Thursday, February 28, 2008

Interfaith Rally in Cebu
Friday, 29 February

Assembly Area: General Maxilom Avenue (fronting the former Sacred Heart Campus) at 1:00pm

March towards Fuente Osmena Rotunda at 2:00pm

Let us not be afraid to fight for the truth and justice!

photo credit: F Edralin

The CBCP Leading Us Nowhere

A Statement of the Black & White Movement

THESE are times that indeed call for discernment. All our institutions are being judged by the people. The Black & White Movement recognize that the leaders of many can only move as far and as fast, as the obstinate few. Archbishops Talamayan and Capalla have prevailed on their fellow bishops to refrain from committing the hierarchy to a cause the country is embracing. But the bishops won't embrace it, yet. Rather, they have embraced what some bishops call prudence and others compare to the strategy of the ostrich when faced with a problem: to stick its head in the sand.

The bishops' pastoral exhortation disappoints us, and although they call for the administration to scrap EO 464, for executive officials to face the Senate without mental reservations or efforts at evasion, the people know better. Their diluted and muted statement has made them akin to toothless tigers, fast becoming irrelevant to the times.

Whether in Luzon, Visayas or Mindanao, we are one people, who all know right from wrong, and who can tell the truth from official lies.

We know all too well, that in the fullness of time, the President will prefer lies to the truth, and embrace suppressing the truth to embracing the light. The bishops have given the President a chance.

She will find a way to betray their good faith, the way she did with their calls for a Truth Commission and to face issues squarely before Congress.The truth is our perpetual help, we said last Monday.

It is our strength and comfort even when the shepherds are fearful and leading us nowhere.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

CBCP Pastoral Statement

Seeking the Truth, Restoring Integrity

Beloved People of God: Greetings in the peace of the Lord!
Today in the midst of restlessness and confusion, we come to you aspastors, for that is our precise role. We do not come as politicianswhose vocation it is to order society towards the common good. Ourmessage contributes to the flourishing of a democracy which must notbe built only on political formulae.We face today a crisis of truth and the pervading cancer ofcorruption. We must seek the truth and we must restore integrity.These are moral values needing spiritual and moral insights.Therefore, we address this pastoral statement to everyone particularlyyou our beloved people and in a special way to our political rulersand officials.We are convinced that the search for truth in the midst of charges andallegations must be determined and relentless, and that the way totruth and integrity must be untrammeled, especially at the presenttime when questions about the moral ascendancy of the presentgovernment are being raised.For this reason, we strongly:

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the long term we reiterate our call for "circles of discernment"at the grassroots level, in our parishes, Basic Ecclesial Communities,recognized lay organizations and movements, religious institutions,schools, seminaries and universities. It is through internalconversion into the maturity of Christ through communal and prayerfuldiscernment and action that the roots of corruption are discovered anddestroyed. We believe that such communal action will perpetuate at thegrassroots level the spirit of People Power so brilliantlydemonstrated to the world at EDSA I. It is People Power with adifference. From the grassroots will come out a culture of truth andintegrity we so deeply seek and build. We instruct our CBCPCommissions to take active role including networking for this purpose.

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

For and on behalf of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of thePhilippines:+Angel Lagdameo, D.D.Archbishop of JaroPresident, CBCPFebruary 26, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

People Power not DEAD

Contrary to what President Arroyo and Malacañang would like people believe, People Power and the yearning for change are not dead.This was the message of the Redemptorist priest who delivered the homily at the mass for truth and accountability held to mark the 22nd anniversary of the EDSA revolt at the Baclaran Church Monday afternoon."Huwag tayong magpalinlang na ang ang People Power ay wala na katulad ng nais ipaniwala sa ating ng mga nasa kapangyarihan ... Ang pagkakabalisa, pagkabigo, ang matinding pagnanais ng pagbabago, ang paghahangad natin ng pagkakaisa ay buhay na buhay pa rin sa atin (Do not believe those in power who try to convince us that People Power is dead. Our yearning for change and unity remains very much alive),"Fr. Joey Echano said, as the crowd applauded.Echano's statement was an apparent retort to President Arroyo's statements last weekend that the world will not tolerate another EDSA revolt, after embracing EDSA 1 and tolerating EDSA 2.He said that while rallies and protests have not been as loud as before, people are merely looking for a new form of communal action.The people, he added, are merely looking for a new rallying symbol. Besides, he said communal action should not be based on the dictates of politicians."Hindi patay ang people power. Ito ay sisibol sa darating na panahon na may malakas na kapangyarihan at mas mayamang kahulungan (People power is certainly not dead. It will surface again, in a more powerful and more meaningful manner)," he said. Excerpts of his homily were aired on Church-run Radio Veritas.Echano also scored the government for allowing greed and corruption to rule. Radio dzRH reported that he likened graft to "tooth decay" in the government.On the other hand, he said it is not enough for people to stay at the sidelines, reminding them of a passage in the "Divine Comedy" that the hottest flames in hell are reserved for those who choose to do nothing."Ang People Power ay di natatapos sa pagtanggal sa luklukan ng mga may kapangyarihan at wala nang moralidad na umupo ... Ang People Power ay pagbabago ng buong sistema sa ating lipunan at ng ating sarili ...Tama na, sobra na, kumilos na (People power does not end with removing a leader and letting just anyone take his place. People power is changing the system and our society and ourselves ... We must say enough, too much, let us act)!" he said.Among those who attended the mass were ZTE witness Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., former President Corazon Aquino, Georgina de Venecia, Fernando Poe Jr.'s daughter Grace Llamanzares, Reps. Darlene Custodio, Roilo Golez and Liza Maza, Sen. Benigno Aquino III, Armida Siguion-Reyna and Rez Cortez.- GMANews.TV

