BY THE MANILA TIMES ON NOVEMBER 30, 2017
Thursday, November 30, 2017
Feast of Saint Andrew, ApostleFather Edward Hopkins, LC
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.
Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe that you have called me to follow you more closely today. I trust that in this prayer, you will help me see the concrete implications of following your will. I love you and want to respond to all that you ask of me, today and always. Thank you for watching over me and guiding me home to heaven.
Petition: Make me a fisher of men, here and now, Lord!
1. As Jesus Walked By: One summer afternoon a priest just happened to be in the area and visited my home. Within three years, two of my brothers and I were following Christ on the road to the priesthood. Jesus didn’t just happen to walk by these two pairs of brothers! He had every intention of inviting those brothers to become “fishers of men.” How much happens in my life, prepared and intended by God, to help me follow him more closely? And all I see is an accident, a coincidence? Ask him when was the last time he just happened by.
2. At Once They Followed Him: Jesus never calls someone when it’s perfectly convenient, when that person has nothing better to do. No, he calls precisely when we are in the middle of living our life, doing what we do best, what we do most, “casting or mending our nets.” “What a losing formula!” we are tempted to conclude. Yet what is it he really wants of us when he calls? He wants a response -- a reply of love. Love is all about preference and priority. If I love him more than myself, I can follow him “at once.” If I prefer him over my own activities and life, I can follow him “immediately.” What is the response of love I am giving or want to give Jesus today in my life?
3. They Left Something Behind: “Pro-choice:” That’s what God is! He wants us to choose. But he is not indifferent about what we choose. Every choice implies the rejection of other options. We cannot follow someone somewhere without leaving something and someone else behind. Peter and Andrew left their nets behind. James and John left their boat and their father behind. This was possible only with Jesus before them. Yet we, too, often try to follow Christ without leaving things and others behind: the world, comforts, my preferences... We think that we can have it all. We can’t. We are in danger of “taming our faith,” bending to the demands of our passions and the world’s insistence. Love requires a choice, a choice for the real, complete Jesus. It asks me to reject everything in me that is not him. How wholehearted is my following of Christ?
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you have called me and continue to call me throughout this day. Help me to respond with love, a love that trumps all my other loves, likes and desires. I don’t want you to have to wait for me, Lord. Just show me what you want and give me the courage and generosity to give it to you, no matter the cost.
Resolution: I will give up something today that diminishes the attention that I give to my spouse, family or friends.
BY YEN MAKABENTA ON NOVEMBER 30, 2017
THIS direct quote from Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro reflects the essence and significance of her testimony yesterday at the House hearing on the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
THIS direct quote from Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro reflects the essence and significance of her testimony yesterday at the House hearing on the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
“Aghast,” says the Oxford dictionary, means “filled with horror or shock,” and has for synonyms, appalled, dismayed, thunderstruck, stunned.
What did CJ Sereno do that was so ghastly to the only other female justice of the high court?
The ghastliness concerned the questionable or irresponsible actions of the chief justice on two matters before the high court, and which moved De Castro to take exception to the actions of the chief magistrate.
Two ghastly actions by the CJ
First, CJ Sereno misrepresented an en banc resolution by the high court concerning the creation of a Regional Court Administrative Office (RCAO) in Region 7, and proceeded on her own to replace it with a Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) in the same region. In the process, she skirted the legislative authority of Congress and without consulting with the other members of the court.
She deceptively presented the JDO as the same as the RCAO, which the court had authorized by an en banc resolution.
In his impeachment complaint, lawyer Lorenzo Gadon charged that Sereno had falsified the SC resolution in order to bypass the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) in the administration of the regional office, so she could appoint officials to the unauthorized office.
Neither the JDO nor the RCAO exist today, as a result of Sereno’s erratic actions.
Second, CJ Sereno bypassed a recommendation by the member-in- charge, and unilaterally issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) concerning the party-list elections at the Commission on Elections, on which the Senior Citizens party had petitioned the high court in order to stop the proclamation of winners.
Justice de Castro was assigned to serve as the member-in-charge of the party-list case. She studied the case and duly came up with a recommendation that the court issue a TRO on the Comelec.
Without consulting with her, CJ Sereno decided to issue a TRO on her own and ignored De Castro’s recommendation. Sereno’s TRO turned out to be a blanket order to the elections body, and covered cases that were not involved in the petitions of the Seniors party.
In the irregular issuance of a TRO. The chief justice violated the SC’s internal rules and its principle of collegiality in its decisions.
Creating an office without authority
De Castro was invited to shed light on Sereno’s alleged unilateral issuance of Administrative Order (AO) 175-2012, which designates the head of the Judiciary Decentralized Office (JDO) in the seventh judicial region.
De Castro said that when Sereno issued the AO, it appears that she created a permanent office. “The chief justice cannot create an office because it is a legislative power,” she said.
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas supported her assertion, saying that “not even the Supreme Court can create an office.”
De Castro pointed out that the RCAO is not a permanent office. “Even if it was created by the court, it was a pilot project, it is an ad-hoc body. It has no permanency,” she said.
“So, it may not come with the exclusive legislative power vested upon us,” she added.
De Castro said the associate justices were not consulted by Sereno in the opening of the RCAO 7.
“We were taken aback because we were invited only to a launching of the RCAO 7 and we were not at all consulted to participate in this decision,” she said.
This prompted De Castro to look deeply into the matter; she found that the chief justice had issued AO 175-2012 designating the head for the JDO in the seventh judicial region. “This is not meant to implement the RCAO as approved by the court en banc unanimously,” she said.
De Castro likewise confirmed the allegation that Sereno issued the resolution in Administrative Memorandum No. 12-11-9-SC, on the opening of RCAO 7, without the en banc’s consensus.
She said the resolution was ratified without reflecting the “vehement objection” raised by the justices during the deliberations of the court en band.
To be truthful is to be just
The lady justice has a way with words, and she takes care to be precise and clear in what she says.
From first to last in her testimony, De Castro avoided casting aspersions on or criticisms of the CJ ‘s actions. She repeatedly declined to say that Sereno is to be faulted for having culpably violated the Constitution.
Nevertheless, the lady justice was telling in her remarks. She could also be memorable. She established the essence of her testimony with one memorable line: “To be truthful is to be just.”
Before the high court permitted Justice De Castro to appear at the House hearing, it was totally unexpected and unprecedented for a justice to submit to interpellation by legislators. It is uncommon in the light of the doctrine of separation of powers, and respect between government branches.
As things transpired, Justice De Castro showed why it was indubitably right for her to be called and for her to testify. She spoke with direct knowledge of the matters and issues being studied by the House committee. And she went there fully armed with documents and clear and vivid recollections of events that transpired in the high court.
It was like the “parting of the red sea” for the impeachment hearing, which was being killed by the repetitive questions of pro-Sereno legislators, who tried to derail and confuse the proceedings.
The clarity of De Castro ‘s testimony made such distractions irrelevant and insufferable. It seemed as though some House members were bidding to become the “Trillanes” of the chamber.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Indeed, Filipinos need to be reminded that “facts matter”. That’s because Filipinos were not raised at home nor trained in school to build factual bases for what they believe in. In most cases, Filipino kids are told what to think rather than taught how to think. It is challenging too considering that Philippine society is practically bereft of intellectually-stimulating material, whether these be books or insightful media.
Instead, what Filipinos are inundated with are mentally-deadening material. Today’s “activists” blame the “lies” they perceive the social media landscape to be infested with on sinister well-funded forces with political agendas. It’s a convenient and attractive notion, but one that distracts from the truth about Filipinos — that Filipino society is fertile ground for the spread of untruths and non-facts because Filipinos are predisposed to belief rather than critical thought.
If Filipinos habitually check and verify information first before they form conclusions that are based on mere assumptions and factoids they are told by their celebrity idols, then we wouldn’t have this problem of “fake news”. Even the very “activists” who screech about “fake news” are, themselves, victims of “fake news” because they themselves make assertions that are not backed by facts.
Take the venerable social media “influencer” Tonyo Cruz, for example. In just a couple of tweets, he makes himself a motherlode of unverified and downright false information…
Beware of an Australia-based couple in the payrolls of Bongbong Marcos and Rodrigo Duterte. They’re spreading misinformation to deodorize the Marcos dictatorship in an attempt to legitimize a Duterte dictatorship. KSP po yung mag-asawa. Tapang-tapangan pero may anonymous effect.
Cruz further tweets…
The couple are professional paid hacks. Sayang yung pera na binabayad sa kanila. Third- or fourth-tier lang sila sa DDS/BBM network. Alam na kasi ng iba na mercenaries, zero credibility at real opportunists sila.
Does Tonyo Cruz possess the facts to back these claims? I’d like to see them too as I am curious as to what he might use to substantiate these claims.
But the real question is this:
Are Tonyo Cruz’s followers just as curious to find out whether what he says are truly factual?
