Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Iloilo welcomes St. Clare of Assisi’s relic

JARO, Iloilo City, Feb. 29, 2012—The Archdiocese of Jaro is ready to welcome the relic of St. Clare of Assisi.

In a recent circular Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo requested the clergy, religious men and women to announce to the rest of the faithful the details of the visit of the relic of St. Clare of Assisi.
“We welcome this visit as a blessing in our Lenten journey, an opportunity for us to reflect on the life and virtues of St. Clare,” Archbishop Lagdameo said.
The said Relic is scheduled to arrive in the new Iloilo Airport on March 3, 2012, at 1:30 p.m., and will be brought by motorcade to the Jaro Carmel in Iloilo City.
At 2 p.m. Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo will celebrate the Holy Eucharist to welcome the Relic of St. Clare.
St. Clare’s relic will be enshrined at the Jaro Carmel chapel in the whole duration of its visit in Iloilo.
It will be available for public veneration from 3:30 until 10 p.m. on the first day of the visit.
Vespers will be prayed at 5:30 together with the Carmelite Community. The veneration of the Relic will resume at 6:30 p.m. while the sacrament of Reconciliation, prayers, and presentations are held.
On Sunday, March 4, the Jaro Carmel Chapel will be opened at 5:30 a.m. Lauds with the Carmelite Sisters will be prayed at 5:45 a.m. The celebration of the Holy Eucharist, presided by Archbishop Lagdameo, will follow at 6:30 a.m.
After the Holy Mass the Relic will be sent off to Antique. (Fr. Mickey Cardenas)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Contractual labor to blame on sudden rise of unemployment in PH

ANTIPOLO City, Feb. 26, 2012—Anakpawis Partylist blamed contractual labor on the sudden rise of unemployment in the Philippines, as shown by the latest survey of the private statistics firm, Social Weather Stations.

Anakpawis executive president Joel B. Maglungsod in a statement said that the 24 percent unemployment rate is but a proof of the failed labor policies being implemented by the Benigno C. Aquino III administration, which includes contractual labor.
The SWS survey states that 10 percent of the labor force lost jobs in 2011 due to retrenchments, seven percent of which were due to unrenewed contract. Victims of company closure and termination represent the two and one percent of the unemployed in 2011, respectively, the SWS survey said.
“The government’s policy of labor contractualization deprives our workers their right to security of tenure making them vulnerable to such retrenchments and lay-offs. Contractual or casual workers, who already comprise majority of our workforce, are always in fear of losing their jobs anytime, whether they finish their contract or not,” the former solon said.
On the other hand, Anakpawis pushes for the legislation of House Bill No. 5110 or the Regular Employment Act that will prevent contractual labor in the country. The said bill is still pending in the House of Representatives. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]

Saturday, February 25, 2012

PH fosters healthy family culture—priest

BACOLOD City, Feb. 25, 2012— Despite being threatened by issues affecting the family across the globe, the Philippines can export to the world a healthier culture of the family, according to a speaker in the recent National Conference conducted by the John Paul II National Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.

Fr. Jose Granados, Vice President for the Central Session of Pontificio Instituto Giovanni Paolo II Per Studi Su Matrimonio E Famiglia in Rome, noted that in the Philippines marriage is much “more stable and its existence is covered by the laws,” which makes Filipinos look upon the family as a resource, not as a problem.
In his keynote address during the conference, Granados affirmed that in the perspective of Blessed John Paul II, the issue of marriage and the family is the crucial point for the new evangelization of society.
Touching on the prevalence of secularism, Granados mentioned that many people no longer believe in God, resulting in the superficiality of the present generation’s attempt to build a society without setting the foundations on a “common search for common roots and essence of human life.”
He cited that one of the greatest problems of our age is that many people have stopped believing in love and its capacity to regenerate the human being and transform society. Furthermore, he mentioned that “care for human love is at the center of the Church’s concern.”
The five-day conference opened with a Mass on February 13 at the San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod led by Apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto.
In his homily, the nuncio lauded the effort of the diocese in hosting the national conference, describing it as “a concrete testament to the unrelenting commitment of the Catholic Church in the Philippines to uphold the truths regarding family and life.”
Pinto also said that “during these days, let Bacolod be the ‘Nazareth of the Philippines,’ in order to live a page of the Gospel in our families and in the family of the Church.”
Hosting the national conference initiated by the John Paul II National Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, is only one among the many projects the diocese is involved in its effort to preserve the sanctity of life and the family.
In the fight against the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, the diocese launched last year a massive Caravan for Life which traversed the whole island of Negros.
The diocese has also an ongoing awareness campaigns and the establishment of natural family planning (NFP) centers in the diocese.
The National Conference was attended by some 175 participants – Directors and Executive Officers of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) as well as members of the Clergy, Graduate students and professors. For this year, the theme was Blessed John Paul II’s Nuptial Theology: A Call to Family Ministry, Agenda for Humanity.
Gracing the Conference were Bacolod Bishop Vicente M. Navarra, D.D., ECFL Chairman and Antipolo Bishop Gabriel V. Reyes, D.D., Bishop Camilo D. Gregorio, D.D. of the Prelature of Batanes, Bishop Juan De Dios Pueblos D.D., and ECFL Executive Secretary Fr. Melvin Castro.
In another development, the Bacolod City Council passed a resolution declaring February 13-20, 2012 as “Blessed John Paul II Week” as part of the 31st Anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s 1981 visit to Negros. The resolution also recognized the numerous historic landmarks; notable among these is the John Paul II Tower in Reclamation Area that celebrated the Pope’s historic visit to Negros. (Fr. Deogracias Aurelio V. Camon)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lay community marks 25th jubilee of foundation

ZAMBOANGA City, Feb. 23, 2012—A community of lay consecrated women known as the Emmaus Dialogue Community (EDC) has celebrated its 25th years of foundation last February 8.

Founded in 1987 as a Catholic lay private association of women, the members dedicate their lives for the mission of dialogue and peace between Christians and Muslims.
The community was officially given recognition as a lay association by the Archdiocese of Zamboanga in 1996.
As it expressed gratitude for its 25th anniversary celebration, the community also conveyed its appreciation to the prelates of Zamboanga—the late Archbishop Francisco Cruses, Archbishop Carmelo DF Morelos and Archbishop Romulo Valles—who had encouraged and supported the EDC’s vocation and mission.
The EDC has the Beatitudes as their Rule of life, taking inspiration from the Biblical story of the two disciples who walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus.
Sharing the EDC’s charism and mission is another group of single and married lay men and women called Emmaus Circle.
This group of lay people live with their respective families but commit themselves to follow the spirit and mission of the Emmaus Dialogue Community.
As part of the Emmaus family, the Emmaus Dialogue Community and Emmaus Circle witness through their life the providential presence of God.
As committed lay people they witness to a life lived with love and compassion, and to the love of God and the love of neighbour guided by the beatitudes of Jesus. (CBCPNews)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

1st artists’ village in the Southeast Asia inaugurated in Baler

BALER, Aurora, February 22, 2012–The 1st artists village in the Philippines and Southeast Asia was inaugurated Monday here to generate local and international talented artists who are expected to trigger arts revolution in the country.

Senator Edgardo J. Angara, a known arts patron, led the opening of the artists village at the Dicasalarin beach resort in Barangay Zabali together with officials of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of Dr. Juan C. Angara Foundation.

Jun Yee, international installation artist and the BOT member told newsmen that the artist village is a pet project of the Senator - a private-driven institution that will help revolutionize culture and the arts in the country.

“The artist village is intended to serve as the private counterpart of the Cultural Center the Philippines (CCP) which will provide a venue for seminars, workshops and lecture series on various art disciplines such as music, theaters, literature, dance, visual arts among others,” Yee said.

“Our vision is to invite artists from Asia and the Asia-Pacific where they can showcase their arts skills and impart their knowledge to our local artists so that they can hone their home-grown talents by enrolling in our programs,” he said.

Yee was earlier asked by Angara to draw up the conceptual framework for the artists village. He said the project is a living testament to the passion shown by the senator for culture and the arts.

“In the history of the Philippine Senate, it is undeniable that it is only Senator Angara who contributed so much in the promotion of arts and culture in the country, with his landmark legislations that paved the way for the creation of the CCP, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA), National Historical Institute (now National Historical Commission of the Philippines), National Museum and the Gawad ng Manlilikha among others,” he said.  

Yee said that the project will accommodate a facility, called “longhouse,” for a lecture series and a clubhouse for social gatherings among artists. He said a second facility that will rise in the village involves workshop building for stone works, sculpture and experimental works of artists in the various arts disciplines.

The third facility involves construction of six cottages which can accommodate four artists each, where they may design their works of art using indigenous materials from the province.

Yee said the artists village will hold art festivals and painting exhibitions to enhance interaction among artists not only here but also abroad in coordination with the CCP.

The opening of the artists village was graced by national artists for literature Sionil Jose and Virgilio Almario and national artist for visual arts Benedicto Cabrera.

The establishment of an artists village in this capital town followed the earlier creation of an Aurora Arts Council which is also coordinating with various government agencies for arts-related events and activities in the province, an emerging hub for history, culture and the arts.

Senator Angara said that the artists village embraces artists from the widest sweep of creative discipline such as painters, architects, interior designers, landscape architect, dancers, musicians, poets, and writers then eventually expand into the fields of film photography, food, fashion, furniture and even cyber media of the internet and mobile technology.

