Impenitent Tyrants and Hustlers vs. the People’s Hope for Meaningful Change


Significant change did not come:  not in the lives of the poor or in improving governance.  Though Duterte promised such with his campaign slogan “change is coming,” there has only been a worsening of the economic woes the poor as well as the persistence of political elitism and plutocracy.

The long-awaited fresh new morning never arrived. We continue to endure the same old continuum of a rottenness system, fraught with corruption and rife with stifling bureaucracy. Decadence upon decadence has been laid upon a foundation of historical corruption fashioned by the elite, the trapos, and a plethora of thieves who use their government positions to amass ill-gotten wealth which they window-dress to appear legal.

No illusion remains that one President will eradicate such decadence in a fell swoop.  Still, Duterte must held made accountable for the promise that he made:  as his banner slogan makes clear, Duterte exploited the desperation of the people, who had long grown tired and exasperated with the government leaderships previous to his presidency.

The wounds of people’s sufferings and woes cannot heal with such hollow promises.  Even worse, there has been little effort to offer even temporary relief through balms and services.

Instead, the wounds of the poor have only been deepened through by “war on drugs” which has painted red the streets, esteros, alleys and even the villages upon mountains of garbage, as blood has been spilt in cold-blooded executions and cold-hearted police operations.

The law and the courts have never been a space of refuge or reliable justice, where the cases of the victims would be speedily acted upon. The real aftermath of such killings are dead bodies laid in coffins, whose payment their families could not even afford. Families have to begged and pleaded in order to bury their dead on promissory contracts.
Duterte’s murderous scheme has done even more than kill thousands; it has “tokhanged” our collective  memory of the struggle to fight against the Marcos dictatorship.  When Duterte allowed the burial of the dictator President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, he bastardized the reputation of the cemetery. Opening the floodways of partying and merry-making for the Marcoses who, even today, have never owned-up to their accountability for the dreadful things done during under the Marcos dictatorship, they danced with gusto as their power soared even higher with the help of Duterte’s efforts toward historic revisionism.

So the Marcoses remain shameless on their atrocities, brazenly claiming that they did not commit any crimes.  Their audacity re-energized as Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. still contests the victory of  VP Leni  Robredo over him.  Imee Marcos runs for Senator under the Nacionalista Party, forging an alliance with the present presidential daughter Sarah Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago regional political party.

  • We must not forget that Imee Marcos was appointed by her father as head of the Kabataang Barangay in 1977. When this appalling appointment was questioned by young student Archimedes Trajano of Mapua Institute of Technology, he was dragged out from the forum by Imee’s security detail. That was the last moment any witnesses saw him alive.   Two days later, his lifeless body—face disfigured and bearing bruises and torture marks—was found. Yet, even today, Imee Marcos at the mature age of 63 would still childishly say, “But what I heard that there are calls for an apology tantamount to an admission, which we would never do.”  
  • Likewise, we must not forget Liliosa Hilao—whose name was highlighted in the line of the popular song “Babae Ka.” Liliosa was the editor-in-chief of Hasik, the school paper of the Pamatasan ng Lunsod ng Maynila (PLM) that published articles criticizing martial law and former President Ferdinand Marcos. Liliosa, branded as subversive for her writings and leadership in the school paper, was raped and injected with “truth serum” to force her to talk. Muriatic acid was forced in her mouth and burned her throat and lungs. She was killed days before she was to graduate magna cum laude. Her internal organs were removed to cover up signs of torture and sexual abuse. And Imee Marcos at the mature age of 63 would still say, “But what I heard that there are calls for an apology tantamount to an admission, which we would never do.”


Must we forget also the women like  Lorena Barros and Liza Balando?

Whether it is about  Archimedes, Liliosa or others like Lorena Barros and Liza Balando or any of the thousands of persons that have been documented as victims of Martial Law, we know that it happened!

And even as Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has mounted her comeback—flaunting her power as the new Speaker of the House—the people have not forgotten the more than one thousand victims of extra judicial killings under her term. She behaves as if we have amnesia, but the people have not forgotten, including her rigging of her presidential election through the notorious “Hello Garci” scandal as well as her varied and numerous corruption scams.

We will not allow these impenitent traitors and hustlers to erase our memories of resistance and struggle. As historic and rising tyrants order killings, torture and disappearances of those who dissent, they also seek to kill the memories of struggle by labeling them as subversive and dangerous. Duterte blatantly mocks the gains of People’s Power and honours the Marcoses instead, but we will continue to rise up against such strong-arm oppression and stand for what is truly righteous and honorable.

It is pathetic that after toppling down a  dictator Marcos, the fundamentals of social justice were not taken up by succeeding leaders.   This was not because they were imperfect or ignorant or stupid. It wasn’t because they lacked political will, per se. It was because they could not give up being representatives of the ruling class. As such, they could not afford to offend the class that the truly wanted to serve and preserve.

Killing the poor, the memories of resistance, and rising enthusiasm seemed easier.  The power of the blessed poor to carry forward meaningful change–genuine land reform, national industrialization, adequate public and social services  as well as a scientific, patriotic, and liberating culture of education, and even armed forces that will serve the people and the poor—remain intact with or without support from the Duterte administration.

And even if the trapos (traditionalpoliticians) are constant and consistent in their entrenched corrupt practices, the people’s movement will never give up the struggle. Learning bends along the way and self-criticism in the course of carrying on the fight only strengthen the people’s capacity to struggle. Rest assured, the organized masses and enlightened poor, and they who opted to  be identified with their struggles and hope    are ever reliable, trustworthy, and know no boundary in the struggle and pursuit of justice and peace

Nanay Irma, whose son was killed by Duterte’s “war on drugs” once told  us, “As a mother, I have never been active for justice before. I am weak and sickly. My thyroid gland must have collected all my pains and suffering, my stress, and anxieties. As a poor woman who has to take care of my ailing  husband, I live by sweeping the streets. But, I know when we rise and fight for justice, we are on the correct side of this struggle. If my health and sickness will consume me particularly as I do not have enough resources to access health services, do not worry; I have daughters to carry on this struggle that I have known.”


Norma P. Dollaga

Kapatiriang Simbahan Para sa Bayan










20181011_151313Napagod na ang mga bulaklak sa pagluluksa
Nagliliyab man ang apoy ng kandila sa tanghaling tapat
Baka sakaling mahabag ang langit at katotohanan ay maisiwalat
Ngunit ang kanyang paghimplay sa inutang na ataol
Ay nag-aabang ng makatarungang paghatol

Bumulagta siya sa basurahang kanyang ikinabubuhay
Sa ilang pisil ng gatilyo, at ilang tinggang kumitil sa kanyang paghinga
Namaalam siya sa pagdarahop, sa kagutuman ,sa pag-aalipusta
Walang makalapit, tanging mga daga sa kanya ang unang dumamay
Samantala , ang mga salaring berdugo ay mapayapang nakalisan.
Sa huling pagsulyap sa anak na dalita
Umaasang mahahandugan siya ng kaunting ginhawa
Kung sila man ay tumangis at masaksihang lumuluha
Hindi dahil sila ay nabigo sa pag-ibig o iniwanan ng sinta
Kung hindi dahil walang silang mailaman sa sikmurang kumakalam.



John Bertiz III has a problem not only of good -manners-and right conduct.  As a party-list representative, he must exemplify a character that, at the very least, demonstrate respect to the rank-and-file, those who survive on daily wages, and the  lowly.  Instead, he acted like one who belongs to the ruling class who humiliates a “servant,”  making the  latter feel that  he is  defying a  powerful man.

This incident happened at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA),  when he refused to follow the airport’s security protocol by taking  off his  shoes.    He went into tantrums, and he forcibly took the ID of the stationed personnel .

The video went viral in social media, that forced him to apologize. .

However, his apology  was unconvincing, He said, “ For the past three years that I’ve been a member of Congress, once a year na dapuan tayo ng monthly period.”  (once  a year I’ve got monthly period). Even in his supposed apology, his arrogance still surfaced. He justified  his rude act, by saying that he had a “monthly period,” sexist if not a misogynist pun by alluding to women’s monthly menstruation period. Simply put, he said has to be forgiven  because of  his bad temper had something to do with his “monthly period.”  It is a joke in bad taste, camouflaging his arrogance.

This is again a demeaning “palusot”  – excuse – that projects women as temperamental because of their menstrual period.   This monthly menstrual period    is God’s  biological  a gift to female human beings and thus  it  must not be used as an easy pretext  for a bad  behaviour.  Whether the supposedly lawmaker in the person of Bertiz is having a real hormonal change or not, it is still not a good excuse for such abusive act and language. Besides, recent study  by  Toronto University shows that  there is  no link between women’s negative  moods with that of pre-menstrual cycle,It is about his abuse of  power that  he thought is founded in the assumption that being a lawmaker entitles one to  exercise power over others, to be domineering and arrogant.


Recently, this same Congressman  made an intentional  bad politicking joke during the oath taking ceremony of the new engineers, saying,  “yung di nakakakilala kay Sec. Bong Go walang PRC license mamaya.” (Those who do not know Sec. Bong Go will not get their [Professional Regulation Commission] license later).

Bertiz  should not   use the excuse of his “monthly period  episode” for whatever political  mood excitement he had during that time, and anytime.

The macho-arrogant tendency of   lawmakers like   Bertiz  is molded in the wrong template of understanding that lawmaking is about power, arrogance, and a political capital  for abuse of power. Hormones and menstrual cycles  should not be an easy excuse  for moods and bad behavior.  Bertiz did  not only degrade women,  he   justifies rudeness by passing on the responsibility to others, and in the case of the “monthly period discourse,” he also abused women verbally. As he has not experience menstruating yet, his use of the menstruation even as a metaphor is never acceptable. Moreover, it is even questionable why on earth he became a representative of the OFWs.

Norma P. Dollaga

Kasimbayan Women’s Collective

(Kapatirang Simbahan Para sa Bayan)







On Arroyo’s : Give Duterte chance to solve country’s problems

On Arroyo ’s: Give Duterte chance to solve country’s problems

Of course, it is understandable for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to make such an advice. She was favored by Duterte, and was almost absolved from her accountability as former President known to be a “fake” one, and ended up her term in hospital arrest for the cases of corruption.   Under her presidency, she had an Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL)  that was responsible for the -extrajudicial killings of a  thousand of human rights activists, farmers, workers and professionals engaged in progressive advocacies and social justice struggles.


Enjoying her power as Speaker  of the House, she gives unsolicited advice saying: “Give Duterte chance to solve country’s problems.”


The President has all the chance to solve the country ’s problem.  He is the President and has all the power to be good President for the people especially for the poor that shared high hopes when the previous administrations (including Arroyo and Aquino) did a little for their upliftment.


We do not expect a perfect, saintly and flawless President. At the very least, he could have shown respect for human dignity and human rights, pursued the  Peace  Talks and implemented doable economic reforms.


His more than two years in office could have been a good signal whether he could do better or should we say if it’s possible to give him a chance.


For more than two years, the PNP admitted that there are  4,279  killed in anti-illegal drug operations, or an average of 6 a day, While human rights groups claim that there are more than 20,000 drug-related vigilante-style killings.   Whether more than 4000 or   20, 000 or one, the killings are unnecessary and have proven to be bloody and in effect, a mass murder of the poor, denying people access to courts and due process.   Duterte has all the chance to consider the poor as not mere numbers and statistics, cardboard or documents. He missed the point when he engaged in a unilateral war against the poor.  He has all the chance to scientifically study the roots of addiction and analyze the injustice and poverty that serve as breeding ground for the illicit drugs to proliferate.  But he was in a hurry to kill, ordering the policemen to direct the bullets against the poor, undermining the fact that the people’s taxes are not meant to sustain the murderous project of War on Drugs. He had a chance as a popular leader to take the path of compassion and justice, but he chose to take the murderous path without understanding the strategic effects of the murders to our nation. Imagine children made orphans and communities witnessing the killings and yet no justice has been delivered.


The popular president could have taken the path of peace to solve the roots of the armedconflict, but he scuttled the Peace Talks between the GRP and the National Democratic Front  (NDFP)  by his proclamation   Proclamation 360, declaring the termination of talks with the National Democratic Front. The Peace Talks,  arduous as it may be, is a covenant signed by both parties to address the roots of the armed conflict. This is where both parties can engage in  crafting   and implementing substantial agenda  on the issue of human rights ( Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws);  the socio-economic reforms (SER) ;   political and constitutional reforms; and   the ending  of hostilities and disposition of forces ( reference: The Hague Declaration identified the substantive agenda of the formal peace negotiations (Sept. 1, 1992 ).  The Peace Talks lightens the burden of the government, but he has chosen the way of war against his own people.  The militarization in the countrysides, the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, the rising tyranny manifest the weakening of the state.   A strong republic must have strong and healthy people, has a vibrant democracy and the sovereignty resides on the people and not on the reliance on super economic foreign powers that have no interest in the welfare of the nation but in the profit they could pocket for their private and corporate gains.


WE are not unaware that the  President of this land is surrendering our resources to  foreign powers ; that the TRAIN 1 and 2 are not meant to lighten the burdens of the poor but to  increase the wealth of the already rich, and that the tyrannical power he exercises   downplays the essence of  democracy that practically put him to power.

Madam Gloria Maca[agal Arroyo, The President has all the chance to serve the Filipin

o people and solve the country’s problems. But he parted ways with the hopes and aspirations of the people.


Norma P. Dollaga

Kapatirang Simabahan Para sa Bayan




Salamat Carleen sa Kaarawang Pagbati!

20180907_102148Ipinagpapasalamat ko na ginawan mo pa ako ng isang tula
Sa karangalang ito pakiramdam ko ako ay pinagpala
Sa iyong pagturing, bigla rin akong kinabahan
Baka isang araw ako ay magkamali at ikaw ay madismaya.

Wala tayong ibang maipagmamalaki kung anuman ang ating taglay
Batid natin ang naghuhubog sa atin ay ang masa at pakikibaka na bayan
May tula at tuwa, awiting ang himig ay ipagtanggol ang kalayaaan
Hanggang sa makamit ang panagko ng langit dito sa lupa.

Sa landas na ating parehong dinaraanan
Maaari mahigitan mo pa ang aking natutunan
Kaya isama mo rin ako sa lakbay ng aral-buhay
Ating pag-aralan ang kasaysayan buong sikhay
Pakikibaka ng masa ang siya sa atin ay gagabay.

Ang tula ng pakikibaka ating tanganan
Ito ay sulo na sa landas ay ating tanglaw
Salamat Carleen na aking kamukha
Handong mong sining at tula
Ay aking ikinararangal
At isasama sa gunita.##

Tula mula sa kay Carleen sa aking Kaarawan

Sa pinagsamang tamis at pait
Sa pinagsamang kagandahan at kagitingan
Sa pinagsamang tuwa at pighati
Sa pinagsamang piglas at alab
Nalikha ang isang katulad mo.

Walang makakapigil sa iyong angking sigla
Ang diwa mong punong-puno ng alab
Ay lumilikha ng marami pang anyo
Naghuhumiyaw ang aking puso
Sa pagpupugay sa bawat pakikibaka at pagkilos mo.

Hindi ka inaanod, hindi ka nagpapatangay
Ikaw ang kuryenteng nagbibigay ng enerhiya
Para magpatuloy ang marami pang kasama
Ikaw ang gumagawa ng pintig upang
Mas marami pa ang lumahok sa pagtibok.

Sa presensya at absensya
Hindi maitatanggi ang nalikha ng iyong lagablab
Hangin man ay umihip, buhusan man ng tubig
Hindi na manlalamig ang pakikibakang sinimulan at hindi tatapusin
Hanggat hindi pa humahantong sa malayang lipunan.

Sa iyong kaarawan
Ako ang hihiling
At hindi ko hihipan ang apoy sa kandila
Dahil nais kong pagsaluhan natin ang alab nito..

Habang binabaybay pa ang daan patungo sa malayang lipunan
Tulungan mo ako na palayain ang sariling ipu-ipo
Na bumibigkis pa sa aking pagkatao
Dalhin mo ako sa pagtibok, sa pag-alab at sa nagpupumiglas mong bisig
Hanggat makaya ko nadin ang lumikha ng daluyan.

Dito. Hindi padin natin hihipan ang apoy sa kandila
Bagkus tatanganan itong may sigla at ibabahagi sa iba pa.
Isama mo ako hanggang sa karwahe ng iyong pagkilos, paglaban at pagpupunyagi.
Ang kapanganakan mo ay manganganak pa.

Salamat Babaylang Lizette

163609_487771877939_3216276_nMarikit ang gabi sa pagsalubong ng takipsilim
May mga bituiwing nagniningning sa gitna ng dilim
At sa tawag ng mapayapang pagkakahimbing
Nawa ang makatarungan kapayapaang sa amin ay dumating
Ito ang aking marubdob na panalangin.
Binabaybay ko ang kagandahan ng iyong tula
Parang nangusap sa akin ang dakilang Bathala
Na kung mayroong natanggap na pagpapala
Ito ay mula sa biyaya ng pakikibaka ng masa.

Isang karangalan na ako ay maibilang
Sa mga itinuring na iyong kaibigan
Hindi ba ang hibla na sa atin ay nag-uugnay
Ay ang pakikibaka para sa katarungan ?

Kung may tula man na ating tinataludtod
O panahong at pagkakataong makapaglingkod
Kung may naisulat man sa tinta ng luha at pagpupuyos
Hindi ba dahil nais nating makakahulagpos
Sa sistemang mapaniil at sa masa ay nagpapalunos?

Salamat Babaylan sa iyong magandang tula
Ang handog na ito ay laging magpapa-alala
Isa akong mortal katulad ng maraming karaniwan
Na nagtitiwala sa masa na tinawag na pinagpala
Dahil sila ang may dakilang layuning tinatanaw
At sa kariktan ng gabi ay patuloy na tumatanglaw
Dumating man ang sandali ang langit na pumamglaw 
Ngunit ang kapangyarihang nakabatay sa katarungan
Kailan man di hindi magaganap ang maagaw,
Kaya sa kanila ang aking pagpaparangal
Sila ang sa tuwina ay itatanghal
Mga talang ang ningning ay di magagapi
Maging sa pagluluksa ng tahimik na gabi##

Tulang Handog ni Babaylang Lizette

Tatlong linggo na
akong walang maisulat
Nagugulumihanan sa mga
nababasa sa aklat
Pinagpipilian ang mga Frances
at Amerikanong feminista
Pero alin man sa kanila
ay tila kulang ang ideya

Itong mga nakalipas na araw
ay tinanong ko aking sarili
Paano ba magsulat ang Filipina
sa gitna ng pighati
Ngayong umaga lang
ay parang bumukas ang langit
May Diwata nga pala na sa akin
ay tunay na bukod tangi

Madalas ako noong mabighani
sa mga mito tungkol sa mga diyosa
Sumusulat ng tula sa Ingles
na parang banyaga
Pero may isang makata
na tinatawag naming Diwata
Na palaging pinaaalala
na tumingin ako sa lupa

Titigan ang kahirapan
ng mamamayang inaapi
Pakinggan ang panaghoy
ng mga inang mga anak ay nasawi
Tumulong sa nasalanta
ng hindi nagmamataas
Tugunan ng matinong sagot
ang kahangalan ng marahas

Hindi na ako nagugulumihanan,
nagsulat na ako kaninang umaga
Kasi naalala ko ang mga
sagutang tula namin ni Diwata
Kulang ang diskurso
ng mga banyaga ng feminista
Kaya dudugtungan ko ng praktika
at teorya ni Diwata

Maligayang Bati, Diwata.
Isa kang pagpapala.
Salamat sa regalo mo sa akin
Na pagmumulat sa tuwina.


