Monday, March 24, 2008

Prayers for Cory Aquino

The Black and White Movement joins the Aquino family in fervent prayers for the healing and speedy recovery of former President Corazon C. Aquino.

To us she is and will always be an exemplar of the unshakable resolve that faith brings, an imperturbable icon of democracy, of an undefeatable confidence in the Filipino. We trust that the good Lord will heed the prayers of a whole nation and grant her divine healing, according to His perfect will.

We pray, too, for the Aquino family, especially her children, that in this most difficult hour God might give them comfort and peace – the kind of peace that transcends all understanding.
We entreat every Filipino, wherever they may be, to be united in prayers for our beloved Cory Aquino.

The Long View - The interdiction of a witness

By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:01:00 03/24/2008

MANILA, Philippines - When Ricardo Cardinal Vidal was recently taken to task for showing partiality to the President, his critics were taken to task in turn. The whole thing has taken a regrettable emotional toll on the Cardinal and his defenders.

Due deference is owed the good Cardinal as the spiritual father of the Cebuanos. But whether president, prince of the church, or pauper, in matters that involve the public good, a democratic citizenry must put the lowest premium on respecting hierarchy. Respect the office, yes; respect the principles the office ought to represent most of all.

What must be paramount is for our spiritual shepherds to realize how they have been co-opted by political wolves.

The present administration handles the hierarchy in the same manner it handles congressmen. For this reason, anyone who objects to calling prelates “congressmen in cassocks” should lodge a complaint, not with those who say it, but with the Palace that made the comparison possible.

No other administration ever contemplated or needed a Religious Affairs Office; no other president needed a Dodi Limcaoco, a Nena Valdes, or those with a roving commission like Medy Poblador or Mike Defensor, to name just a few, to coordinate with the hierarchy the way the PLLO coordinates with congressmen. No previous president needed to dispense state funds to Catholic dioceses and charities by handing out envelopes or placing ads on Radio Veritas or involving the PCSO and other agencies in such a politically systematic fashion through the bishops.

Our prelates know their moral theology; they know how to receive patronage without sinning. In these poisonous times, these are acts, though, that serve to place the Church in disrepute.

When Cardinal Vidal met the President in Wack Wack Golf Course and discussed jobs, when he allowed Cerge Remonde to address his gathered clergy in a retreat, when he forbade the clergy from signing petitions, and when he and other prelates met officials in Malacañang, everyone needs to understand that from the point of view of the prelates concerned, what they did was licit.

But the hierarchy needs to understand how the public can view it as an illicit effort, at the very least, on the part of government, for such illicit behavior benefits the government politically. A political act of generosity always has a price, and it is a fine line that separates the naïve from the saints. If you will deal with the devil, you had better have the strength of an archangel. And this is why the generosity of the President, and her politically-shrewd operators, serves to divide and confuses the public, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

It also sends the wrong signal to overzealous subordinates.

When Cardinal Vidal was criticized for supposedly issuing instructions to the clergy to deny the Mass to Jun Lozada, the Cardinal denied ever issuing such instructions. I believe him.

Undoubtedly no memorandum was ever signed—but then again no one ever said the instructions had been given in written form. He didn’t need to issue any instructions, because his past actions are as unambiguous as any human act can be. For when he allowed Remonde to address the assembled priests of the archdiocese, approved the handing out of a government-prepared primer on NBN-ZTE, forbade petitions and interceded for schoolteachers with the President, the clergy knew right there and then on which side their archbishop stood—and assumed they’d be expected to act accordingly.

No need for instructions, no need for prohibitions; once Cardinal Vidal showed partiality his priests took the cue: and as subordinates tend to do, probably with greater zeal than the Cardinal ever imagined. It wouldn’t surprise me if perhaps a priest or two, to salve his own conscience, maligned his Cardinal by whispering to angry nuns that they would not say Mass because the Cardinal said so—when he only implied and was never explicit about denying anyone the Mass. This is how our culture works: the boss winks, and everyone beneath him does the nudging.

Whether implied or explicit, the consequences of the Cardinal’s behavior were grave. For the display of archiepiscopal partiality essentially placed an Interdict (“a sentence barring a person, or esp. a place, from ecclesiastical functions and privilege”) on Lozada, a sanction of the Church almost at the level of an Excommunication.

And here lies the question at the heart of the criticisms against Cardinal Vidal: not even Marcos faced such ecclesiastical sanctions.

For this reason, it is fair to appeal to the Cardinal to confront the questions that have been raised, and not by means of an appeal to his authority. If no one can question the desire of the clergy to uphold the Mass as a sacrament, what needs to be questioned is whether there’s Christian justice in denying the Mass to anyone, knowing that denial represents the highest and most fearsome sanction in the power of the episcopacy. What is his discernment? Does he remain neutral? If not, why not?

Let the shepherd speak. Politicians allied with the President are not the Cebuano people. The clergy of Cebu is not the Catholic Church in Cebu. There were Cebuanos who wanted to hear Jun Lozada for themselves, to judge him, for good or ill. That some of Lozada’s supporters treated a heckler violently and discourteously is what should have provoked holy anger from the Cebuano clergy, united with their Cardinal-archbishop.

Cardinal Vidal knows full well that the CBCP has already declared NBN-ZTE, and everything else, to be a national concern. The people of Cebu deserve more than an insistence on the feudal belief that presidential sins of omission and commission are acceptable so long as patronage for the province keeps rolling in.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Truth Caravan: Jun Lozada Visits Iloilo & Bacolod

Today's Philippine Star has deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez saying that Jun Lozada's Truth Caravan to Iloilo and Bacolod was a "flop". Golez claimed that the "Iloilo City tour of Lozada was the only one highlighted in the media and not the Bacolod City rally because of the poor attendance" and "more or less 300 people attended the Bacolod leg of Lozada’s tour". We must note that Anthony Golez was never spotted by those of us that traveled with Jun Lozada in either city, nor did he attend any of the forums conducted.

For the record, Jun Lozada met and spoke to over 1500 students and teachers from various Iloilo schools on the morning of March 14th. The schools represented were the University of San Agustin, UP Iloilo, and De Paul College. Not a shabby attendance record, considering it was exam week.

After a simple lunch at De Paul with school officials and religious, and a bumpy ferry ride to Bacolod, Jun was warmly welcomed by La Salle Bacolod. While there, he engaged at least 1300 faculty members and students from both La Salle and St. Scholastica. Some of the students were accompanied by their parents.

After that, Jun had a forum with 500 students at La Consolacion College, and just a stone's throw away, attended a special mass that was celebrated by Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra together with 15 priests at the San Sebastian Cathedral as the sun set. The cathedral was full to the rafters, parishioners overflowed into the courtyard. Observers conservatively estimated the crowd at over 2000.

Jun Lozada was accompanied on this first stop of the Truth Caravan outside Metro Manila by Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Sr. Estrella Castelone, his close in Senate security, both ABS-CBN and GMA7 news crews, and members of the Black & White Movement. We would like to thank everyone that made this Truth Caravan leg a success.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Message from Jun Lozada

This is a letter from ZTE-NBN Deal star witness, Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada. It is reprinted here as originally sent to me via email. Bloggers are free to copy and re-print in their blogs with attribution, please.

I wish to thank all the participants for their prayers and support.

I am a witness and a victim of this Gov't attempts to stop the truth about corruption from reaching the people. They first tried to silence me forever last Feb. 5 and when they failed to kill me physically they are now trying to kill my name to stop the truth from being told.

The gov't is again doing what they have done on previous scandals and anomalies, bury it! bury it with more lies!

Until now they have not allowed the members of the PNP and PSG who took me from the airport last Feb.5 to come out and testify to answer the following questions:

1. Who ordered them to abduct me from the airport last feb 5?
2. If I was truly a VIP, why were they not identifying themselves when I was asking them who they were?
3. Why did they bring me to SLEX towards Cavite, then to Laguna when I was telling them to bring me home to Pasig?
4. Why was Gen. Razon, lying to the public that I and my sister has written a request for security when we did not? why did he change his story three times?
5. why did Usec. Gaite gave me P500,000 pesos and the palace to have three diff. stories to explain.
6. Why did Usec Gaite gave me a lawyer without my consent who wanted me to sign a false affidavit?

These are the questions the gov't do not want to be answered because it will lead straight to the people who doesn't want the truth about the NBN ZTE deal be known by the people, these are the people who wants to keep the Filipinos in the Dark because it there that they reign, it is there that they can continue to steal from the people their money and rob from the people including their hopes for themselves and their children's children.

I ask all of you, to please not allow this gov't to bury this abduction case with more lies and to let them get away with it once more. Because you will also let the truth about the NBN ZTE deal get away again, similar to how the truths about Hello garci, Joc Joc Bolante, Macapagal Highway, Marilyn Esperat, Northrail and a lot more have gotten away from you.

Thank you for giving me your time and attention.

Jun Lozada

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Government Should Serve the Truth

We are former senior government officials who have served the government in the administrations of Presidents Marcos, Aquino, Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo. Today we see how the institutions of government are being manipulated, weakened, and corrupted. We are committed to help rebuild and strengthen the government institutions in which we worked to serve the public good rather than personal and partisan interests.

Our people can only trust a government that governs with truth. We grant government so much power over our lives, resources and shared future because it governs with truth. When there are serious doubts about government’s adherence to truth in matters of vital public interest, no real peace or substantive unity is possible until such doubts are resolved. We cannot move on without the truth.

We are now in the midst of great disturbance because we doubt the truth behind the NBN-ZTE deal. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had belatedly cancelled the contract because of reported “anomalies”. Hence, most Filipinos reasonably conclude that corruption tainted this deal. For several months now at the hearings of the Senate investigation, we have all seen disturbing glimpses of the truth about alleged corruption that attended the NBN-ZTE deal. We are outraged by what we have seen thus far.

The President said recently: “Ang taumbayan galit sa katiwalian. Ganoon din ako, galit din ako sa katiwalian.” We affirm the first sentence. We ask that the second sentence be demonstrated in action. Having belatedly cancelled the contract to show her supposed anger with reported corruption in this deal, the President must now follow through with actions to determine the actual “anomalies” and establish responsibility for these. Otherwise, canceling the contract could be interpreted as an effort to cover up corruption rather than to pin it down and root it out.
Government should serve the truth and the President should act immediately and decisively to enable the truth to emerge.

The most credible forum thus far to establish the truth behind the NBN-ZTE controversy is the Senate investigation that has persevered in seeking facts and witnesses. The Senate is a functioning democratic institution that can help the people recognize the truth about this divisive matter. We thus call on the President to cooperate fully with the Senate and stop denigrating it so that its investigation can be completed as soon as possible. In particular, we ask the President to lead in showing government’s commitment to the truth by taking the following actions which can reasonably be done within one week:

• First, order acting Chair Romulo Neri to resume his testimony before the Senate investigation without any restrictions or limitations;

• Second, order the release and delivery to the Senate of all public records pertaining to the NBN-ZTE deal, starting with the minutes of the NEDA Board meetings on the project;

• Third, suspend DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza and Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso, as the DOTC was the lead agency for this project;

• Fourth, suspend DENR Secretary Lito Atienza, PNP Director General Avelino Razon, Deputy Executive Secretary Manuel Gaite, Deputy NAIA Chief Angel Atutubo, Senior Supt. Paul Mascarinas and all those involved in the attempt to prevent Senate witness Jun Lozada from testifying; and

• Fifth, order a halt on any further attempts by such agencies as the DOJ, DENR, NBI and BIR to harass Senate witness Jun Lozada and those who are testifying in behalf of the truth.

The Filipino people can make democratic institutions work to fight corruption by even the most powerful people in our midst. We can do this based on the power of reason and the power of the people’s communal action. We deserve a government that governs with truth.

The President must demonstrate her commitment to the truth through these actions within one week as more and more of our people make their judgment. She must do these or be condemned as complicit with, and in fact, as being at the center of, the lies surrounding the NBN-ZTE deal.
The President must do these or the people will make their judgment and act on the basis of their conviction.