Friday, February 22, 2008

An Open Letter to our Church Leaders

To Our Dear Churchleaders


They tell the people what the people already know:
*They talk about the moral fabric of society being assailed.
*They urge everybody to be vigilant and to seek the truth.
*They say the government reeks of corruption and opportunism.
*They suggest it is time for a concerted and collective action.
*They recite the mantras of "order", "constitution" and
Yes, for the most part, some of our church leaders are inclined to tell the people what the people already know.

How do the people know, certainly not primarily by reading books or listening to sermons or lectures. The people know because they have eyes and ears that see and hear beyond the legalese and technicalities of court hearings. They know because God has endowed them with the magnificent gift of discernment. The religious calls it the Sensus Fidelium, the voice of the Spirit within them; the people simply call it obvious

Christ precisely became one of us - to make the Will of God obvious to the faithful. "Whoever believes in me, believes not only in me but also in him who sent me. Whoever sees me, also sees him who sent me. I have come into the world that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness…Yes, because I have not spoken on my own but the Father who sent me has commanded me what I must say and speak." (Jn.12: 44-49)

Christ dwells in his people. And He makes known God's Will to the people who believe and accept his Word. And when he wants to make known the Father's will to the world, he speaks also through the people, as indeed we all understand by the phrase Vox Populi, Vox Dei. This is not to deny the authority and mandate of our church leaders to proclaim the Will of God to the people. Rather, it is to stress that since God speaks also through the people, our church leaders likewise have a similar duty to listen to God in his people.

The words from the musical 'Les Miserables' expresses this in a most poignant way:

Do you hear the people sing, Singing a song of angry men?It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!When the beating of your heart, echoes the beating of the drumsThere is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!
Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me?Beyond the barricade, is there a world you long to see?Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free!

And the Scriptures are even more urgent and more challenging:

"Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?"
Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, "Consider your ways!
"You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes."
Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Consider your ways!
"Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified," says the LORD. [Haggai 1:4-8]

We discern at least three basic questions that might concern our church leaders, as they concern all believers in these most difficult and critical times:
· How courageously and faithfully are you hearing to the Will of God in his people?
· Where/how do you see yourselves in relation to the 'barricade' that has for so long denied our people a life of peace, freedom and dignity.
· What more are you willing to offer/give up so that the God's Will might be heard faithfully and proclaimed fully?

In concrete, we understand this to mean for our church leaders not to be content with the good things they are already doing in service to our people; But rather to become more active and committed towards being part of the people's present challenge:
Rebuild the nation!
Replace the corrupt usurper and her cabinet!
Install a transitional council of leaders!
Elect a new leadership through a snap election!
Establish a working democracy!

KAALAGAD Katipunang Kristiyano / February 20, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Call to OFWs: Make a Stand for our Country's Future

Senator Kiko Pangilinan's call for Overseas Filipino Workers to make a stand for our country's future is very commendable. He urged OFWs to contribute for the sanctuary fund aimed at helping whistle-blowers (like Jun Lozada) on government's anomalous deals. The fund is set up by the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP). I hope our OFWs will support this very timely initiative. All of us have a moral obligation to save our country from this abusive and corrupt government. The time to make a stand is NOW.

Pangilinan urges OFWs: Donate money for whistle blowers

MANILA, Philippines -- Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday urged overseas Filipino workers to donate money to the “sanctuary fund” set up by church people to finance the legal needs of whistle-blowers on government corruption activities.
Pangilinan said the appeal is especially “for those who believe in the CBCP (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines) call for communal action and so that we are not mere spectators but are active participants in the search for the truth.”
He said that only on its sixth day, the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines' Sanctuary Fund to support witnesses like Rodolfo Noel Lozada has now reached P693,372.50.
Quoting former socioeconomic planning secretary Romulo Neri, Lozada himself said labor migration has become the “escape valve” that has kept the Philippine society from imploding due to the numerous government anomalies.
The fund was set up at the senator's suggestion during a hearing on the cancelled $329-million contract wherein Lozada admitted to his own responsibility in possibly anomalous government deals.
He said the fund should help whistle-blowers defend themselves in case they are charged in court because of their exposes.
Pangilinan said check donations may be sent to AMRSP Special Funds at 28 Acacia Street, Quezon City, with telephone numbers 724-4434 or deposited directly to MBTC Account No. 3259-07445-3. He said the point person is Sister Estrella Castalone FMA.
“Make a stand for our nation's future,” he said.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Conservatives Now Control CBCP

