May 2008

PerryScope

by Perry Diaz

Esperon’s New Assignment

The recent retirement of Gen. Hermogenes Esperon as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines ((AFP) and subsequent appointment as Presidential Adviser on the peace process in Mindanao has made a lot of people agog in disbelief. In the relatively short time that he served as the head honcho of the armed forces, Esperon has politicized the military by serving the political — and private — agenda of President Gloria Arroyo.

Esperon gained notoriety in the “Hello Garci” election cheating scandal during the 2004 presidential election. At that time he served as the AFP’s Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations and concurrently served as Deputy Commander of Task Force HOPE — “Honest, Orderly, and Peaceful Elections.” Sad to say, the elections were not honest, orderly or peaceful.

In May 2005, Esperon was one four generals mentioned in the “Hello Garci” tapes. In a recorded conversation, former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano told Arroyo that he worked with Esperon and Gen. Roy Kyamko in relieving Gen. Francisco Gudani, the Southern Command chief who was suspected of being friendly to the opposition. In another conversation, Arroyo demanded from Garcillano that she wins by one million votes. Those votes came from Mindanao. In August 2005, Arroyo promoted Esperon as Philippine Army chief. By July 2006, Esperon was promoted to Chief of Staff.

Esperon’s meteoric rise may be attributed to his ability to “serve and protect” President Arroyo. With Esperon at the helm of the military, Arroyo didn’t have to worry about any attempt to depose her. It is no wonder then that when Esperon reached mandatory retirement age on February 9, 2008, Arroyo extended his service for three months, at a crucial time when corruption scandals erupted again. Esperon once again demonstrated his loyalty to Arroyo when he led hundreds of uniformed soldiers locked arm-in-arm with components of the national police in an intimidating public show of force.

A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1974, Esperon started his military career during the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos. It was a period when the “rules of the game” were unorthodox. A culture of corruption spawned during the formative years of his career. To move ahead, he had to go along. It is no wonder then that he fitted perfectly into Arroyo’s corruption-driven government.

In 2002, Arroyo pulled then Col. Esperon from the war zone and appointed him as Commander of the Presidential Security Guard. For some reason, Arroyo saw in Esperon the perfect Praetorian Guard. And performed well he did. In four short years, Esperon made it to the highest rank, a four-star General.

After the 2004 elections, Arroyo went on the offensive against the communist insurgents. She declared that she’ll wipe out the New People’s Army (NPA) by the end of her term in 2010. Once again, she turned to her fiercely loyal Chief of Staff and ordered him to carry out a plan to eliminate the NPA. Coincidentally, it was during his watch when extrajudicial killings became rampant and caught the attention of the international community including the United Nations. Since Arroyo took over the presidency in 2001, more than 900 leftists, activists, politicians, journalists, priests, and farmers were murdered and another 185 disappeared from the face of the Earth. Many believed that the military had a hand in most of the killings and forced disappearances. One of Esperon’s generals — known as “The Butcher” — was suspected as the head of the military “death squads.”

It is no wonder then that Esperon’s appointment as Presidential Adviser on the peace process in Mindanao has stirred a hornet’s nest and generated protests from various sectors. How can a retired general with a pockmarked career reach out to his erstwhile enemies and expect them to trust and respect him. His critics say that Esperon’s appointment would signal the “militarization of the peace process.”

Last February 2008, it was reported in the news that “National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales proposed two possible ways to defeat the Communist rebellion by 2010: first is to craft a really good local government counter-insurgency strategy, or to extend the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.” Aha! Now, we know what Arroyo had in mind.

With the ever loyal Esperon officially employed in the Arroyo government as a “presidential adviser,” he could serve as her “unofficial” direct pipeline — bypassing the Secretary of National Defense — to the armed forces’ top brass; thus, ensuring continued military support of Arroyo including extension of her term by whatever means she could utilize. After all, Arroyo’s goal of defeating the communist insurgency is also the military’s goal. Indeed, that would make them partners.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope

by Perry Diaz

The Arroyo-Lopez War

Finally, after almost 80 years of a family feud between two wealthy clans, it seems that the final battle has started. On one side of the conflict is the Arroyo clan, wealthy merchants of Chinese origin who gained political supremacy in the early 1900’s when their patriarch, Jose Arroyo, was elected Senator in 1919. With the help of his close friend — then Senate President Manuel L. Quezon — his younger brother, Dr. Mariano Arroyo, was appointed provincial governor in 1928.

On the other side is the Lopez clan headed by Eugenio “Ening” Lopez who used his newspaper El Tiempo — founded in 1901 by his father, Benito Lopez, the first governor of Iloilo in 1906 who was assassinated two years later by a rival political faction — to expose the jueteng ring that Governor Arroyo and a Chinese trader named Sualoy started in Iloilo. El Tiempo’s incessant exposure of the jueteng operations finally paid off. Sualoy was charged, found guilty, imprisoned, and then deported to China.

That was the beginning of the Arroyo-Lopez War. As a result of the crackdown on the jueteng operations, Governor Arroyo filed a libel suit against Lopez and El Tiempo. Lopez retaliated by filing administrative charges against Governor Arroyo. Governor General Davis was also informed about the case and he sent Judge Francisco Moran to investigate. Moran discovered that Governor Arroyo was involved in the jueting operations including a gambling den. Consequently, Moran dismissed the libel charges against Lopez and his newspaper. In 1930, the administrative trial found Governor Arroyo guilty of corruption and Governor General Davis relieved him from his post.

Humiliated, Jesusa Lacson Arroyo, the widow of Senator Arroyo who died in 1927, picked up the pieces and moved her entire family to Negros Occidental. One of her sons, Ignacio, would become the father of the current First Gentleman, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo.

Meanwhile, Eugenio Lopez progressed in business and his brother Fernando entered into politics and was elected three times as Vice-President. Don Eugenio established the first airline in Asia and expanded his newspaper business. In 1962, he purchased Meralco, the country’s largest electric company. His son, Eugenio “Geny” Lopez, Jr., built ABS-CBN to become the country’s undisputed leader in broadcasting.

In 1972, the Lopez family suffered under the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Geny Lopez was implicated in an alleged plot to kill Marcos. Under obscure circumstances, Lopez escaped from detention and slipped out of the country. Marcos’ brother-in-law, Kokoy Romualdez, then took over Meralco. When Marcos was ousted in 1986, Cory Aquino returned Meralco and ABS-CBN to the Lopezes.

For more than 20 years, the Lopezes had undisputed control of Meralco. They also diversified into new business ventures. Over the past several years, ABS-CBN became a pain in the neck of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Their coverage of the various scandals involving the First Couple have contributed to the Arroyos’ negative public image.

It is no wonder then that Meralco is now in the crosshairs of President Arroyo’s sight. The joint congressional hearing chaired by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Congressman Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo has stirred into life a family feud that has been dormant for 78 years. There were speculations that the real reason for the Meralco “witch hunt” is for the government to take over Meralco and break it up into smaller companies. If this would happen, guess who would take over a divested Meralco?

Let’s look at someone who has been at the forefront of the battle: Winston Garcia, President and General Manager of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). His aggressive and arrogant demeanor in the Meralco board room — he is a recent member on the Meralco board representing GSIS which has 23% ownership of Meralco — has made a lot of people wonder what his ulterior motive is. Many believe that Garcia is on the board to wage a “proxy war” for the Arroyos.

For one thing, Garcia is not the typical government bureaucrat. He is a scion of a powerful political dynasty in Cebu with close ties to Malacanang. His father, Pablo, is a congressman and concurrently Deputy Speaker of the House. His brother, Pablo John, is also a congressman. And his sister, Gwendolyn, is the current Governor of Cebu. She announced recently that she is a candidate for Vice President in 2010.

In addition, the Garcia family has large stockholdings in the Aboitiz-owned Visayan Electric Company (VECO), the country’s second largest private electric utility. The corporate officers include three Garcias, to wit: Dennis A. Garcia, President and General Manager; Ramontito A. Garcia, Treasurer; and Jess Anthony N. Garcia, legal counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary. Of the 11 members of the VECO Board of Directors, five are Garcias, namely, Dennis N.A. Garcia, Ramontito E. Garcia, Gil A. Garcia II, Charles Sylvester A. Garcia, and Antonio V. A. Garcia de Escaño. The Aboitizes, have five members of the Board. Recently, a news account reported that Winston Garcia is serving VECO as a lawyer on retainer. The question is: What would VECO — and Winston Garcia — stand to gain if Meralco were broken up into smaller companies?

It is also a common knowledge that the Aboitizes are business cronies of the First Couple. With the Lopezes trying hard to defend themselves from a pack of wolves, it would probably take a miracle to survive these attacks. But miracles do happen and they happen when it’s least expected to happen. And the last and final question is: What would the Arroyos stand to gain when Meralco breaks up?

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope

by Perry Diaz

Hanjin: Plundering the Environment

Recently, a series of anomalies concerning Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, a South Korean company, have dominated the headlines of Manila newspapers. Considering that billions of dollars were involved in these transactions, “transparency” has once again come to the forefront of debate. Like the Chinese contracts — NBN-ZTE, Cyber Ed, Fuhua, etc. — which the Arroyo government negotiated secretly, it would seem that the same modus operandi may have been used in negotiating the Hanjin contracts.

The first Hanjin shipyard was built in the Subic Bay Freeport in 2006 at a cost of $1.7 billion. A few weeks ago, it launched the first ship — a $60 million container ship for a Greek shipping company. With 10,000 Filipinos employed, it’s a boon to the sagging Philippine economy.

The second Hanjin shipyard is to be located in the Phividec Industrial Authority in the province of Misamis Oriental in Mindanao. The shipyard — which is projected to be completed by 2017 — will cost $2 billion to build and would eventually employ 45,000.

