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VolVol 42,42, NoNo 88 • AUGUSTAUGUST 20082008

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LAYOUT BY DENNIS BALDOZA DAYAO

LAYOUT BY DENNIS BALDOZA DAYAO “ IMPACT Quote in the Act ISSN 0300-4155 Asian Magazine for

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CONTENTS

 

I MPAC T

August 2008 / Vol 42 • No 8

EDITORIAL

The real problem

27

COVER STORY

ContraceptionisaBarrenAgenda

16

The malevolent reproductive health and population control agenda in Congress

Thebiggerissueabout contraception

18

ARTICLES

SustainingtheSugarLands The Church’s Social Teaching on the Environment

4

9

SeñorPedrotransformsLibertadhouseholds

13

DEPARTMENTS

Quote in the Act NewsFeatures Statements FromtheBlogs FromtheInbox BookReviews CINEMAReview NewsBriefs

2

21

23

26

28

29

30

31

IT has become treacherous and dangerous. That is how satirically, if obliquely, Archbishop Oscar Cruz describes the latest State of the Nation Address (SONA) in his blog, pointing to deployment of the hundreds of policemen, contingents of the Armed Forces geared for battle and throngs of street rallies and protest actions. Because, come to think of it, why prepare for a literal battle ground if all is well—if nothing is really treacherous and dangerous?

And it makes more sense when the Archbishop adds:

“Since 2001, the State of the Nation Address has always been great in words but puny in realities— earning prepared claps in the bubble house called Congress while getting many and loud insults out- side in the real world.”

But sincerely, one may perhaps understand how dif- ficult it must be to deliver a SONA when everything is in shambles. That is why some radio commentators understandably just settled talking about the latest fashion of the ladies in Congress during the SONA, their designers, hairdressers and make-up artists for lack of sensible content. This is kind of reminiscent of martial law when well-meaning people busied them- selves talking about the games of PBA to conveniently drown themselves of stark and painful realities.

But as if our burdens of the day are not enough, here comes the issue of the Reproductive Health Bills being pursued in Congress. One knows, of course, that there are more to this that meets the eye. Basically, this is maneuvered by global agenda to decelerate the popu- lation of poor countries, especially non-white na- tions, in the guise of development. There is nothing substantially wrong with it except that, and more so in fact, demographic goals or rather the pursuit of it infringes on morals, human rights and, believe or not, imperialism.

Morals because, obviously, this will entail eventually murdering defenseless fetuses; human rights, because the so-called “reproductive rights” are actually ac- complished ironically through a systematic violation

ac- complished ironically through a systematic violation of the rights of the unborn; and, imperialism because

of the rights of the unborn; and, imperialism because its operational agenda is dictated by global institu- tions that finance heavily in political lobbies, massive media campaign and the subtle establishment and support of people’s organizations that work on the grassroots—and even within the parameters of churches.

These well-fed and well-funded people’s organiza- tions that call themselves pro-quality of life advocates (there is one that questionably even hold office in Congress—how did they do that?— to make sure that lobby funds roll tactically according to the scheme) have been relentlessly attacking the bishops for cru- sading against these bills now pending in Congress. They call the bishops liars by spreading disinformation (really?), irresponsible for withholding communion to public sinners, and arrogant for not attending to the plight of the masses who are suffering in poverty because of over population. Because money is thicker than water, these tirades from such organizations are understandable. And nobody should judge them for that in the face of pitiful Philippine economy that drives people to do even the awkward and the impos- sible.

But what is sorely pitiful is their blurb that the cause of poverty in the Philippines is overpopulation. This myth is false and heavily worn-out, even Mang Ando down the street, who knows about anomalies and corruption in government, does not believe this any- more. It is like blaming the hunger of children on themselves while their father is out gambling and drinking or junketing.

More is said by Jo Imbong in our cover story, “Contra- ception is a Barren Agenda: the malevolent reproduc- tive health and population control agenda in Con- gress.” Read on.

ARTICLES

By Gemma Rita R. Marin

J une 2008 was a crucial time for agrarian

reform advocates.

With the passage of the Comprehen-

sive Agrarian Reform Law twenty years ago under the Aquino Administration, the corollary comprehensive agrarian reform program or CARP was then declared as the centerpiece program of the government for the next ten years to alleviate the plight of the poor farmers in the countryside. With performance way below target in 1998, the program was given another ten years for the Department of Agrarian Re- form (DAR) to complete land distribution, address the needs for program beneficiary development, and resolve the pending cases filed for agrarian justice. Yet two to three years before the 2008 deadline, it was more of the same. As of 30 June 2006 1 or 18 years from the landmark legislation of CARL, 3.74 million hectares out of 4.43 million hectares or 84 percent of target lands, have been distributed. The balance of around 700,000 hectares was mostly private agricultural lands, 27 per- cent of which have more than 50 hectares. The Department of Environment and Natu- ral Resources, on the other hand, reported that 2.9 million out of its target 3.7 million hectares, equivalent to 78 percent, have also been distributed. 2 Reports indicate too that DAR’s ac- complishments in Land Acquisition and Distribution were merely “paper victories”. Several certificate of land ownership awards (CLOA) have been cancelled, and some agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB) have been prevented to work in the lands due to the delaying tactics of a number of landowners to avoid the program, e.g., employment of armed guards, bribing of local DAR officials. Other issues include issuance of erroneous CLOAs by DAR leading to cancellations, and lack of real support from DAR and Land Bank. Support services to make the land productive continued to be lacking. Agrar- ian justice cases took years before getting resolved, if ever. The strategy of estab- lishingagrarianreformcommunities(ARC) to focus the resources for assistance and to enable an integrated approach of inter- vention during the Ramos administration proved quite useful, but was not able to cover all ARBs. Come the day after the CARP deadline on June 10, 2008, the news was only dis- heartening. The Senate, whose version of the bill is still at the committee level, wants an accounting of the funds used in imple-

Sustaining the Sugar Lands

"Farming the 68 hectares of sugar land collectively was key to maintaining production levels and to the overall success of NaGlo’s operations. Big input requirements and an acceptable output of 70-80 tons of sugar per hectare meant the ability of the coop to leverage resources, negotiate lower-cost funds and inputs for its operations and sell at a favorable price."

menting CARP. One legislator expressed that it would take a miracle to pass a five- year extension without any assurance that the same mistakes in implementation would not be committed. And even if certified by the President as urgent, approval of the consolidated House Bill 4077 could not obtain the support of her allies. The bill has been watered down even before substan- tial arguments could be placed forward to warrant its approval. 3

Sugar-based Agrarian Reform Ben- eficiaries

Despite the foregoing discouraging

developments, there are positive stories to be hope- ful about. In November 2006, John J. Carroll Insti- tute for Church and Social Issues (JJCICSI) received a

Gerard

Reonisto, General Manager of Chinabank Insurance Brokers Inc. who at the same time belongs to a fam- ily owning several hectares of sugar land in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, ready for distribution un- der CARP. He wanted the

letter

from

Mr.

© Otto Lang/Corbis

Sustaining the Sugar Lands

Institute to conduct a study on sugar farmers who count among the poorer sec- tors in the country. He wrote, “For the past years, I have been appalled at the deterio- rating living conditions of the sugar work- ers in Negros, and my observation has been made mainly in our family-owned hacienda located in San Carlos City…there are huge sugar estates in Negros still owned by a few families, and the plight of the sugar workers has been all but forgot- ten…” His family specifically wanted to know whether the tenants who have long been dependent on the graces and com- mand of the landowner will be able to stand up on their own after the land has been distributed to them, ensure the productiv- ity of the land, find their markets and bring home more income to their families. In response, JJCICSI documented the

experiences of three agrarian reform orga- nizations in Negros Occidental which were able to secure the sugar lands they have tilled for many years from their former landlords, sustain production levels, sell the produce at better prices, and gain higher incomes. They accomplished these with much struggle, even going against the deeply embedded patron-client rela- tionships in the province

Victorias Milling Corporation

After the fourth city/municipality north of Bacolod City, Victorias City is home to one of the biggest milling com- pany in the province, Victorias Milling Corporation (VMC). The city boasts of a magnificent landscape and grounds that display a skating rink, pavilion, children’s

playground and a mini lagoon surrounded by plants and flowers. The City Hall of Victorias also displays a quite imposing façade.

Hacienda Gloria

The 105-hectare hacienda was origi- nally owned by Gloria Montinola Tabiana. She gave the land to an adopted niece who, in turn, sold it in 1984 to Eduardo Lopingco who was residing in Sta. Clara Subdivision, Bacolod City, and had an- other residence in Manila. Of the 105 hectares, 80 hectares were planted to sugarcane, 19 hectares were devoted to home lots and related struc- tures, and six consisted of rice fields cul- tivated by 47 households. One cropping period of sugar production spans from 10

fields cul- tivated by 47 households. One cropping period of sugar production spans from 10 Volume

Photo courtesy JJCICSI

Sustaining the Sugar Lands

Photo courtesy JJCICSI Sustaining the Sugar Lands to 11 months. Land preparation is con- ducted during

to 11 months. Land preparation is con- ducted during the month of August. The

sugar farmers begin to plant in September until May. The fields are not planted at the same time. “Iba-ibang tao ang nagtatrabaho” (Different farmers/work- ers worked on different fields), and there are usually 15 laborers per hectare. The workers cultivate portions for two weeks, and go to work on other fields for the rest of the cropping season. Harvesting and milling take place al- most the whole year except from July to August when the central milling is closed for maintenance. The harvest of 60-70 tons per hectare is milled with VMC which re- tains 31 percent of the milled produce. As in any hacienda in Negros Occi- dental, Hacienda Gloria is mono-cropped with sugar. “Sanay na kami sa pagtutubo,

di na namin pinoproblema. Hanap-

trabaho na lang kami sa ibang hacienda. (We’re used to planting sugarcane alone, we don’t consider it a problem. We will instead find work in the other haciendas or plantations),” echoed most members of Nasipunan Gloria Integrated Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Inc. (NaGlo) when asked if they ever considered plant- ing other crops especially when the price of sugar is low.

Work Stoppage in the Hacienda

In 1987, Mr. Lopingco decided to cease work in the sugar fields for lack of funds to pay the workers. Standing crops filled the area. Meantime, the manager and the staff then were paid only half of their salary. “Di

na nagpatrabaho, wala raw ipasasahod

(The landowner did not have the fields cultivated because he had no money to pay the workers).” With sugar farming as

the only work they knew how to do best, the farmers and workers sought to work in nearby haciendas such as Hacienda Estrellas owned by Mr. Wesley Ferrares and Hacienda Romana of Luis Benedicto Montinola. Meantime in the early 1990s, DAR was processing papers for possible ben- eficiaries of agrarian reform. It was about the same time when this government agency encouraged and assisted the farmer-workers to form a cooperative. It took around eight years, or by December 1998 for a mother CLOA. Out of the 105 hectares, three hectares were retained by Lopingco. Of the 102, 68 hectares were planted to sugarcane, and the balance was dedicated to houses, homelots, roads and some planted to rice. Land, however, has not been actually distributed to the indi- vidual farmer-beneficiaries. “Kailangan pa raw sukatin ng pare-pareho (There was a need to measure and apportion the land in equal parts).”

Nasipunan Gloria Integrated Farm- ers Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Inc.

Having seen that the land was kept practically idle and unproductive around the early 1990s, DAR personnel asked the former hacienda workers if they wanted to form a cooperative which can eventually work on the land. They encouraged them to organize themselves and get some in- spiration from Pusan Cooperative, the so- called “mother” and model coop in Victorias City at that time. The City Cooperative Development Council (CCDC) also pro- vided assistance in the areas of training, including the pre-membership training, organizing and managing the coop. Located in Brgy. 12, Victorias City,

NaGlo is four kilometers from the city proper and takes about 25 minutes to reach due to rough roads. On June 3, 1993, NaGlo was registered with the Cooperative Development Au- thority (CDA) with 84 members. An amount of PhP100 was collected from each member as initial capital. The main business of the coop was sugar farming and credit opera- tions. It put up a consumer store in 1999, but had to close it down having been laden with staggering debts from almost all mem- bers.

The Cooperative’s Operations

To jumpstart its operations, NaGlo secured a crop loan/line of PhP1 million from Land Bank in 1994. Aside from using the funds for working capital, the loan was used to acquire two trucks and one tractor. The coop though owned another truck and tractor to run the sugar operations. In 1999, NaGlo accumulated a past due loan of PhP2.7 million with LBP, which was eventually settled in 2002. It requested the renewal of a loan amounting to PhP900 thousand, but paid all outstanding debts and stopped renewal of its loan/line with Land Bank by 2004. Sugar production in the 68-hectare farm of NaGlo requires a budget of PhP35,000 per hectare to produce 60 to 70 tons per hectare or 180 50-kilogram (Lkg) bags of sugar. The land has been rejuve- nated with mud press, limestone, rockpost, chemicalandsomeorganicfertilizers.While the coop has learned about new and or- ganic ways of planting sugar, it largely applies the old formula of mill ash, mud press, chemical fertilizers and fertilizer in- puts from the plant itself. Workers number 30, of which 15 to 20 are hired laborers.

Photo courtesy JJCICSI

ARTICLES

For every ton of sugarcane, 69 per- cent of the milled cane goes to quedan while the balance of 31 percent is paid to VMC as milling expense. Quedan is the receipt issued by the milling station used as the instrument to bid and sell to traders. Manager Alex Guansing would go to Bacolod City every week to sell available stocks. For the past years, prices of sugar have ranged from PhP800 to 1,450 per Lkg. NaGlo displayed a favorable financial performance in 2006. As the coop was able to fetch better prices for its produce for as much as PhP1,450 per Lkg, sales grew by 26 percent from PhP5.5 million in 2005 to almost PhP7.0 million in 2006. Volume sold was practically unchanged based on har- vests of 70 to 80 tons per hectare. Con- trolled expenses resulted in a satisfactory income of PhP2.7 million in 2006. The million-peso incomes from opera- tions, in turn, raised equity from about PhP3 million to PhP5 million for the review period, while assets accumulated to PhP7.2 million in 2006. High incomes also allowed liquid operations.

Socio-Economic Situation of NaGlo Sugar Farmers/Workers, Post- Lopingco

It has almost been 15 years from the time NaGlo was born, and the members have only themselves and their coopera- tive to bank on for their living. Since the formal inception of the coop in 1993 and the awarding of the mother CLOA in 1998, NaGlo has always operated on a collective farm of 68 hectares. Production level has increased, albeit faintly to 70 to 80 tons per hectare. Through the help of seminars from CCDC, DAR, Department of Agricul- ture and non-government agencies, the coop has been applying various fertilizers and inputs, both organic and inorganic, to restore the fertility of the soil. “Pero lamgot na (But the land has been planted over and over again, thus wearing off soil fertility).” Daily wage for men has increased to

PhP175 while the

women still receive a —

lower

PhP160. The coop hires 15-20 workers

for

months

since a number of the coop members are getting too old to work in the farm. In- clusive of members,

workers

more than 30. The

tive has been ably supervised by the Manager with the guidance and sup- port of the Board. It has a one-year farm plan, and assesses operations at the middle of the period to see if the coop is gaining or losing. It then decides on ways to im- prove production and selling, such as applying additional bags of fertilizer or finding other venues to trade the quedan. The manager personally attends to the processing and marketing of the sugar- cane. He regularly goes to Bacolod for bidding. The highest price and volume of sugar sold thus far was PhP1,450 for a 50- kg sack, and more than 800 Lkg of 4- months harvest, respectively. With the able management of opera- tions, NaGlo has been able to distribute dividends for the past three years. 4 “Sang una ang kita sang hacienda pumunta kay Lopingco ang ganansya sa iya makadto. Indi kami makaparti sa ganansya; sang may coop na ang ganansya nga makita sa amon tanan nga coop member mapunta (Before, the income from the hacienda accrued to Lopingco; we could not get a part of the earnings. Today, income is shared by all the members of the coop),” commented a coop member. Workers are still paid daily wages for their labor. But the net income of some PhP60,000 per hectare from sugar farming that used to accumu-

per hectare from sugar farming that used to accumu- late to the account of Mr. Lopingo,

late to the account of Mr. Lopingo, is now around PhP80,000 per hectare divided among the members after setting aside an amount back to operations. Favorable incomes, supported by in- terest-free and long-term loans offered through the cooperative’s credit opera- tions, translated to better access to basic needs and social services. The members have been able to completely put up with the education expenses of the children. Houses are now in concrete, and are worked up for repairs and improvements. More diligent remittance of SSS contributions facilitated by the cooperative helps the members in their other social and personal needs. A crucial service provided by NaGlo is the transportation facility for the mem- bers’ children who go to school. A Mitsubishi mini-bus was bought in 2003 to bring them to and from school situated at the town proper. Payment is PhP200 per student per month. The member may pay by salary deduction if he or she is a staff of the coop.

Strategies and Lessons Learned

Farming the 68 hectares of sugar land collectively was key to maintaining pro- duction levels and to the overall success of NaGlo’s operations. Big input require- ments and an acceptable output of 70-80 tons of sugar per hectare meant the ability of the coop to leverage resources, negoti- ate lower-cost funds and inputs for its operations and sell at a favorable price. Land preparation including the provi- sion of inputs, hiring of labor, and use and maintenance of tractors and other equip- ment, needed a budget of PhP35,000 per hectare. Making this amount of working

amount

one

to

of

two

work

number

coopera-

Table 1. Production and Income Profile of Members During & Post-Lopingco Ownership

coopera- Table 1. Production and Income Profile of Members During & Post-Lopingco Ownership Volume 42 •

Photo courtesy JJCICSI

Sustaining the Sugar Lands

capital available was not a problem for NaGlo which enjoyed a million-peso credit facility from Land Bank, not to mention having sufficient profits from operations. Huge requirements of fertilizer and other inputs moreover allowed the coop to pur- chase in bulk and pay at a discount. On the other hand, selling the produce in large quantities afforded the Manager to deal with the traders in negotiated prices. The foregoing resulted in net profits for NaGlo and distribution of dividends for its members. Having experienced this up- side of sugar farming, several member- farmers chose to break away from the group and engage in individual farming instead. But it was only after one cropping when these farmers came to realize that farming some 1.5 hectares was a losing venture due to lack of funds to continue opera- tions. From gross sales of PhP80,000 per hectare, the individual farmer usually nets PhP5,000 per hectare which is not enough to pay for food, clothing, shelter and other basic necessities of the household. Major- ity of the income goes to the moneylender who may have been a reliable provider of funds, but the exorbitant rates charged to his loan practically erode what he could have earned from sugar farming. For effi- ciency reasons, formal creditors who lend at affordable interest rates do not choose to accommodate these small borrowers. With lack of funds to sustain his family and his production, the farmer tends to borrow more from the moneylender until he has no choice but to lease or assign his land to his creditor, or altogether abandon the land. Manager Alex revealed that there have been many cases of cooperatives collaps-

that there have been many cases of cooperatives collaps- Table 2. Access to Social Services During

Table 2.

Access to Social Services During and Post-Lopingco

ing once the individual member-farmers decided to engage in individual farming (“Damong bumabagsak na coop pag nag- iindividual”). Sustaining the sugar lands which have been used over and over again is not an easy task. NaGlo is open and in fact applies

various inputs like lime, mud press, or- ganic. as well as chemical fertilizers as long as the level of production was maintained. Interesting to note, individual farming has also taken its toll on productivity and production. Because of the tightness of funds, the individual farmer reduces the application of fertilizers from 16 bags to 10

bags.

results

poor quality

sugar-

cane

duced

the difficulty of selling at

good prices.

Finally,

running the cooperative effectively is not an easy task either. NaGlo does

deny

not

pro-

and

of

This

in

that the as- sistance and continuing education it

receives from government as well as non- government institutions have been help- ful to constantly improve its operations and overall organization. These interven- tions range from new technologies on sugar farming, and linking up with markets to planning, monitoring and organizational

development.

I
I

Gemma Rita R. Marin is a Research Associate of John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues of the Ateneo de Manila University.

Notes

1 Latest report on land distribution as posted from DAR website is as of 30

June 2007. The scope of distribution is

5.16 million hectares. Already distrib-

uted was 3.86 million hectares with remaining balance of 1.30 million hect- ares.

2 The scope of distribution according to

latest report from DENR is 3.96 million hectares. Distributed was 3.09 million hectares with remaining balance of

0.87 million hectares.

3 As of this writing, AR advocates led by AR Now! have been meeting to come up with more exciting and engaging campaigns for CARP extension with reform

4 Actual amounts received by the indi- vidual members differ depending on the amount of work labored on field and capital share of the member.

the amount of work labored on field and capital share of the member. 8 IMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACT •
ARTICLES The Church’s Social Teaching on the Environment By Charles R. Avila The garden of

ARTICLES

The Church’s Social Teaching on the Environment By Charles R. Avila
The Church’s
Social Teaching
on the Environment
By Charles R. Avila

The garden of human origin: cre- ation and co-creation

F rom the standpoint of the Church’s

faith-vision, natureis not an adver-

sary to be conquered or destroyed

nor a hostile environment or an evil from which one must be freed. It is, rather, the gift itself of God, the work of God’s cre- ative action. The world, the cosmos, the environ- ment is the garden from which God fash- ioned the human being, and which God gave as gift to man and woman to keep and till (cf. Gen 2: 15). It is the place and plan for which man and woman, who were made “in his own image” (Gen 1, 27) are to feel truly responsible. Patently the Creator willed

the human to evolve more and more into a co-creator, not an exterminator, though this latter role is what we’ve seen humans

often choose to play. God made all things, and with regard to each created reality “saw that it was good” (cf. Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) mov- ing the Psalmist to pray: “O Lord, how manifold your work! In wisdom you cre- ated them all” (Ps 104:24). And, with the evolution of the co-creator, creation con- tinued. Creation, indeed, is not finished for the human person was called to evolve into a partner in dialogue with the Creator on the level of both word and deed. “I create new heavens and a new earth” (Is 65:17), says the Lord through the prophet. In it “the wilderness becomes a fruitful

and righteousness [will] abide in

[where]peoplewillabide

thefruitfulfield

field

in peaceful habitation” (Is 32:1518). This dialogue reaches its peak of mani- festation with the entrance of Jesus Christ into history. Not only is Jesus a knowl-

edgeable interpreter of nature, speaking of it in images and parables, but he also manages it masterfully, as in the episode of the calming of the storm (Mt14:22-33; Mk 6:45-52; Lc8:22-25; Jn 6:16-21) - in the style of miracles. Then he asks his disciples to look at things, at the seasons and at people, with the trust of children who know that they will never be abandoned by a provident and almighty Father (cf. Lk 11:11-13). He urges them not to be enslaved by things in the world but, rather, learn to manage the things of the world in the service of sharing and brotherhood (cf. Lk 16:9-13), following his example. He inaugurates a new world in which he creates anew those relationships of order and harmony that sin had destroyed. “Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17).

ARTICLES

Human genius and a planetary crisis

early Christian philosophers known as the Church Fathers. Humans first embraced the organic economy—which by its nature is an ever- renewing economy, living within the

bounty of the seasonal renewing produc- tions of Earth’s biosystems, making it ca- pable of continuing into the indefinite future. Later, however, humans got into an extractive economy, which by its nature is

The Second Vatican Council affirmed that human beings are right when they think that by their spirit they transcend the material universe, for they “share in the light of the divine mind”[ Gaudium et Spes, 15]. Recognizing the progress made by the tireless application of human ge- nius down the centuries in the empirical sciences, the technological disciplines and the liberal arts [GS, 15] the Council ob- served that “especially with the help of science and technology, man has extended his mastery over nearly the whole of na- ture and continues to do so”[GS 33]. Not all is good news, however, for today a planetary crisis affects all exis- tents on Earth due to the fact that, instead of increasingly becoming co-creators in the on-going multi-billion-year story of creation, humans became more and more like “exterminators.” They became the one main cause of the massive extinction of plant and animal species by the way they chose to produce and reproduce their means of life and livelihood. You see, they had chosen mainly an extractive rather than an organic way of undertaking eco- nomic actions. Down the centuries, they had labored “to better the circumstances of their lives through a monumental amount of indi- vidual and collective effort. …[T]his hu- man activity accords with God’s will” [GS 34]. And “far from thinking that works produced by man’s own talent and energy are in opposition to God’s power, …Chris- tians [should be] convinced that the tri- umphs of the human race are a sign of God’s grace and the flowering of His own mysterious design”[GS 34]. In a certain analogous sense, they continue the man- agement of nature in the style of miracles inaugurated by Jesus Christ. But now we also see that modern technologies and the industrial establish- ment went into the unqualified human conquest of the forces of nature. The inte- gral functioning of Earth’s life systems that had been going on for 4.6 billion years came under the assault of humans deter- mined to use and absolutely own Earth’s resources regardless of the consequences for the natural systems of the planet or the integrity of creation. The words of counsel came late: “one must take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 34), although much, much earlier the same thought, long since forgotten, was often discussed by

a

terminal or biologically disruptive

economy, dependent on extracting non- renewing substances from Earth, surviv- ing only so long as these very finite re- sources endured. The Church, for her part, cautioned that the human being must not “make

arbitrary use of the earth, subjecting it without restraint to his will, as though it did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which man can in-

deed

develop

but

must

not

betray”

(Centesimus Annus, 37). When the human

being forgets this, he “ends up provoking

a

rebellion on the part of nature, which is

more tyrannized than governed by him”

(CA37).

