"Faith In Our People And Faith In God"

By Benigno S. Aquino Jr.
August 21, 1983
Manila International Airport

I have returned on my free will to join the ranks of those struggling to restore our rights and freedoms through nonviolence.

I seek no confrontation. I only pray and will strive for a genuine national reconciliation founded on justice.

I am prepared for the worst, and have decided against the advice of my mother, my spiritual adviser, many of my tested friends and a few of my most valued political mentors.

A death sentence awaits me. Two more subversion charges, calling for death penalties, have been since I left three years ago and are now pending with the courts.

I could have opted to seek political asylum in America, but I feel it is my duty, as it is the duty of every Filipino, to suffer with his people especially in time of crisis.

I never sought nor have I been given any assurances or promise of leniency by the regime. I return voluntarily armed only with a clear conscience and fortified in the faith that in the end justice will emerge triumphant.

According to Ghandi, the WILLING sacrifice of the innocent is the most powerful answer to insolent tyranny that has yet been conceived by God and man.

Three years ago when I left for an emergency heart bypass operation, I hoped and prayed that the rights and freedoms of our people would soon be restored, that living conditions would improve and that bloodletting would stop.

Rather than move forward, we have moved backward. The killings have increased, the economy has taken a turn for the worse, and the human rights situation has deteriorated.

During the martial law period, the Supreme Court heard petitions for Habeas Corpus. It is most ironic, after martial law has allegedly been lifted, that the Supreme Court last April ruled it can no longer entertain petitions for Habeas Corpus for persons detained under a Presidential Commitment Order, which covers all so-called national security cases and which under present circumstances can cover almost anything.

The country is far advanced in her times of trouble. Economic, social and political problems bedevil the Filipino. These problems may be surmounted if we are united. But we can be united only if all the rights and freedoms enjoyed before September 21, 1972 are fully restored.

The Filipino asks for nothing more, but will surely accept nothing less than all the rights and freedom guaranteed by the 1935 Constitution-the most sacred legacies from the Founding Fathers.

Yes, the Filipino is patient, but there is a limit to his patience. Must we wait until that patience snaps?
The nation-wide rebellion is escalating and threatens to explode into a bloody revolution. There is a growing cadre of young Filipinos who have finally come to realize that freedom is never granted, it is taken. Must we relive the agonies and the blood-letting of the past that brought forth our Republic, or can we sit down as brothers and sisters and discuss our differences with reason and goodwill?
I have often wondered how many disputes could have been settled easily had the disputants only dared to define their terms.

So as to leave no room for misunderstanding, I shall define my terms:

1. Six years ago, I was sentenced to die before a firing squad by a Military Tribunal whose jurisdiction I steadfastly refused to recognize. It is now time for the regime to decide. Order my IMMEDIATE EXECUTION OR SET ME FREE.

I was sentenced to die for allegedly being the leading communist leader. I am not a communist, never was and never will be.

2. National reconciliation and unity can be achieved but only with justice, including justice for our Muslim and Ifugao brothers. There can be no deal with a Dictator. No compromise with Dictatorship.

3. In a revolution there can really be no victors, only victims. We do not have to destroy in order to build.

4. Subversion stems from economic, social and political causes and will not be solved by purely military solutions; it can be curbed not with ever increasing repression but with a more equitable distribution of wealth, more democracy and more freedom, and

5. For the economy to get going once again, the workingman must be given his just and rightful share of his labor, and to the owners and managers must be restored the hope where there is so much uncertainty if not despair.

On one of the long corridors of Harvard University are carved in granite the words of Archibald Macleish:

“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms; by truth when it is attacked by lies; by democratic faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, and in the final act, by determination and faith.”

I return from exile and to an uncertain future with only determination and faith to offer - faith in our people and faith in God.

At whose hands the bloods of heroes are required reflects the kind and state of the society a people is in. When it is their leader that is the problem, their heroes are destroyed by that leadership. But when a people begin destroying their own heroes, deep are the unrighteousness of that society.

Heroism is moral courage amidst the fear of death in the hands of iniquity while struggling for righteousness. Submission to death through the ways of unrighteousness is suicide.

A barren land is a place where not even a single comestible mushroom naturally grows in the season where there is abundance of rain, lightning, and thunder. A strange land is a place where poisonous mushrooms grow in all seasons all the time.


Remembering A Hero

"I Have Found My Inner Peace"

Fort Bonifacio
June 19, 1973
10 p.m.

Sen. Franciso ‘Soc’ Rodrigo

My dearest ‘Monsignor’:

I have just finished my night prayers; yes, believe it or not, I have been averaging 1,200 Hail Maries a day since LAUR. This is my 270th day in captivity with no end in sight. This morning I had my first haircut in three months. I was just about to hit the sack when all of a sudden I remembered our nights in bldg. No. 3.

I am presently occupying your former room with Monching (Mitra). Our big room is being occupied by the ‘plotters’ Geny Lopez, Serge Osmeña, et. al. I am not allowed to see or talk to them because I am in solitary confinement. I can hear their singing and laughter once in a while.

Pepe (Diokno) and I were flown to Fort Magsaysay, Laur, Nueva Ecija last March 12 and were returned here to Manila last April 11 after 30 harrowing days in a sweat-box and in complete solitary confinement. I lost about 25 lbs. in Laur. I now weigh about 148 lbs. from a high of 190 lbs. when I was picked up. I weighed 178 lbs. when you were released last December.

Firstly, let me tell you that you’ve been keeping me company all these months. Remember your crucifix which you placed near the Bulletin Board? When we were flown to Laur all our personal effects were returned to our families. Last Easter Sunday (April 22) the families were allowed to visit us. The first thing I asked Cory was to return to me the crucifix. Luckily, she was not able to return it to you for one reason or another. This was the first item allowed by the military to be given to me together with a couple of books on religion. Your crucifix is now beside my bed and I pray before it all hours of the day.

Secondly, I want to tell you all about my conversion and my resolve to join you in spreading the good news if and when I regain my freedom. God has been so kind to give me to the power to convince and persuade and which greatly helped me in my political career. Now I want to use the same gifts to spread His word. I am sure, this will please my mother no end.

It started last March 12. I had just finished my regular afternoon workout at the basketball court when I was accosted by one of the young officers here and asked to dress up “because we are going somewhere.” I hurriedly took a quick shower and I was ready within a few minutes. I was then led to a waiting blue Combi VW and I saw Pepe seated inside. The next thing I knew Pepe and I were being placed aboard a big civilian-type blue and white helicopter with a presidential seal. Then we were blindfolded and handcuffed. The chopper took off headed northeast.

At first, I thought we were being brought to either PANGARAP or Fort Aguinaldo or Crame. I counted mentally up to 900 (which is approximately 15 minutes) but the chopper ketp flying. I knew we were beyond the Greater Manila area. I began to wonder. Could it be Corregidor, Bataan, Sablayan, Mindoro? I was sure we headed northeast when we took off. Could it be Tanay, Rizal, the special forces training camp or Fort Magsaysay or Camp Aquino? (I eliminated this last possibility because I didn’t think they’ll bring me to home ground.) I prayed a complete rosary (three mysteries) which usually takes me about 15 minutes and the chopper still kept flying. I estimated we’ve been flying about 35 minutes when it finally set down. Still blindfolded and handcuffed to one of our escorts, I was helped into a pickup with rusty seats.

The landing pad was very near our destination. I smelled fresh paint as I was led into what I thought was a building. I found myself inside a newly painted room, roughly four by five meters, with barred windows, the outside of which was boarded with plywood panels. There was a six-inch gap between the panels and the window frame to allow a slight ventilation. There was a bright daylight neon tube that glowed day and night. There were no electric switches in the room and the door had not knobs, only locks on the outside. The room was completely bare except for a steel bed without mattress. No chairs, tables, nothing.

I was stripped naked. My wedding ring, watch, eyeglasses, shoes. clothes were all taken away. Later, a guard who was in civilian clothes brought in a bedpan and told me that I would be allowed to go to the bathroom once a day in the morning, to shower, brush my teeth and wash my clothes. In case of emergency, I must call for the guard. I was issued one jockey brief and a T-shirt and I was told to wash my clothes every morning. During the entire thirty days I was issued only two jockey briefs and two T-shirts which I alternated every other day. The guards held on to our toothbrush and tooth paste and we had to ask for them every morning. Apparently the intention was to make us really feel helpless and dependent for everything on the guards.

I didn’t know where we were. I could hear Pepe snoring once in a while because he occupied an adjoining room. We were told not to communicate with each other; and so to assure each other that we were still alive, I some sang Ang Bayan Ko and Pepe answered with Bayang Magiliw. We had nothing to read or to. We were never let out of the building.

When they removed my glasses, I suffered terrible headaches. For the first three or four days, I expected to be ‘liquidated’ any moment. I suspected our guards were the dreaded ‘Monkeys’ who were licensed to kill. I even suspected they were putting drugs in my meager ration. So I refused to eat. Later, the guards gave me six crackers a day. I subsisted on six crackers and water for the rest of my stay. I became so depressed and despondent. I was haunted by the thought of my family whom I have not seen since February 24.

At this point of my desperation and desolation, I questioned the justice of GOD. I remembered your famous words: HINDI NATUTULOG ANG DIYOS . . . but I felt, at that moment, he was having a very good sound siesta and I was afraid when he finally woke up, I would have been gone!

I prayed the rosary, but more mechanically than with feeling. Would God allow me to die without seeing my family? What terrible crimes have I committed to deserve this fate? The magnanakaws are living it up and I who tried to walk the narrow path of public service with integrity (and I) am now about to meet an uncertain fate? Is this justice? These questions assailed and kept me sleepless.

Cory, my children, our stay at Bonifacio, our nightly sessions, our debates and lively discussions kept flashing back like a montage. I couldn’t close my eyes because every time I did I saw the faces of my children, whom I am soon going to leave at the mercy of a fatherless world. And my poor wife Cory will have to carry my responsibilities on her frail shoulders.

