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VolVol 42,42, NoNo 66 • JUNEJUNE 20082008

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LAYOUT BY DENNIS BALDOZA DAYAO “ Quote in the Act IMPACT “What brings us together today

Quote in the Act


“What brings us together today is a concern for the destiny of a nation that has emerged from a dark past.”

Hamid Karzai , Afghanistan President; responding to 80 nations gathered in Paris that pledged a 20-billion-dollar aid for a development plan over the next 5 years to counter widespread poverty and a Taliban insurgency.

“These places aren’t on the brink—they’ve gone over the cliff.”

Jeffrey Sachs, top United Nations adviser; referring to some regions in Somalia presently experiencing famine due to a combination of drought,

higher fertilizer, rising fuel costs and post-election violence that displaced

thousands of farmers.

“As a theologian who has read a lot about

persecution of the early Christians, I’m really feeling

connected to that history.”

Anglican Bishop Sebastian Bakare, whose congregation is persecuted and prevented from holding services unless they follow renegade bishop Nolbert Kunonga, a staunch ally of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

“It is simply not the right thing to do to talk about spiritual matters to people whose empty bellies cry out to be filled.”

Bishop Francisco Claver, SJ, defending a housing project called Gawad Kalinga; furthering a position that the real scandal is in leaving the poor to rut without food or shelter—and not the philosophizing whether or not to receive charity from the devil or a pharmaceutical company.

“My government intends to have a new beginning

with a new resolution.”

Lee Myung-bak, South Korean President; shaken by the biggest anti-

government rally in decades, against his unpopular government that approved in April the importation of American beef despite widespread fears of mad cow disease.

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June 2008 / Vol 42 • No 6





/ Vol 42 • No 6 EDITORIAL E-VATisoppressive 27 COVER STORY Qualityeducation:Liberatingpeoplefrom poverty 16 ARTICLES





For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food GMcrops not the solution to World Hunger



HowtoFeedaHungryWorld InDefenseof HumanRights fromGlobal SolidaritytoGlobal Resistance! HousingtheUrbanPoor:AssetReformin SocializedHousing FromSugarcaneFarmWorkertoVegetable Entrepreneur






Quote in the Act NewsFeatures Statements FromtheBlogs FromtheInbox BookReviews CINEMAReview NewsBriefs









THE big majority of legislators are landed or at least conveniently under the influence of those who own tracks of them. This being the case, anything that will go against the interest of landlords, or so they are aptly called, because of their power and influence that are as vast as their lands, will definitely grapple with anything but a walk in the park.

The Executive Department is of the same mould. Being political, all its decisions will be made according to the dictates and the best interests of politics. Its performance of certifying as urgent the Comprehen- sive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) on the day that the legislators were to trash it out was a tactical chame- leon that upheld the political logic. While Mang Andoy thought that Gloria Arroyo was being too sympathetic with plight of the poor farmers, the Yulos of Laguna, Floirendos of Davao, the Cojuangcos and the Arroyos of Negros were not even pouring wine to celebrate their victory that has long been theirs. They knew that politics and all its schemes bite harder than the romanticists who talk about the interests of the poor and the pursuit of the common good.

But worse is the situation of the poor that drew a wedge among themselves. The socialists think that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is overburdened with loopholes to beg for a little success. Hence, their militant constituency would rather aim for a Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) which is about stewardship or a kind of land alloca- tion program for farmer-beneficiaries as a socialist philosophy would have it. The reformists, on the other hand, sees CARP as the more feasible and blames its implementor, the Department of Agrarian Reform

blames its implementor, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the leadership, for the anomalies that

(DAR) and the leadership, for the anomalies that kept the program riddled with holes and at the verge of disaster.

A 50-billion-peso allocation will theoretically make

any program such as CARP a whooping success. But reportedly most of it were “reallocated”, which is a mild term for stolen, to something else such as ghost NGOs traceable to the highest officers of the land.

Accountability may be, in fact, a bigger issue than just reform. Which is why, some say that extending CARP

is like extending the life of a milking cow.


that as it may, but the Catholic Bishops’ Conference

the Philippines (CBCP) is of extending CARP with

reforms—and that, for a very serious reason: the poor. “The long neglect of agriculture, most acutely expressed in the current rice and food crisis, has articulated clearly the disadvantaged plight of the small farmer,” says Cagayan Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma who opens this issue with his article “For I Was Hungry And You Gave Me Food”.


Melo M. Acuña writes our cover story. He opens with disturbing questions: Will quality education liberate Filipinos from poverty? If so, why the increasing number of classes without classrooms, or teachers with low salaries—not to mention the endemic corrup- tion that continue to plague the agencies in the govern- ment? Read on.



T oday is the 20 th anniversary of the

signing into law by President

Corazon C. Aquino of the Compre-

hensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL). Congress passed Republic Act (RA) 6657 one year after President Aquino issued Proclamation No. 131 instituting the Com- prehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)whenshestillhadlegislativepower under the Freedom Constitution of 1986. Both Proclamation 131 and RA 6657 were based on a clear mandate given by the 1987 Constitution to cover under Land Acqui- sition and Distribution (LAD) all agricul- tural lands in excess of what a landowner may legally own, for reallocation to land- less farmers and farm workers. Populorum Progressio Last year we celebrated the 40 th anni- versary of Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical “Populorum Progressio.” The teaching of the encyclical 1 may have influenced the adoption of the CARP:

“He who has goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of God abide in him?” 2 Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncer- tain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: “You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the com- mon use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.” 3 These words indicate that the right to private property is not absolute and unconditional. That same year, 1967, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines organized the National Congress for Rural Development. 4 During this Congress we came to the conclusion that the Church must go to the barrios because the coun- tryside was the area most neglected by the government development programs and the Church’s pastoral care. This spurred the activation of Social Action Centers (SACs) in the dioceses and archdioceses and, at the national level, the National Secretariat of Social Action (NASSA), and the Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace (ECSA-JP). The congress also provided impetus for the growth of the organizations of farmers and workers. Since 1967 many realities have changed in the countryside and the pace of development has been speeded up by the passage of the CARL in 1988.

‘For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food’ (Mt. 25:35)

A Pastoral Reflection on CARP Extension with Reforms and Agrarian Reform Program Implementation

By Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., D.D.

National Rural Congress II

The CBCP launched last year a pro- cess of renewing our commitment to rural development with emphasis on listening first to the people we wanted to help. Dioceses and archdioceses have held con- sultations with Basic Ecclesial Communi- ties (BECs) and Social Action Centers (SACs). There have been Diocesan and Sub-Regional Consultations (SRCs) with rural people’s organizations (POs)—es- pecially farmers, fishers, indigenous peoples, and women—non-government organizations (NGOs) and church groups working with the rural poor sectors. Re- gional congresses are now being held. The National Rural Congress II will be conducted on the 7-8 th July convening at the San Carlos Seminary, Makati City.

Bishops-Legislators’ Caucuses

We have also organized three cau- cuses with legislators working for the pas- sage of a CARP Extension with Reforms Bill.

As Catholic bishops, pastors, and teachers, we listened to the voices of the rural poor and civil society organizations (CSOs) working with them and, as we sat in dialogue with legislators, we sought to address CARP and Agrarian Reform through the lens of our faith, because so much is at stake in moral and human terms. For many of our citizens, farming is a way of life, not just another business or indus- try. Agriculture is the way our farmers and rural workers provide a decent life for their families, acquire dignity and help feed a hungry world. Providing food for all is a Gospel imperative, not just another policy choice or economic activity. • While the CARL is based on a clear Constitutional mandate, it is imperfect and its implementation has had many flaws. Still it is important that we rec- ognize it has brought about some good and that its constitutional mandate should be respected. As Bishop Pablo Virgilio David 5 summarized this at the end of the first day of the Rural Pov- erty Seminar:

And so, dear brother bishops, how

For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food

For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food can we allow this law – which

can we allow this law – which has been paid very dearly by the farmers of the country and debated extensively by Phil- ippine lawmakers—to be junked, just be- cause it is imperfect? If CARP has been unsuccessful to some extent, it is because it has not been fully implemented, or its full implementation has been blocked system- atically by so many forces with vested interests, and who are only too eager to see it discontinued by calling it a failure. Our resource persons have made that quite clear for us. The clamor should instead be—bring CARP to its completion! Extend it, albeit with necessary reforms that will make it achieve its original purpose. Give it the funding and the support that it needs to be able to effect tangible results in the lives of our rural poor. Empower the agricul- tural sector through an agricultural

credit scheme that will enable them to make full use of the land and find a way out of the vicious cycle of poverty. • Agrarian Reform has been neither an overwhelming success nor an underwhelming failure. It is a glass half-full or half-empty depending on one’s perspective. We have chosen to err on the side of optimism. Govern- ment claims that by the end of 2007 the Departments of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have distributed 7.14 million hectares or 79 percent of its scope of 9 million hectares. This has reportedly benefited 4.37 million farmers and farm workers. But there are


ers to be assisted to obtain ownership of 1.86 million hectares. •More than 300,000 hectares are tied up

in litigation of one type or another, slowing down the beneficial effects of the reform program, oftentimes in ways less than transparent. The Office of the President, which is obviously less knowledgeable about the reform pro- gram than the DAR itself, has at times reversed DAR orders without con- sulting the Department, sometimes depriving farmers who have held Agrarian Reform land titles for a de- cade of continued land tenure. • The Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs) program of the DAR has as- sistedmorethanamillionfarmers.They are found in 1,874 communities in 8,146 barangays. However, the farmers ex- tended support services are only about one-fourth of those who acquired land- ownership and only about 27 percent of rural barangays are covered by pro-

For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food

gram beneficiaries’ development.

• There are landowners who say that the payment of compensation has been a tedious process and that they have been treated less than fairly. They, too, deserve prompt justice.

• Government agencies rely too much on the Agrarian Reform Fund and fail to use their own resources to provide services to Agrarian Reform Benefi- ciaries, thus reducing the total amount of support that can be given to small farmers.

Our Purpose and Key Proposals

In these reflections, we seek to chal- lenge a lack of awareness, which can lead to indifference or excessive self-interest. We focus on the ethics of how land is protected, and how agriculture is struc- tured, compensated, and regulated to serve the “common good.” We also call Peoples of Faith to think more about and act on these important but often neglected concerns in the light of their faith. In this document, we outline some “signs of the times,” lift up principles from Catholic Social Teaching (CST), and sug- gest elements of an “agenda for action.” We also highlight the global dimensions of land, food and agriculture today and how they contribute to the growing gap between rich and poor at home and abroad. But more than anything else, we seek to place the life and dignity of the human person at the centre of the discussions and decisions on land and agriculture. Considering all these and other facts, it remains our sense that it is wise to extend the effects of the law and to fund it prop- erly. As we said in our Pastoral Statement 6 last year:

We ask that the CARP, defective as it is, be finally completed next year as it has been targeted. And if it is not sufficiently implemented by then, the program should be further extended and funded more seriously and generously. But we ask that the law itself must be reviewed and improved. Having had the benefit of consulta- tions with so many of our people, we now raise the following proposals:

• Even as we thank the President for belatedly certifying the CARP Exten- sion with Reforms Bill as urgent, we seek her call for a special session to allow both Houses of Congress time to deliberate on and approve the bill be- fore CARP’s LAD mandate “expires”

on 15 June 2008. It is not just a ques- tion of her father’s legacy but of what is right for the country and in the eyes of the Church. • The House of Representatives and the Senate, after conscientious study and debate, should pass the Bill as soon as possible. • The DAR and other agencies must apply the convergence principle prop- erly to speed up covering land and to ensure that all Agrarian Reform Ben- eficiaries—including those who re- ceive public alienable and disposable agricultural land from the DENR—re- ceive support services. Reformed land

must be kept or made productive and Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries helped to become profitable owner-cultiva- tors.

