Justice To Nep!

64674026_859137767769955_8891829178970669056_nEvery now and then, you remember friends, miss them and wish that they were just around. Sometimes we take for granted the moments of saying hi and hello, go and speed towards the work for the day.  Not knowing that the momentous “next time” would never come again.

The last time I saw Nep was many years ago can’t remember when. He came to our office and showed us a picture of his child.  Then we had some updating, talks about life and its funny episodes and of course, about our struggle as a Filipino people. Then he bid goodbye. Not knowing that it would be the last time.

Nep, as we fondly call him was one of the best young people in the ecumenical community. He was the chair of Kalipunan ng Kristianong Kabataan (3KP) 1996-1998.  He belongs to a family that is very active in church and must have learned the basics of Christian living through its Christian Education program. Being actively involved  in the  ecumenical youth  movement he was introduced to the  engagements of faith and struggle, conversation and immersion in the struggles of the people, and  faith articulations

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Prayers and  Floral and candle offering for Nep. Indignation rally led by 3KP, NCCP and PCPR. June 18,2019  at 5:30PM

through prophetic witness.

He was very active in organizing the youth through education, thus organizing seminars like  Bible in Context, Women and the Bible, on Ecumenism and forum about church and society. He was engaged in many solidarity and support groups, and actively organized youth immersion programs to communities. He was not shy about his faith that he participated in so many mass actions and protests against social injustice, foreign domination, corruption, and human rights violations.

Nep was a gentle very kind person. Humble and unassuming, he never demanded any entitlement. His smile marked the innocence of his youth. He had good humor and was never wanting in wisdom.

Nep is like the salt of the earth in Jesus’ parable. He never gave up his faith but integrated it in his life and journey with the people. He was an activist full of hope and spirit in pursuing the cause that truly counts. He was a former regional coordinator of Bayan Muna, a party list that has proven to be genuinely serving the interest of the people and has no record of corruption.  It has been the party that represented the marginalized to the halls of power in Congress. It never compromised the interest of the people and never fell into the temptation of joining the trapos in Congress. Despite its untarnished reputation, It has been maligned, targeted and falsely accused by the state as a communist front.   As people walk through the valley of shadow of death under tyranny,  servility to foreign rule, and ineptness in delivering social services,     Bayan 64250186_340499689957648_1853271348772601856_nMuna as a party that represents the people shares its shining testimony of activism and greater service to the people.

Nep is not a saint, nor a perfect person. Certainly, he has his weaknesses and vulnerabilities, but he remained an activist.  The beauty and the gift of his faith were best practiced when he came to people, dwelt among them and trusted their vision of a just and peaceful society.

Yesterday, at around 8AM, on our way to join the protest against the killings Nelly Bagasala and Ryan Hubilla we received a news that Nep was killed.  Nep is the third activist killed over the past three days in Bicol.

Memories sparked like a light-giving clearer image of Nep. The youthful guy in the church with a ready smile. He must now have joined the throngs in promised eternity.  For his life will always be cherished because of what he did for others.

We condemn his killing. We honor him. But I must say, the grieving may take time.

JUSTICE to Nep and all victims of extra-judicial killings!##

 

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Elections 2019 :The greater challenges are yet to come

The greater challenges are yet to come.
Mass movement is the key to fulfill the Magnificat. We have more work to do, We are angry and we lament. The rising up of people is as sure as the rising of the sun, where darkness is defeated by the movement of LIGHT. we give no chance to indifference and cynicism because the hungry, the downtrodden, the most oppressed and exploited are not given the time to rest by the powerful – they who never get tired of greediness and gluttony for wealth is beyond human words to describe.

 
The mathematics of the result of elections are unreliable indicators about democracy. A political structure founded on violence and injustice is sure to scheme plots on how the ruling class can continue the plunder of national resources and without compassion for the poor. The charity it gives in the form of vote buying is not charity at all. It is filthy almsgiving to the poor so that they can hypocrisy is hidden.

 
We do not blame the poor. We blame the system that denies the poor of social welfare and social justice. One woman said, “ I have accepted the money given by a politician. Because we know that this will be the last chance that I would be given alms. When he is elected, he will forget us.”

 
The looters of the country’s wealth are not the ordinary pick-pocketers who are forced to do so because they have to feed their families. The great looters are those who use their positions in government in order to amass the wealth of the country, those who deny health and education services, those who want to change the constitution in order to accommodate the interests of foreign big capitalists in collaboration with big businesses.
The eminent burglars in the country are those who have the power to rob the people of their taxes through pork barrel.

 
The masses are not “tanga” (stupid). The masses are victims of the systemic oppression and exploitation of the ruling class who are represented by the lawmakers. The election is their chance to hide beneath a democratic facade, but it has the power to manipulate and to cheat. This ruling class needs the poor desperately because it could not rule without toiling and hungry people. They wanted the poor to remain for so that every election they could buy them and feel good about it and continue to rule like monsters. It is the very structural and very systemic innate character of governance by the elite ruling class. As long as there is no genuine interest to deliver social justice, the rigging of elections is always possible.

