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Vol 41, No 5 • MAY 2007 Php 70.


Quote in the Act
“If I win the election, I win a ... huge
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Asian Magazine for Human Transformation
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2 IMPACT • May 2007

IMPAC T May 2007 / Vol 41 • No 5

AT press time, the East Timorese are counting the
votes of the presidential elections that have been Corruption Not Population ......................................... 23
regarded as peaceful by foreign observers. And
this, despite a backdrop of a plummeting economy COVER STORY
and a new democracy bereft of mature political The Hidden Cost of Graft and Corruption ............. 16
But that’s not all. The presidential contenders
are so magnanimous one would think they just came
fresh from a holy retreat. Francisco Guterrez, for
instance, who is a former guerilla who spent years
in the jungles fighting Indonesian rule and who is
considered the underdog in this political race told

Cover photo by Denz Dayao

everybody after casting his vote: “I want to win
with dignity, but if I lose, I will also accept that
with dignity.” That puts all the politicians in the
Philippines, who never gets defeated but only
cheated, into shame.
On the other camp, the incumbent prime minis- ARTICLES
ter and presidential candidate Jose Ramos-Horta
goes with the dignity of a Nobel Prize winner, “If I Mass Communications: A Review of Philippine
win the election, I win a…huge responsibility. Church Media ................................................................... 4
But if I lose, I win my freedom to do whatever I
want, to be a writer, to be an academic, to be a What Corruption Has Done to the Filipino People .... 6
tourist, to travel.” You will never hear such
sensibility and, really, Christianity, from Filipino Ehem! Aha! Striving to Build a Graft-Intolerant
politicians. Culture................................................................................ 9
In Filipino that statement maybe aptly rendered
this way: “If I win the elections, I win a huge The Measurement of Corruption ............................... 21
contract in infrastructure, under-the-table ar- Salafist Islam Spawns Islamic Terrorism ............... 26
rangements, and remittances from gambling and
drugs…if I lose then I am STATEMENTS
cheated…therefore…bang, bang, bang!”
Sadly, in the Philippines good men do not be- A Pastoral Letter to Priests, Religious and the
come politicians. Faithful on the Forthcoming Elections ..................... 12
Sadly, too, in Philippine politics, what defines the
“art of governance” after getting elected is not the Reflection for Labor Day ............................................... 13
assumption of a “huge responsibility” but rather the Conscience, Competence, Commitment ................. 14
recovery of a “huge profit” and the return of
investment after buying votes and expensive airtime Pastoral Letter on the Upcoming 2007 Elections ... 15
in political ads.
In the Philippines, the cradle of crime and DEPARTMENTS
corruption is the election. One wins—or better Quote in the Act ................................................................ 2
buys—a political office at election time and dis-
penses his office by building an empire of machinery News Features ................................................................ 24
and money through crime and corruption in prepa-
ration for the next elections. And the cycle goes on From the Blogs ................................................................ 27
and on at the expense of the common good. From the Inbox ............................................................... 28
This issue is devoted to graft and corruption. In
our cover story, Archbishop Oscar Cruz, who con- Book Reviews .................................................................. 29
siders the advocacy against gambling and corrup-
tion as part of the Church’s mission in the world,
CINEMA Review ........................................................... 30
writes The Hidden Cost of Graft and Corruption. Quotes in Quiz ................................................................ 30
Read on.
News Briefs ...................................................................... 31
Volume 41 • Number 5 3

Mass Communications:
A Review of Philippine
Church Media
By Fr. Ari Dy, SJ

he Word was made flesh and dwelt their own TV channels on free television,
among us.” We recite this line three and though they spend much time attack-
times a day as we pray the Angelus, ing each other (a relief to Catholics because
and thus we are reminded daily not only one of them used to attack the Catholic
that God became human in the Incarna- Church), their commitment to the use of
tion, but that God came among us as The mass media for religious purposes is quite
Word. What is the significance of this commendable.
article of faith? Fortunately, the Philippine Church is
A word is not a word if it is not spoken slowly catching up. Since January 2006, TV
and heard, written and read. It is that simple. Maria has been on the air as a satellite
If God is The Word, then God needs to be channel on the “Dream” network owned by
communicated. This is the task of the Church, Mr. Antonio Cojuangco. The infrastruc-
and this is why Avery Cardinal Dulles says ture has been provided for free by talk show based on the Sunday readings
that “The Church is communications.” Ev- Cojuangco, and the challenge is for TV and hosted by three priests (Fr. Deo Galang,
erything that we do in the Church is intended Maria to produce fresh programming for its Fr. Raul de los Santos, and Bishop Pablo
to communicate the reality of God’s love and viewers and to increase its subscriber base. David). The show is carried by about 40
compassion, to facilitate communion among TV Maria is the Catholic channel for the local cable stations throughout Pampanga
people and, between people and God. entire Philippine Church, but the leadership and many other cities in Luzon and the
Still, the Church has a specialized field has been provided by the Archdiocese of Visayas. With creative and technical guid-
of endeavor called social communications. Manila. The various Catholic production ance provided by Ms. Marilou Diaz Abaya
It is one of many ministries in the Church, a houses and diverse Catholic groups pro- and Mr. Nonong Buencamino, Amanu is
reality that has contributed to the attitude vide the programs for TV Maria, and some able to train seminarians and lay people in
that communications work is for the spe- efforts are underway to train young people all aspects of TV production work.
cialists rather than the concern of every in writing and producing shows. The goal Cebu and Sorsogon also have Catho-
Christian. Even within the communications to make TV Maria accessible to all teleview- lic shows or channels operating on local
ministry, it can be said that various indi- ers will only be realized once ways and cable channels.
viduals and groups are operating on their means are found to have it carried by all the On national television, some Catholic
own, without a common vision. This is why local and national cable networks. production houses regularly contribute
other Christian churches have international TV Maria, because of its limited reach programs to the commercial TV networks.
radio, TV, and multimedia networks that are at present, does not have the national im- At present, ABC-5, also owned by
funded by their members, but the Catholic pact that other religious channels have. Cojuangco, has the most number of values-
Church, despite its size, has only limited There is much hope, however, in the com- oriented or religious shows. The Family
communications infrastructure in various munity-based networks that are already in Rosary Crusade has a magazine-type show
parts of the world. place. The Archdiocese of San Fernando, that features Catholic news, lives of the
In the Philippines, many have won- Pampanga, recently inaugurated the of- saints, and Gospel reflections. Every Sun-
dered why the Catholic Church has no fices and studios for its Archdiocesan Media day, ABC-5 has Catholic programming that
television station that is comparable to those Apostolate Network Unlimited (Amanu). is not limited to the TV Mass that is already
of other churches in the Philippines. There For more than three years now, Amanu has a feature of all the national channels. Aside
are at least two Protestant churches with been producing “Men of Light” a weekly from the TV Mass intended for the

4 IMPACT • May 2007

Mass Communications: A Review of Philippine Church Media

Television productions require huge

amounts of money to produce and to air.
Notwithstanding the heroic efforts of Catho-
lic groups to be present on television, per-
haps radio is the more successful Catholic
mass media in the Philippines. The Catholic
Media Network headed by Fr. Francis Lucas
has more than thirty members across the
nation, all operating as community radio
stations using the language of their respec-
tive places, sharing programs in English
and Filipino, and making a direct impact in
their constituencies. At certain hours of the
day, the network has common program-
ming under the banner of “Veritas Pilipinas”
and can thus be considered a network with
national scope.
Radio Veritas, operated by the Arch-
diocese of Manila, is best known for its role
in the EDSA People Power revolution of
1986, but it is now making strides in becom-
ing an attractive alternative to AM listeners
in the Greater Manila area.
We have focused on TV and radio
because these can be considered “mass
communications,” media that reaches the
masses. As has happened in other coun-
tries, the Internet will also become a mass
medium in the Philippines. At the moment,

© Denz Dayao / CBCPMedia

Catholic productions in the Philippines like
books and music can be purchased online,
but much more can be done in terms of
tapping the Internet as a way to communi-
cate with people. Blogs, podcasts, and vid-
eos are slowly being used by tech-savvy
homebound, ABC-5 has “Soul Mix,” which “Seven Last Words” organized by the Na- ministers of the Gospel. Various services
features inspirational music videos; “Word tional Shrine of St. Jude, St. James the Great like daily inspirational messages and music
Made Flesh,” hosted by Salesian Fr. Jun Parish in Alabang, and Sto. Domingo Church, downloads are also offered on the mobile
Lingad and the only Bible study show on have been televised for a number of years. phone by entities like JesCom (text SEEK to
the air; and “Light Talk,” a talk show hosted The prayer rally of the Shalom community 2346 to get the menu), Fr. Jerry Orbos, and
by Bishop Chito Tagle on the issues affect- has also been televised. Jesuit Communica- Fr. Jim Reuter.
ing the nation today. tions has been producing Holy Week docu- Specialized Church media, like books,
The seasons of Christmas and Lent are mentaries and specials for many years, some- magazines, videos and music albums, are
natural occasions during which Catholic times in partnership with Bo Sanchez and his thriving in the Philippines. Most of the
shows are given more exposure. Last De- group of lay preachers. The latter also has members of the Asian Catholic Communi-
cember 2006, ABC-5 pioneered the nine- a weekly show called “Kerygma TV.” cators are in fact book publishers like the
day primetime (11:00 p.m. with replay the The “TV movie” genre is an emerging Society of St. Paul, Shepherd’s Voice Pub-
following day at 5:00 a.m.) TV Mass, as a trend. GMA-7 and its affiliate, QTV, has lications, Claretians, Daughters of St. Paul,
modern way of observing the “Simbang produced stories for television that have a Logos, Catholic Book Center, Jesuit Com-
Gabi.” For Holy Week 2007, ABC-5 co- decidedly Protestant approach to faith. The munications, Word and Life, Salesiana,
produced a 3-part “reality retreat” with Je- last two Christmas seasons saw Jesuit Com- Sinag Tala, and the UST Publishing House.
suit Communications, and also featured munications producing TV narratives for This review has outlined the various
live coverage of the Paschal Triduum at the ABS-CBN-2. In 2005, there was “Maging Church Media available in the Philippines,
Ateneo de Manila’s Church of the Gesu. Akin Muli” a vocation story directed by focusing on TV and radio. The lack of an
These are new contributions to the land- Marilou Diaz Abaya and starring Marvin integrated approach to the media ministry
scape of Philippine Church media. Agustin while in 2006, “Yes to Xmas” has at least given birth to a diverse range of
The other national channels also have chronicled the story of four kids who wanted productions that are available to the Fili-
their share of Catholic programming. Aside to ban Christmas in their town. With the pino public. It is in our diversity that the
from prayers at sign on and sign off, the advances in digital technology and the Word becomes flesh every day. I
traditional “3 o’clock habit,” and the Sunday popularity of independent films, we might
(Fr. Ari Dy, SJ is the Chairman of the Asian Catholic
TV Mass, most channels now feature reli- yet see more “Catholic” stories produced Communicators, Inc. (ACCI). For more information,
gious shows during the Holy Week. The for cinema and television. email ady@ateneo.edu.)

Volume 41 • Number 5 5
What Corruption Has Done to the Filipino People

n this day and age in our country,
corruption has become a way of life. It
has become so ingrained in our culture
that hardly anyone’s conscience is stung
when we see other people, organizations
and sectors being duped for the love of
money, honor and fame. It is no longer
seen as a plague or as a disease we should
eradicate and cure. It has become a means
and an instrument to reach goals.
Corruption as an instrument and as
a way of life has destroyed the lives of so
many people. And yet it continues to
thrive in our society.
Why does it seem like Filipinos don’t
do enough to combat corruption? Don’t
we know that its effects on us are direct
and extremely harmful?

Effects of corruption on children

Corruption has invaded our homes
and has threatened the very existence
and safety of even little children. Its
adverse effects on the young have far
reaching consequences.
One glaring example is how corrup-
tion has undermined the public school
system in the country to the point that
graduates of elementary schools can
hardly read or write. Cheating done in
the salaries of teachers and the budget
for the public school system has ad-
versely affected school-aged children.
It has deprived students of the neces-
sary skills and knowledge they need to
make it in life.
In addition, the lack of facilities and
materials in public schools has also long
been the subject of many debates and
arguments, but still, no palpable change
has been done. The corruption inflicted
on the public school system has become
a “normal” thing. Now when we speak of
the country’s public schools, it is “nor-
mally” perceived as low quality and infe-
rior. It’s just the way it is, most people
would say.
Another example of how corruption
has hurt children can be seen in the
effects of high priced medicines sup-
plied to health centers and local drug cines, vaccines, vitamins and painkillers Our efforts to nurture our children
stores. Due to corruption in the supply as instruments for their political cam- are rendered useless by corruption. The
and pricing mechanisms, medicines, vac- paign. Local officials, according to a very sectors and institutions that are
cines and vitamins needed by children report from the International Herald Tri- supposed to help us create a better fu-
who need nurturing, healing and cure bune in May 2006 (Mydans, Seth, 2006) ture for the children and youth of the
are overpriced, and thus, can’t be af- would hold medical missions during cam- country have been eaten up by corrup-
forded by poor families. paign season and give medicines away. tion that many of us have become re-
Another example of corruption that On ordinary days, medicines would be signed to the idea that all is “normal,”
has directly compromised the health of so expensive, and thus out of reach. even though corruption has killed and
children is the use of medicines as politi- Thus, poor children who need basic continues to kill young children, and
cal pork. According to Transparency health care are deprived of much needed those it has allowed to live, are given a
International, local politicians use medi- vitamins, vaccines and medicines. slim chance to do well in life.

