12/15/2010

Beyond the shadow of doubt?


SC acquits Webb, 6 others in Vizconde massacre

By Edu Punay
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Hubert Webb and six others convicted for the highly publicized Vizconde massacre almost two decades ago walked off the national penitentiary as free men after the Supreme Court acquitted them based primarily on inconsistent testimonies of state witness Jessica Alfaro during trial.

Voting 7-4, the High Court ruled that the Paranaque regional trial court erred when it handing down in Jan. 2000 the guilty verdict on Webb, Hospicio "Pyke" Fernandez, Antonio "Tony Boy" Lejano, Michael Gatchalian, Peter Estrada, Miguel "Ging" Rodriguez and Gerardo Biong for the crime of rape with homicide.

The High Court overturned the verdict of Paranaque RTC Branch 274 Judge and now CA Justice Amelita Tolentino, which was upheld by the Court of Appeals on Dec. 15, 2005 and had sentenced the primary accused to life imprisonment.

Biong, who was convicted as accessory for destroying evidence, was released last month after serving his sentence of 12 years.

“There is no more motion for reconsideration can be filed. That would be tantamount to double jeopardy,² Court Administrator and SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez told a press conference, citing a rule in criminal procedures prohibiting a second prosecution against the same person under the same offense after acquittal or conviction by court.

But Marquez stressed that declaring the guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt is not tantamount to establishing innocence of the accused.

The 38-page decision penned by Associate Justice Roberto Abad cited "reasonable and lingering doubt on the guilt of the accused" and "failure of prosecution to establish the guilt beyond reasonable doubt."

"In our criminal justice system, what is important is, not whether the court entertains doubts about the innocence of the accused since an open mind is willing to explore all possibilities, but whether it entertains a reasonable, lingering doubt as to his guilt. For, it would be a serious mistake to send an innocent man to jail where such kind of doubt hangs on to one's inner being, like a piece of meat lodged immovable between teeth," the SC stressed. [...]

Click here to read full text.

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The final decision of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on this case as released in the media, basically boils down to and focuses on the credibility of the testimony of the "star witness" versus the alibi of the accused.

Here is a summary of the decision as reported by ABS-CBN:

1.) Quality of witness - Jessica Alfaro was a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) asset, not really an eye witness. At first, she told the NBI she would bring in a witness to the commission of the crime, but when she couldn't do so, she said she would play the role of eye witness.

2.) Suspicious details in some testimonies;

3.) Quality of testimony (inherent inconsistencies);

4.) Supposed corroborations which are unreliable.

For those interested, you can grasp more understanding of the case's decision by reading a copy of the full text of the decision which may also be found at the following link:

Supreme Court decision on Webb et al re Vizconde Massacre

Now, if we take a look at how the justices voted on the case, the Supreme Court en banc voted: 7-4-4 (7 in favor, 4 dissented, 4 abstained).

The reasons why the four Associate Justices abstained were:

1.) Antonio Carpio (because he testified during the hearings at the Regional Trial Court);

2.) Mariano del Castillo - (because one of the accused is a client of the law firm of his wife);

3.) Presbitero Velasco - (close relation to a party);

4.) Antonio Nachura - (who signed as former Solicitor-General before his appointment to the court).

In other words, not half (but almost very close to half) of the number of justices deemed that there are reasonable shadows of doubt in the credibility of the testimony of the prosecution's star witness.

In the imperfect world full of mistakes and uncertainties, one desperate proverb says: "It is better to wrongfully free a guilty person than to wrongfully punish an innocent man."

Because of the inherent imperfections of the man-made system of justice, democratic governments presume any accused person to be innocent unless proven guilty beyond any reasonable shadow of doubt.

So in my personal opinion, the en banc voting of 7-4-4 is not convincing enough. The final decision of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on this particular case is not very solid, thus perhaps leaving a reasonable shadow of doubt in the minds of many people.

11/28/2010

Dense And/Or Malicious?

By Fr. Roy Cimagala
The Bohol Chronicle

For a while I was frozen in disbelief as I read newspaper headlines and commentaries of what the Pope said recently about condoms. Who would not be dismayed when you read titles like, "Church has changed her position on condoms"?

There were more disconcerting takes. UN officials welcomed the Church's change of heart. Palace told bishops should now soften their stand on the RH bill given the Pope's statement on condoms.

Lagman, the main RH bill proponent, and the Damasonians were practically dancing in the streets. Some clerics now lawyering for the bill must be excited.

I could not believe that some officials who are supposed to have some IQ and the media would bother to publish this clear case of misinformation, since the clarification on the part of the Vatican was readily available.

It was again another field day for sensationalism. Virtually a bar room type of atmosphere, complete with the carousing and the drunkenness, with practically the whole international community as the stage.

The Pope's words were twisted. Commentators just selected a part and blew it up according to their own agenda. They were actually expressing their own mind, not the Pope's.

Where have we fallen into? I can't help but think that those responsible for transmitting this piece of misinformation must be dense and/or plainly malicious. Sorry, I don't have many other possibilities.

To make things worse, I wonder if we can expect any note of apology from any of the protagonists. What is most likely is to play the blaming game. And most likely the blame would mainly fall on the Pope for making such statement.

But the Pope did right in clarifying that matter about the condoms. What he was actually saying was that condoms as contraceptives are always wrong, are always sinful.

Yet in spite of that sinfulness, one can still distinguish shades of mitigating circumstances. The "justification" of the use of the condom arises from this-that it can prevent graver harm, that it can be a sign of a beginning conversion, etc.

Just the same, its use as a contraceptive in spite of those mitigating circumstances is already wrong. Obviously, when the condom is used as a balloon for decoration or toy, its use is not anymore sinful. It's now moral.

So the Pope is trying to be nuanced in his approach to a moral situation. Who says the Pope and the Church in general are just dogmatic, so black and white as not to admit shades? I would say, the Pope was trying to take us a step further than our current state of understanding about condom use.

The reasoning behind the Pope's argument echoes the one used by our Lord himself when he talked about the unjust steward, found in Luke 16. Our Lord praised the dishonest steward for his cleverness in arranging things when he, the steward, would eventually be kicked out of his employment.

So, our Lord, even in the midst of an over-all sin, managed to see bright spots in that cleverness.

The parable concluded by saying, "The master commended the dishonest steward for his prudence. For the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light." (Lk 16,8)

As our Lord said, we need to be innocent as doves but also shrewd as serpents. We have to be very prudent and discerning, without allowing that prudence to spoil the goodness of our heart. It's not easy, but it can be done, with God's grace and our efforts.

