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Vol. 44 No.

2 • FEBRUARY 2010

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Quote in the Act

“The population is hungry, and they are quick to get angry.”

Dr. Marlene Dorismond Adrien, an advocate for the hungry who has a radio program in Port-Au-Prince in Haiti; describing desperation of the populace over food shortage and distribution mismanagement of relief good continue to mount as fake food coupons spread in Haiti’s capital.

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“I call on the whole country: ‘Switch off the lights.’”

Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela; as he declared an “electricity emergency” due to drought in Venezuela that relies on hydroelectricity for 70% of its power despite its huge crude oil reserves; but critics say poor management and underinvestment are the real reasons for undermining the power grid.

“Women have stronger characters than men because when they say no they mean no, and they are less corruptible.”

Boiko M. Borisov, prime minister of Bulgaria during the inauguration of the women’s wing of his center-right political party; dubbed as an “unlikely feminist,” perhaps he is unaware his dictum may not be true in other countries, like the Philippines.

“The true cause of the crisis is the decline in the birth rate.”

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, President of the Institute for the World of Religion; in a recent interview on Vatican Television said that bankers are not the cause of the global economic crisis but ordinary people who do not “believe in the future” and have few or no children.

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“Unless we priests have an experience or are strongly convinced of being loved by God, we cannot lead the people to this liberating experience of God’s love.”

Correspondents:India: Haranath Tadepally; Malaysia: Chandra Muzaffar; Pakistan: James D'Mello; Sri Lanka: Harry Haas; Papua New Guinea: Diosnel Centurion Consultants: Mochtar Lubis, Indonesia; McGillicuddy Desmond, Ireland (JPIC) MillHill, London; Sulak Sivaraksa, Thailand, (Communications); S. Santiago, India, (Community Development); Jessie Tellis Nayak, India, (Women); Dr. Paulita V. Baclig, Philippines (Health)

Published monthly by

Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household; in one of his talks to the 2nd National Congress of the Clergy held at the World Trade Center in Pasay City on January 25-29, 2010.

“To transform our political order—how imperative this task is today!”

Nerio Odchimar, bishop of Tandag and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines; in a Pastoral Statement issued on the occasion of the 100th Plenary Assembly of Philippines’ bishops held in Manila in January 2010.

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IMPACT • February 2010



February 2010 / Vol 44 • No 2

Relax! ................................................................... 27

Hands across the waters ................................. 11 Thrice a victim of labor migration ............... 20

Upholding the Rights of Migrant Workers ... 16

Second National Congress of the Clergy ...... 4 Equity, economy, and environment ................. 9
here is no mistaking that the 2nd National Congress of the Clergy was a phenomenal success. The sight of more than five thousand priests robed in white was spectacular—during liturgical celebrations especially at confessions, and on the 1.2-kilometer procession towards Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City. But numbers alone do not a success make—except from the mobilization point of view. And neither is the shedding of tears no matter how profuse, as some comments tended— implying, consciously or otherwise, that priests were really in deep renewal because some of them were seen teary-eyed at one session or two. But measuring up goodness by the number of wet hankies is very tentative and reminiscent of the heydays of the Cursillo when one had to elicit a tearful sentiment to the satisfaction of the “rollesta.” Transformation in human nature—and so with the clergy—is an itinerary. Or, better, perhaps, a gestation. Even Paul of Tarsus was nary an exception. He had to become

Quote in the Act ................................................. 2 News Features ................................................... 14 Statements .......................................................... 22 From the Blogs ................................................... 26 From the Inbox .................................................. 28 Book Reviews ..................................................... 29 Entertainment .................................................... 30 Asia Briefing ...................................................... 31


a recluse in Damascus for some days before the miracle of change thumped the streets. But, of course, human transformation maybe understood better in the macro context of the economy of salvation—which really saying too much. It maybe safe and realistic to say that the effect of the national clergy congress, which was actually a retreat, will be felt after some time, if ever. But definitely, it will neither be quantifiable nor even be verifiable in, say, social surveys. To think otherwise would be cornering enough the power of the Holy Spirit—and, one hastens to add, the gift of Holy Orders. It would suffice for now to tell that a great number of priests gathered, reflected and prayed. In the meantime, the demands of evangelization hung like a Jewish zikaron or even perhaps as a sword of Damocles in the very core of the fast-changing lifestyles of priests. Of late, the laity that is developing to be not as timid as before has demanded of the clergy “to hold high the moral compass that will light our way, and…to provide the prophetic pastoral accompaniment that will strengthen us in fulfilling

our role and mission as sons and daughters of God.” The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines already said this in some other words nineteen years ago this year. But then again, even the implementation of plenary councils is also a journey. This issue opens with a very timely article on the Second National Congress of the Clergy written by Pinky Barrientos, FSP. Our staff writer, Fr. Paul Marquez, pens our cover story “Upholding the Rights of Migrant Workers” as the country marks the 24th National Migrants Sunday this month. On the side story, Fr. Edwin Corros notes that most Filipino Migrant Workers do not bother to know about their rights or the migrants’ labor policy, perhaps because they are too engrossed with the more basic need of their own and their family’s survival. Read on.

Volume 44 • Number 2



Second National Congres

A call to spiritual renewal and d


IMPACT • February 2010

By Pinky Barrientos, FSP

© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media © Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFMCap

deeper commitment

ss of the Clergy

t was breathtaking. Thousands of priests, their white garments flailing against the wind, marched the 1.2 kilometers stretch of Roxas Boulevard from World Trade Center to Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City for the 3:30 p.m. closing Mass of the Second National Congress of the Clergy. Visibly energized by the inspiring conferences given by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, who guided the fiveday retreat congress, the priests were all praises with what transpired during the congress. “[It is] very exciting to see 5,500 or so priests gathered solely to pray, celebrating the Eucharist, reciting the Holy Rosary and going to confessions and observing the Holy Hour,” said Fr. Joey Faller, a priest from the Diocese of Lucena and famous for his healing ministry. Fr. Fidel Penafiel, parish priest of Coron, Palawan said the challenging talks and the spirit of camaraderie among brother priests have boosted his feelings and increased his desire to serve his flock and God more faithfully. The clergy congress, held at the World Trade Center from January 25-29 has assembled 5,542 priests across the country. Some priests from abroad also came to participate while others who were here for one reason or another at the time of the congress took the opportunity to join. Close to a hundred bishops also participated in the congress as the event was held right after the 100th plenary assembly of the bishops’ conference. Organized by the Episcopal Commission on Clergy of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the event was the highlight of the Philippines Church’s celebration of the Year for Priests centered on the same theme: “Faithfulness of Christ, faithfulness of priests.” Msgr. Gerardo Santos, a member of the program committee said the basic objective of the congress was to provide the priests a deep and religious experience that will hopefully lead to a spiritual conversion and greater commitment. Record-breaking Speaking before the 5,542 priestsparticipants that filled the massive hall Volume 44 • Number 2

© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media


June 24, 2009, the pope explained that the celebration aimed to encourage the priests in their striving for spiritual perfection. “The purpose of this Year for Priests, …is therefore to encourage every priest in this striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends, and first and foremost to help priests—and with them the entire People of God—to rediscover and to reinforce their knowledge of the extraordinary, indispensable gift of Grace which the ordained minister represents for those who have received it, for the whole Church and for the world which would be lost without the Real Presence of Christ.” The Vatican proclamation signaled the right time for the CBCP Commission on Clergy to put into action the congress plan that has been long prepared, merely waiting for the right time to be implemented. The plan for a second clergy congress was ratified during the CBCP Plenary Assembly last July 2009. A call to renewal and deeper commitment Chosen preacher for the five-day congress was Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFMCap, who electrified the clergy with his charismatic preaching punctuated with singing of songs Amazing Grace (obviously his favorite hymn) and Lord, Here I Am, and inviting participants to resounding proclamations of God is love, Christ is risen, etc. During the congress, Cantalamessa delivered five meditations which he always began with a solemn invocation to the Holy Spirit. Iba Bishop Florentino Lavarias, who currently sits as the chair of the Commission on Clergy said, “Fr. Raniero invited us to call upon the Spirit, precisely because the congress is focused on interior renewal and every renewal is the work of the Spirit.” Cantalamessa’s conferences delved on the three important elements in the life of the priests—the Eucharist, the sacrament of reconciliation and the gift of celibacy. The Capuchin monk expounded on the importance of the Eucharist in the life of the priests, urging them to be focused on the person they are representing, who is Jesus. He also led the clergy to realize that relationship with Jesus is also a relationship with the Holy Trinity which

© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media

of World Trade Center during the opening of the second congress on January 25, His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales noted the surge in number of participants. The first congress, considered historical and unprecedented because of its 4,000 participants paled in comparison with the second congress at least in terms of attendance. “…we have broken our own record by filling this hall with more than 5,000 priests,” the cardinal exclaimed. Former Ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa, chair of the NCC II Central Coordinating Committee said they ran out of kits and other materials since they only prepared 5,300 of these. So those who came late had to make do with what were given them, prepared at the last minute. But like a mother speaking fondly of her children, De Villa was all praises for the clergy. “The priests are so very nice. They understood, nobody complained that one has none what the other got. I guess that’s also a gift of the spirit,” De Villa said. An event waiting to happen Cardinal Rosales said the convening of a second congress for the clergy was an event waiting to happen since it has been thought of many times as soon as the first congress in 2004 concluded. The first congress was held at a time when controversies hounded the Church because of the accusations of sexual misconduct among some of her priests, particularly in America and Europe. It was different this time though,

as it was convened as a response to the call of the Holy Father for the entire Church to celebrate meaningfully the year for priests which the Vatican has promulgated to mark the 150th death anniversary of the saintly cure of Ars, St. John Mary Vianney. According to the cardinal, two attempts have been made since 2004 to assemble the clergy once again since many of the participants of the first congress had asked for a follow up of the first congress. “There is spiritual hunger in the priests and that passion among them to meet brothers again and that desire must be encouraged and sustained,” the cardinal said during the opening of the second national congress. Another try was made when the Holy Father went to Sydney, Australia to preside the World Youth Day celebration. The thought of having the pope very near to the Philippines again inflamed the desire to hold the congress of clergy. But as divine providence would have it, again the effort did not materialize. Nonetheless, the grace of God indeed strikes when the time is right. On March 16, 2009, in a meeting with members of the Pontifical Congregation for Clergy, Pope Benedict XVI announced a special year for priests beginning June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010 to commemorate the 150th death anniversary of St. John Mary Vianney. Year for Priests In establishing a year dedicated to the clergy, the Holy Father wanted to lead the priests into a deeper reflection of the greatness of their priestly vocation. At the general audience on


