29 February 2008

Diocese of Legazpi holds mass for truth

Melo M. Acuña
CBCP News Online

LEGAZPI CITY, February 28, 2008—The Diocese of Legazpi under its Apostolic Administrator Bishop Lucilo B. Quiambao held its Mass for Truth yesterday at St. Stephen Parish in Ligao City, hometown of ZTE-NBN star witness Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., which drew hundreds of students, lay leaders and various sectoral representatives.

CMN-DWBS Reporter Susan Balane in her report to Radio Veritas early Thursday morning said 41 priests concelebrated with Bishop Quiambao.

In his homily, Legazpi vicar general Msgr. Ramon Tronqued, said their activities in the diocese form part of the communal action called for by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

Msgr. Tronqued said Albayanos have been reeling from natural disasters which sent people to evacuation centers known as staging areas and “could no longer take man-made calamities” brought about by graft and corrupt practices by people in government.

ZTE-NBN star witness Jun Lozada spoke to the crowd at St. Stephen parish through his cellphone.

Another activity is scheduled tomorrow, in time for the big interfaith prayer rally in Makati. It will feature the Stations of the Cross from St. Raphael Parish at the Legazpi Port District until Peñaranda Park in front of the Albay Provincial Capitol and Legazpi City Hall.

Crisis of truth

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:46:00 02/28/2008

The pastoral statement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), issued Tuesday, takes a few small steps forward and one large step back. No wonder the public is confused. What, in fact, are the bishops saying?

Let’s begin with the obvious. The bishops, meeting in an emergency plenary session, did not call on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resign. But whoever expected the bishops to make such an appeal is either a political innocent or an incompetent strategist. Even bishops who are politically active against the Arroyo administration had told their friends in the media beforehand that a resignation call was not—and could not have been—in the cards. Politics, even of the episcopal variety, is the art of the possible.

Short of that unrealistic expectation, however, the much-anticipated statement still managed to disappoint.

Don’t get us wrong. The statement is a calm and reasoned argument for greater public accountability. It makes several telling points, both in its introductory passages and in its specific recommendations.

It acknowledges that the entire country faces “a crisis of truth and the pervading cancer of corruption.” This is a significant departure, or rather development, from the CBCP pastoral statement only last month, when the bishops took pains to distinguish the concerns of Metro Manila from those of the provinces. We are all, indeed, in the throes of a crisis of truth.

In recognizing that “the search for truth in the midst of charges and allegations must be determined and relentless,” the statement also accepts—even if it does not endorse—that what is in question in this crisis is the “moral ascendancy of the present government.” We may have different answers, but we are all, indeed, weighing not the political or economic but the very moral viability of the Arroyo administration.

The Feb. 26 statement also calls on the President to strike Executive Order 464 off the books. Some analysts, not all of them partial to the opposition, think this appeal is redundant or downright useless. The Supreme Court in 2006 famously invalidated two provisions in the EO that could be construed as gag orders. But there’s the rub. The administration and its allies continue to invoke EO 464, or at least their interpretation of the Court’s ruling. In other words, the order, which widened the scope of executive privilege to include even rank-and-file soldiers, continues to have its political uses. Thus, we can only agree: To encourage “those who might have knowledge of any corruption in branches of government” to join the search for truth, EO 464 must be lifted.

The pastoral statement also called on both the Senate and the Office of the Ombudsman to “use their distinct and different powers of inquiry” to discover the truth, “not for their own interests but for the common good.” We read the bishops’ recommendation as an appeal for fairness. (So with the recommendation that the media serve as a “positive resource.”) We agree: The truth is ill-served by a partial or partisan process.

So much to agree with, and much to reflect on. But why is the statement ultimately disappointing? Not because it seeks to redefine People Power as communal action at the grassroots level (the bishops are actually on to something), but because it asks the leader whose moral ascendancy is in question to “take the lead” in forging an answer.

This seems to us to privilege hierarchy—or what in theology is called the state of grace of a person in high position—over the “determined and relentless” search for truth. If a bishop were confronted with persistent allegations of wrongdoing, would the Pope ask him to take the lead in resolving the allegations against his own person? In such an event, process becomes more important than position.

We realize that, in itself, the language of the recommendation (“Urge the President and all the branches of government to take the lead in combating corruption wherever it is found”) seems to be neutral. But in the present context, it actually disregards a fundamental reality. In the scandal over the National Broadband Network, the President and her men have been less than forthright in telling the truth. That, in fact, is one of the reasons we have a crisis in the first place.

Sulat Pastoral ni Bishop Socrates Villegas ng Balanga

Ang may paningin ay tumingin at magmasid. Ang may paningin ay magbantay at magtanod. Tunay nga na ang pagbabantay at pagtatanod ay maliit na kabayaran nating kapalit ng pananatiling maging lahing malaya at bayang marangal.

Ang may paningin ay tumingin at magmasid. Ang may paningin ay magbantay at magtanod. Tunay nga na ang pagbabantay at pagtatanod ay maliit na kabayaran nating kapalit ng pananatiling maging lahing malaya at bayang marangal.

Maingay na naman ang bayan. Kailangan nga tayong mag-ingay sapagkat ang nakawan sa kaban ng bayan ay tahimik na nagaganap nang hindi natin namamalayan. Dahan dahan tayong nasasanay sa mga gawi ng mga sinungaling. Tahimik tayong nadadala sa mga gawi ng mga mandarambong. Ang nasa kapangyarihan ay halos ginawa ng hanapbuhay ang pangungurakot. Ang mga kalaban naman ay parang naglalaway na naghihintay sa kanilang panahong mangurakot din kapag napatalsik na ang kasalukuyang pinuno.

Ang may paningin ay tumingin at magmasid. Pati na marahil ang mga bulag ay alam ang kurakot sa ating pamahalaan. Ang hindi na lamang nakakaalam ang mga nagbubulag-bulagan.

Marami nga ang nagbubulag-bulagan na lamang. Wika ng mga nagbubulag-bulagan: “Marami namang gumagawa niyan. Tumutulong naman sila sa amin kahit nangungurakot sila. Wala naman silang masamang ginagawa laban sa pamilya ko. Matagal ng ganyan yan. Hindi na mababago yan”.

Ang masama ay nagwawagi sapagkat ang mga taong may paningin ay nagbubulag-bulagan.


Sa harap ng dilim na hatid ng pagiging bulag, ang ating unang lunas ay panalangin. Lumapit tayo kay Jesus na liwanag at sabihin natin “Nais ko pong makakita” Maaari nating ibulong kay Jesus na buksan ang mata ng lahat upang makakita. Tingnan sana natin ang lahat mula sa pananaw ng Panginoon.

Hindi sapat ang panalangin. Ang panalangin ay dapat na magbunsod sa atin upang magpakasakit. Hindi rin sapat ang pagpapakasakit. Ang pagpapakasakit ay dapat na maghatid sa atin sa kawang gawa at pagmamalasakit sa kapwa. Ang tunay na palanangin ay dapat na maghatid tungo sa pag-aalay sa kapwa.


Ito ang kailangan ng bayan—panalanging may pagkilos. Ang pagkilos ay bunga ng matiyagang pag-aaral at pagninilay. Ang pagkilos na hindi nagmumula sa panalangin at pagninilay ay madalas na mahina ang ugat at mapait ang bunga.

Ano ang mga pagkilos na dapat natin gawin?

Ang lahat ng pagkilos ay dapat na maghatid sa atin sa paghihilom ng ating lipunan. Ang lahat ng pagkilos ay dapat na umakay sa atin sa pagpapanumbalik ng pamumuhay na marangal at malinis. Ang anumang ating pagkilos ay dapat na maglantad sa buong katotohahan.

Kung napag-isipan ninyo na ang panawagan para sa pagbibitiw ng mga may kinalaman sa nakawan sa pamahalaan ay siyang lunas, maaari kayong manawagan nang gayon subalit gawin ito sa paraang mapayapa at makatotohahan at ayon sa batas. Kung udyok ng inyong konsensiya na mag noise barrage o mag rally, humayo kayo at gawin ito subalit tiyakin nating malinis ang kalooban.