• DAR, DENR, DA, and local govern- ment units must enforce rules banning the conversion of irrigated and irrigable lands.

• The DAR and the Land Bank of the Philippines must ensure that landown- ers are treated fairly and compensated properly with appropriate encourage- ment to set up and maintain sustain- able enterprises that would increase production of goods and services and generate jobs.


equally share with each other His bountiful bless- ings—the fruits of creation. As one in the body of Christ our Savior, we are reminded of such responsibility and must not get tired of doing good deeds especially to our poor sisters and brothers, in His holy name. 8

The Challenge Ahead

For all those who de-



system. Some small farmers are losing their place at the table. Some farm workers never had a place. Moreover, so many people in our own land and around the world, seek- ing to feed their children, have no real place at that table. The moral measure of our efforts is how our communities of faith work together to secure a place at the table of life for all God’s children. We hope these reflections will con- tribute to a broader dialogue about the ethical and human dimensions of land, food and agricultural policy. All creation is a gift. Scripture tells us that “the earth is the Lord’s and all it holds” (Ps 24:1). All of us, especially those closest to the land, are called to a special reverence and respect for God’s creation. The Lord who loves the poor be with

us in this, our common task.


(Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, Most. Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, is the Chair of the National Rural Congress II. This piece was delivered at the people’s celebration of the 20 th anniversary of the signing into law by President Corazon Aquino of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL), at the National Shrine of St. Michael and Archangels, Malacañang, June 10, 1008)


1 Populorum Progressio, Encyclical of Pope Paul VI, On the Development of Peoples, March 26, 1967, N° 23.

2 1 Jn 3. 17.

3 De Nabute, c. 12, n. 53: PL 14. 747; cf. J. R. Palanque, Saint Ambroise et l’empire romain, Paris: de Boccard


4 5-11 February 1967

5 Rural Poverty Seminar, Catholic Bish- ops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), 22-23 January 2008, Pius XII Catholic Centre, Manila, p.6 6 “The Dignity of the Rural Poor-A Gospel Concern” (A Pastoral State- ment), Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), p.1

7 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Catholic Bishops Confer- ence of the Philippines (CBCP), Ma- nila, 2004, No. 300, p.187; cfr. also PontificalCouncilforJusticeandPeace, Towards a Better Distribution of Land. The Challenge of Agrarian Reform (23 November 1997), 35: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1997, p.33

8 LettertoLegislators,datedApril1 st ,2008, presented to President of the Philip- pines Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the presence of Papal Nuncio Archbishop


ciotothePhilippines,TitularArchbishop of Scala, Luzon North NRC II Consulta- tion, Baguio City, 4-7 th June 2008,

NRC II Consulta- tion, Baguio City, 4-7 t h June 2008, Once again we reiterate this

Once again we reiterate this social teaching of the Church:

Agrarian Reform 7 (is) a moral obliga- tion more than a political necessity, since the failure to enact such reform is hin- drance in these countries to the benefits arising from the opening of markets and, generally, from the abundant growth op- portunities offered by the current process of globalization (Compendium, No. 300). Likewise, in closing, we repeat what more than 33 bishops and archbishops said in our letter to our legislators:

God has not chosen a select few to be stewards of his creation. All of us are called to be responsible stewards and must

vote their lives to land and agriculture, we offer words of support and appreciation, as well as a plea to work


tively and constructively for the common good. We offer elements of a moral framework for those involved in agricultural policy: political leaders, ex- perts, advocates, and activ- ists. We urge them to look at land and agricultural choices and at how these choices touch the most vulnerable within our rural communi- ties and in the larger na- tional and global commu- nity.

Finally, we encourage members of the broader faith communities to give greater attention and priority to is- sues of land, food and agri- culture, and their connec- tions to their faith. Land, food and agricul- ture are at the heart of this moral challenge:

• A table is where families gather for food, but some have little food or no table at all. • A table is where leaders gather in government and international nego- tiations and other forums to make de- cisions on trade and aid, subsidies and access. But some have no real voice at these tables. • For Catholics, the table is the altar at which we gather for Eucharist to trans- form “the fruit of the vine and work of human hands” into the Body and Blood of Christ. It is also the table from which we are sent forth to secure “a place at the table” for all. We cannot secure a place at the table for all without a more just agricultural


GM GM crops crops not not the the solution solution to to World World Hunger
GM GM crops crops not not
the the solution solution to to
World World Hunger Hunger

By Fr. Sean McDonagh, SSC

I f GM crops are the panacea for solving the world food and energy crisis as Robin MaKie alleges in The Observer

(27 April, 2008) and Kevin Myers, “If Ever The World Needed GM Food production, It’s Right Now”, The Irish Independent, (April 29, 2008), its seems strange that it has not been endorsed by the recently released report from the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). The IAASTD report is a unique collabora- tion between public bodies, such as the World Bank, the United Nations Environ- ment Programme, the World Health Orga- nization and representatives from govern- ments, NGOs and scientific bodies. It is a thorough sifting of the evidence about agriculture and food production, running to 2,500 pages. It took four years to com- plete and involved the work of 400 scien- tists. It does not endorse the claims of the biotech industry that GM crops will feed the world and produce sufficient biofuels for global transport. It argues that a drastic change in agricultural practices is neces- sary in order to counteract soaring food prices, hunger, social inequality and envi- ronmental degradation. It maintains that GM crops are controversial and that they will not play a substantial role in addressing the challenge of climate change, loss of biodiversity, food security, poverty and hunger. It did not rule out a role for GM crops in the future, but highlighted the

problems which the current regime of pat- enting seeds has on farmers and researches. Hans Herren the co-chair of IAASTD believes that, a business-as-usual ap- proach, is not an option. The report main- tains that the most pressing agricultural need was to support small-scale farmers who operate in diverse ecosystems. These farmers need to be given access to better knowledge, more appropriate technology which is geared to farming in their particu- lar location as well as more credit, so that poor farmers are not at the mercy of loan- sharks. They also need better roads and infrastructures, so that they can get their produce to markets.


Wageningen University, one of the con- tributors to the IAASTD report questioned whether GM crops had been proven as safe.[1] Robert Watson, the director of the

IAASTD, and chief scientist at the UK Department of Environment, Food, Rural Affairs, responded to a question from the newspaper, The Daily Mail, “Are GM crops the simple answer to hunger and poverty?” with the words, I would argue, no. [2] The report concludes that; Assess- ment of the technology lags behind its development, information is anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty about possible benefits and damage is unavoid- able.[3] The GM lobby often accuses those opposed to GM as being anti-science. Nothing is further from the truth. Robert Watson has pointed out that, “investment




in agriculture science has decreased, yet we urgently need sustainable ways to produce food. Incentives for science to address the issues that matter to the poor, are weak”. [4] Guihem Calvo, who is an adviser with the Ecological and Earth Science division of UNESCO, one of the agencies which sponsored the report, told a Paris news conference that, we must develop agricul- ture which is less dependent on fossil fuels, favors the use of locally available resources and explores the use of natural processes such as crop rotation and the use of organic fertilizers. [5] The IAASTD report argues that small- scale farmers and ecologically sensitive methods of farming are the way forward. Furthermore, it believes that the agricul- tural knowledge of indigenous people and peasant farmers can play an important role, along side more accessible agricul- tural science, in meeting the food demands of today. This reinforces my experience gained working with tribal and peasant farmers in Mindanao, in the Southern Philippines, during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. I, and many missionaries, who have worked on the ground in the Majority World, be- lieve that famine and hunger have more to do with the absence of land reform, lack of access to cheap credit and basic technolo- gies rather than with the lack of GM seeds. The bias against women, which is so prevalent in both international and na- tional agricultural policy, is also a major factor. Women, who are often the central players in agricultural production in the Majority World (Third World), only re- ceive a miniscule proportion of that credit. According to the Nobel Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, African woman receive less than 10% of the credit given to small farmers even though women are the pri- mary caretakers, holding significant re- sponsibility for tilling the land and feeding

the children.

Notes [1] Sean Poulter, “GM food ‘not the answer’ to world’s food shortage cri- sis, says report”, The Daily Mail, 16 April, 2008. [2] Ibid. [3] John Vidal, “Change in Farming Can Feed the World”, The Guardian, April 16 th 2008. [4] John Vidal, “Change in Farming Can Feed the World”, The Guardian, April 16, 2008 . [5] Ibid.

ARTICLES lations in the once teeming oceans is water pollution and the deadly destructive fish-
ARTICLES lations in the once teeming oceans is water pollution and the deadly destructive fish-
lations in the once teeming oceans is water
pollution and the deadly destructive fish-
ing practices such as the bottom trawl that
destroys the corals and the use of drift
nets—”walls of death”, as they are called.
The EU bans are saving several spe-
cies of fish from extinction and making
large scale ocean fishing unprofitable.
Decades of irresponsible destructive fish-
ing practices created millions of tons of
“bycatch” fish, shrimps and crabs and
other sea creatures which were thrown
back into the sea dead and put some of
them on the endangered species list.
The Japanese whaling and shark fish-
ing is condemned worldwide as destruc-
tive and cruel as they harpoon the gentle
creatures and drag them half alive on to
factory ships and slaughter them on board.
They only cut off the shark’s fins and
throw back the wounded creature to die in
a horrible death. These destructive prac-
one of the driving forces behind the mas-
sive rise in the cost of food commodities
world wide. Wealthy traders hoard their
stocks forcing prices to soar beyond the
ability of the poor to buy food. Since 1992
to the present, the price of rice has risen 74
percent, soya bean by 87 percent and
wheat by an astounding 130 percent, corn
is up 31 percent in the same period.
Rich nations give their agri-corpora-
tions and wealthy farmers massive subsi-
dies prompting massive over production
and the dumping of the surplus in devel-
oping nations thus killing off local farming
and preventing food security. Rich na-
tions create import taxes that prevent the
farmers in Africa from selling their lower
priced quality cotton and other products
in the rich nations. Many are facing famine
as global warming, created by the refusal
of wealthy industrialists and politicians to
curb CO2 factory emissions and nations

I n a remote and beautiful part of county

Sligo in North West Ireland I stood in

a low roofed insulated building looking

into one of several dozen large fish grow- ing tanks. Thousands of fish called Arctic Charr are swimming around and around growing by the day. Cold, natural, fresh spring water is pouring in from the moun- tain. It is circulated, filtered and aerated. Bill Carty, the owner, casts a handful of feed pellets into one of the tanks and it churns in a feeding frenzy as this future source of high protein food gobble up their meal. This sustainable form of healthy fish farming has to be the way of the future as fish stocks in oceans and rivers are dangerously declining, some species are already extinct and others are on the edge due to excessive and unsustainable fish- ing.Therearemoreandmorehungrypeople to feed.

