Wake Up, Philippines!

DENR: Ponder on agony we cause to environment

Posted in Church, DENR, Environment, Social Issues/Concerns by Erineus on April 3, 2010

By Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 13:34:00 03/31/2010

MANILA, Philippines—Do penance for the environment on Holy Week, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said Tuesday.

In a statement, Environment Secretary Horacio Ramos said the country’s estimated 81 million Catholics should observe a “green” Holy Week and “ponder on the agony of the country’s environment as the nation grapples with the effects of El Niño and the aftermath of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.”

Ramos said Catholics are in a “unique position to offer thoughtful solutions to the natural resource and environmental problems and issues in the world today and embarking on simple acts of everyday sacrifices, especially this Holy Week.”

“Because Holy Week holds a central place in the life of majority of Filipinos, these calamities become auspicious in that we could reflect on the agony of our water bodies, skies and forests that are facing almost certain demise, to the greater agony of poor Filipinos, unless the collective will is forged to save and resurrect our physical home in this corner of Planet Earth,” Ramos said.

Things we can do

“Doables” on the environment chief’s lists include: Collection and segregation of waste, especially by park- and beach-goers; prevention of grass and forest fires through monitoring of campfires and proper disposal of cigarette butts; participation in environmental cleanup activities, be it on a beach front, roadside, estero, or public park; religious application of water and energy-saving tips at home, in the office or on vacation; conscientious use and maintenance of motor vehicles; respect for wildlife and their habitats; vigilance against violators of environmental laws by reporting smoke-belching vehicles, polluting firms and illegal logging activities; and for candidates running in the May elections, to spare trees from their campaign materials.

Ramos said an ailing environment “ails the plight of the poor even more. Those who are better off in life [should] take to heart the duties of Christian stewardship over the nation’s environment and natural resources.”

The World Bank reported that total losses due to the two typhoons that struck last year amounted to P50.3 billion, affecting mostly informal or labor workers with some 480,000 of them added to the country’s poverty rolls.

The waste watchdog EcoWaste Coalition urged Holy Week travelers to “think outside the bottle” and give up bottled water on their trips.

Water bottle blues

“We expect increased consumer demand for bottled beverages like water as people hit the road or frolic on the beach under the broiling April sun,” said Chin Chin Gutierrez of Alaga Lahat and EcoWaste Coalition.

“The ever increasing production and consumption of bottled water bring myriad environmental and health problems that consumers are hardly informed about, including the release of greenhouse gases from the whole life cycle of bottled water, the potential leaching of chemicals from plastic bottles, microbial contamination due to poor regulation, and marine litter,” she said.

Instead of single-use water bottles, the group urged travelers to use reusable water jugs, stainless steel, or lined aluminum containers filled with clean tap water or, if necessary, with boiled, filtered, or purified water to cut on greenhouse gases and trash.

According to Ocean Conservancy’s “Marine Debris Index” released in 2008, the Philippines registered the highest number of littered beverage plastic bottles in Southeast Asia.

“To turn the tide against bottled water, Filipino consumers further need to assert their right to drink healthy and safe water straight from the tap and insist that bottled water is no sustainable solution to our thirst for water,” EcoWaste Coalition said.


The Vatican’s cross

Posted in Church by Erineus on April 3, 2010

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:49:00 03/31/2010

THIS MUST BE THE BLEAKEST HOLY THURSDAY at the Vatican in many decades. An unholy shroud of suspicion has enveloped the Holy See, threatening to suffocate even the papacy itself. An Associated Press story Wednesday drew a forbidding global picture: “As the faithful fill churches this Holy Week, many Roman Catholics around the world are finding their relationship to the church painfully tested by new revelations of clerical abuse and suggestions [that Pope] Benedict himself may have helped cover up cases in Germany and the US.”

We should point out that these new revelations about insufficient institutional responses to allegations of sexual abuse by predatory priests have had perhaps less impact on the Church in the Philippines (and, the AP story suggests, in Poland too, another staunchly Catholic country). Indeed, the AP story itself recognizes that many of the Catholic faithful who are aware of the latest iteration of a long-running scandal aren’t necessarily thinking of leaving the Church. It quotes Linda Faust, of Greendale, Wisconsin, as saying, rather pungently, “At this point in my life I wouldn’t leave the Church for somebody else’s sins.”