This quality is necessary these days, when we know that some people and even some leaders in politics, business, etc., can be playing the devil's games. Recently, for example, we were pleasantly surprised to hear former US President Clinton sort of giving a positive comment on our big population.

Without saying that he is playing the devil's game, we are of course happy to hear what he said, though we should not forget what he is known for. He is good in playing games, and so we just have to decipher what game he is playing this time.

If in the end, it's found that he is being honest, then well and good. If not, then we have to act accordingly. We should try to avoid being taken for a ride, being sweet talked to. We are living in dangerous times. We need to be familiar, for example, with the reality behind the expression, "wag the dog."

But prudence should allow us to see the silver lining in the world's dark clouds.

11/14/2010

Congratulations to our dear "Pambansang Kamao"


Now I believe what boxing promoter Bob Arum said that Manny Pacquiao is the greatest boxer he had ever seen, greater even than heavy weight boxing legend M. Ali. But what gains most my respect for Manny as a professional boxer in this fight with Margarito is the fact that he has chosen to spare Margarito from possible further severe injuries when he could have easily knock him down at the last rounds. At the eleventh round, he even quickly glanced at the corner of his opponent to look for signs of surrender from Margarito's coach because he was unwilling to hurt Margarito's badly swollen face any more destructively.

For me Manny won even a deeper level of victory that no other fighter could have shown if they were the ones in Manny's position in this fight. At the last round, Manny could have easily gone for the "kill", but he has chosen to end the final round with less powerful punches and saved Margarito further severe injuries to the face.

With such strength and a great team that the Lord has blessed Manny with, who can compare to the glory that Manny has given our homeland? No fighter I've yet seen who is like Manny who is not ashamed to honor the Lord in each of his professional fights.

In one interview I heard Manny said something like, "Tao lang si Margarito, nagkakamali. No one is perfect." By honoring Margarito with a professional bout, even though Margarito lost, Manny was able to restore back Margarito's dignity as a professional boxer after that big mistake Margarito had done that caused him a long time of suspension.

Manny, congratulations! We are so proud of you, our dear "Pambansang Kamao". May you remain humble and may you continue to share the overwhelming blessings that the Lord has blessed you with --materially, physically, and spiritually. Never forget to honor the Lord with some portion of your blessings.

10/27/2010

Church, Constitution, and the RH Bill

By Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted on 10/13/2008

The debate on the reproductive health bill in Congress is by no means over. It should surprise no one that this is happening; after all, religion and the Constitution, both of which are involved in any evaluation of the bill, are very much at the heart of the life of our people.

I am not about to critique the entire bill nor am I going to say that we should not have a law which seeks to protect the health of women. What I want to do is simply to point out some areas that need further discussion.

Let me begin with the Constitution in so far as it is related to the right to life. We have in our Constitution a provision that assures protection for life. It says that the State “shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.”

Is this provision completely satisfied by the prohibition of abortion which the reproductive health bill reaffirms? It is true that the provision was discussed at a time when many were aware of the US Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade which liberalized abortion laws up to the sixth month of pregnancy. The prevention of the adoption of the doctrine in Roe v. Wade was certainly one of the purposes of the provision. But Commission deliberations indicate that the provision goes beyond Roe v. Wade.

Abortion is usually defined as the termination of a pregnancy by the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus. Pregnancy for its part is the period of reproduction during which a female carries one or more live offspring from implantation in the uterus through gestation. Pregnancy begins when a fertilized zygote implants in the female’s uterus and ends once it leaves the uterus.

The unborn’s entitlement to protection begins “from conception,” that is, from the moment of conception. The intention is to protect life from its beginning, and the assumption is that human life begins at conception and that conception takes place at fertilization of the zygote. Although the constitutional provision does not assert with certainty when human life precisely begins, it reflects the view that, in dealing with the protection of life, it is necessary to take the safer approach. For this reason the Constitution commands that protection be given from conception, that is, from the fertilization of the zygote.

This is reflected in one of the exchanges during the debate. Since the protection of the unborn was to begin from conception, Reverend Cirilo Rigos asked when the “moment of conception” was. Commissioner Bernardo Villegas, who was the principal sponsor of the provision, answered that the conception took place with fertilization since “it is when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm that there is human life.” When Commissioner Fely Aquino observed that at that point there would only be biological life, Bishop Teodoro Bacani did not contradict her but said that there would already be biological human life even if there was as yet no “person.”

From this it can be seen that the intention is to protect the “life” even before implantation in the uterus, that is, from the moment biological life begins. The constitutional intent, in other words, is to play it safe lest human life be destroyed and to impose the protection even before implantation in the uterus.

This brings us to the question whether the reproductive bill allows or even prescribes the use of birth control methods which have the effect of blocking a fertilized zygote from being implanted in the uterus or of expelling a fertilized zygote before implantation. This is a question which, while it has constitutional, religious and moral implications, must first be answered by medical science. Has this question been sufficiently explored in the course of the debates over the reproductive health bill? My impression is that it has not. And if the law is passed as proposed, the question will most certainly reach the Supreme Court.

Another important element in the debate is the freedom of religious belief. The free exercise of religion guaranteed by the Constitution means more than just the freedom to believe. It also means the freedom to act or not to act according to what one believes. And this freedom is violated when one is compelled to act against one’s belief or is prevented from acting according to one’s belief.

In our society, while people of good faith may find near unanimity on the matter of abortion, there clearly is a sharp division in the matter of contraception. The division is drawn along religious lines. The law as proposed will require people of good faith to act or not to act contrary to what they believe. Concessions must be made so that religious liberty will not be violated. The law must allow for the conscientious objector.

I would make special mention of the requirement of sex education. Sex education is a matter closely related to religious morality. Our Constitution allows the teaching of religion to children in public schools, but it requires that it be done only with the written consent of parents. A similar respect for the desire of parents should be provided for in the law. Our Constitution says: “The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government.” As for sex education in private schools, any law on this should respect academic freedom which is also protected by the Constitution.

I have also scanned the penal provisions of the proposed law. My initial impression is that, if passed, they will encounter problems in implementation along lines of criminal due process.

10/15/2010

Natural Family Planning, Contraception, & Cancer

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Natural Family Planning vs. Contraception

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How "The Pill" Works As An Abortifacient

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Birth Control Pills Raises Breast Cancer Risk
By Pam Stephan
Breast Cancer Blog

In 2003, the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) sought to reassure women that using birth control pills would not raise their risk for breast cancer. NCI also told women that having an abortion was not a risk factor for breast cancer. Now it turns out that a study published in April 2009 by Jessica Dolle and other researchers of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center appears to show just the opposite: oral contraception (OCs) is linked with an increased risk for triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in women who are 45 years old and younger. The research paper, "Risk factors for triple-negative breast cancer in women under the age of 45 years," was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. This research paper features a table of risk factors, which includes oral contraception use, tobacco and alcohol consumption, number of births, breastfeeding, and induced abortion.

Dolle's research shows that if you started taking birth control pills before age 18, your risk for TNBC is increased by 3.7 times. If you've been using The Pill within the last one to five years, your TBNC risk is raised 4.2 times. Triple-negative breast cancer is aggressive and strikes women who are under 40, and many victims are African Americans. Survival odds for TBNC are lower than average, compared to other types of breast cancer.

As if that news were not alarming enough, a statement in this paper refers to induced abortion as a factor that is associated with an increased breast cancer risk. One of the study co-authors, Louise Brinton, spearheaded the 2003 NCI workshop about the abortion-breast cancer link (referred to as ABC). That workshop made every effort to assure women that having an induced abortion was not linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, and that research did not support an ABC link. Keep in mind that this paper discusses only one study.

Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2002, I took birth control pills for about 5 years. They prevented conception, made me a little queasy, but seemed otherwise harmless. In those days, the hormones in The Pill were lower than contraceptives that were produced in the 1980's, so I thought they were safe. After all, a doctor prescribed them for me - so no health risk, right? Maybe they were wrong! As soon as my breast lump was detected on a mammogram, when I was 46 years old, I was told to stop taking The Pill. That was one year before NCI told us that The Pill would not raise my risk for breast cancer. Now, I wish I'd never taken it. Perhaps one's risk is not as simple as taking The Pill, or eating a healthy diet, or having a genetic mutation - but if my risk is lower now because of being off contraceptives and never having had an abortion, I'm glad there's something I can do. I just wish we could have as much information as possible, to reduce our risk of breast cancer.
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10/09/2010

When Does Life Begin?

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video
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When does life begin?

This question has taken on major proportions of debate and controversy, between supporters of Pro-life and groups of Pro-choice. To most, the answer is distinctly clear about when life begins. It begins at conception, when the sperm fertilizes the egg.

Dr. Landrum Shettles, sometimes called the "Father of in vitro fertilization" notes about life's beginnings: "Conception confers life and makes that life one of a kind." Continuing on his comments about the Supreme Court ruling on Roe vs. Wade he says, "To deny a truth (about when life begins) should not be made a basis for legalizing abortion."

Dr. Albert Liley, the renowned physiologist known as the "Father of Fetology" has stated, "Biologically, at no stage of development can we subscribe to the view that the unborn child is a mere appendage of the mother. Genetically, the mother and baby are separate individuals from conception."

The baby is autonomous of the mother and has been demonstrated successfully since the introduction of test tube babies. The ovum or the egg is fertilized with the sperm inside a laboratory facility. The zygote, a fertilized egg, begins to divide and grow looking like a bag of marbles even though it may be countries away from the mother.

This halts the viewpoint that the fertilized egg (or pregnancy tissue, as Planned Parenthood calls it) is an appendage of the mother. If any other part of the mother's anatomy is removed, such as an appendix, it will not continue to live. But the fertilized egg has shown its autonomy in survival outside the mother's body, and has further shown its autonomy implanted into another woman. The fertilized egg does not take on the surrogate mother's characteristics, but develops according to its own DNA make up.

Within four days of fertilization, the sex of the zygote can be determined through microscopic techniques. Soon after one week of fertilization, the zygote contains the beginning of all major body structures. Fetal circulation occurs by three weeks - complete with heart and major blood vessels coursing through its quarter-inch frame. And at five weeks, all basic body systems are developing, including the brain and nervous system enabling the fetus to feel pain.

When the zygote reaches the eighth week, it is called a fetus for the remaining of the fetal development. The fetus at twelve weeks of growth shows tooth buds, nail beds, and genitals. By thirteen to sixteen weeks, the arms and legs are complete. There is air on the head, the skeletal system shows up on x-ray film and has breathing movements. By the twentieth week, the baby has eyebrows, tiny nipples, sucks its thumb, and holds its own umbilical cord.

If the sexual gender of a fertilized egg can be determined within four days of conception, then this pregnancy tissue is more than an appendage of the mother. It is the beginning of a life.


Read also this resource material from Princeton University: Life Begins At Fertilization

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"Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you." (Jeremiah 1:5)

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end. You shall call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

"I will give thanks to you O Lord, For I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. My soul knows that very well." (Psalms 139:14)

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"Reproductive Health includes access to abortion" -- Hillary Clinton

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How can we be sure that our own country's proposed RH Bill will someday not lead to the granting of access to abortion? Mr. President, is this part of the deal of the $343M grant the United States government has granted the Philippines during your first foreign mission with the world leaders at the United Nations?

See also: The Hijacked U.N. General Assembly Agenda
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10/07/2010

Japan suffers nurse shortage

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More than 15,000 nurses are needed in Japan, as the country faces a growing aging population.

In addition, the turnover among Japanese nurses in hospitals is high, as working conditions are very demanding that even death from overwork has been reported.

Hiring foreigners has been a challenge for the country as most of them failed to pass the standard Japanese nursing examination.

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Is it possible to somehow incorporate into our country's nursing curriculum what the Japanese government required of the foreign nurses who wish to work in their country? Or perhaps some schools would open special courses that teach nursing standards required by the Japanese government or any other target country?

Like Singapore, because of Japan's rapidly declining manual workforce population, maybe in less than 30 to 50 years, whether they like it or not, Japan will be needing more and more foreign workers to keep their country running and globally competitive. In the field of health care, compared with other countries in the region, our country has the better edge to fill the lack.

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9/26/2010

Sow Not On The Devil's Ground


Surrender

Editorial, Inquirer.net


The senate hearing on jueteng has turned out to be a disaster for Interior Undersecretary Rico E. Puno, and it threatens to produce another disaster for the entire nation.