This article written by Aries Rufo, which first came out on Newsbreak Online on October 29, 2007, was written to put into context why the Catholic Church has refused to join calls for President Arroyo to resign. It explains the dynamics that surround the membership of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). We are republishing this in the light of calls for the president to resign and separate public statements made by Catholic Archbishops concerning the matter. Read more:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A government that has betrayed its people

In a democracy, the government is mandated by law to protect its citizens and promote their wellbeing. When this same government kidnaps, maligns, threatens its own citizens and, worst of all, blatantly engages in massive corruption at all levels of the bureaucracy, it loses its right to demand the allegiance of its citizens.
Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr.’s exposé of the fraudulent national broadband network (NBN) deal shows that corruption in this government has crept into the highest echelons of government. The Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration, through its sycophants in the Senate, such as Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Juan Ponce Enrile and Joker Arroyo, tried vainly to destroy Lozada’s credibility. As veteran trial lawyers, they should have known that an honest witness is the most difficult witness to break.
The last persons on this planet who would qualify to pontificate about morality and credibility are Senators Santiago and Enrile. Senator Arroyo is a difficult case to explain. But a political theorist said that power oftentimes addles the brain and weakens the character of most mortals.
The Arroyo administration is like the Mafia or a criminal syndicate. Instead of using the law to promote justice and the truth, it wields the “rule of law” as an instrument of oppression and terror. Thomas Jefferson once wrote that when a government betrays its own people, it must be toppled from its arrogant perch.

RICARDO M. MAGTIBAY - Letter to the Editor, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Update on Akbayan's Ombudsman Complaint against Abalos

Complaint was filed on 9 October 2007, with Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, representing Akbayan as the principal complainant. Benjamin Abalos was named sole respondent. Complaint cited violation of various graft laws including RA 3019, RA 6713, and Articles 211 and 212 of the Revised Penal Code. A copy of the Complaint and its attachments can be downloaded from

Ombudsman took no action on the Complaint for over four months, in clear violation of Rule 112, section 3 of the Rules of Court, which requires that within ten days from filing, it should either dismiss the case or require the respondent to file a counter-affidavit.

Last week, the Ombudsman announced in the media that it would be holding a public hearing today, 18 February 2008, on the various complaints filed in relation to the ZTE-NBN scandal. Despite not having received any formal notice of hearing from the Ombudsman, Akbayan decided to attend and raise issues regarding the conduct of the Ombudsman investigation such as – the prior call on Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to inhibit herself from the investigation in view of her self-admitted closeness to First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, the reason for the delay in Ombudsman action which clearly violated its own rules of procedure, and the timing of the public hearing.

At today’s hearing, Ombudsman Gutierrez immediately announced that she was voluntarily inhibiting herself from the case, preempting any objections that we would have raised against her participation. The hearing was then conducted by a panel of senior Ombudsman investigators.

During the hearing itself, we raised questions regarding the delay of four months, but instead of being a clear answer, were given vague references to a supposed investigation the Ombudsman had been conducting. No explanation whatsoever was offered to explain why it violated its own rules of procedure. When asked if they would release the results of the alleged investigation, the panel replied in the negative, saying that these were “confidential.”

Questions from other complainants likewise revealed that despite the four month “investigation,” the Ombudsman had not even succeeded in securing basic documents such as the official transcript of the ZTE hearings in the Senate.

For all the fanfare surrounding today’s hearing, all that was really done was for the complainants, including Risa, to “reaffirm” their complaints under oath and for copies to be served (finally) on the respondents. From all indications, it appears to have been a “show” hearing intended principally to show the public that the Ombudsman is in fact doing something to address the ZTE issue.

Some observers have opined that the Ombudsman hearings are actually intended to be used as a justification for discontinuing the Senate inquiry, or at the very least, as a legal excuse for government officials to avoid giving testimony before the Senate.

Respondents have been given ten days, or up to February 28, to file their counter-affidavits. Next hearing at the Ombudsman is scheduled for 4 March 2008.