Signed by:

1. Florencio Abad (Former Secretary, Department of Education)
2. Tomas Africa, (Former Administrator, National Statistics Office)
3. Roberto Ansaldo (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture)
4. Senen Bacani (Former Secretary, Department of Agriculture)
5. Angelito Banayo (Former Secretary, Political Affairs)
6. Romeo Bernardo (Former Undersecretary, Department of Finance)
7. Emilia Boncodin (Former Secretary, Department of Budget and Management)
8. Gerardo Bulatao (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform)
9. Clifford Burkley (Former Undersecretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development)
10. Sostenes Campillo, Jr. (Former Undersecretary, Department of Tourism)
11. Isagani Cruz (Former Undersecretary, Department of Education)
12. Jose Cuisia, Jr. (Former Governor, Central Bank of the Philippines)
13. Col. Guillermo Cunanan (Ret.) (Former General Manager, Manila International Airport)
14. Karina Constantino-David (Former Chair, Civil Service Commission)
15. Teresita Quintos Deles (Former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process)
16. Edgardo Del Fonso (Former Head, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management)
17. Benjamin Diokno (Former Secretary, Department of Budget and Management)
18. Quintin Doromal, Sr. (Former Commissioner, Presidential Commission on Good Governance)
19. Franklin Drilon (Former Executive Secretary)
20. Narcisa Escaler (Former Ambassador to the United Nations)
21. Evangeline Escobillo (Former Commissioner, Insurance Commission)
22. Jesus Estanislao (Former Secretary, Department of Finance)
23. Victoria Garchitorena (Former Head, Presidential Management Staff)
24. Jose Luis Gascon (Former Undersecretary, Department of Education)
25. Marietta Goco (Former Chair, Presidential Commission to Fight Poverty)
26. Jose Antonio Gonzalez (Former Secretary, Department of Tourism)
27. Milwida Guevara (Former Undersecretary, Department of Finance)
28. Cielito Habito (Former Director-General, National Economic Development Authority)
29. Edilberto de Jesus Jr. (Former Secretary, Department of Education)
30. Lina Laigo (Former Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development)
31. Ernest Leung (Former Secretary, Department of Finance)
32. Josefina Lichauco (Former Secretary, Department of Transportation and Communications)
33. Narzalina Lim (Former Secretary, Department of Tourism)
34. Juan Miguel Luz (Former Undersecretary, Department of Education)
35. Jose Molano Jr. (Former Executive Director, Commission on Filipinos Overseas)
36. Vitaliano Nañagas (Former Chair, Development Bank of the Philippines)
37. Conrado Navarro (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform)
38. Imelda Nicolas (Former Lead Convenor, National Anti-Poverty Commission)
39. Vicente Paterno (Former Minister, Ministry of Trade and Industry)
40. Pete Prado (Former Secretary, Department of Transportation and Communications)
41. Cesar Purisima (Former Secretary, Department of Finance)
42. Victor Ramos (Former Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources)
43. Amina Rasul (Former Presidential Advisor on Youth Affairs and Concurrent Chair, National Youth Commission)
44. Rodolfo Reyes (Former Press Secretary)
45. Walfrido Reyes (Former Undersecretary, Department of Tourism)
46. Alberto Romualdez Jr. (Former Secretary, Department of Health)
47. Albert del Rosario (Former Ambassador to the United States of America)
48. Francisco del Rosario (Former Chair, Development Bank of the Philippines)
49. Ramon del Rosario (Former Secretary, Department of Finance)
50. Melito Salazar (Former Member of the Monetary Board, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas)
51. Antonio Salvador (Former Undersecretary, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process)
52. Leticia Ramos-Shahani (Former Undersecretary, Department of Foreign Affairs)
53. Cesar Sarino (Former Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government)
54. Juan Santos (Former Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry)
55. Corazon Juliano-Soliman (Former Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development)
56. Hector Soliman (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform)
57. Mario Taguiwalo (Former Undersecretary, Department of Health)
58. Jaime Galvez Tan (Former Secretary, Department of Health)
59. Ricardo Tan (Former Head, Philippine Deposit Insurance Commission)
60. Wigberto Tañada (Former Commissioner, Bureau of Customs)
61. V. Bruce Tolentino (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture)
62. Veronica Villavicencio (Former Lead Convenor, National Anti-Poverty Commission)
63. Deogracias Vistan (Former President, Land Bank of the Philippines)