“We are fortunate to have friends from the diplomatic corps, Mexican Ambassador Tomas Calvillo Unna and Argentinean Ambassador Joaquin Daniel Otero, with us for its inauguration. Three outstanding National Artists were our special guests: National Artists for Literature F. Sionil Jose and Virgilio Almario, and National Artist for Visual Arts Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera,” Angara said.

Angara believes that this laboratory for artistic development is the first kind in the country and the whole Southeast Asia.

Around it will soon be built Artists Cottages, dwellings that will be designed by Junyee, Norman Tiotuico, Aquilizan and architect Jose Danilo Silvestre. The Artists Village also features an open-air amphitheater, sculpture garden and workshop, and an outdoor stone circle for poetry readings and the like inspired by the indigenous dap-ay.

The village also has special environmental sustainability features like rainwater collection, wastewater management, renewable sources of power and energy-efficient lighting system. (Jason de Asis)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


BALER, Aurora, February 21, 2012-It is easy to fall in love with President Aquino not so much with his good looks for which he moderately possesses some. He is no Piolo Pascual who can send one Auroran lady swoon or shriek at his sight. Nor a John Lloyd Cruz who can send another girl’s heart flutters. What makes him ooze with sex appeal (in all sincerity) is his innate wisdom, his grasp of issues, his keen eye for details, his sharp, logical reasoning and his discernment of a class act when he sees one.

One cannot help but admire Mr. Aquino for lauding the Japanese government for donating the world-class Aurora Memorial Hospital even when Japan was being buffeted left and right with calamities. P-Noy hit the nail right on the head when he mentioned that it is easy for someone to give assistance to less fortunate people if he has a lot of moolah to spare. This is not to disparage the likes of Bill Gates and other high-profile philanthropists who have made a career of donating their own money for charity and for the betterment of the lot of others. But for one to donate quite a sizeable amount of resources to others when he himself is in dire need of such resources is a class act in itself, something which deserves the highest form of commendation that can be given.

Governor Angara-Castillo also said it is the ultimate tribute of Japan and JICA that they poured over P500 million in their own money to finance the hospital construction when the Japanese government could have opted to cancel the donation or defer its release, particularly since its own people need every single yen they could get for rehabilitation because of the massive earthquake and tsunami that swept through its shores. The effects of the twin calamities were no joke and one could see the trail of destruction it left in its wake in footages shown on television. The Japanese government had the option to pull out its aid to Aurora and Aurorans would readily understand. But the Japanese proceeded with the aid, as if telling Aurorans “we are true to our word and the show must go on.”

It’s like this: Japan is like a family member who has seen his sisters and brothers simultaneously drowning along with Aurora which is not even his next of kin. The natural reaction is to save your own household first. For after all, charity begins at home. Japan did not and in a rare display of goodwill to others, he saved a drowning Aurora at the expense of his own relatives. It went on with the aid for the benefit of Aurora at large.  

To say that such gesture is laudable and admirable is a gross understatement. We say it is the highest act of selflessness on the part of Japan. Never mind that several decades back, its soldiers earned notoriety for its war atrocities. But this is now all water under the bridge and this is dwelling on the past.

That singular act of generosity will ultimately bring blessings to this not-so-Christian nation.
To this we say “domo arigato.” (Jason de Asis)         

Monday, February 20, 2012


BALER, Aurora, February 20, 2012-Before President Aquino went to Aurora this week for his much-publicized visit, questions linger in the minds of Aurorans whether he would indeed push through with his whistle stop in this known Erap country. Afterall, his partymates in the Liberal Party in the province belong to the opposite camp of the Angaras notably Vice Gov. Gerry Noveras who is the provincial chairman and former governor Eddie Ong whose son, Macky works in Malacanang.

There have been doubts that the President will ever touch down in the province and we have it from good authority that he has reservations because of the province’s relative remoteness and isolation, not to mention the fact that the population is not so encouraging for a presidential visit of a known champion of the masses.

But the President showed his statesmanship when he came over and joined the Angaras in the celebration of the 33rd foundation anniversary of the province and the 124th birth anniversary of Dona Aurora Aragon-Quezon.

It turned out that President Aquino holds the Angaras in high esteem. Senator Ed Angara, for one, was a former colleague in the Senate who showed him the ropes in the Upper Chamber given the latter’s track record as a veteran legislator wise in the ways of legislation.

Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo is also a former colleague in the House of Representatives who has distinguished herself during her nine-year stint in the Lower Chamber, a fact not unknown to the Chief Executive.

