We are us, we are we
And you are part of me
MANILA, Feb. 21, 2017— Anti-death penalty advocates aren’t giving up easily if the controversial measure gets passed into law.
Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the CBCP Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, on Monday said the Supreme Court will surely be their next battle ground.
“We will go to the Supreme Court. We will exhaust all these legal means available because we believe that it is unconstitutional. It is cruel. It is inhumane,” said Diamante during the Tapatan media forum at Aristocrat Restaurant in Manila.
Along with other prison rights groups, he said, studies are now being conducted in order to build a strong case against the capital punishment.
He said they are considering at least two options on how to challenge the death penalty before SC— either through a death-row convict or through lawmakers who ratified the country’s international treaty obligation against it.
According to him, filing through lawmakers may be more practical since they can easily invoke the violation of the country’s commitment to the United Nations’ International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
“The argument could be since the country has already signed the treaty, a senator can easily claim that he/she is affected since he/she was among those that ratified it. Therefore, they can file a case before the SC,” explained Diamante.
On the other hand, anti-death penalty advocates can also wait for the “test case” involving a death row convict.
“So that the case won’t be dismissed, there has to be a victim. In that sense, we can do it when a person convicted and penalized with death penalty files a case to the SC and say that it is unconstitutional,” Diamante said.
Aside from the High Court, he revealed that another plan is bringing the issue to the international community since the Philippines signed the ICCPR.
“We are seeking the opinion of the international community. The Philippines cannot simply withdraw unilaterally. It has repercussions. And the international community is very active in making pronouncements,” he added. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)
image : google search images
There have been many interpretations on the scriptural reading from Mt.22:34-40 . Scholars defined, more or less the how and what of the passage. However, there is always a fresh view everytime the Word of God is proclaimed. There is always something to munch. And as always? Full. Lacking in nothing.
Love of God.
Mt. 22:37, tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, will and strength. Easier said, often forgotten. Oh no! Not that we forget God. It’s not about loving or not loving God. It’s more of the in-between. We so love God, that we really don’t mind at all. We always fall into the trap of “I love God.” and we continue to exist in the greater scheme of things. Basking in our own world of loving God.
How do we really know we love God?
I came across a picture from one of Google’s web search images, it says “My ♥ belongs to Jesus.” I downloaded it. Over the days past, thoughts on the passage would once in a while rushed through me. Immediately, the idea that one’s heart belongs to Jesus is analogous to religious men and women. Everytime this thought knocks my door, I just picked up from where I left.
Last friday my view changed. It came like a sharp edged sword, penetrating the whole of my being. “My ♥ belongs to Jesus” as i once thought of is not analogous to religious men and women. While I was still integrating what the experience means to me, a simple thought stand out. Whether one is a priest, nun, married person, single, widow, complicated in status our heart belongs to Jesus. There is a kind of deep felt understand of knowing that one’s heart belongs to Jesus. It can be likened to the universal call to holiness, so hearing these words, i began to wonder how there might be a still more perfect way to love God in ordinary way.
There are more other ways of interpreting the passage, mine is as simple as this. What’s yours? We need to remember that the call to love God is as old as creation. Our ordinary experiences of God’s presence in our life have their own value whether we appreciate or recognize it or not. Yet, it belongs to you.
You don’t have to be someone you are not just to be able to say “My ♥ belongs to Jesus.” St. Augustine puts it rightly, “my heart is restless until it rests in you.” Only then can we truly love. It is only when our heart has found its true home can we welcome strangers and selflessly serve them, seeing in them the face of Christ.
” My ♥ belongs to Jesus” is the basic tenet of our life.
image: google image search
5 Cs in voting
Over the past decade, the Catholic bishops have made three calls to voters: to form circles of discernment, to engage in principled partisan politics, and to exercise their right and duty to vote for candidates who work for the common good.
Forming circles of discernment, in basic ecclesial communities or any other grouping, is one way to ensure that the individual can listen to other perspectives and arrive at a more balanced and collective decision regarding pressing issues and choice of candidates.
Engaging in principled partisan politics means that Christian voters should first clarify their own principles in the light of Gospel values. Then they can enter the process of discernment and form their choices of individuals as well as of political parties.
What then is the common good? The social teaching of the Church describes it as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” (Vatican II, GS 26). Indeed, this constitutes the first of five principles enunciated by the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (No. 351) for the participation of Catholics in political life:
“a) that the basic standard for participation be the pursuit of the common good;
“b) that participation be characterized by a defense and promotion of justice;
“c) that participation be inspired and guided by the spirit of service;
“d) that it be imbued with a love of preference for the poor; and
“e) that empowering people be arrived at both as a process and as a goal of political activity.”
Candidates for public office need to be evaluated according to some objective criteria since their decisions and actions, if elected, can have far-reaching effects for or against the common good of the community. Indeed, Pope Francis himself has pointed out that “politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good.” (italics added)
How then can we discern if a national or local candidate can and will work for the common good? Within their circle of discernment, voters can adopt an evaluation process based on five Cs that can give us a more balanced understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.