Kung ang inyo namang pananaw ay itaguyod muna ang pagpapanibago at huwag manawagan para sa pagbibitiw, maaari rin ninyo itong gawin subalit tiyaking ang inyong panawagan ay pinakikinggan, ang mga pangako ay natutupad at hindi napaglalaruan lamang.

Anuman ang inyong ipasyang pagkilos, tiyaking ito ay galing sa panalangin! Tiyaking ito ay may may paggalang sa batas at hindi marahas! Tiyaking ito ay para sa bayan at hindi para sa sariling kapakanan.

Liwanagan nawa ni Jesus ang ating pananaw at paningin! Paghilumin nawa ni Jesus ang sugat ng ating bayan. Kailangan natin ng liwanag! Amen!

Mula sa Katedral ng San Jose, Lungsod ng Balanga, Ikalawa ng Marso, 2008

Obispo ng Balanga

27 February 2008

Moro-Moro at Cenakulo

The bishops have spoken.
The palace have been quick to exploit it - not unexpectedly.
A strong backing delivered on a silver platter.
And the vicious cycle of corruption whirled its happy whirl again.

Dear bishops, what would you do if the President doesn't follow your "urgings"? Or simply go through the motions of fighting corruption for the next two years but doesn't really mean it?

How could you simply dismiss the possibility that she is behind, and beneficiary of, many of these corruption cases? How could you?

You ask the flock to be brave, to get involved, to create "circles of discernment". Should we then seek the truth with the same level of zeal that you have sought it? Should we fight corruption with the same amount of risk-taking that you have shown us? Should we toil for our conversion and that of the nation's soul in the same manner that you have tried to redeem yourselves in the eyes of the people?

Should you just have said: Follow what we preach, not what we do?

Palace forms legal team to study possible lifting of EO 464 as recommended by CBCP

Malacañang is forming a legal team which will study the possible lifting of Executive Order 464 in response to the call of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said he was directed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to “immediately” form the legal group before she left Malacañang to visit Davao City this morning.

The President’s instruction was for him to immediately call a meeting with the team at 4 p.m. today to study the CBCP’s recommendation on EO 464, Ermita said at his weekly press conference at Malacañang’s New Executive Building (NEB) this afternoon.

The legal team will be composed of the Secretary of the Department of Justice, the Solicitor General, the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, the Deputy Executive Secretary for legal affairs, and the legal officers of government corporate counsels.

“All these things (CBCP recommendations) will be reviewed by the legal team so that we can come up with a very substantial recommendation to the President to respond to the recommendation of the CBCP,” Ermita said.

“You can be sure that this will be presented to the President very well,” he added.

On Tuesday, the CBCP called on the President to revoke EO 464 and allow members of her official family and other top government officials to testify before congressional hearings to shed light on alleged irregularities involving the government.

The CBCP also said that the search for truth must be pursued relentlessly amid the pervading cancer of corruption.

EO 464 bans government officials from testifying in congressional inquiries without the President’s permission.

Ermita recalled that the President issued EO 464 after National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales Jr. was humiliated when he appeared before a Senate inquiry.

Earlier, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez clarified that abolishing EO 464 would require “careful study because there are laws and jurisprudence that have to be considered before we come up with a decision."

He said EO 464 bans the disclosure of highly confidential information such as trade secrets and national security. The Supreme Court, in its 2006 decision, upheld Malacañang on the confidentiality issue involving first level officials of the government.

Gonzalez also clarified that the President was not prohibiting her officials from appearing before legislative inquiries. However, he noted that legislators oftentimes go beyond their authority when questioning ranking officials of the government.

"They must show respect to the people they invite," Gonzalez said.

Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye welcomed the CBCP statement and thanked the church leaders “for not succumbing to the propaganda of rabid oppositionists who are bent on overturning the gains of the country’s strong economy.”

“We welcome the statement of the CBCP which exhorts everyone to fight corruption and search for truth. The recommendations addressed to the executive, the legislative and the media certainly deserve very serious consideration,” Bunye said in a statement.

He pointed out that the “Philippines deserves a respite from frantic, irrational and dangerous calls for the President to resign, while the real truth has yet to be established by the court of law.”

“Let us be discerning about the motives of detractors while maintaining a sharp focus on uplifting the lives of the greater peaceful majority,” he added.

Palace expects political tension to dissipate after CBCP refuses to call on PGMA to step down

Malacañang expressed confidence today that the country’s volatile political situation would lose some of its tension after the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) chose not to join the renewed calls for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down.

The CBCP, in a marathon 11-hour long meeting to discuss measures it could take to address the turmoil affecting the country’s political system, came out with a pastoral statement yesterday urging the President instead to take the lead in the fight against graft and corruption “wherever they are found.”

In his weekly press conference this afternoon, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the CBCP’s position and their strong influence on the Catholic population will “guide” their followers to be more “discernible” and temper their emotions from joining further protest actions.

“We are hoping it will result to that because the CBCP, speaking on behalf of the Catholic population of the Philippines, definitely wield a lot of influence and therefore, with this position taken in their special meeting yesterday, we are very hopeful and with the grace of God, indeed there will be more discerning people who will not add any more tension to the prevailing situation,” Ermita said.

He added that the CBCP’s statement was very “significant” in the light of mounting calls for the President to resign her post because it urges the continued search for truth.

“It is very significant that the CBCP had taken this position and I am sure that a great majority of our people will be guided by this,” Ermita said.

Misa para sa Katotoohan asin Paninimbagan

More pictures from the Misa para sa Katotoohan asin Paninimbagan (Mass for Truth and Accountability) at the St. Stephen Martyr Parish patio, 27 February 2008, 4 pm, Ligao City, Albay.

Bishop Quiambao presided, together with 40+ priest concelebrants. Monsignor Tronqued delivered the homily.

Statements were read from the Aquinas University of Legazpi (Jun Lozada's high school alma mater) and Divine Word College of Legazpi, as well as the CBCP Statement "Seeking the Truth, Restoring Identity", and the Pastoral Letter of the diocese "Communal Action for Truth and Accountability". Jun Lozada also gave a phone-patch message.

The participants, with lighted candles, sang Heal our Land and Bayan Ko.


Msgr. Ramon C. Tronqued, Vicar General of Legazpi, reading the Pastoral Letter on Communal Action for Truth and Accountability at the Misa para sa Katotoohan asin Paninimbagan, 27 February 2008, Ligao City, Albay


P.O. Box 38
, Legazpi City 4500, Philippines

PASTORAL BULLETIN NO. 2, Series of 2008

To: People of God in Legazpi, All Men and Women of Good Will and Faith

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.” (Rom 12,9)

The recent allegation of new cases of corruption committed by high government officials and influential personalities, notably in the ZTE-NBN deal, has once again put our country at a moral and political crossroad.

One of the more crucial testimonies comes from whistleblower, Mr. Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada, a technical consultant in several government projects who hails from Ligao City in our diocese.

The great majority of our people clamors for a peaceful and meaningful resolution to this latest scandal. For that to happen, truth has to be revealed and justice, particularly accountability, has to hold sway.

Unfortunately, there is so much distrust in the present leadership of our country. Democratic institutions that are duty-bound to promote truth and accountability are seen by many to function mainly as instruments to maintain the hold of those in power.

In the face of this recent turn of events, what should we, as People of God, do?

The bishops of the Philippines, after our recent Plenary Assembly this January, released the Pastoral Statement: “Reform yourselves and believe in the Gospel (Mk 1,15)”. In it we expressed our conviction that the patent subordination of the common good to the good of the few – the dark stain of our social and political life – may yet be conquered by a burning desire for genuine conversion first as individuals, then as communities of faith.