Last week Irish fishermen staged a

How How to to Feed Feed a a Hungry Hungry World World
How How to to Feed Feed a a
Hungry Hungry World World

By Father Shay Cullen

public protest in Dublin and gave away fish and threw more into the river Liffy to highlight their protest at the strict Euro- pean Union restrictions on the number of boats allowed to put to sea and the ton- nage of fish they are allowed to catch. The price of fish is soaring along with every- thing else. The rising price of diesel has dimin- ished their earnings and more and more bans on the use of destructive fishing equipment curtail their catch but protect the breeding habitat of sea grass and coral reefs. What has diminished the fish popu-

tices have given the fishing industry a bad name. All the more then is the future in sustainable and healthy organic fish farm- ing, as I witnessed in the Cool Spring Arctic Charr fish farm at Cloonacool last week. Bill’s wife Mari Johnston cooked one fresh Arctic Charr in the nearby kitchen and it was one of the most deli- cious fish I have ever eaten. All the more am I convinced that the development of the Tilapia fish ponds at our Preda organic farm in Zambales, Philippines, is the right and sensible thing to do. The greed of money mad moguls is

like India and China refuse to cutback on fossil fuel consumption. This creates droughts, massive typhoons and crop fail- ures and destruction. Director-General Jacques Diouf of the UN Food and Agri- culture Organization (FAO) said in Rome last week that there is an additional 820 million hungry people in the world than in 1996. In Somalia alone there are 2.6 million people, 35 percent of the nation, facing a food crises, none can afford to buy food. The global injustice of this imbalance in the sharing of the planets resources is the

greatest shame of all humanity.




By Sr. Maureen S. Catabian, RGS

W OMAN, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have

taken away my Lord, and I do not

know where they have laid him”

iar words from Scripture came alive as I put myself in the situation of countless moth- ers, wives and children who have lost sons, daughters, husbands and parents— victims of forced disappearances and ex- trajudicial killings in the Philippines now counting 903 under the Arroyo regime since she took office. The recent session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) at the UN in Geneva where the Philippines was one of the coun- tries reviewed in terms of human rights record is a disheartening experience. As I watched the video on web where the Phil- ippine government delegation presented its report to the UN HRC it made me realize how truth can be deliberately distorted, rendered tentative and maliciously de-


signed according to State manipulations and maneuverings. Having been part also of an ecumeni- cal NGO delegation in 2007 to submit the HR Report to the UN HR Council in its 5 th Session, I have felt the same helplessness when we had a dialogue with the Philippine Mission in Geneva. Similarly, last June 2, 2008 “the Philippine UPR Watch delega- tion was astonished at the continuing denials, twisting of facts, unabashed name- calling and even ad hominem arguments of the Philippine Mission to the conclusions and observations of Prof. Philip Alston.” At a side event participated in by Prof. Alston, he “firmly stood by his findings and recommendations on the state of hu-

by his findings and recommendations on the state of hu- In Defense of Human Rights from

In Defense of Human Rights from Global Solidarity to Global Resistance!

Defense of Human Rights from Global Solidarity to Global Resistance!

data, facts and figures validate the truth that the Philippine military and the Arroyo regime are responsible for the spate of extrajudicialkillingsandotherhumanrights violations indelibly linked to the counter- insurgency policy of the government. They must be accountable to the Filipino people and the international community for the blood that is in their hands because of command responsibility. The UN HRC as an international struc- ture can only respond and play its role within the limits which is accorded them by the international community where power is still in the hands of the most influential countries and the rich corporate giants backing puppet governments. The political killings must be stopped! The evil system that is perpetrating and perpetuating these killings must be un- masked and exposed as well as the masters and gods that it is serving! Clearly it is serving the god of mammon, lies and de- ception and not the God of truth, justice and dignity. As Good Shepherd people bringing the cries and anguish of the victims and the suffering from the grassroots level— we must be willing to stare at the evil in the eye—so it can be expelled out from our system even if it means looking at our own

eyes as if in a mirror! Human lives snuffed out and human spirits maimed are human lives snuffed out and human spirits maimed! The HR report of the Philippine gov- ernment heard at the UN HRC session given voice over by the Philippine military through its delegates and ambassadors is the voice of the Global Empire that has become so localized and deeply entrenched in Philippine government system that we could no longer even recognize whose voice it is that speaks. Human lives have become disposable in the face of mammon and structures that have become monstrous and globalized! As Neoliberal Globalization and War on Terrorism looms over the global commu- nity—a different form of global solidarity is being called forth from the ground— Global Dissent where resistance becomes the essence of self-respect. NGOs can effect transformation and bring the voice of the suffering grassroots people to the UN and other universal structures but they must be willing to name and denounce the “evil” so as to be able to announce the good news of the woman of the Resurrection—” I have seen the Lord!” because Jesus, called her

by name—Mary!

the Lord!” because Jesus, called her by name—Mary! I man rights in the Philippines and the
the Lord!” because Jesus, called her by name—Mary! I man rights in the Philippines and the

man rights in the Philippines and the ac- countability of the state for the continuing impunity.” (Italics not mine) “The US-backed Arroyo regime, fac- ing serious challenges to its political survival, has courted the support of the



US-trained Philippine military by escalat-

ing military actions against legal progres- sive organizations and personalities un- der the guise of countering terrorism. Hence, the rise in extrajudicial killings.



emboldened by the US war on terror to rely mainly on a military solution to the armed conflict rather than address the roots of

the armed conflict by instituting basic social, political and economic reforms.” Objective reports substantiated by










ARTICLES The empty European village By Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD I t takes a Village to

The empty European village

By Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD

I t takes a Village to Raise a Child,” was

Hillary Clinton’s Big Idea in the 1990s.

trends. The number of marriages has dropped precipitously since 1980. The percentage of children born outside mar- riage has increased to one third. More children are born outside of marriage than inside marriages in Estonia, Sweden, Bul- garia and France. Divorce rates have soared. The birth rate in the 25 countries of the European Union is now 1.56 live births per female, while in the US the birth rate is 2.09, right around the replacement fertility rate of 2.1. Some countries are at critically low levels:Slovakia,Poland,andRomaniahave birth rates less than 1.3, with Germany at 1.32. In the absence of immigration, the population of these countries will drop in half approximately every generation. The fall in marriage and fertility may seem like abstract numbers on the chalk- board. So let’s take a look at the human face of these demographic trends. Even with government support, raising a child alone is a daunting prospect. Women who would want three children if married, are understandably reluctant to try to care for more than one child on their own. When a woman believes her marriage may not last, she will, quite reasonably, want to estab- lish herself professionally before having

Hillary’s supporters and detractors

alike regard that slogan as a thinly-veiled code for increasing the government’s re- sponsibility for the care of children. The demographic decline of Europe illustrates what would happen if we took this Village- Raising-Children image seriously. The State Village takes over a sub- stantial portion of the economic responsi- bility for the family, regardless of the mari- tal status of parents. As state support becomes more significant, the mutual sup- port of family members becomes less im- portant. Parents no longer feel the need to

marry each other, or even cooperate with each other. The state replaces the married couple as the primary support for children. And as a not-so-unintended consequence, state-funded child-care frees women from child-care responsibilities inside the home so they can work outside the home. Welfare state advocates on both sides of the pond are quick to point out the benefits of state support. But let’s look at the cost side of the equation. A recent report by the family-friendly Madrid-based Institute for Family Policies reports the broad European demographic

© Martin Child/Brand X/Corbis

The empty European village

© Martin Child/Brand X/Corbis The empty European village DoDoDoDoDo countriescountriescountriescountriescountries

DoDoDoDoDo countriescountriescountriescountriescountries withwithwithwithwith sub-sub-sub-sub-sub- replacementreplacementreplacementreplacementreplacement fertilityfertilityfertilityfertilityfertility needneedneedneedneed moremoremoremoremore governmentgovernmentgovernmentgovernmentgovernment support,support,support,support,support, ororororor less?less?less?less?less?

children. Instead of being married to her child’s father, a woman in a divorce- prone culture is mar-

ried to a combination of the market and the state. The

average woman’s age at first marriage has in-

creased from 23 in 1980 to almost 29 in 2005. Not all those


bate lives. Some are sexually active in situ- ations that can not possibly support a pregnancy. Nearly one out of every five

pregnancies ends in abortion, making it

the leading cause of death in the Euro- pean Union. The number of abortions across Europe each year equals the en-


Slovenia. One out of ev- ery four European household is a lone individual. Two out of three households have no children. Half of European children have no siblings. So much for the Frater- nity part of Liberty, Equality and Frater-


nity. Unfortunately, the Institute for Fam- ily Policies recommends more of the same, failed welfare state policies. Steve Mosher, president of the US-based Population Research Institute, has a different ap- proach. “Not one of the schemes adopted by the European countries has succeeded in recovering the birth rate to replacement. Why?” he asks rhetorically in his new book, Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits. “Statist solutions will not solve the problem of the empty cradle, for it is the modern welfare state itself that relentlessly suppresses fertility. By its very existence, it discourages the formation of the very kind of strong, independent families that are necessary for robust fertility by frac- turing the intergenerational dependency of the family, by adopting “gender-neu- tral” policies that undermine the complementarity that is at the heart of successful marriage, by providing abor- tion on demand, by mandating sex educa- tion for children, by pushing state-funded contraception schemes on teenagers and young adults, and above all, by high tax rates.” I think Mosher is correct. The statist Village has sucked the life out of marriage, which just happens to be the one self- sustaining institution that can oppose the pretensions of the state to control all of social life. The European experience demon- strates that the Village needs the family far

more than the family needs the Village.



(Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD is the Senior Research Fellow in Economics at the Acton Institute, and the author of Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village, newly reissued in paperback. This is reprinted with permission by MercatorNet)


A dequate and humane dwelling is a

basic human right (Compendium

#166). The Catholic Bishops Con-

ference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) State- ment on the Nation’s Housing Problems

in 2007 pointed to the lack of decent hous-

ing, particularly among the urban poor, as central to the proliferation of other “prob- lems such as immoralities in the home, the abuse of children, the lack of education, unhygienic conditions, joblessness among the people, malnutrition of children and criminality.” And as far as these problems manifest themselves in our society, “we cannot say our urban poor people enjoy [this right] today.” Improving the lives of slum dwellers, however, requires more than building and providing them sturdy and beautiful houses, which covers only the physical aspect of the solution. When we speak of

asset reform in urban poor housing, the “asset” being referred to is security of

housing tenure. This entitles urban poor families to a claim on the land they have been occupying for years, thus providing

a more solid and lasting basis for one’s

In the Philippines an

housing rights.

estimated 15 million people or three million families do not have this asset. Living as informal settlers, sometimes called squat- ters, they make up from a third to almost half of the population of many cities in the country. Lacking security of tenure, they are vulnerable to displacement and forced eviction, events which shove them to fur- ther impoverishment.

No band-aid solutions

The government is, first and fore- most, responsible in ensuring that its un- derprivileged citizens are given secure housing tenure. A research called the Philippine Asset Reform Report Card Project conducted by the John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues (JJCICSI) with the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources

in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA) assessed the

government’s response to the growing problem of insecure residential status in the country. The three socialized housing programs covered by the study are the Community Mortgage Program or CMP, presidential proclamations and resettle- ment. To the credit of the government, these housing programs are no band-aid solu- tions. CMP allows low-income families in informal settlements to collectively pur- chase and formalize ownership of the land

collectively pur- chase and formalize ownership of the land Housing the Urban Poor: Asset Reform in

Housing the Urban Poor:

Asset Reform in Socialized Housing

By Gerald M. Nicolas

they are occupying for years through a community mortgage. Through Presiden- tial Proclamations, parcels of government- owned lands are declared open for distri- bution to qualified beneficiaries. Resettle- ment programs, on the other hand, benefit urban poor families whose homes are de- molished as a result of a court order (usu- ally on a privately-owned property), a government infrastructure project or clear- ing of danger zones (e.g. riverbanks, wa-

terways, railroad tracks, dumpsites, under bridges). To avoid reinforcing a dole-out mentality among the poor beneficiaries, these programs incorporate requirements such as low-cost monthly amortizations and community organization.

