ICC prosecutor issues warning vs killings in Philippines

By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated October 14, 2016 – 8:46am

— with Philstar NewsLab

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2, 9:21 a.m.) — Extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines, when committed in pursuing state policy, may fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the court prosecutor said on Thursday.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the Philippines is a party to the ICC, which examines, investigates and prosecutes crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Bensouda called the reported killings of more than 3,000 drug dealers and users in the Philippines “worrying,” and vowed to follow developments in the country in the following weeks.

“Extra-judicial killings may fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court if they are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population pursuant to a State policy to commit such an attack,” Bensouda said in a statement issued in The Hague.

“Let me be clear: any person in the Philippines who incites or engages in acts of mass violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing, in any other manner, to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable to prosecution before the Court,” she added.

Bensouda said statements of officials also seem to encourage violence against suspected drug offenders.

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“I am deeply concerned about these alleged killings and the fact that public statements of high officials of the Republic of the Philippines seem to condone such killings and further seem to encourage State forces and civilians alike to continue targeting these individuals with lethal force,” Bensouda said.

Bensouda’s office has been conducting investigations in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Georgia. It is also undertaking preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan, Burundi, the registered vessels of Comoros, Greece and Cambodia, Colombia, Gabon, Guinea, Iraq and the United Kingdom, Palestine, Nigeria and Ukraine.

“(We will) record any instance of incitement or resort to violence with a view to assessing whether a preliminary examination into the situation of the Philippines needs to be opened,” Bensouda said.

Gov’t condoning killings?

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights had a similar observation as the ICC prosecutor. In an unedited version of its concluding observations dated October 7, the UN panel said high-ranking officials are making declarations that could be interpreted as license to commit violence against drug suspects.

“The Committee is deeply concerned that declarations made by high ranking officials in the context of the ‘war on drugs’ may be seen to encourage and legitimize violence against drug users, including extrajudicial killings,” the UN body said in the report.

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Outstanding Catholic Families to be Awarded at SMX, Mall of Asia

Martin family, one of the Outstanding Families to be awarded on Sunday 23 October at SMX Mall of Asia.

Martin family, one of the Outstanding Families to be awarded on Sunday 23 October at SMX Mall of Asia.

The CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) will honor ten Outstanding Filipino Families at the Awarding Ceremonies on October 23, 2016 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City. The nationwide search which was spearheaded by the Marriage Encounter Foundation of the Philippines (MEFP) from February to July of 2016 was made possible through the Catholic Church’s archdiocesan and diocesan family and life commissions.

In an interview by CBCP News, MEFP President Bro.Robert Aventajado disclosed that “Contrary to the conventional belief that big families are bound to remain improverished, the Marriage Encounter Foundation of the Philippines discovered the exact opposite during their search for the outstanding families of the Philippines, many of which happen to have broods of more than five.” The selection committee members were pleasantly surprised to know of families with up to eleven children doing well and being active in the life of the Church through various activities.

Part of the MEFP’s requirements for the nominees include that the family should spend substantial time involved in parish activities.

These families will be recognized and awarded plaques of appreciation for being model families despite the fact they are not as prominent as the more affluent families, they were able to maintain their dignity and dedication to each other and keep their faith in God.


Ikalawang Liham Pastoral Tungkol sa Bataan Nuclear Power Plant


Mga minamahal naming kapatid kay Kristo,

Isang maganda at mapagpalang pagbati po sa inyong lahat!

Mula sa ating karanasan na madalas nating naririnig sa ating mga magulang ang paalala na ito, “huwag maingay baka magising ang natutulog.” Mangyari pa tayo sa ating pagkilos ay maingat. Tayo sa ating pagsasalita ay malumanay o kaya ay mahina ang tinig.

Batid natin lahat, higit tayong mga taga Bataan, na may natutulog na Bulkan sa atin, dito sa bayan ng Morong. At ito ang Mount Natib. Hindi ba’t ang Bataan Nuclear Power Plant ay nasa bayan ng Morong, doon na malapit sa Mount Natib?

