Whining Won't Help

We, The People
By Oscar V. Cruz
Blog - Viewpoints

We, the People should be ashamed of ourselves. We are the big mistake of nature and the huge misfortune of the Country. From what we are to what we do, there is nothing good in us. There is really nothing that we can be proud of but there is much we must be ashamed of. What is good, we make bad. What is bad, we turn it into worst. There is nothing good in us. Everything foul comes from us. Our absence shall be a blessing to the Philippines. We should not have been born at all. We people are the curse of the Country.

There are so many beggars in the streets while squatters abound in all places. There are more and more homeless families. All these are because the national economy is down and economic development continues to be a mere dream.

There is little rice and less employment compared with poverty that is apparent in the society. There is hunger, sickness, destitution and despair. [...]

[...] It becomes wherefore understandable that there are legislators who precisely despise us, people. They are moving heaven and earth to do away with us. They like to depopulate the Country, believing that human reproduction is a malediction and depopulation is a benediction.

But wait a moment! Are they not people too? Should they not also vanish from the face of the earth? Fair is fair!

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Therefore, welcome to this old dying world where nothing is enough?

Are we
so helpless then that there's nothing we can do except whine and curse ourselves and resort to death to end all sufferings?

With all of the powers and forces operating in it, like the others in the "endless" universe, this world too is crude and wild. Mankind is initially given assignment to supposedly subdue it {Gen. 1:28}.


Prayer: Hope For The Philippines

By Father James Reuter, S.J.

By her own admission, GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) rightfully assessed that over the last decades; our republic has become one of the weakest, steadily left behind by its more progressive neighbors.' Forty years ago, we were only second to Japan in economic stature, and way ahead of Singapore , Hong Kong , Malaysia , and Thailand . Today, at our present growth rate, it will take us 30 years to get to where Thailand is.

1. A population of 160 Million;

2. Of those, 70 to 90 million (equivalent to our current population) will
live below the poverty line;

3. Our national debt is estimated to be at US$200B (compared to US$28B when
Marcos fled, and US$53B today);

4. We will be competing, not against Thailand or even Vietnam , but against
Bangladesh ;

5. We will be the most corrupt nation in Asia , if not in the world (we're
already ranked 11th most corrupt nation by Transparency International) .

The signs are clear. Our nation is headed towards an irreversible path of economic decline and moral decadence. It is not for lack of effort. We've seen many men and women of integrity in and out of government, NGOs, church groups & people's organization devote themselves to the task of nation-building, often times against insurmountable odds.

But not even two people's revolutions, bloodless as they may be, have made a dent in reversing this trend. At best, we have moved one step forward, but three steps backward.

We need a force far greater than our collective efforts, as a people, can ever hope to muster. It is time to move the battle to the spiritual realm. It's time to claim GOD's promise of healing of the land for His people. It's time to gather GOD's people on its knees to pray for the economic recovery and moral reformation of our nation.

Is prayer really the answer? Before you dismiss this as just another rambling of a religious fanatic, I'd like you to consider some lessons we can glean from history.

England 's ascendancy to world power was preceded by the Reformation, a spiritual revival fueled by intense prayers.

The early American settlers built the foundation that would make it the most powerful nation today - a strong faith in GOD and a disciplined prayer life. Throughout its history, and especially at its major turning points, waves of revival and prayer movement swept across the land.

In recent times, we see Korea as a nation experiencing revival and in the process producing the largest Christian church in the world today, led by Rev. Paul Yongi Cho. No wonder it has emerged as a strong nation when other economies around it are faltering.

Even from a purely secular viewpoint, it makes a lot of sense. For here there is genuine humbling & seeking of GOD through prayer, moral reformation necessarily follows.. An d this, in turn, will lead to general prosperity. YES, we believe prayer can make a difference. It's our only hope.

Today, we launch this email brigade, to inform Filipinos from all over the world to pray, as a people, for the economic recovery and moral reformation of our nation. We do not ask for much. We only ask for 5 minutes of your time in a day, to fwd this email to your close friends and relatives.

This is the kind of unity which can make a big difference. Of course, if you feel strongly, as I do, about the power of prayer, you can be more involved by starting your own prayer group or prayer center.

We have tried people power twice; in both cases, it fell short. Maybe it's time to try prayer power. GOD never fails. Is there hope? YES! We can rely on God’s promise, but we have to do our part. If we humble ourselves and pray as a people, GOD will heal our land. By GOD's grace, we may yet see a better future for our children.

'If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.'(2 Chronicles 7:14).

