19 July 2006

apathy is bliss

let us be united for our country's sake.
no more impeachment.
no more protests.
they won't listen anyway.
i'd still go for elections, for it's part of our democracy.
but no more election watch.
no more namfrel. no more ppcrv.
everybody cheats and steals anyway.
let's just ask the cbcp to issue another pastoral letter,
then cheer them for doing their prophetic duty.
amen for critical collaboration.
amen for pro-poor donations.
then, let's move on.
let this government be.
let oppositionists and leftists fight their own battles.
morality for political expediency.
let's get real.
let's move on.
no more truth-seeking,
apathy is bliss, apathy for progress.


A Call for Unity and Sacrifice

It’s been a year after the Garci tapes first surfaced, and we are still hopelessly divided as ever. Each side appeal to the other to join their cause, both claim to represent the majority. The anti-GMA forces base their claim on survey results which consistently show that a vast majority believe GMA cheated. Pro-GMA forces claim the people have spoken – they have not responded to the opposition calls for protest. They conveniently forget that neither have the people responded to their call to move on.

The truth is we are in a political gridlock. And the situation will continue to worsen unless we see a breakthrough in the current impasse.

It is unreasonable to expect GMA and her allies to budge. Therefore, the only option left is for us within the anti-GMA camp, who claims to be motivated by love of country, to make the supreme sacrifice by abandoning our quest for the truth. After all, truth is a small price to pay for progress.

Let us heed the admonition of the bishops. They discourage us from pursuing impeachment, convinced that it will fail, and will only dismay every citizen. Besides, they question the motivation of some groups in our rank. In effect, they’re saying we might inadvertently abet the return of Erap, the succession of Noli (whom they probably see as incompetent), or worse, the ascendancy of the communists. So, let’s not waste our time and energy on impeachment.

While at it, let’s ask the poor to stop filing cases in court. They will only be dismayed since we all know it takes money to win a case. They will do all of us a favor by unclogging the dockets in our court system. The wheels of justice will finally grind faster, especially for those with enough money to influence the court decisions.

And what’s all this talk about asking the US government to deport Bolante so he can finally testify at the Senate hearing? We all know that he will simply deny all allegations, just like Garci did, and nothing much will happen. We will only be dismayed. Let’s not waste any more taxpayers’ money on all these Senate inquiries in aid of legislation.

On the other hand, the bishops want us to continue denouncing the palace-led people’s initiative for charter change. They find the haste by which Malacanang is pushing this rather alarming. I wonder why they do not find the alleged cheating and the subsequent cover-up efforts by the palace equally alarming.

I also wonder why they have decided to fight this one when the very same groups whose motivation they question are fighting this one, too. I guess it’s because non-partisan groups like One Voice and Kapatiran, are endorsing it. They have no agenda (just like many of us in the anti-GMA camp, anyway) and they know what’s best for this country. Let us join them and speak with one voice on this issue.

While at it, let’s also heed the repeated appeals of the “top 600 women” and businessmen like Donald Dee for us to stop all forms of protest. They only scare investors away and imperil the economy. Let’s not nitpick on the issue of cheating. Everybody cheats anyway. Some of them even expect us to be thankful for GMA’s cheating, because it saved us from an FPJ presidency. The end justifies the means.

Let’s not bother to have elections in 2007 and 2010. In fact, let’s not have elections ever. Everybody will cheat, anyway. And we run the risk of our mindless masa voting another incompetent movie personality into office. Let’s just leave the future of this nation to these all-knowing non-partisan groups. Never mind that the rest of our people do not agree with them. They know better.

Some of them actually believe that what this nation needs at this time is a benevolent dictator. And they cite Singapore’s success under Lee Kwan Yu as the best example. No wonder they eagerly embrace GMA’s all-out war against the leftists. Never mind the unabated killings (they’re all communists, anyway) and escalating human rights violations. They are but small sacrifices that we can offer in the altar of national progress.

Of course, GMA supporters will not openly admit that she is a dictator, even though she has repeatedly violated the constitution with CPR, EO 464, and PP 1017. But we can all agree that she is benevolent. Just ask the Comelec officials who met at her house and the congressmen who voted down impeachment last year. But then again, the bishops may not agree. P20,000 in an envelope can hardly be considered benevolent.

I call on my colleagues in the anti-GMA movement to stand down and join the majority of our people who believe she cheated but have decided not to do anything about it. That is the most patriotic thing to do.

Never mind that we are breeding a new generation of Filipinos lacking in moral scruples, where lying, stealing and cheating abound. You cannot eat morality. Never mind that our rights are curtailed and our basic liberties trampled. You cannot drink democracy. National unity, at whatever cost, is our only hope for a better future and a strong republic.

How times have changed. I remember, right after EDSA 1, people proclaimed, “Never again!” Now, all we can say is “Never mind!”

Enteng Romano III
Convenor, Black and White Movement

P.S. – please pass this on to everyone you know who are actively involved in or even remotely supportive of the anti-GMA movement that they may be enlightened and do the right thing for the sake of our nation.

