CBCP Document: Our Moral Response to the Unconstitutionality of DAP

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines addresses a press conference at the end of the 2012 CBCP plenary assembly at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines addresses a press conference at the end of the 2012 CBCP plenary assembly at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

The Supreme Court has ruled that many government acts under the Development Acceleration Program (DAP) are without constitutional authority. Earlier, it ruled the Priority Assistant Development Fund (PDAF), more popularly known as the ‘pork-barrel fund’ also unconstitutional.

Why this Statement

The just distribution of the resources of the nation in accordance with the prescriptions of law and the tenets of morality is an issue of social justice. It is therefore a concern of the CBCP — and of the entire Church in the Philippines — as well.

Both DAP and PDAF involve enormous sums and while it is claimed by the government officials involved that these went into projects that benefited the people, there are serious allegations that we cannot summarily dismiss and ignore. Three senators have been charged, together with others, for the illegal use of pork-barrel funds. It is claimed that a considerable part went into ghost NGOs set up precisely to facilitate the conversion of public funds for personal and other illegal and immoral uses.

Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan joined women legislators, whistleblowers, students and other members of Babala (warning) movement for the abolition of pork barrel and prosecution of legislators and public officials guilty of graft, corruption and plunder. NJ Viehland Photo at St. Scholastica's College museum.

Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan joined women legislators, whistleblowers, students and other members of Babala (warning) movement for the abolition of pork barrel and prosecution of legislators and public officials guilty of graft, corruption and plunder. NJ Viehland Photo at St. Scholastica’s College museum.

Communal Guilt

But there is no reason to direct our ire only at the three senators, nor at those presently accused, for we must humbly recognize that the propensity to make use of what is not ours to better the lives of our families or to gain access to luxuries that would otherwise be beyond us will be found in all of us.

We are all guilty by attitude and by our disposition.

We renew our call for national conversion — the conversion not only of individuals but of institutions as well! It will be well for us to remember that conversion is our response to the ceaseless call of Love Incarnate, Jesus, to ‘turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel’.

We must pray together for the grace of conversion, because the prosecution and punishment of a few will not rid the nation of the propensity to corruption that is found in us all!

Appeal to Government

We call on the Commission on Audit and on the Office of the Ombudsman to tell the nation where DAP funds went. While, indeed, in many cases, it would be impractical, unhelpful even, to undo every project funded by what the High Court has ruled to be unconstitutional means, we must nevertheless know how these monies were used, for where there was illegal and immoral application of funds, there must be restitution.

There must be accountability.

We reiterate our position that investigation and inquest cannot and must not be selective, for public perception that some are shielded while others are persecuted detracts from the confidence people must repose in their institutions.

A government that professes to tread the straight path must remain true to that profession and must be willing to let go of the corrupt in its own ranks! We in the Church will do the same.

Many of our bishops have already established systems for the accountability of our pastors and parish leaders. We have issued guidelines so that we may be more vigilant about the provenance of donations and grants. This way, we in the Church strive to respond to the demands of honesty and fairness.

Let us restore integrity in our land.

From the Pius XII Catholic Center, Manila, July 4, 2014

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
President, CBCP

Pope Francis appoints Filipino as new Vatican rep to the UN

MANILA, PHILIPPINES Pope Francis has appointed Filipino Archbishop Bernardito Cleopas Auza, the Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, as the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York.

Read full report, photo

Sectarian violence in southern Sri Lanka, off limits to media – RWB

The Sri Lankan authorities asked the local media not to cover the clashes between Buddhists and Moslems that erupted in the southern region of Aluthgama on the night of 15 June, Reporters Without Borders reported.  A curfew was also imposed in an attempt to contain a situation described by the government as “tense.”

Read Reporters Without Borders’ full report

Kodaikanal tribals pray for abducted Jesuit’s release – Matters India

Matters India photo published with permission
Matters India photo published with permission

A group of tribals joined NGO workers in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, to pray for the  release of a Jesuit priest who was abducted in Afghanistan.

Fr Alexis Prem Kumar, who is suspected to be in Taliban custody, had earlier worked in Kodaikanal to spread education among tribal people, reported mattersindia.com .  Unidentified gunmen took him into custody when he had gone to visit a school in Herat region of Afghanistan.

Volunteers at the mass prayer fondly remembered the 47-year-old priest’s dedication and commitment for the advancement of poor tribal people. The prayer was held at the unorganized sector workers’ union office in the hill station on Wednesday.

Read full report 

Kodaikanal is a city in the hills of the Dindigul district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India 

Father Kumar reportedly visited tribal communities there. Members of a settlement of about 40 families in Lower Kodaikanal spoke to Times of India about their shock over the news of abduction of  the  priest who has helped them.

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Afghanistan ‘sui iuris’ head appeals for silence, prayers for kidnapped Jesuit

Indian Jesuit kidnapped in Afghanistan – Matters India news service

 

 

 

 

Afghanistan ‘sui iuris’ head appeals for silence, prayers for kidnapped Jesuit

Fr Alexis Prem Kumar, a 47 year-old Jesuit priest from Tamil Nadu, Southern India, was abducted by armed men in Sohadat village, outside Herat,  when he was on a visit to a school for Afghan returnee children managed by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). - Matters India June 3, 2014 Newsletter photo, published with permission. http://mattersindia.com/

Fr Alexis Prem Kumar, a 47 year-old Jesuit priest from Tamil Nadu, Southern India, was abducted by armed men in Sohadat village, outside Herat, when he was on a visit to a school for Afghan returnee children managed by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). – Matters India June 3, 2014 Newsletter photo, published with permission. http://mattersindia.com/

The superior of the church mission of Afghanistan (sui iuris) has appealed for “silent prayer” for the resolution of yesterday’s kidnapping of the priest who heads Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the country.

Unidentified gunmen seized Father Alexis Prem Kumar on Monday afternoon in Sohadat village outside Herat province when he visited a school there for Afghan returnee children managed by JRS.

JRS South Asia Regional Director Jesuit Father Stan Fernandes in a statement to independent news service Matters India, yesterday described the kidnapping and explained the mission of JRS and Father Kumar’s involvement in the Catholic organization and the Society of Jesus.

It said the Afghan National Security and Afghan Police are conducting intensive search operations for Kumar.

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Indian Jesuit kidnapped in Afghanistan – Matters India news service

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Vietnam priest, other Asians among 100 “information heroes”, Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders, (RWB) an organization that monitors attacks on journalists has cited a Vietnamese Catholic priest and other  Asians among 100 “information heroes” for standing up to powerful forces that suppress information and journalists.

Vietnamese Father Le Ngoc Thanh, a member of the Redemptorist congregation in Vietnam is a citizen-journalist who worked amid Communist government harassment.

In its citation, Reporters Without Borders noted that Father Anton le Ngoc Thanh is a journalist and a Catholic priest whose more than a decade of work for Vietnamese Redemporist News, a Catholic news organization, has caused him numerous problems with the Vietnamese authorities.

In 2012 he was stopped for questioning on his way to Bac Lieu in the south of the country, where a woman had set fire to herself in protestagainst her daughter, the blogger Ta Phong Tan, being put on trial. He was held for several hours for causing a traffic accident while travelling on foot.

He was arrested again last year during a demonstration in support of the blogger and activist Dinh Nhat Uy, convicted for organizing a campaign for the release of his jailed younger brother. Thanh is under constant police surveillance and is frequently prevented from covering and publicizing the human rights abuses that he has witnessed.

Cambodian Photojournalist and radio reporter Oudom Tat, is the youngest “hero” listed, and Muhammed Ziauddin, a Pakistani newspaper journalist for 45 years is the oldest.

Among the Asians, Iran, China, Azerbaijan, Vietnam are each represented by at least three heroes.

Some journalists cited work in democracies, while others, such as Jila Bani Yaghoob, who runs the Kanoon Zanan Irani (Centre for Iranian Women) website, work under “the most authoritarian regimes,” RWB’s announcement said.