I prayed the rosary and the mysteries. I recalled how you used to remind us of the glorious mysteries. I saw you clearly in my mind’s eye pointing your fingers upwards and downwards-resurrection, then you would point your finger upwards-ascension, then downwards-descent of the Holy Spirit, then upwards again-assumption, then coronation. I never forgot these vivid cues!

The mysteries started me on my meditation. It was the life of Christ from birth to the ascension. Suddenly, Jesus became a live human being. His life was to become my inspiration. Here was a God-Man who preached nothing but love and was rewarded with death. Here was a God-Man who had power over all creation but took the mockery of a crown or thorns with humility and patience. And for all his noble intentions, he was shamed, vilified, slandered and betrayed.

Then it dawned on me how puny were my sufferings compared to Him whose only purpose was to save mankind from eternal damnation.

Then as if I heard a voice tell me: Why do you cry? I have gifted you with consolations, honors and glory which have been denied to the millions of your countrymen. I made you the youngest war correspondent, presidential assistant, mayor, vice-governor, governor and Senator of the Republic, and I recall you never thanked me for all these gifts. I have given you a full life, a great wife and beautiful lovable children. Now that I visit you with a slight desolation, you cry and whimper like a spoiled brat!

With this realization, I went down on my knees and begged His forgiveness. I know I was merely undergoing a test, maybe in preparation for another mission. I know everything that happens in this world is with His knowledge and consent. I knew He would not burden me with a load I could not carry. I therefore resigned myself to His will.

To think, I have been praying the Lord’s Prayer for three and a half decades without really understanding fully the words I mumbled. I repeated that prayer so mechanically that I never really knew what I was saying. Thy Will be done, on earth!

Thy Will Be Done! These words snatched me from the jaws of death. In Laur, I gave up my life and offered it to Him . . . picked up my cross and followed Him. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it does, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
I recalled our conversation on Rizal. Remember the dialogue between Father Florentino and the dying Simoun which I always quoted to you and Jose Mari.

Remember how Simoun also questioned the justice of God?

Father Florentino’s immortal words were to sustain me through those dark nights of my soul in Laur. He said:

“I cannot read the mind of the inscrutable. But I know that He has not forsaken those peoples that in times of decision have placed themselves in His hands and made Him the Judge of their oppression. x x x God is justice and he cannot abandon His own cause, the cause of freedom without which no justice is possible…”

But Simoun insisted: “What kind of God is He who allows the many who are worthy and just to suffer and, without lifting a finger, finds satisfaction in their sufferings? Is it His will that these islands continue in miserable condition?”

Father Florentino’s answer was to become my inspiration. The just and the worthy, he said, must suffer so that their ideas may be known and spread. “The vessel must be shaken or broken to release the perfume; the stone must be struck to raise a spark. There is something providential in the persecution of tyrants.”

Yes, Soc, there is something providential in the persecution of tyrants. If only for my conversion, I should owe the tyrant my eternal gratitude!

I heard the great martyr-hero speaking to me from his grave. Rizal was not only a prophet but an extreme realist. He clearly pointed out to the Filipino the pitfalls that must be avoided. Unfortunately, like the Biblical prophets, many read him, but few really understood what he wrote.

Rizal’s faith in God was unshakable. He warned those who lacked dignity and civic virtue and who tolerated vices and became accomplices in them, of God’s wrath.

I now realize why Rizal reserved the little book by Tomas a Kempis ‘Imitation of Christ’ for his beloved Josephine. That little book, acclaimed as one of the greatest spiritual writings of all times by men of every faith and belief for the last five centuries, had a profound impact on Rizal. It was from this little book that he drew the strength of his spirituality and inner peace. He bequeathed his talisman to Josephine.

And so, the writings of Rizal, like that of a Kempis, are ever new because they are perennially Christian, yet are old with the wisdom of the ancient truths as proclaimed by the Church.

Like a Kempis, Rizal believed that He is the God of freedom who makes us love it by weighting the yoke upon our shoulders. And He is also the God of mercy and justice “who improves with His punishments and grants happiness only to those who have merited it with their exertions. The school of suffering tempers the sprit, the fighting arena strengthens the soul.”

Unequivocally and so clearly, Rizal said that we can only win freedom by deserving it and that to earn it we must improve the mind and enhance the dignity of the individual, “love what is just, what is good, what is great. to the point of dying for it.”

And when the people reach these heights, he said, “God provides the weapon, and the idols and the tyrants fall like a house of cards, and freedom shines in the first dawn.”

Soc, we Filipinos have a penchant for blaming others for our faults. The hero rebuked us for this.

“If Spain,” he said, “were to see us less tolerant of tyranny and readier to fight and suffer for our rights, Spain would be the first to give us freedom because when the fruit of conception reaches the time of birth, woe to the mother that tries to strangle it.”

Rizal’s final admonition rings with the universal truth that is timeless and ageless, applicable in his time and more so today. I have to quote him fully to do him justice.

“As long as the Filipinos do no have sufficient vigor to proclaim, head held high and chest bared, their right to a life of their own in human society, and to guarantee it with their sacrifices, with their very blood; as long as we see our countrymen feel ashamed privately, while in public they keep silent and even join the oppressor in mocking the oppressed; as long as we see them wrapping themselves up in their selfishness and praising with forced smiles the most despicable acts, begging with their eyes for a share of the booty, why give them independence?

“What is the use of independence if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And no doubt they will because whoever submits to tyranny loves it! x x x Why give the bride to the groom if he does not love her enough and is not ready to die for her?”

Soc, as I said, I heard the hero’s voice in Laur. How many of our esteemed colleagues are privately ashamed of what is happening and yet praise the dictator openly and on radio and television as if he were the greatest Filipino ever born. How many of our countrymen have joined the oppressor in mocking the oppressed? How many are repelled by the blatant injustices being committed, by the naked power grab of a tyrant with an insatiable lust for power, and they have it within their offices to curb the abuses of the tyrant, but they would not because they would rather beg with their eyes “for a share of the booty.”

I have no doubt, Rizal would have been the first to be picked up were he alive today and maybe re-enact his martyrdom at Bagumbayan. He was a victim of the New Land. Surely, his fate wouldn’t be better under a New Society . . . Bagong Lipunan.

I do not know what will happen to me. I have not been charged and this is now my ninth month in captivity. But I am no longer hoping to be released because I know I won’t stay free for long as long the present dictatorship does not change.

The moment I am released and I am interviewed, I know I will be rushed back to my cell because I am my worst enemy because I have not learned how to keep my tongue in check with prudence.

I marveled at your serenity during the months we were together. I think I have found your secret. You have long ago resigned to His will. I, too, am now resigned to His will. I now trust strongly in Him and have perfect hope in His mercy.

Like you, I heard Him say: “When you think all is lost, the greater reward often follows. All is not lost, though some things happen contrary to your will. You should not think of yourself wholly forsaken by Me, though I send you for a time some grief and trouble, for this is the surer way to the Kingdom of Heaven.”

And when He sent his disciples to the world, He sent them not to have temporal joys but to meet the great battles; not to have honors, but injuries; not to be idle, but to labor; not to rest, but to bring forth much fruit in patience and in good works, according to a Kempis.

And these words are true and cannot be denied.

In the loneliness of my solitary confinement in Laur, in the depths of my solitude and desolation, during those long hours of meditations, I found my inner peace. He stood me face to face with myself and forced me to took at my emptiness and nothingness, and then helped me discover Him who has really never really left my side; but because pride shielded my eyes and the lust for earthly and temporal power, honor and joys drugged my mind, I failed to notice Him.

As Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “For the sake of Christ, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” To this, I say, Amen.

Forgive me for having taken too much of your time with this long letter. But with nothing else to do, with all the time in my hands, the temptation to over-write is great, to over-pray, to over-think.

If I have been too harsh in my judgment of our colleagues, I pray for their forgiveness. If I, however, understand the truth of our tragedy and have been wanting in my denunciation of the tyrant who dragged back Mother Filipinas to her dungeon in chains, I hope God will forgive me for failing to rise up to the occasion.

I hope you are in the best of health and Ate Meding and the family have been freed from their anxiety and tension. I do not know when you will have the chance to read this letter. But I could not wait to put down in writing my gratitude to a man who inspired me, when hope was almost gone, the ‘monsignor’ who steeled me with a faith that has become my ‘refuge and my staff.’

So long, dear friend, I am sure we will meet again. If not here, in that Kingdom where love is eternal.



Pre-2010 Charter Change: Magnet for Suspicion and Distrust

By Congressman Ruffy Biazon

Any moves to amend the Constitution before the change of political leadership in 2010 will only be met with extreme distrust and suspicion by the people. The proponents of a pre-2010 charter change must take into account the prevailing sentiments of a very significant segment of the population which have very serious suspicions about the motives of those pushing for chacha. It cannot be denied that there is no vocal clamor for charter change from the populace while on the other hand, there is widespread disapproval of tinkering with the Constitution especially under the present national political leadership (not just the president, but the ENTIRE political leadership).

It does not help the cause of the cha-cha proponents that the most vocal about amendments to the Constitution are incumbent politicians, particularly those identified with the present administration. Thus, the product of a rammed-down-the-throat-of-the-people charter change will only be a highly politicized and divisive Constitution which will not be a solution to the country’s problems but only serve to perpetuate the political divide that we are experiencing now.

It does not also help that the proposed method is through Constituent Assembly, where incumbent members of the legislature will be the ones to sit down to propose and approve changes in the Constitution. Proponents of this should make a thorough, realistic self-examination and ask this question: “What is the people’s level of trust of present officials?”

What we need in 2010 is a fresh start. We do not need to carry over the baggage of the political past, the woes and ills of past administrations and the conflicts of politicians of bygone days. That’s why if we are to amend the Constitution, which I will venture to say needs some amendments, it must not happen during the incumbency of the present political leadership. The level of suspicion by the people is simply too high.

Click here to read full text.