06 July 2006

pastoral letter: mining in rapu-rapu

in light of relatively recent events: the 11 and 31 oct 2005 mine spills in rapu-rapu island, albay; the fish kills and the subsequent fish scare; the final report of the rapu-rapu fact-finding commission, also known as the bastes commission, on 19 may 2006; the recent DENR announcement allowing a 30-day test run of mining operations; & other events pertaining to the lafayette mining operations in rapu-rapu, our diocese, thru bp. quiambao, released a pastoral letter, or bulletin, reiterating our consistent stand: rapu-rapu is not suitable for mining, thus, stop mining, close the lafayette mine. just read the details below.
this will be read in a press con on 11 july, so we issued an embargo to members of the press who have gotten hold of early copies of this pastoral letter. there will be a rally in the afternoon of the same day, dubbed the 'black tuesday' grand rally against mining. we urge participants to wear black to express mourning for DENR’s approval of a 30-day test run of mining operations and indignation at the govt’s and lafayette’s sustained indifference to stop the harm being done to our land and people. those who can't join the rally, are asked wear black even in the confines of their school or office. those who can't wear black, a black arm band may do.
The Chancery
Legazpi City

PASTORAL BULLETIN NO. 05, Series of 2006

To: Clergy, Religious, Heads of CEAL Schools, Lay Faithful, Men and Women of good will

Dear People of God:

“Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell” (Num 35,34).

The Mine Spill Incidents. On 11 and 31 October 2005, two mine spill incidents took place at the mining site of Lafayette Philippines, Inc. (LPI), and its two subsidiaries, i.e., Rapu-Rapu Minerals, Inc. (RRMI) and Rapu-Rapu Processing, Inc. (RRPI), in the island municipality of Rapu-Rapu, Albay. The mine spills flowed into nearby creeks and rivers and into the open sea.

After both incidents, fish kill ensued in several bodies of water in Rapu-Rapu. Fish kills were also reported to have occurred on several occasions in November 2005 in the coastal waters of Sorsogon and the Albay Gulf. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) found positive for cyanide several fish kill samples submitted by the Mayor of Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon. After the fish kill came the fish scare which adversely affected the lives and livelihood of fisher folk families, fish traders and the fish consuming public.

Three months after the last mine spill, a study conducted by a team from the University of the Philippines–Natural Science Research Institute (UP-NSRI) reported that Sorsogon’s, as well as Albay’s waters, fish and underwater sediments are safe. However, the team admitted that its findings were not conclusive and need further studies. Further, UP-NSRI and various other groups and individuals, which also conducted different studies taken at different periods within five months following the tailings incidents, yield a telling common result: “the presence of toxic heavy metals in the soil, water, and sediment samples and in the urine and blood of some of the patients coming from communities near the mine site” (RRFFC Final Report).

The Rapu-Rapu Fact-Finding Commission (RRFFC), created by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and headed by Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, reported, among others, the following findings:

1. “Lafayette is guilty of irresponsibility for starting operations prior to the completion of environmental protection infrastructure.” “11 of 29 conditionalities and subconditionalities contained in the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) were violated by the LPI Group.”
2. “The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its bureaus, i.e., the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), its regional offices, including its monitoring team… did not have sufficient capability of monitoring mining operations in Rapu-Rapu. Worse, though, is that if they had the capability then they utterly lacked will.” The Mines Rehabilitation Fund Committee (MRFC) and the Multi-partite Monitoring Team (MMT) were also found to have exhibited poor monitoring and management capability.
3. The Commission also noted the hasty and irregular manner by which Lafayette was able to secure its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) in the first place, despite vehement opposition voices raising valid concerns, such as, its dubious social acceptability and its potential to harm the environment, and despite a Senate committee investigation, led by former Senator Jaworski, which recommended the non-issuance of an ECC.

The Church’s Involvement on Mining and Environmental Concerns. In November 1999, when Lafayette and another mining company, Miracle Mile, were still in the process of initial exploration and application for the necessary permits, the Diocese released a Pastoral Letter on the “Rapu-Rapu Island Mining Case”, warning, among others, that:

“The much touted economic development and industrial growth to be brought upon by the mining companies will definitely be beneficial only to them and to certain government officials. In fact, it will only aggravate the poverty of the people since the land will be taken away from them and the agricultural and marine life of the island will be gradually and systematically destroyed. The livelihood programs being offered by the mining companies are mere palliatives and are actually meant to lure the people into acquiescing to their demands and activities… The countless effects of the toxic wastes and mineral tailings will be terribly felt and will gravely affect the livelihood and health of the people.”

Such prophetic words. Some though question the Church’s involvement in the issues of mining in general and the mine spill incidents in Rapu-Rapu. The answer is simple: our preaching and living the Gospel demands the prophetic duty of teaching about the integrity of God’s creation and our responsibility as stewards of creation, and, whenever necessary, of speaking against the grave injustice of pursuing profit at the expense of the environment and people’s lives, especially, those of the poor. Pope Benedict XVI, in his very first encyclical, says that “the social concern is as essential to [the Church’s] mission as the ministry of the sacraments and the preaching of the Gospel” (Deus Caritas Est 22).

