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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

November 20, 2018 – Jesus Is My Guest

Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Father John Doyle, LC

Luke 19:1-10
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So, he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So, he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” 
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the Alpha and the Omega. You have given me life and offer me eternal life with you. You deserve my honor, gratitude and love, and yet you never impose yourself upon me. Thank you for respecting my freedom so that I can offer myself to you. All that I have is yours; I return it to you.
Petition: Lord, increase my faith.
  1. Zacchaeus up a Tree: Yesterday and today’s Gospel passages speak eloquently of the need to encounter Christ at all costs. The blind man we read about yesterday would not stop shouting until he was brought to the Lord. Today a short and very unpopular man named Zacchaeus runs back and forth among the crowd until finally, in his determination to encounter Christ, he breaks all protocol and scrambles up a tree. Jesus wastes no time in entering decisively this tax collector’s life and transforming it. This resembles our own encounter with Christ. At times different obstacles stand in our way and prevent us from seeing Our Lord and his action in our lives. Above all we lack determination. How easy it is to craft excuses: “I am just too short,” “Maybe Jesus is too busy,” “I am just a sinner.” If we really want Our Lord to stay at our house, he will, but there may be trees that we need to climb first.
  1. Welcoming Jesus: Few people ever welcomed Jesus with the joy and exuberance as did this little man. He came down from the tree, gave half of his wealth to the poor, and promised to restore any fraudulent transactions four times over. Zacchaeus has truly been like that merchant in search of fine pearls (see Matthew 13:45-46). He is willing to sell all he has to buy the pearl of great price: friendship and intimacy with the Lord. How many times has Jesus looked up at us and asked us to remain with him? How many times have we had the immense grace of receiving the King of kings into our hearts in the Blessed Eucharist? Do we offer merely a corner of our hearts for him or do we reserve the presidential suite? How pure do we maintain our souls for our Guest?
  1. Of Sinners and Saints: What makes someone a saint and someone else a sinner? Certainly, it is not the grumbling of the jealous crowd who are unwilling to climb up the tree to see Jesus yet are quick to criticize anyone who does. In fact, everyone is a sinner. St. Paul writes, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:15). Yet St. Paul, Zacchaeus, you and I all go from being sinners to saints when we encounter Christ and are faithful to his friendship. Salvation came to Zacchaeus’ house when Jesus entered it, and salvation comes to us through the graces received at baptism, renewed in the Sacrament of Penance, and nurtured in the Eucharist.
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, help me to be willing to do whatever it takes to grow in a deeper friendship with you. Don’t allow me to worry about the murmurings of the crowd, but only to listen to your voice and respond to it with generosity.
Resolution: I will make a point to go to confession at the next possible opportunity asking Jesus to forgive me my sins and to help me to turn from being a sinner into being a saint. I will make it a real encounter with Jesus.

Thieves of public health funds! New York University alumna slams Hontiveros, Garin over PhilHealth fund anomalies

by Gabrielle Romualdez on July 05, 2018 in Opinion
Risa Hontiveros photo from Canadian Inquirer; Janette Garin photo from Twitter
Krizette Laureta Chu, a well-known writer, socio-political commentator and ardent supporter of the Duterte administration, recently published a Facebook post which both criticized and slammed two notable affiliates of the previous Aquino administration, Senator Risa Hontiveros and former DOH Secretary Janette Garin.

Chu's wariness is anchored on the alleged sabotaging of public health (PhilHealth) funds by the above-mentioned officials.

Photo from Philstar
According to Chu, both Hontiveros and Garin whom she alleged to have benefitted a lot from the funds of PhilHealth, had received considerable amount charged from the PhilHealth funds. This, as Chu put it, led to the bankruptcy of the health insurance company which deprived many Filipinos of their right to quality and free public health services and benefits.

Photo from Philrepublicnews

Sino ang nasa Philhealth circa 2015, di ba Ikaw Senator Risa Hontiveros? Anong alam mo dito, babae ka?