IMPACT • February 2010

© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media

Volume 44 • Number 2


Second National Congress of the Clergy
eventually flows out to others. Cantalamessa led the clergy to meditate on the importance of the sacrament of reconciliation on the third day, guiding the priests to look into themselves and their unworthiness, not to devalue themselves, but to acknowledge the failures committed and receive the gift of forgiveness. The penitential service followed by the sacrament of confession was one of the highlights of the five-day congress. The entire plenary hall with lights dimmed and entirely quiet, conjured in mind the imagery of the prodigal son seeking the loving forgiveness of the father, as priests lined up to confess their sins to fellow priests. “ I t takes a priest to understand his fellow priest,” Faller said of the confession. Capping his talks on the last day, Cantalamessa focused on the gift of celibacy which according to him is founded in a special relationship and trust in and with Jesus. The life of celibacy gives the priests wings to fly. Because of celibacy, the priest is able to give his undivided attention to the Lord. It is not a burden, he said. “As a marriage without love is an empty shell or even hell, so is celibacy without love for Jesus can be an empty shell,” Cantalamessa said. “This state of life is best of all a relationship with Jesus. We are not an unmarried people. We are married only not to a creature, but to the Creator,” he stressed. Relationship in the life of the priest is relationship with God the Trinity, relationship with the Church and relationship with himself. Bishop Lavarias, reflecting on the issue said that alongside recognizing one’s lack of fidelity is the acknowledgment of God’s fidelity toward us. Speaking on a personal note, he said, “I believe that for us priests, Jesus is fidelity… that I often take for granted, but taking that for granted I lose sight of my ministry, the fidelity of one who called me that I need to manifest and share to his people.” A graced moment Preacher to the Papal household since 1980, Cantalamessa gives mediyear in terms of number of participants. That international retreat assembled only about 1,500 priests worldwide. Challenges To the participants, the words of Fr. Cantalamessa evoked a refreshing newness, challenging them to a creative response to their priestly commitment. According to Fr. Fernando Suarez of the Companions of the Cross, also known as the healing priest, the greatest challenge for priests is how to be sensitive and relevant and make people listen, attract and influence them to go back to God. Holding up banners bearing names of their respective dioceses, the sight of chasubleclad clergy in procession for us members of the flock was quite a statement. We come face to face with the reality that our clergy whom we often put up on a pedestal are but human beings like us. They too have feet of clay. But the realization should not stop there. Just as they minister to our various needs and walk with us in our spiritual journey, we too ought to accompany them with our prayers that they remain faithful to their priestly commitment. This was what Cardinal Rosales stressed once again in his homily during the closing Mass calling on priests to live steadfastly their priestly vocation. “The priest will, therefore, start his renewal on what is essentially priestly. The priest is a creature of the Holy Spirit by virtue of his anointing… Once anointed, the priest shouts to the entire world that he already belongs completely, and for all times, to God!” I
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media

tation every Friday during seasons of Advent and Lent to the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops and Prelates and General Superiors of Religious Orders. “This is really a graced moment,” De Villa said of the retreat. “…Fr. Cantalamessa is such a spiritual man, and yet very human also in his approach. He just really came precisely for the congress upon the invitation of Cardinal Rosales,” she added. De Villa said Fr. Cantalamessa was also moved by the big assembly of priests that he remarked, “Only in the Philippines can these things happen, so many priests in one gathering.” The former ambassador said NCC II surpassed the international gathering of priests in Ars, France held August last


IMPACT • February 2010


Equity, economy, and environment
By Rene E. Ofreneo, Ph.D yphoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009 bared fully two major environmental threats to our population and economy. First, the unprecedented high level of rainfall unleashed by these storms, which resulted in the destructive floods in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon, is directly attributable to the phenomenon of global warming or climate change (CC). The Philippines happens to be in the global short list of countries that are most vulnerable to CC. In fact, CC is also responsible for the long-running cycle of El Niño/La Niña (drought/excessive rain) weather aberrations, which have hurt our agricultural sector in the last two decades. With the global deadlock on the needed carbon emission reduction, 1 expect more CC-related catastrophes to hit the country, including sea rises that are likely to inundate many coastal communities and towns of the archipelago. Secondly, the twin storms bared the sad state of the Philippine environment—neglected and badly degraded. There are no forests to halt the downward flow of the rushing flood water to the low lands, on one hand, and prevent landslides, hillslides and mudslides in the high lands, on the other. In most of the cities and urban areas, the flow of flood water towards the seas is impeded by silted river systems, clogged/missing esteros, undeveloped/malfunctioning/missing drainage systems and undisposed solid wastes in many places. The floods in Metro Manila also revealed the failure of past and present local government units as well as of the


different National Administrations in crafting and enforcing a national land use policy, a critical component of which is an urban zoning and development program. For instance, the Marikina Valley was supposed to remain a valley (not a major residential/commercial area), a spillway in Paranaque was supposed to be built in the l980s to prevent floods in Metro Manila, and, yes, the Laguna Lake was supposed to be decongested of fish pens, commercial buildings, resorts and houses. What then can we learn from the Ondoy-Pepeng episodes? There are many. But for a group of concerned clergy, laity, civil society advocates and academics, the triple challenges of coherence, justice and inclusion are key concerns that must not be neglected in any policy formulation related to climate change mitigation/adaptation and environmental renewal. This is the raison d’etre for the formation of the Climate Change Congress of the Philippines (CCCP), with Archbishop Antonio Ledesma serving as a Lead Convenor. Echoing the latest papal encyclical “Caritas en Veritate”, Archbishop Ledesma calls for people’s unity to insure “intergenerational justice”. Obviously, a failure by the present generation to mitigate climate change and rehabilitate the environment means catastrophe for the next generation, just as the present generation is suffering today from the environmental abuses of the past. Two key coherence-justice-inclusion issues raised by the CCCP are as follows: One, both environmental threats (CC and degradation) are people’s issues. People’s lives, homes and livelihoods Volume 44 • Number 2


Equity, economy and environment
are the most affected by these threats. The people should not only be informed about what the government is doing about these threats but should also, and more importantly, be involved in the crafting of appropriate responses. It is ironic, for instance, that the houses of many urban poor victims of Ondoy and Pepeng are now being demolished without notice, without consultation and without any clear accompanying program of relocation-cum-employment. Such a program of demolition, justified in the name of environmental protection, is a non-solution to the environmental stress and will only aggravate the environmental and social tensions in the country. Two, the twin environmental threats are inextricably linked to the larger issue of what development model must be pursued by the country. Since its acquisition of Independence in 1946, the Philippines has been sacrificing the environment and extracting natural resources in an irresponsible manner to finance development. From the 1950s to the mid-1970s, it used its timber and mineral exports (copper, gold, iron, silver, etc.) to finance its importation of oil, machinery, industrial raw materials and non-essential goods. From the mid-1970s to the present, the failure of an export-oriented program dependent on a few exports (garments, electronics) to take off means continuing deforestation, destructive mining, decimation of the country’s mangroves and coral reefs, poisoning of the air, river, land and water systems (through chemical agriculture, industrial effluents and unchecked proliferation of smoke-spewing vehicles), and the conversion of the watershed areas, hillsides, beach fronts, parks and even irrigated lands into exclusive private resorts, golf courses and housing/real estate/infra projects for the moneyed elite and foreign investors. This unjust and environmentally-destructive development model must stop and must be overhauled. Instead, the government must put in place, with the participation of all sectors of society, a program of sustainable development in all areas of the economy. For example, the Philippines, through its organic farming advocates, has already accumulated so much experiences (despite some bureaucratic reluctance and even opposition in the beginning) in sustainable agriculture

that helps renew the soil, creates more jobs, lessens dependence on food imports and rebuilds the forests. Why not a no-nonsense national program of sustainable agriculture? This program, of course, will require completion of the agrarian reform program, the transformation of small farmers into modern eco-agribusiness producers and the abandonment of the policy of agricultural import liberalization. In services, there are examples of the unlimited potentials of a green economy model, e.g., eco-tourism in Palawan and Bohol. The challenge is how to integrate environment in the business planning of every service industry and make environment as its selling point. In industry, a green economy model means more investments on environmentally-friendly but value-adding and job-creating projects such as green transport facilities, green buildings, mass transport, recyling and renewable industries and so on. A happy outcome of such effort should be the abandonment of the low-technology-cheap-labor policy in favor of higher-technology-higher-labor-productivity arrangement, which is only possible through a mutual recognition by both labor and management of their responsibility to each other and to the larger society. In short, a shift to a green economy is a formula for industrial peace and higher level of industrial development. Clearly, addressing the twin threats of climate change and environmental degradation can also be an opportunity to unite the people in renewing the environment and the economy. Is Philippine society prepared for such a renewal? The CCCP’s answer: Oras Na, or as the young generation puts it, Now Na. I
ENDNOTE: [1] In the December 2009 Summit on Climate Change, the big developed and developing countries, which are the big global emitters of carbon dioxide, failed to make concrete commitments on emission reduction. Hence, the frustration of reduction advocates, who were hoping Copenhagen to become Hopenhagen and who now call the city Brokenhagen. The Philippines is a low carbon emitter because its industrialization failure means it has no major industry emitters, while its denuded forests means it has no large forests to burn, as what seems to be happening in Brazil and Indonesia.