 

 

But we opt to gather more strength and with great affirmation, we say we are not defeated. Our principles and our hope are powerful tools to keep us together and to take honor in standing our ground.

 
To give up and to be cynical is an option of the privileged. The victims of contractualization, the peasants robbed of the land, the workers who have to bear with exploitation, the scavengers who have to compete with flies and cats for food, the homeless, the poor and the anawim of Yahweh have no privilege give up for the struggle for a better life.

The mass movement is ever vibrant, alive and determined to continue the struggle. Our struggle does not begin and end in elections. Tuloy ang laban.

 

 
Norma P. Dollaga
KASIMABAYAN

Matrix: Plotting Destabilization

Woe to those who plan iniquity,   to those who plot evil on their beds! At morning’s light, they carry it out because it is in their power to do it  They covet fields and seize them,   and houses, and take them.They defraud people of their homes,   they rob them of their inheritance. (Micah 2:1-2)

If the matrix displayed by Malacanang would be used as an indicator of a destabilization plot, then we are a very pathetic country. Our government cheapens the highest office of the land, by presenting an under-researched illustration severely lacking in both wit and intelligence, that would not even pass for  a school  project.

A matrix is supposedly a visual illustration that is a product of scientific steps: planning and theory building, data gathering, analysis of data, and finally conclusions. The theory and construct are to be validated, including scrutiny based on studies. The poorly done matrix which has been presented has only the intention of maligning the people listed and diverting our collective attention from demanding needed socio-economic reforms, from critiquing the Duterte administration on its servility to China’s incursion of Philippines seas, and from challenging the government to end its bloody “War Against the Poor” that has killed as many as 30,000 Filipinos since Duterte assumed office.

The matrix is simply a vehicle for Duterte and his cohorts to stir fear and threaten lawyers, journalists, and activists. While on one hand, this ludicrous concoction of imagined connections does not merit any serious attention, on the other, it gravely threatens the lives of people named as destabilizers.  Even as it insults our sensibility and intellect, we must be clear in our rejection of such a baseless and mean-spirited chart.

Why would the President waste the people’s funds for such a comical, yet dangerous matrix? How on earth would Olympic silver medalist weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz be  included in the diagram? She remains busy with her training as an athlete and have brought honor to our country, in spite of the small government budget for sports, education and health. Carelessly naming people as plotters endangers their lives, as they could be immediate targets of the military and arbitrary attacks of government.

The announcement of this lasted alleged plot is an obvious reminder of the sinister methods used in implementing Tokhang. First, you are on the list. Second, you are a suspect. Third, you are gunned down, while they claim in pro-forma consistency that you resisted.  The police simply announce “NANLABAN” (fought back) .

Activists, lawyers, church people, journalists, farmers, lumad, scientists, workers, and other human rights defenders have been killed and many more will be targeted as the anti-insurgency campaign of the government intensifies. These are the people who resist, defy and challenge the tyrannical attacks of the government against the people.

The real destabilizer is none other than Duterte, himself. Even without any matrix to illustrate this, we know that he ordered the killings of the poor ones in his failed and greatly misplaced tactics of curbing the drug trade. He is the one urging state forces toward criminal conduct and extra-judicial killings. He should be subjected to a thorough investigation to show why Duterte has not solved or even reduced the drug trade in the Philippines and why, instead, the poor have been targeted as sacrificial lambs in the proliferation of this trade.

Duterte makes our country a laughing stock of the world, when he allowed China’s incursion into our own seas. He betrays and puts down Filipino women through misogynist remarks and attacks on women who assert their rights and counter his tyrannical power, while also encourages sexual harassment by his own example. He undermines the constitution in his push for Charter Change that will perpetuate his power and that of the ruling elites and trapos (traditional politicians).

At first sight, this stupid matrix was a laughable thing and truly appeared like a joke, foolishness not to be taken seriously.  However, when it was presented by Malacanang, the stakes were raised, even as it attracted our curiosity. This matrix should be taken seriously as a threat and attack against civil liberties  Defenders of human rights, those who tell the truth, and those who stand as democratic opposition are being labeled as enemies of the state destabilizers, without proof.

These are dangerous times. Most sinister is that the evil plotters are not those named in the matrix, but rather those casting aspersion by naming names.  They do not rest.  And their schemes a threat to justice and the very lives of those who they have targeted. They further endanger democracy and civil liberties at every turn. ##

 

Norma P. Dollaga

KASIMBAYAN

May 12,2019

Today’s Reading: Nicodemus Meets Maria Pueblo

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Likha ni Babaylan ng Pinta at kulay

John 3:1-15

Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Now there is a church  called Nicodemus who has achieved a status of moral force in society. Nicodemus came to Maria Pueblo at the dead of night and said, “Maria Pueblo, I know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with you. Look, you are there occupying Wall Street questioning corporate greed. You are there with the campesino and peasants demanding genuine agrarian reform; you are with indigenous peoples questioning the mining corporations. You are with the subversives demanding for rights and meaningful change. You are with the hungry people seeking justice. You are among the occupied people in seeking liberation. You are there wherever there is a vibrant movement like a rousing wind that never rests. You are in the grieving mothers and kin of those who are persecuted, tortured and   killed because they speak about freedom and social equality.     You are like a gentle wind comforting their weary hearts but stirring their spirits to cry out for justice.  I see you. Are you God the omnipotent?”   

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]

Maria Pueblo replied, “ Very truly I tell you, no can see the reign of God unless they are born again.”

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

“Ha? How can someone be born again when they are old? No, no, no I do not understand that.  Me, for example, experiencing rebirth

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.

Very truly I tell you; truly I say unto you, you cannot enter the feast of God’s reign when one is not born in  water and in spirit.

God’s reign is simple to understand. Is it hard to imagine justice and peace? Is it impossible to behold a communion of abundant life for everyone? Is it too ambitious to dream that everyone can sit under a fig tree and rest? Is it impossible that one day people shall celebrate their victory from oppression and exploitation? They shall be dancing the rhythm of freedom, singing the hymn of triumph over evil, celebrating the fruit of hope in their lives. 

I am Maria Pueblo talking to you, Nicodemus.  You must be baptized of water— the revelation of God’s womb manifested in the human experience of tears and the bursting of hope and power. You must be born in the Spirit—the breath and wind hovering over, shaking and shocking you. Until you become someone that does not only breathe but someone who has life and gives life to others.       

You must know that it is a mother’s delight when a child is born, but it is a delight of the human community when one is reborn at the womb of their struggle and hope.

’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]

9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

How can this be? I still do not understand, Nicodemus asked.

 

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

You are a strong church, Nicodemus. But you choose not to understand. Is it because you have many options? You can join me in my protest actions and in my fasting for the cause of those who are downtrodden and marginalized. But at the end of the day, you can always opt to go back to your comfort zones and feel secure. You can always justify your option with your theology and ethics, polity and rule.   You asked me and you are intrigued from where I am and to where I have been, you listened to my testimonies and at times so impressed with me. You would give me little funds, and I have to make a report for every cent you gave me.   But you still say that you don’t understand. Were your lessons at Sunday school not enough? I have spoken to you in the most concrete ways, but it seems that you cannot imagine a fulfillment of God’s reign.

Will you Nicodemus allow the Wind of change rebirth you?

 

13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted uo  [f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]    

My faith believes that what I have witnessed, experienced, learned, affirmed come from the Heaven. I cannot celebrate its fulfillment if HEAVEN did not descend to this world.  We see he Son of Man who was lifted up on the cross in manifold ways today. As the Son of Man  who came to earth, dwelt amongst the people, have drunk in their wells and have shared their suffering. His death revealed a lot about the finiteness of mortal life, but there is always resurrection –powerfully sending a message that liberated by the risen Christ, the New Man we can start a life anew as resurrected people  

Eternal life is when we experience the blissfulness of living together as human family, not offending the natural world by greed, or measuring its worth by silver and gold. Eternal Life is when Ruah, the Breath of God makes the living ones breathe in and breathe out LIFE born from the womb of Struggle and Hope.##

 

 

Forgiveness

 

For more than a year, the stabbing pain is still here inside me.  His promise of coming  for dinner   will never be fulfilled…  because just as he was about to come home, he was shot dead,” said  Remedios.

He was shot dead along the busy street of Caloocan City.

Remedios’s husband  is a jeepney driver and a barker whenever there is no schedule for him to drive.  Life has been simple for the family. He was sending his wife to college out of meager income he get from driving. Life was drastically changed when this tragic event occurred. With three children left behind to raise single-handedly, Remedios has to take a job as canteen staff in a small school. She needs to be in the workplace before 5AM and comes home at 7:00 P.M. She earns P250.00 per day. Her husband was never a drug user or a peddler, but then he became a victim of this war against the poor a.k.a war on drugs. .

The story of Nanay Immaculada speaks of the stories of many wives and mothers.   The night then was supposedly calm despite the impoverishment that has been a constant partner of their daily life.    But the police barged into their humble abode, and commanded everyone, except for her husband, to go out. Not a few steps away from their house, she heard gunshots. She believed those were aimed at her husband.  Nanay Immaculada has to do her laundry work twice a week to support the family. She now has to earn a living alone . She has to compete with Laundry Stations that charge  lesser fee than her  manual services. The floor of their house is covered with linoleum with the design of Hello kitty. She said,”we do not want to be reminded of the blood stain and the place where we found him dead.” The family could not leave the house along with the memory of the tragedy. They do not have any alternative home to start a life anew. They could not afford to forget the memories of the killing right at their very house where they live.