6 IMPACT • May 2007


also affects even those who go to offices

and are delayed on a regular basis due to
heavy traffic caused by poorly made
roads. These delays may equate to lost
hours for meetings and opportunities,
loss of remuneration for hourly paid work-
ers, etc. Corruption thus has a direct hand
in impeding our economic growth as indi-
Corruption also can mean loss of
livelihood for some of us. There are many
cases wherein qualified applicants are
not given the opportunity to work in
various offices because somebody in-
side “knows somebody else who can do
the job.” This somebody can be a rela-
tive, a friend and may not have the quali-
ties the job demands, and yet would still
be hired because of his/her connections.
There are also cases where people are
hired in various offices because a high
ranking official owes them a favor. These
acts of corruption would correspond to a
lost of opportunity for qualified and de-

What Corruption
serving workers.

Effects of corruption on our

Corruption has engendered a breed
of Filipinos that is apathetic to the plight

Has Done to the

of the poor, the most affected by corrupt
practices. It has spawned a generation of
citizens who believe that corruption is
actually a victimless crime, unless a cor-
rupt act directly takes away their money,
time and honor. If they are not personally

Filipino People
harmed by corruption, most Filipinos
would not raise a hoot against it.
Eric Vincent Batalla in his article put
it succinctly (Philippine Daily Inquirer,
August 27, 2001) - “Corruption damages
the national psyche. It miseducates
people and tells them that there is nothing
wrong in being corrupt.” Maybe this is
© Denz Dayao / CBCPMedia

the reason why corrupt celebrities never

even see the inside of a jailhouse and can
By Lourdes Didith Mendoza-Rivera still build mansions to house their mis-
tresses, why questions of illegitimacy
hound this government, and why we cel-
ebrate thieves instead of urge them or
Effects of corruption on our made in infrastructure projects such as move them to restorative justice. We have
livelihood roads and highways would mean that lost the ability to be outraged by graft,
road quality and safety are undermined if deceit and lies.
We sometimes fail to recognize that the roads and highways are constructed Corruption as a way of life and an
indeed, corruption has directly and nega- at all. For businesses such as farming or instrument to reach goals has led people
tively affected our livelihood, and conse- sales that require delivery, these would to think that it is alright to do corrupt
quently our net income. mean that delivery vehicles will not have practices because we all do it. It has given
It may be hard to quantify, but for roads to get to their points of destination, us a wrong sense of oneness with others
those of us who are engaged in busi- or where there are roads, deliveries would because we think we’re doing something
nesses where time is of the essence, cor- be delayed because drivers would have that everybody else is doing. This “one-
ruption may play a huge role when it to contend with road pockmarks and holes, ness” gives us a false sense of security
comes to delays. For example, kickbacks floods and mud. This type of corruption and lulls us to a stupor that has bred

Volume 41 • Number 5 7
What Corruption Has Done to the Filipino People

unfathomable nightmares for others, most comes to corruption, the enemy is us. and daring-dos. Fighting corruption
especially the poor. Corruption, aside from Most of us would say that unless we doesn’t always mean confronting oth-
robbing us blind physically and finan- directly connive, conspire, or initiate ers. It is actually, a never-ending con-
cially, has robbed us of our capacity to theft, we are not committing corruption. frontation of the self. It forces us to
feel and think morally and compassion- However, seeing the extent and perva- pause and question the motives of our
ately. siveness of the ill-effects of corruption, actions. In the EHEM seminars, we call it
The question is, given the direct and aren’t we becoming passive conspira- the ‘teka’ moment, the moment where we
extremely harmful effects of this way of tors to a crime that victimizes all of us? pause and consider actions, and draw
life of the Filipinos, how can change be There is still hope, however. There upon our own reservoir of Christian and
initiated? is a movement, initiated by the Philip- Filipino values. It enables us to live and
pine Province of the Society of Jesus. It act according to our conscience.
Changing a corrupt lifestyle is called “EHEM” and it aims to sensitize The way the EHEM! anti-corruption
To effectively change a way of life every Filipino about corruption; it aims campaign is gaining ground gives a glim-
requires great effort. Consequently, one to make people see that each one of us is mer of hope. All over the country, indi-
can imagine the labor it would take to part of the web of corruption, and being viduals and groups from both the pri-
change or counter a society’s way of a part of it, we cause suffering and heart- vate and the public sector are signing
doing things, which has been fully in- ache to other people. up. Those who have been touched by it
grained into its culture. EHEM! is a new approach to bat- have been reaching out to others as well.
Others have tried to counter corrup- tling corruption. It moves us to reflect on They support and inspire each other.
tion by pointing an accusing finger how we are both perpetrators and vic- Through movements such as this,
against anyone but themselves. Others tims of corruption. It enables people to we may still be able to counter the cur-
have opted to go to the boondocks and look inward and see how their own ac- rent flow of deceit and corruption in our
fight subversively. These efforts have tions contribute to the corruption of midst. By forcing us to look within our
borne fruit, but they are not enough to other people and ultimately, of society. selves, both for faults and good values,
conquer an enemy as huge and as perva- It also enables people to reflect on their corruption may soon be defeated, and
sive as corruption. As time goes on, own vulnerabilities, to see what makes we can start rebuilding our lives and our
more people become embroiled in the them susceptible to deceit, lies, dishon- society. Maybe, through movements
web of corruption as silent accomplices esty, and sleaze. such as this which forces us to look
or witnesses or even perpetrators. Those who have participated in nu- within ourselves in order to change, we
This may be due to our failure to merous EHEM seminars come home with can someday look forward to a culture
recognize that corruption is not an exter- the conviction that corruption may where integrity and honesty reign. I
nal enemy. It is not like a foe you can slowly be eradicated from our systems. (Lourdes Didith Mendoza-Rivera is the editor
punch senseless into nonexistence. The They have learned that fighting corrup- of INTERSECT, the quarterly magazine, of
John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social
enemy is not outside of us. When it tion doesn’t necessarily mean exposés Issues .)

8 IMPACT • May 2007


Corruption has become so ingrained in

Ehem! Aha!
everyday life.

Corruption is rooted in a fundamental self-

centeredness, an evil that contravenes the
human responsibility to exist “with” others and
“for” others.

Striving to Build a
The effects of corruption extend beyond the
economic losses incurred when money is
stealthily diverted from public coffers to
private pockets.

Corruption has “weakened the moral and

spiritual fiber of a people that sees almost

everyone as ‘on the take,’ lahat nandadaya.”

Unlike most other anti-corruption campaigns

and programs which are exclusively oriented
toward exposing wrongdoings in government,
the Ehem! approach aims to sensitize people
to their own involvement in dishonest and

corrupt practices.

Sustained action in combating corruption

can only come from self-aware individuals.

If people in general began to curb their

tendency toward dishonesty, they would
become less tolerant of corruption in society,
including corruption in government.

Indeed the social and cultural tide favoring

tolerance of corruption is very strong and can
in fact lead one to despair. But as the
experience of Ehem! has shown, there is hope
that Filipinos may yet succeed in building a
counter-culture that refuses to accept that
corruption is normal or that it is an intractable

By Anna Marie A. Karaos, Ph.D

ow many Tagalogs know that the
word “bukol” can mean something
other than a bump on one’s head or
some other part of the body? We are told
that in media circles, a reporter is consid-
ered “nabukulan” if he or she fails to
partake of the largesse distributed by a
politician or a news source. A word as
innocuous as “orbit” apparently refers to
the practice by reporters of making the
rounds (analogous to planets revolving
around the sun) of police stations and
other government offices for the purpose
of soliciting money.
These are examples of how ordinary
Filipinos conceal their practices of cheat-
ing and by doing so make them a normal
part of everyday life. The terms sound
inoffensive yet their frequent usage sug-
gests that the acts they portray have some-
how become accepted practices. Journal-
ists have their own vocabulary to repre-
sent their dishonest deeds and so does
every other institution and subculture in
Filipino society.

Volume 41 • Number 5 9

Corruption has become so ingrained CBCP Pastoral Letter “Let Integrity

in everyday life that the Philippine Church Flow”
sees it as gravely damaging to our charac- Time and again, the Catholic Church
ter as a Christian nation. In the Philippine has called attention to the ill effects of
Bishops’ Pastoral Exhortation for the Year corruption, enjoining its members to do
of Social Concerns, corruption is singled something about the problem. In 1989, the
out as a major challenge to the Church’s bishops wrote a pastoral letter entitled
task of building character and building “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” already express-
community. The document points out that ing their grave concern over the harm the
corruption is “rooted in a fundamental problem has brought to the country, espe-
self-centeredness”, an evil that contra- cially to the poor. In 1997, the bishops
venes the human responsibility to exist issued the “Pastoral Exhortation on Philip-
“with” others and “for” others. In other pine Politics,” strongly condemning graft
words, it distorts the essential character of and corruption as a sin against God. In this
the human person which, in the Catholic document, the bishops proposed very
faith, is meant to be “other-centered”. The concrete steps to combat corruption: the
Pastoral Exhortation declares that “trans- formation of people’s councils to promote
forming persons from this self- public awareness, monitoring the use of
centeredness to the life of virtue and social public funds and initiating charges against
responsibility remains our primary task guilty officials.
and contribution to nation-building.” In its latest pastoral letter on graft and
corruption, “Let Integrity Flow” issued in
The costs of corruption 2003, the bishops take a step backward
What is the extent of the consequences and start off with a call to self-examination
of corruption on Philippine society? The as the foundation for action. Thus the
effects of corruption definitely extend be- pastoral letter begins with an admission
yond the economic losses incurred when that sinfulness, and specifically corrup-
money is stealthily diverted from public tion, has been a part of the history of the
coffers to private pockets. But confining Church itself. “Today we once more point
ourselves to just the economic costs which an accusing finger at ourselves,” the letter
are easier to quantify, the numbers can be declares. Then admitting the wrong the
quite staggering. Speaking of corruption in Church has inflicted on the rest of society,
the public sector alone, one estimate places it goes on to say that “we all suffer the pain ceptions of and attitudes toward corrup-
its cost at three to ten percent of the Gross when one part of the Body of Christ, that tion and how they are affected by it. Thus
National Product and 20 percent of the is the Church, does wrong.” a series of focus group discussions was
national budget. A World Bank report in Emphasizing the cultural dimension conducted among different sectors of so-
2000 estimated that the government was of the problem, the bishops note that “Our ciety to bring to light these attitudes and
losing $2 billion a year in the last twenty high tolerance of evil is still the greatest perceptions. The results were written up in
years due to corruption. In 1999, the Om- problem. We as a people are also respon- a book entitled “A Cross-sectoral Study of
budsman claimed that the government was sible.” They lament that corruption has Corruption in the Philippines” published
losing as much as PhP100 million daily since “weakened the moral and spiritual fiber of in 2002.
the agency began investigating graft cases The study meant to do more than
a people that sees almost everyone as ‘on
in 1988. The Commission on Audit, in 1998, simply help people understand common
reported a slightly lower cost of corruption the take,’ lahat nandadaya.” Not exempt-
perceptions of corruption. More impor-
ing themselves, they openly admit that tant, it was intended to inform the design
at two billion pesos a year (Philippine Prov- “even some in the Church have been known
ince of the Society of Jesus, 2005). of an awareness-raising tool to help people
to accept donations from persons known formulate their own action agenda for re-
Translating these numbers into fore-
gone public goods and services, studies to be corrupt.” ducing corruption.
have shown that up to 65 percent of text- Thus a second book was soon pro-
book funds is actually reserved for bribes Fighting corruption through duced in 2003, the “Ehem! A Manual for
(Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus, Ehem! Deepening Involvement in Combating
2005). Commissions on public works re- This stance embodied in the pastoral Corruption” which has since been printed
portedly run up to an average of 30 percent letter “Let Integrity Flow” is the basic in two editions and has been read and
of the project cost. It is claimed that at least approach adopted by a program launched used by at least 18,000 participants in
12-20 percent of pork barrel funds allotted by the Jesuits’ Committee on the Evange- over 200 seminars conducted nationwide.
for building artesian wells, bridges and lization of Culture, known as Ehem!. The These seminars were held in the cities and
roads is pocketed by legislators (Philippine Committee wanted to make the fight against regions where the Ehem! networks are
Province of the Society of Jesus, 2005), corruption accessible to ordinary people strongest, namely Regions II, III, IV, NCR,
while in the purchase of medicines, books by helping them become more conscious V, VII, IX, X, XI and XII. Attending them
and instructional materials, legislators get of the practices and effects of corruption were mostly people from government
to keep for themselves as much as 45 per- in everyday life. In order to do this, it was agencies, religious congregations and
cent of allotted funds (Parreno, 1998). important to first understand people’s per- schools.

