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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full news commentary)

FROM PHILSTAR

EDITORIAL: WATER AND JOBS


MATCH 23 -Think about it: if people in underdeveloped communities do not have to trek for several hours just to get water for their households, they could instead spend those hours learning livelihood skills or, for children, in getting formal education. The United Nations estimates that about 1.5 billion people work in sectors where water plays an important role, including fisheries, farming, manufacturing and energy generation. Their work, earnings and quality of life could be improved with the efficient delivery of clean water. As World Water Day is marked on March 22, the UN is focusing on the links between water and jobs, and consequently to poverty alleviation. Adequate supply of clean water is also indispensable in public health and sanitation. This is important in developing countries such as the Philippines where millions of households still lack piped water and modern toilets. An estimated 650 million people do not have access to safe water, and 340,000 workers die each year from lack of water and sanitation, according to the UN. By 2050, the UN projects global water demand to increase by 55 percent. Governments are urged to make more investments in water supply infrastructure and to intensify efforts to reduce water pollution. Since the first World Water Day was observed in 1993, the UN has emphasized the transformative impact of having sufficient supply of safe water. Water is needed for sustainable development. With this year’s theme of water and jobs, the UN is stressing the message that adequate water supply not only can change workers’ lives and livelihoods but also transform economies and societies. THE FULL EDITORIAL.

ALSO: HOLY WEEK REFLECTION - How the Apostles died – and why


MARCH 23 -By Jarius Bondoc (By way of contributing to our Holy Week reflection, I’d like to reprint this 2009 column. It came as an email that asked, “Do You Know How the Apostles Died?” Most of the answers are verifiable historically and from Church records, though some are steeped in controversy. That the Apostles persisted in spreading the Word, then endured such persecution, makes us ask, “Why?”) Peter was crucified upside down on an X-shaped cross. This was because, according to church tradition, he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way as Jesus Christ. James the Just, leader of the church in Jerusalem, refused to deny his faith in Christ. He was thrown more than a hundred feet from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple (the same location where Satan had tried to tempt Jesus). Discovering that James survived the fall, his tormentors beat him to death with a fuller’s club. James the Great, son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, he was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded him watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian. Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel, was a missionary to Asia, witnessing for Jesus in the region now under Turkey. He was martyred by whipping, for preaching in Armenia. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers, his body was tied to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: “I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.” He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired. READ MORE...

ALSO: Holy Week peace


MARCH 23 -By Marichu A. Villanueva
In the spirit of the Lenten season, it is comforting to get pronouncements from politicians calling for a ceasefire in the ongoing political battles relative to the May 9 national and local elections. The call for ceasefire during this Lent is indeed welcome amid the intense, almost rabid attacks by camps of rival candidates, especially in the presidential race. This we witnessed during last Sunday’s televised debate among four of the five presidential candidates, who tried to chew each other out for almost three hours. The four candidates were Vice President Jejomar Binay, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Grace Poe, and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II. Sen.Miriam Defensor-Santiago begged off from the second round of the presidential debate, citing medical reasons. Dubbed as 2016 PILIpinas Debates, the demeanor of the four presidential candidates mirrored the animosity of their respective camps against each other. The airing of the presidential debate itself was delayed by one-and-a-half-hours after the Binay camp was accused of violating the debate rules by bringing in documents and notes. In fairness to all, it would do well for everyone to know the real score from the people who took part since day one of the preparations for the presidential debate as supervised by the Commission of Elections (Comelec). The second round of the presidential debate was conducted by TV5 as the organizing network, along with The STAR, The BusinessWorld, The Freeman, and belatedly the Radio-Mindanao Network. Representing The STAR since day one when the Comelec called a meeting last year of all participating entities, including the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), we were informed that all candidates would not be allowed to bring in “kodigo” (notes nor documents) to the debate. The same rule has been reiterated in subsequent meetings after media entities were grouped into three, one for Luzon, one for Visayas, and one for Mindanao through the drawing of lots. TV5/STAR led the organizing team for the Visayas round of the presidential debate. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Tony Katigbak - A time for rest and reflection