And Congressman Sonny Angara was likewise a colleague who fondly recalled how the congressman-turned-senator-turned-President has endeared himself to House employees with his mass appeal, even befriending utility workers and janitors while puffing cigarettes just outside the hallowed halls of the House.

President Noy surprised Aurorans by visiting Aurora and even unraveled a much bigger surprise when he extolled the Angaras. Some might argue that the President must have been “inspired” no end by the stellar roles being essayed by the father-and-son tandem of Senator ed and Cong Sonny who are there as juror and prosecution team spokesperson, respectively in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Corona.

This is particularly evident on how he expressed confidence that Senator Angara is neutral in the trial while Cong Sonny has been dishing out a visibly impressive performance as a mouthpiece of the prosecution.

Given the connections established by the Angaras, it is needless to mention that the goodwill and rapport they forged with political leaders even from rival camps is paying off handsome dividends for the province and for its people.

Kahit papano, iba na rin ang may pinagsamahan. The Angaras have mastered pakikisama as an art and turned it as a potent tool to bring manna from heaven for the people of Aurora. It is something to be thankful for and for which we salute them. (Jason de Asis)          

Sunday, February 19, 2012


BALER, Aurora, February 19, 2012-President Aquino shakes hands with Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe as they led the inauguration of the P594-million modern Aurora Memorial Hospital (AMH) during ceremonies in Reserva, Baler, Aurora. Also in photo are Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Aurora Governor Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona and local political and health officials and staff of the AMH. (Jason de Asis) 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Young Filipinos told to prepare for World Youth Day 2013

MANILA, Feb. 18, 2012—The CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) urged young Filipinos interested to attend next year’s World Youth Day (WYD) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to start their preparations, especially after organizers have recently unveiled the official event logo.

WYD 2013 organizers in Rio de Janeiro unveiled last week the official logo for the next international gathering of young Catholics slated from July 23 to 28, 2013 in Brazil.
The official WYD 2013 logo, designed by 25-year-old Brazilian Gustavo Huguenin, featured Brazil’s national colors of green, blue and yellow and elements that form a heart, arranged around Christ's image, inspired by the famous “Christ the Redeemer” statue.
ECY executive secretary Fr. Conegundo Garganta said the unveiling of the WYD 2013 logo signals the start of the pilgrim’s preparation for the event.
“Although the event is more than a year away, pilgrims have to start making physical, mental, spiritual and financial preparations this early,” he said.
The official added that pilgrims, especially those without prior WYD experience, should get ready to adapt on the WYD’s realities of long walks, loaded-schedules, and climate variations, among others.
“They have to study and prepare for the rigors of daily requirements. They have to be physically and mentally ready for those,” he added, citing common complaints of past WYD pilgrims.
Garganta admitted that there are still no requirements set yet for applications to be pilgrims for the WYD, adding that no communication has been made yet between the ECY and the WYD 2013 organizers in Brazil. (YouthPinoy)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Infanta clergy organizes anti-APECO mission

