Separation of Church and State

The Separation of Church and State…

People now begin invoking the Constitutional provision on the Separation of Church and State, especially when they hear priests, pastors Bishops and ‘Ulama speaking against arbitrary or summary killings of suspected drug users and pushers. Soon this would be exacerbated by the debates on the attempts to restore death penalty. Then, we shall write a new Federal Constitution.

In all our Constitutions, the ticklish and often controversial issue of separation of Church and State is least understood not only by lay people but also lawyers. Often people discuss and debate this provision without knowing the background and/or the jurisprudence on the matter. Our 4 Constitutions (the 1935 Constitution under the American Tutelage, the Japanese Time Constitution, the 1973 Marcos Constitution and the 1987 Cory Aquino Constitution) with slight differences and nuances have grappled with the issue yet the issue continues to be misunderstood, especially when religious people or the clergy make social and/or political pronouncements.

The 1935 Constitution in Article Three defines the Bill of Rights and included in the enumeration is the people’s rights to religion.

Art. III, Sec. 1.7 speaks thus: “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights”.

And Article Six further established standards of government spending in regards to supporting any religious establishments:

Art. VI, Sec. 23.3 says thus: “No public money, or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution or system of religion, for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, ministers, or other religious teacher or dignitary as such except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces or to any penal institution, orphanage or leprosarium”.

These decrees establish freedom of religion without required worship or commitment of any kind. They also establish separation of church and state by forbidding any admittance of religious affiliation when initiated into political employment. This echoes the Constitution of the United States in the attempt to create a democratic nation.

In 1945, during the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines, an alternate constitution was written. The portion from Article Six replaced the reference in Article Three of the 1935 Constitution. In Article Seven pertaining to the Duties and Rights of the Citizen, the following statement was made:

Art. VII, Sec. 3 speaks thus: “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and no religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights”.

This decree does not suggest that there will be no future implications hindering the freedom of religion or any discrimination based on choice of religion. At this stage, the nation retreated one step in the free exercise of religion.

During the reign of President Ferdinand Marcos, Martial Law was established in 1972 and subsequently a new constitution was drafted the following year. In the 1973 Constitution, the reference to religion as found in Article three of the 1935 Constitution was restored. The second reference that was maintained in the 1945 Constitution also remained effective in law.

In drafting the Constitution of 1987 that is still in use today, the statement involving religion as found in Article Six of the 1935 Constitution was subtly altered. The original statement was as follows:

No public money, or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution or system of religion”.

The revision to this portion was made to be the following:

No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly,
for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion”.
 ( Note: the word ‘used’ is omitted)

There are two major practices of the ‘separation of Church and State’ based on our jurisprudence (Philippine and American Jurisprudence). The first is the so-called ‘non-establishment clause” that means the State shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and no religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights”.

 And second is on the use of funds or property to wit: “No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly,
for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion”.

Other than these two jurisprudence on the matter, religious, clergymen, pastors and ‘ulama are guaranteed all rights provided in the Bill of Rights of every citizens. It is GROSS ignorance of Law to invoke the Constitutional provision on the separation of Church and State when priests or bishops or ‘Ulama speak against summary execution and/or death penalty. Being clergymen and ‘Ulama does NOT diminish their full Bill of Rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Cuidate! (Jun Mercado, OMI)

Finding the Strength to Reach Across the Differences…


Our great dignity, the Imago Dei inside each of us, is meant rather to be a center from which we can draw vision, grace, and strength to act in a way that, ironically, precisely helps us to swallow our pride.

We see this in Jesus. The Gospel of John tells us that at the last supper, Jesus got up from the table and began to wash the feet of his disciples, against their protests. That gesture, washing someone else’s feet, has classically been preached on as an act of humility. It was that, but in the context of the Gospel of John, it is something more. It was a particular kind of humility, one that requires having a huge, huge heart and swallowing a lot of pride.

When Jesus washes his disciples feet in John’s Gospel and tells us he is setting an example for us to imitate, he is inviting us to have the strength to bend down in understanding and wash the feet of those whom, for all kinds of reasons, we would rather not have anything to do with.

It is akin to having pro-life and pro-choice, strident conservatives and strident liberals, fundamentalists and atheists, wash each other’s feet. Normally we don’t have the strength to do that. There is too much pride and desire for righteousness at stake.

So how could Jesus do it? He could do it because he wasn’t asleep to who and what he was. In a stunning description of what is going on inside of him when he got up and took the basin and towel to do this. John writes: “Jesus, knowing that he had come from God and was returning to God, and that the Father had put everything into his hands, got up from the table and removed his outer garments.” (John 13,3-5).

Jesus took off his outer garments (which symbolize precisely all those things, including our everyday irritations and angers, which block the view of our deeper selves) to show us his deeper reality, namely, the fact that he had come from God and was going back to God. On the strength of that awareness, he could swallow all the pride that he needed to in order to reach out in understanding, forgiveness, and love, beyond wound, irritation, and moral righteousness.

When we are in touch with that fact that we too have “come from God and are going back to God” then, and only then, can we too swallow enough pride to be genuinely loving.

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Finding the Strength to Reach Across Differences

The Residtance of Christianity in its Homeland….

