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IMPACT • November 2009 2




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IMPACT
Quote in the Act
“We are not fshing in the Anglican lake.”
Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifcal Council for Promoting Christian
Unity; on the forthcoming issuance of an Apostolic Constitution that will allow
former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church but seen by
conservatives as “poaching”.
“She is part of the chromosome of Kolkata.”
Rekha Roy, a retired policeman who joined the mass protest of West Bengal’s
million-member State Forum of Christians against the demand of the Albanian
government that the remains of Mother Teresa be returned to her homeland.
“I’m not in negotiations with anyone.”
Patrick O’ Donoghue, regional superior of the Mission Society of St. Columban
in the Philippines; belying media reports that the Church is negotiating over the
ransom demands of the abductors of Fr. Michael Sinnott who was seized from his
residence in Pagadian City on October 11.
“It’s so sorrowful to see a place for worshipping
God being converted into a place for
entertainment.”
Thomas Nguyen Van Tan, Catholic bishop of Vinh Long; bewailing Hanoi’s
move to convert a monastery of the Congregation of St. Paul of Chartres into
a public square, along with other church-owned properties which have been
illegally seized and demolished by the government.
“My visit here is nonpolitical.”
Dalai Lama, brushed off Chinese protests against his recent travel to Tawang
in India, a remote Himalayan town near the Tibetan border to lead fve days of
prayers and teaching sessions for Buddhist pilgrims; but this has further raised
political tensions and angered Beijing.
“The Philippines is a world leader in corruption.”
Jose Ma. Montelibano, Columnist, Philippine Daily Inquirer; supporting his
claim with the fndings of international agencies, he says that corruption, which
is a curse and the greatest evil in society today, is worse than during Martial
Law because it is now more sophisticated, more cloaked in legal armor, more
destructive to the collective soul.
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Volume 43 • Number 11
3
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November 2009 / Vol 43 • No 11
EDITORIAL
Presumption of corruption .............................. 27
COVER STORY
Creating hunger in the Philippines—can it be
stopped? ........................................................... 16
ARTICLES
Engaging political leaders in the transformation
of the Philippine Society ................................... 4
The concept of cooperativism ............................ 9
When I say green, you say money! ................. 10
The Scourge of Climate Change ...................... 11
Excerpts of Situationer Report No. 141 .......... 19
Be realistic but not too political ....................... 21
DEPARTMENTS
Quote in the Act ................................................. 2
News Features ................................................... 12
Statements .......................................................... 22
From the Blogs ................................................... 26
From the Inbox .................................................. 28
Book Reviews ..................................................... 29
Entertainment .................................................... 30
Asia Briefng ........................................................ 31
CONTENTS
A
s we clip the fnal touches
of this issue ready for the
press, CBCPNews was
rushing to upload the breaking
news that Gabriel Cañizares,
the Kanague Elementary School
officer-in-charge kidnapped
last October 19 reportedly by
members of the Abu Sayyaf, was
beheaded.
According to early reports,
his head placed in a backpack
was dropped near the police sta-
tion in Jolo, Sulu, while his body
was found near the main gate of
a military camp in Patikul town
early morning of November 9.
Dividing the remains of poor
Cañizares between the military
and the police is a very loud of
statement—even from a very
elementary perspective. While
making dumb out of these well-
budgeted government agencies
is nothing new, hence out of the
question, more serious issues
should be looked into such as the
thriving “industry” of kidnap-
ping which in the past has impli-
cated, at least according to public
perception, men in uniform.
Cañizares was abducted while
on his way to school by fully-
armed militants who later de-
manded a P2 million
ransom, which, obviously,
was not intended to be
feeced from his poor fam-
ily who, like the big ma-
jority of Filipino families,
may not even know to
fgure out how a million
peso looks like.
Kidnapping, like corruption, gam-
bling and politics, is a top grosser in
the Philippines that has been tagged
as the kidnapping capital of the
world. According to media reports
the number of kidnap-for-ransom in-
cidents in the Philippines has doubled
in the frst quarter of 2009. Over the
years, the “industry” of kidnapping
has developed a wide spectrum of
players that include the “small-scale”
or sustenance kidnappers and the
“big-scale” operators that has been
making a folly of the government
more than the ideologues, say the
communists, have done in decades.
The reason why the govern-
ment cannot solve the problem of
kidnapping maybe the same reason
why it cannot ease a dent to illegal
gambling, corruption or the cata-
strophic travails of today. The case
of Fr. Michael Sinnott, an Irish priest
abducted a month ago but still with
the kidnappers till today is a relative
issue in point. But priests and mis-
sionaries understand the hazards
of their work especially in Min-
danao. The misery comes fullest
when kidnapping is about poor
people, like Cañizares, whose
family maybe the victims of the
same breath as the kidnappers
themselves in a complex web of
government inutility.
This issue opens with Lope
Robredillo’s “Engaging political
leaders in the transformation of
the Philippine society” where the
social doctrines of the Catholic
Church become a handy barom-
eter in political advocacy.
Charles Avila pens our cover
story on the impending food
shortage that at the surface seem
to have been brought about by
the recent natural calamities.
On a more serious look, how-
ever, one may fnd out that poor
governance had been itching a
blueprint, consciously or other-
wise, for a hungry generation of
Filipinos. Read on.
IMPACT • November 2009 4
Engaging political leaders in the transformation of the Philippine Society
(or, The Relevance of the Catholic Social Doctrine)
By Msgr. Lope C. Robredillo, SThD
W
hen the Philippine Ambassa-
dor to the Vatican presented
her credentials to the Pope not
so long ago, the Holy Father pointed out
that “the struggle against poverty in the
Philippines calls for honesty, integrity
and unwavering fidelity to the principles
of justice, especially on the part of those
entrusted with positions of governance
and public administration.” Although
the presidential spokesman opined that
this was addressed to those who aspire
for leadership in the coming elections,
commentators took this as an indictment
against the Arroyo administration for
its failure to solve poverty, owing to
the dearth of moral underpinnings in
the exercise of governance. However
this is interpreted, there is no doubt
that, if the Philippine society is really
to be liberated from the shackles of
misery, those in position of governance
have to adhere to moral standards and
principles.
For how explain our transmog-
rification from the most progressive
country in southeast Asia to almost the
most sluggish one, our dubious honor of
being the most corrupt nation in Asia,
our inability to pay the ever burgeoning
national debt of P4.221 trillion in 2008,
our being the sick man in Asia, our be-
ing a nation of maids? Of course, some
observe that the causes of our misery are
greed, corruption, poverty, profligacy,
thievery, lack of job opportunities,
wanton extravagance, insensitivity to
the needs of the poor, etc. Others would
argue that western imperialism, bureau-
crat capitalism and semi-feudalism have
brought us to this quagmire. But all this
takes the symptom for the disease. For
the root of our misery lies in a higher
plane; it consists in the dearth of ethical
foundation and vision in those who ex-
ercise governance. One cannot therefore
overemphasize the need for leaders who
adhere to foundational principles that
guide their policies and actions.

Four Fundamental Principles
Which principles? For a Chris-
tian leader, of course, the primordial
principle is Jesus himself, his life and
teachings. Since, however, the world
today is far removed from the New
Testament times, and the problems
raised are obviously far different from
those that Jesus faced, one must make
an effort to relate the Gospel of Jesus
to the problems and the situation in our
time. And the Church has done (and is
doing) just that. In our era, for instance,
the Popes, in trying to apply the Gospel
to the pressing issues of the day, issued
various encyclicals that analyze the
problems, determine the causes and
suggest solutions. Best known of these
papal writings are Leo XIII’s Rerum no-
varum, Pius XI’s Quadragesimo anno,
John XXIII’s Mater et Magistra and
Pacem in terris, Paul VI’s Populorum
progressio, and John Paul II’s Laborem
exercens, Solicitudo rei socialis, and
Centesimus annus.
As one runs through these docu-
ments, one notices not only that there is
a growth and development in the under-
standing of problems, their causes and
their solutions, but also that there is an
increase in the number of principles that
have to be taken into account, reflecting,
no doubt, the ever increasing complexity
of world realities. Considering that one
does not have the time to read through
all of them, and the enormity of the
principles enunciated there, the question
may be asked: are there any fundamental
principles from which the many other
principles one encounters in the encyc-
licals ramify? It may be recalled that
when Jesus was asked about the great
commandment that incorporates all the
615 commandments in the law of Moses,
he adverted to the injunction on loving
God and loving one’s neighbor. The
same may be observed in the case of
principles on societal realities. Though
various have been the attempts to spell
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Volume 43 • Number 11
5
Engaging political leaders in the transformation of the Philippine Society
(or, The Relevance of the Catholic Social Doctrine)
out the fundamental moral principles
in social doctrine, the newly published
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of
the Church lists only four: (1) primacy
and dignity of the human person; (2)
common good; (3) solidarity, and (4)
subsidiarity.
In what follows, I would like to relate
these principles to the Philippine soci-
ety in order to help the Christian leader
engaged in the present issues toward its
transformation. This is not, of course, to
say that these are valid only for Christian
leaders. Quite the contrary, they are not
only permanent and universal; they are
also primary and fundamental parameters
of reference to interpret and evaluate so-
cial realities. Even unbelievers can apply
them, because they speak to all people
and to all nations. And their implications,
it will be noted, are far-reaching. What
is important is that, one really seeks the
truth about man and society, and it will
be seen that the four are interconnected
and complement each other. He cannot
use any of them disjoined to the rest,
unless he, to be sure, does it with a bad
conscience.

The Primacy and Dignity of the Hu-
man Person
If the Philippine society is really
to be orderly and humanely developed,
it must be founded on a correct under-
standing of the human being. According
to the Compendium, “the human person
must always be understood in his un-
repeatable and inviolable uniqueness”
(131). A center of consciousness and
freedom, he is open to the infinite and
to other created beings. Unique though
he is, with a dignity higher than any
other creature, the human being is not
sufficient unto himself. He not only
needs God on whom his life depends;
he also needs others in order to realize
himself. As Vatican II, Gaudium et spes,
stresses, “the beginning, the subject and
the goal of all social institutions is and
must be the human person, which for its
part and by its very nature stands com-
pletely in need of social life” (25).
There are several points to be
noted. First off, because of his transcen-
dental dignity, the human person cannot
be subordinated to wealth, progress,
means of production, institutions, and
minerals. He cannot be used to advance
any of these. Quite the contrary, all of
them are ordained to his perfection.
Hence, it is morally objectionable, for
example, to encourage prostitutes to
promote tourism, to suppress the right
of workers for business to earn more,
to allow people to work in subhuman
conditions in mining to increase prof-
its. Since they exist in order for the
human person to realize himself, rights
and duties directly and simultaneously
flow from his very nature, rights which
are universal, inviolable and inalien-
able. The logic is simple. If man is
destined to perfection, he should have all
the rights that are necessary to achieve
that perfection. This is the reason for
being of the Declaration of the Rights
of Man of the United Nations and the
list of human rights in John XXIII’s
Pacem in Terris.
Against this background, it would be
hard, therefore, to imagine a Philippine
leader training his sight on development,
but at the same time trampling on the
rights of his constituents, or depriving
them of their rights. How can one claim
strong leadership without addressing the
people’s right to life, bodily integrity
and the means necessary and suitable for
the proper development of life? Just look
at the quality of the ordinary people’s
access to food, shelter, medical care,
social services, security in sickness and
old age, care for the handicapped and
mentally ill and unemployment! Can it
really be called human? Extrajudicial
killings, arbitrary arrests, disappear-
ance cannot be justified in the name of
state security. The use of vote-buying,
dagdag-bawas, fraud and violence is
flagrant denial of the people’s free will
in electoral process.
In addition, since each man has
a human dignity, which should be re-
spected, all persons are fundamentally
equal before God and before humanity,
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IMPACT • November 2009 6
ARTICLES
irrespective of their race and color,
nationality, economic status, sexual
orientation, or achievement in life. The
President of the Philippines does not
have more human dignity that the pedi-
cab driver in Isla Puting Bato. Human
dignity does not reside in the economic
power, political position, gender, social
status of the individual. No one is su-
perior to his fellow men. That dignity
lies in his being an image of God, in his
being a child of God, and in his eternal
destiny. What people acquire, amass or
achieve in life has nothing to do with
it. True development cannot therefore
allow a compartmentalized form of
justice—one for the rich and the power-
ful and another for the poor.
However, it should be emphasized
that the primacy of the human person
must not be seen as a promotion of indi-
vidualism, for inherent in the concept of
the human person is the notion of social
relationship. Man is a social being, who
“recognizes the necessity of integrating
himself in cooperation with his fellow
human beings, and who is capable of
communion with them on the level of
knowledge and love” (Compendium,
149). Lest this be interpreted as an affir-
mation of collectivism, the Compendium
equally emphasizes that the human per-
son cannot “be thought of as a mere cell
of an organism that is inclined at most to
grant it recognition in its functional role
within the overall system” (125). “By the
very force of their nature and by their
internal destiny,” individuals are united
into an “organic, harmonious mutual
relationship” (125).
This relational dimension of the
human person, however, has to be
understood as a corrective to the
overemphasis on the primacy of the
individual. The realization of man’s
human dignity is always in the context
of the community. “Together with
equality in the recognition of the dig-
nity of each person and of every people
there must also be an awareness that
it will be possible to safeguard and
promote human dignity only if this is
done as a community, by the whole
humanity” (145). One cannot therefore
merely regard the human person as an
independent being, separate from oth-
ers. Consequently, if a leader wishes
to promote human dignity among
Filipinos, it cannot therefore be just
the work of a few; it would take the
collective effort of both rich and poor,
a work that would entail the elimination
of the gross disparity and inequality
between them.

The Common Good
Which brings us to the second
principle—the common good. For, if
individual human persons have to
group themselves, its reason for being
is the achievement of their collective
welfare. As individuals, they lack what
is necessary for the enjoyment of social
life; common good is needed to advance
their human dignity. Gaudium et spes
defines it as “the sum of those condi-
tions of social life which allow social
groups and their individual members
relatively thorough and ready access
to their own fulfillment” (n 26). Those
conditions ran the gamut from goods
and services to values that are actual-
ized in the members of the community,
enabling them to perfect their lives.
Thus, in placing itself at the service of
each human person, society has no other
purpose than the common good.
The achievement of the common
good is not only the work of the individ-
ual members. Since it is the reason for its
existence, the state has the responsibility
of attaining it; it must make available
to persons the material, cultural, moral
and spiritual goods in order for them to
live a truly human life. Because each
one has a right to enjoy the conditions
of social life brought about by the quest
for the common good, the challenge for
a Filipino leader who seeks to transform
Philippine society is gargantuan. A for-
midable obstacle to the attainment of
the common good is the huge disparity
between the oligarchs who are few and
the proletariat members who belong to
the great majority. Naturally, the rich
control the state apparatus, the economy,
the mass media and the exercise of
politics. In such a society, it is difficult
to speak of common good, for there is
no equality, and the comfortable social
conditions in which the rich live are not
shared by the many that are deprived of
the basic necessities. One may not be
mistaken to say that the privileged do
not care for the common good—except
the good that coincides with theirs; for
the most part, all they are interested in
are power and the privileges that go with
it, even if these hurt the poor.
It is also in the light of the com-
mon good that leaders must re-examine
our international debt. As John Paul
points out in his Centesimus annus,
“the principle that debts must be paid is
certainly just. However, it is not right
to demand or expect payment when
the effect would be the imposition of
political choices leading to hunger and
despair for entire peoples. It cannot
be expected that the debts which have
been contracted should be paid at the
price of unbearable sacrifices. In such
cases, it is necessary to find—as in fact
is partly happening—ways to lighten,
defer or even cancel the debt, compatible
with the fundamental right of peoples to
subsistence and progress” (39). In the
Philippines, for instance, not enough
money is poured to health, education,
and other basic necessities because what
is intended for them are coughed up for
debt repayment. Indeed, the nature of
this debt is such that the borrower be-
comes all the poorer rather than richer,
linked as it is with oppressive conditions,
not to mention the fact that a portion of
it gets to the pockets of the elite. One
might as well ask Monsod if Shylock
should get his pound of flesh!
Universal Destination of Goods
This makes a mockery of the prin-
ciple that naturally flows from the prin-
ciple of common good—the universal
destination of goods. According to
this principle, “God intended the earth
and all that it contains for the use of
every human being and people. Thus,
as all men follow justice and unite in
charity, created goods should abound
for them on a reasonable basis” (GS
69). What we see in the Philippines is
a pathetic distribution of goods. Some
provinces, for instance, have the best
infrastructures, but others, especially
those removed from the political center,
wallow in the primitive. Mining has
not enriched the Samar provinces and
the poor; the profits went elsewhere.
Globalization is embraced by those
who control the economy, but has not
improved the lives of the dispossessed.
Laws on land reform are enacted, but
they are not really catered to the benefit
of tenants and farmers.
Indeed, despite all the press releases
and fanfare attendant upon poverty al-
leviation program, the properties of the
propertied remain intact. That nothing
is new under the sun as regards efforts
to close the gap between the rich and
poor finds its telling evidence in the
slum problems in Metro Manila and
other cities. One can always ask what
is being done by our leaders to correct
the lopsided relationship in an eco-
Volume 43 • Number 11
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IMPACT • November 2009 8
mahirap, but when he abruptly ended
his term, the poor were more numerous
than ever. The promise that relatives
and friends would have no place in his
dispensation was just that—a promise,
for his bank accounts never showed that
the hopeless were his beneficiaries.
Truth is, the principle of the univer-
sal destination of common good and that
of the preferential option for the poor
can be translated into realities only if
they are matched by a recognition of
the participation of all at the level of
political decision. As things stand, it
remains a figment of the imagination,
for who makes political decisions? The
challenge of future leaders could be
daunting. Is there any presidentiable
who is capable of betraying the inter-
est of his social class? The present
set-up of the executive and legislative
branches of the government are oc-
cupied largely by the rich and by those
who in politics became rich, and one
wonders whether they are prepared to
give up their privileges. If the history
of land reform law has anything to tell
us, it is that the privileged class is not
yet ready to give up its advantages to
really lift the poor from wretchedness.
Indeed, there is no evidence that the
lot of the poor has improved since the
birth of the Philippine republic. Since
those elected eventually become part of
the privileged class, one hardly expects
that what will be distributed to the poor
really go beyond noodles, canned goods,
rice and PhilHealth cards.

(To be continued next issue)
Engaging political leaders in the transformation of the Philippine Society
I
nomic structure that more often than
not favors the moneyed. This has to
be asked because “the universal des-
tination of goods entails obligations
on how goods are to be used by their
legitimate owners. Individual persons
may not use their resources without
considering the effects that this use will
have; rather they must act in a way that
benefits not only themselves and their
families, but also the common good”
(Compendium, 178).
Clearly, then, the right to private
property is not absolute. Indeed, Chris-
tian tradition has never recognized
that right as untouchable. According
to John Paul II, in Laborem excercens,
this tradition has “always understood the
right within the broader context of the
right common to all to use the goods of
the whole creation; the right to private
property is subordinated to the right to
common use, to the fact that goods are
meant for everyone” (84). But will the
rich part with their riches? One might
be asking for the moon. But it is well to
remind them of the words of St. Ambrose
in De Nabuthe that Paul VI quotes in
Populorum progressio: “You are not
making a gift of your possessions to
the poor person. You are handing over
to him what is his. For what has been
given in common for the use of all, you
have arrogated to yourself. The world is
given to all, and not only to the rich.”
In view of this, one wonders wheth-
er those in governance would be willing
to extirpate greed and sever themselves
from their wealth, instead of trying to
accumulate more of it. Truth is, even
public office is treated as private prop-
erty—politicians perpetuate themselves
in office through dynasty, as if they had
the exclusive claim to it. Today, it is
often told that the country needs leaders
who can be trusted. Of course, that is
correct. Filipinos hardly need a leader
who is a liar, profligate, wanton, greedy,
violator of human rights, self-serving,
ambitious, tyrannical, and overween-
ing. The nation looks for a leader who
could talk about “an economic vision
inspired by moral values that permit
people not to lose sight of the origin
or purpose of goods so as to bring
about a world of fairness and solidarity
(Compendium, 174).” And of course
he can walk the talk. Since he himself
is part of the oligarchy, he should be
able to make his own life a showcase
of how a politician can contribute to the
common good. He can do this not by
siding with the landed gentry and the
aristocracy, but by opting for the poor
and the oppressed.

Preferential Option for the Poor
The reason for this is that the prin-
ciple of preferential option for the
poor logically flows from the principle
of the universal destination of goods.
In the words of the Compendium, “The
principle of the universal distribution of
goods requires that the poor, the margin-
alized and in all cases those whose living
conditions interfere with their proper
growth should be the focus of particular
concern. To this end, the preferential
option for the poor should be reaffirmed
in all its force (192).” For John Paul
II, in his Sollicitudo rei socialis, this
option is a “special form of primacy in
the exercise of Christian charity… It af-
fects the life of each Christian inasmuch
as he or she seek to imitate the life of
Christ, but it applies equally to our social
responsibilities and hence to our manner
of living, and to the logical decisions to
be made concerning the ownership and
use of goods” (42).
In this country where the majority
wallow in misery and only a few enjoy
so much wealth, common sense dictates
that in the distribution of goods, the
needy, the hungry, the homeless, those
without medical care, the aged, the
neglected and the hopeless should have
preference, if all are created equal. Yet,
is there any aspiring national leader
whose platform will make this prin-
ciple real in everyday life? Someone,
of course, ran on the program for the
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By Gemma Marin
I
have always been interested in the concept of cooperativ-
ism. It combines the seemingly odd pair of business and
social development which is my academic background in
college and graduate studies. My graduate thesis of decades
ago compared two pre-cooperatives or the so-called “samah-
ang nayon” to bring out the factors that would spell for the
success of running such an organization. I really rooted for
the success of cooperatives because I have always thought
that amidst the many unfair or uneven circumstances in life,
cooperativism offers an opportunity of fairness and a sense
of unity for the people. To borrow the definition of a coop-
erative by the Cooperative Development Authority:
“A cooperative is an autonomous and duly registered
association of persons, with a common bond of interest,
who have voluntarily joined together to achieve their social,
economic and cultural needs and aspirations by making
equitable contributions to the capital required, patronizing
their products and services and accepting a fair share of
risks and benefits of the undertaking in accordance with the
universally accepted cooperative principles.”
It brings together people of the same interest or with
the same cause, and creates a spirit of community among
the members. Membership is voluntary, not coerced, and
is open to everyone regardless of race, religion or political
affiliations. The cooperative organization is an independent
formation and run in a democratic way with members have
equal voting rights on a one-member, one-vote principle.
Members actively participate in the economic or business
affairs of the cooperative, and benefit in proportion to their
transactions.
The concept of
cooperativism
Latest data from the Cooperative
Development Authority (CDA) show that
a total of 2,056 were newly registered
cooperatives from January to December
2006. Among the single-purpose co-
ops, credit cooperatives belonged to
the biggest group at 115, compared to
consumer (34), producer (46), market-
ing (18) and service (64) cooperatives.
Credit cooperatives have always been
observed to take the biggest slice among
the single-purpose co-ops because of the
constant need for capital of individual
members, small capital requirements on
the part of the cooperative organization to
embark on the business, and the conduct
of simple transactions (until delinquent
accounts pile up, and the co-op is faced
with huge collection problems).
In response to the various needs of
members, many cooperatives expand
in a matter of time to engage in another
business endeavor which is usually trading of consumer
items, hence converting the same co-op into a multi-purpose
cooperative (MPC). As of the same period of January to
December 2006, CDA reported 699 multi-purpose agricul-
tural and 1,074 multi-purpose non-agricultural cooperatives,
comprising the bulk at 34% and 52% of newly registered
co-ops, respectively.
The need for capital of member-individuals and coopera-
tives is indeed one of the foremost concerns of the National
Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO). Established in
1977 primarily to provide co-op education to its members,
it has progressed through the years to now offer a sophis-
ticated range of financial and non-financial services to its
network members. As a financial service provider, it provides
wholesale lending to cooperatives and enhanced its money
transfer services. Its financial products include credit cards,
debit cards, fund management of the coop’s surplus funds,
microfinance (which they call Microfinance Innovations in
Cooperatives or MICOOP) and micro-insurance.
For its non-financial services, training and consultancy
has been the network’s core business development service
aimed at professionalizing and enhancing the knowledge
and skills of its primaries. It also engages in corn and sugar
marketing, established a coop mart, offers opportunities for
settlements under its housing coop, and ventured into travel
and tours operations, among many others.
Over and above the aforementioned services already
offered for co-ops, there is still a call for cooperatives to
galvanize their efforts and to unite even more for the good
of their individual members, their organization and the com-
munity to which it belongs. In the past and perhaps until
ARTICLES
Cooperativism, page 12
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The Scourge of
Climate Change
ARTICLES
By Brian Lilley
U
nited Nations Secretary Gen-
eral Ban Ki-moon has said that
achieving a deal at the Copen-
hagen Climate Change Conference may
not be possible. Good, I say and I hope
that deal is never possible, because
while I don’t know if the Secretary
General has read the deal, I have and
it scares me.
I can already hear the cyberscream
starting, chants of “climate change
denier!” being hurled my way, nasty
comments are already being crafted and
I haven’t even explained myself yet.
Such, unfortunately is the level of debate
surrounding climate change; the thing
we used to call global warming.
The deal being negotiated at Co-
penhagen has very little to do with
climate change; it may touch on it, but
it also uses this issue to put in place
a massive world wide redistribution
of wealth. Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper still takes flak for
calling the Kyoto Protocol “a socialist
scheme to suck money out of wealth-
producing nations.” If Harper were to
say the same thing about Copenhagen,
he’d be right.
Copenhagen is short for The United
Nations Climate Change Conference in
Copenhagen (taking place December
7-18th), a conference and international
treaty all wrapped up into one that be-
yond the surface has very little to do with
climate change, but don’t take my word
for it, listen to the supporters.
Australian scientist, author and
climate change activist Tim Flannery
came to Ottawa recently to promote
his latest book, Now or Never and
to press the Canadian government to
sign on to Copenhagen. Now I must
say that compared to many Canadian
green activists, Flannery seems highly
reasonable and a nice chap; he even has
a sense of humour, a quality that seems
to have leeched out of our own green
movement some time in the ‘90s.
