Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bishop blames bad economic policies for rising hunger

MANILA, January 31, 2012— A Catholic bishop has blamed the government’s economic policy as the culprit behind the rising incidence of hunger in the country, the auxiliary bishop of Manila said.

Simply giving people with financial aid is not enough to prevent famine, said Bishop Broderick Pabillo. Instead, he said, the government needs to overhaul the policies that upended the food supply.
That is why the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey which showed the rising number of Filipinos who are experiencing hunger did not came as a surprise for the prelate.
One problem, according to him, is the Aquino administration lack of concrete programs to address the issue.
“There’s no specific program aside from the CCT (Conditional Cash Transfer) but it’s not the answer. We need a structural policy for sustainable growth,” Pabillo said.
Pabillo also chairs the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Based on the SWS survey conducted from Dec.3 to 7, 2011, while the country’s poverty rate dropped at the end of 2011, the hunger rate went up during the same period.
The poll found that those who claimed to be experiencing hunger climbed from 21.5 percent (about 4.1 families) in September last year to 22.5 percent (about 4.5 million families) in December.
The survey, which used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide, also showed that severe hunger rose in all areas except in Metro Manila, where it fell by 1.3 points to 5 percent.
The hunger rate rose by 9.7 points to 25 percent in the Visayas and by 6.7 points to 19.7 percent in Mindanao.
Bishop Pabillo attributed such problem in the countryside to the government’s inability to implement genuine reforms in agrarian and labor issues.
“One big problem is on land reform which causes hunger,” he said. “Other problems include the contractualization, lack of job generation and low wages for workers.”
The Church official also lamented the Aquino administration’s subservience to the business sector over the people struggling of poverty.
“As of now, business interests win out over the poor under,” Pabillo said. [Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews]

Monday, January 30, 2012

Church seeks review of mining, logging laws

MANILA, January 30, 2012— The Catholic bishops’ leadership called on the Aquino administration to review the government’s policy on mining and logging especially its impact on ecology.

Such move is crucial, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said, in order to prevent a repeat of environment-related tragedies that occurred over the past few weeks.
“We take the occasion to make an appeal particularly to the authorities concerned that our prayer and appeal is to make a serious revisit of many of our laws like our logging laws and practices as well as mining laws and development plans,” said Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, CBCP president.
“The events that happened in the previous months should lead us to be truly serious about our mining and logging laws and the like,” he added.
While the prelate acknowledged that certain natural disasters do happened, he said recent tragedies such as flooding and landslides were caused by negligence of humans.
“With many lamentable calamities, certainly there is the dimension of natural perspective... (but) very simple analysis show that there are human factors, which can be corrected with regards to mining, logging laws, especially with the implementation,” said Palma.
Last December, typhoon “Sendong” wrought havoc over Mindanao with its heavy rainfall resulting to massive flash floods and the death of 1,257 people and 85 others missing.
Earlier this month, some 25 people were also killed during a landslide that occurred in a mining site in Compostela Valley.
The CBCP had long been appealing on the government to repeal the Mining Act as well as for an end to illegal logging in the country. [CBCPNews]

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sto. Niño de Cebu bids farewell to Antipolo devotees

ANTIPOLO City, January 29, 2012—The pilgrim image of Sto. Niño de Cebu went off to his next destination in Batangas after staying with the Antipolo faithful for eight days, from January 22.

A farewell Mass was celebrated in the honor of the Child Jesus, whose miraculous image has been the key in Christianizing the Visayans during the Spanish colonization.
Mrs. Virginia Torregoza, 63, and a widow for six years, who had seen the Sto. Niño said that she was blessed by the mere image of the Child Jesus from Cebu.
“Masaya ako dahil nakita ko Siya,” she said in a short interview.
Sto. Niño de Cebu is one of the oldest images in the Philippines, aged 400 years old. It was a gift to Rajah (King) Humabon, later baptized Carlos then the chieftain of Cebu and to his wife, Hara Amihan, who was later renamed Juana, after her conversion to Christianity. The image was given by Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan on April 5, 1521 as a token for the birth of Christianity in Central Philippines. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bacolod youth plant mangrove seedlings to protect environment

BACOLOD City, January 28, 2012—The Commission on Youth of Bacolod diocese spearheaded a mangrove planting activity in Barangay Balaring, Silay City last January 21.

