The scents and sounds of Lent

“It is time to forgive and forget,” one of the phrases that sound familiar when the Lenten Season comes. “In behalf of my family, I wish to extend my sincere greetings on the occasion of the Holy Week. I hope that the occasion will give us time to, once more, reexamine ourselves and mend our ways to give meaning to the sacrifices of Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross for our sins,” another exemplified expression that one usually hears during the observance of the Holy Week.
Anyway, the expressions are paid advertisements that are heard or read on the radio and the newspapers. Most of them, are the nothing but political overtures of politicians who usually try to sell an immaculate image. Others described the Lenten greetings by politicians as a “façade” behind a colossal edifice of “lies” and “hypocrisy.”
It is also revolting to learn about politicians who, most of the times, try to capture the focus of the Roman Catholic faithfuls by being the center of attraction in churches during the reenactment of the Passion of Christ.
When it comes to politicians who have the gall of using the Church as a venue of heralding a veiled deceit, Cagayan De Oro City is not an exception, too. Some politicians have the callousness to even speak during Homilies – as if trying to tell the churchgoers of sparing them from the stigma of graft and corruption while in public office.
Once, an apparently disgusted boy asked his parents on the presence of the “politician” who once delivered a political homily during the Holy Week at the height of an election fever then. [By the way, the Philippines observed the Holy Week every month of April, a month prior to the scheduled mid-year elections in May.]
Undoubtedly, a boy who considerably expressed an inquisitive albeit innocent mind could have expressed such unsolicited observation, one could only heave a sigh of relief on the thoughts of the churchgoers at that time. After all, another churchgoer opined, that the politician must have paid a large sum of “sponsor money” to unabashedly talk in front of the devotees.
Talking about sponsorship, one simply wonders why the Roman Catholic Church allows politicians to sponsor activities that are naturally apolitical. Has the church become too political that its actions have now become an object of incredulity?
As Roman Catholics and pious Christians, we do not doubt our faith. However, as Catholics, we could not but be downgraded when a solemn occasion like the observance of the Holy Week or during a feast of thanksgiving like the Resurrection of Christ is marred by the presence of politicians who preach nothing but lies and distrust.
We believed, it is for the advantage of the Roman Catholic Church and the faithful to shun political sponsorship in all church activities. After all, the Catholics do not need politicians to elevate their faith and religious obligations. Let us consecrate a solemn and relevant observance of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ

A.W. Brown, a victim of false accusations

More often, investors become subject of a hate campaign by interest individuals who use the legitimate people’s organization to pursue personal whims. In some cases, the people’s organization also exploits the plaints of individuals or the group as a basis to legitimize an advocacy. On the surface, the demands appeared to be legitimate. However, when one goes down deeper into the issue, some disturbing concerns suddenly come to view.

For instance, the A. W. Brown, a company engaged in real estate and agribusiness endeavor, is not an exception. The Kalumbay, a legitimate tribal organization in Bukidnon, has accused the A.W. Brown of displacing thousands of farmers and indigenous people in the mountains of Opol, a municipal town west of Misamis Oriental.

Aside from displacing the indigenous people, the Kalumbay also accused the A.W. Brown, of allegedly violating the rights of the indigenous people who are opposed to the company’s agribusiness project.

The killing of a certain Gilbert Paborada during a drinking spree in Puntod, Macabalan in Cagayan De Oro City sometime last year was an issue against the A.W. Brown, too. The distance from Ting-Alan to the scene of the crime, where Paborada was reportedly stabbed dead, is more than 100 kilometers. With no suspect to identify, Joseph, the brother of Gilbert, point to A.W. Brown as the possible mastermind because the victim opposed the A. W. Brown’s operation in the area.

These serious accusations prompted human rights advocate from Congress to fly to Opol last Wednesday to conduct a probe and to hear the plea of the people who are directly and indirectly affected by the A.W. Brown agribusiness. The representatives, mostly partly list of the Gabriela, Bayan, Indigenous People, Anak Pawis and the 2nd District of Misamis Oriental.

By the way, the A.W. Brown is cultivating a 2,000 hectares agricultural land in about five rural farming villages in Opol since 2011. As of now, the company has planted palm oil trees to more than 600 hectares of land in the area. Company officials reported that A.W. Brown employs 174 workers (most of them indigenous people) in the area, particularly in the farming village of Ting-Alan, Opol. Every month, A. W. Brown releases P 1.2 million payrolls money for farm workers in the area.