Still reeling from the embarrassment over the failed hostage rescue attempt last Aug. 23, Puno found himself again in the center of another controversy when his name landed on a list submitted by retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz to the Senate as one of the “ultimate recipients” of jueteng payola. Puno, who is in charge of police matters in the Department of Interior and Local Government, may have been wrongly accused, but he did not help disabuse suspicious minds with his evasive answers during the Senate hearing last Sept. 21.

Questioned by senators, Puno admitted that “friends and local officials” had tried to set up a meeting between him and some jueteng operators. At first he refused to identify the operators, saying that revealing their names would put to waste “months of surveillance” undertaken by the police, but later admitted that one of them was Bong Pineda, the husband of the Pampanga governor. However, Puno was adamant in refusing to name the operators’ intermediaries, lamely explaining that he could not remember their names anymore since he received so many visitors during the two months or so that he has been in his post. If only because there are now doubts about Puno’s integrity, President Aquino should seriously consider accepting his resignation.

But if Puno’s lack of candor was disappointing, the solution to the old illegal numbers game now being suggested by some senators is disturbing, to say the least. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada have revived the easy solution put forward by the President that jueteng brought down, Joseph Estrada, which is to legalize jueteng. This proposal reveals a sense of helplessness on the part of the Senate in upholding the law when criminal syndicates put it to a test. The call sounds like a declaration of surrender.

This illegal numbers game, the argument goes, has been around since time immemorial and has persisted despite countless attempts to stamp it out. If we allow the rich their excessively wasteful vices, why not let the poor enjoy some of their small indulgences? Besides, without jueteng, thousands of rural families who rely on this illegal numbers racket for livelihood will die of hunger.

We disagree. We are with Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Krusada Laban sa Jueteng in saying that jueteng can be stopped. Cruz says it’s just a matter of cutting off its “two legs” that bring it from one house to another, with impunity: the local officials and the police officers who tolerate or protect its operations. And he points to the communities in the country where jueteng (or masiao) can’t proliferate to prove this.

Indeed, jueteng must be stopped. Not just because like all forms of gambling, it erodes a people’s cultural and moral foundations and corrupts social institutions, including the Church, but more importantly because, contrary to what some people say that it is the least destructive of all forms of gambling, it is the worst.

First of all, it strikes into the very heart of our society, the family. Other games of chance draw “walk-in” bettors. This one is door-to-door pick-up and delivery. Nobody makes a living from visiting the houses of the poor and inviting them to a casino or to a game of tong-its or mahjjong.

Second, it is oppressive, of the poor most especially. In fact, it primarily targets the poor. Worse, it is a con game. Jueteng is not a game of chance, or a game of luck. The winning numbers are pre-selected before each draw, depending on which combination of numbers the smallest bet has been placed.

It is open even to the poorest man who is foolish enough to part with the last centavos in his pocket and to risk losing his family’s next meal for the chance to win in a game that is heavily stacked against him. Jueteng impoverishes the poor even more only to make the jueteng bosses super-rich, while the collectors doing the dirty work can’t provide their families a decent existence.

Simply put, jueteng victimizes the poor more than anybody. Legalizing it is tantamount to inviting them to entrust their day-to-day survival to chance. It is like legalizing deceit.

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Gambling is pinning your hope on sure uncertainty. It is a clear manifestation of one's ignorance of God if one is an unbeliever. Or
if one claims to be a believer, it is an evidence of one's fake trust in God, particularly in God's ability to bless and to provide for people's needs.

Gambling is sowing your seeds on the devil's ground, and on this ground everything you sow grows and multiplies so quickly that in no time you reap nothing but a thousand fold of curses -- poverty, crime, corruption, destruction of families, etc.

Do you want true prosperity? Prove the Lord by sowing your seeds instead in His field.

[Malachi 3:10] "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."


Except one thing, God needs nothing from us because He owns everything and has everything. What He needs from us is our faith in Him. To truly believe in the Lord through obedience to His word is the key to true prosperity. In other words, God's challenge to prove Him through our giving to Him is actually a test of our trust in Him. It is not the quantity of our giving that God is after but the quality of our heart towards Him. Isn't it true that when we truly love someone we give our best to that person? Likewise with God because in His economy love is the only currency and giving is its medium of exchange and prosperity is merely a side effect.

[Luke 6:38] “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be given to you. For with the same measure you measure it will be measured back to you.”


It is not only the temporal resources that gambling is able to take away from us -- wealth, health, time, family, etc. If gambling is not forsaken, ultimately it could steal away our faith in God and our future in eternity.

9/22/2010

He Needs Our Support And Prayers


Anti-gambling bishop fears for his life after jueteng expose

CBCP News

Outspoken Archbishop Oscar Cruz admitted fears for his life after he identified in a Senate hearing the country’s alleged jueteng operators and protectors.

Cruz said those involved in the illegal numbers game are influential people, adding that he is afraid of possible revenge.

“Of course I’m afraid. There are shameless people so how can you stop worrying,” said the founder of the Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng.

Cruz identified Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno and retired Philippine National Police chief Jesus Verzosa as the two Aquino administration officials coddling jueteng operators by receiving monthly payola.

The anti-gambling crusader also revealed 10 more names during the investigation on the multi-million illegal lottery as jueteng lords, operators and beneficiaries of jueteng payola.

The 12 are: 1. Governor Baby Pineda in Pampanga; 2. Paul Dy in Isabela; 3. Retired general Eugene Martin; 4. Mayor Mauricio Domogan of Baguio; 5. Danny Soriano in Cagayan; 6. Retired General Padilla in Pasay, Parañaque, Muntinlupa and San Pedro; 7. Governor Amado Espino in Pangasinan; 8. Boy Jalandoni in Bacolod; 9. Eddie Fontanilla; and 10. Rey Cachuela.

The first eight names were named as jueteng lords and operators in their respective areas. Fontanilla, meanwhile, was identified as a collector on the ground while Cachuela was tagged as intermediate recipient.

The retired archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan said his group had already suffered big blows in giving information to the government so it could stop jueteng “which corrupts public officials.”

He said one of them has already been killed, referring to jueteng whistle-blower Wilfredo “Boy” Mayor, who was gunned down in Pasay City in February.

Last week, the prelate said he received a mail sent to his office at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in Intramuros, Manila. The bond paper has his face printed on it and with a note: “Shut up!”

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To those people with the same conviction and advocacy as the bishop, it is time to join forces and fight with him against gambling in our country. Never to the legalization of "jueteng". The nation can win this fight if we put our individual strengths together.

Lord, let an avalanche of will and determination begin. Grant us the strength to stand against this Goliath for your name's sake. As you have shown your glory through David, be it so likewise as we stand to face this yet another of the many stubborn monsters in our land.