We All Need To Be The Change We Want To See

Loving our neighbor is at the heart of rebuilding our nation

By Boogie Boydon

Editor’s note: This article was originally written for Ang Bagong Pinoy by the author. He has given us permission to re-publish it in this blog.

A sense of despair is in our midst. A growing feeling of helplessness and hopelessness pervades our day-to-day lives with more and more Filipinos quietly and patiently simply waiting for an opportunity to bolt from what they perceive as a God-forsaken nation on the brink of collapse. The inability to muster enough numbers to mount another People Power is taken by some as a sign of growing apathy within our ranks. Some people say that the apathy is actually a reflection of heightened mistrust and lack of confidence in our institutions of justice, law-enforcement and governance.

In 1987, American essayist James Fallows wrote that we have a “damaged culture” and went on to say that “because of (this) fragmentation, this lack of useful nationalism, people treat each other worse in the Philippines than in any other Asian country I have seen …” People bristled at his seemingly callous conclusions then but now that we seem to be facing a blank wall in trying to explain why and how this “damaged culture” came about, we find that our history of successive colonization that gave us a frail and confused consciousness to begin with, coupled with the decades of psychological cues we have imbued along the way to what we are now, are worthy of a second look.

I belong to a generation who grew up thinking that our problems will be solved by a masked and flying crusader, a “Darna” within our midst who can solve all our problems without us lifting a finger to do it ourselves. And so we vote to office our varied brands of “heroes” and place our full hope in them, only to be frustrated when they do not live up to our image of a “Lastikman” or a “Captain Barbell.” We do not realize that the solution to our problems could have been within our grasp to start with if only we took it upon ourselves to participate fully in the task of solving them.

Click here to read full text.

Virtual Reality And Practical Reality

Our Tito-Vic-and-Joey Regard for “Politics”

By Benign0
Filipino Voices

In his latest brilliant article “The Elusive Mystery of Democracy“, Ben Kritz can’t make it any more simple:

Representative democracy cannot exist without strong and well-organized political parties that have clear ideologies and objectives.

The whole concept of our “right” to govern ourselves using a “democratic” form of government has been pitched to us in such romanticised gloss as to distract us from an obvious reality that Filipinos are still to earn the “freedom” that is a priviledge that comes with the toy for the big boys that is democracy. And, yes, we’ve been in the middle of a drawn-out reality check on this belief over the last decade or two — not that most Pinoys have noticed. Hello folks, it’s not about “freedom” (as our tubao-wearing makabayan bozos tell us with raised fists), it’s about responsibility! Quite simply, Pinoys are not cut-out to be a “democratic” people simply because we have time and again proven that we are utterly incapable of grasping the concepts personal responsibility and personal accountability much less applying these to our affairs and to the way we conduct ourselves.

Unfortunately for Pinoys, as Kritz further points out…

[…] One aspect of the present-day political culture of the Philippines that does not bode well for a successful democratic system is the glaring lack of relevant and effective political parties.

Representative democracy cannot exist without strong and well-organized political parties that have clear ideologies and objectives. Political parties not only draw together people who have similar political philosophies and ideas, they are the means by which political power is exercised in a representative democracy, whether it is in the Federal form of the U.S., or the Parliamentary form of Canada, Australia, the U.K., or any number of other countries. Representative democracy works because the political structure takes precedence over personalities, and the only reason that is possible is because of the existence of political parties.

So, not surprisingly, one of these responsibilities is to ensure that ideas (platforms, philosophies, and at the very least ideologies) soundly underpin our political parties (yes, that’s what we call them). But look up Philippine Political Parties, say on Wikipedia, and you’ll find the articles peppered with lots of names and events but hardly any information on the ideas, philosophies, or ideologies that they stand for that are of useful substance.

Kritz makes a relatively more thorough accounting than I do:

A casual Internet search for the party platforms of well-known political parties both here in the Philippines and abroad highlights the problem. The platform of the Democratic Party in the U.S. is available as a 59-page PDF download, along with several appendices. The Republicans’ platform is 67 pages. Similarly, the Canadian Conservatives have a 44-page policy document, and the Australian Labor Party outdoes them all with an incredibly-detailed, 319-page epic. Here in the Philippines, the Lakas-CMD coalition offers nothing at all (not even a website, actually), and the Nacionalistas offer a vapid reference to “achieving economic independence” on their FAQ’s page. The Liberal Party does little better, providing a policy statement as “an alternative to traditional politics and to misguided populism” that is long on sentiment but short on details.

I highlight in bold the last phrase because in seven words, it summarises in all — elegant simpicity — the national political “debate” of Pinoys over the last two decades. What indeed has changed? And what indeed do we aspire to if we lack the insight to even consider different approaches — like maybe grow a bit of collective substance for a change instead of continue with our Tito-Vic-and-Joey regard for politics?

Check out Ben Kritz’s full article here.

Click here to read readers' reactions.


It’s so tempting to partake of this yet another piece of fresh Shawarma being offered. Yet the present time also calls for real action that will go hand in hand with brilliant punditry.

Perhaps it would be so much better if “fil-alien” pundits could actually come home (if they still consider themselves Pinoys, or have they already learned to deny their root by referring to [their] Philippines as “your country”?) and help us with our nation’s situation by actually applying their concepts and ideas themselves in the real present setting and condition of our nation.

What MLQ3 and the rest of the home-based pundits have done is something real & courageous. They actually demonstrated some amount of realism that goes with their idealism.

It is time to flex some real muscles and put ideas into actual practice, otherwise our punditry is nothing but a futile display of intellectual prowess.

The important point that matters is “balance” between the two types of realms (realities) in the nature of man — the virtual (mental ideas) and the actual (practical actions). The ideas of the mind alone without the body carrying out that idea could accomplish no real tangible results.

After the body absorbs a Shawarma (or any “virtual food” for that matter), it is futile unless the body uses whatever “calories of energy” there is to it so that it could realize its envisioned outcome in actuality.

Impeachment is merely a tool, and it can never be a political ideological foundation. A tool when used at the right condition and circumstances has the highest chance of accomplishing a desired task. But it can also be easily abused and misused just like anything.

Like any other thing, impeachment as a political tool, can be good or bad depending on one’s (or collective group) own judgment. If MLQ3 and the rest of the pundits thought that it was the right thing for them to do and they carried it out in action according to what they believe (after thorough consideration, we hope), then can we question their stand or idea (which they carried out through the legality of their democratic freedom to do so) more than they may question the stands and ideas of others?

Personally, I’m in line with the practicality of the following idea:

“Consider also that we do not have the number to unseat GMA and no one in the present crop of opposition that is “holier-than-GMA”. Some of them are even more corrupt than GMA. We consider the political cost of the exercise and the cost of allowing GMA to step down comes 2010 and as a better option. If you argue that she will extend her term, then let us cross the bridge when there is a bridge to cross.”

But it does not mean that their circumstance (MLQ3’s and the other pundits) voids them of their birthright to act out their minds as Filipino citizens just as what the following statement point out: “Our circumstance here does not void us of our birthright to speak our mind as a Filipino.”

Yes, “freedom” is an inalienable right of any soul wherever he/she may be. But let us also be aware of the danger of being too much engrossed in the world of virtual reality to the point that we tend to forget the existence of a real physical world which has all of its limitations.


Make A Blunder, And You Shall See The Result

Arroyo Son Leads Charter Change Bid
150 Solons Sign on for Constituent Assembly
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:58:00 11/21/2008

A move to amend the Constitution through a constituent assembly is gathering steam in the House of Representatives with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s eldest child leading the signature drive.

Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo’s campaign has secured between 120 and 150 signatures on a resolution calling on the Senate and the House to amend the Constitution by voting jointly and not separately, according to Iloilo Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr.

“I was approached by Congressman Mikey last week when I just arrived at the session hall. He requested that I sign and when I looked at the papers, this was about Charter change through a constituent assembly,” Gonzalez said in an interview.

“Since this was being supported by the administration coalition … I had no hesitation and signed the resolution,” he said.

Curiously, Gonzalez and other administration solons who signed the bill do not have a copy of the resolution.

A senior congressman, who requested anonymity, claimed that there was only one copy of the resolution passed around.

He said the signatories were told that once the measure secured the required number of votes, it would be used to force the Supreme Court to rule on how the Con-ass should vote to amend the Constitution.

But Gonzalez said that he would not know whether the group could hit the “magic number” of 196 signatures, which represent the two-third votes of the combined membership of the Senate (23) and the House (238).

Mikey Arroyo did not respond to text messages from the Philippine Daily Inquirer seeking his comment.

“From the information that I have gathered, the administration has already 160 congressmen who have signed for an amendment to the Constitution by way of a constituent assembly,” Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay said Thursday.

“That’s dangerous,” said Binay, head of the United Opposition who has announced plans to run as president.

“We should all remain vigilant and always be on guard. We might wake one morning that there will be no more election under the presidential-type of government in 2010,” he told a fraternity gathering in Lucena City.

Click here to read full text.

There is an appointed time for everything, why can't you wait?

Don't wait for 2010 -- and the people will not wait too. Don't forget that 2008 is the last season of the seven seasons of your protection, as promised beforehand.

If there be any change in the constitution, it must be after 2010. If you insist, call the nation for a referendum. Otherwise, you are making a big
political blunder -- if not a national disaster.

If this is the result and meaning of all the maneuverings in the change of leadership in both the lower house and the senate, then the people are left with no other choice but to start organizing themselves again while it is not yet too late.


Let us also be on guard against any group or interest that may take advantage of the situation for their own political agenda or purposes. Let us be wise vigilants because there are many opportunists lurking around.


Idealisms Amidst Realities

There is a young intelligent idealist who blogs at Filipino Voices that caught my interest lately. One particular entry of his at Filipino Voices drew my attention.

The Ultimate Poverty Framework
By Benign0

Recall back in mid-October where I describe an elegantly simple take on Pinoy poverty:

Poverty in the Philippines is a simple issue to me as it comes down to this simple textual equation:

We locked ourselves into commitments beyond any inherent ability in us to honour them.