A “pasang-awa” performance

But the results of the survey, gath- ered from interviews with 468 socialized

Housing the Urban Poor: Asset Reform in Socialized Housing

housing beneficiaries, generally suggest that the government’s performance is far from impressive. As far as the three urban housing programs are concerned, the study shows that these programs have been relatively successful in providing some degree of tenure security to urban informal settlers. The granting of formal land ownership, however, has been slow in most cases, particularly for presiden- tial proclamations and resettlement projects. Majority or 94 percent of the respondents from proclaimed sites do not have their own land titles yet, while only 54 percent of the original relocates interviewed have been given their no- tices of lot awards. At the rate the govern- ment is going in processing these neces- sary tenurial documents, a significant proportion of the respondents can still be considered “potentially displaceable set- tlers.” While the study showed that the prob- lem of security of tenure has been ad- dressed to some degree, a major source of dissatisfaction expressed by the benefi- ciaries is the inadequacy or poor quality of basic services extended to them. CMP beneficiaries appear to be the least satis- fied when it comes to the provision of services. Those residing in proclaimed

areas are the most satisfied, possibly ow- ing to the fact that these are relatively old


Across all housing types, the poor state of

basic services ranks as the most pressing

appear to feel



ranks as the most pressing appear to feel finding, for proclama- tions and re- settlement programs


tions and re- settlement programs pri-





provision of





by the beneficiaries of the three programs to the land acquisition process. This high net satisfaction rating should signal to the government that it must continue and more vigorously implement these programs ca- tering to poor informal settlers. There is no doubt that these programs do provide tenure security which is an asset much valued by the urban poor. At the same time, vast improvements can still be made in fast tracking the granting of formal own- ership and upgrading the quality of basic services in these communities. But since the government cannot solve the housing problem of the country alone given its limited and mismanaged resources and lack of political will, involving other stake- holders and the urban poor themselves will definitely help make a dent on this persisting urban malady. In the final analysis, the urban poor need more than just housing. The measure of genuine asset reform in urban housing is reflected not by the number of houses constructed and lots awarded by the gov- ernment but by the quality of life the ben-

eficiaries face after the ceremony.


With excerpts from the Philippine Asset Reform Report Card: Socialized Housing Sector written by the JJCICSI team led by Dr. Anna Marie A. Karaos, Executive Director. The Philippine Asset Reform Report Card Project also looked at asset reform programs in other sectors namely indigenous peoples, fisheries, and agrarian reform in partnership with other NGOs. For more information about the research, please contact Faith Ramirez of PhilDHRRA at 426-6740/ 436-1779/ 436- 0702 local 110.

(Gerald M. Nicolas is a Research Assistant of John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues (JJCICSI) of the Ateneo de Manila University.)

least well-off.


which is true es-


more recently relocated households, confirms the as- sertion of ex- perts that off-

site and off-city housing solu- tions are less likely to result


ments in welfare compared to on-site and in-city relocation. The fact that the state of basic services and housing in resettlement projects ap- pears to be better compared to CMP sites (at least as perceived by beneficiaries) still did not result in higher levels of well-being for relocated families. Economic needs, like access to employment, are prominently cited as a problem experienced by resettled families.

The access to essential services—


tation—basically draws people towards cities and urban areas. This also often justifies, but not necessarily legitimizes, the presence of informal settlers in our cities. And while it has always been be- lieved that improvement in the other di- mensions of human settlements will soon follow once land tenure is secured— which CMP,




secured— which CMP, improve- long-established communities. problem experienced by the beneficiaries. Table 1 summarizes

problem experienced by the beneficiaries. Table 1 summarizes the net satisfac- tion ratings of the respondents with re- gard to the land acquisition process and basic services provision. Table 2 shows the limited access of socialized housing beneficiaries to basic support services par- ticularly to individual water meter, which explains the low satisfaction ratings given by the respondents. In terms of perceived changes in wel- fare, families subjected to resettlement

socialized housing projects, as reflected in the study, underscores the government’s lack of attention to these other factors. The failure of key shelter agencies and local governments to effectively coordi- nate with and obtain the cooperation of other line agencies has hampered the timely and adequate delivery of needed basic services to the urban poor. Despite these problems in basic ser- vices, a notable finding of the study is the high positive net satisfaction rating given



Quality Quality education: education:

Liberating Liberating people people

from from poverty poverty

Will quality education liberate Filipinos from poverty? If so, why the increasing number of classes without classrooms, or teachers with low salary— without even mentioning the endemic corruption that continue to plague the agencies in government?

By Melo M. Acuña

I n a developing country such as the Philippines, where poverty stares at the eyes of a big percentage of its

population, education provides a ray of hope. An educated populace can help transform society by producing leaders who put upfront the personal interests of the governed ahead of their own. Education is expensive, but try igno- rance, or so, says an old saw. Because according to the human capital theory, the economic development of a nation is a function of the quality of its education. So that, the more educated people are, the greater the chances of economic develop-

ment or, conversely, the more drop-outs there are, the lesser the chances of eco- nomic progress. But how can this theory be true to a particular nation that exponentially gradu-

ates millions of students per year while the economy unstoppably, in fact, habitually, plummets?

Education and poverty

Parents living in poverty do not have much option but to work for survival which usually translates into gathering the chil- dren to generate something that will feed the brood. Education, no matter how sublime, is not within the short-range purview of hunger or the demands of the day to day existence. Going to school is a luxury that is affordable only for those who have time to spare after looking for food. Families wallowing in poverty often put education the least of their priorities. Destitute parents are sometimes forced to

allow their young children to work to help put food on the table instead of sending them to school. “When families have limited re- sources, children as young as five years old are forced to work at the cost of drop- ping out of school, risking their health or even their lives.” said Keiko Niimi, Deputy Director of the ILO sub-regional Office in Manila. There are currently 500,000 families living in Metro Manila according to Presi- dential Commission on the Urban Poor Chairperson Undersecretary Percival C. Chavez. This roughly translates to 3,000,000 individuals. The above figure is a big jump from the 2006 record of National Statistics Office (NSO) showing 167,000 poor families or 1,156,000 individuals in Metro Manila. The

Quality education: Liberating people from poverty

system lags behind other ASEAN coun- tries like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan, because of its lack of budget resources. “If one’s to compare our expenses on education, we are below our neighboring countries in Asia,” the legislator said. The DepEd’s budget this year, accord- ing to Lapus has gone up to P149 billion a year, a marked increase from P120 billion during his first year with the Education portfolio. He said while he wishes for a much bigger share next year, one must deal with the “debt service component,” mean- ing a bigger portion of the total annual appropriation going to foreign creditors. With the debt cap of 33 percent, from

a budget of over a trillion pesos, more than

P300 billion goes to foreign debt servicing


12 percent of the country’s budget. He said they have significantly re- duced textbook acquisition costs from P76.98 in 2006 to P31.00 for elementary schools last year and from P107 to P44.00 for high schools. “We try to maximize what we have,” Lapus added. University of the Philippines Profes- sor Clarita Carlos also said education does not receive what it is supposed to get in terms of appropriations. An expert in Phil- ippine Government and Politics, Political Dynamics, comparative Government and Politics, among others, Carlos laments the fact that the country’s national university exists on a shoe string budget. She feels sorry that the students have to make do with old laboratory equipments. “We have intelligent students but using old labora- tory equipments hinder them to develop

their imagination to the maximum. It’s really

a pity,” she said, saying that the bulk of

DepEd’s budget goes to teachers’ salaries. A former President of the National Defense College of the Philippines, Carlos said the billions of pesos given to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the big- gest bureau under the Department of the National Defense, could have been put to good use had it been allocated for improv- ing the quality of education.

High Tuition fees

Most schools increase tuition fees to improve school services, raise teachers’ salaries and upgrade equipments. Al- though the move eventually translates to benefit students, still it proves to be counter-productive to poor students. Noel Sales Barcelona, a CBCPNews Correspon-

poor students. Noel Sales Barcelona, a CBCPNews Correspon- figure represents 7.1% of the total number of

figure represents 7.1% of the total number of families nationwide. This may partly explain why we have street children and teenagers involved in petty crimes.

Quality Education


Arroyo signed an executive order recog- nizing the need to “formalize” pre-school education making it mandatory for every barangay to have a daycare center. These daycare centers will become “learning centers” that will cater to two to five-year- old children. Education Secretary Jesli

Lapus said a million pre-school children will benefit from the daycare centers. The institutionalization of the exist- ing daycare center pre-school education will help improve the current standard of

education in the country, according to Atty. Lutgardo Barbo, president of Philip- pine Normal University (PNU). He added that such move is definitely better than adding another academic year for elemen- tary or high school education. However, Barbo noted that public schools that have a high pupil ratio per classroom definitely affect the kind of edu- cation children received. In a classroom with a leaking roof, with 80 or more pupils with no appropriate materials, and a teacher who receives a low salary, all these factors do not add up to quality education, says Barbo.

Lack of Budget

Congressman Mariano Piamonte, Jr, a


serves that the country’s Educational

Teacher Party List representative

Quality education: Liberating people from poverty

dent reported the concerns aired by col- lege students as in the case of Jef-Jef, a 21- year old Accounting student from De La Salle-Araneta in Malabon City. The col- lege student said seven out of ten junior and senior students are quitting school due to high tuition and miscellaneous fees. A Political Science student from City of Malabon University also said an in- crease in registration fees for Malabon and non-Malabon residents proved to be too much. The registration fees ranging from P3,000–P4,000 seem to be too high. This is aside from the “penalties” charged from low-performing students.

Teachers’ training

The dearth of students taking Educa- tion courses is another contributing factor that affects the quality of education since the scarcity of Education students would even- tually translate to lack of qualified teachers. Although teaching has been considered the noblest among professions, Piamonte noted that it does not attract much students com- pared with other courses. “Teaching has become a lesser degree unlike in other countries where teachers are looked up to as very important persons,” Piamonte said. He noted that in England, teachers even receive as much as managers and presidents of some business firms and that explain why their teachers are the best and brightest in their country. Barbo said that while they still have teachers’ board examination topnotchers at PNU, they are seriously implementing extension programs through distance learn- ing modules. The goal is to further improve the quality of teacher education and ulti- mately the basic education in the country. The declining number of students enrolling the course is a clear manifesta- tion that a Bachelor of Science in Educa- tion degree no longer attracts most stu- dents. Barbo said they usually attract 2,000 high school seniors to take the entrance examinations every year. At PNU, suc- cessful college entrants are required to pay a reasonable amount of P1,200 for 21 units per term.


dent for Academics said they already be- gun implementing the Accelerated Teacher Education Model where a four-year pro- gram can be acquired in three years. “This is offered to carefully selected and screened students and our recent board topnotchers came from this program,” she added. Piamonte appreciates efforts exerted by teacher-training institutions reminding


them of the importance of having qualified students in their fold. He said there is a need to have qualified teachers and professors in the country’s education program, those with MA and doctoral degrees.

Liberating people from poverty

Education liberates people from pov- erty. It is the people’s last hope for human development. But how will a family send its children to school and get an education when its foremost concern is to look for food to feed family members? Perhaps it is where the state has to


Constitution, every Filipino has a right to education, and this should be made acces- sible, especially for the poor. In his book “Pedagogy of the Op- pressed” Paulo Freire highlighted the im- portance of education in the transforma- tion of people and society. “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the

mandated by the



means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transfor- mation of their world.” The Catholic Church has always been clear in its stand on Education and Devel- opment. Pope Paul VI in his Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio in 1967 said “Among the causes that greatly contribute to underdevelopment and poverty, in addi- tion to the impossibility of acceding to the international market, mention must be made of illiteracy, lack of food security, the ab- sence of structures and services, inadequate measuresforguaranteeingbasichealthcare, the lack of safe drinking water and sanita- tion, corruption, instability of institutions and of political life itself.” At the end of the day the same bug- ging questions come into fore: will quality education liberate Filipinos from poverty? Or does education make any difference at all to a country where the poor become even poorer and the endemic corruption in government defies education? While art is for art’s sake, will education not pierce the needs of the stomach—ironically beyond

mere erudition?