MARH 23 -By Tony Katigbak
It has certainly been a crazy last few months in our country. With the campaign period chugging along at top speed, that’s all anyone is really paying attention to and talking about. On the one hand, I completely understand where everyone is coming from – after all, these leaders we elect will eventually help shape the country’s future. And as I’ve said in columns past, this particular election certainly seems like a landmark one with the fate of our country hanging in the balance. I’m grateful that there are more avenues for information to get to as many voters as possible this time around. The presidential debates have been very useful and instrumental in helping us get to know our potential candidates and their plans for the Philippines. We can see how they handle themselves under pressure and how they both ask and answer the tough questions. Moreover, we get to see how they interact with one another in a real life setting. I actually think this is one of the more important aspects of the debates and the campaign in general. After all, everyone is going to go above and beyond promising the moon and the sun and the sky during the campaign period. We all know that a lot of those promises are not going to be kept to the letter once the elected president goes into office. It’s just not possible. But if we know what type of character the elected president has, then we can at least gauge how he/she will work moving forward. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - A borderless war


MARCH 24 -Closed-circuit TV footage showed the three men pushing luggage carts into the check-in area at the Brussels airport. On each cart sat bags, now believed to contain the two bombs that were set off last Tuesday morning in the Belgian capital. Two of the men wore black gloves, believed used to conceal detonators. The two died as they set off the explosives; the third man walked out of the airport as people lay wounded and dying. Probers believe his bomb failed to detonate. Shortly after the attack, another explosion ripped through the Brussels Metro system. As of yesterday, 14 people had died in the airport attack and 20 in the Metro train. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility for the worst terrorist attack in the city that hosts the headquarters of the European Union. The attack is just the latest warning about the borderless war that ISIS is waging, if not directly then through adherents inspired by its gospel of hate. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

EDITORIAL: Water and jobs

MANILA, MARCH 28, 2016 (PHILSTAR) Updated March 23, 2016 - Think about it: if people in underdeveloped communities do not have to trek for several hours just to get water for their households, they could instead spend those hours learning livelihood skills or, for children, in getting formal education.

The United Nations estimates that about 1.5 billion people work in sectors where water plays an important role, including fisheries, farming, manufacturing and energy generation. Their work, earnings and quality of life could be improved with the efficient delivery of clean water.

As World Water Day is marked on March 22, the UN is focusing on the links between water and jobs, and consequently to poverty alleviation. Adequate supply of clean water is also indispensable in public health and sanitation. This is important in developing countries such as the Philippines where millions of households still lack piped water and modern toilets.

An estimated 650 million people do not have access to safe water, and 340,000 workers die each year from lack of water and sanitation, according to the UN. By 2050, the UN projects global water demand to increase by 55 percent. Governments are urged to make more investments in water supply infrastructure and to intensify efforts to reduce water pollution.

Since the first World Water Day was observed in 1993, the UN has emphasized the transformative impact of having sufficient supply of safe water. Water is needed for sustainable development. With this year’s theme of water and jobs, the UN is stressing the message that adequate water supply not only can change workers’ lives and livelihoods but also transform economies and societies.


How the Apostles died – and why GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 23, 2016 - 12:00am 0 6 googleplus0 2


By Jarius Bondoc

(By way of contributing to our Holy Week reflection, I’d like to reprint this 2009 column. It came as an email that asked, “Do You Know How the Apostles Died?” Most of the answers are verifiable historically and from Church records, though some are steeped in controversy. That the Apostles persisted in spreading the Word, then endured such persecution, makes us ask, “Why?”)

Peter was crucified upside down on an X-shaped cross. This was because, according to church tradition, he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way as Jesus Christ.

James the Just, leader of the church in Jerusalem, refused to deny his faith in Christ. He was thrown more than a hundred feet from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple (the same location where Satan had tried to tempt Jesus). Discovering that James survived the fall, his tormentors beat him to death with a fuller’s club.