 

Thus, “it is now clear that [many dis- coveries and technologies] in the fields of

industry and agriculture have produced harmful long-term effects.” We cannot, for

instance, “interfere in one area of the eco- system without paying due attention both

to

the consequences of such interference

in

other areas and to the well-being of

future generations” (1990 World Day of Peace, 6). Humans, of course, may intervene in nature without abusing it or damaging it; then, they would intervene “not in order to modify nature but to foster its develop- ment in its own life, that of the creation that God intended” (JP II, at the World Medical Association, 1983).

Features of the extractive economy

The Church’s Social Teaching rejects the Extractive Economy because it dis- turbsthe chemical composition of Earth’s air, water and soil affecting the entire net- work of organic life on the planet; it weak- ened the ozone layer that protects life on Earth from the ultraviolet rays of the Sun;

it

destroystropical rain forests and Earth’s

biodiversity on a massive scale; it brings

about an excessive amount of carbon diox- ide in the atmosphere by its burning of fossil fuels, causing disastrous changes

in

the global climate, which is why, in 200

years or less, a level of species extinction was reached that is unprecedented in the

level of species extinction was reached that is unprecedented in the 10 IMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACT • August 2008

The Church’s Social Teaching on the Environment

past 65 million years. It has brought about processes giv- ing off toxic residues for which there are, at present, no adequate methods of dis- posal, especially in products from metals and petroleum for the making of fuel and plastics and the consequent dispersal of contaminants and toxic residue through- out Earth’s air, water and soil. It has used engineering technologies to turn even renewing resources into non- renewing resources! For example: exploit- ing the soils of Earth through chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides to a degree that it has exhausted these soils and made them toxic;for another example:

in the fishing industry, through electronic instruments and draft nets, factory fishing vessels so exhaust the resources of the seas and rivers of the world that their capacity for self-renewal is terminated.

Species extinction

Today, ironically due to human civili- zation and human activity, it is estimated that more than a hundred plant and animal species go extinct daily. There are about 10-12 million species of plants and ani- mals, of which around 2 million have been identified and named. Extinction means the disappearance of an entire species, with no possibility of replication or regen- eration.

Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

In the 1800’s the rate of extinction was one species a month. Currently it is esti- mated to be one every 15 minutes, or a hundred a day since the past twenty years

or so.

bluntly: an on-going mass extinction! The last mass extinction happened about 65 million years ago, with the demise of the dinosaurs, which are included among the 75% of all species that became extinct. A mass extinction signals the end of

an era, hence, the end of the Mesozoic Era after about 200 million years. It was the fifth mass extinction that the Earth had seen. In any case, the past 500 million years of life—and humans have not been around more than a hundred thousand years— have been divided by scientists into three ages: the Paleozoic, or the age of fishes; the Mesozoic, or the age of dinosaurs; and the Cenozoic, or the age of Mammals. The age of Dinosaurs came to an end because of an asteroid crashing to Earth. The age of Mammals is coming to an end because

Many scientists use the word

of human activity. Incredibly, yes, this is the big problem: humans do not know that they have become such a planetary power, for better or for worse. To date, it has been greatly for worse. But, starting immediately, they can usher in a new age and call it the Ecozoic era, as modern prophets have suggested. The word “Ecozoic” or ecological living refers to an era where humans will be able to live with the planetary community in a mutually enhancing manner, as Earth’s heart and voice, and as protector of Earth’s living existents rather than their destroyer. Down the millennia, we have become the most powerful Earthlings of all but have forgotten that we are made out of Earth’s air, water and soil. Thus, the Church feels obliged to remind us once a year at Ash Wednesday to reflect “that you are dust, and unto dust you will return.” We did not merely come into this world, we grew out from it. Earth is not our surround- ings; in great part, it’s our source. Earth is the larger body of which we are an organic, but by no means indispensable, part. You and I are not entities apart from but more accurately a part of Earth. Down the years we cut down trees and constructed buildings everywhere. We figured out how to power cars and planes by burning ancient fossil fuels. We learned to make plastic and molded it into a zillion things. We discovered the use of chemicals to grow more food. We acted as though we owned everything absolutely to use as we wish. We didn’t realize we were poisoning Earth’s lungs, veins and skin – yes, Earth’s, of which we are a living part.

The new consciousness: human and non-human rights equally

Fortunately, through the efforts of modern prophets from Teilhard de Chardin to Thomas Berry, a growing number of humans now see Earth no longer as a mere rock with enough gravity to keep Earth- lings from falling off and out to wherever in space imagination will throw them. That is not Earth. Earth, rather, from both a scientific and religious viewpoint, is a single integral community of life manifesting itself in dif- ferent modes—as tree, as insect, as river, as mountain, as human, as a whole diver- sity of many other kinds, human and non- human—who live in relationship with all others, each being having its own role to play and fulfill, its own dignity, its inner spontaneity, its own rights—yes, the

role to play and fulfill, its own dignity, its inner spontaneity, its own rights—yes, the Volume

The Church’s Social Teaching on the Environment

Church’s social teaching recognizes not only human rights but, equally and differ- ently,alsonon-humanrightsliketreerights, insect rights—all limited and relative to each other in a continuity of being. “With the progress of science and technology, questions as to their meaning increase and give rise to an ever greater need to respect the transcendent dimension of the human person and creation itself” (Gratissimam Sane, 17). Responsibility for the environment extends not only to present needs, need- less to say, but also to those of the future. “We have inherited from past generations, and we have benefited from the work of our contemporaries: for this reason we have obligations towards all, and we cannot refuse to interest ourselves in those who will come after us…” (Populorum Progressio, 17) This is a responsibility that present generations have towards those of the future (Centesimus Annus,

37).

Features of the organic economy

To usher in the Ecozoic era, we must promote the organic economy that recog- nizes the environment—the universe or the cosmos, the solar system, Earth—as the primary given in the material human order, the primary source of existence. Therefore, whatever we think or do must be done, planned, and looked at as by people who are part of and not apart from the universe.

Second, the universe, which is one, exists as highly differentiated forms. For example, the one Earth is a highly differen- tiated complex of life systems. As soon as its diversity diminishes, the security for each life form is also weakened. Nothing exists in isolation: the honeybee and the flower, the tree and the soil. Third is the fact of absolute interde- pendence. No living being nourishes it- self. Animal forms depend on plant forms that alone can transform the energy of the Sun and the minerals of Earth into the living substance needed for life nourish- ment by animal and human alike. There- fore, the organic economy recognizes that the well-being of soil and plants must be a primary concern for humans. Finally, the organic economy must establish our basic source of food and energy in the Sun, which supplies the energy for the transformation of inanimate matter into living substance capable of nourishing the larger biosystems of Earth. It must shun monoculture in agriculture and excessive uniformity in industry be- cause it is closer to nature to produce diversity.

The wisdom of science and the new attitude

On July 2004 then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, said the follow- ing: “According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe erupted 14 billion years ago in an explosion called the

erupted 14 billion years ago in an explosion called the ‘ Big Bang ’ and has

Big Bang’ and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the conden- sation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the formation of planets. “In our own solar system and on Earth (formed about 4.5 billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of life. While there is little con- sensus among scientists about how the originof this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5 - 4 billion years

ago. “Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are geneti- cally related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism.” (Paragraph 63, from “Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God,” plenary sessions held in Rome 2000-2002, published July 2004) A very literal, physi- cal, material sense, then, the spiritual leader of Christendom scientifically accepts and theologically asserts the brotherhood and sisterhood and the profound oneness of all living existents. It is the scientific con- sensus reached only in recent years that we are all related genetically, in energy, in the material elements that compose us, all of which started many long years ago, long before we were “born”, thirteen bil- lion seven hundred million years ago to be precise: itself a calculation that is a feat of modern-day science. But this, too, long ago, was the very heart of the Church’s social teaching on the environment. All beings are interde- pendent in the universal order established by the Creator. “One must take into ac- count the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system, which is precisely the ‘cosmos’” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 34). Humans have lived in harmony with creation for eons. We were, as we still are, part of a journey that is so much more than we can even imagine. It is a journey that is pro- foundly inclusive – everyone and every- thing is in a continuity of relationship with each other. Let us overcome our disconti- nuity with the universe and rejoin the great community of life. That is the great work before us pithily summing up the Church’s social teaching on the environment. It is the story of the Creator Spirit reminding us humans to rise to the challenge of becom- ing co-creators. It is an exciting challenge

we must take up anew.

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© www.flickr.com/photos/pixelfork27

ARTICLES

E arning a net income of P2,000 to P6,000 every two months, added to whatever they could earn from sell-

ing copra, corn or rice has changed and continues to transform Barangay Libertad in Gingoog City. The additional income is derived from raising broilers on contract. But isn’t poul- try contract growing a big agribusiness that only people with capital in the millions of pesos could afford? A happy synergy of social prepara- tion by an NGO in cooperation with a responsive community, a businessman who recognized the value of social disci- pline after failing in other communities and a thriving market for a popular food item, lechon manok—these elements have con- verged in this bustling barangay less than 20 kilometers away from the poblacion of Gingoog City.

Libertad is composed of five sitios with a total of 237 households. Started in early 2006 with a few participants, some 42 households concentrated in one of the five sitios are now backyard contract grow- ers that supply broilers to the well-known lechon manok chain, Sr. Pedro. The business scheme engages women in the community who otherwise would be doing less productive activities or unpro- ductive past time like gossiping and bet- ting in games of chance.

Simple and short business cycle

ting in games of chance. Simple and short business cycle The business cycle of about two

The business cycle of about two months—32 days to grow the chicks to broilers of one to 1.5 kilograms and 21 days, after harvest, for cleaning up and bio-security protocols—is short enough to keep the barangay folks focused. The Farm Technician of Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc. (BMFI) con-

ducts an orientation for interested partici-

pants.

Now that more households are

engaged, one also gathers informal orien- tation from a neighbor who is already into

the business.

Minimum requirements

After going through orientation, the minimum requirement is for a participant to build, a chicken house of about 200 square feet for 200 chicks. The house is made of indigenous materials like bamboo and co- conut leaves. Other growers have ex- panded to 400 and 800 chicks per cycle and have built bigger houses to comply with the required one square foot per chicken. They also need some woven plastic

Señor Pedro transforms Libertad households

By Sally Bulatao

sheets that are unfurled to cover the walls when it gets too windy or too cold for the chicks. There are feeding tubes for chicks and for the bigger broilers. There are incan- descent bulbs to keep the chicks warm if the temperature gets too cold. One grower has devised a heater with coals on sand.

Maintenance

Feeds are supplied by Sr. Pedro to Balay Mindanaw which handles the deliv- ery of supplies to the barangay. A resident

technician, also a grower, has been trained to administer vaccines, distribute feeds and vitamins and monitor the farms. Growers are provided with a guide that shows the feeding regimen and the expected weekly weight gain. Every week, 20 out of 200 chicks are weighed to check if expected weight gain is being achieved. If not, the resident farm technician may be sought for technical advice. BMFI also has a supervising farm technician who goes around for consultation and moni- toring.

