Monday, August 22, 2016

DEATH PENALTY: AGAIN AND AGAIN



Someone at home in the boxing ring plus the recently acquired skill of selective reading of the teachings of the Good Book – apparently with his amateur political design to win the personal approval and patronage of the most powerful authority figure all over the land – appears decided in promoting Death Penalty Law – notwithstanding all arguments to the contrary propounded by sound Ethics as well as objective  Morals forwarded by the same Book to the contrary.  Never mind what God explicitly and clearly said about killing others, killing oneself included.  No.  This is not really intended to belittle anybody but simply meant to say let no one jump and dance where even angels fear to tread.

Whereas no one may legitimately take his own life even but considering that he did not give life to himself, how could the government with all its power and might assume the right to do so when its overall mandate is precisely not only to defend but precisely to promote the life of every citizen?  Perhaps – just perhaps – when any government becomes the origin and giver of life of its constituency, then the same could do away it.  But until such a preposterous assumption becomes a reality, it is incumbent upon the government to protect and defend, to favor and enhance  the life and welfare of the citizenry.  The truth is that it is the citizens who have the inherent right to put up, to support, or do away with their government.

The sad and solid truth is that killing people even on the occasion of a war is censurable considering that there is no such as thing as a “Just War”  many of whose victims are eventually the innocent, the weak and the poor.  This remains a signal on-going historical lesson on the occasion of the wars waged by the Spaniards vs. the Filipinos, by the Japanese vs. the  Filipinos – not to mention the wars here and there waged by CPP-NDF-NPA, MNLF, ASG, BIFF whereby Filipinos lamentably kill Filipinos.

The world well-known Mandate squarely based on Natural Law “Thou shall not kill” is definitely not but a pious plea nor a mere spiritual advice.  It is definite and defined.  It makes no exception, it accepts no moratorium.  I t makes no distinction about its mandatory reach in the local, national, and universal level.  It neither makes any distinction about race, color, and creed.  And so it is that the killing of the unborn is considered a heinous crime by civilized society and thus it is that the so-called “Mercy Killing” is precisely considered objectively merciless.

The truth is that Death Penalty during these more civilized times is held unconditionally taboo/  In fact, the World Congress against Death Penalty held in Oslo in 21-22 June 2016, could not be more emphatic in its Pro Life stance and consequent strong denouncement of Death Penalty as a legitimate response by a State against criminals as some kind of a revenge to the extent of taking the latter’s lives through whatever ways and means – no matter how “merciful” it is supposed to be.  Justice to retain its inherent notion and connotation has to be humane – considering that an inhumane justice is nothing less than an injustice itself.

There must be a hundred and one ways not only to stopping crimes but also of penalizing criminals other than their downright killing by the State.  In fact, there are different ways of penalizing and reforming criminals rather than have them “officially” killed.  These are truths that only the brainless would not understand and the merciless could not accept.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

ACTIVITY NOT PASSIVITY



In one of his significant and memorable addresses to the young people from all the continents of the earth on the occasion of the much-renowned “World Youth day” recently held in Poland – wherefrom the world known and much-revered Pope John Paul II was born and whose pastoral activity historically changed the socio-political face of his own Country – Pope Francis expressly and clearly challenged the youth of the world to assume an active role in the socio-political plight of their respective Nations.  No.  He was not fomenting activism but denouncing passivism.  Reason:  The youth are the heirs of their respective Countries and they may not but be concerned with its present socio-political affairs that cannot but eventually bring about its curse or blessing, its malady or well-being in the years to come.  

So it was that Pope Francis himself proclaimed and promoted the known “Principle of Participation”:  What is the connotation – significance, implication, consequence – of the said principle?  Such is the fundamental feature and concrete premise of democracy in action.  And when the said reality is not merely set aside but actually denied, such is a marked demonstrative element of dictatorship, authoritarianism and the like.  And from the start of human history to the present times, such dictatorial or authoritarian denial of the “Principle of Participation” is the eventual cause of social unrest, violence, deaths very well included.  Needless to say, said principle has a special significance and relevance to the Philippines during these perceived uncertain times.