We think this kind of concerned-but-devout attitude reflects the position of many Filipino Catholics. But if a real crisis were to overtake Benedict’s office, the Church in the Philippines will surely feel its impact too.

It is vital, then, to know exactly what is happening—and how Benedict’s involvement has been misreported or misinterpreted.

Make no mistake: we think the continuing sexual abuse scandal is wreaking havoc on the Church and its reputation; we believe the Pope’s role in a possible cover-up of or an altogether sluggish response to allegations of priestly abuse, when he was a bishop in Germany and later when he served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is an entirely legitimate subject of inquiry; we hold the view, shared by many of the faithful, that the Church must do all it can to disinfect itself of the fatal virus of clerical abuse.

But veteran Vatican reporter John Allen, in a lengthy post on his blog for the National Catholic Reporter, has pointed out three fundamental misreadings of the Pope’s involvement. (A much-abbreviated op-ed piece of his has also appeared in the New York Times.) First, it was only in the last four years of his two decades at the helm of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that Benedict, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, assumed the lead role in the Vatican’s crackdown on abusive priests. In other words, before 2001, Ratzinger had no role to play in the investigation of sexual abuse allegations at all.

Second, the May 2001 letter that Ratzinger addressed to his fellow bishops, Allen wrote, “marked recognition in Rome, really for the first time, of how serious the problem of sex abuse really is, and it committed the Vatican to getting directly involved.” In other words, instead of being so-called proof that Ratzinger told bishops to keep sexual abuse allegations secret from government authorities, the letter was, at that time it was issued, “widely hailed as a watershed moment towards a solution.”

Third, to the recent disclosure that only 20 percent of more than 3,000 abuse cases were allowed to proceed to a canonical trial, the New York Times and other news organizations responded by misinterpreting it as proof of Vatican inaction. In other words, many in the media missed the real significance of the disclosure. Thus, Allen wrote: “In the end, however, only 20 percent were sent back for trials, while for the bulk of the cases, 60 percent, bishops were authorized to take immediate administrative action, because the proof was held to be overwhelming … to describe that 20 percent figure as a sign of ‘inaction’ cannot help but seem, to anyone who’s been paying attention, rather ironic.”

None of this is to excuse Church officials, or indeed Pope Benedict XVI himself, from rendering a true account of what they knew and when they knew it, as far as the latest scandals in Germany and in Milwaukee, in the United States, are concerned. That clearing of the air may not be enough to lift the shroud off the Vatican, but it would be a start.


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1 in 4 Filipinos has high blood pressure

Posted in Uncategorized by Erineus on April 3, 2010

More Filipinos are at risk from lifestyle-related diseases, according to a survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).

Recent results of the National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHeS II) FNRI showed that more Filipinos have hypertension, high fasting blood sugar, and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other lifestyle-related diseases.

They found out that one in every four Filipino adults (25.3 percent) has hypertension or a blood pressure (BP) reading equal to or higher than 140/90 millimeter mercury (mmHg), a significant increase in the prevalence of hypertension. In 2008, the prevalence of hypertension increased to 25.3 percent from 22.5 percent in 2003.

Moreover, the survey revealed that 11 in every 100 Filipinos (10.8 percent) have pre-hypertension or a BP reading at the range of 130-139/85-89 mmHg. This becomes alarming as high BP increases with age starting from age 40-49 years.

Meanwhile, five in every 100 Filipinos have high fasting blood sugar (FBS), which is indicative of diabetes mellitus. The prevalence increased from 3.4 percent in 2003 to 4.8 percent in 2008. The prevalence of high FBS or hyperglycemia peaks at age 50-59 years.

The survey also showed that three in every 100 Filipinos have impaired fasting glucose (IFG). If not prevented, IFG may develop to diabetes mellitus.

The cases of people with dyslipidemia or abnormal lipid levels, on the other hand, increased from 2003 to 2008.

The survey showed that one in every 10 (10.2 percent) Filipino adults has high total cholesterol level, while 21 in every 100 (21.2 percent) Filipinos are on the borderline high level.

