Fair Trade Needed in Buying Products and Services

Preda News

The one thing that customers want is FairTrade. They have a right to get value for the money they spend to buy a product or service. Fairness and trade justice are important values in our world today because there is so much injustice and unfair trade. Not only are the poor cheated and exploited by the traders and commercial buyers of their farm produce and the farmers are paid a pittance, the traders mark up the cost of the products by hundreds  of percentage points. They make unjust and unfair profit at the expense of the customer. There is a serious failure to have Fair Trade in everyday life when we go to the market or buy manufactured products.

That’s why there is a saying “Buyer Beware.” That tells us that the seller is likely to charge an unfair high price. They are prone to over-charge the customer, to cheat and commit fraud. That is why Fair Trade based on honesty, transparency and a sense of justice is the important value we need in society today.

There are laws that protect the customer but implementing it, like most laws, is very difficult so, “buyer beware.” The advise is to be skeptical of the offers and the sales talk of vendors and to bargain for a lower price and get a discount as much as. Also it is important to carefully read the warranty on the product and the terms and see that you agree to the terms before you buy. The Warranty Law is the law that protects the customer but it too has provisions that can cancel the rights of the customer.

It’s the same challenge for the buyer of consumer products. The workers and assemblers get paid low wages and the sellers and distributers in the retail shops make the huge profits by adding on  profit margins. In Fair Trade, there is the guarantee that any manufactured product certified Fair Trade they buy is of quality, durable and comes with after sales service. These genuine services and durable products are becoming scarcer. More and more it seems that companies are building appliances with what is known as “planned obeisance,” a product is built with a short life span and after perhaps two to three years it stops working. The one-year warranty is then useless and the customer has to pay huge expense for repair or buy a new appliance or product. That’s what the manufacturer wants us to do- buy a new appliance and throw  away the old.

Many a warranty is only for service and does not include the parts needed and if they do offer to repair it, retailers take months to have it done and the customer loses the use of the product without compensation. The customer has no redress and may have to pay for parts. Companies ought to state their warranty terms and conditions clearly and transparently beside the products.

Appliance repairs for washing machines, for example, are very expensive and parts are always needed as many products are now electronic. Customers have to avoid products and brands that have a short life span. Don’t believe the advertisements, sales talk and empty promises. Ask your friends for advice based on their experience with their brands. Do not believe the promises on the stickers on the appliance promising guarantees and warranties unless the warranty is in writing and says it is for parts and service, most do not.  The one year or more warranty ought be signed by a senior manager of the sales company pledging parts and service.

But the guarantee, according to Philippine law, will not be for more than one year in most cases. The warranty or guarantee is mostly just for repair service, the customer has to buy the expensive parts. In SM, they offer an extended guarantee for one year on an appliance for an extra payment that depends on the value  of the product. It is for part and services.

Samsung has a washing machine with a sticker that says 11 years warranty. When you ask what is guaranteed, they say the motor. Ask if that guarantee is in writing and includes parts and service and the salesperson says no, it is not given in writing and does not include parts. Are promises just smart manipulation of a customer with promises and to make a sale and earn a commission? After that there is no real service and care. If you have a repair done under warranty it has to be proven by the customer that it did not happen through neglect or the fault of the customer.  The company can deny you a repair or replacement. You have no recourse. It is not Fair Trade.

What can a disappointed or cheated customer do? Go to court and sue the company for not honoring a guarantee for a broken appliance? Yes, it’s a good idea if it is an expensive item. The customer that feels cheated can file a small claim case and the company will then cave in and honor the warranty as it does not want the bad publicity. In most cases of broken products, it is not financially feasible so we customers are victims of the selling corporations when their appliances break down.

One example is our washing machine, Whirlpool, (model 122491, serial No.C311 40001), bought in Abensons, Olongapo. It costs Php 35,000 pesos in US dollars at today’s rate that is equivalent to $685. It was bought 2 years and 7 months ago and broke down. The Abensons manager assigned a repair man to inspect it from a small shop in Subic Municipality and diagnose the problem for a fee of 500 peso. His bill to repair the Whirlpool Washing machine is Php 18,900 equivalent to  US $370.12, enough to buy another model machine. That is the point- they want you to buy more.

So you are advised to consider this experience when you are  purchasing a washing machine but never a  Whirlpool washing machine as it  only works for  about two to three years.