The Resistance of Christianity in its Homelands (Chrétien d’Orient. Résister sur notre terre)
Author: Pascal Gollnisch
Editor: Cherche Midi, Paris 2016
Martino Diez | 26 July 2016
“By talking and talking about these suffering people, we risk making them an abstract reality” (p. 117). This profoundly true observation is by Monsignor Pascal Gollnisch, who since 2010 has been the general director of the Œuvre d’Orient, an important charity supporting Eastern Christians. 
The Œuvre was born in France in 1856 and today it promotes more than 1,000 projects in the whole region. As a counterbalance to the risk of abstraction, this short book “seeks to be more of a testament and a personal reflection than an expert analysis” (p. 9). 
A testimony, however, that counts on thousands of kilometers clocked up in the Middle East, since the years of seminary training, and an uninterrupted series of meetings with Church leaders and politicians as well as with many ordinary people, like the refugees from Iraqi Kurdistan, whose dramatic stories open the book.
As is well known, the history of eastern churches is complex: there are seven Catholic rites in the region, not to mention the other confessions. 
Compared to many superficial explanations circulating in the media, the first part of the volume clearly explains the root of the divisions that brought about these churches and the main points of the theological debate, while a useful appendix provides a brief profile of each eastern catholic church, with their reference in France. 
The only reservation concerns the clear taking of distance from the “later waves of European missionaries sent by the Latin Church of Rome” (p. 26) and from the West, “conquering and Latin” (p. 21). While the reasons for this criticism are perfectly understandable, it is fair to remind that if the theological and liturgical heritage of these churches has not been lost, it is owed also to the work of many Latin missionaries who over the centuries have generously dedicated themselves in the service of these communities.
The author emphasizes the basic choice of Easter Christians in favor of non-violence, especially in the ongoing conflicts, and the radical objection it raises against the logics of power and hegemony that are bringing Middle Eastern societies on the brink of collapse. And here the author, to escape any shadow of intellectualism, recalls some recent instances of martyrdom, among which the attack on the Syriac Catholic cathedral of Baghdad in 2010, a sinister omen of what would take place in Iraq soon thereafter.
This is not to say that Eastern Christian communities have no right to defend themselves when they are threatened with extermination. The testimony, given in full, by Monsignor Hindo, the Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Al-Hasakah and Nusaybin, illustrates how precarious the situation is in the Christian villages of northeastern Syria, caught between the threat of ISIS, the ambitions of the Kurdish militias and the substantial disinterest of the Syrian regime which, like the international community, until recently had priorities other than the control of these peripheral regions. 
Without hiding behind circumlocutions, the author openly calls for an international military intervention to save what can be saved. He is nonetheless well aware that the true solution will consist in offering a credible prospective to the Sunni community, in Iraq as well as in Syria, and in the promotion of a culture of rights. Thus distancing himself from many of his Eastern friends, Mgrs. Gollnisch is in fact convinced that the great liberal principles (separation of powers, the rule of law, and a form of separation between religion and politics, whatever name it can take) have something to say to these countries and their majority-Muslim societies. 
Indeed, they have already begun to exert a certain attraction on them: “If I strongly believe that coexistence is possible […] it is because it seems like a sizeable portion of the Middle East’s Muslim population does not want to hear about Daesh or al-Qaida” (p. 136).
But next to the Eastern Christians, in the book there is a second focal point: we Europeans. “It would be tragic to believe for a second that the fate of the Middle East is not directly linked to ours” (p. 19). 
The stakes are crucial: demonstrating that Christians and Muslims can still live together. If they cannot manage to do so in the Middle East, where they share the same language and the same culture, how could they in the West? 
Yet this dimension of the problem is rarely considered. “France – though the question could be applied, in varying degrees, to other European countries – has an unhealthy relationship with religions. So long as it refuses to grant them a legitimate place in the context of citizenship, it will remain unable to understand these populations who flock towards us and who question our societies” (p. 116). 
Acting, today not tomorrow, so that the experience of religious pluralism in the Middle East does not get completely erased, by maintaining channels of dialogue and at the same time preserving the links between the diaspora and the original communities, means building a better future for our European societies too.

Blessed Charles de Foucault

Darfur Chaos

Badal: Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916)

· Birth: September 15, 1858

· Death: December 1, 1916. He lived for 58 years

· Personality: He was Proud, Aesthete, Temperamental, Pleasure-Loving, Hardheaded, Impetuous and Self-Centered. But He was also Sensitive, Generous, Kind, Honest, and Single-minded.

· Career: He was A French Military Officer, Explorer, Monk, Porter at Nazareth, Priest and a Little Brother to the Tuaregs.

1. He began as an agnostic. In his unbelief and as a colonial soldier and Officer to Africa, He became “captive” of the black continent and fascinated by Islam. He became truly present in the continent – explored it and learned its peoples and languages.

2. He came back to his Catholic Faith through Islam. It was a powerful experience of conversion. He lived in utter simplicity, became truly poor and lived a monastic life. He went back to the East, the Holy Land and became a Porter at Nazareth.

