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IMPACT
Quote in the Act
“It will never be the same Hamas.”
Ehud Olmert, Israel Prime Minister; quoted by government secretary
Oved Yehezkel as saying, after Israel dealt Hamas an unprecedented blow by
demolishing 200 smuggling tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, killing
900 Palestinians and wounding 3,000 more; but reaping the ire of some parts
of the world, calling the aggression a new “holocaust”.
“My future depends on the won going back up.”
Seo Ji-won, a South Korean student who was supposed to leave for Australia
to pursue a doctoral degree but remains in Seoul working part-time in a
coffee shop after the global fnancial crisis decimated the value of Korea’s
currency, the won, and defated the “Korea’s study-abroad bubble.”
“There is now no connection between sexuality
and reproduction.”
Carl Djerassi, Austrian chemist whose formulation of the synthetic
progestagen Norethisterone marked a key step in the creation of the frst oral
contraceptive pill; lamented demographic catastrophe saying he is partly to
blame for the worsening demographic imbalance in Europe.
“Population is proving to be an asset, not a
factor that contributes to poverty.”
Pope Benedict XVI, in his message entitled “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace”
on the occasion of the World Day of Peace, celebrated on the frst day of
January 2009.
"Prepare for more persecutions.”
Joseph Nguyen, one of the four Redemptorist priests of Hanoi who are being
pressured by the government to be transferred out of the city for being
critical of the trial of the eight Catholic protesters recently found guilty by
the city government, over disputes of land being reclaimed by the Catholic
Church.
“Thank you, I mean it sincerely.”
Joseph Biden, Jr., US Vice-President-elect, upon meeting with American
troops in Afghanistan where 294 servicemen and women were killed in 2008;
decided by the Bush administration, 20,000 additional troops will join 68,000
troops already on the ground, over the course of 2009.
Volume 43 • Number 1
3
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January 2009 / Vol 43 • No 1
EDITORIAL
Term of Offce ................................................... 27
COVER STORY
Prospect for Peace in the Years Ahead ............ 16
ARTICLES
Agrarian Reform: A Clear, Continuing,
Constitutional and Legal Mandate ................ 4
Time to Make Land a Human Right ................ 6
Quo vadis, CARP? .............................................. 8
Struggle for Land : Reshaping Human Rights .. 9
Israel - Palestine: The gloomy future and the
visit of the pope ................................................ 10
In Gaza, the Vatican Raises the White Flag ...... 12
Walking in a demographic winter
wonderland ................................................... 13
The IMF and World Bank: progeny of Bretton
Woods ................................................................ 14
Can the Hundred Years' War in Gaza give way
to Peace? ............................................................ 10
DEPARTMENTS
Quote in the Act ................................................. 2
News Features ................................................... 21
Statements .......................................................... 24
From the Blogs ................................................... 26
From the Inbox .................................................. 28
Book Reviews ..................................................... 29
Entertainment .................................................... 30
News Briefs ........................................................ 31
CONTENTS
B
arring theological and
even moral arguments
aside, a dysfunctional jus-
tice system, which has become
all the more observable today,
should be one of the biggest
arguments why death penalty
must not be re-imposed.
Hoodlums in robes who
have been accused of endemic
bribery, a judicial process that
thrives more on technicality
and legalese rather than truth,
a justice department that has
been long suffering from deep-
seated credibility crisis—all
these make the re-imposition
of capital punishment not only
stupid but futile.
But the pro-death penalty
proponents seem not to get the
logic. For them the best way to
deter the commission of hei-
nous crimes is death. Call it fa-
naticism or obstinacy but such
point of view does not jibe with
empirical fact and scientifc
evidence. Countries or states
that have lived with capital
punishment have not lessened
a bit both criminals and crimi-
nality. Because, simply put,
the commission of
a crime does not
premeditate the
consequence of a
punishment.
In the frst place,
the issue is not about death penalty.
It’s about law enforcement and
justice system.
“The reform of our law enforce-
ment and justice system so that
speedy justice will be meted out to
all offenders of the law, especially
to grave offenders, regardless of
economic and social status. Such a
reform is a more effective deterrent
for crimes than capital punishment
would be, and it will help establish
an atmosphere of peace and order,”
said the Catholic Bishops’ Confer-
ence of the Philippines in a state-
ment in 1992 on the non-restoration
of the death penalty.
With a sullied justice system,
real and moneyed criminals may
not be placed behind bars; only
the poor ones whose poverty has
condemned them to become scape-
goats of a system protected with
legal technicalities but deprived
of ethics.
This issue opens with
“Agrarian Reform: A Clear,
Continuing, Constitutional
and Legal Mandate”, by the
Sentro ng Alternatibong Lin-
gap Panligal (SALIGAN). This
was the crying issue of the past
year. If only because, poor and
voiceless farmers hardly make
a dint in the awareness, much
less sympathy, of the main-
stream Philippine society, Im-
pact will continue running this
advocacy even ad nauseam.
Given a political culture
that is turbulent, a commu-
nist insurgency hinged on an
ideological anachronism, and
a contentious dream of an
independent Islamic republic
in Mindanao—is peace in the
Philippines still possible? This
is one of the questions posed
by our cover story written by
Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR.
Read on.
IMPACT • January 2009 4
Prepared by Sentro ng Alternati-
bong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN)
T
.he 1987 Constitution mandates
the State to undertake an agrarian
reform program.
1
Landless farmers
and farmworkers have the Constitutional
right to own land. As a consequence,
the right exists whether or not there is a
law that implements it. Agrarian reform
is understood primarily as a means of
physically distributing land and providing
the necessary support services. The State
has a clear and defnite duty to undertake
agrarian reform as a continuing social
justice program and a means towards rural
Agrarian Reform: A Clear,
Continuing, Constitutional and
Legal Mandate
development.
In order to fulfll the Constitutional
mandate, Congress enacted RA 6657. RA
6657 covers all private and public agricul-
tural land or lands suitable for agriculture.
Agrarian reform has three components:
land acquisition and distribution (LAD),
support services and agrarian justice de-
livery. The funding for the agrarian reform
program comes from the Agrarian Reform
Fund, comprising mostly of the recovered
ill-gotten Marcos Wealth. RA 6657 pro-
vides 10 years from June 15, 1988 for the
full implementation of the LAD compo-
nent. Section 63
2
of RA 6657 intends to
provide continuing appropriation for the
implementation of Agrarian Reform. On
February 23, 1998 Congress enacted RA
8532 to provide additional funding for the
implementation of RA 6657 until 2008.
Reading the title of RA 8532, “An Act
Strengthening Further The Comprehen-
sive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP),
Providing Augmentation Fund Therefor,
Amending For the Purpose Section 63 Of
Republic Act No. 6657, Otherise Known As,
The CARP Law of 1988”, shows that it only
provides augmentation fund to CARP.
RA 8532 did not extend nor set a
deadline for the LAD component of CARP;
what it did was provide additional funding.
Agrarian Reform is a continuing mandate
ARTICLES
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Volume 43 • Number 1
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of the Constitution.
3
The government is
bound to fully implement it and to provide
for its necessary funding. After 20 years,
the implementation of RA 6657, especially
the LAD component, remains incomplete.
The government is duty-bound under the
Constitution to complete the LAD scope.
It has to provide the means to fulfll the
mandate.
A law providing for suffcient funding
and necessary reforms in the CARL and
DAR system is needed in order for the
government to fulfll the Constitutional
mandate. Failure of the government to
complete the implementation of RA 6657
does not mean that agrarian reform has
expired. Otherwise, the Constitutional
mandate will be defeated by mere inaction
of the government.
Just before Congress
adjourned this year, the
House of Representatives
approved “Joint” Resolu-
tion number 21 on June 10,
2008. The resolution is not
really “joint” because the
Senate did not approve it.
Instead of clarifying the
status of CARP after the
non-passage of a law, the
resolution adds confusion
because it introduces the
idea that CARP will end on
December 31, 2008. Such
conclusion has no basis
either in RA 6657 or in
RA 8532. Defnitely, a law
can only be amended by
another law and a resolu-
tion is not a law. Congress
cannot defeat a Constitutional right or
mandate.
Because Congress failed to pass a law
providing funds for CARP and the needed
reforms last June 10, 2008, anti-CARP
groups say that CARP has expired. Many
news articles and reports have wrongly
quoted that CARP expired last June 10,
2008. The extreme left groups also say
that CARP is dead and a new agrarian
reform law is needed. In fact in a public
hearing called by the House Committee
on Agrarian Reform last month, many
Congresspersons especially the group of
Rep. Luis Villafuerte say that CARP has
expired and any extension will just be for
winding up purposes.
Again to emphasize the point—CARP
did not expire on June 10, 2008, nor will it
expire on December 31, 2008! The Consti-
tutional mandate is clear! The State must
undertake an agrarian reform program.
As long as there are big landholdings and
farmers without land, land acquisition and
distribution must continue. Government
has the duty to provide funding for CARP
after June 10, 2008 either through a law
that provides funding through the General
Appropriations Act or through presidental
allocation of unallocated funds.
Since Congress did not pass a law
extending the funding for CARP then
the following threats that come with the
non-passage of a law: 1) Persons resist-
ing CARP will continue to insist that the
program has expired; 2) DAR may use the
absence of a law to justify inaction or sub-
par performance in the implementation
of CARP; and 3) more harassment will
be committed against farmers claiming
their rights under CARP. All of these are
already happening right now; in Ormoc the
installation of Agrarian Reform Benefcia-
ries (ARBs) are on hold, in Negros DAR
offcials refuse to process the coverage of
the Arroyo lands, in Quezon landlords are
evicting their tenants and fling criminal
cases against them, in Masbate farmer lead-
ers claiming rights to the land are executed
by the leftist groups, and many others.
Before Congress adjourned last June,
they agreed to pass the CARP extension
law with “perfecting ammendments” before
December 31, 2008. The Speaker said that
he will try to convince all the Congress-
persons to support CARP extension. In
order to win over the landlord bloc in the
House, he constituted a special committee
headed by Rep. Luis Villafuerte to draft their
proposals for CARP. Last December 17,
2008, the Villafuerte group submitted their
version of the bill on CARP ammendments.
The bill has ffteen proposals which are
mostly retrogressive to the present CARP.
For instance, there is a proposal to limit
the coverage of CARPable lands to those
issued with notice of coverage before June
30, 2008 and exempt the others. There is
also a provision that legalizes the conversion
of agricultural lands into fshponds, aqua-
culture facilities, poultry and livestock.
Other provisions in the Villafuerte bill are
allowing collateralization of farms and its
foreclosure, lifting of the ownership ceil-
ing, limiting the qualifed benefciaries of
the program and allowing conversion of
rice lands into commercial uses. The main
premise of the Villafuerte bill is that CARP
has expired and its proposals are for winding
up of the program.
The confusion that was created by the
non-passage of the CARPER bill has vin
implementation and as a
matter of policy. If only
the government abide by
the Constitutional man-
date then they should
expeditiously pass HB
4077 which provides for
extension of funding and
“perfecting” reforms.
Notes
1 Section 4 of Article XIII
provides in part: “The State
shall, by law, undertake an
agrarian reform program
founded on the right of
farmers and regular farm
workers, who are landless,
to own directly or indirectly
the land they till xxx.”
The same section adds that, “the State shall
encourage and undertake the just distribution
of all agricultural lands, subject to such priorities
and reasonable retention limits as the Congress
may provide xxx.”
2 SEC. 63 of RA 6657. Funding Source.- The
initial amount needed to implement this Act for
the period of ten (10) years upon approval hereof
shall be funded from the Agrarian Reform Fund
created under Sections 20 and 21 of Executive
Order No. 229.Additional amounts are hereby
authorized to be appropriated as and when
needed to augment the Agrarian Reform Fund
in order to fully implement the provisions of this
Act. Sources of funding or appropriations shall
include the following:
(a) Proceeds of the sales of the Assets
Privatization Trust; xxx
All funds appropriated to implement the
provisions of this Act shall be considered
continuing appropriations during the period
of its implementation.”
3 DOJ Opinion number 9 series of 1997
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Agrarian Reform: A Clear, Continuing, Constituntional and Legal Mandate
I
IMPACT • January 2009 6
By Armando L. Paragat
T
he specter of widespread
hunger is creeping. Food
crisis is intensifying and
has become a global concern
for many head of states, par-
ticularly among developing
countries today.
In fact, it already had
caused turmoil in many parts
of the world triggering riots
and killings in countries such
as those in Africa because of
severe hunger.
At the rate things are go-
ing and how governments are
dealing with the impact of
such catastrophic situation, the
worst is still to come.
Time to Make Land a
Human Right
Unless local policies are
changed, national and inter-
national laws immediately en-
acted to secure food produc-
tion; hunger will eventually
claim unimaginable loss of
human life.

Causal Issues
Economic and social ex-
perts have blamed many con-
tributory factors that might
have accelerated the world
food crisis. Most mentioned
were the soaring prices of com-
modity, fuel and the issue on
population growth.
Some other questions
however need to be highlighted
as these could be identifed as
signifcant causative issues to
where the world is right now, in
relation to the food production
meltdown.
The global market im-
positions along with the now
familiar ‘free market’ policies
espoused by the Washington
based financial institutions,
primarily the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and the
World Bank (WB) is one.
In the case of the Phil-
ippines, such financial im-
positions paved way in the
government’s abandonment
of its economic policy of ‘self-
suffciency’, favoring the pro-
duction of ‘cash crops’ such as
cut fowers for export.
It’s not surprising then that
the country, considered as a
major rice producer-exporter
in Asia, has now become a
major rice importer. Reality
bites indeed.
Another major factor is the
unbridled massive conversions
of agricultural lands. This is one
issue agrarian reform petition-
ers and benefciaries felt help-
less. By reclassifying lands
for other utilization other than
agriculture, landlords managed
to evade and keep their vast
estate being covered under
the Comprehensive Agrarian
Reform Program (CARP).
Confronted with such situ-
ation, the poor farmers turn to
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
Volume 43 • Number 1
7
human rights for legal relief.
