Monday, June 30, 2014

Will the “real” environmentalists please stand up?

I will be the first to admit that I am not a genuine environmentalist.

I feel guilty every time I use plastic bags, ride in cars, eat in fast food chains, use my cellphone –name it, there is no denying that I am one of the earth’s killers, most of us are. Obviously, our very own existence has always been a threat against our planet. I did explain this indisputable fact in my Wasted World essay seven years ago. My admission is not a way to escape responsibility, but simply a way to accept the truth.

We cannot deny it. Even a popular environmentalist in our place ironically used pine wood in most parts of his home. Self-proclaimed environmental activists travel with their own cars, even uses plastic tarpaulins in their rallies. For some observers, they are seen as a bunch of hypocrites – a group of media whores who jump at chances for camera exposure, people who organize or attend tree planting activities for mere photo-ops, or attend environmental rallies for the same…Or maybe, those observers are just some bitter people who are disturbed by the guilt of not doing anything.

The thought of “not doing anything because we are destroying the environment in the first place ” is akin to accepting hopelessness in our society. It is still great to know that we are doing something to mitigate the effects of our actions, if not to substantially eradicate our tendency to destroy the natural fabric that underpins life itself. Hence I would like to give credit to those who have championed these environmental causes, those who have made it a cause to save the world, those who have risked their name to go against anyone who would dare to destroy mother nature. You all have my respect.

That is why when the news about Sto. Tomas destruction broke out, I was confident that those said ‘environmentalists’ like those who organized/joined the movement against SM a couple of years ago,  will raise hell against the alleged perpetrator of the said environmental crime, just like how they did against SM. The case is just so unbelievable for cold silence.

To my surprise, there is a stark contrast between how they reacted against SM and to their reactions against the Congressman. Some newspapers are also surprisingly silent about this issue. As if the incident is not about a Lawmaker-Lawyer- Lawbreaker who promised that his term is “para sa Kalikasan at Kapaligiran”. The Baguio City People page provided this painful and truthful illustration of how this issue is being treated:

“Adi sika ti apan ag-rally jay balay da nu kayat mu!” said an ‘environmentalist’ friend who admonished me years ago for not attending more activities against SM. “Ket sika ngay?” I retorted sheepishly.

That is not the point. Although I was there at the backseat, I was there to have my comparison on how it was with SM and how it was today with the Sto. Tomas Issue:

SM Issue (against a Corporation)
Sto. Tomas Issue (against a Politician)
Quotable Quotes
“Give Trees a Chance”

“Cut your Greed not the Trees”
“ Congressman, we are giving you the chance to explain…even if you did not give the trees a chance”

“Trees were cut because of Greed”
Reason for not Talking
“Sub Judice” (case is pending)
“Sub Judice”
Notable Media Scenes:
Consistent rallies/ concerts/ activities even up to dawn.

Crying/Screaming/Dancing people on Protests.

Altercation with SM Guards by movements’ ‘leaders’.

A singer tying himself to a tree to protest.



"Will the “real” environmentalists please stand up?" People might ask.

I can only imagine the reason for their (or our) deafening silence. If some critics felt that those who went against SM are not environmentalists, then will the said critics be? Who are the 'real' environmentalists, or leaders anyway? Perhaps, I am also writing this to criticize myself. Why can't I do the rallies? Why can't I also scream? Why do I expect them like superheroes who will do everything for the residents?  It would be quite unfair to them. Or perhaps, it is  wrong to kick someone when he is already down. Especially because authorities have already filed a case against him.

But maybe he deserved to be kicked down. It was one Grace Bandoy, a PRs nightmare known for her bold and sometimes, extreme political and social commentaries, who first exposed the massive cutting of trees and destruction/excavation at Sto. Tomas. Apparently, there is truth in the saying that “even broken clocks are right two times a day”. Were it not for her, I wouldn’t have known about this issue. Only a couple of bloggers talked about this issue uncompromisingly, and I give my respect to The Cordillera Sun (TCS) who is the most relentless in doing so.

“Ket sika ngay? Inya aramidem garud ta ada en met jay Court?” my environmentalist-friend asked again. “Agsuratak garud blog ken maki-join ak forum to give the congressman a chance to speak and incriminate himself in the process…tapnu haan matay jay issue ken maabak nu next…” I told him jokingly.

“Aye pay di ay Kailyan…” he sighed.

“This is not an ethnic issue…it’s a simple issue of a public-official’s betrayal of the people..” I replied. This may be bigger than the people involved...bigger than the observers, movement leaders, perpetrators. As an advocate of better governance, I once withdrew my support to another lawyer who betrayed my trust (but that is another story).

“Inayan sa…” he breathed. “Ket ibagam jay kakadwa tayo garud nga uray i-share da man lang dagijay write-ups about the issue..”

“Narigat met kanu…” I said.

In a way, I understand them. We live in a very complicated world.

