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[Statement] AMRSP on the Anti Terrorism bill and the re-opening of churches

AMRSP on the Anti Terrorism bill and the re-opening of churches

“We wait for peace to no avail; for a time of healing, but terror comes instead.” (Jer. 8:15)

We, the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, are deeply concerned by troubling developments in our midst even as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc to our lives.

While our embattled nation continues to suffer from the tempests of the COVID-19 virus, and its effects on the lives of millions of Filipinos, especially the poor, the leaders of the land have, unfortunately, been trying to fast track the passage of a controversial House Bill (HB) No. 6875, which seeks to amend Republic Act 9372, also known as the “Human Security Act of 2007.”

On the 29th of May, 2020, the House of Representatives decided to adopt, in toto, the recently-approved Senate Bill entitled “An Act To Prevent, Prohibit and Penalize Terrorism, thereby Repealing Republic Act Number 9372, Otherwise Known As The ‘Human Security Act of 2007.’”. President Duterte then wrote to the Congress to deem the said bill as “priority”, thus expediting the usual process of legislation, or as Senate Pres. Sotto puts it, “deemed as passed.”

While we agree acts of violence have indeed ravaged our beloved land, causing the deplorable loss of lives of many of our sisters and brothers, and other effects of such adverse acts, we firmly believe that only through efforts for peaceful resolution of hostilities while addressing the root causes of such violent acts comprehensively, and not just militarily, will genuinely answer the roots of violence that is rampaging across our land.

We are women and men of peace. Dialogue is our way and we believe peace is the fruit of justice. Thus, we denounce the wicked and the ruthless as the Holy bible says: “The wicked man writhes in pain all his days, and numbered are the years stored up for the ruthless.” (Job 15:20)

In the midst of a pandemic, it seems the government has been deaf to the cries for mass testing, relief for the most vulnerable and the poorest of the poor, protection for our health workers and a comprehensive plan to address this public health issue without draconian measures to curtail fundamental rights and freedoms.

These are the urgent concerns that we as a people need to address. These are the challenges that the government can address by channeling resources for its resolution.

Instead, we see our legislators addressing other peripheral issues that fail to answer lingering questions about the effectiveness, efficiency, competence, and foresight of government leaders. Covid19 is the enemy in our midst. Terrorism is not our immediate concern. Marawi’s rehabilitation and the continued displacement of communities should be our priority. People’s health, safety, and well-being should be first in our agenda.

Sadly, we traverse the path of the wicked and ruthless. Our legislators chose to prioritize an Anti-Terrorism Bill that seeks to amend the Human Security Act of 2007.

We raise our concerned voices over this bill that may curtail fundamental rights and freedoms.

1. We are bothered by the broad and vague definition of terrorism and terrorist. It can include acts of dissent, free speech, right to assemble, right to organize, freedom of belief, among others. By such a broad definition it is open to abuse and misuse.

While the Section IV of the Bill does indeed acknowledge that “terrorism, as defined in this Section shall not include advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights”, Human Rights lawyers, civil libertarians and other cause-oriented groups have raised their concerns over the bill, saying that there are red flags all over the bill, thus prone to be misused by persons in authority.

With the very vague definition of terrorism and other terrorist activities (SB Sec 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) in the said Bill, and the track record of the current administration in cracking down on any perceived dissent (which became even more evident by its crackdown on certain groups and even individuals who posted their criticism on how the government is handling the current crisis in social media) this Bill can be used to stifle dissent and curtail rights to free speech, to organize and form associations, to peaceable assemble in redress of grievances.

2. We are wary that the bill runs contrary to the fundamental law of our land – the Philippine Constitution.

We find that the contents of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill, which is now being rushed in Congress, to be terribly disconcerting to say the least. An example is the creation of the Anti-Terror Council (ATC), based on Sec. 25 of SB 1083. According to the SB, the ATC will be composed of the Executive, the secretaries of the DILG, DND, DFA, DOJ, DOF, ICT, the National Security Adviser, and the AMLC Executive Director can “designate”, after finding of probable cause, any person or entity as a terrorist or a terrorist group. However, there are no provisions on how these persons or entities unilaterally branded as “terrorists” can present counter-evidences proving otherwise in the courts of law, and their bank accounts and assets “froze” by the AMLC (exactly what happened to the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, our oldest Mission Partner, after going through the ordeal of incessant red-tagging by the AFP).

Even the mere powers of the ATC, such as being able to order the arrest of any suspected individual and detention without charges for up to 14 days (extendable to 10 days), is already a clear usurpation of the power of the Judiciary and a violation of the Constitutional provision of allowing only up to 72 hours (3 days) of detention. Even the provision regarding the 60-90 days of surveillance and possible wiretapping of communications which only requires written authorization from the Court of Appeals (Sec 16, Sec 18, Sec 19), are already clear violations of the right to privacy of communications based upon mere suspicion. These are reminiscent of the PD 1836 and PD 1877 of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

3. We are deeply concerned that this bill if it becomes law will further shrink democratic space and curtail fundamental rights and freedoms. We are witness to the unceasing attacks on the right to life through extrajudicial killings, the right to be free from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, free speech and freedom of the press, right to information and right to organize. Even now organizations and individuals critical of government policy have been red-tagged and subjected to harassment and vilification online and offline. This bill will only exacerbate the very precarious human rights situation.

4. We believe that this bill will only worsen the division and disunity of our society and peoples. By drawing the line between friend and enemy we might see no end to the spiral of violence in our midst. Four years ago, it was a war against drugs and drug addicts, then a new front was opened with a whole of nation approach to end the local communist insurgency and now we seek a new war that may encompass and consume us all – a war against “terrorism and terrorists”.

5. We fear the return of an authoritarian order with too much power concentrated in the hands of the executive branch of government. The law is weaponized to deal with perceived enemies and critics without resorting to an open declaration of martial law.

Political dissent and criticism are very much part of democracy. They ensure the checks-and-balance of powers of the officials of the government, pushes them to act more justly, removes any ambition of any ruling administration to authoritarianism, and helps to shape the course of the people’s narrative as a nation. Any attempts to silence or stifle them is a great disservice to the aspirations of our nation to be a “just and humane society” (Preamble of the 1987 Philippine Constitution).

Now is not the time to further erode our people’s confidence in the government. We urgently need to address the Covid19 crisis as a united people.

We have transitioned to a general community quarantine and businesses are open and the working class has been ordered to return to work. Business, as usual, is the talk of the town with no mass transport, no safeguards for workers and no clear plan for the future

“Then the LORD said to Moses: Go to Pharaoh and tell him: Thus says the LORD: Let my people go to serve me.” (Exod. 7:26)

Meanwhile, churches remain under strict rules of 10 persons in a church activity. If we can open businesses and malls where surely mass gatherings and contacts can occur why can we not open churches so that our people may find solace and may partake of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ? Our frontliners need most of these places of worship to keep their sanity and draw inspiration to make them stronger in fighting the pandemic.

We understand the necessity of starting up the economy to stave off recession and collapse. We are one with the government in this endeavor but we must assert that churches fulfill an essential function in our – spiritual sustenance and upliftment. In the lockdown, it was the churches who responded and ably provided relief and other forms of assistance to the poor and dehumanized. With sufficient safeguards to be put in place, we find no reason to prevent the faith communities to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and be in communion with our Triune God.

Our people need hope and our faith renews that hope even in these most trying of times. Allow us to pray, allow us to heal and find lasting love in His forgiving and compassionate arms.


Fr. Cielito R. Almazan, OFM Sr. Marilyn Java, RC
AMRSP Co-Chairpersons

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[Statement] GCCM- Pilipinas celebrates the one year anniversary in the midst of myriad challenges to faith in action

To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! – Pope Francis Homily at his inauguration, March 19, 2013

Photo by GCCM

Photo by GCCM

Two years after, the Holy Father gave flesh to this love and hope through the landmark encyclical Laudato Si.

GCCM- Pilipinas celebrates the one year anniversary in the midst of myriad challenges to faith in action.

Laudato Si calls for conversation and conversion to protect our common home. No meaningful conversation can be achieved that does not lead to conversion – to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.

Indeed the road to conversion is strewn with many obstacles. Mammon entices us with the lust for profit, the insatiable desire to accumulate power and privilege, to worship at the altar of greed.

We are witnesses to the wanton destruction of our forests, rivers and seas. Extractive industries have laid barren hectare upon hectare of our fragile ecosystem. Dirty energy such as coal has polluted the air we breathe. Illegal logging, rapid urbanization has led to unprecedented deforestation. Climate change now threatens the existence of all of creation. The effects of El Nino/La Nina increasingly become more vicious and devastating with each passing year.

Our God of all Creation did not destine us to be destroyers of the earth our common home. Upon our shoulders rests the responsibility of being good stewards of creation.

GCCM-Pilipinas calls on all Christians and people of goodwill to embrace the teachings of Laudato Si by making radical and moral shifts/choices in our way of thinking, doing and living to reverse the tide of destruction for the sake of our generation and the generations to come.

GCCM-Pilipinas recognizes the high marks President-elect Rodrigo Duterte got in the Green Thumb Coalition survey of presidential candidates. We remain hopeful policy changes will be done on the issues of extractive industries, energy, forestry, land use and the like.
GCCM-Pilipinas asks the new administration under President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to make the cause of the environment a benchmark of his leadership. Laudato Si highlights a need for a “conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” (LS 14) We ask everyone to actively take part in this conversation for the protection of our common home.

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[Statement] Pahayag ng Church-Labor Conference hinggil sa pagtaas ng SSS pension

Pahayag ng Church-Labor Conference hinggil sa pagtaas ng SSS pension

CLCAng Church-Labor Conference ay sumusuporta at naninindigan sa paghiling na itaas ng P2,000 ang SSS pension para sa kapakinabangan ng SSS pensioners.

Nakakalungkot na tila walang malasakit ang kasalukuyang administrasyon sa mga umaasang Senior Citizens na maitaas ang kanilang pension. Ang pag-veto ni Pangulong Benigno Aquino III sa P2,000 pagtaas ng SSS pension ay pagpapakita niya ng kawalan ng malasakit sa kapakanan ng mga nakatatanda. Para sa kulturang Pilipino, ang pagbibigay malasakit sa mga nakatatanda (Senior Citizens) ay isa sa kaugaliang pinapahalagahan ng bawat pamilya. Ito ay paglalapit sa kanilang puso. Gayundin, ito ang hangad ng bawat mahirap na Pilipino — ng sila ay bigyang pansin at kalinga.

Sila na nangangailangan ng sapat na pagkain, medikasyon para sa kanilang kalusugan at pangangalaga. Dahil rin sa kahirapan, ang karamihan sa kanila ay itinutulong pa ang kanilang pension sa kanilang pamilya . Hindi sapat ang natatanggap ng karamihan dahil sa taas ng bilihin, serbisyong pangkalusugan at iba pang serbisyo sa pampubliko man o pribado. Ang minimum pension kada buwan na P1,200 ay P40 lang kada araw kumpara sa P50 kada araw na pagkain para sa mga preso sa kulungan. Ito ay matinding pagpapahirap sa mamamayan.Bakit nag-aalala ang Pangulo na maaaring ma-bankrupt ang SSS? Kung susuriin, maraming pagkakamali ang SSS upang masiguro ang pagiging matatag nito at makapagdulot ng serbisyo sa mga miyembro nito.

Una, ang pagbibigay ng matataas na sahod at bonus sa mga administrators at pamunuan nito. Hindi ba kayo nakukunsyensiya na pagsamantalahan ang pera ng mga manggagawa na nagbabanat ng buto para paghandaan ang kanilang retirement? Dugo, pawis at higit sa lahat buhay ang naging puhunan ng mga ito para mapaghandaan ang kanilang retirement. Pangalawa, ang hindi pagsisiguro ng koleksyon at pagpaparusa sa mga employers/kumpanya na hindi nagre-remit ng SSS ng kanilang mga empleyado/manggagawa. Maraming reklamo ang natatanggap hinggil dito. Pangatlo, maraming idle properties ang SSS na hindi napapakinabangan. Paano ba pinangangalagaan o pinapangasiwaan ng SSS ang pondo ng mga manggagawa?

Dahil dito, kaming kasapian ng Church-Labor Conference ay nananawagan sa pamahalaan na itaas ng P2,000 ang SSS pension. Nararapat lamang na mapakinabangan ng mga Senior Citizens ang kanilang pinaghirapan nung sila ay nagtatrabaho pa. Sa kanilang kasalukuyang estado, mas lalong kailangan nila ang pagtaas upang matugunan ang kanilang batayang pangangailangan.

Nananawagan rin kami na siguruhin ng pamahalaan ang mababang presyo ng bilihin; ang mababang presyo ng pampublikong serbisyo at de kalidad na serbisyo para sa lahat upang makapamuhay ng marangal ang karamihang mamamayang Pilipino. Nagkakaisa kami na susuporta sa lahat ng pagkilos at inisyatiba ng iba’t ibang grupo upang maisapasa ang pagtaas sa P2,000 ng SSS pension.

“Anak, kalingain mo ang iyong ama (ina) kapag siya’y matanda na, at huwag mo siyang dudulutan ng sama ng loob habang nabubuhay…. Ang paglingap mo sa iyong ama (ina) ay di malilimutan, iyan ang magiging kabayaran sa iyong mga kasalanan.” (Ecclesiastico 3:12.14)

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[People] The Road to Justice and Equality- by Father Shay Cullen SSC

The Road to Justice and Equality
Father Shay Cullen SSC
January 29, 2016

325-fr-shay-cullenLast week Archbishop Cardinal Tagle raised eyebrows in Cebu during the International Eucharistic Congress when he spoke directly about the greed and corruption of Philippine politicians who are so much a part of the throwaway society of greed, corruption, materialism and waste.

“Politicians, will you throw away people’s taxes for your parties and shopping, or guard them as gifts for social service?” He said politicians when elected consider the public treasures as their own piggy bank and plunder it wherever they can without being caught.

In recent years several senators and others have been charged with plunder and theft of billions of pesos.

The young cardinal’s statement against corruption and thievery is just touching the painful wound of poverty and low wages suffered by 99 percent of the one hundred million Filipinos. The painful truth is that the Philippines is just part of the great global inequality that is driving more money into the bank accounts of the super rich and ripping it off the hard working poor and middle class people and driving hundreds of thousand into demeaning poverty in slums and working brothels for the sexual satisfaction of the rich.

There are 62 multi-billionaires on this planet who have more wealth than the poorest half of the entire planet’s population. Oxfam found that since 2010, the wealth of the richest 62 people – according to the Forbes’ billionaires list – has risen by 44 percent while the wealth of the poorest 3.5 billion people fell by 41 percent.

Yes it’s hard imagine and harder still to understand how they got to be so vastly wealthy and still growing by the second as the earning on their money keeps rolling in.

Meanwhile the wages of the majority of people have shrunk in past twenty-five years. The lowest paid of all are women.