3. He discovered FRATERNITY/FELLOWSHIP as the essence of Jesus’ Caritas.

4. From the Holy Land, He went back to Africa … to be a “little” brother among the Tuaregs… and spent a monastic life almost like a hermit in the desert… in prayer and “welcome” to the pilgrims.

5. Killed in his hut…

6. Beatified – December 16, 2005 in Rome, Italy

At Tamanrasset in the southern Algerian desert Fr. De Foucauld realized that he needed to know and understand the Touareg people in order to truly live with them. In fact he wanted to assimilate himself into their way of life, in a sense to “become Touareg”. Not only did he allow himself to eat what those to whom he dedicated his life ate but he learned their language as intimately as they knew it, as well as their history, traditions, folklore, poetry and beliefs. ”To make oneself understand is the beginning of everything, in order to do something good”, he wrote. “It isn’t enough to pray for the salvation of others, nor even to lovingly give oneself to them, but to offer oneself body and soul for their souls”.

“This is how Fr. De Foucauld saw the sacrifice of Jesus at Golgotha; Christ so loved humanity that he offered himself as a voluntary victim for the expiation (Badal) of the sin of the world. “There is no greater proof of love than to give one’s life for those we love”, He told the apostles at the Last Supper. Substituting (Badal) himself for humanity, past, present and future, He had reconciled them to God for eternity. Yet the Passion of Christ, the mystery of the economy of Salvation, consumed and carried out once and for all, will last until the end of human history. Thus, if we truly love, only one way offers itself to us: to participate in His redemptive work and accept the sacrifice of ourselves”.

“Brother Charles’ impeccable logic brought him to this conclusion before which all human reason either resists or gives way; Before God, Christians must substitute themselves for others and take the burden of their sin or their blindness onto their own shoulders in order to participate in the liberation of captive souls…”

Brother Charles’ writings are filled with the theology of his time and yet his message remains profoundly revolutionary. By choosing to live as he did he defined and witnessed to a new attitude for Christians in the world. He defined lay Christians as apostles of Christ and demonstrated how they were to be shining witnesses to the Gospel message. He was a pioneer who planted the seeds for a transformation of monastic life as well as lay participation, by remaining paradoxically entirely faithful to the tradition and the Gospel message.

It is clear that Brother Charles’ life and witness will challenge those who enter into the Badaliyya prayer, and in creating this prayer in 1934 Louis Massignon was presenting a way to rise to that challenge. Our time and our world is both radically different and yet sadly the same. May these reflections serve to aid our prayer together and help us to open our hearts and minds to truly understand those of other faiths, traditions and cultures. May we be guided in planting our own seeds of hope in the world.
Bapa Jun Mercado, OMI

Divine Mercy Spiritual Center

July 28, 2016
Next Session: Badal – St. Francis of Assisi

Date: 29th August 2016 from 3 pm to 4:30 at the Divine Mercy Spiritual Centre (Tamontaka, DOS)

High Price Paid by Fr. Hamel

What makes the gruesome killing of Father Jacques Hamel all the more frightening is the impossibility of preventing such crimes. An elderly priest saying morning Mass for a small weekday congregation could hardly be more vulnerable. His quiet Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray would never stand out as high risk. After previous outrages by terrorists claiming allegiance to Islamic State (IS) such as the attack in Nice earlier this month, French security measures were subject to minute scrutiny by politicians and the media, and by the security agencies themselves, to pinpoint mistakes and learn lessons. In this case, however, that is frustratingly hard to do. Although at least one of Father Hamel’s assassins was apparently known to the French security services, they must have hundreds of such suspects on their books, and it must be nigh impossible to watch them all effectively round the clock.

So it seems probable this 84-year-old curate was chosen by IS precisely for his vulnerability. Catholics have a particular sensitivity for those who suffer innocent death. That Father Hamel would have died defenceless within sight of a crucifix makes his murder all the more poignant and painful to contemplate. He paid the highest price that his vocation demands. Yet the thought of having to say Mass behind locked doors is repugnant. Most priests will prefer to face the risk.

Is there more they can do? Faced with atrocities of this kind, the usual response by Church leaders is to call for more dialogue. Yet the one thing that is sure about these so-called soldiers of so-called Islamic State is that they are not interested in, nor capable of,

The joint report by two parliamentary select committees into the collapse of the BHS retail chain could hardly have been more devastating. It was “the culmination of a sorry litany of failures of corporate governance and greed” – a judgement which neatly identifies both the systemic and the moral factors involved. Sir Philip Green, knighted in 2006 for his services to the retail industry, is accused of draining the financial lifeblood out of the company for his and his family’s personal enrichment, and then walking away leaving a deficit of more than £500 million in the company pension fund.

Yet it is not clear Sir Philip broke any rules, though his financial arrangements were complex. He is now coming under pressure to make good the pension deficit out of his personal fortune, which is considerably greater than the sum required and by which he supports an ostentatious lifestyle. Among the pressures on him is the threat to remove his knighthood, though so far his general attitude is defiant. It appears that any other business executive would be free, as the law stands, to do as he has done.

