Pastoral Moral Guidelines for Our Catholic Faithful in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan

FILIPINO CITIZENS AND CITIZENS OF HEAVEN

Pastoral Moral Guidelines for Our Catholic Faithful
in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

For some time now, the President and his followers have campaigned aggressively for the revision of the Constitution to establish a federal government.

As your pastor, I discern the responsibility to enlighten in the measure that I am able so that the People of God entrusted to my pastoral ministry the Church of Lingayen Dagupan may make informed choices besides participating in the national conversation. We live here on earth as citizens of heaven.

What is a federal government? According to respected lawyers and jurists we have consulted, a federal government creates states or regions from the existing provinces of the country. The regions that come about as a result of a federalization of the nation will wield considerably more power and exercise a greater share in the sovereignty of the State than the present administrative regions do. If we go by existing models, the regions will have some form of legislative assemblies and may call for their own tier of courts. In fact, the powers that the states or the regions enjoy may entail to pass their own laws on matters delegated to the regions or the states.

The prevalence of “may” in this summary, admittedly inadequate description, only points to the fact that choosing a model and a paradigm for establishing a federal Philippines is a task far from easy and definitely not yet fully achieved. It will certainly not do to transport one model completely into the country. The crucial question will be: What powers are reserved to the government in contrast to the powers delegated to the states or to the regions to allow for the more efficient, effective, prompt and promising response to people’s needs? What constellation of powers best empowers the people? I suggest that all of us get to work on finding answers to these questions.

Be cunning as serpents but innocent as doves. We your pastors in Lingayen Dagupan are not unaware that reconfiguring the government may be used by the unprincipled as a pretext for the extension of their terms of office. There are many who even declare that term extensions are inevitable and necessary.

We find this opportunist and downright morally objectionable. It obscures the issue: for while the people are made to believe that the shift to a federal government is made with their advantage in mind, what its authors and schemers actually have in mind is circumventing the limits to terms in office established by the present constitution. I am not saying that this is so, but if it is so, it would be a grave moral wrong and a tremendous injustice.

What ethical norms must govern changing the Constitution?   There is the big issue of the way by which the Constitution is revised. There are only two ways available when a revision of the Constitution, and not merely its amendment, is in issue: by Congress itself, acting as a constituent assembly or by a Constitutional Convention convened by law.

It is our moral position that if the outcome is to be a credible draft of a new constitution, then the authors who draft the future fundamental charter of the land must be known for their probity and their intellectual acumen. They must be free of vested interests that may render suspect their handiwork as a document that embodies their own interests rather than those of the people.

It is for this reason that it would be preferable to have a Constitutional Convention, not necessarily of elected delegates but of citizens with sufficient civic spiritedness, familiarity with the law and with the constitution, committed to human rights, and to the defense of civil and political rights, who have the fear of God in their hearts, that should craft the revised Constitution.

What is our Christian duty as citizens?   The first moral obligation of God’s people is to INFORM themselves. There are enlightened Filipinos who make their thoughts and views known on different media, including social media, free of political affiliations and allegiances, motivated solely by the desire to inform. People should also raise CRITICAL QUESTIONS particularly when opportunities present themselves such as at barangay or citizen’s assemblies, particularly called for the purpose of disseminating through state-sponsored or other means the proposition of going federal.

It is our moral duty to know the issues.   It is also an obligation of believers to make choices for what is truly just, socially equitable and empowering. Politicians’ promises should not be the measure. Careful discernment and enlightenment coming from prayerful reflection with fellow believers should. Which is the reason that taking up social themes in Basic Ecclesial Communities and Catholic organizations is likewise an ethical imperative, and referring to the social teachings of the Church especially as these refer to the principle of subsidiarity, the respect for the dignity of the human persons, its preferential option for the poor and its uncompromising position on the dignity of the human person.

Let us keep in mind that the perennial call of the times is personal constant conversion and reform of mind, heart and spirit. The tried and tested integrity and heroic selflessness of the governed and officials in government is the secret to the progress of the nation. The government is only as good as the people who lead it and the citizens who vigilantly participate in restoring and maintaining the social order.