See, it only takes curiosity — a key feature of an inquisitive mind — to even begin to fathom the answer to this question. Perhaps the reason “thought leaders” such as Tonyo Cruz are able to spread lies with impunity is because he is followed by legions of Filipinos who cannot be bothered to apply a bit of curiosity when they see drivel like this and actually check if what they are told is actually true. Worse, perhaps the minds of Cruz’s followers are actually missing the curiosity chip altogether and, as such, regard curiosity and its cousin, critical thinking, as alien concepts!
A common trait of people like Cruz is that they block dissent — which means they lock themselves out of alternative views that could keep themselves grounded on reality. Indeed, Cruz shares this trait with his pal former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay who has made his fame on social media as a serial blocker of people who present him alternative points of view.
People like Tonyo Cruz and Florin Hilbay fail to embrace diversity in thinking and are intellectually dishonest. People like them are the reason the Philippines currently suffers from an infestation of false and misleading information — because the manner with which they encourage inbred thinking turns their followers into intellectually-stunted people by making them ill-equipped to deal with the vast diversity of opinion that characterises today’s technology-enabled free market of ideas.
In this regard, I believe “activists” are focusing on the wrong thing in their campaign to supposedly rid the world of “fake news”. They need to start by cleaning their own backyards and take to task their own cronies and amigas within their respective cliques. Do they and their friends encourage the sort of critcal thinking grounded on a courageous embrace of diversity in input into their thinking — even of views that they find confronting and truly of challenge to their own belief systems?
The solutions are obvious. The heaviest responsibility lies in society’s most influential elite cliques. It is starting to become evident that the “cancer” of “fake news” may, in fact, be orginating from these cliques.
Every so often, Rappler publishes an article that demands a rebuttal. Nothing less than a trashing would do lest people start believing that what the writer is saying is true. We all know Rappler promotes a lot of “liberal” ideas, which they think are “hip” and “cool” and they also think that everyone else should “get with the times”. The latest one they are trying to endorse isaccepting the notion that the use of recreational or illegal drugs is okay as long as you are not harming anyone. Well, that is a lot of bullshit.
The writer Cecilia Lero started off by proudly saying she is a “responsible person who makes positive contributions to my family, community, and country”. She followed up with “drug use in no way adversely affects my personal or professional lives.”
Unfortunately, Lero already contradicted herself in her introduction. If she was a responsible person, she would not have bragged about being an illegal drug user at all. I say irresponsible because a lot of impressionable young kids and likewise gullible adults could emulate her. They might see her and think, “oh she looks normal” and then assume that use of illegal drugs may not be as harmful as some people say it is. While she implied that she only uses marijuana and not synthetic drugs, she however, did not condemn harder illicit substances out there.
If her friends are not going to say it, I will. Lero’s use of recreational or illegal drugs says a lot about her character. One can be forgiven for saying it is weak. If she has a healthy outlook in life, why would she need to use drugs to feel good? She may look healthy and some would even say she’s kinda “cute”, but it seems her mind is struggling to cope with the realities of life. Otherwise, she wouldn’t feel the need to “space out” to forget her “problems”. Presumably that is why she uses marijuana. She did not specifically say she uses it for medicinal purposes anyway. She didn’t say she is using it because she is undergoing chemotherapy either. That would have been a different story. No, she uses it because it made her feel good, it seems.
In other words, Lero could be using drugs to address underlying mental health issues. She could be suffering from some form of depression and sees drugs as the answer to alleviate feelings of emptiness. If that is the case, she is not addressing the root causes of her problems. She’s actually adding more to it. Despite her degrees and accomplishments, which she also proudly displayed at the bottom of her article, it seems she still needs drugs to cope. Her training in prestigious institutions did not give her the right character to say no to drugs. Frankly, she’ll benefit more from psychiatric therapy than using drugs to chase her blues away. Or instead of using drugs, she could try taking up other hobbies like painting or learning to play a new instrument. After all, art is good for the soul.
Lero’s first claim to infamy was when she wore a sign on her chest that said “I am drug user. Papatayin mo ba ako? (Will you kill me?)” during a protest rally against President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war on the 21st of September 2017. Some people thought she was just being hypothetical. Apparently, her article confirmed she is indeed, a drug user. She wants to be the poster girl for drug users. By coming out, she hoped to break the stereotype and bust the popular thinking that drug addicts are all zombie-like creatures. She wants to include her own image – light skinned and with chubby cheeks – in people’s imagination when they think of drug addicts.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to judge Lero’s choice of poison. I’m actually here to remind her that marijuana and other recreational drugs are still illegal in the Philippines. Someone from law enforcement should pay her a visit and ask her to point to her drug dealer so they can arrest him or her. Until the lawmakers legalise the use of marijuana, Lero is still violating the law.