When I asked Flannery about the
notion reported in such climate change
When I say green, you say money!
The push for an international treaty at Copenhagen has little to
do with climate change and much to do with money.
boosting newspapers as Britain’s left-
wing Guardian, that the deal would
mean a massive transfer of wealth from
the developed world to the developing
world, Flannery didn’t flinch. In fact he
called this essential to the deal.
“We all too often mistake the nature
of those negotiations in Copenhagen.
We think of them as being concerned
with some sort of environmental treaty.
That is far from the case,” said Flannery.
“The negotiations now ongoing towards
the Copenhagen agreement are in effect
diplomacy at the most profound global
level. They deal with every aspect of our
life and they will influence every aspect
of our life, our economy, our society, our
relationship with the developing world,
our relationship with the environment
as well.”
So there you have it, a man who is
firmly on the side of climate change,
who runs his own council full of business
executives who push for a legally bind-
ing treaty at Copenhagen, saying this
all has little to do with climate change.
So what is it all about then?
It’s about money, plain and simple.
While most of the focus in the media is
on the attempts to cut greenhouse gas
emissions, the behind the scenes nego-
tiations are about how much developed
countries will have to pay to developing
ones. Ban Ki Moon says that the $150
billion USD in annual contributions
to help developed countries adapt to
climate change will have to be “scaled
up.” That’s a fancy way of saying the
bill just got bigger.
According to the draft treaty, in
sections pushed by Flannery and the
Secretary General, developed countries,
in addition to being required to cut their
own emissions of greenhouse gasses by
25 to 40 percent by 2020, must also make
several different kinds of payments to the
developing world. There is the payment
for historic or past emissions of green-
house gases; that unspecified amount will
be due almost immediately. In addition,
the agreement also says (page 16, sect.
33), “Annex I Parties [developed coun-
tries] shall provide new and additional
financial resources to meet the full costs
incurred by developing country Parties”
for any undertakings to curb emissions
in the developing world. None of these
payments, according to the agreement,
should come from money currently set
aside from foreign aid money to the de-
veloped world. Also, green technologies
developed by wealthy nations must be
transferred, without compensation, to
developing nations to help them deal
with climate change.
So, the 23 countries deemed “devel-
oped” shall pay for their own past emis-
sions, future emissions, the reduction of
their own emissions, the reduction of
the emissions of developing countries
and for the mitigation of any damages
caused by climate change in developing
nations. They will also hand over poten-
tially lucrative technology and continue
to pay aid to the developing world. Have
I mentioned that India and China are
among the countries that will beneft
from all of these payments as their robust
economies are considered developing
and are therefore in need of support? If
boosters of the deal have their way, not
only will developed nations pay to see
their jobs exported to India and China
but neither country will need to sign on
to binding targets for reducing their own
greenhouse gas emissions.
Over the last weekend in October,
tens of thousands of mostly young
people around the world staged events,
some 5,000 in 182 countries, calling
for “an ambitious, fair, and binding
global climate deal.” Like most people
concerned about the environment, it’s
doubtful these young people have any
idea what is in the proposed treaty. I
doubt most world leaders have read it,
but if they think this deal is about cli-
mate change, they should listen to Dr.
Flannery. He’d tell them this is about
more, much more.
(Brian Lilley is the Ottawa Bureau
Chief for radio stations Newstalk 1010
in Toronto and CJAD 800 in Montreal.
This is republished here under special
arrangement with MercatorNet.)
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System improvement Project in the same area Northeast of
Metro Manila worth US$15 million has also been delayed. It
was due to be completed last 2007. It is 90.5% complete but
until now that vital last section has remained uncompleted
due to the haggling and bargaining going on over money and
payments for the right of way compensation.
The necessity for such flood control projects is simple,
the forests have been cut down, the soil is washing away so
there is nothing left to absorb the rains. Corrupt politicians
protecting logging companies and promoting the interests
of foreign mining companies are behind the loss of 70% of
the forest cover of the Philippines over the past 60 years.
The archipelago was one massive rain forest at the turn of
the century, now it is has just a few scraps left.
Even those remaining forests could be a starting point
for regeneration and reforestation, but they too are being
hacked to the ground, all laws forbidding it are ignored.
Three weeks ago, I saw a huge truck hauling massive cut
trees through the heart of Manila.
Reforestation is one of several important things that the
G20 nations of global community need to do to slow global
warming. The forests and the seas are the great absorbers
of the deadly CO2 gas that we generate by burning coal
and oil in our power stations and cars. Yet it is too late to
reverse global warming by replanting trees alone. Climate
change is coming on faster than predicted. We have to turn
to renewable sources of energy on a massive scale and stop
burning fossil fuel.
While the insatiable and criminal greed of Wall Street fnan-
cial traders and the irresponsible bankers of the world brought
the global economy to the brink of disaster, it is becoming clear
they are too powerful to restrain, regulate and control.
Perhaps they could be directed to turn their propensity for
proft to funding the next great industrial revolution of renew-
able energy and the electric car. Such massive investment is
needed to save the planet from irreversible climate change and
reduce the severity of the foods, droughts and famine that are
on the way to the poorest of the poor everywhere. I
By Fr. Shay Cullen
T
he waters of the great flood of Metro Manila and
Laguna may have receded somewhat, yet they have
left behind destroyed communities and thousands of
impoverished families. The emotional scars remain, caused
by the loss of loved ones, children and parents, drowned, and
thousands of homes, lovingly built brick by brick collapsed
and in ruins. That's the aftermath of the floods.
Lack of prevention has been underlined as the biggest
cause of such human suffering. No foresight or emergency
response teams were ready. Few trained disasters or emer-
gency medical personnel were available. Billions of public
funds that should have developed public safety emergency
plans and resources have disappeared through corruption,
waste and mismanagement.
Why is it that we have to see the bloated bodies of dead
children, parents and heroes, swept away by flood waters
and a torrent of national and international criticism before
government officials and big business tycoons feel the sting
of shame and are forced to act however sluggishly for the
public good and not always for there own gain?
Every year there are floods and the engineers, bankers
and politicians know why and they know what should have
been done. The Manila Times has revealed in an exclusive
report a few weeks ago that one major cause of the floods are
the alleged corruption riddled delays of a vitally important
multi-billion peso flood alleviation project.
The huge mega project of the Department of Public Works
and Highways (DPWH) worth US$14 million, known as the
Pasig-Marikina River Improvement Project was supposed to
start last 2007 and be completed in 2013 yet hardly a bull-
dozer has moved or a backhoe mobilized. It is the Marikina
Valley that has been most devastated by the foods. We have
to research the factors that are causing such disasters, is it
incompetence, politicking, corruption? Hundreds have died
because of the snail like pace of project implementation.
Likewise the Kamanava Area Flood Control and Drainage
The Scourge of
Climate Change
ARTICLES
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NEWS
FEATURES
MANILA, Nov. 1, 2009—The Superior of kidnapped mis-
sionary priest Fr. Michael Sinnott said the congregation
of the Missionary Society of St. Columban “does not pay
ransom”.
Fr. Patrick O’ Donoghue, major superior of Columbans
in the Philippines made the
statement a day after a lo-
cal television station aired
a video footage with Fr. Mi-
chael Sinnott saying he is be-
ing held by one Commander
Abu Jayad, and asked for $2
million ransom.
I n a s t a t e me n t ,
O‘Donoghue said he has seen
the video from Fr. Sinnott’s
abductors and expressed sat-
isfaction in knowing “that he
is alive and that he has some
of his medications.”
However, the superior
said the video “is now eight
days old” and the “past week
has been very wet here in
Mindanao and living in the
conditions that he described
can only have had an adverse
effect on [Fr. Mick’s] fragile
health.”
“I hope that he continues
to be well,” O’Donoghue
added.
The priest said as per
policy of his congregation he
believed that ransom “should
not be paid.”
“Fr. Mick was unjustly and harshly taken from his home
three weeks ago today,” he noted.
O’Donoghue reiterated his call on all people of goodwill,
“who may have ways of influencing those who are still hold-
ing Fr. Mick, to continue their efforts to enable the abductors
to see that the best and simplest way forward is for them to
now release Fr. Sinnott without further delay.”
He concluded his statement saying “On this All Saints’
Day, let us unite our prayers with them that the hearts of the
abductors will be open to compassion and fairness.”

‘Special day of prayer and fasting for Fr. Sinnott’
On Oct. 28, a special day of prayer and fasting for the
safe release of Fr. Sinnott was held in all mission houses of
Columbans across the globe.
The Superior General, Hong Kong-based Fr. Tommy
Murphy called on their confreres to join the special day of
prayer and fasting for the release of the 79-year old mis-
sionary.
“Many Columbans joined in,” O’Donoghue said, adding
that he received reports their members and friends “really
put their hearts” into the activity.
He said the relatives of Fr. Des Hartford, another
Columban Superior says no to ransom demand
Columban who was also kidnapped 12 years ago, joined the
Holy Hour in the jam-packed chapel at their Central House
in Dalgan Park.
O’Donoghue expressed optimism that God will hear the
prayers of his people and move the hearts of those holding
Fr. Mick to release him im-
mediately.
The society’s superior
said he is deeply concerned of
the continuous rains Pagadian
City is experiencing because
it might have adverse effects
on Fr. Mick’s health.
“I can only hope he (Fr.
Mick) has adequate shelter,”
O’ Donoghue said after hav-
ing experienced what it was
to stay in the boondocks under
heavy rain.
In a separate statement,
O’ Donoghue said he believes
that there is an on-going com-
munication between the Cri-
sis Management Committee
chaired by Governor Aurora
E. Cerilles and the MILF “to
clarify the manner of coopera-
tion between them.”
“I pray that agreement
can be reached soon,” he
added. He went on to say he
“welcomes and appreciates all
these efforts to help ensure the
safe and speedy release of Fr.
Mick.” (Melo M. Acuna)
today, many cooperatives have been organized to comply
with a requirement by government or to receive donations
of benefits from some private agency. Once benefits are
received, this kind of cooperatives disintegrates given no
basis of unity.
Nothing beats a cooperative organization that is initiated
by the members themselves. It is in their unity and strength
that they can leverage to enjoy more services from external
organizations. Whether for financial or business develop-
ment services, government and private institutions prefer
to deal with organized communities. The Land Bank of the
Philippines, for instance, courses its wholesale funds through
organizations, specifically cooperatives, than through indi-
viduals due to the hefty costs attendant to transacting with
the latter. These big financial institutions take calculated
risks, and dealing with a stable cooperative organization
helps minimize the risks.
Cooperatives in the Philippines have been in existence
for almost a century now, and yet continue to be relevant
and recognized even if other formal and informal organiza-
tions have evolved. The selling point here is the unity of
members and the many opportunities that the co-op brings
to its individual members.
Cooperativism, from page 9
I
Fr. Michael Sinnott
Volume 43 • Number 11
13
NEWS
FEATURES
HANOI, Vietnam, Nov. 4, 2009─The
Sisters of Saint Paul of Chartres want
a solution “based on the truth”, and an
acknowledgment that they never broke
the law. For this reason, they rejected a
solution proposed by Vinh Long authori-
ties to rebuild elsewhere the convent
they demolished (illegally according
to the Sisters), replaced with a public
square and gardens in this southern
Vietnamese city. This is what Sister
Patrick de la Croix Huynh Thi Bich
Ngoc said in an interview published on
the Vietnamese Episcopate’s website,
and reported by Églises d’Asie.
The frst two Sisters of the congrega-
tion came to Vietnam in 1860 and in Vinh
Long in 1871, Sister Patrick de la Croix
Huynh Thi Bich Ngoc said. In 1874, “they
bought land to build their convent’” at 3
Nguyên Truong Tô Street (Tô Thi Huynh
Street). By 1977, it covered an area of
10,235 m2. “We still have the papers
about the purchase and the construction.
It is all perfectly legal,” she said.
“Between 1871 and 1977, a period
spanning more than a century, our nuns
engaged in charity work—education
for children, medical care for the sick
and help for the poor—throughout the
six province region, in
particular in Vinh Long,”
she explained in response
to a question..
“In the decades be-
fore 1975, our Vinh Long
convent kept its doors
open and fed orphans.
This created a ground-
swell of sympathy for the
nuns among locals, grate-
ful for their daily charity
and social activities.”
“But after reunifica-
tion, especially beginning
on 7 September 1977,
the local (Vin Long) and
provincial (Mekong) se-
curity forces took over
the convent and kicked
the nuns out. They were
arrested and held at the
Saint Paul School.”
A month later, the
17 nuns were released,
“forced to return to their
native villages. The nun
in charge of the convent,
Sister Lê Thi Trach, was
Vinh Long nuns want justice and truth
taken to the Headquarters of the security
forces and held for two more months
and eventually forced to go to live at
the congregation’s provincial house”
in My Tho.
All this occurred “without a shred
of legal document informing us about
which articles of the Penal Code we were
supposed to have violated in order to be
dealt such a punishment: the dissolution
of our community.”
The nuns had to wait 28 years, until
2005, before they found the reasons for
the Security forces’ action. On 7 August
of that year, they were told about ruling
1958/QD.UBT of 6 September 1977,
which said that “since the orphanage
on Nguyên Truong Tô Street is a social
institution that belongs to a foreign re-
ligious congregation, built with foreign
funds, for the purpose of training young
dropouts to create forces that oppose
the Revolution and the liberation of the
Vietnamese people . . .”.
Following that decision, the con-
vent was turned into a hospital to serve
Vinh Long province. Now it is slated
to become a square. Yet, “before it
was decided to transform the convent
into a public square, the Province
had authorized the Saigon-Vinh Long
Travel Agency to build a four-star luxury
hotel.” Then, on 12 December 2008,
“as a result of changes in the cost of
construction materials”, the People’s
Committee decided to build a square
with gardens.
In the last seven years, the Sisters
turned to “every possible government
office,” people’s association, “within
the legality of the Socialist Republic of
Vietnam,” journalists and public figures
to fight for their right to rebuild. In 2007,
the answer of the Building Ministry
came, which said, “Any claim to the
land and the property of the Congrega-
tion of Saint Paul of Chartres in My Tho
cannot be met.”
Instead, what the authorities (the
People’s Committee) did in 2006 was “to
offer in compensation about 1.5 million
dong (US$ 85,000) and 3,000 m2 of land
on the outskirts of the city.”
“Recently, the Province asked us
that, in case the assistance offered to us
did not meet our needs, we could submit
a construction plan for their examina-
tion,” Sister Patrick de la Croix said.
However, this is not what the Sisters
want. “We want every solution to be
based on the truth. What-
ever it may be, if it does
not guarantee us the truth,
it cannot be right.”
“We want justice and
what is right,” the superior
said. “This means going
back to what happened
in 1977. All the solutions
proposed are premised on
the notion we broke the
law and that our property
came within the purview
of the land reform pro-
gramme. If we accept to
swap land now, it would
mean acknowledging that
we are getting a favour.
But we did not break any
rule. We must go back to
our convent.”
“The truth is that
many generations of Sis-
ters lived their religious
life in that place, for more
than a century.” For this
reason, “we shall continue
to voice our grievances.”
(AsiaNews)
IMPACT • November 2009 14
NEWS
FEATURES
JAKARTA, Indonesia, Nov. 4, 2009─Come rain or shine it is
not unusual to see Angelic Dolly Pudjowati walking the streets
of Jakarta in search of mentally ill people in need of help.
When she fnds them, she takes them to a simple halfway
house belonging to the Yayasan Griya Malaikat (Home of Angel
Foundation) she founded 40 years ago
this month for much needed care.
"I take care of (these people)
with the help of some volunteers,"
56-year-old Pudjowati told a recent
meeting in a Jakarta parish to mark
World Mental Health Day.
After being treated in the halfway
house in Bekasi, West Java, patients
are sent to a private rehabilitation
center also in West Java, where they
stay until they recover more fully.
The motivation behind the single
woman's nearly 40 years of service to
the mentally ill began when she was
9, according to her blog. She said seeing her father talking to
and helping a depressed homeless man made a deep impres-
sion on her.
She later found she had a natural talent with those experienc-
ing mental and emotional anguish after talking to and helping
friends at school who were being abused by relatives.
These experiences led her to open her Home of Angel
Foundation on Nov. 23, 1969.
Since then she has been searching for mentally stressed
people at markets, under bridges and at bus and railway stations
in Jakarta and neighboring areas.
"I want to serve Jesus by treating abandoned people hu-
manely," she said. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Some-
times, relatives of mentally ill people approach her.
Catholic woman marks 40 years helping mentally ill
Pudjowati recalled how a Protestant woman came to the
foundation's secretariat recently seeking help for her 34-year-
old son who had been suffering from stress since his divorce
three years ago.
He was being looked after in a home for mentally ill people
in the district.
When the woman, whose name is
Win, went to see her son recently, she
saw that "he was naked and chained."
The home's staff had said some patients
had to be chained to prevent them from
fghting with others or running away.
Pudjowati told UCA News that
although it is sometimes necessary to
restrain patients, this should only be a
temporary measure. "The most humane
method is to place them in rooms which
meet health standards," she said.
Win also admitted to Pudjowati
she could not afford the 250,000 ru-
piah (about US$26) fee for the home and asked Pudjowati for
help. Pudjowati eventually transferred Win's son to a private
rehabilitation center.
Part of her work also involves seeing patient in their homes.
Five days a week, she and her volunteers visit over 200 patients
in Jakarta, Bekasi and other areas.
"We give them medicine. We also offer their families guidance
on how to treat and communicate with them," Pudjowati said.
Father Thomas Aquino Rochadi Widagdo, spiritual adviser
to the foundation, is full of praise for Pudjowati. "She greets,
bathes and feeds stressed and depressed people," he said. "I fully
support her work."
The more than 1,000 patients who have passed through her
doors in the last 40 years would most certainly agree. (UCAN)
SEOUL, South Korea, Nov. 4, 2009–
The Seoul Metropolitan Government
has decided to plant 72,000 trees in
the Kubuqi Desert of Inner Mongolia,
which is the source of severe sand-
storms that sweep across Asia. The
aim is to prevent the so-called "yellow
dust", dense clouds of fine, dry soil
particles kicked up by high-speed sur-
face winds in intense storms that block
ventilation and irrigation systems on
the Korean Peninsula and create health
problems for the population.
The city signed the deal on
Tuesday with Future Forest and the
All China Youth Federation to plant
72,000 trees and will invest about
W50 million (US$ 49 million) in the
tree-planting project.
The plan calls for members of the
Seoul launches reforestation of China’s Inner Mongolia region
All China Youth Federation, which is
affliated with the Communist Party of
China, to plant trees in Inner Mongolia.
NGOs will provide technical leader-
ship and logistical support to planters,
who might have problems in creating
small oases to guarantee the survival
of the saplings.
The 72,000 trees include poplar and
desert willow, the only trees capable of
growing with shallow roots.
According to some studies by Seoul
University, if the tree-planting project
is completed as scheduled, a green
ecosystem in the desert will come into
being by the end of next year, and will
be capable of stopping the sand when
winds blow from the West.
The Kubuqi is located some 600
kilometres west of Beijing and is seventh
largest desert in the world.
Covered in forests until the late
19th century, it lost its vegetation as a
result of early industrial development
and overpopulation.
The region is known to be the
source of 40 per cent of the yellow
dust, which affects the Korean Pen-
insula every spring.
The South Koreans decided to
launch this initiative because dusty
thunderstorms have worsened over
the past decade.
Sand can provoke serious respira-
tory problems and affects especially
vulnerable groups like children, wom-
en and the elderly.
It can also clog air conditioning, an
essential service for South Koreans dur-
ing hot humid summers. (AsiaNews)
IMPACT • November 2009 16
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Creating hunger in the Philippines
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Record volumes of rice importation had reached 2.3 million MTs last
year, enabling us to keep our dubious distinction of being the biggest
rice importer in the world.
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Volume 43 • Number 11
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W
e probably took it lightly then
but it was a fact—the Philip-
pines was the highest placed
country in the Global Climate Risk index
announced at the 2007 Bali UN Climate
Change Conference. It was a way of
recognizing that in those years extreme
weather events already accounted for
3,000 deaths and widespread destruc-
tion by mudslides and typhoons in the
Philippines.
Apart from extreme weather, there
was concern that increasing temperature
would affect agricultural yields and
food security, even as rising sea levels
threatened over 40 million people or
half of our total population that lived in
coastal areas.
The prophets of global warming
spoke clearly: warmer water in the top
layer of the ocean drives more convection
energy to fuel more powerful typhoons
and hurricanes in increased frequency. As
water temperatures go up, wind veloc-
ity goes up, and so does storm moisture
condensation.
Global warming would cause more
of both foods and droughts. Also, it
would suck more moisture out of the
soil and, as a consequence, increase de-
sertifcation, and diminish agricultural
productivity. Oh, but such talk was only
for scientists and social activists—until
Ondoy, Pepeng, and Ramil decided to
visit and linger a little while to teach us
a few lessons.
Ondoy was particularly nasty for
bringing down some extras—mud and
garbage. The mud came from the moun-
tains, washed down by rainwater that
had free fow because no roots of trees
were around to hold the soil together.
The garbage, on the other hand, was
added instructional bonus, coming as
it did from the trash we so arrogantly
threw around—clogging the waterways,
making them so shallow and smelly and
narrow and all-too-ready to overfow
during heavy rains and to come back
to haunt our houses and neighborhoods
with old and new diseases for our endless
discomfort.
Most important, however, would
be—again—a looming food crisis arising
from typhoon-related greatly diminished
rice production and worse-affected food-
price behaviors due to road-and-bridge
destruction and heavy damage to pre-
and-post-harvest facilities. Instead of
this year’s hoped for 17.5 million metric
By Charles Avila
tons of rice production, it is now accepted
we would, indeed, be lucky if we could
even reach 17 million MTs (metric tons)
fat, thanks to the angry weather and our
perpetual lack of disaster-proof civil
infrastructure to deal with it.
A government report has already
initially estimated rice losses to have
reached 560,000 MTs or a monetary
value of some 10-billion pesos. Record
volumes of rice importation had reached
2.3 million MTs last year, enabling us
to keep our dubious distinction of being
the biggest rice importer in the world.
The year before our violent guests came
around we had already imported some
1.775 MMTs of rice. The plan was, by
end-October, we would import a quarter
of a million more from either one or
some or all of the following countries—
Thailand, Vietnam, China, Pakistan,
Australia, USA, and India.
Given, however, the typhoon dam-
age to the last quarter production whose
estimates have not yet been completed,
we may even have to import much more—
on the uncertain premise that the world
has enough of our staple to sell to us.
Rice is thinly traded—only 27.5 million
tons or 6.4 percent of world supply was
traded last year.
At the same time, fortunately, some
leaders saw that no harm could come from
focusing on reconstruction of typhoon
damaged infrastructure. The damage
inventory and needs assessment may take
about a month to complete but, already,
the World Bank (WB) and other multi-
lateral institutions said they will use their
own damage assessments in considering
Manila’s requests for realignment of some
slow-moving loans already available to
the Philippines.
Identifed were some $400 million in
previously approved program loans that
could now support reconstruction and re-
habilitation efforts of the instantaneously
formed “Special National Public-Private
Reconstruction Commission”. The need
to “disaster-proof” government’s devel-
opment policies, plans and programs
became rather quickly the need of the
hour. But is it that simple? When it comes
to hunger and food insecurity, what is the
bigger picture?
The bigger picture— the big land grab,
the massive conversions
The United Nations has identifed
climate change, pollution, urban migra-
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Creating hunger in the Philippines
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Creating hunger in the Philippines
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Record volumes of rice importation had reached 2.3 million MTs last
year, enabling us to keep our dubious distinction of being the biggest
rice importer in the world.
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IMPACT • November 2009 18
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tion, poverty in rural areas and lack of
sound agriculture policies by nations as
the biggest threats to food security.
Declining agriculture labor force
is also slowing down food production.
More and more rural folk move to cities
for better paying jobs. This is already
happening in the Philippines where the
exodus of rural folk to the cities has been
unprecedented, lured by job prospects
not only in local cities but also overseas,
leaving their farms for more promising
frms.
Confdent that developing nations
will continue to produce food for them,
highly developed countries also convert
lands to urban and industrial zones with
the enticement of profts much greater
than what agriculture can offer.
Or, alternatively, they go for the big
land grab. More than 20 million hectares
of farmland in the Third World countries
of Africa, Latin America and Asia are
now held by foreign governments and
companies. Rich countries with not
enough land think they could always
buy their way into their poor neighbor’s
properties.
Earlier this year, for instance, Presi-
dent Arroyo warmly announced that
China was interested in leasing 1.2
million hectares of land in our country!
She had also said late last year that her
government would explore the idea of
leasing at least 100,000 hectares of ag-
ricultural land to the emirate in Qatar.
The Philippine Agricultural Develop-
ment and Commercial Corp. (PADCC),
a government corporation attached to
the Department of Agriculture, has been
tasked with identifying suitable lands for
agribusiness development and assist-
ing prospective investors who are keen
on forging “the right deals” with local
groups and companies.
Thus, only lately there were reports
that a company from South Korea had
leased 94,000 hectares of farmland in
Mindoro for 25 years to grow 10,000
tons of corn a year for feed production
and another 60,000 hectares were given
over to the Pacifc Bio-Fields Corp. of
Japan.
One can’t blame farmer leaders
who say that before we know it, we may
already have been taken over by other
nations. These leaders may have heard
the recent public announcement by the
US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
that over 20 agribusiness frms had met
with nearly 200 Philippine companies to
form partnerships and joint ventures in
fsheries, biofuels, processed goods, meat
and poultry, dairy products, etc.
In the wake of recent typhoons, it
is these farmer leaders who feel more
urgently the need to ensure adequate land
for food production, and to slow down on
setting aside more hectares of agricultural
land for use of foreign agro-corporations.
Anyway, this kind of practice might be
quite illegal in the frst place.
The DAR and similar agencies can’t
even be sure, conveniently, how many
thousands upon thousands of hectares
have been converted over the past 22
years for uses other than food produc-
tion. Since the 1990s, farm area planted
to palay shrunk by more than 87,000
hectares while that of corn was reduced
by almost 300,000 hectares. Can anyone
deny that such decrease in farm area had
to spell both massive displacement of
Filipino farmers and dramatic decline
in domestic food production?
The violent typhoons that recently hit
us had the tendency also for going after
Vietnam and Thailand, where we import
most of our rice. One could not help but
ask: how greatly was those countries’ rice
harvest reduced? Can they still sell us rice,
and at what steep price? To which another
countered: what about a widespread El
Nino, which, for all we know, is just
lurking around, waiting for the typhoons
to leave? If it hits Vietnam and Thailand
and the Philippines, all at the same time,
which is not at all unlikely, where do we
buy rice and at what steep price?

Food prices
Food costs in developing countries
now seem more expensive—24% higher
in real terms by the end of 2008 compared
to 2006. As a new crisis of rising food
prices takes hold following recent natural
disasters, food-importing governments
will fnd it more diffcult to cope. En-
gulfed within a vortex of energy shortage,
price infation and climate change, food
security will remain the most intractable
challenge for those who criminally ne-
glected to focus on food self-reliance and
food self-suffciency. They may begin
to realize at last—or did they know it
all along—that “free” trade rules have
a way of undermining domestic food
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Volume 43 • Number 11
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Creating hunger in the Philippines—can it be stopped?
production when we engage in the global
market game without frst strengthening
our own domestic players.
It may soon become harder and
harder to deny that authoritarian Phil-
ippines followed a more patriotic line
on food policy than subsequent liberal
democratic administrations. Of many ac-
cusations hurled against the authoritarian
regime, one thing it could not be accused
of is starving the agricultural sector. If
only to head off peasant discontent, the
authoritarian regime provided farmers
with subsidized fertilizer and seeds,
launched credit plans and built rural
infrastructure. Following the common
sense policy of rice self-suffciency, it did
not have to import rice; it even achieved
Update on damage to agriculture due to Tropical Storm
“Ondoy”
T
he value of damage due to Ondoy stood at P6.7 B
as of 10/15/09. Affected were 203,477 hectares of
croplands in 34 provinces located in all Luzon’s 7
region. Lost were 329,524 MT of crops consisting of rice,
corn, and high value commercial crops; fshery products,
livestock/poultry; and facilities for irrigation, fshery and
livestock/poultry production.
Rice (R I, II, III, IVA, IVB, V, CAR)—affected were
196,519 hectares standing rice crops where 40,480 hectares
were completely damaged. Deemed lost was 299,945 MT of
palay from 184,316 hectares in reproductive/maturity stage.
The total value of loss is P5.2 B consisting of P5.1 B from
lost produce and P71 M from lost investment of farmers.
Corn (R I, II, III, IVB, V)—affected were 3,659 hectares
where 1,100 hectares have no chance to recover. Lost was
3,820 MT corn grains from the 2,828 hectares in reproduc-
tive/maturity stage. The value of damage amounts to P57
M where P50 M is from lost corn harvest and P7 M from
lost investments of farmers.
HVCC (CAR, I, II, IVA, IVB, V)—3,299 hectares were
affected resulting to a loss of 25,759 MT HVCC consisting
of mostly vegetables, mango, banana, and papaya, all
worth P257 M.
Fisheries (R III, IVA, IVB)—8,358 hectares of fshponds
with milkfsh/tilapia/prawn, fsh cages and seaweed farms were
affected resulting to a loss to the sector of P176 M. Moreover,
facilities/equipment such as boats, gillnets, fsh traps, squid
jiggers, etc., worth around P17.2 M were destroyed.
Livestock/Poultry (R III, IVA)—the sector lost a total
of 43 M with the death or loss of livestock (cattle, carabaos,
horse, swine, and sheep) and poultry. In addition facilities
like poultry, pig pens worth P1.4 M were destroyed.
Irrigation Facilities (CAR, II, III, IVA)—damaged ir-
rigation facilities amounts to P952 M with service area of
53, 486 hectares.
Update on damage to agriculture due to Typhoon
Pepeng
Pepeng affected 410,641 hectares of croplands and
caused the loss of 1,036,955 MT of rice, corn and high value
commercial crops. The total value of loss amounts to about
P19.3 B (P17,5 B from production losses from crops and
livestock/poultry and P1.8 B from damaged facilities)
Rice (R I, II, III, V, CAR)—from the affected area of
367,901 hectares, 110,187 hectares were completely dam-
aged. Deemed lost was 8740,215 MT of palay from 349,494
that were reproductive or maturity stages. Total value of loss
Excerpts of Situationer Report No. 141
Department of Agriculture Central Action Center
October 15, 2009
amounts to P14.4 B consisting of P14.3B worth of lost palay
and P0.1 B cost investment of farmers. Losses were recorded
from 21 provinces (all provinces of Cordillera, Cagayan Valley
and Central Luzon), 3 provinces of Ilocos, and 2 in Bicol.
Corn (R I, II, III, V, CAR)—affected were 21,540 hect-
ares corn area where 8,892 hectares will not be able to
recover. Lost was 42,718 MT corn grains from the 19,261
MT crops in reproductive/maturity stages. The value of
damage amounts to P578 M. The losses came from 10
provinces of 5 regions.
HVCC (CAR, I, II, V)—20,253 hectares were affected
resulting to a loss of 153,791 MT HVCC consisting mostly
of vegetables, bananas, mango and other fruit trees, all
worth P2 B.
Abaca (R V)—947 hectares from Catanduanes were
affected resulting to a loss of 231 MT of abaca fber valued
at P 5M.
Livestock/Poultry (R I, III, CAR)—farm animals con-
sisting of livestock (cattle, carabaos, goat, swine, sheep) and
poultry, all values at P13 M were reported dead or lost.
Irrigation facilities (R I, II, III, IVA, IVB, V, CAR)—the
National Irrigation Administration (NIA) reported damaged
Communal Irrigation System (CIS)/National Irrigation Sys-
tem (NIS) which were damaged at a cost of P1.8 B. Said
irrigation facilities have a service area of 178,180 hectares
of croplands.
Impact of rice and corn production targets in the 4
th

quarter (of 2009)
Rice—the two typhoons caused the loss of 1.1 M MT
of palay. This loss is 17.59 % of the 6.48 M MT projected
harvest for the 4
th
quarter.
Central Luzon and Cagayan Valley lost the biggest vol-
ume at 498,709 MT and 350,617 MT, respectively. Among
the affected provinces, the percentage of loss versus the
projected harvest is highest in the following provinces:
Laguna—96%, Apayao—61%, and Pampanga—56%.
Corn—the sector lost 46,538 MT which is 3.33% of
the target harvest of 1.4 M MT for the quarter.
Cagayan Valley lost the biggest at 28,701 MT, a 21.64%
reduction in its projected harvest. Bulk of this loss is from
the province of Cagayan which lost 27,138 MT, which is
more than the projected harvest of the province of 25,310
MT only. Also badly damaged is Apayao of CAR, which
lost 11,969 MT, which is already 97.82% of its projected
harvest for the quarter.
(Prepared by Marites D. Buernardo, Chief of the Central
Action Center of the Department of Agriculture)
surpluses for export and in 1986 when
the regime came to an end there were
900,000 metric tons of rice in government
warehouses. Liberal democratic Philip-
pines chose to follow a “debt-service
payments frst” rather than a “food frst”
policy. The World Bank and its Philip-
pine think-tanks assured government and
people that State belt-tightening would
I
IMPACT • November 2009 20
the “hunger weather.”
On the world level, one billion hun-
gry people—is a frst in human history.
If anyone asks whether it is within our
power and not beyond our expertise to
consign this suffering to history, we must
welcome the query warmly, immediately,
with a clear resolve that we have to do
what we can.
With the global fnancial crisis not
going away soon enough, hunger is likely
to increase as the purchasing power of the
poor diminishes due to reduced incomes
and higher unemployment. It is simply
not fair but the fact is that the poor, who
were least responsible for setting the f-
nancial crisis in motion, are now the least
protected from its negative impact.
While more than one billion people
experience the hardship that hunger im-
poses, the obvious may easily escape us,
namely that the cost of alleviating world
hunger is negligible compared to the tril-
lion dollar rescue packages designed to
save fnancial institutions and stimulate
economies in the imperial world.
In the longer term, investment in ag-
ricultural development in food-insecure
countries is essential. As FAO’s Mr. Diouf
said, “Investment in agriculture must be
increased because for the majority of poor
countries a healthy agricultural sector
is essential to overcome poverty and
hunger and is a pre-requisite for overall
economic growth.”
Agriculture will need to double food
production in 40 years but in a way that
reduces its big environmental impacts on
a changing climate.
We have doubled production before
but in ways that use more water, more land,
and more fertilizer. Agriculture hasn’t
always been as soft on the environment
as we will need to be in the future. From
hereon, ecological agriculture is key. We
must never think of operating apart from
but always as part of nature.
Creating hunger in the Philippines—can it be stopped?
motivate the private sector to make the
countryside prosperous with their hoped-
for investments.
The painful truth was that spending
on agriculture fell by more than half—
resulting in quickly diminished agricul-
tural capacity, stagnation of irrigation,
and generally anemic crop yields with
the average rice yield way below those
in China, Vietnam and Thailand, where
governments actively promoted rural
production, more often than not using
Philippine-generated rice technologies.
Deprived of funding for support ser-
vices, agrarian reform focused not on ap-
propriate land use but on so-called “land
acquisition and distribution” schemes
that were quite often merely cover for a
massive land-conversion program. After
all, the objective eye cannot argue with
the results especially in Central Luzon
and Southern Tagalog whose peasant
struggles made it possible to have “land
reform” legislation in the frst place.
Even before the foods, one no lon-
ger saw as much farms and farmers in
those places as before but subdivisions
and tracts of lands lying fallow, thanks
to the actions of speculators precisely
made possible by unintelligent “agrarian
reforms”. If agrarian reform were such
a big success, why did we become so
shamefully the biggest rice importer on
the face of the earth? Or are we ready
to say we became No. 1 rice importer
precisely because of the roaring success
of our agrarian reform program?
It can no longer be denied: Filipino
peasants distrusted the liberal democratic
state even more because of its full-scale
retreat as provider of comprehensive
support—a factor that was found key
to the successful reforms in Taiwan
and South Korea. In the matter alone of
market roadwork paved, both Thailand
and Malaysia beat the Philippines hands
down on an eight-to-one ratio.
On A Global Scale
The very frst question in the FAQ
of the United Nations’ World Food Pro-
gram is: (1) “Is there a food shortage in
he world?” And their blunt answer is:
“There is enough food in the world today
for everyone to have the nourishment
necessary for a healthy and productive
life.” Yes, indeed, enough food can be
produced but it still must be bought.
And if people are too poor to buy food
at unaffordable prices, it will follow that
they will also be hungry.
But, then, they also say in Number
(3) that “despite the impression you often
get from the media, emergencies account
for less than eight percent of hunger’s
victims. Few people realize that there are
over 1 billion hungry people in the world
who don’t make the headlines. Number
(4): Of the total number of over 1 billion
chronically hungry people, over half are
in Asia and the Pacifc and a quarter is in
Sub-Saharan Africa.” Does this include
the Philippines?
In their Global Hunger Index (GHI)
report released a couple of weeks back,
the hunger problem in the Philippines
was categorized as “serious” and the
country ranked 34th among 84 countries
in the Index.
In the SWS studies, for whatever they
are worth, just before the three strong
typhoons visited us, the proportion of
families experiencing involuntary hunger
at least once in the past three months had
eased a little bit—down to 17.5 per cent
or about 3.2 million families, from 20.3
per cent or 3.7 million families in the
previous quarter. Hunger, however, has
consistently been in double-digits for fve
years, since June 2004, the SWS said.
In SWS lingo, the overall average
of 12.6 percent is a rough measure of
the “hunger climate” from 1998 to the
present. The quarterly and year-to-year
percentages, on the other hand, refer to
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Be realistic but not too political
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Volume 43 • Number 11
21
By Fr. Roy Cimagala
T
hat's what Pope Benedict told African bishops recently
as they closed their synod in Rome. The synod’s theme
was “The Church of Africa at the service of reconcili-
ation, justice and peace.”
It’s obvious that the assembly was meant to tackle a
tricky and delicate situation where the Church, especially the
bishops and priests, have to know how to strike the balance
between the spiritual and political dimensions of Christian
life. I can just imagine how things are in that volatile con-
tinent of Africa.
It’s a situation similar to ours, and I suppose to many
other places. That’s why that piece of news immediately
grabbed my attention, since I would like to know exactly
how the balance is made, what requirements and consider-
ations are kept.
Especially now when we are celebrating the Year of the
Priests, and the clergy is agitated to sharpen the exercise of
their prophetic role in social matters, clear guidelines from
the Vatican would be most welcome and helpful.
We cannot deny the blatant fact that controversial
interventions, confusing at the very least, by some of our
ecclesiastical big shots in social and political issues have
left many of us bewildered and even scandalized.
Many of the faithful have complained that some Church
leaders are too condemnatory in their statements, with words
and tone that are laced with a condescending know-it-all
attitude and sarcasm.
They also observe that the leaders seem to speak more
vociferously in areas where they do not have or have less
competence, while almost being silent or weak in the media
in questions they should be clear and loud about.
For example, a bishop told some priests in their retreat
that contraceptives like condoms are okay as long as it is
not abortifacient. Many were wondering what happened
to Pope Paul VI’s “Humanae Vitae” after listening to that
enlightenment.
Also, the irregularities within the Church structure give
the impression that Church officials are remiss in their duties
as they stray into matters they should not be.
In short, people think these leaders only manage to
Be realistic but not too political
embarrass the Church and religion in general in the eyes
of the world. That’s why there is also a growing fallout of
the faithful.
In that address to the African bishops, the Pope only
hinted that the synod was successful in identifying the way
to reach that balance, but no details were mentioned. I sup-
pose we have to wait a little for the relevant document to
come out. That should be very exciting!
Also the Pope pointed out the significance of a synod,
saying that it is ¨a common journey, referring to the truth that
in serving God and men the Church has to go together, talk
and discuss things together, especially to determine solutions
and remedies to problems along the way. Beautiful idea!
Let's quote some lines of that address:
The theme "Reconciliation, Justice and Peace" certainly
implies a strong political dimension, even if it is obvious
that reconciliation, justice and peace are not possible without
a profound purification of the heart, without a renewal of
thought, a "metanoia" ("conversion"), without a newness that
must come precisely from the encounter with God.
But even if this spiritual dimension is profound and fun-
damental, the political dimension is also very real, because
without political realizations, these new things of the Spirit
are not commonly realized.
Thus, the temptation could have been to politicize the
theme, to speak less of pastoral work and more about politics,
with a competence that is not ours.
The other danger was—precisely to flee from the first
temptation ─ that of retreating into a purely spiritual world,
into an abstract and beautiful but unrealistic world.
But the discourse of a pastor must be realistic; it must deal
with reality, but from the perspective of God and his Word.
How I wish the spirit and flavor of these words become
palpable every time we read and hear Church leaders' inter-
ventions in social and political issues!
Obviously we cannot discount the likely possibility
of how media play up these interventions that distort and
even annul their original intent. This has been happening
often lately. It is also an area clamoring to be studied well
and remedied.
In the end, I think it is a matter of continuing formation for
all parties involved—clergy, the lay faithful, media, etc. I
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STATEMENTS
M
r. Jacques Diouf,
If the celebration of World
Food Day recalls the founda-
tion of the FAO and its action in the
fight against hunger and malnutrition
in the world, it stresses above all the
urgent need for interventions on behalf
of all who are without daily bread, in so
many countries, because of inadequate
food security.
The actual crisis that is hitting
all sectors of the economy without
distinction is particularly harshly af-
fecting the world of farming, whose
situation is becoming dramatic. This
crisis demands that Governments and
the different elements of the Interna-
tional Community make decisive and
effective decisions.
To guarantee people and peoples
the possibility of overcoming the
scourge of hunger is to assure them
concrete access to adequate, healthy
food. Indeed, this is a practical ex-
pression of the right to life which,
although it is solemnly proclaimed,
all too often remains far from being
implemented fully.
The theme chosen by the FAO
for World Food Day is: "Achieving
food security in times of crisis". It is
an invitation to consider agricultural
work as a fundamental element of food
security and consequently as fully part
of economic activity. For this reason,
farming must have access to adequate
investments and resources. This topic
calls into question and makes clear that
by their nature the goods of creation are
limited: they therefore require respon-
sible attitudes capable of encourag-
ing the sought-after security, thinking
likewise of that of future generations.
Thus profound solidarity and farsighted
brotherhood are essential.
The realization of these objectives
entails a necessary change in lifestyle
and mindsets. It obliges the interna-
tional community and its institutions
to intervene in a more appropriate and
forceful way. I hope that such an in-
tervention may encourage cooperation
with a view to protecting the methods
of cultivating the land proper to each
‘Achieving Food Security in Times of Crisis’
Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI to Mr. Jacques Diouf,
Director General of FAO, on the occasion of World Food Day 2009
region and to avoiding a heedless use
of natural resources. I also hope that
this cooperation will preserve the val-
ues proper to the rural world and the
fundamental rights of those who work
the land. By setting aside privileges,
profit and convenience, it will then be
possible to achieve these objectives for
the benefit of the men, women, children,
families and communities that live in
the poorest regions of the planet and are
the most vulnerable. Experience shows
that even advanced technical solutions
lack efficiency if they do not put the
person first and foremost, who comes
first and who, in his or her spiritual and
physical dimensions, is the alpha and
the omega of all activity.
Rather than an elementary need,
access to food is a fundamental right
of people and peoples. It will therefore
become a reality, hence a security, if
adequate development is guaranteed
in all the different regions. The drama
of hunger in particular can only be
overcome by "eliminating the structural
causes that give rise to it and promot-
ing the agricultural development of
the poorer countries. This can be done
by investing in rural infrastructures,
irrigation systems, transport, organi-
zation of markets, and in the develop-
ment and dissemination of appropriate
agricultural technology that can make
the best use of the human, natural and
socio-economic resources that are more
readily available at the local level"
(Caritas in Veritate, n. 27).
Faithful to her vocation to be close
to the most deprived, the Catholic
Church promotes, sustains and par-
ticipates in the efforts made to enable
each people and each community to
have access to the necessary means to
guarantee an appropriate level of food
security.
In expressing these wishes, I renew
to you, Mr Director-General, the expres-
sion of my high esteem and I invoke an
abundance of divine Blessings upon the
FAO, upon the Member States and upon
all the personnel.
From the Vatican, 16 October
2009
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
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STATEMENTS
M
r. Chairman,
As we consider the promotion and protection
of the rights of children, we also commemorate
the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,
an important instrument aimed at protecting the rights and
interests of children.
In the course of the past twenty years the Convention has
been ratifed or acceded to by almost two hundred States; the
Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed
confict has been ratifed by almost 130 countries; and the
Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution
and child pornography has been ratifed by over 130 coun-
tries. International consensus has grown as governments have
become more aware of the need to
protect all children. In this regard,
my delegation encourages all States
that have not yet done so to join in
furthering the legal protection of
children by ratifying or acceding to
the Convention and the Protocols
and calls for a correct application
of these legal instruments which
entails respect for the inherent right
to life of all children.
A recent UNICEF report
comes with good news: the global
under-fve mortality has decreased
steadily over the past two decades.
However, statistics also tell us that
in the last decade more than two
million children have been killed
in the course of armed confict; six
million have been left disabled, tens
of thousands mutilated by antiper-
sonnel mines, and over 300,000
recruited as child soldiers.
In our discussions on ending
violence against children we can-
not but call to mind that for too
many children the right to life is
denied; that prenatal selection
eliminates babies suspected to have disabilities and female
children simply because of their sex; that oftentimes children
become the first victims of famines and wars; that they are
maimed by unexploded munitions; that they lack sufficient
food and housing; that they are deprived of schooling; that
they become sick with AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis without
access to medicines; that they are sold to traffickers, sexually
exploited, recruited into irregular armies, uprooted by forced
displacements, or compelled into debilitating work.
Eliminating violence against children demands that the
state and society support and enable the family to carry out
its proper responsibility. Governments must assume their
rightful role to protect and promote family life because the
family has obvious vital and organic links with society.
Civil society also has an important role to play in supporting
the family and counteracting all forms of violence against
children. For its part, the Catholic Church's over 300,000
social, caring and educational institutions work daily to
ensure both education for children and provide the reinte-
gration of abused and neglected children into their families
if possible, and into society.
At times, in deliberations on the promotion and protec-
tion of the rights of the child, there can unfortunately be
a tendency to speak in terms of the relationship between
the child and the state while inadvertently minimizing the
role of parents. In this regard
my delegation cannot emphasize
enough the importance of the
family in the life of each and
every child and that all legisla-
tion regarding children must take
into account the indispensable
role of parents, for children are
born of a mother and father, and
into the fundamental community
which is the family. Not surpris-
ingly, the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights has rightly
affirmed that “the family is the
natural and fundamental group
unit of society and is entitled
to protection by society and
the State” (Article 16,3), and
that, relatedly, “motherhood and
childhood are entitled to special
care and assistance” and “all
children, whether born in or out
of wedlock, shall enjoy the same
social protection” (Article 25,2).
These affirmations are not con-
cepts imposed from the outside
but instead are complementary
principles derived from the na-
ture of the human person.
This year the General Assembly continues its consideration
of the right of children to express their views freely in all mat-
ters affecting them and so rightly focuses on the importance
of truly hearing them. All children need to be respected fully
in their inherent dignity for they are fully human beings. The
Convention on the Rights of the Child does not explicitly in-
clude an article on a specifc right to participate. Nonetheless,
the Convention does contain articles that take into account the
participation of children, for example, in expressing their views
and having these views heard (Article 12). In considering the
‘For Too Many Children the Right to Life Is Denied’
Statement of Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy
See at the United Nations, on the promotions and protection of the rights of
children; delivered before the 64th session o the U.N. General Assembly.
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STATEMENTS
C
BCP-NASSA joins the call of the
farmers from Davao City, Davao
del Norte, Davao del Sur and
Compostela Valley in condemning the
use of aerial spray by transnational and
multinational companies in their banana
plantations.
Aerial spraying violates a person’s
right to life and safe environment. The
planes used by plantation owners spray
multitude of chemicals right over the
peoples’ heads. The farmers, mostly
indigenous people residing near banana
plantations, have developed health com-
plications ranging from respiratory ail-
ments, blindness, acute allergies, nausea,
high blood pressure, palpitations, goiter,
and various forms of cancer. Many, if
not all, have also seen their own crops
die from the toxic pesticides carried by
the air drift.
Aerial spraying disrespects human
dignity. These people are being con-
tinuously exposed to chemicals against
their will. They are forced to raise their
families in areas plagued by serious en-
vironmental hazards. Of great concern
to the Church is the fact that pesticide
Stop the Poison Rain
Aerial Spraying is a desecration of life and human dignity
poisoning is disproportionately borne
by low-income, minority communities
who are oftentimes incapable of seeking
proper medical attention.
Despite these problems being re-
vealed and publicized, a permanent, ef-
fective solution has not been put in place.
This is due in part to the infuence of the
banana plantation owners, collectively
known as the Pilipino Banana Growers
and Exporters Association, who have
direct control in the policymaking at
the local level, and supposedly brings
in huge export earnings to the country.
The government’s disregard of our suc-
cessive appeals causes us to conclude
that speculative economics may be
outweighing the need to protect human
health. However, one cannot put a price
tag on the damage that PBGEA’s toxic
chemicals cause to the people. The eco-
nomic costs of pollution and the collapse
of communities will be ultimately and
signifcantly greater than the projected
earnings from banana production.
The PBGEA, whose members live in
places way beyond the reach of the “poi-
son rain”, cannot trade human health for
proft. It has the responsibility to reverse
the gross health risks their companies have
imposed on the poor. Besides, a shift in
technology will not bring heavy loses to
the industry, but will only temporarily
reduce the proft margins. If they managed
to comply with the non-aerial spraying
policies of other places like Bukidnon,
they can certainly afford to discontinue the
practice in Davao City, Davao del Norte,
Davao del Sur and Compostela Valley.
Environmental protection is a right,
not a privilege reserved for the few who
can fend off protests or shun account-
abilities. If there is doubt as to the effect
of the spray, the government must resolve
the problem in favor of the people, rather
than the growers. It is better to sacrifce
proft than the health of the people and
the environment. Moreover, aerial ap-
plication of chemicals is a clear violation
against the Philippine Clean Air Act (RA
8749) and the Philippine Clean Water
Act (RA 9275). Thus, DOH, DENR and
DA are duty-bound to uphold and imple-
ment these laws. Instead of discrediting
and contesting the fndings of their own
medical experts who confrmed the risks
posed by aerial spraying, the government
must pursue the common good – of all the
members of the community, including the
minority, over economic pragmatism.
In the light of unresolved health
complaints and scientific questions,
I take this opportunity to remind the
authorities of the principle that should
always take primacy in dealing with
environmental issues: “The State should
actively endeavor within its territory to
prevent destruction of the atmosphere
and biosphere, by carefully monitoring,
among other things, the impact of new
technological or scientifc advances…
and ensuring that its citizens are not
exposed to dangerous pollutants or toxic
wastes.” (Message of Pope John Paul II
for the 1990 World Day of Peace)
For the CBCP Episcopal Commis-
sion on Social Action – Justice and
Peace.
+ BRODERICK S. PABILLO, DD
Chairman, ECSA – JP
National Director, NASSA – JP
30 October 2009
Statement on the Kidnapping of Fr. Michael Sinnott
T
he CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action – Justice and Peace
strongly denounces the kidnapping of Columban Missionary, Fr. Michael
Sinnott, last October 11 in his home in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del
Sur. We appeal to the kidnappers of Fr. Sinnott to release him immediately
so he may safely return to his parish and his community.
Fr. Sinnott has been active in various social services, like in the Centre
and School for Special Children, which he established, and has been bravely
working for interfaith, and peacebuilding programs in Mindanao.
We express our solidarity with the Diocese of Pagadian, headed by the
Most Rev. Emmanuel Cabajar, and to the community of the Columban Mis-
sionaries.
We likewise emphasize that Fr. Sinnott’s kidnapping constitutes a flagrant
distortion of the aims and aspirations of the peace-loving people of Mind-
anao. It is a desecration of the religious values and an infringement against
the spirit of human dignity and solidarity, which the Muslims and Christians
are jointly pursuing.