Among women, Filipina Rowena Paraan, a journalist for 25 years now chairwoman of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines was cited for her role in the organization’s long-time journalists’ safety program. “This is a major issue in a country where 32 journalists were massacred in Ampatuan in Maguindanao province in November 2009, a scar on the national psyche which is unlikely to heal,” Paraan’s citation reads.

 

Cardinal Quevedo, Man of Peace in Muslim Mindanao – ARMM Tribute

BY: OLIVER ROSS V. RIVERA
Wednesday 26th of March 2014

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo appeals for people to collaborate to fight prejudice and work together for the success of peace efforts in Mindanao during his homily for the March 11, 2014 thanksgiving Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral for his 75th birthday and Pope Francis' creation of Quevedo as cardinal last Feb. 22. By NJ Viehland

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo appeals for people to collaborate to fight prejudice and work together for the success of peace efforts in Mindanao during his homily for the March 11, 2014 thanksgiving Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral for his 75th birthday and Pope Francis’ creation of Quevedo as cardinal last Feb. 22. By NJ Viehland

COTABATO CITY,  March 26 (PIA)  The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) paid tribute to Orlando Cardinal Quevedo on Tuesday, hailing the first-ever cardinal from Mindanao as a “Man of Peace in Muslim Mindanao” for his contribution to the advancement of peace in the region.

Cardinal Quevedo, 75, is a highly respected leader in Mindanao, largely recognized for promoting trust and understanding among its diverse population.

He is one of the 19 bishops from different countries (elevated in February) to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis.

ARMM’s officials and employees, of different tribes and religion, convened on Tuesday to show gratitude to the Cardinal for his role in advancing peace and speaking out against injustice.

“In behalf of the ARMM, I thank you for the kindness you have given to the people of Muslim Mindanao,” Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, ARMM vice-governor, said.

He said the Cardinal is “not only a man of God but also a champion of Muslim human rights.”

Celebrating with Cardinal Orlando Quevedo on his 75th birthday March 11, 2014 was Bainon Karon (extreme right) former chair of the Women’s Committee of the MNLF and later Department of Social Welfare and Development Regional Secretary for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. By NJ Viehland

Celebrating with Cardinal Orlando Quevedo on his 75th birthday March 11, 2014 was Bainon Karon (extreme right) former chair of the Women’s Committee of the MNLF and later Department of Social Welfare and Development Regional Secretary for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. By NJ Viehland

“To you the respect of human rights is the demand of duty,” he said.

In his article “Injustice: the Root of Conflict in Mindanao”, Quevedo wrote: “Through the years I have gained some understanding of the Moro viewpoint that has significantly influenced, even altered, my Christian viewpoint. The change came not only from reading books authored by either Christian or Muslim scholars but most importantly from teaching, advising, observing, conversing, and being with Muslim students and professionals for many years, even as I accompanied my fellow Christians in their own journey through ongoing history.”

Quevedo said the answer to the injustices in Muslim Mindanao is to give justice to the Moro identity.

He said religious leaders from all sides have a major role in allowing Mindanao’s population to overcome their prejudices and biases.

Leaders from the Catholic community, the Muslim community and the indigenous community – Bishop Colin Bagaforo, Sammy Maulana and Valentin Juan, respectively – took turns to thank and give homage to the Cardinal.

Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao and Auxiliary Bishop Collin Bagaforo of Cotabato concelebrate with Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in thanksgiving for the cardinal's 75th birthday on March 11, 2014 and his induction into the College of Cardinals in Rome on Feb. 22. NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao and Auxiliary Bishop Collin Bagaforo of Cotabato concelebrate with Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in thanksgiving for the cardinal’s 75th birthday on March 11, 2014 and his induction into the College of Cardinals in Rome on Feb. 22. NJ Viehland Photos

 

Lucman said the Cardinal’s “words as a man of peace will not end here” and will once again be called upon with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) this Thursday.

“Your voice will once again be the resounding voice of peace and unity,” he said.

(ORVRivera-PIA12/Bureau of Public Information-ARMM)
– media release from government’s Philippine News Agency  http://news.pia.gov.ph/index.php?article=2411395805914#sthash.SCyIJdyg.dpu