Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Epic Flood: A Call for Compassion

THE pictures we see in the newspapers and television screen in these days, after the epic flood brought about by devastating tropical storm “Ondoy” have many stories to tell which are beyond words. Many of the victims of super typhoon Ondoy has a scary experience to narrate.

While we keep in our imagination the pictures that invite our deepest sympathy, and even listen in our hearts to their desperate cries for help, the victims agonizing and angry complaints at the slowness or absence of response from Disaster Preparedness Program, let us see in this situation a call to everyone for compassion. If there were no graft and corruption in our government, our government would be more prepared to respond to such crisis.

Typhoon Ondoy’s destructive path may be the worst flood in more than half a century. Through the ravages of nature in the past, the Filipino sense of compassion, which we also call “bayanihan,” has been called forth. The pictures we have seen in the past few days are pictures of Filipinos responding to the call for compassion, of people willing to “suffer with,” people with the spirit of “bayanihan.”

We pray against typhoons, earthquakes, floods and other natural calamities. But when they do occur, the heroism of the Filipino comes out. We salute, for example, to that 18-year old teen-ager, Muelmar Magallanes, who lost his life after saving more than a dozen neighbors, the last of whom was a six-month old baby.

This one heroic example is an inspiration of our appeal with the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action. The CBCP NASSA has been mobilized to help with its limited resources the victims of the flood. Relief goods have started to be gathered and distributed to the flood-affected provinces around Metro Manila. Caritas Manila has started to respond to the flood victims in Metro Manila. Compassion is drawing many Filipinos to unite with their unfortunate brothers and sisters. Social Action Centers of other Dioceses may join the campaign by sending to CBCP NASSA whatever they may collect. Profound gratitude to the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council and the US Bishops’ Conference – Catholic Relief Services. They were among the first to respond.

Other Institutions like the RED CROSS, have also started to respond to the call for compassion, as we have seen in GMA network and ABS-CBN network in the spirit respectively of “KAPUSO” and “KAPAMILYA.”

We bend our knees in prayer for salvation against natural calamities, but when they do come, we are not so helpless as not to respond with heroism. We have said it before and we say it again “In the Church, no one is so poor as to have nothing to give, and no one is so rich as to have nothing to receive.” We are humbled by the crises that come to us. We pray to God and appeal for our neighbor.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

For Good or Evil, For Better or Worse

THE issue of good and evil in governance starts with responsible and irresponsible citizenship. Leadership in governance starts with leaders as citizens. Responsible citizens produce good leaders, good leaders produce good citizens. Leaders and citizens are linked to each other; they influence each other for good or evil, for better or for worse.

Leaders and citizens must work jointly for the common good. Sadly, however, the common good is very often being subordinated to private good, to the good of one’s own self, party or family.

While it is true that we cannot be blind to the evil or wrong around us, we must have the wisdom and fortitude to correct it.

We need to exercise our social conscience by owning our social evils and wrongs and by owning as well the tasks of fighting these, and of pursuing the common good, individually or collectively. Before condemning others, let us first look at ourselves, because we may be guilty of the same or similar. No person is completely evil that there is nothing we can do to correct him or her.

Corruption, we have said many times before, is the greatest shame and problem of our country. Our government has not eradicated it, because it is involved in corruption itself. Corruption is what keeps our country from the evils of graft and corruption.

To help pursue the good and fight evil, the CBCP has recommended and undertaken “communal actions,” we “pray together, reason together, decide together, act together towards a more vigorous work for good governance and a more active promotion of responsible citizenship in our society.” May I repeat here that in view of the national elections next year, “we call upon those who are competent, persons of integrity and committed to change to get involved directly in partisan politics and become candidates for political election, aware that the common good is above the good of vested interests. We remind the laity that it is within their right as their duty to campaign for candidates they believe to be competent, honest and public-service minded in order to reform our country.”

Our question that needs to be posed to all those aspiring for the presidency and other government elective positions is: how are you going to eradicate graft and corruption in your level of governance? We, citizens, are urged to examine their plans, and in conscience choose and support those who will lead us to the good, onward to the better.

Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
September 16, 2009

Reiterating CBCP Position on Family

WITH the introduction of the Reproductive Health Bill 5043, a.k.a. Reproductive Health Bill, in Congress, truth and morality, the value and dignity of life, family and marriage are sadly made to depend on human laws. That is what is implied in the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill presently under discussion in Congress.
It appears that Congress even plans to shorten the discussion in order to have the R.H. Bill passed before the end of October. We hope that the normal process of discussion and interpellation be observed, that the Congressmen who have signified to interpellate on the R.H. Bill be honored and given the opportunity to interpellate. To shorten the period of interpellation would give the impression that the passage of RH Bill is “lutong makaw”, not judiciously and sufficiently discussed.

As Catholics and Christians we are against the passage of the RH Bill 5043 of Congress for reasons we have already enunciated and I now summarize:

1. The Bill dilutes and negates Section III (1) Article XV of the Constitution which provides “The State shall defend the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious conviction and the demands of responsible parenthood.”

2. The Bill seeks to legalize surgical procedures that the Catholic Church has denounced as immoral, except for serious health reasons: tubal ligation, vasectomy and abortion.

3. The Bill requires mandatory reproductive health education from Grade V to Fourth Year High School without consideration of their sensitivity and moral innocence. The moral law and the Constitution recognize the right of parents to be the primary educators of their children.

4. The Bill recommends having two children only per family as the supposedly ideal family size. There is no moral or scientific basis for this recommendation. It puts the State above the family. The natural right of couples to have as many or as few children as possible, pursuant to their understanding of responsible parenthood, is in our view already protected by Section 12, Art. 2 of the Constitution, which recognizes the “sanctity of family life” and protects the life of the mother and of the unborn.

5. The Bill states that those who “maliciously engage in disinformation about the intent of provisions of the bill” shall be punished with imprisonment and/or fine of P10,000 to P50,000. This includes those who will teach contrary to the bill (after it is passed) and speak about its immoral provisions. Such provision is a clear violation of the freedom of speech and of the right to religious conviction. Only totalitarian states have such policies.

We thus reiterate our categorical and unequivocal opposition to any attempt at controlling the exercise of the God-given rights of human persons to enter into married life, procreate and raise families according to the provisions of the Constitution and their religious convictions.

We appreciate and are grateful to the members of the Legislature who seek to understand the will of the Supreme Lawgiver whose laws are beyond our limited human competence to repeal or amend. We recognize and likewise thank the individuals and groups who support our pro-life, pro-women, pro-marriage and pro-family advocacy. We raise in prayer all their efforts for continued guidance and strength from the Lord and Giver of Life.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
September 16, 2009

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Graft and Corruption is an evil that affects many levels and areas of life. Graft and corruption is a sin that cries to heaven especially if it is committed against the poor people, like poor drivers.

The Gospel (Luke 16/1-13) is about cheating and dishonesty. The Gospel is about a manager of business who was cheating the owner. About to be dismissed from work, this manager cheated by teaching some people to be dishonest, to tell a lie by lowering the amount they owed. Instead of paying the owner the right amount, the manager made the debtors indebted to him instead. He was getting the money which the debtors should be paying to the owner. That is cheating, that is telling a lie, a dishonesty.

In the same way, it is cheating and dishonesty to increase the amount higher than what one should pay according to stipulation. And so, for example, as what we have read in the local newspaper, if it is true, to increase the amount to be paid for transportation franchise from 810 pesos to some 35thousand pesos is an act of cheating and dishonesty, by whomever it is committed and against whomever it is committed. Such act of dishonesty is not only against the government but also against God, because it offends a fellow human being.

We must persuade and pray that those who are committing graft and corruption against the government and the taxpayers are harming the common good and the trust that people should have for them. Therefore, we should pray and call for their conversion and change of attitude.

As the saying goes: Be honest … even if others are not, even if others will not, even if others cannot. He who walks honestly, walks securely (Prov. 10/9). The Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals has this for their vision and motto in the business.

Or as we see in the posters around the town of Pavia: “Help fight graft and corruption. Be honest. Do not lie. Do not steal. Do not make promises you cannot fulfill.”

We therefore support the advocacy of the citizenry, especially the drivers, for honesty in business. Our country remains poor because of projects that are substandard and because of overpricing of collectibles that are due. The country is poor enough, but it becomes poor when projects are either sub-standard or overpriced. The common good is sacrificed.

The gospel that we have proclaimed today from St. Luke 16 has a very practical application in our life and relationship. Only good and honest business can be God’s business.

Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
September 3, 2009