I go further and enumerate four key parameters around which we can describe and measure the overcommitments that contribute to our poverty.

;) Population
;) Consumption
;) Production
;) Capital

And now the great news folks!

I’ve since developed the above into a full-blown framework that is, of course, utterly elegant in its simplicity!

It’s so great, in fact, that I think I’ll call it:

The Ultimate Poverty Framework™.

Fear not, as I will later on describe it in all its groundbreaking detail in a proper GRP-grade article in my excellent website (watch that space!).

But for now I provide a sneak preview of its diagrammatical form:

Using the above visual tool, we can now easily see why a chronic inability to get ALL FOUR parameters right results in the basket-case rash-from-hell-like quality of poverty that afflicts Third World countries like Ours Truly. Erase one of the four pillars and you end up with an unstable structure and an unavoidable erasure of the single line that leads to that golden spot at the top where winners take ALL.

A society whose “strengths” lie primarily in population and consumption (bato-bato sa langit…) is DOOMED. When we lack scalability (i.e. disengagement of the volume of productive output from the volume of labour input), we doom ourselves to a no-results economy pathetically dependent on labour-added-value.

It’s that simple. Really™.

When we highlight the really really simple reality that the road to sustainable wealth is uncompromising, one would hope that we waste less time on irrelevant jibber jabber about our mediocre politics and the posturings of the even more mediocre actors in that theatre.

Click here to read entry reactions.

There is nothing new under the sun. There are only rediscoveries and innovations.

Like energy that possesses the property of being transformable from one form to another, ideas also are changeable or modifiable from one concept to another. (Many of Albert Einstein’s ideas were “rediscoveries” and improvements of some old works of “unknown” scientists that lived much earlier than him.)

The conceptual presentation of the author of his “trademarked” treatise, and the way he attempts to frame his ideas, and the aggressiveness of his terminology, are all typical of an idealistic mind.

Idealists, in their hope of finding alternative ideas, generally frame existing complex ideas within simplistic contexts, and existing simple ideas they restructured into complex concepts.

It is very much inherent in young minds (than in the older ones) to aggressively seek for “alternative” modes of understanding the world around them, and to enthusiastically look for “new” ways of doing things.

Many of our leaders nowadays seem to have lost their gift of idealism. Perhaps this is one reason why many of them succumbed to different kinds of failures and mistakes in leadership — such as: corruption, incompetence, injustice, etc.

When the people no longer adhere to the idealism of morality, their nation falls into immorality. When leaders fail to adhere to the idealism of professionalism, their leadership degenerates into incompetent governance. When the idealism of justice is neglected, injustice rules the land. When we lose our idealism of hope, we can easily be driven to resort to desperate means.

The gift of idealism, when properly channeled, can be a very significant force for change. But when abused or channeled improperly, it can be a negative force and can even be a counter-productive agent of change.

To effect change to a sustainable desired situation, idealism alone is not sufficient. Idealism alone could lead to perfectionism. If the only approach to change or reform is idealism, that method will fail because idealism tends to rigorously reject the reality of the limitations of human beings.

Idealism needs realism to be balanced — in some way similar to the harmony of faith and reason within the inner being of a believing soul.

Nations are not born just yesterday and so are the world’s experts and professionals. There is no need to discover “alternative ideas”. The treatise presented above is not new, it is basically just a model of a portion of the complex economic structure but framed in a simplistic context (some basic elements are even left out).

If it helps one to view things in his/her own “new” way of understanding, then so much better. Yet it doesn’t mean that just because one has "found" an alternative idea that things will simply work fine by following such an idea. Really, things are not that simple. In fact, they are more complex than we think.

When it comes to reforming a nation, the treatise presented above represents only a portion of an aspect of a nation. It does not even lie near the very foundations of a nation's basic structure. Our nation’s problems do not only lie in that framework presented above. Most of the nation's problems lie in the very foundations that supports that “Ultimate Poverty Framework” treatise.

What do we do then? Many things need to be done. One is: Let us practice the ideals of our true heroes and adhere to the right idealisms while maintaining balance with the right realisms. (That solution of course is also framed within a simplistic context — because I’m an idealist too in my own vague way.)

To reform a nation, it is more logical to start working it from the weakened foundations, lest the whole structure could collapse if started somewhere else. But do we know what are the very foundations of our nation? Do we still adhere to the right idealisms amidst the complexities of hard realities? Now this is something basic — and perhaps simple.


Corruptions? Stop Whining, Enjoy Life! Amen Brothers?

Waiting For 2010

By Marck Ronald Rimorin
Filipino Voices

Estragon: I can’t go on like this.
Vladimir: That’s what you think.

- Samuel Beckett, "Waiting for Godot"

"Why can’t you guys wait for 2010?"

I was chatting with a friend over some snacks when she asked me that rather interesting question. Apparently, she read what I did a couple of days ago in the papers, and it seems that it was rather imprudent for me to call out GMA to answer the charges leveled against her. To GMA’s credit, it seems that the Philippines is riding out the economic storm rather well. Her claim was that if we continue to demand for GMA’s ouster, much less ask her to answer the charges of May 2004, the ZTE scam, the fertilizer scam, and the BJE MOA-AD, we’re risking political and economic instability. As it seems, GMA is the "answer to our woes."

Personally, I wouldn’t have a problem with GMA if I don’t question her legitimacy, her fitness to rule, if she has the interests of the people in mind, and if she didn’t violate the Constitution and the territorial integrity of the Philippines. The rest of the day, I don’t have a problem with GMA. My problem lies in the fact that legitimacy, fitness to rule, the public good, protecting the Constitution, and protecting Philippine sovereignty and independence are duties and tasks we expect of the President.

Besides, if GMA is the answer to our woes, why are many of us living woeful lives?

I think it’s high time we demand some accountability in our Government. For me, waiting for 2010 is to bury our self-respect as a people. Waiting for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to finish her term before answering questions before the public - questions relevant to her being the President - is like us waiting for Godot: we might as well hang ourselves and get our erections, so to speak.

Waiting for 2010 is to lose our self-respect for ourselves, which is not something we want to happen. We are a dignified people who can only take so much screwing from This Government.

I recommend that bloggers write about their feelings about This Government. People who play DoTA or use Friendster or whatnot to take the time to write one blog post - just one blog post - every now and then. Every week, to say that they have had enough of the scams and irregularities and disregard for accountability in this nation. It’s not the most we can do, but it’s something we can all do.

I can’t promise that this will lead to a change in Government or that this will guarantee that Arroyo will be booted out of office, but because I believe it’s high time we told The Government that they can’t kick us around anymore. We demand answers not after 2010, but while the President is still there, accountable and answerable to all of us. That we have had enough.

In the words of Twisted Sister: we’re not gonna take it. No, we ain’t gonna take it. Just you try and make us: we’re not gonna take it anymore.

Simple? That’s what you think. We’re right. We’re free. We’ll fight. You’ll see.

Click here to read entry reactions.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

“Administration preachers” (and some few alien pundits parachuting into our "docile" minds from their high and glorious ivory towers) would want the people of our nation to just enjoy our everyday lives in the midst of glaring corruption. Instead of constructively criticizing the age-old culture of dishonesty, they point out the people’s “rebellious” attitude as a major cause of the nation’s misery. They wrongly compared the people’s “uprising” against dishonesty to the Israelites’ rebellious and murmuring attitude towards their leader Moses in the Bible.

There are right and wrong ways of doing things. In our earnest desire to reform our nation, may we not veer from the right path and resort to extreme means that usually lead to the wrong roads laden with traps.

Hope, the only thing that can keep a dead national spirit alive, must be kept lit. For when the light of hope is gone, nothing will ever stop the nation from falling into the old same trap again, as what happened before.

[Ezekiel 3:17-21]

Son of man, I have made you a watchman to the house of My people; therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.

When I tell the wicked, "You shall surely die"; and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand.

Yet if you warn the wicked, and he doesn't turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.

Again, when a righteous man does turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die: because you have not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at your hand.

Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man, that the righteous not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning; and you have delivered your soul.

Durong Bukot, Apan Kita'ng Bungot

Bolante And The Euro Generals
By Isagani A. Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted 00:50:00 11/16/2008

"Bolante buried himself deeper and deeper in his perjuries, especially his exculpation of President Arroyo from the multimillion-peso fraud."

[...] Bolante, as agriculture undersecretary then in charge of the fund, successfully evaded testifying about that brewing scandal until his petition for political asylum in the United States was rejected by the American government that forthwith dispatched him back to this country to be confronted by our legislative authorities. His interrogation began last Thursday where he testified under oath, and with a straight face, that President Macapagal-Arroyo did not know anything about the questioned disposition of the said fund nor did she authorize its release. The public knew right away that this was going to be a game of hide-and-seek.

My own impression of the Senate hearings last Thursday was that the senators were largely unprepared with their questions while Bolante was totally coached with his answers. Even so, Bolante buried himself deeper and deeper in his perjuries, especially his exculpation of President Arroyo from the multimillion-peso fraud.

The second problem has to do with the P9.2 million given to the PNP delegation consisting of eight senior officers, some with their wives, who attended the 77th Interpol General Assembly held in St. Petersburg, Russia. On their way home, they were investigated by the customs authorities for carrying out of the country euros in excess of the allowable amount. They were eventually cleared after they explained that the money came not from Russia but from our own generous government.

That incident was of little moment in the host country but it caused a sensation here when our alert media, always on the look-out for official venalities, revealed the questioned amount as highly excessive and, worse, unlawful. The exposé became all the more shocking when it was revealed that the extravagant bounty given to the generals included not only their P2.3 million travel allowance but also a “contingency fund” of P6.9 million of taxpayer money.

The generals must have thought so little of the people’s intelligence—and thus exhibited their own density—when they said the money was to be used for their purchase of weapons and sophisticated spy equipment. Where—in some talipapa in Moscow with the wives making tawad as if buying tilapia? Some of the more penitent sinners simply returned the euros but not in full, probably retaining the balance as advance payment of their pension when they retire at the tender age of 56.