We need first to recognize and beg forgiveness for our sinfulness and our complicity, in one way or another, to the tangled web of corruption that afflicts our nation. And then rise to commit ourselves to make our “love genuine; hate what is evil; and hold fast to what is good” (Rom 12,9).

We support Mr. Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada for his decision to find redemption by embracing the truth. We encourage others who are also privy to such acts of corruption to also come out and speak up in order to set things right for themselves and for our country.

We appeal especially to our public officials, from lowly government functionaries to the President and her Cabinet, to heed the call of genuine social transformation by truth-telling and accepting accountability, even if it may come to making the painful sacrifice of stepping down from power if the interest of the common good demands it.

We exhort our parishes, schools, religious organizations, basic ecclesial communities (BECs), various groups and, especially, families to form ourselves into circles of prayer, discernment and action. We echo the words we used in 1986 after the Snap Election: we need to “pray together, reason together, decide together, act together”.

By our communal prayer, discernment and action let us find effective ways to let the truth be revealed, let those in power be held accountable, let social responsibility be the mark of our citizenry and let immoderate greed and corruption be a thing of the past.

This may not be the shortcut to another attempt at regime change that some sectors would like to happen, but this painstaking process is precisely what we need. Trust God to let our steadfast commitment to communal prayer and action, done in “Spirit and truth” (Jn 4,24), bear the fruit of meaningful change that we all long for.

To help our discernment, we propose that we read, reflect on and discuss the CBCP Pastoral Statement “Reform yourselves and believe in the Gospel (Mk 1,15)” and the short monograph “Corruption and Communion: Struggling for Integrity in Philippine Church and Society” by Rev. Fr. Albert Alejo, S.J., convenor of the Ehem! Anti-Corruption Movement.

We are also distributing to our parishes and religious communities, a special Prayers of the Faithful, in English and Bikol, composed specifically to respond to our present situation. The theme of our traditional Siete Palabras reflections this Good Friday will be our “Reverence to Human Life and Nature”.

May this season of Lent and these turbulent times be a graced moment of genuine conversion and pave the way for a new Easter for each of us and for our country.

Sincerely in His service,

Bishop Administrator of Legazpi

27 February 2008

Seeking the Truth, Restoring Integrity

Statement of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines

Bishop Quiambao, reading the CBCP Statement to the crowd gathered at the Misa para sa Katotoohan asin Paninimbagan, 27 February 2008, Ligao City, Albay.

Beloved People of God:

Greetings in the peace of the Lord!

Today in the midst of restlessness and confusion, we come to you as pastors, for that is our precise role. We do not come as politicians whose vocation it is to order society towards the common good. Our message contributes to the flourishing of a democracy which must not be built only on political formulae.

We face today a crisis of truth and the pervading cancer of corruption. We must seek the truth and we must restore integrity. These are moral values needing spiritual and moral insights.

Therefore, we address this pastoral statement to everyone particularly you our beloved people and in a special way to our political rulers and officials.

We are convinced that the search for truth in the midst of charges and allegations must be determined and relentless, and that the way to truth and integrity must be untrammeled, especially at the present time when questions about the moral ascendancy of the present government are being raised.

For this reason, we strongly:

1. Condemn the continuing culture of corruption from the top to the bottom of our social and political ladder;

2. Urge the President and all the branches of government to take the lead in combating corruption wherever it is found;

3. Recommend the abolition of EO 464 so that those who might have knowledge of any corruption in branches of government, may be free to testify before the appropriate investigating bodies;

4. Ask the President to allow her subordinates to reveal any corrupt acts, particularly about the ZTE-NBN deal, without being obstructed in their testimony no matter who is involved;

5. Appeal to our senators and the ombudsman to use their distinct and different powers of inquiry into alleged corruption cases not for their own interests but for the common good;

6. Call on media to be a positive resource of seeking the truth and combating corruption by objective reporting without bias and partiality, selective and tendentious reporting of facts;

For the long term we reiterate our call for “circles of discernment” at the grassroots level, in our parishes, Basic Ecclesial Communities, recognized lay organizations and movements, religious institutions, schools, seminaries and universities. It is through internal conversion into the maturity of Christ through communal and prayerful discernment and action that the roots of corruption are discovered and destroyed. We believe that such communal action will perpetuate at the grassroots level the spirit of People Power so brilliantly demonstrated to the world at EDSA I. It is People Power with a difference. From the grassroots will come out a culture of truth and integrity we so deeply seek and build. We instruct our CBCP Commissions to take active role including networking for this purpose.

May the Lord bless us in this sacred undertaking to build a new kind of Philippines and may our Blessed Mother be our companion and guide in this journey to truth and integrity.

For and on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

+Angel Lagdameo, D.D.
Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
February 26, 2008


"Urge the President and all the branches of government to take the lead in combating corruption wherever it is found..."


EDSA 22nd Anniversary Mass at Baclaran Church

Laban para sa Katotohanan at Pagbabago

Homilya ni Pde. Joey Echano, CSsR
Misa sa paggunita sa ika-22 Anibersaryo
ng mapayapang rebolusyon sa EDSA

Simbahan ng Bacalaran, ika-25 ng Pebrero 2008

Una sa lahat, sa ngalan po ng Redemptorist community dito sa Baclaran malugod ko kayong tinatanggap at wini-welcome sa Pambansang Dambana ng Ina ng Laging Saklolo. Tayo ngayon ay nasa harap ng banal na larawan ng ating Mahal na Ina ng Laging Saklolo. Tunay na ang ating mahal na Ina ay saksi sa mga makasaysayang pangyayari sa ating bansa.

Noong 1986, ang mga Comelec computer encoders na nagtatabulate ng boto ng snap elections ay humingi ng kanlungan dito sa dambana ng ating mahal na ina pagkatapos na sila ay nag walk out sa kanilang mga computer consoles sa PICC sapagkat ipinapagawa sa kanila ang isang bagay na di nila kayang masikmura – ang pagdaya at pagtakip sa katotohanan. Alam naman nating lahat na ang walk out na ito para sa katotohanan ang isa sa mga naging mitsa ng people power noong EDSA 1.

Ngayon tayo muli ay lumalapit sa kanyang banal na larawan sa panahong pilit na itinatago at pinagtatakpan sa atin ang katotohanan. Tayo ay nahaharap sa isang krisis ng katotohanan at moralidad sa pamamahala na nagbabadya ng panganib at kapahamakan. Subalit ito rin ang naging mitsa upang muli ang sambayanan ay magsama-sama at mapukaw sa pagkakahimbing.

Sa paglapit natin kay Maria sa gitna ng paghahanap natin ng katotohanan, si Maria sa kanyang larawan ay itinuturo tayo sa kanyang anak na si Jesus. Lagi tayong pinapa-alalahanan ni Maria na dapat tayong naka-sentro kay Kristo. Narinig natin si Jesus sa ebanghelyo: "Kung tinutupad ninyo ang aking aral, kayo nga'y tunay na mga alagad ko; v32makikilala ninyo ang katotohanan, at ang katotohanan ang magpapalaya sa inyo." Kung tayo’y nakasentro kay Kristo malalaman natin ang katotohanan. Malalaman natin ang katotohanan kung tayo lamang ay nakasentro kay Jesus. Si Jesus ang katotohanan. Si Jesus ang tunay na laging saklolo ni Maria. Samakatuwid, si Jesus ang katotohanan, ang ating walang hanggang saklolo.

Mga kapatid, tunay na maraming kasinungalingan at pagtakip sa katotohanan sa ating bansa ngayon hindi lamang sa pinakamataas pati na rin sa pinakamababa, mula sa lipunan hanggang sa personal. Isa sa pinakamalaking sakit na yata ng ating bansa ngayon ay “Truth Decay.” Malala na masyado ang truth decay kaya hindi na kaya ng pasta at root canal na lamang, kailangan nang bunutin ito.

Ang sinasabi nila: “Huwag na nating pag-usapan ang katotohanan. Mag move on na lang tayo.” Oo masakit ang katotohanan, pero kailangan natin ang katotohanan upang tayo ay umunlad. Sinasabi nila na tayo daw ay nag-iingay at nanggugulo lamang. Bakit di na lang tayo sumabay sa pag-unlad ng ekonomiya?

Ang sinasabi natin ay walang tunay na kaunlaran kung walang katotohanan. Ang ating bansa ay di makakamove-on kung nababalot ng kasinungalingan at kaplastikan. Mas mabuti pang gobyerno na may mababang pag-unlad subalit ang nakikinabang ay ang mga mahihirap, pero isang gobyernong na totoo naman keysa isang gobyerno na may mataas na pag-unlad kuno subalit ang nakikinabang naman ay ang mga makapangyarihan at mayayaman, pero isang gobyernong sinungaling naman.

Marami tayong gustong malaman na katotohanan, maliban sa nakakagimbal na NBN-ZTE deal, gusto natin malaman ang katotohanan sa likod ng extra-judicial killing – humigit kumulang 800 na ang pinaslang ng walang pangkatarungang proseso, at 100 na ang sapilitang nawawala, sa fertilizer scam, sa Hello Garci scam, sa north rail at south rail.

Ngayon tuloy lang ba tayo sa pag-unlad samantalang maraming dumi na itinatago sa ilalim ng carpet? Hindi sapat laman na malaman natin ang katotohanan. Ang katotohanan ay may kaalinsunod na pananagutan. Kailangang panagutin ang may sala at palayain ang walang sala. Hindi kalimutan na lang natin at magkasundo na tayo. Ang mahirap sa ating mga Pilipino, maikli ang ating memorya. Kay dali nating makalimot at mabagal tayong matuto.

“Makikilala ninyo ang katotohanan, at ang katotohanan ang magpapalaya sa inyo." Sa ating pagtuklas sa katotohanan, tayo ay nagiging malaya. Dahil sa katotohanan muli ang buong bansa ngayon ay nagising at nagsasama-sama at nilalanghap ang matamis na simoy ng kalayaan.

Ipinagdiriwang natin ngayon ang ika 22 taon ng people power. Marami sa atin ay nagsesentimento. Nasaan na ba ang mga pangunahing personalidad ng EDSA 1? Maraming nagsabi sa akin, Fr. Nami-miss namin si Cardinal Sin. Tanong ng iba: Bakit ang ating mga Obispo ngayon ay di mag-ala Cardinal Sin?

Si FVR at Enrile ay may kanya-kanya nang landas. Pero si Tita Cory ay nandito pa rin, hindi ka nag-iisa. At mayroon naman tayong mga bagong bayani – nandyan si Jun Lozada ang uragon kong kababayan. Jun, ngayon ikaw ang Philippine idol – lalong-lalo na sa mga nagtitiktik sayo. Si Juan de la Cruz ay nakatagpo ng kanyang kapuso at kapamilya kay Jun Lozada. Si Juan de la Cruz ay malayo sa pagiging perfecto, katulad ni Jun Lozada. Subalit si Jun Lozada ay pilit na di bumibitiw sa natitirang dangal ng kanyang gula-gulanit na kalooban at pangalan. Kaya’t hindi nakapagtataka na kay Jun Lozada si Juan de la Cruz ay nais maging bayani sa kabila ng kanyang pangkaraniwang pagkatao at maraming sablay sa daan ng kanyang paglalakbay.

Kung kaya’t, higit sa lahat ay nandyan kayo, ang taumbayan. Mayroong bayani kung titingin lamang kayo sa loob ng inyong sarili. Ang pagiging bayani sa loob ng inyong sarili ay umuugnay sa bayani na nasa loob ng inyong kapwa Pilipino. Ang pagpapalabas at pagbabahaginan ng ating pagiging bayani ay ang simula ng people power. Ang bayanihan – ito ang people power. Ang people power ay tayo. Tayo ang people power. Ang pagbabago ay tayo, tayo ang pagbabago.

Ngayon pagkatapos ng 22 taon, nasaan na tayo? Nakakalungkot isipin na kaunti ang pagbabago lalo na sa pamamaraan ng pagpapatakbo ng ating bansa. Ang mga family dynasties ang siya pa ring naghahari sa ating politika samantalang ang corruption at ganid ay malalim nang nakabaon sa ating sistema ng politika.

Kung kaya’t sabi nila di na pahihintulutan muli ng mundo ang panibagong “People Power”. Sabi naman ng iba bigo ang people power sapagkat malinaw na hindi ito nakapagdulot ng pangmatagalang pagbabago sa ating sistema political.

Patay na ba ang People Power? Noong nanawagan ang mga obispo ng isang “communal action” bilang tugon sa mga nagaganap sa ating bansa parang mabagal at mababaw ang ating pagtugon. Bagama’t mayroong nagaganap na maliliit na mga pagkilos sa iba’t ibang lugar, hindi ito katulad ng mga nakaraang pagkilos na puno ng ingay, sigla sa gitna ng pagkabalisa at diskuntento bago mag-EDSA 1 o EDSA 2.

Napagod na ba tayo sa people power? O Natuto tayo sa mga nakaraan nating kamalian?

Kung naghahanap tayo ng dating ekspresyon ng people power, wala na ito. Ang mga naglalakihang rali at demonstrasyon, ang mga slogang puno ng paghihikayat at pagsisiwalat, ang pagsasanib ng iba’t ibang sektor sa isang tukoy na panawagang pulitikal ay wala na.

Subalit huwag tayong magpalinlang na ang people power ay wala na, katulad ng nais ipaniwala sa atin ng mga may kapangyarihan. Ang pagkabalisa, pagkabigo, ang matinding pagnanais ng pagbabago, ang paghahangad ng pagkakaisa ay buhay na buhay. Datapawat, ang lahat ng ito ay naghahanap ng bagong ekspresyon ng pagpapahayag, ng bagong pamamaraan, ng bagong simbolo.

Isang aral na napulot natin sa nakaraan ay ang samasamang pagkilos o communal action ay hindi nakabatay sa malalaking personalidad at mga politiko. Gayundin naman ang mga kaparian at Obispo ay hindi taga-likha ng direksyon para sa mga tao. Sila ay moral na gabay sa mga tao at tagapagbigay sigla’t lakas sa mga laykong kasapi ng simbahan na siyang pangunahing responsable sa paghuhubog ng pulitikal at pang-ekonomiyang larangan ng ating lipunan. Ang samasamang pagkilos ay dapat talagang isang proseso ng samasamang pagninilay at pagtugon ng bawat kasapi ng komunidad.

Hindi patay ang people power. Ito ay sisibol sa tamang panahon na may malakas na kapangyarihan at mas mayamang kahulugan. Ang people power ay hindi nagtatapos sa pagtanggal sa luklukan ng mga may kapangyarihan at wala ng moralidad na umupo. Ang people power ay ang pagbabago ng buong sistema sa ating lipunan at sarili.

Mga kapatid, isang dakilang biyaya ang nagaganap sa ating bansa. Huwag lamang tayong maging usisero. Wag tayong tagapagkutya lamang sa mga nangyayari. Sabi nga ng makatang si Dante Alighieri: “Ang pinakamainit na apoy sa impyerno ay nakalaan doon sa mga taong nagsawalang kibo sa panahon ng krisis ng moralidad.” Tama na, sobra na, kumilos na!

Mahal na Ina ng Laging Saklolo, ipanalangin mo kami sa aming pagsunod kay Kristo ang katotohanan at aming laging saklolo patungo sa landas ng pagbabago ng aming sarili at aming bayan.

26 February 2008

Communal Action according to GMA's spin doctors and the bishops who love her

Here is a 1-page ad which appeared today on the Phil Star. It's a selection of quotable quotes from Catholic Church officials, many of them bishops, collated to create the impression of a consensus favoring a rather narrow interpretation of what "communal action" means, i.e., pray, organize, cry yourself hoarse, do anything so long as it won't lead to the President stepping down from office.