James the Great, son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, he was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded him watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.

Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel, was a missionary to Asia, witnessing for Jesus in the region now under Turkey. He was martyred by whipping, for preaching in Armenia.

Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers, his body was tied to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: “I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.” He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.

READ MORE...

Thomas was stabbed with a spear during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the Indian subcontinent.

Matthew, (namesake of?) the former tax collector, suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound.

Mark died after being dragged by horses through the streets of Alexandria, Egypt.

Luke was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.

John (the Evangelist, said to be different from “The Beloved,” the youngest Apostle) was condemned to boiling in a cauldron of oil, during a wave of persecution in Rome. Miraculously he was delivered from death. He was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos, where he wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation. Later freed, John returned to serve as Bishop of what is now Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only Apostle to pass away peacefully.

Jude was killed with arrows and stones when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.

Matthias, the Apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.

Barnabas, one of the seventy disciples mentioned in the Gospel of Luke, preached throughout Italy and Cyprus. Soon after writing the Epistle of Barnabas, he was stoned to death at Salonica, a seaport in what is now Turkey.

Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. He endured lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, teaching many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.

Perhaps all this is a reminder that our earthly sufferings are minor compared to the cruel persecutions the Apostles endured for the sake of Faith. Too, that after suffering comes redemption.


Holy Week peace COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 23, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Marichu A. Villanueva

In the spirit of the Lenten season, it is comforting to get pronouncements from politicians calling for a ceasefire in the ongoing political battles relative to the May 9 national and local elections.

The call for ceasefire during this Lent is indeed welcome amid the intense, almost rabid attacks by camps of rival candidates, especially in the presidential race.

This we witnessed during last Sunday’s televised debate among four of the five presidential candidates, who tried to chew each other out for almost three hours.

The four candidates were Vice President Jejomar Binay, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Grace Poe, and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II. Sen.Miriam Defensor-Santiago begged off from the second round of the presidential debate, citing medical reasons.

Dubbed as 2016 PILIpinas Debates, the demeanor of the four presidential candidates mirrored the animosity of their respective camps against each other. The airing of the presidential debate itself was delayed by one-and-a-half-hours after the Binay camp was accused of violating the debate rules by bringing in documents and notes.

In fairness to all, it would do well for everyone to know the real score from the people who took part since day one of the preparations for the presidential debate as supervised by the Commission of Elections (Comelec). The second round of the presidential debate was conducted by TV5 as the organizing network, along with The STAR, The BusinessWorld, The Freeman, and belatedly the Radio-Mindanao Network.

Representing The STAR since day one when the Comelec called a meeting last year of all participating entities, including the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), we were informed that all candidates would not be allowed to bring in “kodigo” (notes nor documents) to the debate. The same rule has been reiterated in subsequent meetings after media entities were grouped into three, one for Luzon, one for Visayas, and one for Mindanao through the drawing of lots. TV5/STAR led the organizing team for the Visayas round of the presidential debate.

READ MORE...

I don’t know where the failure of communication went in the case of TV5 that got Luchie Cruz-Valdes mixed up to allow the camp of the Vice President to bring his notes and documents to the debate. Valdes profusely apologized for the “mis-communication” and caused the ruckus that delayed the debate. As moderator of the debate, Valdes should have been apprised about the debate rules by her staff who attended the series of Comelec meetings.

On the other hand, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco admitted it was him who asked Valdes if the Vice President would be allowed to bring in his notes. Tiangco along with JV Bautista represented the Binay camp during our last two meetings with the representatives of the five candidates. Tiangco explained he made this request to Valdes through e-mail after our second meeting held at TV5 at Reliance in Mandaluyong because he and Bautista had to leave before the discussions ended and left Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla behind.

It was Remulla who represented the Binay camp during the first presidential debate conducted by GMA-7 in Cagayan de Oro City where the no-notes rule was already applied. So it behooves Remulla to know about this particular no notes rule of the debate.

