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IMPACT • July 2009 2




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IMPACT
Quote in the Act
“I feel so empty today, I feel Brandenburg.”
Judika Zirzow, a 24-year old, visiting her hometown, Hoyerswerda in Eastern
Germany, where housing is being torn down because of decreasing population;
quoting the above line from a song by performer Rainald Grebe.
“The next six to nine months are about survival.”
Kapil Arora, of Ernst & Young aviation; talking about Kingfsher Airlines of India
which was known for giving royal treatment to passengers, but is presently
reckoning with heavy debts from India’s government-owned banks due to
operation losses.
“The anti-corruption campaign is a vehicle to
purge resistance.”
Russell Leigh Moses, a Beijing-based analyst; of the recent wave of anti-
corruption campaigns that is sweeping through China in the wake of the downfall
of two high-ranking offcials, but otherwise seen as the government’s attempt to
assuage public discontent at this time of recession.
“They should not be the victims of their
government’s provocations.”
Lesley-Anne Knight, Secretary General of Caritas Asia; referring to people’s
plight in North Korea saying that aid for the poor is the solution to ending the
crisis rather than military action which will only “cause greater human tragedies
and more suffering for the people.”
“We may have declared independence from some
nations, but the ones that now ‘enslave and exploit
Filipinos’ are their ‘fellow Filipino’.”
Angel Lagdameo, Archbishop of Jaro and President of the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of the Philippines; in his message on the occasion of the country’s
Independence Day celebrations.
“A triumph of democracy and the popular will.”
This Day, a national Nigerian newspaper; referring to a 13-1 vote where the
legislature in the small state of Imo, Nigeria rejected the Reproductive Rights
Bill, marking a pro-life victory in state whose rich heritage, culture and religious
traditions welcome life and respect of unborn children.
Volume 43 • Number 7
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July 2009 / Vol 43 • No 7
EDITORIAL
New art forms .................................................... 27
COVER STORY
How bad really is Philippine Economy? ........ 16
ARTICLES
The Church's Resistance against Mining ......... 4
All the Denarii of Peter ....................................... 9
Tweeting all fellow twavellers ......................... 11
The New Fair-Trade Label Sets the
Standard .......................................................... 13
Freedom gone awry .......................................... 14
DEPARTMENTS
Quote in the Act ................................................. 2
News Features ................................................... 22
Statements .......................................................... 24
From the Blogs ................................................... 26
From the Inbox .................................................. 28
Book Reviews ..................................................... 29
Entertainment .................................................... 30
News Briefs ........................................................ 31
CONTENTS
T
he annual themes from
June 19, 2009 to June
19, 2010 are a mouthful.
First, the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of the Philippines
(CBCP) decided during their
plenary assembly in January
2009, to declare a Year of the
Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary
for Peace-Building and Lay
participation for Social Change,
at the tail-end of the Year of St.
Paul. The principal objective
being the May 2010 elections:
“we invite the Filipino faithful
to start preparing spiritually
for another crucial transition in
the life our nation—namely, the
elections in May 2010.
Without the slightest premo-
nition of anybody else outside
the Vatican, the Holy Father
declared on March 16, 2009 a
Year for Priests, announcing
it first to the members of the
Congregation for the Clergy
on the occasion of their Plenary
Assembly in Rome.
The Pope did this “to encour-
age priests in this striving for
spiritual perfection on which,
above all, the effectiveness of
their ministry depends,” and
“for making the importance of
the priest’s role and mission in
the Church and in contemporary
society ever more clearly per-
ceived.” Apparently, this was
occasioned by the 150th
anniversary of the death
of the Holy Cure d’ Ars,
Jean Mary Vianney.
In the Philippines,
peace-building and lay
participation for social
change is a very tall order. In fact,
while both are still in the stars,
bringing them down to actualization
or the hopelessness of it, accumu-
late a tinge of failure on the part
of the Church after over 400 years
of Christianity. Working for social
change, seemingly has not been a
job of the churchgoer who has been
dutifully “catechized” to observe
religious practices stringently with-
out regard for whatever happens to
Malacañang or Congress—which, of
course, are not within the ambit of
the “religious” and, therefore, not
part of being Christian, rightly or
wrongly.
Truth to tell, the task of moral
regeneration is too serious and big
to be entrusted solely to religious
leaders who, until now, have been
too busy with the affairs of the sac-
risty and, perhaps, barrio fiestas.
The arena of battle is right in the
hearts of lay people.
Says the CBCP Statement on
the Year of Two Hearts for Peace-
building and Lay participation for
Social Change: “The participation
of the laity in moral leadership
pertaining to every specific
discipline and institution in
the Philippine society is most
essential, if we want the Gospel
and the social teachings of the
Church to have a tangible and
positive impact at all on our life
as a nation.”
On second look, it maybe
providential, after all, why this
is also the Year for Priests, if
only to give a serious thought
of his role in contemporary
society which, for some, has
gone far and wide to even run
for political positions—which
is a way of robbing from the
laity what rightly belongs to
them or, more seriously, a way
of wasting what every priest
should be most faithful about,
his priesthood.
This issue opens with Rodne
Galicha’s Defending Our Beau-
tiful Land: The Church’s Re-
sistance against Mining. Staff
writer Charles Avila writes our
cover story, How Bad really is
Philippine Economy? Read on.
IMPACT • July 2009 4
ARTICLES
Defending Our Beautiful Land:
The Church's Resistance against Mining
By Rodne Galicha
T
he protection of the environment
is not only a technical question;
it is also and above all an ethical
issue. All have a moral duty to care for
the environment, not only for their own
good but also for the good of future
generations. (John Paul II)
Rattling the world is the financial
crunch which continuously challenges
the economic stability of nations. In the
Philippines, despite the world economic
crisis, the government sees a hopeful
potential of liberally utilizing mineral
resources portrayed as an economic
“messiah” with projected investments
of $1 billion this year. However, due to
an unclear global metal demand, Reuters
(2009) reported that the investment
target was slashed to only $600 mil-
lion considering the total investment of
$11.26 million in the first three months
of 2009. This is higher than the total
actual Southeast Asian nation’s mining
sector investment of $577.25 million in
2008, in which $600 million is quite
ambitious.
But looking deeply into this reced-
ing reality far from what was projected,
the economic crisis and the lack of global
metal demand are not the only reasons.
If analyzed carefully at the grassroots
level, in rural communities where large
scale mining is aggressively promoted,
the people themselves are learning to
resist as they continue to realize the
long-term effects of the industry not
only in their lives but also on the lives
of surrounding communities. With this
sense of social understanding among
communities, those people outside
the applied mining area, realizing that
they indeed share in the struggle, start
to stand up and take strong position on
their basic rights. And to address this
resistance, mining companies have been
trying to bribe these people with social
development programs and threaten
them with displacement. But generally,
the resistance becomes stronger.

CBCP’s consistent stand
Disturbed by the emerging fragility
of the environment and its impacts on
the faithful brought about by ecologi-
cal imbalance and human-made abuses,
the Catholic Bishops Conference of the
Philippines (CBCP) in 1988 issued a
Pastoral Letter on Ecology about “our
living world and the deterioration we
see all around us”, What is Happening
to Our Beautiful Land?, that “attempts
to reflect the cry of our people and the
cry of our land” in which the bishops
collectively said that at “the root of the
problem, we see an exploitative mental-
ity, which is at variance with the Gospel
of Jesus.” It further declared that “We
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The Church's Resistance against Mining
reap what we sow; the results of our
attitude and activities are predictable
and deadly” and “our lands, forests and
rivers cry out that they are being eroded,
denuded and polluted.” Hence, there is
an urgency about this issue which calls
for widespread education and immedi-
ate action.
The CBCP then asked the govern-
ment not to pursue short-term economic
gains at the expense of long-term eco-
logical damage.
Always considered as the last and
only refuge of the Filipino people
when it comes to moral and political
sensitivities, the CBCP addressing the
concerns of affected communities after
the passage of the Mining Act in 1995
opposed its implementation.
Consistent to the 1988 statement,
another statement was collectively
agreed by the bishops in 1998. In “A
Statement of Concern on the Mining
Act of 1995”, the CBCP declared that
the government mining policy is offer-
ing our lands to foreigners with liberal
conditions while our people continue
to grow in poverty, and that its imple-
mentation “will certainly destroy both
environment and people and will lead
to national unrest.”
In 2006, CBCP President Angel N.
Lagdameo, DD, signed another state-
ment reaffirming the collective stand
saying that the Mining Act destroys
life. It further stressed that “The right to
life of people is inseparable from their
right to sources of food and livelihood.
Allowing the interests of big mining
corporations to prevail over people’s
right to these sources” is tantamount
“to violating their right to life.”
Again in December 2008, the CBCP
issued a new pastoral letter on ecology,
20 years after the issuance of “What
is Happening to Our Beautiful Land?”
landmark pastoral letter in 1998.
Signed by Archbishop Lagdameo,
the statement called for a moratorium on
mining activities. Mining as promoted
by the government, “having a poor re-
cord of community accountability”, is
considered as “uncontrollable plunder”
of natural resources with mining com-
panies having “systematically engaged
in the rape of Mother Earth and left a
legacy of impoverished communities
and environmental despoliation.”
Protracted local resistance
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), a na-
tional alliance of non-government or-
ganizations, people’s organizations,
indigenous peoples’ groups, convened
by the Philippine Partnership for the De-
velopment of Human Resources in Rural
Areas (PhilDHRRA), Legal Rights and
Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa
Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Phil-
ippines (LRC-KsK/FoE Phils.) and
Haribon Foundation, has been engaging
directly with mining-impacted com-
munities through the Social Action
Centers (SAC) of ecclesiastical ter-
ritories. Through this engagement and
partnership, ATM has been working at
the grassroots level together with the
SAC and various concerned groups,
hence getting the whole mining picture
in the country.
Known for his unquestionable en-
vi r onment al i sm,
Dipolog Bishop
Jose Manguiran,
bishop-in-charge
of the Mindanao
DIOPIM (Di o-
ceses of Dipolog,
Iligan, Ozamis,
Pagadian, Ipil and Marawi) Committee
on Mining Issues or DCMI, seeks to lib-
erate people, especially the indigenous
peoples, from the belief that mining
promotes sustainable development.
“Mining destroys the soil, it doesn’t
just displace it,” Bishop Manguiran
said. “And (this is) the destruction
of biodiversity, large animals down to
microbes. And geological restitution is
already impossible. Our laws are meant
to protect the indigenous people (and
the land). But in implementation they
only help the foreign corporations,” he
continued. Bishop Manguiran would
always compare Filipinos who are pro-
environment to the biblical David and
the foreign mining companies, and the
government to Goliath. “We only have
a slingshot to defeat that horrible giant
and the battle may be long, but the hand
of God is with David,” he explained,
“and David always wins”.
DIOPIM has been helping commu-
nities in the Zamboanga peninsula and
the surrounding dioceses especially with
the Subanons’ Apo Manglang Glupa
Pusaka (AMGP) through Timuay Jose
‘Boy’ Anoy’s struggles against Toronto
Ventures Inc. (TVI). TVI has been de-
stroying the sacred Mt. Canatuan in
Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.
Down t o
Southern part
of Mindanao,
the charis-
matic Bish-
op Dinual-
Defending Our Beautiful Land:
The Church's Resistance against Mining
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IMPACT • July 2009 6
ARTICLES
do Gutierrez, of the Diocese of Marbel
in South Cotabato, has been a front-
liner in the anti-mining advocacy in
the SOCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato,
Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani and General
Santos).
On Earth Day 2009, Bishop Guti-
errez, with SAC Director Fr. Roming
Catedral, led a large protest against
what they call ‘unholy trinity’. He de-
nounced the three industries that would
put his flock into uncontrollable risks
and disasters: Sagittarius Mining Inc.
(SMI) large-scale mining in Tampa-
kan, Conal Holdings Corporation and
Alsons, Inc. coal-fired power plant in
Maasim, and Sultan Mining and Energy
Development Corp (SMED) coal mining
in Lake Sebu.
“It’s alright to pray and launch
education campaigns. But this time,
we need to take up bigger actions and
let our national leaders know that we
are really opposing this, for the sake of
ourselves and our future generations,”
he declared.
On the presence of SMI, Bishop
Gutierrez stressed that it “would affect
our peace and order situation. Any im-
moral activity breeds social ills. Mining
operations in the hinterlands of Tampa-
kan would destroy the environment and
result into human rights abuses.”
When asked about the development
and assistance of SMI to tribal commu-
nities, Bishop Gutierrez would always
regard it as “inducements” to permit
mining operations. For him, if someone
takes “advantage of the ignorance and
poverty of the people, that is one form
of human rights abuse.”
With Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios
M. Pueblos, Bishop Gutierrez had been
to the United Kingdom’s House of
Commons to challenge the Members of
Parliament to end British investment in
destructive mining.