The truth is that the “Principle of Participation” is but a consequence of the “Principle of Subsidiarity”.  One without the other is falsity.  In other words, the very fact that subsidiarity means not only allowing but also urging the able members of society to do what they can do for their own good as well as the welfare of their Country, and furthermore means that the public authorities concerned  should not bar no less that their sovereign constituents to intervene, to promote and sustain their own public welfare, their own common good.  Otherwise, a dictatorial regime comes to fore and the citizens – the active young people well included – have no reasonable and laudable option but to have it done away with.

In other words, the characteristic implication of subsidiarity is participation, which is essentially expressed in a series of moves through which the young and their elders, either as individuals or in association with other groupings, decidedly move and act to regain what is their right, to re-establish what is true and just, what is right and proper for their own selves and their Country as a whole.  These are no  longer the times when people can justify the well-known censurable position of the infamous “Three Monkeys”:  One sees nothing.  The other hears nothing.  The third says nothing.  So it is that all three of them do nothing!

Such are the significance and implication of the papal call to the youth for Activity not Passivity particularly in conjunction with the social concerns and political matters in their respective Countries.  This is markedly dissonant with the posture of indifference, the option for quietism, the preference for passivity.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

BILL OF RIGHTS



“No person shall be deprived of life...without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of law.”  (1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Art. III, Sec. 10)

It is well-acknowledged among civilized Countries the world over that the Right to Life is the most basic human right because without it, all other duly known and accordingly acknowledged human rights become altogether irrelevant for a human being.  And considering that the State is basically for the welfare and common good of the people it enfolds and represents, it is a blatant contradiction if the former precisely becomes the mortal liability of the latter not merely in conjunction with the amelioration but specially so for the protection of human life.

This reality becomes even more clarified and emphasized with the constitutional provision that the Philippines is a  “democratic and republican State” where “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” (Art. II, Sec. 1).  In fact, the Right to Life” is so precious and sacred that it is likewise considered a gross offence for anyone to do away with his very own life by committing suicide.  When killing oneself is already taboo, killing another/others is  a bigger malediction.

It is wherefore categorically provided by the same Constitution for the People of the Philippines that depriving someone of his/her life may only be done after due process as provided by law.  But then, this provision notwithstanding, in the assumption that due process was observed and the sentence of death penalty was imposed upon the convict, it would not be easy for someone – with normal human sensitivity and sound conscience – to do the hanging, to cut a head, to tighten the guillotine, to pull the trigger or to electrify the condemned.  So it was that on the occasion of the last much publicized execution in the Country through the electric chair, no less than three switches were prepared – when only one was needed – so that no one of them would really know who in fact had the convict electrified to death.

Questions:  What can be said about the day-in and day-out killings nonchalantly taking place in the Country for the past months to counter the prohibited drug menace?  How does one look at the drug buy-bust-kill operations plus summary executions lately taking place in the various parts of the Philippines?  Do they promote justice and peace or in effect arouse anger and vengeance?  Are they in effect promoting  the culture of death that despised life and makes killings but a matter of fact?  Is death penalty really acceptable because someone recently quoted the Old Testament – which was but an eclectic citation – promotion thereof?

Millions of Filipinos here and abroad observe a long and happy Christmas Season that commemorates the birth and celebrates the life of Christ.  “Mabuhay!”  is the welcome shout of Filipinos not only in wishing visitors in the Country but also wishing everybody well.  Will the grim culture of death eventually do away with the love and respect for life among Filipinos? Will “Mamatay!” then be the horrible shout of Filipinos among themselves and to foreign visitors as well?

Heaven forbid!

Monday, August 15, 2016

TEMPORAL GOODS OF THE CHURCH



In accord with Natural Law, pursuant to sound reason and consequent ethical norms – with or without the sanction of Positive Law as may be provided by Civil Law according to a given Constitution provision or otherwise – the Church which is now more than 2000 years old and counting, has the inherent right to own  and administer temporal goods for the needs of her apostolic works, the demands of funding social services and the grant of fitting support not only to her ordained ministers but also to lay workers in  different ecclesiastical endeavours.

The government through different ways and means, can deny this right, render it futile and inutile even through either pursuant  legislation or through the imposition of Martial Law of one kind or another.  But the aforesaid right remains and eventually continues to be exercised after a sound and sane government takes over.  This is the standing truth as proven by time and affirmed by history:  Governments come and go.  Government officials live and die.  But the Church goes on and on existing, evangelizing and serving – until time there is none to look back at or forward.  Whereas time has a beginning, so an ending it also has.