CASIGURAN, Aurora, February 17, 2012-A two day international solidarity mission (ISM) was organized by the Prelature of Infanta appealing for international and local support against the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO).
The anti-APECO groups said that the highlights of todays’ mission until tomorrow is to strengthen the anti-APECO campaign on both local and national levels towards the repeal of Republic Act 10083 (amended version of the RA 9490) renamed as the APECO.
The ISM groups are Swiss, Dutch and Filipino faith-based leaders, local anti-APECO support groups, representatives of the CHR and NCIP, together with media around the area of the eco-zone will conduct onsite visit today.
The group furthered that the first day will be a community sharing between the international delegates and local communities, with each sector represented, while the second day underscores the delegates’ visit to the indigenous people and fishing communities affected by the ecozone to listen to their experiences in relation to APECO.
They expected to come up with a comprehensive report about the issue on the ecozone which will be sent to different international organizations and concerned Philippine government agencies, on the local level two (2) days after the probe.
The prelature said that the report will detail the mission’s findings and appeal for appropriate actions, which are beneficial for the residents and affected communities and sectors in Casiguran, pressure international and inter-governmental bodies to issue statements against APECO and persuade the ecozone’s funders and potential investors to withdraw their commitments and investments.
The delegates said that the on-going plans of creating the eco-zone of the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO) from 500 to 12, 427 hectares, covering more barangays in the municipality of Casiguran-farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples’ leaders and residents in the municipality have repeatedly raised concerns against its expansion.
There are about some 500 members from the affected local communities and parishioners of the Nuestra Señora de Salvacion Parish in the area of Casiguran, Aurora who will be participating also in the mission aside from the ISM mission.
Members of the united against APECO are Bp. Felix Gmür from Switzerland; Bp. Rolando Tirona of the Prelature of Infanta; Fr. Ben Verberne, MSC of Dutch Conference of Religious; Helena Jeppesen of the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund (SCLF); Floor Schuiling of Mensen met een Missie- Netherlands; Fr. Edwin Gariguez of the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), Fr. Pete Montallana, OFM and Bro. Martin Francisco of the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance (SSMNA), Mark Cebreros of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Comm. Conchita Calzado of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP); Integrated Pastoral Development Initiative (IPDI), Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Focus on the Global South (FOCUS), PAKISAMA/Task Force Anti-APECO, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Tribal Center for Development (TCD), Swiss TV and Radio Veritas 846.
The campaign against APECO goes international after Dutch and Swiss religious leaders arrived in the country to join the ISM in the affected areas, especially the indigenous peoples and farm communities in Aurora and the nearby provinces.
The Prelature of Infanta statement said that ISM intends to see the situation of the tribal groups, fisherfolks, and farmers in the area in which the free port is set to be built.
“Some of the issues raised by affected residents are, private lands and farm lots awarded to farmer-beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) are among those included in the ASEZA (Aurora Special Economic Zone Area, which has been turned into Apeco) coverage; there is no consultation with the affected sectors and communities was made prior to the passage of RA 9490 (the enabling law for ASEZA); local government units of covered barangays were never informed, consulted, and considered before the approval of the law; harassment and misinformation about Apeco on the ground; and violation/conflict of the 1987 Constitution and other laws,” said the members of the ISM in a statement.
Allegedly, one of the victims of intimidation and harassment was Rev. Fr. Jose Francisco Talaban, the parish priest of Nuestra Señora de Salvacion parish and a staunch critic of the Apeco project.
Relative to this, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano will file a bill that will scrap Republic Act 10083, or the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Act of 2010.
Mariano said in a press statement that RA 10083 is a gross violation of the Article II, Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution that provides for the comprehensive rural development and agrarian reform, as well as the Sections 1, 2 and 4 of the Article XIII of the Constitution, all under the Social Justice and Human Rights of the highest law of the land.
“The law also violated the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (RA 6657), the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (RA 8371), and the Fisheries Code of 1998 (RA 8550). It is implicit in paragraph (h), Section 12 of Republic Act No. 10083 that the Aurora Ecozone can borrow funds from foreign sources and incur indebtedness without need of the concurrence of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). This provision is contrary to Section 21, Article XII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Additionally, paragraph (n), Section 12 of Republic Act No. 10083 authorizes foreign investors under the guise of private enterprises to operate public utilities. This is in flagrant contravention of Section 11, Article XII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution," Mariano said.
The bill is set to be filed on Tuesday, February 21, 2012.
The APECO project is a pet project initiated by Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara and Gov. Bella J. Angara-Castillo. The project has begun in 2008 after a law was enacted creating the APECO in 2010. The said legislation was penned by the father-and-son tandem to stimulate progress in Northeastern Luzon and to bring thousands of jobs in the place.
The ecozone vision is set to be a globally competitive, technologically advanced economic zone in the Pacific Northeast Sea Board working towards a renowned business community characterized by unified perspectives on green revolution and world-class innovation.
APECO’s mission is to foster national socio economic growth and foreign business relations through the advancement of an innovative, eco-friendly and cost-efficient economic zone capable of withstanding the demands of today’s global market. (Jason de Asis)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Country’s 1st anti-mining monument erected in Romblon

TABLAS, Romblon, Feb. 15, 2012—Anti-mining advocates witnessed on Tuesday the unveiling of a Memorial in Romblon commemorating the biggest protest held in the province against mining by the Church, local officials and residents.

A first in the country, the anti-mining monument is a reminder of the people’s struggle against the entry of large scale mining firms in Romblon.
Romblon Governor Eduardo C. Firmalo said the province will not allow any mining activities to destroy the environment and bring suffering to the people, stressing that local government units have the autonomy to defend the general welfare of the population.
"Today we commemorate the unity of our people to uphold the dignity of life and environment. As a person and public servant, I continue to adhere to the principles of genuine sustainable development, which will not sacrifice the capacity of future Romblonanons to survive,” he said.
“Metallic mining has no room in the province, and to follow the priority industries of President Noynoy Aquino: we should focus on agriculture, tourism and infrastructure," he added.
Firmalo expressed hope the Aquino government will respect the autonomy of local government units “to defend the health, security and future of the general welfare” of its constituents.
“We hope that the proposed mining policy reform order of President Aquino will uphold the decision of my constituents, recognize and further respect the mandate of the local government officials to defend the health, security and future of the general welfare.” Firmalo said.
For his part, Msgr. Nonato Ernie V. Fetalino, administrator of the Diocese of Romblon and adviser of Romblon Ecumenical Forum Against Mining (REFAM) explained that safeguarding the integrity of the creation requires a lifetime commitment.
"For nine months we have united all our voices and efforts but it is a lifetime commitment to defend the integrity of creation,” he said.
The priest stressed that it is everyone’s “spiritual duty to defend the dignity of life.”
“We look at our environment as significant source of life and we are called to maintain the balance of ecosystem, we are stewards and we are not called to abuse it,” he furthered.
Aglipayan Bishop Ronelio Fabriquer, who chairs REFAM, called for the scrapping of Mining Act of 1995 saying that the law has become the source of division among communities and cause of environmental destruction.
“We cannot permit this to happen in the province,” he said. “We call for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995 and urgent enactment of the consolidated alternative mining bills pending in the House of Representatives."
Meanwhile, Representative Eleandro Jesus F. Madrona is pushing for the enactment of House Bill 4815 that seeks to declare Romblon as a mining no-go zone, stressing that the people will not allow mining in the province.
“This [is the] biggest legacy we can leave for the province—to make our province a better place to live in with a balance and healthful ecology. We hope the House Bill 4815 will soon be passed as a law,” said Madrona.
The province’s anti-mining struggle began in 2006 when 8,000 people held a protest against mining in Sibuyan that led to the killing of activist Armin Marin a year later, by an employee of Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corporation.
In 2011, more than 12,000 people protested against Ivanhoe Philippines’ application to explore about 14,000 hectares of land in the island.
The mining company, which is wholly-owned by Ivanhoe Canada, withdrew the application in September 30 that same year due to strong opposition from the local government and the people. (CBCPNews)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

CDO archbishop reiterates call for mining moratorium

CAGAYAN DE ORO City, Feb. 14, 2012—The highest official of Cagayan de Oro archdiocese reiterated his calls for a moratorium on mining even as he hit claims that mining has not contributed to the devastation wrought by tropical storm Washi (Sendong) last December

Mining industry defenders, like Mayor Vicente Emano and most members of the City Council, admitted that he had issued “special permits” to mine several hectares in the city’s hinterlands and have not suspended these operations despite snowballing calls for him to halt theses operations.
“I admit I have granted special permits, the law allows me to do that. But [the mining operations] must not destroy the ecology,” Emano said, adding that he will only order the stop of all mining operations in the city if a study will be conducted immediately “showing that mining operations destroyed the environment, then we will immediately order the cancellation of the permits.”
But Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, DD, who have long been a staunch defender of the environment and has repeatedly called for a stop to all mining operations in the city and in the country scored the seeming “business as usual” attitude of city government officials following the devastation of Washi.
“It is unconscionable for the city officials to adapt a ‘business as usual’ attitude for mining permits to continue,” Ledesma said in his homily during the Eucharistic celebration at the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral marking the opening of the “DCM and Bishops’ Forum on Typhoon Sendong and its challenges for Mindanao” as well as a thanksgiving celebration for the 60th anniversary of the archdiocese.
Ledesma urged for a “multi-sectoral monitoring team [to be] allowed to verify the extent of these mining activities whether small scale or large scale.”
During last week’s Joint Municipal and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council at the Provincial Capitol, Misamis Oriental Environment and Natural Resources officer Conrado “Dodong” Sescon and the Philippine Air Force showed graphic pictures of the damage by mining activities on the city’s and province’s mountains.
Raoul Geollegue, former regional executive director of the Environment department in Northern Mindanao (Region X), lambasted claims that hydraulic mining rampant in the Iponan River cannot be stopped because of socio-economic considerations.
Claims of livelihood and economic windfall to the city from the local mining industry prompted Ledesma to issue a call for the city government to account to the public the true extent of the industry’s contribution to the economy.
“With that point, there is a need for a full disclosure of the identities of these mining firms, their alloted area and contribution to the local economy,” he said.
Ledesma pointed to two factors that caused the flooding in the city as early as 2009 — natural and human.
The Jesuit prelate also scored the fact that the city government under Emano had allowed families for decades “to stay along the river’s own waterways.” He was referring to Isla de Oro, an island formed in the middle of the Cagayan de Oro River by the accumulation of river silts where almost 1,000 families lived and were swept by rampaging floodwaters on the night of December 16 at the height of tropical storm Washi.
Ledesma said this could have been prevented had the city government had foresight and good city planning.
“Disaster preparedness and long-term city planning could have mitigated the dire consequences of allowing households to stay along the river’s own waterways,” he stressed.
The Emano administration was repeatedly condemned by critics and the opposition for its alleged “leaderless and disarrayed” response to Washi and its insistence that the mayor cannot prevent people from living in Isla de Oro because of the people’s hard-headedness.
A group, the Save CDO Movement, even initiated a campaign to recall Emano for his handling of the city’s affairs, especially following the Washi tragedy.
The environment watchdog Task Force Macajalar (TFM) had earlier summed up Washi’s damage as a result of a combination of “environmental degradation plus climate change plus bad governance minus an effective and functional disaster risk reduction program.
Ledesma reiterated that “transparency and accountability are hallmarks of good governance” as he urged the institutionalization of “participatory citizenry on one hand and responsive government on the other hand.”
To reports that some members of the local clergy are using their pulpits to play politics in support of the recall campaign, the archbishop stressed that “the archdiocese does not engage in partisan politics. The pulpit should be used to proclaim the word of God and not the words of men” even as he appealed “to all authorities and all Kagay-anons to allow the democratic process to prevail in the responsible exercise of basic freedoms of speech assembly and participation in public affairs.”
Bishop Jose A. Cabantan of the Malaybalay Diocese also reiterated calls for the enactment into law of the Alternative Mining Bill (AMB) even as he stressed that, despite claims to the contrary, “there is still no responsible mining” in the Philippines.
Cabantan, who once served as Ledesma’s director for Social Action prior to his elevation to the bishopric, said that it is always the Church’s stand to “protect the integrity of creation.”
However, he admitted that this cannot be done by the Church alone, or by the government alone. (Bong D. Fabe)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Three shabu pushers nabbed in Aurora buy-bust

