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Philippine News Digest 107

April 6, 2007 · 

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Contents:
-Girl, alleged ‘child warrior,’ slain in clash with troops
-Suffering children
-Indonesian Catholic priest killed in Kalinga
-Stripping blinders

Girl, alleged ‘child warrior,’ slain in clash with troops
Philippine Daily INQUIRER
by: Joel Guinto
04/01/07

MANILA, Philippines — A 12-year-old girl, who the military claimed was a communist “child warrior,” was killed in an encounter with government troops in New Bataan town, Compostela Valley province last Friday, according to a Philippine Army report.

Aside from alleged New People’s Army (NPA) fighter Graciel Buya, , an elementary school student, Army Private First Class (PFC) Ruben Bracera was also killed in the clash that occurred in sitio (sub-village) Simsim, Kahayag village at around 8:24 a.m., the report said.

“During the course of the firefight, the soldiers had to fire back at the creek area from where the heavy fire that hit PFC Bracera was coming from,” the report said.

“The child was spotted earlier in the area with her M16 [rifle],” it said, adding “The death of the child-warrior clearly indicates the NPA’s continuing program to recruit minors as their combatants.”

The slain child’s father, Gregorio Gelacio, claimed her remains at the New Bataan police hospital, the report said.

Four M16 rifles, including the one allegedly belonging to the girl, and two M14 rifles were recovered from the scene, it said. Citing intelligence information, the report said two more NPA fighters were killed while several others were wounded, although only the child’s body was recovered.

A raid on the elder Gelacio’s residence also resulted in the seizure of a homemade shotgun, 10 rounds of M14 ammunition, combat gear and documents, the report said.

Suffering children
By Eric F. Mallonga
The Manila Times – DOUBLETAKE
04/02/07

CANADIAN Chief Justice Beverly Mclachlin was conferred last year with honorary doctorates by Philippine universities. She once ruled that child-beating by parents and teachers is a necessary rite of passage in Canadian society. Her perspective invokes religious spirituality as the basis of her opinions, appearing to be anchored upon the principle of patria potestas (supreme parental authority), in total disregard of children’s human dignity.

If the chief justice reads more on historical narratives of the world’s most influential leaders regarding cruelties suffered at the hands of parents or teachers, perhaps she might become more sensitive to the sensibilities of children most affected by her peculiar view. British Prime Minister Tony Blair had been cane-flogged by his teacher, who even required his student to put down his pants for beatings at his buttocks to guarantee that pain would be maximized as wood strikes flesh. Not surprisingly, when Blair recently entered an exclusive men’s club, he became infuriated to find out his abusive teacher was inside the same room as he never forgot his teacher’s cruelty, which he experienced some four decades before. Former American President William Jefferson Clinton also complained about having been physically abused and beaten by his own alcoholic father, who eventually abandoned the Clinton family. In Britain, Putney Vicar Giles Fraser is haunted by memories of continuous beatings, like Tony Blair’s sordid experiences, which he received more than 30 years ago at prep school: that lonely wait outside the headmaster’s study; the cane, the slipper, the table tennis bat, even remembering his underpants filled with blood, seething with frustration when they also beat his brother.

Debbie Pearl from No Greater Joy Ministries, as Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin, shamelessly advocates that corporal punishment is divine: “We are told that in England it is a crime to spank children . . . Therefore Christians are not able to openly obey God in regard to biblical chastisement. They are in danger of having the state steal their children.” The Pearls justify corporal chastisement through biblical scripture: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes” (Proverbs 13:24). Chastening begins early: “For the under-one-year-old, a little, 10- to 12- inch long, willowy branch (stripped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient,” writes Michael Pearl. With older children he advises: “After a short explanation about bad attitudes and the need to love, patiently and calmly apply the rod to his backside. Somehow, after 8 or 10 licks, the poison is transformed into gushing love and contentment. The world becomes a beautiful place. A brand-new child emerges. It makes an adult stare at the rod in wonder, trying to see what magic is contained therein.”

What makes such philosophies extremely perverse is that it is done in God’s name. Apparently, the “proper application of the rod is essential to the Christian worldview.” The image of God punishing His son with crucifixion for human salvation is an expression of tough love, distorting a religion of forgiveness and compassion into something dark and cruel. When such religious teachings penetrate into a philosophy of child rearing, such incitement to child abuse is terrifying. Spanking children is seen as punishment for rebellion just as divine anger is deemed to be provoked by original sin of human disobedience. In Ted Tripp’s monstrous bestseller Shepherding a Child’s Heart, even babies who struggle while having their nappy changed are deemed to be rebellious and need punishment. Lynn Paddock of North Carolina beat to death her four-year-old son Sean with a length of quarter-inch plumbing line-plastic tubing. Sean’s autopsy describes layers of bruises stretching from his bottom to his shoulder. Lynn Paddock turned to the Biblical practices of the Pearls and Tripps on parenting, to whom chastisement with plumbing line is “a real attention getter.”

What Jesus said about those who harm children comes inevitably to mind-it is better for them if a millstone is hanged around their necks, and drowned in the depths of the sea. Perhaps, this liturgical provision should already start being exercised, preferably commencing with chief justices and their subordinates, who show no sensitivities to children.

Indonesian Catholic priest killed in Kalinga
The Manila TImes
by: Harry Palangchao and Anthony Vargas
04/03/07

An Indonesian Roman Catholic priest was shot dead in his church in the latest of a string of murders that have alarmed the United Nations, the European Union and human rights activists.

Franciskus Madhu, 30, a native of Flores Island in Indonesia, was attacked by three unidentified gunmen as he prepared to say Passion (Palm) Sunday Mass in Lubuagan in northern Kalinga province.

Lubuagan town is a two-hour drive from the capital town of Tabuk, which is a 12-hour drive from Baguio City.

Police said they were checking the motive for the attack, saying the priest did not have known enemies. Some officers immediately brushed aside politics as the reason for the killing.

Other Christian congregations immediately expressed deep sympathy for the Roman Catholic Church which has been critical of the government over alleged human-rights abuses. Reverend Father Jerome Adriatico, provincial superior of the Society of the Divine Word, said Madhu had been engaged in missionary work in the area since 2005.

He said police told him initial reports indicated Madhu was gunned down at random for “no apparent reason.”

Mayor Johnny Dickpus of Lubuagan said in a telephone interview that Madhu is an assistant priest at Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church. He did the rounds of remote villages to celebrate Mass in smaller chapels.

A task force of Philippine Army operatives was formed to conduct a manhunt for the suspects, which Cruz will supervise.

A Lutheran priest interviewed on Monday morning said that church leaders in Kalinga convened to discuss the killing of Madhu. “While the meeting is not over, we are one in condemning the killing,” the priest said.

Before the shooting incident, the priest was reportedly having a heated argument with a group of men, said Chief Supt. Raul Gonzales, director of the Cordillera Police Office. Observers, however, discounted this statement as something that could be a spin to keep this murder from being listed as an “extrajudicial killing.”

Responding policemen recovered from the crime scene six empty shells of M-16 rifles as pursuit operation was launched against the suspects who fled following the incident.

Stripping blinders
By Juan Mercado
Philippine Daily Inquirer/Opinion
04/03/2007

“An empty belly hears nobody.” That axiom resounded in the survey by the poll group Social Weather Stations that found that one in every five Filipino families suffered “involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months.”

“For a rich man, the right time to eat is when he is hungry,” Mexicans note. “For a poor man, when he has something to eat.”

“Chow time” in this country doesn’t hinge on election cycles or political regimes, whether the Marcos dictatorship or Joseph Estrada’s soused regime. It is embedded within the system and persists in season and out of season.

Hunger is spawned by a corrupt system where tools to produce food — land, credit, water, sweat and other resources — *are corralled by affluent dynasties. Thousands of hectares are fenced off by the rich. To dodge land reform, some are converted into housing estates. Others are plowed up as plantations of multinationals and the produce exported. The roots of hunger are in Filipino elites who batten on the weak.

“The use of property bears a social function and all economic agents shall contribute to the common good,” the Constitution provides. But modern-day caciques, who control government and the economy, froze this principle. In so doing, they’ve driven 8.2 million Filipinos to seek jobs abroad. “Plenty sits still, but hunger is a wanderer.”

In reaction, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered a P1-billion hunger mitigation fund. If kept away from poll piranhas, that’s fine. “If you cannot feed a hundred, feed one,” Mother Teresa of Calcutta advises. But handouts cannot quell hunger rooted in systemic failures. The administration’s success in fiscal restructuring has to be sustained, if benefits are to appear on dinner tables.

The President need not be apologetic. In “the outer-day lit world, [many of us] stumble and grope in social blindness,” as the blind scholar Helen Keller put it. We glibly track the geography, the profile and results of hunger. Our candidates give graphic descriptions of penury.

Joseph Estrada prides himself on being one with the poor. But in his book “The Erap Tragedy,” his former chief of staff Aprodicio Laquian writes: “Erap [Estrada] sincerely felt for the poor but did not know how to deal with the core issues of poverty ? and failed to deliver. He really had no understanding of how it was to be truly, hopelessly poor.”

When the late Sr. Christine Tan rapped the diversion of P430 million in sweepstakes funds for rice, sardines and foodstuffs to the First Lady’s program, Erap snapped, “My family does not eat sardines.” This “showed his lack of sensitivity to the feelings of the poor,” Laquian adds.

“We’ve failed to inspire development of a society built on social justice,” writes Fr. Shay Cullen in the Hong Kong Examiner “The non-Christian nations of Europe, Japan, Korea and now communist China have done much better.”

The real miracle behind the multiplication of the loaves to feed the 5,000 was His disciples sharing the little they had, Cullen adds. “It inspired those who brought food to share it. That’s the kind of miracle we need? for the Philippine elite. But there’s little sign of it these days, when so many are poor and hungry surrounded by the shameful abundance of the rich.”

-End-

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