Henceforth, Comelec chairman Andres Bautista must require the same set of representatives to attend the meetings to make sure everyone understands the rules and everybody is on the same page. Lesson learned from this latest presidential debate is for all to know and follow the rules to the letter and spirit.

As stated at the outset, talks about politics should take a full stop to give us peace of mind and spirit while we observe the Holy Week. The observance of silence during this Lenten season should provide the much-needed break from the toxic atmosphere of politics currently pervading in our country, especially to the candidates running in the coming May 9 national and local elections.

* * *

Let me take this occasion of the Lenten period to pay tribute to people who do not wait for any religious event to help the cause of Catholic churches in our country.

The heirs of Wong Chu King, the patriarch and founder of the Mighty Corp. continue his philanthropic activities through the Wong Chu King (WCK) Foundation Inc. They channel charity work to education, civic and religious activities even as their late father was a devout Buddhist during his lifetime. His children including Alex “Kokoy” Dy, Wongchuking who now runs their family-owned cigarette company, were raised as Catholics here.

The bulk of the WCK Foundation charity goes to the preservation and restoration of a number of Catholic churches around the country, especially those in state of disrepair. In fact, a church at Our Lady of Piat in Cagayan will be inaugurated on the occasion of the 36th founding anniversary of the WCK Foundation on March 30. The foundation is also donating a new water tank to supply 240 households in the town of Piat.

During their anniversary last year, the WCK Foundation renovated Sta. Rosa de Lima Parish Church in Barangay Annafunan in Tuguegarao, Cagayan. The renovation was meant to maintain the integrity and stability of the 65-year-old church, particularly the roofing and ceiling. The foundation heeded the request of Rev. Fr. Fredel Agatep, parish priest, for assistance in refurbishing the dilapidated church.

The WCK Foundation likewise completed the repair, including the re-polishing of the marble flooring of the St. Peter and St. Paul Metropolitan Cathedrals in Tuguegarao, Cagayan. The foundation heeded the request of Cathedral Rector Rev. Fr. Gerard Ariston Perez who thanked the foundation for its generous donation in renovating the whole church.

The foundation also funded the construction of the Sacred Heart Chapel in Xavier School in memory of the strong friendship between Xavier School founder, Fr. Jean Desautels, S.J., Fr, Ismael Zuloaga S.J. and WCK. They had a shared vision of providing holistic Jesuit education for the Chinese-Filipino community.


A time for rest and reflection INTROSPECTIVE By Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 23, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Tony Katigbak

It has certainly been a crazy last few months in our country. With the campaign period chugging along at top speed, that’s all anyone is really paying attention to and talking about. On the one hand, I completely understand where everyone is coming from – after all, these leaders we elect will eventually help shape the country’s future. And as I’ve said in columns past, this particular election certainly seems like a landmark one with the fate of our country hanging in the balance.

I’m grateful that there are more avenues for information to get to as many voters as possible this time around. The presidential debates have been very useful and instrumental in helping us get to know our potential candidates and their plans for the Philippines. We can see how they handle themselves under pressure and how they both ask and answer the tough questions. Moreover, we get to see how they interact with one another in a real life setting.

I actually think this is one of the more important aspects of the debates and the campaign in general. After all, everyone is going to go above and beyond promising the moon and the sun and the sky during the campaign period. We all know that a lot of those promises are not going to be kept to the letter once the elected president goes into office. It’s just not possible. But if we know what type of character the elected president has, then we can at least gauge how he/she will work moving forward.

READ MORE...

I’ve been relatively vocal about my support of a Ro-Ro team in the upcoming elections, but I also think it’s important for me, and all of us, to do our due diligence and learn about all the candidates just the same. Sometimes, what we thought in the beginning will change over the course of the campaign as we get to know the candidates better. Sometimes things will come out that we did not expect that might change our minds. We have to be flexible and take the information as it comes if we want to make the choice as educated and as up to date as possible. At this point, familiarity is not enough – character, track record, platform, and performance must all be taken into consideration.