This highlights one of the more unexpected features of Theresa May’s package of policies that she launched prior to becoming Prime Minister and repeated since – her commitment to corporate governance reform. While most personal incomes in the United Kingdom have stagnated over the last ten years, the average income of company directors has rocketed. Clearly any kind of dialogue. Nevertheless dialogue, including building relationships across cultural boundaries, has a substantial role to play. Commentators on French community relations, including Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, have identified ignorance on both sides as a key factor that needs to be addressed.

A young Muslim, ignorant of his own faith and prey to radicalisation, may come to believe that Catholics are his sworn enemy. He may also be surrounded by other Muslims, less fanatical than he, who also have erroneous beliefs about Catholicism – that it has not changed since the medieval Crusades, for instance. They may know nothing about current Church teaching urging Catholics to respect members of other faiths, and to work together on shared projects for the common good. In such a climate, anti-Catholic fanaticism would not stand out as much as it should. It could go unchallenged. A person displaying it is unlikely to be reported to the authorities by those amongst whom he lives. Dialogue is about replacing false perceptions with true ones, and emphasising what is held in common. Effective communication with Muslims of goodwill may limit the impact of extremists.

The French Government has a large stake in improving community relations, and knows that the jihadists’ tactics are aimed at driving a wedge between sections of French society. The increasing popularity of Marine Le Pen’s Front National is an Islamist success story. Hence a political programme aimed at promoting national unity, preventing radicalisation and encouraging moderate Muslim leadership is all the more imperative. Ambivalence is not enough.

(Source: The Tablet July 28)

Fields of Blood: Religion & the History of Violence

Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong

A Review

How have we ended up with the idea that religious doctrine above all is to blame for human conflict?

Islamic State is like a bad dream. Its horror flashes up on our screens, so out of place in the waking world of cities and shopping and work. Its adherents wave what looks like a pirate flag. They are crazy, incomprehensible, intoxicated.

Some kind of spell must have been cast over them to rob them of reason and compassion. But what exactly? There are those who feel confident of the answer. “A hatred of infidels is arguably the central message of the Qur’an,” writes Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith. “The reality of martyrdom and the sanctity of armed jihad are about as controversial under Islam as the resurrection of Jesus is under Christianity.” He goes on: “horrific footage of infidels and apostates being decapitated has become a popular form of pornography throughout the Muslim world. But there is now a large industry of obfuscation designed to protect Muslims from having to grapple with these truths.”

Harris would regard Karen Armstrong as a captain of that industry. In her new book, the former nun stubbornly refuses to accept that responsibility for beheadings, suicide bombings and the persecution of minorities can be laid at the door of Islam. Is she a head-in-the-sand apologist? One of those whose interpretation of events wishes, in Tony Blair‘s words, “to eliminate the obvious common factor in a way that is almost wilful”?

That depends, of course, on what you regard as the obvious common factor. If violent Islamism is a religious, rather than a political phenomenon, how can we explain Barsauma, who terrorised the Levant in the fifth century, destroying synagogues and murdering pilgrims? He resembles no one so much as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But Barsauma was a Christian monk. And then there is the Muslim reconquest of Jerusalem by jihadist warrior Salah ad-Din, during which not a single Christian was killed, and many were given safe passage to the coastal enclave of Tyre.

In her sprawling survey Armstrong shows that doctrine alone cannot give rise to intercommunal strife. Instead, it is usually a reaction to social upheaval and the new forms of structural oppression – gross inequality or overt persecution – that come with it. In the absence of these conditions, religion tends to encourage peaceful coexistence. To blame one or other faith, when the evidence shows so clearly that all types of violence have been committed in the name of all religions and none, is to supply an extraordinarily – you might say wilfully – superficial reading of history.

The fact that her critics seem impervious to the evidence may be what drives Armstrong to produce ever more ambitious books. Fields of Blood follows A Short History of MythThe Bible: A Biography and The Case for God. Its field of reference is mind-boggling. We start nearly 3,000 years before the birth of Christ, in Uruk, the world’s first civilisation. There we learn how the Sumerians’ vision of heaven was an attempt to justify the brutality of a new system, one in which peasants worked the land, and the agricultural surplus supported an aristocracy. The Sumerian pantheon was a mirror of the state. Like their human counterparts, the gods were “preoccupied with town planning, irrigation and government”. Hurrying along, we read of an India where “yoga” meant ritual preparation for plunder and pillage. Then China, then the Israelites. There is a cursoriness to the narrative here which makes it difficult to believe the learning is really Armstrong’s. She does a fine precis of these “beginnings”, but it is only once she turns in earnest to the Abrahamic religions that we feel we are in the hands of an expert.

Amid the kaleidoscope of examples, the argument solidifies: religious awakening is a symptom of too-quick transition from one kind of society to another. From the nomadic to the settled, from the agrarian to the mercantile, from the mercantile to the industrial. Violence often erupts at these moments. But the link with religion is one of correlation, not causation.

What is more, religion was, for most of history, a shared, public phenomenon. Sacred ceremony lent meaning and legitimacy to the business of daily life and underpinned all kinds of authority. Early modern Europe, with its burgeoning population and economy, was unable to maintain consensus on matters of ritual, and a new notion of religion as private opinion emerged. This cleaving was significant. It paved the way for secular violence unrestrained by the best of religion. It also meant that doctrine, untethered from society, could be co-opted to serve an array of projects, some of them psychopathically at odds with the mainstream. In this sense it begins to resemble a virus that survives in isolated reservoirs, with occasional outbreaks of extremist mayhem.