Along with Nanay Lina and Concepcion; Ka Oryang (Gregoria de Jesus) in my Mind

gregoria de JesusThmothers-empeno-cadapan-626e search for missing loved ones is a painful journey. How one could embrace the thought that the only certain thing is the uncertainty remains to be a human inquiry. While hope could overcome doubts and fears, the heart knows it is best to see loves ones dead or alive, bruised or insane. It is not enough to say that it is but about closure, about the soulful search where is he or she, and the longing for human embrace we once knew when the presence of loved ones is the most cherished moment in every breath of a second.

Yesterday is one of the momentous event in the past 12 years in our collective search for Sherlyn and Karen.  Gen. Jovito Palparan is known BUTCHER  and loyal in implementing Oplan Bantay Laya ( a counter insurgency project of government)   of the  President (fake) Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.  He was implicated in the abduction of students.  Yesterday, Judge Alexander Tamayo of the Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 15 convicted  Army Maj, General Jovito Palparan for the kidnapping and illegal detention of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen.

Yes, we do not know them personally. One thing we know is that they are students trying to blend the meaning of academic research with that of what is going on with the most exploited ones on our society- the farmers. They were abducted. And never seen the trace where they are until this time.

The court decision is a victory of people’s collective action and the stubborn hope that knows not how to give up.  The mother said. “ Anak saan ka man naroroon, nakuha na natin ang histisya.” (Daughter, wherever you are, justice  is served.).

Today, we continue to   demand the surface of Sherlyn and Karen and all victims of enforced disappearances. The struggle continues…

This episode led me to remember  Ka Oryang or Gregoria de Jesus, a revolutionary, a Katipunera. She searched for her husband Andres Bonifacio. Her love for Andres is as strong as her love to country and independence.  She was also in search of her husband.

Ay, mga kapatid! For two weeks I searched in the mountains, and we rested only at night. As I did not see him and there was nobody who could tell us anything, we went after their detachment, and I asked them where to look, but even then I was told nothing. I only decided to leave when my uncle told me the truth. He had given them food before they left the place where they had stopped. So just think, brothers, whether or not there was any justice in the cruelty they committed against us.”  (

The humanity of every revolutionary is  both inspiring and admiring. In one of  Ka Oryang  notes she narrated poetically, only  a soulful mortal would know the depth:

Paalam sa iyo, masarap magmahal,

May-ari ng puso ko’t kabiyak na katawan;

Paalam, giliw ko, sa iyo’y paalam.

Masayang sa iyo’y aking isasangla

Ang sulam pamahid sa mata ng luha,

Kung kapusin palad, buhay mawala,

Bangkay man ako, haharap sa iyong kusa. ##





( source:



Joshua “Ima”Laxamana, 17 Never Reached His Possible Dream



Nanay Christina, weeps over Joshua’s coffin

One of his friends said that Joshua was adventurous.

He must have been.

He often dared to go to places he was not familiar with. Often, he would be the bravest among the fearless.

At 17, the world for him seemed to be harmless. In his adventure, he was “naïve” that this world is safe and secure. He was a good boy. He probably thought the world would be as good to him as he was to others. He was tiny young boy. Defense of the Ancients, or DotA for short, was his favorite online game.  He was the best amongst his friends. He often competed, and he often won. He was enrolled in an ALS, or Alternative Learning System and was looking forward to studying at STI to take up a computer course. He promised his mother that he would do good in his schooling at STI.  He was positive that he would be given a scholarship.

40486219_2170643933205168_6409034191471640576_nIn their impoverishment, he had the pride never to be indebted to others. He complained whenever his mother borrowed money from neighbors. For him, it was a shame to borrow, even if it was as low as P30.00.

He never had a motorcycle, nor did he ever learn how to drive one.

His struggling single mom focused on both bringing up her kids and her daily labor of selling food outside the hospital. She made sure that her children knew what honest living is. She was never idle from dawn to dusk because she needed to feed and raise her three children. Once, she was tempted to go abroad. But the thought of separating herself from her children was already a nightmare. It pained her that her own love was unable to save him. “Look what they did to him. After all my sacrifices, this is what they did to my son.  I wish I was the one killed rather than him. He is too young, and does not deserve this fate.”

On August 14, Joshua and his two friends  went to Baguio City from their homeplace in Tarlac. They traveled for a DoTA competiton. They were supposed to arrive home on the 15th, yet a tragic episode befell them.

The violation to life and the blood  war on drug may occur to anyone until the President


Friends could not believe it will happen to him

put an end to it.  His mother said. “ You now , I am not unfamiliar with the news about killings. Many times I would say. ‘I am sorry for their parents whose sons were killed.’ In fact I sympathize with them. I never thought, it would happen to my son. The pain is unbearable.”

Rise Up Statement accounts ,  “As per the third friend who arrived back in Tarlac City on August 16, 2018, the three thought they had secured a ride the whole way back to Tarlac City from Baguio; however, when they arrived in Sison, Pangasinan, the truck driver informed them that he changed his plans and could bring them no further. The three teens set out on foot. Joshua and Julius left their friend at the roadside of TPLEX where he wanted to sleep first before walking further. As he recounts, he had thought they were only joking that they would leave him resting and continue on their own; but, the two indeed never returned to where he slept. He was able to hitch a ride later in the morning and only discovered that his two friends had not arrived ahead of him, when he himself had arrived in Tarlac City.

As early as 4:19pm on August 17, 2018 the Facebook page of Philippine National Police PRO1 identified Joshua Laxamana—including his barangay and city—as deceased. The police wove an elaborate scenario, said to have begun at 3:10am, August 17, 2018, of Joshua as a motorcycle riding, checkpoint running, firearm wielding, Shabu-carrying “nanlaban” case. They also accused Joshua of being involved in four “akyat-bahay” burglaries in Pangasinan. However, they never contacted Joshua’s mother, who only learned of her son’s death and the location of his remains on the morning of August 21, 2018.”


A poster made by his friends

Joshua, in his bucket list, wanted to go to Manila. His mother said that the sad part is that  he was able to visit Manila only because he needed to be autopsied. His body passed by Taft Avenue, EDSA, Makati, and Balintawak. His corpse passed through all these places, yet was unable to see and smell Manila.

The sun did not show its usual cheerful brightness on the day of the burial. When it was almost dusk, friends and neighbors marched to the street, passed by the Iglesia Filipina Independiente for mass, then marched to the cemetery with candles lit. It was dark and rainy, and all were drenched with grief, loneliness, and longing for justice.

Julius is nowhere to be found.  He is still missing and we weep for him as well.

Part of growing up is having fun and adventure, having dreams and friends. Joshua had adventure, he had fun, he had dreams, and he had friends.

He was loved by his mother, adored by his friends. He was just a boy, who thought he could safely have fun and adventures.  The structures and system have corrupted his dreams and adventures.  No one should be punished and violated for their youthful dreams, adventure and fun. Especially when they were not offending anyone nor taking advantage of others. He was just a boy.

He was a DotA champion, but the evil ways of the authorities have killed him. Or, as they say in DotA parlance, they “pwned” his head and denied him further adventures in this life.

His mother has one wish: to get JUSTICE. She will not be alone.##

Poverty Is Not A Creation of God

If there is a God, then there is no poverty. If there is God, then nobody dies of hunger.  ….” Duterte said.

We do not have a problem with, and about God.

If you believe in God and because of that belief you find ways to fulfill the commandment to love your neighbor, that is a fulfillment of a religious commitment.
If you do not believe in God introduced according to the standards and deception of the colonizers, the exploiters, and oppressors, that is wise. If you do not believe in such a God, and yet you strive to love your neighbor as you see them as your brothers and sisters, that is noble.

If you believe in God who blesses you with super profits by exploiting the workers, and out of their sweat and blood you do not justly compensate them, that is a false religiosity.
If you do not believe in God who is defined by patriarchy, misogynist theologies, and feudal-elite systems, that is clever.
If you believe in God who sides with the poor and works for the emancipation and liberation of the oppressed, that makes sense.

