Even in the case of doubt
as to the precise moment of the
beginning of human life, the mere
probability that the fertilized
ovum is already a human life
renders it imperative that it be
accorded the rights of a human
person, the most basic of which
is the right to life (Evangelium
Vitae, #60; cfr. Declaration on
Procured Abortion, Congrega-
tion for the Doctrine of Faith,
November 18, 1974). When there
is doubt whether a human life
is involved, it is immoral to kill
it. This is not just specifcally
Catholic Church teaching but
simply natural law ethics.
Freedom of Conscience.
By mandating only one Repro-
ductive Health Education Cur-
riculum for public and private
schools, the Bill could violate
the consciences of educators
who refuse to teach forms of
family planning that violate
their religious traditions. This
provision also could violate the
rights of parents to determine the
education of their children if the
proposed curriculum would con-
tradict their religious beliefs.
The Bill mandates that em-
ployers should ensure the provi-
sion of an adequate quantity of
reproductive health care services,
supplies and devices for their
employees. This provision could
be a violation of the conscience
of employers who do not wish
to provide artifcial means of
contraception to their employees
because of religious reasons.
The Bill’s provision that
penalizes malicious disinforma-
tion against the intention and
provisions of the Bill (without
defning what malicious dis-
information is) could restrict
freedom of speech by discourag-
ing legitimate dissent and hinder
our mandate to teach morality
according to our Catholic faith.
The Bill does not mention any
consultation with religious groups
or churches which could be inter-
preted to mean that religious and
moral beliefs of citizens are not
signifcant factors in the forma-
tion of policies and programs
involving reproductive health.
Heroic Parenting. Fam-
ily health goes beyond a de-
mographic target because it is
principally about health and
human rights. Gender equality
and women empowerment are
central elements of family health
and family development. Since
human resource is the principal
asset of every country, effective
family health care services must
be given primacy to ensure the
birth and care of healthy children
and to promote responsible and
heroic parenting. Respect for,
protection and fulfllment of fam-
ily health rights seek to promote
not only the rights and welfare
of adult individuals and couples
but those of adolescents’ and
children’s as well.
We admonish those who are
promoting the Bill to consider
these matters. It is the duty of
every Catholic faithful to form
and conform their consciences to
the moral teaching of the Church.
We call for a more widespread
dialogue on this Bill.
As your Pastors we speak
to you in the name of the Lord:
Choose life and preserve it. Stand
up for the Gospel of Life!
May Mary, Mother of Life,
who carried in her womb Life
Himself, guide us to the Truth
of Life.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Con-
ference of the Philippines
Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
November 14, 2008






Volume 42 • Number 12
e the convenors and 75 members
of the Bishops-Ulama Conference
wish to express our heartfelt grati-
tude to Almighty God/Allah for the graced
opportunity of holding our 35th General
Assembly in the beautiful town of Jolo. For
holding this historic gathering in the land
where Islam began and where Christian-
Muslim relations have been considerably
improving despite negative reports of its
past and present situations, we owe a great
debt of gratitude to our host, the Apostolic
Vicariate of Jolo under Bp. Lampon with the
collaboration of the provincial, local govern-
ments and local ulama under Governor Sakur
Tan, Mayor Hussin Amin and Prof. Shariff
Julabbi respectively.
During our dialogue with the local
communities of Christians and Muslims,
certain concerns have been brought to our
attention. In response we wish to state the
1. We renew our call for the cessation
of all hostilities in order to create a climate of
peace where diverse voices can confdently
be expressed and sincerely heard. And on the
recent violence committed by rebel groups
in some parts of Mindanao, let the force of
the law be applied with justice that leads
to peace. We appeal to let the peace talks
between the GRP and the MILF continue,
in whatever level or means possible, and
let peace panels be convened as soon as the
situation allows it.
2. We urge the national and the lo-
cal government to intensify efforts to stop
kidnapping, especially in Mindanao. Kidnap-
ping hurts families, wastes precious lives
and so much resources, endangers peace
and development advocates and humanitar-
ian workers. Kidnapping does not serve the
Joint Statement of
the Bishops-Ulama Conference
35th General Assembly
Jolo, Sulu
November 18-21, 2008
Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination.
