Philippine Congress passes bill to protect rights of poor

Children in Manila’s urban poor communities search for recyclable trash to help meet the family’s daily needs. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Bill aims to guarantee right to food, work, education and housing

Joe Torres,  UCAN   Manila, Philippines   August 11, 2017

The Philippine Congress has passed a bill that aims to protect the rights of the poor, but Catholic Church leaders said they would rest easier when it is wins presidential approval.

The House of Representatives has approved what has become known as the “Magna Carta for the Poor,” which aims to give the poor equal access to basic rights and government services.

An earlier version of the proposed measure was struck down in 2013 by former president Benigno Aquino due to lack of funds.

The new bill that was passed on Aug. 9 guarantees the right to adequate food, decent work, free relevant and quality education, adequate housing, and right to highest attainable standard of mental and physical health.

Money for the implementation of the proposed law will come from the budgets of different government agencies and ministries.

Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the social action secretariat of the Catholic bishops’ conference, welcomed the legislation as “a good development.”

“We commend Congress for approving the Magna Carta for the Poor,” said the priest, adding that it is “long overdue” and “should be implemented to really make a dent in alleviating dismal poverty in the country.”

He said the proposed measure, if signed by President Rodrigo Duterte into law, will provide “some needed policy support for [church] programs and advocacy for the poor.”

Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, head of the Commission on the Laity of the bishops’ conference, welcomed the approval of the bill and expressed hope that it will passed into law, saying that “it will give attention to the plight of the poor.”

As a signatory of the U.N. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Philippines is committed to work toward the granting of economic, social, and cultural rights to individuals, including labor rights and the right to health, the right to education, and the right to an adequate standard of living.

Study: Age of pornography exposure affects how men view women

photo credit: screenMediaUCSD

Lincoln, Neb., Aug 9, 2017 / 11:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pornography exposure affects men’s attitudes towards women, but in different ways depending on the age when they are first exposed, a new study suggests.

“We found that the younger a man was when he first viewed pornography, the more likely he was to want power over women,” said lead researcher Alyssa Bischmann, a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. “The older a man was when he first viewed pornography, the more likely he would want to engage in playboy behavior.”

The study of 330 male Midwestern university students aged 17 to 54 years found that the average age of first exposure to pornography was 13.37 years old, the American Psychological Association says.

The men in the study were asked about the age of their first exposure to pornography; whether this exposure was accidental, sought out, or forced; and what their answers were to 46 questions designed to measure two “masculine norms.” These two norms were playboy/sexually promiscuous behavior and seeking power over women.

Study co-author Chrissy Richardson, also from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said the research provides further evidence that pornography viewing has a real effect on men, especially on their views towards sex roles.

The researchers were surprised by their findings; they had expected that early exposure to pornography would be correlated with promiscuous behavior. This raises more questions to be examined, Richardson said.

About 43.5 percent of the men said their first exposure was accidental, 33.4 percent indicated it was intentional, and 17.2 percent indicated it was forced. The nature of the men’s first exposure to pornography appeared to have no significant association with the men’s attitudes.

Threatened children hold classes in Manila refugee school

More than 100 tribal students shift to capital to study following Duterte’s threat to bomb their schools

UCAN   August 9, 2017

Tribal students from Mindanao, who set up camps in the University of the Philippines International Center, open a “Bakwit School” today, August 7. These students are in Manila now to press the Philippine government to retract its pronouncement against alternative schools for the indigenous people. On July 24, after President Rodrigo Duterte delivered the state of the nation address, he said in a press briefing that he will “bomb” Lumad schools, which he claimed to have links with the communist-rebels.

More than 100 tribal children displaced by military operations in hinterland communities in the southern Philippines are holding classes in a “refugee school” inside a university campus in Manila.

Classes will be held in the temporary school until the government retracts a threat by President Rodrigo Duterte to bomb tribal schools he claims harbor communist rebels.

About 110 tribal children traveled to Manila from Mindanao last month to protest against the president’s pronouncement.

They said even before Duterte’s threat tribal schools have always been the target of military harassment.

The “refugee school” inside the University of the Philippines campus in Manila will serve as an alternative venue for the displaced children.

The idea of holding alternative classes for displaced tribal children started in evacuation camps in Mindanao in 2015.