10 IMPACT • May 2007

Ehem! Aha! Striving to Build a Graft-Intolerant Culture

cies as part of their training and education ball courts, team uniforms, trophies, fies-
programs. Aside from the anti-graft bod- tas and even to church people asking for
ies such as the Ombudsman and the Presi- donations for their charities.
dential Anti-Graft Commission which People who want to stand up against
would be logical partners for a program corruption need tremendous support and
such as this, a number of agencies per- protection to enable them to act according
ceived by the public as extremely corrupt to their conscience. In 2005, a study was
have been among its most committed adopt- initiated among whistleblowers towards
ers. Among them are the Land Transporta- the preparation of a book, the “Aha! A
tion Office, Department of Public Works Citizen’s Primer on Whistleblowing.” The
and Highways, Bureau of Internal Rev- project is again a joint effort between the
enue and the Department of Education. Ehem! Project Team and the Technical
Through a partnership with the Ombuds- Working Group of the Office of the Om-
man that aims to institutionalize the cul- budsman. The primer provides useful tips
tural sensitivity approach in the educa- and advice to whistleblowers and is used
tional, investigative and prosecutorial in the orientation seminars and literacy
functions of the agency, Ehem! seminars courses being given to prospective
are being organized in the different gov- whistleblowers.
ernment agencies by a Technical Working How do people cross the line from
Group created by the Ombudsman. awareness and intolerance to actually
Other agencies that have used the doing something about the evils of cor-
Ehem! manuals and requested for Ehem! ruption? Also in 2005, the Ehem! team
seminars are the Department of Health, embarked on a research project on the
Department of Social Welfare and Devel- “Spirituality of Integrity” which will feed
opment, Department of Agrarian Reform, into another publication, a resource book
Department of Finance, Department of on integrity and good practices in combat-
Energy, Department of Labor and Employ- ing corruption, to be titled “ Ehemplo!.”
ment, Department of Agriculture, Depart- The book will feature true-to-life cases of
ment of Interior and Local Government, people who have successfully resisted
the Office of the President in Mindanao corruption and expound on the inner re-
and the Mindanao Economic Develop- sources that have sustained these coura-
ment Council. geous people in their crusades. As an
The Ehem! Approach Recently the Civil Service Commis- accompaniment to the book, a 3-minute
sion accredited the Ehem!sensitivity semi- Ehemplo! MTV has also been produced to
What is distinctive about the Ehem! nars as a personnel development program try to communicate the value of integrity
approach to fighting corruption? As the for government officials and employees. to a more popular audience, and especially
name implies, the campaign is essentially This means that civil servants can now use to young people.
an invitation to self-examination. Unlike their attendance in the Ehem! seminars to
most other anti-corruption campaigns and enhance their credentials for promotions A Graft-Intolerant Culture
programs which are exclusively oriented and salary increases. This development is
toward exposing wrongdoings in govern- It is said that it only takes good men
expected to further increase the number of and women to do nothing for evil to tri-
ment, the Ehem! approach aims to sensi- regular Ehem! users among the
tize people to their own involvement in umph.
government’s frontline agencies. In their 2003 pastoral exhortation, the
dishonest and corrupt practices. It is pre-
mised on the behavioral principle that bishops lamented the fact that corruption
Beyond Ehem!—Aha!, “has weakened the resolve of many to
sustained action in combating corruption whistleblowing and more
can only come from self-aware individu- work for change as they are gradually
While creating awareness and sensi- being conditioned to accept and tolerate
als. If people in general began to curb their
tendency toward dishonesty, they would tivity to dishonest and corrupt practices is systematic and institutional corruption as
seen as the foundation for building an being part of the nature of things, and no
become less tolerant of corruption in soci-
ety, including corruption in government. anti-corruption movement, the campaign longer as a matter of individual wrongdo-
does not stop here. In 2004, the Ehem! ing by those in power.” Indeed the social
Moreover, the long-term goal of Ehem!’s
Project Team headed by Fr. Albert Alejo, and cultural tide favoring tolerance of
intervention is not just to reduce corrup- S.J. and Dr. Ronnie Amorado, launched
tion in government, even though this is an corruption is very strong and can in fact
the Walang Hihingi campaign in time for lead one to despair. But as the experience
important objective of the program, but the 2004 elections. Consistent with the
also to promote a culture of integrity. of Ehem! has shown, there is hope that
Ehem! approach, the campaign directed its Filipinos may yet succeed in building a
appeal not so much to the politicians en- counter-culture that refuses to accept that
Collaborators in government gaged in vote-buying and distributing corruption is normal or that it is an intrac-
The success of the Ehem! Campaign funds for projects in order to win votes, as table problem. I
is perhaps best seen in the fact that the to the electorate, and specifically to those (Anna Marie A. Karaos, Ph.D., is the Executive
Ehem! sensitivity seminars have been in the habit of soliciting funds from candi- Director of the John J. Carroll Institute on Church and
adopted by a number of government agen- dates for all sorts of projects like basket- Social Issues of the Ateneo de Manila University.)

Volume 41 • Number 5 11

s the May 2007 Elections professional and social activity
draw near we are caught
by the feverish excite-
on the one hand and religious
life on the other. The Christian A Pastoral Letter to
ment that customarily accompa- who shirks his temporal duties
nies elections in our country. Let
us not be drowned by this pass-
shirks his duties toward his neigh-
bor [and] neglects God himself
Priests, Religious
ing sensation and shove aside … (Vatican II,Gaudium et Spes,
the decisive impact of the elec-
tions that could bring foresee-
n. 43)
Thirdly, let us remind our-
and the Faithful on
able dismal consequences to our
future as a democratic nation. I
selves of our vocation as bap-
tized Christians. Vatican II tells the Forthcoming
am writing you this letter to put us that we each share “the obli-
back to our consciousness the
crucial necessity of preparing
gation of spreading the faith,
and that “the whole Church is
ourselves for another critical missionary and the work of evan-
moment of our lives as Filipino gelization [is] the fundamental
Catholics. task of the people of God.” “The Lord is risen!” May the joy and peace
First and foremost, I remind John Paul II stresses in his of Easter grant us the courage to witness to our
you that we live in a democracy. book, Crossing the Threshold of faith in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
The late Pope John Paul II em- Hope, that all Christians are in-
phasized this in his encyclical: volved in “a struggle for the soul concerning the active par- He or she must also have
“The Church values the demo- of the contemporary world.” ticipation of all Catholics in strong family values. The
cratic system.”(cf. Centesimus In every compartment of our social affairs. Your active candidate must be true to
Annus, 46). In a democracy we, lives—from our families, to our involvement demands a criti- his words and be serving
the people, rule. In a democracy jobs, and even to the solitude of cal moral judgment. God through his deeds.
the people rule through their the voting booth—God asks us 3. To know and understand c. Commitment to the common
vote. This God-given power is a to be His witnesses, His apostles. the issues and critically good: The candidate must
“pearl of great price” (cf. Mt. St. Paul’s words, “Woe to me if I evaluate the platform and be able to champion the
13.46) which must not be “thrown do not preach the Gospel,” ap- programs of candidates and causes of all citizens not just
to the pigs.” (cf. Mt. 7.6) Through ply to us all every single day in parties seeking political of- that of their family members
this God-given power we, the our choices. We either preach fice. (cf. PPCRV, Ten Com- or close relatives and friends.
people, become active builders Jesus Christ in our words and mandments of Responsible Finally, let us be aware that
of our own future. And as Chris- actions, or we lose him. It has Voting, n. 4) The platform the past elections in our country
tian believers we fulfill what we always social consequences— and programs must promote had always been marred by co-
all pray when we say in the and that means cultural and po- peace, justice and develop- ercion, unfairness and dishon-
Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom litical consequences. Democ- ment. esty. The Catholic bishops af-
come!” (cf. Mt. 6.10; Lk. 11.2) I racy thrives on those conse- 4. In effect, when you enter the firmed that “many of our current
ask you then to exercise this quences. voting booth, you are not political problems which have
God-given power as faithful Having said all that, I direct there simply to pull a lever hindered fuller economic devel-
Catholics who must be a leaven your serious concern to the May for a favorite or a popular opment and social injustice can
in the world and transform our Elections. Having given a brief candidate or in favor of your be traced to unresolved ques-
culture in Jesus Christ, the Risen recall of the gloomy situation own personal and possibly tions concerning the conduct of
Lord. experienced by our nation be- selfish self-interest. You are past elections.” (cf. CBCP Letter
Secondly, as we look for- cause of past “controversial elec- there with the power to ef- to Dioceses and Parishes, 28
ward to the celebration of the 40th toral exercise that further aggra- fect change and shape the January 2007). I enjoin all of you,
anniversary of our diocese, a vates social distrust and hope- future of our society. then, as concerned citizens and
unique occasion that challenges lessness,” the Catholic bishops 5. To critically choose candi- faithful believers, to “work to
the maturity of our Christian of our country enjoin us to “come dates who possess the fol- help clean the dirt from our easily
faith, God calls us not just to together once more and orga- lowing qualities necessary corrupted electoral process.” (cf.
“renew” our religious faith, but nize ourselves more effectively… for public office: (cf. PPCRV, CBCP Letter to Dioceses and
to make it the guiding force in to make this year’s elections cred- Ten Commandments of Re- Parishes, 28 January 2007)
our lives, both public and pri- ible—and as free of violence as sponsible Voting, nn. 6-10) • Therefore, as your pastor
vate.The Second Vatican Coun- possible.” (cf. CBCP Letter to a Competency: The candidate and your bishop I strongly ad-
cil in the document “Gaudium et Dioceses and Parishes, 28 Janu- must be competent to hold monish:
Spes” advises us of the eminent ary 2007) public office and be judged • All government officials:
significance of the practice of 1. Hence, as your shepherd by his/her personal behav- Many of you are Christians. In
the Christian faith: “One of the and your bishop I urge you ior and his/her commitment fact, majority of you are Catholic
graver errors of our time is the as faithful citizens and as to serve the people. Christians. I admonish you not
dichotomy between the faith we faithful Catholics: b. Personal Integrity: The can- to resort to ways and means that
profess and the practice of [our] 2. To form your conscience didate must have moral in- will impair a free, fair and honest
daily lives… Let there be no such according to the social tegrity; be honest and ad- election. I appeal to your good
pernicious opposition between teachings of the Church here to his moral principles. Christian hearts and minds to

12 IMPACT • May 2007


take heroic courage to definitely is I!” (Jn 6.20)

curb all abuses and all forms of Thus, I appeal to you to
violence, intimidation and cor- stand up and show yourselves
ruption. as self-governing, self-sustain- Reflection for Labor Day
• All political candidates and ing, self-nourishing communi-

all those affiliated with them: ties who cannot be manipulated oday the nation hon- profit, which are thought of
Politics is not an exercise of popu- and overcome by gold, guns and ors, appreciates and as capital.
larity or of showing off one’s glamour. Let your actions show salutes the millions in Numbers or statistics
wealth and power but it is an that you are governed, sustained the labor force all over the might help our reflection on
exercise of one’s commitment to and nourished by the Gospel country. We might even Labor Day. While govern-
look after the common good. I values of love and forgiveness, consider these workers as ment claims that 5 million jobs
admonish you not to employ of humility and obedience, and also genuine servants of the have been generated from
whatever form of violent and of justice and peace. state. They are the hands 2001 to the present (Philip-
corrupt means to achieve suc- For us all, our responsibility and feet, even to some ex- pine Star, April 30, 2007), one
cess in the political race. to our faith and to our nation tent the mind and the soul, study has it that in January
• Some sectors of society requires that we consider seri- of production. On them too 2006 the unemployed indi-
who take advantage of the elec- ously the action we are going to rest the rise and fall of viduals have reached 3.9
tion commotion: In the past your make, and that we do what is economy. The condition of million and still increasing,
unorthodox means of “partici- right. For only action that is right labor is probably a key to while the underemployed
pating” in the elections in the and true will in the end rescue our the question of social were 5.4 million of 31.7 mil-
name of helping the people had country. This is a critical mo- progress. lion employed. Overseas
sown fear and anger among the ment—and to do nothing would We can gauge the work has helped to a great
population. I admonish you to be a great tragedy. Therefore, let country’s poverty level by extent the Philippine
cease taking advantage of some us implore the Holy Spirit to en- looking at the condition of economy by mitigating the
ambitious politicians and of the lighten us and to enlighten our the majority of our labor employment problem in the
vulnerability of the people. If country. force. In some real sense, the country. As of 2004 the over-
you honestly have the good of As a sign of our depen- primary basis for the value of seas Filipino workers totaled
the country in mind, sowing ter- dence on God, I ask each vicari- work is the worker himself. 8 million. It is an accepted
ror, violence and anger are abso- ate or, if circumstances allow, As the classic saying goes: fact, their remittances have
lutely way out of your vision to each parish to hold a pre-elec- “Work is for man, not man provided an important
make your idealisms come to re- tion Holy Hour before Christ, for work.” Every human be- source of income for a great
ality. the Bread of Life. I urge each ing achieves fulfillment by number of Filipino families.
• All who work in the service family to recite a daily Rosary working for himself and his During the present cam-
of the Catholic Church: In past prior to the elections; we be- family and then for the great paign period for the May
experiences I had known of seech Mary, Immaculately con- society whose life he partici- election, the condition of la-
Church workers who decided to ceived, the patroness of our coun- pates in. bor must be one of the con-
give up their Christian principles try, to intercede for us; and we This means everyone cerns addressed to our fu-
and get mired up in “dirty” poli- ask the intercession of St. Jo- must be able to derive from ture leaders of government
tics. I admonish you not to aban- seph, the protector of the Church his work the means of sup- in all levels. We may have
don God in favor of “mammon”. and patron of our diocese, to porting himself and his fam- many good laws that are “pro
Indeed, this is the appropriate protect us. Through intense ily, and of serving the human workers”, but how many of
occasion for you to witness to prayers and acts of self-giving, I community. It is necessary them are still waiting for
the Gospel values of justice, ask all Catholics to witness to all that solidarity among work- implementation? The pov-
peace and love which you preach our brothers and sisters about ers themselves and with erty level of labor could be a
as servants of the Church. the profound moral significance workers on the part of busi- sign (one anyway) indicat-
To all Basic Ecclesial Com- of the decisions being made that ness establishments be pro- ing the genuine level of
munities (BEC’s) throughout the day. moted for the protection of economy.
diocese, I make this special ap- May the Risen Lord grant mutual rights. We hope that the future
peal: us the strength to live up to our While approaching and leaders of our country—from
The bishops of our country convictions as witnesses of his advocating the ideal situa- the bottom up—in solidarity
underscore your critically sig- resurrection striving towards the tion of solidarity and com- with the business sector, will
nificant role in this year’s elec- building up of “a new heaven munion between labor and ensure through implementa-
tions not because you form the and a new earth.” businessmen, still the “pri- tion of just legislation the
majority of the electoral popu- Given this 23rd day of April ority of labor over capital” workers’ rights as well as the
lace but because you possess 2007, the feast of St. George the should be accepted as a fun- just development of the
an extraordinary strength that Martyr, at the Bishop’s Resi- damental and classic prin- world of work.
comes from your solidarity and dence, Ampayon, Butuan City. ciple. This is based on the
unity, that strength that comes principle of the “primacy of +ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
only from the Lord who is always In Mary’s fiat, man over things”—such as, Archbishop of Jaro
present “whenever two or three science and technology, the President, CBCP
are gathered in His name.” The +Juan de Dios M. Pueblos, DD instruments of work, money, May 1, 2007
Lord assures us, “Do not fear! It Bishop of Butuan