Apple Mac is also another company selling expensive computers with what appears to be planned obeisance or declaration that the model is obsolete after a number of years. For Apple, it is seven years after the end of production. The Apple website has a long list of obsolete products. Even top of the line models have a shelf-life and after five years or six years, they inevitably breakdown. Continue reading

Focus Policy Review – Unpacking Dutertism: What to Make of President Duterte’s Year One

More than 13,000 killed in the course of the government’s war on drugs in just a little over a year since the new president came to power; creeping authoritarian rule, even as the promised change remains just that, a campaign promise. In the midst of all the violence and chaos, the absence of real, encompassing change in the social-economic sectors, Focus offers this issue of Focus Policy Review which aims to make sense of what has been happening in the Philippines under a Duterte presidency. We looked into pronouncements in the past year, policy formulated or anything that might be considered policy articulation, plans, program implementation, etc, in an attempt to unpack the kind of government and society we are in for in the years to come. The articles you’ll find in this issue cover wide-ranging topics discussing the economic and development paradigm of the government, infrastructure program, the policy on environment, agrarian reform and rural development, social development, foreign policy, and the war on drugs.

Dutertism. Dutertismo. The suffix ‘ism’ according to the dictionary may refer to a “distinctive practice, doctrine, theory,” and/or ideology. Does attaching an ‘ism’ therefore to the president’s name imply that he carries with him a unique brand of presidency; a different style of governance; a vision for the country that would set him apart from previous post-EDSA 1986 administrations?

What do his pronouncements—for which he’s famous or infamous for and through which most of his policies are crafted and known—tell us in terms of the future direction of his government? Is there anything new, radically, in vision and policies—economic, political, social? What kind of leadership, government, society do we glean from the first year of his presidency? Are we in for a change, as promised during his campaign? Or, as most of the articles you will find in this issue ask, do the policies just show continuity from the past government/s? Is that bad or good? Bad, maybe, in the sense that we have been promised that change is coming.

In the article on Dutertenomics, Joseph Purugganan points out why we were captivated by the promise of change—because millions of Filipinos were “dissatisfied with elite politics and governance, and with the majority (the so-called 99 percent) not benefitting from economic growth.” That “the backlash via popular support for Duterte is being directed more towards the elite bureaucracy and an oligarchy that are both impervious to the needs of the poor.” But President Duterte immediately professed he would be hands-off as far as economic policies are concerned because this was not his forte. Can we therefore expect the same economic recipe as in the past recipe defined by neoliberal orientation?   Continue reading

Ipagtanggol ang kasal at pamilya at itaguyod ang kaganapan ng buhay.

Pahayag ng Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas Tungkol sa House Bill 6027
“An Act Providing for Grounds for The Dissolution of a Marriage”

Ang Panukalang Batas bilang 6027 ay nagmumungkahi na gawing ligal ang paglusaw sa kasal o diborsyo ayon sa dalawang batayan: di-mapagkasundong pagkakaiba at talamak na kasiphayuan. Nararapat lamang na pagnilayan muna ang kahulugan ng kasal sa kulturang Pilipino bago bigyang puwang ang mga ideya ng paglusaw nito.

Ang mga Katolikong Kristiyano na bumubuo ng karamihan ng mga tao sa Pilipnas ay nagtatakwil sa paglusaw ng kasal o diborsyo. Nakakintal sa atin ang paniniwalang ang kasal o matrimonyo ay nanggaling mismo sa Diyos na siyang may-likha ng sansinukob. Ang Panginoong Hesukristo mismo ang umangat sa kasal sa karangalan ng isang sakramento.

Ang sakramento ng kasal ay isang panata higit sa isang kontrata. May kasunduang magpalitan- subalit ang pinagkakasunduan ay hindi lamang mga serbisyo o produkto kundi ang pagkatao ng mismong lalaki at babaeng nagsasagawa ng kasunduan. Ang kasunduan ay may bisa habang sila’y parehong buhay. Kapag lahat ng mga rekisito para maisagawa ang kasal ay natupad, ang kasal ay may bisa sa simbahan at sa batas.

Babaling tayo sa mga paniniwala at katotohanang ibinaba ng Inang Simbahan tungkol sa katangian ng kasal na siyang gagabay sa atin kung paano titimbangin ang panukalang ito.

Una sa lahat ang kasal ay makatao. Ang mga nagkakasundo ay lubos na kumikilala sa kanilang dignidad bilang tao, gamit ang kanilang intelektwal na kakayahang alamin ang katotohanan at ang kanilang kakayahang malayang piliin ang maganda, tama at mabuti.