Sino ang nasa DOH circa 2015, di ba ikaw, Janette Garin?

Kelan ang usapang DENGVAXIA purchase? Di ba around this time?

At bakit si JANETTE GARIN ang highest paid secretary nung time ni Noynoy? She received 2.2 million a year, plus another 400k for being a chairperson of PHILHEALTH?

Anong meron sa kanya?

Ang hilig nyo tumingin sa conflict of interest, Hontiveros, unahin ninyo ito. Chairman ng PHILHEALTH tapos trinansfer lang din nya sa DOH yung funds nya sa PHILHealth, ngayon magkaka leche leche ang PHILHEATH.

There is no greater crime than stealing from PUBLIC HEALTH FUNDS! Ilang tao ang hindi mabibigyan ng tulong kasi binankrupt nyo ang PHILHEALTH.

No wonder pinapa resign lagi si Duterte. Daming ka lechehan nila ang malalaman.

Mga P***** IN* TALAGA. Ito yung mga kalidad ng mga babae ninyo." 

Here are some reactions from netizens on Krizette Chu's post:


Dear avid readers, what do you think of this article? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.


Interview with Malcolm Conlan, The British Blogger with a Filipino Heart!

Duterte foreign policy doctrine? Diversification, delimitation and détente


FOR almost a century now, our country has been in an enmeshed relationship with the United States. We have depended on their support, adopted their views of the world; their enemies became our own enemies. As Claro M. Recto put it in his speech “Our Mendicant Foreign Policy” in the 1950s, “Like a small dog, we go tagging along behind Uncle Sam wherever he goes in Asia.” In the process, we’ve failed to develop our own identity as a geopolitical actor.
A strong geopolitical identity is rooted in a deep understanding of one’s own diplomatic history, values and aspirations. We can’t strongly position ourselves in our own strategic context if we don’t have a strong sense of our self as a nation.
Time to reflect on who we are:
1. Who are we geopolitically without the Americans interpreting us as a critical part of their defensive perimeter in the Pacific?

2. How would the world look to us if we’re going to look at it with our own history, values and aspirations?
Through his shocking antics meant to take Americans to task for their past atrocities in our country, President Rodrigo Duterte is asserting our independence from our former colonial master. When Duterte raised a middle finger at Uncle Sam, he was raising our flag. By doing this, he is demonstrating to other nations that we are no longer America’s “little brown brother,” but a nation with equal sovereignty, the master of our own domestic affairs. And that just like any sovereign nation, we’ll chart our own destiny rooted in our understanding of our own history, guided by our own values, and shaped by our own political struggle.
Duterte’s approach is surely that of a demagogue; but there are times demagogues, are needed for a breakthrough. To unshackle ourselves from the comfortable chains of Uncle Sam, we must be shocked out of it. The “disente” approach of the intellectual elite of our country won’t cut those chains.
As heterodox economist Murray Rothbard in his essay “In Defense of Demagogues,” wrote, “we will never be free until the intellectuals — the natural molders of public opinions — have been converted to the side of freedom. In the short run, however, the only route to liberty is by an appeal to the masses over the heads of the State and its intellectual bodyguard. And this appeal can be made most effectively by the demagogue — the rough, unpolished man of the people, who can present the truth in simple, effective, yes emotional, language.”
Two interrelated elements accompany Duterte’s delimitation of America’s influence in our country: policy of diversification and policy of détente. The diversification element is about broadening our diplomatic relations. It’s best exemplified by forging relations with Russia. Meanwhile, the policy of détente is about easing our tensions with China.
Détente with China is an absolutely necessary step to resolve our disputes with them. Resolving inter-state disputes always involves reconciling the interests of the contending parties. We’ll not be able to fully pursue our interests in the South China Sea and reconcile them with their interests if we aren’t going to have amicable relations with them.
And we’ll only have a clearer understanding of our own interests and what we must do to reconcile them with our rivals in our own strategic context, if we’re going to finally stop sitting on the shoulders of Uncle Sam and start standing on our own feet, seeing the world from where we are, charting our own destiny.
Our challenge: continuing this foreign policy line. Duterte writing down his foreign policy doctrine would greatly help ensure it.
This doctrine should have a coherent explanation, supported by principles in international relations, with compelling historical analogies taken from our own history and from a country of comparable geopolitical position as the Philippines. This will not just be valuable now but also to his would-be successor. If he can’t do it himself, he can gather international relations scholars, diplomats and strategic thinkers who are on the same page as him.
Think about the Bush Doctrine, the foreign policy principles of George W. Bush Jr. that was published on Sept. 17, 2002, after 9/11. I may not agree with it but it was a very powerful statement that every commentator on US foreign policy always references in interpreting any action the US has taken since Bush. One can’t afford to talk about US foreign policy decisions after 9/11 without using the Bush Doctrine as an interpretive lens. Even Obama wasn’t able to diverge fully from it.
The Duterte Doctrine, just like the Bush Doctrine, will provide an analysis of the geopolitical environment. An analysis of the current and future shape of geopolitics as we see it in our own eyes as Filipinos, through the frame of our own history.
Right now, we rely on our views on geopolitics based on how the Americans see it: China as a threat to their global position. As Recto put it in the 1950s, we’re “parroting the slogans and mimicking the gestures of American policy.” Consequently, our foreign policy actions are largely shaped by Uncle Sam’s geopolitical ambitions. Thus, our geopolitical existence has been about supporting their goal to constrain the revival of China’s centuries-old traditional role in our region.
Time to end our dangerous entanglement with Uncle Sam’s agenda.
E-mail: sass@forthemotherland.net