9/19/2010

Media In Focus: Watching The Watchdogs

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On Sept. 14, in the words of this paper (Philippine Daily Inquirer), “Senators led by former press freedom champion Joker Arroyo took turns browbeating messengers of bad news for allegedly tarnishing the country’s image with their reporting on the botched hostage rescue.” Eight Hong Kong nationals were massacred during the incident inside a bus parked in the Quirino Grandstand.

There were two issues at stake at the media hearings, although Arroyo attempts to make them one and the same. The first was the media’s lapses during the hostage crisis. On Aug. 23, news networks aired the crisis live on national television, making available information to the hostage-taker via a television inside the bus. ABS-CBN aired a blow-by-blow account of the situation, including assault positions, as well as live footage of the hostage-taker’s brother being arrested. TV5 reporter Erwin Tulfo, with fellow Radyo Mo Nationwide commentator Michael Rogas tied up the hostage-taker’s phone line in an increasingly tense 45-minute radio interview that ended with gunshots.

“We just wanted to talk to the hostage-negotiator first. We did not know that there were negotiations. We did not know that he would get angry. We were thrown into a situation that escalated into something that made even us nervous.”

It is true that the press failed to regulate itself, aggravating the situation for an already inept police force. There is a limit to press freedom, and even the lowest standard demands a respect for human life. Since the massacre, broadcast networks have committed to reform. GMA Network vice president for news programs, Jessica Soho, acknowledged that they could have performed better. ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs head Maria Ressa said during the hearing that they never expected that authorities would not be in control of the crisis situation, and said that belief was their failure as well. The concession was clear: inept leadership does not excuse journalistic irresponsibility.

Read full text: The Joker by Patricia Evangelista, Inquirer.net

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"Maybe it is the media that has us divided." --Laura Bush

“The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” --Malcolm X

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgerize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.” --William Bernbach

“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” --Marshall McLuhan

“The media tends to report rumors, speculations, and projections as facts... How does the media do this? By quoting some 'expert'... you can always find some expert who will say something hopelessly hopeless about anything.” --Peter McWilliams

“The media's power is frail. Without the people's support, it can be shut off with the ease of turning a light switch.” --Corazon C. Aquino

“For a politician to complain about the press is like a ship's captain complaining about the sea.” --Enoch Powell

“In day-to-day commerce, television is not so much interested in the business of communications as in the business of delivering audiences to advertisers. People are the merchandise, not the shows. The shows are merely the bait.” --Les Brown

“People in the media say they must look at the president with a microscope. Now, I don't mind a microscope, but boy, when they use a proctoscope, that's going too far.” --Richard M. Nixon

"Whoever controls the media, controls the mind." --Jim Morrison

"Ought we not to ask the media to agree among themselves a voluntary code of conduct, under which they would not say or show anything which could assist the terrorists' morale or their cause while the hijack lasted." --Margaret Thatcher

"These days politics, religion, media seem to get all mixed up. Television became the new religion a long time back and the media has taken over." --Van Morrison

"The question confronting the Church today is not any longer whether the man in the street can grasp a religious message, but how to employ the communications media so as to let him have the full impact of the Gospel message." --Pope John Paul II
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9/03/2010

Ang Dasal, Sana Maghilum Ang Sugat Ng Nakaraan

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A single oversight
Should not make you feel
All the anger inside your heart
We did not wish for this to happen

We understand that you've been hurt
All we're asking for is forgiveness
As we extend our hands to you in goodwill

We wish you'd open your heart once again
We feel your sadness and grief
Now we plead for us to be heard
Our apologies we pray you'd accept

We join our hands in prayer for forgiveness
Waiting for a new day to come
Now we plead for us to be heard
Our apologies we pray you'd accept

We are a loving race
Loyal heroes of our land
Believing in the good hearts of our people
Condemning what is wrong

-- Ryan Enriquez
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9/01/2010

There Are Days And There Are Nights


Palace: President cannot remain 'worried' over hostage incident

GMA News TV

Malacañang said President Benigno Simeon Aquino III remains "concerned" over the hostage crisis in Manila last week but can no longer afford to remain worried about the consequences of the incident.

Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma said while Aquino is still concerned about the hostage incident, he also has to focus on the other problems facing the nation.

“Di pwede sa worrying mode palagi ang isang leader, kailangan nakatutok ang attention sa darating sa kinabukasan. Kailangan naka-focus sa paghanap ng solution, di magiging productive kung palaging worried," Coloma said in an interview on dzXL radio.

(A leader cannot remain in worrying mode indefinitely. He must keep his attention on other problems. He must focus on finding solutions to these problems. Worrying will mess up his productivity.)

On August 23, a dismissed senior police inspector, Rolando Mendoza, hijacked a bus in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Manila and held hostage 21 Hong Kong tourists and four Filipinos. After an 11-hour standoff, Mendoza and eight Hong Kong tourists were killed.

“Siguro ang tamang salita ay concerned sapagka’t dapat naman ay yung ganung concern dahil seryoso ang kaganapang nangyari. Pero I don’t think tama ang salitang worried. Ito ay bahagi ng hamon na kinakaharap," he said.

(Perhaps the right word to describe Aquino is concerned. He remains concerned over such a serious situation. But I don’t think it is right to say he remains worried because such things are part of the challenges he faces as a leader.)

Coloma said the Aquino government has already taken steps to heal the wounds between the Philippines and Hong Kong after last week's hostage crisis.

“Ang importante dito ang maging makatwiran at makatarungan ang mga aksyon ng pangulo, di dinadaan sa pabilisan lamang (What is important is that the president’s moves are proper and not necessarily rushed)," he said.

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The world keeps on turning.

8/02/2010

What Picture Would It Paint?


Hundreds of photos of events of Cory's life put together side by side to form a mosaic that when viewed from a distance the individual details of each photos seem to melt and blend to form a single large image of a familiar portrait of Cory. What a remarkable and impressive work of art.

But if all of our people's individual stories could be put together in one big mosaic, I'm just wondering what image perhaps would it paint?

7/22/2010

Pangangalampag

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An impressive exhibition of raw talent.

This is a facebook video from a friend's friend which I found to have some relevance to some issues in our country.

On a lighter note: Looking at the improvised instruments the guy is using, some funny thought popped up in my mind. I thought if someone would do something like that in Metro Manila today where residents there are experiencing a case of water shortage for days now and are lining up outside the streets bringing with them all sorts of water container they could get waiting for the water trucks to come by, people might think that's probably what happens when frustrated and angry people undergo water crisis -- they'll protest artistically beating their water containers to call government attention to their desperate condition. :-)

On a serious thought: According to reports, about 53% of the water supplied from Anggat Dam to the consumers go to waste through leakages in the distribution system. What a remarkable waste! Also, according to the new DPWH secretary, since the dam was privatized the consumers now are at the mercy of the dam's owners when it comes to matters of priority when low water level conditions occur.

This recurrent persistent water "shortage" situation affecting some areas in Metro Manila seems to remind of the situation of our national government's resources. Huge wastage resulting from mismanagement, inefficiency, corruption, scarcity, etc. are sorrounding the problem. How the new administration handles this water problem will tell something about their quality of leadership. Will they approach the problem the hard but right way, or will they handle it the quick and easy wang-wang way?

7/21/2010

Mga Tagapagtangkilik Ng Wang-Wang


"Betrayal" Of Party-list Law

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) disqualified a big businessman who wished to speak for small entrepreneurs, but ruled that a wealthy political scion can represent marginalized security guards and tricycle drivers in the House of Representatives.

The Comelec has voted 4-2-1 to allow Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo to represent the party-list group Ang Galing Pinoy, but Election Chair Jose Melo said the poll body’s latest ruling and that on another party-list group, Ang Kasangga, were “contradictory.”

Election Commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph and Armando Velasco—all members of the second division except for Yusoph—approved Arroyo’s assumption of office as the first nominee of a group that claims to speak for the guards and drivers.

Commissioners Gregorio Larrazabal and Rene Sarmiento of the first division dissented, saying a “yes” vote would be a betrayal of the party-list law.

Melo did not take part in the voting.

Asked on Tuesday if it would be dangerous for the Comelec to issue two conflicting decisions on party-list groups, he replied in the affirmative. He also said those opposed to the en banc ruling could seek a restraining order from the Supreme Court.

Militant groups are determined to block Arroyo, the eldest child of the former First Couple and a former representative of Pampanga, from again taking a seat in the House.

Through its secretary general Renato Reyes, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the Comelec ruling “is utterly despicable and truly destroys the essence of the party-list system.”

Reyes also said Arroyo’s presence at the opening of Congress on July 26 would “insult the entire Filipino people.”

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño, whose colleagues had earlier sought Arroyo’s disqualification as Ang Galing Pinoy nominee, said the Comelec ruling allowed those in power and in positions of influence to coopt the party-list system.

He said Bayan Muna would appeal the ruling before the high court.

Click here to read full text.

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Kailan kaya tuluyang mawala ang Wang-wang na pag-iisip ng karamihan sa mga taga-Comelec? Pero mga taga-Comelec lang ba ang may bahid ng Wang-wang na mentalidad?

Bakit kaya na kung pagdating sa pagsunod o pagpa-iral sa batas ay hindi pa rin mawala-wala itong ating lumang pag-iisip at pag-uugali na kung may pagkakataon ay sumasamantala sa kapangyarihan upang tangkaing baluktotin o impluwensyahan ang sistema ng ating batas para sa isang hangarin sa pamamaraang labag sa kung ano ang dapat, wasto, at tamang gawa?

Kailan pa kaya tayo tunay na magbago? Kailan kaya ang Wang-wang tuluyang maalis hindi lang sa mga kalsada at mga lansangan kundi lalo na sa mga kalye at mga sulok ng ating mga puso at isipan kung saan dito ang pugad nito?

Binibigyan tayo ngayon ng panibagong pagkakataong magbago, magbago ka ba o wawangwang-wangwang ka pa rin?
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7/11/2010

Building Our Nation With Living Stones


An Interview of Dylan Wilks

By Bo Sanchez

Dylan Wilk was born to a poor family. But at the young age of 20, he started a computer games company that made him a millionaire. Soon, Dylan operated in nine countries and ran his own TV channel. Then at the age of 25, Dylan sold his company for multi-million British pounds. He became the ninth richest person in the Great Britain under the age of 30.

But one night, while lying in bed, he was distressed by a nagging question that wouldn't let him sleep.

"God, why am I rich?"

He asked if there was a reason for his immense wealth. Ironically, he also felt terribly empty inside. This, despite his ability to have any kind of pleasure he wanted. He had just bought himself a brand-new Ferrari and took one holiday after another. But he was discovering that pleasure was like fire... it constantly needed more fuel to keep it going.

And he realized he would never be happy in the path he was taking.

One day, a Filipina friend visited him. She said she felt guilty going there because her plane fare could have built two homes for the poor. That made Dylan pause. How can you build two houses for that measly amount? He decided to investigate.

In January 2003, he visited the Philippines. And for three hours, Gawad Kalinga (GK) Director Tony Meloto brought Dylan to different GK villages for the poor. With his own eyes, he saw something that would change his life forever...

Bo: What did you see on that day?

Dylan: I saw hope. More than newly built houses, I saw transformed lives. We were entering rather dangerous slums, breeding ground for thieves and kidnappers... yet in the middle of that was an oasis...the Gawad Kalinga village. I saw people smiling, men working, children laughing... I've seen many other projects in South East Asia and across the world. And I've never seen anything like GK. This was different. This really worked!

Bo: So what did you do after your trip?

Dylan: I went back to England. I saw my BMW parked in the garage and realized I could build 80 homes with it... and affect the lives of 600 people. I saw the faces of the children I could help. I called up Tony Meloto and told him I was thinking of donating $100,000 to Gawad Kalinga and asked him if that was okay...

Bo: What did Tony say?

Dylan: He said, "No, I don't want your money."

Bo: Only Tony can say something like that. (Laughs.)

Dylan: He said if I was really serious in working for the poor, I should go back to the Philippines. So two months later, I sold my BMW and flew back to Manila. And in June of that year, I made a decision to stay in the Philippines and work for GK for seven more years.

Bo: Wow.

Dylan: I've decided to invest in the poor of the Philippines. Not in stocks or bonds. If I can help in uplifting the poor of this country, I can say that I spent my life well.

Bo: I presume your family wasn't too crazy about that decision.

Dylan: No! They thought I was brainwashed by a religious cult! (Laughs.) So my mother came and spied on me. But she was soon convinced of the beautiful work we were doing and went back home and told my sister about it. And my sister said, "Oh no, they brainwashed you too!" (Laughs.) But today, all of them support what I do.