Backed by the Catholic Agency
for Overseas Development (CAFOD)
of the Catholic Church in England
and Wales, the two bishops managed
to present the real situation of mining
industry in the Philippines speaking in
behalf of their flocks urging the Parlia-
ment to “stop destructive mining in our
country.” They also stressed that “it’s
a lie to say that poor people are being
helped by it” and “the small islands in
the Philippine archipelago can easily
be destroyed.”
Bishop Pueblos has been deeply
concerned with militarization, eco-
logical threats and displacement of
indigenous peoples as results of the
increasing mining ventures in his dio-
cese especially in Agusan del Norte.
Speaking over Church run Radio Veritas,
he said, “It’s a lie to say mining saves
people for there would be no more land
to till and it will alter the climate in
their area.”
Recently, Bishop Nereo Odchimar
of the Diocese of Tandag expressed
his disappointment on the government
despite the issuance of Proclamation
1747, declaring the portion of the pub-
lic domain of Alamyo, Buyaan, Paniki
Rivers and Sipangpang Falls situated in
the Municipalities of Carascal, Cantilan
and Madrid, Province of Surigao del Sur
and in the Municipalities of Jabonga,
Santiago and Cabadbaran, Province of
Agusan del Norte as critical watershed
forest reserves.
During an Earth Day event in Su-
rigao del Sur, the bishop said that he
“felt betrayed upon learning that the
Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) had already issued
Environmental Compliance Certificates
(ECCs) to Marcventures Mining and
Development Corporation (MMDC)
and Carac-an Development Corporation
(CDC) two months prior to government
assurance through a dialogue with Sec.
Lito Atienza, that it would look deeply
into the watershed proclamation vis-à-
vis mining.
Meanwhile, deeply etched in the
memories of the faithful of the Arch-
diocese of Cagayan de Oro was the
devastation brought by flooding in
January 2009 which affected more than
30,000 individuals.
Consistent with his stand, Arch-
bishop Antonio Ledesma has renewed
the call for environmental conserva-
tion pointing out that flush mining has
silted the river of Iponan; and logging
upstream has brought devastation not
only in the interior of Cagayan de Oro
but also in the downstream areas in
Bukidnon and Lanao del Sur.
“Fourteen years of the implemen-
tation of the Mining Act of 1995 had
brought about the physical and economic
dislocation of many indigenous peoples
and other upland rural communities,
as well as aggravated the already dire
situation of our environment by handing
over our lands and mineral resources
for corporate exploitation. All these, in
Volume 43 • Number 7
7
to care for the environment as a matter
of common and universal duty.”
The presence of People's Recovery,
Empowerment Development Assistance
(PREDA) founded by Columban mis-
sionary Fr. Shay Cullen, SSC, in Iba
diocese has been vital in protecting
the indigenous rights of the Aeta com-
munity especially in Sitio Maporac in
Cabangan town. With Maporac Aeta
Association (MAO) led by Tribal Chief
Salvador Dimain, PREDA partners
with PMPI and ATM to address issues
regarding Ancestral Domain claims vis
a vis mining.
In Marinduque, people are still suf-
fering the aftermath of the Marinduque
mining disaster caused by Marcopper's
floodings of some 1.6 million cubic
meters of tailings many years ago. Boac
Bishop Rey Evangelista lamented the
government’s inaction to remedy the
situation.
“After 27 years of Marcopper's
operation, Marinduque remains a 4th
class province,” he said.
Asked about the accountability of
Marcopper in an interview over Radio
Veritas, Bishop Evangelista said that he
has “grown tired of meeting government
officials on our plight and nothing good
has happened.”
Despite the disappointments, resi-
dents of Marinduque recently flocked
to Mogpog River and put sandbags
along the banks to reduce the risk of
floodings.
“After long years of neglect by
higher officials of the country who lend
deaf ears to our cries for the mining
company’s cleanup of the Boac and
Mogpog rivers, we decided to mobi-
lize the people to clean the Mogpog
River ourselves,” said Myke Magalang,
executive director of the Marinduque
Council for Environmental Concerns
(MACEC), which initiated the sandbag-
ging activity.
Due to the opposition of the people
of Bagamanoc to magnetite mining of
Shun Fong Transport Co. in the coastal
towns of Bagamanoc and Panganiban
in the Diocese of Virac in Catanduanes
province, Bishop Manolo delos Santos
and the clergy are now at the forefront
of the anti-mining advocacy. Together
with the I-Care Bagamanoc organiza-
tion, the Diocese of Virac Social Action
Foundation, Inc. (DVSAFI) formed a
technical working group versus min-
ing to address the emerging threat not
only of magnetite mining but also of
the possible massive consequence of
the Department of Energy’s coal mining
to be operated by Monte Oro Resources
and Energy, Inc.
DVSAFI Executive Director Rev.
Fr. Laudemer Jose Gapaz said that
“mining has been a big problem for
the Philippines as its social effect has
been disastrous and the industry has not
proven to be economically beneficial
despite claims by its backers, adding
that only one percent of the gross rev-
enues go to the coffers of the national
government, not to the area of mining
operation. This has resulted in economic
exploitation, injustice, and ecological
degradation.”
Because of the threat of large-scale
open-pit mining by Filminera Mining
Corp. (FMC) backed by Australian-
based Central Gold Asia Ltd., the
Diocese of Masbate formed the multi-
sectoral Task Force Aroroy in which
Bishop Joel Baylon was chosen as
Chairman. In a statement, the diocese
stressed that “that we are stewards of
God’s creation and are accountable to
Him who created everything in our
world to be good.”
With the Association of Concerned
Residents of Aroroy (ACRA), the Evan-
gelical Churches, through Fr. Leo Casas
of the Diocese of Masbate Social Ac-
tion Foundation Inc. (DMSAFI) and
various peoples’ organizations, series
of protests have been held in front of
the mining area. Worth mentioning is
the priest-in-charge of a quasi-parish,
Fr. Edgar Mamforte, who has been re-
ceiving threats and was even harassed
by the armed security of the mining
company.
Alarmed by the opposition of the
people and the reality of mining devasta-
tions in Albay province and possible ef-
fects in Bicol Region, a letter-statement
was issued by the Bicol bishops and sent
to His Holiness Benedict XVI, saying
that their opposition have “have fallen
on deaf ears,” and “since it is also a most
important human responsibility, the
Church is duty-bound to offer, through
the purification of reason and through
ethical formation, her own specific
contribution towards understanding the
requirements of justice and achieving
them politically.”
In the Apostolic Vicariates of Cala-
pan in Oriental Mindoro and San Jose in
Occidental Mindoro, a series of protests
have been conducted to oppose Intex
Resources’ public scopings and hear-
exchange for a grossly disadvantageous
amount from mining revenues,” he said
as he criticized the mining policy being
implemented.
The situation of mining in Mindan-
ao has been haunting rural communities.
Lumads and Bangsamoro communities
have joined hands in opposing mining
companies, opposition that led to the
killing of Eliezer ‘Boy’ Billanes, a lay
leader, who opposed the activities of
SMI and other companies in SOCSK-
SARGEN. Bishop Gutierrez hailed Boy
as a “prophet, a voice of God.” “He was
killed because of his advocacy against
mining…he’s a protector of the integrity
of creation.”
In the Diocese of Mati, Sr. Stella
Matutina, OSB, had been illegally de-
tained by the military due to her efforts
to educate the people on the ill-effects
of mining. The Military tagged here
as a Communist member, hence, the
explicit condemnation of the Sisters As-
sociation of Mindanao (SAMIN) saying
that “amidst this state of oppression, we
remain steadfast to fulfill the mission
of the Church which is to assert the
dignity and rights of the people and the
integrity of Creation. We carry this task
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IMPACT • July 2009 8
ings. Recently, five thousand people
were mobilized in the town of Pola
with Calapan's clergy and seminarians
from St. Augustine Seminary, thousands
in Victoria and another five thousand
in Mamburao where Bishop Antonio
Palang joined the protestors together
with his clergy in staging a walk out
from the public hearing venue.
In his latest statement, Most Rev.
Warlito Cajandig said that “considering
the situation of our country, it is impos-
sible to have the so-called responsible
mining because of the prevailing culture
of corruption in the government—many
are abusive of their powers, and many
can also be bribed. Even the on-going
mining in Palawan that is being taunted
as beneficial to the people does not really
pursue the well being of the people, as
reported to me by my friends—priests
coming from the area.”
In the island of Mindoro, the Church
is joined by various anti-mining orga-
nizations such as Alyansa Laban sa
Mina (ALAMIN) and Kaagapay. Both
provinces have been expressing their
opposition to the unjust and irrespon-
sible processes undergone by Intex and
the DENR.
In Sibuyan Island, under the Dio-
cese of Romblon, the clergy with
Bishop Jose Corazon Talaoc, are very
supportive to the position of the ma-
jority of the island-people. The anti-
mining advocacy is being maintained
through the Basic Ecclesial Com-
munities (BEC) in coordination with
Sibuyanons Against Mining/Sibuyan
Island Sentinels League for Environ-
ment Inc. (SAM/Sibuyan ISLE). Some
85 church-workers, teachers, farmers,
among others, are still facing grave
coercion charges filed by the employees
of Sibuyan Nickel Properties Develop-
ment Corp. (SNPDC) because of their
participation in a rally in which Hon.
Armin Rios-Marin, president of a Par-
ish Pastoral Council, was murdered by
SNPDC's security guard.
Most Rev. Ramon Villena of the
Diocese of Bayombong, where vari-
ous human rights violations have been
documented and brought to the attention
of the Commission on Human Rights
(CHR), commented on OceanaGold's
human rights abuses and injustices in
Didipio, Kasibu, “The company is doing
an overkill on this. It is now wielding
its octopus hands and power in order to
overwhelm and oppress the people, and
disregard their human rights.”
"These human rights violations are
indicative of the fact, a sign that what
we have been telling all along that min-
ing is very destructive and many more
destruction will follow if we allow it,”
he added.
Just like Bishop Villena who was
declared by Nueva Vizcaya province as
persona non grata ten years ago because
of his strong position against illegalities,
Fr. Emiliano Ibera, OFM, parish priest
of Quezon town, through a resolution
of the said town was declared the same
and was petitioned to be ousted from
the parish recently. This was due to
his position against illegal logging and
large-scale mining. But Bishop Villena
called the resolution “rubbish.”
Fr. Ibera, true to his calling as a
Franciscan, said, “I knew it was com-
ing but I just shrugged it off, my work
mandates me to advocate social issues,
and as God’s servant, I will continue to
do it in accordance with the teachings
of the Church.”
Nueva Vizcaya hosts a number of
mining companies such as OceanaGold,
Rolayco, and FCF Minerals/MTL Phils.,
among others.
Going up to the North, the Archdio-
cese of Tuguegarao clergy, through Aux-
iliary Bishop Ricardo Baccay, issued a
statement of concern on the emerging
threat of mining especially on the shores
of Northern part of Cagayan province
particularly in Buguey, Aparri and Lallo
Resistance, page 15
The Church's Resistance against Mining
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I
n early July, the Vatican will publish its fnancial report
for 2008, as it does every year, in two chapters plus an
appendix.
The frst chapter will list the income and expenditures of
the Amministrazione del Patrimonio della Sede Apostolica,
APSA, which manages the fxed and current assets owned by
itself, the curia, the diplomatic corps, the publishing house,
the radio and television stations.
The second chapter will list the income and expenditures
of the governorate of Vatican City State: land, services, mu-
seums, stamps, coins.
The appendix will present the total of the Peter's Pence, the
collection for the pope taken all over the world every year on
June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, plus the donations
made directly to the pope over the course of the year.
In 2007, for example, the collection and donations totaled
94.1 million dollars, 14.3 million of which came from a single
donor who wanted to remain anonymous.
This is what is published each year.
Nothing else. Not a line about the other income, apart
from the Peter's Pence, that feeds into the "pope's charity."
And not a line about how this sum is used.
There is an offce in the secretariat of state that deals
with precisely this matter. It was directed for many years
by Monsignor Gianfranco Piovano, who was replaced a few
months ago by Monsignor Alberto Perlasca. Both men are
career diplomats. In addition to the Peter's Pence, its fund-
ing is provided by the contributions that the dioceses all over
the world are required to make to the successor of Peter,
according to canon 1271 of the code of canon law. Money
is also sent by the religious congregations and foundations.
In 2007, according to a confdential report that the Vatican
sent to the dioceses, these contributions amounted to 29.5
million dollars, which together with the Peter's Pence total
123.6 million dollars.
This money is earmarked for the "pope's charity." In a
lecture to diplomats from various countries in the Middle East
and North Africa, given in Rome at the Pontifcal Gregorian
University in May of 2007, the banker Angelo Caloia, president
of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione, IOR, the "Vatican
bank," described the use of this money:
"It is directed above all to the material needs of poor
All the Denarii of Peter
Vices and virtues of the Vatican Bank
By Sandro Magister
dioceses, to religious institutes and communities in grave
diffculty: the poor, children, the elderly, the marginalized,
victims of wars and natural disasters, refugees, etcetera."