Led by DCY director Fr. Arnold Deletina, the youth planted around 600 mangrove seedlings.
Participants were composed of 10 DCY staff, 27 youth from Silay City`s San Diego Parish, 15 parishes, 3 youth groups and 7 schools.
Fr. Deletina told participants during the blessing rite that being good stewards of God's creation, means being “active in protecting the environment through cleaning our own surroundings and planting trees to help replenish our fading forest.”
After planting, participants proceeded to San Diego Parish for the 21st Diocesan Conference of Youth Leaders (DCYL).
Resource speaker Anarosa Carmona, an active environmentalist herself, shared about the positive effects of mangrove planting and its importance.
She also explained the vanishing mangrove forest and the urgency to replenish it through crossing the thinning green line between the sea and the land.
The conference was also graced by Malou Eudela, an active staff of DCY, who gave a touching testimony of her work as a volunteer in Iligan City helping the victims of Typhoon Sendong.
The day ended with words of encouragement from Fr. Deletina and his final blessing to all attendees of the conference.
He also expressed his gratitude to Fr. Abenir Pineda, San Diego Parish priest and the young people of the parish for their hospitality.
The whole conference was facilitated by the DCY staff with Fr. Deletina. (Freddy Junsay)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Youth solon nixes compulsory ROTC training

ANTIPOLO City, January 26, 2012—The Kabataan partylist attempted to block the revival of the compulsory Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) among college students, saying that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which is allegedly known for its bloody human rights records, should not “meddle” with the academic affairs of the young Juan and Maria de la Cruz.

“The ROTC has taught its cadets how to become blind and docile servants. With its grim and bloody human rights record, the AFP has no right to meddle with the academic affairs of our youth. A war-mongering and mercenary institution must not be allowed to infiltrate schools and teach students,” the lawmaker said.
Instead of a compulsory military training, Palatino filed House Bill No. 2355 or the expansion of the community-service component of the current National Service Training Program (NSTP), being implemented under NSTP Act of 2001.
The young partylist lawmaker said his bill aims to “inculcate the value of nationalism, social consciousness and responsibility in the youth, and for the youth to assist the government agencies in the delivery of basic social services to the people”, adding that the nation needs an army of volunteers and advocates to fight the threats of illiteracy, of political and social apathy, and the perpetuation of social inequities that continue to obstruct genuine national progress.”
Palatino also said that ROTC units in both public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) have been used for years as an instrument to tag organizations, deemed to be critical of the government, as “communist fronts.”
In 2001, the compulsory ROTC training had been eliminated and replaced by community service instead due to the case of Mark Welson Chua, a student from the Pontifical and Royal Catholic University of Sto. Tomas in Manila, who died in hazing. However, it was eventually found out his death was not the result of mere hazing, but murder.
Chua had spilled the beans about the corruption happening inside the UST-ROTC unit and had it published to one of the oldest student publications in the country, The Varsitarian.
The exposé resulted to the relief of the ROTC commandant, Major Demmy Tejares and some of his staff.
After the relief of the said ROTC commanding officers, Chua was advised by the new commandant to undergo security training at the Philippine Army camp, Fort Bonifacio in Makati City, where the murder allegedly happened. Prior the death of Chua, the young man has been receiving death threats. Chua disappeared on March 15, 2001.
Three days after his disappearance, his body was found floating in the murky Pasig River, wrapped in a carpet, with his face covered with cloth and sealed by a packaging tape, and his feet and hands tied up. According to reports, when the body was autopsied, the authorities said Chua was still alive when thrown to the river.
One of the four suspects, Arnulfo Appari, was sentenced to death by lethal injection on March 31, 2004 but the other three—Eduardo Tabrilla, Paul Joseph Tan, and Michael Von Rainard Manangbao are still at-large or also suspected to be missing. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

Church, envi groups up in arms again vs mining in Mindoro

MANILA, January 25, 2012— Church and environmental groups are up in arms again over a foreign mining company’s relentless call for nickel mining project in Mindoro.