We know that the slaughter of the French revolution, the Napoleonic wars, the American civil war, the opium wars, the first world war, the Armenian genocide, Stalin’s great purge, the second world war and the Holocaust had little to do with religion. Indeed, much of it was explicitly antireligious. So how on earth have we ended up with the idea – still in evidence in, for example, the comments readers leave on news websites – that religion above all is to blame for human violence?

Armstrong begins and ends her book with reflections on the scapegoat – the animal burdened with the sins of the community and sent out into the desert. She argues that we, in the secular, rational west, have become incapable of properly acknowledging our own ferocious violence. The madmen are the ones who believe in a man in the sky, who strap on suicide belts imagining that they will be rewarded with virgins in heaven – not we, who debate and legislate and only then slam hellfire missiles into wedding parties.

But what of Islamic State? Theology motivates its actions; that theology derives from the Qur’an. Surely this is religious violence. In a narrow sense, yes. However, it represents a grossly mutated version of a doctrine that survives in much of the world in its original form as a stabilising, communitarian practice. To extend the analogy of the virus: we know that environmental stress accelerates mutation in the natural world. The faith communities subjected to the most stress over the past two centuries are those of Middle Eastern and subcontinental Islam; as Armstrong sets out in grim detail, its members have endured colonisation, the expropriation of land, authoritarian rule and military occupation. Could these stressors come to be seen as the greater cause?

None of which is to excuse the revolting acts of Islamic State fanatics. In this arena, the tendency for attempts to explain and understand to be taken as acts of apology is deeply frustrating. But we must not turn our backs on history, which is the only way the arguments set out by the likes of Sam Harris and Tony Blair make sense. The urge to blame others is strong, and old, as the ritual of the scapegoat shows. The first step towards extirpating it is to acknowledge it. In her efforts to bring this about, Armstrong is doing us a great service.

Source: The Guardian


Additional South Sudan Refugees in Uganda

Sudan Refugees 002

Uganda received 0ver 30, 000 refugees in just three weeks and reception facilities are overflowing. Recent fighting in South Sudan has caused the wave of new arrivals, putting pressure on its southern neighbour, which is already hosting half a million refugees…

“The new refugee influx of South Sudan refugees is a huge burden to the government. We are constrained in terms of providing social services to these new refugees,” Titus Jogo, a refugee official at the Ugandan prime minister’s office, told IRIN. “We are looking for additional resources to provide them with social services like medical care, water, shelter and other basic necessities.”

By early December 2015, Uganda had become home to almost 511,000 refugees and asylum seekers, making it the third largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, after Ethiopia and Kenya.

As of 24 July, more than 30,000 refugees had crossed into Uganda to flee uncertainty and fighting in South Sudan between government troops of President Salva Kiir and forces loyal to First Vice President Riek Machar. Humanitarian agencies say the sudden influx has severely stretched the resources and capacity of refugee collection points, transit centres and reception centres in the northwestern part of the country.

(Source: IRIN News)

Book Review: IP Studies in the Philippines

A Mountain of Difference: The Lumad in Early Colonial Mindanao. By OONA PAREDES. Ithaca, N.Y.: Southeast Asia Program Publications, Cornell Uni- versity, 2013. viii, 195 pp. $46.95 (cloth, ISBN 9780877277910); $23.95 (paper, ISBN 9780877277613).

Understanding the complexity of interethnic relations in the southern Philippines has long been hampered by competing narratives of indigenous ethnolinguistic groups’ resistance to Spanish colonization. Perhaps the most powerful narrative is the one that cloaks the ethno-history of the thirteen indigenous Muslim peoples behind a trope of continual fierce opposition to conquest—a storyline often offered in contrast to a narra- tive of northern Filipinos’ perceived capitulation to Spanish rule. Hidden between these narratives is another perception of the upland, mostly non-Muslim indigenous peoples of Mindanao as having been untouched by colonization owing to their location in remote upland homelands. Oona Paredes, in this groundbreaking book, completely dismantles this latter interpretation of indigenous history by skillfully weaving anthropological in- sights into the fragmented documentary evidence from northern Mindanao in the 1600s to the 1800s. She illuminates how centuries of close contact with Spanish missionaries occurred in ways that still enabled many of the Lumad (an ethnic category that encompasses eighteen indigenous ethnolinguistic groups) in this region to maintain a cultural distinctiveness that persists today.

Paredes presents a number of fascinating historical vignettes of the Lumad colonial experience. Methodologically, the book is based on an original review of primary sources in Spain, rather than secondary or translated versions. Arguing that the story of the Lumad cannot be presented through the usual lens of Hispanization and oppression of Filipino groups by a superior power, she shows that on the outer margins of the archipel- ago—far from the intensely concentrated Spanish influence—a handful of vulnerable Recoleto missionaries (Order of Augustinian Recollects) surrounded by thousands of in- digenous peoples developed close relationships that profoundly influenced and trans- formed each other, as well as the entire colonial project. Ultimately, it led the Lumad to distance themselves from their former tributary alliances with the Maguindanao sulta- nate and to assume a protective relationship with the Spanish priests. The Recoletos themselves came to experience feelings of commonality with their Lumad converts—a trust that was shattered at times through episodes of treachery and cultural misunder- standing that Paredes fully explores and interprets. The Caraga revolt of 1631 was the bloodiest anti-Spanish uprising by Christianized Lumad, for example, and yet relation- ships with Spanish priests were reestablished relatively quickly.

