Archive for the ‘moral values’ Category

Fighting corruption with "Moral Force Movement"

April 8, 2009

Chief Justice Reynato Puno of the Supreme Court finds the Holy Week celebration an apt occasion to remind Filipinos to fight corruption. In spite of the Philippines being the only Christian country in Asia, he tells the country’s moral degeneration that has made it a pariah among its neighbors.

“Corruption in the country has been deforming all its institutions, undermining our stability and security and preventing our socio-economic development. We can arrest this social decadence through a moral force.” —-Reynato Puno. Philstar (04/07/09, Punay, E.)

Last year’s Global Corruption Report revealed that RP’s corruption index hase fallen into the 141st spot tying with Cameroon, Iran, and Yemen, among 180 countries. This is a 10 point drop from the country’s rating of the previous year. The worsening corruption index had been attributed to major corruption cases that the government had been unable to solve.

Recently, World Bank (WB) exposed collusion in the giving of road project contracts in the Philippines which brings shame to government officials running the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH.) Jose Miguel Arroyo, the husband of Pres. Gloria Arroyo is implicated in the scandal, but little effort is made to fully investigate his case.

Puno envisions the moral movement to be politically neutral. A moral force is being harnessed by tapping leaders for the “Moral Force Movement”—-from business, church, youth, and the media to combat the debilitating effects of dishonesty in government. Similar to the goals of “Kaya Natin Movement,” the moral force’s current focus is to help attain an honest presidential election in 2010.

Religious organizations like the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Philippine Bible Society and the Ecumenical Bishops Forum are supportive of the initiative that is long-overdue. (Photo Credit: by Zero_Q)=0=

“Moral Force” Movement Core Group

Reynato Puno, Chief Justice, Supreme Court
Marixi R. Prieto, Chair, PDI; trustee Metrobank & Gerry Roxas Foundation
Henrietta de Villa, Chair, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting
Mgsr. Gerardo Santos, Pres. Catholic Educational Asso. of the Philippines
Dr. Emerito Nakpil, (Ret.) Bishop of United Mathodist Church
Brig. Gen. Jaime Echeverria, (Ret.,) Asso. of Generals and Flag Officers
Dr. Milwida Guevara, Dir. of the Synergeia Foundatin
Atty. Andres Juan Bautista, Dean, FEU Institute of Law
Noorain Sabdulla, TOYM Awardee and Muslim Representative

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Survey says a rising number of Americans have “no religion”

March 11, 2009

The poll made by Program of Public Virtues of Trinity College in Hartford, CT between February and November last year reported that only 76.7% of Americans identified themselves as Christians, a 9.5% decline from the 86.2% in the 1990’s. Most of the attrition comes from non-Catholic denominations. The percentage of Catholics has significantly increased in the Southwest, greater than in the Northeast, shifting attention to the needs of Hispanics in the Roman Catholic Church.

Additional findings of the American Religious Identification Survey include:
1. Americans claiming “no religion” is up from 8.8% in 1990 to 14.2% in 2001 and 15% in 2008
2. Between 2001 and 2008, 4.7 million Americans claimed to have “no religion”
3. Northern New England is ahead of the Pacific Northwest as the least religious section of the country, with Vermont, at 34% with “no religion” leading all other states by 9 points.
4. 90% of the decline among Christians comes from the non-Catholic segment of the Christian population, mostly from mainline denominations, including Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians/Anglicans, and the United Church of Christ. Source: http://usnews.com/ (03/09/0, Gilgoff. D)

This may represent a changing culture—- the rising secularization of United States where having “no religion” has turned to be more socially acceptable than a decade ago. The demographic shift among believers and non-believers may affect the way Americans think, vote, and live on issues like abortion, stem cell research, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and education among others as liberals, leftists, and secular progressives veer away from the Judeo-Christian tradition which is the cornerstone of the moral and cultural values of America since it was established. (Photo Credit emardaalvinbabista) =0=

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Obama’s stem cell research policy: the use of embryonic cells from helpless unborn sparks religious debate

March 10, 2009

As a sign of the moral dilemma and political divide rocking the United States, Pres. Barack Obama reverses the Bush-era stem cell policy that protects the embryo from being used as a tool in finding treatments and cures for illnesses. It is one of the many secularist liberal thrusts of the new administration.

The contentious decision is a triumph for those who want effective treatments against diverse illnesses like cancer, stroke, heart attack, and Parkinson’s disease. However, it is a set-back for the outspoken anti-abortion groups and pro-lifers who believe that life starts at conception and therefore the unborn is deserving of social protection.