In that same lecture, moreover, Caloia referred to another
funding source of the "pope's charity": the profts of the
IOR. In March of every year, in fact, the IOR makes entirely
available to the pope the difference between its income and
expenditures during the previous year. This total is kept se-
cret, but it is believed to be close to that of the Peter's Pence.
At least this was the case in the four years for which fgures
were leaked. It came to 60.7 billion Italian lire in 1992, 72.5
billion in 1993, 75 billion in 1994, and 78.3 billion in 1995.
During those same years, the Peter's Pence was just slightly
above these amounts.
Given this state of affairs, 2007 should have brought
Benedict XVI, for his "charity," a sum total of about two
hundred million dollars.
During that same year, the ledgers showed a defcit of 9.1
million euros for APSA, and a surplus of 6.7 million euros for
the governorate. Chopped liver, by comparison.
Caloia said little about the IOR in his lecture to the dip-
lomats. He emphasized that this "does not have a functional
relationship" with the Holy See. And he stated that the only
authorized depositors are "individuals or persons juridically
endowed with canonical legitimacy: cardinals, bishops, priests,
sisters, brothers, religious congregations, dioceses, chapters,
parishes, foundations, etcetera."
But the reality has not always corresponded to this de-
scription. When Caloia became head of the Vatican bank in
1990, it had just emerged from a terrible defcit connected to
the name of Caloia's predecessor, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus,
and to the reckless operations he undertook with the fnanciers
Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi, both of whom later died
violent deaths under mysterious circumstances.
Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the secretary of state at the
time, had resolved the dispute by ordering that the creditors
be paid 242 million dollars as a "voluntary contribution." In
an agreement with the Italian government, Casaroli appointed
two specialists in fnance and administrative law, Pellegrino
Capaldo and Agostino Gambino, to investigate the operations
of the Vatican bank, together with a prelate in the curia with
his absolute trust, Monsignor Renato Dardozzi. Dardozzi was
ARTICLES
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Two hundred million dollars for the “pope's charity.” Where
does it come from? Where does it go? New revelations on the
malfeasance of the Institute for Works of Religion. And on
the obstacles posed to its rehabilitation.
born in 1922 and became a priest at the age of 51. He received
degrees in engineering, mathematics, philosophy, and theol-
ogy, and was a telecommunications manager before fnally
becoming director and chancellor of the Pontifcal Academy
of Sciences.
From that time until a few years before his death in 2003,
Dardozzi continued to oversee the operations of the IOR on
behalf of the Vatican secretariat of state, with Casaroli and
his successor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
Dardozzi documented his work of oversight. And this
documentation has now been made public in a book recently
released in Italy, written by Gianluigi Nuzzi and published
by Chiarelettere.
The documents cited and reproduced in the book are
absolutely reliable. They demonstrate that the removal of
Marcinkus and his replacement by Caloia in 1990 was not
enough to purge the IOR of malfeasance right away.
In fact, Monsignor Donato De Bonis stayed in the key
role of "prelate" of the Vatican bank until 1993. And during
those years, he launched a sort of parallel shadow bank, under
his exclusive command, that again risked plunging the IOR
into defcit.
It was in the spring of 1992 that Caloia began to suspect
that there were irregularities. He ordered a thorough investiga-
tion, and verifed that in effect De Bonis controlled accounts
attributed to fctitious foundations, which in reality concealed
illegal fnancial operations, for tens of billions of lire.
In August, a detailed report on these fake accounts came
to the desk of the secretary of John Paul II, Monsignor Stan-
islaw Dziwisz.
De Bonis was removed from the IOR in March of 1993.
No one replaced him in the post of the bank's "prelate," which
remained vacant. De Bonis was consecrated bishop and ap-
pointed military chaplain of the Sovereign Military Order of
Malta, a role that enjoys diplomatic protections.
But even after his departure from the IOR, De Bonis
continued to operate through offcials connected to him.
Alarmed by this, at the end of July Caloia wrote to cardinal
secretary of state Sodano:
"... It is increasingly clear that criminal activity is being
conducted deliberately by those who, according to their cho-
sen way of life and the role they fulfll, should instead have
provided a strict critical conscience. It is becoming more and
more diffcult to understand the continuation of a situation
such that the person in question [De Bonis] continues, from
a no less privileged position, to manage indirectly the activi-
ties of the IOR..."
The risk was all the more severe in that, precisely during
those months, the Italian judiciary was investigating a colos-
All the Denarii of Peter
Peter, page 22
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Volume 43 • Number 7
11
day 2008. No prizes for guessing who
this demographic voted for.
Just as Obama used social media in a
sophisticated way to mobilize his target
audience to win last November’s elec-
tion, every one who considers himself
a political or social conservative needs
to learn and master this new means of
communication. Social media are to
our age what the printing press was to
the Reformation. We neglect it at our
own peril.
‘Friend’ is a verb now—get used to it
Unfortunately, I am dismayed by
everything I read about social media
by writers on conservative websites,
including MercatorNet. All they can
do is point fingers, complain and
ridicule the medium because they are
dismayed by all the bad stuff you can
find on social media sites. True. It is
all there—pornography, internet bul-
lying, bad manners, and bad grammar
and spelling—and I am dismayed by
all those as much as any of my fellow
conservatives.
But shunning social media, from
Facebook to Twitter to Youtube, is not
the answer. Obama’s win proved it.
Rather we need to be engaged. Just
as the Counter-Reformation also had
to leverage the printing press, we need
to leverage social media. It is time to
open accounts on Facebook, MySpace,
Twitter and Youtube, to start “friend-
ing” others and stop complaining that
“friend” is not a verb.
Just as politicians and major cor-
porations are using social media to get
their messages out, thinking conserva-
tives need to do so too. Unfortunately, if
you go to the blogs or Twitter accounts
of many leading conservative thinkers,
Tweeting all fellow twavellers
Don't be a trog, get with the blog;
or if that's a bad ft, try tweeting a twit.
By Alistair Nicholas
I
have a very simple proposition: It
is time conservatives got with the
times and grabbed Web 2.0 by the
horns. Otherwise we should pack our
bags and concede defeat to the left in
the culture wars.
Here is the problem. By eschewing
social media—for fear of technology,
fear of what we don’t understand, and
in order to protect our children from its
unsavory excesses—we are in danger
of becoming the troglodytes of the
intellectual battlefield. We are handing
victory—on every point of contention
from abortion and gay marriage to na-
tional security and social welfare—to
the other side.
Conservatives simply are losing
political and moral ground in the in-
formation age because, armed with the
propaganda instruments of a previous
age, we cannot enlist the support of a
generation that is growing up immersed
in social media. Just look at the results
of the last US presidential election. It
was overwhelmingly won by Barack
Obama on social media platforms that
the Republicans did not understand.
Barack Obama may have won the elec-
tion regardless thanks to the ineptitude
of his Republican predecessor; but the
Obama camp’s use of social media to
mobilize supporters and organize their
campaign ensured an overwhelming vic-
tory for the Democrats with the highest
youth voter turnout on record.
Conservatives lost the battle on
Twitter, on the blogs and the vlogs, on
MySpace and Facebook, and on You-
tube. We are losing the war because we
continue to cling to dying traditional
media platforms (TV, radio, newspapers
and magazines) and their static, one-way
communications websites while failing
to grasp the basics of the new media.
Nabbing the youth vote
The numbers tell the story. By the
time President Obama was elected more
than 500 million blog articles could be
found online about him, his campaign
and policies, compared with just 150
million on John McCain. No doubt a
good many of those posts were criti-
cal of Obama; but then so were a good
number of the blog posts on McCain. In
this case it is the volume of posts that
speaks volumes.
On social networks like MySpace,
Obama had more “friends” than McCa-
in—a lot more. By the time the election
was held Obama had some 844,927
friends compared to McCain’s 219,404.
On the micro-blogging site Twitter,
Obama trounced McCain with 118,107
followers compared with 4,942.
The US election has always been
a popularity contest. But, whereas
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams
only had to influence a few hundred
Electoral College delegates directly by
targeted letter writing campaigns and
visits by their proxies and surrogates,
today’s candidates need to reach a mass
audience with the tools of modern com-
munication. What Obama demonstrated
was the ability to bypass the traditional
media (which is in decline anyway) and
take his campaign directly to the vot-
ers, young voters in particular. Indeed,
figures show that 52 per cent of users
of the Facebook social networking
site are aged 18-25, a demographic
strongly targeted by the Obama cam-
paign. Consequently the youth voter
turnout record was broken on election
IMPACT • July 2009 12
like Peggy Noonan and Anne Coulter,
you realize they have an appalling lack
of knowledge of social media and how
to leverage it. They have plain failed
to friend the right people or achieve
sufficient numbers of followers to re-
ally drive political and social debate
on Web 2.0.
The key failing of the McCain
campaign was to understand that social
media is about user-generated content.
The McCain camp seemed to think they
had to drive it all from the top down as
they had always done with traditional
media.
But social media is different. It’s
very difference is highlighted by the
word “social”. This means it is about
individuals interacting with others who
share their views and experiences.
It is time conservatives started to
friend, blog, vlog, and tweet in genu-
inely social ways—or die.
Tweeting purposefully
Blogging and vlogging are not
for everyone and I don’t recommend
everyone try those. They are heavy
lifting and, if done well, take a serious
commitment. Good blogs need to be
well written and good videos need to
be well made. They take time, effort
and real thought. Of course, if you have
something to say and can commit the
resources, go for it.
But tweeting is a different ball game
and should be adopted by everyone
with purpose. While Twitter has been
ridiculed as the Internet medium for
telling people about the most mundane
details of your life (“having coffee in
Starbucks” and “bought milk at the gro-
cery store”), it is fast evolving beyond
that. Companies have discovered it as a
way to get their messages out, directly
to their stakeholders and media outlets,
like CNN and the Financial Times, are
now using Twitter to drive traffic to
their websites for breaking news and
op-ed pieces.
How can conservatives use Twitter
to drive the political and social agenda?
It’s easy. Start by registering an account.
If you don’t want to show your real
name, make up a name like “Republi-
canRapunzel” or whatever works for
you. If you want to see what leading
conservatives are tweeting, search for
them under their real names and then
link to follow them on Twitter. You’ll
find that other people who follow them
may start following you as well.
The math of it is simple—the more
people you follow, the more followers
you will acquire. You can either build up
a mass following by following masses of
other tweeters, or you can take a strategic
approach and just follow a select group
of people, such as fellow conservatives
and conservative websites.
While you will get the tweets of all
the people you follow, you don’t have
to read them all. So don’t worry that
Betty-Sue is tweeting about being at
the hairdresser’s or the grocery store.
Be selective. Only read the tweets of
the people that interest you and that you
trust. For example, while I’m technically
following more than 70 people on my
personal Twitter account and more than
200 on an account I manage for a client,
I am in fact only reading the tweets of
about seven people. They are a couple of
journalists that I know, or media outlets
that I trust, or opinion websites that I
like. That’s it. I don’t read the tweets of
everyone else I am following and you
don’t have to either.
Nor am I under the illusion that
everyone following me is reading my
tweets. I know most of them are not.
Indeed, many are companies linking
to me to build their own following.
It’s all part of the game. But the way
I look at it is, if there are seven good
people following then I must be having
an impact. Because those seven people
will have seven people truly following
them. And their seven true followers
will have their own seven true follow-
ers and so on and so forth. You get the
idea. It’s about creating a tidal wave by
starting a ripple.
The other big myth about Twitter
is that you need to be plugged in and
hooked up to it 24/7. There are people
who live their lives on it, but you don’t
have to. I check in about every two
days—when I have something valuable
to tweet. At that time I check what the
seven people I follow are saying to see
if they are pointing me to good informa-
tion. Maybe someone has a comment
about a good article in the Washington
Post, with a link to it. I follow the link.
In a lot of ways, Twitter has made my
research more efficient—my fellow
netizens are doing the work for me
and pointing me in the right direction.
It saves me hours of Googling for the
same stories and I have the verification
of those I trust.
It doesn’t get better than that.
Of course, there are unsavory peo-
ple on the Internet, pornographers, child
molesters and other scoundrels. But then
they may be living in your neighborhood
as well. But you don’t know. So what
do you do? Move to another street, an-
other city or another country? No. You
lock the door so they can’t get in; and
if you find out about them you report
them to the police. Do the same with
Twitter. When the pornographers and
other creeps come knocking or try to
friend me I block them. It’s easy—you
just have to check on who is trying to
become a follower on a regular basis;
I receive an email as soon as someone
links to me on Twitter. If I am suspi-
cious I get online as soon as I can and
I read their profile. If they prove to be
a creep, I block them.
It’s time to stop twitching at the
thought of tweeting and get on Twit-
ter. Come on; I’ll follow you if you’re
a fellow traveler. The more conserva-
tives that get on Twitter and other social
media sites, the more balance we can
introduce into the debates taking place
on Web 2.0.