IMPACT • February 2010


By Mario Añabieza & Paul Watts


here are unique challenges that face the world’s 20 million smallscale fisherfolk in the Philippines, including higher poverty rates and declining fish catch. A recent program sponsored by Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO) International and the Philippine Aurora State College of Technology (ASCOT) has led to new partnerships involving local government and nongovernment organizations. Together

transformation in less developed countries with limited government resources also requires the direct grassroots involvement of fisherfolk in a bottom-up or beneficiary led approaches. Fisherfolk involvement Mario Añabieza, a fisherman has worked for many years on the development of PAMANA Ka sa Pilipinas, the national fisherfolk alliance of marine protected area (MPA) managers. Pamana is helping to transform 120

Sustainability through Philippine fisherfolk empowerment
these agencies along with PAMANA Ka sa Pilipinas, the national fisherfolk alliance of marine protected area (MPA) managers have initiated an approach that has continued even after the closing of the VSO placement program in the country. Although VSO volunteers are no longer sent to the Philippines, a new international organization, D A L U H AY, has emerged to continue the work with ASCOT, Pamana and local government. The focus of this partnership is on local and national changes that create empowerment and sustainability within marine livelihoods and support the nutritional health of Filipinos. The Philippines depends more upon marine protein than any other large Asian country. Managing marine ecosystems are most often considered by jurisdictions and international agencies as a top-down activity. However, fisheries dividual MPAs i n t o l a rg e r ecosystem approaches is not easy, especially given the limited communication resources in less developed countries such as the Philippines. The challenge is to synthesise ecosystem plans across jurisdictional and ag ency boundaries. As the number one global priority for marine biodiversity and related FIGURE 1. Marine Bioregions of the livelihoods, Philippines and MPAs of the Philippine Aurora Province waters have individual Filipino communities into been divided into just 6 marine bioreone voice for positive change and sus- gions. The North Philippine Sea is one tainability. Local marine tenure, shared of these bioregions with 10 provinces administrative or enforcement resources along the open Pacific seaboard, where and advocacy activities form the core of Pamana has previously had very few Pamana’s organizational actions. Cur- members. Aurora Province is strategirently through a Canadian-Philippine cally located half way along the coast collaboration led by Daluhay, Pamana is of this sea (Figure 1). revitalizing its national communication network and considering further their Ecosystem-based management Paul Watts is a Canadian ethnoecolrole and potential partners in local health (and nutrition) programs. One goal is to ogist recruited by VSO International as create a new strategic plan for Pamana to work at ASCOT on the sustainability Volume 44 • Number 2

Hands across the waters

within the next twelve months, based primarily upon volunteer fisherfolk involvement. Increasingly, academic research supports the beneficiary led approach as critical for the changes required in marine sustainability, particularly in less developed countries. MPAs represent a potential to merge aspects of traditional and local ecological knowledge with other scientific approaches and create renewed hope for improved livelihoods and sustainable fisheries. Linking in-


and ecohealth from the perspective of people as part of the ecosystem. Through this initiative there emerged a Philippine first Marine Bioregional approach to the North Philippine Sea. Previously, fisheries management in the Philippines has been generally limited to smaller areas often defined by specific coral reefs rather than fish stocks associated with bioregions. The current goal is to strategically develop the capacity of both jurisdictions and beneficiaries to scale up local and MPA activities for larger (bioregional) ecosystem-based management. The North Philippine Sea is a strategic area to build inter-provincial cooperation due to a fisherfolk dependence on deep water or pelagic fish species. The fish stocks migrate over large areas and require a similar scale approach to management and resource partitioning. However, the success of any resource/livelihood program can perhaps best be measured by the level of integration with local government. It is not just the location of Aurora Province that makes it a good choice to form the secretariat for the evolving bioregional program. Through the leadership of Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo and USAID financial support, an Aurora Inter Local Government Unit (LGU) Coastal Resource Management unit was formed. Initially, four of seven Aurora coastal municipalities cooperated on an Inter-LGU Fisheries Management Plan. The initiative was led by several offices and coordinated by Reymar Tercero. Strategically, this province wide approach to CRM assists local municipal governments in coordinating activities over larger areas that better represent shared fish stocks. Further, working in cooperation with the University of Philippines Marine Science Institute, the local partnership was able to determine a need for inter-provincial collaboration, particularly on the shared deep water tuna stocks. In parallel activities, Pamana has been developing baywide cooperative strategies amongst its members and partnerships with corporate agencies such as SMART. The merging of these approaches has led to the concept of the North Philippine Sea Marine Bioregion program, in part based upon strategic MPA activities. Health linkages The marine resources of the world are in decline and this is particularly evident in the Philippines and Aurora Province. Globally, MPAs are the functional ecological unit that links fisherfolk with the marine science approach. MPAs are often considered critical interventions for the sustainability of nutritional health within communities, yet little data is available. This linkage within the Philippines and Pamana’s unique role was one topic of discussion


IMPACT • February 2010

Contributed photo

Hands across the waters
at a December 2008 Forum in Merida Mexico, sponsored by the International Ecohealth organization. The Ecohealth organization focuses on the health linkages between the environment and people; considering their inseparable value. The application of local, institutional and social mechanisms to the ecological approach can be extended through representation to create a shared forum for larger ecosystem units such as the Marine Bioregions of the Philippines. This participatory approach for primary beneficiaries has the potential to apply the wealth of knowledge and efforts of fisherfolk to large marine ecosystems. Through engaged fisherfolk, MPAs can also provide additional opportunities for large scale monitoring and research. The current approach to the management of change is meant to focus strategically on sustainability and ecohealth, not exclusively on jurisdiction, institutions or specific beneficiary groups. Currently in Aurora we are analyzing the results of a province wide participatory process with fisherfolk and Pamana, in relation to a national assessment of established Pamana members. Social process There is a tendency in fisheries science to focus on specific mathematical research results, such as a change in catch per unit effort or fisheries production. However, a focus on social-process and human transformation is equally if not more critical than the biophysical side of fisheries. There is competition for coastal resources between individual fishing communities; between communities and commercial operations, and even with other activities such as tourism. Emerging from the international program of VSO, ASCOT has adopted a mandate that includes placing priority on communication and coordination that can help to transform these competitive situations into a joint plan for sustainability. ASCOT, through the creation of a visiting Chair in Ethnoecology initiated an academe-jurisdictional partnership effectively scaling down from provincial governance and up though all seven coastal municipalities and their fisherfolk. We are now reaching out to the other nine provinces in this marine bioregion. Advancing this approach to socialprocess requires the engagement of a wide range of organizations. The public participation approach to considering ecosystem capacity has been integrated through a successfully completed action research doctoral thesis at the South East Asia Interdisciplinary Institute. In partnership with the Maximo T. Kalaw Institute of Sustainable Development, Eduardo Macose, Director of ASCOT’s Extensions program focused his thesis on the participation process, including representation from civil society, the church and the general public. These linkages provide a strong advocacy base for advancing social-process, local fisherfolk empowerment and directional change. Consensus and capacity building The next phase of the fisherfolk program will involve establishing the inter-provincial and bioregional consensus building process. This developing program has now been endorsed by the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, the Aurora Marine Research Institute and the Philippine Commission on Marine and Aquatic Research and Development. Perhaps many future ecological interventions involving less developed countries might occur on a similar fashion: identifying common ecosystem resources and building inter-agency and inter-jurisdictional consensus towards shared goals. The Aurora program has now compiled a province-wide summary of fish harvest and fisherfolk for Aurora and has invited the other nine Governors and provinces on the North Philippine Sea (Sorsogon, Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Quezon, Isabela, Cagayan and Batanes) to share leadership in a bioregional approach. Fisherfolk reaching across the waters to communicate and, with government help, to produce similar fisheries data sets could be an effective way of managing large ecosystems. From a management standpoint, the Aurora combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches focuses strategically on capacity building towards ecological integrity priorities. This strategy emphasises the (poorly researched) relationship between human health and ecosystem health, now known internationally as ecohealth. Pamana has previously been an organization that would consider applications for organizational membership. However, the current North Philippine Sea initiative is intended to reach out and empower fisherfolk themselves through Pamana, to facilitate stronger local, MPA and bioregional management approaches. This program brings fisherfolk and their supporters together, extending hands across many oceans to lend support and build advocacy towards better livelihoods and a sustainable planet. There is a saying in the Philippines – pa-untiunti or ‘little by little’….together we move forward. I

Volume 44 • Number 2


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MANILA, Feb. 6, 2010—Meeting the challenges in the world, from social to political, requires an individual change of heart, a religious leader said. Brother Alois Löser, head of the Taize ecumenical group, said major problems in the world demand more than just economic and technological proposals. Bro. Alois had looked at the world’s problems from the point of view of the work that the Church, as the family of God, has to do. Such challenges, according to him, require an ethical behavior which respects the principles of universal solidarity, social justice and responsibility. “We all feel that there needs to be major changes in our world. The structures of our societies and patterns of thought from the past are providing to be inadequate and insufficient to create greater justice on earth, to reduce poverty, to ensure that persons and peoples can live together in peace,” Bro. Alois said. “But we (must) also discover that necessary change, particularly an

Taize pilgrimage heralds a change of heart

overhaul of the world economic and financial system, is not possible without a change in the human heart,” he said. Bro. Alois made the statement during the “Taize Pilgrimage of Trust” held at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati City. Pilgrims Around 3,000 young pilgrims—Christians and Muslims—from Asian countries as well as from Europe, Australia, New Zealand and even from North America attended the gathering. Bro. Alois stressed that in today’s world, people “thirst for life in (its) fullness.” In every human heart there is longing, the longing to be loved and to love, he said. At the same time, he added, people experience that said longing is only rarely satisfied, and never for all time. “From discouraging us, this can allow us to discover over and over again a personal communion with God,” he said. “And then our heart changes. And not only our heart, but also our way of looking and our behavior.” “We become more capable of discerning what is good and what is bad; without being naive we become better able to dialogue, to reach out to others, to make our life a pilgrimage of trust,” said Bro. Alois, adding that “And in this way we will contribute as believers to help determine the face of the new world that is emerging.” The pilgrimage at the Don Bosco ended on Feb. 7 with a Eucharistic celebration led by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and several other bishops and priests. (Roy Lagarde) development for all,” they said. In education it was important to promote the freedom of belief for all and to honor the value of diverse religious contributions to the good of society. “Religious communities must equip themselves to work with each other to advance the common good while retaining their distinct religious identities,” they said. They also called upon the existing Indonesian, American, and international religious and multi-religious bodies to both support them and join them in their commitment to shared action. Tod Brown, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) also attended the meeting. On the Indonesian side, participants included leaders of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, Indonesian Council of Churches, Confucian Supreme Council in Indonesia (Matakin), Indonesian Buddhist Council (Walubi), Muhammadyah, Nadhlatul Ulama (NU), the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and the Indonesian Committee for Religions and Peace. (CNA)

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Feb. 1, 2010— Poverty, climate change and a lack of education and good governance are the key factors robbing people of their right to a decent life, 70 religious leaders from Indonesia and the U.S. who met here say. “We believe these concerns present common challenges and responsibilities to each of us and our communities. “We are committed to taking common action on urgent challenges that confront us all,” the leaders said in a joint recommendation issued at the end of an interfaith forum last week. The recommendations were presented jointly by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington D.C. and Bachtiar Effendi of Muhammadiyah Indonesia’s second-largest Islamic organization. Vast numbers of people are trapped in “unprecedented structural poverty” and denied any means of escape. “Our religious communities are urgently called to respond to this structural

Interfaith leaders to tackle roots of poverty

poverty in new ways so as to enhance our communities’ already established and valuable practices of charity and philanthropy,” they said. It was essential and urgent to educate religious communities on the causes of structural poverty and to work with governments. Local religious communities, women’s and youth groups and schools will contribute to grassroots-led development and public health programs, the leaders said. They will plan to develop multireligious partnerships while engaging the public sector in order to equip local religious communities for such programs. Rapid global warming, pollution and the depletion of natural resources have threatened the foundation of human life. “Our religious communities are called to protect the integrity of the environment, even while they are also called to advance a just and sustainable