In the Bible verse quoted above, there is a very important phrase that many of our leaders and government officials easily ignore and which hinders their prayers from reaching the ears of God. That particular phrase is, "...and turn from their wicked ways,..."

This famous verse in the Bible is a conditional promise from the Lord. Just because we pray for prosperity for our land does not mean that the Lord will answer us. Not until the conditions are satisfied that the Lord will heal and prosper our land.

What hinders our nation from progressing is the rampant dishonesty among our people especially those who are in authority!

We should not even dare to pray for progress until we have prayed for strength and determination to turn away from our individual and collective dishonesty. Dishonesty is a sure sign of distrust in the Lord. How can the Lord answer our prayers for prosperity and progress when we can't even trust Him to provide for us by being dishonest in our ways? Take for instance bribery. A person resorts to bribery in order to get what he wants in his own way. If what he wanted is good, then why not pray to the Lord and trust Him to provide or grant his desire? This is a simple but clear sign of distrust and no faith in the power and goodness of God.

If we must pray for our country, let us all first pray for a genuine and permanent change of heart of each of our individual selves and as well as our society as a whole. And when the Lord starts to answer our prayer, and the time comes for the Lord to prompt us to be accountable for the dishonesty we have done, let us trust Him to see us through as we face justice. At this starting point on the road to a genuine change of heart, most people gave up easily because they are afraid and don't have trust and faith that the Lord will help them face and overcome the penalties of secular justice.

Look at our nation. Can't we see that the Lord is patiently dealing with the vast corruption that dishonesty has caused in our land? Our judiciary branch, He started cleansing. Our legislative branch, He is exposing. Our executive branch, needing so much prayer still becaue no matter how the Lord exposes acts of dishonesty, many of the officials who are involved in corruption are afraid and unwilling to change.

Let our accountablity be to God first. Let our prayers be for a genuine change of heart first.

True progress and prosperity (lacking nothing, needing nothing) is merely a by-product of an honest and God-fearing society.


Resumption of Peace Talks: Who Then Should Be the New Players?

Mindanao Peace or in Pieces?
By Antonio C. Abaya

[...] Now that President Arroyo has, correctly, disbanded the GRP peace panel headed by retired General Rodolfo Garcia, and has refused to continue negotiations with the MILF “at gunpoint,” the next logical step would be to appoint someone else as presidential adviser on the peace process, to replace retired General Hermogenes Esperon, who should be appointed ambassador to Myanmar.

The next peace adviser should not be another former military general and should be someone from Mindanao, either Christian or Muslim, either male or female. If President Arroyo is grooming former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson to replace Esperon, she should forget it. Singson is not from Mindanao and does not come with credible bona fides.

President Arroyo should choose from a short list prepared by concerned groups, to which I would nominate Adel Tamano, Irene Santiago, Amina Rasul and Margie Moran, aided by a battery of constitutional lawyers..

But President Arroyo should lay down the rules of the game, to which the new peace adviser and the new GRP peace panel must strictly adhere; otherwise, no go.

Chief among these rules should be the condition that any agreement must conform to the letter and spirit of the Constitution. In other words, no thinly disguised Trojan horses in which ChaCha dancers can hide and jump from at the first opportune moment, to perform their song-and-dance once they are inside Congress..

If President Arroyo can live with this limitation, she will convince one and all that she does not intend to stay in power beyond 2010. [...]

To get back to the stalled peace process, any resumption of these talks should not be held in Malaysia as Malaysia has a vested interest in the dismemberment of the Philippines. Malaysia has not forgotten and will never forget that President Ferdinand Marcos tried to launch an invasion to grab Sabah or North Borneo from the Malaysian Federation in the 1970s. For the Malaysians, the dismemberment of the Philippine Republic would be the sweetest revenge for such a hostile and unfriendly act.

If we must talk with Bangsamoro rebels abroad, let the venue be in Indonesia. Indonesia has its own problems with separatist movements (East Timor, Aceh, Irian Jaya, etc) and would not be hospitable to separatist movements in other, neighboring countries. [...]

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Both GRP and MILF need to have new sets of negotiators.

There will always be right people who have the heart for the job. Never rush the selection of the new members of the negotiating panel. Rather, let us all pray and wait and the Lord will stir the hearts of the people He has prepared for the task.

In due season things will fall in place to pave the way for the fruitfulness of a fair and lasting peace in the Land of Promise.


Clarifying Political Party Reform

By Mon Casiple

The supposedly routine approval on third reading of the Political Party Development bill in the House of Representatives surprisingly led to highly-critical reactions from a party-list representative, minority representatives, a Catholic bishop, the Comelec chairman, an election lawyer, and a newspaper columnist. This particular bill was already passed–with the exact same content–on third reading by the same body in the 13th Congress without such negative reactions.