Señor Pedro transforms Libertad households

© http://www.flickr.com/photos/69806882@N00/
© http://www.flickr.com/photos/69806882@N00/

The first ten days are most critical,

according to the resident farm tech. The growers have to observe closely, 24 hours

a day, for any abnormal behavior of the

chicks. A rest area close to the chicken house is built for the “bantay.” After 10 days, the chicks are bigger and have to be dispersed to occupy the full floor area of the chicken house.

Harvesting

On the 32 nd day, the BMFI truck comes

with the cages. The broilers are weighed

at every farm house then loaded in cages.

Sr.PedropaysP51perkilogram,liveweight.

Broilers that are less than one kilogram are rejected. In a batch of 200, about 2 or 3 chickens may be found underweight and the raiser keeps it for a family feast. The cost of the chicks, the feeds, the vitamins and biologics are deducted from the proceeds of the harvest. BMFI is paid 3 percent of the gross to pay for hauling of feeds and oversight by the BMFI Farm Tech Supervisor. Depending on total weight of the har-

vest, a grower receives a net of about

P1,000 to P1,500 for a batch of 200 broilers. There is additional revenue generated from chicken manure that sells for P90 to P100 per sack. A batch of 200 chicks produces about 4 sacks of manure. The manure of chicks in the first three days is also suit- able as hog feed and is given by raisers for their pigs in the backyard.

Young poultry farmers

When visiting one farm, a young woman was feeding the chicks and later joined the conversation. Malou is an agri- culture student at the nearby agricultural school. She will be going to class later in the afternoon when another student re- turns from school to take his turn and watch the chickens for the night. The young people in the sitio have organized themselves and sought BMFI’s permission to be allowed to have their own business. Some 15 of them got together and they take turns to look after the chick- ens. There are now less than 10 of them. The other members have asked to leave the group because their families have also entered the business and they are now

taking care of their own chickens. Malou was proud to say that with the last harvest, the group bought their own uniform with the proceeds of the business. They also had a small celebration after the first harvest. They served lechon manok from Sr. Pedro in Gingoog City for their lunch and they all agreed their chicken is very tasty indeed! During special occa- sions like Christmas and fiestas, one has to take a number and wait in queue to be able to buy a lechon manok at Sr. Pedro in Gingoog City. This surely makes the Libertad poultry growers wear a big smile.

The future

BMFI’s Executive Director Ayi Hernandez is cautious and wishes to ensure that expansion is done in a deliberate man- ner. There are factors that need to be studied including the optimum size of a backyard grower, the full cost of technical support, improving production efficiencies, etc. BMFI farm technicians are, likewise, careful and enforce strict protocols in the cleaning and disinfecting lay off period of 21 days before starting another cycle. The resident technician, Adela, is enthusiastic about the future. She testifies to the positive changes that Sr. Pedro has brought to Libertad women with whom she interacts in her daily visits to the 40 grow- ers in her sitio. She is particularly excited about the exchanges among the growers who daily find new ways to improve their business from finding the right size of pan to put the drinking water to observing keenly when the chicks are feeling cold. She refers to Sr. Pedro like he is somewhere looking over them and says: “ayaw ni Sr. Pedro na payat ang manok.” Mr. Peter Unabia (the Sr. Pedro) is the businessman who put a premium on the organizing work of BMFI as a guarantee that the scheme could work in communi- ties that have gone through social prepa- ration. He was willing to do business with barrio folks who had nothing except their willingness to learn and to work. These players along the value chain of the lechon manok business see the potentials for future expansion—engag- ing more barangays, expanding the basic household module or even operating a dressing plant to process the broilers harvested from these growers. For these to be realized, each player needs to de- liver. Observers are equally enthusiastic that more Libertads will emerge from this

happy synergy.

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Volume 42 • Number 8 1 5

COVER

STORY

Contraception is aBarrenAgenda 1

The malevolent reproductive health and population control agenda in Congress

By Jo M. Imbong, Esq 2

P romptly as the 14 th Congress opened in July 2007, the reproductive health and population control lobby foisted on the nation four bills in the Lower House: HB

17 (Responsible Parenthood and Population Development Act of 2007) 3 , HB812 (The Reproductive Health Care Act) 4 , HB2753 (The Women’s Right to Know Act) 5 , and HB 3970 (An Act Creating the Position of Barangay Population Worker, Granting Benefits Thereto, Amending for the Purpose the ‘Lo- cal Government Code). 6

In the aftermath of a first and only public hearing on April 29, 2008, the four bills were consolidated into one still unnum- bered bill as of press time. It is calendared for August 6, 2008 in the House Committee on Appropriations for deliberations on its funding provisions. If it passes in that Committee, it will be brought to the Committee on Rules which will determine the bill’s fate for second reading.

In its total impact, the consolidated bill is awesome—awesome in its defiance and mockery of the basic rights of the family and its members as inscribed in the human heart, which inherent and inviolable rights are recognized and acknowledged in the clearest language in the Philippine Consti- tution. First, on the expressed premise that the human embryo is not protectedbefore implantation in the womb.In understand- ing an enacted law, it is a basic legal pre- cept to know the legislative intent of its writer. In its inception, HB 17’s Explana-

tory Note unabashedly states that the bill protects the life of the unborn “from the moment of implantation.” This is saying that before the early embryo reaches the womb, it is not protected by law. It defies biological reality and common sense and it effectively forecloses any possibility of a very human embryo 1-6 days old journey- ing to the womb to ever reach the protec- tive folds of the mother. The proponent of this bill sees nothing human in this jour- neying embryo and by that premise, any assault or interference to hinder its jour- ney to the waiting folds of the womb is not

the law’s concern, even as Article II, Sec- tion 12 of the Constitution protects human life from conception. With this language of “implantation”, HB 17’s promise of “quality of life of the people in general” 7 , is bereft of “life” or “quality.” There is, instead, an open dec- laration of war against an early live human. This is a hostile bill, which hostility no amount of disclaimer on abortion can over-

ride. The present bill guarantees to pro- vide citizens with “universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable and qual-

© John Wilkes Studio/CORBIS

Contraception is a Barren Agenda

"In "In corrupting corrupting the the culture, culture, the the bill bill is is

no no respecter respecter of of conscience. conscience. In In

effectively effectively transforming transforming objectively objectively

disordered disordered acts acts (condoned (condoned in in the the

name name of of reproductive reproductive “rights”) “rights”) into into

“legitimate” “legitimate” expressions expressions of of individual individual

liberty, liberty, the the bill bill perverts perverts freedom freedom and and

constitutes constitutes a a direct direct threat threat to to the the

entire entire culture culture of of human human rights." rights."

ity reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies.” In reality, this is a menu of abortifacient mechanisms latent in the actions of combined oral con- traceptives, progestin-only pills, combined injectibles and implants, the transdermal contraceptive patch, contraceptive vac- cines, and mifeprestone taken when a woman’s menses are “overdue.” By their action, these preparations and devices like the intra-uterine device render the womb’s sensitive endometrium impervi- ous and hostile to an implanting new hu- man being. Because they hinder its im-

plantation, there will be, in effect, no un- born to protect, making Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution empty and useless. Even as citizen groups and family associations rallied against the bill in the Committee, the Department of Health has long forged an unholy alliance with pro- viders of the manual vacuum aspiration device or MVA, and trains hospital work- ers for its use in government hospitals and clinics. The MVA evacuates the contents of the womb. With it, abortions may be performed under the guise of a “miscar- riage” or “uterine evacuation” or by the

sanitized procedure of “fertility regula- tion.” This is the language of the Culture of Death. Second, in making a travesty of parenting. The jurisdiction of parents as parents occupies a prime place in the frame- work of civil society as nurturers of their own children. The educational cradle is— foremost—the family. For the family ante- dates any civil authority and it does not owe its existence to the State. That is why the Constitution cannot but acknowledge this pre-existing basic and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the develop- ment of moral character” 8 which the State shall support. Being a constitutional man- date, the State may not lay a hand on how parents will bring up their own children, for the State did not create the family, and the child a creature of the State. 9 Neither may the State threaten par- ents with fines and imprisonment in refus- ing to expose their children to the State’s programs for “adolescent reproductive health” and “the full range of information on family planning methods, services and facilities” using a belabored “right to know” that HB2753 purports to create. The state’s power to control the education of its citizens is secondary to the rights of parents.10 That is why, the Bill insults parents when it makes reproductive health and sexuality education mandatory. The Bill attempts to ingratiate itself with parents by saying that “in the elemen- tary level, reproductive health and sexual- ity education shall focus on values forma- tion and a faith-based teaching method.” Of this pathetic pandering, we have these to say: We parents know our children’s hearts; the School teacher does not. We parents feel the pulse of our chil- dren, but the classroom cannot. We par- ents are sensitive to a fault for our children’s good, but the co-educational classroom is not. We parents have infinite forbearance for our child’s sensitivity, which the teacher has not. No classroom, no mentor, no peer counselor can handle with care the heart of the child we have nurtured in our womb body and soul. That is why, “the custody, care and nurturance of the child reside first in the parents 11 , whose primary function and free- dom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder.” Third, on the corrupted meaning of “reproductive health”. Promoters of oral contraception are bound to cite a touted study on the protective effect of oral contraceptives against endometrial and

Contraception is a Barren Agenda

ovarian cancer. However, 21 scientists from 8 coun- tries comprising the Working Group of IARC 12 (the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm) also found in the same study that “combined estrogen- progestogen contraceptives and meno- pausal therapy are carcinogenic to hu- mans,” 13 particularly cancer of the cervix and hapatocellular carcinoma. This prompted the World Health Organiza- tion in 2005 to declare the Combined Oral Contraceptive to be a recognized car- cinogen. 14 The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research has found oral contraceptives to be associ- ated with an increased risk of breast

when compared to women not using it. 19 On the other hand, oral contracep- tives containing cyproterone increase risk of deep vein thrombosis or venous blood clots than oral contraceptives that contain levonorgestrel. There is an aggressive campaign for tubal ligations especially among poor mothers. The fact is, these mothers risk ectopic pregnancy, even long after ster- ilization, particularly among women ster- ilized before age 30. Ectopic pregnancies are the leading cause of pregnancy-re- lated deaths in the first trimester. 20 The so-called morning-after pill Levonorgestrelwhich is touted in West- ern countries as “emergency contracep- tion” is a component of the menu of “reproductive health care” supplies. Its registration in the Philippines’ Bureau of Food and Drug was cancelled as early as Year 2001 because it was found by BFAD to be an abortifacient. 21 Surely, this Bill does not intend to supplant a ruling of an administrative agency of the Department of Health and thereby legalize its use in the Philippines? The life advocacy network in the country, notably Pro-Life Philippines and Human Life International-Pilipinas, among others, have in its custody a virtual record of Filipino women victims of the lethal side effects of the pill, Depo-Provera

cancer. 15 Physicians for Life reports that

in

1960 when the pill was first invented,

the incidence of breast cancer was one in 25 women 16 ; today it is one in eight women. 17 In New York, U.S.A., the manufac- turer of the abortion-causing birth con- trol patch, Ortho Evra, faces a lawsuit filed by ten women who all suffered from strokes or serious blood clots. 18

 

The

injectible

contraceptive

DepoProvera

(depot-

medroxyprogesterone acetate) increases a woman’s risk of acquiring the sexually transmitted infectious chlamydia and gonorrhea by approximately threefold

chlamydia and gonorrhea by approximately threefold By Fr. Melvin Castro T he letter chet stands for

By Fr. Melvin Castro

T he letter chet stands for

both the Hebrew word

for sin and the Hebrew

word for life. A sinner can break

the habit of sin through repen- tance, which brings life. (The Exodus Experience: Maureen Fritz, p. 62) Forty years after Pope Paul

VI issued Humanae Vitae , our

own country now faces the same dilemma that the West- ern/Northern Hemisphere faced then: the letter chet to mean sin or for it to mean life. But thanks be to God, the

Church in the Philippines has been spared from internal dis- sension of the clergy that be- came the hallmark reaction in the West. To this day, the Church in the West still suffers from this grave wound of dis-

obedience and dissension. Hence, we ask ourselves, is the issue of the Church’s opposition to the reproductive health bills in Congress simply about contraceptives? Definitely not. Unfortu- nately even within the mem- bers of the Church, the issue has been relegated to the ques- tion of the apparent grave need of the couples to have a choice, on their own, on what birth control method they can use. Many know of Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical Humanae Vitae as the “Birth Control” encyclical. In fact, however, the encyclical treats of control in another broader sense. Humane Vitae does not

18

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IMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACT • August 2008

IMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACT

• August 2008

The bigger issue about contraception

COVER

STORY

injectible, implants, or have suffered or died as a consequence of serious compli- cations caused by the implanted IUD’s which public midwives have refused to remove from the women’s bodies. 22 This is not health. This is not repro- ductive health. This is harm and peril inflicted in the guise of health. 23 The anti-life, anti-parent, anti-youth culture sought to be installed by the bill threatens not only the life of the human person. It insults the poor, whom the bill takes to task for their sheer number. To rub salt on the insult, the bill categorizes contraceptives as “essential medicines.” In corrupting the culture, the bill is no respecter of conscience. In effectively transforming objectively disordered acts (condoned in the name of reproductive “rights”) into “legitimate” expressions of individual liberty, the bill perverts free- dom and constitutes a direct threat to the entire culture of human rights. 24 Man is not made greater by a promise of autonomy, but smaller. Smaller, until he is dehumanized by the clipping of his dignity, and the integrity of his natural institutions. In the end, what will remain will be a caricature of man, a perversion of his dignity, a distortion of his family and the complete deconstruction of its natu-

ral bonds.

I
I
and the complete deconstruction of its natu- ral bonds. I identify the problem in the realm

identify the problem in the realm of sex, birth, or the pill, but rather in modern man’s arrogant desire to control, to control, to play God (Message of the Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines, Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, 09 July 2008, Manila Cathedral). Hence we see the issue in the greater and bigger picture. The issue is about God. And the Church has every right to speak about God. The issue is more than what some legisla- tors see and realize. It is not the Church against legislators. It is the Church standing up against forces going against God. And we are simply appealing to our legislators not to be part of these forces.

Is the Church’s position outmoded as some would like us to believe? Allow me to quote lengthily the late Holy Father, the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II:

Thus an anti-life mental- ity is born, as can be seen in many current issues: one thinks, for example, of a certain panic deriving from the studies of ecologists and futurologists on population growth, which sometimes exaggerate the danger of demographic in- crease to the quality of life. But the Church firmly believes that human life, even if weak and suffering, is always a splendid gift of God’s

goodness. Against the pessimism and selfish- ness which cast a shadow over the world, the Church stands for life: in each human life she sees the splendor of that “Yes,” that “Amen,” who is Christ himself. To the “No” which assails and afflicts the world, she replies with this living “Yes,” thus defending the human person and the world from all who plot against and harm life. The Church is called upon to manifest anew to everyone, with clear and stronger convic- tion, her will to promote human life by every means and to defend it

against all attacks, in whatever condition or state of development it is found. Thus the Church con- demns as grave offense against human dignity and justice all those activities of govern- ments or other public authorities which attempt to limit in any way the freedom of couples in deciding about children. Conse- quently, any violence applied by such authori- ties in favor of contra- ception or, still worse, of sterilization and pro- cured abortion, must be altogether condemned an forcefully rejected. Likewise to be de- nounced as gravely

VolumeVolume 4242 •• NumberNumber 88

1919

ARTICLES

ARTICLES Footnotes 1 This title is a take-off from J. Robert Borke’s best- seller. This Paper

Footnotes

1 This title is a take-off from J. Robert Borke’s best- seller. This Paper was presented at the Joint Hearing of the Committee on Health and the Committee on Population and Family Relations,

House of Representatives, Republic of the PhilippinesApril 29, 2008. 2 Executive Secretary, Legal Office, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Email:

lifewatch08@yahoo.com
3

Rep. Edcel Lagman, Albay.
4

Rep. Janette L. Garin, Iloilo.

5 Rep. Narciso D.Santiago III, Sectoral Rep., ARC

Party List .
6

7 Explanatory Note to HB17,p. 3, second paragraph.
8

9 Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268, U.S. 510, 535
10

Brantley v. Surles, 718 F. 2d. 1354,1358-59).
11

Prince v Massachussetts, 321 U.S. 158,166.

12 International Agency for Research on Cancer.

13 International Agaency for Research on Cancer, Press Release No. 167, 29 July 2005 at http://

www.monographs.iarc.fr
14

15 http://www.jayoclinicproceedings.com/Abstract.

Accessed April 28, 2008.
16

http://www.physciansforlife.org/content/view/188/

36/. Accessed April 27,2008.
17

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association supports this definite link

between pill use and breast cancer.
18

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/jul/05071506.html.

Accessed April 27, 2008.
19

According to a study jointly funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institute of Health and the US-AID’s Office of Population and Reproductive health.

http://’www.nih.gov/news/pr/aug2004/nichd-23.htm
20

http//www.physiciansforlife.org/content/view/473/

Rep. Jose Carlos V. Lacson, Negros Occ.

Article II, Sec. 12, Constitution.

Ibid.

73. Accessed April 27, 2008.

21 On a complaint filed and prosecuted in the Department of Health by AbayPamilya Foundation,

with other pro-family organizations joining.

22 Notably, in the Committee hearing of April 29, 2008, Commissioner Tomas Osias of the Population Commission stated, in response to interpellations from Rep. Janette Garin, that in international usage, the term “reproductive health” includes abortion. This author notes that this statement of Commissioner Osias is confirmed by paragraphs

7.6 and 13.14 of the Programme of Action of the

1994 International Conference on Population and

Development (ICPD).

23 The State has a constitutional mandate “to protect consumers from hazardous products” (Article XVI, Sec. 9, Constitution), and protect women in their

maternal functions. (Article XIII, Sec. 14, Ibid.)

24 See Christian Conscience in Support of the Right to Life: Proceedings of the 13th Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Vatican City, 23-25 February 2007, Elio Sgreccia & Jean Laffitte, Editors, pp. 165-167.

unjust are cases where, in international relations, economic help given for the advancement of peoples is made condi- tional on programs of contraception, steriliza- tion and procured abortion (Familiaris Consortio, 30) Hence, we beg to disagree with some, who are even mem- bers of the Church, who think that we are being myopic in our view. On the contrary, we see the greater scheme of things. The Church, being universal, sees things in a global manner and more importantly, in a su- pernatural manner. As to the question of what the Church proposes as an al- ternative, we simply propose what is true and good: God Himself. From that simple and

profound truth follows every- thing else: love of family and life; the couples’ openness to life; the rich sharing to the poor; the poor having their dignity intact in the midst of poverty; leaders governing with wis- dom; the Church defending life and family; and you and me struggling for sanctity. I was once asked why it seems the Church is imposing herself and her teachings to all while not all our Catholics? Or that why couldn’t she just let the couples decide for them- selves or even just allow the individual consciences to de- cide? The Church—whether her members happen to be the mi- nority or majority in society— will always speak on the truth of the Gospel and on the truth of her teachings. In the end, it

20

20

• August 2008

IMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACT

IMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACT • August 2008

is always up to the individual to decide. However, it does not mean that the Church would simply sit back and see her children do what they want. True, the couples and the indi- viduals have to decide in the final analysis. And it is but the Church’s role that her mem- bers decide on the basis of a well-formed conscience, not deformed or misinformed one. Informed decision, not in- formed choice. The Church teaches not to impose but to enlighten and guide her faithful in the proper decision making. Freedom and free will are God-given gifts. And their proper exercise is to honor God, it’s contrary is freedom’s abuse. Freedom means to freely serve and love God, and not freedom to sin. Authentic free choice is not

turn one’s back against God but to freely follow His Will. Let us turn the tables around and ask instead why,

in God’s Name, some would want to impose their own ideas on the Church and on her mem- bers. If we consider some things as sinful and contrary to our teaching, why should

such

flaunted to our faithful as some- thing true and morally accept- able? Would we not then be derelict in our duty or worse, expose our faithful to occa- sions of sin? The Hebrew letter RESH:

we

be

allow

things

stands for both resha “wicked- ness” and rachamim “mercy.” It is symbolic of the choice between holiness and sin and also for reconciliation. When resh, as a sinner, repents, resh,

as mercy, always forgives.

I
I

NEWS

FEATURES

Bishop mulls communion ban on some Filipino Catholics in Kuwait

TheChurchofficialsaid “we inform them of the situ- ation and we help them un-

derstand that marriage in the Philippines lasts forever, es- pecially so in marriages sol-

Catholic

churches.” “I understand Filipinos come to Kuwait to provide a

CBCPNews that it is mainly

because many Filipinos in

Kuwaitfallintohavingasec- better future for their family

ond family while working abroad. “There are cases, I just cannot say how many, when men are supposed to send money to his family back home in the Philippines but he has to keep some money for his other family in Ku- wait,” he said.

he

added. The prelate said he un-

MANILA, August 1, 2008—

Some Filipino Catholics in Kuwait face the risk of being barred from receiving com- munion, Kuwait Apostolic Vicar Bishop Camilo Ballin, MCCI, said.

emnized

in

Bishop

Ballin

told

in the Philippines but please, if possible, for couples, don’t separate because the risk is too much and the risks in- clude the possibility of hav-

ing

another

family,”

derstands the plight of Fili- pinos in Kuwait because he comes from a poor family in Italy too. “My family’s very, very

poorandmyparentswerelook-

ingforopportunitiesbutthere are many serious dangers for

them(workers)andtheirfami-

lies,” the bishop said.

He has observed Fili- pino workers go home at least once a year for their needed

vacation but added “the loneliest day in their lives is when they leave home for another contract abroad.” Bishop Ballin was in Manila for around a week after attending the 23rd World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia. He left the Philip-

pines and returned to Ku- wait yesterday.

around

are 350,000 Catholics in Kuwait and from this number, some

130,000areFilipinoswithFr.

Ben Barrameda as the lone Filipino priest attending to the growing Filipino com- munity there. (Melo Acuña)

There

Bishop Ballin, a Comboni missionary from

Italy, said there may be no hard and fast rule “because we have to look at every single case.”

Catholic

Church’s regulations, those

who divorce and remarry are

currentlybarredfromreceiv-

ing Holy Communion.

A remarried Catholic

may receive Holy Commun- ion only if a marriage has

been annulled by the Church. “What I try to stress is that they can enter the Church but they cannot re- ceive Holy Communion,” Bishop Ballin said.

“I don’t want them to

feel I sent them away from the Church so they are al- lowed to come to pray, at- tend Mass but cannot re- ceive communion although they can participate in prayer meetings, social meetings especially on feasts days but definitely no communion.”

Under

the

on feasts days but definitely no communion.” Under the IsIsIsIsIs thethethethethe ChurchChurchChurchChurchChurch

IsIsIsIsIs thethethethethe ChurchChurchChurchChurchChurch interestedinterestedinterestedinterestedinterested ininininin

Christians and Muslims

show solidarity for

Kirkuk attack victims

ruralruralruralruralrural progress?progress?progress?progress?progress?

KIRKUK,Iraq,July31,2008—

Kirkuk’s top religious and po- litical authorities visited survi- vors who were injured in the 28 Julysuicidebombattackinwhich scores of others were killed. Kirkuk’s archbishop, Msgr. Louis Sako, along with Muslim religious leaders, both Sunni and Shia, as well as Arab,

KurdishandTurkmentriballead-

ers, went to the city’s hospital to visit the wounded and offer them some comfort. The gesture was signifi- cant because it saw the city’s political and religious leaders show “solidarity towards the victims of the massacre,” irre- spective of creed or ethnicity, and reaffirm their “condemna- tion of every form of violence’, whatever its source. Last Monday a suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of a crowd that was pro- testing against the new election law adopted by parliament. The crowd had gathered near local government offices, close to the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. Demonstrators hadjustbeguntheirmarchwhen a suicide bomber blew himself up, causing a massacre, killing 28 and wounding dozens. At the end of the hospital

visit,thedelegationmetthelead-

ers of the most important Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), as well as their Turkmen counterpart, urging all of them to work together to bring calm back to the region. “I call on political leaders to think about the common good of the population and fight the aberrant logic of violence,” Monsignor Sako said. The prelate also said that

hehopedallpoliticalparties“will sit together around the table to talk and discuss,” putting aside threats and extremisms because “with violence nothing is ob-

tained,”whilstwithmutual“for-

giveness” it will be possible to rebuilt unity and peaceful coex- istence for all. This morning’s initiative, which the Catholic Church strongly backed, was unani- mously welcomed by both Muslim religious leaders and all political parties. All local media covered it. During the visit the arch- bishop of Kirkuk handed out medicines to the wounded, wishing them a quick recovery, inviting them to come to “a brotherly meal.” (AsiaNews)

NEWS

FEATURES

Bishops saddened by commodification of Filipino workforce

QUEZON CITY, August 1,

less, when workers do not re-

interests. There will be no peace

utterly neglected in favor of

2008—Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) co-chairpersons

ceive just wages, when urban and rural communities are dis-

as long as the peoples’ funda- mental socio-economic rights

power, profits and privileges for the rich few,” added the

Most

Rev.