During a visit on Aug. 5, Jose Luis Martin Gascon, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, apologized to the children for “lapses or lack of attention” the human rights body committed.

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Asian Youth Day participants commit to wisely use social media

Participants of the 7th Asian Youth Day during the conclusion of the festivities in Yogyakarta Aug. 6. ( photo)

They promise to use this modern tool to share the Word of God and inspire others

UCAN  Katharina R. Lestari and Konradus Epa, Yogyakarta 
Indonesia   August 7, 2017

More than 2,000 young people from 21 Asian countries have committed to use social media to spread positivity and share the Word of God to inspire others.

Their commitment was read out by two representatives of the young people during a closing ceremony of the 7th Asian Youth Day festivities in Yogyakarta Aug. 6. It included a three-day live-in program in 11 Indonesian dioceses as well as a three-day celebration and a one-day meeting of youth ministers.

“Technology and social media have become social part of our life as young people. We will use these tools responsibly to spread positivity and goodness rather than negativity and hatred, to share the Word of God and to inspire others,” they said.

“Through these, we can keep the fire within us alive and light the hearts of those around us,” they said.

“When we go home, we will inspire our families and friends to join us in our journey and experience to Gospel,” they said.

Deril De Melo, a 25-year-old participant from India, committed to focus on social media for the next three years.

“I will start a youth ministry and actively spread the Gospel message through social media. I will also ask my friends to have Facebook and Twitter accounts so that I can share the Gospel message with them,” he told

For Saharon Padilla from the Philippines, the internet is the main challenge faced by young people in her country.

“Youth are very much interested in social media. But with my participation in the Asian Youth Day festivities, I will spread the Good News through my Facebook account,” she said, believing that it will bring young people closer to God.

Bishop Joel Zamudio Baylon, who heads the youth desk at the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences’ Office of Laity and Family, hoped that young people will be able to learn from their experience in Yogyakarta.

“It is not just telling stories but also inviting the young to journey with other youth to appreciate precisely the gift of God,” he said.

The Youth Desk of the FABC-Office of Laity and Family stages Asian Youth Day in cooperation with the Youth Commissions of the respective national bishop’s conferences. The event is held every three years.

“Joyful Asian Youth! Living the Gospel in Multicultural Asia,” was the theme for the 7th Asian Youth Day to be held in Yogyakarta in Semarang Diocese.

The 6th Asian Youth Day with the theme “Asian Youth! Wake Up!” was held in Korea in 2014.

Pope Francis’s Angelus Address On the Feast of the Transfiguration

‘The Event Offers Us a Message of Hope: It Invites Us to Encounter Jesus, to Be at the Service of Brethren’

Here is a ZENIT 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 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

This Sunday the liturgy celebrates the feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration. Today’s Gospel tells us that the Apostles Peter, James and John were witnesses of this extraordinary event. Jesus took them with Him “and led them up a high mountain by themselves” (Matthew 17:1) and, while He was praying, His face changed in aspect, shining like the sun, and His garments became white as light. Then Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Him. At this point, Peter said to Jesus: “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (v. 4). He hadn’t finished speaking when a bright cloud overshadowed them.

The event of the Lord’s Transfiguration offers us a message of hope – we will be like this, with Him –: it invites us to encounter Jesus, to be at the service of brethren.

The disciples’ ascent of Mount Tabor induces us to reflect on the importance of being detached from worldly things, to undertake the way on high and contemplate Jesus. It’s about disposing ourselves to an attentive and prayerful listening of Christ, the Beloved Son of the Father, seeking intimate moments of prayer, which make possible the docile and joyful reception of the Word of God. In this spiritual ascent, in this detachment from worldly things, we are called to rediscover the peaceful and regenerating silence of meditation of the Gospel, of the reading of the Gospel, which leads to a rich goal of beauty, splendor and joy. And when we do this, with the bible in hand, in silence, we begin to feel this inner beauty, this joy that the Word of God generates in us. In this perspective, summertime is a providential moment to grow in our commitment to seek and encounter the Lord. In this period, students are free from school commitments and many families take their vacations; it is important that, during the period of rest and detachment from daily occupations, the strength of body and soul can be restored, deepening the spiritual journey.