Bo: You've made a decision to give up your wealth for the Filipino poor.

Dylan: I don't see it as a sacrifice. When you give charity out of pity, you feel pain parting with your money. But when you give charity because you love, you don't feel that pain. You only feel the joy of giving to someone you love. That's what I feel.

Bo: I hear you built an entire village for GK in Bulacan.

Dylan: I don't see it as my village. I just provided the materials. Architects, engineers, volunteers gave their labor. Together, we built 63 houses for the poor.

Bo: Amazing. What else do you do?

Dylan: I go around the world telling everyone that Filipinos are heroic. Because I work with them every day... the volunteers of GK.

Bo: What do you see in the Filipino that we take for granted?

Dylan: You're hardworking. You're always laughing, always eating, always singing. Even in your problems. You're loyal. And honest. Sure, there are exceptions, but generally, that's been my experience. And you have the bayanihan spirit. The pyramids of Egypt are beautiful but they were built by slavery. GK villages are more beautiful because they're made through the bayanihan spirit of the Filipino. It's especially this bayanihan and love of family and community that makes the Filipino more valuable than gold. If you take a golden nugget and kick it on the floor for 400 years, afterwards you won't be able to see much gold, just mud. This was what happened to the Filipino... for 400 years you were slaves and then you suffered under dictatorship and corruption. This is where the crab mentality came from; I don't think it's a natural Filipino quality because every day I see the gold under the surface of ordinary Filipinos. If we wipe away the mud by bringing hope and being brothers to one another in bayanihan, the gold will shine through and the world will see it.

Bo: Let me get personal here. I hear that you don't only love the Filipinos, but you've fallen for a particular Filipina.

Dylan: (Smiles.) Two months ago, I married Anna Meloto, the eldest daughter of Tony Meloto. She grew up with the GK work, so we're totally one in our mission. And yes, I'll be having Filipino children. The best way I can secure a future for my kids is to continue to help raise this country from poverty. Instead of building high walls in an exclusive subdivision to protect us from thieves and kidnappers, I will go to the breeding ground of thieves and kidnappers and help transform their lives.

Bo: Thank you for this interview. You don't know how much you inspired me.

Dylan: Thank you for being our partner in GK. I read KERYGMA every month and I'm happy to see GK stories in every issue.

Bo: It's our immense privilege to tell the world about it and ask others to join the miracle.

Dylan: To me, GK isn't just Gawad Kalinga. It is a part of "God's Kingdom" in this world. Thank you.
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Seeing you have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth through the Spirit in sincere brotherly affection, love one another from the heart fervently: having been reborn, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which lives and remains forever. Putting away therefore all wickedness, all deceit, hypocrisies, envies, and all evil speaking, you also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:22-23, 2:1,5).

6/30/2010

Our Nation Is Birthing A New Hope

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Our country is birthing a new hope of a new beginning. In the seasons ahead, our new set of leaders will surely need our support more than ever.

In our individual spirits, every once in a while, let us lift our leaders to the Lord so that they will be able to fulfill the tasks the Lord has anointed them to accomplish.

God bless the Philippines.

Araw Ng Pagsilang Ng Bagong Pag-asa

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Kapag naghihirap na ang isang babaing manganganak, siya'y nahahapis, sapagkat dumating na ang oras ng kanyang paghihirap. Ngunit pagkapanganak niya, hindi na niya naaalala ang hirap; nagagalak siya dahil sa pagsilang ng isang sanggol sa sanlibutan. -Juan 16:21

Ang sarap pakinggan ang unang iyak ng bagong-silang na sanggol.

Ngayon ay ang araw ng pagsilang ng ating bagong pag-asa. Huwag na sanang mangyari pa na ang batang ito ay lalaking palaboy sa lansangan dahil sa kapabayaan nating mga mamayan. Anak ng buong sambayang Pilipino itong bagong pag-asa na ito. Mahalin at arugain natin tulad ng isang tunay na anak, at ang ating bagong Presidente ay siyang mangunguna sa atin sa pagtuyod ng pag-asang ito tungo sa ating matagal ng minimithing pagbabago at kaunlaran.

5/10/2010

Next Time, How About Logically Clustering The Prencincts?

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The clustering of the precincts proved to be a major cause of the system's poor overall efficiency. Since one big cluster comprises about 8 to 10 precincts or about 700 to 1,000 voters, one standard-sized public school classroom with one set of election workers and other authorized personnel are 8 to 10 times over-capacitated or overloaded, and thus resulted the inefficiency of the AES that is being experienced today by the voters all over the country.

The previously published time and motion test conducted by the concerned authorities involved in the AES project estimated the time it will take for a voter to finish voting to be between 8 to 10 minutes. But the actual real time proved to be longer than ten minutes. This is where the system's bottleneck occurs.

In the entire election day, the PCOS machine only uses a very small fraction of the entire election time to read all the ballots in a particular cluster of precincts. Most of the time it is sitting idle waiting for a batch of voters to finish shading their ballots. This setup has a very low rate of system throughput of about 30 to 40 voters per hour per one cluster of precincts. If the system throughput rate can be increased 5 to 8 times, the system's overall efficiency could greatly improve.

One possible solution is "Logical Clustering". That is, using the same original precincts configuration in the polling places as it was in the manual elections before. The variation to this configuration is that the precincts are clustered logically in such a way that they share one PCOS machine for every group of 8 to 10 precincts as clustered today. In this setup, every precinct has the original set of election workers and authorized personnel as in the manual elections before. But in this setup, voters (of not more than say 400 voters per precinct) do the very time-consuming manual steps or portions of the AES (including the shading of the ballot) in their uncongested precinct space (one classroom per precinct) and under the care and supervision of the not overloaded set of election workers. The PCOS machine is place in a secured common area managed and guarded by a special set of authorized election workers.

So, in a logical cluster of 8 to 10 precincts, the number of voters finishing the shading of their ballots in one hour is increased 8 to 10 times. In this case, one logical cluster of say a total number of 1,000 voters would only take about 3 to 4 hours to finish voting.