IMPACT • February 2010


CBCP official 210 million migrants on the move awarded for work for the New Year of the Tiger with Mangyans
MANILA, Jan. 31, 2010—An SVD missionary who has recently been appointed executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Indigenous People of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has been cited for his exemplary mission work among the Mangyan people. Fr. Ewald Dinter, SVD, who spent more than 40 years of his life serving the Mangyan communities of Oriental Mindoro was given the Saint Joseph Freinademtz Award for epitomizing “prophetic dialogue and inculturation on his mission contribution, following the charism of the SVD and its founding generations.” The awarding was held January 29 at the Fr. Peter Yang Hall, St. Jude Catholic School, Manila capping the three-year centennial celebration of SVD’s “100 years of missionary presence” in the Philippines. Awarded together with Dinter were other SVDs and a lay person who have made significant contribution in the mission of helping the poor. Fr. Leo Schmitt, SVD, received the St. Arnold Janssen Mission Award for building low-cost housing for the poor, while Fr. Wilhelm van Kuijk, SVD, a 98 year-old missionary who has spent 61 years in the Philippines was conferred the Centennial Award for his missionary and religious commitment. Meanwhile, Mrs. Beatriz Buenavista-Evangelista, a lay person who ministered among the prisoners in Quezon City Jail was given the Divine Word Award for her meritorious contribution in the mission. Organizations and institutions who are closely involved in the promotion of SVD mission were also cited. The Samahang Bagong Buhay Foundation, Inc. was conferred the Vivat Cor Iesu Award for its role in accomplishing Fr. Schmitt’s housing projects. The Communio Award went to St. Martin Mission Hospital of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro for helping and treating poor and indigenous peoples despite financial constraints. The St. Jude Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish in San Miguel, Manila was BEIJING, China, Feb. 6, 2010— Tens of millions of migrants begin their exodus for the Chinese New Year which falls on 14 February, to return home from the big cities where they work. But this time many of them are hoping to find work close to their rural village and stay there. For the vast majority of immigrants, the New Lunar Year is the only opportunity to return home, where many have left parents and children. The railways are besieged by endless queues of people laden with bags and it is estimated there will be no less than 210 million passengers in 40 days, the equivalent to the population of Russia, even for trips lasting more than 20 hours on uncomfortable wooden seats, carrying their homemade meals. This year, many migrants hope to find work close to home and not come back to the big cities, where for decades they live as second-class citizens without health care or free schooling for their children, with little protection at work and forced to pay high rents to live in several in-room dormitories. On February 3 in Zhengzhou (Henan) the farmer Wu Xianmin stabbed to death two migrant workers who were protesting against the wage cuts to 3 Yuan (less than 30 euro cents) per day. In the crowded station in Guangzhou, Li Beiyong tells the South China Morning Post that during the holidays she will seek "a decent job near home." Li, 24, works as a waitress in a hotel in Ningbo, south of Shanghai, and earns 1500 Yuan per month. "The pay might be lower- she says-but the cost of living is also less. There I might get on better". Just a year ago, many migrants returned from their holidays to find their factories closed, with no warning. Now, by contrast, there is a shortage of manpower. Many migrants find work nearer home, now that the poor interior provinces are becoming more prosperous in addition to the declining age of the working population as a result of single-child policy and young people seeking better jobs than manual labour. Finally, government funding, to stimulate the economy, has created jobs across the country and thus removed the workforce from the factories in the east. Beijing wants to stimulate the creation of jobs throughout the country, to make the economy less dependent on exports abroad. To the point that many factories have even increased wages, in need of manpower. (AsiaNews)

conferred the Fr. Peter Yang Award for its contribution to the SVD Chinese mission in the Philippines. The Catechists of Abra were given the Abra Mission Award for their long and enduring apostolate of religious instruction particularly in the public schools of Abra. The SVD awards committee also gave a Special Recognition Award to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM) for the support they have given to the SVD mission in the Philippines.

The eight awardees received a goldplated medallion and a P50,000.00 cash reward each. The SVD Mission Awards was launched last year by the Society of Divine Word in partnership with St. Jude Catholic School during the centennial celebration of SVD’s missionary presence in the country. The awards aim to recognize Catholic and non-Catholic individuals, groups, and, institutions that greatly contributed to the realization of SVD's mission in the country. (CBCPNews) Volume 44 • Number 2


COVER S TO RY By Fr. Paul Marquez, SSP


Comprehensive UN Treaty on Migrants’ rights he International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is the most comprehensive international treaty dealing with the rights of migrant workers and the latest of the seven so-called core international human rights conventions, which together form the United Nations human rights treaty system. The drafting of the Convention began in 1980, after the United Nations General Assembly established an Openended Working Group to draft an international instrument for the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers. Membership of the Working Group was open to all UN member States and it benefited the cooperation of the UN Commission on Human Rights, the UN Commission for Social Development, ILO, UNESCO and WHO. The Working Group met annually during General Assembly sessions and after ten years of negotiations produced the text of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. The Convention was adopted without a vote and opened for signature pursuant to General Assembly resolution 45/158, on 18 December 1990. The Convention does not stand in isolation but on the one hand complements internationally recognized labor standards and on the other hand specifies the application of generally recognized human rights standards to migrant workers and their families. The Convention protects the human rights of migrant workers at all stages of the migration process, in the country of origin, the country of transit and the country of employment, by imposing ensuing obligations on States parties. International Migration Convention entered into force On July 1, 2003, the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families entered into force, when the threshold of 20 ratifying states was reached in March 2003 after the states of El Salvador and Guatemala had ratified the Convention. Twenty-two states have ratified the Convention on Migrants’ Rights in the following years: Egypt, Morocco (1993), Seychelles (1994), Colombia, Philippines, Uganda (1995), Sri Lanka, Senegal, Bosnia & Herzegovina (1996), Cape Verde (1997), Azerbaijan, Mexico (1999), Ghana, Guinea, Bolivia (2000), Uruguay, Belize (2001), Tajikistan, Ecuador (2002) and El Salvador, Guatemala, (2003) Mali (acceded). The ratification of the Convention by a state means that the legislative or law-making branch of its government has adopted the Convention and promised to incorporate it into its national laws. From 1 July 2003, these countries (included in the list above) will be legally bound by the Convention. Moreover, the application of the Convention will be monitored by the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (CMW). Ten experts will be recognized as impartial authorities in the field by the Convention and will be elected by the states that have ratified the Convention (article 72). It held its first session in March 2004. At its second session, held from 25 to 29 April 2005 in Geneva, the Committee discussed its working methods in






IMPACT • February 2010





COVER S TO RY relation to the consideration of States reports. The Committee decided that it will follow the practices developed by other human rights treaty bodies. In particular, after a report has been received from a State party, the Committee will welcome supplementary information from civil society and NGO’s including alternative reports in order to enable it to develop a balanced view of the situation in the country concerned. In recognition of its expertise in labor related matters, the Convention assigns a special role to the International Labor Office both specifically to assist the Committee with the consideration of States parties’ reports and generally to participate in the Committee’s meetings in a consultative capacity. The Committee also pursues regular dialogue with other specialized agencies and intergovernmental organizations as well as with non-governmental organizations. A Response to Migration: A Global Phenomenon The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is an international response towards migration, a global phenomenon. In 2005, the number of international migrants is between 185 and 192 million. This represents approximately three per cent of the world population, and is comparable to the population of Brazil. Nearly all countries are concerned with migration, whether as sending, transit, or receiving countries, or as a combination of these. International migration has become an intrinsic feature of globalization. The Convention constitutes a comprehensive international treaty regarding the protection of migrant workers’ rights. It emphasizes the connection between migration and human rights, which is increasingly becoming a crucial policy topic worldwide. The Convention on Migrant Workers defines the rights of migrant workers under two main headings: a) Human Rights of migrant workers and members of their families (Part III): applicable to all migrant workers (undocumented included); b) Other Rights of migrant workers and members of their families (Part IV): applicable only to migrant workers in a regular situation. Human Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families The Convention is not proposing new human rights for migrant workers. Part III of the Convention is a reiteration of the basic rights which are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and elaborated in the international human rights treaties adopted by most nations. The Convention seeks to draw the attention of the international community to the dehumanization of migrant workers and members of their families, many of whom being deprived of their basic human rights. Indeed, legislation implementing other basic treaties in some States utilizes terminology covering citizens and/or residents, de jura excluding many migrants, especially those in irregular situations. • Basic freedoms Applying these fundamental rights to migrant workers and members of their families, the Convention provides for their right to leave and enter the State of origin (Art. 1). The inhumane living and working conditions and physical (and sexual) abuse that many migrant workers must endure are covered by the reaffirmation of their “right to life” (Art. 9) and prohibition against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment Volume 44 • Number 2


© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media

COVER S TO RY or punishment (Art. 10) as well as slavery or servitude and forced or compulsory labour (Art. 11). Migrant workers are also entitled to basic freedoms like the freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Art. 12), and the right to hold and express opinions (Art. 13). Their property should not be confiscated arbitrarily (Art. 15). • Due process The Convention then goes on to explain in detail the need to ensure due process for migrant workers and members of their families (Art. 16-20). Investigations, arrests and detentions are to be carried out in accordance with established procedures. Their right to equality with nationals of the State before the courts and tribunals must be respected. They must be provided with necessary legal assistance, interpreters and information in a language understood by them. When imposing a sentence, humanitarian considerations regarding the person’s migrant status should be taken into account. The arbitrary expulsion of migrant workers is prohibited (Art. 22). • Right to privacy A migrant worker is entitled to his or her honor and reputation and also privacy, which extends to one’s home, family and all communications (Art. 14). • Equality with nationals Migrant workers are to be treated as equal to the nationals of the host country in respect of remuneration and conditions of work [overtime, hours of work, weekly rest, holidays with pay, safety, health, termination of work contract, minimum age, restrictions on home work, etc (Art. 25)]. Equality with nationals extends also to social security benefits (Art. 27) and emergency medical care (Art. 28). • Transfer of earnings On completion of their term of employment, migrant workers have the right to transfer their earnings and savings as well as their personal effects and belongings (Art. 32). • Right to information They have the right to be informed by the States concerned about their rights arising from the present Convention as well as the conditions of their admission, and their rights and obligations in those States. Such information should be made available to migrant workers free of charge and in a language understood by them (Art. 33). Other Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families Providing additional rights for migrant workers and members of their families in a regular situation, the Convention seeks to discourage illegal labor migration, as human problems are worse in the case of irregular migration. • Right to be temporarily absent Migrant workers should be allowed to be temporarily absent, for reasons of family needs and obligations, without effect on their authorization to stay or work. • Freedom of movement They should have the right to move freely in the territory of the State of employment and they should also be free to choose where they wish to reside (Art. 39). • Equality with nationals Migrant workers must have access to educational, vocational and social services. In addition to the areas mentioned in Article 25, migrant workers and members of their families shall enjoy equality with nationals of the State of employment in the following areas: access to education, vocational guidance and placement services, vocational training, retraining, housing including social housing schemes, protection against exploitation in respect of rents, social and health services, cooperatives and self-managed enterprises, access to participation in cultural life (Art. 43). Members of the families of migrant workers also shall enjoy equality with national of States of employment in having access to these services (Art. 45). Migrant workers shall enjoy equality of treatment in respect of protection against dismissal, unemployment benefits, access to public work schemes intended to combat unemployment in the event of loss of work or termination of other remunerated activity (Art. 54). • Employment contract violations When work contracts are violated by the employer, the migrant worker should have the right to address his or her case to the competent authorities in the State of employment (Art. 54 (d)). They shall have the right to equal treatment with nationals and be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law (Art. 18, 1). • Rights of undocumented (‘illegal’) workers The Convention recognizes that “the human problems involved in migration are even more serious in the case of irregular migration” and the need to encourage appropriate action “to prevent and eliminate clandestine movements and trafficking in migrant workers, while at the same time assuring the protection of their fundamental rights” (Preamble). As measures for preventing and eliminating illegal labor
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United Nations, New York City