Website: www.forthemotherland.net


Sleeping politicians


NEXT to doctors and nurses, one of the most sleep-deprived persons are probably those who are in politics, even as politics is also a leading cause of sleep deprivation. A 2018 study reported by the New York Post revealed that one in seven American adults, which translates to about 34 million people, lose sleep over the hyper-partisanship that pervades American politics. This figure exceeds those who are sleep-deprived due to insomnia.

While there is no comparable study on the Philippines, it is logical to infer that a similar situation is probable. Anecdotal stories abound of Filipinos who populate cyberspace, extending their hours until past bedtime to read and react to disturbing political posts. Many lose sleep when their preferred politicians are bashed, and lose some more when they are the ones that get bashed.
More than ordinary netizens, it is also the politicians who are often prone to sleep-deprivation, from the time of their political campaigns, to the marathon sessions they have to attend which go past midnight to approve major pieces of legislation. The nature of their work is an endless procession of meetings, parties and face-to-face interactions with their constituents, that many of them have to spend their sleeping hours in transit to their next destinations.
According to the joint statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society released in 2015, it is recommended that adults should get at least seven hours of sleep to maintain their optimal healthy condition. Well-known politicians have defied this and have taken pride in their ability to keep going like that bunny running on Eveready battery even with very little sleep. Political figures like Bill Clinton, Condoleeza Rice, the late Winston Churchill and current US President Donald Trump are said to only have from four to five hours of sleep. Others have learned to adapt and change their sleeping habits. Angela Merkel, according to reports, can sleep like a camel. Former president Fidel Ramos is reported to take several short naps in a day.
Actually, there are work-related risks in sleep-deprived politicians. Psychological researches reveal that sleep deprivation can render individuals rigid and less flexible to adapt to changing plans, and tend to have a diminished ability to handle surprises and the unexpected. Sleep deprivation is also found to have negative effects on motivation.
But it was also found that sleep deprivation, when projected to political decision-making, doesn’t have to be entirely bad when the context is in groups, such as in negotiations, or during late night sessions of deliberative bodies such as Congress. Frings, et. al., in a 2008 study, described a process which they called “group monitoring” where group members who are aware of the sleep deprivation of their colleagues make the necessary compensation. However, the drawback of this process is when the collective is not building a consensus, but is instead negotiating from adversarial positions, where the alert party can take advantage of their sleep-deprived counterparts. It is here that the popular adage of “natutulog sa pansitan” can find empirical grounding, when political leaders and representatives miss out on salient points of a law, or an agreement, and thereby fail to represent the interests of their constituencies. To associate the pejorative with sleep implies that even in the vernacular, sleep deprivation is seen to have damaging effects on political representation.
A recent 2016 study conducted in the US revealed that sleep-deprived individuals tend to rely more on the advice of others in making decisions when compared to well-rested ones. However, the study revealed that intense sleep deprivation can also lead to the person losing the ability to discern good quality advice, and ends up taking mediocre advice. The implications of this study, when projected on the behavior of politicians, can have dangerous consequences.