Kung ipagpapatuloy o bubuhayin ang Bataan Nuclear Power Plant hindi ba’t ito ay unti-unting paggising sa natutulog na Bulkan? At kapag nagising ang Bulkan naririyan ang tiyak na pagsabog. Nasaksihan at naranasan natin ang pagsabog ng Mount Pinatubo. Marami ang napinsala. Marami ang nasira. Nagkaroon ng malawak na kapahamakan at kahirapan na ngayon ay atin pa rin nararamdaman. Mayroon pa rin mga lupa at lugar ang hindi maaring taniman o bahayan.

Mga minamahal naming kapatid kay Kristo, higit pa sa ganyang pagdurusa ang maidudulot ng iniisip at inimumungkahing rehabilitasyong ng Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Nariyan sa pagsabog ng Bulkan ay pagkasira at pagsabog din ng Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Idudulot nito ay tiyak na malawak na kamatayan, hindi ng iilan, hindi ng iisang bayan, at hindi rin ng iisang lalawigan.

Mas mahalaga po ang buhay kaysa sa materyal na bagay o kaysa sa kaginhawaan ng katawan. Hindi mapapalitan ng pera ang buhay na mawawala o masisira. Hindi rin tama, hindi rin mabuti at lalung-lalo na hindi moral ang isakripisyo ang buhay at kalikasan dahil lamang sa negosyo, at pag-asenso.

Ang Bataan Nuclear Power Plant ay lubhang mapanganib. Ito ay maghahatid lamang ng kapahamakan sa buhay natin at kabuhayan. Ang kauuwian nito kapinsalaan sa ating kalikasan, at kamatayan ng marami.

Batid po ng lahat, tinatanggap at itinuturo na ang Sierra Madre, ay nasa tinatawag na “ring of fire.” Ang ating lalawigan ng Bataan ay kasama rito, sa sinasabi nila na “fault lines.”

Huwag nawa’y mangyari at ipag-adya tayo ng ating makapangyarihang Diyos sa tinatawag nilang “the big one,” ang lindol, na tiyak na magdudulot ng malubhang kapahamakan sa ating bansa. Bakit po? Sapagkat sa paggising at pagsabog ng Bulkan sa Mount Natib o sa malakas na paglindol, tiyak na maapektuhan ang Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Kung magkaroon ng radiation leak o kaya ay pagsabog din, isang malala at malawakang pinsala at kamatayan ang tiyak na magaganap sa atin.   Continue reading

Philippine tribal people march to assert self-determination

They have long been fighting for their rights and will not wait for change to simply happen

Some 6,000 tribal people from all over the Philippines marched to the capital Manila on Oct. 13 to highlight their call for “self-determination and a just peace.”

Organizers of the event said tribal people have united to protest continuing attacks in their communities and the “plunder of ancestral lands and territories.”

They said one of the aims of the caravan is to urge President Rodrigo Duterte to revoke policies and laws that “undermine the rights of the national minorities.”

“We are calling on the government to recognize our self-determination, which is a collective right of all indigenous peoples,” said Wendell Bulingit, a tribal leader from Cordillera region in the northern Philippines.

Jerome Aladdin Succor Aba, spokesman of Suara Bangsamoro of Mindanao, said the people of the southern part of the country are also calling on the government to “lessen discrimination on our fellow Muslims.”

Piya Macliing Malayao, secretary general of the National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations, called on Filipinos to express solidarity and “take time to understand” the situation of tribal people.

“They are the most marginalized sector in the country, and we have to understand them through integration and cultural exchange,” Malayao told ucanews.com.

“If we will understand their culture, we will understand ourselves as Filipinos and the plight that we should struggle together,” she said.   Continue reading

Pope Francis begins a series of catecheses on the works of mercy

ossrom134131_articolo(Vatican Radio) After reflecting on the mystery of God’s mercy, from the actions of the Father in the Old Testament to those of Jesus, Who in the Gospels demonstrates by His words and gestures that He is the very incarnation of mercy, the Pope announced in this Wednesday’s general audience that he will dedicate a new cycle of catechesis to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

“It is not enough to experience God’s mercy in our lives”, the Pope observed. “It is necessary for those who receive it also to be a sign and instrument for others. … It is not a question of making great efforts or superhuman gestures. The Lord shows us a far easier path, made up of little gestures but which, in His eyes, have great value, to the point of saying that it is on these that we will be judged. … Jesus says that every time we give something to eat to a hungry person and give something to drink to one who thirsts, we dress the naked and welcome the stranger, or we visit the sick or imprisoned, we do this also to Him. The Church calls these gestures ‘corporal works of mercy’, as they assist people in their material needs”.