I've met the Congressman years ago when he was still a councilor(although I bet he would not remember me), and saw an ideal to imitate – a lawyer, lawmaker, who has everything going good for him. Perhaps this issue will warn all those idealists not to ‘turn into the monsters that they once abhorred’. That greed only brings tragedy, and power corrupts absolutely. I wish the Aliping family the strength to face this, and I’m sure they know that neither silence nor stone-blocking will not end this issue. If I am in the Congressman’s shoes, I will admit what I’ve done, resign from office, face the people and ask for their forgiveness, hug my family with a free conscience, and spend my remaining life being a “genuine environmentalist”.

Life is too short for the corrupting pleasures of more money and more power.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Evil "Men of God"

A Pastor assigned in a Pentecostal church in Benguet was arrested a couple of months ago for rape, sexual assault, and acts of lasciviousness. The victim was a 19-year-old church worker and worse, his counselee. The sexual exploits were committed between September 2012 to August 2013 and within the pastoral house even when church activities are going on. These horrible and revolting actions of a “servant of God” prompted a petition by pastors and church workers in the Pentecostal Church of Baguio-Benguet to condemn the said acts.

News about “Men of God” not practicing what they preach is not new. Just recently also, a pastor was nabbed in Pico, La Trinidad town on April 2014 after selling “shabu,” to an agent. Years ago a church leader was involved with a Pyramiding Scam which siphoned church funds to unknown pockets. Or let us not forget the news about some priests in some remote places in the Cordillera who have sexual relations with their church members or parishioners. Or let us recall the ‘Vatican Scandal’ which involved Bishops who molested/raped young children in their care.

Various cases in the Philippines (and even in the whole world) showed many of these kinds of people; among the more popular is the case of People vs. Deopita (2010).

More than a decade ago, Mr. Deopita not only robbed but also raped a poor young woman. When he was arrested and was brought to trial, he alleged that he is “a person of good moral character” holding as he does the position of “Ministerial Servant” in the congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses, and that he is a godly man, righteous person, and a good Christian who preaches the word of God.

Unconvinced because of the overwhelming evidence pointing to Deopita, the court declared that his “sterling qualities” he mentioned is no guarantee against any sexual perversion and plunderous proclivity. In closing, the court went on to further explain that:

“Indeed, religiosity is not always an emblem of good conduct, and it is not the unreligious alone who succumbs to the impulse to rob and rape…”


*The Following are other abuses by these "Men of God" in the Philippines, sadly thousands and thousands more are recorded around the world :

 - In 2002 the Catholic Church apologized for sexual abuses, including adultery, homosexuality and child abuse by two hundred priests over the previous 20 years.

  - In 2003 at least 34 priests were suspended in a sex abuse scandal involving sexual harassment of women. 20 were from a single diocese.

   - In 2011, a priest accused of sexually abusing a 17-year old female minor is sheltered by his Bishop, despite calls for his surrender to civil authorities.

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

    The Marivic Genosa Case

    People of the Philippines vs. Marivic Genosa

    On November 18, 1995,  SPO3 Leo Acodesin, then assigned at the police station at Isabel, Leyte, received a report regarding the foul smell at the Genosas’ rented house.  Together with other police personnel, they  proceeded to the house and went inside the bedroom where they found the dead body of Ben lying on his side wrapped with a bedsheet.  There was blood at the nape of Ben who only had his briefs on.  The bedroom was not in disarray.

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

    The Teacher-Student relationship Case

        CHUA – QUA vs. CLAVE CASE

    In 1976, a teacher married her student and got fired. :)

    This case was about an affair and marriage of 30 years old teacher Evelyn Chua in Tay Tung High School in Bacolod City to her 16 years old student, Mr. Bobby Qua. The petitioner teacher was suspended without pay and was terminated of his employment “for Abusive and Unethical Conduct Unbecoming of a Dignified School Teacher” which was filed by a public respondent as a ground for her termination.

    This would have been just another illegal dismissal case were it not for the controversial and unique situation that the marriage of Evelyn Chua, then a classroom teacher, to her student who was fourteen (14) years her junior, was considered by the school authorities as sufficient basis for terminating her services. The case went on to the Supreme Court which ruled in favor of Evelyn.

    The Supreme Court declared the dismissal illegal saying:

    “.....[the school] utterly failed to show that petitioner [30-year old lady teacher] took advantage of her position to court her student [16-year old]. If the two eventually fell in love, despite the disparity in their ages and academic levels, this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has reasons of its own which reason does not know. But, definitely, yielding to this gentle and universal emotion is not to be so casually equated with immorality. The deviation of the circumstances of their marriage from the usual societal pattern cannot be considered as a defiance of contemporary social mores.”

    This is a truly remarkable case wherein the Supreme Court ruled in favor of “love”. 


    Friday, June 20, 2014

    The Salvacion Case

    The Salvacion Case

    In 1989, Greg Bartelli, an American tourist, was arrested for committing four counts of rape and serious illegal detention against Karen Salvacion. Police recovered from him several dollar checks and a dollar account in the China Banking Corp. He was, however, able to escape from prison. In a civil case filed against him, the trial court awarded Salvacion moral, exemplary and attorney’s fees amounting to almost P1,000,000.00.

    Although the main issue of the case revolves around the execution of judgment on the dollar deposit of Bartelli with the China Banking Corp., the horrifying account of the case brought about that rare reversal of established rules to serve justice, at least, even a bit of it. Here are the details: