Looking at the SONA Through Its Different Audiences

Posted by The Society of Honor on July 25, 2017 By Joe America President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) meant different things to different audiences. Let’s reflect on them. These are my guesses, and you can add your own interpretations in the discussion that follows the article. The Congressional majority and…

Continue reading

Duterte threat to bomb tribal schools sparks uproar

Philippine rights groups voice dismay over president targeting indigenous children Tribal people from Mindanao join protest rallies in Manila on July 24 during the State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte. (Photo by Mark Saludes) ucanews.com reporter, Manila Philippines July 26, 2017 Organizations working for children’s rights have…

Continue reading

‘Anti-life’ pronouncements sadden Philippine church groups

Church groups stage a protest rally outside the Philippine Congress building in Manila as President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address on July 24. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

Duterte refuses to back down over re-imposing death penalty, contraception

Joe Torres, Manila

Philippines   July 25, 2017

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncements this week that he will press for the passage of laws that will revive capital punishment and implement a reproductive health policy that will allow the use of contraceptives has drawn criticism from Catholic Church leaders.

Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the Catholic bishops’ Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, said the president’s decision to take the “path of violence” is “lamentable.”

Diamante said Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address on July 24, does not reflect the state of the nation but the state of mind of a president “who refuses to listen to the cry of the people and the collective wisdom” of the community.

In his speech, the president urged Congress to re-impose capital punishment, saying that it is time for legislators “to fulfill our mandate to protect our people.”

“For so long we have to act decisively on this contentious issue. Capital punishment is not only about deterrence, it’s also about retribution,” said Duterte, adding that the essence of the country’s penal code is retribution.

The president said instilling fear in criminals is the only way to stop them.

“In the Philippines, it is really an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. You take life, you must pay it with life. You cannot place a premium on the human mind that he will go straight,” he said.

In March, the House of Representatives passed a measure that will revive capital punishment for drug-related offenses.

Catholic bishops have been vocal in their opposition to revive the death penalty.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the bishops’ conference, earlier said that “though the crime be heinous, no person is ever beyond redemption, and we have no right ever to give up on any person.”

“When we condemn violence, we cannot ourselves be its perpetrators, and when we decry murder, we cannot ourselves participate in murder, no matter that it may be accompanied by the trappings of judicial and legal process,” he said.

Father Jerome Secillano of the public affairs office of the bishops’ conference, meanwhile, said church leaders maintain that the use of contraceptives to control the population is “not needed.”

The priest maintained that there are “alternatives to spacing the number of children” and family planning “should not be viewed as a poverty measure.”

In his State of the Nation Address, Duterte said that although he is “not for abortion [and] not for birth control” he is “certainly … for giving freedom to Filipinos to decide the size of their family.”

The president said the Supreme Court should reconsider the restraining order it issued against subdermal implants that prevented the government from fully implementing the country’s Reproductive Health Law.

In August 2016, the court issued a “temporary restraining order” on contraceptive implants.

“The [temporary restraining order] has become the bane of [government] projects,” said Duterte.

Father Secillano said that while the president is free to express his wishes about the reproductive health law, the matter must be left in the hands of the court to decide about the “efficacy and soundness of the measure.”

The priest said the country’s Reproductive Health Law is the “wrong medicine for the perceived overpopulation and maternal problems.”

“It can never be a panacea to women’s health problems, over-population, and poverty,” said Father Secillano.


Angelus Address: On the Parable of the Good Seed and the Darnel


“Which Illustrates the Problem of Evil in the World and Highlights God’s Patience”

July 23, 2017

Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Before the Angelus

Today’s Gospel page proposes three parables with which Jesus speaks to the crowds of the Kingdom of Heaven. I will reflect on the first: that of the good seed and the darnel, which illustrates the problem of evil in the world and highlights God’s patience (Cf. Matthew 13:24-30.36-43). How much patience God has! Each one of us can also say this: “How much patience God has with me!” The story unfolds in a field with two opposite protagonists. On one hand the householder, who represents God and sows the good seed; on the other the enemy, which represents Satan and sows the darnel.

With the passing of time, darnel also grows in the midst of the wheat and in face of this fact the householder and his servants have different attitudes. . The servants want to intervene and pull out the darnel, but the householder, who is concerned above all with saving the wheat, is opposed saying: “No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them” (V. 29). With this image Jesus tells is that in this world the good and the evil are so intertwined that it is impossible to separate and extirpate all the evil. God alone can do this, and He will do so in the Last Judgment. The present situation, with its ambiguities and its composite character, is the field of the freedom, the field of the freedom of Christians, in which the difficult exercise of discernment between good and evil takes place.

Therefore, in this field, it is about combining, with great trust in God and in His Providence, two seemingly contradictory attitudes: decision and patience. The decision is to want to be the good seed — we all want thiswith all our strength, and, hence, distancing ourselves from the Evil One and his seductions. Patience means to prefer a Church that is leaven in the dough, who does not fear soiling her hands washing the clothes of her children, rather than a Church of “pure ones,” that pretends to judge before the time who is an who is not in the Kingdom of God.

The Lord, who is Wisdom incarnate, helps us today to understand that the good and the evil cannot be identified with defined territories or specific human groups: “These are the good, these are the evil.” He tells us that the boundary line between the good and the evil passes in the heart of every person, passes in the heart of every one of us, that is, we are all sinners. The desire comes to me to ask you: “Let him who is not a sinner raise his hand.” No one! Because we all are, we are all sinners. Jesus Christ, with His Death on the Cross and Resurrection, has freed us from the slavery of sin and He gives us the grace to walk in a new life. However, with Baptism He has also given us Confession, because we are always in need of being forgiven for our sins. To look always at the evil that is outside of us, means to not want to recognize the sin that is also in us.

And then Jesus shows us a different way of looking at the field of the world, of observing the reality. We are called to learn the times of God – which are not our times – and also God’s “look”: thanks to the beneficial influence of an anxious wait, what was darnel or seemed to be darnel can become a good product. It is the reality of conversion. It is the prospect of hope!

Continue reading

Caritas Philippines appeals for toys for Marawi children

A Muslim family displaced by the fighting in the southern Philippine city of Marawi marks the second month of their stay in a tent in the neighboring town of Baloi on July 23. (Photo by Divina Suson)

Battle to clear terrorists from southern city enters a third month

Joe Torres, Manila  UCAN

July 24, 2017

The social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has appealed for toys and educational material for children displaced by the ongoing conflict in the southern city of Marawi.

Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said toys would help the children recover from the trauma they have experienced during the two-month siege of their city.

Some 300,000 people have been displaced since fighting between security forces and Islamic State-inspired terrorist gunmen erupted on May 23. Martial law has been declared across the southern region of Mindanao due to the fighting.

“Let us bring back the happiness and provide comfort to children,” said Father Gariguez as he called for toy donations for some 3,000 children living in temporary shelters in the city of Iligan.

The toys will be part of “psychosocial interventions” of the Catholic Church’s “rapid response appeal” for the conflict.

Caritas Philippines earlier allocated about US$198,000 as a “humanitarian response” to families affected by the conflict, especially for the essential needs of some 15,000 displaced individuals who sought shelter in Iligan.

Meanwhile, Bishop Edwin de la Pena of Marawi expressed support for a plan by displaced Muslim women to march back to Marawi this week to show their “frustration” over the situation.

“What these Muslim women are going to do is symbolic,” said the prelate.

“[It is] symbolic of their deep-seated anger and frustration of their status in the past 60 days and having to endure life in evacuation centers with nothing much to do,” added Bishop De la Pena.

He said some displaced residents want to join the march to see what’s happened to their city. “That’s enough for them even if they return to being evacuees after,” said the bishop.

“We just have to trust in the women’s unique contribution to ending the war,” he said.

Last week, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the situation in Marawi has started to stabilize even as the fighting continues into a third month.

“I am glad to share the news with you that at present, the status in Marawi is stabilizing and we are preparing for the rehabilitation,” said Lorenzana.

Lorenzana announced that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has already earmarked US$395 million for the rehabilitation of Marawi.

“We are hoping that this will be over soon and that everything will be normal again,” said the defense secretary.

The fighting has resulted in the deaths of 413 terrorist gunmen, at least 100 soldiers and policemen, and at least 45 civilians.