Deogracias

S.

located to cater to big business

are grossly subordinated if not

statement. (Noel Barcelona)

Iñiguez,

D.D.,

Bishop

of

Kalookan (Roman Catholic) and Rev. Bishop Solito K. Toquero of the United Meth- odist Church were saddened by the “commodification” of the Filipino workforce, espe- cially women and children. In a joint pastoral state- ment released last July 26, in line for the communal action of religious groups done in Cebu City, members of the religious communities coming from dif- ferent Christian denomination agreed about the injustice brought by penury and grave human rights violations now plaguing the country. “We are very much sad- dened that while our nation is richly endowed with vast natu- ral resources and hard working and resilient human resources, most of our farmers are land- less and hungry, our sisters and brothers in workplaces are denied of their right to just

wages, our indigenous peoples are denied of their rights to ancestral domain and self-de- termination, our fisher folks are left without enjoying God- given marine resources, our women and children are sub- ject to commodification and abuse and many of our young workers and professionals are forced to earn a living abroad

awayfromtheirhomesandfami-

lies,” says the pastoral state- ment.

It added, as Church Peoples, we long for a kind of peace in our country that is fundamentally based on jus-

tice. “We firmly believe that

there will be no peace when our people live in hunger and mis-

ery,whenthetillersremainland-

Food crisis in North Korea, millions hungry NORTH KOREA, July 31, 2008—At least 6.4 million

Food crisis in North Korea, millions hungry

NORTH KOREA, July 31, 2008—At least 6.4 million people are in urgent need of aid. The population is sur- viving on grass and wild berries. The UN fund asks

for 20 million dollars to con- front the emergency, and calls for assistance pro- grams to improve condi- tions in the country. Pyongyang (AsiaNews/Agencies) —

North

going

through a severe food cri- sis, comparable only to the famine that struck the coun- try at the end of the 1990’s.

Korea

is

Jean-Pierre de Margerie, direc- tor of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), says the poor harvests in recent years and the flood in 2007 have left millions of North Koreans with- out the minimum amount of food necessary for survival. The UN fund affirms that at least 6.4 million people (out of a total of 23 million) are in urgent need of food, three out of four families have drastically reduce their consumption of food — including grains and proteins — and an increasing number of people are turning to grass and wild berries just to

survive. For a number of years, North Korea has re- ceived aid from the interna- tional community, but envi- ronmental disasters and poor harvests have intensi- fied the emergency. According to initial es- timates, 20 million dollars are needed right away to con- front the immediate needs, ahead of the fall harvest. The WFP, finally, hopes for the creation of a longer-term as- sistance plan, which calls for the investment of 500 million

dollarsbySeptemberof2009.

(AsiaNews)

STATEMENTS

STATEMENTS Second National Rural Congress (NRC-II) Communique ‘In the Philippines today, God calls us most urgently

Second National Rural Congress (NRC-II) Communique

‘In the Philippines today, God calls us most urgently to serve the poor and the needy’ 1

Dear brothers and sisters,

L ast July 7-8, 2008, we successfully

conducted the Second National Ru-

ral Congress or NRC-II. More than

300 participants representing the rural poor

and the clergy converged at the San Carlos Seminary, and had a fruitful interaction, discussing the very important and compli- cated issues that surround the communi- ties in the rural poor in the Philippines. In the context of meaningful dialogue, the Congress was convened by the Catho- lic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and it intended to help strengthen and sustain the Church-rural poor link- ages established some forty years ago, during the 1967 National Rural Congress. A participatory and transformative course of action was done that led to the:

• Identification and discernment of ur- gent national and local issues con- fronting the rural poor; • Recommendation of policies and programmes for both the Church and the government to address the identi- fied issues,

• Internalization and elaboration of les- sons learned on Church-rural poor link- ages since the First National Rural Congress, and

• Identification of potential actions and concrete mechanisms for Church-ru- ral poor linkages to implement NRC-II resolutions. Using the backdrop of the Catholic Social Teachings, and reflective of the SEE- JUDGE-ACT framework, this momentous event allowed both the Church and the rural poor to expand their understanding of the situation, the circumstances, and the pos- sible solutions to the myriad problems that confront the rural poor – the farmers, the fisherfolk, the indigenous peoples, the women and the youth – those that have less

in life. It is hoped that this event will strengthen the will to be a “Church of the Poor”. 2 “Before today’s forms of exploitation of the poor, the Church cannot remain silent. She also reminds the rich of their precise duties. Strong with the Word of God 3 , she condemns the many injustices which unfortunately, even today are com- mitted to the detriment of the poor.” 4 The journey to NRC-II

In the journey towards this Congress,

it was emphasized that the actual event was merely a culmination of a series of equally important discussions held at the Diocesan and Sub-Regional Consultations (DRCs/

SRCs)conductedsincelastNovember2007

untilMarch2008.Morethanfifty(50)DRCs

and BEC consultations were facilitated by NASSA and similarly, thirteen (13) SRCs were convened by the Philippine Misereor Partnership (PMP). Afterwards, five Re- gional Rural Congresses (RRCs) were con-

vened between April-May 2008.

consultations allowed the rural poor to articulate their concerns, and the Church to

listen and discern their roles in accompany- ing the rural poor in their voyage. To ensure that the interface between the Church and the rural poor is effected, the ad intra and ad extra approach was used to add vibrancy to these consulta- tions.TheformerreferstotheinternalChurch structures and the latter to the support mechanisms and external groups that pro- vided direct partnership work with the rural poor and the Church.

A parallel track of several researches,

seminars,andhigh-levelcaucuseswassimi-

These

larly completed during the period, comple- menting the formal consultation processes. These tracks involved many individuals and institutions, coming from the academe, media, civil society, Church groups, legis-

lators and the Bishops themselves. Various publications, papers, statements and docu- mentations have been produced and com- piled to supplement the workshops that came about in NRC-II. What was seen In the course of the Congress, several importantinformationcameoutclearly.The rural poor are trapped in a vicious cycle of dependence and hopelessness, mainly due to the fact that they do not have enough

access or control of their assets. The boun- tiful harvest from the God-given endow- ments of land, forests and waters are not being enjoyed by the rural poor. The dire situation is reflected in the circumstances of the rural poor. The farmers have not completely owned their land; the small fisherfolks are lamenting the displacement of their fishing activities and communities, due to pollu- tion and encroachment of large-scale fish- ers; the indigenous peoples’ culture and ancestral domains are threatened by large- scale mining and logging; rural women face the many challenges of nurturing the well- being of the children and at the same time, respond to the economic needs of the entire family as well. The rural youth are in a special situation, as they are left confused and sometimes misguided, because of the complex problems and situations that they find themselves due to this poverty. Complicating this indigence are the apparent forces that intensify the cruel re- ality of poverty across the sectors and across the regions. The environment is

gasping for help, as pollution and degrada- tion of natural resources are rampant in the rural areas. The issue of the aggressive entry of large-scale mining and logging has been brought out in many of the sectoral and regional workshops. These extractive industries are threatening not only the lives

Second National Rural Congress (NRC-II) Communique

Second National Rural Congress (NRC-II) Communique and livelihoods of rural communities, but also endangering ecological

and livelihoods of rural communities, but also endangering ecological balance, as it destroys forests, watersheds, agricultural lands, and coastal areas. This imbalance in nature and ecology leads to more disasters and tragedies at the personal and commu- nal levels. Another cross-cutting theme is the phenomenon of migration. This has distressed the family, and in the process, introduced a whole new set of moral issues. “Each person, no matter how poor is endowed with an inalienable dignity as an image of God, a child of God 5 , redeemed by God and entrusted with an eternal destiny 6 . Each person has to be respected as equal member of the human family, 7 actively par- ticipating towards the common good in solidarity with others.” 8

What was realized Being mainly observers was not the intent of the Congress. Going deeper into the dialogue, several causes of this rural poverty were unearthed. Foremost appears to be the lack of serious implementation of laws and policies designed to promote as- set reform and social justice. Inadequate resources and capacities to provide basic services were also mentioned. One other major concern was the prevailing graft and corruption and the “culture of helpless- ness” – that there is nothing anyone can do to make change happen. On the other hand, it was also recognized that some problems on the level of awareness and knowledge of the rural poor, that they need to learn more about their rights and responsibilities as citizens and as followers of Christ. This involves the responsibility of caring for the family, and the earth as well. There is also a

need to organize the sectors and the com- munities, so that they can enhance and complement each other towards self-help and self-reliance. Finally, there is also a need to reach out, link and partner with the many institutions that are excited and ready to serve the rural poor communities. Roles and involvements of these many institutions have also been recognized. For its part, the Church has mobilized its Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) and the So- cial Action Centers (SACs) to be at the forefront in responding to the needs of the rural poor. These institutions have pro- vided training, organizing, credit services, disaster response, spiritual and social for- mation and other modes of support. The non-government organizations (NGOs) have worked together with different peoples’ organizations (POs) in advancing broadly sustainable development in the rural areas. The academe and the media have produced and disseminated informa- tion and knowledge. In the midst of the Congress, it was essential that an inter-faith dialogue was encouraged, with representa- tion from the Christian groups, the Mos- lems, and the indigenous religious of the IP communities articulating the perspective of their groups.

Emerging proposals The significance of NRC-II will be diminished if we fail to highlight some of the principal themes that emerged, initially coming from the sectoral discussion groups and the regional planning ses- sions. These themes do not comprehen- sively reflect the detailed discussions and agreements of the Congress, but repre-

sent the common and most urgent calls of the rural poor. On the issue of landlessness and land reform, two proposals were presented— the extension of CARP with major reforms (CARPER) and the enactment of a new land reform law (GARB). The Congress recognized that there is a need to further review and to deepen the understanding of the implications of both proposals. From the fisherfolks, they called on the strict implementation of the Fisheries Code (or RA 8550), including its review to address some loopholes in its implementa- tion. The fisherfolk also identified specific issues such as landlessness, the presence of destructive fishing methods and called for more activities that will enhance the capacities of the fisherfolk sector, includ- ing trainings, organizing and partnership- building within the sector, to address these issues. From the indigenous peoples, the call centered on the recognition of the custom- ary laws and culture of the IP communities, the implementation and review of IPRA, and a specific advocacy on opposing the transfer of the NCIP to the DENR. From the rural women sector, they urged the need to protect and uphold the welfare and rights of women, through the enhancement of Filipino values of family and moral responsibility. They also ap- pealed to all concerned agencies and insti- tutions to provide more support to re- spond to the special needs of women, such as the issue of domestic violence, access to basic social services, livelihood, health, family planning and awareness- building on women’s rights.