The list of grievances these groups is holding against the Intex Resources seems to be growing after it announced last Jan.18 in Oslo Stock Exchange that they had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the MCC8 Group Co. Ltd., a Chinese state-owned construction firm to impel the operation of the Mindoro Nickel Project (MNP).
Andy Whitmore of the Philippines Indigenous People Links (PipLinks) is questioning the incessant campaigns of Intex for the MNP as both national and international investigations have raised serious concerns about the project.
“They shouldn’t be putting our releases seeking to boost investment in the project until they were able to provide answers in the investigation conducted by the Norwegian Contact Point,” Whitmore said.
Whitmore was referring to the investigation of the Norwegian National Contact Point disclosing that Intex violated certain provisions of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; from the questionable acquisition of Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) to the unconventional Environment Impact Assessment that they failed to present to the local authorities.
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) said “both the OECD and the local investigation team have produced conclusive evidences that the Mindoro Nickel Project is unacceptable to the host communities. It is the height of corporate irresponsibility that Intex is rushing the sale of the project, and washing its hands of accountability.”
“The consortium that speaks of green mining concept is still far from reality thus will not impede in our call for Intex to pull out the project and just respect the local ordinance filed in 2002 prohibiting the entry of all large-scale mining in Oriental Mindoro,” he added.
Community rejection
For his part, Jon Sarmiento of Alyansa Laban sa Mina (Alamin) said: “This investment is on high risk!”
“The MNP does not have social acceptability; they are just wasting their time and resources campaigning for the project. Mindoreño will remain vigilant over this matter. We will protect our remaining forest and will not allow anyone, even big companies to extract the minerals underneath… the forest on itself is our wealth,” he said.
Alamin is a network of civil society organizations, Church and local government units in Oriental Mindoro established in 1999 to consolidate people’s opposition to the Mindoro Nickel Project.
In 2009, the Environmental Compliance Certificate for Intex had been revoked after local protest and a hunger strike was done against the project.
Commissioner Dionisia Banua of the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples ensured that despite the current partnership NCIP will ensure that the FPIC will be served and implemented with integrity.
Bigger call
Fr. Edu Gariguez of the CBCP Nassa reaffirmed its stand that the government mining policy is like selling our lands to foreign investors with liberal conditions while our people continue to grow in poverty.
“We stated that the adverse social impact on the affected communities far outweigh the gains promised by the trans-national corporations,” Gariguez explained.
He concluded, “We have a bigger call to this government, refrain from promoting the minerals industry, and promote the rights of the Filipino people, repeal the mining act of 1995, and pass the Alternative Minerals Management Bill that secures all these rights and prioritizes environmental protection and food security over mineral resources.”
The groups expressed their ire as they launched recently the book, the Mindoro Struggle: Protecting Island Ecology, Defending People’s Rights, a compilation of several studies on the Mindoro critical ecosystems, including mining threat to food security and the Final Statement of the Norwegian NCP on the violated OECD Guidelines. [CBCPNews]

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Central Luzon Army Chief Calls on Palparan to Surrender

FORT MAGSAYSAY, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, January 24, 2012-A top military official here in Central Luzon called its former commandant, retired Major General Jovito Palparan, to turn himself in and face charges in court.

“It would be better for fugitive Palparan to take the opportunity of proving that he is not guilty of the accusations against him,” MGen Jose Mabanta Jr. said in his statement as the chief of the 7th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The division likewise denied protecting the fugitive retired officer who served as its commandant from Sept. 1, 2005 to Sept. 11, 2006.