However there are also, as Francis recalled, another seven spiritual works of mercy, that respond to other equally important needs, “especially nowadays, as they affect the most intimate aspect of the person and often make them suffer more. We all surely remember one which has entered into common parlance: to bear patiently those who wrong us. … It may seem to be of little importance, or indeed make us smile, but instead it contains a sentiment of profound charity; and it is the same also for the other six, which are good to remember: to counsel the doubtful, to instruct the ignorant, to admonish sinners, to console the afflicted, to forgive offenses, and to pray for the living and the dead”.

“It is better to start with the simplest ones, that the Lord shows us as the most urgent. In a world that is unfortunately afflicted by the virus of indifference, works of mercy are the best antidote. They educate us, indeed, in attention towards the most elementary needs of ‘the least of our brothers’, in whom Jesus is present. … This enables us always to be vigilant, avoiding that Christ may pass by us without us recognising Him. St. Augustine’s phrase returns to mind: ‘I fear Jesus will go by’, and I will not recognise Him, that the Lord will pass by my side in one of these little people, in need, and I will not realise that it is Jesus”.

The works of mercy “reawaken in us the need and the capacity to make faith live and work through charity. I am convinced that through these simple daily gestures we can effect a true cultural revolution. … If each one of us, every day, did one of these, this would be a revolution in the world! But all of us, every one of us. How many saints are still remembered today not for the great works they performed but for the love they knew how to transmit! Mother Teresa, for example, recently canonised: we do not remember her for the many houses that she opened throughout the world, but because she stooped to all the people she met in the street to restore their dignity to them. How many abandoned children she held in her arms; how many dying people she accompanied on the threshold to eternity, holding their hands!”

“These works of mercy are the features of the countenance of Jesus Christ, Who cares for the least of His brothers to bring God’s tenderness and closeness to every one. May the Holy Spirit help us; may the Holy Spirit kindle in us the desire to live in this way. Do at least one of them a day, at least! Let us learn again by heart the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and ask the Lord to help us to put them into practice every day and at the moment in which we see Jesus in a person in need”.

With people of different religions

focolareThe School of Dialogue for Oriental Religions (SOR) has an invitation to a Pan-Asian course on “Harmony Among Peoples and Religions Today” to be held at the Mariopolis Center, Tagaytay City on March   2-5, 2017. The course will highlight the inter-religious experience of the Focolare with some major religions of Asia: Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam.

SOR was born out of the inspiration of the Focolare Movement’s founder Chiara Lubich to establish a center for inter-religious dialogue.

In view of the current world scene which is profoundly transforming itself into an increasingly multicultural and multi-religious society, the Focolare Movement is committed to promoting dialogue between religions, because the religious pluralism of the world should not be a cause of division and war, but contribute to the building of brotherhood and world peace.

Various thousands of faithful from different religions share, in as much as possible, in the spirit of the Movement, and collaborate for its goals.

The spreading of the Focolare Movement has, in fact, contributed to opening a dialogue with all the main religions of the world through its contacts with the followers of these religions, but also in contact with their leaders and members of vast movements. For some years now, there has been fraternal collaboration between the Focolare Movement and the Buddhist movement, Rissho Kosei-kai and its 6 million adherents in Japan; with an African American Muslim movement in the United States; and with various movements inspired by Ghandi in the south of India.

The origin

In 1977, in London, Chiara Lubich was awarded the Templeton Prize for progress in religion. She presented her experience before leaders of different religions and had the deep sensation that everyone present, although from different faiths, were like a single family. As she left, it was precisely the people from other religious traditions (Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindu, etc.) who were the first to step up and offer their warm congratulations. This appeared to be evidence that the spirituality of the Movement could be shared not only by Christians, but, to some measure, even with persons of other faiths. For Chiara, these events were a sign from God, showing that the Movement had to open itself to this dialogue with the people of all religious traditions.