Theoretically, this book relies on a comparative history of the role of Spanish mis- sions and missionary impacts in the Americas, as well as Southeast Asian scholarship that emphasizes the tendency for peoples in the region to be attracted to various new in- fluences that periodically have arrived with visiting Indian, Chinese, Arabic, and Europe- an explorers, traders, soldiers, and religious missionaries. The regularized contact between Spanish missionaries and the Lumad initiated a number of important changes in their social and political organization, including the familiar practice of consolidating small kin-based settlements into larger villages, constructing military fortifications of Eu- ropean design for protection from raids, and European-style training of Lumad militias. Perhaps one of the most significant ways that Spanish missionaries influenced the region was not just through Christian conversion and the establishment of new ways by which Lumad groups could relate to each other, but by persuading them to deescalate revenge raiding. In this manner, the Lumad became “legible” and viewed positively by the missionaries, especially compared to the way Spanish archival documents depict the Moro peoples.

A common characteristic of Southeast Asian peoples has been the way they have often been fascinated with ideas coming from outside cultures and enthusiastic about in- tegrating them into their own traditions—a process known as “localization.” “Foreign- ness” has simply not been perceived as a threat to their own cultural authenticity, nor to their political autonomy. Rather than capitulate to Spanish power, the Lumad actively incorporated exotic items (such as the golden cane) and political terminology into their own royal regalia and ways of talking about leadership and status. Paredes argues that this is a vivid illustration of how the Lumad engaged in “a conscious attempt to ‘harmo- nize’ a foreign tradition with local politics” (p. 56).

This book ultimately restores the Lumad historical experience of Spanish coloniza- tion to its rightful place alongside the many different experiences of other Philippine groups. It also raises the larger question as to what actually constituted Spanish colonial authority in Mindanao. Paredes’s own reading of the archive and ethno-history clearly suggests that in this region, a lens of mutual, if shifting local alliances rather than outright subjugation offers a more nuanced understanding of the colonial encounter. This 1068 The Journal of Asian Studies monograph is extremely well-written and thought-provoking, and would work in ad- vanced undergraduate and well as graduate classes in history, anthropology, and Philip- pine studies.

Northern Illinois University

Turkey: What Changes and Does Not Change post the Failed Coup?

Turkey: What Changes and Does Not Change post the Failed Coup
By By Annie Slemrod
Middle East Editor
JERUSALEM, 18 July 2016

With more than than 290 dead, 1,400 injured, and 9,000 arrested (including 30 governors), a dramatic coup attempt by a segment of the Turkish military is over, or at least in its dying throes.

Supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came out to the streets to protest the putsch on Friday evening, at his call. Tellingly, so did some of his opponents. After a weekend crackdown, the leader appears to have emerged in a strong position. However, he is far from invincible, and the country remains divided.

As Erdogan’s government continues to cull the judiciary and the armed forces, and to shut down independent media outlets, it is clear that the repercussions will be felt for some time, both inside and outside the country.

Here’s how the aftermath is playing out in some key areas of concern:


While Turkey has been preventing fleeing Syrians from crossing its borders – going so far as to shoot those who attempt – the country has allowed 2.7 million into the country, and this has largely been thanks to Erdogan.

Had the coup succeeded, history dictates that there could well have been a backlash against the refugees. Take Egypt’s 2013 coup: ousted president Mohamed Morsi backed some segments of the Syrian opposition (as does Erdogan). After his ouster, Syrian refugees became the target of abuse; many were forced to flee the country.

Now, not only will the refugees’ situation presumably remain stable, but Erdogan may even have a freer hand in pushing forward his plan to grant citizenship to some 300,000 Syrians – a proposal that had been dominating headlines up until this weekend’s sudden turn of events.

Metin Çorabatır, president of the Ankara-based Research Centre on Asylum and Migration, told IRIN that Erdogan’s renewed power, even if it is temporary, might allow him to push through the citizenship plan.

Past efforts to expand protections for refugees in Turkey have repeatedly been blocked, in part by security concerns. But, with that sector clearly weakened, Çorabatır said activists should seize this opportunity and reopen the debate about who actually deserves protection, or even citizenship – reforming a system that doesn’t officially recognise refugees.

“Erdogan came out as a stronger leader than before, and he has a free hand to change things how he would like to,” Çorabatır said. “So in that sense, human rights activists and others should [take the chance] to explain to the government that the asylum system should be changed … and they can discuss nationality.”

That said, Erdogan’s supporters may not be as sympathetic to the plight of their Syrian neighbours as the president is said to be. Nationalist sentiment is running high. There have been reports of mobs attacking Syrian neighbourhoods in the wake of the coup attempt, although these could not be independently confirmed by IRIN.