“Embryonic stem cells are master cells that can morph into any cell of the body. Scientists hope to harness them so they can create replacement tissues to treat a variety of diseases — such as new insulin-producing cells for diabetics, cells that could help those with Parkinson’s disease or maybe even Alzheimer’s, or new nerve connections to restore movement after spinal injury. But they come with criticism. “I believe it is unethical to use human life, even young embryonic life, to advance science,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative organization that opposes the move.”:—-Yahoo News/ AP (03/08/09, Eliot, J)

Obama is criticized by conservatives for approving the use of embryos in stem cell research to be funded by tax payers’ dollars. But his supporters believe curing sickness and allaying suffering take precedence over the welfare of the embryo. The advocates of the new policy are part of the rising number of Americans who believe that life without maladies is possible. They hope the words “incurable” and “terminal” may one day be banished from the vocabulary.

“This action is morally wrong because it encourages the destruction of innocent human life, treating vulnerable human beings as mere products to be harvested,” said Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Archbishop of Philadelphia and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities”—-Yahoo News/ AP (03/09/09, Gorski, E)

There are those who believe that the public funding of embryonic stem research is a paradoxical prelude to setting up of a healthcare policy which will use less costly medical services to the aged and the severely ill—-a radical triage plan which favors more care for people who are young and productive over those who are old, and disabled.

Despite the advance of modern science and temptations to hasten social engineering, life must be respected at the start of conception. Having seen abortion and selective pregnancies done in the America first hand, I don’t concur with Obama’s stance to use the cells of developing embryos in research investigations.

Though I may well benefit from embyronic stem cells because of my illness and disability, on ethical and religious grounds, I believe researches must find a way to spare the embryo. Life in its early form has been redefined, used and abused to suit certain socio-political agenda. The growing embryo deserves equality, dignity, and protection from society just like any human being.

“Princeton University politics professor Robert George, a Catholic and another member of the Bush-era Council on Bioethics, said the moral argument over embryonic stem cell research is not rooted in religion but in ethics and equality. He said research shows that an embryo is a human being in its earliest form of development, so we have to ask ourselves whether all human life should be treated equally, with dignity and respect. “—-Yahoo News/ AP (03/09/09, Gorski, E)

Convenience, easing suffering, prologation of life, and escaping mortality must not be done at the expense of others in society. From the vantage of science, embyronic stem cell research is not the only way to find cures against life-threatening and debilitating illness.

It’s my belief that individuals and governments have no ethical right to use cells of helpless embryos to advance the conveniences of the strong even if the need is pressing. Though cures from stem cells may one day be realized with the use of the conceptus, humanity can’t escape the changes that go with something as natural as sickness and ageing—all that leads to dying and demise. (Photo Credits: California Institute for Regenerative Medicine x 2)=0=

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UP’s bizarre nude runs spill over university belt

March 4, 2009

What was once a prank of running nude in the UP Diliman had morphed into a spectacle of genital display among other students in the University belt in Manila. Elevated from a raunchy tradition by the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity to dramatize “protests” against school issues like tuition fee increases or government corruption, members of the same fraternity staged another nude run in public streets.

The event has the usual draw of crowds— giggling watchers and cajoling voyeurs as male students excitedly bare their skin, interrupting commerce and vehicular traffic. The disruptive display of private body parts has caught the ire of Senator Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel who sees zero value in the immature behavior.

Airing his disapproval to the Senate Education Committee and demanding for an investigation, Sen. Pimentel asserted, “Sanction the parties responsible, including the university authorities for their failure to exercise their duty to see to it that the laws and the rules of this country may prevail… What redeeming social value does displaying the male genitals to prurient or innocent audience, young and old, pose to justify it?” GMANewsTV (03/04/09; 03/05/99 Balagtas-See, A)

For the overwhelming majority, Pimentel can rightly remind individuals and school authorities of laws against lascivious public exhibitions. There are boundaries of decency that Filipinos must uphold even if students and their teachers imagine they are the naked patriots, “mga hubad na bayani“— the emblematic reincarnations of the statue guarding the entrance of UP.

Organized shedding off of clothes is hardly an affair that one can be proud of. The “Oblation Run” has become embarrassingly vulgar. Many innocent children have been exposed to body parts better wrapped in garments. Yet even UP, the cream of the country’s universities, finds nudity exhilarating. For its frequency, the bizarre exhibitions come like a recurrent lewd joke devoid of meaningful significance.

