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January 12, 2019 – Where Less is More

Saturday after the Epiphany John 3:22-30 Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them ...

Sunday, March 24, 2019

MWSS Gisang-gisa sa hearing sa Kamara

Rape exists because of rapists


THIS is that moment when my position on an issue leads me to agree with a political personality I do not particularly support.

I have no love lost for Leni Robredo, and I sometimes find it hard to make sense of her incoherence, or her sophomoric take on issues. Recently, she even had the audacity to push for electoral reforms, particularly on the use of social media during election campaigns. This, coming on the heels of her own election that is tainted by allegations, many of which are supported by evidence, of irregularities and fraud. Worse, she is advocating for state regulation of social media, perhaps forgetting that she is fighting for the freedom of speech of Rappler and Maria Ressa.

However, when Robredo was quoted to have said that rape exists because of rapists, and was being attacked for it, I had to take her side. After all, this one goes beyond partisan politics. I am doing it not for her, but for all women who have been raped or have been sexually assaulted.

The derisive posts attacking Robredo made fun of the statement she made. The main contention is that it appeared silly. But of course, her critics say, rape exists because of rapists.

But this has to be said, and it makes a lot of sense. It is actually to counteract the dominant narrative that makes it appear that rape survivors could also share the blame, and that women, and some men, somehow acted in ways that caused the rape to happen. In a world where women are expected to behave in prudish and restrained ways, rape survivors are often painted as women who transgress moral conventions.

It is therefore not uncommon for people to comment on the looseness of the morals of a woman who is gang-raped by men with whom she had a drinking session, the way the 16-year-old girl from Tondo is now imaged. Reading the comments made by people on the news article featuring the unfortunate incident is a painful experience of how the girl, already gang-raped by six men, is raped once again with unkind accusations of being a woman of loose morals.

It is as if any woman in her right mind will ask to be raped. But in our patriarchal world where misogyny silently creeps into the subconscious, women who are survivors of rape or of sexual assault are being taken to task and blamed for many things, from dressing seductively, to being a flirt, to being outright promiscuous. It is precisely because of this straitjacketing of women that they become the object of control and policing not only by their families but even by society.

And this cuts across cultural and national boundaries. Women everywhere are clothed and veiled and bound. Their bodies become the templates upon which societal control is painted. And the justification used is usually presented as a protective mechanism to shelter women from the unbridled but natural sexual urges of men. And when they transgress the moral boundaries imposed by society, they are shamed and are called promiscuous and loose. The tragedy is compounded when these myths that objectify women are perpetuated with active complicity by other women, by mothers who rear their children to imbibe these stereotypes. In fact, many of those who blame the 16-year-old girl who was gang-raped are women.

What is established here is the fact that the reason why women are admonished to be modest is that if they behave otherwise they became prey to male sexual advances. A protective father would be more strict with his daughters than his sons because he is afraid of a world full of men who are ruled by their genitalia and their sexual urges. And this is a fear shared by mothers.

Of course, this stereotype of men as sexual predators is as bad as stereotyping liberated and playful women as moving sexual targets. But if there is anything that should be impressed on people, it is the fact that no matter how liberated a woman is, she can only be raped or sexually assaulted when there are men who would not be able to control their urges.

After all, how can you explain the case of nuns being raped, or of young girls and infants being sexually molested? Certainly, they could not be accused of having acted loosely, or having dressed up seductively.

Indeed, rape exists not because of women’s behavior or actions. Rape exists because there are men who become rapists. Leni Robredo is right. And I agree with her.

Some people attack the logic of the statement simply because it is uttered by Robredo, someone that they image as allegedly not being too bright.

However, many people also attack the argument armed with their misogynist misunderstanding of gender politics associated with rape and sexual assault. Somebody even had the temerity to liken women who are raped after going out at night, partying with the boys, or dressing up seductively, to unlocked cars or houses that are robbed.

And yet, these are the very same people who erupt with rage when persons high on drugs rape young girls. It is simply beyond comprehension that someone who is appalled when children are raped could also argue that rape could not solely be attributed to their perpetrators, and that the victims have somehow asked for it.

It is bizarre that those who vigorously defend the President’s war on drugs, even wishing that his critics would not feel the pain of their loved ones being raped by drug addicts, would be so insensitive to the plight of rape survivors. And it is odd that someone who wants to impose the death penalty on rapists would blame the 16-year-old girl from Tondo who was gang-raped by six men, as if it was her fault.


March 24, 2019 – Finding Fruit

Third Sunday of Lent

Luke 13:1-9

At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way, they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So, cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not, you can cut it down.'”
Introductory Prayer: My Lord and my God! I believe that you came as my Savior. I know you wish to save me from everlasting harm. Thank you. I place all my trust in you. I love you, Lord, and I offer myself as an instrument for you to help others to know and love you, too.
Petition: Teach me, Lord, to repent, to turn to you and to spread your Good News.
  1. Scandalized by Evil: It can happen that people become scandalized or doubt God because of the evil and suffering they see in the world around them. Christ shows us that this attitude is mistaken because God says, “I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man’s conversion, that he may live. Turn, turn from your evil ways!” (Ezekiel 33:11). God does no evil. It is we, his creatures, who do evil, and God suffers the consequences twice: He suffers when we reject him through our sins, and he then takes our sins upon himself and suffers on the Cross so that we might be redeemed. If anyone has a right to complain about the evil in the world, it is God. However, it is through forgiveness that God shows his power and his love. We should not be scandalized by evil but examine our souls and repent of our own sinful deeds.
  1. Wrath of God or Wrath of Man? “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). I am that tree which so far has given little or no fruit. Jesus is the gardener who sticks up for me and pleas to “fertilize me” instead of cutting me down. The fertilizer is Christ’s Body and Blood, which he sacrificed so that I might have life to the fullest. He wishes to give me his very self and to fill me with grace and thus “reconstruct” my weak, worn heart and person. What does he ask of me? I need to turn to him with both contrition for my sins and confidence in his healing love. I need to open myself to his saving grace. Am I fully aware of my need for Christ, and do I turn to him hungrily? If not, why not?
  1. Finding Figs: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). After three years of public ministry, we see in today’s Gospel that Jesus is ready to put his life on the line for me – but does the Son of Man find any faith or love in my heart? “God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). He will soon shed his blood under Pontius Pilate – for my sins. Will he find my tree barren and grant me this one last “year” of mercy? Or will he find my tree blooming with sweet-smelling fruits in good works performed out of love for him? He will hang from a dead tree on Good Friday, and his corpse, given out of love for me, will become real fruit, real moisture and fertilizer to my arid soul. Let him make of me a fruitful fig tree, so that others, too, may come to repentance on my account.
Conversation with Christ: Teach me, Lord, to repent, to turn to you, and to spread your Good News. I believe in your mission of saving souls, including mine. I hope in you because of the time of mercy that you grant me. I want to love by spreading the Good News of your salvation. Let me be a messenger of your love.
Resolution: I will serve others by voicing Christian hope in my conversations today.

Would you eat recycled landfill meat? - BBC News

Saturday, March 23, 2019

March 23, 2019 – The Prodigal Father

President Rodrigo Duterte bans travel junkets and team building activities of government officials and employees abroad

President Rodrigo Duterte has banned travel junkets and team building activities of government officials and employees abroad, according to an order released by Malacañang on Friday.

Duterte on March 15 signed Executive Order 77 which updates the rules and regulations and rates and allowances for official local and foreign trips of government personnel.

Covered by the order, which is effectively immediately, are personnel of national government agencies, including state universities and colleges, government-owned or -controlled corporations, government financial institutions, Congress, judiciary, constitutional commissions, Office of the Ombudsman and local government units.

“All forms of travel junkets shall be strictly prohibited. The conduct of strategic planning workshops or team building activities abroad shall not be allowed,” the order read.

“The taking of a personal leave immediately before or after the official activity is highly discouraged. If travel circumstances, such as the nature of activity, purpose and itinerary, indicate that the trip is mainly intended for personal purposes, no part thereof shall be considered official.”

Duterte had repeatedly expressed his disdain for unnecessary or excessive foreign trips.

He has fired several government officials over travel junkets including all commissioners of the Philippine Commission on Urban Poor (PCUP) and its chairperson Terry Ridon, as well as Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chairperson Dionisio Santiago and Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) administrator Marcial Amaro.

The EO calls for full disclosure of official foreign trips partially or fully sponsored by private corporations or individuals.

It said official or personal travels must not be sponsored by private individuals, including suppliers or contractors, with pending request or application or future dealings with any branch or office of government.

This prohibition applies to invitations purportedly to undertake study or assessment of the proponents’ capabilities.

It also said that personnel must secure permission for local or foreign trips from the approving authorities.

Official local or foreign travels must meet the following criteria:

1. it is essential to the effective performance of an official or employee’s mandates or functions

2. it is required to meet the needs of the department, agency, bureau or office or there is substantial benefit to be derived by the state

3. the presence of the official or employee is critical to the outcome of the meeting, conference, seminar, consultation or any official activity to be attended

4. the projected expenses are not excessive or involve minimum expenditure

Not entitled to government funding for such trips are private individuals, consultants and those engaged by way of contract of service by government agencies except in highly meritorious circumstances, and spouses or children of government officials except when diplomatic protocol or established international practices provide otherwise.