Volume 41 • Number 5 13

s we enter the final weeks
before elections, it Pastoral Letter

would be good to re-
mind ourselves of three C’s for
choosing candidates—i.e.,
Conscience, Competence, and
First and foremost, the

candidate must be a person of
conscience. He or she is
guided by a sense of morality,
of what is morally right or
wrong. He is maka-Diyos and

maka-tao. He takes to heart
the commandments: “Thou
shall not kill. Thou shall not
steal. Thou shall not bear false
witness.” Since he is running
for public office, he must be
transparent in his actions and
accountable for all his trans-
actions involving public funds.
In short, he upholds the val-
ues of Truth, Justice, and
Secondly, the candidate
must be a person of compe-
tence. He has a record of pub-
lic service that we can verify.
His academic qualifications
are sound. His previous work
experience gives us assurance
that he will be a good steward
of human, natural and finan-
cial resources. Merely belong-
ing to a “political dynasty” is
no assurance of competence;
it may even be seen as a nega-
tive mark. NAMFREL and NASSA in help- office must be checked by en- life has to be protected and
Thirdly, the candidate is a ing in voters’ education, poll gaged citizens’ groups that promoted. The Church has
person of commitment—i.e., he watching, and the quick count- demand social auditing of the been in the forefront of pro-life
is sincere and committed to ing of votes. use of public funds, especially issues – particularly against
serve the common good and 2) There is a need forgenu- for infrastructure projects. The the social ills of abortion and
the participation of the gov- ine democratization and po- use of “pork barrel” funds must artificial contraception. The
erned through people empow- litical reforms. The sordid prac- also be fully accounted for. archdiocese promotes respon-
erment. He is committed to tices of vote-buying and vote- Drug-pushing and rampant sible parenthood and a com-
causes beyond his own self- selling and mindless marshal- gambling must be checked. prehensive natural family plan-
interest and family aggrandize- ling of “command votes” are These social vices eventually ning program which we invite
ment. symptoms of a deeper malaise. give rise to narcopolitics and government agencies and lo-
Some of these causes have This must be counteracted by the dominance of “jueteng cal governments to support.
been articulated by the Church a political culture of “principles, lords.” 6) The support of private
in recent statements of the party platforms and genuine 4) In terms of social re- schools in the public service
Catholic Bishops’ Conference people’s participation.” The form, the CBCP statements in has been a recurrent concern
of the Philippines. recent stand of the local Church January 2007 express the bish- for the local Church. Moreover,
1) There is a need for elec- against the railroading of char- ops’ concerns in upholding the the rights of parents and stu-
toral reforms. The credibility ter change through a so-called dignity of the rural and urban dents for optional religious
of some COMELEC officials Peoples’ Initiative or a Con- poor. In particular, we call on instruction in public schools
has been eroded, particularly stituent Assembly highlights government to complete the as upheld by the Constitution
in the conduct of last elections. the need for continuing vigi- implementation of agrarian re- should be fully honored. There
In this regard, I highly endorse lance and genuine democratic form and provide housing op- is need to strengthen the moral
to our parishioners the call for processes. portunities for the urban poor. fiber of our citizenry through
volunteers to join PPCRV, 3) Corruption in public 5) The integrity of family religious instruction according

14 IMPACT • May 2007


condemn the extra-judicial kill-

ings of individuals. Two of
these have taken place over the
Pastoral Letter on the
past months in Misamis Orien-
tal. The public safety of peasant Upcoming 2007 Elections
and labor leaders as well as of
journalists exercising their pro- “Choose wise, intelligent and experienced men
fession must be upheld. The from each of your tribes”(Deut. 1:13)
basic freedoms of expression
and association are hallmarks BELOVED people of God: ELECTIONS PEACEFUL,
of a genuine democracy. Peace be with you! TRUE, CLEAN AND JUST.
Conscience, Competence, Once again we are to face As a guideline here are
Commitment—three qualities another election this year. the ten (10) commandments
we look for in our public offi- And once again our maturity for responsible voting: 1) You
cials. But these are the same and ability to choose leaders shall vote according to the
attributes we should look for in who will become public ser- dictate of your conscience;
ourselves as voters. It is time to vants in our government will 2) You shall respect the deci-
take democracy in our own be put to the test. Thanks to sion of others in choosing
hands and make it work for our the democratic process in our their candidates; 3) You shall
communities and future gen- choice of candidates whom seek to know the moral integ-
erations. we want to elect. This pro- rity, capabilities and other
We commend all those who cess also demands of us the personal qualities of the can-
volunteer their time, talents and responsibility to take actions didates you will vote for; 4)
treasure to ensure the viability to ensure peaceful, true, You shall strive to under-
of our democratic institutions. clean, and just elections. stand the issues, platform and
These include volunteers who As a people of God it is program of candidates and
take a neutral stance to watch our responsibility to safe- parties seeking your vote; 5)
the polls. On the other hand, guard our right to choose and You shall not sell your vote;
we also encourage the Catho- to protect the sanctity of bal- 6) You shall not vote for can-
lic laity together with other citi- lots. Let us always uphold didates using guns, goons
zens’ groups who wish to take activities that will help us and gold; 7) You shall not
a trans-partisan stand in the achieve peaceful and true vote for candidates with
choice of worthy candidates. elections. Important activities records of graft and corrup-
Trans-partisanship in this are “Voters’ Education” be- tion, and Human Rights Vio-
sense does not only mean fore elections and vigilance lation; 8) You shall not vote
choosing and openly endors- during and after the elections, for candidates just because
ing candidates across political and securing the “election of “utang na loob”, personal
parties. More profoundly, it returns and results”. appearance, popularity, or
to the students’ own faith tra- means transcending the nar- The CBCP Pastoral Let- pakikisama; 9) You shall not
dition. row bounds of party politics to ter to the dioceses and to the vote for candidates living an
7) Conserving the envi- choose candidates who uphold parishes has this request immoral life; 10) You shall put
ronment has been a major con- the Gospel values for building “…every parish organization the welfare of the country
cern of many dioceses, includ- what the Social Teachings of and institution—and the above all else in choosing the
ing our own. The CBCP has the Church envision as a “civi- BECs most especially—be candidate you will vote for.
issued statements against irre- lization of love.” mobilized to the utmost to do It is our hope that the
sponsible mining and logging May your involvement in what each can do towards Virgin Mary, the Queen of
– wanton practices that appar- the political life of our country that end…that they must form Peace, will always inspire us
ently are still taking place at a personify your collective con- linkages with one another and to do the will of Her Son Jesus.
small or fairly large scale in the science, competence and com- with other like-minded civic We hope that St. Michael the
upstream areas of Cagayan de mitment to rebuild our dam- and religious associations Archangel will protect us from
Oro and Iponan rivers. We have aged institutions and create a that are working to help clean every evil.
also issued a call against the brighter future for your chil- the dirt from our easily cor- May the God of love,
introduction of genetically- dren and coming generations. rupted electoral process.” peace, and justice unite all of
modified organisms (GMOs) in The candidate who buys your THERE SHOULD BE NO us in our work for a peaceful
our food chain. This has been vote is a candidate without the VOTEBUYING,CHEATING, and clean election!
done surreptitiously without three C’s. He is the last one you COERCION, FIGHTING,
proper labeling that should should vote for. Your vote is STEALING, DISHON- In Christ,
protect the consumers’ rights. sacred. Your vote counts. ESTY… DO NOT BE DE-
8) Finally, the rule of law CEIVED BY PROMISES +Elenito D. Galido, D.D.
and promoting the human secu- Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J. THAT HAVE NO FULFILL- Bishop of Iligan
rity of households and local Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro MENT.LETUSMAKEOUR February 23, 2007
communities must prevail. We 1 May 2007

Volume 41 • Number 5 15
The Hidden Cost of Graft and Corruption

y way of a better understanding of presidential entities categorically and
our focal subject concern, it would concretely established to specifically
be good to know or review the dif- counter graft and corruption in its own
ference and similarity between “graft” and fold. Established in 1986 to 2001 by differ-
“corruption”. ent Presidential Executive Orders, they
For practical purposes, they are inter- are either in fact obviously involved them-
changeable terms and pursuant realities— selves in such detestable practices they
for good reasons: one, their mere mention are mandated to counter or are strongly
immediately brings to mind the misuse or suspect of being manned by no less than
abuse of public office. Two, they both big grafters and corrupt officials, or basi-
instantly bring to mind gross dishonesty cally dysfunctional and wherefore perni-
and flagrant fraud in governance. Three, cious even to the general public.
their pairing infallibly says the issue of All the officials of these distin-
deceitful private gains of public officials guished and impressive government en-
eventually effective of losses of the public tities are not only fully paid by the direct
sector. and indirect taxes of all the citizens of the
In the technical sphere of law and Philippines from their birth to death. A
pursuant jurisprudence, however, there is good number of them are even enjoying
a given and accepted difference between enviable perks and privileges suppos-
the nature of “graft” and that of “corrup- edly for doing their jobs. For these rea-
tion”: sons alone, it becomes understandable
a. Graft is specifically applicable to that they are practically glued to their
public officials who betray their oath and official chairs only for their personal in-
take advantage of their office by pocket- terests but also on account of their pa-
ing public funds, giving favors, readily trons in government by reason of trans-
doing or actually sitting on their functions actional politics.
due to agreed upon considerations. In That is why notwithstanding the
graft, the key element is someone holding repeated and loud praise-chanting about
a public office and betraying a public these government agencies by the in-
trust—plus stealing public funds, deny- cumbent national leadership plus the
ing or undermining public service. high profile they have in the present
b. Corruption concretely refers to administration, it is both to their fame and
public officials who conspire with private shame that for 2007, the Philippines gained
citizens, organizations or institutions un- the aforesaid qualifying distinction of
der the triad of the briber (private persons the odious title of “Most Corrupt” in
or entities), the bribe (money, gifts, fa- Asia. For recall and reference purposes,
vors), and the bribed (public official). In the following are some of the more known
corruption, the essential conspiring fig- and often mentioned supposedly anti-
ures are at least one public official and one corruption entities by the 1986 Constitu-
private person, entity of corporation. tion and the last six continuously consti-
c. The screaming and dismaying head- tuted by Executive Orders from 1986 to
line “RP MOST CORRUPT IN ASIA” ac- 2001:
cording to the Political and Economic Risk 1. Commission on Elections; 2. Of-
Consultancy (PERC) (cf. Philippine Daily fice of the Ombudsman; 3.
Inquirer, March 14, 2007) means exactly Sandiganbayan; 4. Commission on Au-
the following: first, the distinct and perva- dit; 5. Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas; 6.
sive actuality of the “Triad of Dishonesty” Civil Service Commission; 7. Presidential
between government officials and private Commission on Good Government; 8.
individuals and enterprises. Second, the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating
“triad” is particularly operative in the Council; 9. Presidential Committee on
sphere of Philippine politics and corporate Effective Governance; 10. Presidential
business. Third, the “triad” has ascended Anti-Graft Commission; 11. Governance
to a superlative degree to the extent that it Advisory Council; 12. Anti-Money Laun-
gathered the first ranking in the whole dering Council.
continent of Asia. The irony of it all rests on the fact
that just last year 2006, the incumbent
A. Anti-Corruption Agencies in Head of Government even proudly an-
the Philippine Government nounced that it has earmarked no less
It is both intriguing and disheartening than an additional amount of two billion
to know and remember that the Philippine pesos to combat graft and corruption in
Government has an impressive number of government! This brings to mind the
no less than constitutional bodies plus height of futility and the summit of hy-