At the end of the 100th year of the state university, close to a hundred Upians in Diliman bare themselves as an “offering” to their alma mater. Similar controversial naked runs have been staged in different UP campuses and in schools where the APO fraternity has its members. (Photo Credit: Justin Jovellanos) =0=

RELATED BLOGS: “The Oblation Run: a risque prank becomes a raunchy protest” Posted by mesiamd at 6/20/2008; “Nudity in UP Campus” Posted by mesiamd at 12/18/2008

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Morality as an administrative order

February 18, 2009

The administrative order No. 5 signed by Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo calls for a program that will bring moral renewal to the country. Is it for real? The presidential edict comes on the heels of many corruption charges which see no end. As the president’s tenure reaches the finish line, the entire nation wonders what will be accomplished by the action plan for moral rejuvenation. Zero tolerance towards corruption—that’s what the president says.

“Why only now? She should have done it long before. It is funny she’s calling for moral renewal now as it is only a year before the end of her term unless she plans to extend her term,” Jinggoy Estrada said.—GMATVNews. Net (02/17/09)

Widespread corruption is out of the box in the Arroyo government, but no one has the resolve to prove it. Used to inaction, Filipinos live in apathy and forlorn silence with their frayed cultural values. They hope a deliverer will come to rescue them— or something will happen by simply waiting.

Foreign observers point to widespread dishonesty, but most of us choose to keep our mouths shut. The emboldened corrupt among us are defensive. They are trying to convince us there’s nothing that can be done. It’s only a year before the next presidential election and many believe the government is better left alone to wither away for the next status quo. (Photo Credit: bw.futures(away)=0=

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Octuplets spark debate on medical, socio-economic, & moral issues of assisted pregnancies

January 31, 2009

The birth of 8 babies to an unmarried California woman who already have 6 children and lives with her parents sparked controversies which cover medical, social, economic, moral and rearing issues. The unusual multiple births by caesarian section of octuplets by 33-year old Nadya Suleman didn’t come without the help of fertility treatments. This is according to Angela Suleman, the 31 week-old babies’ grandmother who said her daughter, the mother has been “obssessed” of having children. In spite of having delivered babies in the past, she chose in-vitro fertilization because of clogged fallopian tubes.

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) usually involves implanting fertilized embryo (blastocyst stage,) normally no greater than six, usually 2 or 3 in the womb. If more than two embryos take, the patient is given the choice by her physician to keep the babies or kill some of them in an abortion-induced reduction procedure. Many doctors focus on giving the best medical care and they feel it’s not their duty to dig on abortion issues (rights of the unborn) or prescribe how many children their patients must have. Suleman opted to keep all babies whose number was erroneously determined by ultrasound as 7.

Certain religious believers and anti-abortion advocates decry the practice of pregnancy reduction by doctors. Although Suleman rejected the offer to have any of her babies aborted after they were artificially set to develop in utero, there are strong objections on the medical and ethical judgment of implanting the 8 embryos on her who already have six children. There are those who believe the fertility doctor must be investigated and sanctioned for a breach of standard practice.

In 30 years of practice, “I have never provided fertility treatment to a woman with six children,” or ever heard of a similar case, said Dr. David Adamson, former president of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and director of Fertility Physicians of Northern California.—Yahoo.News/ AP (01/31/09 Watkins, T; Neergaard, L)

There are strong doubts if the unmarried Suleman has the capacity to care for the 6 boys and 2 girls born premature along with 6 older children, ages 2 to 7. It is unclear whether she is employed, though she lives with her parents who are not financially stable. The parents filed bankruptcy last year with more than $900,000 liabilities. Records show Suleman kept a psychiatric techinician license in 1997 to 2002.

The premature octuplets who are currently cared for in a Kaiser Permanente hospital surely need specialized care. With skyrocketing medical costs in a state teetering towards financial insolvency, many critics fear Suleman may not be able to sustain the duties of a single mom— the physical, psychological, social, and economic demands of rearing 14 dependents. If she can’t keep up with the burden of motherhood, she may require public assistance and the effects on the children are hard to know. It is likely the cost of rearing them will be passed on to taxpayers and society in general. (Photo Credits: byaconnel73170; Ekem PD)=0=

UPDATE: February 2, 2009. Many critics believe the doctor didn’t make good ethical judgmentt in placing at least 8 embryos on Nadya Suleman whose mother Angela is critical of her daughter’s “obssession” to have babies.

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Iraq unveils a shoe monument

January 30, 2009

We can forget Imelda Marcos’ shoes for a while. Iraqis are still elated and angered by the shoe thrown at Pres. George W. Bush and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki last December 2008 by journalist Muntadhir al-Zaidi. A brown shoe sculpture seems a funny retaliation by a culturally sequestered people who appreciate al-Zaidi and boil mad on the former US president even if they have been liberated from Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule.