(Alistair Nicholas is the founder
of AC Capital Strategic Consulting, a
China-based communications advisory
and training company. He also advises
companies on the use of social media
and search engine optimization strate-
gies. He blogs at Off The Record and
he tweets under the name alinicholas
on Twitter. This article is printed with
permission by MercatorNet)
Tweeting all fellow twavellers
I
Volume 43 • Number 7
13
The New Fair-Trade Label
Sets the Standard
By Fr. Shay Cullen
N
o matter how many times I told Dado Santos to leave
his big sack of recovered recycled drink pouches at
the bottom of our steep driveway and we would send
down the pick-up to get his heavy sack, he always insisted
on carrying that heavy sack up the driveway on his back
by himself.
He was making a statement, “look at me, he was saying,
a poor uneducated jobless man turned recycler, collector and
sanitizer of discarded drink pouches and here on my back is
the evidence of my success”. Then he collects his hefty and
fair-trade payment. That is at the heart of fair trade—just
wage for good products.
These discarded drink pouches are recycled and sewn into
super quality colorful and attractive back packs, rucksacks,
shopping bags, purses, computer bags and every other bag
you could think of. They sell all over the world and give
sustainable work to more than fifty sewing families that have
a good living, making them in their own homes.
They can now feed their families with plenty of healthy
food, dress them well and parents stand tall and proud as
they send their kids to school. The cycle of poverty has been
broken. All this thanks to the good people around the world
that buy Preda recycled products.
Despite all the worry and problems caused by an eco-
nomic recession, one thing has not diminished and that is
the commitment of the people who love fair-play, and a
fair-go and dislike buying anything made by a company
that gets rich on child labor or exploiting women in sweat
shops or farms.
Preda Fair Trade saw the plight of small mango farmers
over 15 years ago. The farm gate price was so low because
there was a price fixing cartel. They only bought the best and
biggest fresh mango fruit for export and the rest were left
to rot. But a friend and partner found a way to dry the fruit
and dried mangos had a terrific taste and everybody wanted
to buy them. Preda fair-trade mangos were born.
Soon we were exporting tons of dried mangos to the
fair-trader importers in Europe. They are the healthiest
of all, a special secret Profood drying process gives them
a long shelf life without using preservatives. So they are
chemical-free and we even have unique great tasting dried
mangos with no added sugar.
Preda and Profood were soon buying hundreds of tons
of fresh mangos of all shapes and sizes and paying higher
prices. The farmers were delighted, there were no rejects.
They only wanted to sell to the Preda-Profood project and
soon the members of the price fixing cartel were starved
of mangos and had to offer higher and higher prices and
compete with each other for a supply of mangos.
The cartel soon disintegrated and the price of mangos
almost doubled and thousands of small farmers and their
families were ecstatic. They too could stand proud and
prosperous and send their children to school, well dressed
with full stomachs and much more. Dire poverty was over
for them. Preda Fair-Trade had scored again and continues
to keep on scoring in the grim game against poverty and
exploitation. Preda fair-trade dried mangos are in major
quality supermarkets in the UK and Ireland. Support small
farmers and ask for Preda dried mangos under the Forest
Feast brand and have a taste of justice and take a bite out
of crime as they say.
How can we be sure that a product is really a fairly-traded
product and not made with child labor or sweat shop slaves?
That's where the new and upcoming IFAT Fair-trade label is
essential. The International Fair Trade Association (IFAT)
has the highest standard for certifying that an organization
is truly doing fair trade and Preda is one of those. Look for
the Preda name and IFAT, the only names you can trust to
be truly fair trade.
(Fr. Shay Cullen, a Columban Missionary, is the Founder
and Director of Preda Foundation, Inc. in Olongapo City.)
© www.unaterra.net © www.wl-wolfach-haslach.de © www.einewelt-altbach.de
ARTICLES
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IMPACT • July 2009 14
FREEDOM GONE AWRY
By Fr. Roy Cimagala
ARTICLES
impulses from improper
if not false sources.
This is the freedom
we see in the world today,
deeply embedded in the
culture and people’s way
of life. This is also the
kind of freedom that gives
shape and direction to the
vision and authority of
some world leaders.
It’s a freedom that
acknowledges no abso-
lute law outside of one-
self or of some subject.
Everything is made rela-
tive to the subject who
now considers himself
his own God, perhaps
with some support from
a consensus.
We need to recover
the true and objective
nature of freedom from
the clutches of subjec-
tivism, secularism and
relativism. And perhaps
the more challenging
predicament from which
freedom has to be extri-
cated is the double-life
culture so widespread
even among professed Christians.
It’s this culture that fails either to distinguish or
link, or both to distinguish and link God and us, what’s
inside us and what’s outside us, the subjective and the
objective, our freedom and autonomy in relation to law
and the virtue of obedience, the mundane and the sacred
in our affairs and concerns.
For me now, the US has become a big, interest-
ing and illuminating theatre where the battle for
the true nature of freedom is waged. Of course, the
drama of freedom is played everywhere. But it’s in
the US where this drama of freedom gone awry is
large and closely monitored, as if you’re watching
YouTube.
At the moment, I cannot get over that view of Presi-
dent Obama who says he is still for abortion but wants it
to be as rare as possible. It’s a crude, Solomonic if foxy
way of resolving an issue, as if a baby can be divided
I
remember that when
the Iron Curtain col-
lapsed, Pope John
Paul II warned the world
to the effect that while
freedom was restored
in the Communist bloc,
freedom in the West
needed also to be re-
covered. In fact, that
is the more urgent and
important task.
Implied was that the
freedom in the West,
heavily infused with the
capitalistic ideology,
was of the trickier kind,
since it tended to scream
that it was free when in
fact it was not.
So the effort to re-
cover it would be more
challenging, more de-
manding, since we can-
not easily point a fnger at
what’s missing with the
freedom so far practiced
and enjoyed in the West.
In the communist and
socialist system, these
missing elements could
easily be identifed.
The Western freedom has the appearance and
trappings of freedom but without its proper substance.
It’s a self-generated freedom, which starts and ends
with oneself or with a certain collective subject, as in
a family, group, country or even the whole world. It’s
a freedom gone astray.
It’s a freedom that refuses to acknowledge where
it comes from and for what and for where it should be
used and directed. It’s a freedom incapable of transcend-
ing itself.
That’s the meanest cut it inficts on itself, the most
subtle and pernicious virus that can attack it. With that
understanding, freedom gets totally imprisoned in its
subjectivity with no link to its objective nature.
It’s a freedom intoxicated with its own powers and
privileges, very vulnerable to getting abused and spoiled.
Detached from its basis on truth, from its proper origin
and end, from God, it can easily get blinded. It gets its
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Volume 43 • Number 7
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FREEDOM GONE AWRY
towns. Bishop Baccay said that the
priests are in solid mind and heart
in concluding that the larger socio-
economic and environmental costs of
mining operations far outweigh the
people's economic benefits.
The statement further said that
the mining operations will endanger
the river’s ecosystems, cause deple-
tion of resources, result to the destruc-
tion of sources of livelihood and will
seriously threaten the people's health
and environmental safety.
It has been known recently that
the shores in the Archdiocese of
Tuguegarao from Sta. Ana, Cagayan
to the Ilocos Region down to the
coastlines of Zambales are being
applied for by mining companies to
extract magnetite.
Fr. Manny Catral, SAC Direc-
tor of the Archdiocese of Tugue-
garao, said that the SACs of the
Ilocos Region had already expressed
their concern not only on magnetite
mining but also the emergence of
large-scale mining operations and
explorations.
These are just some of the mas-
sive protests of the people within the
Church across the Philippines in the
first half of 2009, not mentioning
some areas such as those being led by
CBCP President and Jaro Archbishop
Angel Lagdameo, Taytay Bishop Ed-
gardo Juanich, and Palawan Bishop
Pedro Arigo, among others.
An urgent Mission
Indeed, the words of John Paul II
echoes through the Church's concern
on ecological issues: “We are quickly
learning how vital it is to respect the
ecology of nature, if we are not to
cause serious harm to the world future
generations will receive from us. More
urgent still, though more difficult, is the
need to learn to respect the ecology of
the human world, by which I mean the
truth of the human person and the social
implications of this.”
This certainly nullifies the allega-
tion of some economists and pro-mining
advocates that the Church is just a use-
less noisy gong. No, not useless. The
Church is the voice of the voiceless.
Is it not true that the last resort of the
people to help them seek justice and
refuge are always the men and women
within the Church?
In this time of injustice brought
about by the aggressive promotion
of mining in the Philippines, various
people's organizations and non-gov-
ernment organizations are all working
together with the Church and other
religions to bring back the integrity
of creation. Leading the anti-mining
campaigns are the CBCP-National
Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA),
Episcopal Commission on Indigenous
Peoples (ECIP), the Association of
Major Religious Superiors in the
Philippines (AMRSP) with its Mis-
sion Partners (MP) and the Philippine
Misereor Partnership (PMP), among
others.
The Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM),
consistent to the call of the CBCP,
aims to put a stop to large-scale min-
ing in the Philippines and the imple-
mentation of the fiscal regime.
If the government claims that the
mining industry is the “messiah” of
our ailing economy, then it is not true,
for the real Messiah is Jesus Christ
Himself. To save the economy is to
follow the egalitarian character of
Christ that is brought about by His
unconditional love.
John Paul the II further says
that “When man disobeys God and
refuses to submit to his rule, nature
rebels against him and no longer rec-
ognizes him as its 'master', for he has
tarnished the divine image in himself.
The claim to ownership and use of
created things remains still valid, but
after sin its exercise becomes difficult
and full of suffering.” (Solicitudo Rei
Socialis, S. 30)
Indeed, “development which
is merely economic is incapable of
setting man free; on the contrary, it
will end by enslaving him further.
(Solicitudo Rei Socialis, S. 46).
(Rodne R. Galicha is the Sites
of Struggles Officer of Alyansa Tigil
Mina (ATM), a coalition of non-
government and people organizations
against destructive mining.)
into two to satisfy the opposing parties.
And this mindset seems to be widespread, and
even supported by a systematic ideology with practical
script and methods. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
for example, is now promoting worldwide abortion-on-
demand and other questionable causes.
A bill is now pending approval in the US Congress to
create among other things an Offce for Women’s Global
Issues in the State Department, a thinly veiled effort
to promote abortion all over the world and to overturn
pro-life laws in other countries, including ours.
In fact, in our country there is already a slow but
steady trend to approve population-control laws and
decrees in the city level. Of course, the Trojan horse
used are concerns like Reproductive Health and now,
Health Care.
We have to help one another in understanding the
true nature, meaning and purpose of our freedom. We
have to learn how to overcome the obstacles to this
understanding, exposing the many myths and lies about
freedom and showing the practical ways true freedom
can be lived and enjoyed.
But for all this, let’s never forget to pray, offer
sacrifces, study and act!
Resistance, from page 8
Freedom gone awry
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IMPACT • July 2009 16
How bad really is
Philippine Economy?
Volume 43 • Number 7
17
COVER
STORY
How bad really is
Philippine Economy?
By Charles Avila
The Lost Decades
A
t a U.N. Conference on Financ-
ing for Development last De-
cember in Doha, Qatar, Member
States requested the General Assembly
to organize a meeting “at the highest
level”—a United Nations summit—
which they scheduled for 23-26 June
2009 in London (UK).
The aim was to identify both emer-
gency and long-term responses to miti-
gate the impact of the crisis—increas-
ingly perceived to be the worst global
economic downturn since the Great
Depression—especially on vulnerable
populations. The hope thereafter was to
initiate a needed dialogue on the trans-
formation of the international financial
architecture, taking into account the
needs and concerns of all countries of
the world.
Assessments of the impact on the
ongoing economic crisis highlighted
the deteriorating social and political
fallout in the least developed countries
and middle-income countries as well.
Prospects for an early recovery have
faded, forcing countries to prepare for
a prolonged downturn in trade, invest-
ment and employment.
The stark reality is that the situation
in the world’s developing countries—
which contributed least to the crisis and
yet are the ones most severely affected—
has led some economists to warn of “lost
decades for development” which could
have catastrophic consequences for rich
and poor countries alike. It seems to be
bad news all around.
Filipinos still upbeat on the economy?
Given all this, many UN Summi-
teers were incredulously surprised, if not
shocked, when told that 44 percent of
Filipinos nationwide believed that while
the economy was still weak, it would
soon start to recover. In the most recent
2,000-people survey by global market
research firm Synovate 43 percent of
respondents even said that they had
earned more in the last six months! And
12 percent of Metro Manila respondents
said they were actually spending more
on luxury items. In fact, the “Malling”
of the country goes on unabated.
This is not to say that the current
economic situation has not impacted
the lives of everyday Filipinos. All
across the Philippines, according to the
same survey, people have become more
Unless people-powered participation is organized by
change agents, the government’s economic resiliency
plan will be short of details and long in sub rosa
appropriations, and last minute looting may even
lead to worse economic misery and heightened social
unrest—or, maybe, at last, to real change.