"We in the Mindanao block want GMA to finish her term until 2010." (Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan)

"I support the Arroyo administration". (Bishop Martin Jumoad of Basilan)

"There was 'not enough reason' to support the calls for Mrs. Arroyo's resignation, but her administration should rectify the purported corruption. My own stand is no resignation." (Auxiliary Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo of Cotabato)

Suffice it to say I am deeply embarrassed by these statements' collective assault against sensibility, reason and morals.

As to my other sentiments, charity and prudence dictate that I speak no more.

People Power Anniversary Rally in Legazpi City - 25 February 2008

Photos courtesy of Bayan Bikol

Consider this post my vicarious participation in the EDSA Day celebration here in Legazpi. Too bad I was holed-in the whole morning inside the Chancery. We had a meeting of the Board of Consultors. The Redemptorist priests in the pictures are Fr. Brian Espejo, CSsR and Fr. Oliver Castor, CSsR, respectively.

22 February 2008

Bishops split on Arroyo quit call, But all urge truth in NBN deal, end to corruption

Comment on an excerpt:

"Mass for Truth

"In Legazpi City, Fr. Rex Paul Arjona, chancellor of the Legazpi diocese, said the bishops of Albay province would make their stand known in time.

"It may coincide with the Mass for Truth and Accountability scheduled for Friday in Ligao City, hometown of whistle-blower Lozada.

"The Mass will be celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Lucilo Quiambao."

The Misa para sa Katotoohan asin Paninimbagan has been postponed to 27 February, Wednesday, due to bad weather. Although the weather has already improved today, the rains, which poured almost daily for more than a week, have caused floods and landslides, making unpassable a number of roads within the province.

The main presider for Wednesday's Mass will still be Bishop Lucilo Quiambao, the Apostolic Administrator (no longer Auxiliary Bishop). The homilist will be Monsignor Ramon Tronqued, Vicar General of the Diocese. In the morning, a meeting of Church lay leaders, NGOs and academe representatives will be held at the Social Action Center to discuss the concrete steps the diocese will be taking as far as "communal action' is concerned.

Bishops split on Arroyo quit call
But all urge truth in NBN deal, end to corruption

By Inquirer Bureaus

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:59:00 02/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- There is a strong demand among bishops in the provinces for the truth to emerge in the scandal-ridden National Broadband Network (NBN) project, but President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation or ouster is an issue that divides them.

Of the 12 prelates reached by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Tuesday and Wednesday, only one -- Puerto Princesa Bishop Pedro D. Arigo -- openly said the President should step down.

“She should resign,” Arigo said. “Tama na, sobra na (Enough is enough)!”

Zambales Bishop Florentino Lavarias said he would abide by whatever decision the leaders of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines would reach regarding the calls for Ms Arroyo’s resignation.

Pampanga Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, on the other hand, said he was calling for the resignation of the members of the Arroyo Cabinet.

David said the CBCP was categorical in saying that Catholics should “reject evil.”

No qualified successor

“I ask the Catholics among [the Cabinet officials] to stop receiving communion, confess their lives and make the sacrifice demanded of them -- repair the damage they’ve done to the nation’s soul and well-being,” he said, adding:

“They still have a way out of the hell they are in now.”

Six Church leaders -- Bishops Carlito Cenzon of Baguio, Florentino Cinense of Tarlac, Crispin Varquez of Borongan, Martin Jumoad of Basilan and Juan de Dios Pueblos of Butuan, and Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo -- want Ms Arroyo to complete her term.

Varquez said that while he agreed that Malacañang under Ms Arroyo had committed some blunders, there was no qualified candidate to take her place.

Bagaforo said there was “not enough reason” to support the calls for Ms Arroyo’s resignation, but her administration should rectify the purported corruption.

“My own stand is no resignation,” he said.

Church as ‘energizer’

Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra called on the people to back whistle-blower Rodolfo Lozada Jr. and on Commission on Higher Education Chair Romulo Neri to speak the truth about the scrapped NBN deal with China’s ZTE Corp.

But Navarra stopped short of calling for the President’s resignation, saying: “The Church is just an energizer in the campaign against corruption.”

Laguna Bishop Leo Drona said he was one with the CBCP in its call for communal action in the face of the purported bribery and overprice that attended the NBN-ZTE deal.

He said communal action simply meant that the people should “pray together, reflect together, decide together and act together.”

General Santos Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez said that instead of stepping down, the President should take a leave of absence for some “soul-searching.”

Gutierrez also said he did not expect the CBCP to initiate moves to oust Ms Arroyo. He said that if there would be change, it should start with the people themselves.

“But the initiation should be a product of faith and discernment -- soul-searching, analyzing and asking what is God’s will,” he added.

There are 98 bishops in the country, according to the CBCP.

‘So much corruption’

Jumoad of Basilan said he continued to support the Arroyo administration.

“But at the same time, I also recognize the existence of so much corruption, and I hope [the ongoing protest actions] will wake her up [so she can] correct where she is wrong,” he said.

Pueblos of Butuan, who is known for his closeness to the President, said: “We in the Mindanao bloc [of the CBCP] want GMA (Ms Arroyo) to finish her term until 2010.”

He said the bloc would request a meeting with the CBCP leadership in Manila so it could air its position on the latest scandal to rock the Arroyo administration.

Pueblos conceded that there was a real need to combat “rampant corruption in government,” but said the campaign must “start at the grass roots level and not from the top.”

He said those involved in the NBN-ZTE deal should be criminally charged and tried.

Cenzon of Baguio said he was not among those calling on Ms Arroyo to step down because there were “no established or proven grounds” for her to do so.

Cinense of Tarlac said he could not support the calls for resignation because he had yet to hear the complete story: “I cannot make a judgment based on what I read in newspapers and see on TV. I’m still waiting for more information. I’m still studying the issue.”

Mass for Truth

In Legazpi City, Fr. Rex Paul Arjona, chancellor of the Legazpi diocese, said the bishops of Albay province would make their stand known in time.

It may coincide with the Mass for Truth and Accountability scheduled for Friday in Ligao City, hometown of whistle-blower Lozada.

The Mass will be celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Lucilo Quiambao.

But a streamer on the concrete fence of the Redemptorist Church in Barangay Gogon carries this message: “Oust Gloria!”

For a while, the message had merely read: “GMA resign!”

Last week, Bishops Ramon Villena (Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino) and Rodolfo Beltran (Mt. Province and Ifugao) and Cagayan Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan issued a statement urging the faithful “not [to] seek confrontation, certainly not revolution or violence” amid the crisis.

They said they wanted “communal action for deep reflection, discernment, sobriety and for the way of peace.”

Slow burn

The CBCP leadership expects a slow-burn anticorruption drive against the administration rather than a sudden toppling of Ms Arroyo.

Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, the CBCP president, said on Wednesday that apathy and cynicism about the last “people power” revolt that brought Ms Arroyo to power in 2001 meant that many Filipinos were in no rush to take to the streets again despite the NBN-ZTE scandal.

“The Filipino people, we together through communal action, must discover a new brand of people power,” he had said.

Lagdameo called last week for communal action but said civil society groups should take the lead in “a sustained national campaign against graft and corruption.”

Going with people

“We are not actually turning our back to [people power]; we have to go where our people are going,” he told Reuters. “If that (people power) is there ... who are we to stop it?”

Lagdameo also said that even if the CBCP were to call for immediate rallies, he doubted that it would get the hundreds of thousands that poured into the streets in 2001 and 1986.

“Our youth seem to be very satisfied about what is going on in their lives,” he said, smiling. Reports from Julie Alipala, Aquiles Zonio, Orlando Dinoy, Edwin Fernandez, Franklin Caliguid, Ma. Cecilia Rodriguez and Grace Albasin, Inquirer Mindanao; Desiree Caluza, Cristina Arzadon and Yolanda Sotelo-Fuertes, Inquirer Northern Luzon; Russell Arador, Cesar Villa, Carmela Reyes and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon; Redempto Anda, Romulo Ponte and Joanna Los Baños, Inquirer Southern Luzon; Eliza Victoria, Inquirer Research

21 February 2008

Battle of the Pictures

How Malacañang operators attempted a show of strength and support for GMA.
Strange how a picture, supposedly worth a thousand words, can only manage to say one thing: PANIC!