Let us pray for our leaders in government borrowing the words of Pope Saint Clement: “Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, concord, and stability, so that they may exercise without offense the sovereignty that you have given them. Master, heavenly King of the ages, you give glory, honor, and power over the things of earth to the sons of men. Direct, Lord, their counsel, following what is pleasing and acceptable in your sight, so that by exercising with devotion and in peace and gentleness the power that you have given to them, they may find favor with you.”

From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, January 15, 2018


+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

Philippine soldiers charged for priest’s murder

Militiaman also accused of involvement in slaying of Italian missionary Father Fausto Tentorio Mark Saludes and Joe Torres, UCAN News Manila  Philippines January 3, 2018 The Philippines’ Department of Justice has ordered the filing of charges against two ranking military men and several members of a militia group for the 2011…

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A Day with Protect Manicani Island Society, Inc. (PROMISI)

Photo credit: Inquirer News

November 16, 2017
DENR, Visayas Ave., Quezon City

Background

Residents of Manicani island led by Protect Manicani Island Society, Inc. (PROMISI) have been struggling for years to fight mining operations in the very small island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Mining in Manicani was suspended in 2002 because of the complaint filed by the Diocese of Borongan related to the reports of violations and conflict in Manicani but the DENR continued to issue permits that allowed the removal of nickel ore stockpiles in Manicani which resulted into protest actions and legal battles including a Cyberlibel case filed by Hinatuan Mining Corporation (HMC) against PMPI for a press release covering one of the protest actions in Manicani. One of the protest actions also led to the death of one local advocate, a mining engineer and imprisonment of two Manicani residents.

Supported by PMPI, PROMISI filed a Petition for Continuing Mandamus against the DENR for its failure to implement the suspension order. Early this year, PROMISI also filed for attempted murder against their perpetrators in one of the protest actions that it conducted.

PMPI also facilitated PROMISI’s submission of petitions against HMC’s application to renew its mining permit. These were submitted to all barangay councils in Manicani, the Sangguniang Bayan of Guiuan, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Eastern Samar, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) both in the regional and central office, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also both at the national and regional office. Even the Diocese of Borongan have submitted petitions for non-renewal of HMC’s mining permit to the same offices mentioned above.

However, despite the petitions submitted, all four barangays in Manicani endorsed HMC’s application for renewal. PROMISI submitted an opposition to the Sangguniang Bayan for the resolution citing irregularities in the processes of the barangay councils. The SB of Guiuan opted to endorse the application also for renewal without due consideration of the opposition from PROMISI. A few weeks later, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Eastern Samar followed suit and endorsed the same application for renewal.

These developments prompted protest actions and media briefings organized by PROMISI, PMPI, and the Diocese of Borongan. Another protest action against the LGUs and DENR were organized by PROMISI, PMPI, Diocese of Borongan and other support groups in the ground – CSGI/LAMRAG, Sanlakas, PMCJ, ATM with support also from

NASSA-Caritas, TFDP, and AMRSP. PROMISI went into a camp-out at the DENR Region 8 office and later travelled to the DENR central office in Manila when they learned that the approval depends on the central office and not the regional office. The Manicani residents arrived last November 10 and are currently camping out in front of the DENR gates.

Activity Rationale

Spending at least a day with PROMISI is an expression of solidarity and support for PROMISI’s struggle to protect its island from total destruction brought about by mining operations. It can be recalled that Manicani was among those areas badly hit by Typhoon Yolanda and is still recovering at present. It is a very small island yet HMC’s mining contract covers the entire island limiting rehabilitation efforts and island development initiatives being implemented by partners of Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. – Tao Pilipinas, Medical Action Group, INAM, COM, Pecojon, SIBAT, SIKAT. It is also a protected area that forms part of the Guiuan Protected Seascape and Landscape. Furthermore, there are environmental protection mechanisms that include local ordinances banning large scale mining in Eastern Samar and in Manicani island. However, the island remains vulnerable due to threats of mining. While the mining contract expired last October 28, 2017, new mining applications are likely to be filed soon and PROMISI is encamped outside the DENR national office compound to ensure that no more mining applications will be approved.

For more details, please refer to the attached PMPI Statement of Support for no mining in Manicani Island which was also submitted to the DENR and MGB.

Activities for the Day

09:00 am – 10:00am Radio guesting with Veritas of key PROMISI leaders (arranged

by Sanlakas)

10:01 am – 11:00am Misa sa Kampuhan to be officiated by Fr. Pol Yazar 11:01 am – 12:00am    Kwentuhan with Manicani campers

12:01 am – 01:30pm Camp picnic

01:31 pm – 03:00pm Health hours with INAM (for confirmation) 03:01 pm – onwards          Kantahan sa Kampuhan

Organizers:

PMPI, TFDP, AMRSP

Davao Banana Farmers Press DOJ to Award Floirendo Lands to Them

Banana farmers and workers today trooped to the office of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to press the latter to award thousands of hectares of land taken away from them by Antonio Floirendo’s Tagum Development Corporation (Tadeco).

According to Billy Cabintoy, Secretary General of the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries One Movement (AOM), the 28,816-hectare banana plantation of the Tadeco of the Floirendo family, a then Marcos crony, is a clear example of how legitimate agrarian reform beneficiaries are robbed of their rights to till their own land through various schemes such as leaseback, leasehold, contract growing and agri-business venture agreements (AVAs).

Not one of more than 1,890 ARBs in the Floirendo plantation benefit from the use of their land. They either remain plantation workers enduring slave-like conditions or laid-off when they complain and assert their rights.

A number of them have been harassed and barred from entering their lands. Blood has even spilt on their lands as some of their leaders have been killed by private armies of the Floirendo family.

In early May of this year, the DOJ had ruled that the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and Tadeco first inked in 1969 was illegal. The Commission on Audit (COA) later reaffirmed this by stating that the deal was unconstitutional and called for the filing of criminal charges against former officials of the DOJ and the BuCor who approved the deal with TADECO.

But other than the above, Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) under the WADECOR Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc., Checkered Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries and Employees Multi-purpose Cooperative, PAHECO Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc., and Linda District Employees Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc. have already won their cases at the DAR and even up to the Supreme Court.

Only the immediate installation of the ARBs would provide justice to them. This can only be done if the DOJ which is a member of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) strongly recommends that it revoke the Joint Venture and various Agri-business Ventures Agreements (AVA) that the Floirendo’s had not only with BuCor but with the ARBs as well.

One teen’s fight to save under fire Philippine tribal schools

Michelle Campos faces an uphill struggle amid threats from mining firms, armed groups and even the president himself

[Michelle Campos, a 19-year old Manobo tribal woman, leads her community in asserting their rights to education and self-governance. (Photo by Mark Saludes)]

Mark Saludes, Tandag Philippines UCAN  November 8, 2017

Michelle Campos was excited to go home after weeks away from her tribal village of Han-ayan in the southern Philippines.

During the two-hour trip through the mountains, the 19-year-old Manobo woman was all smiles.

“You’ll know you’ve reached the village when your ass is already numb,” she laughed.

The trip was filled with laughter as the motorcycle she was riding plied along a winding trail of mud, rocks, and fallen tree branches.

Campos had been in the capital Manila for several months to lobby for recognition of tribal rights and to protest against alleged abuses committed by soldiers in her community, including attacks on tribal schools.

Her father, Dionel, and two other elders in her tribe were killed in 2015 by militiamen allegedly backed by government security forces.

The tribal leaders were accused of promoting communism through an alternative learning center that has been supported by the Catholic Church.

After her father’s death, Campos became the face of the tribe’s struggle for justice. She carried on the campaign for an educational system that is sensitive to the culture of indigenous peoples.

The young woman is herself a product of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development, one of the tribal schools that were accused by President Rodrigo Duterte of “spreading subversive ideas against the government.”

Importance of education

The president’s allegation was not new. In the 1970s, church workers who introduced education programs in tribal communities were also accused of being communist rebels.

Campos’ uncle, Datu Jalandoni Campos, recalled how Catholic priests told the community about the importance of education to fight discrimination.

In was in the late 1970s when Tandag Diocese launched its Tribal Filipino Apostolate that introduced literacy and numeracy programs in tribal communities.

It took more than a decade for the program to transform into an independent learning system under the non-government group Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur.

“It was the enthusiasm of the community to give children quality education that built these schools,” said Bishop Emeritus Ireneo A. Amantillo.

Campos said it was through the efforts of church leaders and the several NGOs that schools were built in 18 communities.

In 2002, the Department of Education recognized the tribal schools and even named them as having the “most outstanding literacy programs” among NGO-run learning institutions.   Continue reading