By Atty. Barry Gutierrez, Akbayan Counsel

Monday, February 18, 2008

Letter from Geneva

My longtime friend and Bisig colleague Tos Anonuevo who is now based in Geneva sent me a letter expressing the collective stand of the Filipino community in Switzerland against the impunity in corruption under the present government. Tos who is a convenor of the Geneva Forum for Philippine Concerns informed me that their group organized a "communal action and prayer" in Geneva. The group exhorts migrant groups and OFWs to make their voices heard in the Philippines and around the world by writing letters to embassies and consultates and holding dialogue.
Geneva Forum for Philippine Concerns, Swtizerland, Feb. 16, 2008
When Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo addressed the business community last week and committed to end "the legacy of corruption", she put herself into the proverbial problem of finger pointing: three of her other fingers are pointing at herself.This height of hypocrisy is one of the many instances that GMA has totally ignored the morality of good governance. She does not have to look back in history or look at other institutions to tell the Filipino people about corruption. She just has to look in her presidency, her bedroom, and in her family dining table to see what corruption personified is.She has built a legacy of corruption and scandals that some dictators in other countries would pale in comparison. The list of tainted projects just goes on and on - the NBN-ZTE Project, South Rail and North Rail Project, Transco bidding etc. simply show the impunity in corruption of this government. The distribution of dole-outs in the palace ground is another blatant example of cooptation and bribery. Her family keeps coming up in controversies like in the Jose Pidal account and recently in the revelation of former Speaker De Venecia that the 2 presidential sons actually control the pork barrel in Congress. The Arroyo family has even gone mafia-style as the kidnapping of the new NBN-ZTE witness by police and military personnel provides a chilling reminder of the hundreds of unsolved political killings in the country under her very own presidency.Her presidency has therefore even become a confederacy of dunces – a cabal of bungling public officials who want to be addressed as ‘honorable’. The former presidential chief of staff Mike Defensor offered 50,000 pesos to Lozada, after telling him to deny that he was kidnapped and that he knows nothing on the NBN deal. His planned “denial press conference” was even the last straw that emboldened Lozada to become a Senate witness. When Lozada finally revealed the truth about the ZTE-NBN under oath, her chief legal counsel can only deliver a racial slur as a reaction. The rebuke of the Supreme Court on the government’s order to prevent the airing of the Hello Garci tapes again shows the idiocy of the administration.As GMA builds her legacy of corruption, she was also busy destroying our democratic institutions and freedoms. Her family’s control of the Congress, the bootlicking loyalty of local officials and military-police establishment, and the impunity in political killings and torture add to the many reasons why we should act now. Enough is enough! The Geneva Forum for Philippine Concerns (GFPC) joins in solidarity with the collective actions of civil society groups, the church and religious groups, the business community and other political forces to oust this bankrupt Arroyo regime. And as we were participants in the events of 1986 and 2001 that kicked-out the 2 most corrupt heads of state, we continue to be committed to take action in dismantling the unfortunate result of EDSA 2 – contributing a 3rd president to the top 10 corrupt list of Transparency International. We urge the migrant groups around the world to collectively discuss the immorality and gangsterism of the Arroyo administration. Let us make our voices heard in the Philippines and around the world that we are clamoring and acting for change. Let us inform the various embassies and consulates of our outrage through letters, dialogue or picketing.Finally, we call on the Filipino community in Switzerland to stand up and be counted in the people's movement to push for the resignation of GMA.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Days of Apathy and Indifference are Over

A Joint Statement by Akbayan-Cebu, Bisig, Center for Participatory Governance (Cpag) , Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Fellowship for Organizing Endeavors (Forge), National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (Nuwhrain), Akbayan-Youth, Movement for the Advancement of Student Power (Masp), Makalaya, APL-Women.

We pay tribute to Mr. Jun Lozada and his family for their bravery and selfless sacrifice in telling the truth about the anomalous ZTE-NBN deal.
The symbol of Filipino integrity and valor is not carried by high officials in government, certainly not those in Malacañang, but by ordinary citizens like Lozada.
The expose of Mr. Lozada directs accountability at the doorstep of Malacanang.
People closed to Mrs. Arroyo are responsible over the bribery scandal in the ZTE contract, and by law and morals, they should be held accountable.
These allegations of corruption and bribery should not be buried and forgotten.
We need to hold high officials accountable for an anomaly that could have cost the country billions of public funds.
This is the only acceptable closure to this controversy.
We call on the people to be vigilant in exacting transparency and accountability from our public leaders.
The days of apathy and indifference are over.
The time to make a stand is NOW.
We should be steadfast and unforgiving against any form of government maneuverings that would subvert the truth.
We should not be afraid to fight for truth and justice.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Quest for Justice and Truth

Prayer Gathering in quest for truth and justice

Date: Friday, Feb. 15

Time: 430pm

Venue: Fuente O. Rotunda, Cebu City

Lihok na!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ibon Survey

77% of Filipinos want Arroyo to resign’--Ibon survey

Seventy-seven percent of Filipinos believe President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should resign over allegations of corruption, according to a survey by the Ibon Foundation.
Of 1,503 respondents asked by the think tank from January 7 to 14 if Arroyo should step down because of "widespread corruption under her regime," 77.41 percent said "yes," only 12.89 percent said "no."
Asked if they were aware of calls from various sectors for Arroyo to step down, 75.38 said "yes," while 24.62 percent said "no," Ibon said in a statement.
The margin of error for the survey was plus or minus three percent.
Last week, former government consultant Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. said the scrapped $329-million contract awarded to China's ZTE Corp. for the national broadband network (NBN) project was overpriced.
Lozada added that former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo pushed for the deal with ZTE.
Arroyo scrapped the contract last year after allegations of overpricing and bribery.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

MBC: A Call for Accountability and the Pursuit of Truth

As a forum, the MBC is dedicated to addressing economic and social policy issues which affect the development of the Philippines. The main thrust of the MBC is to foster and promote the role of the private business sector in national development efforts, both in the planning and the implementation of policy.