The foundation

The dialogue that the Movement promotes is founded on the spirituality and, in particular, on the central importance of love. Love has an immediate echo in the other religions and cultures, because of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It is precisely by implementing the Golden Rule that fruitful dialogue  is able to be established.

The effects of dialogue

There is a rediscovery of one’s own religious roots, of what unites us, a living experience of fraternity. These are just a few of the effects of dialogue lived in this spirit of communion which contributes to the unity of the human family. We strengthen our common commitment to be builders of unity and of peace especially where there is violence, such as racial and religious intolerance, that would cause a rift between members of society.

Last year’s course  from  26th February to 1st March, at the Pace Citadel (Tagaytay) hosted about 300 people, mostly from the Philippines but with delegations also from Pakistan, India, Myanmar,   Continue reading

SWS survey: self-rated poverty at new record low

Manila Bulletin
by Ellalyn De Vera
October 13, 2016

The number of Filipino families who considered themselves poor and “food-poor” hit a new record low, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results show.

42 percent of Filipino families—equivalent to 9.4 million families—rated themselves poor in the past three months, based on the nationwide survey conducted last September 24–27 among 1,200 respondents and first published on BusinessWorld.

This is down from 45 percent or about 10.5 million households in the June survey, and the lowest self-rated poverty rate since the survey commenced in April 1983.

The previous record-low, 43 percent, was recorded in March 1987 and March 2010.

The pollster also pointed out that the self-rated poverty result “has been either steady or declining for eight consecutive quarters” as follows:

  • 52 percent in December 2014
  • 51 percent in March 2015 and June 2015
  • 50 percent in September 2015 and December 2015
  • 46 percent in April 2016
  • 45 percent in June 2016, and
  • 42 percent in September 2016.

SWS said there were fewer Filipino families claiming they are poor in the rest of Luzon (from 41 percent to 34 percent) and Mindanao (from 54 percent to 49 percent).

However, self-rated poverty increased in Metro Manila (from 32 percent to 36 percent) and Visayas (from 52 percent to 56 percent).

The same survey found that 30 percent or 6.7 million families considered themselves “food-poor,” compared with 31 percent or an estimated 6.9 million households three months ago.

“Food-poor” means families consider the food they eat as poor.

SWS noted this is slightly lower than the record-low 31 percent reported in April and June 2016.

Young People to Be Heart of October ’18 Synod of Bishops

Theme for XV General Assembly of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops Is “Expression of Pastoral Concern of Church for Young People”


Christ’s Youth in Action

“Young people, faith and vocational discernment” is the theme Pope Francis has selected for the XV General Assembly of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops taking place October 2018 in the Vatican.

According to a statement released by the Holy See Press Office this morning, the upcoming Synod’s theme is an “expression of the pastoral concern of the Church for young people, and is in continuity with what emerged from the recent synodal assemblies on the family and the contents of the post-synodal Apostolic ExhortationLaetitia Amoris.

Through this theme, the Church– the statement noted–wishes to “accompany youth in their existential path to maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they can discover their life plan and realize it with joy, opening the encounter with God and with men and actively participating in the building up the Church and society.”

As is customary, the Pope’s decision followed consultations with the episcopal conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Union of Superiors General. The Holy Father had also heard suggestions made by parents taking part in the last synodal assembly and the opinion of the XIV Ordinary Council.

The Synod of Bishops is an assembly of bishops from various regions of the world. On September 15, 1965, it was created by Pope Paul VI  in order to respond to the desire of the fathers of the Second Vatican Council to keep alive the good spirit born of the conciliar experience.

General Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops may be ordinary and extraordinary. The Synods’ extraordinary assemblies address issues that require rapid resolution, and appoint fewer members, in order to facilitate rapid discussion of the issues.

The last Synod on the family received much media attention. Moreover, as explained on several occasions by Pope Francis, it was a journey that lasted two years, and its fruit was Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on the family Amoris Laetitia.

October 6, 2016 Deborah Castellano Lubov POPE AND HOLY SEE