From Sugarcane Farm Worker to Vegetable Entrepreneur
From Sugarcane Farm Worker to
Vegetable Entrepreneur

By Sally Bulatao

W earing thinned rubber slippers,

the skin of his heels cracked, his

face and arms browned by the

sun, this farmer, 51-year-old Sandy Lejita, was the picture of gentle pride. We were there to visit his vegetable farm which he had developed since he became an agrar- ian reform beneficiary in 2003 when 130 hectares of Hacienda Carmen was covered by agrarian reform. He was one of 92 regu- lar farm workers given a collective CLOA (certificate of Land Ownership Award) en- titling them to receive a land parcel after final survey and partitioning. Expecting about a hectare of land to be covered upon final awarding, Sandy began to develop a 3,600 square meter piece on the fringes of sugar cane fields into a plot that he had planted to ampalaya or amargoso. Pending final awarding of the land to individual owners, most of the land is on lease to the Hacienda through the encargado (farm manager). They de- scribe it as gipa-ariendo.

Ask him about this venture and he has all the numbers at his fingertips. He plants only about half of the plot at one time because he can only afford one canister of amargoso seeds that costs P1,519 for 100 grams. Following technical specifications, one seed should grow on ground measur- ing 25cm x 300 cm. When he did not have enough money to buy seeds, he obtained the seeds on loan from the distributor in Libertad who also bought his ampalaya harvest at P20 per kilogram. If he sorts his produce, he can make P30 per kilogram for first class ampalaya. Sandy reckons that he spends P7,000 for every ampalaya crop which lasts five

months before he has to replant.


includes the cost of the seeds, the bamboo poles and nylon string used to make the trellis for the vines as well as the cost of fertilizer and insect spray. One cropping allows him to harvest ampalaya eight times with each harvest generating gross revenue ranging from

P1,500 to about P4,000. Computed at an average of P2,000 a harvest, eight harvests

gives him about P16,000. Although the trellis lasts for about four crops, he says that he and his laborer/ partner usually deduct P3,500 (half of the P7,000 capital) from the gross revenue and the difference, they divide in half between the two of them. Vicente, his partner, is a relative of Sandy’s wife, Angel. That amounts to P6,250 each for Sandy and Vicente for five months of work. Not much. But compared to P150 a day as farm laborer, for work of two days a week, it is about even. But the potential to earn more from their own farm is huge, if only they could raise a little more capital. All the ampalaya they harvest is sold in Libertad where the buyer purchases everything they can deliver. At the Murcia town market, ampalaya was selling for P35 per kilogram on the day we visited the farm. Sandy is also a carpenter. At the back of his house stands the frame of a bahay kubo that he intends to set up at the farm. He has discovered that there is a spring at one end of the farm and he looks forward to putting up his old water pump there. He

From Sugarcane Farm Worker to Vegetable Entrepreneur

From Sugarcane Farm Worker to Vegetable Entrepreneur also earns extra income from sharpening saws at P30

also earns extra income from sharpening saws at P30 per saw. He showed us his gmelina trees be-

hind his home lot.

children, now all grown up with families of their own, have houses made of wood that he had harvested from his trees. He is also ready with some seedlings of fruit trees. He plans to plant them on his own farm lot once he secures his land title. He has seedlings of tomatoes and egg- plants, too. His wife Angel is 49 years old. She cooks and sells native cakes and other food items. She even sold a big papaya to Quidan Kaisahan (QK) staff for P20. She

thinks that if she had the capital, she can earn more or at least as much as Sandy. Sandy was a member of the union in the Hacienda. They were affiliated with NFSW (National Federation of Sugar Workers). He was one of the leaders who successfully negotiated the first CBA (col- lective bargaining agreement) at the Haci- enda. After being designated a CARP ben- eficiary in 2003, he took a job as encargado at the Hilado farm. He stayed one year only. He could not stand being on the “other side,” he said. From 1973 to 2003, Sandy was a sugar farm worker doing one of the lowliest of farm labor, weeding in the cane fields at Hacienda Carmen in Murcia, Negros Occi- dental They call it paghilamon. Luckily for Sandy, those years did not break his spirit. He feels he is strong enough to make his farm productive once finally awarded to him and his family. He remains a natural leader of his fellow agrarian reform benefi- ciaries. He has invited nine of them who are also engaged in ampalaya farming to a

He says all his four

meeting with QK on 17 August to discuss how they can improve their vegetable en- terprise. Willy, a community organizer of QK assigned in Blumentritt, had invited Sandy to the LED (Local Economic Development) planning meeting on 27 July where farmers engaged in some form of agricultural en- terprise were encouraged to attend and discuss the possibility of clustering some of their enterprises. QK is at the initial stage of managing an agri loan facility. This comes after a successful micro-finance operation with its sister institution Pag-inupdanay Inc. (PI). They realize that agri loans are more risky. To address this, QK is on the look- out for onsite farmer entreps like Sandy

who can serve not only as models in their

communities but as a source of technical assistance in doing an agri-enterprise al- ready familiar to them. QK’s Business Development Service,

on the

stages, testing its capabilities in value adding along the value chains of com- modities in which their target groups are engaged. Today, QK has a modest agri loan portfolio of about P700,000. The agri lending program started three years ago with about P300,000. QK’s agri window includes production loans to farmers pro- ducing sugarcane, rice and more recently, cassava. The farmers sell dried cassava chips to La Tondeña which processes the raw material into alcohol. Coffee farmers in QK-assisted areas sell organic coffee beans to the Figaro Foundation. Going very cautiously, QK has a record 100% repayment rate with this facility. The big question is how quickly they can ac- celerate the program while maintaining the quality of lending. Likewise, they are now designing the kind of enterprise support that would strengthen the agribusiness initiatives of the farmers in the areas where participatory local governance has already taken root. More farmers engaged in agribusiness, more farmers running their farms like entrepreneurs—this is the vi- sion QK shares with Sandy, and with ev- ery day that passes, with more and more


other hand, is also in its early


(Sally Bulatao co-founded Ibon Databank in 1978 together with Sr. Sol Perpinan, RGS, and served as its Executive Director for several years until 1988. She headed the National Dairy Authority in 2001-2006 and now acts as the Supervising Trustee of the ASI- based Center for Small Entrepreneurs.)

Trustee of the ASI- based Center for Small Entrepreneurs.) 20 IMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACT • June 2008



Bishop calls for ‘total closure’ of mining in Albay

MANILA, June 12, 2008—

A Roman Catholic bishop

demanded the ‘total clo- sure’ of a hotly contested

Korean-controlled copper and zinc mine in Rapu-Rapu Island, Albay.


Arturo Bastes claimed the people would definitely be “too happy” if the Korea Resources Inc (Kores) and LG International Corp. will leave the area. The Korean state-run mining companies took over

full control of the project in April after its previous op- erator, Lafayette of Austra- lia, pulled out over environ- mental issues.


Lafayette got “bankrupt” after its investors finally backed off due to public clamor against environmen- tal destruction. “They (Lafayette) have no more investors. They can’t even pay their person-

nel anymore. It’s no longer financially viable,” he said. The bishop said Rapu- Rapu mining is supposed to

be the government’s “flag-

ship” project in its revital-

ized mining industry pro- gram but it turned out to be a “fiasco.” Bastes also said that Lafayette still has over P130 million pesos balance of taxes payable to the gov- ernment. “The government




should impose total closure

of the mining there. It has ruined not only the envi- ronment but also our economy,” Bastes said. The Rapu-Rapu mine has been forecasted to gen- erate revenues of $US350 million a year from annual production of 11,000 tones of copper and 13,000 tonnes of zinc.


Group acquired Lafayette’s majority stake shortly after the mine was fined for spills which contaminated sur- rounding waters in 2005. At least 40 fisher folks and residents of Rapu-Rapu picketed the South Korean Embassy in Makati City to stop Korean investors from taking over the mining op- eration. The Bicolanos, to- gether with environmental activists and peasants, urged Ambassador Hong Jong-ki to provoke the pull- out of the investments of Kores and LG International in the mining operation. “There is no reason to continue the Lafayette min- ing project. It’s three-year operation in Rapu-rapu is- land has brought so much environmental destruction, community displacements, human rights violations and livelihood loss,” the envi- ronmental group Kalikasan claimed in a statement. (Roy Lagarde)




Anglican and Catholic bishops call for an end to the slaughter of civilians COLOMBO,SriLanka,June 10,

Anglican and Catholic bishops call for an end to the slaughter of civilians

COLOMBO,SriLanka,June 10, 2008—”Shocked” by

the high number of casual- ties in recent senseless at-


Moratuwa and Polgolla, the Catholic and Anglican bish- ops of Sri Lanka signed a joint statement calling on the government to find a political solution to the civil war.

“Killing of any human being is unacceptable but the killing of innocent civil- ians is abominable. We ve- hemently condemn these acts of wanton violence and terrorism,” the statement said. The bishops also ap- pealed to Tamil Tiger rebels asking them to desist from using violence. They called on both sides to enter into negotia- tions to find a way out of the crisis that has plagued



this country for so long. “It is most urgent that the President and the gov- ernment obtain the coop- eration of all political lead- ers to forge a consensus as regards to a political solu- tion since peaceful means is the only way to lasting peace,” the prelates said. In another special press release the Anglican bishop of Colombo, Msgr. Duleep de Chickera, urged “all parties to remain calm” because ethnic relations are fast spinning out of control exacerbated by the eco- nomic hardships people face. Given the situation he urged the government and the rebels “to show greater political discernment and maturity to pull our coun- try from the brink” and “col-


peace.” (AsiaNews)





NEWS FEATURES Rising fuel prices could lead to unrest NEW DELHI, India, June 5, 2008—In India

Rising fuel prices could lead to unrest

NEW DELHI, India, June 5, 2008—In India and Malaysia fears are mounting of major price hikes and public protests after their respective govern- ments cut public subsidies that kept fuel prices low. In India, petrol and diesel prices rose by about 10 per- cent, with the price of cooking gas jumping by 17 percent. Still local prices are far below mar- ket levels. Indeed, Indian Pe- troleum Minister Murli Deora said diesel prices must double and petrol must increase by 50 per cent. For experts the measure is “necessary”. They estimate that India’s three largest oil companies lost about US$ 17 billion because of selling at under the market rate to con- sumers. What is more the com- panies told the government that if they were not allowed to raise prices, they would lose

almost US$ 58 billions this fis- cal year or 3 per cent of the

Domestic Product


(GDP). With inflation reaching 8 per cent in recent weeks, the highest since 2004, fears are growing that prices might rise even further, especially since India imports nearly 75 per cent

of its crude oil requirements. Street protests have al- ready taken place (see photo) led by opposition Hindu na- tionalist Bharatiya Janata Party. But the ruling coalition’s own leftwing parties have also joined in. To cope with the problem Communists want the govern- ment to lower petroleum taxes; however, the latter represent the major source of indirect taxation for the government. The Indian rupee is one casualty of the current eco- nomic woes. After gaining 12.3 percent in 2007, it lost 7.9 per- cent this year (one of the worst performances among Asian currencies), closing at 42.7775 per dollar yesterday. Another casualty of ris- ing energy prices is Prime Min- ister Manmohan Singh’s Con- gress Party. Increasingly vot- ers are turning away from the governing party just one year short of next year’s federal elections. In Malaysia, petrol prices rose by 41 percent. The gov- ernment is expected to bring local prices into line with those of the market by August; should it not do so subsidies might end up representing

CBCP head:

Independence Day should signal freedom from poverty

MANILA, June 12, 2008— A top official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the


lenged political leaders to give a new meaning to Inde- pendence Day by ushering a new kind of politics that’s grounded on principles. CBCP President and


Lagdameo said they wanted political leaders to show a new way of governance in the country—liberated from injustices and graft and cor- ruption. Independence Day, he said, should signal a new kind of politics where lead- ers are able to decide objec- tively based on people’s needs.





ment, lack of education or ignorance, health insecurity. Ang ating mga mamamayan


mamamayan dahil sa inhustisya at graft and cor- ruption,” (Our countrymen are slaves by fellow coun- trymen due to injustice and


Lagdameo added. The CBCP head said that for the country to have absolute freedom, it has to learn how to rise from the effects of numerous crises by effectively working to- gether. “Siguro magiging makatotohanan ang pagdiriwang ng Araw ng Kalayaan kung mapapalaya ang ating mga kababayan






Lagdameo rued the ab-

sa pagka-alipin dahil sa hun-

sence of “human freedom”



in the country despite hav-

homelessness, unemploy-

ing gained political indepen-





dence 110 years ago. “Ang ating bansa ay

pamamagitan ng mga pro- poor projects,” (Perhaps the

malaya sa control ng mga




dayuhang bansa, pero ang

dence Day will become real-

mga mamamayan naman ay alipin ng kahirapan,” (Our

istic if our countrymen are freed from the slavery of

country is free from the



clutches of foreign nations,

homelessness, unemploy-

but our countrymen are still

ment, ignorance or through

slaves to poverty) he said.