We speak to the families of the kidnappers—
please touch the hearts of your kin to consider
the pains inficted on the families of the
victims. We call on all concerned sectors of
society to organize and devise more effective
ways to curb this menace.
3. We would like to make special
request to various healing professionals and
practitioners. Please devote extra time and
expertise for the care of so many victims,
witnesses, and even perpetrators of violence,
past and present. Their wounds and scars,
both as individuals and as communities, are
still waiting for that kind of treatment that
can bring back forgiveness, reconciliation
and wholeness.
We affrm the initiatives of many groups
in holding community consultations, study
groups, and even healing sessions. We also
invite all sectors of Mindanao society to join
us in observing the Mindanao Week of Peace
starting on November 27 until December 3
this year. Its theme, “Integrity of Mind and
Heart, A Way to Reconciliation and Peace”,
reminds us that peace starts with our indi-
vidual selves.
On our part, as religious leaders, we shall
engage more vigorously on the following:
1. We will take an active role in pro-
moting community and sectoral dialogues to
expand the constituency of peace beyond, but
not neglectful of the gains from, the formal
peace talks. We are tapping the resources of
our social, religious and academic institutions
to help in assessing people’s perception of our
situation, in drawing out a common vision of
peace, in enriching peace education, and in
generating new ideas on the broader peace
process in our beloved Mindanao. We shall do
this with utmost fairness and transparency.
2. While we continue with interfaith
activities, we shall also pursue authentic
intrafaith dialogues among our own com-
munities. We hope that through this open
communication, we will fnd a way to face
our own share in the prolonged problem in
Mindanao as well discover how we could
go beyond our hurts and biases. Perhaps this
holds a key to more creative solutions to the
impasse in our peace process.
As we make this statement, we are not
blind to the many economic and social con-
cerns of the people of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi,
who simply dream of farm-to-market roads,
books and classrooms for their children, and
other basic services. We join them in appeal-
ing to the government and civil society groups
to assist them in their existing initiatives and
other needs.
May God/Allah help us all in our
endeavors for lasting peace for we trust in
His words.
“Come now let us reason together, says
the Lord, though your sins be like scarlet,
they shall be white as snow, though they be
red like crimson, they be white as wool.”
“And when they incline to peace, incline,
too, to it and rely upon Allah; indeed, He is the
Hearing, the Knower” (Al Qur’an, 7:61)
For the Bishops-Ulama Conference:
Archbishop of Davao
UCCP Bishop Emeritus
Ulama League of the Philippines





IMPACT • December 2008 26
“A public offce is a public trust. Public offcers…must at
all times be accountable to the people, serve them with outmost
responsibility, integrity, loyalty and effciency, act with patrio-
tism and justice, and lead modest lives.” (Phil. Const., Art XI,
Sec. 1)
“The President…may be removed from offce, on impeach-
ment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitu-
tion, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes,
or betrayal of public trust.” (Ibid., Sec, 2)
“A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House
shall be necessary either to affrm a favorable resolution of the
Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override its favor-
able resolution. The vote of each Member shall be recorded.”
(Ibid., Sec, 3, n.3)
of an Impeachment Complaint
depends on a numerical count
of those who vote on the
veracity or falsity of the said
content and spirit, merely on
the ground of political al-
liances, simply in view of
benefcial considerations is
the avid shaping of perversion
and the downright making of
Based on the above erratic
thoughts process and errant
actuation pattern, what is ob-
jectively right or wrong and
what is inherently virtuous or
vicious simply depend on how
many say so!
This distorted value sys-
tem of many national and local
public offcials is precisely
what makes the Philippines
now a pathetic country and
what makes the Filipinos today
a pitiful people. This tyranny of
“Numbers Game” is by itself
an intrinsically fawed socio-
political principle whereby the
majority and the minority are
eventually the oppressor and
oppressed, respectively.
Super is the gall and
singular is the ignorance of
anyone who thinks that what
makes the “Suffciency in
Form” and the “Suffciency
in Substance” of an Impeach-
ment Complaint merely de-
pends on how many say so—
based partisan politics and not
on what is commendable or
condemnable, admirable or
With such a twisted argu-
mentation and pursuant sick
posture, it is no surprise that no
community could have a claim
on truth, no society would live
by justice, no country could
live in peace.
Are the ideals of pub-
lic trust and accountability,
responsibility and integrity,
patriotism and justice all based
on how the majority think so?
Are the realities of treason
and bribery, graft and corrup-
tion, high crimes and betrayal
of public trust all defned by
the material number of who
vote “Yes” or “No”?
If this is the way impeach-
ment complaints are resolved,
then this nation has the public
offcials they deserve!
onsidering the above
cited social, ethical and
moral constitutional
provisions, it is a blatant con-
tradiction of their substantive
content and a callous perver-
sion of their inherent spirit for
anybody to even think, dare
say and even advocate that
Impeachment is but a “Num-
bers Game.”
Thinking that the validity
Impeachment: ‘a numbers game!’
or the past nine years or more,
the ruling administration with its
ever ready and obedient chorale
periodically sing the same old tune
and tiring song with the supposedly
menacing and harassing title “Desta-
bilization”. Translation: Beware of
anybody criticizing specially the execu-
tive branch of government. Away with
everybondy who distrusts and rejects
the national leadership. Neutralize all
people who dare disapprove the Mala-
cañang occupant and want her out of
the palace. And the standard targets
of such nervous chants are the disil-
lusioned members of the armed forces,
the disgusted political opposition, the
dissatisfed business leaders, the angry
civic and religious organizations of the
young and old alike—in that order of
priority. This is why as there are more
and more protest rallies and demon-
strations, so too those listed in the so
called “Order of Battle”, as far as the
present government is concerned, is
becoming longer.
In response to such already regular
and even expected warnings of “Desta-
bilization” plot here and there, now and
then—at times with veritable hallucinatory
origins—it might be good to forward the
following known and given much more
signifcant socio-political realities of long
standing in this country of rather simple,
patient peaceful people:
One: Instability is the name of the
incumbent national and supreme leader-
ship since it assumed power and might
after the anything but honest, orderly and
peaceful elections in 2004. The much re-
hearsed dramatic plea of “I am sorry” did
not fy, much less did it pacify the people.
Since then, the many labels of deceit and
the numerous brands of lie continued to
stick to the rightly or wrongly perceived
illegitimate public offcial. In short, the
political instability in the country is a long
standing reality in the land.
Two: With the long and nauseating
list of enormous graft and colossal corrupt
practices—courtesy of the government
from top to bottom, with consequent of mil-
lions of poorer and hungrier people—it
would be downright quixotic for Mala-
cañang to expect popular contentment
and gratitude, true stability and peace
in the country as a whole. This is in
line with the simple cause and effect
principle. Cause the oppression and
depression of people, and the effect is the
pursuit of radical reform through radical
change possibly by a radical move, i.e.,
Three: The practice of regular
national surveys by different local
frms and foreign agencies with their
likewise regularly released result, have
been and are consistent in one and the
same fact, viz., as the rating of govern-
ment corruption progressively rises in
degree and extent, the rating of trust
and approval of the leader of govern-
ment also gradually goes down. As of
this writing, more and more governed
Filipinos distrust and disapprove their
prime governor. Hence: Destabiliza-
tion? What’s new?
Volume 42 • Number 12
Illustration by Bladimer Usi
the Constitution
t does not take profound wisdom to say that just as
the good car will be damaged in the hand of a poor
driver, and a great business will ultimately fold up
under a poor management, so too the best Constitution is a
big futility under a corrupt—most corrupt—government.
This being the case, the conclusion is rather obvious:
First, change the corrupt governing offcials, and only
thereafter change the Constitution if really needed.
The country is in a very bad shape—socially and
politically, economically and morally. The government
merrily wallows in and greedily feeds on the extensive
and heavy taxation of the governed. Millions of Filipi-
nos neither fnd jobs nor have decent housing. Millions
too of the people do not have enough food to eat; much
less do they have the medicines they need when they get
sick. Less and less children go to schools. On the other
hand, there is a government that caused war in the South,
there is more criminality in the cities as there are more
and more violations of human rights and extrajudicial
killings as well.
At the same time, more people increasingly distrust
and disapprove many public offcials from the national to
the local levels of government. A good number of them are
well noted for their scandalous graft and corrupt practices.
These characters worship money just as they adore power.
What is proftable, advantageous and/or convenient is the
common denominator of their distorted value system. Thus
it is that what is right or wrong, good or evil, virtuous
or vicious has become of no consequence for them—on
condition only that they can get away with their hold on
wealth and tenure of infuence.
No wonder that even the government itself is shouting
“destabilization”, putting Juan, Pedro, and Pablo in the
“order of battle”, raising the “red alert” here and there,
making a “call to arms” every now and then. And for a
good reason: More and more Filipinos are fed up with
their public offcials—with very special reference to the
Malacañang occupant. They are downright disgusted and
much frustrated with the present government as a whole.
It is enough to listen to the radio, read newspapers or
watch television newscasts—except government-own-
and-run media outlets that praise it to high heavens and
extol its quasi infnite alleged achievements, with the
taxpayers footing the bill for all media expenses, as a
matter of course.
And to all the said socio-economic liabilities and
transactional politics, corrupt public offcials and
morally bankrupt government, people’ misery and
anger, the not only disgusting erratic but also revolting
response of the administration and its well rewarded
allies is not simply the change of the Constitution, but
also effect the change through its own much favored
loyal followers via a Constituent Assembly. If this
is not callousness, it would be quite diffcult to say
what it really is.
That is why elementary reason dictates that in the
order of business, it is necessary frst to get rid of cor-
rupt and corrupting public offcials, change them with
inspired and inspiring upright public servants. And only
thereafter, change the Constitution for the better if such
is really called for. Otherwise, it would be the usual big
oddity of “putting the cart before the horse.”
IMPACT • December 2008 28
t a fundraising dinner for a school that
serves learning-disabled children, the
father of one of the students delivered
a speech that would never be forgotten by all
who attended. After extolling the school and its
dedicated staff, he offered a question: 'When
not interfered with by outside infuences, ev-
erything nature does is done with perfection.
Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other
children do. He cannot understand things as
other children do. Where is the natural order
of things in my son?'
The audience was stilled by the query.
The father continued. 'I believe that
when a child like Shay, physically and
mentally handicapped comes into the world,
an opportunity to realize true human nature
presents itself, and it comes in the way other
people treat that child.'
Then he told the following story:
Shay and his father had walked past a
park where some boys Shay knew were play-
ing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll
let me play?' Shay's father knew that most of
the boys would not want someone like Shay
on their team, but the father also understood
that if his son were allowed to play, it would
give him a much-needed sense of belonging
and some confdence to be accepted by others
in spite of his handicaps.
Shay's father approached one of the boys
on the feld and asked (not expecting much)
if Shay could play. The boy looked around
for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six
runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I
guess he can be on our team and we'll try to
put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'
Shay struggled over to the team's bench
and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt.
His Father watched with a small tear in his
eye and warmth in his heart. The boys saw
the father's joy at his son being accepted.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's
team scored a few runs but was still behind
by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay
put on a glove and played in the right feld.
Even though no hits came his way, he was
obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and
on the feld, grinning
from ear to ear as
his father waved to
him from the stands.
In the bottom of the
ninth inning, Shay's
team scored again.
Now, with two outs
and the bases loaded,
the potential winning
run was on base and
Shay was scheduled
to be next at bat.
At this juncture,
do they let Shay bat
and give away their
chance to win the
game? Surprisingly,
Shay was given the
bat. Everyone knew
that a hit was all but
impossible because
Shay didn't even
know how to hold the
bat properly, much
less connect with the
However, as
Shay stepped up to
the plate, the pitcher,
recognizing that the
other team was put-
ting winning aside for
this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few
steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at
least make contact. The frst pitch came and
Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher
again took a few steps forward to toss the
ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came
in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow
ground ball right back to the pitcher.
The game would now be over. The
pitcher picked up the soft grounder and
could have easily thrown the ball to the frst
baseman. Shay would have been out and that
would have been the end of the game.
Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right
over the frst baseman's head, out of reach
of all team mates. Everyone from the stands
and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to
frst! Run to frst!' Never in his life had Shay
ever run that far, but he made it to frst base.
He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed
and startled.
Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run
to second!' Catching his breath, Shay awk-
wardly ran towards second, gleaming and
struggling to make it to the base. By the
time Shay rounded towards second base, the
right felder had the ball ... the smallest guy
on their team who now had his frst chance
to be the hero for his team. He could have
thrown the ball to the second-baseman for
the tag, but he understood the pitcher's inten-
tions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball
high and far over the third-baseman's head
Shay ran toward third base deliriously as
the runners ahead of him circled the bases
toward home.
All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay,
all the Way Shay'
Shay reached third base because the op-
posing shortstop ran to help him by turning
him in the direction of third base, and shouted,
'Run to third! Shay, run to third!'
As Shay rounded third, the boys from
both teams, and the spectators, were on their
feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!'
Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and
was cheered as the hero who hit the grand
slam and won the game for his team.
'That day', said the father softly with
tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys
from both teams helped bring a piece of true
love and humanity into this world.’
Shay didn't make it to another summer.
He died that winter, having never forgotten
being the hero and making his father so happy,
and coming home and seeing his Mother tear-
fully embrace her little hero of the day!
Two choices
From the e-mail messages of Lan Bergado,
Volume 42 • Number 12
Unusual and Ordinary
Biographical Sketches of Some Philippine Jesuits
Miguel A. Bernad, SJ
The Jesuits’ contribution
in the Philippine Church
covers a wide spectrum
that dates back centuries
of evangelizing Filipinos
through education and other
forms of ministry called for
by the times. In this volume,
Bernad chronicles the life
of exemplary Jesuits who
have made a difference in
the lives of people whom
they have come to love, and
the adopted country they
have come to consider their
own. Although represent-
ing various cultures, Span-
ish, American, Italian and
Filipino, these Jesuits have
something in common; all
of them have worked in the
Philippines for many years,
coming in the country in their
youth. In these biographical sketches, the author recounts how
these Jesuits have lived their life extraordinarily in otherwise
ordinary circumstances. Published by Jesuit Communication
Foundation, the book is an excellent material especially for young
people today who are in dire need of role models.
Earth Community Earth Ethics
Larry L. Rasmussen
As every country in the world
grapples with environmental
crisis that has become a
global concern because of
its tremendous effect on the
world, a book on Earth eth-
ics comes at an opportune
time. Although the book has
been published a while, the
concerns discussed in this
volume are as relevant as
they are matters that af-
fect us all. Divided in three
parts, the book is primarily
engrossed on how we as
stewards of creation have
exercised the powers given
us, and where we belong
in the scheme of things. In
part one, Rasmussen gives
a global perspective of the
dangers that threaten all life
forms in the planet. In part two, he looks at the worlds of religion,
ethics, and human symbolism to gather the means “for a neces-
sary ‘conversion to earth.’” In part three, he presents some ethical
guidelines on how to deal with our present situation. Rasmus-
sen, who is co-moderator of the Commission on Justice, Peace,
and the Integrity of Creation of the World Council of Churches
in Geneva, provides a wide-ranging treatment of the subject,
synthesizing “insights from religion, ethics, and environmental-
ism in a single vision for creating a sustainable community.” This
volume is locally published by St. Pauls.
Eating with the Bridegroom
Mark, Year B
The Spiritual Wisdom of the Gospels for Christian
Preachers and Teachers
John Shea
This book, the second in
a four-volume set titled
“The spiritual Wisdom of
the Gospels for Christian
Preachers and Teachers”
is a priceless resource for
priests and storytellers,
and anyone engaged in
teaching. More than just
the usual commentary
on the gospel readings,
the book offers more to
those who read the word
in order to be illumined
and transformed. As the
author suggests in his
introduction, the spiritual
wisdom of the gospels
lights up the mind and be-
comes the key that opens
the person to receive the
Spirit and allow him/her-
self to be transformed in
the process. An internationally-known theologian and storyteller,
who has lectured on world religions, faith-based health care,
contemporary spirituality, and the spirit at work movement, Shea
has already authored eleven books of theology and spirituality,
and two books of poetry. This volume published by Paulines
Publishing House, comes just in time as the Church starts a new
liturgical season.
Trial of Faith
Fernando De Larrazabal
This book published by
St. Pauls is a compilation
of short refl ecti ons on
the gospels. Intended for
general readership, the
insights followed a short
scriptural passage and
end with a brief prayer.
Originally broadcast over
hi s radi o program, the
gospel refections cover a
wide range of topics that
“make us aware of the
marginalized and deprived
members of society, for
whom our Lord showed
preferential love when he
walked the earth among
us.” The author, who is
deeply engrossed in par-
ish ministry in his capacity
as a Special Minister of the
Eucharist is also involved
with the Brotherhood of
Christian Businessmen
and Professionals. He has authored two earlier works—Where
are My Hands and Feet? and Quest for Answers.
IMPACT • December 2008 30
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Billy Burke,
Ashley Greene, Peter Pacinelli
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Producers: Wyck Godfrey, Greg Mooradian, Mark
Screenwriters: Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer
Music: Carter Burwell
Editor: Nancy Richardson
Genre: Drama/ Fantasy/ Romance/ Thriller
Cinematography: Elliot Davis
Distributor: Viva Films
Location: Washington, USA
Running Time: 122 min.
Technical Assessment: 
Moral Assessment: 
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with
parental guidance
wilight is a movie ad-
aptation from Stepha-
nie Meyer’s series.
After 17-year-old Bella
Swan’s (Kristen Stewart)
mother remarries, she is
sent off to live with her
father Charlie (Billy Burke)
in the small town of Forks
Washington. She becomes
attracted to a mysterious
classmate Edward Cullen
(Robert Pattinson), who is
actually a 108-year-old vam-
pire resembling a teenager.
Edward’s genteel and gra-
cious ways endear him all
the more to Bella and despite
trying to resist the mutual
attraction. The two teenagers
fall deeply in love with each
other. The Cullen family’s
loyalty and ethics are put to
test when the nomadic vam-
pires arrive and endanger the
life of Bella.
Most movie adapta-
tions of great novels end up
disappointing and wanting.
This movie is no different
with interpretation of Ed-
ward and Bella’s characters
lacking in depth and the
struggle of the Cullen family
to co-exist with the humans
downplayed. However, as a
romantic fantasy for teenag-
ers, the movie succeeds in
connecting with the target
viewers and eliciting enough
sympathy and fondness. The
production is decent with an
imaginative camerawork,
tight editing and impressive
CGIs. The production design
and the music successfully
deliver the Gothic romance it
intends. Overall, the movie is
quite enjoyable and respect-
ably moving.
One’s background does
not necessarily spell the kind
of person he is to become.
The Cullens are vampires
and by nature they are vio-
lent, blood-thirsty and heart-
less but instead, they are
doing their very best to be
decent, loving, and caring
as is humanly possible. In
the same manner, regardless
of one’s root, family history,
psychological background
and personal past, the kind of
person one will turn out to be
depends on himself and his
desire to choose what is good
and right as opposed to what
is expected by society.
The movie, though not
objectionable, has several
short but intense action vio-
lence, mild sensuality and
some sexual references, and
may not be acceptable for
younger teens. Young audi-
ences need to be guided by
their parents as some scenes
and dialogues are not appro-
priate for them.
Volume 42 • Number 12
The CBCP Media Offce has conducted a little fund campaign throughout the year 2008. Friends
have been very generous beyond expectations. With their generosity we were able to continue our
media apostolate which consisted mainly of the following: 1) Media relations, 2) Publication of
CBCP Monitor and Impact Magazine; 3) CBCP News Service; 4) Multimedia; and 5) Trainings
in media and information technology.
While others preferred to go unnoticed, below is the list of those we are profoundly grateful.
Alice Ganzon
Augustinian Fathers, Province of Sto. Niño de Cebu
Augustinian Recollect Sisters
Augustinian Missionaries of the Philippines
Barbara Restaurant
Blessed Sacrament Sisters
Canossian Sisters
Chi Pragada
Congregacion de Religiosas Misioneras de Sto. Domingo (OP)
Daughters of Mary Mother of the Church (DM)
Daughters of St. Francis de Sales (DSFS)
Dominican Province of the Holy Rosary (OP)
Dominican Province of the Philippines (OP)
Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Mother of God
Fernando Go
Franciscan Missionaries of Mary
Manny Villar (Senator)
Mabel Esteban
Maryknoll Sisters
Meneleo J. Carlos, Jr. (Chairman, Federation of Phil. Industries Inc.)
Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception
Nelly Santos
Redemptorist Community (Cebu)
Religious of the Assumption
Salesians of Don Bosco, Makati
Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres (SPC)
Society of Jesus
Society of Mary (Marist Fathers)
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
"The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention."
—Oscar Wilde