Hundreds of residents and tribal groups represented by tribal Chieftains join the public hearing in Ting-Alan Wednesday. It turns out, however, that the issue was not about human rights abuses, displacement, and alleged land grabbing hurled against A.W. Brown. The issue was about the conflict of two people’s organizations who want to take control of about 200 hectares palm tree plantation reportedly owned by a former Congressman, on the border of Ting-Alan and Bagocboc.

The other issues by the indigenous groups and tribal chieftains were about boundary conflict between Opol and Iligan in the hinterland of Kauyonan. The tribal chieftains also voiced concern about the mining operators in the area (not the A.W. Brown) which has jeopardized the indigenous people’s “small scale mining activities.” The tribal groups blamed the environment officials for not giving the IPs the priority to exploit the mineral and natural resource in areas they considered as “ancestral lands.”

Perhaps, during the public hearing, the Kalumbay and the Congressmen learned that the A.W. Brown, being vulnerable and a stable agribusiness firm, is only used by some individuals or group in Bagocboc to pursue vested interests.

Let us get rid of corrupt public officials

Now, as the election fever rises, we could feel the effects on the performance of the incumbent administration even in the backyard of the local government.
Being the ruling political party, the incumbent Liberal Party supposedly enjoys an upper hand in terms of popularity, trust, and confidence in the national and local perspective.
However, with the issues that confront the administration, the political atmosphere around the ruling political party is now in odieux frustration. The notion of political exodus has now become the daily apprehension among political watchers, who share the thoughts over a cup of coffee.
The same can be said of the status of the local Liberal Party, particularly in Cagayan De Oro City and Misamis Oriental, where the political party is unpopular. Nobody could blame anyone if the Liberal Party could not muster the required support of the voters in Misamis Oriental and Cagayan De Oro City. After all, some of the incumbent elected public officials are nobody but “political opportunists.” Did anybody say that most of the local officials, who were elected after aligning with the Liberal Party, are simply “turncoats?”
Well, we do not enjoy the liberty to prejudge the integrity of the elected public officials. After all, the public often wonders how the officials have been elected into office. Obviously, the presumption of election fraud is the siblings of doubt.
First, the people have expressed the strong feelings that the 2010 elections were rigged. The issue simply cropped up after accusations that the favored candidate turned out to be incompetent. That winning the electoral battle was nothing but the delusion of parental popularity. Blame it to the voters!
In the local scene, the accusation of election fraud has been exacerbated when the elected public officials have been indicted with various graft cases. There is a popular observation that the public official has the audacity to commit corruption because of the assurance of protection by party mates. It is hard to subscribe to this idea, else we will have a government of robbers and con men. If it is true, then, the people are duty bound to condemn and put to an end the despicable evils that run the affairs of the government.
Now, as the election season is heating up, the voters should rethink the blunder of electing corrupt and calloused public officials. One should vote on the basis of integrity and track records rather than party affiliation. The electorates should also keep guard on elected public officials who thrived on lip service – this is prevalent in the local level.
Perhaps, it is also time to review and scrutinize the life style of the elected public official. While there are those who appeared to be serving the constituents under pretext of integrity, the skeletons in the closet have been smoke-screened in Johari window. There are politicians who have discreetly enriched themselves while in public office by amassing wealth and properties apart from public scrutiny. We would appreciate if the public would come to expose the “worms” of public officials who feign public service in the guise of honesty. -0-

Kudos to the graduates

Tomorrow, a Thursday, the streets along Corrales and Hayes in Cagayan De Oro City would be barren. The streets would be closed to traffic as combined military and police with bomb sniffing dogs patrol the areas. Security at the entrance of the Jesuit-run university would be rigid. Security personnel would search in detail any person entering the university compound. Anyone entering the university compound should pass a detailed security check.
No. There is no war in the heart of the city. Neither there is imminent threat nor a dangerous fugitive is on the loose. Tomorrow, the university will hold a “convocation ceremony” to signal the start of the three-day 2015 commencement exercises.
Fr. Roberto Yap, the President of the Jesuit-run Xavier University, announced that three important university guests, including the chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would receive an award.
Secretary Teresita Deles, head of the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (OPAPP) would be conferred an honorary doctorate degree in humanities (honoris causa). Miriam Coroner-Ferrer, the governments chief peace negotiator and Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF ‘s chief peace negotiator, would each receive the “Fr. William Masterson’s Award.”
Yap said that the security measure is part of the university’s commitment to make the occasion peaceful in order that parents, students, guests, and visitors would feel secure during the ceremony.
Since last month, the military and the police have been burning candles in preparing an elaborate security measure for the occasion. Actually, there is nothing special about the university’s commencement exercises. After all, the graduation rites are the usual activity in any university or college anywhere in the country as the school calendar year closes.
What makes the Xavier University’s graduation ceremony controversial this year was the decision of the Board of Trustees to award people involved in the “peace process” in Mindanao. Most residents, including the university alumni, have expressed apprehension over the “timing” of the award, at a time when 44 commandos of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were mowed, in what appeared to be a massacre in Mamapasano, Maguindanao last January 25, 2015.
There are fears that the university’s graduation rites would become subject of sabotage as emotions about the Mamapasano “massacre” remains high. Others also expressed the fear that Iqbal, the MILF top man, would tow along with him dozen of armed escorts apart from the armed security of the OPAPP officials.
The military and the police have allayed fears of sabotage or any untoward incident that would otherwise mar the university’s peaceful commencement exercises. The university officials also said that Iqbal has made an assurance that no armed escort would be around when he comes to the city on Thursday.
“We believed in Iqbal because we had several meetings with him in the past. We observed that Iqbal has never tagged an armed escort with him during those meetings,” Yap said during one of the many interviews with the local media.
Anyway, everybody hopes that the university’s commencement exercises would be peaceful and successful. To the new graduates, congratulations! To the parents, thank you for enduring the challenge in sending the sons and daughters to school – often amid frustrations of surmounting high tuition and nasty school officials.
By the way, we also wish to congratulate the Makahambus Eagles Club and the Makahambus Lodge for donating 20 hospital beds with mattresses to the JR Borja City Hospital, Wednesday morning. Kudos to Kuya Robert Dy, president, Makahambus Eagles Club and WM Jeremy Lim Lo Suy, president, Makahambus Lodge 315. May your tribe increase!

The Phil. gov’t is a hostage in Mindanao

The Moro provinces should abide by the Constitution of the Philippines. This premise should have been the basis of the government’s action toward the Moro problem in Mindanao.
Let us be clear. Any province in Mindanao, whether Christian or Moslem dominated, should abide by the Constitution of the Philippines. This principle is anchor on equality, justice, and fairness regardless of religion and creed.
The government should not allow itself to be a hostage of a minority group. After all, the minority group, actually, enjoys so much privileges and care from the government. We are talking of the predominantly Moslem provinces in Mindanao that government pampers at the expense of the majority of the island’s inhabitants.
There is no truth that the Moslems are discriminated in Mindanao. There is no truth that the Moslems in Mindanao are illiterates. On the contrary, the Moslems occupy some sensitive government positions in Mindanao. The Moslems have one of the best universities in the country that provides free education to the Moro people. The Moslems want autonomy and the government offered them the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The Moslems are free to move anywhere in Mindanao and elsewhere in the country,
While we believed in the aspiration of the Moslems in Mindanao, we also believed in the aspiration of the non-Moslem people of Mindanao. The government should adopt a balancing act in the treatment of its people. Unless, the government thinks that Mindanao is not part of the Philippine archipelago, then the government should not meddle in the affairs of Mindanao.
In other words, the government should not give preference to any group, sect, or organization in an effort to appease a domesticated rebellion that has its root cause on government neglect. Else, doing so is an admission that the government has neglected its responsibility toward its people.
The people in Mindanao have faith in the government’s capability to impose laws. One should be aware that the respect of an individual’s basic rights is enshrined in these laws known as the Philippines Constitution.
Apart from the Constitution, the government has penal laws that impose punishment to those who violate the laws and to those who trespass the basic rights of a person. Certainly, if the government would only impose the Constitution by heart, there would be nothing wrong in Moslim dominated areas in Mindanao.
When people respect the laws and the instrumentalities of the government, anarchy and chaos are far behind. It is when the people lost the confidence in the government, that chaos and armed conflict become inevitable.
Thus, the government should not resolve the problem in Moslem Mindanao on a piecemeal basis. One of the solutions to the Moslem conflict in Mindanao is for the government to dismantle all the armed groups in Moslem dominated areas and impose the law of the land relentlessly, Let us do away with the belief that arms are part of the tradition and culture of the Moslems. After all, the non-Moslems have also arms by tradition and history. However, the modern times have already discarded most of the traditional beliefs, including the despicable culture that arms elevate the status of the person in an otherwise peaceful community. -0-