These two cases have further disturbed the patience of our people and confirm the judgment of the international community that the Philippines is among the most corrupt countries in the world, if not in fact the most corrupt among them. These offenses are especially disgraceful because they involve not ordinary persons whose misbehavior may be forgiven or at least mitigated because of their poor station in life. We are speaking here not of the forgotten man but of persons in high places who are hounded not by hunger but greed. [...]

Click here to read full text.

The title "Durong Bukot, Apan Kita'ng Bungot" (Duro[ng] = earnestly trying, Bukot = to cover oneself with, Apan = but, Kita['ng] = exposed or shown, Bungot = hair or beard), is a popular visayan riddle of which the answer is an ear of corn.

Like an ear of corn, no matter how hard the present government is expertly trying, corruptions in its administration cannot be hidden because evidences don't lie -- only the people involved do.

Of course the administration has done many good things for the nation, but the people would appreciate their efforts if the problem of corruption is given the appropriate priority. Malacañang always "seemed" to be aloof when corruption cases do not involve close administration officials, yet very involved (in covering up) when cases tend to implicate themselves.

People are starting to get so frustrated and less hopeful of the unsolved glaring corruptions of our nation. What the "miserable five" (as what the 5 bishops call themselves who openly expressed their frustration at a press conference) did was a clear manifestation of such frustration. They are but the tip of a new rapidly growing iceberg that could soon hit and sink the "Titanic" -- and the people may not be blamed if they choose to do so again.

Yes, there is a global crisis of confidence in the financial systems of the world, and we should also be focusing on this problem that could potentially hit our country. But laboring for the financial crisis and for the economy seems to have become the administration's avenue of escapism from facing the corruption allegations head-on without evasion or compromise. Let the chips fall where they may. There is a much bigger crisis of confidence that our nation is suffering -- a crisis of confidence on our national leadership.

It really takes so much inner strength to submit to the proper authorities when one commits mistakes. What police general De la Paz was doing is commendable in a way even though he seemed to be a "sacrificial goat" (not scapegoat nor sacrificial lamb) in this another latest high-profile corruption case. What the disbursing and finance officers did (the preparing of a memo warning of a culpable violation of proper disbursement procedure) was also commendable -- though it fall short of completely taking the opportunity of stopping the corruption in progress. Corruption always starts and succeeds in that way. People who have the chance (right before their very eyes) to avert a possible commission of corruption didn't took the necessary courage to do the right thing.

One observation also. It is only during the Euro Generals investigation in the Senate that the last phrase "...so help me God" was uttered -- in the other investigations, none heard. If the respondent is a believer in God, it is very important that this phrase should be spoken because it invokes the highest authority there is in the universe and beyond. If the respondent is not a believer, then he may not be obliged to speak the phrase.

God protects His name all the time. When invoking God for help especially when seeking for justice, swearing an oath to God brings freedom from the slavery of sin if the one swearing tells the truth. It brings self-perdition when the one swearing lies.


We Need Good, Honest, & Competent Senators -- Not Actors

Ex-Solgen says Bolante ran rings around senators


Veteran lawyer and former Solicitor General Frank Chavez advised senators Friday to devote more time reading and analyzing documents on the P728-million fertilizer fund before facing former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn "Jocjoc" Bolante in the next hearing.

Chavez said Bolante was "very evasive". 'Talagang he was running rings around a lot of senators,” the lawyer said during an interview on radio dzMM.

"If you want to go through this, senators should devote more time studying the documents and then preparing for interpellation," Chavez added.

He said senators should be knowledgeable about the controversial fertilizer fund to effectively prove that Bolante’s statements on Thursday were all lies.

The former solicitor general said that from the start, he did not expect that something good will come out of the Senate Blue-Ribbon Committee hearing.

“If you increase your level of expectation, you also increase your level of expression. Wala akong expectations (I had no expectations),” he said.

Chavez added that he believes the Senate is not the proper venue to find out the truth about the alleged misuse of the fertilizer fund.

He said the Office of the Ombudsman is not an agency reliable when it comes to finding out the truth, either.

He said the Ombudsman has been “under sedation” and sitting on important cases, including the fertilizer fund scam.

“Sadly that constitutional office has been captured by Malacañang from the very start,” Chavez said.

'Only his name and his health condition were true'

Sen. Manuel Roxas II, meanwhile, said that the only truth that came out of Bolante's mouth during Thursday's hearing were his name and his health condition.

"Ang kanyang pangalan, at 'yung nasa magandang kalusugan siya. Sa totoo lang dalawa't kalahating taon niyang napaghandaan ang testimoniyang ito (The only truth that came out of his mouth were those about his name and his health condition. The truth is, he prepared for two and a half years for this)," the senator said in an interview on ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda" morning show.

Roxas said they were able to prove that the Filipino saying "kapatid ng sinungaling ang magnanakaw" (liars and thieves are from the same mold) still runs true in Bolante's case.

"Maaring sabihin niya na hindi alam ng Pangulo ang anomalya pero 'yung pag-release ng ganito kalaking halaga, hindi kapanipaniwala na hindi alam ng Pangulo at number two, pamimigay sa kaalyado ng Pangulo improsibleng hindi alam (He may say that the President never knew anything about the anomaly but to be in the dark about the release of millions of pesos in funds, that's impossible, and number two, it's impossible that the President would not know about millions of pesos in funds delivered to her allies)," Roxas added.

The senator said they are not on the losing end, despite claims to the contrary. He said that the panel is set to summon officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) who were involved in disbursing the funds to farmers, as stated by Bolante.

The second hearing has been scheduled for next week.

Click here to read full text.

Towards a Society of Equal Opportunity

Patas Na Laban, Para Sa Lahat

By Senator Panfilo Lacson

(Speech at a symposium organized by the Political Science Society, Far Eastern University, delivered November 13, 2008, at the FEU Auditorium, Manila)

Let me begin with a true story.

Once upon a time there was a couple from Cavite who had eight children and making both ends meet was a constant struggle. The husband’s ancestors were of the landed gentry in Iloilo and how their side of the family got to Luzon is another long story altogether.

The father was a jeepney driver. And so the wife had to augment the family income by selling dried goods in their town’s public market. There were times when the couple had to forego their share of the day’s meals because the brood of eight always came first.

They were an extremely religious couple who never forgot their Sunday obligation to the Lord. To their children they would always say, May awa ang Diyos, makakaraos din tayo, mga anak.

Naawa nga ang Diyos at di lang nakaraos kundi lumaki pa nang maayos.

All eight children have since become professionals, properly employed or self-employed, and have raised their own families under more blessed circumstances. The husband is now all of 94 years old and the wife died just last week at the age of 87.

I am the fourth child in the eight. And I thank my parents profusely not only for raising me and getting me through school but more so for the values they painstakingly taught me. Values that I still refuse to compromise, values that I have tired my level best to live by.

It is from then that I learned the dictum I will never forget. What is right must be kept right, what is wrong must be set right.

Now, let me relate those values with what has become of life in our beloved if benighted land. The days of my birth into this world were indeed better times. This I am very sure about. Even if you were poor in those days there was a public health care system that could be relied upon when you got sick. Public education in the primary and secondary levels was as good as any exclusive private school at that time. I should know. I was a product of that public school system and I am very proud of that.

Tahimik ang buhay noon. Mataas ang respeto sa mga pulis at sundalo. Tinitingala ang mga opisyal ng gobyerno mula sa alkalde hanggang sa pangulo. Noon may pag-asang umangat ang tulad naming anak mahirap. Kasi noon patas ang laban, mayaman o mahirap. Is that still possible these days? You only have to look around to find the answer.

First, the population has grown. There were 19 million Filipinos when I was born. We are now 90 million. And by 2015 perhaps even earlier, there will be 100 million Filipinos packed in land smaller than the state of California in the USA.

Second, we have not made proper use of our resources. We have abused practically every gift the Lord has provided. Our cities are a picture of urban squalor. Our countryside remains underdeveloped, unable to provide the population with enough food. As a result we export our men and women to work abroad to provide the money to import the goods we consume here.

And third, we have allowed our leaders to abuse us. We kept quiet through the years that they bought their elective positions and profited immensely from such. We have tolerated small corruption from clerks and lowly bureaucrats. We have watched our mayors and local officials enrich themselves from government infrastructure projects and even garbage contracts. Yet we keep electing them to office. And after them, their wives, their sons, their daughters.

We suffer bad roads because our congressmen get fat commissions of as much as 40 percent for their use of pork barrel. Presidential appointees make money in smuggling, in jueteng, in almost every imaginably illegal act. In short, we have long tolerated abuse and corruption.

Public office has long ceased to be public service.

Public office has become a business endeavor, an opportunity to misuse and abuse public funds for personal gain. Democracy is no longer a government of, by, and for the people. It has become of, by, and for thieves in government.

As a result, our public hospitals are undermanned, under-equipped and have no medicines for poor and needy patients. Their children are malnourished. They go to substandard schools where they are maleducated, packed like sardines in classrooms. Many stop schooling after primary grade to help the rest of the family earn subsistence incomes.

I went through public schools all my life, including the Philippine Military Academy. Except for college, my brothers and sisters went through the same public school system. Pero ngayon kaya pa ba ng isang pamilyang mahirap na may walong anak ang mapagtapos sila hanggang kolehiyo anumang pagsisikap at pagtitiis ang gawin ng kanilang mga magulang?

Noon, pataas ang laban. Parehas ang mga oportunidad. Ngayon kung ipinanganak kang mahirap, lalo kang maghihirap. Pambihirang swerte na lamang tulad halimbawa ng pagtama sa lotto ang siyang inaasahan. Hindi patas ang laban.