“Slavery because of




homelessness, unemploy-


nearly a third of total govern- ment spending or about 7 per- cent of the GDP. In Malaysia opposition parties have accused the gov- ernment of failing to live up to its promises and pledged to take to the streets in protest. Prime Minister Abdullah

Ahmad Badawi had already come in for criticism following the last elections which he is accused of winning unfairly. Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Paki- stan, Bangladesh and Indone- sia have already had to cut fuel subsidies. (AsiaNews/ Agencies)


Statement of the 6 th National Lay Gathering

Holy Cross Parish, General Santos City, May 19-24, 2008

“The laity share in the priestly, prophetic and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own role to play in the mission of the whole people of God in the church and in the world.” (#2 On the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity)”

W e, the delegates of the 6 th Na-

tional Lay Gathering, coming

from all over the country, num-

bering 367, come together once again to share our aspirations, dreams, successes, joys, frustrations, and sorrows and our being lay participating in building the King- dom of God, with the theme, “The Laity’s involvement in the Mission of the Church:

A continuing challenge in journeying with the people’s struggle towards Church Renewal and Social Transformation.” For this year, the main objective of the gathering is to reminisce the past with gratitude, share the present with full of challenges and look for the future with enthusiasm as agents for church renewal and social transformation endeavors. As we gather, we asked ourselves “how are we in our present conditions.” Most of us have grown mature and are still very

much alive in church and development


affecting the lay, which can be categorized as ad intra (internal to the laity) and ad extra (external situation). We encountered problems of attitudes and behavior of some lay leaders who have become “counter- witness” to the evangelization effort of the church, such as drunkenness, gambling, back-biting, and apathy to socio-political issues. Committed lay leaders are getting scarce and it requires more initiative and creativity to reach out more laypeople espe- cially the young ones. We are usually multi- tasked and we take for granted motivating second liners. Some of us are afraid to assert our rights as equal partners in the ministry or apostolate. We feel deficient in Christian education, particularly in the basic doc- trines, theology, and social teachings of the Church. Thus, most of us feel marginalized or “treated like third class citizens in the Church.” In addition, we are sometimes confused by the ambivalent stand of the church hierarchy regarding our involve- ment in socio-political issues which is sup-

We also discussed many issues

posedly our arena for evangelization and transformation. There are incidents of be- ing disowned, not given blessings, or being told to resign from church ministries once we get involved in these issues. Meanwhile, we have experienced the effects and influences of globalization with its exploitative and oppressive practices that promote the values of individualism, materialism, consumerism, indifference, vices, drugs, and gangsterism especially among the youth. In the economic arena, we are concerned with the issues of land- lessness, insecurity of land tenure, food/ rice crisis, increasing poverty, intensify- ing intrusion of trans-national corpora- tions that continue to hound the poor

people. These are compounded with oil price hikes and exploitation of labor through


over, in the political aspect, rampant graft and corruption, through dynasties and monopoly of powers, have resulted to poor delivery of basic social services. In areas target for development aggression, military are deployed as advance party, thereby clearing the area for foreign inves- tors and strengthening the ruling class’ political grip over the people. Further- more, the continuous destruction of natu- ral resources and environment, by logging and mining, has aggravated the misery of the lay people. In the midst of all the above issues and concerns, and despite threats and financial constraints, we, the laypeople continue to assert our rights as equal partners in the ministries of the Church, and carry on our active participation in the works for social transformation. We sup- port and promote the advocacy on Human Rights issues, Environmental protection, good governance, and peasants and work- ers’ issues. In carrying out these duties, we have made initiatives to develop our skills and knowledge in leadership, facili- tating, organizing, administering, and man-

aging the Church pastoral programs, through on-going education, trainings, and values formation. We continue to build and strengthen the Basic Ecclesial Com- munities (or GKKs, GSKs, Kriska, MSK, etc.) as new way of being Church and Church of the Poor. We keep to our hearts the four roles of the laity as called for by PCP II, as follows: a) called to community of families; b) called to Christian presence; c) called to service and evangelization, and d) called to social transformation. We are genuinely joyful and elated by the success of this gathering, and we would like to sustain the unity and empowerment that this encounter has brought us. As a challenge, we call on the Lay Forum Phil- ippines to be instrumental in establishing and strengthening network among lay people down to the grassroots level, and continue the initiatives of implementing programs and services that support the needs of lay workers, particularly the TulayKo . On the other hand, we call on all lay people to strengthen their respective lay organizations to attain genuine lay empowerment, and to give support to Lay Forum Philippines as expression of soli- darity and unity. We continue to believe that we, lay people, have a great contribution to the realization and fulfillment of the Reign/ Kingdom of God. We deepen our commit- ment and involvement in the Mission of the Church towards her renewal and social transformation. We pray to the Almighty, who is the source of all being, inner strength and courage; to His Son, Jesus, our compan- ion in this journey; and to the Holy Spirit, who keep us “fired from within,” to sustain and nourish us in this great effort of bring- ing about “new heaven and new earth,” where justice, peace, love, and solidarity prevail.

Signed: 367 Delegates


STATEMENTS Mining-Free Sibuyan Island: Upholding the Integrity of Creation SIBUYAN shall be a mining-free island: A

Mining-Free Sibuyan Island:

Upholding the Integrity of Creation

SIBUYAN shall be a mining-free island:

A dhering to the Roman Catholic Com- pendium of the Social Doctrine No. 470 which states that the programs

of economic development must carefully consider ‘the need to respect the integrity and cycles of nature because natural re- sources are limited and some are not renewable.’ No. 467 further says that ‘re- sponsibility for the environment, the com- mon heritage of mankind, extends not only to present needs but also to those of the future.’ Taking action on the United Nations’ (UN) Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to ensure environmental sustainability integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reversing loss of environmental resources; reduc- ing biodiversity loss, achieving by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss; and reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. Advocating the Philippine Agenda 21 which envisions a better quality of life for all through the development of a just, moral, creative, spiritual, economically

vibrant, caring, diverse yet cohesive soci- ety characterized by appropriate pro- ductivity, participatory and democratic processes, and living in harmony within the limits of the carrying capacity of na- ture and the integrity of creation. Considering the scientific facts that Sibuyan, nicknamed the Galapagos of Asia, features flora and fauna found no- where else on the planet. It is where the world’s densest forest flourishes in which the National Museum identified, in a single hectare, 1,551 trees comprising 123 spe- cies, of which 54 were endemic. Orchids abound as do other vascular plant spe- cies; Nepenthes sibuyanensis, a pitcher plant species, is endemic as its scientific name suggests. There are 131 species of birds that share the skies with ten species of fruit bat; the plethora (nobody knows quite how many) of land-dwelling mam- mals, reptiles, and rodents include at least five species of mammals that are endemic. Recognizing the assessments of The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, that Sibuyan is a center of endemism; the Phil- ippine National Herbarium (PNH), as a critical plant site; all accepted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as scientific facts,

hence, the island is considered as biodiversity hotspot. Further, a paper of a University of the Philippines–Los Baños researcher proves that there are 35 endan- gered and endemic species in almost all barangays outside the protected area. Rejecting the Special Permit to cut 69,709 trees issued by then DENR Sec. Angelo T. Reyes within 406 hectares of land, equal to 9,455.183 m³ or 4,000, 8998 board feet. Implementing Presidential Proclama- tion No. 746 declaring Mt. Guiting-guiting as Natural Park; and the whole island as an initial component for the National Inte- grated Areas Program (NIPAP) as a man- grove forest swamp reserve per Presiden- tial Proclamation No. 2152. Recognizing the 2005 proclamation of PresidentGloriaMacapagal-Arroyoandthen DENR Sec. Angelo T. Reyes of Cantingas River as the cleanest and greenest inland body of water in the Philippines. In addition, when the president visited Sibuyan Island, she said, “Sibuyan Island, has a high eco-

nomic growth potential, notably as a tour- ist destination.” And in her 2006 State of the Nation Address (SONA), she clearly indi-


cated that “Romblon… With tourism become rich.”


a series of protest actions since 2006 num- bering to thousands of people participat- ing and petitions signed by almost 90 percent of Sibuyan populace. Condemning the deceit, lies, bribery, and manipulations of mining companies in connivance with some local govern- ment officials to the communities. Saddened by the brutal killing of Hon. Armin Rios-Marin, a Kabang Kalikasan ng Pilipinas/World Wildlife


barangay human rights officer, president of the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC), Parents, Teachers and Community Asso- ciation (PTCA) and trustee of the Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment, Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE).Alarmed by the stra- tegic lawsuits against public participa- tion to more than 85 advocates including teachers, farmers, housewives and con- cerned citizens, by mining companies through their employees. Disappointed with the promises of elected local government officials who have promised to preserve and protect Sibuyan Island against mining and eco- logical destruction. Concerned with the rapid social divi- sion among communities and families. Afraid of the possible massive dis- placement of Sibuyanons for what will remain from their lands would only barely 9,012 hectares unable to sustain the whole populace of the island out of the total 35,847.76 hectares of mining claims and protected area from Sibuyan’s total land area of 44,860.00. That is barely .16 hect- are or .0016 sq. km. for every Sibuyanon (excluding the land to be tilled for food, e.g. rice, corn, cassava, among others)

considering the 2007 Sibuyan popula- tion of 56,541.