FNRI also discovered that 15 in every 100 (14.6 percent) Filipinos have high triglyceride level, while 16 in every 100 (15.5 percent) are borderline high.

The prevalence of low high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-c) level increased from 54.2 percent in 2003 to 64.1 percent in 2008.

In contrast, the prevalence of high low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-c) level did not change much, from 11.7 percent in 2003 to 11.8 percent in 2008.

A person is considered to have a low HDL-c level if the fasting blood measurement is less than 40 mg/dl while a high LDL-c level of the fasting blood measurement is greater than or equal to 160 mg/dl.

These are all major risk factors to lifestyle-related diseases, specifically cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, and cancer which are the leading causes of death in the country.

To prevent these diseases, people must have a healthy lifestyle. The Technical Working Group of the FNRI produced a nutritional guideline for Filipinos. The group said that smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages are major habits which should be removed in order to start a healthy lifestyle.

They also recommend eating more fruits, vegetables, root crops, and legumes, which are sources of fiber. Fiber can help the body in many ways as it decreases the cholesterol level, prolongs the response of our body to blood glucose levels, and limits the intake of salty foods in our system.


9 ‘deadly sins’ for cops

Posted in PNP by Erineus on April 3, 2010


April 2, 2010, 6:13pm

If the Roman Catholic Church has Seven Deadly Sins to do away with, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has nine for this year’s national and local elections.

Director General Jesus Verzosa, PNP chief, said copies of the nine prohibited acts for all policemen to follow will be distributed in English and Filipino languages to all police units across the country starting next week.

Verzosa said prohibited acts include:
1. Forming organizations, associations, clubs or groups of persons for the purpose of soliciting votes or undertaking any campaign for or against a candidate;
2. Holding of caucuses, conferences, meeting or rally for the purpose of soliciting votes or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a candidate;
3. Making speeches, announcements, or commentaries for or against the election of any candidate for public office;
4. Publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate;
5. Directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges, or support for or against a candidate;
6. Being a delegate to any political convention or member of any political committee or any officer of any political club, or other similar political organizations;
7. Making speeches or publications to draw political support in behalf of a particular party or candidate;
8. Directly or indirectly soliciting or receiving contribution for political purposes, and;
9. Becoming publicly identified with the success or failure of any candidate.

Verzosa said the nine prohibited acts all boils down to the simple rule that the policemen should never engage in partisan politics for the sake of maintaining integrity of the PNP organization.

“As public servants, PNP personnel are mandated to remain neutral in the conduct of national and local elections and concentrate instead on keeping peace in the polls,” said Verzosa.

Verzosa said these prohibited acts constitute “electioneering,” adding that it violates the provision stipulated in the Civil Service Commission Circular which states that: “No officer or employee in the civil service including members of the Armed Forces, shall engage directly or indirectly in any partisan political activity except to vote nor shall he use his official authority or influence to coerce the political activity or any other person or body.”

Verzosa said the Nine Prohibited Acts will come along with the 10 Policy Guidelines which he issued for all policemen to observe in the forthcoming May 10 national elections.

The Ten Policy Guidelines of the Chief PNP are:
1. Fear God, Love your country and the sanctity of the ballot;
2. Focus only on your solemn oath to serve and protect the people;
3. Honor your badge and use your authority to ensure honest, orderly and peaceful elections;
4. Remember that election day is sacred. You and your fellowmen have a sacred duty to exercise your right to vote;
5. Honor and follow only the PNP established chain of command;
6. Respect human rights, protect the environment and enforce all laws without fear or favor;
7. Love your job as an act of faithfulness to your family;
8. Respect and protect the sanctity of your vote and the vote of others;
9. Ensure the truthfulness and integrity of all your reports. Do not spread rumors and falsehood, and;
10. Be content and support whoever gets the mandate of the people.

Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina, PNP spokesman, said the 10 Policy Guidelines and the Nine Prohibited Acts will be echoed down the line in the scheduled meeting of the PNP Command Group with all Chief of Police in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

“This is timely because of the nationwide observance of the Holy Week. It will define the proper conduct and decorum of all police officers during the election period in addition to the guidelines set forth in the PNP-AFP Joint Letter Directive 01-2010,” said Espina.