A Call for Accountability and the Pursuit of Truth

We salute Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada Jr. for overcoming his personal fear of the consequences of revealing what he knows about the scandal-ridden National Broadband Network project. He claims that his life was threatened, that he was enticed with assurances of his personal safety and promises of other considerations, and that he was abducted by persons belonging to the state security apparatus.We salute Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada Jr. for overcoming his personal fear of the consequences of revealing what he knows about the scandal-ridden National Broadband Network project. He claims that his life was threatened, that he was enticed with assurances of his personal safety and promises of other considerations, and that he was abducted by persons belonging to the state security apparatus. Mr. Lozada chose to walk away from the “dark side”—the lies and cover-up regarding the NBN project being peddled by persons connected to this Administration.
If he had been a lesser person, he could have continued to acquiesce and cower in the dark. But having come into the light, he has become a credible witness to the truth. Now that he is being unjustly maligned by government officials and by senators identified with the Administration in their continuing effort to suppress the truth, we express our support for Mr. Lozada and let him know, “Hindi ka nag-iisa!”
We call on DENR Secretary Joselito Atienza and CHED Chairman Romulo Neri to save themselves from further shame by resigning from their positions in government for their respective roles in the attempt to prevent Mr. Lozada from testifying on the ZTE deal at the Senate. Their protection at any cost of the interests of those in power render them unworthy of the people’s trust.
We support the Senate’s continued pursuit of the truth behind the NBN project. We must see to it that those who are revealed to have broken the law, no matter how high up, must be made to account for their transgressions. The long-term political stability and economic prosperity of our country will only be possible if we have leaders with integrity, and institutions that protect and uphold the public trust.
As business people, we cannot console ourselves in the strength of the peso and the mirage of inequitable growth. These are ephemeral gains that have not translated into a better life for most Filipinos. What is being compromised is the moral fabric of our society. It is not a question of guilt; instead, it is a matter of good old-fashioned delicadeza and personal morality.
We call on all Filipinos to proclaim,
“Tama na ang kasinungalingan! Sobra na ang kasakiman! Manindigan na, Bayan!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

ZTE Controversy

The confession made by Jun Lozada before the Senate may save people from being hostage to scandalous and shady government deals. Here's a statement from AKBAYAN exhorting former NEDA Secretary Romulo Neri to speak out the truth on the questionable national broadband network deal under the Arroyo regime.

AKBAYAN to Neri: Do a Lozada and tell all

Saying that it's never to late to tell the truth, AKBAYAN Party today urged former NEDA Secretary Romulo Neri to do a Lozada and divulge the entire truth behind the onerous NBN deal.

"This is no longer about respecting privilege information between the President and her cabinet members. This is already about heeding one's conscience and standing up for truth," AKBAYAN Rep. Risa Hontiveros said. "One does not need a Supreme Court ruling to have the courage to stand up for what is right. Lozada has shown what integrity and honor really mean, and we hope that Neri would follow suit."
She added that Lozada's bravery should inspire Neri to tell all. "The truth trumps executive privilege. By revealing the truth about the involvement of FG Mike Arroyo and the President herself in the NBN deal, Neri would be remembered as the man who bravely stood against a government of thieves," she added.

The group warned Neri against being too comfortable with the people he keeps. "Taking part in a deceitful act is tenuous. The Arroyo family must be aware by now that fraud begets fraud, and lying in the end becomes burdensome. It does not go away and one cannot run away from the troubles that each act of fraud spawns. But it is not yet late for Sec. Neri to put an end to this web of lies and lay down every detail that he knows about the NBN deal," Hontiveros said.

The group held a picket outside the Senate to call on the nation to stop corruption once and for all. Carrying images of Sec. Neri, then COMELEC Chair Ben Abalos, and PNP Chief Razon with elongated nose, AKBAYAN said that Neri would be part of the Pinocchio Hall of Shame if he continues to refuse to speak on the deal.

"To lie in order to protect another liar is the basest form of fraud. It is not only a question of morality, but an act of degradation and submission. His refusal to speak dehumanizes him," AKBAYAN said.

Monday, February 11, 2008

CBCP Statement re: Lozada Expose

In light of the Senate hearings on the irregularities of the NBN-ZTE project linking First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and other government officials in the anomalies, the CBCP President and Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo has issued a statement in support of Rodolfo Lozada. Today, February 11, the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) and Mission Partners are joining hands with other faith based groups for a day of prayer in support of Lozada.