Surely, the Iraqis have strong reasons to be mad. The cost of war is high in places of ethnic strife and tribal clashes. Many human lives have senselessly been lost in the name of freedom. 5.1 million people were displaced and about an equal number of children were left without parents.

To vent their anger and send praises for the jailed shoe-thrower who dreams of getting an asylum status in Switzerland, Iraqis and children from the Tikrit Orphanage helped sculptor Laith al-Amiri make a symbolic shoe monument. A brown footware with a raggedly brown surface was mounted on a white cloth so the people could see and ponder.

Whatever thrill one gets in looking at the oversized shoe, the use of children to make a political point is disturbing. There is negatism and darkness young minds can’t miss when they see the controversial shoe. The footware is less likely a symbol of disrespect and misplaced rage, but more a reminder of the derision the Muslims have for USA and Pres. George W. Bush.

Lacking gratitude after being saved from Saddam’s terroristic regime, some Iraqis have taken the low road of the warring militants who succeed in teaching generation(s) of children on selective memory and tough love. The faith-based beliefs against the “infidels” are still the driving force of hatred against the Western civilization. There are those who have become one-track thinkers— intolerant, violent, self-righteous, and unforgiving in their political views. This is one reason why the culture of violence kills the innocents. And peace is so elusive in that part of the world. (Photo Credit: CNN) 0=

UPDATE: Feb. 1, 2009. Iraqi officials ordered the dismantling of the shoe monument in the Tikrit Orphanage. They say government facilities must not be used as a venue to air political views.

Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

January 28, 2009

“The 2006 World Competitiveness Survey by the Switzerland-based Institute for Management Development ranked the Philippines 60th on bribery and corruption among 61 countries surveyed. In the 2007 report of the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, using a grading system with 10 as the worst possible score, the Philippines got 9.4, worsening sharply from its grade of 7.8 in 2006.

The problem of corruption in the Philippines is getting worse, and it appears that it is not just a problem of perception but an actuality. The corruption cases are increasing not only in number but in the amount of money involved. In the past, the big cases involved tens of millions of pesos; now, the figures run into hundreds of millions and even billions.” —-Inquirer (06/30/08, Editorial, Worsening Corruption)

1. Filipino & Chinese bid-rigging cartel in bank-financed projects exposed by World Bank

2. Jocelyn (JocJoc) Bolante’s P728 Million Fertilizer Fund Scam diverting agricultural funds for the 2004 election campaign of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

3. $329 Million Philippine National Broadband Network-Zhong Xing Telecommunications Deal (NBN/ZTE mess)

4. The $2-million IMPSA (Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona Sociedad Anonima) alleged bribery case involving Justice secretary Hernando Perez to rehabilitate the 750-megawatt Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan (CBK) power complex in Laguna.

5. The allegedly overpriced P1.2-billion Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard Construction

6. Commission on Elections’ P1.3-billion poll computerization program

7. Pres. Joseph Estrada Plunder Conviction and the Controversial Hasty Pardon

8. “Hello Garci” alleged Election fraud of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

9. Unexplained Wealth of Government and Military Officials—some of them take tasks of “investigating” corruption

10. Money Laundering Schemes like the “Euro Generals Scandal”

11. Maj. General Carlos Garcia’s amassed P143 million wealth in AFP

12. The P500,000 cash-gift distribution (bribe?)in Malacanang Palace in 2007

13. Tax Evasion, Special Purpose Funds & Public Procurement Anomalies

14. Killings, tortures, and disappearances of journalists, plain citizens, and perceived enemies of government

We probably know the brazenness of corruption to a point of surrender. So we either ignore them or we shield ourselves from truth by pretending wrong-doing and perversion will go away. We have our own psychological adaptations that work for sometime just the way we’re tempted to run away from moral rectitude and brush aside responsibility.

The brave among us however face reality as it comes. No matter how hard and hurting, we understand the need to correct our errors. We know life is a succession of battles where courage, tenacity, and optimism are required and apathy has no place. We need integrity as a hedge against fraud; honesty is a positive force to renew society. Consider the corruption in the world. What can we do about it? (Photo Credit: Zero Q)=0=

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Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

January 28, 2009

“The 2006 World Competitiveness Survey by the Switzerland-based Institute for Management Development ranked the Philippines 60th on bribery and corruption among 61 countries surveyed. In the 2007 report of the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, using a grading system with 10 as the worst possible score, the Philippines got 9.4, worsening sharply from its grade of 7.8 in 2006.