Sample Calculation:

Say;

20 minutes = voting time per voter
1 batch = 10 voters

And say;

1 logical cluster = 8 precincts

So roughly;

Every 20 minutes, 8 precincts will yeild a total of 80 voters who finish voting

Therefore:

1,000 voters / (80 voters every 20 minutes) = 250 minutes (or about 4 hours)
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A Glimpse At A Local Voting Center

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5/09/2010

My Personal Choice of National Leaders for 2010 Elections

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President: Aquino, Benigno III
Vice-president : Roxas, Mar

Senators:

* Tamano, Adel (Nacionalista Party)
* Estrada, Jinggoy (Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino)
* Biazon, Ruffy (Liberal Party)
* Drilon, Frank (Liberal Party)
* Recto, Ralph (Liberal Party)
* Ocampo, Satur (Bayan Muna)
* Baraquel, Ana Theresa (Liberal Party)
* Enrile, Juan Ponce (Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino)
* De Venecia, Joey (Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino)
* Osmeña, Sergio III (Independent)
* Defensor-Santiago, Miriam (People's Reform Party)
* Tatad, Francisco (Grand Alliance for Democracy)

Party List: BUHAY
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5 Madaling Hakbang sa Makabagong Paraan ng Pagboto

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Magtulong-tulong Tayo Upang Maiwasan Ang "Overvoting"

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Dahil sa uri ng ating Automated Election System (AES) na gumagamit ng mahabang balota kung saan nakasulat ang mga pangalan ng lahat ng mga kandidato sa iba't-ibang posisyon, napakadali ng isang botante na magkamaling sumubra ang pagboto.

Halimbawa sa pagboto ng senador, imbis na 12 lamang ang dapat piliin, dahil napakarami ang pangalan na nakasulat sa balota para senador, napakadali ng isang first-time AES voter na magkamali at makapili ng lampas 12 kandidato.

Sa local level naman, lalong mas madaling magkamali ang isang botante dahil karamihan sa kanila ay hindi alam kung ilang bilang ng konsehal ang dapat iboto sa kanilang partikular na lugar. Sinubokan ko ang aking mga kamag-anak at kaibigan sa pagboto. Sa mahigit sampong bomoto, dalawa lamang sa kanila ang hindi nag-overvote, tatlo ang nag-undervote. Kayo mismo, subokan ninyong bomoto gamit ang sample ballot para sa inyong lugar, malamang mag-overvote din kayo.

Habang may kaunting oras pa, kailangan sigurong paulit-ulit itong ipapa-alala ng mga taga-medya sa taong bayan. Serbisyo publiko nila sa kanilang mga hintilan sa telebisyon simula ngayong oras na ito hanggang bukas ng eleksyon. At sa mga voting precincts kailangan paulit-ulit din ipa-alala ng mga kinaukulan at mga volunteers ang tungkol sa bagay na ito.
Napakahalagang malaman ng taombayan ang tungkol sa over-voting dahil napakadali para sa mga first-time voters ng AES na magkamali dahil sa uri ng ating bagong sistema na napakahaba ng balota at napakarami ng mga pangalan na nakasulat.

4/26/2010

Helping Comelec Ensure the Credibility of the A.E.S.


"Our proposal is a most reasonable request. It is a simple and most logical solution to the uncertainties in the coming election." - Multi-sectoral Group for Honest and Credible Election

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[Colossians 3:23-25] And whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will receive again for the wrong that he has done, and there is no partiality.

4/07/2010

Character Above Other Else


[...] "Against these issues, you may be tempted to fall back on the more visible markers of success... the choice of form over substance, fame over character, short-term gain over long-term goal is precisely what your generation needs to end."

"Coming from the Ateneo, I know that the pressure to succeed is immense. In fact, your biggest liability is the need to succeed." [...]

"... when you stand on the threshold of what is called ― real life, it is – ironically – the best time to talk about failure. Nobody‘s life is seamless or smooth. We all stumble." [...]

Read Manny Pangilinan's speech
Ateneo De Manila University graduation rites

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Read also:
Moving target by Manuel L. Quezon III

4/03/2010

Repentance: The First Act of Righteousness


2010 Lenten Message

+Nereo P. Odchimar
Bishop of Tandag
CBCP President

The journey through the season of Lent into the Holy Week once again accords us an opportunity conducive to a sincere review of our life in the light of the teachings of the Gospel. Jesus’ compelling challenge: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel (Mark 1:15)” cohesively capsulates the true spirit of this season. Through the traditional practices of fasting and abstinence, we are reminded of a deep and lasting abandonment of our sinful ways so that we can enter into a living relationship with Christ, who alone offers true freedom, happiness, and fulfillment. By our prayers and reflections on the suffering and death of Christ , we intensify our awareness of the movement of evil and its devastating effects to ourselves and others. And more importantly, our discernments leads us to a continuous movement toward personal conversion and genuine social transformation as we look forward to Christ’s resurrection and salvific action on Easter Sunday.

How are we challenged individually and collectively as a community by this season of repentance and renewal? Rightly so, if we are to examine the very core of our being, we realize that our hearts innately crave for power, are attached to material wealth, content to maintain the status quo, and inclined to worldly allurements and other forms of selfish desires. All these have outward manifestations through the increasing cases of graft and corruption in many institutions, poverty, violation of human rights, vote buying-and-selling and other forms of electoral fraud, abuse of natural resources, land grabbing, and all forms of injustices.

The pursuit for good is a fundamental option among individuals. Our efforts of deep concern for the members of the family apparently show our yearning to provide them good and quality life. In fact, we advocate good governance and seek responsible leaders in view of establishing a just and peaceful society—where all may enjoy a fuller life. But above anything else, we take heed to this crucial call to conversion because God, the Creator and Ultimate Origin of all Good, has drawn us to Himself through His death and resurrection.

A transformed society is built of renewed individual citizens. Our Lenten journey leads us to that total personal renewal which has two decisive movements: the first crucial step is repentance. In his homily during Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father Benedict XVI said: “The first act of righteousness, therefore, is to recognize one's own iniquity; it is to recognize that it (sin) is rooted in the ‘heart’, in the very center of the human person.” This initial act, more than mere recognition, requires us to renounce our inordinate attachments, obsessions, addictions, and rebelliousness. We begin to empty ourselves of empty lavishness. The second step is believing in the Gospel—a necessary consequence of our remorseful rejection of sin. This subsequent step brings us to a new direction of life. At this point, we do not act according to mere impulse and human tendencies but illumined by the Gospel, we practice justice, we become peacemakers, and we love in a manner that the Lord Jesus Christ loves. We therefore set our eyes completely to Christ the very Person we encounter intimately in the sacraments especially the Holy Eucharist, the Living Word in the Gospel we preach, and the Paschal Christ we follow in this journey toward Integral Renewal.

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Awake! The Day is at hand.