Majority of our people are poor, but we will not permit that these mining ac- tivities will make our people poorer. We live

though the abundance of the island, and we will never allow our source of living will be affected by such activity. We do not believe that mining is the sole solution to al- leviating poverty. There are alternatives such as eco-tourism, sustainable agriculture, and fishery, among others. Mining per se is a search and destroy mission and it will leave our lands bar-

ren after exploitation. Responsible min- ing is not feasible in Sibuyan¯we adhere to responsible stewardship as guardians of the environment instead. Hence, the Catholic Bishops’ Confer- ence of the Philippines in its 2006 state- ment, firmly says: “The right to life of people is inseparable from their right to sources of food and livelihood. Allowing

the interests of big mining corporations to prevail over peoples’ right to these sources amounts to violating their right to life. Furthermore, mining threatens people’s health and environmental safety through the wanton dumping of waste and tailings in rivers and seas.” “Our experiences of environmental tragedies and incidents with the mining transnational corporations belie all assur- ances of sustainable and responsible min-


communities, Christians and non-Chris- tians alike, are subjected to human rights violations and economic deprivations. We see no relief in sight.” The struggle against the pillage of Sibuyan Island continues, despite the aggressive promotion of mining by the Arroyo administration. As long as the residents and other environmental advo- cates stay firm on their vision of a Sibuyan free from clutches of large-scale mining companies, so will the Sibuyanons con- tinue to have an island they call home. Every mineral is already tainted with the blood of our martyr; every tree to be cut shall shed blood of every child and the unborn; and every dig on our lands shall create an incurable cancer of our lives. Justice for Armin is justice for Sibuyanons. Justice for Armin is the pull- out of all mining operations and applica- tions in the island of Sibuyan. No more, no less. THESIBUYANONS

Increasing number of mining affected



Cantingas River
Cantingas River
mining affected (KKP/WWF) environmentalist, Cantingas River Analyzing the effects of mining in the island, based on

Analyzing the effects of mining in the island, based on gathered data for 21 small- and large-scale tenements, active and exploration mining leases from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), it

is projected technically that such encom- pass 16,600 hectares (has) or more than

36 percent of Sibuyan Island’s total land

area. All but 2 or 90 percent of mining leases overlap 6,400 has or 25 percent of the management area of the Mt. Guiting- guiting Natural Park. More than 1,600 has or 25 percent of the overlap area is located in the Protected Area. Ninety or 90 percent of mining leases cover 6,500 has or

36 percent of mangrove, montane, primary

lowland and secondary lowland forests. There are 12 leases which cover approxi- mately 870 has or 40 percent of rice lands and 13 leases which overlap approxi- mately 5,200 has or 51 percent of coconut

lands. Four mining leases overlap 2,000 has or 26 percent of the Sibuyan Mangyan Tagabukid (SMT) Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) and 20 has or 30 percent of the SMT Ancestral Domain Claim; that this analysis may vary because there still areas being applied for. Respecting the rights and accept- ability of the people that there have been



PAGCOR Equals Power

P AGCOR means power be

cause it rakes in billions

of gambling money, it has

a big and deep bottomless

pocket to throw money around


order to neutralize the laws


the land, to buy the support

of and pay for the loyalty of chosen key public officials, to allow no one and nothing to be on its merry way in creating gambling addicts, in foment-

ing the culture of gambling and

in thus effectively destroying

the social significance and im- pact of honest work and noble toil. Yes the gambling phenom- enon is as bad as this! PAGCOR is a government owned and controlled corpo- ration. That is why it partici- pates of the omnipotence of

the gloriously ruling adminis- tration. Blessed are those who give their unwavering support

to and official endorsement of

the infamous gambling corpo- ration. And woe to those who dare counter its promotion of the gambling culture in the land, who attempt to stop its exploitation of persons under

its dominative control. Hence the saying: Be pro-Pagcor and

be counted among the blessed.

Go anti-Pagcor and be cursed

as long as you shall live. PAGCOR is mindful of throwing some pesos here and there, for this or that charitable project. It even spend much for the expensive and insistent advertisements of its glowing venture and its much taunted self-glorification in being a world class gambling corpora- tion with some kind of a hazy “global” mindset plus a misty “Filipino” spirit—or something the like. Nice sound bites but those somehow intelligent will not buy it, while the ignorant would not understand it. Mis- representations are eventually

costly to sell and hard to buy. It is an exercise in futility to clothe vice with the attributes

of virtue, to sell rotting gar- bage as a perfumed commod-

ity. One can just wonder what these leading government un- derlings would do—after dedi- cating themselves to the pro- motion of big and luxurious Casinos, to the cleaning of the pockets of their gullible clients,

to the funding of dubious if not downright corrupt and corrupt- ing agenda of their Boss- Chief—whentheyallcomeface to face with the following infal- lible realities: One, when they are eventually thrown out of their juicy and perky positions for one reason or another. Two, when they meet big accidents, have incurable sickness, be- comeoldandweak.Three,when

they finally look squarely at the face of the grim reaper at their death bed. Would that they have the opportunity to return every- thing and anything they have not earned rightly or justly. Would that they have the chance and the time to repent for their misdeeds against their neighbors—especially all the

people they enticed to gamble and particularly the gambling addicts they produced to the lost of their good names, the detriment of their professions, the breakage of their homes. Irrespective of race, color and creed, in the name of jus- tice and for the sake of har- mony, no one should take what is not rightfully his or hers, nobody should even cover what legitimately belongs to someone else. These basic pro- hibitions apply to all gambling corporations, all gambling op- erators and all gamblers!



T ime and again, the sensitive reality and pursuant

delicate issues about homosexuality—be this fe-

male but specially male distinct sexual orientation—

come to fore, for one reason or another, on the occasion of this or that question. And more often than not, people feel and react differently, harbor nice or hurt feelings. Just as there must be some factors that people can agree about human sexuality in general, so too there are certain objec- tive realities or ontological facts that are beyond biases and prejudices in conjunction with homosexuality—such as the following. One: The intrinsic dignity of every human person with the inalienable human rights thereto essentially ap- pended—all these basic truths transcend human sexuality. In other words, all persons are fundamentally equal before the divine natural and positive laws—irrespective of their given sexuality. Two: The mere sexuality of someone does not make him or her automatically a good or bad person, a saint or a sinner. More than just sex by itself, it is how, when and why this sexual constitution is made operative or acted on that

in fact earns the person concerned his or ethical merit or demerit. Three: The nature and contributions of every human person make him or her good, suitable or capable of certain agenda—although definitely not for everything. In the same way, the personality constitution or given condition of someone ill-equip him or her for some resolutions or actions—although certainly not for all professions or missions. Above general principles forwarded, it might be right and proper to now specifically address the more concrete and relevant question regarding constitutional male or female homosexuality—not merely situational homosexu- ality nor simple effeminacy which are well distinct from strictly constitutional homosexuality. Question: Would it be right for homosexuals to get married among themselves? Advisory: It might be both necessary and practical for them to ask if there could be a real effective conjugal union between them, notwithstand- ing all their honest designs and sincere desires to the contrary. Question: Would it is right for homosexuals to become nuns or priests? Advisory: It might be not only wise but also prudent for them to consider if they have the genuine vocation to do so, considering in a special way, their particular psychologico-affective and pursuant emotional constitution. Question: Would it be right for homosexuals to remain single, to stay as they are? Advisory: It might be more proper and relevant for them to know and pursue a satis- fying and beneficial occupation or profession according to their inborn talents and/or acquired skills—instead of simply thinking about a given condition or state of life.



E-VAT is oppressive I t is in consonance with the dictate of reason and in

E-VAT is oppressive

I t is in consonance with the dictate of reason and in

citizens pay taxes to the government to fund its work

for the common good, to pay public officials for their service to the people. The truth is that both direct and indirect taxes are ethical demands from the government to be duly responded to by citizens who are capable of paying for their public welfare and developmental op- portunities—precisely in exchange for their taxes duti- fully paid. This arrangement is in line with the elemen- tary norm of take and give by the citizens vis-à-vis corresponding rule of take and give by their govern- ment. But considering the dreadful political realities in the Philippines and attending to the depressing socio-eco- nomic condition all over the land, what is standard has become obscene, what is customary has become crimi- nal to many Filipinos, and even lethal to an increasing number of them now wallowing in poverty and misery. This is the present status and import of the detestable and unconscionable E-VAT—the big symbol of contra- diction, the vibrant sign of oppression for the hungry and the sick. There are at least three cogent serious reasons why this particular modus of taxation is not only villain- ous to the people but also venomous for this country. First is the unenviable fact that the present govern- ment is known for many intriguing agenda except for honesty and integrity, famous for various official glori- ous claims except for telling the truth and being trans- parent. For those saying otherwise, they better wise up.

line with the necessity of societal living that the

A ruling administration that is infamous for its long

standing monumental graft and corrupt practices— something known even to the international commu- nity—cannot be trusted with the proper handling of

taxes dutifully and painfully paid by the citizens. It is like trusting thieves with the house silvers something that is not only ridiculous but downright irrational. Second is the sickening reality that the poorest of the poor Filipinos pay exactly the same E-VAT as the wealthiest of the wealthy in the land. This is not a jab at the rich who have affluent resources due to honest sweat and toil. This is simply meant to call attention to the obvious: even beggars pay E-VAT from sunrise to sunset every time they buy consumer goods—in exactly the same amount paid by big and fat dishonest public officials from the national to the local levels of govern- ment. The hideous reality is that even a new-born baby

is already taxed the moment he or she uses electricity,

needs alcohol and cotton—especially so when the child

starts eating and begins wearing appropriate clothing. Third is the scandalous fact that notwithstanding

all direct and indirect taxes paid to the government by

some 86 or so million Filipinos plus the local and foreign debts incurred exactly by the same government, even the still unborn citizens are already deep in debts. This

is neither interesting nor funny. This is an unconscio-

nable and unacceptable reality. No wonder then that the incumbent government having been qualified as corrupt from top to bottom is popularly much dis- trusted and rejected.



Lessons Lessons learned learned
Lessons Lessons learned learned

O ne day, the father of a very wealthy

family took his son on a trip to the

country with the express purpose

of showing him how poor people live.

They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be con- sidered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the

father asked his son, “How was the trip?” “It was great, Dad.” “Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked. “Oh yeah,” said the son. “So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father. The son answered: “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. “We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. “We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. “We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.” The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.”


The beggar King

O nce there was a time,

according to legend,

when Ireland was

ruled by a king who had no son. The king sent out his couriers to post notices in all the towns of his realm. The notices advised that every qualified young man should apply for an inter- view with the king as a pos- sible successor to the throne. However, all such candidates must have these two qualifications: They must (1) love God and (2) love their fellow human be- ings. The Young man about whom this legend centers saw a notice and reflected that he loved God and, also, his neighbors. One thing stopped him, though, he

was so poor that he had no clothes that would be present- able in the sight of the king. Nor did he have the funds to buy provisions for the long jour- ney to the castle. So the young man begged here, and bor- rowed there, finally managing to scrounge enough money for the appropriate clothes and the necessary supplies. Properly attired and well- suited, the young man set out on his quest, and had almost completed the journey when he came upon a poor beggar by the side of the road. The beggar sat trembling, clad only in tattered rags. His extended arms pleaded for help. His weak voice croaked, “I’m hungry and cold. Please help


please?” The young man was so

moved by this beggar’s need that he immediately stripped off his new clothes and put on the tattered threads of the beg- gar. Without a second thought he gave the beggar all his pro- vision as well. Then, somewhat hesitantly, he continued his journey to the castle dressed in the rags of the beggar, lacking provisions for his return trek home. Upon his arrival at the castle, a king’s attendant showed him in to the great hall. After a brief respite to clean off the journey’s grime, he was finally admitted to the throne room of the king. The young man bowed low before his majesty. When he raised his eyes, he gaped in

it’s you!

You’re the beggar by the side

of the road.” “Yes,”thekingrepliedwith

a twinkle, “I was that beggar.”

you are not

really a beggar. You are the king for real. Well, then, why

astonishment. “You




did you do this to me?” the young man stammered after gaining more of his compo- sure. “Because I had to find out if you genuinely love God and your fellow human beings,” said the king. “I knew that if I came to you as king, you would have been impressed by my gem-en- crusted golden crown and my royal robes. You would have done anything I asked of you because of my regal character. But that way I would never have known what is truly in your heart. So I used a ruse. I came to you as a beggar with no claims on you except for the love in your heart. And I discovered that you sin- cerely do love God and your fellow human beings. You will be my successor,” prom- ised the king. “You will in- herit my kingdom.”