© Dennis Dayao / CBCP Media Office

16 IMPACT • May 2007


The Hidden Cost

of Graft and
By Oscar V. Cruz

© Denz Dayao / IMPACT

Volume 41 • Number 5 17

pocrisy as may be perceived in the ridicu- cases filed against some of their officials
lous images of feeding the sharks, trusting last year alone, are the following—arranged
thieves, converting evil! This is why one in alphabetical order:
year later as above said, 2007 is a title year 1 Bureau of Customs (BOC); 2. Bureau
for the Philippines openly declared for the of Internal Revenue (BIR); Commission on
whole world to know as tops in corruption Elections (COMELEC); 3. Department of
in the Asian Continent! Education (DepEd); 4. Department of Inte-
rior & Local Government (DILG); 5. De-
B. Graft and corruption in partment of National Defense (DND); 6.
government Department of Natural Resources (DENR);
By way of a more concrete perspec- 7. Department of Public Works & High-
tive and particular understanding of graft ways (DPWH); 8. Department of Trans-
and corruption in government, it will be portation and Communication (DOTC); 9.
useful to consider though briefly the three National Housing Authority (NHA); 10.
following signal realities. In effect, they National Irrigation Agency (NIA); 11. Se-
come by way of conclusions of many stud- curities & Exchange Commission (SEC).
ies, prolonged researches and proper in- It might be worth noting that the most
quiries by certain non-government groups known and commonly considered most
and organizations: graft ridden and corrupt government agen-
cies are the following—arranged in their
1. “Dirty Money” order of demerit: First, Bureau of Internal
For purposes of both technicality and Review. Second, Bureau of Customs.
practicality, the so-called “dirty money” Third, Department of Public Works & High-
comes in three categories. Though they ways. It is for this reason that the key
have their respective terminologies, in public offices in these government enti-
substance, however, their common de- ties are the most sought after and accord-
nominator is greed productive precisely of ingly dispensed by the Administration to
flagrant graft and blatant corruption in this those it owes to appease and/or those
pitiful country. numbered among its favorites for political
a. Extortion. This is an agreed amount of and/or personal reasons. It is not alto-
money demanded by a person holding gether unfounded for many people to be-
public office and wherefore exercising lieve that the high public officials ap-
public authority so that the payee pointed to these three distinct agencies
could evade penalty, big damage or are well screened in their loyalty to the
grave inconvenience. Needless to say, appointing power.
this is the vilest form of graft and 3. Graft and Corruption Particulars
corruption. In the vernacular this is
called “patong”. Considering “graft and corruption”
b. Grease. This is standard, agreed upon as but one composite reality, viz., “G/C”,
or acceptable payment usually given whereby any public official uses his or her
to high or low public officials for the public office for promoting private inter-
purpose of making these precisely do ests and/or acquiring personal gains, there
their functions better and/or faster, or are more than a thousand and one particu-
for facilitating the instance or insis- lars that can be pointed out in conjunction b. G/C has become a matter of course in
tence of payees. This money chang- with this subject matter. For purposes of the workings of the Executive Depart-
ing hands usually comes as a form of brevity however, there are certain ment, in the manipulation of the major-
corruption. In the vernacular this is conclusory items that are worth mention- ity and the independent members of
called “padulas”. ing for a better understanding and appre- the Legislative Department especially
c. Bribe. This comes in form of relatively ciation of the reach and impact of these the Lower House of Congress, and in
big amount of money paid to the public practices of greed, avarice or covetous- the inducements of the key figures in
officials with decision-making power ness obtaining in government: the Judicial Department in promoting
usually to favor the payee. This par- a. G/C has taken deep and extensive the big interests and protecting the
ticular form of corruption ordinarily rootage in the whole Philippine politi- distinct concerns of the present Ad-
happens in the Judicial System, the cal system from the national to the ministration.
immediate and disastrous result of local levels, and vice versa. It comes c. G/C is such practiced in Government
which is that justice has become illu- primarily in terms of the promotion of Owned and Controlled Corporations
sive to the poor and common tao. partisan interests, the reality of trans- (GOCC) with Philippine Amusement
actional politics, the tenets of political and Gambling Corporation (PAGCOR)
2. Graft-prone government agencies deserving special mention, in building
patronage and consequent appoint-
Among others, the twelve govern- ments to high positions in govern- government projects and making pro-
ment agencies that are prone to graft prac- ment agencies, departments and of- curements, in the preferential treat-
tices pursuant to records and consequent fices. ment of public officials who contribute

18 IMPACT • May 2007

The Hidden Cost of Graft and Corruption

(Marcos Rule); 2. Kamag-Anak, Inc.

(Cory Regime); 3. PEA-Amari (Ramos
Regime); 4. Dummy Corporation
(Estrada Presidency); 5. Hello Garci
Tape (Arroyo Reign)

C. “Pork Barrel”
Since its ominous introduction in the
national budget specifically in favor of the
honorable members of the Legislative
Department, the “pork barrel” system—
euphemistically called Countrywide De-
velopment Fund (CDF)—has been the
object of many investigations and conse-
quent denunciations, repeated adverse
findings and pursuant censures. Many
consider it as an efficient vehicle of en-
demic graft and systemic corruption in the
Philippine governance:
1. Even but for purposes of recall, it
would be good to cite how much fats are
eaten up by the Philippine legislators—
under the following interesting observa-
tions: a.) There are legislators who in fact
deliberately refuse to get their allotted
“pork barrel”. This they do as a matter of
principle for which reason they can be
counted with one’s finger; b.) There are
legislators who in effect are denied their
“pork barrel” for not being pro-administra-
tion; c.) There are indications that the
“pork barrel” is even bigger in the 2007
National Budget.
It has been acknowledged that there
is a somehow good side to “pork barrel” in
the sense that it in a way provides for the
needs of the constituents of a legislator
especially so when they are neglected by
the national government.
2. By way of general information,
hereunder are the yearly sum totals—as of
© Denz Dayao / CBCPMedia last year’s national budget—credited for
their respective dispositions of legislators
most to partisan gains thus enjoying are the following more known ones: “according to law”: a.) 70 Million Pesos
practical immunity from judicial penal- Procurement Watch, Inc., Bantay per Congressman; b) 200 Million Pesos
ties even for gross offenses. Katarungan. Transparency and Ac- per Senator; c) Thousands more for cer-
d G/C stands out when it comes to gov- countability Network, Philippine Cen- tain items.
ernment regulatory activities—such ter for Investigative Journalism “Pork Barrel” also provides some
as in securing national and local gov- (PCIJ)—where a good amount of the means of developmental projects particu-
ernment permits and licenses, in get- information and data in this page have larly in favor of the 5 thand 6th class munici-
ting public contracts, in making pay- been taken and crosschecked with palities.
ments for direct taxes. other sources. 3. And by way of concrete data,
e. G/C is a given in dealing with the g. G/C has shown its most signal and hereunder are the yearly particulars of the
government officials concerned in scandalous expression in certain “pork barrel”, i.e., the beneficial items in-
conjunction with the following corpo- unique phenomenon and singular facts cluded in the whole barrel for application
rate businesses especially in big and in the country that merited historical by the legislators: a.) 10-20 M for Priority
medium scales: manufacturing, trade, recording for many generations to Development Assistance Fund; b.) 15M
finance, transportation, communica- know and remember. Among the well as Congressional Initiative Allocation; c.)
tion. noted and corrupt acts in the Philip- 30-60M for Public Works fund; d.) 4-5M
f. G/C has already long since become the pines the following surely deserve for School Building Fund; e.) 05-1M for
special concern of certain Non-Gov- special mention for their significance Farm-to-Market Road Construction Fund.
ernment Organizations, among which and pursuant implications: 1. Cronyism There are marked findings that in ad-

Volume 41 • Number 5 19

dition to the “pork barrel” proper, legisla- ethical nature and/or moral import— peace productive of human develop-
tors get additional takes and perks under such as the following: 1) Graft and ment—which are basically in conjunction
various entitlements—monthly, occasion- corruption become a political given. with the “here and now”, and which are
ally, yearly: a) Salary per month: P35,000.00; Acceptance of greed and consequent precisely the primary concern of the Social
b) Credited Expenses per month: deception in money matters become Doctrine of the Church.
P200,000.00; c) Foreign Travel per day: but a fact of life. The pursuit of fast Among the thousand and one key
$300.00; d) Special occasions: P50,000.00; and easy money comes as a matter of social teachings of the Church which has
e) Election of Speaker: P200,000.00 max; f) course. Honesty and integrity are only particular relevance to our subject con-
Allowance from Speaker: P100,000.00 max; for the simpletons and fools who know cern, the following signal doctrinal stance
g) Christmas gift from Speaker: P200,000.00 no better. 2) Promotion of the culture is expressly and clearly forwarded:
max; h) Attendance for selected bills: of lying, cheating, and stealing. Ero- “Among the deformities of the demo-
P50,000.00 +; i) Christmas gift from sion of the fundamental values of cratic system, political corruption is one of
Malacañang: P100,000.00 +; j) Committee honesty and integrity. Deadening of the most serious because it betrays at one
Chairmanship: variable. conscience even among young and the same time both moral principles
people—to the extent of their loss of and the norms of social justice. It compro-
D. Costs of Graft and Corruption the sense of right and wrong, the mises the correct functioning of the State,
Needless to say, graft and corrup- distinction between virtue and vice. having a negative influence on the rela-
tion cost people much nationwide in terms 3) Indifference to the gross violation tionship between those who govern and
of their eventual big losses individually, of social justice, apathy to the op- the governed. It causes growing distrust
as a sector or as a composite whole—be pression of the common tao, resigna- with respect to public institutions, bring-
these immediately evident or hidden which tion to the reality of easy life, abuse ing about a progressive disaffection in the
is worse as to their deeper and longer and thievery among public officials. citizens with regard to politics and its
impact. First, they cost them as direct and Adoption of the “see nothing, hear representatives, with the result of weaken-
indirect tax payers in the sense that a big nothing, say nothing” stance as a ing institutions.” (Cf. John Paul II,
amount of their hard earned money goes rule of life to the extent that each one Sollicitudo rei socialis, 44).
to the pockets of many unscrupulous is responsible only to oneself. In other words, corruption plus graft
public officials. Second, destroys democracy,
ruins morality, vio-
The Philippines has not earned
they further cost them
as citizens deprived of lates social justice,
what is due them such ruins state functions,
as their public welfare
or common good they the odious and shameful title of alienates the govern-
ing and the governed,
undermines social in-
have the right to expect
and to have. Third, they
finally cost them in their
the “Most Corrupt in Asia”—for stitutions, depreci-
ates politics and poli-
ethical perspective and
pursuant values sys- nothing! ticians.

tem that in effect un- Conclusion

dermine their dignity as By way of end-
human persons. The costs of graft and E. Social Doctrine of the Church ing this little paper with a more recent and
corruption can be thus identified and It is a big pity that the Social Doctrine concrete glaring example of graft and cor-
categorized: of the Church somehow still remains her ruption, it would suffice to look into the
a. Money Cost. According to the most “best kept secret” in the world in the sense atrocious costing of the purchase and
conservative estimate of the Commis- that it has not been really taught and acted installation of lampposts in Cebu on the
sion on Audit, graft and corruption in upon as the Clergy and the Religious did occasion of the much trumpeted 12th
the Philippines cost a minimum of 2 to much regarding cultic matters, viz., devo- ASEAN Summit last January:
3 Billion pesos a year to the people. It tional, spiritual, supernatural agenda. For a. There were no less than 1,800 lamp-
is a given that the COA itself is sadly this reason, the Catholic faith in the Phil- posts bought and placed along the
not altogether free of graft and corrup- ippines could have become too “ceremonial route” of the Asean Heads
tion. verticalistic, with its rightful horizontal and Delegates on their way to their
b. Social Cost. The supposed beneficia- dimension—the Social Doctrine of the convention site.
ries who constitute the Filipino people Church—somehow sadly forgotten. b. In Mandaue City, the simple lamp-
are robbed of what is due them in To this date, a good number of politi- post cost but P7,536.00 each, while the
social development. This translates to cal and business leaders in the country are tipple armed structure only cost
socio-political instability and citizen’s graduates of Catholic schools, colleges P9,523.00 each.
discontent brought about by poverty, and universities. They presence church c. Lo and behold, after their purchase
hunger and sickness—not to mention liturgy, have their favorite devotions and and installation the lamppost cost the
poor education, lack of medical and even attend retreats—which are basically government no less than P300,000.00
welfare services. with reference to the “hereafter and be- each!
c. Ethical Cost. Most costly of all the yond”. Yet, the Philippines is not exactly The Philippines has not earned the
ill-effects of flagrant graft and blatant known for honesty and integrity, for the odious and shameful title of the “Most
corruption are the hidden ones of promotion of social justice, the quest for Corrupt in Asia”—for nothing! I