Missing Clear-cut Human
Rights Provisions
For the marginal farmers
and farm-workers aggressively
pursuing agrarian reform, noth-
ing keeps them more deter-
mined than to have knowledge
on laws and human rights that
guarantee the moral and legal
virtue of their assertions.
Advocates too and human
rights defenders believe in the
necessity of such suasions to
help farmers stand on frm
grounds in their claims.
They engaged government
and its lead agencies in demand-
ing serious CARP implemen-
tation, citing Article 1 [2] of
the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (ICESCR) “In no case
may a people be deprived of its
own means of subsistence” and
Article 11 [1] “the right of ev-
eryone to an adequate standard
of living…including adequate
food…” [2] (a) “To improve
methods of production…by de-
veloping or reforming agrarian
systems…” during dialogues
and mass mobilizations.
Even with such efforts,
much have to be fulflled on the
government’s side, in reference
to its state-party obligations
such as the obligations of con-
duct and result.
Farmers and advocates
realized that they are short of
international human rights le-
gal standards they could invoke
and cling to in the course of
their land reform struggle.
This is one reason they
considered as having caused
a setback in their endeavor
towards seeking government
accountability and in relation to
the current food diffculty.
In implementing the right
to food, access to land and land
reform are central components
to make it work and eventually
mitigate hunger. Even Jean
Ziegler, Special Rapporteur on
the Right to Food, declared in
2002, “…At this level, access
to land is fundamental, and
agrarian reform must be a key
part of Government strategies
aimed at reducing hunger.”
Still the issue of land has
never been highlighted or clear-
ly dealt with head-on when
human rights experts drafted
the Covenant. Reviewing the
ICESCR one couldn’t fnd a
stipulation that specifcally as-
sures peoples’ human rights
to land. Its absence further
emboldens the government to
remain mum and not keen on
fulflling its three-level obliga-
tions under the treaty.
The Pressing Challenge
Dealing with the timely
question on access to land as
a human right will have an
overall effect with regards to
the ‘justiciability’ of ESCR and
its applicability in the realm of
domestic law. The challenge
to take on the task falls on
the Committee on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights, the
Treaty-based Body mandated
to draft General Comments
that would elaborate and help
state-parties interpret the extent
of implementation as expressed
by the stipulations found in the
Covenant.
A General Comment on
Article 1.2 of ICESCR that
would ultimately address the
problem of landlessness, food
sovereignty and security is long
overdue.
In considering such ques-
tion, it would be signifcant to
include in its observations key
elements that would compel
state-parties to review its land
utilization policies and ensure
allocation of land exclusively
assigned for food production.
Elevating land as distinct
human right is relevant and
crucial to the poor farmers
asserting agrarian reform and
crucial to the realization of the
right to food. Now is the time
to do it.
(Armando L. Paragat is
the current Agrarian Reform
and Human Rights (ARHR)
Officer of the Partnership
for Agrarian Reform and
Rural Development Services
Inc. or PARRDS)
Volume 43 • Number 1
7
Time to Make Land a Human Right
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IMPACT • January 2009 8
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ARTICLES
By Leonardo Q. Montemayor
T
he passage of Congressional Joint
Resolution No. 19 last December 17,
2008, which extended by six months
the voluntary modes of land acquisition
and distribution (LAD) but discontinued
compulsory LAD under the Comprehen-
sive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL), marks
a disrupting and potentially fatal episode in
the history of Philippine land reform.
Heretofore, from the social justice
program of President Quezon in the 1930s
until the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
Program (CARP) under President Aquino
in 1988, agrarian reform has followed an
often tedious but generally progressive
track.
In the mid-1950s, President Mag-
saysay pushed successfully for laws that
reformed the agricultural tenancy system
in favor of the share tenant.
Under President Macapagal, the Ag-
ricultural Land Reform Code of 1963
consolidated the various laws and regula-
tions and replaced the sharehold with the
leasehold tenancy system on an area-to-
area basis.
In 1971, following an 84-day lived-in
picket at the front steps of the old Congress
by the Federation of Free Farmers and its
allied groups, President Marcos signed
Quo vadis,
CARP?
into law the Code of Agrarian Reforms of
the Philippines and a companion measure
to fnance the program’s implementation.
This statute placed the entire country under
the leasehold system and, in certain cases,
provided for the compulsory acquisition of
agricultural lands in favor of their actual
tillers. (In 1982, the “land-to-the-tiller”
principle was likewise applied to qualifed
forest settlers through the Integrated Social
Forestry Program.)
Then, in 1988, in compliance with the
mandate of the 1987 Constitution, Con-
gress passed the CARL, which extended
the program of mandatory LAD to all
agricultural lands, irrespective of tenurial
arrangements and crops produced.
In stark contrast, J.R. No. 19 (which
has the force of law) under the presidency
of President Macapagal-Arroyo is a seri-
ous reversal of the forward movement of
social justice in the rural sector during
the past seventy-fve years. Although the
Resolution maintains or extends the CARP
until June 30, 2009 (during which period,
Congress will have come up with a fnal
decision on the future of the program), what
remains of LAD is a parody or pygmy of
the agrarian reform legacy built by previ-
ous administrations.
What kind of social reform is this
that relies on the willingness of the land-
owner to voluntarily
give up ownership
of his land? Is an
offce, much less an
entire department,
still needed to over-
see what has now
become a mere buy-
and-sell or market
transaction of agri-
cultural real estate?
What is there to pre-
vent Congress next
from turning over
the Department of
Agrarian Reform’s
current roles of giving support services
to CARP farmer-benefciaries to the De-
partment of Agriculture; and settlement of
agrarian disputes, to the judiciary?
Although today the prospects for a
meaningful CARP after June 30, 2009 ap-
pear dim, a qualitative change for the better
will depend on a number of factors.
Firstly, advocates of CARPER will need
to regroup, expand their support base and
rethink their strategies and tactics within and
outside the Congress. For instance, while
several groups are strongly dissatisfed with
the current DAR leadership, hopefully, they
will address the more pressing need of work-
ing together to achieve the priority goal of
CARP extension.
More dramatic public awareness and
support-drawing actions, like the hunger
strike staged outside the House of Repre-
sentatives from December 15-17, should
be undertaken.
The strengthening of the partnership
between the PO-NGO groups and the
religious sector, especially the Catholic
Bishops Conference of the Philippines
(CBCP), will be critical. The Executive
and members of Congress should be
advised that they can ill-afford alienat-
ing their friends in the religious sector,
particularly on an issue which lies at the
heart of social justice.
At all levels, lobbying efforts with
Congresspersons and Senators need to be
intensifed. Supporters and adversaries,
including the so-called “presidentiables”,
should be remembered in future electoral
contests.
Finally, the big question. Where is
the guiding hand of the Strong Republic
that promised to make CARPER a top
priority during the July 2008 State of the
Nation Address?

(A former Secretary of Agriculture,
Mr. Leonardo Q. Montemayor is currently
the President of the Federation of Free
Farmers, FFF)
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ARTICLES
By Max M. de Mesa
Human Rights Evolve from
People’s Struggles
A
fter 60 years from the
signing of the Universal
Declaration of Human
Rights (UDHR) in December
10, 1948, the discourse on hu-
man rights have gone a long
way. The historic document has
since then given human rights
the push to evolve and respond
to the concrete issues pertain-
ing to the struggles of peoples
in whose name the members
of the United Nations was es-
tablished. The UDHR, a docu-
ment of aspiration, gave birth
to two legally-binding human
rights instruments—the Inter-
national Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR) and
the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights (ICESCR). The three
documents then became what is
now known as the International
Bill of Rights. Since then,
other human rights instruments
Struggle for Land:
Reshaping Human Rights
were internationally forged to
respond to specifc sectors, like,
women, and needs, e.g., the
Convention Against Torture.
All the rights enshrined are
inherent in each one for being
human. These rights spring
from the dignity of a human
person. And yet, human rights
are not synonymous with hu-
man dignity. Neither is human
dignity on human rights.
Human dignity is more en-
compassing
Progressive civil society
must understand that human
rights and how to implement
them have also evolved for
better compliance primarily by
States as seen in the issuance
by U.N. independent experts
of what is known as General
Comments.
An apt example in relation
to the evolution or development
of human rights is the issue of
land, especially in predomi-
nantly developing agricultural
countries. Technically, there
is no right to land. But there
is a great push for the right to
land to become part of the dig-
nity particularly of indigenous
peoples and peasants.
It may be in this context
that in the Philippines the peas-
ants’ struggle for land reform as
expressed in the Comprehensive
Land Reform Program (CARP),
for its extension and for making
the program better with reforms
is part of a global campaign to
affrm the human right to land.
The non-passage of the Philip-
pine program’s extension with
reforms, despite the need for a
new and better agrarian reform
law, can consign thousands of
farmers and their families to a
permanent state of poverty that
violates their right to a quality
of life worthy of human dignity.
Nonetheless, caution, even re-
sistance when needed, must be
exercised on offers of market-
oriented/led land reform, as in
the case of Guatemala where
the World Bank favored land
restructuring to thwart land dis-
tribution and open indigenous
lands to extractive industries.
1

The Struggle for Land Re-
distribution: A Demand of
Dignity
A leader of the National
Federation of Sugarcane Work-
ers (NFSW), Armando Dolo-
rosa, 45 was gunned down by
three masked men in Manapla,
Negros Occidental on 6 June
2008.
According to Dolorosa’s
wife, Janetta, she suspects
that her husband’s murder
had something to do with the
implementation of the agrarian
reform program. She said her
husband and 36 other agrarian
reform benefciaries were given
certifcates of land ownership
award by the Department of
Agrarian Reform (DAR) last
year, to own a portion of a sugar
estate. Mr. Dolorosa was the
third local NFSW leader slain
in Manapla since 2003, local
police records show.
Struggle, page 22
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IMPACT • January 2009 10
ARTICLES
By Arieh Cohen
I
n Israel the dominant feel-
ing today is that of déjà vu:
an intolerable provocation
from across a hostile border by
a terrorist organization; a trium-
phant, overwhelming counter-
attack by the Israeli air force;
insuppressible enemy retalia-
tion against civilian targets in
Israel: mounting Arab protests
and international concern; US
indulgence; critical European
rhetoric; mounting uncertainty
in Israel as to how to wrap it all
up, more or less successfully;
prolonged debate on whether,
how, and on what scale, to
launch highly risky operations
by ground forces, and laterally,
as it were, advanced hopes and
plans for peace foundering on
the obstacles skillfully laid by
extremists on the other side,
reinforced in turn by the an-
tiphonal response of hardliners
on this side; growing tensions
with Israel’s own Palestinian
national minority.
It feels like being to the
same movie yet again…
Israel’s war with Hamas in
the waning days of 2008 closely
resembles its war with Hezbol-
lah in the middle of 2006.
Israel - Palestine:
The gloomy future, and the
visit of the pope
Israeli leaders are thinking only of reaching a new ceasefre
with Hamas, but it is important to lay the foundation for a
peace treaty. Uncertainty over Abou Mazen, and the future of
the Israeli government, Benedict XVI's visit to the Holy Land
comes at a good time.
And yet there are certain
essential differences too:
Hezbollah’s attack on Is-
raeli territory on 12 July 2006
was terrorist aggression "pure
and simple." It was outside
of any context. The UN had
certifed that Israel had already
withdrawn from all Lebanese
territory. While Hamas’s mis-
sile and rocket attacks on Israeli
territory are another very ugly
chapter in an ongoing national
confict. This is not, of course,
an attenuating circumstance
(there can be no excuse for
terrorism – ever), but it does
mean that there is ultimately
the possibility of a defnitive
solution, an Israeli-Palestin-
ian peace (i.e. between Israel
and the PLO, not Hamas) that
would mean the drying-up, or
withering away, of that measure
of popular support that enables
Hamas to rule the Gaza Strip
and makes it a serious threat in
the West Bank as well.
And yet, sadly, there does
not seem to be much talk of
that prospect, and the public
discourse, as so often, focuses
on "conflict management"
rather than on true "confict
resolution". The hopes of the
more serious civilian and mil-
itary leaders in Israel—and
elsewhere—seem concentrated
on achieving another, intrinsi-
cally temporary, "truce" with
Hamas, rather than on alter-
ing completely the underlying
situation, on re-establishing
"rules of the game" rather than
on changing the "game" itself.
This is a great pity.
Revisiting the proposal of the
Arab League
Of course, for now Israel
has got to do what it has got
to do (but what exactly?) to
stop fanatical terrorists from
attacking its southern towns
and villages on a daily basis.
But what then?
The bitter irony of the situ-
ation is that, if the fundamental
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Israel - Palestine: The gloomy future, and the visit of the pope
choice were made, the building
blocks of peace are all present.
The peace initiative of the Arab
League from spring 2002 (re-
peatedly confrmed since then)
could powerfully reinforce the
premises of the 1991 Madrid
peace conference, which –
reconvened or replicated –
could bring together Syria’s
"strategic choice" of aiming
for a peace treaty with Israel
and the PLO's longstanding
acceptance of peace with Is-
rael, to construct a truly new
and different Middle East, a
secure and peaceful area that
would effectively isolate the
extremist régime in Iran, and
cooperate in warding off the
"terrorist international" sym-
bolized by Al-Qaeda.
But unless and until some-
thing like this is adopted and
vigorously pursued to conclu-
sion, the outlook is rather bleak.
And while anything (even good
things) may happen (there can
be no true "forecasting" in
human affairs!), looking at
the coming months flls the
observer with a sense of fore-
boding.
The (current stage of the)
bloody confict across the Isra-
el-Gaza border will somehow
end at some time, somehow
or other another, a lull will be
achieved. Please God there
will not be very much more
death and destruction before
this happens. But then on 9th
January, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas,
"Abou-Mazen", will end his
term as President of the Pal-
estinian National Authority.
He claims that he can legally
stay in offce longer, until
new elections are held (when?
And exactly how? as long as
Gaza, with its 1.5 million Pal-
estinian citizens increasingly
resembles Somalia), but many
of his people disagree, and
Hamas, on the West Bank too,
is threatening to delegitimize
his continued rule. What will
that mean "on the ground"?
Nobody knows.