Remedios and Immaculada had no plan to talk about the tragedy. They are in pain and find no hope how to recuperate from the tragedy that happened to them. Days are bleak and they refused to talk about. The pain is so deep, they do not find hope that something good will happen if they talk about it.  But the budding of hope and recovering of the strength are the power that sustains their ability to rise.

The murderous project of Pres. Dutuerte has left thousands of orphans and widows, and grieving families. More than 20,000 have been  killed. Pres. Duterte and the PNP promised the War on Drugs will be more relentless, and there will be no let up even during the Holy Week.

The scorn against the poor seemed to be never enough even as the President pronounced , “Kaya ako hindi nagsisimba. Kasi ’pag magsimba ako, ‘Forgive me, father, for I have killed last night three.” Balik na naman ako kinabukasan, ‘Father, forgive me because I have killed 10 drug, drug lords.’ Pabalik-balik ako, bakit pa ako magpunta doon? Useless.”

Arrogantly admitting his crime, there is no piece of remorse nor guilt in his statement. He even insults the church and its teaching, and he takes his pride in the killings.

Forgiveness is not a cheap ticket to commit an offense over and over again. There is no seriousness in understanding what is forgiveness as far as Duterte’s  statement is concerned. He does not know what forgiveness means, and he even denigrates it. It is not out of his ignorance; rather, it is about being a tyrant.

The killing of thousand lives is taking away the lives of the victims and their dreams for the future.  The murders carried out by the henchmen of Malacanang is a sign of the government’s inability to address the roots of the problem. It is at the same time, a ploy to hide the truth that he knows who are involved in the business. Consequently and naturally, it cannot solve the problem of the drug trade.   Duterte tends to twist the truth and makes the lies to appear as the truth. This became a license for his power-hungry and blood-thirsty military and police to commit more human rights violations and justifications for their murderous acts.

Forgiveness cannot be demanded from the families and victims of the drug-related killings and extra-judicial killings. To forgive is not an easy way out to free oneself from pain and anger. Justice is a pre-requisite to forgiveness. Even nature teaches us the process of blossoming of flowers in due time.

The burden of forgiveness must not rest on the families of the victims alone. Their readiness will come under the condition of fair, compassionate, loving and just environment.  That is why we need an organized action that will demand for the accountability of the perpetrators so that the victims and the survivors  will not feel being denied of their own humanity,- to be angry, to recognize their own pain, and to lament.

The truth is, the families of the victims  are willing to forgive through an access to the legal procedures of seeking justice. Some are able to file charges so that the suspect- perpetrators can defend themselves in court.  It takes so much courage to do that, because of foreseen and realistic possibility of the assailants’  retaliation.  The victims and their families have reasons to believe so. This path is arduous, as many have experienced the difficulty of getting police reports. Police stations’ personnel do not easily give the reports to the family, even as these are supposed to be public documents. Police reports are fundamental documents as a basis for filing charges.  The poor ones have the courage to make the police or assailants to defend themselves in court. Yet, most of the victims are unable to defend themselves in accordance with the rule of law, as they were extrajudicially killed.  Those who are able to file charges still call for the killings to stop.  A mother said, “I want to seek justice and I want to add my voice to shout out: STOP THE KILLINGS.  I do not want other mothers to suffer the way I am suffering from pain now.”

One mother said, ” I do not know whom to charge because the assailants were in their masks. However, if one amongst us -families of the victims can get justice, then I consider it as my  victory as well”

The killing of more than 20,000  is not just a matter of individual offense against individual victims. It is  an offense against humanity. The killings aggravated the very oppressed situation of the poor.  We share the pain and grief of the victims  who were  killed under the murderous project  War against the poor.  The offensive against the poor  is so intentional , direct, explicit under the ideology that they are the problem – as addicts, users, or peddlers. These poor ones, must be seen  rather victims of  decades of social injustices.

Duterte must know that the families are not expecting him to ask forgiveness as he is too  sure that his project is correct. What the families wanted is JUSTICE and the halting of the killings.  Nanay Emily said. “The truth is I do not want him to die soon. I wanted him to live longer  so he could  admit his offense and pay for his accountability. As of now, it would be crucial if he could stay long in power, that means there would be more killings. ”

The healing process of the families lie not on the superficiality of forgiveness as in letting go in peace the offenders, or  that kindness should be bestowed upon them. The families of the victims of killings, the church workers, the peace -loving community, the Filipinos who value life and dignity, the international community  are kind enough, that the immediate call is to STOP THE KILLINGS and END IMPUNITY, and make DUTERTE accountable. There is nothing revengeful or unforgiving about this. ##

 

 

Of Bato and Tokhang

Kung ayaw ‘nyo pumalakpak, bukas ipa-Tokhang ko kayo sa pulis,‘ says the former police chief who masterminded the controversial Oplan Tokhang. He spoke before the rally in Calamba, Laguna. (March 10)

We could not entrust our lives into the hands of a murderous government. We live in a dangerous  and precarious time. When a former PNP chief is running for a   senatorial seat spits a threat “cum”  joke,  it only shows he has no heart for the tokhang victims, their families, and neighbors.  Bato de la Rosa jokes of tokhang as if the killings are just comic episodes in people’s lives manifest how hostile he is and the system that he supports.  He takes pride in heading the project Tokhang  and seems to took the pleasure of conducting the bloody war. He has no sensitivity nor sensibility in the pronouncements that he makes.

There is gross immorality in governance when a murderous project called the War on Drugs commonly known by the public as Tokhang, brought death to more than 20,000 people.  Tokhang victims are poor men and women whose families would be unable to bring their cases to court.  Their families could not afford litigation or do not even have access to information about their human rights. They are denied of the promises of fair law.  There are families who could not identify who the perpetrators are as they were in masks and swiftly left the crime scene without a trace.  Killings happen with impunity, and the poor communities are left without assurance that they are safe; neither are they entitled to enjoy peace based on justice. The poor communities are the most vulnerable in times of natural and man-made disasters. They are the ones who could not even claim the right to grieve over their dead loved ones as the daily grind to survive comes first before processing the pain if there is a chance at all.

The poor have understood, that at any time at any place, they could be subjected to prejudice and violations and mistreatment. Denied of basic and social services, their predicament has been an outcome of their own impoverishment. Their situation exposes the violence of injustice. They are victimized twice over by murdering them in the name of the war on drugs.             It is easier for the project tokhang to attack them as the poor ones are just dust and dirt to the eyes of an elitist government and braggadocio police enforcers. Whether those killed are more than 20,000 plus or more than 4,000, that appears to be nothing to the government as long as it achieves it goal to kill, and hail the success of the murderous project.

Bato de la Rosa is both  the Rock  and the Rose of Tokhang or War on Drugs that does not deserve any single second to be in any position of responsibility.  In fact, he should be held accountable for the violations and crime committed against the people.

 

But not all the days are days of mourning and suffering. The poor are not just victims. Out of their depths, they cry out and shall take upon their hands the crafting of their future. That is why they are blessed,  because they know very well what is wrong in our society and that they could only trust their collective action as the way towards their liberation.  This is what the operators of the unjust structure are afraid of.  That the poor will be awakened, and take action to change the course of history towards the redemption of their own.  When the days of awakening come, the nights will never be serene and placid for those who live by punishing and enslaving the poor.  Unrepentant as they may be, dangerous and adamant as they may appear, nothing is stronger than the cry and shout and movements for justice. The poor and the victims of this unjust order will rise up, and in the disquieting nights for the tyrant, they will keep the fire of defiance alive until the souls of those killed will have their eternal repose because justice has been served. ## #

 

 

 

Gospel Reading Reflection: we will be known by our fruit”

March 3, 2019, Transfiguration of the Lord

Ps 92:2-3, 13-16
Sirach 27:5-8
1 Cor 15:54-58
or
Phil 2:15d, 16a
Luke 6:39-45

 

 

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. (Luke 6:43-44)

Today’s Gospel reading is a humbling reminder on what does it take to be a church known for its fruit.

In not so overwhelming number of votes (438 to 384), the recent General Conference of United Methodist Church has affirmed the  Traditional Plan that bans the church from ordaining LGBTQ clergy and the officiating and hosting a same-sex marriage. The Judicial Council has yet to declare on the constitutionality when it meets on April 2019. If the Judicial Council found it unconstitutional, it will not be included in the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church.

Theologians, church historians, ethicists, missiologists, pastors and laypeople may have diverse views on the issues. What makes humanity truly beautiful is that it could articulate colorful ideas and perspectives like the blossoming of flowers in May. These articulations do not come from and in a vacuum. They are product of a worldview crafted by our experiences and participation in the production of daily needs or wants; or in the reproduction and production of knowledge.  They are products of our relationships to one another— our connection to people especially those with whom we are attached to or the people we opt to serve and share our vision with. The basic question, “whose perspective and who benefits from this decision” determines which option to side on.  I am sure there have been lots of discussions, articulation, and movements done on this matter. These either sharpen one’s analysis or made people dump the idea into the sewage of prejudice and bigotry. These discussions either deepened one’s compassion or kindness, or  these have increased the mindset of “othering.”  These either celebrated and welcome the grace and love of God, or these have blinded the church  and denied the gift. This decision of the General Conference either humbled us, making us realize that there are many things we need to know about humanity, about sexuality, the gift of science and the blessing of faith. Or, it has made us arrogant of the little things that we know. It either made us capable of nurturing the church- the community of believers, or,  it made us vulnerable to the temptation of self-righteousness.

The result of the General Conference 2019  has left more questions than answers or resolutions.  It is a kairos moment for the church and for everyone to remain steadfast in our faith and mission.  To keep on nourishing the best in us as a church so that our church can become better if not the best servant of the people. So we, as a church can participate in the redemption and liberation of the people from woes and miseries brought about by exploitation, oppression, and injustice.  So that we can welcome one another including the exercise of the gift of shepherding the flock and the nurturing the gift of love – that is honest, just and caring.

We will be known by our fruit.  We could feed the world with a bitter fruit that spread poison through hatred and indifference. But if we want to be true believers of the God of love, then the church must seek to bear sweet fruit, for the church is like a tree that is rooted in genuine love and beautiful grace.

The Loyalty of the Youth Should be Towards The People

Recently, Ronald Cardema of the National Youth Commission (NYC) said, “fighting the government means fighting the majority of the Filipino people and also not fulfilling their roles as the expected bread-winners who will uplift their families and as hope in strengthening our country.” He further called on President Duterte to issue an executive order removing the government scholarships of all anti-government scholars, especially those “allied with the Leftist CPP-NPA-NDF.”

It would behoove Cardema—and for that matter, the entire country—to consider again the youthful energy, idealism, hopeful optimism, and fervent passion for meaningful change that the young of Philippines should bring to their desire to serve the people. The youth of today are our hope. They are a prophetic manifestation of the future society.  Whatever best or worst offerings we provide for our young shape the very society, which we will behold in the next generation.

Cardema must be reminded that the youth should pursue integrity and honor by refusing to condone corruption, tyranny, misogyny, and servility to a foreign power, by surrendering Filipino sovereignty to the US, to China, or to any imperialist nation.  The youth have a duty to defend the motherland. Their loyalty should be towards the people, especially the victims of injustices, tyranny, and corruption.   They must resist patronage politics and avoid the resultant blindness of morals and integrity that come from the unprincipled support and alliance with a President that advocates and promotes a culture of killings, misogyny, and corruption.

Now, as much as ever, the youth should be at the forefront of combatting historical revisionism. Cardema—as a supposed voice the youth, should be at the forefront of remembering people power and blocking the comebacks of the corrupt and fascist, such as the likes of the Marcos dynasty or Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who rigged  the 2004  election. Cardema should remember first-hand the life of his extra-judicially killed uncle Noel Capulong, Sr., who was one of more than a thousand government critics, subjected to enforced disappearances and killings during the Arroyo administration.

As he has taken well to the task of Duterte attack dog, Cardema seems to have brushed aside or conveniently forgotten that he enjoyed the benefits from the people’s money as an “eskolar ng bayan” at the University of the Philippines. At that time, he was critical of government killings of young activists, peasants, workers, and human rights defenders.  At the very least, Cardema should be leading in conversations about how to address the roots of the armed conflict in the country and promoting the importance of the Peace Talks as a method of bringing youth into active peace-building in this land.

Instead, Cardema has exposed himself as an unprincipled and rabid “wanna-be” politician, an opportunist extraordinaire.  Not only has he been managing the campaign of his wife, who is the first nominee of party-list group Duterte Youth, Cardema is also the chair of this group, which should not even qualify for the party-list. The party-list is a constitutional provision so that the voice of the marginalized sectors—such as peasants, workers, women, youth, urban poor, indigenous peoples, migrant workers, persons with disabilities, and others—can heard and represented in the legislative body:  the Duterte Youth is NOT a marginalized group. Their very existence in the party-list runs contrary to the constitutional intention and is a manifestation of patronage politics.

Combining Cardema’s threats against youth who engage their democratic rights as government critics and opposition with his own opportunism in seeking to expand his political power, Cardema is in effect saying:

• It is okay to support a government that is replete with corruption, misogyny, tyranny, and lies.

• It is okay to act without delicadeza that while he is the chair of the youth commission, he is the chair of a party-list group that is very much associated with the most powerful man in the country, President Duterte, violating the very spirit of party-list representation in Congress.

• It is okay to promote subservience and timidity within the youth and even to enjoy the benefits of becoming the lackey of a government that denies the people of their civil, economic, and political rights.

Cardema has sold his soul to the devil.  It is not okay.

Evil is afoot and creeps to every corner of the bureaucracy, military, judiciary, and Congress.  The whole of the government system bears the stink.  Cardema’s loyalty to the President combined with his lack moral integrity has blemished the office of the National Youth Commission that is supposed to inspire the youth to embody idealism and passion.  Cardema brings shame to the youth as he is nothing more than a toady of the Duterte administration’s rising authoritarianism. 

Heroes and martyrs past call the youth to struggle for democracy and freedom in the Philippines. Brutish fools like Cardema are a disgrace to the motherland. ##

 

Norma P. Dollaga

Kapatirang Simbahan Para sa Bayan

KASIMBAYAN

#OBR: Tulang -Teolohikang Repleksyon

OBRANG UMIIBIG AY NANININDIGAN

                                      Prof. Lizette Tapia-Raquel

Ang sabi ng marami,

Pilipinas, bakit ang Hirap mong ibigin?

Pero tuwing ako ay lumalayo

Umaapaw ang aking damdamin

52417065_1956426851332758_6868621066810425344_nAlam ng buo kong pagkatao

Na Ikaw ang aking lupang sinilangan

Tahanan ng aking mga ninuno at mga darating na ka-apo-apohan

 

Hindi kita iniibig

dahil marami kang pangarap na tinupad

Hindi kita inaalala

dahil lahat ng kahapon natin ay maligaya

Hindi kita iduduyan sa mga salita

na di ko kayang panghawakan

Pero alam mo sana

na kahit saan ako makarating,

Ikaw pa rin ang babalikan

 

Ang mga pinakamasaya kong alaala

ay iyong Ikaw ang kapiling

Pinakamaganda ang bukang-liwayway

pati na rin ang pagdidilim

Ang kagandahang taglay mo

kahit kailan ay walang kapantay

Ang iyong tag-ulan at tag-init

ay bahagi lamang ng iyong buhay

 

Pangarap ko na maranasan mo ang ganap at tunay na kalayaan

Na ang kabutihan at kagandahan mo ay hindi na inaangkin at tinatapakan

Dahil duyan ka ng mga bayani at kandungan ng aking mga ninuno

Nararapat lang na ipaglaban ka,

mahal na bayan ko.

 

Ang pagtindig ng kababaihan ay para sa Bayan at kapwa Pilipino

Mga mangingisda, magsasaka, manggagawa at katutubo

Sapagkat ang karapatang-tao ay hindi ibinibigay ng mga naghahari-harian.

Ito ay tinitindigan ng mga kababaihang nakaranas ng pambubusabos at kaapihan.

 

Bitbit ang pananampalataya at mapanuring kaisipan

Ang babaeng umiibig ay babaeng lumalaban

Katulad ng pagluwal natin ng mga anak ng Bayan

Iluluwal din natin ang katarungan at kapayapaan

 

&&

 

Ang Pag-ibig ay Paglaban.52469096_1956426884666088_2501364239948578816_n

Pastor Carleen Nomorosa

 

Bakit kaya kailangang ipaglaban ang karapatan at kapayapaan?

Bakit kailangang lumaban para sa kalayaan?

Bakit may kailangang magbuwis ng buhay upang makamtan ang paglaya sa karahasan?

Dahil may inaapi! May sinasaktan! Dahil may winawalangya! May tinatapakan!

Sa bawat tinig ay may hikahos,

pait ng kasawian.

Ang bawat galit ay paos,

kaysakit ng panlilinlang.

Ngunit sa bawat paglaban,

ang pag-ibig ay patuloy na mararanasan.

 

 

Tanging pag-ibig at dahil sa pag-ibig

tayo ay magsasanib, tatanganan at yayakapin ang anumang pagkabigo, makikipagniig sa bawat pagkilos.

At doon malagpasan natin ang sakit, ang bawat pait at pagkawasak.

Pag-ibig ang maghihilom. Sa pag-ibig, muling tatamis ang pagsinta. At sa pag-ibig muling mabubuo ang pagkataong binagabag ng pang-aabuso – at doon, babangon at lalaban tayo, titindig para sa sarili at sa iba pa.

 

 

Ang aktibismo ay pag-ibig at palaging pag-ibig.

Hindi ito tungkol lamang sa poot o galit.

Ang paglaban ay palaging nakaugat sa pag-ibig.

Tungkol ito sa malalim na diwa ng pagmamahal, na tumatagos mula sa sarili patungo sa marami pang kaapihan na kailangang wakasan.

At sa pag-igpaw, palaging ang dahilan ay pag-ibig.

Walang pag-ibig ang nananalangin na lamang, luluhod, pipikit at hihikbi.

Walang pag-ibig ang nakakayang tingnan sa mata ang mga walang makain at maipang gamot sa kanilang pamilya.

Walang pag-ibig ang kayang makipag kamay sa mga magsasaka ng hindi itinataas ang mga kamao para lumaban kasama nila.

Walang pag-ibig ang nananahimik sa kawalang katarungan at hustisya.

Dahil ang paglaban ay palaging, pag-ibig.

 

&&&

52161677_1956426807999429_2752191953532616704_nBabae Ako, Ang Paglaya ang Kapangyarihan

Dss. Norma P. Dollaga

 

Hindi lahat ng panahon ay panahon ng paghikbi

Kung lumuha man ako , hindi dahil ako ay sawi

Mga mata ko ay mulat sa balon ng puso at sinapupunan

Aagos ang  pagdadalisay  sa bautismo  nga pakikipaglaban.

 

 

 

Babae akong ipinangank ng sarili kong sinapupunan

Iniluwal ko  sila Shiprah at Puah, mga anak ni Zelophehad

Pinaghele ko sa aking bisig  ang pagpanday kay Deborah  na isang mandirigma

Tumangis din ako sa lungkot ng isang balo, hanggang makamptan niya ang sariling paglaya

Binagabag niya ang  ang hukuman, di siya natinag hanggang di nakamit ang katarungan.

 

Babae ako, at sa bawat himaymay ng aking paghinga

Nagngangalit ang aking dibdib sa bawat ginagahasa

Hindi ko ikinararangal ang iparada ang aking katawan

Upang pagkakitaan ng kapitalista at gahaman.

 

Babae ako  iniindak ko ang sayaw ng pakikibaka

Ihahakbang pasulong  ang

Katotohanan,

Katarungan at

Kapayapaan

 

Banal ang Sayaw ng aking natutunan

Sa pusod ng Unang Sayaw ng paglikha

Mula sinapupunan ng dakilang Bathala

 

Ang tiwala ko sa dakilang Maykapal

Kasama siya lagi ng mga dukha sa paglalakbay

Pagkat ang Dios na aaming kinikilala

 

Ay hindi istupido  , mamamatay-tao o isang siga.

 

 

Ang pintig ng aking Sayaw ,ay hininga ng taong bayan

Sa tirano at pag-aalipusta  , ang bumalikwas ay isang kalooban

Hindi ako alipin ng pagtitiis at pagiging kimi  sa gitna ng karahasan

Babae ako  at ang  paglaya ay isang kapangyarihan.

 

(IBINAHAGI sa Ecumenical Women’s Forum para sa One Billion Rising  na pagtitipon ng mga kababaihan sa simbahan. Dinaluhan ng mga kababaihan mula sa iba’t ibang simbahan. Nilahukan din  ng mga kalalakihan sa simbahan)

 

 

Randy Malayao

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 NKJV)

randy They did not shoot him while he was awake and alert. Perhaps, they were afraid to attack him while he had the capacity to reason out, to argue and to convince. Maybe they could not assail him while looking straight into his eyes, for they glistened with a vision for a society where peace and justice are the priority. And when Randy was awake, he was full of vigor to serve the masses and the poor.  While Randy slept on a public bus—taking advantage of a convenient moment of rest and rejuvenation for the work that comes with the breaking dawn, a depraved hitman fired bullets and killed him.

His murder was in cold-blood.

Randy lived the best years of his youth with the genuine interest of the people close to his heart.  He grew into adulthood and as decades passed, he continued to put forward the peace, justice, and dignity of the people as very important matters for collective action. His life as an activist is a great testimony of faithful service to the people.

Randy chose the narrow path of principles and integrity.  He took the more difficult road, where the daily struggle against poverty, exploitation, and oppression meant sharing the lives and lot of the most impoverished and materially deprived.

With a revolutionary mindset, Randy believed that these conditions are not beyond change.  He exposed the lies and falsehoods promoted by a violent and unjust system of unbridled greed and power by the elite few and worked for social transformation.

An activist, a revolutionary—Randy was never a terrorist.

Suffering as a political prisoner under Glora Macapagal Arroyo and Benigno Simeon Aquino III, from May 2008 to October 2012, the court dismissed the charges against him as the principal suspect in killing Cagayan Governor Rodolfo Aguinaldo. Still, in February 2018, Randy was among 656 people listed by the Department of Justice for proscription as terrorists, the list even included UN Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. Only weeks ago, Randy’s name as well as most of the others was removed.

Robbed of life in the night, Randy will wake up no more.  His morning smile and banter will not be brighten the faces of his family nor the many barrio folks who would have graced his path.

Randy will no longer rise early to attend meetings, write articles, and vigorously engage efforts to resume the peace talks. In the core of his being, Randy was one of the most impassioned promoters of the peace talks, knowing that, in the end, the people will benefit from efforts to address the roots of the armed conflict. Upholding sovereignty and patrimony, pursuing national industrialization and implementing agrarian reform will be for the benefit the toiling majority and struggling masses.

Randy was never shy in talking about the potentials of peace talks.  The only ones afraid of peace talks are President Duterte, the ruling class, and the military, who all benefit daily from the prevailing unjust social structures.

Though Randy will awake no more to greet his family and the communities he held so dear, though he will not taste in delight the fruition of dreams carried dearly in his heart, we will carry on towards the promise of dawn.

Surely, dawn will break with a crimson sky. No death of a hero or martyr will be wasted. The tears and mourning of the masses will turn into rage and resolve. Until justice is done.

 

Norma P. Dollaga

Kapatirang Simabahan Para sa Bayan

KASIMBAYAN

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