Interview : Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon, RGS, Part 2

NJ Viehland Photos

Counseling room at Ruhama Womens Center renovated for free by UP Diliman Interior Design department graduates for a “healing atmosphere” / NJ Viehland Photos

Q & A Sr. Borbon continued from Part 1

Part 2 – Program set up, sustainability,

    “We believe that if God wants our program, he will be the one to help us” – Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon, RGS

How have referring groups helped with resources ?

Parenting Foundation is an NGO that referred to us a girl. She had her own psychotherapist. We asked them please continue it because we have no capacity for psychotherapy. That’s why I’m networking with CICM hoping they can give it to us for free because residents cannot do without psychotherapy. A lot of issues come out. Every now and then the group gives food, money. We assume the expenses for the girl’s living. There are also lay friends and our people from own network who come and give voluntary services, like value formation, health care, help from mothers.  

What’s your strategy for funding support?

My ambition is to get donations given by major benefactors. If I can just get one more regular substantial benefactor and then get psychotherapy for 15 people, that would be very sustainable. Our own Good Shepherd lay affiliates give food or host a Christmas party. Those help too. Eventually I would need to exert more effort to ensure sustainability of our program.

Do you rescue women and children from nightclubs, cybersex dens or abusive homes?

We do not go ourselves because we do not have personnel for this so we work with agencies that do this and provide the shelter and services for the victims they rescue. We also do not go into bars and nightclubs because of lack of personnel and because we do not have room for any more clients. If we did, we would probably go out and do this. 

Who comprise Ruhama’s staff ?

We have a live-in social worker, live-in house parent/cook and I’m acting as program coordinator. I have a consultant social worker also, and volunteers on a daily basis.

The only male volunteers I accepted are seminarians of Congregation of Jesus and Mary because it was founded by Jean Eudes -the same founder as ours, so they know our charism, they know our apostolate for the sexually abused.

It’s hard to accept just any volunteer especially the males. We have to watch against physical contact. I screen strictly who can be there as volunteers if they are male. I talk to their formators to make it clear that the girls are sexually abused and are sometimes longing for sex. I ask them if a girl embraces you, what would you do?

Contributed by Ed Gerlock

Woman keeps eyes on the street for possible customers outside her motel room in Manila – Contributed by Ed Gerlock contact: edgerlock@yahoo.com.ph

How do you select your clients?

We have an intake procedure. When the girls and young women come, they are asked to fill out forms and our social worker interviews them. If she is referred and not a walk-in client, we ask the referring institution or person to give us a case study report. 

Where do the walk-in clients come from?

Priests, government agencies, and other people know us. One of our girls came to our center after a priest saw her wandering around outside their school. He was concerned that she could be trafficked so he called us. We couldn’t expect the priest to give us a case study so our own social worker interviewed her and researched her background, where she came from. We have many of such “at-risk” cases. We have 3 sisters in the group. Two of them were abused by the father. If we take the two sisters, the one left behind could be abused too.

Are relatives of clients allowed to visit?

Yes, but we make sure first that the contact with family members promotes the residents’ healing. If they will not help in the healing we don’t allow it. For example if the father is the perpetrator of abuse, of course we don’t allow him to visit. If the mother does not believe the girl’s report that the father is the perpetrator, we also do not allow the mother to visit.

We don’t immediately allow communication with family among clients who are referred to us. We research and validate information first and try to know as much as we can about their history, especially of their case. Our social worker goes to find out and puts in her recommendation.

What about spiritual formation programs?

We also have spiritual formation programs or catechism. Non-Catholics are not obliged to join, but in our experience, other Christian clients want to join. We welcome them into the classes and sessions. They’re not allowed to receive Communion, but if they say they want to be baptized, we assist in their preparation.

Do you accept donations from other faith groups?

Yes. We don’t accept from those who are giving funds from mining, gambling, of course we don’t want to accept from PDAF (pork barrel funds) because we have to be consistent in our stand. We have to be very clear about upholding our values and not sacrifice them just to carry out the program. We believe that if God wants our program, he will be the one to help us and we have proven that. We came up with that guideline on unacceptable funds only about three years ago. 

What more needs to be done in terms of managing the Province’s ministries?

We just finished our planning for the next six years and one of our thrusts is to consolidate the Province’s efforts in terms of trafficking, migration, and related ministries so that our response will be a corporate response based on stronger networking. 

We could also streamline all these existing projects and programs, maybe prioritize them in terms of our resources, especially human resources. We are strengthening our lay partners as we have fewer active nuns today.