EU-Turkey deal

Turkey’s long-stalled accession to the EU was supposed to be given fresh impetus by a deal to return one migrant who did not qualify for asylum from Europe to Turkey in exchange for resettling one qualifying Syrian on the continent.

However, the agreement was quickly halted by questions over its legality and there have been no mass returns. Now there’s another potential hitch: the death penalty.

Capital punishment is no-go for the EU: abolition is a precondition for entry, and Turkey abolished it in 2002 as part of reforms aimed at membership.

But, following the coup, politicians from Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have called for reintroducing the sentence. Erdogan has said he will consider it (not for the first time), and the hashtag “I want the death sentence” was reportedly trending on Twitter in Turkish over the weekend.

While European leaders threw their support behind Turkey’s elected government, EU chief Donald Tusk also warned of concerns of a potential crackdown.

“The key question will be what kind of Turkey comes out from this crisis. How Turkey manages to come out of and deal with the consequences will be crucial not just for Turkey, but the whole region and EU-Turkey relations.”

Presumably, the EU won’t react favorably to the death penalty either, and any execution would throw a major spanner in the EU-Turkey works. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman hammered this home Monday. “A country that has the death penalty cannot be a member of the European Union,” he said. “The introduction of the death penalty in Turkey would mean the end of accession talks.”


Negotiations broke down between the state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in July 2015, and since the end of last year the two groups have been battling it out in the country’s majority Kurdish southeast.

Civilians have been paying the price, with more than 350,000 displaced and more than 250 killed.

Kristian Brakel, director of the Heinrich Boll Foundation (and a Turkey expert), doesn’t foresee a major change in Erdogan’s policy towards the PKK.

That said, the rise in nationalistic sentiment in the wider population “never historically bodes well for the Kurds,” he noted.

Fighting the PKK, which Turkey considers a terrorist organisation, has been a flagship Erdogan policy. But the militants will be emboldened if the post-coup purge leads to a badly fractured military (there have already been several detentions in the southeast)

The fight against so-called Islamic State

While the relationship has been tense at times, cooperation appears to have been on the up in recent days, with Ankara backing a Kurdish-led offensive against IS in Manbij.
That may now be at risk.

Incirlik airbase, which the US uses to send jets to Syria and Iraq, was temporarily shut down after Turkey said it had arrested plotters there. The airspace is meant to be open again, but operations are likely to be hampered by the reported detention of the base’s commander.

Erdogan and his allies blame US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for the attempted takeover – Erdogan has pledged to “clean all state institutions of the virus” of Gulen supporters and has said he will request the cleric’s extradition.

But others have strongly suggested that the United States itself was somehow involved in the coup.

Gulen denies involvement in the plot and has thrown the blame back on Erdogan.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, has strongly denied that his country played any part in the events and has invited Turkey to “present us with any legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny”.

This war of words can’t be good for ties between the countries and their deal to battle IS.
“Let’s wait and see how it develops,” cautioned Brakel.

While Turkey has been cozying up to Russia, Israel, and America of late, a formal request for Gulen’s extradition “would definitely be a strain on US-Turkish relations”, he added. (as/ag)

Five Crucial Issues Confronting Southern Mindanao

Five Urgent Issues Confronting South and Central and Western Mindanao
By Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., OMI
Chair, Kusog Mindanaw
Professor – NDU Graduate School
Class on the Mindanao Peace Process SY 2016-17

The Five (5) ISSUES

1. The first issue is the issue of the Displaced. There are differing statistical figures on the exact number of the displaced from the first war in the early 70’s to the present. The figure differs but people put it to over a million. In the early 70’s, the displaced created the Campo Muslim both in the City of Cotabato and the City of Zamboanga. The subsequent wars exacerbated the displaced along the national highways that created new barangays, especially in the Province of Magui8ndanao. The Estrada War in the 2000 all-out-war put the displaced about 600,000 while the GO puts it at about 350,000. The displaced are not simple statistical numbers or COLLATERAL DAMAGE in the on-going war in Mindanao. They have human faces, names, and families and before the present Mindanao War, they too had their own homes and lands to till. Food production and livelihood are, definitely, casualties of the war.

The issue of the displaced is one the biggest challenges to PEACE and all people of GOODWIL One of the CALLS is “return to the land.” This can be our dream and focus of real reconstruction. Return to their lands/villages, rebuild their homes and pick up again the pieces of their livelihood. LAND and PEACE!

2. The second issue is the future PEACE AGREEMENTS in Southern Mindanao. There have been three signed PEACE AGREEMENTS for the same people, same territory and same bureaucratic structure of self-governance. The first is the 1976 Tripoli Agreement between the GRP and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF); the second is the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the GRP and the MNLF; and the third is the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Both the legislation by the Congress of the Philippines and the implementation of the three agreements are contested by the MNLF and the MILF.

From 1976 (the era of President Marcos) to 2016 (era of Pres. Noynoy Aquino), the various attempts to implement the three agreements have been understood as UNILATERAL on the part of the Philippine Government. Notwithstanding the ‘objections’ from the MNLF and MILF, these agreements have produced the government’s institutional and structural system of self-governance in the form of regional autonomy. Moro leaders from the Fronts and the Traditions had been ‘co-opted’ to serve either in the previous Regional Autonomous Governments in Region IX and XII (Pres. Marcos time) or in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao through the courtesy of the 1987 Constitution and Republic Act 6734 and RA 9054 (from the time of Pres. Cory Aquino to the present).