"The AFP is a professional organization composed of disciplined and law abiding soldiers. It is not the policy of the AFP to provide safe harbor but to surrender any person wanted by law particularly man in uniform," as per statement of Mabanta.

The division assured that its soldiers will inform authorities "if they spot General Palparan in their duty assignments."

General Palparan, along with three other officers, was allegedly involved in the disappearance of students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan of the University of the Philippines.

Also included in the case were Master Sergeant Rizal Hilario, Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio and Army Col. Felipe Anotado.

Osorio and Anotado are now under government custody which was facilitated by AFP while Hilario is still nowhere to be found like General Palparan.

The statement also stated that Palparan is already a retired military general. The AFP has no hold on him being a civilian.

It also furthered that the AFP has already facilitated the turnover of the two (2) active personnel identified as LTC Atonado and Ssg Osorio to the authorities for proper disposition.

“We fully trust the justice system and believe in the due process of law. The AFP believes that retired Mgen Palparan should turn himself in and answer all allegations hurdled against him to face the case and take the opportunity of providing that he is not guilty and that he is innocent,” the statement furthered.

“Our unit commanders have disseminated the lookout bulletin handed down by Army headquarters and our soldiers will inform proper authorities if they will spot Palparan in their duty assignment,” the statement ended.

Prior to this, the 7th ID quickly dispelled reports of Palparan’s presence here in a beach resort where the messages spread like wild fire.

702nd Brigade Commander Col Virgilio Trinidad said that it was a hoax and disinformation campaign intended to put the Army and police in bad light.

The police and the army troopers conducted surveillance and search operations in all beach resorts in the province of Aurora looking for Palparans’ possible presence which resulted that the information was erroneous report. (Jason de Asis)

Advocates mark environmentalist' 'martyrdom' anniversary

PUERTO PRINCESA City, January 24, 2012—Advocates for a cleaner environment and the preservation of pristine surroundings in Palawan gathered in Aborlan town to mark the first anniversary of Dr. Gerry Ortega’s “martyrdom.”

This was how Puerto Princesa Bishop Pedro Arigo described the occasion that attended by closest relatives and associates of the late veterinarian-turned-broadcast journalist-crusader.
“We offered the Mass not for Gerry because he is apparently at peace with the Lord but for ourselves for us to continue the advocacy left by the late Doc Gerry fighting corruption and advocating for the protection of the environment, especially here in Palawan,” Arigo said.
He added Gerry would have died in vain if we will not continue his advocacies.
“The Mass was a celebration of Dr. Gerry’s life, having led a very meaningful, beautiful and fruitful life just like what Jesus did in service of the truth and in the service of others, fighting against corruption for people to have a better quality of life in Palawan,” he further said.
Arigo, however, expressed sadness that a year after the murder, investigators are still working on the case that shocked the country and the international environmental advocates.
“After one year the investigation is still in its preliminary stage with the first preliminary investigation was dismissed by a panel of prosecutors from the Department of Justice,” he said.
The Ortega family filed for a motion for reconsideration, which was once again dismissed.
Arigo acknowledged Justice Secretary Leila De Lima’s timely intervention by ordering a reinvestigation of the case.
He underscored the need to protect the country’s “last frontier” which is being threatened as the “lost frontier” due to four mining operations in the province.
Mining operations by City Nickel have been reported in
Narra and Espanola. There is also another one in Rio Tuba by the Rio Tuba Nickel Mining and one more in Berong.
“What is more threatening is the application of Lucio Tan’s MacroAsia in Brooke’s point which is a very beautiful farming town,” Arigo said.
He said the “fight” is still going on between the people and the mining company.
A small gathering was held at the crime scene at 3 pm today where various sectors spoke of the need to solve the case.
A candle-lighting ceremony immediately followed at 6 pm at the exact site of the killing last year. (Melo M. Acuna)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Faithful urged to ‘hold onto faith, not luck’

MANILA, January 23, 2012— There will be no great need for fortune telling nor future prediction if one is firm in the faith, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) advised the faithful during the on-going celebration of the Chinese New Year.