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Upholding the Rights of Migrant Workers

migration, the Convention proposes that the States concerned should collaborate in taking appropriate actions against the dissemination of misleading information relating to emigration and immigration, to detect and eradicate illegal or clandestine movements of migrant workers and impose sanctions on those who are responsible for organizing and operating such movements as well as employers of illegal migrant workers (Art. 68). However, the fundamental rights of undocumented migrant workers are protected by the Convention (Art. 8-35). The Outcome of a long Process The Convention is the outcome of a long process at the international level. Human flaws have always been a concern of the international community and of UN agencies. The 1951 Convention on Refugees constituted a crucial step in improving the fate of refugees and in establishing global management of this issue. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has elaborated two Conventions that aim at protecting migrant workers: Convention 97 (1949) and Convention 143 (1975). In the seventies, it was recognized that migrants constitute a vulnerable group and that the promotion of human rights for this population required a special UN convention. A working group was created in 1980, chaired by Mexico. It drew up the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which was adopted at the 69th plenary meeting of the General Assembly on December 18, 1990. A campaign for the Ratification of the Convention was launched in 1998, following several other initiatives promoting the ratification of the Convention. The Steering Committee of the Campaign was convened in Geneva by an NGO called Migrants Rights International, with the objective of establishing a broad base for a global campaign for the ratification and entry into force of the Convention. Currently,

the Steering Committee of the Campaign is composed of organizations: UN agencies, trade unions, NGOs and other international organizations. Three United Nations entities belong to the Steering Committee of the Campaign: • The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) has a Special Rapporteur dealing with the human rights of migrants; • The International Labor Organization (ILO) deals with the promotion and protection of labor standards. As such, it is active in the protection of migrant workers’ rights; • The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is concerned with migrants’ human rights and with the promotion of migrants’ social integration, as well as with the protection of cultural diversity. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is also a member of the Steering Committee. IOM is a leading international organization in the field of migration. It is an intergovernmental agency outside the UN system with some 100 members. It seeks to advance the understanding of migration issue and to promote the orderly management of migration to the benefit of both migrants and societies. Ratification of the Convention The status of the ratification of the Convention remains below expectation. After it was adopted by the General Assembly, it took thirteen years for the Convention to collect the twenty ratifications necessary for its entry into force, on 1 July 2003. As of today the Convention has been ratified by 29 State parties. The role of non-governmental organizations in campaigning for the entry into force of the Convention has been quite remarkable. They were the driving force in the Steering Committee of the Global Campaign for Ratification of the Convention which was first covered in 1998. This was a unique alliance involving the United Nations secretariat, Volume 44 • Number 2


© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media

COVER S TO RY intergovernmental agencies and leading international human rights, church, labor, migrant and women’s organizations. The Steering Committee’s activities at international and national levels in order to publicize and raise awareness of the Convention through the Global Campaign led to a salutary increase in the number of ratifications and signatures. It is worth nothing that the 29 States parties are principally sending States, although some of them are also transit and receiving States. None of the major receiving States has ratified the Convention. When we consider the geographical distribution of the States parties, we note that 12 are from Africa, 9 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 7 from Asia, and 1 from Central and Eastern Europe. Another 15 States have signed but not ratified the Convention. As of May 2005, no Western State has signed or ratified the Convention, although some of them were actively involved in the Convention’s drafting process. Obstacles to Ratification This brings us to the question of the possible obstacles to ratification. How is it that the Convention has met with so little enthusiasm by States, including those States who are usually quick to champion human rights? UNESCO has carried out several interesting studies on this matter. Firstly, it is obvious that the contents of one or other
By Fr. Edwin Corros, CS oven de la Cruz (not his real name) was a former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) from Antipolo, Rizal. He has sought the assistance of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI), complaining of harassment from the lending agency that paid his placement fee to get a job in Taiwan as a factory worker. He was repatriated when the factory where he was employed temporarily cut down its operations due to lesser demand of IT products in United States and Europe because of global economic recession. Afraid of being jailed for not paying his debts, he sought ECMI’s help. When he arrived in Taiwan in March 2008, De la Cruz did not find anything unusual about his employment. Three months later, his employer announced that the factory will operate only thrice a week. This meant that Joven and other foreign migrant workers would only work three days weekly, hence, will also receive a salary that was equivalent to the three-day job. The company’s management had explained that it could

provision may be unacceptable to some States, for instance because it would give rights that would go beyond its capacities. Fortunately, the Convention itself has foreseen the possibility of entering reservations to the application of certain articles. This obstacle is therefore one that can be overcome by a careful study of the compatibility of the domestic legislation with the rights contained in the Convention, and the drafting of pertinent reservations. Secondly, the Convention has given rise to many misconceptions. One of the common misconceptions is the often expressed opinion that the Convention favors irregular migration. It is clear from the text of the Convention that it does not and that, on the contrary, the concept of giving rights to irregular migrant workers was inspired not only by the basic principle of respect for the dignity of all human beings, but also by the desire to discourage recourse by employers to irregular labor by making it much less advantageous, as unequivocally expressed in the preamble of the Convention. Thirdly, many countries fear the high cost of developing an infrastructure for the implementation of the Convention. The Convention is a long and complex instrument that provides many rights in different fields, and the implementation thereof consequently involves many government departments, coordination of which may not be an easy task. It is illustrative in this respect that none of the States parties


not afford to pay all the workers due to the low demand of their company’s product. With his salary cut into almost half of his initial monthly wage, Joven had to face the consequence of being unable to pay his debts arising from the placement fee he had borrowed in the Philippines. Added to this burden, the workers also had to pay their board and lodging on days they were not working. This unexpected turn of events came as a big blow to Joven and his co-workers. All they could do was to wait for their condition to improve. Few weeks later, the company offered the migrant workers the possibility of repatriation with a free airline ticket. Realizing that he had just been working without saving, plus the fact that his salary was not enough to pay his debts, Joven had immediately accepted the offer. Before leaving Taiwan he was asked to sign a document implying he had resigned from work. Although he

was not sure of the consequence of such decision, he decided to sign the document because he did not have the chance to seek help from the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei, the Philippines de facto embassy. A month after his arrival in the country, Joven started receiving a statement of account from the lending company that paid his placement fee for Taiwan. He called up the lending company explaining why he was not able to pay his debt. Unfortunately, after explaining his incapacity to pay, he received a stronger letter demanding that he pay his debts including accumulated interests and surcharges or else he will be brought to court. It was this threat of being jailed that brought Joven to seek ECMI’s help through the Antipolo Diocesan Commission for Migrants. The case of Joven is a usual example how some overseas Filipino


IMPACT • February 2010

Upholding the Rights of Migrant Workers
have managed to present their first report on time, partly because the preparation of the report on the implementation of the Convention demands close cooperation between different branches of government and is thus time- and resource-consuming. Other obstacles are of a political nature. The present day climate is not very conducive to discussing the granting of rights to migrant workers. Public opinion in many receiving countries has turned against migrants who are perceived as competition and thus a danger to local people’s jobs. Prejudices against migrants are aggravated by the trend to view foreigners as potential terrorists. Recommendations The range of obstacles to the acceptance of the UN Convention on Migrants’ Rights is wide, and fostering further ratifications of this treaty will require substantial effort. Among the possible ways of achieving this goal, one can notably mention the following recommendations: Promoting a better understanding of the content of the Convention; given the misconceptions surrounding this treaty, it is worth repeating that more information is needed. A campaign in favor of the notion of rights for migrants and of the situation of undocumented migrants; the idea that migrants constitute a vulnerable group and that they need adequate legal protection is not yet accepted and needs to be promoted. Similarly, the idea that undocumented migrants deserve a minimal degree of legal protection meets strong opposition. It is necessary to stress the socio-economic contributions made by both documented and undocumented migrants, even if access to rights should never be conditioned to economic considerations. Developing capacity-building in migration policies and training local experts; all too often, migration takes place in an institutional and political vacuum or is only minimally managed by state authorities. This calls for improving state capacities in addressing migration challenges. Involving the social actors concerned by migration; it is a far-reaching phenomenon that affects most segments of the societies in which it takes place. Along with states, civil society should therefore be adequately prepared to face migration. NGOs already play a key role, but other social actors – such as the media, schools, employers, unions, police and health professionals – should be involved. Addressing fears of ‘being first’ by working at a regional level; states are reluctant to take the risk of being among the first to ratify the Convention. This calls for promotRights, page 25

workers are cheated and abused by exploitative recruiters who take advantage of migrant workers’ vulnerability. Joven’s deployment was facilitated by paying a placement fee through a lending company that was most likely owned or linked to the same job placement company. He was even illegally charged with P120,000 pesos (overcharged) as placement fee, a violation to the allowable placement fee set by Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). Luckily, Joven had declared an affidavit that such huge amount was being demanded from him, to be paid in a monthly amortization payment deductible from his salary every fifteen days while working in a Taiwanese factory. When his case was brought to the attention of the POEA, he was not anymore forced to pay the remaining balance of his debt. He could have brought his placement agency to court for having cheated him, but he

did not bother to do so. All he wanted then was to stop the lending company from harassing him. Joven could have sought assistance from the Labor Attaché of MECO in Taipei before signing the document attesting his resignation. But then he was not probably aware of his rights nor was familiar where to seek help. By asking him to sign the document, it was clear that the company wanted to clear itself of any liability in case workers would complain in the future. Taiwanese companies are not allowed to hire foreign workers once proven that they had been involved in illegally terminating their migrant workers. There are several lessons to be learned from the case of Joven. Ignorance of migrants’ labor policy on the part of any prospective migrant worker leaves him or her highly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. OFW’s should
Victim, page 25

Filipino overseas workers in Hong Kong spend their free day shopping at downtown’s business district.

