For several years, I have served as chairman of the Board of the Philippine Children's Ministries Network (PCMN), the PCEC Commission for Children at Risk. I have closely worked with 3 ladies who gave themselves for the cause of children, particularly those who are vulnerable and are at risk.
Pine Guitierez is a registered nurse who established Alay Pag Asa Christian Ministries that became home to many street dwellers in Mandaluyong area. She is the founding National Coordinator of the PCMN and has seen the growth of this network that she heads up to now. PCMN has galvanized cooperative projects and led advocacies for the children at risk among more than 40 different agencies that ministers to children, among them World Vision and Compassion in the Philippines, and has brought Evangelical organizations in the map of UNICEF and other International bodies. PCMN led the evangelicals in addressing the problems of child labor, advocacy and mobilization against child trafficking, and championing the rights of the child among others.
Menchit Wong, a licensed social worker, former Country Director of Compassion Philippines and now International Advocacy Director of Compassion International. Her level of commitment and excellence speaks volumes that Compassion International took her for that position and allowed her to hold office at her home so they can keep her.
Pati Arroyo, human rights lawyer, was past Country DIrector of International Justice Mission in the Philippines and now Director of Ateneo Human Rights Center for Adhikain para sa Karapatang Pambata.
I have enjoyed working with them for more than a decade as chair of the PCMN Board. That I still sit on the PCMN Board is because of the passion for the cause of children that I got from them.
Yesterday, this troika made waves once more as they organized the forum: "Spare the rod and spoil the child? A Forum on Corporal Punishment vs. Positive Non-Violent Child Discipline" at the main auditorium of Ateneo Professional Schools, Rockwell Center. I was one of the guest speaker and panelist of this forum that filled to the rafters and even the aisles of the auditorium. The clamor of the participants that came from the academe, local government units, leaders from ecumenical groups, human rights lawyers is for the organizers to stage a follow up forum to address this legislation that is being deliberated in the Congress of the Philippines.
Praise God for these women who make great waves for the cause of children!
Yesterday was our 31st wedding anniversary. I planned to have a quiet and restful time with my wife as we have been very busy with our respective ministry involvements and responsibilities.
Our good friend, Wyden King gifted us with special accomodation at Legend Villas in a room with jacuzi and another friend purchased dinner for two in a nearby Mandarin Hotel, but we had some delay in checking in as I attended the funeral of Given Grace Cebanico late morning yesterday.
Given Grace is the 19 year old daughter of Pastor Jun Cebanico who is the current head of a member church body of PCEC. She was robbed of her belongings and was sexually abused then murdered by two assailants as she walked home early morning after finishing their group work for their finals at University of the Philippines, Los Banos. She is a Department of Science and Technology scholar, in her 3rd year for Computer Science degree, with projected Cum Laude grades and very active in the Christian ministry.
Coming to the funeral service, I was awed by the great expression of support and sympathy of the people for the family of Given Grace. Students from the University of the Phillippines were there and so are the University President and Chancellor, and the Governor of the province of Laguna. The Pastors and members of the Churches led by Pastor Jun were there serving the people.
I was planning to leave after the funeral service so I can pick up my wife in time for our 2PM check in at Legend Villas, but I called my wife and asked if we can delay so I can attend the committal service. She did encourage me to go, which turned out that we have to delay our anniversary date for 6 hours.
I joined the funeral procession which took almost three hours of hike in the streets of Binangonan, Rizal. The people did not mind the heat of the day and pensively walked behind the funeral hearse. Residents of Binangonan lined up in the streets to pay respect to Given Grace. Pastors who were riding their motorcycles offered several times to give me a ride, but I chose to walk the whole time. Never before in the history of Binangonan have they seen such funeral procession.
In the committal service, Pastor Jun and family were filled with deep sorrow but also showed the grace and comfort of God at work in their lives. Earlier in the church, as I sat beside him, he said: "My daughter does not deserve to suffer that kind of abuse and death, but now I further feel the magnitude of how much Jesus suffered for us". They named their daughter Given Grace, and now in her death, God's grace was declared.
We planned to have quiet wedding anniversary away from people, but I have been with more people in the 1st half of our anniversary day. And yes, we still had a meaningful private dinner and had late check in at Legend Villas enjoying the favor and grace of God in our 31 years of marriage!
Today is set as Pastors aprreciation Sunday. From 1 Timothy 5:19-22 and Hebrews 13:17-18, I have outlined 6 ways we show our appreciation for our Pastors.
P ay him with double honor v.17-18
A rmor him from false accusation v.19
S ecure his testimony v.20
T reat him with dignity v.22
O bey him Heb. 13:17
R esolve to pray for him
Had a meeting with US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas at his office yesterday at the US Embassy. I brought to his office Dr. Geoff Tunicliffe, International Director of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA). PCEC Board chairman, Dr Andrew Liuson and Rheo Loseo, National Director of Youth with a Mission Philippines were also with us.
He met with us for 70 minutes and had good exchange of information with Dr. Geoff Tunicliffe about the advocacies and programs of the WEA. After an hour of informal conversation, we talked about the issue of sex trafficking, which is an issue that he has addressed from the time he was posted in Manila last year.
He was teary eyed when I told him of the report of our Pastors in Tondo of "batang beinte", young girls who are paid twenty pesos for sex in Tondo.
I felt his heart for the concern about sex traffickiing here in the Philippines. We are with him in addressing this problem that dehumanizes and exploits the women in our land!
I thank God for Christian lawyers who offer free legal services to those who fight corruption.
Atty. Jordan Pizarras personally appeared last October 3 in Antipolo RTC to be counsel for the whistle blower in the corruption in Cainta, Rizal. He could have delegated to his associates the court appearance, but to show his commitment to the cause, he took the time to appear as counsel in the case that we are fighting for two years now.