Pres. Duterte must not blame God for poverty. Poverty is a creation of a
a human system that is founded in the violence of injustice, exploitation, and oppression. He should know that his economic policies are geared towards the further enrichment of the elite who are already scandalously flaunting their wealth. He should know that his economic policies are not helping the poor but rather makes poverty not only glaringly visible, and the poor continue to live miserably. He must know that the bureaucrat capitalists are so much addicted to power that they plunder the people and our natural resources with their corrupt and evil ways. That makes poverty, and God has nothing to do with it.

The problem with Duterte with his Tokhang Project also known as so-called  War on Drugs is that the targets are the poor who are victims of state neglect and state violence. They live in misery and poverty and out of the depth of their miseries, they become an easy target of killings. They who have nothing except their dreams for better lives become the favorite target of the war on drugs. The poor live in poverty. God is not to blame. They were killed by men in uniform, by men riding in tandem, by men in their bonnet and mask. They were killed with impunity. The complexities of our social ills and injustices are not to be oversimplified by blaming God.

Unfortunately, Duterte has not proven himself to be the champion of the poor and failed to make this government good enough for the people. God is not to blame.
Learn to do right. See that justice is done — help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows. (Isaiah 1:17) ##

of kian and unforgiving king

20180816_122238Today , Aug. 15, 2018 , is the first death anniversary of Kian. Kian Loyd delos Santos: a youth, a son, a grandson, a friend, a classmate, a human being created in God’s image. Murdered at 17.
According to his father Kian was already wearing his sleeping clothes, ready for bed, when he went out to close the store where he got daily school allowance. The CCTV footage shows that he was subjected to inhumane police brutally. Then they killed him in a most despicable manner. The testimonies of two witnesses bare the details of the chilling and horrifying conduct of the police officers. The gave Kian a handgun, told the boy to run, and then they shot him in cold-blood.
A year after, there is still no justice for Kian. Just like the thousands killed under Duterte’s War on Drugs, a.k.a Tokhang.
Today’s gospel reading is about debt cancellation. The Matthew 18:21-19:1 account tells about a king who cancels his servant’s debt, while same servant fails to do with another servant. Many among us have been taught that this parable is about forgiveness. Many among us have been taught that the king in the parable is God. Both are wrong.
The parable is about empire. About divide and conquer. About how the colonizer is always portrayed as benevolent. The king cancels a debt which was not really owed. Then and now, the powerful has records, books, documents, legislation, systems that show how much the powerless owe. And payment always requires more than what is owed. (from Reading the Parables of Jesus inside a Jeepney, 24ff. Revelation Velunta ).

Thus, the king is not a forgiving master. He does not correct the structures of debt that keep the poor deep in indebtedness. Lest we forget, the king is king because of the system that keeps the poor in debt.
That is why, I do not think that we could use the story of the king‘s “forgiveness” on the things that are going on around us. In the case of Kian, it is the “king’s debts to the poor” that cries for justice. It is putting things right. It is making those in power accountable.
Nanay Nanette, a mother of a slain son in the war on drugs which she often calls war on poor once said, “I have no problem if some people are able to forgive those who killed their loved ones. At least they have gone far beyond my capacity to forgive right now. My problem is, I do not know whom to forgive because those who killed my son were wearing masks, and second, no one is admitting the crime, and no one is asking for forgiveness.”

In a system where the President of the land does not seriously institute social justice but promotes a culture of killings and tyranny, asking the poor, the most vulnerable, and the victims to show forgiveness and mercy is the height of injustice!
In the parable, the “unforgiving servant” was not forgiven. He was subjected to the “rule of law” and thrown in jail. To be tortured! Duterte’s unforgivable War on Drugs resonate with the parable’s grim message. King Duterte demands payment and the payment is the blood of the poor. For Duterte , the poor is made “guilty” and thus must “pay” with their very lives.
Today is Kian’s death anniversary, and we will not forget his pleading cry, “Tama na po, may test pa po ako bukas.” (Stop please, I still have an exam tomorrow). He was still executed. ##

Aug 15,2018

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