The Truth will set our Country Free

By ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO Archbishop of Jaro, CBCP President February 10, 2008

IT was courageous but damaging for two officials of government, former Speaker Jose de Venecia and Mr. Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, to expose questionable government deals in millions of dollars including scandalous and immoral kickbacks. It was courageous to come out in the open to “publicly confess” the high level of graft and corruption that they knew all along and “somehow” have been involved in. But it was also damaging to their political career as well as to significant others who are in high governance. Damaging also because they opened themselves to further scrutiny and inquiry. Truth hurts. Truth liberates. But the truth must be served. The truth will set our country free (cf. John 8/32)
Their public confession may be considered a providential event that may yet save our country from being hostage to scandalous and shady government deals that offend the common good and serve only personal, family and group interests. In our last CBCP Statement, the Bishops strongly lamented the absence of social conscience today. This is the root cause of our systemic graft and corruption.
We lament in this season of Lent not only that we are sinners but also that our country has too long been captive to the corruption of people in governance. “We have to confess that corruption is in truth our greatest shame as a people.” The call for a moral revolution has deep implication. The CRUSADE FOR TRUTH being initiated by the Religious like the AMRSP, Civil Groups and Clergy is encouraging, and must be supported by all truth-loving and freedom-loving citizens. Only the truth, not lies and deceits, will set our country free. This truth challenges us now to communal action.
We encourage the “Watch and Pray” activity that will be initiated by the Parish Pastoral Councils for Responsible Voting (PPC-RV). We can also call it PPC for Responsible Citizenship. The flame of “social consciousness and common good” must be kept alive. We suggest the prayer used by the Magnificat Movement, the MAGNIFICAT of Our Lady in Luke 1, 46-55 a prayer for social transformation.
As we said in our last CBCP Statement “let us 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 in the light of the Gospel and the Social Teachings of the Church.”

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Profile: Noel Lozada, Jr?

Rodolfo Noel I. Lozada, Jr., 45, CEO of the Philippine Forest Corporation, surfaced at the La Salle Greenhills campus early morning today and implicated former Commission on Elections chair Benjamin Abalos Sr and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo in the anomalous ZTE deal.Lozada is an electronics and communications engineer and former chief executive officer of the Philippine Forest Corporation who served as a technical consultant to former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri on the national broadband project.News reports last month referred to him as a 'secret witness' in the Senate inquiry on the ZTE deal exposed by Jose de Venecia III last year.Lozada left the country hours before a January 30 Senate hearing he was supposed to attend. This prompted the senators to issue a warrant of arrest against him. As soon as he returned to the country, the Senate was not able to get him as he was taken away by suspected presidential guards. In a petition seeking his release filed before the Supreme Court, his wife Violeta said he was taken into police custody against his will.A graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, he has a 20-year experience in executive and management positions in the private sector.Lozada assumed the post of president and CEO of PhilForest, a corporate arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in 2004. He directed the government's program for the propagation and commercial cultivation of tuba-tuba or jatropha plant, a source of biodiesel.Lozada hails from Ligao City in Albay. He is a fan of the national hero, Jose Rizal. He loves to read books, and his favorite is "The End of History and the Last Man" by Francis Fukuyama.He is also a golfer, and plays in Wack-Wack at least once a week.

Sources:, Philippine Graphic, Newsbreak

Friday, February 8, 2008

Controversial Mike

Anomalies and controversies linked to First Gentleman 'Mike' Arroyo
Source: GMA News Research

Rodolfo Noel I. Lozada Jr.'s statement linking First Gentleman Mike Arroyo to the ZTE deal is just one of several controversies that have hounded the President's husband.

Alleged P50-million payola for telecoms franchise bills

In July 2001, Veronica "Bing" Rodrigo, former correspondence secretary and friend of President Arroyo, alleged that the First Gentleman received a P50-million bribe for the President to recall her veto of the franchise bills of the Philippine Communication Clearinghouse and APC Wireless Interface Network. Rodrigo retracted her accusations a few days later.

Alleged use of PCSO funds as campaign funds

In October 2001, Robert Rivero, axed consultant of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, alleged that First Gentleman Mike Arroyo used PCSO funds in the campaign of certain senatorial candidates and to bribe the media. He claimed that FG Arroyo paid P20.5 million to Bombo Radyo and Radio Mindanao Network; the PCSO and lotto draw announcements did not air in these stations, although some commentators aired pro-administration commentaries. The PCSO publicity department denied Rivero's accusations.

Designation as OFW envoy

In December 2002, President Arroyo designated Mike Arroyo as an OFW envoy so he could represent her in the countries she could not visit. However, critics assailed Arroyo's announcement when they learned that his activities as OFW envoy could be funded by a proposed overseas workers legal assistance fund. They feared that the Arroyo couple would use the funds for her 2004 campaign.

While the President did not recall her husband's designation, the first gentleman voluntarily resigned.

Jose Pidal expose

Sen. Panfilo Lacson's Jose Pidal expose in 2003 further cast First Gentleman Arroyo in bad light. Lacson accused First Gentleman Arroyo of maintaining secret bank accounts to launder money from campaign contributions for the 1998 vice presidential bid of Gloria Arroyo.

First Gentleman Arroyo denied the allegations. His brother, Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo took up the cudgels for him and claimed to be "Jose Pidal" before clamming up and invoking his "right to privacy" during a Senate investigation.

Friend's involvement in importation of rotten rice

Indian trader Kishore Hemlani, allegedly a close friend of First Gentleman Arroyo, also figured that year in a contract involving the importation of 600,000 metric tons of rotten rice worth P9.5 million from India.

Stay in an expensive Las Vegas suite

In 2005, First Gentleman Arroyo drew criticism for staying in a $20,000-a-night MGM Grand Villa in Las Vegas, Nevada, during a Manny Pacquiao-Erik Morales boxing match. Arroyo’s camp said the accommodation was complimentary and not paid for by public funds.

Alleged receipt of jueteng payola

In the same year, witnesses at the Senate hearings on jueteng claimed that First Gentleman Arroyo received protection money for the illegal numbers game. The First Gentleman denied the allegations and left the country momentarily to help "remove distractions and doubts from people’s minds" on President Arroyo's ability to run the government. The Palace, then embattled with both the jueteng and "Hello Garci" controversies, dismissed the accusations against the First Gentleman as mere concoctions by those who wanted to oust the President.

Friend's involvement in fertilizer fund scam

In 2006, the Senate wrapped up a series of hearings on the fertilizer fund scam and concluded that First Gentleman Arroyo's close friend and fellow Makati Rotarian Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc" Bolante diverted agricultural funds to the 2004 electoral campaign of President Arroyo.

Alleged existence of multi-million dollar German bank account

Later that year, then opposition Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano claimed that a member of the Arroyo family maintained a bank account in Germany amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. First Gentleman Arroyo flew to Germany and secured a certification from the bank to disprove Cayetano's claims. Upon his return, sought Cayetano's expulsion from Congress.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

ZTE Controversy

Official Kidnapping
Rodolfo Lozada Jr., a potential witness in the Senate’s continuing investigation into the ZTE controversy, and the subject of an arrest warrant issued by the Senate, was met by airport officials and police officers as soon as he got off the plane Tuesday -- and then vanished.
As of the time of writing, Lozada remains virtually incommunicado, in a still unidentified location. He is, apparently, in police custody -- at least that is what Director General Avelino Razon of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Wednesday.
But Razon has issued misleading statements before, even deliberately; his belated announcement that Lozada, the president of a government corporation with alleged insider knowledge about corruption in ZTE Corp.’s contract to build a national broadband network, was actually in police custody all this time raises legal and moral issues. They can be summed up in one question: Can the police, under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration, do whatever it wants?
Consider the following facts that have come to light:
Lozada left the airport in highly unusual circumstances; after he was met right at the airplane door, he did not pass through the immigration or customs counters. This allowed him (and those escorting him) to evade the Senate officials waiting at the airport to arrest him. Is it now the PNP’s responsibility, under Razon, to keep Senate witnesses away from the Senate and its agents?
When Lozada left the airport terminal, he sent a text message to his brother, saying he had been abducted. Razon said Lozada was under the custody of the Police Security and Protection Office, the unit that handles VIP security. Is it now the PNP’s responsibility, under Razon, to detain VIPs against their will?
Lozada’s sister said she saw him hours after he arrived, looking thin and haggard; well, she is reported to have said he’s still alive. She said she could not say, however, where Lozada was being held. Is it now the PNP’s responsibility, under Razon, to coerce visitors into an ominous silence?
Razon waited an inordinate amount of time before declaring that the potential witness -- cited for contempt by the Senate when he unexpectedly left the country -- was in police custody. Is it now the PNP’s responsibility, under Razon, to detain people in secret?
As of the time of writing, Lozada remains out of sight, and separated from his own immediate family. Razon said Lozada had not been kidnapped, because he or his family had in fact requested police protection. But Lozada’s worried wife filed a writ for habeas corpus with the Supreme Court yesterday, to compel the police to present Lozada. If the alleged letter of request is genuine, it is exceedingly curious that Lozada’s wife knew nothing about it. Is it now the PNP’s responsibility, under Razon, to lie, brazenly, to the public it is supposed to serve?
The truth is Razon and certain trusted officers in the PNP are doing Malacañang’s dirty job -- and they know it. Lozada, a close friend of former socioeconomic planning secretary Romulo Neri, has inside information about the ZTE deal. He left the country because he was not ready to testify before the Senate; now that he has come back, the Arroyo administration wants him either to keep silent, or to sing a different tune.
It is not as if this is the first time we’ve seen the Arroyo administration’s unique Witness Protection Program at work. As in the cases of whistleblowers Udong Mahusay and Vidal Doble Jr., the administration’s special operations department enabled potentially hostile witnesses to recant potentially damaging testimony.
Razon’s blithe statement, that the police were ready to present Lozada if the Senate asked for him, is an outrage. Of course, the Senate wants him. That is what his arrest warrant is for: to compel him to testify. And that is exactly why the Senate sergeant-at-arms went to the PNP headquarters, to the very unit Razon identified as holding Lozada in custody.
Is it any surprise that Lozada wasn’t there? This is how a police state is born: First they detain us, and then they make us disappear.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Philippine politics