Volume 44 • Number 2


© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media


‘The Justice of God Has Been Manifested Through Faith in Jesus Christ’
ear Brothers and Sisters! Each year, on the occasion of Lent, the Church invites us to a sincere review of our life in light of the teachings of the Gospel. This year, I would like to offer you some reflections on the great theme of justice, beginning from the Pauline affirmation: "The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ" (cf. Rm 3, 21-22). Justice: "dare cuique suum" First of all, I want to consider the meaning of the term "justice," which in common usage implies "to render to every man his due," according to the famous expression of Ulpian, a Roman jurist of the third century. In reality, however, this classical definition does not specify what "due" is to be rendered to each person. What man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law. In order to live life to the full, something more intimate is necessary that can be granted only as a gift: we could say that man lives by that love which only God can communicate since He created the human person in His image and likeness. Material goods are certainly useful and required—indeed Jesus Himself was concerned to heal the sick, feed the crowds that followed Him and surely condemns the indifference that even today forces hundreds of millions into death through lack of food, water and medicine—yet "distributive" justice does not render to the human being the totality of his "due." Just as man needs bread, so does man have even more need of God. Saint Augustine notes: if "justice is that virtue which gives every one his due ... where, then, is the justice of man, when he deserts the true God?" (De civitate Dei, XIX, 21). What is the Cause of Injustice? The Evangelist Mark reports the following words of Jesus, which are inserted within the debate at that time regarding what is pure and impure: "There is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him … What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts" (Mk 7, 14-15, 20-21). Beyond the immediate question concerning food, we can detect in the reaction of the Pharisees a permanent temptation within man: to situate the origin of evil in an exterior cause. Many


Message of Pope Benedict XVI for Lent 2010

Justice and Sedaqah At the heart of the wisdom of Israel, we find a profound link between faith in God who "lifts the needy from the ash heap" (Ps 113,7) and justice towards one’s neighbor. The Hebrew word itself that indicates the virtue of justice, sedaqah, expresses this well. Sedaqah, in fact, signifies on the one hand full acceptance of the will of the God of Israel; on the other hand, equity in relation to one’s neighbour (cf. Ex 20, 12-17), especially the poor, the stranger, the orphan and the widow (cf. Dt 10, 18-19). But the two meanings are linked because giving to the poor for the Israelite is none other than restoring what is owed to God, who had pity on the misery of His people. It was not by chance that the gift to Moses of the tablets of the Law on Mount Sinai took place after the crossing of the Red Sea. Listening to the Law presupposes faith in God who first "heard the cry" of His people and "came down to deliver them out of hand of the Egyptians" (cf. Ex 3,8). God is attentive to the cry of the poor and in return asks to be listened to: He asks for justice towards the poor (cf. Sir 4,4-5, 8-9), the stranger (cf. Ex 22,20), the


IMPACT • February 2010


modern ideologies deep down have this presupposition: since injustice comes "from outside," in order for justice to reign, it is sufficient to remove the exterior causes that prevent it being achieved. This way of thinking—Jesus warns—is ingenuous and shortsighted. Injustice, the fruit of evil, does not have exclusively external roots; its origin lies in the human heart, where the seeds are found of a mysterious cooperation with evil. With bitterness the Psalmist recognises this: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Ps 51,7). Indeed, man is weakened by an intense influence, which wounds his capacity to enter into communion with the other. By nature, he is open to sharing freely, but he finds in his being a strange force of gravity that makes him turn in and affirm himself above and against others: this is egoism, the result of original sin. Adam and Eve, seduced by Satan’s lie, snatching the mysterious fruit against the divine command, replaced the logic of trusting in Love with that of suspicion and competition; the logic of receiving and trustfully expecting from the Other with anxiously seizing and doing on one’s own (cf. Gn 3, 1-6), experiencing, as a consequence, a sense of disquiet and uncertainty. How can man free himself from this selfish influence and open himself to love?

slave (cf. Dt 15, 12-18). In order to enter into justice, it is thus necessary to leave that illusion of self-sufficiency, the profound state of closure, which is the very origin of injustice. In other words, what is needed is an even deeper "exodus" than that accomplished by God with Moses, a liberation of the heart, which the Law on its own is powerless to realize. Does man have any hope of justice then? Christ, the Justice of God The Christian Good News responds positively to man’s thirst for justice, as Saint Paul affirms in the Letter to the Romans: "But now the justice of God has been manifested apart from law … the justice of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith" (3, 21-25). What then is the justice of Christ? Above all, it is the justice that comes from grace, where it is not man who makes amends, heals himself and others. The fact that "expiation" flows from the "blood" of Christ signifies that it is not man’s sacrifices that free him from the weight of his faults, but the loving act of God who opens Himself in the extreme, even to the point of bearing in Himself the "curse" due to man so as to give in return the "blessing" due to God (cf. Gal 3, 13-14). But this raises an immediate objection: what kind of justice is this where the just man dies for the guilty and the guilty receives in return the blessing due to the just one? Would this not mean that each one receives the contrary of his "due"? In reality, here we discover divine justice, which is so profoundly different from its human counterpart. God has paid for us the price of the exchange in His Son, a price that is truly exorbitant. Before the justice of the Cross, man may rebel for this reveals how man is not a self-sufficient being, but in need of another in order to realize himself fully. Conversion to Christ, believing in the Gospel, ultimately means this: to exit the illusion of self-sufficiency in order to discover and accept one’s own need—the need of others and God, the need of His forgiveness and His friendship. So we understand how faith is altogether different from a natural, good-feeling, obvious fact: humility is required to accept that I need another to free me from "what is mine," to give me gratuitously "what is His." This happens especially in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Thanks to Christ’s action, we may enter into the "greatest" justice, which is that of love (cf. Rm 13, 8-10), the justice that recognizes itself in every case more a debtor than a creditor, because it has received more than could ever have been expected. Strengthened by this very experience, the Christian is moved to contribute to creating just societies, where all receive what is necessary to live according to the dignity proper to the human person and where justice is enlivened by love. Dear brothers and sisters, Lent culminates in the Paschal Triduum, in which this year, too, we shall celebrate divine justice—the fullness of charity, gift, salvation. May this penitential season be for every Christian a time of authentic conversion and intense knowledge of the mystery of Christ, who came to fulfill every justice. With these sentiments, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing. From the Vatican, 30 October 2009 BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

A Call for Vigilance and Involvement
A Pastoral Statement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the occasion of its 100th General Assembly held at Pius XII Center, Manila
eloved People of God: God is calling us to participate in transforming our society, to “seek good and not evil” (Amos 5,14). This is part of our mission as People of God (cf. Justice in the World, 1971). In 1991 the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) called the lay people to fulfill their responsibility in renewing the political order. In 2001 the National Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal (NPCCR) made this task one of the nine major pastoral priorities of the Church. The same call is echoed by the pastoral letter last year on the Year of the Two Hearts for Peace


“Seek good and not evil that you may live.” (Amos 5,14)
Building and Lay Participation in Social Change. I. Our Situation To transform our political order— how imperative this task is today! The election fever is on us! Campaign advertisements, presidential debates, and sadly, political killings, fill our media. Outrageous political violence has awakened us to the reality that if we do not keep watch together as a nation our electoral processes can drag us down. The existence of private armies, the proliferation of loose fire arms, and political dynasties are obstacles to the growth of a genuine democratic system. II. Calls A. Discernment In this situation we urge once more all Filipinos to form circles of discernment so that they can see, judge, and act together on issues of public concern according to moral values. Moreover, we remind once again the Catholic laity that it is their right and duty to support candidates that are qualified and have a record of striving for the common good. They should not hesitate to engage in principled partisan politics. We are asked to first articulate the key values and principles by which we can evaluate individual candidates across political parties. This is the kind of politics in Volume 44 • Number 2


which Gospel values form the bases of our choice of candidates and not party or family loyalties. B. On Automated Elections We have always hoped for a modernized, better, and faster form of voting and counting, imbued with transparency and integrity. Automated election has been in use for some time in many countries. For the first time in our history we are adopting one example of poll automation called Automated Election System (AES). But at this late hour there are still many questions regarding the AES that revolve around the readiness of personnel and equipment as well as the readiness of the electorate in the use of the system. Even more important, many serious questions about the reliability and integrity of the equipment and the personnel involved have not been satisfactorily answered. To be sure those who are responsible for the AES are striving to make the system work. But we must make sure that there are prepared fall back positions that can be quickly adopted when there are some glitches in the system and in the logistics. We have to be vigilant and be involved. One example would be to help in educating voters regarding the AES and in using the equipment. C. To Candidates We ask the candidates, already at this point, to start serving the nation by being honest and sincere in educating the people on the situation of our country in their campaign. They should not campaign to manipulate the perceptions of the people but to help them to make good choices for the sake of the country. They are to present their platforms and convictions rather than attack others. D. To Peace-keepers We call on our soldiers and the police to be extra-vigilant so as to bring about peaceful elections. They should not allow themselves to be used by politicians or ideological groups. Rather, they should be vigorous in disarming illegally armed elements. E. To Voters We appeal directly to you, our fellow countrymen and women, as well as to all members of our Basic Ecclesial Communities and religious lay organizations to exercise your right to vote wisely i.e. following the criteria indicated several times in our previous pastoral letters. Automated elections will not give us good public officials. Ultimately the leaders that our country shall have will depend on our wise choice of candidates. Do not be swayed by survey results or political advertisements. Follow the dictates of your conscience after a prayerful and collective period of discernment. “Winnability” is not at all a criterion for voting! The vote you cast will be a vote for the good of your country and your children’s future. Serve the common good with your precious vote! III. Signs of Hope In spite of the grim scenario that some may paint that every election is just the same, we feel winds of change for the better. Many of our faithful are now heeding the call of their pastors to be actively engaged in politics. Many are running for public office issuing from the call of faith and service so that people should no longer vote simply for the lesser evil among the candidates. There are now many civil society groups that are concerned and are actively moving to ensure that this election of 2010 will be an honest and credible one. We especially note with encouragement many young people who go out of their way to offer their services for the good of our nation. These signs are fruits of the efforts of many in the past years to educate our people to develop their social conscience and to make their faith the motivation of their political actions. Pope Benedict XVI teaches us: “Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationship with others: it demands a public witness of our faith” (Sacrosanctum Concilium #83) Let us be ever vigilant for our country. Together let us be involved in the coming automated elections. Let us vote wisely that we may have God-fearing and honest people as our leaders.