Pangalawa, ang kasal ay buong buo. Ang natatanging kasunduang ito ay matutupad sa pamamagitan ng buong paghahandog ng sarili. Hindi bahagi lamang, walang taning ng panahon, at walang kundisyon. Ang kabuuang ito ay nangangahulugan ng pagbibigay at pagtanggap ng kalakasan at kahinaan, sa kalusugan at pagkakasakit, ng kabutihan at kahinaan, sa kasaganaan at kahirapan. Ang bawat isa ay pumupuno sa kakulangan ng kanyang kabiyak.

Pangatlo ang kasal ay matapat. Ang pagpapakasal ay kasunduang natatangi para sa lalaki at babae lamang na nagsumpaan. Hindi maaaring makipagkasundo silang muli sa ibang mga tao. Hinihingi nito ang katapatan na nararapat sa Diyos at hinihingi Niya sa kanyang mga nilikha.

Pang-apat, ang kasal ay mabunga o bukas sa buhay. Ang layunin ng kasal ay para sa kabutihan ng magkabiyak at sa pagkakaroon ng mga supling at pagbibigay sa kanila ng edukasyong Kristiyano. Ang kasal ang daluyan ng pagpaparami ng sangkatauhan.

Tinitiyak sa magkabiyak na ikinakasal na ang Diyos ay kasama nila sa kasunduang ito. Hindi Niya sila pababayaan sa buong panahon ng kanilang pagsasama. Ganundin, ang Simbahan ay may tungkuling tiyakin na ang mga taong ikakasal pa lamang ay nauunawaan at tinatanggap ang mga katuruan at paniniwalang nabanggit.

Ang totoong kasal ay hindi pwedeng pawalang bisa. Ang totoong kasal ay hindi maaaring lusawin ng batas na gawa ng tao.

May mga kasal na hindi nagkabisa dahil sa kakulangan ng mga rekisito at pagsasagawa ng kasal. Matapos ang sapat na pasisiyasat at paglalahad ng mga ebidensya, magsasagawa ang simbahan ng deklarasyon na walang naganap na totoong kasal. Dumadaan ito sa isang proseso. Hindi ito kaparehas ng paglulusaw sa isang kasal na totoo at mabisang naisagawa. Ang kasal na totoo at may bisa ay hindi maaaring ipawalang bisa sa kadahilanang may di mapagkasundong pagkakaiba o talamak na kasiphayuan.

Sa malalim na pagkahulugan, ang di-mapagkasundong pagkakaiba ay tumutukoy sa kawalang kakayahan ng dalawang ikinasal na pakinggan o kilalanin ng lubusan ang isa’t isa. Kawalan ito ng pagtanggap ng kapwa sa puso, upang magagap ang kahulugan ng kanyang pagkatao, at magawang makibagay, makisama, makiisa, at tanggapin ang kanyang persona.

Ang talamak na kasiphayuan ay sakit ng mundong lukob ng pagkamakasarili kung saan ang mga indibidwal ay sinasagasaan ang karapatan ng kapwa makuha lamang ang sariling gusto. Ang paghahabol sa kaligayahan at personal na kaginhawaan sa kasalukuyang lipunan ay nagbunga ng kaisipang kanya-kanya at makasarili.

May mga paraan upang pagkasunduin ang mga pagkakaiba at baguhin ang mga pag-uugali at kalooban ng mga tao. Sa pakikipagtulungan ng mga institusyong panglipunan at medikal, may mga gawain ang simbahan na umaagapay sa mga mag-asawa at indibidwal na nais dumaan sa proseso ng pagkakasundo at paghilom.

Ang talamak na kasiphayuan ay maaring palatandaan ng iba’t ibang uri ng pabigat sa damdamin o sa isipan, o marahil ng karamdaman. May pamamaraan ng paggagamot sa ganitong mga karamdaman. Maaring tulungan ang taong nasisiphayo na tanggapin at baguhin ang kanyang sitwasyon. Ang pagkakasakit o kasiphayuan ay hindi batayan upang sabihin na may depekto ang kasal.

Kung kaya tungkulin ng bawat mag-asawang tumanggap sa sakramento na pagbutihin ang kanilang pagsasama hindi lamang para sa kanilang sarili kundi para rin sa sangkatauhan. Ang kasal ay may mabigat na impluwensya sa kabutihan o kasiraan ng ating sibilisasyon. Bawat mag-asawa ay may pananagutan sa kanilang komunidad na ipakita ang magandang modelo ng pag-aasawa at iwaksi ang masamang larawan nito.

Ang batas na nagbibigay katwiran sa paglusaw ng kasal ay mapanganib sa lipunan dahil ito ay magbibigay ng madaliang pagtakbo sa isang kamalian na gawa ng kasalanan at kawalang responsibilidad ng tao. Kapag nagpapakita ng kahinaan ang isang tao sa loob ng relasyong mag-asawa, ang tamang pagtugon ay patatagin siya nang maigpawan ang kahinaan at masumpungan niya ang kanyang pinakamahusay na sarili. Ito ang disenyo ng Diyos sa pag-aasawa: na ang magkabiyak ay magkatulong na lakbayin ang landas ng kabanalan na madalas ay may kaakibat na sakripisyo at paglalaan ng sarili upang maranasan ng mag-asawa ang presensya ng Diyos sa kanilang buhay.

Continue reading

Bayan… Nasadlak sa Dusa: Binigkas na Salita ng Isang Kabataan

Magandang araw sa inyong lahat
nakaaliw kayong tingnan
nakagayak ng makabayang kasuotan
narito kaming muli sa inyong harapan
upang magpahayag ng aming kamalayan
# hindi po ito pirated
walang bahid ng internet

Ang pamagat ng tulang ito ay

Isang mapagpalayang araw sa inyong lahat
Ang tulang ito ay inaalay namin
Sa aming mga kapwa kabataan
Mga kabataan na pag-asa ng bayan
Mga kabataan na pag-asa ng tunay na pagbabago
At tunay na kapayapaan

Mga kabataan, sino tayo?
Ako, ikaw, tayo
Meron ka bang narinig sa panahong kasalukuyan?

Nahagip ba ng iyong kamalayan
Ang nangyayari sa ating bayan?
Ano ang iyong narinig?

Ano ang iyong nakita?
Ano ang iyong naramdaman?

Mula sa kanluran
Patungong timog ng ating bayan
Kaydami nang pinaslang|
Libu-libo ..
kahit inosente
Pati mga kabataan!

Sino ang may pakana?
Sino ang dapat sisihin?
Sino ang kawawa?

Ang sabi ng ating lider
Pagbabago .. kapayapaan
Ngunit.. kaninong pagbabago?
Kaninong kapayapaan?

Halang ang mga kaluluwa
Sino ang tunay na may sala?

Sino ang inosente?
Sino ang kawawa?

Mga kabataan
Dapat mapagmasid
Dapat mapagmatyag

Nasaan ang hustisya?
Nakapiring pa rin ba?
O dilat na ang mga mata?

Para sa mayayaman lang ba?
Habang nawawalan ng halaga
Ang mga nasadlak sa dusa..

Bakit di na tayo marunong umunawa?
Bakit di na tayo marunong umiyak?
Bakit wala na tayong awa?
Bakit kay bilis nating humusga?
Bakit wala tayong pakialam?
Bakit nakalimutan na natin kung ano ang tama?

Ang buhay natin ay pansamantala lamang
Kayong nasa kapangyahiran
‘Wag sanang malasing sa inyong kagalingan
‘Wag sanang palamon sa inyong kamangmangan

Nakamasid ang langit
Sa lahat ng kaganapan
Kailanma’y hindi maaaring isawalang bahala
Ang lahat ng patayan

May hustisya sa lupa
May hustisya sa langit
Kayo ang pipili
Saan nyo gustong manatili?

Continue reading

Clerical abuse of children has to be addressed

Monsignor Arnel Lagarejos, a Filipino priest, has been arrested by authorities for allegedly escorting a minor to a hotel in a suburb of Manila. (Photo by Noli Yamsuan)

Arrest of priest shows everyone has to answer for their behavior no matter what station they hold in life

Father Shay Cullen, Manila, Philippines

August 24, 2017 

The arrest of a Filipino Catholic priest accused of trafficking a 13-year-old minor is highly unusual.

He has been charged with violating the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of the Philippines.

Most cases of alleged clerical child abuse go unreported or are covered up in the Philippines. In other countries, the scandal of clerical child abuse has left thousands of child victims without redress, help, therapy, or a chance for justice.

The Philippines’ Child Protection Law has a provision that is designed to criminalize such an act where a child is taken to a secluded place — say a vehicle or motel — by an adult not her relative for the purpose of sexual abuse. This provision of the law aims to prevent any act of rape and to bring the suspect to justice.

The institutional church, that is, the hierarchy in many countries, has been shown to have failed in its obligation and duty to protect children and actively pursue clerical child abusers when the evidence was strong and clear.

In the past, church institutions in various countries even facilitated payoffs to parents of child victims and tried to use its influence to have authorities drop charges against priests and religious. Other clergy were moved to other parishes when child abuse complaints were made.

In many cases, there was no action by church officials to protect the child and report the alleged abuser to authorities for the alleged crimes. There have been big changes in church procedures in dealing with child abuse cases by clergy nowadays, and a zero tolerance policy is in place, thanks to Pope Francis.

Cardinal George Pell of Australia, the highest Vatican official to have been charged, is facing complaints of having allegedly covered up similar cases. While we must respect the principle that everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty and not to be falsely accused, when the evidence is clear, then each person has a case to answer.

The case of the Filipino monsignor is serious as he was apprehended in his vehicle on the way to a motel with the 13-year-old child. The mother reported the incident to the police, so it is presumed that she knows the age of her child. The priest allegedly had a gun. The girl previously told social workers that the man took her to the motel in June and warned her “at gunpoint” not to allow other customers to “book” her.

Everyone has to answer for their behavior no matter what station they hold in life. The higher their ascendancy and position, the greater their responsibility to answer the charges, and all are to be dealt with equally before the law. No privilege or power ought to excuse anyone from facing the truth.

In our experience of helping victim-survivors of child sexual abuse and seeking justice for them, we have found that the majority of abusers are in fact neighbors or so-called friends of the family. The worst offenders are stepfathers, the mother’s live-in partners and the biological father.

This indicates how vulnerable children are to the crimes of adults. The youngest child in our Preda Foundation home for abused girls is 6 years old. The average age of victim-survivors is 14 years old. The fact that there have been no child abuse cases brought out in public against the clergy is very significant, and it can be presumed that they are being protected.

We have had legal successes every year with brave and courageous children who are empowered to testify in court and speak without fear about the abuse they suffered. We win an average of four convictions a year.

This year, we succeeded in having three cases of child sexual abuse and multiple rape elevated to the regional trial courts. We hope for another three cases we filed to go to trial this year. The prosecutors, now mostly female, are dedicated and are people of integrity.

With constant care, gathering and presentation of evidence that is done for all victim-survivors, we can pursue justice no matter how difficult it is. We receive challenges and counter-charges against us but our staff are resilient and knowledgeable and can answer the counter-charges and win.

We have to take a stand and fight on for justice with and for the children. We hope that everybody will support victim-survivors so that justice, elusive as it maybe, will prevail.

Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse.

Keeping Vigil Over Our Nation’s Future

A Call to Radical Mourning For the Loss of Our Vision

21 August 2017

Dear Lasallians,

I am inviting you to raise our voices in silent protest over the deaths that have gone unmourned since our government undertook its efforts to eradicate the menace of illegal drugs from our communities.

We mourn for those who have lost their lives on mere suspicion of being drug addicts and drug pushers.  We mourn for those who, because they are too poor and too afraid, cannot fight for their right to life and due process. We mourn for those whose lives have been reduced to statistics and who are now mere proofs to demonstrate the power of those in authority to procure for us, through whatever means, their twisted vision of an orderly society.

We mourn for the loss of our rights when we allow the police to enter our homes without warrants of arrest.  We are slowly witnessing an order where we are being seduced to secede to those in authority our basic rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. The promise of peace and order and well-being is a sham for what this usurpation of our rights has obtained for us is nothing but fear.

We mourn for ourselves, when we allow our vision for our nation to grow dim.  When, because of our exasperation with the long march to authentic freedom, have allowed ourselves to be seduced by quick results.  Authentic transformation cannot be the result of handing over to one entity, our responsibility to create the kinds of communities we long to see.  If we truly desire peace and well-being in our communities, we must see ourselves as its principal authors.   Let us, in our mourning, re-affirm our right and our responsibility to be the agents of the change we want to see.

I enjoin you all to keep vigil then over our nation’s future.  Let us offer a minute of silence every 8:24 pm (or 8:24 am during school days) in our communities as we mourn the many deaths that have befallen our nation.  In our communities, let us create a wave of awareness over the need to guard our basic rights and freedoms.

Let us courageously re-affirm our conviction in our identity as a people of power – as a people who can create and will what is good for our country. Let us stand side-by-side again so that we will not have to live in fear.  Let us refuse to bequeath to our children a nation deprived of a vision of its better self.


Br. Jose Mari Jimenez FSC
Auxiliary Visitor, LEAD