How the University of Santo Tomas decided to speak up concerning NBN-ZTE.
Strange how a hitherto insignificant yearbook photo, blurred by age and outdated technology, can speak so eloquently about school pride and redemption.

In this oh-so-postmodern battle of arresting images, sound bites and catch phrases, almost everybody but the staunchest in-denial supporter knows who is winning. Looks like some people still haven't learned their lesson ever since the "Harapan" incident over ABS-CBN. Or in episode after episode of "1 vs 100".

Truth is not in numbers. It's in the adequation between what one says and what is real. Get the truth first, then the numbers will follow. Not the other way around.

20 February 2008

DLSU, PREX & ZTE-NBN: The Church's involvement thickens

Nuns serving as bodyguards. Two rival Catholic universities joining forces to act as champions of truth and accountability. Bishops issuing pastoral letters. Civil society groups trying to wring to the last revolutionist drop of meaning the bishops' ambivalent message of "communal action". Lay Catholic groups organizing mass actions. And now, Parish Renewal Experience (PREX) national head couple Manny and Maribel Gaite. It was Deputy Executive Sec. Manny Gaite who gave (loaned?) Jun Lozada P.5Million so he could find relative comfort in cold London/Hong Kong.

Whoever says the Philippine Church should not interfere in politics doesn't know this country well enough. For many members of the Church, involvement is not so much a matter of choice, as a matter of office, or duty, or even necessity. It is partly borne out of the reality that, other faiths notwithstanding, this is a Catholic country. The operative principle here, it seems, is "6 degrees of Catholic separation". Am I feeling triumphalistic? Hardly. Just look at the players involved in this latest scandal. Considering that most of them are Catholics doesn't really make a strong case in favor of 350+ years of Catholic presence.

Maribel Gaite explains her husband's moral uprightness and describes her family's "moment of darkness". Manny Gaite then states his case. The Gaite couple's separate statements both underscore the pain and anguish brought upon the innocents by this latest national preoccupation. Like statistics of extra-judicial killings, the steady flow of info upon info tends to numb the national consciousness from the chilling effects this scandal has caused the families of those involved.

Unfortunately, insensitive as it may appear, the question has to be asked: who is telling the truth? Gaite or Lozada? Logic dictates that between two contradictory statements, there can only be two results: one of them is right and the other false, or both of them are false. Is it possible that they are both telling the truth as they see it, and still both be guilty of collusion, in one way or another, to a/several case/s of robbing the people? Since as of the latest "Harapan", Lozada enjoys the confidence of a whooping 92% of the Kapamilya public, Gaite naturally feels unjustly judged.

To Manny Gaite, my litmus test would have to be this: Above and amidst all of it, do you still consider yourself pro-PGMA? If you are as upright as your wife claims you are (and I'm almost inclined to think so, too), then why are you still there in Malacañang? Why still make yourself party to the many stealing, cheating and lying being done there? And if you think I'm judging already this present dispensation, you understate my sentiments.

Ideally, Manny Gaite should enjoy presumption of innocence. But in real life, he carries the burden of guilt, which means he has to do more than just prove he had no hand in the attempts not to have Lozada attend the Senate hearings or that he acted out of humanitarian consideration. It also entails explaining the paradox - which he and his wife created - that he is an immaculate sheepdog yet totally not out-of-place in that lair of wolves called Malacañang.

Rightly or wrongly, so many people in government will be judged not by hard evidence but by perceived loyalty to the President. Then again, can you blame the public, they who, through the likes of Lozada, now have an inkling as to how they've been robbed and raped, repeatedly, without impunity, by those in power?

P.S. For a circumstantial-evidence-backed, but generally convincing (at least for me), opinion on Manny Gaite's involvement in the NBN-ZTE-Lozada affair click this blog.

From: edgardo feliciano <edfel415@yahoo. com>
To: groups prex <prex@yahoogroups. com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 4:47:26 PM
Subject: PREX THE LORD!!! letter of ate abel and statement of kuya manny

Dear Br. Bernie FSC and my Lasallian family,

I would like to respectfully furnish you and our community with a copy of the statement of my husband, Deputy Executive Secretary Manuel Gaite in the light of the repeated public allegations of Mr. Jun Lozada against him.

The words of St. Augustine "No one can claim a monopoly of the truth" are what have kept my husband and I going at this darkest hour of our family life. I fully stand by the integrity and honesty of my husband and I know he is not capable of doing anything as dishonorable as what Mr. Lozada have kept telling the senate and the media.

It is very sad that when my husband finally got a chance to face Mr. Lozada in the senate and state the facts from his side, Mr. Lozada so easily got away with his very damaging statements in the previous days. I vividly recall how in a previous senate hearing before my husband was called to testify, not to mention in many media interviews, Mr. Lozada so freely maligned the name of my husband, saying among others, that it was my husband who told him to lie, go to Hongkong to evade the senate, and allegedly used the term "delatory tactic" to orchestrate the entire cover up.

When my husband finally got his chance to be heard in the senate, at one point, Mr. Lozada corrected himself, saying he must have confused my husband with another lawyer. And Mr. Lozada so easily got away with it, just like that, and still earned himself the description of a very credible and consistent witness thereafter.

Last Saturday night, when my husband was not there in the "Harapan" to be able to promptly refute, clarify or correct Mr. Lozada's heavy allegations, Mr. Lozada again so freely accused my husband, saying that the same gave him P 500,000 pesos to keep him away from the Senate.

The next day, which was the 100th year of our town Fiesta where my husband happens to be the parish centennial celebration president, was a very trying time for us as a couple, when he had to stand up in our parish and thank all those who have supported him for the celebration. Although I know how he must have been hurting inside, I never heard him utter any word to use the opportunity to air his side in the face of such damaging accusations. It was also the same time when my own La Salle community was hailing Mr. Lozada a hero in our nation's search for truth, someone whose words cannot be questioned anymore, someone against whose words, a differing view would only be condemned.

I have silently watched and listened to how our La Salle brothers and other members of our La Salle community, many other religious and former government leaders have repeatedly affirmed the credibility of Mr. Jun Lozada to a level seemingly beyond doubt, calling others whose words do not jibe with his story as corrupt and merely covering up for the President. Even then, I prayed I would not be tempted to pass judgment against the brothers although in my hearts of hearts, my question was how could some of the brothers whom I thought knew me personally and my husband quickly judge him purely based on the allegations of Mr. Lozada?

During the MBC meeting the other week, I learned that Dean Juico stood up for my husband whom he had known since the time of Pres. Cory and asked the MBC to at least hear first what my husband had to say in the senate before asking him to resign based on Mr. Lozada's very serious allegations) . I was surprised to learn today from Dean Juico that it was only a couple of days ago when Br. Armin was able to recall that DES Gaite is my husband. It bothers me because I had thought that considering that if the allegations of Mr. Lozada are all true, the people charged would be punished; at least due diligence must have been done by persons supposedly discerning and courageously standing up for the truth. I know I'm not an authority in spirituality but many innocent people could be irreparably damaged through trial by publicity and even our own search for truth if our means are not as carefully consistent with our sincere ends. This is not to discredit anybody nor to criticize those who fully support the crusade for truth of Mr. Lozada as well as those who believed him completely but rather to contribute to our communal discernment of Truth for our country.

The thing that get me going these days, as I have said, are St. Augustine's words No one can claim the monopoly of the truth. Truth is neither yours nor mine. It is God's. We all hold in our fragile hands a piece of Truth and I believe the call is for us to put those pieces together, humbly and with a readiness to hear other sides, even a contrary view, believing the best and not the worst in each other in order to build our country from where we are, however broken or in need of healing.