20 IMPACT • May 2007


lection time is here again. Surveys
from Pulse Asia taken last January
29 before the start of the campaign
showed Loren Legarda leading the pack of
the Genuine Opposition (GO)
senatoriables. A second survey was done
in March and the results were essentially
the same—the Genuine Opposition lead-
ing over the Team Unity (TU) candidates.
Atty. Adel Tamano, the GO campaign
manager, taunted Team Unity for its poor
showing in these surveys. Of course, the
Administration’s spokesman, Secretary
Gabriel Claudio was quick to demolish the
early claim of the Opposition. The local
government leaders, he avowed, 90% of
whom promised support and allegiance to
the Administration, will deliver a 9-3 or 8-
4 victory in TU’s favor when election time
How accurate are these surveys?
Aside from its use as material for political
campaigns and the like, what reactions are
expected by those affected by the sur-

veys? In the recent survey published in
March, of the Political and Economic Risk
Consultancy (PERC) of Hongkong, the
Philippines was rated No. 1 as the most
corrupt of 13 Asian economies. We beat
Indonesia which was always ranked higher

in the corruption index than the Philip-
pines. The Philippine government and pri-
vate sector complained with reason that
the survey was inaccurate, a mere percep-
tion that contradicts the results of a recent
survey made by the Social Weather Sta-

of Corruption
tion (SWS) of Mahar Mangahas which
showed more encouraging results. We
quote the SWS report—”The Philippines
scored 73 and was classified as moderate
in the 2006 Global Integrity Index. The
Philippines is rated as strong in the Cat-
egory of Oversight & Regulation (85); as
moderate in Civil Society, Public Infor-
mation and Media (72); Government
Accountability (71); Administration & By Jose B. Lugay
Civil Service (73) and Anti-Corruption
and Rule of Law (78). In the Global Integ- the majority voters’ choice. The technol- ranks No. 4 with Myanmar as No. 1, Cam-
rity Index on 40 countries, the Philip- ogy of measurement is now as scientific as bodia No. 2 and Indonesia No. 3. What is
pines was rated very weak in the category it could be. In the case of the PERC it is only notable is the final comment of Transpar-
of Elections (60).” This should give us one of the 10 world institutions who pro- ency International, which we quote, “As
pose—instead of believing outright and vided data for theCorruption Perception the index is based on polls, the results are
emotionally reacting to results of new Index (CPI) which surveyed 163 countries subjective and are less reliable for coun-
surveys, we should instead question how in the world. They used a list of Frequently tries with fewer sources. The poll results
these surveys are done, by whom and for Asked Questions (FAQ) to get the “resi- must be understood as measuring public
what purpose. dents” “viewpoints which correlate well perception rather than being an objec-
The accuracy of surveys depends to with those of “experts” abroad. In the case tive measure of corruption.”
a great degree on the measures used. The of PERC, they used only the opinions of How does one measure corruption in
use of statistical sampling and other means 1,436 expatriate businessmen, with no in- an objective way? In a recent meeting last
like the use of baseline indicators, prop- puts from the local businessmen. February 26, 2007, the measurement of
erly validated, can be used to extrapolate It is interesting to note that the 2006 corruption was done by the World Bank in
the outcome to give a credible rating, e.g., CPI survey on corruption, the Philippines its Country Procurement Annual Report

Volume 41 • Number 5 21
The Measurement of Corruption

(CPAR) deliberation. I believe the process low the ideal system of governance of takers, is a sin against one of the ten
is more objective than opinion surveys. procurement, all is well and done—cor- commandments of God—Thou Shalt Not
Representing the CBCP-LAIKO, and hav- ruption may now be a thing of the past! Steal. Nevertheless, the World Bank’s
ing been involved for the past 3 years in Yes, the legal framework was rated almost Country Procurement Assessment Report
the government procurement process as perfect with the passage of Republic Act (CPAR) and their methodology to measure
Observer, I was invited by the World Bank 9184, the new government procurement corruption should be supported by the
and Government Procurement Policy Board law, receiving a very high score! Will this government regardless of its weakness.
organizers to attend a meeting to deliber- mean that the Philippines will now suc- Hopefully what it lacks in moral formation
ate on the corruption index for procure- ceed in eradicating corruption? Not quite! has been addressed partially by the Presi-
ment. Now it is clearer to me how they What is missing in the whole equation dential Anti-Graft Commission’s (PAGC)
ranked the Philippines next to Indonesia is the moral aspect of corruption. The Integrity Development Action Plan. Us-
and Vietnam in the year 2000 as the top measures arrived at, the Base Line Indica- ing 4 strategies of corruption prevention,
three most corrupt countries in East Asia. tors, are measures of performance in imple- investigation and strategic partnership,
This past year however the Philippines menting the procurement system. Corrup- inculcating these to 70 government agen-
showed a good measure of improvement in tion in procurement is an activity that cies, has resulted so far in rating these
governance. occurs between the supplier and the pur- agencies as compliant with 22 doable anti-
The exercise given to the participants chaser—between the private sector and corruption measures. PAGC chairperson,
was to discuss the validity of the observa- the government sector. The root of cor- Constancia de Guzman recently an-
tions using Base Line Indicators, orBLI’s. ruption is a moral problem of individuals, nounced the ten most compliant agencies
These are measures of systems of good hence, it can only be solved by formation. of the anti-corruption program of the IDAP.
governance, its laws and policies; and As we are predominantly Catholics, the They are the 1) DOH, 2) DSWD, 3) DOST,
how implementation is managed and re- moral problem is addressed by conversion 4) DTI, 5) BIR, 6) DPWH, 7) PNP, 8) Office
ported for corrective action. To be measur- and evangelization of the laity. The inter- of the President, 9) DepEd, 10) MMDA.
able, these Base Line Indicators are vention for change therefore should be This is a good sign that there is improve-
grouped into four pillars, namely, the training of participants of procurement ment in the government’s advocacy drive
Pillar I – Legislative and Regulatory in the private sector, the government sec- for good governance.
Framework It is a challenge
Pillar II – Central
Institutional "It is a challenge however, to the however, to the Church
in the Philippines, par-

Church in the Philippines,

Framework ticularly the Catholic
Pillar III – Procure- Lay Organizations, to
ment Operations undertake the moral re-

particularly the Catholic Lay

Pillar IV – Integrity generation program.
and Transpar- The parishes must re-
ency of Procure- double their efforts to
Each Pillar has 3
or 4 indicators with
Organizations, to undertake the catechize the youth
and support family
evangelization pro-
their sub-indicators
and is correspond- moral regeneration program. " grams. Everybody has
a stake in the redemp-
ingly rated. The score tion of this country
of 3 is the highest and from the evils of cor-
0 is the lowest. Once the four pillars and tor and civil society. The training syllabus ruption. Hopefully we elect legislators
their corresponding indicators are ap- aside from subjects of procurement, the who are morally formed and untainted by
proved by the World Bank and the OECD governing law, systems management and corruption. Their pork barrel allotment,
donors, these are going to be used to professional ethics, should include basic which will be sourced from the Priority
measure the participating countries’ pro- Catholic doctrines from the Compendium Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)
curement performance. For comparison, of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic now amounts to P11.445 Billion for the
each country will be rated using the Com- Church for the moral formation of all Catho- year 2007 and could be the handy source
pliance Performance Indicator or CPI and lic procurement practitioners in govern- of funds to recover their election ex-
will be ranked accordingly. ment and the private sector. How can this penses.
The findings that are of most concern movement be funded? It is a fact that the Needless to say, the electoral candi-
to me as a technical man serving the Coun- World Bank which receives donated funds dates with high integrity and good moral
cil of the Laity, is the concentration of the from OECD countries will not support fund- foundation should be known by the elec-
corruption measurement on its adherence ing for religion-related activities. Funds torate—their background and track record.
to the legal system, the procedures, the must be coming from the private sector It is not easy since there are about 38
management system and the areas for the and the Church. names they should know by heart—their
improvement for good governance. It As observed, the approach to solving senatorial, congressional and local gov-
would seem from the discussions that the problem of corruption by the World ernment and party list candidates. Let us
when all the above pillars and indicators Bank does not address the root cause all help the Parish Pastoral Council for
are measured, and assuming the govern- which is moral in nature - the violation of Responsible Voting (PPCRV) that is now
ment, lawmakers and local executives fol- buyers, suppliers, bribe givers and bribe doing this job. I

22 IMPACT • May 2007


Corruption Not Population

“15 Million Pinoys Live on $1/Day”—thus reads fund its glorious plans and super programs? Were it not
and rings the recent headline of a known broadsheet as for its big population, could this government have its big
a finding of the World Bank. A likewise known survey multi-billion OFW remittances to keep the country
made earlier said that a big majority of the respondents financially afloat and to enable it to borrow even more
favored the use of contraception for the country… and and more money from the World Bank—for the citizens
as expected, vote-hungry politicos hurriedly aligned to pay from one generation to another?
themselves with anti-population advocates. The poverty in the country is not on account of its
Irrespective of their political affiliations, ethical population but due to endemic graft and corruption in
persuasions and/or social beliefs, it can be rightfully said government. The Filipinos are poor because the Philip-
that all anti-population crusaders sing one and the same pines is the most corrupt country in the whole Asian
song: the bigger the population, the more is poverty. continent. Honesty in government is what brings
The lesser the population, the greater is prosperity. prosperity. Thievery in public office is what makes the
This is a good example of superficial thinking, quick- citizens live in poverty.
fix mentality and a pitiful perception of the nature, Human persons are not merely heads to count but
dignity and value of human life. They perceive people potentials to develop and wealth to care for. When their
merely as mouths to feed, bodies to clothe, heads to government steals what lawfully belongs to them, it is
shelter. Conclusion: the less people there are, the more then that they become a social liability. Every single
food, clothing and shelters there will be—plain and Filipino pays direct and/or indirect taxes from birth to
simple logic! death. They pay for government services they do not
Wrong! get, for public education they do not receive, for the
Were it not for its big populations, where would this common welfare they do not enjoy.
Administration get its big multi-billion E-Vat money to No wonder they are poor!

Volume 41 • Number 5 23

Philippines most
Waiting for Justice, Funeral for Corrupt Asian
Murdered Missionary is Held
HONG KONG, April 16, 2007—The most
corrupt system in the Political and Eco-
nomic Risk Council Asian continent is the
Philippines. That’s according to recent in-
vestigations conducted by the Hong Kong
based centre Political and Economic Risk
Council (PERC), in a report published last
March 13. The Council report states that
“politician’s empty promises to combat cor-
ruption have tired investors”.
The data was collected from interviews
with over 1,476 business men who are op-
erative throughout the Asian continent.
Results show that Manila “has the worst
track record among foreign investors”,
whereas China, Indonesia and Vietnam have
progressed in their fight against corrup-
According to investors, Hong Kong
and Singapore are the “economically
cleanest” countries, but the latter’s situa-
tion “is worsening because foreign inves-
tors taking advantage of the Asian corrup-
tion seek refuge for their illicit earnings in
Singapore, where thanks to the presence of
new industries they have found a haven for
recycling their money”.
In fact Indonesia followed by Thailand
found the second place in the survey. The
MANILA, April 11, 2007—The fu- whole investigation into this sense- PERC has confirmed that the campaign of
neral of Fr Francis Madhu, a Divine less murder, and we are sure that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to
Word missionary from Flores Island justice shall prevail. We are close to combat corruption “has produced some
killed on Good Friday as he was pre- the family and very saddened by this ‘positive results, but is still swimming up-
paring to celebrate mass, took place ugly story.” stream”.
yesterday at Christ the King Semi- Meanwhile police have already In Thailand corruption has worsened
nary in Cubao, near Metro Manila. detained Nestor Wailan (aka Sukman), even if some improvement is expected fol-
More than a hundred people, the man who carried out the murder. A lowing September military coup which un-
including local priests, Catholic mis- farmer from the northern province of seated Prime Minister Shinawatr, and saw
sionaries and Muslims attended the Kalinga, he shot Father Madhu five the military junta assumed power promising
service. Three bishops were also times with a rifle when the latter was to combat illegal trafficking. Despite this,
present. making his way to Barangay the Council maintains that “there is no
Msgr. Prudencio Andaya, Mabungot to celebrate mass. reason to believe that their behavior will be
bishop of Tabuk, called the incident Police are also trying to deter- more transparent than there predecessors”.
“an incredible crime, a shattering ex- mine the degree of involvement of The report puts China in seventh place
perience to all of us.” He added: two other men who were detained as among the continents of most corrupt na-
“There are many who can testify that a result of the incident, Joel Awingan tions while Vietnam is in tenth place. These
Father Madhu was killed for no rea- and Acmor Bonggawon. countries “have improved their placing, but
son. We condemn this crime and For the police, the men acted this improvement could be due to the fact
demand justice.” under the influence of alcohol and that there is no open debate on corruption”.
Similarly, Indonesia’s ambassa- drugs. However, local residents re- In fact, “mass media, be it Chinese or Viet-
dor to the Philippines, Irzan Tanjung, fused to co-operate with police fear- namese are strictly censured and the only
said “We hope that the Filipino ing retribution. (Santosh Digal / bad news that these governments allow to
government will soon conclude the AsiaNews) published are those considered right for the
general public”. (AsiaNews/Agencies)