After the second of the three presidential debates, it looks like Duterte is catching up to Poe on the latest Pulse survey results. His numbers seem to match hers now followed by Binay in third and Mar in fourth. Miriam, who was absent, is understandably in last place. I’ve said before that surveys aren’t necessarily the best gauge of what will happen during the elections, but it does make one think. The majority of those who take the time to answer surveys and online polls are either supporting Poe or Duterte and the other candidates have a lot of ground and lead to cover if they want to catch up.

At this point, while there are clear frontrunners in the race, it is still anyone’s game. After all, as they always say, it’s not over until the fat lady sings – or in this case, until the last ballot is counted. While we may think we have a clear picture of how things are going to go, we really won’t know until May. Personally, I am still very curious to hear about our presidential candidates’ platforms when it comes to health and education. These two topics were sorely missed in the last debate and need to be addressed in the upcoming debate. They are of such high importance and I know that my decision – as well as the decision of so many others – hinges on how the candidates plan to provide healthcare for all (and for all types of diseases, not just communicable diseases, but hypertension, diabetes, and cancer too) and how they plan to improve the educational system.

So, we wait once again. And like I said, while it’s good to keep up with the news when it comes to our elections, it’s also important not to get too engulfed in that. We still need to take time to pull back and rest from the circus show that is Philippine politics. After all, if we don’t we’ll probably drive ourselves crazy.

Personally, I don’t think there is a better time to rest and reflect than right now. I have always liked spending a quiet Holy Week with family. It’s a good time to be able to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of the world and just pause and reconnect. In the quick paced, Internet-driven, craziness of the world we live in we tend to take the quiet moments for granted in our drive to just go, go, go.

I think it’s also important for us to stop once in a while and make time to pray, spend time with family, and just move away from what causes us stress. I look forward to some quiet reflection this Holy Week to attend church and pray and be with the family. In fact, Pope Francis encourages everyone this Holy Week to pray and be closer to God and see how his mercy has been instrumental in saving us all. In fact, mercy is the main theme of the church this Year of Mercy. Holy Week helps us to understand the reality of sin and suffering as it pertains to God’s infinite mercy and teaches us to be merciful as God is merciful in our own lives.

So, as Easter approaches, I wish you all a beautiful and meaningful Holy Week celebration with your family. Let’s take this time to take a break and reflect. After all, the crazy world will be waiting just where we left it when we come back next week.


EDITORIAL - A borderless war (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 24, 2016 - 12:00am 1 29 googleplus0 1

Closed-circuit TV footage showed the three men pushing luggage carts into the check-in area at the Brussels airport. On each cart sat bags, now believed to contain the two bombs that were set off last Tuesday morning in the Belgian capital. Two of the men wore black gloves, believed used to conceal detonators.

The two died as they set off the explosives; the third man walked out of the airport as people lay wounded and dying. Probers believe his bomb failed to detonate. Shortly after the attack, another explosion ripped through the Brussels Metro system. As of yesterday, 14 people had died in the airport attack and 20 in the Metro train.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has claimed responsibility for the worst terrorist attack in the city that hosts the headquarters of the European Union.

The attack is just the latest warning about the borderless war that ISIS is waging, if not directly then through adherents inspired by its gospel of hate.

READ MORE...

In the Philippines, security officials have downplayed reports of local extremists pledging to support ISIS.

The group is said to be trying to gain a solid foothold in the Philippines. This shouldn’t prove too hard, considering that the country is already home to several of Southeast Asia’s extremist troublemakers: the Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiyah, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other rogue elements of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front.

These groups have launched terrorist attacks from Mindanao to Metro Manila in the past two decades, killing hundreds of civilians and security forces.

Authorities cannot discount the possibility that apart from being inspired by ISIS, these homegrown extremists might receive funding from the Islamic State, using the same financial loopholes exploited by money launderers.

The attacks in Brussels should lead to tighter security controls, not only in terms of public safety but also in preventing terrorist financing.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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