The EO also sets the allowable travel expenses and encourages government officials and personnel to patronize accommodations accredited by the Department of Tourism to ensure availment of adequate but reasonably-priced services and amenities.

Every personnel authorized to travel must submit reports on the conferences or seminars attended, examinations or investigations conducted, or missions he or she joined within 30 days after his or her return.

For Filipino delegations that will represent the country at international conferences or conventions, they are also required to submit a report to the Office of the President through the department secretary, copy furnished the Foreign Affairs Secretary, 30 days after the closing of the event.

Failure to comply with the reportorial requirements shall subject the officials or employees concerned to disciplinary action, according to the order. — KBK, GMA News

Does Anyone Actually Think That The Philippine Political System is Good?

By Adam Garrie, 2019-03-21

In arguments regarding constitutional reform (aka charter change) in The Philippines, those opposed to a shift to a federal-parliamentary system that eliminates constitutional restrictions on foreign direct investment (FDI), typically deploy the following negative arguments:

1. Filipinos will never adapt to a new system
2. Some regions are too poor for federalism
3. How will people know how to vote in parliamentary elections
4. The economy is good enough as it is without a great deal of FDI
5. The country is too corrupt for any change to be meaningful

These arguments essentially boil down to a total lack of confidence in the Filipino people. If one genuinely had such a lack of confidence in the people of a nation so as to favour a less democratic system that happens to be tied to a systematically insufficient economic model, one ought to not only oppose reform but one ought to seek an abolition of democracy itself and return to an age of monarchical power.

After all, the logical conclusion of any argument which is based on the fact that ordinary people are too stupid to participate in a fully democratic system is an argument against democracy itself. But because arguing to abolish democracy sounds extreme, those who have no respect for the Filipino people instead proffer a watered down version of the same argument.

Thus, one is left not with a system in which a divinely ordained monarch reigns supreme but instead where irritating idiots with degrees, corrupt rich oligarchs and vacuous celebrities rule over the common people in a political system whose deadlock and inherent contradictions in the power structure render voter participation almost redundant.

The very idea that the same population should vote separately for a House of Representatives, Senate, Vice President and President who in theory and often in practice are all completely at odds with one another, is an insult to the intelligence of the people. The people can only have one majoritarian political opinion at any one given time. As this is the case, why should this united position among the population be exploited by a needlessly obtuse system of governance that producers four different results from one single democratic mandate? The answer is that such a system is inherently anti-democratic and wholly illogical. It would be like asking “what is 1+1?” four different times and being satisfied with four completely different answers.

Beyond this, undemocratic restrictions on who can run for office have led to an out of touch academic elite acting as idols to be worshipped by a people who have been browbeaten into thinking that they are inferior to someone with a degree. The truth is that Filipino academics are by international standards, not very intelligent at all. Most are parochial, bitter, neo-colonial in their mentality, closed minded, self-obsessed and totally detached from the basic concept of politics as a tool for problem solving for the benefit of the people rather than the elite. This is to say nothing of self-interested and lazy oligarchs or celebrities who achieved political power on the same basis through which one wins a karaoke contest.

The entire political system in The Philippines stinks from top to bottom. This is the case because of its inbuilt deadlock, its discrimination against the majority of Filipinos when it comes to entering politics, its lack of transparency, the lethargic pace at which it moves, its Imperial Manila-centric style of law making and because of its needless expense. Many OFWs who live in countries with more modern political systems can attest to these facts. However, because mass media in The Philippines is largely controlled by oligarchs who stand to benefit from a system that entrenches their wealth through a lack of genuine economic liberty, many Filipinos have little exposure to how politics works elsewhere.

As a result, ordinary Filipinos have been shafted – they have been short changed and they have been left with a sense of hopelessness which leads them to think that all hope of reform is impossible. This simply is not the case for one simple reason: ordinary Filipinos are much better people than their leaders. This for example is why Rodrigo Duterte remains popular. Duterte was something of a stroke of luck insofar as a good man made it to the top in a very poor system. And yet he remains a breath of fresh air for those who are tired of the elites, tired of the oligarchs, tired of the snobs, tired of the professional liars and tired of the foreign controlled puppets.

If ordinary people are better than the elites in so far as they are more honest, patriotic, pragmatic and are better problem solvers, it would benefit The Philippines greatly to adopt a political system that allows ordinary people to rise to the top on the basis of meritocracy. This is vastly more democratic than a system where the titled and stupid rule over ordinary people whose greatest asset is as it always has been, common sense.

So finally, one must ask: does anyone actually think that the Philippine political system is good? This is an important question because thus far, the only answers that have been forthcoming are those of defeatism, pessimism and hopelessness. These aren’t exactly strong arguments in favour of the status quo.