BALER, Aurora, February 13, 2012-Operatives of the Aurora cops Anti-illegal drugs special operation task force arrested three suspected shabu pushers during a buy-bust in barangay Suklayin Sunday around four in the afternoon.
The police operation resulted to the arrest of suspects Michael Lumasac y Laña, 32 years old, married, jobless together with his cohorts suspects his brother Deblin Lumasac y Laña, 29 years old and his uncle Roy Laña y Magaro, 53 years old all residents of Brgy. Suklayin here.

An undercover agent from the police force who acted as poseur buyer of suspected illegal drug pusher and bought shabu from Michael using marked/dusted money composed of one piece (1) of 200 peso bill bearing serial number HX200891 and three pieces (3) of 100 peso bills bearing serial numbers C583583, QK 728550 and GD715094.  After receiving the dusted money by Michael, his brother Deblin gave him a small transparent plastic container containing suspected shabu and then Michael handed it to the poseur buyer.

The operative who acted as poseur buyer took effect the arrest of suspect Michael while other members of the team rushed in the aforesaid place and arrested Deblin and Roy.

Michael was arrested on the act of selling shabu and confiscated from his possession and control a small transparent heat sealed plastic sachet containing crystalline substance better known as shabu weighing 0.05 grams and also recovered from him the marked/dusted money.

In the immediate vicinity, several small open and empty transparent plastic sachets were found containing suspected shabu and various crumpled foil and improvised tooter and after proper documentation the same were brought to Baler PNP with other pieces of evidence for investigation.
The suspects were investigated at the police station and subsequently brought to the Aurora Provincial Crime Laboratory Office located at Sitio Setan, Brgy. Calabuanan and were declared positive in using drugs.

Case for violation of Section 5, 12 and 15 of Republic Act 9165 was filed against the three respondents. The suspects were taken to the provincial prosecutors office today for inquest proceeding.

The task force was a joint effort led by P/Inspector Ferdinad B Usita and personnel of Baler Police Station under the over-all supervision of Police Senior Supt. Benjamin T Hulipas, Provincial Director who conducted operation against illegal Dangerous Drugs in coordination with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Region 3.

Prior to this, numerous complaints were received by the police from concern citizens of Barangay Suklayin regarding the rampant selling of illegal drugs at aforesaid place; thus, the authorities immediately conducted surveillance, casing and test buy operation. (Jason de Asis)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

HIV is a workplace issue—NGO

MANILA, Feb. 12, 2012—Human immune-deficiency virus (HIV) is a workplace issue that needed to be properly addressed. This was the statement of the International Seafarers’ Action Center (ISAC) as discrimination continues against people living with HIV (PL-HIV).