Many of us are sick and tired of traditional politics in this country. The urgent task now is to create a critical mass to advance a genuiene alternative to mainstream politics and challenge the worsts (Arroyos, Erap, JDV, Nograles) of old politics. We cannot afford to wait for another 10-20 years to witness and be part of a truly democratic political society. Here's an article written by UP Prof. Randy David reminding us that advocating for new politics and changing the current political set up is no easy task. But there is hope…

Thoughts on new politics

Akbayan, one of the first left-leaning groups to take up the challenge of electoral politics through the party-list mechanism, held a forum last week to mark the 10th year of its founding. I was one of the invited speakers. A restrained and reflective mood pervaded the occasion.
On its very first electoral bid, the group won a seat in Congress, doubling this in 2001, and attaining the maximum of three seats in 2004. The elections of 2007 brought Akbayan face-to-face with the harsh realities of traditional politics. The votes it raised were enough to send only one nominee to the House of Representatives. This outcome has provoked a lot of soul-searching within the party. In particular it has raised the question of whether it is at all possible for a modern ideological party to win anything in a traditional political system without giving up most of its own self-imposed standards.
At this gathering of comrades, many of whom had cut their teeth in politics as student activists and as mass movement militants, I thought it relevant to address the dilemmas of new politics in a transitional society. I want to share portions of what I said.
The paradox of new politics is that, in theory, it is perhaps the only type of politics that can offer a nation any hope of survival in a complex world. And yet, at the same time, in transitional societies like ours, its practice seems to offer little promise or meaning unless it bows to the norms of traditional politics.
Traditional politics aims to preserve the existing order of society -- its inherited hierarchies and inviolate norms. Its methods are well-known -- the fostering of dependence and patronage through the exploitation of customary values, like “utang na loob” [debt of gratitude], paternalistic rule that combines benevolence with calibrated intimidation, the obsession with consensus and disdain for free debate, the unaccountable disposition of public wealth, and the unchecked exercise of public power.
In contrast, new politics aims to reform institutions and revise existing routines and procedures in accordance with the pressures for change already manifest in society, careful not to embark on comprehensive programs of transformation that cannot be sustained by existing objective conditions. Its thrust is more evolutionary than revolutionary, more to strengthen the foundations on which to build the new than to invent something completely new. Its immediate objective is to end mass poverty and political illiteracy as a condition for the progressive democratization and modernization of society. Its favored instruments are: the formation of self-sustaining electoral parties with clear ideologies and programs, mass mobilizations centering on clear-minded advocacies, and community organizing for popular empowerment.
In transitional societies like ours, the problem has always been how to build something different on what exists, while avoiding assimilation by conservative forces. The temptation to make peace with the old order is very strong because of the advantages and resources offered by the latter. At the same time, the romantic promise of revolutionary politics lurks like a dream and refuses to go away. Here lies the paradox of new politics.
New politics finds itself struggling to survive in a political system that has its own code of acceptable behavior, its own mode of legitimation, its own procedures for using power -- all of which are rooted in the structural principles of the society in which it is embedded. Traditional politics thrives in highly stratified societies where political roles are woven into networks of patron-client relations.
The good news is that societies undergoing the wrenching transition to modernity are witnessing the erosion of the social base of these old hierarchies. The bad news is that this does not always lead to democratization. In many instances, it only paves the way for new forces sliding into the same patronage roles vacated by the old elite. For example, the exit of landed families from the political stage has not paved the way for the entry of professional politicians reared by modern political parties. It has only created space for moneyed individuals thrust into power by a gambling or drug economy, or popular celebrities projected by the mass media.
The dilemmas I refer to here can be seen in the practical day-to-day problems faced by individuals who have taken upon themselves the role of new politicians and have actually won public positions. People like Mayor Jesse Robredo of Naga City and Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela province come to mind. The case of Fr. Eddie Panlilio, the Catholic priest who has won as governor of Pampanga province, is particularly worth studying. Much can be learned from the circumstances that brought them to power, and the realities they have had to deal with once they assumed power.
We cannot change politics without basic organizing. To politically organize does not mean just being able to herd people for mass actions or electoral campaigns. It means, above all, providing them with the skills necessary for modern politics -- i.e., to be able to manage community meetings, to be able to speak intelligently about issues, make decisions, raise funds, and draw systematic plans and programs. In short, everything that has to do with the formation of accountable leaders suitable to a modern democracy. Max Weber’s words speak to us urgently: “Only the orderly guidance of the masses by responsible politicians can break the irregular rule of the street and the leadership of demagogues of the moment.”

Saturday, February 2, 2008

ALTSEAN Burma Bulletin

Allow me to share with you the January 2008 issue of ALTSEAN Burma Bulletin.

The Burma Bulletin is a short month in review of events in Burma, particularly those of interest to the democracy movement and human rights activists. In the January 2008 issue you will find:

* Daw Suu slams SPDC
* Persecution of NLD intensifies
* Child mortality rate worse than Sudan
* Bombs in Burma
* SPDC in international spotlight
* Food shortages
* Other Burma news
* List of Reports
* Much more...