24 IMPACT • May 2007


The “Cost” of Filipino Bishops Celebrating Easter

Discrimination on ‘YouTube’
against MANILA, April 11, 2007—
In addition to those in
churches, Filipino bishops
Women in Asia celebrated Easter this year
on YouTube. They inaugu-
rated in fact their own
YouTube video blog last
week by posting Church
teachings and reflections
on the essence of Holy
Week for the benefit of Fili-
pinos, especially the
young, around the world,
thus heeding the call of the
late Pope John Paul II to
make the most of the Internet to spread As of April 8, Easter Sunday, the
the Gospel. CBCP has posted nine video blogs, the
“The launching was timed for Holy latest of which is the Easter Vigil cer-
Week, it being the most appropriate emony, including the homily by Manila
BANGKOK, May 5, 2007—Despite the time to issue short catechesis on the Archbishop Gaudencio B. Cardinal
progress of recent years, social dis- liturgical significance of the celebra- Rosales.
crimination against women remains a tions that have been most misunder- Msgr. Quitorio said that issues re-
serious problem, which does not only stood,” said Msgr. Pedro Quitorio III, lating to the environment, gambling,
have grave social consequences, but spokesperson for the Catholic Bish- politics, and the family would be loaded
also causes heavy economic losses. ops’ Conference of the Philippines on the video blog after the Holy Week.
A report by the Economic and So- (CBCP) and director of its Media Office. Since its start, the video blog has
cial Commission for Asia and the Pa- The first CBCP video blogs fea- become a place where many faithful
cific (ESCAP), states that the region is ture Quitorio in a Holy Week series both within and outside the country can
losing about 42 billion to 50 billion dol- where he discusses various Easter tra- interact with the prelates.
lars annually because of restrictions on ditions, such as the Washing of the On Sunday, a Filipino living in the
women’s access to employment oppor- Feet, Visits to Churches and the Ven- United States wrote: “I am so happy that
tunities. eration of the Cross. you are now in YouTube. Filipinos like
According to the study paper by The “CBCP’s YouTube account me find it convenient to listen to the
the Bangkok based UN group, sexual is intended for the young faithful to- words of God in the sanctuary of our
discrimination in the fields of education day who are more inclined to listen to homes. How I miss our Christian rites
and employment persist, while progress the latest technology rather than the and traditions during the holiest of weeks
has been made in female participation in age-old-sermon,” he said. “It seemed [even if here] in the Midwest we tried and
the world of politics. a good way to reach our target audi- exerted our efforts to observe Holy
Female primary school enrolment is ence.” Week.” (Santosh Digal / AsiaNews)
about 26 per cent lower than that of
males, while violence against women
continues unabated in the region. In
some countries, states the report, one The largest representation of said the region is losing about 42 billion
in every ten girls dies before reaching women in parliaments was in New to 50 billion dollars annually because of
the age of one, and one in every 50 Zealand, followed closely by Vietnam, restrictions on women’s access to em-
women dies during pregnancy and de- Turkmenistan and East Timor. The low- ployment opportunities. At the same time,
livery. est representation was in Papua New he said, the Asia-Pacific region is also
Still, the Asia-Pacific region, which Guinea, Bangladesh (which produced losing an additional 16 to 30 billion dol-
produced women leaders in seven coun- two women prime ministers) and lars a year because of gender gaps in
tries (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Vanuatu. There has been “tangible education. “If female workforce partici-
Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines progress” also in other sectors. pation was placed on a par with devel-
and New Zealand), has made tangible Women’s life expectancy has increased oped countries, such as the United States,
progress in several other areas. Since from 44 years during 1950-1955 to 70 India’s gross domestic product (GDP)
1997, the number of women parliamen- years in 2000-2005. would increase by about 1.08 percentage
tarians in the region has increased by 50 Robert Vos, director of the UN’s de- points—a gain of about 19 billion dol-
per cent. velopment policy and analysis division lars,” said Vos. (AsiaNews/Agencies)

Volume 41 • Number 5 25

For example it regulates eating and

Salafist fasting habits, they way to dress and pray
according to a series of purification rituals;
Islam it indicates how Muslims should relate with
others (according to whether they are men
or women, Muslim or non Muslim etc..), in
Spawns the choice of profession and how to exer-
cise it, in the use of money and how to invest
Islamic it, in sex (how, when and with who it can be
done) as with marriage: in short an unend-
ing list of every day gestures. Islamism
Terrorism penetrates everything and leaves little space
to human freedom or personal choice.

by Samir Khalil Samir, SJ Fatwa and puerile terrorism

A characteristic consequence of this

t the very roots of the violence is an the Koran, thus they are not worthy of to be concept of Islam is the widespread social
ideological interpretation of the called Muslims. phenomenon of the fatwa. In this picture,
Koran, rather than mere reactions And the Muslim states? They are not the Muslim believer feels ignored by his
to Western aggressions. The time has come religion, incapable of discerning right from
for Muslims to react to this blind and Islamic, but a caricature of Islam: their hy-
childish style of religion. pocrisy is far greater, because they founded wrong, of choosing between “Islamic good”
their constitutions on western standards and evil. He is afraid of becoming a bad
THE bloody attacks on Algiers, along with Muslim such as those who surround him, all
Morocco’s suicide bombers once again (which is for the most part true) merely
adding Muslim elements. In doing so they because the Islamists have nurtured the
show that Islamic fundamentalist violence idea within the believer that he is the only
is born of violence within Islam itself. This have “deceived” their people. They are
worse still than the Western States and true Muslim. Thus, for any given reason the
is contrary to what some Western observ- believer turns to the ulema, asking for a
ers would have us believe, that it is a reac- governments who at least do not deceive
Muslims! fatwa.
tion to “western aggressions”. The root In Egypt this phenomenon has ar-
cause lies within a certain current in Muslim These are the type of Islamists we see
every day on the streets of Muslim coun- rived at an extreme: hundreds of thou-
thought. sands of fatwa’s are issued each year,
Islamic terrorism is caused by Islamism tries. The Algerian Salafists, the Afghan
Taliban make up a small part of this giant often for nothing. Fatwa’s can be re-
that is a certain mode of reading the Koran quested via specialized telephones, or by
and Sunnah, which has become widespread spider’s web, which spawns terror far be-
yond the Middle East: in Pakistan, Somalia, direct request to the Mufti’s, or even by
in Muslim schools and Universities, such internet, television and radio. This re-
as Cairo’s Al-Azhar. Islamic terrorism— Northern Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi
Arabia, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia ... and sults in reducing the faith and the faithful
particularly in the Sunni world—is caused to a childish, puerile state; making the
by Salafism, in short a blind attachment to tomorrow in Europe. My intention is not to
Muslim believer totally dependent and
the tradition of the Ancients that preceded alarm. I only wish to underline that the web
spreads by its very nature where it finds robbing him of the ability to take on an
us (Salaf), a literal and rigid reading, without adult responsibility for his religious or
life and without soul. fertile ground.
spiritual life.
Terrorism is not an Islamic disease: it is Islamist thought forms people who
merely the manifestation of a far more deeply The relationship between Islamism have renounced their right to think or make
rooted illness, of a certain way to interpret and Salafism personal judgments, to blindly follow teach-
life and the Islamic religion. As a result, It is essential that the intrinsic link ings of those who indoctrinate them. It
terrorism cannot be fought by force alone, between Islamism and Salafism is under- reduces the believer to the state of a docile
but must be countered with a culture that stood, as well as the difference which sepa- follower, incapable of critical thought. In
promotes a more open interpretation of the rates them. Salafist thought is rooted in the the end this docile follower can easily be-
Koran. Koran and the Sunnah, in other words it come a terrorist: he only needs to be con-
finds its justification and elaborates its vinced that what he is about to do is a
Ideological and Islamic terrorism thoughts and way of life within these texts. religious duty, which pleases God and will
Islamic terrorism is neither gratuitous Salafist thought was not borne of this save the Islamic community (ummah).
nor brutal violence, it is a religious ideol- century, but goes far back to the early years It is important not to confuse or iden-
ogy. It is seen as a sacred duty, the concrete of Islam. This tradition is one of the most tify Islam with Islamism, but is also neces-
application of divine will, as clearly ex- interpretative of the Koran and Sunnah. sary that we push Muslims to reject Islamism
pressed in certain excerpts of the Koran and The Islamist current basis itself on the as an alteration of authentic Islam and to
in some of the practices and sayings of Salafist interpretation of Islam and it fight against this spreading tendency.
Islam’s Prophet. radicalizes it, turning it into a concrete ap- Western society must defend Muslims from
Terrorists and Islamists consider the plication, through intense propaganda and Islamism. For this reason, giving even mini-
majority of Muslims who do not agree with presenting it as authentic Islam. It renders mal credence to the demands of the Islam-
this point of view to be hypocrites Salafism extreme, by prescribing precise ists is a regression which only serves to
(munâfiqûn), as God himself defines them in rules applied to the actions of daily living. open new terrorist fronts. I

26 IMPACT • May 2007


Poor Priests!
his is certainly not about priests pressly and officially forbids priests from
living in poverty. It is neither holding any office that participates of
about priests who are over- civil power or authority. This is exactly
worked but under-appreciated. This is the case when priests run for elective
not even about priests who are killed— public offices and in fact win the elec-
or who are already marked to be killed— tions.
in the performance of their ministerial The truth is that it is a lose/lose
PAGCOR duties. This is about priests who for
one reason or another made the danger-
situation for priests running for elective
public positions. In other words, they
ous option to run for elective public lose not only when they lose but also
Gambit offices notwithstanding all advisories
and arguments to the contrary.
when they win the elections.
They evidently lose when any of
Needless to say, there is nothing in the other candidates for the same office,
the constitution of this country that win the elections. But a greater loss is

he country excels in the violation
human rights to the extent of con- disqualifies priests from pursuing and what they do after losing. Would they
tinually killing people who dare holding elective government positions. simply return to the priestly ministry as
question twisted government policies and By being priests, they do not become a fallback, as the only recourse and
challenge sick national practices, people less Filipino citizens. And whereas it can wherefore a non-option? This is like
who dare tell the truth about the socio- be readily presumed that they know how someone leaving a wife to look for an
moral errancies in public offices. The na- to read and write, there is nothing in the apparently better woman, only to go
tion is well divided in both political and law of the land that says they may not back to her if the said woman eventually
ideological principles. The people are be- vote or be voted upon on the occasion rejects him.
coming more and more poor, hungry and of national and/or local elections in the When they win the elections, they
sick. To date, the Philippines is even the country. will be at a loss even more. What do they
holder of the odious and shameful title of But the universal Church has some- do to the opposition politicians—not to
the most corrupt country in the whole thing to say about priests running for mention their constituents with the dif-
Asian continent. elective public offices. After some two ferent socio-ethical convictions and
There is much crime in the streets. thousand years of existence and experi- even contrary principles and political
Prohibited drugs are becoming more abun- ence the world over, there is the strong beliefs? How will they exercise the power
dant and available for adults and young presumption akin to moral certitude that they wield? What will they do with the
people alike. Numerous women and chil- the Church has acquired some wisdom money that regularly and abundantly
dren become objects of exploitation. There in the ways of the world. It would be thus goes their way? There is a whale of
is dire lack of decent work in the country. hard to say that she is altogether igno- difference between ecclesiastical and
The administration is much distrusted and rant about the nature, the workings and civil administration, between religious
thereby disrespected. The forthcoming implications of politics. There was even and political governance. In this con-
elections are looked upon with fear and a priest who became the president of his text, how on earth will those winner-
reservation instead of the optimism it country. But he ultimately proved to be priests live their life of continence, their
should generate as an affirmation of de- a big failure before his own people. spirit of poverty, their ecclesial com-
mocracy. This is why there must be some- munion?
Lo and behold the deviate response thing serious and profound behind the Just asking.
of the government to so many and serious universal law of the Church that ex- www.ovc.blogspot.com
national problems: Put up a PAGCOR US
$20 billion dream project! Are people hun-
gry and sick? Make them gamble! Are tional pride. This is why the national lead- promote human development.
killers, criminals and thieves on the loose? ership has no claim to moral ascendancy of One thing is certain: it is so hard to
Make them go to casinos! Are there too any kind, in any degree. perpetuate lies, to sell fantasies, to pro-
many grafters in government and corrupt How much of PAGCOR’s take from its mote deceit, sooner or later the truth comes
public officials? PAGCOR welcomes them gambling clients goes to whom and what out. In due time, liars, cheaters and thieves
all with wide open arms. for? Is it true that according to PAGCOR are exposed and vanished. This is the
The pervasive existence, the en- insiders themselves, recently no less than standing lesson of living historical present.
hanced operations plus the projected multi- an 8 million peso check was handed to a People eventually find the way of getting
billion peso “PAGCOR’s Las Vegas Dream” boxer as a presidential gift for purposes of rid of their exploiters and oppressors. Time
only spell and mean one and the same his political campaign? All the while, ultimately incapacitates and subsequently
reality: the government is morally bank- PAGCOR repeatedly and loudly professes terminates even a most pretentious poten-
rupt. For the present administration, big its noble and everlasting commitment to tate, an odious filthy rich individual.
corporate gambling becomes a big na- uplift the poor, to fund charitable works, to www.ovc.blogspot.com

Volume 41 • Number 5 27

hile walking down the street one
day a Philippine senator is tragi-
cally hit by a truck and dies. His
soul arrives in heaven and is met by St.
Peter at the entrance.
“Welcome to heaven,” says St. Peter.
“Before you settle in, it seems there is a

problem. We seldom see a high official
around these parts, you see, so we’re not
sure what to do with you.”
“No problem, just let me in,” says the
“Well, I’d like to, but I have orders
from the higher ups. What we’ll do
is have you spend one day in hell and one

in heaven. Then you can choose where to
spend eternity.”
“Really, I’ve made up my mind. I want
to be in heaven,” says the senator.
“I’m sorry, but we have our rules.”
And with that, St. Peter escorts him to
the elevator and he goes down, down,
down to hell.
The doors open and he finds himself
in the middle of a green golf course. In the ing for him, “Now it’s time to visit heaven.” with waste and garbage.
distance is a clubhouse and standing in So, 24 hours pass with the senator He sees all his friends, dressed in
front of it are all his friends and other joining a group of contented souls moving rags, picking up the trash and putting it in
politicians who had worked with him. Ev- from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and black bags as more trash falls from above.
eryone is very happy and in evening dress. singing. They have a good time and, be- The devil comes over to him and puts his
They run to greet him, shake his hand, fore he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone arm around his shoulders.
and reminisce about the good times they by and St. Peter returns. “I don’t understand,” stammers the
had while getting rich at the expense of the “Well, then, you’ve spent a day in hell senator. “Yesterday I was here and there
people. They play a friendly game of golf and another in heaven. Now choose your was a golf course and clubhouse, and we
and then dine on lobster, caviar and cham- eternity.” ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne,
pagne. Also present is the devil, who The senator reflects for a minute, then and danced and had a great time. Now
really is a very friendly guy who is having he answers: “Well, I would never have there’s just a wasteland full of garbage and
a good time dancing and telling jokes. said it before, I mean heaven has been my friends look miserable. What hap-
They are all having such a good time that delightful, but I think I would be better off pened?”
before the senator realizes it, it is time to go. in hell.” The devil smiles at him and says,
Everyone gives him a hearty farewell So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator “Yesterday we were campaigning ...To-
and waves while the elevator rises... The and he goes down, down, down to hell. day, you voted.”
elevator goes up, up, up and the door Now the doors of the elevator open and VOTE WISELY!
reopens in heaven where St. Peter is wait- he’s in the middle of a barren land covered rowena.dalanon@cbcpworld.net