Fr. Conegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth, said living life should not be grounded on what one’s zodiac signs or horoscope say but on what one’s faith tells him to.
“If only we are firm in our Catholic faith and practice it, there will be no more time for us to entertain other beliefs or practices,” he said.
Although the Catholic Church respects other beliefs and traditions, such as the Chinese’s, Garganta said it is unhealthy for one to rely heavily on superstition that he already disregards his faith in God.
“Let us be more rooted in knowing what God’s plan is for us because it is Him who calls us to life and he has a unique plan for every individual,” he added.
Garganta urged those who try to reconcile their superstitious beliefs with their Catholic faith to discern and meditate on how they could “put to good use” whatever gifts their belief and faith give them. (YouthPinoy)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Freelance writers to help Sendong victims

ANTIPOLO City, January 22, 2012—The Freelance Writers’ Guild of the Philippines (FWGP) is now gathering textbook donations for the student-victims of massive flooding in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro caused by typhoon Sendong (International name: Washi).

“Typhoon Sendong did not only ruin lives, wrecked homes and damaged properties. It also destroyed books and with it drastically affected the education and future of the students,” reads FWGP statement posted in Facebook.
Teena Estrada, a member of the FWGP steering committee, said that the flood victims in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro are trying to rebuild their lives and the FWGP believes that education plays a big role in renewing the lives of the young people there.
“FWGP, in its own small way, would like to help the students slowly ease back into school by sending books to the libraries and school supplies to individual students,” Estrada said.
Donations can include textbooks and reference books for elementary and high school students; school supplies such as sharpeners, pencils, ballpens, erasers, scissors, pad papers, notebooks, envelopes, crayons, rulers, rolls of tape, pentel pens, manila papers, and other supplies; materials that students need in school like bags, socks, underwear, towels, toiletries, etc.; and cash.
“Donors can send their cash, if they are comfortable depositing it into individual accounts, since FWGP doesn’t have a bank account in its name yet. The said amount will be used in buying more school supplies and materials mentioned,” she said.
Estrada said that donors can send or deliver their donations in the following addresses:
Quezon City drop-off points
1. Bookay-Ukay bookstore, #55 Maginhawa St., QC
2. 78-C General Segundo St., Heroes Hill, QC
Makati drop-off points
1. Kanto Gallery (The Collective, 7274 Malugay St., Makati)
2. YesPinoy Foundation (4F Jose Cojuangco & Sons Bldg., dela Rosa cor. Palanca St., Makati)
Manila drop-off point
1. National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP Compound, 470 General Luna St., Intramuros, Manila)
For cash donations, please get in touch with FWGP through the numbers and email addresses below:
Ime Morales (FWGP) 0917.937.8617 / imelda.aznar@yahoo.com
Teena Estrada (FWGP) 0915.391.3129 / teena_osorio@yahoo.com
Jofti Villena Delizo (FWGP) 0908.894.5174 / joftivillena@gmail.com.
The deadline for sending donations is on January 28. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

Saturday, January 21, 2012

PH Anti-corporal punishment bill, first in Asia

MANILA, January 21, 2012—The anti-corporal punishment bill for children currently pending in the Philippine Senate, would be the first of its kind in Asia, if passed.