It is good to take note of the following universal Ecclesiastical Law specifically in conjunction with temporal goods officially owned by the Church the world over:  First, they are not in any way personally owned by any Churchman such that this could then have the personal option to dispose of them according to his personal option.  Second, they are in fact owned by a given ecclesiastical jurisdiction such as a Diocese or Archdiocese – or their territorial equivalents as provided by Church Law.  Third,  they are then administered or managed by the one after  another incumbent Bishop or Archbishop of the place.  Fourth, the Bishop or Archbishop exercises his management faculty with the intervention of the Financial Council and/or the Council of Priests plus lay professionals.  Fifth, the said management faculty is regulated by Universal or Particular Church Laws strictly in accord with the said three-fold finality inherent to the Temporal Goods of the Church.  Sixth, the Diocese or Archdiocese remains obliged to pay income taxes to the government for any and all taxable incomes it may have.  Seventh, the out-going Bishop or Archbishop is strictly obliged and held fully responsible in giving an accounting of and entrusting the Temporal Goods of the Diocese or Archdiocese to his Successor.

The Church has no army, has no weaponry, has no prisons, no brute power, no secular authority.  But She has a Divine Founder, a spiritual strength, an eternal mission.  This is why so many governments, so many political authorities, so many secular forces tried and are still trying and hoping to subjugate, neutralize, if not altogether get rid of the Church.  But history is the witness that while all such quasi-omnipotent entities and individuals are gone and done away with, while one government after another appear and disappears, the Church remains in her evangelizing existence and apostolic service.  Those committed to fight the Church come and go.  Those dedicated to get rid of the Church undergo birth, death, and decay.  But the Church stands and evangelizes, lives and serves from her Foundation Day until the end of time.  There were – and there still are – supposedly all-knowing and almighty individuals who fought Church doctrine, who did everything to subjugate her if not even get rid  of her altogether.  They lived and died, were buried and dust they become.  But the Church simply continues to live, to teach, to serve one century after another.  

Friday, August 12, 2016

JUST ASKING



To ask may mean that someone could be simply ignorant, might be merely curious, could be but wanting to understand something somehow.  But whatever it be, the saying goes that fools have more questions to ask than wise men have the answers to.  Be what it may, it is not bad to ask questions either to know the answers thereto or to call attention to this and that matter begging for attention and possibly even resolution.  So it is that at this juncture of the exit of the previous administration and the coming of the now incumbent one, there are questions worth asking as the answers thereto are likewise worth knowing.

Question:  What about Land Reform?
The Philippines being basically as agricultural Country, it is but right and proper to address the matter of more agricultural production, better farm to market roads plus other incentives to make agriculture more profitable such as through better irrigation systems, via more agricultural investments and the like.  But the question remains:  What about honest-to-goodness Land Reform?  What about downright powerful and influential Land Lords?  What about starving and pitiful farmers?

Question:   What about the lightning impeachment of a Chief Justice?
It is not a secret that in conjunction with the above issue of land Reform, no one less than a Chief Justice in the Country suffered from a lightning impeachment for deciding in favour of small farmers against the command and wishes of a mighty big landlord.  Was the impeachment right and just?  Did the one thus impeached really deserve such a terminal penalty?  What about those known political figures  used to impose the lightning impeachment?

Question:  What about the graft and corrupt practices in the past administration?
Without the least saying that there was ever a government of this Country that is altogether holy and saintly, the immediately previous one is infamous for its big and repeated give-away to its allies such as in form of the infamous DAP and PDAF.  Is it  not the mandate of justice to go after them before the proper Courts of Law even if only to take away from them what is really not theirs – not to mention their consequent criminal liability?

Question:   What about the power production?
It is not a secret that the cost of power in the Country is superlative the world over – in addition to the fact that there is not enough of it to consume.  What can and should be done then?  And what can be done without contributing to Climate Change?  There can be different causes of poverty in the Country.  The high price of power and/or the absence thereof  appears to be one of them.  There must be an answer – a right and proper answer to the problem.

Question:  What about the Sabah issue?
Why is there a deadly silence about this matter – which owns what and why – while the West Philippine Sea in fact became an issue for the International Tribunal of Arbitration to look into and decide upon?  It is worth noting that after the formulation of the BBL through the intervention of Malaysia – a law which to date remains but on paper – there is a dead silence about the issue specifically during the term of the past Administration.  

Just asking.