Part 3 Religious Life

 

Catholic Bishops’ national body explains why it cannot protect accused scam mastermind

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) explained in a statement today why it cannot grant the request of accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet-Lim Napoles to be placed in their protective custody saying the CBCP is not qualified for the role under civil law.

“The CBCP appreciates the trust that Ms. Napoles has in the CBCP,” Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the CBCP said in a statement on the matter.

“We are not sure that under civil law we are qualified for such a role as Ms. Napoles would wish us to assume,” he added.

According to Villegas existing Church laws also do not allow an Episcopal conference to stand as guarantor before civil courts that the accused will not abscond and will be available at every trial date.

In early June, the office of the Ombudsman filed  charges of plunder against businesswoman Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the racket that involved the diversion of billions of pesos worth of livelihood projects and farm inputs intended for poor farmers into ghost NGOs and kickbacks. 

Thirty-seven others, including 3 senators and their staff, have been similarly charged before the anti-graft court.

Napoles had reportedly written a letter to the CBCP asking them to take her into its custody saying she believes she would be safer with clergy.

Following is Villegas’ full statement sent to Catholic in Asia titled, CBCP Reply to the REQUEST of Ms. Napoles for Custody Under CBCP:

The CBCP appreciates the trust that Ms. Napoles has in the CBCP.
 
With regard to her request that the CBCP take her under protective custody, we face obstacles from both Church and State laws.
 
Existing Church laws do not allow an episcopal conference to stand as guarantor before civil courts that the accused will not abscond and will be available at every trial date. Furthermore, we are not sure that under civil law we are qualified for such a role as Ms. Napoles would wish us to assume.
 
Then too there is the important issue of establishing a precedent. Once we allow CBCP’s offices to take recognizance of Ms. Napoles, we must, to be fair, accept similar requests from all other accused. Not only would this strain CBCP’s resources. It would render impossible the discharge of its principal functions.
 
We shall however continue to be vigilant that the rights of Ms. Napoles, as of all accused, are respected and safeguarded; in the same measure that we urge government prosecutors to be resolute and non-selective in the indictment of offenders and in holding them accountable for all their actions.
 
From the CBCP, Manila, July 8, 2014
 
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
   Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

Napoles was reported to be close to clergy and supportive of Church projects and programs.

In May retired Manila priest Father Josefino Ramirez also issued the following statement sent to Catholic in Asia about a newspaper report whose headline claimed “priests got pork manna”:

May 22, 2014 

STATEMENT OF MSGR. JOSEFINO S. RAMIREZ ON ARTICLE,  “Priests Got Pork Manna”, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 22, 2014

            This refers to the article written by Nancy C. Carvajal entitled “Priests got pork manna” published on 22 May 2014 by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The article alleges that Ms. Janet Lim-Napoles “handed out generous donations to priests and nuns using allocations from the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) [as shown by the] digital records of her former finance officer, [Mr. Benhur Luy].”

            The article further states that I received the following from Ms. Napoles:

  1. P2.5M through a Metrobank check (per entry in the records of Benhur Luy for May 10, 2007);
  2. P434,451 for travel to Europe (per entry for October 16, 2008);
  3. P800,000.00 for donations on several occasions;
  4. P310,550 for my birthday party;
  5. P9,000.00 for “guard of Monsi for Jollibee”; and
  6. Stipends totaling P344,000 on several occasions for “priests/nuns, deacons” from 2004 to 2010.

            For clarity, please allow me to state the following:

            a.         The Magdalena Luy Lim Foundation in the service of the Divine Mercy was established by the children of Magdalena Luy Lim in memory of their deceased mother.  During her lifetime, Magdalena Luy Lim, a Chinese, was an ardent devotee of the Divine Mercy. She used to help my charities since 2004, most especially the apostolate for China because this is the only way that she can thank the Lord for the gift of her Catholic faith as a Chinese.

             b.         Before she died, Magalena Luy Lim requested her children to continue helping the apostolate projects of the Divine Mercy in the Philippines and in China, through the Magdalena Luy Lim Foundation.

             c.         Hence, donations were made by the Magdalena Luy Lim Foundation for the various projects of the Divine Mercy in the Philippines and in China.

            d.         As Coordinator for Divine Mercy, Asia, appointed by the Church, I received the donations of the Foundation as well as from other donors with the sole intention of using the same for the projects of the Divine Mercy.The donations were received in utmost good faith and without any knowledge as to the source of the funds.

            Herein below are my comments on the allegations made in the article published by the Inquirer today:

Amounts Received PerInquirer Article Comment
1. P2.5M through a Metrobank check (per entry in the records of Benhur Luy for May 10, 2007); The amount of P2M, not P2.5M, was donated by Mrs. Napoles to the CARITAS SALVE Savings and Livelihood with Values Education Credit, a micro-finance program under Caritas Manila.
2. P434,451 for travel to Europe (per entry for October 16, 2008) The amount was donated for my airplane ticket as the Coordinator of the Divine Mercy for Asia, and the plane tickets of 4 Chinese priests representing China to theWorld Apostolate Congress of Mercy (WACOM) in Rome.
3. P800,000.00 for donations on several occasions The amount was spent for the following expenses incurred by 14 batches of Chinese priests and nuns taking Church renewal courses in the Philippines from Dec 2011 – Aug 2013.a. Food Expenses in  the amount of P57,143.00/month for each batch consisting of 20 priests and nuns;b. Honorarium for Lecturers; andc. Electricity and Water Expenses.
4. P310,550 for my birthday party The Napoles Family hosted a surprised birthday party for me and invited approximately 300 friends and former parishioners as guests. I have no knowledge of the exact amount spent for the said party.
5. P9,000.00 for “guard of Monsi for Jollibee” Food/meals from Jollibee were purchased by the host for the drivers of the guests who attended the party. I have no knowledge of the exact amount spent for the said foods/meals for the drivers.
6. Stipends totaling P344,000 on several occasions for “priests/nuns, deacons” from 2004 to 2010.  Since I met Ms. Napoles only in 2007, I can only attest to the fact that from 2007-2010, stipends were given to priests and nuns invited during special occasions, such as office anniversaries, the funeral Mass of Mrs. Magdalena Luy Lim, her death anniversary and other memorable occasions The priests, who were friends of Napoles family, and nuns were invited from various provinces and congregations. They were given stipends for their Charities and transportation.

 

            I hope that I have clarified the matters stated in the article published by the Inquirer.

            Thank you.

                                                Very truly yours,           

                                                 (SIGNED)      MONSIGNOR JOSEFINO S. RAMIREZ

In May, Villegas, visited  Napoles when she was confined in Ospital ng Makati. “The family of Mrs. Janet Napoles requested for prayers and blessings for fast recovery. As a priest I went there,” Villegas said.

He said he reminded the accused woman that “the blessing [would] only give healing if she [told] the whole truth without being selective.” 

END

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

Wave of Destruction in the Season of Creation

By N.J. Viehland

(update 1 Sept. 23, 10:35 p.m.)

Photos and reports showing ravaged communities and people left homeless in Zamboanga City  have saddened viewers and left some aghast.

Was it only nine days ago when I woke up to the voice of Jesuit Father Nono Alfonso as he shared over Church-run radio Veritas 846  stories reaching Ateneo de Zamboanga of armed men massing up, and of gunfire that could be heard in places served by the cathedral parish in Zamboanga City,  roughly 1,102 kilometers southeast of Manila ?

Reasons for the fighting vary, depending on who is telling the story. In fact Filipino Muslims, called “Moro” have been fighting for centuries for self-determination.

Military officials reported on Sept. 9 that MNLF lieutenant Habier Malik, known to be based in Sulu, south of Zamboanga City, led hundreds of armed men into the city to hoist their flag as a symbolic declaration of independence.

MNLF leader Nur Misuari weeks earlier was reported to have declared an independent Mindanao, Palawan and Sabah to demonstrate his opposition to ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which had split from the MNLF in the 1970s.

No MILF involvement in this Zamboanga crisis has been reported. Armed Forces of the Philippines officials in press conferences said when government troops prevented the MNLF faction from raising their flag at the city hall the rebels took hostages. Fighting was reportedly “contained” until Friday when the MNLF allegedly fired mortars on civilians and burned houses.

Mayor Beng Climaco of Zamboanga said she spoke on the phone with Misuari, who disowned Malik, but MNLF’s spokesperson told an interview with a tv station Climaco may have just misunderstood Misuari. He would not disown his lieutenant.

After the military launched its “calibrated attacks” Sept. 16 on “pockets of MNLF resistance” in the city, Zamboanga archdiocese’s social action director estimated the number of civilian evacuees grew beyond 100,000, including people who fled their homes to stay with family and friends, instead of evacuation centers

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan told a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, just northeast of Manila, MNLF fighters left fighting in Zamboanga City could be just down to 75 men after the killing of 93 MNLF, and the capture of  179 others since Sept. 9.  Tutaan said 11 soldiers, three policemen and seven civilians were also killed in the fighting. Some 105 military men, 12 police and 67 civilians were injured. A total of 152 hostages had been rescued but less than 100 others remained captive.