This according to Marta Santos País, the United Nations’ Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) on Violence Against Children, who visited Manila for a dialogue with children and children rights’ advocates, yesterday.
The Anti-Corporal Punishment Act authored by Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy and Tarlac (2nd District) Rep. Susan Yap, seeks to prevent hitting or any other forms of violent and humiliating punishment as a form of discipline to children. On the other hand, it promotes “positive” disciplining techniques among parents in order to eliminate the alleged cruelty against children.
País said that she will mention her visit in Manila and about the bill when she speaks before the delegates of the UN meeting on violence against children in Geneva on March.
“I will mention my visit in Manila and tell them that the Philippines is one of the most important countries where I had a dialogue with the children themselves and heard their recommendations on how to eliminate violence among them. I will also tell them that a law on anti-corporal punishment has been passed in the House of Representatives but is still pending in the Senate. I will also tell them that the bill needs to be passed as quickly as possible,” said País.
Hopes for a quick response of the PH Senate
Child Rights Network (CRN), meanwhile, hopes for the quick response of the Senate regarding the legislation of the law in Asia that prohibits the use, literally, of the stick as a tool for disciplining erring children.
“We hope that these recommendations will not fall on deaf ears and that our lawmakers and the concerned agencies will seriously consider enacting laws, strictly implementing existing laws, and establishing mechanisms to eliminate violence against children,” said child protection adviser of the non-governmental organization, Save the Children and CRN member Wilma Bañaga.
Corporal punishment has negative effects—studies
The CRN argued that violent and/or humiliating forms of discipline has negative effect on children. And some studies, sadly, show the truthfulness of this assertion.
In an essay published by the International Child and Youth Care Network (CYC-Net), an Africa based non-profit network of child care experts and advocates in 2001, it says that spanking, as a form of discipline, does not work most of the time; rather the painful punishment leaves a psychological and emotional scar on children being punished.
“The long-term use of corporal punishment tends to increase the probability of deviant and antisocial behaviours, such as aggression, adolescent delinquency and violent acts inside and outside the family as an adult. One explanation is that after living with violence that is considered ‘legitimate’, people expand this to accept violence that is not considered legitimate. For example, violent acts that are considered legitimate include maintaining order in schools by punishing children, deterring criminals and defending one’s country against foreign enemies. The ‘cultural spillover’ theory proposes that the more a society uses force for socially legitimate ends, the greater the tendency for those engaged in illegitimate behaviours to also use force to attain their own ends. Corporal punishment has been associated with a variety of psychological and behavioral disorders of children and adults, including anxiety, alcohol abuse, depression, withdrawal, low self-esteem, impulsiveness, delinquency and substance abuse,” the CYC-Net said.
What makes spanking and other forms of “cruel” punishment wrong is that its administration is during the “heat” of the moment, or the very instance when the child has done something that is perceived to be wrong.
“It seems that mild physical punishment will have some effect on aggression and delinquency if the punishment is administered in an atmosphere of warmth, reasoning, and acceptance. However, studies indicate that few children are spanked in this type of rational and warm emotional environment. Punishment is usually administered in the heat of the moment, when anger is the strongest emotional influence. Children tend to perceive corporal punishments administered in anger as rejection by the punisher – usually a parent or other person important to the child. The strength of this perception is determined by the severity and frequency of punishments received. The more rejected children feel, the more impaired their psychological adjustment tends to be. Perceived rejection and physical punishment each negatively affect the child’s emotional and psychological development,” the CYC-Net further explained.
Furthermore, the punishment of children comes not as a correction of the perceived misbehavior or wrongdoing of a child, but a symptom of the frustration of the adult allegedly disciplining the child.
“Caregivers who use corporal punishment are often angry, irritable, depressed, fatigued, and stressed. They apply the punishment at a time that they "have lost it," and caregivers frequently express remorse and agitation while punishing their children,” states Dr. Angelo Giardino, a WebMD Health Professional Network fellow in his article about child abuse published on April 19, 2011.
“To avoid this risk of harming the child and in order to model nonviolent behavior for children, many health care professionals advocate child discipline via consistent, nonphysical force based approaches such as time out, loss of privileges, expressions of parental disappointment, and grounding,” said Giardino. He added that approximately, 50 percent of US pediatricians are opposed generally to corporal punishment while about a third is completely opposing its use for they have also suffered much when they were children. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pangasinan’s first cloistered monastery to be inaugurated

MANILA, January 20, 2012— The Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan’s first cloistered monastery will be inaugurated on Saturday, January 21.
The Poor Clare Monastery of Saint James the Apostle, located at the Brgy. Nancapian, Malasiqui in Pangasinan is the result of almost a year of work by its parishioners.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who initiated the project, will lead the blessing at 10 a.m.
According to him, one of the very first concerns he immediately attended when he was appointed to the archdiocese was build a contemplative monastery as the “powerhouse of our active ministry.”
“One of the very first concerns I attended to was to insure that a community of contemplative nuns be present in our midst to pray for the sanctification of priests and to offer their hidden sacrifices to sustain our mission in the world,” said Villegas.
The prelate also said that the blessing of the monastery will be the only opportunity for the public to see its interior.
“After the blessing, the monastery will be closed perpetually and the life of sacrifice of the nuns will hence begin inside the cloister,” said Villegas.
The inauguration coincides with the start of the archdiocese’s jubilee year. [CBCPNews]

Thursday, January 19, 2012


The above title is no play of words. Neither is pun intended. Truly, Congressman Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara is fast rising, following in the footsteps but not necessarily mimicking or imitating his illustrious father, Senator Edgardo J. Angara.

Congressman Sonny has been of late, pushed into the spotlight, first because of the Pulse Asia survey which ranked him among the top 12 Senatoriables in the coming 2013 elections and secondly, because of his uncanny role as one of the spokespersons of the House panel in the Coronavela involving the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The young lawmaker, although owing tons of gratitude to his surname, has been gradually moving out of the shadows of the senator, catching the discriminating public eye because of his quotable quotes and making a good account of his self in media interviews.

For someone who is a product of Harvard and the prestigious London School of Economics, the congressman’s phenomenal rise in the ranks of senatoriables is not stunning or earth-shaking surprising if you ask me. He is considered one of the brilliant minds in the august halls of the House of Representatives, one who can articulate and explain in layman’s terms legal issues which other lawmakers could not adequately explain.

I was told that the truly gifted lawmaker is not one who can play to the gallery or grandstand in the plenary during the session but someone who can engage in a truly intellectual discussion of issues during committee hearings. One can always engage in sound-bytes for publicity and pa-pogi points but in the committee hearings, that guy will instantly transform into a member, if not chairman, of the committee on silence for lack of ideas to churn out during panel discussions.

I was also told that two of the incumbent senators used to play to the gallery when they were still congressmen but during committee hearings, they groped for explanations, prompting Cong Sonny to butt in a number of times and explained to them the intricacies of the subject matter that was being discussed.

‘Yan si Cong Sonny, simple lang pero astig. Ganyan ang mga taga-Aurora, matatalino at magagaling.

Back to the recent Pulse Asia survey, considering that the elections are two years away and given that those up the ladder of the senatorial survey are veteran legislators and prominent government officials, Cong Sonny is no doubt up there with the best and the brightest.

Consider this: those in the surveys are Senators Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda, Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas II, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, ex-Vice President Noli de Castro, San Juan City Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, Rep. Juan Ponce Enrile Jr., Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Sen. Antonio Trillanes, ex-senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, Congressman Angara, and ex-senators Jamby Madrigal and Richard Gordon.

No less ecstatic about Sonny’s emergence as a senatoriable is his own father who said that the Senate needs people who can articulate, interpolate and argue intellectually on any issue under the sun in the Senate.

“The Senate needs fresh blood now and someone brimming with intelligence. Now, we have non-performing senators na ‘di mo man lang makadebate,” says the senator.

Sounds arrogant but true and nothing but. We need not name names to argue our point.

Truly, Cong Sonny will be a refreshing face in the Senate. We Aurorans should keep our fingers crossed that he ends up victorious so that we will continue to have a voice in that august chamber immortalized by the men and women of our times.