May I Have This Dance?

Joyce Rupp

Spiritual writers thrive in us- ing metaphors to express their profound relationship with the Divine. In this book of personal reflections on prayer, the author likens prayer to a dance with God, an experience that leaves one totally lost in contemplation of the Divine partner. Rupp ex- tends an invitation that is so unique readers won’t be able to resist. Through the pages of the book, she entices read- ers to give in to the rhythm of life, allowing God to take the lead through ups and downs one may experience in daily existence. Reflections found in each page are borne out of Rupp’s personal experience ministering various groups through workshops and re- treats which she has given through the years in differ- ent parts of the world. Pub- lished by Claretians this book is an excellent read for those who wish to deepen their spiritual life. Indeed a busy lifestyle of- ten leaves many of us feel- ing weary and dried up. Prayer keeps us in con- stant communication with the Divine, “an inner dance in which God takes the lead, guiding us through the joys and sorrows of life.”

lead, guiding us through the joys and sorrows of life.” Between Sundays Daily Gospel Reflections and
lead, guiding us through the joys and sorrows of life.” Between Sundays Daily Gospel Reflections and



Daily Gospel Reflections and Prayers

Paul Bourdreau

How to make the Word of God alive in one’s heart during the days of the week in between Sundays? This book provides the answer. The author, an American priest who has written a few publications on homiletics adds yet another one on the list with this inspiring volume. Yes, it is a daily reflection on the Gospel and more! In this volume of weekday liturgy Bourdreau provides snippets of gospel reading for the day followed by a short reflection that links the Gospel with the daily circumstances of our lives. Each reflection is followed by a short prayer and an invitation to make the lessons of Scripture concrete and vibrant in our lives. The volume cov- ers the various liturgical seasons with a section for special feastdays. This book is published by Paulines.

Take Five

One Hundred Meditations to De-Stress Your Days

Joseph M. Champlin

Busy people often claim they have no time left for prayer be- cause they are so tied up with their schedules attending day- to-day activities. But this book of short meditations debunks that fallacy. The blurb throws this chal- lenge: “Everyday you take five to read the headlines, check your e-mail, or grab a cup of coffee. So why not take five to re-charge your spiritual battery?” With hun- dred short meditations to rumi- nate on one can be sure that each day will not go un-re- charged. Each meditation is capped with a spiritual sugges- tion, scriptural thought and a bib- lical story. An easy read, this vol- ume is sure to make one’s day completely de-stressed and spiritually attuned.

one’s day completely de-stressed and spiritually attuned. Humane Treatment of Persons Deprived of Liberty Source Book
one’s day completely de-stressed and spiritually attuned. Humane Treatment of Persons Deprived of Liberty Source Book

Humane Treatment of Persons Deprived of Liberty

Source Book on Human Rights Standards for the Protection and Promotion of the rights of Person Deprived of Liberty

Rodolfo D. Diamante, Cesar G. Banaag, Karen Dumpit (Editors)

This book comes right at the time when the country is reeling with accusations from local and international human rights bodies of abuses as seen in forced disappearances and wan- ton killings of human rights activists. Presented in three parts, the source book contains provisions promulgated by the United Nations upholding the rights and dignity of every person, and discusses as well various Human Rights Treaties of the United Nations in which the Philippines is a signatory. The book also explains the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, an injunction by the Philippine Court to solve the spate of extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances that have been happening in the coun- try since 1999. An excellent guide to human rights advocates who work for the protection and promotion of people deprived of liberty, the book is published by Coalition Against Death Penalty and Commission on Human Rights.







Title: Caregiver Cast: Sharon Cuneta, John Estrada, John Manalo, Makisig Morales, Boots Anson- Roa, Jhong Hilario, Rica Peralejo, Mickey Ferriols, Lotlot de Leon, Monique Wilson, Anita Linda Director: Chito Roño Producer: Star Cinema Screenwriter: Chris Martinez Genre: Drama Distributor: Star Cinema Location: London, England Running Time: 110 min.

Technical Assessment: 3.5 Moral Assessment: 3 CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

Tinalikuran ni Sarah (Sharon Cuneta) ang pagiging guro upang makasunod sa asawang si Teddy (John Estrada) sa London at maging caregiver doon. Iniwan ni Sarah sa Pilipinas ang anak na si Paulo (John Manalo) nang mabigat ang loob. Pagdating sa London ay pagsusumikapan nilang mag-asawa na maka-ipon upang agad makuha si Paulo at mamumuhay sila bilang isang pamilya sa London. Ngunit hindi ito agad mangyayari dahil sa sanga-sangang problemang haharapin ni Sarah kapiling si Teddy. Unti-unti ring mamumulat si Sarah sa napakaraming

realidad ng buhay sa London. Ang hirap ng trabaho bilang caregiver at ang asawang nakalugmok sa mga bigong pangako at wasak na pangarap. Bagama’t hindi maikakailang for- mula at de-kahon ang Caregiver, nakapagbigay pa rin ito ng bagong pananaw ukol sa kalagayan ng mga kababayan nating Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) sa London. Bago ang konseptong caregiving at hindi pa ito masyadong natatalakay sa pelikula man o telebisyon. Naging matapang ang pelikula sa hamong ipakita ang isang aspeto ng pagiging OFW na hindi pa

hamong ipakita ang isang aspeto ng pagiging OFW na hindi pa masyadong talamak sa pag-iisip ng

masyadong talamak sa pag-iisip ng mga manonood. Mahusay ang pagkakaganap ng mga tauhan mula sa mga bidang sina Sharon Cuneta, John Estrada, John Manalo hanggang sa mga artistang may maliit lamang na papel tulad ni Anita Linda. Natu- ral ang mga linya at tamang-tama ang timpla ng mga eksena. Hindi man ganoon kabigat ang dating sa mga manonood, hindi pa rin maitatangging nadala ng Caregiver ang mga manonood sa isang lugar at buhay na malayo sa ating ulirat. Ipinakikita ng Caregiver ang napakaraming

sakripisyong pinagdaraanan ang mga nakikipagsapalaran sa

ibang bansa kapalit ng pangakong higit na magandang buhay. Hindi nga lahat ng


nangingibang-bayan ay nagiging matagumpay. Hindi lahat ng pangarap ay natutupad at nasasagot ng paga- abroad. Sa katunayan, karamihan sa mga tunay na problema ay hindi nag-uugat sa pera kundi sa kaibuturan ng pagkatao na nananatili saan mang lugar mapunta, kumita man ng malaking halaga. Kapuri-puri ang katauhan ni Sarah na


naging matapang sa gitna ng maraming pagsubok. Naging masunurin sa asawa si Sarah hanggang sa mamulat sa katotohanang may sarili siyang pag-iisip na dapat ding igalang. Isa rin siyang mapagmahal na ina na pinagsusumikapang ipaliwanag at ipadama sa anak ang kahalagahan ng pagtitiis at pagtupad sa pangako. Hindi rin matatawaran ang pagbibigay ng pelikula ng dignidad sa isang trabahong madalas ay minamaliit at pinandidirihan: ang pagiging caregiver. Gaano man kaliit o kababa ang isang hanapbuhay, nagiging mataas ito at kapuri- puri kapag binigyang dignidad at halaga mismo ng mga taong nasa trabahong ito. Ang taong nagmamalasakit sa trabaho ay nagmamalasakit sa kapwa. Nakakabahala lamang ang mensahe ng pelikulang walang asenso sa Pilipinas kung kaya’t mas pinipili ng mga Pilipinong magpakababa sa ibang bayan upang guminhawa lamang sa buhay. Bagama’t may bahid ito ng katotohanan, hindi ito ang ganap na katotohanan, at dapat pa ring malaman, unawain at maramdaman ng mga kabataan na ang sariling bayan ang siyang dapat unang paglingkuran.




Pakistan blasts deadly US air strike

The gov’t here de- nounced a US air strike that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border on June 11. Pakistani officials said clash erupted when Af- ghan troopers crossed the lawless frontier in an attempt to occupy the Pakistani para- military post. They claimed US-led coalition then launched an aerial attack on the post.


N. Korea ‘on brink’ of serious famine

A human rights group based in Seoul released video containing testimonies of in- fluential North Koreans in a bid to stress the urgent need for food aid to be flown into the country. The group says from evidence gathered, North Korea is on the brink of a famine. The last famine in the 1990s killed about 3 millionpeople.


Firefighter fired for driving 20 years with- out license

A firefighter in Takaoka City lost his job after offi- cials found out, during a re- cent routing inspection, that he had been driving ambu- lances and fire trucks for over 20 years without a driver’s license. He had been bringing in his father’s driver’s license and show- ing it to others while hiding the photograph with his fin- gers.


Burma still strug- gling 40 days after cyclone

Thousands of people re- main in desperate need five weeks after Cyclone Nargis devastated the southern delta region. Two weeks ago UN Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-Moon said he’d been given assurances by Rangoon that all foreign aid workers would be al- lowed in. But the military regime has kept tight con- trols on the movement of foreign aid, leaving grassroots workers doing their best to fill the gaps.


Afghanistan asks monetary aid for re- construction

President Hamid Karzai has launched a campaign to raise $US50 billion dollars for reconstruction and de- velopment. Other countries like the US, France and Aus- tralia already pledged aid to help the reconstruction ef- fort. But relief organizations warned that too much global aid is spent on security while development projects vital to fight poverty and strengthen the state are neglected.


Chinese financial aid to Pacific rising

A latest report indicated an enormous increase in the amount of money China has pledged in development aid to the South Pacific. The research was done by the Australian based, Lowy In- stitute for International Policy, and the paper is titled, “The Dragon Looks South.”


Study blames gas drilling for mud vol- cano

Authorities say they are considering using a new sci- entific study, which blames East Java’s mud volcano on bungled gas drilling as proof in a criminal probe into the disaster. The study found the mud volcano, which started flowing in 2006 was caused by drilling by oil and gas firm owned by the country’s rich- est man Aburizal Bakrie, not an earthquake as argued by the company.


Transgender now a separate sex in South Indian state

A state in south India has become the country’s first to recognize transgender people as a separate sex. Advocates hope the move of the Tamil Nadu govern- ment will boost the status of transgender communities, which trace their origins back to ancient Hindu scrip- tures.


Former PM Kiet dies

Former Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet has died June


at the age of 85. During his years in the Politburo in the 1980s, and as PM from 1991 to 1997, he was considered a major force behind the eco- nomic reforms that helped pull Vietnam back from pov- erty and hunger. He also strengthenedforeigntieswith nations like the US and Singapore.


Ex-Thai minister turns himself in

A former Thai govern- ment minister has surren- dered to local police to face charges of insulting the mon- archy which attract a heavy penalty in the Kingdom. Jakrapob Penkair resigned as the Minister for the Of- fice of the Prime Minister last May. He was forced to stand aside from his post pending an investigation.


Ex-Bangladeshi PM Hasina freed from prison

After 11 months behind bars, former Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina was re- leased recently from a makeshift prison. Her re- lease is seen as a face-sav- ing deal that allows her to go abroad for medical treat- ment, while ensuring the par- ticipation of her political party in planned national polls.


Suicide blast kills 12 police officers

An alleged Tamil Tiger rebel has detonated explo- sives outside a police station in northern Sri Lanka on June 16 killing 12 police officers and wounding 40 other people. Authorities say the insurgent carried the explo- sives on his motorcycle. The latest attack comes as secu- rity forces step up pressure on the rebels inside their ter- ritory with air attacks and ground offensives.