Yesterday, Atty Winnie Salumbides and Atty. Micah Reysio-Cruz finalized the PCEC statement of opposition for the confirmation of Atty. Sixto Brilliantes as Comelec Chair in support of Atty. Ferdie Rafanan.
Today, we lost the fight against the confirmation but not the moral ascendancy that Atty Ferdie Rafanan stood for. We will continue to be with Bro. Ferdie as he face a hostile chairman in the Comelec.
i thank God for Atty. Anacleto Lacanilao III who presented to the office of the Executive Secretary the killings of the Manobo Dulangan tribal communities on the issue of ancestral domain that was granted IFMA to private group.
I pray the Lord will provide local lawyers in North Cotabato area who will help the Manobo Dulangan people in this fight for their rights.
Had dinner with Dr. Joel C.Hunter, Pastor of Northland Church located in Longwood,Florida. Quiet, unassuming, but has a very significant ministry as spiritual adviser to the world's most powerful person, Pres. Barack Obama of the USA.
This relationship started when Pres. Obama was still Senator, and was deepened during the campaign for the White House.He now prepares weekly devotional for the US President which he sends via blackberry, and is called from time to time to pray with the President when he faces major issues and prepares for significant events.
He attests that Pres. Obama has personal faith in Jesus and spends time with God daily by praying and reading scriptures. He does not deal with political issues but ministers to the President as a Pastor cares for any other person. "Being President is the experience that has brought me closer to God" is a personal testimony of Pres. Obama.
STATEMENT OF CONCERN ON THE CONFIRMATION OF ATTY. SIXTO BRILLANTES JR. AS CHAIRMAN OF COMELEC
We concerned civil society organizations (CSOs), election monitoring organizations (EMOs) and other election stakeholders pose strong and unequivocal objection to the confirmation of Atty. Sixto S. Brillantes Jr. as Chairman of the COMELEC. As the National Democratic Institute (NDI), an international organization promoting clean elections throughout the world, has said "The consolidation of democracy requires that the institution that manages the electoral process be independent, competent, and perceived as completely fair by all the candidates and parties participating in the process." In contrast, Atty. Brillantes is too controversial, too involved in lawyering for politicians, and too compromised to be a Chairman Commissioner:
Atty. Brillantes’ immediate profession as an election lawyer before being named as Chairman of the COMELEC raises questions on his capacity to be objective in the internal affairs of the COMELEC. His past association with officials of the COMELEC makes him too familiar with the game play, the intrigues, and the personalities in the institution: he may have accumulated favors to return, debts to settle, and accounts to collect. His recent appointment of one who was implicated in the Ballot Secrecy Folder case is possible example of how his objectivity can be impaired.
Conflict of Interest
Atty. Brillantes has lawyered for many competing families through the years and this past association necessarily drew him into a complicated web of political and judicial issues. Even if he were to try to always act in the best interest of truth and justice, his decisions will always be seen as colored by his past association. Instead of enhancing the credibility of the COMELEC, his leadership will likely impair it.
Transparency and Genuine Will to Reform COMELEC
Concerned citizens were informed that Pres. Aquino’s reason for naming Atty. Brillantes to the post (aside from political reasons) is because he is confident that an outsider lawyer can reform the COMELEC, knowing its weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and the bad elements that give the institution its bad name and image. He has failed to measure up to the President’s expectations. And instead of naming and initiating disciplinary action against the culprits and bad elements he claimed he knew from his being an election lawyer, he turned his ire on an official who had recommended the filing of cases against erring commission officers and personnel and he was reported to have tried to interveneto reduce the six-month suspension of three of these six officials in the Ballot Secrecy Folder Scam at the Office of the Ombudsman.
Acceptability to the public and election stakeholders
In other countries where elections are credible and are accepted by the public (and where the results are not questioned by losing candidates), the commissioners / key officials of the election management body are either selected from the professional ranks within the institution or from extensive consultation with political parties, civil society organizations, professional groups, human rights groups, election observer groups, women groups, religious groups, i.e., by a broad cross-section of society.
Atty. Brillantes is said to have been backed by a political wing of the ruling party, and he had not come out to deny it, nor at least distanced himself from its support.
While we have the highest respect for the legal skills and other attributes of Atty. Sixto Brillantes as he had shown while lawyering for candidates and political parties, they have no place in the Commission, much less in the post of Chairman of COMELEC.
Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo (Auxiliary Bishop of Manila)
Automated Election Systems Watch (AES Watch)
Dr. Pablo Manalastas, Ateneo de Manila Computer Science Department
Mr. Nelson J. Celis
Mr. Edmundo G. Casi
Center for People Empowerment in Government (CenPEG)
Ms. Evita L. Jimenez, Executive Director
Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE)
Atty. Rona Ann V. Caritos, Project Director
National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL)
Mr. David L. Balangue, Acting Chairman
Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC)
Bishop Efraim M. Tendero, National Director
Transparency International – Philippines
Prof. Georgina R. Encanto, Ph D, President
University of the Philippines – Information Technology & Training Center (UP-ITTC)
Jaime D.L. Caro, Ph D, Chairman
Over dinner, I was sharing with Glyn Carpenter, my counterpart in New Zealand and we exchanged information on the challenges and developments in our respective countries and ministries.
Learned that Christ Church has not recovered from the earthquake that rocked the city last year. The geological phenomenon they now face is liquefaction, where the ground is being liquefied and becomes almost like a quicksand. They can’t rebuild the homes and buildings due to shifting foundation.
It takes the act of God to reverse this phenomenon; we need to intercede for the situation in Christ Church. May the hearts of the people be soft to God and fully recognize God in their lives.
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Bishop Ef Tendero
National Director of Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC)