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Vol. 44 No.

1 • JANUARY 2010

Php 70.00

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Quote in the Act

“Future generations cannot be saddled with the cost of our use of common environmental resource.”

Benedict XVI, in his message for the celebration of the 43rd World Day of Peace celebrated January 1, 2010, titled “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.”

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“Minorities are under siege and feel they don't have a place in Malaysia anymore.”
James Chin, political science lecturer at Monash University in Malaysia; after eight churches have been attacked in three days amid dispute over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims, sparkling fresh political instability and denting Malaysia’s image as a moderate and stable Muslim-majority nation.

“There is nothing in the world that can never be changed. We should make continuous efforts to reshape the policy choices of the US.”

Rear-Admiral Yang Yi, an expert at the Institute of Strategic Studies of the National Defense University in Beijing; on the issue to urge the United States to cancel a massive arms deal with Taiwan, warning of a severe consequences if it does not heed the call.

“We will provide defensive arms for Taiwan.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Secretary of State; on the volatile issue of the US initiative to sell weapons to Taiwan, which China regards as a renegade province.

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Nereo Odchimar, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines; in his New Year’s Message that urged voters in 2010 polls to choose reliable leaders that will lead the country.

“Families will continue to suffer from the government’s incompetence.”

Caroline Spelman, quoted by the online version of The Independent; on the shortage of salt or “grit” for slippery roads which has turned into a political issue, forcing European governments to face criticism that they are not prepared for the winter that had temperatures across Europe dropped the lowest since 1990.

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IMPACT • Januray 2010



January 2010 / Vol 44 • No 1

A gov’t of 4 trillion debts ................................. 27

If You Want Peace, Protect Creation ................ 7 The Copenhagen Discord, or divide and rule in climate change ........................................... 10

Human Ecology and Peace .............................. 16

If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation .............................................................. 4
s if by force of habit, or is it by strategic political spin?, government forecasters the likes of National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the whole caboodle of Palace technocrats always races with the soothsayers of Quiapo and the Feng Shui connoisseurs of Binondo in cracking the crystal ball for what’s in store for the country in every new year. Immediately after the smog of firecrackers cleared the Manila sky, NEDA projected that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow by 2.6 to 3.6 percent in 2010 and expressed a wholesale confidence that the country’s economy will be stronger due to the economic reforms undertaken by the current Administration. To substantiate their prediction, the bright boys of Malacañang then gave a litany of the following growth drivers that will propel the economy to heights: trade, tourism, business process outsourcing, construction, mining and quarrying, government services, air transportation, manufacturing, communication

Quote in the Act ................................................. 2 Advertorial ....................................................... 12 News Features ................................................... 21 Statements .......................................................... 23 From the Blogs ................................................... 26 From the Inbox .................................................. 28 Book Reviews ..................................................... 29 Entertainment .................................................... 30 Asia Briefing ...................................................... 31


and agriculture. This, of course, is a template that always appears every time the government winks. The public takes this forecast nonchalantly just like it does with every State of the Nation Address of the big boss. People know that it is hard to cheat the stomach which is a better barometer than government forecasts or social surveys that according to a presidential candidate can be bought in Quiapo. The analysts of the University of the Philippines (UP) see the country’s economic lot differently. Dr. Rene Ofreneo, for instance, said that the country “will continue to reel from the effects of the crisis until 2010 due to low investments in the Philippines, as well as natural and political disasters like Maguindanao massacre and martial law.” Commenting about the increase in the number of underemployed and unemployed, another UP professor, Dr. Benjamin Diokno, said that due to structural problems in the economy and weak external demand for labor, job prospects in the country may continue to be weak until 2014. And

employment, according to a former National Treasurer, Leonor Briones, is the most reliable indicator of whether the economy is in good shape or otherwise. This issue opens with the message of Pope Benedict XVI for the World Day of Peace: If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation. The pontiff observes that the current pace of environmental exploitation is seriously endangering the supply of certain resources not only for the present generation, but for generations yet to come. Our staff writer, Charles Avila writes the cover story with his “Human Ecology and Peace.” Albeit inflated, there is a grain of truth when he opines that if our demands on the planet continue at the same rate, in less than two decades we will need the equivalent of two planets to maintain our lifestyles. Read on.

Volume 44 • Number 1


If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation


Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI For the celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2010

© Rodne Galicha


IMPACT • January 2010

If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation
1. At the beginning of this New Year, I wish to offer heartfelt greetings of peace to all Christian communities, international leaders, and people of good will throughout the world. For this XLIII World Day of Peace I have chosen the theme: If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation. Respect for creation is of immense consequence, not least because “creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God’s works”,[1] and its preservation has now become essential for the pacific coexistence of mankind. Man’s inhumanity to man has given rise to numerous threats to peace and to authentic and integral human development – wars, international and regional conflicts, acts of terrorism, and violations of human rights. Yet no less troubling are the threats arising from the neglect – if not downright misuse – of the earth and the natural goods that God has given us. For this reason, it is imperative that mankind renew and strengthen “that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying”.[2] 2. In my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I noted that integral human development is closely linked to the obligations which flow from man’s relationship with the natural environment. The environment must be seen as God’s gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations. I also observed that whenever nature, and human beings in particular, are seen merely as products of chance or an evolutionary determinism, our overall sense of responsibility wanes.[3] On the other hand, seeing creation as God’s gift to humanity helps us understand our vocation and worth as human beings. With the Psalmist, we can exclaim with wonder: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars which you have established; what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps 8:4-5). Contemplating the beauty of creation inspires us to recognize the love of the Creator, that Love which “moves the sun and the other stars”.[4] 3. Twenty years ago, Pope John Paul II devoted his Message for the World Day of Peace to the theme: Peace with God the Creator, Peace with All of Creation. He emphasized our relationship, as God’s creatures, with the universe all around us. “In our day”, he wrote, “there is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened … also by a lack of due respect for nature”. He added that “ecological awareness, rather than being downplayed, needs to be helped to develop and mature, and find fitting expression in concrete programmes and initiatives”.[5] Previous Popes had spoken of the relationship between human beings and the environment. In 1971, for example, on the eightieth anniversary of Leo XIII’s Encyclical Rerum Novarum, Paul VI pointed out that “by an ill-considered exploitation of nature (man) risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation”. He added that “not only is the material environment becoming a permanent menace—pollution and refuse, new illnesses and absolute destructive capacity—but the human framework is no longer under man’s control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow which may well be intolerable. This is a wide-ranging social problem which concerns the entire human family”.[6] 4. Without entering into the merit of specific technical solutions, the Church is nonetheless concerned, as an “expert in humanity”, to call attention to the relationship between the Creator, human beings and the created order. In 1990 John Paul II had spoken of an “ecological crisis” and, in highlighting its primarily ethical character, pointed to the “urgent moral need for a new solidarity”.[7] His appeal is all the more pressing today, in the face of signs of a growing crisis which it would be irresponsible not to take seriously. Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of “environmental refugees”, people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it—and often their possessions as well—in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement? Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources? All these are issues with a profound impact on the exercise of human rights, such as the right to life, food, health and development. 5. It should be evident that the ecological crisis cannot be viewed in isolation from other related questions, since it is closely linked to the notion of development itself and our understanding of man in his relationship to others and to the rest of creation. Prudence would thus dictate a profound, long-term review of our model of development, one which would take into consideration the meaning of the economy and its goals with an eye to correcting its malfunctions and misapplications. The ecological health of the planet calls for this, but it is also demanded by the cultural and moral crisis of humanity whose symptoms have for some time been evident in every part of the world.[8] Humanity needs a profound cultural renewal; it needs to rediscover those values which can serve as the solid basis for building a brighter future for all. Our present crises – be they economic, food-related, environmental or social – are ultimately also moral crises, and all of them are interrelated. They require us to rethink the path which we are travelling together. Specifically, they call for a lifestyle marked by sobriety and solidarity, with new rules and forms of engagement, one which focuses confidently and courageously on strategies that actually work, while decisively rejecting those that have failed. Only in this way can the current crisis become an opportunity for discernment and new strategic planning. 6. Is it not true that what we call “nature” in a cosmic sense has its origin in “a plan of love and truth”? The world “is not the product of any necessity whatsoever, nor of blind fate or chance… The world proceeds from the free will of God; he wanted to make his creatures share in his being, in his intelligence, and in his goodness”.[9] The Book of Genesis, in its very first pages, points to the wise design of the cosmos: it comes forth from God’s mind and finds its culmination in man and woman, made in the image and likeness of the Creator to “fill the earth” and to “have dominion over” it as “stewards” of God himself (cf. Gen 1:28). The harmony between the Creator, mankind and the created world, as described by Sacred Scripture, was disrupted by the sin of Adam and Eve, by man and woman, who wanted to take the place of God and refused to acknowledge that they were his creatures. As a result, the work of “exercising dominion” over the earth, “tilling it and keeping it”, was also disrupted, Volume 44 • Number 1


and conflict arose within and between mankind and the rest of creation (cf. Gen 3:17-19). Human beings let themselves be mastered by selfishness; they misunderstood the meaning of God’s command and exploited creation out of a desire to exercise absolute domination over it. But the true meaning of God’s original command, as the Book of Genesis clearly shows, was not a simple conferral of authority, but rather a summons to responsibility. The wisdom of the ancients had recognized that nature is not at our disposal as “a heap of scattered refuse”.[10] Biblical Revelation made us see that nature is a gift of the Creator, who gave it an inbuilt order and enabled man to draw from it the principles needed to “till it and keep it” (cf. Gen. 2:15).[11] Everything that exists belongs to God, who has entrusted it to man, albeit not for his arbitrary use. Once man, instead of acting as God’s co-worker, sets himself up in place of God, he ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, “which is more tyrannized than governed by him”.[12] Man thus has a duty to exercise responsible stewardship over creation, to care for it and to cultivate it.[13] 7. Sad to say, it is all too evident that large numbers of people in different countries and areas of our planet are experiencing increased hardship because of the negligence or refusal of many others to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council reminded us that “God has destined the earth and everything it contains for all peoples and nations”.[14] The goods of creation belong to humanity as a whole. Yet the current pace of environmental exploitation is seriously endangering the supply of certain natural resources not only for the present generation, but above all for generations yet to come.[15] It is not hard to see that environmental degradation is often due to the lack of far-sighted official policies or to the pursuit of myopic economic interests, which then, tragically, become a serious threat to creation. To combat this phenomenon, economic activity needs to consider the fact that “every economic decision has a moral consequence” [16] and thus show increased respect for the environment. When making use of natural resources, we should be concerned for their protection and consider the cost entailed—environmentally and socially—as an essential part of the overall expenses incurred. The international community and national governments are responsible for sending the right signals in order to combat effectively the misuse of the environment. To protect the environment, and to safeguard natural resources and the climate, there is a need to act in accordance with clearly-defined rules, also from the juridical and economic standpoint, while at the same time taking into due account the solidarity we owe to those living in the poorer areas of our world and to future generations. 8. A greater sense of intergenerational solidarity is urgently needed. Future generations cannot be saddled with the cost of our use of common environmental resources. “We have inherited from past generations, and we have benefited from the work of our contemporaries; for this reason we have obligations towards all, and we cannot refuse to interest ourselves in those who will come after us, to enlarge the human family. Universal solidarity represents a benefit as well as a duty. This is a responsibility that present generations have towards those of the future, a responsibility that also concerns individual States and the international community”.[17] Natural resources should be used in such a


IMPACT • January 2010

© CASAFI- Archdiocese of Caceres

If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation
way that immediate benefits do not have a negative impact on living creatures, human and not, present and future; that the protection of private property does not conflict with the universal destination of goods;[18] that human activity does not compromise the fruitfulness of the earth, for the benefit of people now and in the future. In addition to a fairer sense of intergenerational solidarity there is also an urgent moral need for a renewed sense of intragenerational solidarity, especially in relationships between developing countries and highly industrialized countries: “the international community has an urgent duty to find institutional means of regulating the exploitation of non-renewable resources, involving poor countries in the process, in order to plan together for the future”.[19] The ecological crisis shows the urgency of a solidarity which embraces time and space. It is important to acknowledge that among the causes of the present ecological crisis is the historical responsibility of the industrialized countries. Yet the less developed countries, and emerging countries in particular, are not exempt from their own responsibilities with regard to creation, for the duty of gradually adopting effective environmental measures and policies is incumbent upon all. This would be accomplished more easily if self-interest played a lesser role in the granting of aid and the sharing of knowledge and cleaner technologies. 9. To be sure, among the basic problems which the international community has to address is that of energy resources and the development of joint and sustainable strategies to satisfy the energy needs of the present and future generations. This means that technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency. At the same time there is a need to encourage research into, and utilization of, forms of energy with lower impact on the environment and “a world-wide redistribution of energy resources, so that countries lacking those resources can have access to them”.[20] The ecological crisis offers an historic opportunity to develop a common plan of action aimed at orienting the model of global development towards greater respect for creation and for an integral human development inspired by the values proper to charity in truth. I would advocate the adoption of a model of development based on the centrality of the human person, on the promotion and

If You Want Peace, Protect Creation
By Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ


or the celebration of the World Day of Peace at the beginning of the Year 2010, the message of Pope Benedict XVI focuses on the theme: “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation.” The Holy Father makes a plea for “ecological awareness” and calls attention to “the relationship between the Creator, human beings and the created order.” “The environment must be seen as God’s gift to all people,” the Pope stresses, “and the use of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations.” These words of the Holy Father ring out in sharp contrast to recent events that took place in a remote forested area of Northern Mindanao. On Christmas Eve 2009, a Higaonon tribal leader, Alberto Pinagawa, 54, was waylaid and killed in Barangay Minalwang on the Gingoog-Claveria upland area of Misamis Oriental. Berting was walking along a remote road with his son on his way home early morning to Barangay Kalipay in Anakan Parish. He was a lay minister and was preparing for the community’s Christmas worship services later that day when he was brutally shot at least twenty times in the face and other parts of the body by M-16 rifles. Berting was a vocal leader of his tribal community. Since July, he had been gathering petition signatures from local residents on the upland areas to stop the

logging operations of Southwood Timber Corporation which had been granted an Industrial Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The IFMA permit would cover 11,476 hectares and would allow the company to develop and utilize forestlands for 25 years. But instead of cutting only second-growth forest trees and re-planting in the former logging concession of Anakan Timber Corp., local residents reported that the company was involved in the logging of old-growth trees, like the lauan. Indeed the designated IFMA area encroaches on the wider watershed area along the Bukidnon-Agusan-Misamis Oriental borders which protect the head waters of the Pulangi River to the south and other major tributaries like the Odiongan River to the northern coastal areas. During the January and November flashfloods, Gingoog residents were well aware of the destructive consequences of deforestation in their upland area. Nearly 8,000 residents were displaced by the January 2009 floods alone. It is in this light that a spokesperson representing at least 20,000 signatures presented to Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona claimed that the IFMA would be “detrimental not only to the environment but also to our lives, livelihood, homes, families and entire communities.” At the Gingoog city council special session on Dec. 28, held simultaneously with an outdoor indignation rally attended

by the grieving relatives of Berting, the city councilors themselves were told that the local communities and LGU of Claveria were not asked for their “free, prior, and informed consent” – despite the fact that the greater part of the logging operations, 8,000 of the 11, 500 has., was within the municipality of Claveria. By the end of the extended session, eight of 10 city councilors voted for a resolution asking DENR for the immediate cancellation of the IFMA. Concerned environmentalists have pointed out that the IFMA area constitutes part of the remaining 12% forested area in the Philippines. Instead of deforestation, they stress, the government should engage in extending the forest cover of the country. Berting Pinagawa before his death would tell his fellow advocates for environment that he was gathering the anti-logging signatures not so much for his upland community, but for the sake of the lowland communities, especially in Gingoog, that would be affected – at present and in the future – by the continued logging operations. This is echoed by Pope Benedict’s plea for promoting peace through intergenerational solidarity: “Future generations cannot be saddled with the cost of our use of common environmental resources.” “As we care for creation,” the Holy Father notes, “we realize that God, through creation, cares for us.” I

Volume 44 • Number 1


sary international commitment which will offer important benefits especially in the medium and long term. There is a need, in effect, to move beyond a purely consumerist mentality in order to promote forms of agricultural and industrial production capable of respecting creation and satisfying the primary needs of all. The ecological problem must be dealt with not only because of the chilling prospects of environmental degradation on the horizon; the real motivation must be the quest for authentic world-wide solidarity inspired by the values of charity, justice and the common good. For that matter, as I have stated elsewhere, “technology is never merely technology. It reveals man and his aspirations towards development; it expresses the inner tension that impels him gradually to overcome material limitations. Technology in this sense is a response to God’s command to till and keep the land (cf. Gen 2:15) that he has entrusted to humanity, and it must serve to reinforce the covenant between human beings and the environment, a covenant that should mirror God’s creative love”.[25] 11. It is becoming more and more evident that the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our life-style and the prevailing models of consumption and production, which are often unsustainable from a social, environmental and even economic point of view. We can no longer do without a real change of outlook which will result in new life-styles, “in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings and investments”.[26] Education for peace must increasingly begin with far-reaching decisions on the part of individuals, families, communities and states. We are all responsible for the protection and care of the environment. This responsibility knows no boundaries. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity it is important for everyone to be committed at his or her proper level, working to overcome the prevalence of particular interests. A special role in raising awareness and information belongs to the different groups present in civil society and to the non-governmental organizations which work with determination and generosity for the spread of ecological responsibility, responsibility which should be ever more deeply anchored in respect for “human ecology”. The media also have a responsibility in this regard to offer positive and inspiring models. In a word, concern for the environment calls for a broad global vision of the world; a responsible common effort to move beyond approaches based on selfish nationalistic interests towards a vision constantly open to the needs of all peoples. We cannot remain indifferent to what is happening around us, for the deterioration of any one part of the planet affects us all.

© Rodne Galicha

sharing of the common good, on responsibility, on a realization of our need for a changed life-style, and on prudence, the virtue which tells us what needs to be done today in view of what might happen tomorrow.[21] 10. A sustainable comprehensive management of the environment and the resources of the planet demands that human intelligence be directed to technological and scientific research and its practical applications. The “new solidarity” for which John Paul II called in his Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace [22] and the “global solidarity” for which I myself appealed in my Message for the 2009 World Day of Peace [23] are essential attitudes in shaping our efforts to protect creation through a better internationally-coordinated management of the earth’s resources, particularly today, when there is an increasingly clear link between combating environmental degradation and promoting an integral human development. These two realities are inseparable, since “the integral development of individuals necessarily entails a joint effort for the development of humanity as a whole”.[24] At present there are a number of scientific developments and innovative approaches which promise to provide satisfactory and balanced solutions to the problem of our relationship to the environment. Encouragement needs to be given, for example, to research into effective ways of exploiting the immense potential of solar energy. Similar attention also needs to be paid to the world-wide problem of water and to the global water cycle system, which is of prime importance for life on earth and whose stability could be seriously jeopardized by climate change. Suitable strategies for rural development centered on small farmers and their families should be explored, as well as the implementation of appropriate policies for the management of forests, for waste disposal and for strengthening the linkage between combating climate change and overcoming poverty. Ambitious national policies are required, together with a neces-


IMPACT • January 2010

If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation
Relationships between individuals, social groups and states, like those between human beings and the environment, must be marked by respect and “charity in truth”. In this broader context one can only encourage the efforts of the international community to ensure progressive disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons, whose presence alone threatens the life of the planet and the ongoing integral development of the present generation and of generations yet to come. 12. The Church has a responsibility towards creation, and she considers it her duty to exercise that responsibility in public life, in order to protect earth, water and air as gifts of God the Creator meant for everyone, and above all to save mankind from the danger of self-destruction. The degradation of nature is closely linked to the cultural models shaping human coexistence: consequently, “when ‘human ecology’ is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits”.[27] Young people cannot be asked to respect the environment if they are not helped, within families and society as a whole, to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible; it includes not only the environment but also individual, family and social ethics.[28] Our duties towards the environment flow from our duties towards the person, considered both individually and in relation to others. Hence I readily encourage efforts to promote a greater sense of ecological responsibility which, as I indicated in my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, would safeguard an authentic “human ecology” and thus forcefully reaffirm the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family, where one is trained in love of neighbor and respect for nature.[29] There is a need to safeguard the human patrimony of society. This patrimony of values originates in and is part of the natural moral law, which is the foundation of respect for the human person and creation. 13. Nor must we forget the very significant fact that many people experience peace and tranquility, renewal and reinvigoration, when they come into close contact with the beauty and harmony of nature. There exists a certain reciprocity: as we care for creation, we realize that God, through creation, cares for us. On the other hand, a correct understanding of the relationship between man and the environment will not end by absolutizing nature or by considering it more important than the human person. If the Church’s magisterium expresses grave misgivings about notions of the environment inspired by ecocentrism and biocentrism, it is because such notions eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things. In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the “dignity” of all living creatures, such notions end up abolishing the distinctiveness and superior role of human beings. They also open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms. The Church, for her part, is concerned that the question be approached in a balanced way, with respect for the “grammar” which the Creator has inscribed in his handiwork by giving man the role of a steward and administrator with responsibility over creation, a role which man must certainly not abuse, but also one which he may not abdicate. In the same way, the opposite position, which would absolutize technology and human power, results in a grave assault not only on nature, but also on human dignity itself.[30] 14. If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation. The quest for peace by people of good will surely would become easier if all acknowledge the indivisible relationship between God, human beings and the whole of creation. In the light of divine Revelation and in fidelity to the Church’s Tradition, Christians have their own contribution to make. They contemplate the cosmos and its marvels in light of the creative work of the Father and the redemptive work of Christ, who by his death and resurrection has reconciled with God “all things, whether on earth or in heaven” (Col 1:20). Christ, crucified and risen, has bestowed his Spirit of holiness upon mankind, to guide the course of history in anticipation of that day when, with the glorious return of the Saviour, there will be “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Pet 3:13), in which justice and peace will dwell forever. Protecting the natural environment in order to build a world of peace is thus a duty incumbent upon each and all. It is an urgent challenge, one to be faced with renewed and concerted commitment; it is also a providential opportunity to hand down to coming generations the prospect of a better future for all. May this be clear to world leaders and to those at every level who are concerned for the future of humanity: the protection of creation and peacemaking are profoundly linked! For this reason, I invite all believers to raise a fervent prayer to God,
Creation, page 22

Volume 44 • Number 1




The Copenhagen Discord, or divide and rule in climate change
By Bernarditas C. Muller


he conspiracy began in Bali, where, after a two-year longterm dialogue for cooperative action which was agreed not to result in negotiations, the Bali Action Plan was hatched by a selected group of countries. The only new thing in climate negotiations under the Bali Action Plan was the provision on “nationally-appropriate mitigation actions” for developing countries, subsequently to be known as NAMAs. The rest simply watered down commitments of developed countries under the Convention. Drama marked the last day of the Bali session, when the lines were drawn. The final plenary meeting clarified the developing countries’ understanding of NAMAs, and the United States was shamed into joining the consensus. The waiting game was played over two years, when endless debates were held clarifying positions, wrestling with procedures that could prejudge the outcome, even trying to understand what this outcome would be, finally giving birth to a “negotiating text”. But contrary to normal growth, the text first grew and then was pared down to a “manageable” size. In Barcelona, in November, the text appeared to take shape. This spurred developed countries to intensify their efforts, began even before Bali, to influence and pressure developing countries which in turn began to show increasing signs

of cohesiveness. In the meanwhile, everybody waited to see which way the US would go. The whole process was put on slow motion until the new US administration took over early in 2009, and then hope was revived that the US would now engage in the process. They did, but only to make more interventions in the negotiations, dampening hopes for a US target of emissions reductions, promising recycled financing, most of it to be spent d o m e s t i c a l l y, and above all, warning that everything depended on US congressional approval. This ensured that nothing would happen until mid- to late 2010. The developed countries were busy spending time and money to divide and influence developing countries. Bribing where they can, promising the same recycled financing and maybe more to come if countries are amenable, bullying where they cannot bribe. They financed workshops in selected vulnerable countries, deploying climate envoys, in particular one on Climate Security for Vulnerable Countries, who in so many words, told “intransigent” negotiators that they are putting up a group of vulnerable countries in order to pressure the major developing countries into taking on emissions reductions commitments. Small “circles of commitment” were formed: the G8 summits came out with double declarations that contained
Photo courtesy of IISD/Earth Negotiations Bulletin

conflicting declarations from the developed countries and a group of “major developing economies”; G20 documents were denounced by G20 members themselves; and meetings with selected developing countries, including bilateral ones, were intensively pursued. Their efforts partly paid off, as a couple of these “vulnerable” countries stoutly defended the Copenhagen Accord which came out of the woodwork in Copenhagen. One even claimed to represent the African Group, whereas it was clear that the African Group, led by another African country, was among the most cohesive within the group of 132 developing countries called the Group of 77. Not all were fooled, however, and Tuvalu, a strong defender among truly vulnerable small island developing countries, likened the Accord’s US$30 billion financing provisions to the biblical “30 pieces of silver”. What really occurred in Copenhagen was the culmination of all the frustrations of many developing countries in the total lack of transparency and inclusiveness in the process. Rumours of a Danish text were circulating weeks before Copenhagen. When confronted with these rumours, the Danish presidency firmly denied the existence of a text. The secretariat also affirmed before a G77 pre-sessional meeting that only one Danish Chairman would be elected. Two days before the final plenary, a second Danish president was named. At the same time, it was announced that Danes would come up with not one, but two texts. Before that, new procedures were introduced that delayed negotiations for at least two days. The G77 was blamed for these delays, as developed countries stalled at closed negotiating rooms, continually bracketing texts, coming out with new proposals, clarifying former ones, drawing out developing countries anxious to come to textual agreements, restating positions, biding for time until the Danes get the high-level officials


IMPACT • January 2010

The Copenhagen Discord, or divide and rule in climate change
into a climate “green room” of exclusive negotiations. And to the world press, the message continued to be that “the G77 is blocking negotiations.” At the same time, the message was reinforced that separate bilateral deals were being signed elsewhere. At the last minute, after a parody of the Danish presidency of putting up the negotiating groups once again at the insistence of the G77, three main issues were taken out of the negotiators’ hands, the same three issues which resurfaced later in the Copenhagen Accord reflecting developed countries’ positions. These issues were the long-term “global goal”, the controversial market mechanisms and trade discussions, and most of all, financing. We were to have reconvened again to continue negotiations, but we never did. What took place behind closed doors was the backroom wheeling and dealing. I took part in the first meetings, where the big G77 countries were trying to revise the text presented by the Chairman. Small gains were made, but largely the revisions suggested by developing countries were ignored. The Accord mainly reflects developed countries’ positions on most issues. In particular, financing is to continue to be channelled through the failed delivery systems of the past, through “international institutions”, “public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance,” without acknowledging the legal obligations to provide financial resources under the governance of Parties. The final plenary broke out in confusion when the Danish Prime Minister, now Chairman, marched in after making the delegations wait for nearly five hours without any explanation, took the microphone to announce that a deal was done, called the Copenhagen Accord, as secretariat personnel frantically distributed the text, and instructed the rest of the meeting to break out in “regional groups” and to take one hour to decide on their future. He then closed the session precipitately without following normal procedures of soliciting views of Parties and proceeded to march out again when pandemonium broke out as Parties demanded to be heard. The only way to be given the floor was to ask for points of order, which were not heeded until nameplates were banged on the table. During the interventions, the Chairman looked on, glaring at the proceedings, turning now and then to consult the secretariat. No courtesy or proper attention was accorded to the speakers which included ministers and ambassadors heading delegations. The claim that only three or four countries spoke against the Accord to avail of the promised financing, the terms of which are still to be determined by continued negotiations. What mainly happened is the complete breakdown of trust among Parties. To build it up again, under the shadow of an Accord that would be pursued at all costs, is immensely challenging. There are not only the legal obliga-

and the procedures followed is false, as proven by subsequent interventions, punctuated by applause, from other developing countries or their supporters. Developed countries and their followers also applauded their own spokesmen and followers. Interventions of developed countries focused on a threat that the paragraphs concerning financing would not be “made operational” unless countries signed up to the Accord. Sad to say, pledges of financing have a way of evaporating over time, and financing done through existing institutions are unpredictable, difficult to access, conditional, and selective. Any governance system set up outside of the Convention itself is just another layer of bureaucracy, and equal representation of developed and developing countries outside of the UN system is unbalanced. What happens now? The Parties decided to continue with the ongoing process of negotiations, while taking note of the Accord which, on many of its provisions, undermines the developing countries’ positions in these negotiations. Parties took note of the Accord which would be open to participation by Parties, if they wish

tions, but the moral and ethical considerations for developed countries to assume responsibilities to developing countries which did little to contribute to the problem of climate change, and which suffer most from its adverse effects. Economic interests should not prevail over the lives and survival of the poorest and most vulnerable populations. The holidays might provide time for reflection, and the firm resolve of the New Year in all these should be to work together to address climate change and its adverse effects, for the present and future generations, and the good of humankind. I (Bernarditas Muller, a retired Filipina diplomat based in Switzerland and an environmental adviser to the Department of Foreign Affairs, has represented the Philippines to international climate talks since before the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and was instrumental in negotiating the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. She is also currently the lead negotiator and spokesperson to the climate talks for 130 developing countries from Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific island nations—a huge bloc known as the G77 and China.) Volume 44 • Number 1


Photo courtesy of IISD/Earth Negotiations Bulletin



An Interview with Noynoy Aquino, the Presidential ‘Draftee’
SEN. NOYNOY: Let me share with you the glaring evidence of wrongdoing by this government that we discovered while carefully scrutinizing the 2010 national budget: • The conviction rate of the DOJ’s prosecution service is at 18%, incredibly dismal compared to Japan, where the conviction rate is at an astounding 99.8%. This shows that most cases in the Philippines are not successfully prosecuted in court. In addition, ordinary criminal cases take an average of 5 to 6 years to resolve. It is the ability to secure a conviction that is the real measure of a good prosecutor, not how long papers can be shuffled. • The World Bank released a report on the collusion of some contractors for the National Road Improvement and Management Project, and recommended to blacklist firms

he death of his mother on August 1, 2009 changed the destiny not only of Sen. Noynoy Aquino but also of this country, regardless of whether he wins the 2010 presidential election or not. Four months hence many are wondering about who Noynoy Aquino really is, and more importantly, what he intends to do if and when he is elected President of the Philippines Conducted by Augusto Steve Legasto, Jr., this interview is intended to reveal the latest answers to these queries: LEGASTO: Senator, with what words would you describe the initial focus of your campaign? SEN. NOYNOY: Good governance. If you are guided by the idea of good governance, why shouldn’t we be more efficient? Why shouldn’t we achieve our dreams faster? With good governance, we do not make it impossible for those who want to do right. With good governance, we don’t go into ridiculous infrastructure projects. We don’t go into wrong policies. We don’t govern for political survival. LEGASTO: Why would you focus on good governance first when there are the more urgent problems of hunger, poverty and criminality? SEN. NOYNOY: The absence of good governance through corruption deprives the poor of the resources necessary to implement the social services they badly need. Hunger, poverty and criminality in the Philippines worsened under the current administration because it used corruption as a means to stay in power. No reform agenda will succeed without a clear program to eradicate corruption. LEGASTO: Can you elaborate further on your statement about corruption?


IMPACT • January 2010

involved in the collusion and bid rigging of the road projects. The DPWH reaction was to blacklist them only for World Bank-assisted projects, leaving them free to bid for non-World Bank-assisted projects, if they were found to be qualified. However, the determination of DPWH to verify their qualifications to bid for these projects was not demonstrated during the budget hearings. • The numerous errors in the textbook series “English for You and Me” are still extant in spite of DepEd’s implementation of the 4-step evaluation process. The agency's response to the problem of classroom shortages has been to resort to quadruple shifting, which imposes such an onerous burden on students as young as Grade 1 who, while being taught their English lessons, are also forced to absorb Science and even Health lessons in just one period. • Despite its regulations that should phase out nonperforming schools, given that there have been nursing schools registering 0% passing percentage for more than three years, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) only managed to close down one school, further exposing parents and students to schools that are unable to adequately prepare them for board examinations. • The DA’s farm-to-market roads, which were meant to ease the burden of our farmers in transporting goods, were constructed in areas with no farms. Some were even built near beach resorts. There were also projects with budgets that were depleted by almost P60 million due to administrative costs charged by the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) for transferring funds first to the said corporation instead of transferring it directly to the regional offices. Furthermore, despite the COA's recommendation to discontinue the practice of circuitous and unnecessary transfer of funds sourced from the regular fund and the PDAF, DA still transferred a total of almost P2 billion to NABCOR in 2008. In the same year, the DA transferred P340 million to the ZNAC Rubber Estates Corporation, whose officers were officials of the DA. In my explanation of why I voted no to this budget, I emphasized that these problems exist, but during the budget hearings, the departments and their attached agencies did not even try to convince us that they would embark on a program to correct these findings. In the defense of the various agencies' budgets, the overwhelming attitude seemed to be a lack of desire to address the situation, if not an active

effort to allow it to continue. Why then should we approve the budget submitted by these agencies? LEGASTO: You’ve made your point, senator. But, what are you going to do about it? SEN. NOYNOY: I did try to prevent the General Appropriations Act for 2010 from getting approved, but unfortunately, my no vote was outnumbered by the ayes. Looking forward, I am hopeful that if we are fortunate to be elected in the coming elections, we will be able to address what I feel are the four most urgent issues—job generation, education, health and judicial reforms—despite the huge financial burdens that we will inherit from the current dispensation. LEGASTO: What kind of leader will you be? SEN. NOYNOY: I have great faith in democracy and believes in the democratic principles of equal opportunity and freedom. I also believe in persuasion rather than coercion and dictation. I am somebody who was educated by both his parents,


IMPACT • January 2010

An Interview with Noynoy Aquino, the Presidential ‘Draftee’
not only through their teachings but more so through their actions. I am also old enough not to be blindly idealistic, optimistic and romantic about the situation. I would like to think that I have realistic expectations and have a pragmatic way of looking at what I am given and what I can work with. I am not that prone to making compromises, especially if they challenge my principles and beliefs. LEGASTO: What about economic development? What will your main thrusts be? SEN. NOYNOY: We need to generate more jobs. We cannot simply reduce our people into merely surviving on a day-to-day basis. Otherwise, we keep them enslaved to the culture of patronage to which they have been completely dependent upon all these years. It is also possible to speak about deepening and giving substance to our democratic gains in the ‘80s only if we have satisfied the basic requirements for our people to survive humanely and decently. To achieve that, we need to create a job environment that attracts investors and encourages them to stay. In the current system of governance, the business sector has a midterm goal. Hence, there seems to be a change within every administration of policy directions. One of our hindrances to our growth in the economy is the lack of stable policies whereby investors believe there is an added risk when investing in the Philippines. LEGASTO: Do you already know what you will do with the government bureaucracy which is widely perceived to be bloated and largely inefficient with workflow processes that are outdated? SEN. NOYNOY: We need a bureaucracy that is based on meritocracy and not on political accommodation. The government parameters on the civil service are clear. We just need to follow them. We also have to be increasingly vigilant to avoid bloating the bureaucracy with presidential appointees whom we are not even sure are qualified for the positions to which they were appointed in the first place. LEGASTO: Do you have any stand on gender equality? SEN. NOYNOY: I intend to promote equal gender opportunity in all spheres of public policies and programs. LEGASTO: On peace and order particularly in the south? SEN. NOYNOY: I think the key to addressing it is through a sincere dialogue with all of the concerned stakeholders. If there are still possibilities for discussions with opposing groups, they have to be explored and completely exhausted. We need to seek out people who have at least a partially open mind. I understand that complications happen when you have negotiations on both sides who have suffered through so much atrocity everyday that there is very little trust. We will find the right individuals to spearhead the dialogue, the talks and the trust-building exercises and try to come up with some agreement. LEGASTO: On a more controversial issue, what is your stance on the Reproductive Health Bill? SEN. NOYNOY: The country is comprised of different faithbased institutions. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest of these. I need to give equal recognition & respect to the tenets of each religion especially those of the next 2 largest, Islam & Evangelical (“Born Again”) Christianity. As a Roman Catholic I personally adhere to my church’s teachings on managing reproduction. As far as my campaign to inform the public regarding acceptable RH methods, as a senator &, if so elected, as president, I am obligated to disclose the various methods endorsed by each major religious group. LEGASTO: Finally, what about the environment? SEN. NOYNOY: Let’s look at climate change. It is a global issue with serious ramifications that are so evident in our lives today. Suddenly, the whole schedule is changed. Last year, it was raining in April. We also experienced the onslaught of four consecutive typhoons, starting with Ondoy. Since we are an agricultural country, and we depend on the predictability of seasonal normality (that is, climate seasons in conjunction with harvesting cycles), we really feel and suffer from the impacts of these sudden changes in the weather. We need to instill a sense of responsibility upon those who are involved in any undertaking where there might be some level of environmental degradation. What is used up should also be replaced, but more stringent regulation is necessary in cases where the resources are difficult to replace. (i.e. cutting of stalagmites in a cave in Baguio). LEGASTO: Thank you very much, Mr. Senator, for enlightening us on your plans for this nation of ours if and when you are elected our president. SEN. NOYNOY: You’re welcome.
(Paid for by friends of Noynoy Aquino)

Volume 44 • Number 1


If our demands on the planet continue at the same rate, in less than two decades we will need the equivalent of two planets to maintain our lifestyles.

Human Ecology and Peace

© CBCP Media


IMPACT • January 2010

COVER S TO RY By Charles Avila Rome’s Advice to Copenhagen “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation,” said Pope Benedict XVI in his Message for World Day of Peace on Day One of 2010. His predecessors, of course, had always shown concern for the environment long before such concerns became fashionable or laden with economic interest. From their standpoint nature is neither an adversary to be conquered or destroyed nor an evil from which one must be freed. Rather, it is the garden from which God fashioned the human being, and which God gave as gift to man and woman to keep and till (cf. Gen 2: 15); it is the place and plan for which man and woman, who were made “in his own image” (Gen 1, 27) are to feel truly responsible. In their view the Creator willed the human being to evolve more and more into a co-creator, not an exterminator, though this latter role is what we’ve seen humans often choose to play. Vatican II affirmed that human beings are right in thinking that by their spirit they transcend the material universe, for they “share in the light of the divine mind”( Gaudium et Spes, 15). Who can be blind to the progress made by the tireless application of human genius down the centuries in the empirical sciences, the technological disciplines and the liberal arts (GS, 15) so that “especially with the help of science and technology, man has extended his mastery over nearly the whole of nature and continues to do so”(GS 33)? Not all is good news, however, as one international conference after another has shown lately. Today a planetary crisis affects all existents on earth due to the fact, precisely, that instead of increasingly becoming co-creators in the on-going multi-billion-year story of creation, humans have become more and more like “exterminators” in the manner they chose to produce and reproduce their means of life and livelihood. They had chosen mainly an extractive rather than an organic way of undertaking economic actions and thus became the one main cause of the massive extinction of plant and animal species that characterizes the current era. Modern technologies and the industrial establishment went into the unqualified human conquest of the forces of nature. The integral functioning of Earth’s life systems that had been going on for 4.6 billion years came under the assault of humans determined to use and absolutely own Earth’s resources regardless of the consequences for the natural systems of the planet or the integrity of creation. The words of counsel came late: “one must take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 34), although much, much earlier the same thought, long since forgotten, was often discussed by early Christian philosophers known as the Church Fathers. At first humans embraced the organic economy—which by its nature is an ever-renewing economy, living within the bounty of the seasonal renewing productions of Earth’s biosystems, making it capable of continuing into the indefinite future. Later, however, humans got into an extractive economy, which by its nature is a terminal or biologically disruptive economy, dependent on extracting non-renewing substances from Earth, surviving only so long as these very finite resources endured. The Church, for her part, cautioned that the human being must not “make arbitrary use of the earth, subjecting it without restraint to his will, as though it did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which man can indeed develop but must not betray” (Centesimus Annus, 37). When the human being forgets this, he “ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, which is more tyrannized than governed by him” (CA 37). Hence, today’s advice to Copenhagen from Rome is simple: “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.” Thus, “it is now clear that [many discoveries and technologies] in the fields of industry and agriculture have produced harmful long-term effects.” We should not, for instance, “interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention both to the consequences of such interference in other areas and to the well-being of future generations” (1990 World Day of Peace, 6). Humans, of course, may yet intervene in nature without abusing it or damaging it; then, they would intervene “not in order to modify nature but to foster its development in its own life, that of the creation that God intended” (JP II, at the World Medical Association, 1983). Reducing our ecological footprint It is by now axiomatic to say that our livelihoods and indeed our lives depend on the services provided by Earth’s natural systems. We are, however, consuming the resources that underpin those services much too fast—faster than they can be replenished, according to the Living Planet Report 2008, a report of the World Wildlife Fund, the Zoological Society of London, and the Global Footprint Network. If our demands on the planet continue at the same rate, in less than two decades we will need the equivalent of two planets to maintain our lifestyles. Our reckless consumption as species is simply depleting the world’s natural capital to a point where we are endangering not only our future prosperity but our very survival. Of course, as Leonardo Boff the liberation theologian-turned-ecologist recently pointed out: “Earth can go on without us, without human beings.” Clearly we need to reduce our ecological “footprint” or our impact on Earth’s services. A country’s footprint is the sum of all the cropland, grazing land, forest and fishing grounds required to produce the food, fiber and timber it consumes, to absorb the wastes emitted when it uses energy, and to provide space for its infrastructure. It measures the amount of biologically productive land and water area required to produce the resources an individual, population or activity consumes and to absorb the waste it generates, given prevailing technology and resource management. This area is expressed as global hectares, hectares with world-average biological productivity. Right now, our demand on the planet’s living resources already exceeds the planet’s regenerative capacity by about 30 per cent. This global overshoot is growing and, as a consequence, deforestation, water shortages, declining biodiversity and climate change with the resultant mega-typhoons and fatal flooding are putting the well-being and development of all nations at increasing risk. The huge quantities of humancaused carbon dioxide and other green house gases that get trapped in the atmosphere are excessive that as a result the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere— and oceans—get dangerously higher and Volume 44 • Number 1


COVER S TO RY find ways to manage the ecosystem as a whole across our own boundaries— across property lines and political borders, and certainly, at the very least, across the various divisions and sectors in a given government and nation. We can’t deny that biocapacity is not evenly distributed around the world. The eight countries with the most biocapacity—the United States, Brazil, Russia, China, Canada, India, Argentina and Australia—contain 50 per cent of the total world biocapacity. Three of them—the United States, China and India—are ecological debtors, with their national footprints exceeding their own biocapacity. At Copenhagen last month those three blew up the United Nations by equivalently telling all who cared to listen that “you poor nations can spout off all you want on questions like human rights or the role of women or fighting polio or handling refugees. But when you get too close to the center of things that count—the fossil fuel that’s at the center of our economy—you can forget about it. We’re not interested. You’re a bother, and when you sink beneath the waves we don’t want to hear much about it” (cf Alternet). China, the U.S., and India don’t want anyone controlling their use of coal in any meaningful way. In a way, despite a few glimmers of hope, Copenhagen effectively formed a coalition of foxes who will together govern the henhouse. Philippine applications What are we in the Philippines today—debtors or creditors? What is our ecological footprint, our carbon footprint, our biocapacity, our common programs? Do we see the interrelatedness of environmental degradation and underdevelopment? Do we have concrete plans for our society’s various sectors to pursue tenaciously for the common good? We need to take counsel, gather together and make the strongest common resolve. The fight against global warming has become like a religion and people want to be seen to be doing the right thing. Fathering in this area has indeed become quite prolific. For some, a move towards clean energy spells opportunity. They sell power-generation equipment and aircraft and train engines. New regulations requiring companies to adopt cleaner processes mean that capital equipment is replaced more quickly, to the benefit of such companies like GE and Siemens.



IMPACT • January 2010


warmer. Warmer water in the top layer of the ocean drives more convection energy to fuel more powerful typhoons and hurricanes in increased frequency, as so many people saw in An Inconvenient Truth. As water temperatures go up, wind velocity goes up, and so does storm moisture condensation. It also causes more of both floods and droughts. Then, too, the warming sucks more moisture out of the soil and, as a consequence, increases desertification, causes more fires, and experiences less productive agriculture. Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are extracted from the Earth’s crust and are not renewable in ecological time spans. When these fuels burn, carbon dioxide (CO2) is emitted. To keep CO2 levels in the atmosphere from rising, only two options exist: human technological sequestration of these emissions, such as deep-well injection; or natural sequestration. Natural sequestration occurs when ecosystems absorb CO2 and store it in standing biomass such as trees. Currently, it must be noted, only negligible amounts of CO2 are sequestered by human means. To reduce our ecological footprint we humans must get better at managing the ecosystems that provide us Earth’s services on nature’s terms and at nature’s scale, not in terms of our greed or artificial need. This means that decisions in each sector, such as agriculture or fisheries, architecture or transportation, must be taken with an eye to broader ecological consequences and, more concretely, to carbon cutting—given that the carbon footprint is the most critical at this time. We would then

Human Ecology and Peace

All this should be welcome news for the Philippines as it has been called now the fourth most disaster-prone country owing to climate change, according to Greenpeace. Citing the recent study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the group said we’ve been bearing the brunt of climate change for more than a decade now, resulting in “changes in the frequency, intensity, and duration of extreme weather events.” The study, where 2,500 scientists from more than 100 countries took part, warned of the impact of greenhouse emissions on the atmosphere. There can be no doubt that climate changes will greatly affect the Philippines as a whole. A country of some 7,100 islands, the Philippines is most vulnerable to stronger weather disturbances and the rise in temperature and sea levels that could bring serious flooding and affect agricultural and marine yields, in 64 of the nation’s 81 provinces. In the last two decades alone, the Philippines has suffered over

$5.2 billion in damage to property and agriculture, causing the death of over 25,000 Filipinos. According also to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), there has been an increase in temperature in the country at an average of 0.61 degrees Celsius over the last 55 years, from 1951 to 2006 and this is consistent with the global findings of the IPCC. Earth’s surface temperatures will continue to rise between 1.8 and 4.0 Celsius and sea levels by 7.1 inches to 23.3 inches by end of the century. A onemeter rise in sea level may affect those 64 of our provinces covering 703 out of 1,610 municipalities. It will eventually submerge 700 million square meters of land across the country, altering the country’s coastline. It is estimated too that within this century, those 703 municipalities may be submerged in water and this could be sooner depending on the melting of ice from Greenland and West Antarctica. Worst-case scenarios

of complete melting will create a 7 to 12 meters sea level rise. Wind and solar energy already play an important part in a few countries— though not quite yet in the Philippines where these should be a natural. Around 20% of Denmark’s electricity comes from wind and about 80% of China’s hot water from solar energy. Solar photovoltaic power has grown by an average of 41% a year over the past three years; wind has grown by 18% a year. Increased demand has fuelled the boom. Power companies are getting more interested in renewables. But worldwide those two energy sources barely register. This Christian country therefore needs to set its sights more seriously in generating for this and future generations the renewable sources of wind, sun and water of which we have plenty. At Copenhagen the nations of the world agreed on a widened “REDD Plus” fund—the mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation—which would Volume 44 • Number 1



Human Ecology and Peace
enable countries like the Philippines to obtain incentives for keeping standing forests. Recently a country like Guyana signed an agreement with First World Norway by which Guyana will accelerate its efforts to limit forest-based greenhouse gas emissions and protect its rain forest as an asset for the world. Norway, in turn, will initially put US$30 million into Guyana’s “REDD Plus” fund and subsequent payments of up to US$250 million over five years would be contingent with Guyana’s ability in limiting emissions and reducing deforestation, which, currently, is almost negligible. One wonders if the Philippines could not do something similar. The journey to Copenhagen began in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, when nations adopted the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as the basis for response to global warming. Then, in 1997, 37 industrialized nations and the European Union agreed on emission targets through the Kyoto Protocol. It was, however, largely unfulfilled. Thus the original goal of the Copenhagen talks was to forge a binding treaty that would go far beyond that pact in securing concrete actions worldwide. However, at the end of the day, Copenhagen concluded a climate change deal that was “meaningful” (per President Obama) but “not binding”. Seventeen years of talk is not enough. The talking will continue in Mexico City in November 2010. But it’s not clear if a binding agreement will be put in place then. If not, the next talkies on so urgent a topic will occur in 2015. It will all depend on the foxes governing the henhouse. Unless… until the power of the Spirit is allowed to move hundreds of millions listening to Rome for direct action. It may then be possible again to bring down the mighty from their thrones and allow the peoples of Earth to love the only planet that gave them their life and being. Last week Pope Benedict XVI said that environmental care requires a conversion, a change in mentality: a change in lifestyles, making them more sober; a change in our development model, which is all too often designed for “narrow economic interests” without care for creation; and experiencing solidarity “that is projected in space and time.” In a word: the problem of protecting the environment is a moral one. Thus, “humanity needs a profound cultural renewal; it needs to rediscover those values which can serve as the solid basis for building a brighter future for all. Our present crises—be they economic, food-related, environmental or social—are ultimately also moral crises, and all of them are interrelated.” Meanwhile, we hear the Pontiff: “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.” I

© Rodne Galicha


IMPACT • January 2010


Priests’ congress seeks spiritual renewal of clergy
MANILA, Jan. 6, 2010 ─ Focusing on the interior renewal of the clergy in this year dedicated for priests, an intense five-day national priests’ congress will be held this month that will gather diocesan and religious clergy around the country. The second National Congress of the Clergy set on January 25-29 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City will be days of spiritual reflection and profound prayer for priests aimed at providing them a deep religious experience “that will hopefully lead to spiritual conversion and greater commitment.” More of a spiritual retreat in dynamics, the congress aims to bring the clergy to a deepening of their pastoral commitment through interior renewal. Msgr. Gerry Santos, program committee member said the retreat has the following dynamics: prayer and liturgy, conferences, group reflection and journal writing and encounter with host families. “These activities will help achieve an atmosphere of prayerful reflection and presbyteral fellowship,” he explained. Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, a Franciscan Capuchin and preacher of the Papal household will deliver five conferences that will delve on the theme “Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests”, which the Holy Father has chosen as theme for the celebration of the Year for Priests. On the fourth day of the retreat, Imus Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle will give two conferences touching on the spiritual pastoral context of the Church in the Philippines. Three C’s Filled with spiritual activities, the five-day congress include other highlights such as liturgical celebration of the Eucharist, Communal Penance and Reconciliation, the Via Crucis, Lauds and Vespers and the recitation of the rosary. Fr. Francis Gustilo, SDB, another program committee member said Cantalamessa’s reflection on the theme will basically touch on the three C’s: “consecration, conversion and commitment,” which is the aim of the retreat. “Consecration, [because] the priest is consecrated, ordained for a mission; conversion, because priests also commit mistakes from what they promised during their ordination; [and] commitment, [or resolution] to renew their lives,” he said. Laity as participants The laity are also encouraged by organizers to participate in the upcoming congress by way of praying and offering sacrifices for their priests and the success of the spiritual retreat. Some lay people have been invited to witness among the priests their pursuit of holiness according to their state in life. Sharers include former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, Darren Bancod (youth), Mr. and Mrs. Leopoldo Repratente (couple) and Ms. Maria Voce of the Focolare Movement. The public will have their chance to hear Cantalamessa preach on January 28 at the Araneta Coliseum, an event open for the laity. He will speak to lay people about their role in helping their priests live faithfully their pastoral commitment. “Hopefully, our lay people will be open enough to believe that change can happen even to their pastors,” said Gustilo. He said it saddens him sometimes that some people seemed to have taken priests for granted. “They are somewhat skeptical whether this kind of retreat will effect change in the priests. But of course, if people are blinded by what they already believed, they would not see any possibility for change to happen,” Gustilo said. He said during the event people should pray not only for the priests
Clergy, page 22

Malaysian protesters and hackers target Catholic newspaper after ‘Allah’ ruling
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Jan. 5, 2010—Following the Malaysian High Court’s approval of a Catholic newspaper’s use of the word “Allah” for God, hundreds of Muslim youth have protested and the newspaper’s website has been hacked several times. The Herald, the country’s only Catholic publication, has been threatened with the loss of its printing license for using “Allah” to name the Christian God in its Malay-language section. The newspaper argued that its usage follows centuries of tradition, while the Malaysian government argued the usage by Christians would confuse Muslims. On Dec. 31 Judge Lau Bee Lan ruled in the Herald’s favor. On Jan. 2 the Herald’s website was hacked twice and was found to be hacked once again by CNA staff on the morning of Jan. 4. Fr. Lawrence Andrew, the editor of the Herald, told the Malaysian Insider that technicians have confirmed the cyber attacks took place and the website was operating normally. He declined to comment in detail, saying he did not want to add to the tension on a “very sensitive” issue. In Penang, about 250 members of the group Umno Youth conducted street protests in front of the High Court building to protest the decision. The Malaysian Insider says that protesters shouted “seditious” obscenities in their protests. Opponents of the ruling are also using social networking sites like Facebook to rally support and to call for the ruling’s reversal. Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said the Home Ministry will appeal the ruling. (CNA)

Volume 44 • Number 1



Vietnamese Church: migrants are source of development not social problem
XUAN LOC, Vietnam, Jan. 4, 2010— Drug addiction, social discrimination, high rate of abortions and children forced to grow up in unhealthy environments. Internal migrants in Vietnam are a valuable resource for the national economy. However, public opinion in the country considers them a source of social problems and youth unemployment. To facilitate integration, the Catholic Church of Vietnam has initiated programs that respond to the "great question of spirituality in life” and the need for "moments together to share experiences". The migrants have left rural areas seeking employment in urban centers. They are mainly concentrated in industrial zones in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City,
Creation, from page 9

in the province of Binh Duong, Bien Hoa in Dong Nai province. According to a recent survey carried out by the General Office of Statistics, each year more than 1.5 million people move from rural to urban centers. Of these, more than 800 thousand remain within the province of origin, a further 631 thousand move to other provinces. More than 90% send their earnings to their family. Brother Phi, of the Congregation of Christian Brothers of St. John Baptist de la Salle, has launched a series of meetings for students and young workers in the diocese of Xuan Loc "This is the first time that we have organized gatherings for immigrants in the Industrial Bein Hoa area—explains the religious—and it surprised us to see the participation of

about 500 people. They are not seeking a solution to their material problems, but they do show a great demand for spirituality in their lives. The meeting was also attended by non-Catholics". A student from the group tells AsiaNews he wants “more time to read the Bible and moments of common prayer.” “We need,” he added, “a spiritual life and to profess our faith in God.” A second young man reports that discrimination is still on the agenda. Dung, a native of the diocese of Than Hoa, states that migrants "are looking for a job. I do not steal, do not ask for charity, but many people look at me with hostility. " Since 1987 the diocese of Xuan Loc is one of the towns most affected by the phenomenon of internal migration. To respond to the pastoral care, it promotes charitable initiatives to support the poor, the Catholics have taken a special missionary work. From August to December 2009 Father Nguyen Van Uy, director of the local Caritas, has held five training sessions for 81 people between teachers and catechists who work in more than 200 parishes. In 2009 they celebrated 1,114 baptisms. (AsiaNews)

the all-powerful Creator and the Father of mercies, so that all men and women may take to heart the urgent appeal: If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation. From the Vatican, 8 December 2009 BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
ENDNOTES: [1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 198. [2] Benedict XVI, Message for the 2008 World Day of Peace, 7. Clergy, from page 21

but also for the country, saying the current situation in the country needs vigilant lay people who are aware of their rights and responsibility. “CBCP dedicated this year as the year of the two hearts of Jesus and Mary. Since the election is nearing, so we should also have a renewed vision of our society. Our people should elect the right persons to join the government. If we follow always the traditional politics, nothing will happen in our country, But if we are convinced of the people we should vote for, then we will not sell our vote,” he said. The clergy retreat will culminate in the afternoon of January 29, with a huge procession of bishops and priests from World Trade Center to Cuneta Astrodome to celebrate the closing Eucharist with the laity. Around 4,200 clergy nationwide have already registered for the five-day spiritual event. The clergy congress is being organized by the Episcopal Commission on Clergy of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. (CBCPNews)

[3] Cf. No.48. [4] Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Paradiso, XXXIII, 145. [5] Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, 1. [6] Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, 21. [7] Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, 10. [8] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 32. [9] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 295. [10] Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 – c. 475 B.C.), Fragment 22B124, in H. Diels-W. Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Weidmann, Berlin,1952, 6th ed. [11] Cf. Benedict XVI,Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 48. [12] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 37. [13] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 50. [14] Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 69. [15] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 34. [16] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 37. [17] Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 467; cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 17. [18] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 30-31, 43 [19] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 49. [20] Ibid. [21] Cf. Saint Thomas Aquinas, S. Th., II-II, q. 49, 5. [22] Cf. No. 9. [23] Cf. No. 8. [24] Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 43. [25] Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 69. [26] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 36. [27] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 51. [28] Cf. ibid., 15, 51. [29] Cf. ibid., 28, 51, 61; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 38, 39. [30] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 70


IMPACT • January 2010


ear People of God, “Happy New Year!” This greeting may not just remain a simple wish; its realization is within reach. Now, more than ever, we hold the promise of a happier Philippines, despite the tragedies that happened in the preceding year. Institutions need change. No less than the late Holy Father, Pope John XXIII of holy memory, said when he convoked the Second Vatican Council: “Ecclesia semper reformanda est”. (The Church must always be in the process of reform). 2010 in our political life is an election year; people through the exercise of their right of suffrage will effect a power shift in the executive and legislative branches of our civil government. We must retain what is good, promote what still needs improvement and discard what is base and corrupt. However, admittedly and sadly, a number of us have remained myopic by focusing our attention only to the satisfaction of the moment, swayed by the glitter of money and promises of


New Year’s Message
patronage, and do not raise our eyes beyond election time to the resultant situation created by our indiscretion. Those who have allowed, much worse abetted, corruption to thrive in our midst, do not have the right to complain. If we were a part of the problem yesterday, we can also be a part of the solution today. We hold the key to a better tomorrow. We need an informed electorate enlightened through voters’ education, a vigilant citizenry who will guard against the attempts of some to frustrate the genuine will of the people, and steadfast persons who stay undaunted by intimidation of ruthless politicians, in order to put into office reliable leaders who would guide our nation in the coming years. The poor constitute the greater part of our population. They are remembered and courted by politicians during the campaign period. “Poverty alleviation”, “more jobs” and “upliftment of the masses” are some familiar refrains chanted by candidates and issues incorporated into their attractive platforms. If only there is political will, the economic situation of our people would be far better now that it was generations back. Social transformation starts within ourselves. Election is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss. Over and above the factors beyond our capacity, with our great faith in God and in ourselves, we can still make our wish for a happy new year a reality. God bless us all. +NEREO P. ODCHIMAR, DD Bishop of Tandag CBCP President December 30, 2009

Fairness in a Fragile World—Climate Change
e represent all walks of life and communities in the coastal, low and highland areas. We come together this November 19, after reeling from the multiple crises that have been aggravated by the destructive climate risks. We believe in the indivisibility of human survival and human development, reject the thesis of “survival of the fittest” as socio-economic underpinning, and advocate for the propitious partiality towards the weaker and marginalized members of our people and society. We do not accept the conjecture that the catastrophic effects of climate change are inevitable. Nonetheless, we believe it is an issue of cooperative survival. We thus close ranks to commit ourselves


A Declaration of Convergence and Unity
unequivocally to the crucial task of rebuilding our nation and communities through multi-dimensional reforms. To address the perils of climate change objectively, the primary link to asset reform must be established on solid ground. The coverage would include: (a) peace and security, (b) adequate access to essential services such as education, health care and basic amenities, (c) gainful employment or livelihood within the country, and (d) human development at the community, familial and personal levels from the short to long-term periods. All these aggregated constitute holistic social justice and the systemic enabler for the people to reasonably and vigorously address climate change directly today and for future generations. We observe that the present meteorological shifts started as a slow

process of environmental degradation one millennium ago, which has started to spiral rapidly towards a tipping point at the onset of the prior century. We express serious concern for climatic phenomena, such as tsunami, extreme floods, landslides, earthquakes, hurricanes, poisoning of land and sea, rapid depletion of natural and biotic resources, melting of polar ice caps, depletion of ozone layer, among others. And we are much more seriously concerned that most of these phenomena are caused by human recklessness and greed. We therefore convey our anxiety and fear on the ability of our beloved mother earth to carry our children into the next century. It is in this light that we join in the call of the United Nations for a legally binding climate treaty among rich and developing nations on Volume 44 • Number 1


significant reduction of carbon emissions. This will be addressed during the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen on December 7-18, 2009. For our beloved country and people, our emotion deepens from worry into trepidation. Our socio-economic problems are deeply rooted in an unjust and ecologically unsustainable development model anchored on wanton objectivism and irreversible exploitation. The model contorted wealth creation through environmental degradation and desolation, notably the following: “...massive deforestation of the archipelago, disembowelling of the land through destructive mining, harvesting of protective mangroves and coral reefs, poisoning of air, river, land and water systems using chemical toxins, vehicular smoke spews, industrial effluents, conversion of watershed areas, hillsides, beach fronts, parks and even irrigated lands into exclusive leisure resorts, golf course, housing, real estate and infrastructural projects for the moneyed elite and foreign investors.” The above-cited destruction of the Philippine environment was undertaken for the benefit of the few under the careful protection of the governing agencies. With the inceptive climate change impacts, the ultimate and most vulnerable victims are the poor without the means to parry climatic blows. From the lowlying areas of Laguna and Pangasinan to the mountains of the Cordilleras and Sierra Madre to even coastal Visayas and Mindanao, Typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi collaborated to manifest their destructive might and force. More than a thousand perished, a million hectares of agricultural lands inundated, and millions are now facing an uncertain future due to lost homes, personal belongings, livelihoods and lives. On their behalf, we appeal to the Philippine government for justice – legal, social and humanitarian. We are appalled that the existing development model engendered a system of unsustainable consumption backed up by unsustainable fiscal debts, irresponsible extraction of natural resources, and the amoral reliance on the inward remittances of a third of our labor force scouring outside of the country and away from their families even now. We view with grievous helplessness the policy framework that directly caused deindustrialization and financialization of agriculture, aquaculture and fishing. Jobs in millions and more were lost. We are disturbed that our consumption driven economy is based on imported products. We demand for the breaking of this vicious cycle of unsustainable production, unemployment, mass poverty and environmental degradation. We call on both the government and civil society to work together towards a virtuous ascent of environmental stewardship and replenishment, shift to sustainable agro-industries, and mobilize people for reconstruction and systemic renewal. We submit to our people and government our asset reform and climate change-adaptive agenda—agrarian, housing, aquatic, ancestral domain and support, urban community renewal, rebuilding of rural and coastal communities, and human resource development canopy—to be addressed based on a priority program to be discussed with the concerned sectors and groupings. We subscribe to the call of the United Nations Environmental Program and its global partners for the resolute implementation by all the countries for the needed mitigation and adaptation measures to prepare and protect the human race against climate change. We support the call for climate justice, such that the rich developed countries which contribute most to global carbon emissions and the consequential alterations of the global climatic patterns undertake deep measurable cuts in their carbon emissions and contribute towards a global fund for climate change mitigation. We move that the issue be discussed during the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit. In the Philippine context, the program for environmental renewal must be holistic, coherent and socially inclusive. Given that any economy is a derivative of its environment, the two are in fact stranded in normal or crisis period. The program should therefore seek to reverse the said onerous developmental policies. We further call for a particular emphasis on the multiple crises in farming, jobs, livelihoods, energy and the economy. We positively support any and all efforts towards rebuilding our communities, our schools, our farms, our roads, our jobs, and our small and medium-size businesses in the disasteraffected areas. We must bring back the forest, we must plant trees. We call on all local government units, including those in urban centers, to place reforestation on the very top of their development


IMPACT • January 2010
Photo courtesy of Rodne Galicha

agenda. In addition, all segments of society should be actively involved in tree planting and forest cover. We call on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cease and desist from acting as a department for natural resources extraction. Instead, we seek a moratorium on open-pit mining operations, attainment of the requirement of reforestation, watershed management, community ecology, livelihood and jobs preservation—as mandates to be resolved positively. We call for: (a) watershed-based planning and development, to consider the practical use of less expensive systems like serial Sabo dams; (b) proactive and anticipatory approaches to climate change and disaster management using adaptation and mitigation measures; (c) agricultural production systems reform from preparation to post-harvest, and a shift to biodiverse, integrated and organic farming; (d) promotion of sustainable or ecological consumption, e.g., brown rice, high-fiber diet, less meat and preference for on-season locallygrown food; (e) Information and communication technologies, e.g., GIS, GPS and remote sensing to monitor climate changes and the widest public dissemination of their likely impact on farming and livelihood; and (f) promotion of the values of green living, green industry and green economy. We support the twin struggles of the poor and the excluded for economic and environmental renewal, in particular – farmers for agrarian reform and sustainable agriculture; urban poor for housing reform, anti-demolition and river and urban renewal; fisherfolks for fishery and blue or aquatic reform; indigenous peoples for ancestral domain and a ban on illegal logging and large-scale mining in their ancestral domain; and the workers for decent and green jobs through more and greener industries. We see the recent crises and debilitation as clear and urgent signals for mobilization to plan and undertake a multi-dimensional reform program involving the environment, asset reform and economy. To finance the program, we call on government to declare a moratorium on foreign debt servicing (now standing at US$53 billion (equivalent to double the proposed national budget for 2010). We advocate for the use of a third of the debt-servicing portion be reallocated to this rebuilding program. The government should pursue negotiations for the swapping of this atrocious debt in exchange for climate change adaptation. Let this environmental-economic renewal program aimed at rebuilding our country and the different urban/ rural communities be inclusively a people-based undertaking. Let this be a collaborative and unified program of the nation, involving popular consultation and people participation in the process, community by community and at all levels. Let there be social partnership between and among government (at all levels), working people, Church, business community, indigenous people and other sectors of society. We were made stewards of the Earth. Yet, we are squandering it away – to the extent that our own survival is now challenged. As signatories to this important document, we therefore plead for unity through sharing and nurturing with equity, productivity and sustainability. Our programs and activities cover all levels – from frameworks and policies to development of communities, families and individuals as coherent members of the global people. We subscribe to universal and collective actions between nations and peoples that would preserve and bring veritable progress to the Filipino people. To this cause we congregate as a singular network to be known as the Climate Change Congress of the Philippines (CCCP). We declare unwavering commitment to pursue the above reforms through all possible means and the God-given strength bestowed on us, individually and collectively. We unite to concretize “fairness in our fragile world”. In God’s name, we are connected! Mabuhay ang Pilipino! Mabuhay ang Kalikasan! Ipaglaban ang Katarungang Panlipunan! Signatories: Farmers, Indigenous Peoples, Urban Poor, Fisherfolk, Labor, Business, Religious, Academe and Scientists, Legislator, Advocates, Organizations (Names of signatories have been omitted due to space limitations. Eds.) Volume 44 • Number 1




Behind and beyond the Maguindanao massacre
Meantime, the infamous and detestable ruling administration—coerced by the well justified irate urgings of the general public—is as usual “conducting investigations” and “gathering evidence” and “identifying the suspects” and “preparing the trials”. In fact, it even recently declared “Martial Law” in the now foreboding Province of Maguindanao. But very much more than all the above display of usual over-concern and compassionate over-acting, there appears to be much more than everything that is being said and brandied about. Hence, the following straight questions demanding straight answers: Who authorized the forming of the big private armies in the place by giving or allowing armed assassins to have modern high powered weapons, letting them as well to roam around the Province openly, freely and proudly “protecting” their political masters? Who? Was it the DILG leadership as principal agent? Why were the known political warlords allowed to exist and prosper, to live and act as billionaires with many palatial homes and luxurious cars, without the least regard for the high ranking PNP lawful authorities in the place? Why? Was it because of Malacañang profound political gratitude from the time its tenant and allies won all election since 1974? What was the real and actual bottom-line issue in the massacre of the times which was such a singular phenomenon to merely pin it on but political rivalry in a local and distant place, yet undertaken with big nonchalance and much bravura? What? Was it huge and customary drug dealing, together with continuous big money laundering—particularly in Las Vegas?

t was brutal, atrocious, inhuman. It was a national curse, an international shame, a historical first in cruelty and bestiality. Innocent men and women were murdered, butchered and violated. Helpless media persons were slaughtered. Some of them were even buried with their cars serving as coffins. Their burial ground in terms of huge and deep pits were prepared even much earlier—courtesy of a huge and identified provincial backhoe. Hence the many tears shed and the loud cries made by the families and friends of the pitiful victims. Expressions of frustration, indignation and condemnation were made not only locally but also internationally. Not merely relatives and friends of the mercilessly murdered people lamented the human carnage unlimited, but many other individuals and groups in different parts of the world, as well. Most of all, loud and insistent were the demands to catch and punish the criminal with the full force of law. Yet, a good number of the perpetrators of the heinous crime are still doing the rounds there, here and abroad. As usual, the minds behind the debauchery are said to be aspiring for confinement at well known St. Luke’s Hospital. There is even the elementary perception promoted by the administration in particular that the massacre was basically political in nature and pre-election rivalry in context. Political dynasty was said to be the culprit. Yes, there were long known political warlords who were involved. Yes, no less than a hundreds of heavily armed men perpetrated the massacre of several dozens of individuals. Yes, the political warlords of the place with their associates of well armed assassins and butchers acted cool and calm to cover-up the killing fields and to bury those they massacred in cold blood.


t is not a secret that Filipinos by and large have not only an innovative drive in doing things but also a creative spirit in redoing themselves—their outputs included. And this some kind of an in-born trait extends from the ingenious way they have in living their admittedly difficult day-to-day lives to the surprising and even delightful way they continuously reinvent their products. Let it be noted that such inventive and fanciful disposition is more often than not endowed with a certain fun, not to mention their being naughty as well. A case in point is that on the occasion of the last 2010 New Year’s Eve, this report came about in whispers and confidence: There were new firecrackers on sale for the brave and courageous, for the intrepid and defiant. But, these firecrackers of recent vintage were not found with their usual public displays. It

Novel firecrackers
was even said that they were sold in whispers, and purchased with a commitment to some kind of secrecy. Never mind the price whereas what was more important was the profound glee they brought about for the big “bang” they gave. The carefully absconded and surreptitiously sold “new” firecrackers were definitely not without their proper inherent connotations. It was said that their respective brand names were enough to say that those who buy the unique firecrackers should not fool around with them—with the earnest instruction that there must be an “all clear” signal before any of them were lighted and thereby exploded. The novel firecrackers were said to be three in kind hereafter mentioned according to their reported ascending order of loud unique “bang”—with their also ascending price tags: First, “BIN LADEN”. Second, “AMPATUAN”.

Third “GOOD-BYE GLORIA”. This is not to say that such opted nomenclature or brand names are fair or otherwise, disrespected or otherwise. They all have certain common implications: One, they all say something rather critical and fatal even. Two, they all imply something specially discredited and deplorable. Three, they all forward something rare as extraordinary awful in being and unacceptable in standing. There seems to be no record how many of the said firecrackers were sold/ bought, how much they were enjoyed by those who fired them as well as those who saw and heard them explode. But with such appended names to those firecrackers, it is hard to imagine the awe and apprehension they made, and the commotion and impression they cause when fired. And understandably so!


IMPACT • January 2010

Illustration by Bladimer Usi

ne thousand pesos is not that hard to imagine and to count. One million pesos however is already quite difficult to think about and to count for the ordinary Filipino. But one trillion pesos certainly requires so many more numbers to use and to count. How about contemplating and counting no less than four trillion pesos plus? This would require a rather good accountant helped by a pretty good calculator, to take note and count. There are definitely relatively few Filipinos who know how a trillion pesos look and weigh. The national government has all the leisure and the pleasure of incurring all possible internal and external debts, readily and easily giving sovereign guarantees when so needed and required. And whereas according to the Constitution of a Republican Democracy, sovereignty resides in the people, it is infallibly the People of the Philippines who are obliged and expected to pay all said debts. This must be contrary to even but elementary logic: A government known for its incurring big debts and famous as well as for its tested expertise in graft and corruption, extravagance and wasteful spending—yet the Filipinos have no option but to pay for the debts through their direct and indirect taxes.


A gov’t of 4 trillion debts

Let it be assumed that there are 100 million Filipinos. Just as some kind of a mathematical exercise, divide a 4 trillion peso debt (which is in much more) among 100 million people (who are much less) and it will not only be interesting but also terrifying to know that every Filipino, infants and children, young and old, elderly and sick, has to pay for a whopping 40 thousand pesos each for debt incurred by this still ruling national government. The result can cause desperation or even inspire some kind of a social unrest. Millions of boys and girls, not to mention young people do not go to school for lack of resources or on account of the feeling of futility. Millions of adult men and women find no work or have no profitable ventures. Millions of elderly and sick Filipinos do not benefit from sufficient and dependable social welfare services. Meantime as this national government is fast becoming anti-population by bowing to strong pressure from anti-population foreign interests, the fact is that it is the remittances of people as Overseas Filipino Workers that keep the country economically afloat. And there are so many curious as well as suspicious things that can still happen in this otherwise blessed and promising country before and after May 2010.

Volume 44 • Number 1


FROM THE INBOX From the e-mail messages of

The bear and the two travelers T
wo men were traveling together, when a bear suddenly met them on their path. One of them climbed up quickly into a tree and concealed himself in the branches. The other, seeing that he must be attacked, fell flat on the ground, and when the bear came up and felt him with his snout, and smelt him all over, he held his breath, and feigned the appearance of death as much as he could. The bear soon left him, for it is said he will not touch a dead body. When he was quite gone, the other traveler descended from the tree, and jocularly inquired of his friend what it was the bear had whispered in his ear. “He gave me this advice,” his companion replied. “Never travel with a friend who deserts you at the approach of danger.”

nce, a church had fallen upon hard times. Only five members were left: the pastor and four others, all over 60 years old. In the mountains near the church there lived a retired bishop. It occurred to the pastor to ask the bishop if he could offer any advice that might save the church. The pastor and the bishop spoke at length, but when asked for advice, the bishop simply responded by saying, “I have no advice to give. The only thing I can tell you is that the Messiah is one of you.” The pastor, returning to the church, told the church members what the Bishop had said. In the months that followed, the old church members pondered the words of the bishop. “The Messiah is one of us?” they each asked themselves. As they


The bishop’s gift
thought about this possibility, they all began to treat each other with extraordinary respect on the off chance that that one among them might be the Messiah. And on the off, off chance t h a t each member himself might be the Messiah, they also began to treat themselves with extraordinary care. As time went by, people visiting the church noticed the aura of respect and gentle kindness that surrounded the five old members of the small church. Hardly knowing why, more people began to come back to the church. They began to bring their friends, and their friends brought more friends. Within a few years, the small church had once again become a thriving church, thanks to the bishop's gift.
© etc .us f.e d u

orror gripped the heart of the World War I soldier, as he saw his life-long friend fall in battle. Caught in a trench with continuous gunfire whizzing over his head, the soldier asked his lieutenant if he might go out into the “No Man's Land” between the trenches to bring his fallen comrade back. “You can go,” said the lieutenant, “but I don't think it will be worth it. Your friend is probably dead and you may throw your own life away.” The lieutenant's words didn't matter, and the soldier went anyway. Miraculously he managed to reach his friend, hoist him onto his shoulder, and bring him back to their company's trench. As the two of them tumbled in together to the bottom of the trench, the officer checked the wounded soldier, then looked kindly at his friend. “I told you it wouldn't be worth it,” he said. “Your friend is dead, and you are mortally wounded.” “It was worth it, though, sir,” the soldier said. “How do you mean, 'worth it'?” responded the lieutenant. “Your friend is dead!” “Yes sir,” the private answered. “But, it was worth it because when I got to him, he was still alive, and I had the satisfaction of hearing him say, ‘Jim, I knew you'd come.’”


Real friend


IMPACT • January 2010


book Reviews

Christian Techniques of Happiness Nil Guillemette
No human being would pointedly choose sadness over happiness. In fact, many people seek happiness at all cost, not realizing that happiness is just a matter of one’s attitude towards life. Incidentally, our thoughts can influence us a lot in making this a reality as what American philosopher and psychologist William James wrote: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” Modern-day psychologists attest to the power of the mind in controlling a person’s attitudes, feelings, emotions and eventually actions. Simply put, thoughts have a lot to contribute to a person’s happiness. Negative thinking leads to negative feeling and negative acting. Similarly, positive thinking leads to positive feeling and positive acting. This workbook provides exercises where readers are expected to practice the “techniques” that can lead them to live a happy and joyful life. Basically it sums up into this principle: “if we want to be happy, we must reject the negative thoughts arising in us and accept only the positive ones.” Guillemette, a Jesuit and a Scripture scholar says the exercises in the workbook, as the volume is referred to, are meant not just to be read but to be put into practice. The book is published by Paulines Publishing House.

My Joy in You

7 Keys to Overcome Every Problem That Prevents You from Reaching Your Dreams Bo Sanchez
In this latest inspirational book, well known preacher and writer Bo Sanchez, once again dishes out words of wisdom borne out of experience. No problem in life, however big it is—financial, physical, family or spiritual— can’t be solved and overcome. Sanchez shares seven powerful keys that can empower a person to overcome life’s problems. These principles are sure means to change the course of one’s life: follow your dream with passion; focus on your core gift; believe in yourself when others don’t; build your team; take action; fail forward; and shine your light. This motivational book is published by Shepherd Voice Publications.

How to Conquer Your Goliath

Archbishop Oscar Cruz, DD

Oca’s Parables and Fables

The 20 short stories found in the pages of this book are modern parables on the realities of everyday life. Daily life often brings with it various circumstances that provide opportunity to learn lessons from. But the lessons that one can derive from these realities often go unnoticed because of their ordinariness. Telling his stories with a fresh perspective, the author invites readers to take a profound look into the mysteries of life hoping that they will “notice and know more, and hopefully appreciate more, commonplace realities found everywhere” to better understand their “proper value and import” upon an individual’s earthly existence.

A Guide to Overcoming Stress and Sadness Renee Bartkowski
Modern-day living often brings with it corresponding problems and trials that can be a source of undue stress for most people. Personal sufferings can sometimes lead to sadness and depression. When this happens, faith in God’s goodness and mercy is sometimes questioned. In this simple little book, the author tackles the topic of overcoming low moments in life with a personal touch. Putting herself in the shoes of a person experiencing sadness caused by trials, she pinpoints the problems, talk it out with God in prayer and formulate resolutions on how to overcome emotional paralysis that problems can cause when these are allowed to take control of the person. Indeed, reading the book one will realize that the decision to remain happy and optimistic despite the stressful conditions we often find ourselves in, still depend on each individual and not on anybody else nor in any circumstances.

Regaining Joy

Volume 44 • Number 1



andora is one of the smaller planets some 4.3 light years from Earth. It is a luscious and unspoiled home to the 10 foot tall blue skinned Na’vi. The humans of the Earth has encroached deep into Pandora’s forest in search for valuable minerals but are held back by the planet’s atmosphere which is deadly to them. Meanwhile, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a former US Marine now paralyzed from waist down is selected to participate in the Avatar program, wherein genetically-bred human Na’vi hybrids are created to adapt to Pandora’s atmosphere. In exchange for the ability to move and walk again, Jake must serve as a scout for the human soldiers who follow him in Pandora’s jungles. However, when Jake learns of the Na’vi culture and falls in love with Princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), his loyalty becomes torn between his obligation as a spy and his new found love. AVATAR is a visual feast that tells an entertainingly tight story. Director James Cameron manages to recreate a world so charming and dreamy with its sharp CGIs and brilliant attention to technical detail. The story’s development and screenplay falls a little short as it tries hard to be relevant. Over-all the creative lapses are overtaken by the superb visuals. At the core of a person is his loyalty to what is right and what is good. At some point, a person might be influenced by power or authority or persuaded by debt of gratitude but almost always, there will be that small voice whispering to choose love, unity, peace and brotherhood. The film illustrates a person’s hierarchy of needs and desires. It seems that man wants most what he has lost or is incapable of. He thinks he will sell even his soul just to get back what he has lost. However, at the end of the day, what will truly make one happy and content is not merely fulfilling those needs and desires but following what is true and good as dictated by the soul and heart. The movie contains several intense war-related violence, some profanity and crude language. The film is inappropriate for very young children. Parents are strongly advised to guide their children who would like to watch the film.

C atholiC iNitiative for eNlighteNed Movie appreCiatioN P

Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez Director: James Cameron Producers: Cameron, Jon Landau Screenwriter: James Cameron Music: James Homer Editor: James Cameron, John Refoua, Stephen E. Rivkin Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Distributor: 20th Century Fox Running Time: 123 mins

Technical Assessment:  Moral Assessment: ½ CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above


IMPACT • January 2010


Blasts kill one during Maoist child soldiers Thai PM's visit south freed
Alleged rebels have detonated two bombs in Thailand’s south, killing one person, as PM Abhisit Vejjajiva visits the Muslimmajority region. The first blast was just 100 metres away from where Abhisit was due to open a road in the Yala town. The other bomb exploded about 2 kms. away, and killed a civilian defense volunteer.

Dancers' arrests stir fears of Sharia law
Women's rights groups here are calling on police to release four exotic dancers nabbed on Jan. 1 under the country's anti-pornography law. Police alleged they were about to perform a striptease and were wearing "sexy clothing". Under the law, the dancers could be jailed for up to 15 years for showing or suggesting sexual acts that are said to violate morality.

Thousands of former child soldiers who fought for the Maoists in Nepal's decade-long civil war on Jan. 7 started to leave UNmonitored camps around the country. Almost 24,000 former Maoist fighters have been living in the camps since they were discharged as part of the 2006 peace pact. Their release will allow the Maoists to be removed from a UN list of groups that use children in conflict.

year-old freelance reporter Hla Hla Win was arrested in September after visiting a Buddhist monastery about 500 kms. north of Rangoon. A woman who had accompanied her was sentenced to 26 years in jail.

China tourism plans hit
China’s proposal to develop tourism on the disputed Paracel archipelago has gained condemnation from Vietnam. Hanoi has called on China to put a halt to the plan, which may cause further tension and complicate the maritime situation. The two nations have a long-standing dispute over sovereignty of the Parcels and the Spratlys archipelago.

ber on suspicion of trying to contact Al-Qaeda linked groups, are due to appear in a Pakistani court on charges of plotting terror attacks. Authorities said they will seek life-long jail sentences for the five men. The men, who are all US citizens with dual nationality including two Pakistani-Americans, have also been questioned by the FBI.

Court signs death warrants for Mujib killers
Executions await the five killers of Bangladesh’s independence leader Shiekh Mujibur Rahman in 1975 after a judge has signed their death warrants. Officials said the executions will take place within the next four weeks. It may also be delayed if they seek another review by the Supreme Court or appeal for presidential clemency. Mujib daughter Sheikh Hasina is now Bangladesh's prime minister.

Sole survivor of Japan nuke blasts dies
Tsutomu Yamaguchi, 93, and the sole person officially recognized as having survived both nuclear bombings in Japan during World War II has died. On August 6, 1945, he was on a business trip to Hiroshima when an atomic bomb was dropped on the city. Yamaguchi was badly hurt and the attack resulted in the deaths of 140,000 people. He was there on August the 9th when it too was bombed and claimed 70, 000 lives.

South, North Korea seek peace talks
South Korea has again urged its communist neighbour, North Korea, to disarm. President Lee MyungBak's remarks come after a call by N. Korea recently for an end to hostile relations with S. Korea's key ally, the US, and a nuclear-free peninsula. Lee said South Korea and North Korea should establish a body for productive dialogue.

Govt jails Tibetan filmmaker
A court here has sentenced a Tibetan filmmaker for six years over his documentary airing ordinary people’s grievances. Among the topics he discussed in his documentary “Leaving Fear Behind” were Chinese rule, the exiled Dalai Lama and the Olympics which Beijing was preparing to hold in August 2008.

Group seeks end to forced participation in drug trials
US-based Human Rights Watch called on Cambodia to stop the forced participation of drug users in the trial of an experimental herbal formula to "cure" their drug dependence. Such a trial violates, the group said, the rights of the forced participants and does not meet minimum scientific standards.

Burma journalist gets 20 years in jail
A court here has given a 20-year jail term to a video journalist who worked with an exiled Burmese media group. Reports said that 25-

5 alleged US militants to stand trial
Five US militant suspects, arrested in Decem-

Volume 44 • Number 1