The most exploited and abused are the young girls trafficked into the sex industry and they will tell you that they are forced to do it because of poverty, their younger brothers and sisters and parents are hungry. As many as 16 million people experience hunger in the Philippines according to surveys of national hunger.

The Philippines is a very wealthy country with minerals, rich agricultural land, and resources galore. Yet the one percent of the population own or control it all. If that is ever questioned or challenged, then the military and police will remove the protester, permanently. Death squads are common among politicians to get and retain power and wealth.

How does such gross inequality face up to Christian beliefs and values? It doesn’t. There is no contest, such social injustice is in direct contradiction and opposed to all that the Gospel teaches us and for which Jesus of Nazareth fought for and was killed because of his stand with the poor and for social justice. We are all equal before God and equal members of God’s family but others deprive most of that equality by greed and selfishness. Truly these are the sins of the world.

What he wanted above all was a world where justice for the poor was paramount and at the heart of human society. It was because he, humble son of a carpenter, confronted the inequality and mistreatment of the poor that he ignited the ire and anger of the ruling wealthy elite of his time.

If only he had not spoken out so openly and truthfully and harshly against those politicians and rulers of his day, he might have worked on much longer and given us greater knowledge, wisdom and inspiration.

The elite set out to shut him up permanently especially when he condemned them as corrupt. He compared them to putrid tombs of the dead looking nice outside but nothing good but dead men’s bones inside. Besides they were a brood of vipers too, he said.

The fact that he confronted the money moguls of the temple, the Wall Street of his day, kicking over their tables and ended their dirty money grubbing business in the house of God that they conspired to have him charged and sentenced to the death penalty.

The Eucharist is his goodbye dinner by which he wants us to make him present among us and remember his mission and go out and put it into action by word and deed.

Cardinal Tagle did not get that truthful or confrontational in his sermon but it is a good start. He will soon get the spirit of Pope Francis who has been more outspoken against the unjust system of wealth generation and against the corrupt form of capitalism that fleeces the people of their miserable wages with high prices, low wages and corrupt practices in government which they control.

As a result, the poor are ever poorer and oppressed by the cruel and brutal exploitation and enslavement by the rich who leaves them in slums and poverty so they can get richer.

The Catholic Church as institution is undergoing a revival mainly due to the worldwide popularity of Pope Francis who has a simple lifestyle and a message that lifts up the hearts and spirits of people everywhere. He strives to make real the social values and teaching of the gospel.

The Philippine church, for one, has to divorce itself from the dirty donations and gifts of the rich in the house of God which are bribes to overlook their sins of greed, selfishness and exploitation.

Unless the rich become like the wealthy man Zacchaeus in the Gospel who confessed, repented and vowed to payback four times what he stole, the rich will be like Dives who spurned Lazarus, the dying beggar, at his gate and went to hell for his sins of greed and avarice.

True repentance and giving back is the only road to a clear conscience and reconciliation with the oppressed. That too is the way to a more just society.

The institutional church must be less dogmatic and follow the way of Pope Francis or become irrelevant in the modern world. We to must do our share and be just and committed to help the oppressed and exploited.


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[From the web] Priest- turned environmentalist tours B.C. for Lenten campaign ByTed Alcuitas

Priest- turned environmentalist tours B.C. for Lenten campaign
ByTed Alcuitas

A Filipino priest who was once on the assassination list of the Philippine military is on a speaking tour of Vancouver as guest of Development & Peace (D&P). D&P (Caritas –Canada) is the development arm of the Canadian Catholic church.

Fr.Edwin ‘Edu’ Gariguez was allegedly included in the so-called hit list of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., now facing charges of alleged human rights abuses.

Gariguez is currently head of the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) – Caritas Philippines, the advocacy, humanitarian and social development arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

He will be the main speaker at the launch of D &P’s Share Lent Campaign on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 8:30 PM at St. Patrick’s Church on Main St. in Vancouver.He will also give an update on the relief efforts in the country after typhoon Haiyan. D&P donated $14-million for typhoon relief.
Before heading NASSA, Gariguez served in the island of Mindoro where he became involved in the fight against mining and organizing the peasants to advocate for their rights. Palparan was assigned in Mindoro and Romblon from May 2001 to April 2003 as commander of the Philippine Army’s 204th Brigade.

Gariguez said he documented the extrajudicial killings in Mindoro, many of which involved torture.

“During his reign of terror, Palparan lumped together all those in progressive movements, even people from the church doing justice advocacy for the poor, and they were targeted for assassination. They were tagged as dissident terrorist in Palparan’s list and his list even included me. That’s why I needed to leave the diocese for a while, while Palparan was there,” he added.

Gariguez was executive director of Peasant Empowerment and Advocacy Network(Peasant-Net), a founding leader of Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN). Gariguez was also a part-time staff for Mangyan Mission at the time. Gariguez said his40th birthday was marked with an “unforgettable period of brutal liquidation of leaders of progressive movements” in Mindoro.During that time, suspected rebel sympathizers were killed, tortured, decapitated, or summarily executed.“I worked for the Mangyan Mission during that time and I was the executive director for the Church-based farmers’ apostolate, Peasant-Net, and we were pursuing agrarian reform program in Mindoro,” he said.

He also led the anti-mining campaign, “so most of the time we have mobilizations or rallies.””Palparan thought those people who expressed their sentiments are already communists,” he said.

In the late 1990s, Norwegian mining company Intex (then known as Mindex) proposed an open-pit nickel mine on Mindoro. The proposed mine area is near two key biodiversity areas and is within the watershed that feeds the island’s four major rivers, which provide drinking water to lowland communities and irrigation for Mindoro’s rice fields. The Intex mine would use a process known as acid leaching to access the nickel ore, producing several million tons of toxic waste, contaminating the island’s water resources and destroying the tropical forests. The mine would also heavily impact Mindoro’s Mangyan indigenous communities, as the proposed mining area is within their ancestral land. During an exploration phase of the project, indigenous burial grounds were desecrated in violation of federal rights of indigenous peoples.

Father Edu co-founded the Alliance Against Mining (ALAMIN), a broad coalition of Mindoro residents,elected officials, civil society groups, church leaders and indigenous peoples who oppose mining on the island. He is not opposed to mining per se, but believes measures to safeguard the environment, protect indigenous communities’ rights and ensure a fair distribution of economic benefits should be required.

In 2009, he led an11-day hunger strike until the federal Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) finally agreed to conduct an investigation into the mine’s environmental and social violations. DENR indefinitely revoked Intex’s permit,halting the mine. As a result, major funders, including Goldman Sachs, divested of their funding, leading Intex to make an unsuccessful attempt to sell the $2.4 billion project in 2010. Shortly after the botched sale, Intex’s CEO resigned due to “severe setbacks.”

Gariguez obtained his PhD degree in Anthropology from the Asian Social Institute in2008. His dissertation expounds on the ecological spirituality of the indigenous peoples in Mindoro as a practical framework and alternative paradigm for sustainable development and well-being.

After his studies in Asian Social Institute, he went back to his work in Mindoro. His engagement in addressing mining-related issues and campaigns is extensive. He is one of the founding members of ALAMIN (Alyansa Laban sa Mina), a provincial alliance of church, local government and civil society organizations in the island of Mindoro that waged a decade of sustained advocacy to protect the rights of the Indigenous Peoples and peasant communities to be impacted by extractive industry.

From Father Edu facebook post

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[People] Fair Trade and the social teachings of the Catholic Church by Father Shay Cullen, mssc

Fair Trade and the social teachings of the Catholic Church
Father Shay Cullen, mssc

One of the most well-known success stories of Preda Fair Trade is its action to alleviate poverty and oppose the evil trade of human trafficking by implementing the social teachings of the Church. Living out in action these spiritual and social values is a great challenge to Catholics and Christians of all denominations.


Pope Francis has spoken clearly on the need for economic justice in the world. He said that he wants “a Church that is poor and for the poor.” In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, he grounded this goal in Jesus Christ, “who became poor and was always close to the poor and the outcast.” (186)

The selling of young people into bars and brothels under the guise and cover of “entertainer” is a modern form of human slavery. Thousands of Filipinos are being sold into this evil form of trade in Asia and Korea is one major destination. Ten thousand Filipinos are reported to be trafficked into Korea, according to one university study.

Unless we act for children and the youth and they are allowed to be exploited and abused without our action to help them, then our faith, teaching and evangelization will have little impact and inspiration for the youth today. Perhaps that is why so few go to Church. That is why Fair Trade is the long term sustainable vehicle for delivering social and economic justice to the poorest of the poor. It makes them independent and and self reliant.

Korea and Japan are prime destinations for these young girls many said to be minors but disguised as adults with fake documents and make up. The goal is to save victims and uphold the dignity of women and children and provide economic alternatives in their home villages in the Philippines.

The goal of Fair Trade is to curb human exploitation of every kind and promote the human rights of rural poor and workers and help the exploited and the oppressed people. This is at the heart of the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. The Preda Fair Trade project aims to prevent human trafficking and sex slavery by teaching the people the gospel values and the dignity and rights of every person especially the rights of women and children.

It also provides livelihood projects to the poor families such as organic mango production, fair prices and bonus payments for every small scale farmer for their mango fruit. The Fair Trade also provides water pumps, bicycles and educational assistance to the children. The small scale farmers are given mango tree saplings and coconut seeds to improve their production. A portion of the earnings from sales of Preda dried mangoes of Preda Fair Trade goes to help child victims of sex trafficking and abuse in Preda therapeutic homes. Preda dried mangoes are widely available in Ireland and UK supermarkets.

By buying the mangoes of small farmers and indigenous people at high fair prices and paying a bonus to each farme, Preda Fair Trade is slowly eliminating the exploitation and poverty. It is the cruel poverty and social injustice that makes so many impoverished villagers eager to allow their children go to work in cities in the Philippines and abroad. Most don’t know the dangers.

The practice and example of economic justice in fair trade is a form of evangelization in word and action. It is by example of giving justice and fairness that Preda has credibility with the people and society. As St. James writes, “Faith without action for justice is dead.” The Church has a duty to implement the social teachings proclaimed by Jesus and the Popes for generations, and Pope Francis in particular, and Fair Trade is one great way to do it.

The work to protect women and children from sex slavery is a priority. The Preda Foundation has homes that are therapeutic healing centers for the child victims and a Preda legal office prosecutes the abusers and traffickers through the courts. A percentage of the earnings from the sale of the dried mangoes and other fair traded products help fund these services for the victims rescued from Filipino sex bars and brothels.

The evil trade begins when the young women and children are recruited in Filipino villages or towns by human traffickers by giving promises of good jobs in factories and hotels or as singers and dancers in Korea and elsewhere. They pay part of a salary in advance to the parents and relatives of the young women so they are obligated and become victims of “bonded” labor.

The sex bars are situated near US bases like Camp Stanley. The girls have to sell a certain number of “juicy” drinks to customers and are pressured to give sexual favours to the customers in small rooms at the back of the bars or in nearby cheap hotels. In some cases it is rape as the girls have never expected this and do not consent to it.

The development and promotion of Fair Trade is a most effective way for Catholics to use their buying power to make a strong faith-based commitment and statement for social justice. Faith can be more alive every time they choose to buy a Fair Trade product knowing it is not the product of child labor, exploitation or cheating the producers. They will know it is based on fairness and concern. They will learn too from the information given with the products about the needs of the poor and the positive help that Fair Trade gives to them and what more they can do to help.

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[Statement] Unemployment: Social Exclusion not Pleasing to God. By Bp Gerardo Alminaza, DD

Unemployment: Social Exclusion not Pleasing to God
April 11, 2014

Bishop of San Carlos, Negros Oriental
Convenor, Visayas Clergy Discernment Group

There is poverty and suffering in the country and the world, not because of overpopulation but because of inequality, manifested in the huge mass of people being excluded from gainful livelihood (unemployment).

Bp Gerardo Alminaza cropped

Pope Francis lamented, “The unemployed and underemployed risk being relegated to the margins of society, becoming victims of social exclusion.”

Myrna, a worker in an Export Processing Zone in Mactan, Cebu, shared with me how the company summarily terminated her from work when they started organizing workers against the oppressive working conditions in the garment factory where she worked.

Myrna is not alone. Despite the Philippines registering the highest gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate in Southeast Asian regions last year,“the latest Labor Force Survey pegs unemployment at 6.5% of the national workforce and, more tellingly, underemployment at 17.9% (the latter being the percentage of the workforce that is employed but looking for additional work)” (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines [CBCP] 2014 Lenten Message).

In January 2014, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said, the unemployment rate climbed to 7.5 percent from last year’s 7.1 percent even after the GDP last year grew 7.2 percent.

“In its survey on poverty for the last quarter of 2013, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) reports that 55% of respondents actually consider themselves poor, up from 50% the previous quarter. Clearly, many people see themselves as being excluded from opportunities to live a decent life”(CBCP 2014 Lenten Message).

Pope Francis considers UNEMPLOYMENT as a very serious problem affecting many countries: “It is the consequence of an economic system that is no longer able to create work, because it has placed at its centre the idol of money.” (March 20, 2014, to employees and managers of a steel company).

Pope Francis deplored today’s world where “everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape. Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded… Those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium [EG], 53)

The CBCP 2014 Lenten Message said that we experience moral destitution as inequality. It quoted Pope Francis’ critique of capitalism: “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting” (EG, 54).

Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society. This demands that we be docile and attentive to the cry of the poor and to come to their aid (EG, 187).

The Visayas Clergy Discernment Group and the Cebu Archdiocesan Discernment Group have, in various instances, supported workers’ struggle against union-busting. Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma mediated a labor dispute where the company was set to terminate 18 workers, including leaders of the labor union. After interventions, termination of workers did not push through.

Pope Francis said to workers and managers: “The various political, social and economic actors are called upon to promote a different approach, based on justice and solidarity, to ensure the possibility of dignified work for all.”

“This great challenge requires the involvement of the Christian community as a whole. The first challenge is to revive the roots of faith and of our adhesion to Jesus Christ. This is the inspiring principle in the choices of a Christian: faith. Faith moves mountains! Christian faith is able to enrich society through the concrete element of brotherhood it embodies. … Never cease to hope for a better future. Do not let yourselves be trapped in the vortex of pessimism! If everyone does his part, if we all put the human person and his dignity at the centre, and if we consolidate an attitude of solidarity and fraternal sharing, inspired by the Gospel, we can emerge from the swamp of this difficult and burdensome period of economic turmoil”.

Workers’ Empowerment
The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP 2) in 1991 said that in our country “where the poor and marginalized have little genuine participation… we realize that integral development of people will be possible only with their corresponding empowerment” (PCP 2, 326).

PCP 2 declared that, “We need to activate fundamental charisms of freedom and responsibility, and encourage the emergence of people’s organizations, sectoral associations, inspired by the principle of solidarity and empowered by the principle of subsidiarity”(PCP 2,328).

For the workers, it is important that they become organized in labor unions and workers’ associations for them to be empowered in charting their future. It is imperative for the Church’s Social Action Centers to have programs in helping facilitate the building up of workers’ organizations.

It is only through organized strength that workers will participate in social development, as “No social transformation is genuine and lasting where people themselves do not actively participate in the process” (PCP 2, 325).

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[Statement] On the Commemoration of the 28th Anniversary of the Disappearance of Fr. Rudy Romano, CSsR- Archbishop Jose Palma

Archdiocesan Statement
On the Commemoration of the 28th Anniversary of the Disappearance of Fr. Rudy Romano, CSsR
July 11, 2013

My dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ,

The Fourth Diocesan Synod of Cebu in 1986 declared, “Option for the poor is a Christian option. Defending the human dignity of the poor and their hope for a human future is not a luxury of the Church. It is its duty” (Cebu Synod 4, The Servant Church, #6).

Similarly, our Holy Father Pope Francis, said that the Year of Faith should be “less preoccupied by non-essential rituals but more focused on our being agents of God’s mercy to the poor, the suffering and those alienated from the Church because the mercy of God is always victorious!”

He also expressed his wish, “Ah, how I would like a Church that is poor and that is for the poor.”

Our Holy Father would be happy to know that in the 1980’s, this was realized in the life and advocacy of Fr. Rudy Romano and other church people. Fr. Rudy and other church people defended the rights of the poor and the oppressed, “even when doing so meant alienation or persecution from the rich and powerful” (PCP II, 131).

The Archdiocese of Cebu notes that in 1986, the City Government of Cebu installed a marker at Tisa, Labangon, Cebu City to mark the place “where Fr. Rudy Romano, a Redemptorist Father and human rights fighter was abducted by armed men of the deposed Marcos Regime on July 11, 1985.”

Likewise, the Cebu Provincial Government in 1987, passed a resolution “Adopting Fr. Rudy Romano as a Son of the Province of Cebu” since even if he was from Samar, “prior to his disappearance, Fr. Romano contributed much in terms of promoting human rights, rendering concrete assistance and social service to less-privileged Cebuanos and in making Cebu a strong bastion of the people’s successful fight for freedom and justice during the dark years of the deposed dictatorship.”

The abduction and disappearance of Fr. Rudy and a student leader, Levi Ybañez, 28 years ago have not been resolved. Meanwhile, until today, the poor peasants, fisherfolks, workers, urban poor and other marginalized sectors continue to strive for their human dignity to be upheld.

We are called to follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who “lay down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Fr. Rudy showed us how to be advocates for social renewal. He showed us how to be like Jesus, who loved the poor, lived and died for the salvation of all.

Non nobis Domine,
Archbishop of Cebu

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[Statement] ECIP on the killing of Dexter Condez, Ati leader

ECIP statement on the killing of Dexter Condez, Ati leader

cbcp logoLast night, February 22, 2013, Mr. Dexter Condez, 26 years old and an Ati leader of Boracay Island was shot dead. He just finished attending a meeting and was on his way home to the Atis’ ancestral domain in Barangay Manoc-manoc when an unidentified gunman shot him several times in the body.

We condemn in the strongest possible manner this brutal killing and we are calling for an immediate and thorough investigation to identify the perpetuator and the master minds. We urge the Administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III to take all possible means to solve this case promptly. The Ati people of Boracay together with the Ati Mission of Sto. Rosario Parish and the ECIP-IPA are yelling for JUSTICE!

Dexter Condez was the spokesperson of the Ati people against those who oppose their ancestral domain claims. A partner-member of the Ati Mission of Sto. Rosario Parish, he also taught Indigenous Peoples Education among Ati children.

On 3 August 2010, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) en banc issued a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) RO6-MAL-0610-157 for the Ati community which was later registered with the Land Registration Authority (LRA). Last April 17, 2012, members of Boracay Ati Tribal Organization (BATO) installed themselves in the 2.1-hectare CADT lot in Barangay Manoc-manoc.

Even with government-issued CADT and assistance from legitimate government agencies, several interest groups (Banico, Sanson and Gelito families) insisted that the Ati people are not the owners of the said land. Threats and intimidations against the Ati occured several times since they lawfully occupied their land. There will be no peace for the Ati people of Boracay until the issue of their ancestral domain is fully resolved and justice is done for their fallen leader.

We pray for Dexter and his family! We pray and seek justice for all victims of extra judicial killings!

For the Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Indigenous Peoples Apostolates (ECIP-IPA)

Archbishop of Tuguegarao and ECIP Chairperson

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[In the news] Sagada demands recognition and documentation of customary land laws -www.nordis.net

Sagada demands recognition and documentation of customary land laws.

By ALMA B. SINUMLAG, http://www.nordis.net
May 27, 2012

BAGUIO CITY — Due to the threat of the state’s land-related policies on the traditional concept of land ownership in the municipality of Sagada, Mt Province, a forum-workshop was held entitled “Empowering indigenous peoples on traditional customary institutions” on May 8 this year. It was also a way of re-learning from the community’s experiences of asserting their customary laws on land ownership and settling disputes.

Various cases were raised regarding land conflict caused by the threat of state policies on customary land ownership. One of the cases was the encroachment of the Church property to peoples’ communal and residential territories. The elders narrated that prior to the arrival of American Missionaries, the area which is now included as the church property is owned by the Dap-ay Tudey and Dap-ay Ato. Elders of Tudey and Ato, Ayyawan and Dalip-o donated the area to the church. However, the elders added that the church applied for tax declaration, including their expansion area.

In 2011, the people had been asking the church to stop encroaching into their territory. Instead, the church filed a civil case to the court against those who have built small stalls into what they declared as their (church) property. As of press time, the case is still pending in court.

Read full article @ www.nordis.net

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[In the news] Church official scored for spreading ‘misinformation’ on RH bill – SunStar.com.ph

Church official scored for spreading ‘misinformation’ on RH bill
Wednesday, January 25, 2012

  MANILA—A women’s group hit a Catholic Church official for allegedly insinuating that the Reproductive Health bill may end up like the impeachment complaint of Chief Justice Renato Corona, whose ouster by the House of Representatives last month was allegedly railroaded.

Father Melvin Castro of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Family and Life was criticized by Elizabeth Angsioco, national chairperson of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) for supposedly issuing unfair and absurd statements.

“Is this a case of selective amnesia? Fr. Castro knows well that the RH Bill has been pending in Congress for more than a decade and that it has been the subject of discussion from the committee level up to plenary sessions in both chambers of Congress,” Angsioco said.

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

[Event] New movement Kilusang 99%

08 November 2011

Dear Friends,

Greetings from CBCP-NASSA!

I write on account of significant and indicative developments happening all over the world which I think presents judicious opportunity for the Filipino people to bring about systems change.

Since December of last year, we have witnessed a global restiveness that toppled governments and encouraged mass uprisings against the economic monopoly of the rich. First, it was the Arab Spring in the Middle East, and now the Occupy Wallstreet Movement that has swept the coasts of the United States, Europe and the rest of the world. These unrests speak about a people’s desire to triumph over poverty, social injustice, inequality and corporate greed. The Occupy Wallstreet Movement is a resonance of the collective protest of the 99% suffering from joblessness and dislocation with no hope of recourse from their governments.

In the Philippines, a similar crusade is undertaking a birthing process. Initially conceived as a social reform movement, the “Kilusang 99%” is about making the poor the center of development and making the government accountable for the welfare of the majority. It is not about corporate overthrow and proletarian reprisal, but about the promotion of corporate social responsibility. It is the reorientation of business and industry to serve the interest of the poor and the marginalized. It pushes for the implementation of four asset reforms: (1) agrarian reform, (2) urban land reform and housing, (3) ancestral domain reform, and (4) fisheries reform, while seeking an end to policies inimical to the poor and the environment. It calls for the protection of the rights of workers from nefarious labor practices such as contractualization, and the resolution of all human rights violations.

