Monday, March 24, 2008

Beijing 2008 olympics

When the International Olympic Committee assigned the 2008 summer Olympic Games to Beijing on 13 July 2001, the Chinese police were intensifying a crackdown on subversive elements, including Internet users and journalists. Six years later, nothing has changed. But despite the absence of any significant progress in free speech and human rights in China, the IOC’s members continue to turn a deaf ear to repeated appeals from international organisations that condemn the scale of the repression.
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Friday, March 21, 2008

The Old Churches of Cebu

Cebu is not only known for its Sinulog festival and beautiful beach resorts but it also recognized for its century-old churches. These Augustinian built churches form an essential part of our national heritage. Their preservation should be ensured for the future generation.
Yesterday (Holy Thursday), Teresa and I observed the Catholic Lenten tradition of the Visita Iglesia by visiting old churches at the southeastern side of Cebu province. We went up early in the morning and drove all the way to the South. We visited the Church of San Francisco de Asis in Naga, Church of San Isidro Labrador in San Fernando, Church of Santa Catalina de Alejandria in Carcar and Church of San Miguel Arcangel in Argao.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

4.2M Filipinos jobless, 10M want more work

There were 4.2 million jobless Filipinos in January 2008, almost the same level as last year, according to the latest labor force survey of the National Statistics Office (NSO).
The country's jobless rate was 7.4 percent in January 2008 compared to 7.8 percent a year ago, the NSO announced Tuesday.
However, the unemployment rate increased on a quarterly basis, from 6.3 percent recorded in October 2007.
The underemployment rate fell slightly from 21.5 percent, or 12 million Filipinos wanting more work in January 2007, to 18.9 percent or 10.8 million this year.
The NSO defines unemployed persons (15 years old and above) as those who have no job or business and are actively looking for work.
Underemployed persons are all employed persons who "express the desire to have additional hours of work" or want to "have a job with longer working hours."
Among the regions, the National Capital Region had the highest unemployment rate of 12.5 percent.
Males had higher unemployment rate of 7.8 percent compared to females at 6.7 percent.
For every ten unemployed, five (49.6%) were aged 15-24 years, while three were in the age group 25-34.
Around 39 percent of the unemployed had attained college level and 33.5 percent were high school graduates.
The NSO said a total of 33.7 million people were employed as of January 2008, which placed the employment rate at 92.6 percent.
The number of persons in the labor force in January 2008 was estimated at 36.4 million out of the estimated 57.4 million population 15 years and over. '
These numbers translated into a labor force participation rate of 63.4 percent, compared to last year's figure of 64.8 percent.
Of the estimated 33.7 million employed persons, around one-half (50.2%) were in the services sector, more than one-third (35.0%) in the agriculture sector and the rest (14.8%) were in the industry sector.
These proportions were almost the same as in January 2007 estimates at 50.5 percent for services sector, 34.7 percent for agriculture sector and 14.8 percent for industry sector.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cardinal Vidal: Lozada not Welcome in Cebu?

The recent statement by Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal on Jun Lozada shows how far astray from truth and justice the shepherds of the Catholic flock have gone.

Jun Lozada is not welcome in Cebu? With due respect to the Cardinal, he does not speak for, and in behalf of, the entire Cebuano populace.

According to Cardinal Vidal, Cebuanos are intelligent enough to understand Lozada's side of the story. True, but intelligence is of the mind and discernment is of the spirit. And we, Cebuanos, are more than intelligence. Far from it, we discern (and also engage in affirmative actions) because the church, as an institution, has been strongly influencing us to form our soundest judgments and profound discernment so that we would become a collective oasis of strength to those who risk their lives in the name of TRUTH.

And for the church to remain an important institution that preaches the HIGHER TRUTH and the good news of salvation, it must be keep its fidelity to its core teachings of justice, truth and fairness.

Is it fair & just to spurn Jun Lozada, extend special invitation to a "recollection" to an administration spinmeister like Mr. Cerge Remonde and refer to it as a way of "exactly knowing the truth"? The truth and Mr. Remonde is like white and black.

The clergy recollection is not the proper forum to ferret out the truth with only government's side "clarifying" the version of truth. For the head of priests to allow "his" priestly flock to hear only one side is akin to putting blinders on them. The tragedy in this is these very same priests with blinders on have monopoly of the pulpits and, through these, churchgoers trying to find their moral anchor. We ask then, how can the blind lead the blind?

Lozada is not welcome in Cebu? Cebuanos are interested to know the truth as well. What sets us apart from the Cardinal's quest for truth is that we are not only concerned with just knowing the truth, we also need an encounter with the source of the truth. This is intelligence with discernment.

And who is making Jun Lozada a hero? If the Cardinal does not realize it, the issue at hand is already beyond Lozada. The crux of the issue now is the systemic corruption and greed that haunts this country; the flagrant decadence of moral values and the defeat of righteousness against the evils of society. And whoever risks his life in the battle against evil is necessarily a HERO; he doesn't have to be declared one nor be created by the people who are in solidarity with his noble cause.

In the face of this crisis of institutions, may our observance of the Lenten Season find deeper meaning. Lent is a time of prayer and penance as a way to focus on God's grace. This is the best time to take off our righteous robes and to come before God with a new humility, willing to confess our inadequacies. To kneel down with all humbleness before Him and strip ourselves of all pretenses and hypocrisies. By doing so, this might put us in a position to hear God in ways that we have not heard Him in a long time. In this, we may find the beginning of a healing for ourselves and for our country.

O Lord, begin with them. Here. Now.


Akbayan Citizens Action Party • Alliance of Progressive Labor • Bukluran sa Ikauunlad ng Sosyalistang Isip at Gawa • Center for Participatory Governance • Movement for the Advancement of Student Power

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Southrail memo also missing
Southrail memo also missing
The Philippine Star

After the disappearance of the original document signed by the government with ZTE Corp. of China, another project document has been reported missing,A Senate resolution was filed Wednesday censuring Philippine National Railways general manager Jose Ma. Sarasola II for the "loss" or withholding of a copy of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the PNR and the China National Technical Import-Export on the construction of the Southrail project.Under Resolution No. 316, Sen. Jamby Madrigal said Sarasola must be compelled to submit the documents related to the Southrail project to ferret out the truth on charges of corruption surrounding the deal.The senator said she wrote Sarasola on Feb. 13 asking for a copy of the MOA between the Philippines and China on the Southrail, to which the PNR chief replied on Feb. 14 that they were still looking for it. On Feb. 19, Madrigal said she again inquired about the MOA and said the letter of Sarasola on Feb. 14 was tantamount to a cover up as it was hard to believe such an important document could not be found.Madrigal said that on Feb. 20, Sarasola claimed they still could not find the MOA signed on April 27, 2005 and that it might have been lost.Madrigal said she could not understand how such important documents could be lost, like what happened to the original contract of the national broadband network (NBN) deal signed in Boao, China by the Philippine government and ZTE Corp. of China."They are either very mad or very bad. It’s quite stupid for them to say they lost it, they lose everything," Madrigal said.Madrigal, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manuel Roxas II have sought an investigation into the Southrail project that was also said to be overpriced like the NBN and the Northrail deals.Madrigal said she was not convinced that the Southrail agreement could not be produced because various media reports have quoted Sarasola as the source for details about the project. "To tolerate such denial by the PNR general manager is to tolerate purported corrupt acts," Madrigal said."This is another cover up. Is this the tactic of the Arroyo administration?" Madrigal added.Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, said the hearing on the Southrail project would be held after the Holy Week break of the Senate.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A letter to CBCP

Dear CBCP,

My name is Gary Granada and I am neither a Catholic nor a Protestant. I do not belong to a huge organization, much less represent one. At best I am a volunteer of Kaalagad, a small interfaith community. I write this letter in the hope that you might reconsider your stance regarding GMA and her government - that too.

But primarily I write out of confusion. In previous pronouncements, you deplored a “most corrupt President” which you said the Church helped install, hence urged everybody to take communal action. And then two weeks later you asked the very same President to take the lead in combating corruption.

I understand that this was the result of a process of discernment on your part as bishops. God must have spoken to you and told you to ask a most corrupt leader to rid her most corrupt government of corruption. Perhaps God forgot to consider who would benefit from your statement. Lord, do you see who is cheering?

Discernment must be a supernatural mystery, I wonder if it involves executive privilege between God and the CBCP. “Discernment” reminds me of one of Christ’s disciples. When he announced that one of them was about to betray him, the culprit himself asked, “Is it I, Lord?” Napakahirap nga i-discern ang klaro na.

As a fan of Jesus, I did a bit of discerning myself. Something tells me that the Gospel itself - the good news to the needy, the reign of hope, sufficiency, justness and goodwill – is being undermined by the very institution that owns its franchise. It has made it like tasteless salt, no longer good for anything except perhaps to be thrown out and trampled under foot by people.

Dear CBCP, two years ago you could have helped prevent a most corrupt president and her gang from continually getting away with lying, cheating, stealing and murder. But you chose to sit it out, hence instead helped save GMA and Garci. Despite the odds, the people went ahead anyway and marched. And “lost”.

Now you do the same. And again the people will march to oust GMA and her conspirators. The triumph of public good might be uncertain. They may not prevail. Just the same, the people will march anyway – in a sense trampling on the tasteless salt of hierarchical religion. You may want to join them, not as bishops, not as CBCP, but as average believers whose untrained spiritual eyes nevertheless discern God’s Will in the obvious.


Gary Granada is one of the alternative Filipino artists I genuienely admire. He is an icon of the Philippine progressive music because of his nationalistic compositions. His many songs included Eroplanong Papel (my favorite), Philippines 2000, Kung ayaw mo na sa akin, Kung alam mo lang Violy, Bahay and Salamat Musika.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bishops: Call for Arroyo ouster likely if EO 464 stays

At least three members said Sunday that the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) might eventually seek President Arroyo's resignation if MalacaƱang continues to defy the CBCP's call for the revocation of Executive Order 464.Bishops Oscar Cruz of Dagupan and Deogracias IƱiguez of Caloocan said that the Palace seems to be dragging its feet in heeding the call to abolish EO 464.The controversial directive orders members of the Cabinet and other officers of the government's executive branch to first ask for permission from the Palace before appearing in any congressional hearing.