May our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Peace, be our guide and teacher in our hope for a better tomorrow. May our Good Lord receive our offerings of prayers, good intentions and selfless service for the good of our people! To Him be the glory forever. Amen. +NEREO P. ODCHIMAR, DD Bishop of Tandag President Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines January 24, 2010


IMPACT • February 2010

© CBCP Media


Raising the Tide of Philippine Politics:


hen the tide is raised all sorts of boats rise with it, from large to small ones, from the lowly banca to the mighty battleship, and from the old to the new. We, presidential candidates to the May 2010 elections, seek to raise the tide of Philippine politics by publicly committing ourselves to a covenant of peaceful and clean elections as well as good governance and transparency. We recognize that how we and our followers conduct ourselves during the campaign and election period is already indicative and determinative of how we shall conduct ourselves as public servants if and when we are elected. We shall promote principled partisan politics by respecting the dignity of voters and their consciences, and their need for well-informed choices. We shall not resort to vote buying and its variations, and condemn all forms of intimidation, violence, and misrepresentation. There is a river of change flowing through our land, fed by various tributaries of change. People are searching for meaningful political change that leads to a transformed nation that allows them to dream and to work towards achieving these dreams and promote the common good. We want to be part of this meaningful political change for a transformed nation. We commit ourselves and call on our followers to be the change we and our people seek at this crucial junction of our national life. We cannot do

A Covenant for Presidential Aspirants to the May 2010 Elections

this by our powers alone. We call on all Filipino citizens to journey with us and we hold ourselves accountable to them. Finally, we ask the Lord to accompany us in this journey of change and transformation that starts with ourselves. So help us God. Signed this 22nd day of January 2010 at the Cebu International Convention Center, Mandaue City. Candidates: Sen. Benigno Aquino III Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada Sen. Richard Gordon Former Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Bro. Eddie Villanueva Sen. Manuel Villar Witnesses: Gordon Alan P. Joseph, President Cebu Business Club Eric Ng Mendoza, President Mandaue Chamber of Commerce & Industry Consul Samuel Chioson Cebu Chamber of Commerce & Industry rights throughout the world.

Rights, from page 21

ing cooperation between them to avoid a competition that is extremely unfavorable to ratification of the Convention. Encouraging Western countries to ratify; western receiving countries are home to large migrant populations and play an influential role in shaping other countries’ attitudes towards the Convention. Any strategy aiming at fostering ratification will have to address Western states’ reluctance towards the Convention, despite the difficulties that can be expected. Helping countries implement the Convention; once the Convention is ratified and has entered into force, its implementation needs to be fostered. Along with the UN Committee monitoring the Convention, there is therefore a need to help countries – and especially sending countries—to put the Convention into practice. The amount of work that is needed is huge, and so are the efforts that will have to be made. This may inspire some pessimism and discouragement. However, the Convention has the very merit of existing; it represents a unique agreement at the

world level on the minimal degree of legal protection that migrants should enjoy. It makes sense therefore to make full use of the Convention, which remains one of the most crucial tools in improving migrants’
Victim, from page 21


(Fr. Paul Marquez, a priest of the Society of St. Paul, is a staff writer of Impact.)
ated OFWs, they can go directly to POEA or OWWA to seek assistance. ECMI also continues to assist any OFW who would encounter problem in their overseas work. For address and telephone number of migrant chaplains overseas, OFWs can call ECMI at 527-4135 to 42 or they can also email ECMI at ecmicbcp07@yahoo. com. ECMI would like to caution OFWs however that it does not have a direct link with countries in the Middle East except Israel, Kuwait and Lebanon. Hence, assistance to OFWs working in the Middle East is difficult to pursue. I

be familiar with Republic Act 8042 better known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995. Knowing this particular law can protect migrant workers from the possible abuse of labor agents and brokers. If they are not able to personally defend themselves, they should know at least that there are agencies that can help them fight for their rights. A worker who knows the law but unfortunately, is willing to surrender its implementation is doomed to be violated. Moreover, one maybe familiar with the law but is afraid to

fight for its implementation will definitely run the risk of encountering the same abuses that Joven had suffered from. It is therefore important that people who are afraid to fight for their rights for fear of losing their jobs, should know there are institutions that are willing to help them. In most countries in Asia and Europe, chaplains for Filipino migrant communities are expected to assist migrant workers in their social and labor problems. All the OFWs need to do is to approach the priests that work in their communities. In the case of repatri-

Volume 44 • Number 2



ow that this matter of a proposed temporary marriage contract has somehow subsided in excited contemplation and spirited discussion, it might be but proper and just to look into the matter with more calm and prudence—in the light of on the ground concrete and practical realities. Truth to say, such a demeaning look at marriage and consequent frivolous proposition on its temporary time frame, ultimately have one and the same victims, viz., the men and women who go for such a temporary conjugal union, specially so the children. This is not to mention their negative impact on society as a whole when the adult and youth concerned respectively disseminate their unsound personal value systems and propagate empirical grave misfortunes in their respective communities—as countries with Divorce Law amply prove. Men and women who enter temporary marriages basically say that they are not serious about one another, that they take the human family lightly, and that consider marriage but some kind of for-the-moment diversion or a by-the-way option. On the other hand, the children born of their exploratory union are not certain what future holds for them, which of their parents would get and have them, whom between their father and mother would they come to love or to hate. A temporary marriage contract for ten—more or less— years, implies the following composite nauseating if not traumatic experience when the husband and wife decide to call it quits upon expiration of the spousal contract: One, division of the domestic abode—which is disturbing. Two, division of conjugal properties—which is troublesome. Three, division of the children—which is traumatic. At the same time, all these dividing ventures strongly imply division of affection and mental posture, division of affiliation and loyalty among the family members concerned. It is both right and practical to forward the following concrete and rational principles: First of all, those who do not believe and/ or who cannot accept a lifetime conjugal partnership should not get married at all. Second, those who subscribe to a more or less ten-year marriage contract, should be prepared to say how many temporal marriages are they prepared to contract, how many homes are they ready to break. Third, most important of all, those who accept marriage with a given time frame should be prepared to say and decide how many children they are willing to divide. By the way, to say that marriage is but a “contract”, is in fact, neither true nor right. Reason: As such, marriage would be no more, no better than a business contract, a lease contract, a car contract, and million and one other contracts. The truth is that marriage is a covenant, a compact, a vow— all of which immediately imply constancy, permanence, stability. This is why as a rule, men, women and children with a broken marriage behind them, usually do not become better persons for it. This is sad but true. To say it lightly, marriage is not like a taxi that a man and a woman flag down, ride in, and thereafter leave it as a matter of course, when they no longer need it.


Ten year marriage contract

hus stands the tripod whereupon development depends from on and stands on. In the same way, deceit, iniquity and dissension guarantee and promote socio-economic retrogression. The triumph of truth brings about justice. The reign of justice ushers in peace. These observations are not simply academically understandable but also empirically true. When there is prevalent falsity, then there is a regime of injustice and thus come to fore all kinds of unending resentment and discontentment in different places, in different degrees and different manifestations as well. Thus it is that even the Philippine Constitution provides: “The State shall promote social justice in all phases of national development.” (State Policies, Sec. 10). This signal and candid constitutional provision equivalently says: One, with social justice goes development. Two, deterioration goes with social injustice. Three, take a good look around and know how this country fares in conjunction with the above cited not simply logical but also realistic State Policy. To put it more bluntly, injustice is a social curse. When the powerful and the wealthy are above the law, when the poor and miserable are crowding local jails and prisons, when the law is used to oppress and not to liberate, then something is not merely wrong but also appalling and revolting. Injustice is the supreme guarantee of individual disgust and/or social discontent. Justice is such an elementary mandate that there is nothing like injustice to foment not merely division, not simply revolution but war even. Take away but a candy from but a little child, and this will most probably cry as a matter of course. The child feels that the candy is his or hers. Thus when taken away, the child is offended by the injustice of losing it. If this is true with but children, it is not hard to imagine what injustice does to an adult, how does this feel, what the same will do. If one is poor because this is aware or knows that he or she is indolent and/or vicious, if somebody is prosecuted for a wrong doing, and if someone is jailed because of his or her proven wrongdoing, then the subject party knows in conscience that justice is simply served— even though the same may register strong protests every now and then. The cardinal question that now comes to mind is precisely the following—a query that is admittedly shameful to think about, as well as embarrassing to ask: Is a dysfunctional justice system the main legacy of this no less than some nine year old reigning administration to the country? A negative answer thereto would require much explaining to do, and would demand much more to make it convincing.


Truth. Justice. Peace


IMPACT • February 2010


he often cited valiant yet actually disturbing, fearless but precisely distressing yell, is in fact three-tiered: “Do not panic! Relax lang! Kayang-kaya ito!” Given the saddening recent past, the now gloomy existing present and the forthcoming uncertain days of the socio-economic situation and political scenery of the Philippines, the quoted extra-optimistic cheer can be considered as a false bravado or a big joke. Ever since such historical shout was made by an energy Czar and quoted by tri-media, both the importers and consumers of fuel are precisely in continuous panic and hysteria, not to mention suspicion and ire on the part of the general public. This is somehow like the often repeated hurrah of the still reigning leader: “The economic fundamentals are in place.” Never mind what this impressive expression really means and/or how it truly works. The standing fact is that the country suffers from pervasive poverty, has a below stan-


dard public educational system, has no employment for its citizens, does not even produce enough rice for people to eat, and presently neither has affordable sugar for its population—not to mention the long agony brought about by indirect taxation of Filipinos from birth to death. There are brazen graft and corrupt practices in the government from top to bottom. There are innumerable killings, regular murders and massacres that even gained international infamy. There are criminals all over the land. There are more pushers and drug syndicates. Even the supposed arm of the law often becomes the arm of lawlessness. The guns in the hands of those who exactly should not have them, has in a way brought back the country to the cowboy and Indian times. Do not panic! Relax lang! Kayang-kaya ito! The world of politics is burning with both serious and hilarious accusations and counter-accusations. The political candidates are literally and flagrantly throwing money away— surely for them to get much, so very


much more in return when elected. The guns and goons are all out. The private armies are all in. The constant danger to lives and limbs is real. Even the innocent get hurt, if not killed. Do not panic! Relax lang! Kayang-kaya ito! Suspect and suspicious, accused and accuser, and furthermore doubted if not distrusted, wherefore confused if not lost—this is COMELEC. Among the still few machines in, there is even a number that barely works. Electricity is not certain in distant parts of the country, during election day. Some places are in fact no man’s land. Clustering some 1,000 thousand voters using but one voting machine for but some hours of a day, is not comforting to contemplate. The ballots are about two feet long. The jammers are in. The technicians are not. The watchers do not know what to watch out for. There is the possibility of the failure of election. Do not panic! Relax lang. Kayang-kaya ito!