This will be my first time to say publicly that my husband has served four presidents as an honorable man. And in all those times, not one president I recall, can claim perfection nor freedom from any allegations. What if by any chance, not all that Mr. Lozada are saying are true? Can we still bring back the good names of people and their families should they be later proven innocent in the court of law, or completely erase the clouds of doubt that have been sown in the minds of people against them?

All I ask is for you to give my husband and all others concerned the benefit of the doubt and the human right of presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. Loving my husband as much as I do, I would not in any way attempt to obstruct justice, if he has truly done anything unlawful or dishonorable.

Since I am currently serving in your august school as Director of our Center for Social Responsibility and Human Development, which I consider the closest to a Center for Ethics that we have at the moment, I would understand it should you honestly feel I no longer have the credibility necessary for the good name of the Center.

I have humbly attached for your kind attention the statement of my husband. In a way it's our joint statement since a part of what was recounted there happened when I was there. While I informed him that I would send you a copy of his statement, I did not tell him anymore of this emotional transmittal letter from me, which I will also copy furnish him.

I only wish good things for Mr. Lozada and the rest of us.

Yours sincerely,


------------ --------- --------- --------- ---


It’s unfortunate that all my efforts at helping Jun Lozada have been twisted by him or made to appear as part of a scheme to prevent him from testifying in the Senate hearing on the NBN/ZTE project.

I would like to emphasize that from the start, I did not seek Jun Lozada to provide him with legal advice. It was he, through CHED Chair Romy Neri, who sought my legal assistance.

The information about his travel to London (not Hongkong) came from him, after I explained to him that one of the valid reasons not to appear at the scheduled Senate hearing on 30 January 2008 was a previous schedule that one can no longer cancel. The decision to go ahead with the trip was his, not mine. As I have said in the Senate hearing last 11 February 2008 , I did not arrange his travel documents much less purchased his ticket nor funded his foreign trip.

With regard to the P500,000 that I extended to him through his brother Owe Lozada on 4 February, the same was made upon Jun’s instance, after he had texted me that it was so cold where he was (which I assumed was in London), with not even a proper winter clothing and running out of funds. He also said in his text “hindi ko na po kaya ang ganitong buhay”, which I assumed referred to the threats to his life he had been so afraid of before he left. I believed him, I pitied him. That text came at about 2 A.M. of 3 February 2008 . When my wife saw the text and asked me about it, she also felt pity for him and asked if there is any way I could help him.

The money that I handed over to his brother on February 4, was something that I considered he has to account for when he comes back from London that is why I asked his brother to sign an acknowledgement receipt (copy attached), a fact that he sometimes omits in his public statements. I was surprised when I learned that he was coming home already the day after I gave the money. Did he really need the money or was he just baiting me? It is not true, as claimed by Lozada, that the money I gave to him through his brother, was meant to prevent him from appearing in the Senate hearing nor make him tell a lie if he appears in the hearing.

I wish to state that no government fund was used in the money that I gave to Mr. Lozada.

With the way Jun Lozada has twisted my response to his personal appeal, deceived me about his dire circumstances, publicly and repeatedly dragged my name into a controversy I have no personal knowledge about, I regret that my act of compassion for him was taken advantage of, and was used to suit his story.

Lozada's Prayer

Today I start the Change I Want to See
The prayer Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada adopted

Lord, let me be the change I want to see;
to do with strength and wisdom
all that needs to be done,
and become the hope that I can be.
Set me free from my fears and hesitations.
Grant me courage and humility.
Fill me with Spirit to face the challenge
and start the change I want to see.
(Today, I start the change I want to see.)
Even if I’m not the light, I can be the spark.
In faith, service and communion,
let us start the change we want to see,
the change that begins in me.

Reclaiming our Humanity

Homily by Fr. Manoling Francisco, S.J.
La Salle Gymnasium, Greenhills

17 February 2008

On this Second Sunday of Lent, during which we are asked to reflect on the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, I wish to touch on three themes that have to do with our moral transformation as a people: first, Ascertaining Credibility; second, Rediscovering our Humanity; and third, Witnessing to the Truth. In so doing, I hope to invite all of you to reflect more deeply on how we, as a nation, might respond to the present political crisis in which our identity and ethos, our convictions and integrity, in fact, who we are as a people, are at stake.


Jun, as Sen. Miriam Santiago has grilled you to ascertain your credibility (or was it to undermine your credibility?), allow me to raise some important questions to consider in the very process of discerning your credibility. Allow me to do so by drawing on my own counseling experience.

Very often, a young rape victim initially suppresses his or her awful and painful story, indeed wills to forget it, in the hope that by forgetting, he or she can pretend it never happened. But very often, too, there comes a point when concealing the truth becomes unbearable, and the desperate attempts to supposedly preserve life and sanity become increasingly untenable.

At this point the victim of abuse decides to seek help. But even after having taken this step, the victim, devastated and confused, will tell his or her story with much hesitation and trepidation. It should be easy to imagine why. In telling the truth, one risks casting shame on himself or herself, subjecting oneself to intense scrutiny and skepticism, and jeopardizing one’s safety and those of his or her loved ones, especially when one dares to go up against an older or more powerful person.

Similarly, it is easy to imagine why Jun would initially refuse to challenge the might of Malacanang. Who in his or her right mind would accuse Malacanang of crimes against our people and implicate the First Family in a sordid tale of greed and corruption, knowing that by doing so, one endangers one’s life and the lives of his or her loved ones? We are, after all, living in dangerous times, where the government has not hesitated to use everything in its power to keep itself in power, where it has yet to explain and solve the numerous cases of extra-judicial killings.

But Jun is in his right mind. His story rings true especially in the face of the perils that he has had to face. And by his courage, Jun has also shown that it is not only that he is in his right mind; his heart is also in the right place.

Hence, my personal verdict: Jun, I believe that you are a credible witness. And if hundreds have gathered here this morning, it is probably because they also believe in you. Mga kapatid, naniniwala ba kayo kay Jun Lozada? Naniniwala ba kayo sa kanyang testimonya? Kung gayon, palakpakan po natin ang Probinsyanong Intsik, si Mr. Jun Lozada.

Jun, we hope that by our presence here, you may find some consolation. Pope Benedict XVI writes that “con-solatio” or consolation means “being with the other in his or her solitude, so that it ceases to be solitude.” Jun, be assured that your solitude is no longer isolation as we profess our solidarity with you. Hindi ka nag-iisa. We are committed to stay the course and to do our best to protect you and your family and the truth you have proclaimed.


What makes Jun a credible witness to us?

I think Jun is credible not simply by virtue of his being an eyewitness to the unmitigated greed of some of our public officials. Perhaps more importantly, Jun is credible because he has witnessed to us what it means to be truly human.

Which leads me to my second theme: What does it mean to be human? How might we rediscover our humanity?

Allow me to quote Pope Benedict XVI, who in his latest encyclical, Spe Salvi, has written: “the capacity to accept suffering for the sake of goodness, truth and justice is an essential criterion of humanity, because if my own well-being and safety are ultimately more important than truth and justice, then the power of the stronger prevails, then violence and untruth reign supreme. Truth and justice must stand above my comfort and physical well-being, or else my life becomes a lie. . . For this … we need witnesses—martyrs …. We need them if we are to prefer goodness to comfort, even in the little choices we face each day.”

Our Holy Father concludes, “the capacity to suffer for the sake of the truth is the measure of humanity.”

Isn’t this the reason we emulate our martyrs: Jose Rizal, Gomburza, Evelio Javier, Macli-ing Dulag, Cesar Climaco and Ninoy Aquino? They have borne witness for us what it means to be truly human—to be able to suffer for the sake of others and for the sake of the truth.

I remember Cory recalling a conversation she had with Ninoy while they were in exile in Boston. Cory asked Ninoy what he thought might happen to him once he set foot in Manila. Ninoy said there were three possibilities: one, that he would be rearrested and detained once more in Fort Bonifacio; two, that he would be held under house arrest; and three, that he would be assassinated.