Call to Action. “Whatsoever you do to the least of My brethren, you do unto Me” (Mt 25,40).

Thus, we, your bishops and priests, together with the Diocesan Social Action Commission, would like to reiterate what we have held consistently from the very start: that mining must not be conducted in Rapu-Rapu and that the best course of action is the immediate closure of the Lafayette mine.

Our position is supported by the findings of the Ateneo de Naga University–Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research (INECAR) which has been doing scientific research for more than six years now in Rapu-Rapu. Studies done by Dr. Emelina Regis, INECAR Director, find the island gravely unsuitable for mining due to the following reasons:

“[It is an] island ecosystem with steep slopes; [it has a] Type II climate, [i.e.,] there is no dry season, with very pronounced wet period from November to January; [it is] located along the typhoon path; and [it has] massive iron sulfide rocks with acid-generating capacity or Acid Mine Drainage (AMD)... The resulting impacts of AMD include death to living organisms and release of toxic heavy metals that causes loss of productivity of aquatic and terrestrial plants… [and ultimately,] destruction of livelihood in agriculture and fisheries… These impacts will persist for a long time. Heavy rains will continue to erode loosened contaminated soil. Silt and tailings that poison the land and sea will leave behind unproductive land and dead coral reefs… There is no justice in sacrificing the survival of generations of people and other living organisms for the short-term gains of a few.” (INECAR Position Paper regarding mining in Rapu-Rapu: Closure of Lafayette Mine, 15 February 2006)

For the same reasons, we express our opposition to the announced 30-day Temporary Lifting Order (TLO) by the DENR that will allow a three-stage test run of mining operations by RRMI and RRPI, which many believe is but a ploy and a prelude to regular operations.

We also support the recommendations of the Rapu-Rapu Fact-Finding Commission (RRFFC). In particular, we wish to highlight some of these recommendations and appeal to the President, the DENR Secretary, officials of local government units (LGUs) and concerned government agencies, to consider them as moral imperatives:
1. “Cancel the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of RRMI and RRPI” for serious violations of the ECC conditionalities and other previously-mentioned grounds.
2. “Cancel the RRMI and RRPI Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) registration on the basis of the irregularities found (by the RRFFC) and for the reason that the Rapu-Rapu LGU has been unduly deprived of local taxes.”
3. Review R.A. 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, and its Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations, and repeal provisions that put the interest of the Filipino people at a disadvantage.

We call on the faithful in the parishes and religious communities, and men and women of faith and good will, to act and unite to protect our environment from further degradation, and to support the people of Rapu-Rapu and those in nearby towns in Albay and Sorsogon who are adversely affected by Lafayette’s mining operations. A Diocesan Circular, released alongside this Pastoral Bulletin, details our Diocese’s plan for immediate actions.

Conclusion. No doubt, our present situation reflects what the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) refers to in its “Statement on Mining Issues and Concerns”, released on 29 January 2006, which is but a repeat of what the bishops previously declared in 1998:

“[The] government[‘s] mining policy is offering our lands to foreigners, with liberal conditions, while our people continue to grow in poverty… [Further,] the adverse social impact on the affected communities far outweigh the gains promised by mining transnational corporations (TNCs).”

The celebration of the World Environment Month this June, and the CBCP declaration of 2006 as the Year of Social Concerns, are powerful reminders that the story of Rapu-Rapu need not continue nor end as yet another reiteration of our dire pronouncements. The situation is not hopeless. Let us unite and work together “for the cause of truth and goodness and right” (Ps 45,5). Let us hold on to the struggle to put an end to destructive mining and unjust State and corporate practices in Rapu-Rapu, in other parts of our country, and in developing countries around the world.

Finally, let us pray unceasingly for our elected government leaders; for DENR officials; for the executives of Lafayette; for the victims of the mine spills; and for us all; that we may open our hearts to receive the Holy Spirit. Then He shall renew the face of the earth. Amen.

Devotedly yours in the Lord,

Auxiliary Bishop of Legazpi

(Sgd.) Fr. John B. Mendoza
Ad-Interim Chancellor-Secretary
30 June 2006

05 July 2006

ehemplo anti-corruption music video

heto ang isang music video mula sa ehem - kampanya laban sa corruption ng phil province ng kapisanan ni Hesus (heswita), kasama na ang tanggapan ng ombudsman (omb. merceditas guttierez, kasama kayo, talaga po?).

EHEMPLO. ang mga kumanta - ng libre - para sa produksyong ito ay sina noel cabangon, cookie chua, lolita, gary granada, himig heswita, pendong & susan fernandez. mula sa panulat ni paring bert alejo, s.j. at musika ni dodgie fernandez.

kaya lang baka maging ambivalent ang tanggap dito ng mga hardline pro-life kasi kasama ang USAID sa mga tumulong pinansyal, hehe.

sana magpaapoy sa damdamin ng marami para mas dumami pa ang nais lumagay sa wasto at lumaban sa corruption.