Israel will be holding elec-
tions on 10 February. The
three major parties (Kadimah,
Labour, Likud) resemble each
other in lacking a bold, broad
vision of regional peace, and
more or less assuming a contin-
uation of confict on all fronts.
The one major national leader
with such a vision (however
imperfect), Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert, will be leaving
the national s tage, pursued
by accusations of small-scale
personal corruption in earlier
stages of his political career.
It is possible indeed that the
next government will be led by
Likud together with extreme
right wing nationalist parties
and the small fundamental-
ist parties – the nightmare
scenario for Israelis of the
centre-left. But again, nobody
knows and it is impossible to
"forecast."
The visit of Benedict XVI
For Catholics, and some
others, in Israel, all of this raises
spontaneously also the question
of whether Pope Benedict XVI
will be able to fulfll his re-
ported wish (announced by the
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem,
but not offcially confrmed by
the Vatican) to visit the Holy
Land in the coming month
of May.
Vatican offcials have of-
ten remarked that the Papal
Pilgrimage will depend on there
being the right "conditions",
meaning mostly the situation on
the ground. Right now, in the
view of this observer, a decisive
factor could be the situation in
Bethlehem, within the context
of the West Bank as a whole.
But also in Jerusalem, where in
these days of violent confict in
Gaza, there have been renewed
violent confrontations between
Palestinian residents and Israeli
security forces.
Perhaps less decisive
may be the "political" envi-
ronment. When discussing
with reporters and others the
"studies" being carried out
with a view to the possible
Papal Visit, Vatican offcials
from the beginning, have been
emphasizing that the Holy Fa-
ther would be responding, frst
of all, to the invitation of the
Catholic hierarchy, and only
in second place, to that of the
governments of Israel and the
Palestinian Authority.
But then perhaps precisely
in an environment of con-
fict, bitterness and despair,
the presence—however brief—
and the message of the Vicar
of the Prince of Peace may
be more timely than ever, (as
the Servant of God John Paul
II determined when visiting
Britain and Argentina at the
time of the Falklands confict
in 1982)? It is, of course, for
the Sovereign Pontiff alone to
evaluate and decide.
(This article is lifted with
permission from Asia News)
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IMPACT • January 2009 12
ARTICLES
By Sandro Magister
D
uring the days of the Christ-
mas celebrations, Benedict
XVI spoke out repeatedly
against the war centered on Gaza.
But his words have fallen on
deaf ears. Failure isn't new to the
authorities of the Holy See, every
time they address the question
of Israel.
In more than three years of
pontifcate, Benedict XVI has
introduced innovations in rela-
tions between the two faiths,
Christian and Jewish. These in-
novations have come at the risk
of misunderstanding and opposi-
tion, both among Catholics and
among Jews.
But in the meantime, little or
nothing seems to have changed in
Vatican policy toward Israel.
The only change—and it's a
marginal one—is in tone. Until a
couple of years ago, with Cardinal
Angelo Sodano as secretary of
state and Mario Agnes as director
of "L'Osservatore Romano," the
criticism of Israel was incessant,
heavy-handed, sometimes shameless. Not
any more. With Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone,
the secretariat of state has softened its tone,
and under the direction of Giovanni Maria
Vian, "L'Osservatore Romano" has stopped
launching invective and has made more
room for religious and cultural debate.
But the general policy has remained
the same. Of course, the authorities of the
Catholic Church do not defend the exis-
tence of Israel—which its enemies want to
annihilate, and is ultimately at stake in the
confict—with the same explicit, powerful
determination with which they raise their
In Gaza, the Vatican Raises
the White Flag
Hamas denies Israel's right to exist. But for pontifcal
diplomacy, the Jewish state is wrong to defend itself with
force. The custodian of the Holy Land reveals the thinking
behind the Church's policy in the Middle East
voices in defense of the "nonnegotiable"
principles concerning human life.
This has been seen in recent days. The
authorities of the Church, and Benedict
XVI himself, have raised their voices in
condemnation of "the massive violence that
has broken out in the Gaza Strip in response
to other violence" only after Israel began
bombing the installations of the terrorist
movement Hamas in that territory. Not
before. Not when Hamas was tightening
its brutal grip on Gaza, massacring the
Muslims faithful to president Abu Mazen,
humiliating the tiny Christian communi-
ties, and launching rockets every
day against the Israelis in the
surrounding area.
About Hamas and its vaunted
"mission" of wiping the Jewish
state from the face of the earth,
about Hamas as an outpost for
Iran's expansionist aims in the
Middle East, about Hamas as an
ally of Hezbollah and Syria, the
Vatican authorities have never
raised the red alert. They have
never shown that they see Hamas
as a deadly danger to Israel and an
obstacle to the birth of a Palestin-
ian state, in addition to its being
a nightmare for the Arab regimes
in the area, from Egypt to Jordan
to Saudi Arabia.
In the December 29-30 issue
of "L'Osservatore Romano," a
front-page commentary by Luca
M. Possati, checked word by word
by the Vatican secretariat of state,
claimed that "for the Jewish state,
the only possible idea of security
must come through dialogue with
all, even those who do not recog-
nize it." Read: Hamas.
And in the same issue of the
Vatican newspaper—in a statement also
approved by the secretariat of state—the
Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal,
after decrying Israel's "disproportionate"
military reaction, reiterated the same
concept: "We must have the humility to
sit at the same table and listen to each
other." Not a word about Hamas and its
prejudicial refusal to accept the very ex-
istence of Israel.
But "L'Osservatore Romano" gave no
emphasis to the statements made during
that same period of time by the head of
White Flag, page 23
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By Jennifer Roback Morse
D
emographic Winter is an indepen-
dently produced flm describing the
consequences of the population
collapse of industrialized countries. I have
been amazed at the response, or I should
say, lack of response to this flm. Many of
the reviewers either dismissed the thesis of
the flm, or changed the subject. The lack
of serious American attention is surprising,
considering that Demographic Winter has
been translated in several languages, most
recently, Romanian. (Full disclosure: I was
interviewed as one of the experts for Part
II, as yet to be released.) Commentators
Left and Right are wandering through a
Demographic Winter Wonderland with
their eyes glazed over.
The flm argues that falling popula-
tion will mean a diminished quality of life
for the aging generation and for future
generations. For instance, pensions, both
private and public, have to be paid for.
When the retired population is too high
relative to the working population, pay-
ing the promised pensions becomes an
enormous burden. Either the young pay
crushing taxes, or the elderly will not get
what they expected, or both.
Consumer spending keeps the econo-
my humming and the stock market climb-
ing. When population shrinks, the demand
for goods and services of all kinds shrinks.
Harry Dent, one of the experts interviewed
on the flm, is an investment advisor. He
discovered the signifcance of population
growth by accident. He had a chart showing
birth rates over a hundred year period on
his desk next to a chart showing the stock
market over the same period. He laid them
over each other and realized that the stock
market tracks birth rates with about a 40
year lag. That is because people spend
the most money in their 40s. They buy
the biggest house they’ll ever have; they
feed, clothe and educate their children;
they buy cars and vacations.
Walking in a demographic
winter wonderland
Why are people averting their eyes from the coming
collapse of population growth?
I have been thinking about Harry
Dent and his charts while I drive through
my San Diego neighborhood. Out of 42
homes, we have 4 foreclosures. Yes, the
housing prices ballooned up and people
took on mortgages they couldn’t pay. But
there is more to the story than the credit
crunch: there simply are not enough people
at the right age, with enough income, to
afford these houses. Because the Baby
Boomers didn’t replace themselves, there
are not enough people to buy their homes.
Falling demand translates into falling
home prices.
The Chattering Classes can not bring
themselves to take the Demographic Win-
ter thesis seriously. The Left dismisses it
as a hysterical racist rant. Kathryn Joyce,
writing in the Nation magazine, reports
on her conversation with Stephen Mosher.
"Mosher, president of the Catholic anti-
contraception lobbyist group (cue scary
music) Population Research Institute
(PRI), describes his grim vision of Europe's
future: felds will lie fallow and economies
will wither. A great depression will sink
over the continent as it undergoes ‘a decline
that Europe hasn't experienced since the
Black Death.’"
Joyce never refutes Mosher’s argu-
ment that population decline precedes
economic decline. Instead, she changes
the subject to something she wants to talk
about: the alleged racism of pro-natalists.
"The white Christian West, in this telling,
is in danger of forfeiting itself through
sheer lack of numbers to an onslaught of
Muslim immigrants and their purportedly
numerous offspring."
Oddly enough, the Demographic
Winter flm makes no mention of race or
nationality. In fact, the flm emphasizes
that the problem of population decline is
a worldwide problem. Nobel Prize win-
ning economist Gary Becker notes that 70
countries now have fertility rates below
replacement. The left-wing commentariat
would like the flm to be about race, so they
can dismiss it as unworthy of attention.
Representing the Libertarian Right,
we have Ronald Bailey of Reason maga-
zine. He likewise makes no pretense of
engaging the actual argument of the flm:
"I doubt that the "demographic winter"
portends economic collapse or social
deterioration, but let us set that aside for
this column, and instead ask why people
are choosing to have fewer children?" He
wants to talk about how the modern world
has given men and women more choices,
which is a good thing.
His libertarian instincts blind him to
the fact that the Invisible Hand does not
always promote the social good. Having
children may be optional for individu-
als, but it is not optional for society as a
whole. The principles of individual liberty
and personal choice that he holds dear
are not self-sustaining. Those ideals will
collapse, if the people who hold them do
ARTICLES
Demographic, page 23
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ARTICLES
By Fr. Sean McDonagh,
SSC
I
n the summer of 1944,
when it was obvious that
the Allies were going to win
World War II, the U.S. Govern-
ment decided to take positive
action to head-off what was
likely to be a post-war depres-
sion. With the exception of the
U.S. the world’s industry was
in shambles. World trade had
almost come to a standstill. In
July of 1944, delegates from
the Allied countries gathered
in Bretton Woods in New
Hampshire to design a post-
War global economic system.
Many of those who attended
the conference believed that
the monetary chaos and high
infation in the late 1920s had
given rise to the Great Depres-
sion. They also held that run-
away infation undermined the
Weimar Republic in Germany
and paved the way for the rise
of the Nazi Party. The key
fgures at Bretton Woods were
the British economist, John
Maynard Keynes and Harry
Dexter White (1892 – 1947)
from the United States.
The delegates decided that
it was necessary to set up a
multilateral fnancial agency
designed to do three things.
Firstly, it was to maintain the
smooth functioning of the glob-
al economy through regulating
the volume of international
liquidity. Secondly, it was to
ensure the stability of exchange
rates. The US dollar was to
become the linchpin of the
exchange system. It rested on
gold, which was set at US$35
an ounce. Thirdly, it had to pro-
mote economic growth across
the world by expanding world
trade.
The International Mon-
The IMF and World Bank:
progeny of Bretton Woods
etary Fund (IMF) was set up to
achieve these goals in close co-
operation with the World Bank
(WB) and the trading agency,
initially the General Agreement
on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
and now, the World Trade Orga-
nization (WTO). However, the
principle function of the IMF
was to provide short-term loans
to countries which ran into a
balance-of-payments problem.
Each member country of the
IMF pays a certain amount of
money, in its own currency,
into the Fund. This entitles it to
borrow an equivalent amount,
in any currency, when faced
with a temporary ‘balance-of-
payments crisis. If, however, a
country wishes to borrow more
than its allotted quota it must
submit itself to strict monetary
and fscal policies which bear
IMF stamp of approval. It is
important to state that the IMF
was not designed or equipped
to address the challenges so-
called ‘development’ policies
threw up for Majority world
countries during the debt crisis
of the 1980s and 1990s.
Throughout the 1960s and
1970s, much more attention
was paid to the activities of the
World Bank than the IMF. All
that changed in August 1982
when Mexico ignited the Third
World debt crisis by threatening
to default on its loans. Fearful
that the repercussions might
sink the international fnancial
system and, particularly many
US banks, the IMF stepped in
and organized new commercial
loans to head off the threatened
defaults. In return the IMF
insisted on deep cuts in public
spending and a host of other re-
forms based on neo-liberal eco-
nomic policies. These included
promoting trade liberalization,
the abolition of subsidies on
agriculture inputs and food,
and a reduction in government
spending on health, social wel-
fare, education and housing.
Over 70 countries adopted
IMF-designed Structural Ad-
justment Programmes (SAPs)
in the 1980s and early 1990s.
In theory the loans were sup-
posed to increase long-term
economic productivity and thus
bring about prosperity. Marijke
Torfs, a senor policy analyst
with Friends of the Earth re-
viewed the impact of IMF
programmes on countries. She
found that, “adjustment mea-
sures put the heaviest burden
on the shoulders of the poor due
to the combination of factors:
declining wages, i n -
creased unem-
ployment, a
significant
rise of
b a s i c
c o n -
sumer goods and devaluation
of the national currency.”
1
In the present economic
turmoil, the IMF is still ped-
dling its ruinous economic
policies. The editorial in The
Guardian, “International Mon-
etary Fund: A Fund with few
takers” on October 29, 2008, is
a scathing attack on these poli-
cies. Countries such as Iceland
have reluctantly borrowed from
the Fund. In order to secure
a loan of 1.3 billion pounds,
it was forced by the IMF to
increase interest rates to 18%
while every other country was
cutting interest rates. “Never
mind” according to the edito-
rial, “that the 18% interest rates
are a lure for money specula-
tors; the IMF with
Volume 43 • Number 1
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The IMF and World Bank: progeny of Bretton Woods
its one-model-fts-all approach,
knows best.”
2
The hypocrisy
is evident in the fact the IMF
wouldn’t dream of forcing
these policies on the country
which set off the present chaos,
the United States.
The World Bank
Lately, I wrote about the
setting up of the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) as a
result of the Bretton Woods
Conference in July 1944. The
other institution to emerge from
that meeting was the World
Bank. In fact the World Bank
is composed of a number of
fnancial institutions. These in-
clude the International Bank of
Reconstruction and Develop-
ment (IBRD) and its affliated
institutions, the International
Finance Corporation (IFC),
and the International Devel-
opment Agency (IDA). While
the IMF is supposed to confne
itself to a country’s balance of
payments problems, the World
Bank interests itself in long-
term development assistance.