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IMPACT • July 2009 18
COVER
STORY
conscious when it comes to spending,
with close to two-thirds (or 59 percent)
paying more attention to prices of food
items before making a purchase. In ad-
dition, high-tech gadgets and branded
goods topped the list of items that
people from Metro Manila avoided,
while over a quarter (28 percent) from
Mindanao said they were giving up on
outside meals with friends, choosing
cheaper dining options instead. People
are definitely making changes to their
spending habits.
Despite the worrying trend, how-
ever, the survey interpreted the majority
of people to be generally upbeat, with
over three quarters (86 percent) agree-
ing that they will always find a way
to afford some items that make them
feel good.
But aren’t more people losing their jobs?
How many people do you know
who have not lost their jobs? How
many do you know who have? Some
private survey groups say one thing.
The official statisticians of the State say
another. Being in some measure part of
a globalized economy, let us hear from
the ILO, the United Nations’ Interna-
tional Labor Office. The ILO puts out
an annual Global Employment Trends
report (GET).
The report says global unemploy-
ment in 2009 could increase over 2008
by a range of 18 million to 30 million
workers, and more than 50 million if
the situation continues to deteriorate.
Giving a report it called “realistic, not
alarmist” the ILO said that last scenario
of 50 million unemployed would easily
mean some 200 million workers, mostly
in developing economies, could be
pushed into extreme poverty.
The number of working poor—
people who are unable to earn enough to
lift themselves and their families above
the US$2 per person, per day, poverty
line, may rise up to 1.4 billion, or 45 %
of all the world’s employed.
“In 2009, the proportion of people
in vulnerable employment—either con-
tributing family workers or own-account
workers who are less likely to benefit
from safety nets that guard against loss
of incomes during economic hardship—
could rise considerably in the worst case
scenario to reach a level of 53 % of the
employed population,” the report said
realistically, not trying to be alarmist.
Meanwhile in the Philippines, in
its latest survey, the Social Weather
Stations (SWS) reported last May that
unemployment among Filipinos has
risen to a record high of 34.2 percent.
This would translate into 14 million
Filipinos who had no jobs during the
first three months of the year. Of that
number, some 2.9 million had lost their
jobs within the previous three months.
Of these 2.9 million, 13 percent volun-
tarily left their old jobs, while 12 percent
were retrenched—9 percent were laid
off and 3 percent had unrenewed previ-
ous contracts.
On the other hand, for contrasts,
the National Statistics Office (NSO)
survey showed that the unemployment
rate rose by only 7 percent. Although a
state agency, the integrity and indepen-
dence of the NSO has yet to be seriously
impugned.
The SWS survey on unemployment
was conducted from February 20 to 23
using face-to-face interviews of 1,200
adults in Metro Manila, with the balance
spread in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Margins of error are plus or minus 2.5
percent for national percentages and
plus or minus 6 percent for area per-
centages. The NSO, for its part, had a
much bigger number of respondents at
50,000 individuals.
A third think-tank voice, IBON
foundation, said that “the real unem-
ployment rate is not 7.7 percent as
officially reported but likely to be at
least 11.2 percent.” IBON estimates that
some 2.5% of the working age popula-
tion 15 years and over should still be
considered part of the labor force, which
implies an additional 1.5 million job-
less on top of the 2.9 million officially
reported—for a total of roughly 4.3
million. The officially-released figures
already show an increase of 180,000
jobless Filipinos, which was reported
to have reached 2.9 million in the latest
labor force survey. Combined with the
6.2 million underemployed, it means
that there were at least 10.6 million
Filipinos jobless or otherwise looking
for more work and pay in early 2009,
per IBON interpretation.
As many Filipinos are fond of
saying these days, “whaaatever…”
Between NSO and IBON, it may be
merely a matter of definition. Whom
do you include in “unemployed” and
“underemployed”? Between NSO and
SWS it could be additionally a matter
of respondent coverage. Among all
of them, there is no question: a good
number of Filipinos are looking for jobs,
have been out of a job, have given up
looking, or are precariously hanging on
to a dear job.
Is work in the First World drying up?
Quite relevant to our job situation is
overseas opportunity. A team of writers
for the Wall Street Journal recently re-
marked that full migration numbers for
most countries are only available after
a long lag, and so don't yet capture all
the effects of today's economic crisis.
But anecdotal reports and data from
government ministries and outside orga-
nizations already indicate that “the flow
of immigrants from poor to wealthier
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How bad really is Philippine Economy?
countries is slowing significantly for
the first time in decades while more
people are returning home.” Any sig-
nificant number of Filipinos with these
returnees—it would be quite relevant to
ask. The answer is not yet clear.
Generally, however, it seems to be
a fact that the biggest turnaround in
migration flows since the Great Depres-
sion has now begun. Unemployment is
rising in the First World, and backlashes
against foreign workers are mounting.
Of course, these migratory shifts will
have profound consequences for First
World nations as well, especially in
places where domestic populations
aren't growing fast enough to fill jobs
or pay for social needs. And in the
Third World countries of migrant origin,
remittances sent home by workers are
also slowing, meaning less income—
and potentially, less growth.
The World Bank foresees worker
remittances declining by up to 8% this
year, after rising to $305 billion in
2008, or more than double the level of
2002. In this area, the Philippine share
has always been quite significant and
it is still unsettled whether our remit-
tances will also decline, following
world trends.
Was it not only recently when econ-
omists and policymakers eloquently
argued that widespread labor movement
is a win-win because it boosts opportuni-
ties for people from Third World coun-
tries while giving First World employers
more options for labor, allowing them to
increase efficiency and keep costs low?
That, in turn, can keep inflation in check
and contribute to higher standards of
living. Can these economists keep up the
argument when unemployment surges,
income gaps widen and home-grown
workers increasingly view foreigners
as competitors for scarce jobs?
Given all these, is then the Over-
seas Filipino Worker unique—uniquely
skillful and charming? It is an egoist
observation based on the fact that last
year did not see his deployment decline
or his remittances diminish.
According to the BSP Governor:
“Robust remittance flows have been
shored up by strong overseas demand
for Filipino skills, and the greater avail-
ability of expanded money transfer
services to overseas Filipinos and their
beneficiaries.” The Philippine Overseas
Employment Administration (POEA)
also said that the number of Filipinos
deployed abroad grew by 25.9 percent
to 1.005 million last year compared with
798,731 the year before. And last year
they sent home $14.4 billion, equivalent
to 10 percent of gross domestic product.
This year Manila is projecting remit-
tances to exceed $16.4 billion, despite
the crisis which could make the figure
difficult to achieve.
What about FOREX reserves?
The measure of a country’s ability
to service obligations and engage in
commercial transactions with the rest
of the world is called its Gross Interna-
tional Reserves. The Philippines’ GIR
registered a new historic high in May:
$39.5 billion—keeping the Philippines
sufficiently liquid despite the lingering
global economic crunch.
Third World nations like ours have
been urged to tap the international credit
market to borrow and support their BOP
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IMPACT • July 2009 20
and GIR as the lingering global turmoil
is seen creating pressure on their liquid-
ity positions. The BSP, however, said the
Philippines need not borrow, noting that
the country’s foreign exchange liquidity
was still relatively healthy. The GIR in
May was estimated to cover at least six
months’ worth of imports.
The BSP said the gradual revival
of market confidence in the Philippines
was helping increase the amount of
foreign portfolio investments enter-
ing the country. Increasing inflow of
investments in securities and equities
to the Philippines was partly a reason
the peso has strengthened somewhat
in May than the previous month. After
hovering mostly in the 48 level, the peso
moved into the 47-to-a-dollar territory
last month.
What about inflation?
Are we in great danger of having
more and more money chasing fewer
and fewer goods? What the monetary
authorities have said is they expect
inflation to hit bottom in the third
quarter this year and slightly pick up in
the following months to hit an average
of 3.4 percent by the end of the year,
within the government's 2.5-4.5 percent
target in 2009.
Consumer price index rose 3.7
percent in May from a year earlier, a
Reuters poll of 12 economists showed,
marking the slowest annual rise since
November 2007 when inflation was
at 3.2 percent. The central bank had
forecast May annual inflation to come
in between 3.3-4.2 percent from 4.8
percent in April.
Economists said the inflation drop
was due to a stronger currency and base
effects from rapid increases in commod-
ity prices in the same period in 2008.
They logically expect the central bank
to deliver its sixth consecutive interest
rate cut at its next policy meeting on July
9 to lift economic growth, and probably
mark the end of its current rate easing
cycle that began in December.
The BSP policy was to bolster the
banking system, instituting measures
to provide liquidity where needed to
support the functioning of the credit
markets. Banks were exhorted to con-
tinue lending freely and boldly—to
show the public that there’s money in
our system. It does seem true that the
impact of the global financial crisis
on the Philippine banking system was
muted due to its relatively minimal
exposure to the affected financial in-
stitutions abroad—a statement that may
not have been taken as a compliment a
year and a half ago!
What about the real economy?
If the news in the banking system
is not all that bad, how bad is it in the
real economy? Are monetary policy
responses to restore confidence in credit
markets ever enough to mitigate the
effects of the crisis on the economy?
The sum of the value of goods pro-
duced and services rendered within an
economy in a given period is generally
considered the most common measure
of an economy and it is called the GDP
or Gross Domestic Product. Economists
cite the drop in our GDP growth from
7.2 percent to 4.6 percent in 2008.
Moody’s Economy.com, the re-
search unit of credit-rating firm Moody’s
Investors Service, said the Philippine
economy most likely shrank 1.2 percent
in the first three months of the year from
the last quarter of 2008. They see the
full-year growth at only 2.9 percent—
slower than the government’s official
economic growth target of between 3.1
and 4.1 percent. The National Economic
and Development Authority (NEDA)
said earlier the economy needed to grow
by at least 7 percent over several years
in order to reduce poverty incidence.
Weak external conditions such as
the steep decline in exports outweighed
whatever positive factors the domestic
economy had during the first three
months. In the first quarter, exports
plunged 36.8 percent to $7.92 billion
year-on-year. This was due largely to
the decline in exports of electronics,
the country’s major dollar earner ac-
counting for about half of total export
revenues.
Coconut oil exports slid 72.6 per-
cent in April from a year earlier, marking
its 10th consecutive month of decline.
The Philippines expects exports of coco-
nut oil, which is used in food, cosmetics
and biodiesel, to dip to 835,000 tons
this year from 847,626 tons in 2008,
on soft global demand as well as its
increasing use as feedstock by local
biodiesel producers. Actual shipments
slumped to 31,638 tons last April from
115,632 tons in April 2008.
Besides the drop in exports, the
move of some producers to cut output
signaled a contraction of the economy
on a quarterly basis. Fearful that weak
demand will persist, producers rapidly
COVER
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Volume 43 • Number 7
21
cut back on staffing and investment. If
inventory levels have not fallen sharply,
further production and investment cut-
backs may be forthcoming. The National
Statistics Office reported recently that
factory output, measured in terms of
volume of production, fell at an annual
rate of 12.7 percent in March and 20.1
percent in February.
What about our debt burden?
It is almost settled doctrine that
the current crisis demands unabashed
government spending. But the Philip-
pine government may not have enough
flexibility to shore up spending to a
level necessary to achieve its economic-
growth target for the year, set at between
3.1 and 4.1 percent. Fitch Ratings,
the credit ratings agency, has already
said the government debt, at nearly
P4 trillion, was still high and a drastic
increase in public spending could lead
to a worrisome fiscal condition.
The latest is that the economy
plunged to a decade-low growth of 0.4
percent in the first quarter despite the
expansion in bank lending, and not-
withstanding the fact that remittance
flows have held up reasonably well so
far. A steady rise in bank lending should
sustain, if not accelerate, the growth of
the economy. Through all that, it seems
it is the high debt burden, along with
possible inflationary pressures, that’s
weighing down the fiscal and monetary
policies of the government and affecting
the country’s growth.
Systemic Collapse
The radical economist, Paul L.
Quintos, quite perceptively wrote last
year that the current global financial
crisis—with the US economy at its
epicenter—is merely the latest and so far
most severe in a series of financial crises
that have erupted since the 1970s.
At the most basic, one finds the
capitalist system itself to be in funda-
mental contradiction between social
production which enables great strides
in productivity on one hand, and the
private ownership of the means of pro-
duction which ensures that only a few
profit from production by exploiting
the many. The contradiction inevitably
leads to crises of overproduction rela-
tive to the capacity of people to buy the
productive system’s commodities and
products. Before long, real production
that cannot realize enough profits gives
rise to shadow financial products that
enable some to make tons of money
until reality catches up with the shad-
ows, derivatives and other profitable
mental figments and thereby manifest
real crisis.
Said Quintos: In 1980, the value of
the world's financial stock was roughly
equal to world GDP, itself bloated. By
1993, it was double the size, and by the
end of 2005, it had risen to 316%--more
than three times world GDP. Govern-
ment and private debt securities ac-
counted for more than half of the overall
growth in the global financial assets
from 2000-2004—which indicated the
role of leverage or debt in driving this
process. In 2004, daily derivatives trad-
ing amounted to $5.7 trillion while the
daily turnover in the foreign exchange
market was $1.9 trillion. Together
they added up to $7.6 trillion in daily
turnover of just two types of portfolio
capital flows, exceeding the annual
value of global merchandise exports
by $300 billion.