The problem with Lero’s justification in being a casual drug user is she assumes that everyone is constituted the same. She failed to realise that people’s physiological properties are not all the same. Different people react differently to the stuff we put in our system. Take coffee for instance. Some people can handle drinking coffee without suffering from insomnia, but some will have a hard time getting a wink after a cup in the afternoon. It’s the same with recreational drug use. There are people who start out as a casual drug user, but eventually become full blown addicts because their bodies are susceptible to addiction. Some start out with just marijuana and then when they get bored with the hit, they move up to harder drugs. I’ve always wondered why members of the Rolling Stones who are in their 70s are still alive despite their drug use while other rock stars overdose in their 20s. It’s the luck of the draw. DNA plays a role in it, which is why I think Lero was wrong in publishing a statement saying being a drug user is okay as long as you’re not harming anyone. Marijuana can actually affect the brain. Prolonged use can increase the risk of psychosis, which is harmful to the user and the people she comes in contact with.
Drug problems in many parts of the world have become an epidemic. Lero did not mention this because her agenda is different. She wanted to paint a very different picture of drug use. She wanted to remove the stigma. But what she did was very dangerous. A recent article from The Guardian described it as a devastating social problem:
Heroin and other opioid drug use is a devastating social problem, and in many places it’s getting worse. The number of heroin users in the US tripled to one million between 2003 and 2014, and heroin abuse is estimated to cost the US around $50bn a year. Deaths from overdose have tripled in the past 15 years, and injection of the drug has spread HIV and other diseases transmissible through blood. About eight in every 1,000 Britons are high-risk opioid users – the highest ratio in Europe.Describing drug abuse as an epidemic is already to imply that it is a kind of disease. And indeed that is how it is regarded by medical organisations such as the American Medical Association; the US National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse in New York calls it “a complex disease of the brain and body”. After all, like many other diseases it can be inherited: genetic factors seem to account for as much as half of the risk that an individual will develop drug addiction.
Lero did not mention how devastating drug addiction has become even in the Philippines because she wants to paint Duterte’s war on drugs as worse. As far as I know, it is not a state policy to include killing innocent children in the war on drugs. Over one million drug users and dealers have surrendered to police without getting harmed as a result of the campaign. If Duterte really has a state policy of killing them, why are they still alive? Why is Lero still alive if casual users like her are also targeted by the government’s war on drugs? She’s just not making any sense.
Duterte’s drug war is not perfect. In fact, there is a lot of room for improvement. I get the impression the Philippine National Police has already started overhauling some precincts. The Department of Justice also announced that it will prosecute the policemen involved in the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Reyes. Likewise, the entire Caloocan police force was already sacked and replaced following a string of crimes involving said cops. The image that people like Lero are trying to project – that the drug war is targeting the poor is false and misleading. Of course there are more poor people who are into drug dealing due to the allure of easy money for those who lack better opportunities. That is the simplest explanation why there are more people from the poor who are getting caught in the crossfire.
Lero herself admits that she is privileged, which is why she has other options in life unlike her poor counterparts. Which also begs the question, why does she even have to take drugs in the first place? The answer is all in her head.
At the core of the crisis gripping mainstream media and mainstream “thought leadership” in the Philippines is the way ordinary Filipinos remain trapped in social hierarchy. Rather than encourage debate that focuses on the merit of the ideas and arguments tabled, Filipinos lazily defer to rank, credential, and seniority. This is no thanks, of course, to the people Filipinos look up to — educated people, celebrities, political and economic leaders, teachers, etc. Rather an encourageeveryone to engage and participate in discourse, they drive a wedge between themselves and “all the rest” of them.
A level playing field where merit is what determines the ascendancy and longevity of an idea is counterintuitive to many Filipinos — because there is lazy comfort in the hierarchy that continues to define an individual’s place in society. There are, we have been raised to believe, certain “important” people who we are obliged to listen to regardless of the substance in what they have to say. People like priests, European-looking people, “elders”, organisational honchos, and rich people, among others, enjoy an entitlement to monopoly over “free speech”. This is the reason why, despite online trolls being nothing new, having existed since the dawn of the Internet (and even earlier), we are told that we face a suddenly-virulent troll infestation that is “weaponising” the Internet. And the idea seems right because self-proclaimed “thought leader” and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa says so.
What we really are in the midst of today is the mainstream and Establishment undergoing a rude awakening to the reality that Filipinos are increasingly turning to alternative sources of information and points of view and challenging tradition. People like Ressa would like to dismiss these alternatives as inconsequential nuisances — they are the “trolls”, “anonymous” Netizens, and mere riffraffs who dare go against those who, society dictates, are anointed as “enlightened” by their private school-issued masters degrees and PhD’s, their extensive reading lists of scholarly books and journals, and their cozy relationships with the corporate publishers of their intellectual work.
There is, however, a stark difference between the members of the Establishment and the rapidly-growing community of “nuisance” content producers nipping at their heels. People like Ressa and traditional “published authors” owe their influence to institutions and organisations that employ them, endorse their credentials, and sponsor mass distribution of their work. In the olden days when the means of mass communication was capital-intensive and virtually inaccessible to the vast majority of people, this class of people rested on their laurels, assured that their lofty positions at the top of the media food chain was secure.
Unfortunately for them, the Internet, and then social media, happened. In social media, everyone has a shot at acquiring a mass audience that could rival traditional media. And unlike the Maria Ressas and the Richard Heydarians of this world, social media-savvy Netizens relied on their own cleverness to lift themselves up by the bootstraps to Internet fame and build their own respective brands from scratch. The notion that backing by an institutional body or a corporate sponsor isessential to being entitled to the eyeballs of a mass audience had become a dinosaur.
In the same way that an environmental shift hundreds of millions of years ago turned the dinosaurs’ size into a liability and the obscure swiftness and agility of small furry creatures into assets, social media is reshaping the media landscape to favour little numerous players running below the line of sight of big lumbering corporate beasts hobbled by an insatiable appetite for capital. The Earth’s fossil record shows what kind of intelligence emerges from such a shift in an ecosystem, so today’s dinosaurs in the media should pay heed. Those that fail to evolve when the climate changes are doomed to extinction.
BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO ON NOVEMBER 29, 2017
Sison, a womanizer
Secrets’ secrets range from the personal to the political. For instance, the book claims that despite the rigors of running a revolution, Sison had the time to womanize, go on dates to nightclubs, and bear an illegitimate daughter.
Plaza Miranda bombing
The most earth-shaking secret in this book involves the bombing of the Liberal Party rally at Plaza Miranda on August 21, 1971, the most crucial man-made event that formed the contours of our history since it happened.
Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Jesus said to his disciples: "Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
Introductory Prayer: Jesus my Savior, thank you for another day and another chance to grow in holiness with your grace. I love you and wish to make you the true center of my thoughts, desires and actions.
Petition: Lord, help me face the difficulties of practicing my faith day-to-day.
1. Persecution: Opposition from the world is the price we pay for following Christ. No pain, no gain. Why should that surprise us? If living the Gospel were easy, all the world would be saints. But the Gospel is demanding. It rubs against our fallen human nature. It demands of us — and even makes us unpopular. Why? Because people who do good are a thorny reminder to those who don't. It shouldn't surprise us that the neighbors look down on us for having so many kids. Or that the guys in the dorm snicker at us for living chastely. Or that the boss overlooks us for a promotion because we wouldn't donate to that pro-abortion group last Christmas during the company fund drive. Do I realize that to be a Christian is to be persecuted?
2. No Defense: When Christ tells us not to prepare our defense he's not telling us to sit back and do nothing. Rather, he wants us to use our talents for the Kingdom. Christ is inviting us to trust that ultimately the victory of good over evil belongs to him. God has his time and place for everything. In the meantime we are called to build the Kingdom wherever we can—in our families, our offices, our schools, our communities. How am I building the Kingdom in the areas around me?
3. Wisdom from Above: "I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking…" When we stay close to Christ in prayer and deed, he takes over our lives little by little. And that's good. Our selfishness fades. Our heart grows. We die to ourselves. "He must increase; I must decrease" (John 3:30). But we have to ask ourselves: Do we really believe in the Gospel? Do we believe in it enough to use Christ's words when we have to respond to the nonbelievers around us? How often do we identify ourselves as Catholic in public?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know it's not easy to be seen as your friend. People laugh at us — if they don't feel sorry for us. They don't understand where we are coming from. Help me understand some of the loneliness you must have felt when you went against the world's standards. Help me be faithful to you regardless of the cost.
Resolution: In conversation or in an e-mail I will use a line of Christ’s wisdom from the Gospel.