It usually ties itself to invest-
ments in specifc industrial or
agricultural projects.
For the past 30 years
the World Bank and the IMF
have worked in
tandem. A country’s fnances
must be acceptable to the IMF
before it can get a loan from
the World Bank. The World
Bank also shared some com-
mon assumptions about the
nature of development and
the pathway to achieve it. It
assumes that there is only one
pathway to development. This
includes a drive for industrial-
ization which must proceed at
all cost. Basic agriculture, in
other words, feeding the local
population, is not as important
as the kind of agriculture which
will generate foreign exchange.
The resultant over-production
of commodities such as tea,
coffee, tropical fruits, cotton
and tobacco exacerbated the
collapse of commodity prices
in the early 1980s. In the World
Bank’s development model
large scale projects tend to get
precedence over small scale
projects. Finally, since the late
1970s, foreign debts must be
paid, no matter what the cost
to the people and their envi-
ronment.
Despite all the talk about
accountability, the founders
of the World Bank structured
it in such a way that there
would be little room for demo-
cratic accountability. Even with
changes in the
1990s, the World Bank only
releases documents about proj-
ects which have already been
approved by the Bank’s Board
of Executive Directors. It was
my experience in the Philip-
pines that even people whose
lives were going to be affected
by a World Bank project had
diffculty getting information
during the crucial design stage
of a project. Non-democratic
governments in the Majority
World have often connived
with the Bank in keeping in-
formation about Bank projects
from their own people.
One must also remember
that the World Bank’s capital
and voting rights are controlled
by countries of the Minority
world. The US is the largest
shareholder, initially held a
33% stake. Even though it is
now reduced to 18% the US
Treasury exerts huge pressure
on the Bank’s lending policies.
The US Treasury Secretary,
Lloyd Bentsen testifed before
Congress in March 1994 that
the value of contracts which
the World Bank and regional
development banks, such as
the Asian Development Bank,
to US frms is nearly twice that
of the US contribution to those
banks.
3

Bringing about changes
at the World Bank will not be
an easy task. Eighty-fve per-
cent of the total voting power
is required to alter the Bank’
Articles of Agreement, even
though the global economic
situation today is very different
from the time the Bank was set
up. Emerging economies such
as China, India and Brazil need
to be better represented at the
Bank.
Perhaps the most serious
problem though is the World
Bank’s vision of development.
Most of its economists have
been trained in the same uni-
versities and are imbued with
a similar economic philosophy
and set of analytical tools. The
cornerstone of this approach
are policies which promote
economic growth above ev-
erything else, in the belief that
poor countries can become
rich within a generation. Little
thought is also given to the
fact that such policies promote
environmental degradation and
do not in fact contribute to
community well-being.
Resource-economi st s
challenge these assumptions.
They argue that we live in a
fnite planet and that, humans
especially those living in the
Minority world, are already
breaching the regenerative ca-
pacity of the planet in a very
serious way. I will return to the
ecological critique of neo-liber-
alism in future articles. Rather
than designing economic poli-
cies around export-oriented
goods or crops, economists
such as Herman Daly and Rob-
ert Goodland believe that the
best way to improve the well-
being of people in the Majority
world is to increase levels of
employment by adopting self-
reliance strategies aimed at
using local resources to meet
domestic needs.
4
This will
become even more and more
necessary in an era of diminish-
ing oil supplies.
Notes
1 Marijke Torfs, Effects of the IMF
Structural Adjustment Programmes
on Social Services of Third World
Countries (Friends of the Earth/
Environment Policy Institute/
Oceanic Society, 1994, page 15.
2 The Guardian, “International
Monetary Fund: A fund with few
takers”, October 29, 2008, page
34.
3 U.S. Department of the Treasury,
Record Statement of Treasury
Secretary Lloyd Bentsen the
Subcommi t t ee on For ei gn
Operations Export Financing and
Related Programs of the House
Committee on Appropriations103rd
Congress, Second Sessi on,
(Washington. D.C. March 10,
1994, page 5.
4 Robert Goodland and Herman
Daly, “Ten Reasons Why Northern
Income Growth Is Not the Solution to
Southern Poverty”, Paper circulated
for di scussi on, Envi ronment
Department (Washington D.C.
The World Bank, 25 February
1992), page 3
I
IMPACT • January 2009 16
Prospect for Peace in the Years ahead
By Fr. Amado L.
Picardal, CSsR
A
s we usher
the New Year
whi ch t he
Church marks as the
World Day of Peace,
we note the absence of
peace in our land—es-
pecially in Mindanao.
The cycle of violence
and war continues.
Since the break-
down of the peace ne-
gotiations a few months
ago, rogue units of the
Moro Islamic Libera-
tion Front (MILF)
continue to carry out
attacks against civilian
and military targets in
Central Mindanao. In
response, government
troops are going after
them. Air Force planes
have been bombing ar-
eas where these MILF
units are believed to
be hiding. Civilians
have been caught in
the crossfre.
In another front,
the New People’s
Army (NPA) has been
increasing tactical of-
fensives not just in
Mindanao but in other
areas of Luzon and
Visayas. As govern-
ment military opera-
Prospect for Peace in
the Years Ahead
Given a political culture that is turbulent, a communist
insurgency hinged on an ideological anachronism, and a
contentious dream of an independent Islamic republic in
Mindanao—is peace in the Philippines still possible?
tions are conducted in
the “red areas”, more
civilians are evacuat-
ing. Leaders of legal
militant organizations
suspected of being
leftist fronts have
been abducted and
executed by suspected
military units.
Non-sustainability of
peace negotiations
What is happen-
ing at present is simi-
lar to the situation that
prevailed over twenty
fve years ago. The
end of the Marcos
dictatorial regime in
EDSA I brought hope
that peace will fnally
come. But the peace
negotiations broke
down between the
Government and the
National Democratic
Front (NDF) under
the Aquino adminis-
tration. In 1996, under
the Ramos adminis-
tration, a peace agree-
ment was reached
between the govern-
ment and the Moro
National Liberation
Front (MNLF). Peace
talks with the MILF
started. The peace pro-
cess with the NDF
was revived. With the
© www.fickr.com/photos/joegalvez
COVER
STORY
Volume 43 • Number 1
17
Prospect for Peace in the Years ahead
election of Estrada, the “macho” president
adopted an “all-out war” policy. These
peace talks were abandoned. The EDSA II
which deposed Estrada and brought Gloria
M. Arroyo to power once again renewed
hope that peace will fnally reign. The peace
negotiations were again revived. But these
could not be sustained. Now near the end
of her term there is still no peace. Why
is it diffcult to achieve peace? There are
many factors.
Factors of un-peace
A major factor is President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo herself. She is not se-
rious about pursuing peace negotiations.
Coming up with a peace settlement with
the MILF and the NDF is not a priority of
her administration. Her main concern is
staying in power and extending her reign
beyond her term of offce. All her acts can
be seen from this perspective—even the
MOA-AD which requires charter change.
She lacks credibility and political will.
Majority of the people question her motives
and do not support her peace efforts. The
MILF and NDF do not trust her to abide by
whatever agreement they can reach. What
she really wants is to defeat the NPA by
2010 and to neutralize the MILF. The mili-
tary operations carried out have affected
civilians. Under an Arroyo Government
we cannot expect peace to prevail. She
has become a lame-duck president and
time is running out.
The MILF central leadership has
not been able to maintain control and
discipline within its rank. It has failed to
hold the units of Commanders Bravo and
Kato accountable for the atrocities against
civilians. The MILF will only come back
to the negotiating table if the GRP signs
the MOA-AD which has been rejected by
the majority and by the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, more radical elements have
emerged demanding an independent Is-
lamic republic and suspected of engaging
in terrorist activities.
The NDF—led by the CPP with its
military arm, the NPA—continues to hold
on to its Maoist dogma and strategy of
people's war. Insisting on the dictum that
political power comes from the barrel
of the gun, the NDF regards the armed
struggle as the primary means to seize
state power and impose radical change
in society. While the NDF is appealing
for the resumption of peace negotiations,
it considers the peace process in tactical
rather than strategic terms in view of the
primacy of armed struggle.
Congress continues to be dominated
by landlords and big business whose pri-
mary concern
is to protect
their vested in-
terests and the
president. This
congress has
failed to pass
enabling laws
that will imple-
ment the anti-
dynasty law.
It has failed to
come up with
genuine agrar-
ian reform law
and extended
the present law
for six months but made it useless by
making it voluntary. This same congress
protected President Arroyo from impeach-
ment proceedings for charges of corrup-
tion and abuse of power. This is the same
congress that is trying to convert itself as a
constituent assembly to change the consti-
tution that will do away with the nationalist
provisions, abolish term limits, change the
system of government that will allow the
president to perpetuate her rule.
This congress is incapable of bring-
ing about justice and alleviating poverty
in our country. With this kind of congress
it will be diffcult to convince those who
are trying to change society through armed
struggle to lay down their arms. Frustration
with this political system will continue to
drive young people to the hills.
Another factor why peace remains
elusive is a very weak peace constituency.
There is no critical mass of people actively
working for peace. The peace movement
has not grown and expanded. There is only
a handful of individuals and groups who
are actively engaged in peace advocacy.
Activities organized by these groups are
poorly attended. The groups are not united.
Some of them have been accused by the
military of being sympathetic to the cause
of the MILF or the NDF. The Catholic
Bishops Conference of the Philippines has
from time to time came up with statements
appealing for end to war and continue the
peace process. The Bishops-Ulama Con-
ference has also been actively involved
in peace advocacy. But their statements
have often been ignored. Many of the
individual bishops, priests and religious
are not concerned about peace advocacy.
There have been cases of Basic Ecclesial
Communities (BECs) and local grassroots
communities involved in peace-advocacy
and in forming Zones of Peace but these
have not been replicated.
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Prospect for Peace in the Years ahead
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So the various factors mentioned
above can explain why peace remains elu-
sive in our country. Peace remains a dream.
Around this time we pray and hope that
the New Year will be more peaceful. The
prospect for peace in the years to come is
not bright. Yet we continue hoping. What
should we hope for?
Hope in new breed of leaders
We hope that a new breed of national
and local leaders will emerge, especially
with the elections in 2010. Enough of
corrupt, self-serving leaders, without
principles, convictions and vision. Never
again to presidents like Marcos, Macapa-
gal-Arroyo or Estrada. No to presidents
whose only qualifcation is their popular-
ity, wealth and electability. We expect our
leaders to have the credibility and political
will to come up with a negotiated peace
settlement with the various groups. They
should be able to address the roots of vio-
lence and armed confict. We need leaders
whose primary concern is not staying in
power or enriching themselves but the
good of all, especially the majority who
are poor. Their primary concern should
be how to bring about justice, peace, and
development in our land. We need lead-
ers who realize that a military solution
to the insurgency problem is costly and
ineffective.
We hope that the CPP/NPA/NDF
will realize that transforming Philip-
pine society through armed struggle or
people’s war is an impossible dream.
After 40 years of fghting, their military
capability and mass base remain insig-
nifcant. In fact, they have not grown or
expanded, but have dwindled. They can
carry out tactical offensives against soft
targets but are not capable of reaching the
strategic of-
fensive stage.
They have lost
so many brave
comrades over
the years. They
cannot expect
a critical mass
of people to
support t he
“ p r o t r a c t e d
people’s war.”
Peopl e ar e
simply tired of
all the violence
and of war. It
is high time to
abandon the
Maoist dogma and come up with new
paradigms in transforming society. The
peace negotiations should be seen from
a strategic framework like what revo-
lutionaries in South Africa, El Salvador
and Northern Ireland have done.
We hope that the MILF will be able to
punish erring commanders, control their
units and prevent them from commit-
ting further atrocities against the civilian
population. We hope that they will realize
that carving out an independent Islamic
republic in Mindanao is an impossible
dream. They have to accept the reality that
Mindanao is now the home of the Muslims,
Christians and Lumads. The signing of the
MOA-AD should not be the precondition
for the resumption of the peace negotia-
tions. Rather, the MOA-AD can be the
working document from which both parties
can continue negotiating until they agree
which provisions are acceptable to all and
which are not. Areas where Christians and
Lumads are the majority should not be
included in the proposed BJE. In different
circumstances,
when Arroyo
is no longer
president, the
proposal for
changing the
constitution to
shift to a federal
form of govern-
ment can be
more accept-
able.
We hope
that a time will
come when
congress will
truly become
the house of the
representatives
of the people—and not of the landowning
and business elite. It will be a congress that
is capable of passing laws that will truly
beneft the majority and that will bring
about peace, justice and progress in the
land. It will truly be independent from the
president yet will work with the president
for crafting legislations benefcial to all. It
will be a congress where those belonging
to various ideologies will have a chance
to pursue their programs that will beneft
their people.
Change in political culture
This will require a change in the
political culture. This will mean chang-
ing the way we Filipinos elect our public
offcials—not by their wealth and popular-
ity but by their competence, integrity and
spirit of service. This means that elected
offcials change the way they perceive their
offce—not as a means for self-enrichment,
power and domination. This means doing
away with patronage politics
We hope that the peace constitu-
ency and movement will expand. More
and more people will expressly reject
violence and war, imbibe the culture
of life and peace, and will actively be
involved in peace advocacy. We hope
that communities at the grassroots—
Christians and Muslims, Basic Eccle-
sial Communities—will be involved in
establishing zones of peace. This will
require the leadership and support of
the CBCP, each bishop, each priest and
religious in collaboration with other
religious leaders—belonging to other
Christian dominations and Muslims. This
also means working with civil society
groups and organizations.
Peace is elusive but it is possible.
There is always hope and we should not
stop working for peace. I
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Volume 43 • Number 1
19
ARTICLES
By Charles Avila
C
hristmas 2008 and New
Year 2009 still didn’t
hear angels singing
songs of peace or salaam and
shalom. Daily casualties and
deaths, reported and unreport-
ed, remained an undeniable
feature of the RP-Muslim pro-
tracted confict, even as this war
was being waged now at lower
intensities. For the more intense
focus at present is elsewhere—
in the Middle East.
With modern communica-
tions the world shrunk in size
that today the RP-Muslim war,
and even the global fnancial
crisis, could be pushed out of
the TV screens so easily by a
human tragedy called “Gaza”.