The problem of corruption in the Philippines is getting worse, and it appears that it is not just a problem of perception but an actuality. The corruption cases are increasing not only in number but in the amount of money involved. In the past, the big cases involved tens of millions of pesos; now, the figures run into hundreds of millions and even billions.” —-Inquirer (06/30/08, Editorial, Worsening Corruption)

1. Filipino & Chinese bid-rigging cartel in bank-financed projects exposed by World Bank

2. Jocelyn (JocJoc) Bolante’s P728 Million Fertilizer Fund Scam diverting agricultural funds for the 2004 election campaign of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

3. $329 Million Philippine National Broadband Network-Zhong Xing Telecommunications Deal (NBN/ZTE mess)

4. The $2-million IMPSA (Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona Sociedad Anonima) alleged bribery case involving Justice secretary Hernando Perez to rehabilitate the 750-megawatt Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan (CBK) power complex in Laguna.

5. The allegedly overpriced P1.2-billion Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard Construction

6. Commission on Elections’ P1.3-billion poll computerization program

7. Pres. Joseph Estrada Plunder Conviction and the Controversial Hasty Pardon

8. “Hello Garci” alleged Election fraud of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

9. Unexplained Wealth of Government and Military Officials—some of them take tasks of “investigating” corruption

10. Money Laundering Schemes like the “Euro Generals Scandal”

11. Maj. General Carlos Garcia’s amassed P143 million wealth in AFP

12. The P500,000 cash-gift distribution (bribe?)in Malacanang Palace in 2007

13. Tax Evasion, Special Purpose Funds & Public Procurement Anomalies

14. Killings, tortures, and disappearances of journalists, plain citizens, and perceived enemies of government

We probably know the brazenness of corruption to a point of surrender. So we either ignore them or we shield ourselves from truth by pretending wrong-doing and perversion will go away. We have our own psychological adaptations that work for sometime just the way we’re tempted to run away from moral rectitude and brush aside responsibility.

The brave among us however face reality as it comes. No matter how hard and hurting, we understand the need to correct our errors. We know life is a succession of battles where courage, tenacity, and optimism are required and apathy has no place. We need integrity as a hedge against fraud; honesty is a positive force to renew society. Consider the corruption in the world. What can we do about it? (Photo Credit: Zero Q)=0=

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Abortion issue in Obama’s administration, the pro-life vs. pro-choice controversy, & the 50 million unborn babies killed

January 23, 2009

January 22, 2009 is the 36th anniversary of the controversial Roe vs. Wade when the Supreme Court ruled against all state and federal abortion laws, making termination of pregnancy legal and leading to the indiscriminate killing of about 50 million unborn babies. Since 1973, pro-life groups have relentlessly campaigned in defense of the unborn with some success:

“Laws have been passed in 46 states that protect the right of conscience for individual health care providers. Laws in 27 states protect the right of conscience for institutions such as Catholic hospitals. The Hyde Amendment restricts federal funding of abortion. The partial birth abortion ban was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007. “Mexico City Policy” has barred the use of federal tax money to pay for abortions in other countries.” —St. Gianna Respect for Life Committee, Immaculate Conception Church, Astoria, NY (01/09 Tabone, P)

Yet, with the Obama administration, the fight between pro-lifer and pro-choice may change in favor of abortion supporters. Obama expresses his approval for the pro-choice advocates saying that government need not intrude on private family matters.

“In consultation with a coalition of pro-abortion groups, which submitted a 55-page outline of pro-abortion policies to the Obama transition team, the Obama Administration has an agenda designed to repeal many, if not all, of the pro-life policies in place at the state and federal level.

Through their extreme agenda, the Administration wants to fund organizations that perform and promote abortion; force employer health insurance plans to cover abortion; force hospitals and health care professionals to provide abortions; and enact the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act” – a bill that would invalidate virtually all state and federal laws restricting abortion, including parental notification laws, and which would make partial-birth abortion legal again.” —www.nrlc.org

With few media outfit willing to cover, a huge crowd of anti-abortion advocates, numbering about 250,000 trooped to Washington DC two days after Obama’s inauguration to oppose the proposed Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) in congress. Obama is a supporter of abortion rights pushed by many liberals in the media and the Democratic party. Pro-lifers have mobilized themselves to fight the new administration’s abortion plan which when implemented is expected to increase terminations of unwanted pregnancy and the killing of more innocent unborn babies.

With the loss of 50 million babies since the “Roes” decided they could ignore moral considerations and rule on abortion, society must ponder on how many Albert Einsteins had been expended in clinics around the country. The sheer number had made people thinking what might have been God’s plan for America’s hapless victims of abortion. =0=

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