STATEMENTS

STATEMENTS From the rural youth, their call cen- tered on strengthening the moral and spiri- tual

From the rural youth, their call cen- tered on strengthening the moral and spiri- tual foundations of the youth. They re- quested that Church and the academe strengthen their programs on spiritual and moral values formation, in order to equip the youth with more tools and handles to guide them in their growing and maturing years. Finally, from the consolidated “Other Sectors”, a set of recommendations were forwarded that addressed the wide-rang- ing but distinctive concerns of labor-re- lated issues, informal urban settlers, per- sonswithdisabilities(PWDs),elderly,small rural traders, migrants and their families and the informal sector. A common thread that weaved their discussion anchored on

the themes of addressing the problem of graft and corruption, strengthening the roles of the local government units as direct providers of services to the sectors, exacting accountability from government, NGOs and other institutions, and the need to promote networking and linkaging among the stakeholders. Overall, the proposed emerging roles of the Church in these themes is to become

a facilitator - a moderator or an intermedi-

ary that nurtures a platform for interaction among the rural poor, the government, civil society and the private sector. One of

the notable concrete proposals was the creation of an “institutionalized dialogue”,

a process and venue where the rural poor

can continually and sustainably interact with the Bishops and the Catholic Church. There was also a recommendation to acti- vate specialized desks in the Church struc- ture that maybe able to specifically imple-

ment sectoral or thematic work at the par- ish, diocesan, regional and even national levels. Movingforward It is imperative that the dreams and aspirations of NRC-II must be fulfilled through action. In the next few months, several things will happen that can hope- fully cultivate a sense of hope for the rural

poor and their partners, in order for them to overcome the forbidding challenges of ru- ral poverty. First, the official proceedings of the NRC-II will be released in Aug. 15, 2008;

actively pursue in carrying out the pro- phetic role of the church in articulating and addressing the issues of the rural poor, through the provision of programs at the Church and the mobilization of resources; Sixthandfinally,theCBCP,throughits Permanent Council, shall study and reflect on the results of NRC-II, and will issue its Pastoral Statement on its next Plenary As- sembly, on January 2009.

Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, DD Chairman-NRC II

Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, DD

Second,theofficialpublicationofNRC- Vice Chairman-NRC II

II will be produced, published and issued

by November 10, 2008, in time for the Na-

tional Assembly of the BECs, and also as a reference document for the many planned activities of the civil society partners; Third, the operational structure of NRC-

II, including the Central Committee and its

working groups, will be retained in order to oversee post-NRC-II activities and estab- lish clear plans regarding actionable resolu- tions of the Congress, including the institu- tionalization of the dialogue process started; Fourth, re-echoing sessions of the NRC-II will be conducted either at the Dioc- esan or Sub-regional levels, to be convened by the respective Bishops. These sessions will expectantly enrich the regional plans, sharpen the regional translation of the sectoral discussions, and identify mecha- nisms by which local action plans can be initiated; Fifth, collectively (as CBCP) and indi- vidually (as Bishops), the Church shall

NRC II Secretariats

Notes

1 Acts and Decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, 20 January – 17 February 1991, The Conciliar Document “Go…I am with you always!”,

Part II, A Church Renewed, No. 122

2 Laborem Exercens – On Human Work on the Ninetieth Anniversary of ‘Rerum Novarum”,

Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II, 14 September,

1981.

3 Cf. Is 5:8; Jer 5:25-28; Jas 5:1, 3-4

4 Pope John Paul II to the Cardinals, Members of the Pontifical Household and the Curia: “The charism of Peter: To serve universal unity by protecting and

defending the Gospel’s authenticity,” L’Osservatore

Romano, Jan. 21, 1985, p.8

5 Gn 1:26-27; cf Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World 12, 14-17; Jn 1:13; 1 Jn 3:1-2; Rom 8:14-17; cf John Paul II, To the People of the Sugar Plantations,

Bacolod City, Feb. 20, 1981, No. 8

6 Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World 22

7 Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution on the

Church in the Modern World 63

8 Acts and Decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, 20 January – 17 February 1991, The Conciliar Document “Go…I am with you always!”, Part II, A Church Renewed, No. 296

FROM THE

BLOGS

Money going out of style

T his is the best and only way to describe and qualify why

Malacañang appears to squander the very hard earned

people’s money and public funds forcibly taken from

theminformofexactingdirectandcruelindirecttaxes,apartfrom the public debts nonchalantly marred by the government and infallibly paid by the people as well. This appears to be someone or something supposedly the repositoryofnationalprideandtrust,gleefullywallowinginthe putrid waters of corruption while professing competence and

exhibiting industry. This is not only corny. This is amorality. Incidentally, it is truly a great pleasure for somebody to spend someone else’s money without remorse, to throw away money that one has not truly toiled and sweated for, and to be prodigal with the money of the people, from the people and for the people.

Thisisthepreciseandlivingpictureofpracticallyaneight-

year-long socio-economic plague besieging the country. This national misfortune is certainly being recorded in Philippine History—with expressed mention as to the who and what, and why and how such a phenomenal human authored disaster came to exist and continues to persist in the country. Earlier, it was reported that the Commission on Audit (COA)recentlyreleasedverydisturbinganddisgustingfigures in conjunction with the so-called “Palace Expenses.” In a nutshell, it was found out that more than P1 billion was spent by Malacañang for “travel expenses,” “cash advances” and “donation” in year 2007. While such an enormous amount is already hard to write down, considering the so many zeros therein, there is the strong probability akin to certitude that very few have ever counted at one time such a colossal amount of money. But, Malacañang spent even multi-billions of pesos without batting an eyelash. Meantime, millions of Filipinos find it hard to buy rice, to eat three times a day, or to buy medicines. Parents of millions ofchildrencannolongeraffordtosendthemtoschool.Millions of workers are at a lost at how to make their salaries and wages satisfy their family needs. This is in addition to millions of Filipinosfeelingoffendedanddepressedfornotfindingdecent employment in the country. This brings us to the reason why millions too leave their familiesbehindtobecomeOFWdespitethediscriminationthey experience and danger they meet as a matter of course. And there is the glorious Malacañang—with grandiose claimsandgracefulexhibitionscostingthepeoplethefollowing moredetailedscandalousandnauseatingexpensesasperCOA

report:someP588million+P34millionintravelexpenses,plus

some P594 million in cash advances. Meantime, the wealthy and the beggar, the young and the adult, the children and the elderly are forcibly paying E-VAT technically translated as “extended - Value added taxes” but really meaning “universal – Value added taxes”. If this is not revolting, it is hard to say what it is.

www.ovc.blogspot.com

Gambling unlimited

A PART from all the shameful and distress- ing attributions cred-

ited to the ruling administra- tion, such as the double whammy title of the “Most Corrupt” and the “Least Ap-

proved”, there is another sin- gular label that it rightfully de- serves to get: “The Biggest Gambling Lord in the Coun- try!” If the State of the Nation Address would be truthful, the one delivering it should not forget to claim the title as a debasing accomplishment and

a disgusting victory - but fac-

tual at least. Despite sound opposition of concerned citizens, this gov- ernmenthaslegalizedgambling

as a flagship project in the coun- try. In fact, it has seen to it that corporate gambling - even in such a strict business zone with flourishing private enterprises like the U.N. Avenue in Manila

- slowly but surely invades all

yielding provinces across the archipelago. This is the pitiful state of affairs in a land where the government is a gambling operator itself. But lo and behold, sur- prise, surprise! Syndicated le- galized gambling has not only proliferated all over the land but has also been conquering space for some time now. Also known as “Cybergambling,” this very technical, high end and well secured operation is actually maintained in con- spiracy with the government. Proof of this is the mere establishment of some 195 online gambling booths. With the proliferation of stations being eyed for additional gam- bling facilities, online gamblers are certainly mushrooming too. Adding insult to injury is the survival of illegal gambling syndicates that have become even more aggressive, more cold-blooded and all the more

lucrative during the tenure of the incumbent administration. The gambling situation in the country was already bad seven years ago but the grueling years under her saw it at its worst. Candidly operating in pub- lic places under broad daylight, illegal gambling masters work through countless bet collec- tors while government officials and public authorities, conve- niently look at it as profitably as business partners would. Just as the 2010 national elections come nearer, so does illegal

gambling become more daring. Never mind if more Filipi- nos are getting hungrier as less children go to school. Never mind if the cost of basic com- modities goes higher compared with the purchasing power of peso becomes lower. Never mind if the people find it hard to purchase rice, to find employ- ment, to hope and expect a better

future. Never mind all these! True enough, the government never minds these for they have all the gambling they want— on land and in space! As the 2008 SONA sees the best of the present and foretells of even much better things to come in the days

that

Malacañang has been fast ex- hausting the patience of the people and effectively wasting the funds of the nation—to the extent that it has been repeat- edly pronounced “morally bankrupt.” There is valid rea- son to expect even worst socio- political unrest and economic debacle to come—especially with the incumbent president still holding the reigns till 2010, or even after. Something good and admi- rable certainly remains with the citizens, however, something fundamentally wrong is still in- grained in their government.

ahead,

the

truth

is

www.ovc.blogspot.com

EDITORIAL

The real problem

The real problem T he problem is certainly not the P1 billion funds for tricity. It

T he problem is certainly not the P1 billion funds for

tricity. It is neither the other P1 billion support for

the micro-financing projects of the transport sector nor is it the other P1 billion assistance for government hospital improvement and the sickly elderly. The prob- lem is certainly not the P1 billion aids for the relief and rehabilitation of the typhoon “Frank” victims, not the P1 billion sponsorship for scholarship grants and student loans, and not the additional P4 billion subsidies for food consumption and energy expenses of the poor. In fact, even the onerous, cruel, heinous and obnox- ious E-VAT is not the problem for it is the cost of social peace and order, of public welfare and common good. As such, citizens have to pay taxes—be these direct or indirect—to support their public officials, who are ex- pected nothing less than to act and work for the good and the benefit of the tax-paying citizens. Not even the onerous debts incurred by the ruling administration constitute a problem although these have to be ultimately paid by the people from one generation to another, viz., big debts presumably for the majority’s advantage. The problem is neither the onerous agree- ments supposedly meant to satisfy the strict demands for the Filipinos nor the Executive Order 464 even if the

the power subsidy of those consuming less elec-

mantle of executive privilege may mean hiding corrupt acts from being investigated by a separate branch of government. What then is real problem? What is the big fuss and hiss? Why are there so much murmurs and rumors? Why are there so many rallies, long marches and interminable demands? The real problem is neither the junkets abroad to cement regional cooperation and to beef up international relations, nor going around the country to hand out groceries and subsidies to these and those people. The problem—the huge and real, persistent and pestering one—is a much distrusted administration, a highly disapproved government, most dissatisfying na- tional leadership among all those in tenure of the same position since 1986. Where do all those billions upon billions really go? Expressed in more clear and simple terms: how can people trust a most distrusted pretending trustee of immense public funds? Conveyed in more direct and strong language: how can people repose their confi- dence on their leader who has the highest grade in corruption and the lowest rate is satisfaction from 2004 to 2008? That, Mang Tasyo, is the real hitch.

FROM THE

INBOX

From the emails of Lan Bergado, lanspidey@yahoo.com

When love discriminates
When love
discriminates

A story is told about a soldier who was finally coming home after hav- ing fought in Vietnam.

He called his parents from San Fran- cisco.

“Mom and Dad, I’m coming home, but I’ve got a favor to ask. I have a friend I’d like to bring with me.” “Sure,” they replied, “we’d love to meet him.”

something you should

know,” the son continued, “he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a landmine and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us.” “I’m sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live.” “No, Mom and Dad, I want him to live with us.” “Son,” said the father, “you don’t

“There’s

know what you’re asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can’t let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come home and forget about this guy. He’ll find a way to live on his own.” At that point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him. A few days later, however, they re- ceived a call from the San Francisco police. Their son had died after falling from a building, they were told. The police be- lieved it was suicide. The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn’t know, their son had only one arm and one leg.

The Starfish

A vacationing businessman was walking along a beach when he saw a young boy. Along the shore were many starfish that had been washed up by the tide and were sure to die before the tide returned.

The boy walked slowly along the shore and occasionally reached down and tossed the beached starfish back into the ocean. The businessman, hoping to teach the boy a little lesson in common sense, walked up to the boy and said, “I have been watching what you are doing, son. You have a good heart, and I know you mean well, but do you realize how many beaches there are around here and how many starfish are dying on every beach every day. Surely such an industrious and kind hearted boy such as yourself could find something better to do with your time. Do you really think that what you are doing is going to make a difference?” The boy looked up at the man, and then he looked down at a starfish by his feet. He picked up the starfish, and as he gently tossed it back into the ocean, he said, “It makes a difference to that one.”

The man and The man and the world the world
The man and
The man and
the world
the world

T here was a man who had a little boy that he loved very much. Everyday after work the man

would come home and play with the little boy. He would always spend all of his extra time playing with the little boy. One night, while the man was at work, he realized that he had extra work to do for the evening, and that he wouldn’t be able to play with his little boy. But, he wanted to be able to give the boy something to keep him busy. So, looking around his office, he saw a magazine with a large map of the world on the cover. He got an idea. He removed the map, and then patiently tore it up into small pieces. Then he put all the pieces in his coat pocket. When he got home, the little boy came running to him and was ready to play. The man explained that he had extra work to do and couldn’t play just now, but he led the little boy into the dining room, and taking out all the pieces of the map, he spread them on the table. He explained that it was a map of the world, and that by the time he could put it back together, his extra work would be finished, and they could both play. Surely this would keep the child busy for hours, he thought. About half an hour later the boy came to the man and said, “Okay, it’s finished. Can we play now?” The man was surprised, saying, “That’s impossible. Let’s go see.” And sure enough, there was the picture of the world; all put together, every piece in its place. The man said, “That’s amazing! How did you do that?” The boy said, “It was simple. On the back of the page was a picture of a man. When I put the man together the whole world fell into place.”

BOOK

REVIEWS

Free Love True Love

Rediscovering Love & Intimacy in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body

Fr. Joel O. Jason

John Paul II’s book Theology of the Body spoke on the sacredness of human body and human sexuality. Drawing insights from the book of Pope John Paul II this little volume published by Shep- herd Voice Publications, gives a clear presenta- tion on how our attitude towards sex and intimacy should be. Borne out of his own experience of working and ministering to couples and families, Jason explains the sacredness and beauty of sex as opposed to how it is often regarded and treated by media in our contemporary society. In the fore-

word, His Eminence, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales extols the ability of Jason to grasp firmly the pope’s views on human sexuality, thus result- ing to a work “that speaks to men and women of today, a work that addresses many of their impor- tant concerns about love and intimacy.” The au- thor, a priest of the Archdiocese of Manila is cur- rently the Dean of Studies of San Carlos Semi- nary where he teaches Fundamental Moral The- ology, Bioethics, Special Moral theology and Sexu- ality and Integrity.

Special Moral theology and Sexu- ality and Integrity. 60 More Seasonal Homilies Fr. William Bausch A
Special Moral theology and Sexu- ality and Integrity. 60 More Seasonal Homilies Fr. William Bausch A

60 More Seasonal Homilies

Fr. William Bausch

A gifted preacher who has written a number of books on homiletics, Fr. William Bausch has added yet another equally engaging volume that will surely appeal to both priests and lay alike. Just like in his previous volumes of homilies, Bausch’s style of storytelling draws the readers to internalize the message thus becoming a part of the narrative itself. Instruc-

tive and grounded in the realities of everyday life, the homilies found in the pages of this volume can be used as they are, or as a frame- work for other preachers to develop their own homilies. There are homilies for the seasons of Advent, Lent, Easter and OrdinaryTime. The book is published by Paulines Publishing House.

The book is published by Paulines Publishing House. Signs and Times Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz, DD

Signs and Times

Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz, DD

This book, the 28 th in the roster of titles pub- lished by Archbishop Oscar Cruz deals with signs that point out to the realities in contempo- rary Philippine society, which according to the author’s observation have become a pattern in the present dispensation. The book lists down thirteen signs; ominous or not, are symptomatic of what is going wrong in the country today. The

author’s opinions are not limited on government and society, but also “pays attention to what the Church in the Philippines is doing through the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in terms of providing [Catholic] educa- tion” to the faithful. Other issues tackled in the book are the Church’s stand on politics and her effort to clean up the ranks of her own clergy.

and her effort to clean up the ranks of her own clergy. Laughing Christ Collected Reflections

Laughing Christ

Collected Reflections of Joseph Galdon, SJ

The reflections found in this volume are short but deep in their meaning. Touching on various topics, the ruminations are grouped into five parts with specific themes. Part one touches on love and life, part two on holiness, part three on philosophical thoughts, part four on stories and fables to think and pray about, and part five on prayer. An easy reading, the short insights found in the pages are like nuggets of gold, precious and beautiful. The author, a profound

thinker whose earlier works had deeply touched readers because of their insightful significance will once again leave a mark on anyone who read this latest collection. The reflections had been put together by former Ateneo students as a tribute to Galdon whose inspiring pres- ence had transformed the lives of those he taught and guided during his years as profes- sor at the Ateneo de Manila University. This book is published by Jesuit Communications.

ENTERTAINMENT

ENTERTAINMENT C ATHOLIC IN ITIATIVE FOR E NLIGHTENED M OVIE A PPRECIATION Title : Hancock Cast

CATHOLIC INITIATIVE

FOR

ENLIGHTENED

MOVIE APPRECIATION

Title: Hancock Cast: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Jae Head Director: Peter Berg Producers: Akiva Goldsman, James Lassiter, Michael Mann, Will Smith Screenwriters: Vincent Ngo, Vince Gilligan Music: John Powell; Editors: Colby Parker Jr., Paul Rubell Genre: Action/ Comedy/ Drama/ Fantasy Cinematography: Tobias A. Schliessler Distributor: Sony Pictures Entertainment Location: Los Angeles , California , USA Running Time: 92 min. Technical Assessment: 3 Moral Assessment: 2.5 CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 14 up

John Hancock (Will Smith) sleeps at park benches, swears, is rude, drinks heavily, and is in the words of a little boy an “asshole”. But he is also a superhero of sorts. He’s arrogant but he saves lives; he’s a bum but he can’t tolerate baddies. When on call he doesn’t hide and slip into a signature costume, he simply skyrockets himself, crashing through windows, making a mess of the traf- fic, leaving downtown Los Angeles like it’s been rocked by a mega hurricane. Half the people adore him; the other half has filed over 600 lawsuits against him for damaged property and in- jured bodies. One day he saves from sure death a dreamer of a PR man Ray (Jason Bateman) who is stu- pid enough to get himself stuck on the railroad track with a train zooming up. Grateful for his life, Ray brings Hancock home for a spaghetti dinner, and intro- duces the superhero to his son (who idolizes Hancock) his wife Mary (Charlize Theron) who can’t seem to

stand the sight of the boorish superhuman around the house. What Ray really wants to do is give Hancock an image makeover—to make him look good to the public. The movie’s trailer and poster claim there are he- roes and superheroes (and more superheroes) and then there is Hancock. Or some- thing like that. Which leads the viewer to expect a dif- ferent kind of superhero— but a superhero nonetheless. So the story brings us this superhero with an issue— or rather with unresolved issues good enough to keep ten psychiatrists employed for life. This movie which is billed as an “action com- edy” flick seems two mov-

ies in one, but it confuses its own plot, thus it won’t fit in

a decent genre. So there are

action comedies and action comedies, and then there is Hancock, a hybrid that doesn’t know how to cat- egorize itself. Even the hero doesn’t understand his pow- ers, much less wield them as

a hero is expected to. Okay,

okay, they said this was not

as a hero is expected to. Okay, okay, they said this was not your ordinary superhero

your ordinary superhero movie—but at least give us something superior, so we don’t regret buying a ticket and having nothing left for popcorn. Don’t give us an unidentifiable species that’s half-hearted comedy turn- ing into a half-baked Shakespearean tragedy with no rationale to engage our brains. The CGI is passable, but worthless against all the questions directed at the eth- ics of the hero. Is there a race some- where? A supercontest of sorts where superheroes out

to save the world leave in their wake bigger and big- ger collateral damage? Who gets to pay for all that mess this sloppy superhero cre- ates? Just count the pot- holes caused by his land- ings. Where is this superhu-

man coming from? Aren’t superheroes supposed to be,

at least, respectful of the citizens of this planet? Is it correct for a superhero to traumatize a kid who’s just being a kid? Is it moral to save one and let a hundred others die? Did Hancock’s makers mean to say anyone can be a superhero simply because he happens to be superhuman? What do they want our children to be? Will Smith the actor became fa- mous for being a family- friendly rapper, a good kid in a very popular TV series. Why are they now shaking off his clean image? Do they want our kids to follow this likeable actor to perdition? Many are the ways by which the evil one will try to lure our children into decadence. Beware. If you must allow your 14-year olds to see this movie, tell them Hancock is fictitious, not to be emulated, idolized, or taken seriously.

NEWS

BRIEFS

INDIA

New Delhi fuel switch has climate benefit

Switching New Delhi ‘s public transport fleet from gasoline and diesel to natu- ral gas has reduced emis- sions of greenhouse gases by ten per cent, according to researchers. But the switch wasn’t perfect, with many engines now running less efficiently and losing meth- ane to the environment. The switch was made in 2003 to reduce air pollution and as- sociated health threats.

PALESTINE

Hamas,

cused of torture

Security forces on both sides of the internal Pales- tinian conflict have un- leashed a wave of illegal arrests and torture, a lead- ing rights group said yester- day. Human Rights Watch (HRW), based in New York, said in a report that forces run by Hamas and its rival Fatah were committing “se- rious abuses.”

Fatah ac-

THAILAND

Ex-Thai PM’s wife gets 3 years in prison

The wife of Thailand ‘s former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, has been found guilty of tax eva- sion and sentenced to three years in prison. Thailand’s Supreme Court has found Pojaman Shinawatra and two other defendants guilty of avoiding payment of $US16.5 million in tax on a share deal in 1997.

NORTH KOREA

N. Korea suffering worst food crisis

TheUnitedNationsWorld Food Program said hunger in N. Korea is at its worst since the 1990s, prompting the re- sumption of emergency UN food shipments. It said dev- astating floods have wrought havoc on the impoverished country, forcing millions to resort to eating grasses and roots to stay alive.

CAMBODIA

Poll result predicted to boost investment

The landslide victory which the Cambodian People’s Party appears to have secured in the recent

election is expected to boost the Kingdom’s reputation as

a growing investment desti-

nation. The Leopard Capital said the poll result was a best scenario for investors. The company is one of many private-equity funds that plans to inject $US500 mil- lion into the economy.

SRI LANKA

Sri

Middle East maid numbers

Thegovernmentheresaid

it will cut the number of maids

it sends to the Middle East, citing increased complaints of abuse. The Bureau of Foreign Employment said it

hasreceivedover3,400com-

plaints from female workers in the first half of this year for harassment, breach of con- tract and unpaid or under-

paid salaries.

cut

Lanka

to

CHINA

Gov’t moves to com- bat Olympic smog

Government officials here unveiled a new string of mea-

sures to battle the city’s defi- ant smog ahead of the Olym- pics.Theannouncementcame asBeijingwasagainshrouded in a cloak of haze. Authorities said they will close more fac-

tories,furtherreducethenum-

ber of cars on the road in the cityandneighboringareas,and stopallconstruction.

JAPAN

Indo nurses, care workers to head to Japan

The Japanese govern- ment said about 200 Indone- sian care workers and nurses are scheduled to travel to the

country in August under a bilateral economic partner- ship agreement. Under the agreement, the Japanese and Indonesian governments agreed that 300 care work- ers and 200 nurses will come to Japan for the first year.

BANGLADESH

Gov’t forms truth commission

The Bangladesh govern- ment has created a truth com-

mission to allow corrupt poli- ticians and business owners to avoid jail if they confess and refund any illegally ob- tained money. President

IajuddinAhmedsaidthethree-

member Truth and Account- ability Commission will be headed by a former high court judge and will take submis-

sionsforthenextfivemonths.

PAKISTAN

Taliban warn suicide attacks across Paki- stan

Taliban militants are threatening to launch suicide attacks across Pakistan un- lessmilitaryoperationsagainst them are stopped. The threat cameafterthePakistaniarmy said it had killed 20 Taliban rebels and imposed a curfew in northwestern Swat Valley, whereatwo-month-oldpeace deal appears on the brink of collapse.

AFGHANISTAN

Gov’t welcomes com- mitment to border security

The Afghan government said it’s time for Pakistan to take action after its prime ministermadeacommitment to US President George W. Bush to secure the border with Afghanistan. The gov- ernment said it welcomes comments in which the Presi- dent says Pakistan made a very strong commitment to making sure the border is secure as possible.

MALAYSIA

Anwar’s medical re- port ‘looks genuine’

A senior hospital official here said a medical report whichoppositionleaderAnwar Ibrahimwassayingclearshim

of sodomy accusations looks genuine. Anwar showed re-

portersaleakedmedicaldocu-

ment recently, which found the male aide making the alle- gations, did not appear to have

been sexually assaulted.