What is it? It is the Israeli-
Hamas chapter of the hundred
years’ war in Palestine. “Gaza”
directly spawned protest ac-
tions of increasing militancy
not only all over Europe and
the Middle East but also up
to the streets and broadsheets
of Metro-Manila, to a coun-
try with a signifcant Muslim
population whose forebodings
of jihad are well-grounded and
must therefore ask urgently:
What is going on? What can we
expect? What do we demand?
The Jews and Arabs of
Palestine have been fghting off
and on for 100 years. In 1909
the mostly socialist idealists
of the Zionist movement set
up an armed group to protect
their new farms and villages
in Palestine from Arab ‘ma-
rauders’ out to drive away the
Jewish ‘invaders’. Since then
the place has witnessed a march
of wars—1948, 1956, 1967,
1973, 1982, 2006 and now
2009—each marked by cruel-
ties etched into the myths and
memories of the two sides. The
intervals between the wars have
Can the Hundred Years’ War
in Gaza Give Way to Peace?
neither been salaam nor shalom
but bombs, raids, uprisings and
atrocities—always with global
repercussions.
Gaza itself, a mere 25-mile
long, 7-mile wide fnger of land
between Israel and Egypt, has
been at the center of geopo-
litical tug-of-wars for its entire
existence. It was conquered
by the Philistines in the 13th
century B.C., destroyed by the
Hasmonean Kingdom and in-
vaded by the likes of Alexander
the Great, whose army put most
of the male population to death
for refusing to surrender, and
later, also by Napoleon.
Jumping to more recent
times, Gaza and the West Bank
came under Israeli occupation
and military control for nearly
30 years, after the six-day war
in 1967. The frst organized
Palestinian uprising or "inti-
fada" against Israeli rule came
from a refugee camp in north-
ern Gaza in 1987 and quickly
spread across the region. Dur-
ing the revolt, the political party
known as Hamas was created
as a Palestinian extension of
the popular Muslim Brother-
hood Organization that had
already swept through Egypt
and much of the Arab world.
Hamas gained momentum in
the occupied region, especially
in Gaza, by establishing educa-
tional and social programs for
disenfranchised Palestinians
but it also drew international
condemnation for its tactics
against Israel, including terror
attacks and suicide bombings
However, it attracted more
and more adherents to that
militancy which led to the
second Palestinian Intifada in
the year 2000.
In 2005 Israel withdrew
at last from Gaza, after which
Hamas increased its infuence
in the strip, edging out rival
group Fatah, a more secular
organization dominating the
Palestinian Authority or gov-
ernment now led by President
Mahmoud Abbas. In the 2006
regional parliamentary elec-
tions in Gaza, Hamas won 74
out of 132 seats and subse-
quently succeeded in expel-
ling Fatah security forces from
the region, de facto dividing
the territory controlled by the
Palestinian Authority. Thus,
there came about the Hamas-
governed Gaza Strip on the one
hand, and the West Bank, which
remained under Fatah control
on the other hand.
Israel did not like the de-
velopments and imposed a
blockade on Gaza in an attempt
to strangle the strip's economy
and undermine Hamas' abil-
ity to govern. The blockade,
which prevents Gazans from
leaving, and goods and aid
from entering, caused a serious
humanitarian crisis in the area.
Hamas responded to the siege
by regularly raining rockets
into southern Israeli towns
from Gaza.
In June 2008 a mutual
agreement was reached for a
6-month ceasefre, but Israel
continued their blockade of
Gaza. Hamas, for its part, con-
tinued to respond with sporadic
mortar hits. After the expira-
tion of the truce on December
19, a day in an Israeli elec-
tion season, a surge of Hamas
rocket attacks wounded one
Israeli giving Israel reason to
step up the blockade. Finally,
on December 26, just over a
week later, Israeli forces began
a massive bombardment of
Gaza that has so far left close
to 900 Palestinians and fve
Israelis dead.
The slaughter in Gaza the
past three weeks, in which
on one day alone some 40
civilians, many children, were
killed in a single salvo of Israeli
shells, will no doubt pour fresh
venom into a confict that has
lasted 100 years and is not
susceptible to easy solutions
or glib judgments.
At heart and at the most
basic, we must not lose sight
of the fact that ownership is the
real issue here, a struggle of two
peoples for the same patch of
land, a struggle complicated by
the periodic claim of each side
that the other is not a people at
all—at least not a people de-
serving sovereign statehood in
the Middle East even as neither
side has ever denied that both
their peoples are children of the
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IMPACT • January 2009 20
same father Abraham.
But if that, indeed, is the
heart and crux of the problem,
we can understand why, down
the decades, during eruptions
of violence, the mantra of dip-
lomats and editorialists is the
need for a two-state solution. It
sounds so simple: if two peoples
cannot share the land, they must
divide it. It is worth remember-
ing, however, that it was not
until 1988 that Yasser Arafat’s
Palestine Liberation Organiza-
tion (PLO) renounced its goal
of taking over all of Palestine
from the river to the sea. And
equally, in some Israeli minds
the Palestinians became a
non-people, to be fobbed
off with self-government
under Israeli or perhaps
Jordanian supervision. It
took two intifadas (upris-
ing) to convince Israel that
this was an illusion.
On the other side it
took several costly wars for
Egypt and later the PLO to
conclude that, since Israel
could not be vanquished,
they had better cut a deal. In
Beirut in 2002 all the Arab
states followed suit, offer-
ing Israel normal relations
in return for its withdrawal
from all the occupied ter-
ritories, an opening which
Israel so irrationally and quite
predictably rejected.
In the wake of that rejec-
tion, in Lebanon three years
ago, and today in Gaza, non-
state players Hezbollah and
Hamas seem to have invented
a new military doctrine. Armed
by Iran with modern weapons,
they burrow inside the towns
and villages of their own people
to lob rockets at Israel’s. But in
Israel’s mind, a state that yearns
for a semblance of normality
between its wars cannot let such
attacks become routine. That
is why today, as in the 1950s,
Israel responds to pinpricks
with punitive raids, each of
which has the potential to fare
into war. Today’s operation in
Gaza is all about a doctrine on
which Israel thinks its safety
must still be based.
With each passing day,
however, Israel’s war against
Hamas becomes riskier and
more costly—to Israel's moral
stature, to the lives of Palestin-
ian civilians and to the world's
hopes that an ancient confict
can ever be resolved. The anti-
Israeli anger swelling in the
region has made it more dif-
fcult for Arab governments to
join Israel in its efforts to deal
with Iran, the patron of both
Hamas and Hezbollah and a
state whose leaders have sworn
to eliminate Israel and appear
determined to acquire nuclear
weapons.
The scale and ferocity of
the onslaught on Gaza have
been shocking, and the televi-
sion images of civilian suffering
wrench the heart. Should Israel
be surprised by the torrent of
indignation it has aroused from
around the world? In general, a
war must pass three tests to be
justifed. A country must frst
have exhausted all other means
of defending itself. The attack
should be proportionate to the
objective. And it must stand a
reasonable chance of achieving
its goal. On all three of these
tests Israel is on shakier ground
than it cares to admit.
We must not forget that
during the now-lapsed truce Is-
rael prevented all but a trickle of
humanitarian aid from entering
the strip. So Hamas can claim
that it was provoked too. If
Israel had ended the blockade,
Hamas may have renewed the
truce. Indeed, on one reading
of its motives, Hamas resumed
fre to force Israel into a new
truce on terms that would in-
clude opening the border.
The path to a workable
peace, one with a Palestinian
state alongside Israel and both
with internationally recognized
borders, has long been well
known. But frst there has to
be a ceasefre, exactly as the
United Nations and the Vatican
demand, which would, how-
ever, need to include an end to
Israel’s blockade, a good thing
in itself, relieving the suffering
in Gaza and removing one of
the reasons Hamas gives for
fghting.
Renato Cardinal Martino,
a former Vatican envoy to the
United Nations and now Pope
Benedict XVI's top offcial on
issues of peace and justice, said
in an interview that Gaza now
resembles a "big concentration
camp." He observed that both
sides were concerned only with
their own interests. "But the
consequence of this selfshness
is hatred, poverty, injustice. It is
always the defenseless popula-
tions that pay."
Israel's population of 7.1
million is today divided into
5.4 million Jews and 1.6 million
Arabs. But if you include Arabs
in Gaza and the West Bank,
they may already have a slen-
der majority; and given their
higher birthrate, the gap will
widen quickly. This tectonic
shift in demographics should
make even hawkish Israelis
abandon the “biblical dreams of
a Greater Israel” stretching all
the way from the Jordan River
to the Mediterranean. In fact, to
preserve the Jewish and demo-
cratic character of the state of
Israel, Israelis must inevitably
relinquish, with great pain,
parts of their homeland. There
can be no two ways about this.
In other words, if Israelis cling
to the West Bank and Gaza, as
many religious Zionists insist,
Jews will fnd themselves a
shrinking minority in their
own state.
This is the time to
test the Arab Peace offer.
Considering the state of
war between Israel and
most Arab countries for
61 years, the 2002 Arab
initiative is signifcant and
must be used as a basis for
a serious effort to fnally
bring peace to the Middle
East with all its implica-
tions for the Philippines
and other countries that
have signifcant Muslim
pop ulations.
The Arabs offered the
peace initiative as a sincere
effort to end a confict that
has caused needless destruc-
tion throughout the region for
decades. In effect, the Arabs
are saying, "OK, we've failed
to eliminate Israel; enough
already. We now recognize
Israel, so let's move on." In the
Arab world, only Hamas and
Hezbollah, with the backing of
Tehran, reject the Arab peace
initiative.
The original leaders of the
State of Israel like Ben Gurion
and Golda Meir attended meet-
ings of the Socialist Interna-
tional proud of their ideology.
Therefore we should call on
their successors to really lead
their country along the path
of socialism, democracy and
peace. Let the hundred years’
war in Gaza give way to Peace
now.
Can the Hundred Years' War in Gaza Give Way to Peace?
I
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Volume 43 • Number 1
21
NEWS
FEATURES
JERUSALEM, Jan-
uary 12, 2009—Is-
raeli ground forces
have begun mak-
ing their way into
the cities of Gaza
Strip; tanks and in-
fantry have in fact
begun moving into
the most densely
populated areas of
the territory. Hamas
meanwhile contin-
ues to launch rock-
ets against Israel.
Such actions
have become neces-
sary because Hamas
is using civilian areas as shield and hide-
aways for its militants, a spokesperson for
the Israeli army said.
Early Monday, Israeli navy gunboats
fred more than 25 shells at Gaza City.
Overnight Israeli airplanes also carried
out about ten strikes.
A rocket launched from Gaza scored
a direct hit on a home in Ashkelon without
causing casualties. Still the Israel Defense
Forces said that there has been a dramatic
drop in the ability of Hamas to launch
rockets against Israel, dropping by 50 per
cent compared to the frst day of Operation
Cast Lead, 27 December.
Gaza medical offcials said that at least
870 Palestinians, about half of them civil-
ians, have been killed. Fourteen Israelis,
including 10 soldiers, have died.
“Israel is nearing the goals that it set
for itself,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Israeli troops take the war to Gaza’s cities
said yesterday, adding however that the
offensive was not over yet.
Israel’s objective is to stop rockets
from landing on southern Israeli towns,
as well as an end to weapons and ammu-
nition smuggling through tunnels from
Egypt to Gaza.
The international community contin-
ues to press for an end to the confict, but
neither Israel nor Hamas have accepted the
ceasefre proposed by the United Nations
Security Council.
The Israeli military reported that its
troops have killed at least 300 armed Hamas
fghters and leaders and perhaps as many
in air strikes.
But humanitarian organizations have
called on Israel to be more careful with re-
gards to the safety of Palestinian civilians,
especially since the latter cannot escape
to safe areas because all exit points in the
Strip are sealed.
Human Rights
Watch (HRW) has
also accused Israel
of using white phos-
phorus in military
operations. White
phosphorus can set
structures, fields,
and other civilian
objects in the vicin-
ity on fre, severely
burn people, and
cause unnecessary
suffering in the ci-
vilian population.
Israel has de-
nied that its army is
using this type of weapon but HRW insists
that it does.
In the Arab and Islamic world, as
well as in Europe, demonstrations have
taken place in support of the Palestinian
cause.
Governments on the other hand have
opted to condemn Israel without praising
Hamas, strongly insisting on the humani-
tarian aspect of the problem.
Indonesian President Susilo has
warned against “manipulating” the Gaza
confict and turn it into an international war
(Israel-West-Christians versus Palestinian
Muslims).
Similarly, the grand mufti of Saudi
Arabia has criticized pro-Palestinian dem-
onstrations in the Arab world, saying that
it is more important to raise funds for the
population than go out into the streets.
MEXICO CITY, January
8, 2009—Bishop Florencio
Olvera Ochoa of Cuernavaca
in Mexico announced this
week that despite the threats
he has received, he will again
publish his “Decalogue of
electoral sins” for the 2009
election season, which will
be decisive for the state of
Morelos.
The bishop published a
similar Decalogue in 2006,
inspired in the principles of
Mexican bishop to continue warning vs electoral sins despite threats
the Church’s Social Doctrine,
earning him a lawsuit, which
was later dismissed. “My
duty is to take care that love
of country is made a priority,
especially in Morelos where
there will be decisive elections
and in which the people must
choose life, family, dignity and
peace,” the bishop said.
Bishop Olvera Ochoa said
his “10 commandments” of
the voting booth would be
“proclaimed from the pulpit,”
and he reiterated that the main
message would again be voting
for “candidates who support
life.”
“The Decalogue I issued
only contains principles that
stem from natural law and the
Social Doctrine of the Church,”
he added.
In 2006, the Worker’s
Party in Morelos fled a lawsuit
against the bishop for alleg-
edly violating the constitution
and for “meddling in political
affairs.” The party, which
is openly pro-abortion and
pro-homosexual, felt it was
“singled out” by Bishop Ol-
vera Ochoa, who said at that
time that a Catholic could not
vote for parties that defend
abortion, gay unions and
euthanasia.
The lawsuit was dis-
missed, but party offcials
said a lawsuit would be fled
again if the bishop reissues
his Decalogue. (CNA)
IMPACT • January 2009 22
The dispute over the weekly, produced by the diocese of Kuala
Lumpur, opened more than a year ago with the government's pro-
hibition against using the word Allah in its publications. The use of
the word "on the part of non-Muslims," the prohibition said at the
time, "could increase tension and cause confusion among Muslims
in the country."
On the basis of the ambiguity created by this twofold structure,
the Islamic religious councils of seven Malaysian states and the
Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association have joined the seemingly
endless legal dispute.
According to the Herald, the contradictory communication from
the ministry conceals the attempt to avoid a defnitive resolution to
the dispute. The unwillingness of the ministry to offer clarifcation
is of concern to the publishers, who face the prospect of having to
shut down. Essentially, the government has permitted it to resume
publishing the edition in Bahasa Malaysia, but not to use the word
Allah, reserving the right to decide on this matter in the future.
As the upcoming editorial states, the edition in Bahasa Malaysia
is the most widely read, reaching 600,000 of the weekly's 800,000
readers. The local language is, in fact, the most widespread among
the population that has received a basic education, the "bumiput-
era," a term derived from the Sanskrit, meaning "sons of the earth."
(AsiaNews)
Catholic weekly the Herald resumes publishing,
but cannot use the word Allah
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, January 9, 2009—A new page in
the story of the Herald, the only Catholic weekly in Malaysia,
which since December of 2007 has opened a dispute with the
government, which wants to ban it from using the word "Allah"
to indicate "God."
On December 31, the interior ministry faxed to the news-
paper's offces a letter in which it permits the paper to print, for
another year, the editions in various languages, including the local
Bahasa Malaysia. But the same communication contains a ban:
it prohibits the use of Bahasa Malayu, the local language written
in Arabic script.
The weekly will
inform its readers
of developments
in the case with
an editorial dated
January 11. In it,
the editorial board
expresses its confu-
sion over a commu-
nication that is, if not
contradictory, at least
ambiguous.
There is only one sure way to do this.
Human rights defenders must engage in
solidarity those who struggle for access to
productive resources at the local, national
and international levels because many of
the issues that impact adversely on these
resources rarely are confned only in
one level. It is also the direction for the
struggle to be brought into the ambit of
an international convention.

(Max de Mesa is the chairperson
of Philippine Alliance of Human Rights
Advocates)
Notes
1 Holt-Gimenez, Eric. Territorial Restructuring
and the Grounding of Agrarian Reform:
Indigenous Communities, Gold Mining and
the World Bank. 2008: Transnational Institute
and 11.11.11
2 United Nations. “Set of Principles for the
Protection and Promotion of Human Rights
through Action to Combat Impunity”. Under
DEFINITIONS, it states: “Impunity” means the
impossibility, de iure or de facto, of bringing
the perpetrators of human rights violations to
account – whether in criminal, civil, administrative
or disciplinary proceedings – since they are not
subject to any inquiry that might lead to their
being accused, arrested, tried and, if found
guilty, sentenced to appropriate penalties, and
to making reparations to their victims.”
NEWS
FEATURES
Eric Cabanit, staunch peasant leader
since martial law period, was extra- ju-
dicially killed in Davao City, Mindanao,
while he was marketing together with his
daughter.
Kathy Alcantara, a woman leader-
organizer of the Pambansang Kilusan
ng Makabayang Magbubukid (PKMM)-
[National Movement of Nationalist Farm-
ers], was killed mid-morning of December
5, 2006 in Brgy. Gabon, Abucay, Bataan
in Central Luzon. She was just a short
distance from an on-going seminar of
PKMM of which she was both organizer
and resource person when she was gunned
down by killers on motorcycles.
Their deaths add to the several hun-
dreds of persons who were known for their
open stand and advocacy for fundamental
freedoms, social justice and human rights.
Their deaths unresolved, with no perpe-
trators brought to justice and convicted,
entrench deeper the culture of impunity.
2

The extreme violation, which is the taking
of their lives, underscores the indivisibility
of human rights. The killings, which are
classifed as violations of civil and politi-
cal rights, are closely linked if not actually
caused by the victims’ struggles for eco-
nomic, social and cultural rights. In fact,
impunity, especially in extra-judicial kill-
ings, enforced disappearances and torture,
Struggle, from page 9
often presuppose a history of impunity in
economic, social and cultural rights. The
cases of Armando Dolorosa, Eric Cabanit
and Kathy Alcantara attest to this truth.
For people like them, the redistribution
of land is a demand of dignity.
The Struggle for Land: “The Right of
Access to Productive Resources”
Land, instead of being “a basis of a
justifed and dignifed livelihood” for rural
communities, has become a commodity,
as a source of proft in trade and even in
bilateral agreements, e.g., in the Philippine-
China Trade Agreement wherein 1.2 million
hectares of Philippine land and waters were
to be leased to China primarily for food
production. Had the deal gone through,
it would have deprived thousands of rural
and coastal people of access to productive
resources essential to life and livelihood.
In the struggle for land as a right of
access to productive resources, one must
recognize that not only the State has obli-
gations. There are also non-State, armed
and non-armed, private (transnational)
and international organizations that must
also be obliged to respect and protect hu-
man rights.
The people’s struggles must inform
the human rights discourse to reshape not
only its language but its content as well.
I
Volume 43 • Number 1
23
NEWS
FEATURES
not transmit them to the next generation. In this case, we are not
even creating a next generation.
As I mentioned, the producers of Demographic Winter
interviewed me to appear in Part II. The producers happen to be
Mormons. They told me that they had anticipated more interest
in the flm from church groups of all kinds. But in fact, only
Catholics and their fellow Mormons seem receptive.
This is not entirely surprising, in that these two groups
have theological reasons for supporting larger families. But still,
churches and all of civil society, ought to take the argument of
Demographic Winter seriously.
(Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD is an economist and the
Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, a nonproft edu-
cational organization devoted to bringing hope and encour-
agement for lifelong married love. This piece is lifted with
permission from MercatorNet)
Germany's government, Angela Merkel, according to whom "it
is the legitimate right of Israel to protect its civilian population
and to defend its territory," and the responsibility for the Israeli
attack on Gaza belongs "clearly and exclusively" to Hamas.
Affrming this, the German chancellor broke from the cho-
rus of condemnation that came, right on cue, from many state
departments—and from the Vatican—after Israel exercised its
right of self-defense by force. In Italy, the expert in geopolitics
who gave the greatest emphasis to Angela Merkel's position, in
the newspaper "La Stampa," was Vittorio E. Parsi, a professor
of international politics at the Catholic University of Milan and
until a few months ago a leading commentator for "Avvenire,"
the newspaper of the Italian bishops' conference. In "Avvenire,"
Parsi had written two years ago, at the time of the war in Lebanon,
an editorial entitled "Israel's reasons," in which he stated:
"The bitter reality is that, in the Middle East, Israel's presence
is believed to be 'temporary', and the guarantee of the Jewish
state's survival lies—as unpleasant as it may be to say this—in
its military superiority."
The problem is that the "temporariness" of the state of Israel
is an idea shared by a signifcant part of the Catholic Church.
And it is this idea that infuences Vatican policy on the Middle
East, that traps it in outdated, ineffective options, and prevents
it from grasping new developments, although they have become
so evident in recent days. These include the extremely strong
and increasing aversion to Hamas on the part of the main Arab
regimes and even of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories,
objectively closer to the views of Israel than the Vatican is.
White Flag, from page 12
Demographic, from page 13
BEIJING, China, January 10, 2009—Yesterday, the Beijing au-
thorities who control internet traffc blocked the portal Bullog.cn, a
free blog publishing site highly valued in Chinese cultural circles.
Bullog.cn was founded in 2006 by Luo Yonghao, a university
professor and an internet and blogging pioneer in China, highly
appreciated by young people in the country because he has al-
ways frankly expressed his own opinions. He has confrmed that
the portal has been closed for, according to Beijing, "picking up
harmful information on political and current affairs."
The website created by Luo
Yonghao had been blocked and
reopened twice in the past: as of
now, it has not been said whether
the closure is de- fnitive, or if it is a
temporary provi- sion. In the mean-
time, protests have mounted on
the web: various bloggers have
protested against the decision of
the authorities, and say they are
"infuriated" and "speechless." Bullog.cn had distinguished itself
in the past for reporting, in real time, the protests against the
construction of the chemical plant in Xiamen, in the southern
province of Fujian.
In recent days, the Chinese government has taken a hard
line on the web, closing 41 internet sites guilty of spreading
"vulgar" content, which "harm public morality." Beijing has is-
sued warnings against internet giants including Google, Baidu,
MySpace, and MSN, telling them they must "eliminate all links"
to material that is "pornographic" or contrary "to morality."
This harmful material also includes images or comments that
are "critical" of the government or of policies on the economy
and human rights.
The campaign of "web cleansing" launched by the communist
party is added to efforts by the authorities to block any form of
dissent and protest, while the national economy begins to slow and
the country is preparing to confront a delicate year: June marks the
20th anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square.
China, new crackdown
on the web
Church frm vs capital
punishment
MANILA, January 9, 2009—The archbishop of Manila has
brushed off calls to reinstate the death penalty for drug traf-
fckers.
Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales said capital
punishment is not compatible with Christian values and the
Church is frm in its position against it.
“Let them decide but the position of the Church is this:
thou shall not kill. Therefore, if a person commits an error or a
crime, there’s such a thing as Christian forgiveness,” he said.
The call for the restoration of the death penalty stemmed
from the allegations of bribery on justice and anti-narcotics
agents involving three suspects from well-off families.
“Jesus forgives and that’s it,” Rosales added.
Therefore, he said, even if a person commits a crime,
there’s still such a thing as Christian forgiveness.
He said that death penalty is not deterrent to crimes and
it has been proven even in other countries.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines- Epis-
copal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (CBCP-ECPPC) ear-
lier said a dysfunctional judicial system and police force are among
the reasons for the growing drug menace in the country.
ECPPC executive secretary Rodolfo Diamante said drug
traffckers remain active than ever before because the judicial
system and police agencies are not working effectively.
“The system is weak. It’s prone to corruption and so it
loses credibility. That is why the people get bold to commit
crime because they know they can buy the system,” he said.
(CBCPNews)
I
I
IMPACT • January 2009 24
STATEMENTS
W
ith the advent of the New
Year 2009, everybody wants
to think positively, and hopes
that the New Year will be, as everybody
greets, “Happy New Year” or “Prosper-
ous New Year.” Prayerfully, 2009 will
be as we wish and dream it will be:
happy and prosperous. But especially
for whom?
The Biblical Greeting is “Rejoice
in the Lord Always” (1 Thess. 5/16; Phil
4/4). In our Christian context, the reason
for rejoicing at any time is not something
we have done or received from our fel-
low humans. The fundamental reason
for our rejoicing always is that in Jesus
Christ, God and Man, God has become
“God with us – Emmanuel.” So that in
the midst of many human negativities,
accidents, cruel poverty and broken
promises, we still have countless bless-
ings to be merry and happy about. With
God hope springs eternal.
Unfortunately, God’s countless
blessings have been and are obstructed
or hindered from reaching their respec-
tive targets. The realities: according to
one study, for every 100 pesos of our
national budget, 40 pesos go to debt
servicing, 15 pesos for education, 1
peso and 40 centavos for health services,
and only 18 centavos for housing. For
every 100 pesos, sadly 43 pesos and 42
centavos become the object of greed,
fraud, plunder and corruption. Recently
it was said that the 23 million “poorest
of the poor” have increased to 27 mil-
lion, most of whom are victims of their
neighbors’ greed.
There is so much to be hoped for,
or there is much to be worried about in
the New Year 2009. Where should New
Year’s Resolutions go? While poverty
alleviation is one of the Church’s social
action programs with restricted funds
from charity for charity, there is much
to be expected from large government
appropriations, not as acts of charity
only, but as acts of justice and honesty.
The extreme poverty of the poorest of
the poor is neither natural nor normal:
it is man-made and can be overcome or
Agents of Hope and
Poverty Alleviation
eradicated by acts of justice, honesty,
compassion and charity.
God’s blessings are unlimited and
countless. What is unfortunate is that they
become limited through selfshness, injus-
tice and corruption. Pope Benedict XVI
said on Christmas Day that it is GREED
that destroys the world and its peace, un-
bridled and criminal greed of individuals
and institutions. The evil effects of greed
are worse and more widespread than the
evils of war.
Will the New Year 2009 be a bet-
ter year for the “poorest of the poor”
because they are better looked after by
Society, the Church and Government?
Only the future will tell! “In 2009, will
someone be less poor, less hungry, better
educated, because of what I shall have
done?” A challenging and appropriate
question to ask if we want to become
agents of hope for 2009.
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
©

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Volume 43 • Number 1
25
STATEMENTS
When People are Hungry,
There is no Peace
T
his is a truly hopeful and really consoling day—the
very frst day in the New Year 2009. Our said hope
and consolation are anchored in the signal fact that the
beginning of this New Year is lovingly entrusted to the care
and love of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of God. There
are no less than three distinctive and meaningful truths that
we should remember well and faithfully live by:
One: Mary is the Mother of God because she conceived
and gave birth to Christ, the Second Person of the Most Blessed
Trinity, who is true God and true man (Lk 1:35). She is wherefore
the most formidable woman in this whole wide world.
Two: Mary is our Mother too. Dying from the cross, Christ
himself gave her to us as our mother too when he said as a last
testament: “Behold, your Mother!” (Jn 18:27). She is therefore
our loving and powerful patroness before God.
Three: Mary had no reservation at all in placing the Lord
Jesus in a little manger, in a humble stable. She thus had no
problem, no diffculty in giving birth to Jesus in a poor sur-
rounding, together with Joseph as the Holy Family.
This is why with the example of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
as the Holy Family, we should not be afraid of our own fam-
ily poverty that has been serious and pervasive in the country
long since. This year 2009, however, can even be more trying
and challenging for us all—as our national economy is in big
crisis due to equally big graft and corrupt practices.
As the holy family was able to survive despite its pov-
erty, and as we call on our Blessed Mother to help us also
T
he First Day of the year is World Day
of Peace, intended to emphasize the
universal hunger for Peace among
all peoples. However, people’s quiet is
endlessly threatened whenever they are
victimized by injustice, lies and violence.
Today the new threat to world peace
is the widespread severe poverty that has
rooted itself among people; for wher-
ever more people are hungry, jobless
and homeless, peace is never securely
established.
There is the possibility, they say,
that the world’s current fnancial and
economic crisis may affect the country
by next mid year. Please God, it may not
happen. But if it does, then, in an emer-
gency situation, more than an economic
justice will be needed to insure peace.
Compassion and the spirit of sharing,
of which the Filipino is noted to have
much, will make life at least bearable for
both the poor and the rich. Other traits of
our countrymen, like the old simplicity
of choice, a cut-down on unnecessary
purchases and the bayanihan spirit will
assure that we will be able to cross the
impending crisis.
Among the other practices, we may
begin with the disciplined purchase and
prudent use of frecrackers and pyrotech-
nic displays, toning down celebration
expenses or “making do with what we
have.” These are accepted practices in
the past that we can invoke again while
we cross these diffcult moments of the
man-imposed economic tragedy.
Again there is hope among believers
because our greatest guarantee is Christ’s
own Paschal Mystery, THE model for
all human passages. His Triumph alone
assures us that we also will be able to
go across any, and all barriers, sin and
death, included.
Mabuhay ang taong may Pananam-
palataya! Mayroon siyang Pagasa!
God bless you all!

+GAUDENCIO B. CARDINAL RO-
SALES
Archbishop of Manila
The New Year Entrusted to Mary
“So the shepherds scurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and saw the
baby Jesus lying in the manger.” (Lk 2:16)
survive these diffcult times, we too have to keep in mind the
wise saying: “God helps those who help themselves.” For
this reason, the help of God through the intercession of our
Mother Mary, we have:
To observe industry contrary to the vice of laziness. This
simply means that we have to sweat even by doing little income
generating work—if not formal employment and professional
task. As St. Paul clearly said: “Those who do not want to work,
let them not also eat.” (II Thess. 3:10)
To engage in productivity contrary to the call of the
consumerism. This only means that there must be something
productive we can and should do even in our little backyards
like planting vegetables, tomatoes and the like. Furthermore,
we do not spend unless really needed; we do not buy what
is not necessary.
To live in parsimony contrary to self-indulgence. As it
is hard to earn every peso, we cannot but save every peso we
have these hard times, it is sheer foolishness to throw our little
money around to get things we do not need, to buy things we
really cannot afford.
When we remember the three Gospel truths about Jesus
in a manger and Mary with Joseph in the stable, and if we
practice industry, productivity and parsimony, then we have
good reason to greet one another “Happy New Year!”
+OSCAR V. CRUZ, DD
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
IMPACT • January 2009 26
FROM THE
BLOGS
I
t is well said that truth knows no party. In other words, what
is true applies to anybody and everybody—irrespective of
political affliation, religious conviction, fnancial status. This
is what makes truth really great. It does bow neither to power
nor to might, not to wealth and not to infuence. Neither does it
bend in to the exalted status of someone who says it, nor does
it wherefore offend the lowly bearing about whom it is said.
In other words, just as falsity in no way becomes reality only
because it is shouted by someone powerful, neither does it have
an adverse impact on those who have the truth, no matter how
powerless they are.
This is exactly the case of a well paid and highly placed
Malacañang offcial spokesman in conjunction with two simple
Churchmen who only spoke according to the truth they knew—
about the pervasive repugnance of the people towards the present
government, concerning the intense of disgust of the common tao
towards the ruling administration. In their honest judgment—and
many agree with them—such repulsion and anger could eventu-
ally make them rise up in strong protest against it, possibly even
beyond the law. More specifcally, the said Malacañang character
said the following about the two Churchmen: Each of them was
like the "mad piper blowing his fute while innocent children
follow him to the bank of the river and maybe drowned."
While the said Churchmen simply kept their peace as the
proper thing to do upon knowing such an insult immersed in
falsity, even just for the record, it is good to ask: Who is truly
"mad"? And who is really the "piper"? The honest answers to
these questions are like a boomerang that dutifully returns back
to the one who dared threw it. When someone has the gall to
defend his indefensible master even for a sizable fee and many
perks, who then is "mad" and who is a "piper"? When someone
accepts the well-remunerated task to speak gloriously about his
much despised employer, who wherefore is "mad" and who is
a "piper"?
The truth of the matter is that Malacañang Palace has many
mad pipers in different sizes and forms, for many agenda of dif-
ferent sinister objectives and ominous goals. This is precisely
the reason why more and more people from more sectors of
society have become also more and more alienated and agitated
by downright revolting Malacañang detestable desires and con-
sequent designs. As of now, foremost of these is the supposedly
secret but actually obvious resolve for the term extension of the
Malacañang occupant—something that the latter's numerous mad
pipers are deviously orchestrating and avidly salivating for.
Never mind the provisions of the Fundamental Law of the
land. Never mind the repulsion and ire of the people. Never
mind the war in Mindanao, the revolutionary grouping in other
regions, the poverty and misery in the country. The one after
another impeachment complaints are of no signifcance and
consequence. The progressively bigger and angrier protests ral-
lies do not matter. Question: What then is the key Malacañang
scheme? Answer: The extension of the reign of the Malacañang
tenant. Attention: Malacañang mad pipers!
www.ovc.blogspot.com
'Mad pipers'
A
s commonly known, politics is
the art of governance or the sci-
ence concerned with the form,
organization and administration of gov-
ernment. The fact alone that it is an “art”
or a “science” clearly says if not imme-
diately implies that politics is defnitely
not for the pitiful known trio of “Tom,
Dick and Harry.” These characters can
each be capable of something but not
necessarily politics.
Politics wherefore as a skill or abil-
ity, as a learning or knowledge, is a hu-
man venture that is objectively not only
necessary but also practical in governing
people towards peace and order. In other
words, politics as such is essentially good
and even imperative for human solidarity
and social development.
The saying that man is a “political
animal” more than anything else simply
means that his innate social nature re-
quires politics for his own welfare when
already inter-relating with many others
in a community.
Politicians however are something
else, viz., they range from the usual good to
bad politicians, from real to bogus public
leaders, from being a true blessing to a big
curse to society, from acting like honor-
able individuals to veritable clowns. This
is precisely why politics is simply great
or truly rotten, laudable or condemnable
specifcally because of politicians—not
by reason of politics per se.
It is the politicians who protect or destroy
human lives, respect or despise human rights.
It is them who build or ruin a country, impart
appreciation and gratitude or anger and hatred
among the people. This is not the genuine
working and objective of politics as such.
In a way, it can be said that politicians
who engage in graft and corrupt practices,
are nothing more than plain thieves and
thugs. Politicians, who are immersed
in greed for wealth and power, are but
simply sick and sickening individuals.
These characters are the very ones who
play gutter politics, and who therefore in
effect destroy the real nature and fnality,
the true signifcance and implications of
politics are as “art,” as a “science.”
This is the deep and pervasive prob-
lem in this country, viz., politicians who
desecrate politics, who make politics
their footstool and doormat.
This is precisely why when even
some Clerics and Religious dare to speak
about the long obtaining man-made woes
and man-caused tribulations of millions
of Filipinos, they are not meddling in
politics but engaging politicians. They
are defnitely not playing politics but
countering the unethical conduct and
immoral actuation of politicians.
As politics is defnitely neither their
area of interest nor competence, vigilance
about the value system and consequent be-
havioral pattern of politicians is categori-
cally in their department as ordained by the
divine, natural and positive laws.
Politicians better know and learn this
reality and truth, which would only become
fantasy and falsity the moment politicians
were already exempted from the Ten
Commandments—especially in terms of
killing, stealing, lying and infdelity.
www.ovc.blogspot.com
Politics and politicians
Volume 43 • Number 1
27

EDITORIAL
T
he constitutional provision on tenure of offce
(1987 Philippine Constitution, Art VII, Sec 4) has
been for some time and still remains the object of
ire and disgust of the present dispensation. This abject
position is adopted by the Administration’s much fa-
vored and wherefore many avid followers in the House
of Representatives.
They in turn are standing for the well benefted and
therefore close collaborators among the local government
offcials. They all have one desire and the same design:
Charter Change.
They all proclaim different noble motives for their
fervent intention to change the Constitution. From the
generic claim that it is fawed in many provisions to the
extent of their wanting to satisfy the many genuine aspi-
rations of the people, the proponents of Charter Change
all sing basically the same song that the Constitution is
the cause of the underdevelopment of the country and
the poverty of the people.
They all pretend to be illustrious agents of change
in this pathetic land of the evening where corruption has
become the law and integrity has emerged something
passé—if not actually outlawed even.
But truth knows no party as it respects no pol-
Term of Offce
itician—even the most consummate ones. Notwith-
standing their many pretenses and appearances of
love of country, given as well their different claims
and protestations of service to the people, the politi-
cians standing honest-to-goodness fundamental intent
is in fact to change, erase or desecrate the standing
constitutionally-provided term of offce of the pre-
sumed gloriously reigning president.
Having started to rule as succeeding President in
2001 and having thereafter publicly vowed not to run for
election to the same Offce of the President, but as of this
January 2009, the supreme executive has already been in
offce for no less than eight long years—much more than
but six years. By May 2010, the same Commander-in-
Chief will be in the same Offce for even much longer,
viz., nine and a half very long years—much more than
but six years.
So much time spent for so little to show. So much
money dissipated for so meager an achievement to look
for. So much power and infuence exerted for so many
futile promises made and volatile visions proclaimed. And
the prolongation of Offce by any other nature or name
is still being sought for exactly the same pathological
reason—perpetuity in power.
IMPACT • January 2009 28
Three bullets
T
here once was a man who had nothing for his family
to eat. He had an old rife and three bullets. So, he
decided that he would go out hunting and kill some
wild game for dinner. As he went down the road, he saw a
rabbit. He shot at the rabbit and missed it. The rabbit ran
away. Then he saw a squirrel and fred a shot at the squirrel
and missed it. The squirrel disappeared into a hole in a cot-
tonwood tree. As he went further, he saw a large wild 'Tom'
turkey in the tree, but he had only one bullet remaining.
A voice spoke to him and said, “Pray frst, aim high
and stay focused.”
However, at the same time, he saw a deer which was a
better kill. He brought the gun down and aimed at the deer.
But, then he saw a rattlesnake between his legs about to
bite him, so he naturally brought the gun down further to
shoot the rattlesnake.
Still, the voice said again to him, “I said, pray, aim high
and stay focused.”
So, the man decided to listen to God's voice.
He prayed, then aimed the gun high up in the tree and
shot the wild turkey. The bullet bounced off the turkey and
killed the deer. The handle fell off the gun and hit the snake
in the head and killed it. And, when the gun had gone off, it
knocked him into a pond. When he stood up to look around,
he had fsh in all his pockets, a dead deer and a turkey to
eat for his family.
The snake (Satan) was dead, simply because the man
listened to God.
Pray frst before you do anything, aim and shoot high
in your goals, and stay focused on God. Never let others
discourage you concerning your past. The past is exactly that,
‘the past.’ Live every day one day at a time and remember
that only God knows our future and that he will not put you
through any more than you can bear.
Do not look to man for your blessings, but look to the
doors that only He has prepared in advance for you in your
favor.
Wait, be still and patient: keep God frst and everything
else will follow.
A
n unemployed graduate woke
up one morning and checked his
pocket. All he had left was $10. He
decided to use it to buy food and then wait
for death as he was too proud to go begging.
He was frustrated as he could fnd no job,
and nobody was ready to help him.
He bought food, and as he sat down
to eat, an old man and two little children
came along and asked him to help them
with food as they had not eaten for almost
a week. He looked at them. They were so
lean that he could see their bones coming
out. Their eyes had gone into the socket.
With the last bit of compassion he had, he
gave them the food. The old man and children
prayed that God would bless and prosper him
and then gave him a very old coin.
The young graduate said to them, “You
need the prayer more than I do.”
With no money, no job, no food, the
young graduate went under the bridge to
rest and wait for death. As he was about
An unemployed graduate
to sleep, he saw an old newspaper on the
ground. He picked it up, and suddenly he
saw an advertisement for people with old
coins to come to a certain address.
He decided to go there with the old
coin the old man gave him. On getting to
the place, he gave the proprietor the coin.
The proprietor screamed, brought out a
big book and showed the young graduate a
photograph. This same old coin was worth
3 million dollars. The young graduate was
overjoyed as the proprietor gave him a bank
draft for 3 million
dollars within an
hour. He collected
the Bank Draft and
went in search of
the old man and
little children.
By the time he
got to where he left
them eating, they
had gone. He asked
the owner of the canteen if he knew them.
He said no, but they left a note for him. He
quickly opened the note thinking it would
lead him to fnd them.
This is what the note said: “You gave
us your all and we have rewarded you back
with the coin.” Signed: God the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost, 1 Kings 17:10-
16; Matthew 11:28-30.
Have you given all to Jesus Christ?
If you haven't, do so today and he will
surprise you.
From the e-mail messages of lanbergado@cbcpworld.com
Life is a gift
T
here was a
blind girl
who hated
herself because
she was blind. She
hated everyone,
except her loving
boyfriend. He was
always there for her.
She told her boy-
friend, 'If I could
only see the world, I would marry you.'
One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When
the bandages came off, she was able to see everything,
including her boyfriend.
He asked her, 'Now that you can see the world, will you
marry me?' The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that
he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her.
She hadn't expected that. The thought of looking at them
the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him.
Her boyfriend left in tears and days later wrote a note
to her saying: 'Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for
before they were yours, they were mine.'
This is how the human brain often works when our
status changes. Only a very few remember what life was
like before, and who was always by their side in the most
painful situations.
FROM THE
INBOX
Volume 43 • Number 1
29
book
Reviews
Benigno P.