The reasons given against the bill were varied: that it is unconstitutional, allegedly discriminating against small parties, that it did not include party-list groups, that spending public funds for political parties is wrong and increases corruption, and that Jose de Venecia (one of the authors) is the wrong messenger for political party reforms.

These are serious accusations and deserve serious answers. First, let me state my position as an electoral reform advocate. I stand four-square behind the bill–it is a vital part of the package of political and electoral reforms we had been struggling for more than 15 years already. The package included such laws as the party-list law, the fair elections act, the overseas absentee voting law, the electoral automation law, the continuing registration act, and such pending bills as the anti-political dynasty bill, the local sectoral representation bill, the anti-turncoatism bill and on the amendments to the Omnibus Election Code.

The political party reform bill was drafted in 2002 and endorsed by the major political parties in the first-ever Philippine Political Party Conference, chaired by then-Speaker and Lakas-NUCD chairman Jose de Venecia. Election reform advocates participated in the drafting and endorsed the original bill, and later lobbied with government to pass it.

The unity for the bill started unraveling when GMA announced her candidacy for the 2004 presidential elections. Later, the presidential legitimacy crisis prevented movement on the bill despite GMA’s own endorsement in her 10-point “legacy program” and its inclusion in the Medium-Term Development Program. The current situation opened once more the possibility for passing it because of the urgency to address the requirements of a fair and free 2010 elections.

Cynicism about traditional politics and politicians, the legitimacy crisis, and the valid concern of small parties and party-list groups are new elements that have come up in opposition to the bill. However, it is my opinion that these concerns, despite their being correct, are misplaced and critics are barking on the wrong tree.

One, the bill is not about party-list groups or even the possible transformation of these groups into political parties. It is about developing and strengthening the political party system. Party-list groups can be covered once they registered as political parties.

Two, it does not promote only a two-party system or even the monopoly by major parties. It is designed however to exclude fly-by-night “parties” or those that do not have significant constituencies. The reason is simple. You do not want nuisance groups or even nuisance parties to muddle the system and the electoral process and dissipate public funds. Actual seats in Congress and other measures of party strength such as membership, geographical spread, record in local elections, etc. are a logical criteria for measuring viable political parties. [...]

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You Can Run, But Not For Long

US court denies Bolante's petition for political asylum

Former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-joc" Bolante has been denied his petition for asylum by the United States Court of Appeals, information reaching abs-cbnNEWS.com said Tuesday.

"Although he is entitled to go further and appeal to the Supreme Court, it is highly unlikely that the highest court of the US will overturn the denial by the Chicago Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals and the US Court of Appeals," said lawyer Harry Roque, who has been closely monitoring Bolante's case in the US.

“This is the end of the line for the most notorious Presidential friend, JocJoc Bolante," the lawyer added.

Roque did not elaborate on the details of the court's decision though he said additional information and a copy of the decision will be follow.

With the decision, Roque said that it is high time Bolante answer the demands on who ordered him to allegedly funnel funds meant for fertilizers for farmers to the campaign kitty of President Arroyo during the May 2004 elections.

Meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a member of the Senate panel probing the fertilizer fund scam, welcomed the development.

“Welcome back Joc Joc. It's about time, kailangang maliwanagan na ang isyu ukol sa fertilizer scam kasi siya lang ang puwedeng magsabi ng detalye ukol dito dahil siya lang ang nakakaalam… kaya welcome back Joc Joc," he said.

Bolante was arrested by immigration authorities upon arriving at Los Angeles International Airport from Seoul, South Korea, on July 7, 2006 after he was caught using an expired tourist visa.

Bolante has been ordered arrested by the Philippine Senate for repeatedly failing to attend hearings on the fertilizer fund scandal.

The Senate decided to probe the fertilizer fund after the Commission on Audit confirmed that the fertilizer used in the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani program was overpriced by at least P127 million.

COA records show that more than 100 of the 236 members of the House of Representatives, 53 governors and 26 town mayors received between P3 million and P10 million each in fertilizer funds from the DA shortly before the May 2004 election.

In matters of conscience, it is better to face justice than to burn inside with guilt.

Mr. Bolante, you can still redeem yourself by doing the right thing. Take courage and trust in the Lord for He is a good father. Cast your fears upon him.

Life is so short and precious to waste and spend it in evading justice. Give up that burden you unnecessarily are carrying. There is still life after this, and that is what matters above all.

Free yourself from that burden and you will also be freeing the nation of one agony it is suffering.