At the end of the wonderful experience of the Transfiguration, the disciples came down from the mountain (Cf. v. 9) with transfigured eyes and heart from the encounter with the Lord. It is the way that we can also undertake. The ever more alive rediscovery of Jesus is not an end in itself but induces us to “come down from the mountain,” recharged with the strength of the Divine Spirit, to take new steps of genuine conversion and to witness charity constantly, as law of daily life. Transformed by the presence of Christ and the ardour of His word, we will be a concrete sign of the vivifying love of God for all our brethren, especially those that suffer, all those that find themselves in solitude and abandonment, the sick and the multitude of men and women that, in various parts of the world, are humiliated by injustice, arrogance and violence.

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CBCP Circular on the Causes of Beatification and Canonization of Mother Francisca del Espiritu Santo

(Foundress of the Beaterio de Santa Catalina de Manila now the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena Philippines)

In the diocese of Manila, in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Holy Spirit, the Lord and life-giver , inspired some forms of community life among women, that were connected with the spirituality of the religious Orders who were the evangelizers of the Philippine Islands from the end of the 16th century.

Experiences of this type were the foundations of some “Beaterios” which in more recent times opened up and become religious congregations. Such are the foundations of Servant of God Ignacia del Espiritu Santo (1663-1748) and of the Servants of God Cecilia Rosa Talangpaz and Dionisia MitasTalangpaz (1731-1732).

The older among them, was Francisca, daughter of Simon de Fuentes and Ana del Castillo y Tamayo, born in Manila in 1647, which became a Dominican Tertiary in 1682 with the name of Francisca del Espiritu Santo. In 1686, she together with 3 companions, opted to a form of Christian community life, under the Rule of the Third Order of St. Dominic and with the approval granted in 1688 by the Master General of the Friars Preacher, Antonino Cloche.

The Beaterio, dedicated to the great teacher, St. Catherine of Siena, was definitively established on July 26, 1696 with the profession of Mother Francisca and 7 other beatas, among them was her blood sister Ana Maria. They benefitted from the guidance of the Dominican Friars, among whom was Fr. Juan de Santo Domingo, author of a 50pp manuscript completed on October 28, 1711, “Breve Relacion de la fundacion del Beaterio de Santa Catalina de esta ciudad de Manila” published posthumuosly in 1911.

The institution endured difficult trials in its first years, even with the expulsion of its members from the place for 2 years. But the difficulties were largely external, arising from conflict of jurisdiction between the Dominican Order and the Archbishop of Manila. The Beaterio resumed its life and activity from 1706 opening its door to a large group of native girls to educate them in the faith and perfection of Christian of life. The personality of Mother Francisca was the unifying element and promoter of much Christian vitality. As foundress, she brought forth exemplary strength and virtues: Eucharistic and Marian devotion, compassionate charity of neighbor, strength in trials, penance, love of community and observance of the Rule.


Mother Francisca died in the peace of the saints on the 24th of August 1711 and was buried in the Church of the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. Her tomb was over the steps of the main altar on the gospel side. She left a memory of virtue and still lives today.

For this, the Congregation that reveres her as Mother, on the occasion of celebrating the 3rd centenary of the Foundation in 1996 felt inspired to deepen its knowledge and veneration of the life and charism of Francisca, the sisters felt the desire to promote her Cause for Beatification.

(Supplex Libellus, Copia Publica, pp. 11-12)


His Eminence Jaime L. Cardinal Sin on the 25th of July, 2000 decreed the acceptance of the “Supplex Libellus” in accord with the guidelines of the Apostolic Constitution “Divinus perfectionis Magister.”

On December 20, 2002, His Eminence Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila, sent a letter to His Eminence Jose Cardinal Saraiva Martins to recommend the formal introduction of the Cause for Canonization of Mother Francisca. On March 11, 2003, The Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, Joseph Cardinal Saraiva Martins granted the NIHIL OBSTAT of the Causes of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God Francisca del Espiritu Santo de Fuentes.

On July 8, 2003, The Archbishop of Manila, instructed all the Members of the Tribunal, the Members of the Historical Commission and the Members of the Theological Commission to appear at nine o’clock in the morning at the Sto. Domingo Church, Quezon City, for them to accept their respective designation, to make their oath and take active part in the first session of the Process.

