MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s naming of controversial retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan as an official of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) is dangerous to the agency, but she was just being consistent.
This observation was from the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), which lamented on Saturday that Palparan’s appointment came at a time when farmers were commemorating the 22nd anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre.
Thirteen militant farmers were killed and over a hundred others were injured when government troops fired live bullets on protesters trying to march to Malacaňang Palace 22 years ago to demand genuine land reform.
"Major Gen. Jovito Palparan is yet to pay for his crimes and now Mrs. Gloria Arroyo considers him to the drugs board post. Their teamup, as Arroyo self-proclaimed herself as an anti-drug czarina, is still bonding, as how they dealt with the legal-democratic movement, attempting to wipe-out activists that call for genuine land reform and Arroyo's ouster," said Danilo Ramos, KMP secretary-general, in a press statement.
Palparan has been blamed by activist and human rights group for the disappearances and summary executions of a number of leftist activists in the central and northern Philippines when he was in the active military service.
KMP said that since Mrs. Arroyo assumed the presidency in 2001, a total of 933 people became victims of extra-judicial killings, of which 528 were peasants and 109 were KMP leaders.
It said there were also 129 peasant activists and leaders who were victims of enforced disappearances and scores are accused of criminal cases and imprisoned in different jails around the country.
“Of this Arroyo's sickening human rights record, Gen. Palparan served as one of the promoter as he experimented on the activists of Oriental Mindoro in 2003 to 2004," the group said.
Palparan has repeatedly denied the charges, but maintained that his campaign against the communist movement had been very effective.
"The peasants call for punishment for Palparan as even the United Nations Humans Rights Committee concluded that the government and military are responsible to the murders of Eddie Gumanoy and Eden Marcellana in 2003 in Oriental Mindoro," said Ramos.
Eddie Gumanoy was the former chairperson of Kasama-TK (KMP Southern Tagalog chapter), while Eden Marcellana is the Karapatan-Southern Tagalog secretary-general and wife of Kasama-TK secretary-general Orly Marcellana, who is included in the ST 72, framed up with multiple murder case.
"The Arroyo government is really consistent, as those who commit crimes against the people are being promoted or assigned with luxurious posts. We firmly believe that Gen. Palparan is not considering the post to resolve the drug problem but attracted with the level of bribery hounding drug cases, such as the alleged P50 million bribe," Ramos explained.
KMP affirmed opposition to Arroyo's consideration of Palparan to the drugs board post, instead he should be castigated. Also, the group believes that the drug problem would never be solved under the Arroyo regime as Mrs. Arroyo herself is grossly corrupt, as she is involved with the P728 M Fertilizer Scam, P217.8 M Rice Scam and more. The corruption in the Justice department is just an offshoot of her governance.
"Certainly, if Gen. Palparan gets the post, either we all get killed being framed up as pushing drugs, or we get arrested accused of being drug pushers and users," Ramos said. The group believes that the drugs body would also be used against activists who is calling for Arroyo's ouster. - GMANews.TV
The Southern Tagalog Youth Ministry is called the QUEMARLABARO, derived from the names of the provinces of its member prelature, dioceses, archdiocese and apostolic vicariates composition.
The QUEMARLABARO is composed of one Prelature, four Dioceses, one Archdiocese and two Apostolic Vicariates, namely:
Prelature of Infanta, Quezon
Diocese of Boac, Marinduque
Diocese of Gumaca, Quezon
Diocese of Lucena, Quezon
Diocese of San Pablo, Laguna
Archdiocese of Lipa, Batangas
Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro
Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro
Camp Organizers, All Set to Lay Down Plans for the Upcoming QUEMARLABARO 2009
(CALAPAN - January 13, 2009) This coming January 22, the Diocesan Commission on Youth of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan is all set to present to the Regional Coordinating Council the plans for the QUEMARLABARO Regional Youth Camp 2009. This will take place during the Regional Conference to be held from January 21 to 23, 2009 at Gumaca, Quezon.
Prior to this is the final discussion of the details of the camp with the Diocesan Formation Secretariat, which will happen on January 16, Friday, at Calapan City.
The QUEMARLABARO Regional Youth Camp 2009 which is scheduled on April 21-24, 2009 at Calapan City, is expected to attract more than 500 delegates from all over Southern Tagalog Region.
MANILA, Philippines -- Starting next March, the education and health departments will jointly conduct random drug testing of students in the 9,300-plus public and private high schools nationwide.
The testing, part of the government's drug education program, “will continue in school year 2009-2010,” Education Secretary Jesli Lapus has told the Inquirer.
“It is timely to do this as illegal drugs have become rampant in some parts of the country,” said Lapus, adding the tests were necessary for the protection of the country's 6.5 million-plus high school students.
Lapus noted that random drug testing has been done in selected schools in the past "and there have been positive findings.”
He was apparently referring to the 2005 drug tests conducted by the DepEd and DoH where some 8,670 students from 287 high schools nationwide were randomly tested for illegal drugs.
At least 115 of those students tested “positive” for methamphetamine, popularly known as shabu, and other illegal drugs, according to a report furnished by Education Assistant Secretary Thelma Santos.
The tests were conducted in all regions except Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, and Mimaropa (short for Mindoro Oriental, Mindoro Occidental, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan).
Northern Mindanao topped the list with 13 students found positive for drug use, followed by Central Visayas, Southern Mindanao, and Caraga with 12, 10, and 9, respectively.
According to Santos, “we'll provide the DoH with the list of public and private high schools. It's up to them to choose the schools.”