Airline pilots, and air traffic controllers, and others whose jobs require alertness, are now ordered by law to follow a well-defined sleeping regimen. More and more, doctors and medical professionals are now being urged to strictly follow well-paced sleeping habits.
As to whether it is now time to also regulate sleep among political decision-makers is a valid question. Certainly, considering that sleep deprivation may impair not only the ability to make rational decisions, but also the efficacy and efficiency of political representation, avoiding situations where political leaders are forced to work beyond their normal sleeping hours may now be an ideal work standard.
However, there is an argument that is grounded on what is labeled as survival bias, where there are politicians who are adept in surviving, defeating and even adapting to sleep deprivation. These kinds of politicians who are likely to maintain their performance and functionality despite sleep deprivation are seen as the ones who are more likely to survive in the world of politics, as compared to those who could not function well without adequate sleep, and would continue to depend on their allies, subordinates and advisers to compensate for their inability to keep up with the demands of their jobs.
The Filipino electorate has long been unforgiving of politicians who appear to be sleeping on their jobs, even if the sleep is simply figurative. “Noynoying” was coined in derision to criticize Noynoy Aquino’s much-talked-about late nights playing video games. Franklin Drilon is pilloried because of his catnaps at the Senate. “Natutulog sa pansitan” is an accusation that can make a politician lose a re-election bid.
And when President Duterte took several power naps, and failed to attend six meetings during the recent Asean summit in Singapore, the political opposition and critics of the President lost no time in making it an issue. His defenders are diverting the issue by calling it petty, and focusing not on what the President missed because he slept, but on what he has accomplished despite it.
Perhaps, the question that needs to be asked is not whether the President slept, but the very nature of that sleep. If it is to prevent the President from being sleep-deprived to enable him to rest so that he can perform his duties in an alert capacity, then the only thing that can be criticized is his timing, and to recognize that there is some diplomatic fall-out.
But when the President later on justified his absence in the breakfast meeting hosted by Australia as a matter of preference and choice — that he doesn’t eat breakfast and he doesn’t like buffet food — then the issue gets muddled. In doing so, it now appears it is no longer a power nap needed to rest a tired body, but a choice to avoid attending a meeting.
The presidency is undoubtedly a 24/7 job. A sleeping president is still president nonetheless. It is when catnapping and missing out on important meetings become a habit, or a convenient ruse, that we should be concerned.


Duterte sacks 3 dswd execs


PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has fired three left-leaning undersecretaries at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the agency said on Monday.
In a statement, the DSWD said Undersecretary for Protective Programs Mae Fe Templa and Undersecretary for Promotive Programs Maria Lourdes Turalde-Jarabe stepped down from their posts on November 14 following “orders from Malacañang.”


Hope Hervilla, undersecretary for the department’s disaster response management group, resigned on the same day, the DSWD said.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, in a message to reporters, said Rolando Bautista, the former Philippine Army chief appointed as the new head of DSWD, requested the personnel changes.
“We expect the new secretary to bring his own team to provide better services to the public,” he said.

Medialdea denied that the exit of the three DSWD officials had something to do with their political inclinations.