In a paper by ISAC project development officer Jeremy O. Cajiuat titled “REVERSING THE CULTURE OF BLAME: The case for HIV-AIDS as a workplace issue for seafarers”, he said that prejudice from employers, in the form of denial of employment possibilities and adequate assistance make it difficult for PL-HIV to cope with the often fatal complications of this illness.
“Sadly, contrary to accepted international principles that seek to protect PLWAs [people living with HIV-AIDS], government agencies in the Philippines continue to adopt these prejudiced views that eventually result in more serious consequences,” reads Cajiuat’s paper. Cajiuat is referring to the alleged negligence of the seafarer, or worker, for example, that is why he contracted the dreaded disease.
High Court’s decision affirms “prejudice” vs PLWAs
Citing a Supreme Court decision, wherein the High Tribunal seems to blame the “notorious” negligence of the part of the seaman to protect himself from contracting HIV-AIDS, Cajiuat argued that such judicial declarations have the force of law considering the dearth of Philippine labor policy and program extending necessary protection to people in high-risk situations.
“But such policy stance is legally and morally wrong, retrograde and directly contrary to the progressively enlightened world view and the resultant global efforts to fight this serious and highly-fatal disease,” he explained.
For Cajiuat, the State must do something about it, being one of the ardent participant on the global efforts to curb the spread of HIV-AIDS.
Seafarers’ work nature makes them susceptible to HIV/AIDS
Furthermore, the HIV-AIDS prevention course, included in the pre-departure orientation seminars (PDOS), a series of lectures for the migrating Filipino worker, seemed to be inadequate “given the severity of the situation and the precariousness of the seafarers’ nature of work… or their susceptibility to exposure to this dreaded disease.”
Citing the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) manual, Cajiuat said that the document had affirmed the veracity of the fact that seafaring is indeed a work that makes one vulnerable of contracting HIV-AIDS.
The ITF Manual states that since the seafarers, by the nature of their work had a very long time of non-contact with other persons, aside from their workmates, thus when docked to a port at any country, “many want to make up for the loss of contacts during the time on board.” The ITF also explained that since seafarers spend more time on the sea than on land, they are deprived of time to attend HIV-AIDS prevention activities.
“Seafarers also suffer when shipping companies try to cut costs by flying ‘flags of convenience’ from countries which have lower standards for registering ships. This undermines safety standards, as well as efforts to provide good workplace HIV/AIDS policies. The struggle against HIV/AIDS is not an isolated one, and is part of the struggle to win better conditions for members,” says the ITF, as quoted in Cajiuat’s paper.
Situation needs a multi-lateral response, not blame
Rather than succumbing to the so-called ‘policy of blame’, says Cajiuat, the situation needs a multi-lateral response that is focused on a more adequate solution, which, in the long term, would reduce the risk of occupational exposure of seafarers to HIV/AIDS.
Cajiuat also observed that, the safety standards being implemented on ships are more focused on making the fleet “sea-worthy.”
“Shipping companies practice strict safety guidelines in the handling of hazardous materials and the daily life of the crew includes regular review, discussion, monitoring and organizational tasking to ensure the safe handling of all kinds of hazardous materials, complete with guidebooks and data sheets on the safe handling, prevention of accidents and deadly exposures, appropriate protective equipment and internationally recognized symbols for workplace hazards like flammable, corrosive or radioactive materials. The same treatment goes for highly-communicable diseases such as Malaria, Tuberculosis or Viral Hepatitis where international guidelines for its prevention are included in shipboard policies by ship management itself, and listed as occupational under the POEA Contract. Without adopting any prejudicial view on HIV-AIDS, there should be no reason why this illness should not be treated the same as any hazardous substance or infectious illness,” explained Cajiuat.
The seafarers’ rights advocate had also criticized the 2010 Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) standard employment contract (SEC) for seafarers which excluded HIV/AIDS as a compensable disease.
“Far from advancing the fight against this global plague, or perhaps in contemplation to the impending rise in its incidence among Filipino seafarers, bend over backwards to accommodate the prejudice with encouragement from shipowners and insurance companies. Thus in Section 32 of POEA’s Standard Employment Contract, it is explicitly stated that “death or disability directly caused by sexually transmitted disease shall not be compensable nor shall be entitled to the benefits provided in this Contract,” he said.
This, according to Cajiuat, is already a prejudice against the seafarer.
“The ramification of the Philippine government’s prejudicial view, far from contributing to the global effort to thwart this deadly disease and far removed from the prevailing global view, will discourage people in high-risk occupations, among them seafarers, from asserting their rights and coming out into the open to seek care, treatment, support and protection of their real or perceived HIV/AIDS status. Such counter-productive consequences lay to waste all the participation, effort, budget and resources that the Philippines has already spent to fight HIV-AIDS,” he said.
Work-related definition needs a “redefinition”
Another problem is the definition of “work-related” when it comes of viewing the disease contracted by the worker while on-board.
Cajiuat stressed that the definition of work-related must not be confined to the seaman’s job description alone.
“There are many other conditions onboard the ship of employment that can be considered work-related factors, such as social isolation, marine peril, lack of recreational facilities, hard labor etc. These are crucial factors that other stakeholders, among them the shipowners must consider since they themselves cannot deny the heroic role seafarers play in the safe operation of their ships. The government too, which relies on dollar earnings from seafarers’ remittances, must consider these factors,” he said. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]


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