“The school visits of the drug testing teams, which start next March, will be unannounced,” she said.
Santos clarified that students "will not be forced to undergo drug tests.” But she stressed that “there will be close monitoring of high schools where there's high prevalence of illegal drug use.”
A check with DepEd files showed that as early as August 4, 2003, the agency had issued guidelines on random drug testing of high school students.
Department Order 63, signed by then Education Secretary Edilberto De Jesus, said the activity was pursuant to Section 36-C of Article 3 of Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The drug tests aim to “determine the prevalence of drug users among the studentry, assess the effectivity of school- and community-based prevention programs, deter the use of illegal drugs, facilitate the rehabilitation of drug dependents, and strengthen the collaborative efforts of identified agencies against the use of illegal drugs.”
According to the DepEd order, “drug test results shall be treated with utmost confidentiality and shall not be used in any criminal proceedings” against those found positive for drug use.
RA 9165, on the other hand, orders the DepEd to “integrate drug abuse prevention concepts into subjects such as Science, Health, and Makabayan in the elementary level, and Science and Technology and Makabayan in the secondary level, as well as in the non-formal education program, particularly in functional education, literacy, and values education.”
The law also calls for the “continuous development, updating, and adoption of learning packages to support the existing drug education concepts in textbooks and instructional materials” and “mobilization of school health and nutrition personnel in complementing classroom instruction on drug abuse prevention.”
SOCORRO, ORIENTAL MINDORO – Father Joseph Matulin Boongaling distributed Christmas calendars to his parishioners with a personal message of gratitude.
“This is to thank them for their positive response to the tapungan that aims to make the parish self-reliant,” explains the 42-year-old parish priest of the Holy Family Parish (HFP) here, about 60 kilometers away from the City of Calapan.
Tapungan is like the Tagalogs’ saknungan or bayanihan, which is how HFP calls its parishioners’ voluntary contribution of time, treasure and talents for the needs of the church.
It was launched in May and there are now more than 2,000 parishioners who participate with their monthly share of money, ranging from P5 to P500.
In the case of Antonina Montaril, 55, called Nanay Asuncion, of Barangay Lapog Riversite, she allocates P50 monthly tapong (share), from her fisher-husband’s income.
“Her case inspires us. Really, it’s not so much the amount that matters, but the big heart that responds to God’s love by wanting to share,” says Annie Andrea Luarca, a pastoral associate.
Boongaling says the Holy Family Parish used to be known as “better off” compared to other parishes.
But, he reveals, it was because of earnings from the sacramental fees for the dead and from the parish cemetery.
Boongaling, however, has been careful in implementing tapungan.
It took his team two years of preparations – which included recollections, pilgrimage conference, homilies, festivals and community consultations.
In the parish’s 2007 pilgrimage, Boongaling emphasized that tapungan is a pledge to God and not to the priest, citing Bible passages and explaining where the funds would go.
Luarca, working closely with Boongaling, recalls that the program was not spared from initial doubts and negative reactions because they were changing traditional practices.
“I really was not comfortable that people would ask how much they had to pay for a sacrament because it’s a service of the church,” confesses Boongaling.
With his core team, Boongaling made tapungan creative and colorful to attract attention and excitement, and utilized the LCD projector.
A liturgical musician, he composed an inspirational theme song titled “Sa Diwa ng Kapatiran,” whose tune is that of a lively march.
Luarca explains how tapungan works.
The parishioners are grouped into four zones in the poblacion and 12 communities following a color-coding for practical reasons, like easy segregation, aesthetics and meaning.
An individual gets a one-page letter indicating his pledge of number of hours per week and amount per month to be contributed.
He signs this up and submits it to the parish.
Boongaling returns the letter for a reminder.
A contributor then gets an envelope entitled “Ang Aking Pangako sa Diyos” with the Hapag ng Pamilyang Mindoreño (HNPM) logo covered with plastic.
It contains the name of the zone and community on top. Four columns under it are monthly dates (from May 2008 to May 2009), the amount pledged, the amount received by the counter, and the signature of the volunteer who received the amount.
Luarca said the preparations, while done by volunteers, cost around P5,000 ($102), including photocopying, boxes, clothes bags and tapungan native basket.
The monthly pledges can be submitted in four ways: During the monthly community Mass, during Tapungan Sunday, which is every fourth Sunday of the month in the parish church (first and second Mass) and individually through the parish office, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Luarca relates: “Now, those without envelopes become curious asking why they do not have one. But it no longer has to be Father Boongaling to explain but those who have pledged.”
The counting of tapong is done on a Sunday after the fourth Sunday by four counters (a leader and three members) from the Pamayanan Pastoral Council (PPC) and Parish Finance Council (Pafinco).
As incentive, the community gets 20 per cent of the total monthly tapong in their area.
This November, Boongaling gladly reports that the tapong collection has increased to P61,000 from P42,632 when it was launched in May.
The monthly parish expenses are about P180,000.
Father Boongaling says his past experiences on voluntarism helped him arrive at the right formula.
He is most grateful to the Hapag ng Pamilyang Mindoreño, the core program of the diocese launched on July 15, 2006 where priests were asked about their dream for their parish.
“I wanted people to make the church a part of their life,” says Boongaling, who is now 15 years old in the ministry.
When he was assigned at the HFP in 2006, he kept in his heart the dream of leaving a legacy in three forms: A self-reliant parish which supports all the needs of the parish; a meaningful liturgy where people understand it, appreciate it and are able to put it into action, and an increase in the number of leaders (koswtowing).
Now Boongaling’s dream is coming alive.