Poverty has worsened. Hunger stalks the land. So much so that the latest World Bank report says we are among the hungriest nations on earth. Our so-called democratic institutions have little credibility because of years of little efficiency, little effectiveness, and much too much corruption. You are afraid to report crimes to the police. You are afraid the prosecutor might demand money when you file a complaint, and when you face a corrupt judge who will dispense favors to the rich and the powerful but woe unto you if you are poor and powerless.

Is there democracy where there is no justice? Is there freedom where the scales of justice tilt against the downtrodden? Patas ba ang laban ng mga maliliit kung mismong ang pamahalaan ay kakampi ng malaki at makapangyarihan? Patas ba ang laban kung katarungan ay ipinagkakait sa mga kapos palad? Hindi. Hindi patas ang laban.

Our legislators keep quiet despite a long trail of abuses by the executive because they are paid with pork barrel and additional perks. Our local government leaders with exception of very few are helpless when resources that are theirs by law are withheld by the Budget Department. Those who are sworn to uphold the rule of law and protect the people are led by generals who have had to compromise noble values learned in the Academy to get stars on their shoulders. Values such as loyalty, integrity and courage are surrendered when they compromise righteousness to politics.

The cadavers of our democratic institutions are plain for all to see. We have to give life back to them but we cannot do that when the most single powerful institution, the presidency no less, is itself damaged, its corrosive effects having contaminated all in our system.

So where do we go from here?

Through the years we have seen how the awesome powers of the Philippine presidency have been abused for personal interest, be it a concentration of political power, be it self-enrichment. Usually both.

Politics as the revered Sen. Jose W. Diokno once said is nothing more nor less than concentrated politics. The right use of political tools to effect good governance is intended to produce what is optimum in macroeconomics, which is the provision by government of the means for everyone, the poor most of all, the opportunity to lift themselves into sufficiency and a brighter future. That is concentrated economics.

Sa madaling salita, ang pamahalaan ay nariiyan upang gamitin ang kapangyarihang ipinagkaloob ng mamamayan para gawing patas ang laban. Pantay ang oportunidad, para sa lahat.

Nguni’t ano ang ating nakikita? Imbes na protektahan ang mahihitrap pinapaboran ang malaking oligarkiya at monopolya. Government regulation has become a tool for market manipulation instead of consumer protection. Taxation is supposed to be the great equalizer. Instead we legislate loopholes for the rich to evade paying the right taxes and bribing the taxman, they are able to evade paying once more.

The awesome powers of the presidency must therefore be used to ensure that just and proper taxes are collected, with every centavo going to the treasury. Walang kotong, walang lagay, walang palakasan, walang ayusan. Ang lahat ay dapat magbayad nang wasto, mayaman o mahirap, parehas dapat sa harap ng batas.

Patas ang laban para sa lahat. Ito ang susi sa mabuting pamamahala.

Public purpose is defined by the national budget. That budget is crafted by the executive and presented to Congress, to us, for approval or amendment. Under our system of government it is still the presidency that matters most in the definition of public purpose, as well as in its implementation.

To provide equal opportunities so the poor can advance we have to focus on the right priorities. Para maging patas ang laban ng mahihirap kailangang gamitin ang pondo ng bayan para sa wastong mga pangangailangan. And what are these?

Health. Kallusugan para sa lahat. In the countryside people die without having seen a doctor. Infants die because of improper primary care and poor nutrition. In the urban capitals the health situation is worsened by congestion in the slums and inadequate hospital facilities. Getting sick for many is like a slow death sentence, not because illness is terminal but because medication is unaffordable.

The Philippine public health system is in the ICU and requires an emergency solution. And to paraphrase our bishops not too long ago, they said, not later but now.

The national government must launch an affirmative action intervention for the public health system. For five straight years every peso of the internal revenue allotment that goes to public health must be matched by another extra peso from the national government to ensure acceptable health standards within that timeline.

After that, the local government units must learn the proper prioritization of their internal revenue allotment and assume full responsibility for the health needs of their constituents. Sa kalusugan ng bawa’t mamamayan dapat parehas. Dapat patas ang laban.

Of equal importance is education. Wastong edukasyon para sa lahat ng kabataan. The poor have little chance in constant struggle that is life for as long as they are poorly educated and their children are maleducated. Hindi kailanman magiging patas ang laban kapag hindi nakapagaral nang maayos.

Public education in the 50s and the 60s gave us a fighting chance. Public education in the first decade of the 21st century has deteriorated to the point where even security guards and janitors need a few years in college miseducation just to be employed.

The whole world is passing us by. Time was when our public school system was a model for all of Southeast Asia. Now even the poorest in Africa look to other models elsewhere.

Maibalik man lang sana sa ating mga kabataan ang pagkakataong binigay sa akin at aking mga kapatid na bagama’t anak mahirap ay naiangat sa pamamagitan ng pag-aaral sa pampublikong paaralan at nang sa gayon maging patas ang laban para sa lahat.

And then there is internal peace, order in a society where a culture of impunity has taken root because there is an appalling lack of political will to uphold the law and ensure compliance with the law. Ngayon lang natin naranasan kakaibang karahasan kung saan maging ang buong daigdig ay kinukundena ang extra-judicial killings ng mga aktibista at mamamahayag. Walang napaparusahan at walang nahuhuli.

We must ensure that no individual is above the law. No one must get away with any kind of crime. Every act of impunity diminishes law and order. Every exception to the rule is an injustice to society itself.

We have the requisite political will to deal forcefully with crime and punish all criminals no matter what, no matter who. And any officer of the law must serve the ends of justice, without fear, without favor, or be themselves prosecuted without hesitation. Patas ang laban para sa lahat.

Hindi yung pamamalakad ng mayayaman at maimpluwensya ay pinakakawalan sa kulungan, gaano man karumal-dumal ang krimen. Only when peace and order can be taken for granted will investments into the economy flourish. Kahit negosyo, local man o dayuhan humahanap din ng patas na laban.

Maging sa pamamalakad ng pambansang ekonomiya dapat maging patas ang pananaw ng pamahalaan sa lahat. Hindi yung pinapaboran ang malalaki at bahala na sa kanilang buhay ang mga maliliit. The regulatory powers of government must focus on those areas. There are three: Consumer protection, environmental protection, and the payment of just and fair taxes. These regulatory powers must not be used to promote, entrench or protect monopolies and cartels that inflict damage upon consumers. Level the playing field. Maging sa kalakalan.

And then there is the matter of food sufficiency. For too long we have been importing food, be it rice, vegetables, meat and even fish. Pinalilibutan tayo ng karagatan. Mayaman ang ating lupain. Subali’t lahat na yaman at uring pagkain ay inaangkat natin mula sa ibang bansa. Food production must therefore be accorded highest priority both to give our marginal farmers better incomes and protect our consumers from the specter of food shortages.

We help our farmers and fishermen not with overpriced and worse fake fertilizers. Not with overpriced irrigation systems and overpriced yet substandard farm-to-market roads, but with real farm inputs and real post-harvest facilities to allow them to be more productive. Nguni’t lahat ng ito ay hindi magagawa kung hindi natin lalabanan ang katiwalian at pangungurakot sa ating bayan.

Habang ang pondo ng gobyerno ay pinagsasamantalahan at habang ang buwis ay patuloy na dinaraya hindi magiging patas ang laban para sa lahat ng mamamayan, magsasaka man o mamimili, taga-nayon man o taga-lungsod.

Stop corruption and we can provide support to our farmers and fishermen too. Stop corruption and we can ensure better peace and order. Stop corruption and business will flourish. The market will be competitive and fair and prices will stabilize. Put an end to corruption not later but now.

I keep saying that in our country, government is the problem. More appropriately, bad government is the problem. And the solution is good government, through a leadership that will put country above self, always and ever.

Kung pamahalaan, masamang pamamahala ang problema, mabuting pamahalaan ang siyang solusyon. And this can only happen if we have the right men and women in public leadership, men and women who possess the political will to do what is right and fight what is wrong. That is the solution.

I wish to thank the faculty and students of Far Eastern University for giving me this opportunity to be able to share my simple vision for the nation. Let us from hereon resolve that we will fight to keep every Filipino, rich or poor, young or old, Ilocanos, Visayans, Tagalog, Bikolanos, Christian, Mindanaoan, Muslim or katutubo, the equal opportunity to make democracy truly meaningful in our lives.

Patas ang laban para sa lahat, yan ang kailangan. Ito ang dapat nating ipaglaban. Magsama-sama tayo sa adhikaing ito, not later but now. Maraming, maraming salamat po.

Source: Ping Lacson's Blog


"We Look More Sick Than He Is"

By Maila Ager

Posted 19:10:00 11/13/2008

The fact former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante can stand hours of testifying and answering questions from the Senate for hours proves he is not sick, said opposition Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.

“The only significant revelation in today’s hearing, Mr. Chairman, is the fact Mrs. Bolante is not sick,” Lacsom said.

“We’ve been grilling him, we have been taking time in grilling him for almost nine hours. We look more sick than he is,” Lacson noted.

When Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. moved to further hold Bolante under the Senate custody, Lacson admitted he was tempted to amend the motion to have continued detention of the witness either in the premises of the chamber or even at the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.

“Because you have been fooling us the whole day,” Lacson said.

With the way things are going in the reopened Senate probe on the alleged fertilizer fund scam, it's not only the senators who are looking more sick than the respondent, but also the whole nation. The respondent maybe suffering from the kind of "sickness of the heart" (most typical of public officials investigated of corruption), but the nation has long been agonizing of a kind of state-inflicted psychological illness that is now restarting to drive its people to go nuts again.

A frustrated and exasperated people could potentially turn into a dangerous mobbish rule of the desperate ruled. Shall the nation fall into this same old trap again? For as long as the trap remained laid on the only way, surely the danger exists. Because of corruption this trap was caused to be built, and only by honesty that it can be destroyed.

When left with no other choice but to walk through the trap-laden road, [popular] patriotism will prefer the "dignity" of suffering the pains of being caught in the trap while trying to move on (or push the nation forward), than to be undignified sitting by the road and hoping for nothing.


His Heart Is Still Sick. What Can Cure It?