“Then why go home?” Cory asked.

To which Ninoy answered: “Because I cannot allow myself to die a senseless death, such as being run over by a taxi cab in New York. I have to go home and convince Ferdinand Marcos to set our people free.”

Witnessing to one’s deepest convictions, notwithstanding the consequences, is the measure of our humanity. Proclaiming the truth to others, whatever the cost, is the mark of authentic humanity.

Jun, we know you have feared for your life and continue to do so. But in transcending your fears for yourself and your family, you have reclaimed your humanity. And your courage and humility, despite harassment and calumniation by government forces, embolden us to retrieve and reclaim our humanity tarnished by our cowardice and complicity with sin in the world. You have inspired us to be true to ourselves and to submit to and serve the truth that transcends all of us.


This leads us to our third and last theme: witnessing to the truth. In his encyclical, Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII exhorts that it is the fundamental duty of the government to uphold the truth: “A political society is to be considered well-ordered, beneficial and in keeping with human dignity if it grounded on truth.” Moreover, the encyclical explains that unless a society is anchored on the truth, there can be no authentic justice, charity and freedom.

Every government is therefore obliged to serve the truth if it is to truly serve the people. Its moral credibility and authority over a people is based on the extent of its defense of and submission to the truth. Insofar as a government is remiss in upholding the truth, insofar as a government actively suppresses the truth, it loses its authority vested upon it by the people.

At this juncture, allow me to raise a delicate question: At what point does an administration lose its moral authority over its constituents?
First, a clear tipping point is the surfacing of hard evidence signifying undeniable complicity of certain government officials in corruption and injustice, evidence that can be substantiated in court.

Hence, during the Marcos Regime, the manipulation of Snap Election results as attested to by the tabulators who walked out of the PICC was clear evidence of the administration’s disregard for and manipulation of the collective will of the people in order to remain in power..

During the Erap Administration, the testimony of Clarissa Ocampo, claiming that Pres. Erap had falsified Equitable Bank documents by signing as Jose Velarde, was the smoking gun that triggered the rage of our people.

Allow me to respond to the same question by pursue an alternative track of argument: an administration loses it moral authority over its people when it fails in its fundamental duty to uphold the truth, when it is constituted by an ethos of falsehood. When a pattern of negligence in investigating the truth, suppressing the truth and harassing those who proclaim the truth is reasonably established, then a government, in principle, loses its right to rule over and represent the people.

Regarding negligence: Do the unresolved cases, such as the the failed automation of the national elections, the fertilizer scam, the extra-judicial killings, and the “Hello, Garci” scandal, constitute negligence on the part of the GMA Administration to probe and ferret out the truth?

Regarding covering-up the truth: Does the abduction of Jun Lozada and the twisting and manipulation of his narrative by Malacanang’s minions constitute concealment of the truth? Was the padlocking of the office of Asst. Gov’t Counsel Gonzales who testified before the Senate regarding the North Rail project anomaly an instance of covering-up the truth?

Regarding the suppression of the truth: Does the issuance and implementation of E.O. 464, which prevents government officials from testifying in Senate hearings without Malacanang’s permission, constitute suppression of the truth? Was the prevention of AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Senga and six other officers from testifying before the Senate with regard the “Hello, Garci” scandal tantamount to a suppression of the truth? Was disallowing Brig. Gen. Quevedo, Lt. Col Capuyan and Lt. Col. Sumayo from appearing before the Lower House an instance of hindering the truth from surfacing?

And regarding harassment of those who proclaim the truth: Are the abduction of Jun Lozada and the decision to court-marshall Gen. Gudani and Col. Balutan for disregarding Malacanang’s order not to testify before the Senate examples of punishing those who come forth to tell the truth?

By conflating one’s responses to all these questions does one arrive not at hard evidence showing culpability on the part of some government officials, but a gestalt, an image which nonetheless demands our assessment and judgment. I invite all of you then to consider these two methods of evaluating and judging the moral credibility of any government, the moral credibility of our present government.

Allow me to end with a few words about an Ignatian virtue, familiaritas cum Deo. To become familiar with God involves the illumination of the intellect, coming to know who God is and what God wills. But it also involves the conversion of the affect, the reconfiguration of the heart. Becoming familiar with God entails transforming and conforming my thinking, my feeling and my doing in accordance to the Lord’s, which can only be the work of grace.

Familiarity with God thus entail rejoicing in what God delights—the truth; abhorring what God detests—falsehood; being pained by what breaks the heart of God—the persecution of truth-seekers. Familiarity with God means sharing the passion of God for the truth and the pathos of God whenever the truth and the bearers of truth are overcome by the forces of the lie.

On this Second Sunday of Lent, as we contemplate the transfiguration of Jesus Christ on Mount Horeb, we pray that our hearts and minds be so transfigured and so conformed to the mind, heart and will of the Jesus, our way, our life, and our truth.

May the Lord bless and protect you, Jun, and your family. May the Lord bless and guide us all into the way of truth. Amen.

Dragging the Church into the NBN-ZTE Scandal

A side event to the NBN-ZTE investigations, the latest scandal to hit the present administration (what does the opposition call it now, the "great-grandmother of all scams"?) was a not-often seen (or heard) public tussle between two Catholic Church leaders over the media. The repartee between "Running Priest" Father Robert Reyes and Bayombong Bishop Ramon Villena was aired last 15 February over ABS-CBN's early morning show, Umagang Kay Ganda. The article quoted below details the story.

I didn't get to watch the episode but several friends who did told me about it, and expressed how much they didn't like what "that priest" said: that certain bishops regularly receive "donations" from Malacañang, and they are the ones who would not want to say anything perceived as adversarial to their benefactor. Then I asked each of my friends if they thought what Father Robert said was true. Each of them, without exception, immediately stopped their protestations. Just like that. Interesting.

On a less controversial note, Father Albert Alejo. S.J.
proposes that this Lent, Church people reflect on integrity and corruption especially within the Church.Father Alejo's proposed Lenten reflection this year is both timely and on the right track. We may argue about the prudence of washing our dirty linens in public, especially at this time. Then again, who says this isn't the proper time for the Church to "reform ourselves and make good our belief in the Gospel"?

This NBN-ZTE scam has the makings of a cleansing fire for many of our institutions, including the Church. For one, it brings to the fore how much we in the Church "practice what we preach" and also how much we "avoid to preach what we fail to practice".


NBN-ZTE scandal creates mixed emotions by Al Jeratso

Mixed emotions have taken their toll on the role players, immediate family members and critics after the anomalous NBN-ZTE scandal erupted in the country's political atmosphere.

Not to be outfaced is the involvement of the Catholic Church in the scandal, that eventually resulted in the exchange of ginger shots between a popular running priest and a bishop in Nueva Ecija over ABS-CBN's early Friday morning program hosted by Mr. Anthony Taberna.


Similarly, running priest Father Robert Reyes has accused the Catholic Church hierarchy of receiving donations from the previous and present presidents of the Philippines. Reyes admitted to Anthony Taberna during the ABS-CBN early morning program that the president is donating huge sums of money to some of the Catholic congregations, which he did not elaborate. Reyes also said that he even received an offer during the time of President Cory Aquino for P100,000 but he declined to receive it.

As a result, Reyes' declaration had infuriated Nueva Ecija bishop Villena, thinking that he was the one being referred to by Father Reyes because he was on the other line during the early morning program. What Reyes said was that the hands of some Catholic Church officials are tied because some of them are receiving donations from top government officials.

According to Reyes, he wouldn't be surprised that until now the Catholic Church hierarchy has kept itself mum on where to stand on the corruption scandal, except the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) which issued a call for communal action on the scandal to resolve the matter peacefully without any bloodshed. Reyes was reminded of the late Cardinal Sin who receives donations from government officials but get back at them when they did wrong to the hapless people. "This is not the case nowadays," Reyes said.