Dagani, SJ
1903-1988
A Humble and
Zealous Missionary
in Mindanao
Miguel A. Bernad, SJ
Published by Jesuit Com-
munications, the book
chronicles the life and
ministry of a Jesuit mis-
sionary who had lived his
life in the most obscure
circumstances but fuelled with so much love and zeal
for his ministry. Fr. Benigno Dagani, SJ maybe an
unknown fgure to the rest of humanity but not in the
eyes of God and the simple folks in the hinterlands
of Mindanao with whom he had spent the rest of his
life as a Jesuit missionary. Mindanao had been under
the care of the Jesuits since they were brought back
by the Spanish government in 1859 and tasked them
to evangelize the region. Through the exploits and
sacrifces of the Jesuit “roving missionaries”, Dagani
one among them, the church in Mindanao had grown
unparalleled in many ways. Bernad writes in his in-
troduction, “today the Church in Mindanao is one of
the most alive, most fourishing in the whole Catholic
world.” Stark in its simplicity, but rich in humility, Da-
gani’s life as portrayed in the book is an inspiration
for the young generation today who are in dire need
of role models to follow.
Alter Christus
St. Paul Speaks To Priests
John J. GilChrist
In this volume, the author addresses his fellow priests
with short refections on passages taken from the let-
ters of the Apostle Paul. The refections are supported
with insights from Scriptures, spiritual writers, theo-
logians and Church teachings. Broken in two parts,
part one is centered on the priest as a person called
and set apart while part two takes on other roles of a
priest—that of being a leader and a prophet. Written
in easy style, the book is
meant to be read little at a
time. Perhaps take a page
here and there and pon-
der on the thoughts that
have been generated by
the Pauline passages. Al-
though the topic is about
priesthood and addressed
to those in the ministry
in a form of a letter, the
book is also a good read
for lay people for them to
understand better the life
and struggles of those
called in the ministry. This
volume is published by
Jesuit Communications
Foundation, Inc.
Called to Question
A Spiritual Memoir
Joan Chittister, OSB
In this book Called to Question: A Spiritual
Memoir, Benedictine nun Joan Chittister,
OSB lays down her own idea of what a true
spirituality is all about. It is not about go-
ing through life without questioning simply
because the answers have been there for a
long time. Rather, true spirituality challenges
us to go beyond ourselves and ask questions
that could lead us deeper “in[to] the center
of our souls, admit the worst, whatever the
pain of that, and pursue the best, even when
we are totally unsure where that pursuit will
take us.” Written in a style of dialogue with
ideas of some spiritual writers, the personal
journal was jotted down in a span of fve years. Chittister said the book
“looks at the common questions or dimensions of life as we know them
in our daily lives—not answers as we have been given them—in an at-
tempt to unravel their many meanings, to give them fesh, to honor their
spiritual import now and here, in our time and in our own lives.” Divided
in six parts, Called to Question examines concepts such as inward life,
immersion in life, resistance, feminist spirituality, ecology and dailiness. A
widely published author of over twenty fve books, a columnist and noted
international lecturer, Chittister has been a leading voice in contemporary
spirituality and church and world issues for over twenty-fve years. Pub-
lished by Paulines Publishing House, the book is an interesting read as
readers will fnd perhaps their own questions refected through the pages—
questions they feared to ask because they had all been answered. But
Chittister says spiritual life is all about search for meaning and life, and it
only “begins when we discover that we can only become spiritual adults
when we go beyond the answers, beyond the fear of uncertainty, to that
great encompassing mystery of life that is God.”
Crumbs for Priesthood and the
Religious
An Anthology of the Life and Ministry of Priests, Bishops
and the Religious
Most Rev. Jose C. Sorra, DD
The subtitle says it all. This collection of short vignettes offers an inspiring
take on the life and ministry of priests, bishops and religious Scattered
throughout 148 pages are fragments of life experiences, short homilies
preached on various occasions as well as brief essays on a range of topics
that inspire the heart and move one to action.
The anthology is an interesting reading even
for lay people as it gives them the chance to
take a close peek into the life of the ordained
ministers and understand them better. It can
very well be tagged as an “inside story” since
it is written from the perspective of someone
who has seen and experienced personally all
the events mentioned in the book. Now the
Bishop Emeritus of Legazpi, Bishop Sorra was
Bishop for the dioceses of Virac and Legazpi
for 31 years. He served as chairman of the
CBCP Commission on Youth for 12 years and
was a member of the CBCP Permanent Coun-
cil and of the NASSA board, CBCP National
Secretariat. This volume is published by Fiat
Charitable Trust Fund, Inc.
IMPACT • January 2009 30
ENTERTAINMENT
CATHOLIC
INITIATIVE FOR
ENLIGHTENED
MOVIE
APPRECIATION
Cast: Anne Curtis, Jericho Rosales, Philip Salvador
Director: Mark Meiley
Producers: Veronique Del Rosario-Corpus, Vicente G.
Del Rosario III
Screenwriter: Roy C. Iglesias
Music: Vincent de Jesus
Editor: Danny Anonuevo
Genre: Drama/ Romance/ War
Cinematography: Lee Meily
Distributor: Viva Films
Location: Baler, Aurora, Philippines
Running Time: 110 min.
Technical Assessment: ½
Moral Assessment: 
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above
T
aong 1898, panahon ng
pananakop ng mga Kastila,
nang sumibol ang pag-
iibigan sa Baler ng dalagang si
Feliza Reyes (Anne Curtis) at
ng binatang si Celso Resurrec-
cion (Jericho Rosales), isang
mestisong sundalo sa pwersa ng
mga Kastila. Pilit nilang ililihim
ang kanilang pagmamahalan at
pagniniig sapagka’t ang ama ni
Feliza, si Nanding (Philip Sal-
vador), ay kabilang sa mga arma-
dong Pilipinong nag-aalsa laban
sa mga Kastila. Matindi ang galit
ni Nanding sa mga Kastila dahil
sa karahasang ginawa ng mga
ito sa kanyang ama at kapatid na
babae, kung kaya’t tutol ito kahit
sa nasang pagpapari ng kanyang
anak na malapit sa mga prayle,
si Gabriel. Darating ang pag-
kakataong mananaig ang lakas ng
mga rebolusyonaryong Pilipino,
tutugisin nila nang biglaan ang
mga sundalong Kastila hanggang
masukol ang mga ito at wala nang
matatakbuhan kundi sa simbahan.
Papaligiran ng mga sundalong
Pilipino ang mga simbahan ngunit
hindi susuko ang 57 Kastilang
naroon bagama’t ang kanilang
pagkain ay husto lamang sa loob
ng tatlong buwan. Titiisin nila ang
gutom, malaria, at ang kamatayan
ng marami nilang kasamahan,
habang naghihintay sila ng tulong
mula sa hukbo nila sa Maynila.
Lalakad ang mga buwan, tatang-
gapin na ng Espanya ang kanilang
pagkatalo, ngunit hindi pa rin ma-
niniwala dito ang mga sundalong
Kastila na mistula’y nakakulong
na sa simbahan. Kabilang sa mga
sundalo sa loob ng simbahan
si Celso, at nang hindi na ito
makatiis, magkakasundo sila ng
ilan sa kanilang mga kasamahan
upang tumakas.
Maganda at maayos ang
daloy ng istorya ng Baler, at sa
maraming mga aspeto’y maka-
totohanan ang paglalahad nito ng
mga pangyayari noong panahon
ng paglaya ng mga Pilipino mula
sa mga Kastila. Maganda rin ang
sinematograpiya, Kahanga-han-
ga rin ang katapatan ng pagganap
ng mga pangunahing artista, at
dapat ding purihin ang direktor
sa husay ng kabuuan ng pelikula.
Dalawang bagay lamang ang
nagiging batik sa magandang
mukha ng Baler: ang magaral-
gal na pagsasalita ng wikang
Kastila, at ang kakulangan sa
tumpak na make-up. Kulang sa
“dulas” ng dila ang mga nag-
sasalita ng Kastila—halatang
hindi iyon ang inang-wika nila.
Ang make-up naman: ang mga
sundalong halos isang taon nang
nagugutom, napupuyat, napapa-
god, nawawalan ng pag-asa at
masuka-suka nang nakukulong
kapiling ng mga nagkakasakit
at yumayao ay mukha pa ring
makikinis, busog at malulusog
kahit na gutay-gutay na ang mga
unipormeng suot. Bakit mula
simula hanggang sa katapusan,
makisig pa rin si Jericho Rosales?
Di ba dapat ay humpak na ang
kanilang mga pisngi, nanglalalim
ang mga mata at bumabagsak na
ang mga katawan sa ganoong
mga kalagayan, na ultimo daga
at ang alagang tuta ay kinakain na
rin dahil sa matinding gutom?
Pinaghalong “fact” at “fc-
tion” ang pelikula, base sa kasay-
sayang naturingnang “Siege of
Baler” sa lalawigan ng Quezon
kung saan nasukol ang 57 sunda-
long Kastila sa loob ng 337 na
araw. Ang digmaang ito diumano
ay kilalang-kilala sa Europa at
sa katunaya’y ginawa pa itong
isang pelikula noong taong 1945,
at pinamagatang “Los Ultimos de
Filipinas”, na tumutukoy sa mga
sundalong Kastilang lumaban sa
Baler noong rebolusyon at dig-
maan laban sa mga Amerikano.
Kung ipipikit na lamang ninyo
ang inyong mga mata sa mga
nabanggit naming pagkukulang
ng Baler, malulugod din kayo at
pinanood ninyo ito, sapagkat kahit
ito mabigat sa damdamin, maaani-
nag pa rin ninyo ang liwanag sa
likuran ng ulap. Maaaring sabihin
inyong kulang sa lupit ang mga
magkaka-away, ngunit hindi ninyo
rin maikakaila na nakabubuti sa
lahat ang ipinapakitang pakikipag-
kapwa tao ng mga Pilipino kahit
na sa mga kaaway nila. Malugod
na bumabati ang CINEMA sa
karangalang nakamit ng Baler
bilang “Best Festival Picture” sa
2008 Metro Manila Film Festival
(MMFF), kasama ng siyam na iba
pang gantimpala. Sadyang karap-
at-dapat sa Baler ang karangalang
nakamit nito. Nawa’y makatulong
ito sa pagtataas ng antas ng mga
pelikulang Pilipino.
Volume 43 • Number 1
31
NEWS
BRI EFS
NEPAL
Electricity failure in
Nepal
A state-owned Nepal
Electricity Authority is be-
ing forced to cut power to
businesses and homes
for 16 hours a day. The
agency said hydro-elec-
tric power is failing to pro-
duce suffcient electricity
to maintain supply. It said
very low water levels in-
dicate defcient pressure
to drive turbines.
JAPAN
Tokyo lifts ban on
tourists visiting fsh
market
The metropolitan gov-
ernment of Japanese cap-
ital of Tokyo is again allow-
ing foreign tourists back
into the world’s largest
fsh market, after barring
them for misdemeanor.
But tourists will be warned
to be courteous when
visiting the tuna auctions
and there will be a strict
"no hugging" rule.
INDONESIA
6 dead, 4 missing due
to fash foods
At least six people have
died and four are missing
after recent fash foods
that hit Sulawesi Island.
Reports said a week of
torrential rains have left
at least seven villages
fooded by waters over 1.5
meters deep. Landslides
and fooding are common
in Indonesia during rainy
season from December
to February.
THAILAND
4 killed in Thailand
hostility
Alleged separatist in-
surgents have killed four
people in Thailand’s reb-
el-infested far south. Au-
thorities said three rubber
tappers were shot dead in
an assault Jan.11 in Yala
province. Two other men
were reportedly injured in
the ambush.
CHINA
20 offcials jailed over
bridge collapse
At least 20 government
offcials and contractors
here have been sen-
tenced to jail terms of up
to 19 years for graft and
negligence over a bridge
collapse that claimed 64
lives. The bridge in Tuo
River in Hunan collapsed
in August 2007 as work-
ers removed steel scaf-
folding erected during its
construction.
PAKISTAN
Dozens killed in slum
inferno
At least 38 people have
succumbed to a fre that
ripped through dozens of
homes in a shanty town
of Pakistan’s largest city,
Karachi. Reports said that
the blaze was sparked by
a downed power wire that
fell onto the roofs of huts.
Authorities also said 25
people were also injured
in the tragedy.
SRI LANKA
Top journalist shot
dead
A prominent editor and
government critic, Lasan-
tha Wickrematunga, was
shot dead by unidenti-
fed gunmen. The fatality,
the editor of the Sunday
Leader newspaper and
Time magazine stringer,
was shot Jan. 9 by gun-
men on two motorcycles
as he drove to work. It was
the second attack on the
press in the past week.
VIETNAM
F a r me r s s e e k s
melamine claims com-
pensation
Dairy farmers here
have fled a civil suit seek-
ing compensation from
Vietnam’s health minis-
try over claims a com-
pany they supplied sold
melamine-laced prod-
ucts. Over 100 farmers
in Vinh Phuc province
said their sales dropped
drastically due to the re-
port. The ministry later
said the products were
melamine-free, but the
farmers claimed their situ-
ation has not improved.
NORTH KOREA
N. Korea set for parlia-
mentary elections
A parliamentary elec-
tion has been set on March
8, triggering speculation
the country is preparing
for a post-Kim Jong-II era.
Elections did not pursue
in 2008 when its fve-year
term ended, amid rumors
about Mr. Kim’s health.
The 66-year old leader re-
portedly suffered a stroke
in August.
INDIA
India PM tags Paki-
stani agencies behind
Mumbai attacks
PM Manmohan Singh
has accused Pakistan of
supporting gunmen who
attacked Mumbai City
in November. India has
long accused Pakistan’s
Inter-Services Intelligence
agency of helping attacks
in India territory. Singh,
however, did not name
names in his accusation.
CAMBODIA
IBA: Cambodia prone
to money laundering
A London- based
watchdog said Cambo-
dia’s lax banking laws
have made it an easy
target for money launder-
ers. The International Bar
Association (IBA) called
on the Cambodian gov-
ernment to enforce exist-
ing regulations to address
the issue.
MALAYSIA
Malaysia, Thailand ink
inmate transfer pact
Malaysia and Thailand
is set to sign a prisoner
transfer accord allowing
inmates to complete their
jail terms in their home
country. The agreement
is expected to be signed
in mid-January by the
foreign ministers of both
countries.