At present under the new President (Rodrigo Duterte), the roadmap in the implementation of these agreements appears to be in form of Federal Arrangement through Constitutional Revision.

I personally believe that both the MNLF and the MILF are open to genuine Autonomy. The mere fact that they entered into a Peace Process is an indicator of that flexibility. But Government has to come out with a creative and innovative political package that can serve as a real self-governance both in form and substance. What the MNLD and the MILF desire is to live and chart their destiny according to their set of beliefs. Religious Freedom is a Constitutional guarantee that is even prior to political and civil rights.

The MNLF slogan in the early 70’s “Bangsa, Hula and Agama” is an articulation of ideal. There is recognition that NO government will concede dismemberment of its territorial integrity and/or diminution of its Sovereignty. What is being explored is a formula whereby the ideals and the “given” are reconcilable either through a grant and/or recognition of autonomy in local affairs both in governance and administration of justice that includes among others pertinent provisions of the Shari’a.

3. The third crucial issue is Development and Empowerment. The War in Mindanao has exacerbated the gloss reality of underdevelopment and poverty. The ARMM remains the poorest among all the Regions in the Philippines. All Human Development Indicators show that the whole region needs an urgent rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Yet, development is not simply measured by GDP and GNP! In the region, the vast majority of the ARMM constituents, long devastated by war, measure development, primarily, by the improvement in their livelihood and access to basic services, particularly timely accessibility to quality medical services and good quality basic education (now K-12). The slogan ‘Inclusive Growth’, has remained mainly in paper and a mantra for government.

The tragedy in all these development, rehabilitation, re-construction and relief hullabaloo is the fact that these superbodies were all concocted in the national Capital Region without any benefit of consultation or real participation of the stakeholders, the Mindanawans. In general, the people in the affected areas are simple beneficiaries of the classic top down regional planning. Any development plan, more so rehabilitation needs to empower the people who are the real principals and stakeholders in this enterprise.

In the same way that there can be no “ENFORCED PEACE, there is no such animal as “ENFORCED DEVELOPMENT”. This is a classic example of a government going berserk after destroying the place. NO VISION, NO FOCUS, NO COHERENCE AND TOO MANY COOKS.

4. The fourth issue is Governance and Accountability. Both in the national and local levels, governance is the issue in the present tragedy in Mindanao. Good governance with vision and accountability is as elusive as Peace and Development in Mindanao. The local government units, particularly in Central and Southern Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao are actual “vassals” of the ‘Paramount Lord’ that resides somewhere along the Pasig River. The releases of funds for projects and the “unaccountable” Internal Revenue Allotments are tied up to “captive” electoral votes during elections. Performances in Public Service and Accountability to the constituents are issues foreign to uniquely patron-client relations between Malacanang and the Local Government Units, in general, and LGU and their local constituents, in particular.

Very often the lack of performance or dismal failure in governance is attributed to a lack of capacity in the local government units. The solutions often offered are seminars and series of training-workshops on “capacity building” and ‘lakbay aral’ that often becomes junkets. Yet, the real problem in governance is, perhaps, not capacity but structure or system of governance that is attuned and responsive to the CULTURE and praxis of both the governors and the governed. The behavior of the governors and the governed fit the strongly “semi-feudal” and “semi-colonial” relations as typified in the existing Patron-Client structure. Such governance has distinct indicators that are not measured by actual performance on the ground and accountability to the people.

When people demand for “autonomy” or any type of “self-determination”, they point not only to the issue of empowering them to decide and determine on local affairs but also to the issue of putting an END to what is commonly labeled as “Imperial Manila” to mean precisely the Patron-Client Relations.

5. The fifth issue is the urgent need for Dialogue and Culture of Peace. Mindanao has always been known as the cultural melting pot. Mindanao is “blessed” by very varied cultural communities popularly known as the LUMADS that continue to inhabit the uplands. Added to the Lumads are the thirteen ethno-linguistic “groups” also known as the Bangsamoro that through the centuries has continued its struggle to live according to a particular set of beliefs. Then beginning the second decade of the last century, different Christian tribes and groups from Luzon and the Visayas have settled in Mindanao and in time they have constituted the majority population in almost all provinces and cities except the Provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi Tawi and the Cities of Marawi and Cotabato.

The diversities of cultures, religious beliefs and peoples demand a constant “schooling” for CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE for all. The War in Mindanao and the continuing cultural and religious stereotypes and biases, more than ever, point to the urgent need of people being schooled to the Paradigm of Dialogue and Tolerance. The bigotry and biases continue to fuel the hostility and animosity specifically between Muslims and Christians. The rise of vigilantism and militia mind set under the guise of CAFGU, especially among rural folks, is tied up to a type of religious fanaticism that is also anti-Muslim.

In a plural Mindanao, ours is NOT the path of WAR but the path of Pluralism and Dialogue and the conscious and concerted efforts of all to engender a CULTURE of PEACE.

Notre Dame University – Graduater School
July 07, 2016


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