It was for the “formation of a good team,” he said.
Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova of the Office of the Secretary assured the public that the delivery of DSWD services would continue.
Bautista replaced Judy Taguiwalo, a left-leaning former University of the Philippines professor, whose nomination was rejected by the Commission on Appointments last year.
Last week, Duterte said he would sack a government official upon his return from the Association of South East Asian Nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summits in Singapore and Papua New Guinea, respectively.
Just last month, Duterte sacked Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod, a former Anakpawis party-list representative and a political detainee during the Marcos regime.
National Anti-Poverty Commission Chairman Liza Maza, a former Gabriela party-list representative, resigned in August this year after the President terminated peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Former Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon was kicked out by Duterte from the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor in December last year for allegedly excessive travels.

Duterte has fired a number of government officials since June 2016 because of excessive foreign trips, as well as corruption.
The list includes former Department of Interior and Local Government chief Ismael Sueno; National Irrigation Administration chief Peter Lavina; Social Security System commissioner Jose Gabriel “Pompee” Lavina; Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Marcial Quirico Amaro 3rd and Commission on Higher Education chief Patricia Licuanan.

Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say and Tourism chief Wanda Tulfo-Teo also resigned amid corruption allegations.
In August, Malacañang announced Duterte’s firing of Brig. Gene. Edwin Torrelavega, the chief of V. Luna Hospital and Col. Antonio Punzalan, the head of the logistics office of the military hospital, for allegedly undertaking anomalous purchases of equipment and engaging in fraudulent transactions worth P1,491,570.
Duterte dismissed at the same time the comptroller of the Philippine Military Academy, Hector Marana, for alleged malversation of P15 million worth of allowances of cadets.

November 19, 2018 – Seeing with Faith

Monday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

Father John Doyle, LC

Luke 18:35-43
Now as Jesus approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!” Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, please let me see.” Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.” He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the Alpha and the Omega. You have given me life and offer me eternal life with you. You deserve my honor, gratitude and love, and yet you never impose yourself upon me. Thank you for respecting my freedom so that I can offer myself to you. All that I have is yours; I return it to you.
Petition: Lord, grant me greater faith in your constant and continual presence in my life.
  1. Begging by the Roadside: How many times in life have we felt like this blind beggar sitting by the roadside, down-and-out and hard on luck – physically, spiritually or emotionally? Witnessing our distress, some people simply walked by without a care. Maybe they tossed us a coin, though they didn’t really help us out of our discouragement or difficulty. Others might have jeered at us or not dared to look at us. Some may even have scolded us, like the people in the Gospel telling the beggar “to be silent.” Just as the blind beggar of today’s Gospel could not give himself what he most desired – sight, we are unable to give ourselves what we most need – faith. Do I regularly ask for an increase of faith? Am I aware of how much I need a strong faith?
  1. Jesus Is Passing By: The book of Job tells us that “human beings have a hard service on earth” (Job 7:1). It shouldn’t be surprising, then, when in our lives as Christians we take some real blows and even some falls. God doesn’t want us to become discouraged. He wants us to see these as opportunities to turn to him, the source of the strength and help we need. Other voices will tell us to be quiet and not bother the Master: “After all, you just need to work things out”, “With so much going on, how can you find time to pray?” Jesus constantly passes by. He is the only one who can bring me the peace my heart desires and longs for. “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”
  1. Lord, Please Let Me See: Jesus promises us that he will listen to our request, just as he did to the blind man. But what should our request be? To have a more comfortable stool so as to sit by the road and beg with ease? To have a beautiful silver cup to collect coins in? Or to see? Often what we really need is not what we ask for in prayer. We need the vision that only the supernatural virtue of faith can give. We need the ability to see everything from God’s vantage point and to see how the difficulties and trials we experience are part of a bigger picture. We need to have the firm assurance of the final victory of the Lamb, Jesus, and the strength to persevere in fidelity. Lord, please let me see…. Please increase my faith.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, allow me to praise and glorify you for your constant companionship and for never leaving me alone in my struggles and trials. Increase my faith so that I will be able to experience your love even amidst difficulty and trials.
Resolution: I will pray three “Our Fathers” for an increase of faith among my family members.