Military operations were focused on Santa Barbara and Santa Catalina district, while at least four others have been affected by the conflict, Tutaan told reporters.

There are stories portraying the military as the aggressive party and human rights violations by both sides have been reported.

A few hours ago, the government reportedly claimed victory over the MNLF.

Victory? Who wins in these battles? For these people, the fight against sickness, hunger, homelessness, despair has just started.

Catholic groups have taken up the challenge with Muslim and other partners and neighbors to rebuild what was ruined, restore life in plantations, industry in communities and hope in people’s hearts.

Even Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila more than a thousand kilometers away, shared a prayer for softening of hardened hearts of aggressors and for generosity of prospective donors. He joined the people of the Philippines only in prayer for Zamboanga while he was in Rome during most of the crisis to attend meetings.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila closes the press conference on the October 2013 Philippine Conference on New Evangelization with a prayer.  N.J. Viehland Photo

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila closes the press conference on the October 2013 Philippine Conference on New Evangelization with a prayer. N.J. Viehland Photo

Imagine, barely two weeks ahead of the Zamboanga “siege,” Cardinal Tagle led the launch of Manila Archdiocese’s observance of “Season of Creation”  Sept. 1-Oct. 4 at San Fernando de Dilao Church and Paco Catholic School downtown Manila.  The “season” ending on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, hopes to remind people that all creation belongs to God, and that humans have been entrusted as stewards, not owners of all creation. Gifts of the earth have been created for all to share, Cardinal Tagle said.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in his homily for the launching Mass of the archdiocese's observance of "Season of Creation" Sept. 1-Oct. 4, 2013 reminded people at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila of their role as stewards of God’s creation, emphasizing that they are not owners who could rule over God's creation.  “We have to be reminded that we are mere stewards of creation. God created them and He is the rightful owner of everything,” he said. NJ Viehland Photo

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in his homily for the launching Mass of the archdiocese’s observance of “Season of Creation” Sept. 1-Oct. 4, 2013 reminded people at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila of their role as stewards of God’s creation, emphasizing that they are not owners who could rule over God’s creation. “We have to be reminded that we are mere stewards of creation. God created them and He is the rightful owner of everything,” he said. NJ Viehland Photo

 Cardinal Tagle lamented the “arrogance, selfishness and greed” that deprive other people of basic needs and sentence them to a life of poverty. People need to stop abusing and neglecting nature, the environment and each other, Cardinal Tagle reminded people at the Mass.  He said all creatures are interrelated and interdependent.

Closing Mass at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila for the Aug. 31 launching seminar of Manila Archdiocese's observance of "Season of Creation" from Sept. 1-Oct. 4, 2013, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. NJ Viehland Photo

Closing Mass at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila for the Aug. 31 launching seminar of Manila Archdiocese’s observance of “Season of Creation” from Sept. 1-Oct. 4, 2013, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. NJ Viehland Photo

Fr. Georg Ziselberger, SVD, president of GeoChrisFoundation, concelebrated with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle the Mass at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila on the Aug. 31 launch of Manila Archdiocese's observance of "Season of Creation" that runs from Sept. 1-Oct. 4, 2013. At a forum before Mass, Fr. Georg shared his theological reflection on the theme: Caring for God’s Creation Is Our Moral and Spiritual Responsibility. Photo by N.J. Viehland

Fr. Georg Ziselberger, SVD, president of GeoChrisFoundation, concelebrated with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle the Mass at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila on the Aug. 31 launch of Manila Archdiocese’s observance of “Season of Creation” that runs from Sept. 1-Oct. 4, 2013. At a forum before Mass, Fr. Georg shared his theological reflection on the theme: Caring for God’s Creation Is Our Moral and Spiritual Responsibility. Photo by N.J. Viehland

He may not have had Bangsamoro issues in mind in that homily. Before fighting in Mindanao broke out citizen movements and anti-corruption advocates, including religious groups in Manila were fighting their own battle pressing for the abolition of alleged graft-laden pork barrel and Special Purpose Funds from the national budget. They have become like “weapons of destruction” of greedy officials against ordinary citizens they pledged to serve.

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.

Maybe gunfights will end in Zamboanga tonight,  tomorrow, next week. For sure, destruction of life, spirit and the future of this and coming generations will persist as long as people apply position and power to personal or political goals and neglect the common good.