Farmers Doubt Ombudsman on Joc-Joc Case

Philippine Daily Inquirer

This is a reaction to the news reports on the return of former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante to the country. We seriously doubt if the Ombudsman would pursue the case against him, and we urge the Senate to immediately reopen its investigation of the fertilizer fund scam.

Since 2004, the Ombudsman has sat on our plunder case against Bolante. We doubt if she will move to sincerely resolve the case. We believe Bolante should be made to face the music and account for what he did against us peasants.

If the Senate is to refer his case to the Supreme Court, then it should act expeditiously so that Malacañang and the Department of Justice will not be able to bring Bolante under their control. If Bolante is to testify now, then not only would he bring us closer to knowing the whole truth on the P728-million fertilizer scam; he would also shed light on the modus operandi behind the P218.7-million rice scam and the P135-million vegetable seeds scam last year. He could also help prevent another scam of the same or worse magnitude in 2010.

We are prepared to go back to the Senate and renew our testimony that we got no fertilizer funds or fertilizers from the government in 2004. In fact, we are even prepared to testify that we did not receive any vegetable seeds that were supposedly distributed to farmers last year.

Bolante should be made an example and he should be punished severely for diverting funds meant for the peasantry. Justice must be served.

The Senate must foil any administration attempt to get Bolante off the hook. They should be very wary of Malacañang because Bolante’s testimony or admission of guilt would be a very powerful push for the new impeachment case against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

We will be watching this new chapter in the fertilizer scam very closely, and we will once again take to the streets if the need arises.

FELIX PAZ, chair, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Bikol, Barangay Alcala, Daraga, Albay

By the sight of him being ushered upon arrival at the airport (following his deportation after finally denied asylum in the USA) on a wheelchair as he passed inanimate (except for the weak gesture of his right hand which appeared to be caressing his chest) through a crowd of people and media who were curiously awaiting (with not much gleaned from the event but more of their mixed expectations), and with the kind of smokes which emanate from the chimneys of his camp that blend with the flare lights from the tall tower, this man indeed may still be harboring the old proverbial sickness of the heart.

If a man is not willing to be cured of this type of sickness, nothing will ever make him well except himself. While the nation is giving him the opportunity, he should take the chance. How much time there is? Not much.

Let him [them] play his [their] game for a while, who knows what may happen; and maybe the whole nation might not need to play another game after all.


ADMU's [Conflicting] Stands on HB 5043?

Declaration of Support of Ateneo Faculty Members for RH Bill

Dear Honorable Members of the House of Representatives and of the Philippine Senate:

Kindly find attached to this letter the Declaration of Support for the Immediate Passage of House Bill 5043 on “Reproductive Health and Population Development,” signed by 69 individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University.

After studying the provisions of House Bill 5043 in light of the realities of Filipino women, poor families, and our youth, we, 69 individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, speaking for ourselves and not for the University, have come to conclude that the Philippines urgently needs a national policy on reproductive health and population development, as provided by House Bill 5043.

We hope our expression of support can help enrich and broaden the discussions and debates on the issue of reproductive health and population development, by presenting an alternative view supportive of House Bill 5043 coming from Catholic academics and educators.

We hope forthcoming initiatives from the House of Representatives and the Senate can engender dialogue among various groups espousing conflicting positions on this most crucial issue. May our collective efforts in dialogue lead to a more enlightened citizenry and bring about what is the greatest good for our beloved people—especially women, the poor, and our youth.

Yours sincerely,

Sixty-nine individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University
(whose names are listed at the end of the Declaration of Support)


Declaration of support for the Reproductive Health Bill’s immediate passage into law from individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University

We, individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, speaking for ourselves and not for the University, strongly support House Bill 5043 on “Reproductive Health and Population Development,” and call for its immediate passage in Congress. After studying the bill’s provisions in light of the realities of Filipino women, poor families, and our youth, we have reached the conclusion that the Philippines urgently needs a national policy on reproductive health and population development, as provided by the RH Bill.

A consistent, integrated, and comprehensive population framework guarantees budgetary support from the national government for reproductive health initiatives, and ensures their sustainability across local government units regardless of changes in national and local leadership. While curbing our rapid population growth rate of 2.04 percent will not, by itself, solve poverty in our country, addressing the population problem is crucial to overall economic growth and poverty reduction, along with asset redistribution, employment and livelihood opportunities, combating corruption, improving governance, and strengthening institutions.

We further believe that it is possible for Catholics like ourselves to support HB 5043 in good conscience, even as we recognize, with some anguish, that our view contradicts the position held by some of our fellow Catholics, including our bishops. Those who oppose the RH Bill have denounced it as “pro-abortion,” “anti-life,” “anti-women,” “anti-poor,” and “immoral.” However, our reason, informed by our faith, has led us to believe and say otherwise.

The RH Bill is pro-life and pro-women. HB 5043 categorically rejects abortion, which it deems a “crime,” in consonance with the 1987 Constitution. What it, in fact, wants to do is prevent abortions by offering couples an array of “medically-safe, legal, affordable and quality” family planning methods, from which they can choose the one that will work best for them. In sodoing, the RH Bill seeks to avert unwanted and mistimed pregnancies, which cause mostly poor and married women despairing over yet another pregnancy to seek an induced abortion. We are alarmed that an estimated 473,400 Filipino women went for an abortion in 2000, and that some 79,000 of them wound up in hospitals for abortion complications. We consider it our guilt and our shame that so many of our women should be driven to such dire straits as to make abortion a family planning method, for want of information on and access to an effective means to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.


This declaration of support is based on the 15 October 2008 position paper entitled “Catholics Can Support the RH Bill in Good Conscience” by individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, namely Marita Castro Guevara (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies), Raymond B. Aguas (Department of Theology), Liane Peña Alampay (Department of Psychology), Fernando T. Aldaba (Department of Economics), Remmon E. Barbaza (Department of Philosophy), Manuel B. Dy, Jr. (Department of Philosophy), Elizabeth Uy Eviota (Department of Sociology-Anthropology), Roberto O. Guevara (Department of Theology), Anne Marie A. Karaos(Department of Sociology-Anthropology), Michael J. Liberatore (Department of Theology), Liza L. Lim (Department of Sociology-Anthropology), Cristina Jayme Montiel (Department of Psychology), Mary Racelis (Department of Sociology-Anthropology), and Agustin Martin G. Rodriguez (Department of Philosophy).


We believe in the sanctity and dignity of human life, whether that life is the mother’s or the unborn child’s. It is for this reason that we support the RH Bill’s intent to expand couples’ — but especially women’s — access to safe, legal, and reliable family planning methods, whether modern natural or modern artificial. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says that women’s access to effective contraception would avert 30 percent of maternal deaths, 90 percent of abortion-related deaths and disabilities, and 20 percent of child deaths. Thus, the RH Bill is not only pro-life (in that it aims to prevent the termination of an unborn child’s life), but also pro-women, because it enables them to plan the number and spacing of their children so as to avoid frequent and closely-spaced pregnancies that imperil their health and lives. Moreover, given that our maternal mortality rate is a staggeringly high 162 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, the RH Bill aims to improve maternal and infant health by enjoining cities and municipalities to provide an adequate number of skilled birth attendants and hospitals rendering comprehensive emergency obstetric care.

In sum, because reproductive health is central to women’s overall health, fundamental aspects of women’s wellbeing are compromised when reproductive health is ignored. The conditions under which choices are made are as important as the actual content of women’s choices: the right to choose is meaningful only if women have real power to choose.

The RH Bill is pro-poor. Based on the Pulse Asia 2007 survey on family planning, an overwhelming majority (92%) of Filipinos believe that it is important to plan their family, and most (89%) say that the government should allocate funding for modern artificial methods of family planning, including the pill, intrauterine devices (IUDs), condoms, ligation, and vasectomy. And yet only 5 out of 10 married women (50.6%) use any family planning method, whether modern natural or modern artificial. This suggests a significant unmet need for reproductive health services.

By treating contraceptives as “essential medicines,” HB 5043 makes contraceptives (including those requiring hospital services like tubal ligation, vasectomy, and IUD insertion) part of the National Drug Formulary, and therefore more accessible and cheaper for Filipinos. This is a decidedly pro-poor measure, considering that the majority (58.1%) of those who use modern artificial family planning methods rely on the government for their supply of contraceptives. Our Catholic faith calls on us to embrace the preferential option for the poor and marginalized. We therefore support the RH Bill, which we believe will be especially beneficial for our poorest 20 percent who cannot afford family planning services, and therefore have the highest unmet need for family planning (26.7%), and 2.5 children more than they desire. Furthermore, we uphold the principle of integral human development, which is why we want couples to be able to have only the number of children that they want and can adequately feed, clothe, care for, and send to school, so that they can attain their full potential as human beings, and contribute to the development of Philippine society.

The RH Bill is pro-youth. As teachers of our young people, we are deeply concerned that, over time, more of them are getting initiated into sex at increasingly younger ages. Based on the 1994 and 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality surveys of the UP Population Institute, not only did the proportion of youth aged 15-24 who are engaged in premarital sex increase (from 17.8% in 1994, to 23.4% in 2002), but the average age of their first sexual encounter declined (from 18 in 1994, to 17.5 in 2002). Even more worrisome is how their premarital sex act is often unprotected, with three in four of them (75.1%) admitting to not using any kind of contraceptive during their most recent premarital sex act, primarily because of lack of knowledge on contraception. Our young people’s premarital and unprotected sex therefore places them at high risk for early pregnancies, and contracting HIV-AIDS and sexually-transmitted diseases.

We favor the RH Bill’s provision of mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health education, believing as we do that much of our youth’s risky sexual behavior is linked to their lack of information and values formation on their reproductive and sexual health. We take exception to the opinion that teaching them about sex will make them prurient and promiscuous. Rather, we hold the view that by providing our young people the information and values they would need to take care of their reproductive health, and by creating opportunities for them to articulate and clarify their questions and feelings about sex, we are empowering them to make responsible decisions regarding their sexuality and sexual behavior, whether now or in the future. After all, Catholic social theology teaches us that the principle of human dignity requires us to uphold human rights, which include the right to education and appropriate information (Gaudium et Spes, 1965) and the right to develop one’s intelligence and freedom in seeking and knowing the truth (Centesimus Annus, 1991).