The first C is conscience. Is the candidate a person of moral integrity? Is he or she God-fearing and maka-Dios? Does he have a moral compass? Does she follow the dictates of her conscience that tell her what is morally right and morally wrong? Does he respect human rights and the dignity of every person, including crime suspects, indigenous people, and rebel groups? Is she transparent and accountable in public transactions? Are there charges of corruption against the candidate? Of vote-buying and other election crimes?
Integrity comes from the root word meaning “whole,” whereas corruption denotes cor-rumpere or a fragmented heart. Pope Francis has observed that “corruption is a sinful hardening of the heart that replaces God with the illusions that money is a form of power.”
The second C is competence. What is the candidate’s educational background? How is his health situation (physical, mental, etc.)? What is her record of service—both in the government or in private life? Does the candidate have enough years of experience for the office being sought?
In the same way that we ride a plane with the assurance that the pilot is adequately trained and experienced, so also we have to scrutinize the competence of those who offer to pilot the ship of state or our local community.
Competence or capability should not be based on popularity alone, or on name recall. We do not go to medical doctors simply because of their names or titles. We make sure that they have the needed credentials for their profession. How much more do we need to scrutinize candidates who purport to heal not only individuals but also the social ills of society?
The third C is compassion. Does the candidate show an option for the poor and marginalized? Is he makatao? Is she willing to work for social justice to address the social problems of mass poverty and inequality—e.g., by pushing for asset reforms? Does he protect the rights of minority communities—particularly indigenous people, Muslims, and other marginalized sectors? Does she work for the empowerment of the poor, instead of just giving doles? Finally, is the candidate seen as elitist or prorich and propowerful?
The fourth C is companionship. Who are the candidate’s supporters and advisers? Are they persons of integrity with a sound reputation? Does the candidate belong to a political party? What is its platform for governance? Are these simply promises or a concrete program of government?
Does the candidate belong to a political dynasty, or is he or she beholden to traditional politicians (trapo)? Research findings have pointed out a disturbing correlation between the presence of political dynasties and poverty incidence, violence and corruption. The Philippine Constitution has also indicated the need to control political dynasties.
The fifth C in evaluating candidates is commitment. Does the candidate manifest sincerity, decisiveness, and political will in his or her leadership style? Questions of loyalty to country in terms of citizenship and residency requirements have to be addressed. Where was the candidate during the martial law years and what was his or her stand then and now? Is she makabayan? What is his stand on key issues today, such as protection of the environment, peace-building, and antipoverty programs?
These are the five Cs—conscience, competence, compassion, companionship, and commitment—that can give us a more realistic profile of each candidate. The candidate can be rated for each C along a scale from “very poor” to “very good.” On their part, each candidate will likely highlight only his or her strong points in some of the five Cs. Yet, for voters, it is imperative to weigh all the five Cs in a candidate’s profile to arrive at a more balanced view of who to elect into office.
For the PPCRV (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting), this is the meaning of One Good Vote—by the individual and for ever-widening circles of discernment.
Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, is the archbishop of Cagayan de Oro.
For Freedom or Fear?
Election campaign has started weeks ago. Posters, leaflets, brochures, banners, tarpaulins, tv commercial and radio ad, newsprint ads and all kinds of campaign materials and strategies are up. Of course, the event organizers from different parties have lined-up their political assemblies in the different localities to present and explain their platforms and promises. Undeniably, the following months prior to the election day are the most rigorous moments for them as this will (help) determine their chances of winning for the most coveted seat(s) in the country.
Statistically, the surveys have shown the fluctuating rates of each candidate especially in the presidential bid. Though, one must note, that, if the election was done on the date the survey was conducted, we have a new president. On the other hand, what is alarming is the “fluctuating rate” which signifies the erratic decision of the voters, which make us think: what are the underlying motivations of the voters? What made the voter change his/her mind from one candidate to another in a 1 or 2 weeks’ time? What drives the voter to vote? Is the choosing of candidates based from freedom or fear? How many of us are truly free or are living in the shadow of fear during this period?
Our country’s political lifestyle has its own culture. The upper class may not agree but it’s definitely real down there in the grassroots. Vote-buying have many faces, it’s not only limited to monetary issues. Vote-buying can also be vote-bullying where people are being threatened. It can also be “utang na loob” as the value has been given or rendered. Vote-buying can also be likened to the “padreno” system or a biased electorate from the family’s political dynasty image. Or worst of all, vote-buying can be a one-law-rule in the family, or when people tend to forget the past and just live in the present, sadly, it can be vote-buying too. The inability to stand for what change demands is another form. There can be more to this as this is not a taboo.
Faced with such challenges, how do we keep the worth of May 9? How do we hand the value of suffrage to the generation that will come after us? 80 days from now we will be either in one of the public schools or malls proudly claiming our right for suffrage. Nevertheless, these days may also be our chance to look within us and assert our right to freedom. A freedom stained not by any corrupt culture we are in, rather, a freedom that mirrors to our leaders on how they should govern a country, whose electorate has voted them in utmost freedom, not tainted with fear.
Even as the world, or the Philippines has entered into the 21st century, our suffrage remains inviolate and indispensable, a mark of a genuine election day. There can be no real transformation in our government unless we begin from within. Unless our suffrage is freed from the culture we are in, we live in shadows. Keep in mind others have risked their lives to keep your vote safe.
(www.aktualno24 — googleimages)