On the 6th day of December 2003, the Judge Delegate convoked the board of inquiry at 9:00 in the morning in the presence of the Promoter of Justice and the Notary presented the original acts and two authentic copies of the process by the Judge Delegate on the life, virtues and on-cult of the Servant of God, Mother Francisca del Espiritu Santo. He ordered that the original acts be deposed in the archives of the Archdiocese of Manila and that the copies be sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints by the Chairperson of the Mother Francisca Commission.

(Copia Publica, pp 14-21)

The Decree of Validity on the Diocesan Inquiry was granted in June 2007 which allowed the writing of the POSITIO on the Life, Virtues and Fame of Sanctity of Mother Francisca. The completion of the POSITIO was in 2012. The Mother Francisca Commission received a copy of the POSITIO in December 2014 with the favorable evaluation from the Historical Experts of the Vatican.

The translated letter of the Cardinal, Angelo Amato, the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints informed Mo. Ma. Jesusa Enginco, OP, former Prioress General of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena: “I am happy to inform you that nevertheless the long list of Positio waiting for their turn, the Cause of the abovementioned Servant of God is proposed to the study by the Theological Consultors of the Dicastery within the first half of 2018. Once the result is positive, it will be followed with the Ordinary Session of Cardinals and Bishops.

However, for the Beatification, a need for a recognized miracle happened through the intercession of the Servant of God. As of the moment no case has been reported here.

Therefore, you invite your co-sisters and the faithful to spread the knowledge of Mother Francisca and to invoke her intercession in their needs with the trust of obtaining a miraculous intervention … .”

State of Nature Assessment (SONA) 2017

Dear Friends, 

We are pleased to invite you to the

State of Nature Assessment 2017 (Green SONA)
on August 11, 2017
at the
Little Theater, Miriam College
Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City. 

Theme: Our Land, Our Life

The Green SONA is an annual event of Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and \Sustainable Economy, a coalition of networks, organizations and individuals working for a development paradigm that addresses the need for social and economic upliftment while preserving life-support water, air and land for generations to come.

Using a particular lens most relevant to the current national and/or global context, the SONA gathers environmentalists and invites the general public to listen to resource persons and join the discussion on the chosen perspective. Attendees come from all sectors – academe, business, grassroots communities, religious, indigenous peoples, etc. Government officials, especially those tasked to work on matters related to the topic, are likewise invited to attend the event and contribute to the discussions.

Green SONA 2017 covers issues that should be of concern to all Filipinos who want to preserve the quantity and quality of our land.

Attached is the draft program.

Sincerely yours,

Angelina P. Galang
Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment
and Sustainable Economy

Banning Travel of Pedophiles Saves Children from Abuse

AfricaMetro photo. Australian independent Senator Derryn Hinch holds a press conference in Parliament House in Canberra, Australia Tuesday, May 30, 2017. (AP)

Fr. Shay Cullen
26 July 2016

It was a normal day in the life of 13-year old Jeremiah as he was leaving the school yard in Angeles City. He saw his classmates running to get candies and chocolates being handed out by a very overweight, cheerful balding Caucasian man. He sat outside his house, which was close to the schoolyard, and was throwing around candies as if feeding chickens and the children flocked to get them. He invited some of the boys to come into his house and upstairs, where he invited them, to have more candies and watch television. He quickly made friends with them.

In the following days, he did the same again until the boys were groomed and comfortable in his house. Then he showed them videos of men and boys having sex. Jeremiah was embarrassed but Douglas Slade took him on to his lap and the abuse happened. It was just one of several incidents of sexual abuse and he became different, morose and depressed and was psychologically damaged by the sexual abuse.

Jeremiah then told his parents. They immediately filed charges against Douglas Slade and then the others boys came forward to say Slade had done similar acts of abuse to them. They filed charges.

Over several years, none of the court cases against the wealthy Slade prospered. There were rumors of corruption and bribery at all levels in the prosecution and the judiciary but inexplicably, despite the direct testimony of the victims and other witness, the lady judge dismissed the cases. In an interview with ITV, an undercover camera taped Slade admitting that his lawyer was able to make payments to have the cases dismissed.

There is a thriving dark business in courtrooms to allow foreign child sex abusers or wealthy Filipinos to go free for a price to abuse more children. That’s what Slade did: he felt protected and abused children again. What is also just as shocking is the level of corruption and absence of moral values among these duty bearers who are being paid to protect children and bring their abusers to justice.

To be abused by people you trust is a terrible life long experience and the vast majority of sexual abuse of children happens in the family- parents and relatives and neighbors. Thousands of children are sexually abused everywhere every day, one in over three girls have been abused and one in every six boys. That is a terrible statistic and a condemnation of human society. Only a fraction of the victims can ever tell the abuse has happened.

Slade had been accused of child sexual abuse in the UK years previously. He travelled to the Philippines where he set up a business and a house of sexual abuse of children and he got away with it due to corrupt officials. As a serious suspect in child sexual abuse case in the UK, he should have been banned from leaving the UK. But no court order was handed down to stop him fleeing.

Eventually after years of lobbying by Preda Foundation and good police work in the UK, Slade was extradited from the Philippines back to the UK and was put on trial for the historical child abuse he committed in the UK. He was convicted to 24 years in jail.

The many boys he abused in the Philippines received no justice and no recompense. Preda with a pro-bon lawyer is suing Slade in the UK for compensation for the injuries they have suffered. That case is ongoing in London.  Continue reading

Looking at the SONA Through Its Different Audiences

President Duterte delivers his 2017 SONA, to the appreciation of the President of the Senate (Pimentel) and Speaker of the House (Alvarez). [Photo source: Philstar News]

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 even some minority members who do not want to be seen as opposed to the President: they loved it, or at least tolerated it. Not for what he said, but for their opportunity to be a willing partner in anything he might choose to say or do, fair or foul. They really didn’t care about the impact of the speech on other audiences, even investors. Or the poor.
  • The people who voted for him and others justifying a pro-Duterte stance. That’s most of the Philippines. They, too, loved it. They loved the swagger he projected, the larger-than-life persona of a political rock star, and they didn’t care much about the details of the speech or who might be affected by it. That’s for others to worry about.
  • The political opponents such as Senators Trillanes, Hontiveros, and De Lima. They hated the speech, both for the swearing and personal attacks . . . but mostly because extra judicial killings will continue. They picked up some loose rocks to throw back at the President and “his men” in the days ahead.
  • Decent people like Vice President Robredo and the educated, well-traveled advocates of democracy and human rights. They were dismayed at the continued arrogance of threat and bad language deployed by the President. They could clap earnestly about the proposed Land Use Law, mining and environmental responsibility, reproductive health law implementation, and maybe even tax reform and military spending. But the rest of the speech was incredibly discouraging, especially the personal insults and foul language levied against Senator De Lima and human rights advocates.
  • Targets of the President’s bashing: the media, especially Rappler, Westerners, especially Americans, and human rights advocates. They probably “considered the source”, a political demagogue doing what he does best, intimidating his critics. Ambassadors likely sent home memoranda saying the Philippines has “gone to the other side” opposed to democracy, freedom, and civility, and walking arm-in-arm with China. They would advise their leadership to factor that into the policy calculus.
  • The armed forces brass probably thought they were once again being manipulated, but for sure generously. The President threw them a huge bone, lavish investment in military capability, from which they could deduce “room for bonuses and promotions”. So the question is, how honor bound and Constitutionally bound are the generals? They certainly see the President as trying to win their support, for they are the last line of defense against the complete tear-down of democracy. But they also see him playing at the edge of treason by conceding the West Philippine Sea to China. The President’s expression of appreciation to China done late in the speech can not have gone down well.
  • OFWs. The President also threw overseas workers a bone, a billion peso commitment to assisting them. Does he care about them, cynics might be inclined to ask, or just their remittances to shore up an economy that is showing instability and weakness? It was an easy bone to toss for continued overseas support.
  • Investors. The speech projected chaos and instability, threat from rebels, anger against Westerners, martial law, and dictatorial policies . . . little that would say “invest here”, unless they happened to be Chinese. Then they heard “consider investing in the Philippines.”
  • China. Loved it.

There were some significant omissions from the speech.

  • Progress on the economic front: tourism, investment flight, peso weakness. He did speak to the need for finished goods manufacturing.
  • He did not explain the intelligence failing in Marawi.
  • He did not update progress on infrastructure build-out or provide details on how to solve Manila’s transportation gridlock. He mainly lectured agencies and LGUs to do a better job, effectively washing his hands of any responsibility on such matters.
  • He did not talk about the West Philippine Sea or what the loss of economic rights means in terms of future power generation and food stock.

He said the war on drugs will continue.