As Congressman, Sonny Angara assures the public that he is independent from his father in his performance of duty particularly where decision making is called for. This is a strong manifestation that Cong. Angara is not working under the shadow of his father but rather working independently and pursuing his own program and agenda as a law maker. (Jason de Asis)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2 bishops call for speedy impeachment trial

MANILA, January 18, 2012— Two leaders of the Catholic Church called on the senate to fast track the impeachment trial against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona and save people’s money.
Both Digos Bishop Guillermo Afable and Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz believe that the longer the trial gets, the more financially taxing it becomes for the people.
“I would wish that the impeachment process be fast-tracked because we are spending the people’s money,” Afable said.
“All those involved in the impeachment court from lawmakers, prosecutors, senator-judges, the staff and the witnesses are paid by the people… their wages are paid by the tax payers,” said Cruz.
This, according to the prelates, is unacceptable since the money could instead be channeled to more useful things for the public.
“(Typhoon) Sendong caused heavy damages but where’s the government’s attention? They are more focused at the Senate,” said Cruz.
On Tuesday, the Senate, seating as an impeachment court, was forced to postpone their proceedings after the House prosecution panel came unprepared to present their evidences.
The second day of impeachment proceedings lasted for about two hours or just a little longer than the opening day last Monday. [CBCPNews]

Monday, January 16, 2012

Aurora governor eyeing for new doctors and nurses

Sunrise at Sabang beach, Baler, Aurora. 

BALER, Aurora, January 17, 2012-Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo is now working for the hiring of additional medical manpower to equip the newly completed P594-million project of the new Aurora Memorial hospital (AMH) at the 3.8 hectare site in Brgy. Reserva with highly competent medical specialists, nurses and other personnels who will cater Aurorans and nearby provinces.

The governor said, for almost 20 years or since the devolution of public hospitals to the provincial government, district hospitals suffered from lack of specialized medical personnel resulting sometimes to the poor delivery of medical services since the old AMH is now almost 70 years old; thus, Angara-Castillo form her medical consultants into a pool of medical specialists who are on call and will serve as roving doctors to the hospital to cope with the medical needs and services of the hospital.

“I and other provincial officials recently met to map out plans and strategies to ensure the effective and efficient management and operations of the public hospitals under the supervision of the provincial capitol,” Angara-Castillo said.

The governor said that the provincial health and budget gave the provincial government officials several suggestions to properly address their concerns on the hiring and placement of competent and capable medical specialists and staff to ensure quality hospital service.
“I suggested that chiefs of hospitals, doctors and nurses to undergo trainings on hospital administration which the University of the Philippines offers through distance learning program to further improve the management of these government hospitals,” Angara-Castillo said, pointing out that the good of hospital services lies on the managerial skills of hospital chiefs, and on their constant coordination with their staff, patients and even to the community.

“Aside from our present doctors and nurses, we have now a new anesthesiologist and affiliate surgeon but still there is a pressing need for more medical specialists,” Angara-Castillo stressed.

Relative to this, Dr. Luisito G. Teh, provincial health officer said that since the turned over of the Japanese to Aurora provincial government last December 14, 2011, they were all in dry-run and familiarization of the newly state-of-the-art newly hospital equipment’s and facilities.

“We are all in hospital reforms to cope up with the latest technology of the hospital that was granted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA),” Teh said.

Back to Angara-Castillo, she said that the scheduled setup for the hospital full operation on Aurora Day Celebration is now elastic due to the possible visits of President Aquino in the province particularly in the hospital.

It could be remembered that the old AMH has only 25-bed capacity hospital’s license was even lowered from Level 2 to Level 1 when the Department of Health clamped down on hospitals without a trained surgeon and an anesthesiologist; thus, the Angaras sought assistance from the Japanese government which, in response, conducted a preparatory survey in January 2009 and dispatched a basic design team in June of that same year.

On March 15, 2010, the Exchange of Notes was signed in Manila by then-Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura. (Jason de Asis)


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