The RH Bill is pro-informed choice. In seeking to promote both modern natural and modern artificial methods of family planning (with “no bias for either”), HB 5043 recognizes that couples, especially women, have the right to choose the family planning method that they consider to be the safest and most effective for them, provided that these are legally permissible. Although natural family planning (NFP) which the Catholic Church promotes offers many benefits, it is important to realize that pursuing an NFP-only population policy will be a disservice, if not a grave injustice, to women and couples for whom NFP simply cannot work. We are thinking of women who find it impossible to predict their infertile periods; or couples who see each other on an irregular basis; or women who are trapped in abusive relationships with men who demand sex anytime they want it. Why is it morally wrong for such women and couples — and even others not encompassed by the above situations — to use a modern artificial family planning method that has been pronounced safe and non-abortifacient by health authorities, if their discernment of their particular situation has led them to conclude that such a method will enable them to fulfill the demands of marital love and responsible parenthood?

Catholic social teachings recognize the primacy of the well-formed conscience over wooden compliance to directives from political and religious authorities. Gaudium et Spes (1965) tells us: “In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his heart: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged” (no. 16).

We respect the consciences of our bishops when they promote natural family planning as the only moral means of contraception, in adherence to the teachings of Humanae Vitae (1968). In turn, we ask our bishops to respect the one in three (35.6%) married Filipino women who, in their “most secret core and sancturary” or conscience, have decided that their and their family’s interests would best be served by using a modern artificial means of contraception. Is it not possible that these women and their spouses were obeying their well-informed and well-formed consciences when they opted to use an artificial contraceptive?

We therefore ask our bishops and fellow Catholics not to block the passage of HB 5043, which promotes women’s and couples’ access to the full range of safe, legal, and effective modern natural and modern artificial family planning methods, from which they can choose the one most suitable to their needs and personal and religious convictions. To campaign against the bill is to deny our people, especially our women, many other benefits, such as maternal and child health and nutrition; promotion of breastfeeding; adolescent and youth health; reproductive health education; prevention and management of gynecological conditions; and provision of information and services addressing the reproductive health needs of marginalized sectors, among others. In pursuit of the common good, or the “sum total of social conditions which allow people… to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” (Gaudium et Spes 1965, no. 26), we call on the Catholic Church to let the RH Bill pass in Congress, and to consider forging a principled collaboration with the government in the promotion of natural family planning, which Humanae Vitae deems morally acceptable, and in the formation of consciences with emphasis on the value of responsible sex and parenthood.

To our fellow Catholics who, in good conscience, have come to conclude, as we have, that we need a reproductive health law: we ask you to declare your support for HB 5043.

Finally, we call on our legislators in the House of Representatives and in the Senate to pass the RH Bill. Doing so upholds the constitutional right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions; honors our commitments to international covenants; and promotes the reproductive health and reproductive rights of Filipinos, especially of those who are most marginalized on this issue — our women, poor families, and youth.

We sign this declaration as individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, and speak for ourselves and not for the rest of our colleagues or the University.

Signed: 69 individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University (28 October 2008)

Ricardo G. Abad (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Joy G. Aceron (Department of Political Science)
Raymond B. Aguas (Department of Theology)
Liane Peña Alampay (Department of Psychology)
Fernando T. Aldaba (Department of Economics)
Raul Socrates C. Banzuela (Program for Development Studies)
Raymundo S. Baquiran, M.D. (Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health)
Remmon E. Barbaza (Department of Philosophy)
Germelino M. Bautista (Department of Economics)
Edsel L. Beja, Jr. (Department of Economics)
Rofel G. Brion (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies)
Ma. Cecilia C. Bulos (Department of Psychology)
Liberty L. Chee (Department of Modern Languages)
Sharon Ann C. Co (Department of Psychology)
Antonio Esteban G. Conejos (Department of English)
Manuel D. Cuenca, Jr., M.D. (Department of Psychology)
Gary C. Devilles (Kagawaran ng Filipino)
Aleta C. Domdom (Department of Economics)
Atty. Alexander C. Dy (Ateneo Law School)
Manuel B. Dy, Jr. (Department of Philosophy)
Elizabeth Uy Eviota (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Ana Marie O. Fernandez (Department of English)
Joseph H. Francia (Department of Economics)
Jamil Paolo S. Francisco (Department of Economics)
Geoffrey A. Guevara (Department of Philosophy)
Marita Castro Guevara (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies)
Roberto O. Guevara (Department of Theology)
Ma. Regina M. Hechanova (Department of Psychology)
Anne Marie A. Karaos (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Albert M. Lagliva (Department of Philosophy)
Michael J. Liberatore (Department of Theology)
Liza L. Lim (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Ma. Emma Concepcion D. Liwag (Department of Psychology)
Ada Javellana Loredo (Department of English)
Jozon A. Lorenzana (Department of Communication)
J. Ma. Arcadio Malbarosa (Department of Philosophy)
Michael Ner E. Mariano (Department of Philosophy)
Pamela Joy M. Mariano (Department of Philosophy)
Ma. Isabel Pefianco Martin (Department of English)
Marcia Czarina Corazon M. Medina (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Ma. Isabel E. Melgar (Department of Psychology)
Luisito G. Montalbo (Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health)
Cristina Jayme Montiel (Department of Psychology)
Aaron Rom O. Moralina (Department of History)
Jocelyn M. Mayoralga-Nolasco (Department of Psychology)
Mira Alexis P. Ofreneo (Department of Psychology)
Glenda C. Oris (Kagawaran ng Filipino)
Josephine P. Perez (Department of Psychology)
Raul Pertierra (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Caroliza T. Peteros (Program for Development Studies)
Alicia T. Pingol (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Emma E. Porio (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Mary Racelis (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Ma. Margarita A. Ramos (Department of Psychology)
Mariel Vincent A. Rapisura (Program for Development Studies)
Danton R. Remoto (Department of English)
Agustin Martin G. Rodriguez (Department of Philosophy)
Alma Maria O. Salvador (Department of Political Science)
Atty. Maria Cleofe Gettie C. Sandoval (Leaders for Health Program, AGSB – Health Unit)
Joselito T. Sescon (Department of Economics)
Anton Luis C. Sevilla (Department of Philosophy)
Alma Valerie C. Soriano (Department of English)
Sherilyn T. Siy (Department of Psychology)
Mary C. Thomas (Department of English)
Jose Ma. Edito K. Tirol (Department of History)
Philip Arnold P. Tuaño (Department of Economics)
Eileen F. Tupaz (Department of Philosophy)
John Carlo P. Uy (Department of Philosophy)
Ma. Eufemia C. Yap, M.D. (Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health)

Statement of Fr. Nebres on Reproductive Health Bill 5043

Yesterday, the Manila Standard had a headline story entitled “Ateneo profs defy bishops, back family planning bill.” The article is based on an October 15, 2008 position paper issued by individual faculty members of the Ateneo de Manila, “Catholics Can Support the RH Bill in Good Conscience.” A shorter version of this position paper is attached.

In reply to a request for clarification from His Excellency Most Rev. Angel N. Lagdameo, D.D., President of the CBCP, I wrote him yesterday, October 22, as follows:

First, that “the faculty members clearly state that they are not speaking for the Ateneo de Manila and that this is their personal position.”

Second, that I was asked to respond to this concern a few weeks ago by Archbishop Paciano Aniceto and Bishop Gabriel Reyes and I wrote them on October 2, 2008 regarding our position on the Reproductive Health Bill 5043:

As in all matters that are connected with faith and morals, the Ateneo de Manila, as a Jesuit and Catholic university, stands with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.

I am familiar with the considered opinion of our moral theologians that, although there are points wherein the aforesaid bill and the Catholic moral tradition are in agreement, there are certain positions and provisions in the bill which are incompatible with principles and specific positions of moral teaching which the Catholic Church has held and continues to hold.

I trust that this will help clarify our position. At the same time, together with the CBCP and the Philippine Province, we favor and encourage honest, sincere and mutually-respectful dialogue on the important issues taken up in the bill.

In my letter to Archbishop Lagdameo yesterday, I also said that several Jesuits would be meeting with the Ateneo faculty members yesterday in a dialogue on this important matter. The dialogue yesterday was forthright and mutually respectful and we pointed out that, while we respect their deep concern for the poor and appreciate our mutual dialogue with them, it is necessary for the Ateneo de Manila as a Jesuit and Catholic university, to state clearly our position on RH Bill 5043. The position of the Ateneo de Manila is as follows:

1) We appreciate the efforts of these members of the Ateneo faculty to grapple with serious social issues and to draw from Catholic moral teaching in their study of the bill.

2) We acknowledge their right to express their views as individual Catholics and appreciate their clear statement that their views are their own and not that of the University.

3) However, the Ateneo de Manila University does not agree with their position of supporting the present bill. As I said in my letter of October 2 to Archbishop Aniceto and Bishop Reyes, it is “the considered opinion of our moral theologians that, although there are points wherein the aforesaid bill and the Catholic moral tradition are in agreement, there are certain positions and provisions in the bill which are incompatible with principles and specific positions of moral teaching which the Catholic Church has held and continues to hold.”

We thus have serious objections to the present bill in the light of our Catholic faith.

4) Ateneo de Manila thus stands with our Church leaders in raising questions about and objections to RH Bill 5043.

5) It is also the responsibility of the Ateneo de Manila as a Jesuit and Catholic university to ensure that, in our classes and other fora, we teach Catholic faith and morals in their integrity.

6) At the same time, as I also wrote on October 2, we support continuing efforts on the critical study and discussion of the bill among Church groups including the University and in civil society.