The Monk’s Vision

n old monk prayed many years for a vision from God to heavenly vision. However, before the bell stopped tolling, the
strengthen his faith, but it never came. He had almost monk had made his decision. With a heavy heart, he turned his
given up hope when, one day, a vision appeared. The old back on the vision and went off to feed the poor. Nearly an hour
monk was overjoyed. But then, right in the middle of the vision, later, the old monk returned to his room. When he opened the
the monastery bell rang. door, he could hardly believe his eyes. There in the room was the
The ringing of the bell meant it was time to feed the poor who vision, waiting for him. As the monk dropped to his knees in
gathered daily at the monastery gate. And it was the old monk’s thanksgiving, the vision said to him, “My son, had you not gone
turn to feed them. If he failed to show up with food, the poor people off to feed the poor, I would not have stayed.”
would leave quietly, thinking the monastery had nothing to give The best way to serve God is to reach out in service to our
them that day. brothers and sisters, especially those less gifted than ourselves.
The old monk was torn between his earthly duty and his rowena.dalanon@cbcpworld.net

28 IMPACT • May 2007


Responsible Citizenship II Penal Process for Dismissal

Essays on Civic Spirit and the Common Good from the Clerical State
Jesus P. Estanislao Oscar V. Cruz, JCD

“To make the common good of our people and of the The author posits that the raison d’etre for writing this book
whole country part of our operative, day-to-day concerns, is to come up with “as a little response to the signs of the
a continuing program of responsible citizenship for all is times regarding the imperative of cleaning the ranks of the
being launched. The program reminds each one of us clergy, of purifying the Church of flagrant and scandalous
that as Filipinos we do have civic duties and responsi- clerical offenders who are her big pain and shame.” Terrify-
bilities, and that these have ing, at first blush, this vol-
to be given as much stress ume seems to be and, to
as our rights and our demand do an overstatement, remi-
for privileges,” writes the au- niscent of a church of the
thor at the introduction. If only inquisition. But when you
for this philosophy, this book, get to read more pages of
which is a collection of short the book, you discover
essays on responsible citi- that, though written on a
zenship, is a good read. The largely canonical lexicon
common good is the defining but very precise in mean-
element of the art of gover- ing and intent, the book is
nance and politics; hence, it, actually very pastoral or
too, is the guiding rule of re- fraternal, if you may. In the
sponsible citizenship. Chris- midst of the media magni-
tianity being a gospel of love fication of clerical irregulari-
is a social doctrine that pur- ties that stretch all the way
sues as a matter of conse- from sexual misconduct to
quence the good of all. political or even ideological
The only rub is, many digressions, reading this
times Christianity has book gives one a sigh of
been lived so self- relief.
centeredly apart from
social responsibility.
Light to All
Leonardo Z. Legazpi, OP

The book is the man, and

Hearts rightly so in this volume
that databanks a collec-
Burning tion of essays and
speeches on selected sub-
Nil Guillemette jects over the years; but
more than just an anthol-
Father Guillemette is a ogy of brilliance, it’s actu-
prolific writer. He is supple ally an ecclesiology
in content but simple in couched in the ideas of a
expression. We first en- man who was right in the
countered him in his se- vortex of an “ecclesia sim-
ries of anecdotes that many have found very useful in giving per reformanda”. Archbishop Leonardo Legazpi was the
homilies, seminars and group dynamics. He is a graduate president of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines
of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and has spent which marked the biggest ecclesiological transition of the
years in teaching the New Testament in several countries Church in the Philippines, so far. The PCP-II was a subtle
in Africa and Asia. But this book which is a complete set of revolution that pointed out not only the realism of lights and
homilies for the three-year liturgical cycle is very interest- shadows of a Church that emerged fragile from the clutches
ing not because he is a scholar or a teacher. But rather of colonialism and a baroque ecclesiology, but more gently
because he is a pastor who has, like the Good Shepherd, trailblazed a new way of being Church through the basic
experienced the Word in the very lives of the flock. While ecclesial communities and a redefinition of discipleship.
this book is good for homilists, this is actually better for This volume noticeably presents the teacher and the shep-
ordinary Christians who wish to get nourished by God’s herd in a man who lives by his episcopal motto, “illuminare
Word in the concrete lives of people. omnes”.

Volume 41 • Number 5 29

Title: PAN’S LABYRINTH mayed by the negative values of the film. In

Running Time: 112 mins
CATHOLIC INITIATIVE a war picture (and this is one, though it has
Lead Cast: Ivana Baquero, Sergi FOR ENLIGHTENED fairytale elements), one may assume there is
Lopez, Maribel Verdu, Adriana Gil
Director: Guillermo del Toro
MOVIE APPRECIATION violence and death, but this picture accentu-
ates the inhumanity and cruelty of man vs.
Producer: Guillermo del Toro another, especially in the gruesome torture
Screenwriter: Guillermo del Toro scenes and the killing of the wounded. Op-
Music: Javier Navarrete pression and injustice are depicted in the
Genre: Horror/Suspense/Fantasy restriction of the villagers, subjecting them to
Distributor: Picture House and rationing of food and medicine. Then there is
Telecines Pictures the unjust murder of the innocent (rabbit
Location: Spain hunter) on mere suspicion. Though one can
Technical Assessment:  understand the doctor’s motives, mercy kill-
Moral Assessment: zz ing is still killing. Little value is placed on
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 human life in the film. Vidal says that if a choice
and above has to be made between his wife and his son,
he wants his son saved at all costs. But this
is not moral. The wife’s life is as valuable as
It is 1944 in Spain. A small contingent of ematography has also captured the quiet, that of the son’s. Effort should have been
Spanish soldiers under the command of Capt. wild beauty of the unsullied woodlands which exerted to save both. However, some posi-
Vidal (Sergi Lopez) mans an outpost near the when juxtaposed with the violent war scenes tive values are shown by the love between
mountains to rout the insurgents fighting the brings out effectively the contrast and the Ofelia and her mother Carmen. Though sick,
Fascist government of Franco. Capt. Vidal’s irony between the two worlds depicted. Carmen shows understanding of her
pregnant wife Carmen (Adriana Gil) arrives at Eugenio Caballero’s production design is daughter’s imaginative nature and tries to
the camp with her eleven year old daughter imaginative and the prosthetics and make- guide her. The admirable courage of Mercedes
Ofelia (Ivana Bquero). Fond of reading up, very good. The story is replete with and others who work in enemy territory calls
fairytales and creating her own, Ofelia thinks symbolism. Character development goes the mind our own resistance workers in World
herself to be the embodiment of the spirit of the hand in hand with plot development. Thus, War II. This adult fairytale is a parable that
lost princess of the underworld Realm. She is as the story darkens Vidal becomes more evil. resonates with Christian undertones as it
friendly to creatures of the wild like the large The deliberate repetition of scenes empha- depicts the battle between good and evil. It
mantis – like insect whom she thinks trans- sizes character traits. Lead actors do excel- shows that conscience (verbalized by the
forms into a fairy. With her “fairy” guide she lent work, To be commended, too, is the rest doctor) is the best weapon against fascism or
explores nearby, an ancient stone labyrinth of the cast. There is judicious choice of music any ideology that violates human dignity and
where one can easily get lost. She meets a pieces, such as the lullaby theme song that rights. The film suggests that strength and
fawn who instructs her on how she can return sets the somber mood. redemption comes through sacrifice and love.
to her Kingdom. While Ofelia communes with Much as one admires the craftsmanship Rated R-18, this film can be traumatic for the
these woodland creatures, she also witnesses of Pan’s Labyrinth, one can also be dis- very young.
the violence and death during the war in the
world of men. In the camp is Mercedes (Maribel
Verdu) the housekeeper of Vidal and an in-
former of the rebels. The 2 women develop a
special relationship when Ofelia’s mother dies.
In danger of being unmasked, Mercedes leaves
camp with Ofelia but both are caught. In the
meantime, Ofelia has nearly completed the
tasks assigned by the fawn.
Pan’s Labyrinth (in Spanish with En-
glish subtitles) reveals the masterful touch of
Guillermo del Toro as director and writer. This
is especially evident in the clever handling of
the complicated story that adeptly inter-
weaves the world of reality with the world of
fantasy. So seamless is the integration that
one may easily suspend one’s disbelief in
fairies and the like. The title may suggest a
fairytale but this is not a tale of joy, light and
happy-ever-afters. Though spellbinding this
dark tale is full of painful anguish and is
steeped in vivid, raw details of brutality and
cruelty; all these are emphasized by the domi- ANSWER TO THE LAST ISSUE: THIS IS THE SO-CALLED CIVILIZATION OF 'CONSUMPTION'
nant use of greys, sepia and muted black and MORE ONE WANTS. -- POPE JOHN PAUL II
white images. Guillermo Navarro’s expert cin-

30 IMPACT • May 2007



Catholics Calls for Re- UN Envoy Urges Child Power Fight Leads to 13 Group Urges Release of
ligious Freedom Protection Deaths Nepal’s Child Soldiers
A street demonstration A ranking UN official Suicide bombers An international hu-
was dramatically staged called on the government killed at least 13 people man rights group urged
by democratic and plural- to take concrete measures in a pair of attacks on Nepal’s former commu-
ist associations, move- to uplift the living condi- May 7 around the Sunni nist rebels to free chil-
ments, unions, religious tions of Israeli children. Arab city of Ramadi, in dren from their armed
minority groups last May UN special envoy for chil- what officials said was forces. Human Rights
4 in Lahore to affirm civil dren and armed conflicts part of a “power Watch said the thousands
society’s desire to remain Radhika Coomaraswamy struggle” between al- of child soldiers who are
secular be stopped. The stressed that while peace Qaeda and tribes that confined in camps under
Association of Catholic process in the Middle East have broken with the ter- a peace agreement should
Women and the Catholic is being worked out, many ror network. In all, at be allowed to return to
Bishops’ Commission for children continue to suf- least 68 people were their families. The group
Justice and Peace backed fer hunger, fear and des- killed or found dead na- called on Nepal’s Minis-
the protest saying they peration. “Children bear tionwide. ter to Women, Children
wanted the civil society’s the greatest burden of and Social Welfare
voice to be heard so they conflicts,” she said. She MALAYSIA Khadga Bahadur
encourage them to ex- stressed the crucial role Bishwakarma “to secure
press what they feel. The to restore peace in the Rights Group: Disband the Maoists’ cooperation
protesters urged the gov- Middle East but the effect Abusive Volunteer with the United Nations
ernment to secure and re- to the children in the re- and child protection agen-
spect freedom on religion gion must also be put into Corps cies to allow children to
and expression. consideration. return home without fur-
Human Rights Watch ther delay.”
said the government
EAST TIMOR SRI LANKA should immediately take
steps to dissolve the VIETNAM
Church in E. Timor PMs Meeting with Pope People’s Volunteer Corps
Pushes Peace Spark Hope for Peace (Ikatan Relawan Rakyat Vietnam PM Approves
or RELA), responsible Tiger Farms
In pursuit for harmony A new hope has sparked for numerous cases of
and fraternity and to build for a possible end to 20 illegal detentions, unlaw- The government was
healthy relationships be- years of bloody conflict ful use of force, and ex- cited as saying Friday that
tween citizens of East between the government tortion. three private tiger farms
and West Timor, the and the Tamil rebels here. The government has in southern Vietnam will
Catholic Church here has This after Sri Lanka’s ordered half a million be allowed to keep 43 of
launched a new program Prime Minister Mahinda RELA volunteers to help the endangered animals,
of education to reconcili- Rajapaksa met Pope maintain public order, handing the breeders a vic-
ation. Benedict XVI in Vatican primarily through the ap- tory over environmental
The Bishops’ Commis- recently. The Pope asked prehension of undocu- groups.
sion for Justice and Peace the Premier to guarantee mented migrant workers. The story says that
held a series of meetings respect for human rights In carrying out their du- Prime Minister Nguyen
aimed at promoting “au- and to “return to the path ties, RELA volunteers al- Tan Dung decided that,
thentic reconciliation” in of dialogue and negotia- legedly often employ un- while the owners had
the country’s two dio- tions, the only way to end necessary force and ille- breached a ban on keeping
ceses—Dili and Baucau, the violence which blood- gal policing practices. the tigers, they were bet-
through communion, dis- ies the Island”. Rajapaksa, “The government has set ter equipped than
cussions and to share meanwhile, assured the up what’s little more Vietnam's zoos to take
feelings and dreams for Pope saying: “we are ready than a vigilante force to care of the animals which
each other’s differences, to open negotiations im- target foreigners,” said cannot be released into the
offences and failings. mediately.” HRW. wild.

Volume 41 • Number 5 31