Kilusang 99% harnesses the power of a unified citizenry. The poor, when moving in unity and solidarity for a common cause, is a potent and compelling force. The “Arab Sping” has proven this to be true. Change was prompted neither by a popular leader nor political oppositions, but by a poor young man in Tunisia who set fire on himself and the rest of the Arab world.

Of course, we do not encourage emulating such expression of hopelessness and desperation. We maintain that any act of violence begets anarchy and aggression, such as what’s happening in transition governments in Middle East. Arab Spring only serves as a warning of what can happen when the poor has had enough of suffering and injustice.

In the Philippines, we find similar restlessness brewing among our sectoral groups: the workers condemn the unfair labor practices tolerated by the government, the agrarian reform beneficiaries are holding protests against the glacial pace of agrarian reform, the coconut farmers decry the wrong committed against them by the judiciary and the government, the families of slain journalists, clergy and human rights advocates demand justice for their loved ones, and the indigenous people are fighting against the destruction of their forests and ancestral domains.

This rising tide of discontent, coupled by the indifference of the general public, is sustenance for insurgency which the Church hopes to stem. By convening the Kilusang 99%, the Church brings together all sectoral classes to preclude uncoordinated and aggressive actions. It aims to guide a unified, peaceful, but compelling group of sectors that will present an alternative development paradigm to the government.

Presently, the Kilusang 99% is joined by groups from labor, farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, environmentalists, the religious, and the academe. We are on the process of expanding the movement to include other sectors that have not yet been integrated into the mainstream social campaigns but are otherwise very crucial in the promotion of peace, justice and equality in the country.

It is for this reason that I seek your alliance and support for the movement. I­ invite you to join Kilusang 99% by organizing your ranks, promoting your social advocacies and decrying policies that undermine the rights of people. I also appeal to your network to mobilize its members to join other sectors fighting for land rights, labor rights, environment, and agrarian reform, among others. A tentative date, November 30, has been identified by the members of Kilusang 99%. On that day, peaceful protests1 will be staged by the sectoral groups all over the country. Members from the provinces can show support by holding a simultaneous solidarity activity in their respective areas, while those based in Manila can join the activities organized by the different sectors who are also members of the Movement. The Kilusang 99% will take care of media strategies to project a nation-wide indignation against crimes committed to the marginalized sectors of society.

This schedule (November 30) coincides with the culmination week of the national Anti-Poverty Summit being convened by the government and NASSA. During this time, we expect to be given undivided attention by the executive department. A nationwide support will strengthen even more the leverage of our sectoral heads in their dialogue with President Aquino after the Summit.

I understand that we are already pressed for time for this activity. But I pray that with your full cooperation and support, and through the determination and hard work of the members of the movement, we will be able to mobilize a social force that will compel our President to finally heed the cries for justice of the poor.

Should you as a Network grant this request, we will be very grateful to receive communications or any updates from your end about it. Please also be informed that we will be having our meeting this afternoon, November 10, 3:00PM at the Pope Pius Center in UN Avenue (in front of Asilo) to further polish our plans. However, if your schedule does not permit you to do so, we will be glad to discuss this with you in person so you may understand fully the concept and plans of the movement. Meanwhile, you may get in touch with Fr. Edu at 0922-8348248 and edugariguez@yahoo.com, or with honey at 09173022552 and hbeso@yahoo.com for any queries you might have.

Anticipating your favorable response to our request as I invoke the blessings of God for you and those under your care.

Sincerely in Christ,

National Director

[From the web] Bp. Sergio L. Utleg, DD Pastoral Letter On Mining – www.nordis.net

Pastoral Letter On Mining


I have heard the cry of my people and seen how they are oppressed. (Ex. 3,7)

Beloved People of God in Cagayan:

File photo source: cbcponline

Last year, the clergy of our Archdiocese warned our people about the ill effects of irresponsible mining and called all those concerned to stop mining in Cagayan. Now, in view of the continuing and unabated mining activities that have adversely affected the lives of our people specially the poor, we deem it necessary to issue this pastoral letter to help our faithful to see, judge and act in order to stop mining in our beloved land. Let us act together to protect the integrity of creation in the context of faith. We must struggle to stop irresponsible mining because as Christians, we believe that we are stewards of God’s creation.

It is undeniable that there are mining companies operating in many towns of Cagayan extracting and exploiting the natural resources of Cagayan like black sand, iron ore, manganese, etc. Exploration for more minerals and more mining sites continues and this makes people believe that there might be more mining activities to come. Unfortunately, these mining activities are happening because the Provincial government and the local government units are allowing mining companies to operate in exchange for short term benefits. Many of our people are already suffering the disastrous effects of these mining activities. Some have experience displacement from their lands, others have lost their sources of livelihood and still others have been physically threatened and maltreated because of their opposition to mining in their localities.

According to the pastoral letter regarding our environment issued by the CBCP twenty years ago: Our country is in peril. All the living systems on land and in the seas are being ruthlessly exploited. The damage to date is extensive and sad to say, often irreversible. Now, our people especially the poor are crying out for help to stop irresponsible mining. In the CBCP pastoral letter in 2008 entitled, Upholding the Sanctity of Life, the bishops of the Philippines state: “The Philippine mining industry has a poor record of community accountability. Over the years, mining companies have systematically engaged in the rape of Mother Earth and left a legacy of impoverished communities and environmental despoliation…”

Reflecting from the words taken from the book of Exodus: I have heard the cry of our people and seen how they are oppressed (Ex. 3,7), the Church joins the collective struggle to stop the uncontrolled plunder of our natural resources that makes our people suffer. As disciples of Jesus, we cannot remain deaf to the cries of our people. The mission of the Church is to work for justice in the world and this includes the protection and conservation of our natural resources.

Having seen and judged the nature of mining and its ill effects, now is the time to act. We therefore urge our people especially those concerned to perform the following actions under the guidance or your pastor and lay leaders namely:

1. Organize “circles of discernment” in the different barangays in the parish to see the havoc that mining brings to the lives and livelihood of our people in our Archdiocese, to judge and then to act in alliance and solidarity with other groups to stop it. Pastors must encourage the parishioners to protect and preserve our natural environment in the context of living our Christian faith.

2. Dialogue and appeal to government agencies especially to LGU’s neither to allow nor to give permits to mining companies that plunder our natural resources.

3. Mobilize our people to manifest their opposition to mining through demonstrations, court actions, prayer rallies, etc. and to join other pro-environment groups in preserving the integrity of creation.

4. Motivate our people to be on guard not only against mining but also against all forms of destructive activities like logging, illegal fishing, and bad farming practices that destroy and endanger our natural environment.

Let us hope and pray that through our prayers, vigilance and mass actions, we will be able to put an end to the destruction of our natural resources brought about by irresponsible mining. Through the intercession our Our Lady of Piat, our Mother and Patroness, may God continue to shower us with His abundant blessings.

Given this seventh of October of, 2011, on the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. # nordis.net


[Press Release] Bishops agree to higher wages for workers – CWS

In a press conference of the Church People-Workers’ Solidarity held yesterday Sept. 13, at the Mariner’s Court in Cebu, President of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and members of Catholic heirarchy agreed that the workers need higher wages to cope with the increasing cost of living.

Among the panelists were bishops from the Catholic Church namely incoming CBCP President Archbishop Jose Palma, outgoing CBCP President Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, and Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Alminaza as well as Protestant Bishop and NCCP President Nathanael Lazaro. Convenors of CWS from the labor side were also present namely Daisy Arago of Center for Trade Union and Human Rights and CWS Spokesperson Gary Martinez.

Bishop Nathanael Lazaro of the NCCP, a group of 10 Protestant Churches in the country said that workers are due to workers as the current wage levels in different regions are insufficient to provide for the needs of a family of three, much more a family of five.

In Manila, minimum wage is only P426 compared to the P988 cost of living. In Cebu, minimum wage is will be P305 starting September 22 from P285 after the regional wage board approved of a P20 wage increase for Central Visayas.

When asked to react on this wage hike in Cebu, outgoing CBCP President Archbishop Lagdameo noted that while giving an increase is a good start, the increase should not “end there.” He explained that workers’ needs are changing and increasing everyday so giving P20 wage hikes should not be the end of the story.

President of Veco Employees Union and convenor of CWS, Casmero Mahilum, on the other hand, said that the P20-increase is an insult to the workers especially because wage hikes are implemented only once a year as prescribed by law and as approved by the regional wage board. “While our wage can only increase once a year, prices of commodities are continuously increasing. A P20-increase for one year is really not enough,” Mahilum said.

More workers issues

CWS Convenor and Auxiliary Bishop Alminza enumerated a number of workers issues that should be addressed. Other than the issue of wage, the list of workers’ concerns are contractualization and security of tenure. He said that the conference workshops which will be held today among the participants of the National Conference will aid in drafting an action plan that will be submitted to the CBCP and to dioceses.

“Listening to one another”

Incoming CBCP President Archbishop Palma in his keynote address to the delegates of the CWS hours before the press conference urged the delegates to listen to one another as the “Church considers it its task to call attention to the dignity and rights of those who work.” In the panel, he said that “with the goodness of the heart,” he believes that people can sit down to talk about their issues and that a dialogue between businesses and workers can result to something good.

In relation to the Church’s role in bridging the workers, government and businesses, Bishop Lazaro pointed out that the Church need to do this in a “creative manner” so that the government, businesses and workers can talk to one another.  He added that the involvement of the Church in these social issues is only proper and imperative as the Church “places a high regard for achieving social justice.”

Reference: Roxanne Omega Doron, Media Liaison, CWS, cws.cebu@yahoo.com, churchpeople.workers.solidarity@gmail.com,  09217862022

[Blogger] (RH BILL)And you just want to get this over with – koihernandez.wordpress.com

[RH BILL] And you just want to get this over with..

by koihernandez.wordpress.com

Apparently, common sense, is not so common.

I’ve just received a news about — probably, one of the most noisiest campaigns for this year and the previous years — Yes, the RH Bill. According to my sources, the government (or is it the church? My source said it was the government but I feel it’s the church) filed some amendments for the RH Bill and they are as follows:

Read more

[Press Release] Women workers chide bishops for celebrating withdrawal of UN funding on family planning – Partido ng Manggagawa

While bishops hail the United Nation’s decision to abandon the country’s family planning plan due to lack of funds, the Department of Health (DOH) notes that Filipinos with HIV has reached more than 7000 and increasing.  Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) believes that for these reasons, the more the State and advocates should make certain the passage of the RH bill and so its budget allocation.

“It is unfortunate that the bishops’ reason for rejoicing is also reason for more difficulties for the poor, especially women with unmet family planning needs and dying due to pregnancy and birth complications, and Filipinos with HIV and AIDs.  It is callous and insensitive to celebrate at the expense of people needing help,” explained PM Secretary-General Judy Ann Chan-Miranda.

PM chides the bishops for admonishing taxpayers regarding budget allocation for RH-related services.  The poor, needing RH services, deserves State support – it is one reason why the State exists in the first place.

“The tax-exempt Catholic Church has no moral ascendancy to meddle on the State’s social spending.  Will it share its wealth or pay the bills for the healthcare of poor women?” asked Miranda.

Partido ng Manggagawa
2 September 2011
Contact Person: Judy Ann Miranda

[Statement] Statement of support for Philippine Airlines’ Employees Association – Urban Missionaries

The Church’s social teaching on labor (Laborem Exercens) so states it crystal clear:

“The Church considers it her task always to call  attention
to the dignity and rights of those who work;
to condemn situations in which that dignity and those rights that are violated;
and to help to guide the above-mentioned changes
so as to ensure authentic progress by man (woman) and society.”

We, the members of the Urban Missionaries (UM) – a mission arm and partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) in labor concerns – have been journeying with the members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) in their struggles for security of tenure.

We vehemently condemn the decision of the Office of the President to uphold PAL management’s scheme to outsource PAL’s in-flight catering, ticketing and ground services.  Such scheme adversely affects the jobs of 2,600 regular workers. As Church people, we see this acquiescence on the part of Malacañang as glaring insensitivity and callousness towards the precarious condition of workers.

We are appalled at Malacañang’s call on PALEA to “respect and abide by the decision for the sake of industrial peace and the welfare of the flying public.”  Such statement only reveals a benighted misunderstanding of the just bases of industrial peace and welfare and betrays such crass inability to take on the viewpoint of workers and take up their interests.  The peace that the Church calls for is one that is based on justice, solidarity and genuine concern for the victims of injustice.

The workers at PAL have sacrificed more than enough when they agreed to a CBA moratorium in the 1990s.  They willingly set aside their right to collective bargaining to help the company survive the financial crisis of 1990s.  Now that the crisis has been weathered and the company has returned to profitability (PAL has declared it has earned billions of profits last year), PAL management’s way of returning the favor is to outsource the non-core departments, thereby reducing the workers therein to becoming contractual workers.

The motive behind the contractualization scheme is clear as day: PAL management wants to bust the union. What makes the scheme particularly insidious is the underlying thinking that the company’s continuous growth can only be achieved by undermining the workers’ right to self-organization, collective bargaining and security of tenure. But what makes it all the more appalling is the management’s blatant disregard for the law. The Philippine Constitution and the Labor Code unambiguously provide for and guarantee workers’ right to self-organization, collective bargaining and security of tenure.

Contractualization of labor is oppressive and deprives a human person the necessary wherewithal of decent work. We completely reject’s Office of the President’s decision to affirm the DOLE Secretary’s stand on the issue. Contractualization is a regression in labor standards and violation of the dignity of the human person as it constitutes a violation of the Constitution and the Labor Code.

Our workers are not mere expendable commodities but are human beings with value and dignity – the very recipients of all our human endeavors, for holy indeed are the hands that work!

To the President who recognize us “KAYO ANG BOSS KO”, we echo to you:

“Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delighted in you
And set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord
Loved Israel forever, he has made you king
To execute justice and righteousness.”

I Kings 10:9

To all the faithful and believers of the sacredness of work, we call on you to join the fight to uphold and reclaim our right to regular work.

Walang Dangal sa Trabahong Kontraktwal!

19 August 2011

[Announcement/Event] Bishop Pabillo and Labor groups to hold caravan 4 hanjin workers from qc circle to subic olongapo

July 02, 2011


The Church Labor Conference, a broad alliance of church congregations and labor organizations will hold a Caravan for Decent Work and Humane Working Conditions on July 3, 2011 (Sunday) from Quezon City to Subic Zambales.

This is in support of the Hanjin workers struggle for workplace safety and right to self-organization.

ASSEMBLY: In front of NHA, Quezon City Circle @7:30am

Program/ Route
Ø 9am – Salubong at San Fernando Junction

Pampanga workers from Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN)  and supporters from Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD).

Ø 10 am-Salubong at Layac, Dinalupihan Bataan

Bataan workers will join the main contingent.

Ø 11:30 am-Salubong @ Olongapo City and a short program at Hanjin Subic Shipyard at 1pm

Cyclists and motorcyclists will meet the main contingent at the heart of Olongapo City.

Ø Mass @ 2pm led by CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action Chairman Bp. Broderick Pabillo @ Brgy. Wawandue, Subic City.

Ø 6pm- Torch parade around Subic city.


For Details please contact:
Don Pangan (Partido ng Manggagawa) 09164943187
Maria Lourdes Berin (UM-AMRSP)-0919 2504 553
Precy Dagooc(MAKABAYAN)- 0905 3652 391

[In the news] Fr. Joaquin Bernas writes ‘talking points’ on RH Bill | Sun.Star

Fr. Joaquin Bernas writes ‘talking points’ on RH Bill | Sun.Star.

MANILA — Catholic bishops expressed willingness to sit down and meet with noted constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas after he announced his position on the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill, a Church official said.

Monsignor Juanito Figura, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said the bishops are interested to hear Bernas’s “talking points” on House Bill 4244, which is currently debated in Congress.

In an opinion piece for the Philippine Daily Inquirer last May 23, Bernas said neither the government nor the Church has the right to stop people from practicing responsible parenthood whichever way they prefer.

“Public money is neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Muslim or what have you and may be appropriated by Congress for the public good without violating the Constitution,” he said.

The long-time dean of the Ateneo de Manila University Law School also acknowledged that the bill in its present form needs amendment, and he is willing “to contribute to its improvement.”

Consistent to Catholic Church teachings, Bernas expressed his opposition to sex education in public schools “without the consent of parents” and support for the provision that strengthens the illegality of abortion.

Quoting the Compendium on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church, he said that the government’s responsibility is to interpret the good of everyone and “not only according to the guidelines of the majority.”

However, what drew impassioned criticism from many anti-RH bill advocates and even Church officials is Bernas’s dismay at priests who say supporting the measure is a serious sin and called them as “irresponsible.”

“I have been called a Judas by a high-ranking cleric, I am considered a heretic in a wealthy barangay where some members have urged that I should leave the Church (which is insane),” Bernas lamented, whose article spawned 8,335 Facebook “recommends” and 1,729 shares as of press time.

In the end, Figura believes that as a priest, Bernas is still “pro-life and he is towards the anti-RH bill side.”

Meanwhile, a non government organization has called on the voting public to “learn its lesson” in the next elections and withdraw support from politicians who proposed measures that restrict access to contraceptives.

According to EnGende-Rights, these legislators include Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ralph Recto and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and Reps. Roilo Golez (Paranaque), Pablo Garcia (Cebu), Rufus Rodirguez (Cagayan de Oro) and Amado Bagatsing (Manila).

“Those who believe in respecting, promoting, and upholding the rights of women should use their power as citizens to vote for people who will uphold the rights of women. Women are the ones who bear the brunt of the delayed passage of the RH (reproductive health) law and any restriction on their access to the full range of contraceptive methods,” lawyer Clara Rita Padilla, Executive Director of EnGendeRights, said in a press statement.

On Monday, the Senate bills providing for the safety and protection of the unborn will be heard in the Committees on Youth, Women and Family Relations, Constitutional Amendments, and Revision of Codes and Laws.

Last week, the anti-choice bill of Rep. Bagatsing was heard in the House Committee on Revision of Laws with Golez, Garcia, and Rodriguez supporting it. (Virgil Lopez and Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

[In the news] Father Bernas calls some anti-RH clerics ‘irresponsible’ – Nation – GMA News Online – Latest Philippine News

Father Bernas calls some anti-RH clerics ‘irresponsible’ – Nation – GMA News Online – Latest Philippine News.


Amid the rising chorus of anti-Reproductive Health (RH) Bill rhetoric of his fellow clergymen, prominent Jesuit priest Joaquin Bernas, SJ sings a different tune.

In his column on Inquirer.Net on Monday, Bernas declared, “I have never held that the RH Bill is perfect. But if we have to have an RH law, I intend to contribute to its improvement as much as I can.”

Fr. Joaquin Bernas. File phoro source ccp.edu.ph

He also disagreed with “churchmen (who) compel President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious belief.”

Bernas is a constitutional lawyer, member of the 1987 Constitutional Commission. , and former Ateneo Law School dean, As a priest and a respected intellectual, Bernas has been a thorn in the side of the anti-RH camp by criticizing Church opposition to the RH Bill as a violation of religious freedom.

His most recent column was partly a defense from criticism by conservative Catholics, including a “high-ranking cleric” who called him Judas. But we also went on the offense.,

In the column titled “My Stand on the RH Bill,” Bernas branded as “irresponsible” clerics who say that support for the RH Bill is a serious sin and lauded the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for “[disowning] the self-destructive views of some clerics.”

He also referred to some critics of the bill as “attack dogs.”

Bernas’ column is usually a cerebral take on affairs of the state that perhaps fellow academics can best appreciate.

But reflecting the increasingly fevered public interest in the RH issue, his latest column has gone viral, with nearly 5,000 Facebook “recommends” as of Tuesday morning and nearly 1,500 Twitter shares.

Freedom of religion

Bernas put his views in context by pointing out that the Philippines is a pluralist society which should support not only the freedom to believe but the “freedom to act or not to act according to what one believes.”

Thus, Bernas argued, neither the government nor the church has the right to stop people from practicing responsible parenthood whichever way they prefer.

Citing the “Compendium on Social Teaching of the Catholic Church,” Bernas explained that the state ought to decide based not only on the majority, but the minority as well.

For Bernas, spending public money to promote public health does not violate the Constitution, contrary to the argument of some anti-RH activists.

Public money is neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Muslim or what have you and may be appropriated by Congress for the public good without violating the Constitution,” he said.

Opposes mandatory sex education
Bernas also showed his more conservative side by declaring his opposition to mandated sex education in public schools and his support for the provision that strengthens the illegality of abortion.

For him, parents must give consent to the classes beforehand, citing Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution on “the natural and primary right of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character.”

He also reiterated his definition of abortion. “Sacred life begins at fertilization and not at implantation,” he said.

Finally, Bernas emphasized how the bill would protect the nation’s poor women, according to the bill’s Declaration of Policy and Guiding Principles. “They should be saved,” he said.

RH bill dividing Catholics

Bernas’ column came a day after another cleric, the conservative retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani made waves during Sunday evening’s RH Bill Grand Debate on GMA News TV with his confrontational demeanor on stage.

On Monday meanwhile, a member of the clergy called for “sobriety” on the issue after other members of the Catholic Church escalated their attacks on the RH Bill.

In a pastoral statement, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said that the ongoing debate on the bill was putting Catholics at “odds” with each other.

He defended the Church’s stand, saying that it was not trying to further inflame the situation but to make an appeal “for the triumph of reason and sobriety.”

Giving Catholicism a bad name

Earlier, Bernas had written a blog entry saying that a sector of the Church is giving the Catholic religion a bad name by imposing their beliefs on everyone.

Bernas was reacting to a Barangay Ayala Alabang ordinance that required a doctor’s prescription for the purchase of artificial contraception, such as condoms.

The CBCP has since stopped formal dialogues with both the Palace and the Senate on the RH Bill.

However, CBCP public relations unit head Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. said on Monday that they are still open to talks on the bill, barring some “non-negotiables.”

Debate for the House of Representatives’ version of the RH Bill began last week while the Senate is scheduled to begin RH debates by August. – HS, GMA News

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