Volume 44 • Number 2


Illustration by Bladimer Usi

FROM THE INBOX From the e-mail messages of


The girl in the CD store
really wanted to but he couldn't. His mother found out about this and told him to just ask her. So the next day, he took all his courage and went to the store. He bought a CD like he did everyday and once again she went to the back of the store and came back with it wrapped. He took it and when she wasn't looking, he left his phone number on the desk and ran out... !!!RRRRRING!!! The mother picked up the phone and said, "Hello?" It was the girl! She asked for the boy and the mother started to cry and said, "You don't know? He passed away yesterday..." The line was quiet except for the cries of the boy's mother. Later during the day, the mother went into the boy's room because she wanted to remember him. She thought she would start by looking at his clothes. So she opened the closet. She saw piles and piles of unopened CDs. Surprised to find all those CDs, she picked one up and sat down on the bed and started to open one. Inside, there was a CD and as she took it out of the wrapper, a piece of paper fell out. The mother picked it up and started to read. It said: Hi... I think U R really cute. Do u wanna go out with me? Love, Jacelyn The mother opened another CD. Again there was a piece of paper. It said: Hi... I think U R really cute. Do u wanna go out with me? Love, Jacelyn.

here was once a guy who suffered from cancer... a cancer that can't be treated. He was 18 years old and he could die anytime. All his life, he was stuck in his house being taken cared by his mother. He never went outside. But he was sick of staying home and wanted to go out for once. So he asked his mother and she gave him permission. He walked down his block and found a lot of stores. He passed a CD store and looked through the front door for a second as he walked. He stopped and went back to look into the store. He saw a young girl about his age and he knew it was love at first sight. He opened the door and walked in, not looking at anything else but her. He walked closer and closer until he was finally at the front desk where she sat. She looked up and asked, "Can I help you?" She smiled and he thought it was the most beautiful smile he has ever seen before and wanted to kiss her right there. He said, "Uh... Yeah... Umm... I would like to buy a CD." He picked one out and gave her money for it. "Would you like me to wrap it for you?" she asked, smiling her cute smile again. He nodded and she went to the back. She came back with the wrapped CD and gave it to him. He took it and walked out of the store. He went home and from then on, he went to that store everyday and bought a CD, and she wrapped it for him. He took the CD home and put it in his closet. He was still too shy to ask her out. He


IMPACT • February 2010


ne day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?” “It was great, Dad.” “Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked. “Oh yeah,” said the son. “So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father. The son answered: “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have


Lessons learned

a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. “We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. “We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. “We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.” The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.”

book Reviews

A Journey to the True Self Joyce Rupp
In this latest book published by Paulines Publishing House, well known spiritual writer and retreat director Joyce Rupp invites readers once again to take the spiritual journey to self awareness by entering the door of their hearts. Using the image of the door as a symbol for spiritual growth, Rupp guides readers to discover the richness that are hidden within their inner self. Designed as a six-week process with a reflection for each day of the week, the book is an excellent companion and guide for those who wish to embark on a journey to self-discovery.

Open the Door

Reflections for the Working Soul
Bishop Precioso Cantillas, SDB, DD & Teresa Tunay, OCDS
The demands of our work can sometimes drain us of energy which consequently lead us to go on doing our duties and work perfunctorily. This book of reflections provides readers with some inspiring insights that will lead them to understand more profoundly the spirituality of work. Originally published as a column in one of the leading national dailies, the 52 sets of reflections in this volume are the authors’ “humble offering to those who work, especially those toiling away from the limelight, those who labor in dire working conditions, the millions of unrecognized ‘lowly’ workers who are moved in their work by sheer faith in the honorableness of honest labor.”

Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD
A book of short reflections on life’s meaningful moments. Fr. Jerry Orbos believes in “moments spirituality”, that of finding meaning and finding God in ordinary moments of our life. His nine books on Moments series are all stories of personal encounters, little coincidences, funny anecdotes, and uplifting stories which have colored and shaped his life of 29 years in the priestly ministry.

Meaningful Moments

Pope Benedict XVI
This book by St. Pauls comes at a time when the National Congress of the Clergy in the Philippines had just ended. Especially published on this year dedicated for priests, this book gathers the reflections of the Holy Father on the topic of priesthood. The reflections are drawn from “homilies and meetings with the clergy of Italian dioceses and of the world on the occasion of the pope’s pastoral visits and apostolic trips.”

The Priesthood

Volume 44 • Number 2



frican-American teenager Michael Oher a.k.a Big Mike (Quinton Aaron) feels outcast in a Christian school due to variety of reasons from his low academic qualification to his big body frame for his age, skin color and being oddly silent apparently due to his complicated childhood. When Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) sees Michael wandering in the street on one cold night, she invites him to sleep over in the house with her family -- husband Sean (Tim McGraw) and children SJ (Jae Head) and Collins (Lily Collins). The generosity of Touhy family does not end with overnight place of sleep for Michael but finding a new family where he is loved and accepted. On discovery of his niche in playing football, he gets the full support of the Tuohy family to the point of going all the way to process legal guardianship for him and get a tutor to improve his academic profile. When Michael starts to make a name in sports, tempting scholarship packages come to his plate from different schools. However, when he finally chooses

C atholiC iNitiative for eNlighteNed Movie appreCiatioN

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Jae Head, Lily Collins Director: John Lee Hancock Producers: Gil Netter, Broderick Johnson, Andrew Kosove Screenwriter: John Hancock Music: Carter Burwell Editor: Mark Livolsi Genre: Drama Cinematography: Alar Kivilo Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures Location: USA Running Time: 100 mins.

Technical Assessment:  Moral Assessment:  CINEMA Rating: For viewers aged 13 and below with parental guidance one, those schools that he rejects make him believe that Tuohy family's motivation for helping him is to influence his decision for choice of school. After all those things done for him by Tuohy family is Michael up to be cynical about them, isolates himself and feels outcast again? How about the promising sports career? Based on the book Evolution of a Game, The Blind Side offers an inspiring story complimented by excellent treatment by the director and the casting that fits each character. There are combined drama and comedy, conventional and unconventional family settings, and theme of social relevance. The lines are meaningful and put to life by good portrayal of the actors especially Bullock. The cinematography captured the settings for a good production design to establish highlight of each scene. Overall, film The Blind Side is way above in the technical aspects and keep up to the essence of a very good story. The film shows that an act of kindness cannot be contained, there is overflow. Leigh Anne influenced others primarily her family then the coach, the teachers and school officials to extend kindness to Michael, and this creates a pleasant environment for everybody. It brings positive change not only to the recipient but also to the giver. The film projects both a strong and soft woman in the character of Leigh Anne, an understanding and supportive husband, obedient and loving children to their parents. The film is also a good reminder for key people in the schools, sports, law enforcer of their responsibility to make or unmake a person especially at a young age. Rather to look at each young person as an opportunity to see potentials of good citizens in the making. Whilst the story is about Michael, the key messages to address the moral dimension are found in the people around him. Overall the film offers a lot of positive values not only in the family situation but throughout the school, community and society at large.


IMPACT • February 2010


Avalanche kills soldiers
At least 11 Indian soldiers were killed after an avalanche hit Indian army’s High Attitude Warfare School in northwest Kashmir, a mountainous region near the border with Pakistan on Feb. 9. Dozens of soldiers were buried in the snow. About 400 soldiers are based at the camp which has been completely covered by the avalanche.

position alliance which had backed his candidacy.

Aussie boosts aid to Burma
Australia is giving a 40 percent increase in humanitarian aid to Burma, hoping to spur a democratic election later this year and create political change. But long-time Burma-watchers warn the generals who control the country are masters of the political charade and say Australia should be careful trying to deliver more aid under their rule.

sies. Shah was accused by the Indian government of having links to major Indian crime syndicate, and to Pakistan's intelligence agency.

Police nab Iranian trio in drug bust
Three Iranians, two women and one man, were nabbed while attempting to smuggle drugs—worth nearly $4 million—into Malaysia. The suspects were carrying over 50 kilos of amphetamines, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Trafficking drugs carries a mandatory death sentence in Malaysia.

Reports said the case is against anti-dumping tariffs imposed by the US on frozen shrimp. The US has imposed tariffs ranging between 4 to 26 percent on Vietnamese shrimp exporters. Vietnam joined the WTO three years ago.

Withdrawal of disputed Google map sought
“Professionally irresponsible.” This was how Cambodia accused the internet search engine company Google over its map of an ancient temple which is at the centre of a border dispute with Thailand. In a letter—which the AFP news agency reports to have seen—the government said the Google map 'places almost half of the disputed Preah Vihear temple in Thailand'. Cambodia has asked for the map to be replaced with a new one.

Police shuts hacker training school
While Google threatened to quit China last month after a serious hacking attempt, authorities have closed down what it claims to be the country’s largest hacker training website and nabbed three of its members. Police said the "Black Hawk Safety Net" taught hacking techniques and provided malicious software downloads for its 12,000 members.

Afghans flee offensive in Marjah
Some 2,000 men, women and children fearing imminent fighting between the Taliban and US troops, loaded up trucks and fled their homes Feb. 8 in Afghanistan’s southern district ahead of a military offensive intended to clear Taliban militants. Thousands of NATO and Afghan troops are expected to carry out the operation in the Marjah area of Helmand province within the month.

US sells weapons to Taiwan; China angered
Kao Hua-chu, Taiwan’s defense minister has vowed to seek more weaponry from the US triggering anger from the Chinese government. The announcement came a week after the announcement of a $US6.4 billion arms deal with America which angered China. Hua-chu said the deal will help stabilise the Taiwan Strait and give the island greater confidence in pushing for talks with China.

Military probes fail Gaza war victims
The Israeli gov’t has failed to demonstrate that it will conduct thorough and impartial investigations into alleged laws-of-war violations by its forces during last year's Gaza conflict, Human Rights Watch said. An independent investigation is needed if perpetrators of abuse, including senior military and political officials who set policies that violated the laws of war, are to be held accountable, it added.

Ex-army commander nabbed
Authorities have arrested former army commander and losing presidential candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka. He will reportedly be court-martialed for allegedly planning to overthrow the government. Fonseka was taken into custody by Sri Lanka troops who stormed the offices of the main op-

Media mogul killed
Media mogul and Space Time network head Jamim Shah, a media mogul here, has been shot dead in Kathmandu, the country’s capital. Shah was killed on Feb. 8 in broad daylight close to the British and Indian embas-

Govt tackles US at WTO over shrimp imports
The Vietnamese government has filed its first anti-dumping case with the World Trade Organization.

Volume 44 • Number 2