A crime of this kind is a fresh reminder of the need for a sustained effort in
dealing with kidnapping and abduction committed by terrorist groups. We call
upon the government to bring to justice those responsible for this outrageous
crime and demonstrate that lawlessness and impunity will not be tolerated.
+ BRODERICK S. PABILLO, DD
National Director, NASSA – JP
October 12, 2009
Volume 43 • Number 11
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STATEMENTS
T
he gospel in today’s celebration of
Prison Awareness Sunday reminds us
that Christ brings light to those who are
in the dark. Jesus brought light in the life of
Bartimeus when He made him see.
We who are called to follow Christ are
also asked to bring that same light wherever
there is darkness.
There is darkness when there is no freedom,
when you’re abandoned and separated from
your loved ones, when you are suffering from
loneliness, fears, condemnation and injustices.
It is this kind of darkness that the prisoners and
the victims of crimes are suffering from.
The prisoners need to see light, the vic-
tims need to be in the light and the community
needs to see their role as light bearers—the
same light that Christ brought to Bartimeus and to us.
Bartimeus came to Jesus and asked that he may see.
Because of his faith Jesus gave him what he was asking for.
With the same faith, we can come to Jesus and ask for the
graces that we need especially for our brothers and sisters
who have been hurt by crime.
To make our observance of the Prison Awareness Sunday,
let us then invoke God:
• That the Church through its faithfulness to the gospel values
may continue to bring the light of Christ to the world that
is in darkness because of the proliferation of materialistic
and distorted values.
• That the leaders of our nation through their selfless and
competent leadership may bring light to a nation that is in
W
e, the 75 participants of the 27th
ECIP – IPA National Conven-
tion held at Maryridge Retreat
House, Tagaytay City on September 14-18,
2009, refecting on the theme: “The Church
and the Indigenous Peoples Refecting on
Faith” in the context of the “10th Year
Anniversary of the Day of Pardon Mass
on March 12, 2010”, declare that:
Integral Evangelization with the
Indigenous Peoples is witnessing to
the Gospel of Jesus, journeying with
Statement of the 27th ECIP – IPA National Convention
them in a dialogue of life and faith and
celebrating the richness of each other’s
values and life-events.
Together, we respect human dignity,
uphold the right to ancestral domain
and cultural identity and work towards
total human development and integrity
of creation.
Towards this end, we commit our-
selves to:
• enter into an interfaith dialogue with
Indigenous Peoples (IPs) who adhere to
Message
22nd Prison Awareness Sunday
darkness because of corruption, poverty and
division.
• That the families and friends of the prisoners
and victims of crime that their understanding,
forgiveness and love may bring healing and
reconciliation to those who are in darkness
because of loneliness and separation.
• That the members of the custodial force and
correctional employees through their commit-
ment to serve and help in the restoration of
the prisoners may bring light to our brothers
and sisters who are in darkness.
• That the prisoners and the victims may be
a source of the light of Christ to each other
as they work together to build Christian
communities among themselves and promote
justice that heals.
• That those who are actively involved in prison ministry
may continue to bring light in the life of the prisoners and
the victims through their steadfast commitment to serve the
prison society.
• That we link arms together with Christ and be a caring
church responding to those who have been hurt by crime
and help build Christian communities in our society and
like Christ be an instrument of healing, reconciliation and
the new life.
+MOST REV. PEDRO D. ARIGO, DD
Vicar Apostolic of Puerto Princesa
Chair, Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care
October 25, 2009
their traditional belief systems;
• facilitate inculturation among the
baptized Catholic IPs;
• engage in ecumenical dialogue with
IPs of other Christian faith;
• heed the imperative of immersion in
our dialogue of life with the IPs, entering
into their worldview and understanding
their way of life;
• support the IP communities in their
efforts towards self-determination and
genuine empowerment; and
• appreciate and affirm the creation
spirituality of the IPs.
It is our hope that as we journey
with them, we truly share the dignity of
being children of the one God.
For the participants of the 27th
ECIP-IPA National Convention,
+MOST REV. SERGIO L. UTLEG, DD
Bishop of Laoag
Chairperson, Episcopal Commission on
Indigenous Peoples
concrete application of child participa-
tion it must always be remembered, as
is affrmed in the Convention, that States
Parties are called to “respect the responsi-
bilities, rights and duties of parents … to
provide, in a manner consistent with the
evolving capacities of the child, appropri-
ate direction and guidance in the exercise
by the child of the rights recognized in
the Convention” (Article 5).
On this occasion the Holy See
once again reaffirms its constant con-
cern for the well-being and protection
of all children and their families and
continues to call all States to do the
same with renewed urgency since all
children deserve to grow up in a stable
and healthy environment in keeping
with their dignity.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Denied, from page 23
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FROM THE
BLOGS
W
hen the matter of “Climate Change”, “Global Warming”
and related concerns were frst brought to the formal
attention of the world, at frst there was shock. This
was followed by worry that in some way ended in doubt if not
downright rejection by some members of the world of science
and technology due to counter arguments of their own.
Eventually, however, there have been some concrete moves
taken and particular resolves made specifcally to counter and
thereby respond to the already felt adverse climate effects in
certain parts of the globe. This is especially relevant to countries
leading in business and industry, and wherefore also leading in
gas and coal consumption said to have big effect in global warm-
ing causative of climate change. In general, the call is in favor
of more ecologically safe sources of energy, more especially on
the part of developed countries in Europe and in Asia.
In other words, true or false, partly true or partly false,
a good number of countries—be these already developed or
simply developing—are responding in their own opted ways
to the fatal danger poised by the change of world climate pre-
cisely due to the warming of the globe as a whole. In fact, as
time goes by—particularly in those continents that repeatedly
suffer much from natural disasters such as howling typhoons,
formidable earthquakes and other extraordinary calamities that
are climate connected—there are more and more people taking
"Climate Change" more seriously. At present, there seem to be
two major theories to explain the change in world climate and
the warming of the globe.
Climate change
S
urprising yet suspicious. Ambigu-
ous and disturbing. Impressive but
frightening. These are some of the
confused and confusing messages brought
to fore by the unexpected and interesting
declaration coming straight from the seat
of supreme power in the country. Just for
the record, it might be good to forewarn
people that a “state” implies something
stable in being and lasting in time. In
other words, the said “state” is not a
reality that comes and goes but instead
remains and stays for an indefnite time
frame. And to say that the same “state” is
qualifed as “national”, this is truly a very
serious qualifying term as the “calamity”
is thus assumed as verifed all over the
land which in fact is composed of some
hundreds of islands.
It is not wherefore unexpected that
the declaration—by virtue of a possibly
newly assumed title of “typhoon Czar”—
the following reactions of some people
were heard from some quarters qualify-
ing it as “Over-Acting”, “Over-kill” and
the like. And they are not altogether
wrong and unjustifed in their reactions
State of national calamity
Some scientists say that the warming is basically caused by a
heating earth that thereby makes more and more water evaporate
to the clouds. These in turn when already so much saturated, pour
immense quantity of water back to earth which causes fooding,
landslides and the like. Recently, other scientist claim that the global
warming is in reality caused by the progressively more burning
sun that thereby accordingly brings about global warming, climate
change and all other adversities in nature and in the environ.
Concretely in conjunction with the infamous “Ondoy” and
“Pepeng” much unwelcome visits to the Philippines, it seems that
the phenomenon itself of climate change for whatever cause, is
no longer debatable. For decades, there was nothing like the said
terribly destructive pair that landed on the islands—particularly
in Luzon—that took so many lives, fattened so many houses,
destroyed so many crops and impoverished so many families.
The lamentation is rightfully “Never before!” but the expectation
is not “Never again!”
For those still harboring either doubt or rejection of climate
change, it would be enough for them to go over world history—in
addition to biblical narration if they so wish. They say one and the
same thing: Ever since climate came about, it has been continuously
changing in the course of time. Otherwise, how could the following
be rationally explained: The division of land into islands. The com-
ing out of mountains here and there. The making of volcanoes in
this and that place. The rarity of certain plants and the appearance
of new ones. The extinction of these and those huge mammals.
www.ovc.blogspot.com
whereas as of even date, the two recent
typhoons damaged but a part of Metro
Manila and a section of Northern Luzon.
And, needless to say, the Philippines is
certainly very much more in territorial
national confnes than the said typhoon
unfortunate affected areas.
And from the business sectors espe-
cially from the big and small manufactur-
ers of basic foods and commodities down
to their sellers from super markets to the
neighborhood stores, rightly or wrongly,
the following were also heard about their
depreciation of their Supreme Leader and
the choice-followers of the latter: “They are
ignorant of market forces.” “They do not
know even the rule of supply and demand.”
And similar negative observations. No!
This is defnitely not favoring profteers,
much less it is negating the plight of poor,
specially the typhoon victims. But truth to
say, the former are relatively few compared
with the huge number of honest business
people. And the latter are likewise much
lesser in count than those spared by the
recent upheavals of nature. In other words,
that there is a calamity here and there,
adversely affecting some areas and their
residents, yes! But there is calamity all
over the country unfortunately impover-
ishing the all 90 million Filipinos!
Furthermore, this is strange but
true. The State of National Calamity
has some things in common with the
State of Emergency. Warrantless ar-
rests. Pre-emptive action and the like.
One thing is certain: The present crop
of Filipinos appears to be getting used
to domestication and dominion. In the
same way they seem to be already tired
of hearing graft and corrupt practices in
practically all agencies of the reigning
government—specially so at the very top
of its hierarchy. And this brings to mind
the big question of spending the “Calam-
ity Fund” in many places where there is
no calamity at all—and wherefore giving
the local public offcials concerned the
offcial go signal to proft from the spend-
ing, to thus tow the line of the political
machinery of the administration, and to
wherefore prepare for forthcoming huge
election expenses.
www.ovc.blogspot.com
Volume 43 • Number 11
27
The recent climate catastrophes in the country that wasted
many lives, that destroyed much assets and that continues to
haunt and challenge the Filipino spirit, expectedly called the
attention of the international community. In solidarity with
the already poor and still impoverished thousands of Filipino
families, different countries already sent their much appreci-
ated rescue and/or relief services. Such was the gravity and
extent of the devastation that even the United Nations (UN)
decided to send its assistance in cash and in kind to the Philip-
pines. The humiliating factor in all these grants and donations
is that they are being sent to this country specifcally under
the “Presumption of Corruption” made by the said composite
universal donor.
In other words, the UN knows only too well what kind
of many high public offcials this suffering country has—
especially on the occasion of the incumbency of the present
administration. Many qualifying terms and phrases can be
said about the present government—except the presumption
of integrity. Malacañang “enjoys” the presumption of cor-
ruption. This is so painful to say yet too fallacious to refute,
very shameful to affrm yet highly hypocritical to deny The
ground reality is that even the incumbent administration is
gone when its supreme leader is a Malacañang tenant no more
and even when the latter’s allies have opted for private lives if
ever, rightly or wrongly, the presumption of corruption would
in all probability follow them still. And that indeed is a stiff
moral price to pay for.
I
n the same way that someone is presumed innocent until
proven guilty, everyone is assumed honest until otherwise
established as corrupt. This is the way of a fair people, the
norm of a civil community, the system of just laws. The opposite
therefore is not only offensive to reason but also contrary to
social justice. That is why it can be said that there could readily
emerge social disorder and public disharmony, not to mention
pervasive injustice and profound inequity, in the event that
the presumption of corruption premised on the assumption of
guilt, ever become the norm of pre-tainted thinking followed
by the consequent cause for punitive action.
But what if a given administration has been wallowing
in a long litany of duly exposed big and scandalous corrupt
deals and devious practices, has wherefore received defnitely
more than one public dreadful citation for corruption accord-
ing to the judgment not only by national and regional but
also international fora? What if someone has been uncovered
as involved not only in corrupt but also corrupting action
and reaction patterns, and has wherefore in fact consistently
received one very negative trust rating after another practi-
cally throughout the tenure of power and infuence? What if
a particularly high public offcial supposedly in a position of
an equally high public trust, instead customarily engages in
self-service for personal interests in conjunction with the dis-
bursement of huge public funds? In this concrete case, could
the presumption of integrity still be sincerely, reasonably and
objectively upheld?
EDITORIAL
Presumption of corruption
Illustration by Bladimer Usi
IMPACT • November 2009 28
FROM THE
INBOX
From the e-mail messages of lanbergado@cbcpworld.net
W
hile at the park one day, a wom-
an sat down next to a man on a
bench near a playground.
“That’s my son over there,” she said,
pointing to a little boy in a red sweater
who was gliding down the slide.
“He’s a fne looking boy” the man
said. “That’s my daughter on the bike in
the white dress.”
Then, looking at his watch, he called
to his daughter. “What do you say we
M
ichael and I did not know when the waiter put the
plates on our table. At the time we were sitting in a
small restaurant, hidden from the busy Third Street,
in New York City. Even the smell of freshly served blintze
did not hamper our conversation.
In fact, we let the blintze soaked
in the sour cream. We enjoyed the
conversation too much that we
forgot to eat.
Our conversation was so enjoy-
able though we did not speak about
important things. We laughed and
talked about the movie which we
have watched the night before.
While our funny conversation
continued, my eyes went across the
room and stopped at the corner.
A couple of old folks sit in there.
The woman was wearing a fower dress with faded color, the
same with the cushion where she laid her pallid handbag. The
man's top shined just like the boiled egg which he was eating
very slowly. The woman chewed her oatmeal very slowly too,
seemingly with much effort.
But what made my mind thought about them was the
silence around them. It seemed like a melancholy emptiness
flled their corner. The silence of the couple disturbed me. How
sad, I thought, if there was nothing at all to talk about. Were
The tender caress
there any pages in each other's life they had
not read? What if it happened to us?
Michael and I paid our food and went
out. When we passed the corner where the
couple sat, my wallet fell. When I stooped
to get it, I saw, under the table, they were tenderly holding
each other's hand. They were eating in silence while holding
each other's hand! I stood upright.
I was very touched to see the simple yet very meaningful
action refecting the close relation-
ship of the couple. I felt special just
to watch it.
The tender caress the old man's
hand to his wife's wrinkle and
tired fngers, flled, not only what
I thought was an empty corner, but
it flled my heart too.
Their silence was not the un-
comfortable emptiness like the one
we used to have after the jokes we
had on our frst date. It was not that.
Their silence was the pleasant and
relaxing one, it was the expres-
sion of a tender love and it did not always need the words to
express it.
They might have spent hours like this every morning. Maybe
this morning was no different from yesterday, but they enjoyed
it with peace. They receive each other for what they are.
When Michael and I are out of the restaurant, I thought,
maybe it is nothing bad at all if some day we have something
like that. Maybe, it will become the expression of a tender
and complete love.
Just five more minutes
Beauty tips
A
dear old lady was asked what she used to make
her complexion so beautiful and her whole
being so bright and attractive.
She answered:
"I use for my lips, truth
I use for my voice, kindness
I use for my ears, compassion
I use for my hands, charity
I use for my figure, uprightness
I use for my heart, love
I use for any who do not like me, prayer."
go, Melissa?”
Melissa pleaded, “Just fve more
minutes, Dad. Please? Just fve more
minutes.”
The man nodded and Melissa con-
tinued to ride her bike to her heart’s
content.
Minutes passed and the father stood
and called again to his daughter. “Time
to go now?”
Agai n Mel i ssa
pleaded, “Five more
minutes, Dad. Just fve
more minutes.”
The man smiled and
said, “Okay.”
“My, you certainly
are a patient father,” the
woman observed.
The man smiled and
then said, “Her older
brother Tommy was
killed by a drunk driver
last year while he was
riding his bike near here. I never spent
much time with Tommy and now I’d give
anything for just fve more minutes with
him. I’ve vowed not to make the same
mistake with Melissa.
“She thinks she has fve more min-
utes to ride her bike. The truth is, I get
fve more minutes to watch her play,”
the man said.
©

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Volume 43 • Number 11
29
The Ways of Peace
God-Tales for Young and Old
Nil Guillemette
Stories are effective ways of driving home the truth, merely because “stories speak to the heart
rather than to the mind”. In this 23rd volume of his collection of God-tales, storyteller Nil Guil-
lemette once again dishes out his masterful stroke of nailing down the message through his
uplifting stories. Sure to fre up one’s imagination, these parables are also certain to touch the
hearts of readers and infame them with the desire to become effective instruments of God’s
love. A member of the Society of Jesus, Guillemette has spent more than 30 years teaching New
Testament in Vietnam, West Africa and the Philippines. Aside
from his collection of God-tales, he has also written books
on Scriptures. He was a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement
Award from the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2007. This
book is published by St. Pauls.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
7 Secrets to Achieve Your Dreams and Enjoy
Great Happiness Today
Bo Sanchez
As a people, Filipinos can always fnd something to laugh at on almost anything and manage to
smile even in the midst of suffering. Because of this attitude Filipinos have always rank high in
surveys of “happy people in the world”. In this book published by Shepherd Voice publications,
best-selling writer and preacher Bo Sanchez says the seven secrets of happiness are really
seven manifestations of love; and for someone who already possesses these secrets, there is no
need to look for happiness, it is happiness that will come looking for the person. With his inspiring
anecdotes Sanchez dares readers to put behind their personal fears and inhibitions, open their
hearts to God’s wisdom and inspiration, and allow God to have a free reign in their lives.
Called to Love
Carl Anderson and Fr. Jose Granados
In today’s society, a narcissistic obsession on keeping one’s body young, beautiful and pleasur-
able to both eyes and touch, is apparent with the proliferation of body clinics that promise to
transform one’s physical appearance into an instant masterpiece of art. This attitude is quite the
opposite of the Manichean and Puritan mentality that characterized society in the early centuries,
where the human body was not suffciently valued and its sexual dimension repressed. Writing
from the perspective of Pope John Paul II’s “theology of the body”, the authors present the es-
sential elements of John Paul’s writings in the framework of Benedict XVI’s “theology of love”.
While underscoring its social dimension, they also highlight “its connection with the patristic and
theological tradition of the Church.” Commenting on the merits of the book, the archbishop of
Denver says it is a persuasive refection on the ‘theology of the body’ and the meaning of human
love and sexuality in the present culture that increasingly devalues human life.
book
Reviews
John Paul II
My Beloved Predecessor
Elio Guerriero, Editor
This book is a collection of essays on Pope John Paul II written by Pope Benedict XVI before
and after his election to the pontifcate. As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith, Benedict XVI had worked and collaborated very closely with John Paul II. Undoubtedly
this collection of writings is a statement to the close relationship that existed between the two
popes. Vatican analyst John Allen Jr., himself a writer of two books on Benedict, said in the
foreword: “These two men were gripped by the same truth—or, better expressed, the same
Truth, in the person of Jesus Christ, and in the company of the Church. That two such distinct
personalities could work so closely together for so long, without any of the rivalries and power
dynamics that typically accompany such partnerships, says much about the selfessness of
both.” The book is divided into two parts with four chapters
each. Part 1 includes an insightful tribute by then Cardinal
Ratzinger of John Paul II’s 20th anniversary of pontifcate,
and his homily during the pope’s funeral mass. This volume
is published by Paulines Publishing House.
IMPACT • November 2009 30
ENTERTAINMENT
CATHOLIC INITIATIVE FOR
ENLIGHTENED MOVIE APPRECIATION
I
n 500 Days of Summer, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is
an architect too timid to pursue his career, so he’d rather
be a writer of greeting cards. Summer (Zooey Deschanel)
begins work as the new assistant to Tom’s boss. He is smit-
ten the moment he spots the pert Summer walking down the
offce on her frst day of work, unaware she’s being noticed.
Tom’s chemistry doesn’t remain one-way for long, as Sum-
mer notices and likes his looks, so one day she makes her
move over the copying machine. In no time at all he falls in
love with her, but while she has let him deep into her world,
sees no one else but him, and says she is perfectly happy
with their relationship, she wants nothing permanent—only
to enjoy her life and her youth. Summer’s apparently casual
attitude towards love baffes and then frustrates Tom. Some-
time around the middle of 500 days serious trouble begins
which later on leads to a break up. But Tom wouldn’t fall
out of love and is in fact determined to get her back.
500 Days of Summer opens on Day 488 and then jumps
back and forth, with each episode annotated and marked
as “Day…” It is an ingenuous approach to telling a story
that allows an incisive look into how love relationships “go
wrong”. Billed as a “romantic comedy” this one is anything
but light and laughable. In fact, through the recollection of
events in a non-linear fashion, the viewer is enabled to seri-
ously analyze how a past event affects and effects a present
malady—something which involves the viewer in the charac-
ters’ lives. By Day 500 it becomes clear why things turn out
the way they do, and we can only hope the characters in the
story see it as clearly as we do. Screenwriters Scott Neustadter
and Michael H. Weber certainly show a good grip on a love
affair’s twists and turns, which good actors Deschanel and
Gordon-Levitt give justice to. The combination of those
factors must have delighted director Marc Webb.
500 Days of Summer is a movie that begins by telling
us how the love story will end and is about how clueless
the lover is till the end. MTRCB rates it PG 13—CINEMA
would be inclined to label it an adult flm, due to its attempt
to treat the theme deeply. The presence of a pre-adolescent
girl as a “love adviser” to an older man doesn’t make it
innocent or acceptable. Sex is a given here (and in fact is
the main factor in the attraction between the lovers)—and,
like an airborne virus, is not a good thing for young people
to “catch”. There is a big lesson here about the need to be
attentive to signs and signals, especially where it concerns
emotions. People like to see what they want to see when it
comes to love, and that is what 500 Days of Summer tries
to say. Things and people are not always what they seem:
while some people may be easy to read, others may be the
opposite of the image they project. People hide behind masks
without even being aware of it. Experience tries to teach us,
but does experience season us? Perhaps the hero here will
know after 100 days of .. uh…autumn?
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend,
Chloe Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler
Director: Marc Webb
Producers: Mason Novick, Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters, Ste-
ven J. Wolfe
Screenwriters: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Music: Mychael Danna, Ron Simonsen
Editor: Alan Edward Bell
Genre: Comedy/ Drama/ Romance
Cinematography: Eric Steelberg
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Location: Los Angeles, USA
Running Time: 95 mins.
Technical Assessment: 
Moral Assessment: ½
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above.
Volume 43 • Number 11
31
ASIA
BRIEFING
EAST TIMOR
Horta may seek oil spill
compensation
East Timor President
Jose Ramos Horta said
he will be looking for com-
pensation from Australia for
any pollution caused by an
oil spill from the West Atlas
rig, leaking 400 barrels of oil
a day for two months into
the Timor Sea before being
plugged recently.
JAPAN
Japanese Airline cuts
fights
As part of an overhaul
aimed at keeping the airline
operational despite grow-
ing losses, Japan Airlines,
Asia’s biggest carrier, will
cut 16 more routes, includ-
ing 8 international routes by
January, affecting dozens
of fights. The result will be
a total of 61 fewer round-
trip international passenger
fights a week.
AFGHANISTAN
UN removes staff from
Afghanistan
Following the killing of 5
UN workers on Oct. 28 in an
attack on an international
guest house in the Capital
Kabul, the UN will evacuate
its entire non-essential for-
eign staff from Afghanistan
due to the deteriorating
security situation. Around
600 non-Afghan staff will
be evacuated. But the UN
stressed it’s not pullout or
reduction of operations but
for safety of UN personnel
living in Afghanistan.
BURMA
US leaders meet Suu
Kyi
Kurt Campbell, the US
Assistant Secretary of State
for East Asia, has met Bur-
ma’s detained democracy
icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, as
part of Washington’s visit to
isolated, army ruled country
for 14 years. Suu Kyi was
granted temporary release
from house detention to at-
tend talks with ranking US
leader on Nov. 4.
THAILAND
Islamic rebels behind
killings— police
Authorities here suspect
Islamic rebels were behind
the shooting of fve people
dead during a spate of
attacks across Thailand’s
mainly-Muslim south. Al-
most four thousand people
have died in the confict
since the insurgency fared
up again in 2004, but au-
thorities said motives of the
attacks are still unclear.
N. KOREA
Pyongyang back on
nuke trail
The communist regime
here has produced more
plutonium which can be
used to make nuclear
bombs. The communist na-
tion has successfully repro-
cessed 8,000 nuclear fuel
rods into weapons-grade
plutonium. Experts believe
that could be enough to
make one or two nuclear
bombs. Pyongyang last
conducted an atomic weap-
ons test six months ago,
sparking international con-
demnation.
NEPAL
Nepal cabinet goes to
Everest
Government ministers
here revealed plans to meet
at the base camp of Mount
Everest this month to high-
light the impact of global
warming on the Himalayas.
The meeting comes ahead
of next month’s Copenha-
gen climate change talks
in Nepal which is home to
eight of the world’s 14 tallest
peaks. Experts say it is vul-
nerable to climate change
despite being among the
world's lowest greenhouse
gas emitters.
PHILIPPINES
Fi re razes houses,
kills 14
A fre razed almost a
block of houses in a village
in Bacolod City, killing 14
people in the evening of
Nov. 1. Boarding houses
were among the 51 hous-
es, most made of wood,
that were burnt down and
four children were among
those killed. Authorities
said an electrical short-
circuit may have caused
the blaze.
PAKISTAN
Suicide bomber kills
34
A suicide bomber on
a motorbike has killed 34
people and wounded more
than 24 in Pakistan’s gar-
rison city of Rawalpindi,
authorities said. The bomb-
er attacked a queue of
people collecting salaries
near a four-star hotel. The
blast destroyed part of the
Shalimar Hotel in an up
market shopping district of
the city.
HONG KONG
2 foreigners dead in HK
ferry crash
Two foreigners were
killed when a high-speed
ferry from Hong Kong to
Guangzhou in China col-
lided with another ship.
One of the fatalities was a
Dutch citizen. Eight people
were injured. The double-
decker ferry was close to
its destination in Guang-
zhou's southern Panyu dis-
trict when it struck a sand
transport vessel.
IRAN
Revoke death sen-
tences for juvenile
offenders
Iran should halt the
planned executions of
three men under charges
of male homosexual con-
duct allegedly committed
when they were children,
Human Rights Watch said.
Mehdi P., from Tabriz;
Moshen G., from Shiraz;
and Nemat Safavi, from
Ardebil, were accused in
separate cases of com-
mitting homosexual acts
when they were under age
18. No date has been set
for their execution yet, but
the lawyer representing
two of the men fears that it
could happen any day.