“While the value of financial assets
is ultimately grounded in the value cre-
ated by the working class in the process
of production in the real economy and
cannot [should not] diverge too far from
it, asset bubbles can form for a period
of time driven by ‘irrational exuber-
ance’ (in the words of Alan Greenspan).
The positive expectations of financial
speculators feed on each other, bidding
up asset prices in a seemingly end-
less virtuous cycle. But like all ponzi
schemes, reality eventually takes over
and all it takes is one negative develop-
ment, e.g. rising home foreclosures, to
reverse expectations and send the entire
house of cards crashing down.” And
we are told that is what happened. The
capitalist system collapsed.
Yes, capitalism became dysfunc-
tional but capitalists now want socialism
for themselves and dump capitalism
on the poor. In short, said Quintos,
monopoly capital is using the pres-
ent crisis to appropriate more of the
people’s (real) wealth, erode and press
down on wages and social spending,
lay off workers, promote precarious
employment, tear up workers rights,
clamp down on workers concerted ac-
tions and intensify the exploitation of
the working class.
And it affected the Philippines as
early as last year, said U.P. Professor
B. Diokno: “In 2007, 924,000 new jobs
were created; in 2008, the number was
How bad really is Philippine Economy?
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IMPACT • July 2009 22
NEWS
FEATURES
sal "bribe" paid illegally by the company
Enimont to the politicians who had fa-
vored it. And the investigations also led
to the IOR, as a concealed intermediary
for these payments through the fake ac-
counts operated by De Bonis.
In the autumn of 1993, the mag-
istrates in Milan asked the Vatican, by
rogatory, to provide information on
the disputed transactions. The Vatican
complied by providing the minimum
required, less than what it had discovered
in its own investigations. Some offcials
were replaced, the fake accounts were
blocked, and De Bonis did not recover
so much as a lira of the funds deposited
in them.
Along with De Bonis, the cardinal
in the Vatican who had been his biggest
support also left the scene, José Rosalio
Castillo Lara, president of both the APSA
and the governorate.
In 1995 Caloia was confrmed for
another fve-year term as president of
the IOR. And again in 2000. And yet
again in 2006, after a year's extension "ad
interim" amid insistent demands that he
be replaced immediately. In the summer
of 2006, before leaving the secretariat of
state to his successor, Tarcisio Bertone,
Beijing’s new and improved
execution method, lethal injection
in lieu of bullet in the head
Cardinal Sodano nonetheless restored the
post of "prelate" of the IOR, assigning it
to one of his own secretaries, Monsignor
Piero Pioppo.
There are still occasional calls for
a change at the head of the IOR. But
Caloia, 69, with an English wife and four
children, is holding an appointment that
lasts until March 14, 2011.
Without a doubt, thanks to him the
IOR is getting closer—more so than ever
before—to the of the virtuous bank
described in the lecture two years ago
to the diplomats from the Middle East
and North Africa.
BY the end of this year China
will start executing people
by lethal injection rather
than bullets. Officially this
method is described as a new
and more humane form of
death penalty, raising China
to the level of other modern
nations.
In Beijing the authori-
ties have built a facility next
to a prison outside the city’s
limits that houses most of the
capital's death row inmates. It
is here that lethal injections
will be performed, the China
Daily reported.
In the meantime would-
be executioners are being
trained on how to administer
the injections, and medical
staff is learning how to super-
vise the use of drugs, moni-
tor executions and confrm
deaths.
Hu Yunteng, head of the
Supreme People's Court's
research bureau, said that
lethal injection (legalised in
1997) was a cleaner, safer
and more convenient way of
executing prisoners than the
old-fashioned bullet through
the head.
“It is considered more hu-
mane as it reduces the crimi-
nals' fear and pain compared
with gunshot execution,” Mr.
Hu said.
Last year some 1,700
people were executed in main-
land China. This represents 70
per cent of the total number of
executions world-wide.
However, off-the-record
Communist Party members
have acknowledged that in
past years up to 10,000 people
have been executed.
In late 2006 the Supreme
People's Court resumed the
power to review death sen-
tences. This has led to an ap-
parent drop in the number of
executions, but overall fgures
remain a “state secret”.
At the same time though,
human rights activists have
accused Chinese prison au-
thorities of involvement in
the traffcking of organs taken
from executed prisoners as
well as of carrying out execu-
tions “à la carte” according to
organ market demands based
on death row inmates’ physi-
cal traits.
For this reason some peo-
ple suspect that execution by
lethal injection was adopted in
order to better preserve organs
for sale. (Zenit)
Peter, from page 10
Caritas calls for peace
talks in North Korea
CARITAS is calling for peace talks in North Korea to ease
the tensions and to lower the risk of military actions that
will further endanger the poor.
A press release from Caritas reported today the conclu-
sions of a meeting in Beijing about the growing tensions in the
region. After the North Korean government conducted nuclear
weapons tests and announced plans to strengthen its arms
programs, U.N. sanctions were imposed on the country.
Meeting participants, including Caritas members from
Asia, North America and Europe, called for a denucle-
arization of the area and for peace talks to help prevent
escalation into military action.
The organization asserted that "resorting to armed
confrontation will have devastating consequences for the
poor in North Korea" and will "destabilize the region."
The Caritas secretary general, Lesley-Anne Knight,
stated, "Genuine negotiations with concrete outcomes for
improving the daily living conditions of the people are
vital steps in reducing the suffering and engaging with
North Korea to find a solution to this crisis."
She continued, "The desperate situation many North
Koreans find themselves in needs addressing by the inter-
national community."
The agency reported a humanitarian crisis where some
8.7 million of the citizens need food assistance, and many
are unable to get any aid.
Knight stated: "A major part of the population is
highly vulnerable, living in a precarious state where basic
needs are not met. They should not be the victims of their
government's provocations." (Zenit)
I
Volume 43 • Number 7
23
NEWS
FEATURES
down to 530,000. This level
of job generation is unaccept-
able for an economy that is
expected to generate between
1.0 to 1.5 million new jobs
every year.”
According to Diokno, a
responsive jobs creation pro-
gram should address five sets
of unemployed and underem-
ployed workers: those who
are currently unemployed
(2.7 million), those who are
underemployed (6.6 million),
those entering the labor force
(1 to 1.5 million), those who
will lose their jobs at home,
and finally, Filipino overseas
workers who will lose their
jobs abroad.
The government, for its
part, unveiled a broad spend-
ing program called Philip-
pine Economic Resiliency
Plan (PERP) worth PhP330
billion. It consists of the
following:
• PhP160 billion in incre-
mental government alloca-
tions;
• PhP100 billion for
government corporations,
financial institutions and the
private sector;
• PhP40 billion for cor-
porate and individual income
tax breaks; and
• PhP30 billion for tem-
porary additional benefits
from the social security in-
stitutions—Government Ser-
vice Insurance System and
Social Security System—and
Philhealth.
Some say this stimulus
package may not be large
enough to reverse the antici-
pated sharp slowdown of the
Philippine economy. Others
say it may even be grossly
overstated. To be sure, unless
people-powered participa-
tion is organized by change
agents of all persuasions, the
plan will be short of details
and long in sub rosa appropri-
ations and last minute looting
may lead to worse economic
misery and heightened social
unrest—or, maybe, at last, to
real change.
Nicaraguan bishops chide
Ortega: Justice requires
action and not just prayer
Economy, from page 21
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IN response to Nicaraguan President Daniel
Ortega’s recent “invitation to pray” and to
refrain from giving opinions on political is-
sues, the bishops of Nicaragua reminded that
justice requires action and not just prayer.
The one who prays, they said, must always
speak out to defend the truth.
Ortega responded to recent criticism of
his administration by “exhorting” the bishops
to “pray everyday.” According to El Nuevo
Diario, Archbishop Leopoldo Brenes of Ma-
nagua said, “We don’t belong to any political
party, but we do exercise political action at a
general level, which means for the common
good…” “Generally as pastors we are always
in tune with the sense of our people, and we
convey that to those who have the capacity
to bring about solutions to problems.”
For his part, the vice president of the
bishops’ conference, Bishop Juan Abelardo
Guevara, responded to Ortega’s comments by
saying it was “abominable to use the word of
the Lord to justify absurd positions.”
“Tax dollars are not for a specific family
or person but for the entire people, and the
people have a right to know how the money
is being spent in their name,” Bishop Guevara
said. He called on Ortega to be “honest and
transparent” in his governance of the entire
nation.
Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Jose Baez Ortega
of Managua said, “Praying does not exempt
you from speaking or working for justice.”
He also reminded the president to listen to
the opinions of others, to examine his own
conscience and to practice self-correction.
“To speak about prayer is to speak of
the experience of a relationship with God.
Whoever speaks about prayer must be a
person who lives his faith,” the Bishop Baez
Ortega said.
“He who prays has the obligation to
raise his voice in support of the truth,” he
added. “Praying does not exempt one from
working for justice, from being a prophet.
In the Bible, the prayer and the prophet go
hand in hand. He who prays, he who speaks
with God, speaks also of God and also de-
nounces the situations in which God is not
present.” (CNA)
IMPACT • July 2009 24
STATEMENTS
Y
our Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the
Priesthood,
I am glad to be able to welcome you at a special Audience on
the eve of my departure for Africa, where I am going to present
the Instrumentum Laboris of the Second Special Assembly of the
Synod for Africa that will be held here in Rome next October. I
thank Cardinal Cláudio Hummes for the kind words with which
he has interpreted the sentiments you share and I thank you for
the beautiful letter you wrote to me. With him, I greet you all,
Superiors, Offcials and Members of the
Congregation, with gratitude for all the
work you do at the service of such an
important sector of the Church's life.
The theme you have chosen for
this Plenary Assembly "The missionary
identity of the priest in the Church as an
intrinsic dimension of the exercise of
the tria munera" suggests some refec-
tions on the work of these days and the
abundant fruit that it will certainly yield.
If the whole Church is missionary and
if every Christian, by virtue of Baptism
and Confrmation quasi ex offcio (cf.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.
1305), receives the mandate to profess the
faith publicly, the ministerial priesthood,
also from this viewpoint, is ontologically
distinct, and not only by rank, from the
baptismal priesthood that is also known
as the "common priesthood". In fact, the
apostolic mandate "Go into all the world
and preach the Gospel to the whole of
creation" (Mk 16: 15) is constitutive of
the ministerial priesthood. This mandate
is not, as we know, a mere duty entrusted
to collaborators; its roots are deeper and must be sought further
back in time.
The missionary dimension of the priesthood is born from the
priest's sacramental confguration to Christ. As a consequence it
brings with it a heartfelt and total adherence to what the eccle-
sial tradition has identifed as apostolica vivendi forma. This
consists in participation in a "new life", spiritually speaking,
in that "new way of life" which the Lord Jesus inaugurated and
which the Apostles made their own. Through the imposition of
the Bishop's hands and the consecratory prayer of the Church,
the candidates become new men, they become "presbyters". In
this light it is clear that the tria munera are frst a gift and only
consequently an offce, frst a participation in a life, and hence
a potestas. Of course, the great ecclesial tradition has rightly
separated sacramental effcacy from the concrete existential
situation of the individual priest and so the legitimate expecta-
tions of the faithful are appropriately safeguarded. However, this
correct doctrinal explanation takes nothing from the necessary,
indeed indispensable, aspiration to moral perfection that must
dwell in every authentically priestly heart.
Precisely to encourage priests in this striving for spiritual
perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry
depends, I have decided to establish a special "Year for Priests"
that will begin on 19 June and last until 19 June 2010. In fact,
it is the 150th anniversary of the death of the Holy Curé d'Ars,
John Mary Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of
Christ's fock. It will be the task of your Congregation, in agreement
with the diocesan Ordinaries and with the superiors of religious
institutes to promote and to coordinate the various spiritual and
pastoral initiatives that seem useful for making the importance of
the priest's role and mission in the Church and in contemporary
society ever more clearly perceived.
The priest's mission, as the theme
of the Plenary Assembly emphasizes, is
carried out "in the Church". This ecclesial
communal, hierarchical and doctrinal
dimension is absolutely indispensable
to every authentic mission and, alone
guarantees its spiritual effectiveness. The
four aspects mentioned must always be
recognized as intimately connected: the
mission is "ecclesial" because no one
proclaims himself in the frst person, but
within and through his own humanity
every priest must be well aware that he
is bringing to the world Another, God
himself. God is the only treasure which
ultimately people desire to fnd in a priest.
The mission is "communional" because it
is carried out in a unity and communion
that only secondly has also important
aspects of social visibility. Moreover,
these derive essentially from that divine
intimacy in which the priest is called to
be expert, so that he may be able to lead
the souls entrusted to him humbly and
trustingly to the same encounter with the
Lord. Lastly, the "hierarchical" and "doctrinal" dimensions sug-
gest reaffrming the importance of the ecclesiastical discipline
(the term has a connection with "disciple") and doctrinal training
and not only theological, initial and continuing formation.
Awareness of the radical social changes that have occurred
in recent decades must motivate the best ecclesial forces to
supervise the formation of candidates for the ministry. In par-
ticular, it must foster the constant concern of Pastors for their
principal collaborators, both by cultivating truly fatherly human
relations and by taking an interest in their continuing formation,
especially from the doctrinal and spiritual viewpoints. The mis-
sion is rooted in a special way in a good formation, developed
in communion with uninterrupted ecclesial Tradition, without
breaks or temptations of irregularity. In this sense, it is important
to encourage in priests, especially in the young generations, a
correct reception of the texts of the Second Ecumenical Vatican
Council, interpreted in the light of the Church's entire fund of
doctrine. It seems urgent to recover that awareness that has
always been at the heart of the Church's mission, which impels
priests to be present, identifable and recognizable both for their
judgement of faith, for their personal virtues as well as for the
Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Announcing the Year for Priests
Volume 43 • Number 7
25
STATEMENTS
habit, in the contexts of culture and of charity.
As Church and as priests, we proclaim Jesus of Nazareth
Lord and Christ, Crucifed and Risen, Sovereign of time and of
history, in the glad certainty that this truth coincides with the
deepest expectations of the human heart. In the mystery of the
Incarnation of the Word, that is, of the fact that God became
man like us, lies both the content and the method of Christian
proclamation. The true dynamic centre of the mission is here:
in Jesus Christ, precisely. The centrality of Christ brings with it
the correct appreciation of the ministerial priesthood, without
which there would be neither the Eucharist, nor even the mission
nor the Church herself. In this regard it is necessary to be alert
to ensure that the "new structures" or pastoral organizations are
not planned on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the
proper promotion of the laity for a time in which one would have
"to do without" the ordained ministry, because in that case the
presuppositions for a further dilution of the ministerial priesthood
would be laid and possible presumed "solutions" might come
dramatically to coincide with the real causes of contemporary
problems linked to the ministry.
I am certain that in these days the work of the Plenary As-
sembly, under the protection of the Mater Ecclesiae, will be able
to examine these brief ideas that I permit myself to submit to
the attention of the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, while I
invoke upon you all an abundance of heavenly gifts, as a pledge
of which I impart a special, affectionate Apostolic Blessing to
you and to all your loved ones.
Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI
to the Members of the Congregation for the Clergy
on the Occasion of their Plenary Assembly
Monday, 16 March 2009
T
he words of the great nationalist Claro M. Recto in
1960 ring true today: “To this day the colonial rule
in the Philippines is not over. Many of our coun-
trymen, deluded by a flag, the name Republic, a foreign
office at home and embassies abroad, a seat in the United
Nations, and other visible symbols of sovereignty, consider
themselves free and independent, unaware that we are in
many ways tied and fettered politically, militarily, eco-
nomically and culturally. This self-delusion is one of the
greatest stumbling blocks to the full realization of Filipino
nationalism and the ultimate attainment of complete and
real sovereignty.”
And so today we celebrate not full Philippine in-
dependence ─ not yet ─ but rather the Filipino people’s
continuing struggle for “complete and real sovereignty” ─
that is, a just and ethical, militant and painstaking, personal
and collective struggle for authentic national freedom from
foreign superpower exploitation and oppression, and for
democracy as greater participation of toiling people in
political decision making, respect for human rights, and
an end to feudalism and bondage to the soil.
We celebrate the people’s struggle and its victories
through the years from the crushing of Spanish colonial
rule to the erosion of elitist power in this era of monopoly
capitalist globalization. Recto and our martyrs for free-
dom would be happy to see as we do that today more and
more democratic nationalist businessmen, professionals,
peasants and workers, women and young people are no
longer trapped in illusions of freedom and democracy
foisted on them by powers that be. Long and wide, deep
and high is social awareness and praxis attained by our
people today. The gates of hell shall not prevail, and the
Kingdom of God shall be established, step by step, here
in our piece of earth
We celebrate the Lord of History who continues to
empower his people with gifts of the Spirit for self-renewal
and social transformation for the enjoyment of freedom of
the children of God in their economic and political, social
and cultural, ecological and spiritual life. We remind all
that the people’s struggle for sovereignty and international
solidarity, democracy and prosperity is a story not only of
people’s love for each other but, above all, God’s concrete
historical love for all. “I will be with you always until the
end of the world,” Jesus said. (Matt. 28:20b)
We should not miss an essential personal aspect of the
struggle for full independence: freedom of mind and heart
and spirit from colonial mentality that makes us disregard
our individuality as a people taking pride in our heritage
and history. And accompanying this must be inner free-
dom to choose and commit oneself daily to what makes
us all truly happy—the common good. We celebrate this
freedom already present and active in many of goodwill.
It is here that victory begins.
We join you, our people, in celebrating Philippine
Independence Day that is now and not yet. We urge all to
continue the struggle as we bless you, In the name of the
Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
For the Isabela Ecumenical Conference
(With representatives from the Roman Catholic Church,
Episcopal Church in the Philippines, the Salvation Army,
the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ
in the Philippines)
Most Rev. Joseph A. Nacua, OFMCap, D.D.
Bishop, RC Diocese of Ilagan
Rt. Rev. Alexander Wandag
Bishop, ECP Diocese of Santiago
Isabela Ecumenical Conference (IEC)
Pastoral Message to the Nation on the
Occasion of Philippine Independence Day
June 12, 2009
©

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IMPACT • July 2009 26
I
f there is one very distinct socio-political liability now
firmly appended to the present lead Malacañang resi-
dent, it is zero moral authority. And this is not in any
way meant to offend the character concerned but merely
to state the truth that respects no person or status. While
certainly in command of huge public funds, of well armed
personnel plus much paid cohorts, all these however in no
way can really defend much less truly promote the moral
authority of the chief-boss concerned.
The erosion of such honorable attribute began since
that sinister day when there was that well known and much
remembered foreboding total reversal that the now Malaca-
ñang master occupant would categorically and precisely not
pursue Malacañang tenancy. When such a welcome public
and formal pronouncement was made that aiming for the
presidential offce was defnitely not an option, there was
much applause made and heard all over the country.
Such a positive public reaction should have been
more than enough indication that such a stand was the
right and proper decision to adopt. But, its exact reversal
was made—an astonishing manifestation of personal
numbness and official insincerity, a remarkable display
of self-adulation over and above public good and national
interests. Thus no longer thereafter came forth the “I am
sorry!” drama—followed later by an extra-long recitation
‘Divorce planner’
T
here seems to be nothing better
than the thought and pursuit of
money for man to become cre-
ative, to be imaginative in inventing
profitable ventures. Never mind the
immoral or even amoral implications of
such enterprises. So what if they pro-
mote a distorted mentality, a sick value
system. Business is business. Money is
over and above the sacred and solemn.
Money in effect is god just as gold is in
fact made divine. Such seemingly “natu-
ral” and wherefore “common” posture
is precisely what degrades humanity,
what destroys society. There is much
sense in the saying that “Money is the
root of all evil.” Money is good when
man uses it—not when it uses man. In
the light of right reason, money is a
means—not an end.
The greed and pursuant quest for
money constitute the powerful motor
of such vices as drug peddling, pros-
titution and the many other predatory
endeavors—having men, women and
children as their usual ultimate victims.
The very well known, standard and
even customary huge money making
enterprise in the country is focused on
unconscionable enormous graft and
corrupt practices with immense and
lasting socio-political costs to millions
of Filipinos. They are at the very least
all indirect taxpayers from birth to death
yet they wallow in poverty and fall
into depression due to unemployment,
absence of sufficient social welfare—
courtesy of their much self-caring and
self-serving government.
In attention to month of June, it is
interesting to take notice of the latest
money making invention in the person
of the so called “Divorce Planner” in apt
response to the countless divorces sought
and obtained in many foreign lands.
The cue is that if there is much sought
“Wedding Planner” to start a marriage,
there should also be a properly chosen
“Divorce Planner” to end the marriage—
with the proper fees, of course. The truth
is that exactly the same person can be
both, i.e., one or the other upon employ
by the men and women concerned. It is
even said that couples intending to get
married with proper arrangements with
the service of a “Wedding Planner”, now
of one big betrayal of public trust after another.
To have the credibility to be duly believed and heeded,
to possess integrity to be properly revered and honored,
to maintain honesty to merit real respect and genuine
allegiance—this is the essence and meaning of moral au-
thority in so many words. Otherwise, someone who has
zero in moral authority has to pay much and continuously
for the desired applause, respect and obedience. It takes
a lot of gold, goons and guns for anyone with no moral
authority to stay in power, to maintain leadership and to
continue in effective governance.
The now official and blatant attempt to have a Charter
Change through any possible way and means such as the
infamous CON-ASS—this is the crowning glory of the
dire absence of moral authority on the part of the Palace
tenant well decided of being its owner for a lifetime and
over if at all possible. How shameful and demeaning for
the Palace chorus to continue singing out of tune, emphati-
cally denying what is evident, repeatedly contradicting
what is obvious: Someone is salivating for endless pos-
session of power and command as if such were possible.
There was once a pair who conjugally ruled and reigned
over the Philippines for some 20 long years. Yet this too,
ended, remember?
www.ovc.blogspot.com
Zero moral authority
already have the option to enter into some
kind of a contract or agreement to the
effect that the same third party in their
marriage will also stand as their “Di-
vorce Planner” when the time has come
for them to legally untie their conjugal
union. How convenient!
Less certain Filipinos complain that
having the services of a “Divorce Plan-
ner” is not an option for them since there
is no divorce in the Philippines, they
might want to consider the figure of an
“Annulment Planner”—considering that
such civil action on marriage has now
become but a matter of fact, provided
couples have the necessary amount to
pay for the Court proceedings. There is
the pervasive thinking and practice in
the Philippines that there is no marriage
at all that is not “annullable” under the
infamous ground of “Psychological
Incapacity”—whatever this means.
Such is the continuous and persis-
tent human predicament: Singularly
gifted with use of reason and freewill,
these are exactly the faculties they
misuse and abuse!
www.ovc.blogspot.com
FROM THE
BLOGS
Volume 43 • Number 7
27
EDITORIAL
New art forms
F
ear of God and love of neighbor. Generosity and
charity. Honesty and honor. Decency and integrity.
Sincerity and fdelity. Veracity and probity. Indus-
try and parsimony. Respect for law and order, harmony,
unity and peace. Such were some of the “old Art Forms”
in the then dear and endearing Philippines. These were
some of the lovely and lovable attitudinal postures and
consequent behavioral patterns of Filipinos in general.
People were poor but they did not steal. Neighborhoods
had no electricity yet kidnapping and murders were non-
existent as a rule.
There were not much to have but the little they had
was enough. True, there were already certain naughty
or even devious individuals but these were relatively
few—with most of them landing in jail as the law then
respected neither person nor status. “Those were the good
old days!”—as elderly people relish saying. And they are
defnitely not altogether wrong. After all, there were no
massacres, forced disappearances and extrajudicial kill-
ings. Even Mindanao was then peaceful and orderly.
Padlocks of all sizes and makes are new inventions.
Steel gates, steel fences, steel window grills are recent
arrivals. Massive safes, bank deposits, speculative invest-
ments are “modern” realities. Guns of all sizes and uses,
ammunitions with more or less killing power are now a
matter of fact. Policemen armed to the teeth plus security
guards with impressive weapons and communications
gear are recent social accompaniments. And needless to
say, high-walled and much wired subdivisions with well
placed CCTVs plus a host of serious looking if not mean
gate guards are now common societal phenomena.
In a special way and through distinct means, it is
defnitely much more under the present government that
vicious and predatory, treacherous and abominable, base
and shocking unlawful serial acts, have become fearful
and devastating new art forms.
Self-serving invocations of Divinity. Lewd cheating
and obscene lying. Fraud and deception. Crime and re-
ward. Injustice and award. Buying allies and discarding
over-used ones. Dictatorial executive department with
subordinate legislative and judicial sections.
Transactional politics. Public funds spent for private
interests and personal gains. Promotion of insatiable
greed. Exercise of power and greed unlimited.
Graft and corruption. Political dynasty par excellence.
And so on and so forth.
Illustration by Bladimer Usi
IMPACT • July 2009 28
FROM THE
INBOX
From the e-mail messages of lanbergado@cbcpworld.net
I
n Florida, an atheist created a case
against the Upcoming Easter and
Passover days. He hired an attorney
to bring a discrimination case against
Christians, Jews and observances of their
holy days. The argument was that it was
unfair that atheists had no such recognized
days. The case was brought before a judge.
After listening to the passionate presenta-
tion by the lawyer, the judge banged his
gavel declaring, “Case dismissed!”
The lawyer immediately stood
objecting to the ruling.
"Your Honor, how can you possibly
dismiss this case? The Christians have
Christmas, Easter and others. The Jews
have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanuk-
kah, yet my client and all other atheists
have no such holidays.”
The judge leaned forward in his
chair saying, "But you do. Your client,
Counsel, is woefully ignorant."
The lawyer said, "Your Honor, we
are unaware of any special observance
or holiday for atheists."
The judge said, "The calendar says
April 1st is April Fools Day. Psalm 14:1
states, ‘The fool says in his heart, there
is no God.’ Thus, it is the opinion of this
court, that if your client says there is
no God, then he is a fool. Therefore,
April 1st is his day.”
“Court is adjourned.”
Florida Court sets
Atheist holy day
I
t was a busy morning, about 8:30,
when an elderly gentleman in
his 80s arrived to have stitches
removed from his thumb. He said he
was in a hurry as he had an appoint-
ment at 9:00 am.
I took his vital signs and had him
take a seat, knowing it would be over
an hour before someone would be able
to see him. I saw him looking at his
watch and decided, since I was not
busy with another patient, I would
evaluate his wound.
On exam, it was well healed, so
I talked to one of the doctors, got the
needed supplies to remove his sutures
and redress his wound.
While taking care of his wound,
I asked him if he had another doctor's
appointment this morning, as he was
How to dance in the rain
in such a hurry.
The gentleman told me no, that he
needed to go to the nursing home to
eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired
as to her health.
He told me that she had been there
for a while and that she was a victim
of Alzheimer's disease.
As we talked, I asked if she would
be upset if he was a bit late.
He replied that she no longer knew
who he was, that she had not recognized
him in five years now.
I was surprised, and asked him,
“And you still go every morning, even
though she doesn't know who you
are?”'
He smiled as he patted my hand and
said, “She doesn't know me, but I still
know who she is.”
I had to hold back tears as he left,
I had goose bumps on my arm, and
thought, “That is the kind of love I
want in my life.”
True love is neither physical, nor
romantic. True love is an acceptance
of all that is, has been, will be, and
will not be.
With all the jokes and fun that
are in e-mails, sometimes there is one
that comes along that has an important
message. This one I thought I could
share with you.
The happiest people don't nec-
essarily have the best of everything;
they just make the best of everything
they have.
“Life isn't about how to survive
the storm, but how to dance in the
rain.”
©

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Volume 43 • Number 7
29
book
Reviews
Tourist Guide to Notable
Philippine Churches
Benjamin Locsin Layug
Noted as the largest Catholic nation in Asia, the Philippines
has many beautiful and outstanding church structures built
during the four centuries of Spanish colonization of the country. These churches, exceptionally
important because of their aesthetic and historical value also stand as a lasting testament to the
seed of faith sown by the early missionaries. While many of the churches are pilgrimage sites
like the Basilica Minore de Peñafrancia, and Minor Basilica of the Sto. Niño, among others, a
number are also places of historical signifcance. Two examples are the Barasoain Church,
where the Malolos Constitution was framed and the frst Philippine Republic was inaugurated,
and Sta. Barbara Church, Iloilo, where in 1898, General Martin Delgado convened a junta and
declared revolution against Spain. Four churches have received international recognition and
included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In 2001, twenty-six Spanish-era churches were
cited as National Cultural Treasures by the National Museum.
Out of the Ordinary
Prayers, Poems, Reflections for Every Season
Joyce Rupp
Ever experienced diffculty in composing prayers or rituals on certain occasions? At last,
here is a book that provides excellent prayers that can be used during liturgical occasions or
any group gatherings. An excellent resource material for prayer sessions or any communal
gatherings, the book contains prayers, poems, refections as well as chants that can be used
as a tool for sharing or a means to deepen the solemnity of any spiritual gathering. Rupp,
whose previous books have proven to be a source of spiritual wealth to her many readers,
is again offering a plateful of prayer resources that can be used for a variety of needs and
circumstances. The prayers and refections found in the book have been composed in the
course of Rupp’s years of ministering to various groups. A well known writer and sought after
retreat and conference speaker, Rupp has led retreats throughout North America, as well as
in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. This title is the latest of her numerous books, some of
which are published by Paulines Publishing House, including The Cup of Our Life, Inviting
God In, Dear Heart, Come Home and The Star in My Heart.
Faith on the Move
Towards a Theology of Migration in Asia
Fabio Baggio & Agnes M. Brazal, Editors
This book discusses the growing phenomenon of migration in Asia. A collection of essays frst
presented as papers in a conference on migration, this book of anthology skillfully tackles the
issue of migration from the sociological, anthropological, philosophical, theological and spiritual
perspective. With millions of Filipinos leaving for abroad to seek better lives for themselves
and their families, the social costs of migration has become a growing concern in the Church.
Touted as modern heroes because of the billion of dollars they bring into the country that help
prop up the economy, the Filipino migrants’ workers also are regarded as modern missionar-
ies to their host countries. Living away from home has led them to live deeply their faith and
practice their beliefs and devotions in their adoptive land. As Bishop Luis Antonio “Chito” Tagle
of Imus says: the book will not merely disturb the consciences of readers, but “it does so in
order to reawaken a faith that can move mountains, the same faith that impels and sustains
migrants in their pilgrimage."
True Love Within our Reach
Lourdes ‘Bing’ de la Llana Pimentel
Simply written, yet the book easily touches and inspires the heart in its profundity. Autobiographi-
cal in sketch, the volume offers readers a rare glimpse into the life of a well known Filipino
political family. But far from glorifying herself, the author tells more of the love of God that is
very much present in her life and that of her family. Her profound faith in God’s unconditional
love colors every story spread across the pages, making readers realize that nothing in life hap-
pens by chance. Wife of former Senator Aquilino Pimentel,
Jr., the author is also a gifted composer and lyricist as well
as producer of musical shows.
IMPACT • July 2009 30
ENTERTAINMENT
CATHOLIC
INITIATIVE
FOR ENLIGHTENED
MOVIE APPRECIATION
A
psychopath with an axe to grind
against New York City’s bureau-
cracy, Ryder (John Travolta)
hijacks the subway train Pelham 123,
aided by his band of thugs (Luis Guz-
man, Victor Gojcaj, Robert Vataj). With
the 17 passengers and the train conduc-
tor held hostage, Ryder makes known
his demands to the train dispatcher on
duty, Walter Garber (Denzel Washing-
ton), a high ranking transit official fac-
ing suspension for suspicion of taking a
bribe. Ryder wants $10 million within
one hour, or he’ll kill the passengers one
by one. When police hostage negotiator
Lt. Jack Cambria (John Turturo) takes
over as Garber goes off duty, Ryder
reacts violently and shoots the conduc-
tor dead. He wants only to negotiate
with Garber whose unruffled manner
of dealing with him seems to rub the
psychopath the right way.
The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
is a second remake of the 1974 film,
novelist John Godey’s best seller (with
the same title) which was also made into
a TV movie in 1998. For a psychologi-
cal thriller with a lot of action thrown
in, this version rather lacks the tension
needed to evoke terror in the audience.
Is it due to the lighting? The music?
The photography? Perhaps Travolta as
the hooligan boss doesn’t look menac-
ing enough in spite of his handlebar
moustache and the four-letter words he
relentlessly spews out. When he flashes
that smile at Washington, who’d believe
he’s sick? Why, he looks “as normal as
Kansas in August”—as amiable, in fact,
as a headwaiter at an Italian pizza joint.
The thugs racing to escape with bags
of cash are captured to fast too soon.
Washington is credible enough as the
low-key Garber, sporting a pot belly for
his family-man role, and speaking his
lines as though he meant them.
This hijack movie is more about
developing an odd friendship than col-
lecting ransom. It seems providential that
the calm train dispatcher happens to be
on duty when the psychopath hijacker
only needs to be listened to. Perhaps if
his folks paid attention to him as a kid
he wouldn’t be the criminal he is now,
frittering away precious minutes mak-
ing small talk with the negotiator. Well,
not really that small, because it leads to
a revelation—without which the story
would just annoy you with cusswords
that outnumber the bullets fred. Although
the ending appears to be redemptive
for both Ryder and Garber, the movie’s
moral ambiguity should be pointed out.
Ryder the psychopath is raised a Catholic,
prays, then makes the right decision—
fne. Garber risks his life and more than
makes up for his past indiscretion—good.
The ransom money is recovered—who
could ask for more? But what about the
body count? Cops dying in line of duty,
hapless train passengers shot in cold
blood as though in a video game. Due to
the troubling content, CINEMA can only
approve The Taking of Pelham 123 for
mature audiences.
Cast: Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Luis Guzman,
Victor Gojcaj
Director: Tony Scott
Producers: Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Tony Scott,
Steve Tisch
Screenwriters: Brian Helgeland, John Godey
Music: Harry Gregson-Williams
Editor: Chris Lebenzon
Genre: Crime/ Drama/ Thriller
Cinematography: Tobias A. Schliessler
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Location: New York, USA
Running Time: 106 min.
Technical Assessment: 
Moral Assessment: ½
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and
above
Volume 43 • Number 7
31
NEWS
BRI EFS
VIETNAM
Pro-democracy lawyer
nabbed
Police here nabbed Le
Cong Dinh, a lawyer who
defended pro-democracy
activists, for allegedly col-
luding with domestic and
foreign reactionaries to
sabotage the Vietnamese
State. He was arrested on
June 13 under a law which
bans making of black pro-
paganda against State.
MALAYSIA
US lists Malaysia for
human traffcking
The US has relisted Ma-
laysia and 6 others on its
blacklist of countries traf-
fcking in people. Victims
are used for forced labor,
prostitution, military service
and other purposes. Other
countries on the list are
Fiji, Burma, N. Korea and
Papua New Guinea.
CAMBODIA
Jail chief admits blood
draining
Tuol Sleng prison chief,
Duch, told Cambodia’s
UN-backed war crimes
court that some inmates
were completely drained
of blood or were used
for medical experiments.
Duch, who denied know-
ing of this practice before,
admitted it when answering
the judges’ questions about
conditions at Tuol Sleng.
SRI LANKA
Jurists accuse Sri Lan-
ka of Tamil rights viola-
tions
The International Com-
mission of Jurists accused
Colombo gov’t of breach-
ing Geneva Convention.
Legal experts estimated
that 300,000 Tamil civil-
ians have been held in
government camps since
the military defeat of the
Tamil Tigers in May. Aid
agencies described their
plight as desperate.
BANGLADESH
Army chief retires
Army chief General
Moeen U Ahmed has re-
tired defending the military-
backed regime that ruled
the country for 2 years until
January. Ahmed did not
have a political position,
but was seen as the most
powerful man in Bangla-
desh after the regime took
power following months of
deadly violence between
supporters of the two main
political parties.
THAILAND
Govt to counter insur-
gency with dev’t
The Thai government
will use development aid
rather than aggressive se-
curity measures to tackle
the rising insurgency in the
country’s Muslim south.
PM said money will be
invested in the region's
tourism, agriculture and
other industries to raise liv-
ing standards and counter
attempts by militant groups
to derail the government's
peace efforts.
NORTH KOREA
N. Korea to build more
nuke bombs after UN
sanctions
The government here
threatened to build more
nuclear bombs after the
UN imposed tougher sanc-
tions. The country said it
would never abandon nu-
clear weapons and would
treat any attempt to block-
ade it as an act of war.
TAIWAN
Bill on renewable en-
ergy passed
The government here
has passed a bill on renew-
able energy which aims at
adding between six and
ten-thousand megawatts
of energy from renewable
sources over the next 20
years. Taiwan’s Parliament
will offer incentives and
loosen regulations on re-
newable energy providers,
and create a pricing mech-
anism for various sources
of renewable energy, such
as solar or wind.
PAKISTAN
Pakistan faces relief
shortfall
A halt or cut back of
aid is looming in Pakistan
after aid agencies admit-
ted a worst funding crisis
in the last 10 years. Nine
relief groups said they face
a shortfall of over $A52
million which is needed
to provide basic needs to
families uprooted by Paki-
stan's campaign to expel
Taliban militants from the
north-west Swat region.
INDIA
India wants peace with
Pakistan
PM Manmohan Singh
urged Pakistan to take
strong action and bring
justice the perpetrators of
terror attacks, including
those in Mumbai. Singh
said he wants peace with
Pakistan but said it takes
two hands to clap.
NEPAL
Strike shuts schools,
shops
A one day strike called
by Maoist sympathisers
paralyzed large areas
of western Nepal, forc-
ing schools and business
to shut. The strike which
comes a week after an-
other protest in the capital
Kathmandu appears to be
part of a campaign by the
Maoists to bring chaos to
the Himalayan nation.
INDONESIA
New Islamic halal guide-
lines for Australian
beefs
Indonesia’s Agriculture
Minister said that Austra-
lian beef certifying bodies
must meet new Islamic
halal guidelines or Aus-
tralian beef imports will be
banned. But Indonesia’s
council of clerics which de-
cides proper halal practices
said that all of Australia’s
certifying bodies have been
approved so far.