Indeed, everything about the Hanjin shipyards were looking good and there shouldn’t be any reason to doubt the economic benefits. But as soon as the ink had dried on the Phividec shipyard contract, things began to go awry. A couple of weeks ago, Mayor Paulino Emano of Tagoloan — one of two towns straddled by the shipyard — issued a “stop work” order to the construction project because Hanjin failed to obtain an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC). Hanjin officials complained that Emano tried to extort money from them. When confronted with Hanjin’s allegation, Emano said that it was Hanjin officials who offered him a bribe in the form of a contract to supply sand and gravel that would amount to P400 million. In my opinion, had Emano tried to extort money, Hanjin would probably have given him what he asked for and get over it. However, had Hanjin offered Emano the P400-million “sweetheart deal,” would Emano have refused it? Apparently, either Emano did not accept the bribe offer or Hanjin never made the bribe offer. But one thing is evident, Hanjin did not have an ECC and Emano had the authority to stop the work.

When Arroyo was told of the incident, she was furious and called Emano on the carpet. Emano told Arroyo about the P400-million bribe offer. According to Emano, Arroyo ignored him. Instead she scolded him for issuing a “stop work” order. Emano must have felt like he was being run over by a bulldozer. A few days later, Emano retracted his allegation that Hanjin offered him a bribe.

With the “stop work” order enforced, Hanjin packed up and left. Soon after the incident, environmental and employment issues started to come out in the news. Ma. Cecilia Rodriguez of Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the new shipyard will wipe out three barangays; dislocate more than 6,000 families; damage the environment; and destroy millions of pesos worth of crops and properties. She also reported that Emano and Mayor Juliette Uy of the neighboring town of Villanueva had an agreement with Hanjin that the residents of their towns will be given priority in hiring; however, Emano said that Hanjin failed to honor their agreement. Was Hanjin thinking of bringing its own work force from South Korea?

The biggest environmental impact would have been the destruction of the Tagoloan river. In a sworn affidavit, Emano said that an Hanjin official discussed with him a proposal to divert the flow of water in the river in order for Hanjin to get the aggregates needed for its buildings. The effect would be the destruction of the river. Without an ECC, the whole environment and eco-system would be vulnerable to unchecked and destructive industrial environmental abuses, an issue that has already been raised in the Subic shipyard.

Recently, it was revealed that Hanjin built two high-rise condominiums — presumably for South Korean management officials — worth $20 million inside the rainforest reserve. Senator Miguel Zubiri called the condo project in the lush rainforest “a dastardly act in this time of water crisis.” Zubiri said that “Olongapo City’s old water source — the Sta. Rita River — has been destroyed and contaminated by this same type of activities that started with wanton cutting of trees to make way for various constructions. Later on, untreated sewage flows and leaching from garbage dumps poisoned the river.”

Another issue that surfaced is a Hanjin subsidiary’s contract to build the P3-billion Panguil Bay Bridge that would connect Lanao del Norte and Misamis Occidental. The project was a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) that requires 60% Filipino ownership. The Hanjin subsidiary has zero Filipino ownership. As to why this violation was not known before the contract was awarded is another example of government inefficiency and corrupt practices. A few days ago, after the anomaly was reported in the news, the Misamis Occidental governor announced that the project is going to be rebid.

Hanjin’s troublesome record in the Philippines goes back to 1999 when it was awarded to construct the Davao International Airport for P1.7 billion. It subcontracted a part of the work to Dynamic Planners and Construction Corp for P714.87 million. When Dynamic’s work was 94% complete, Hanjin forced out Dynamic and took over the unfinished work and claimed that Dynamic abandoned the work. After a prolonged legal battle that reached the Supreme Court, Dynamic finally won in its claim recently with a Supreme Court ruling for Hanjin to pay P352 million plus interest to Dynamic.

With a dismal record of environmental abuse, broken promises to employ Filipinos in the Phividec project, allegation of bribery, labor disputes in the Subic shipyard, and illegal removal of a subcontractor from a construction project, Hanjin’s credibility and honesty become the crux of controversy. What would prevent Hanjin from plundering the environment in the future? Are jobs more important than preserving the environment? In a world beset by global warming and the proliferation of hazardous and toxic materials, preservation of the environment is the Filipinos’ legacy to their children. Jobs can be created but plundering the environment would be devastating — permanently and irreversibly.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com )

PerryScope

by Perry Diaz

Gloria’s Disenchanted Kingdom

In my article, “Gloria’s Enchanted Kingdom and the De Venecia Code” (August 4, 2006), I said: “In a demonstration of grandiose ebullience and unabashed optimism, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 24 belies the true state of a nation ravaged by political wrangling, corruption, poverty, terrorism, communist insurgency, and Muslim rebellion. To dramatize her grand vision of a progressive country, she sang praises to her own achievements and crystallized a rosy picture of the things to come in the remaining four years of her presidency.” What Arroyo had planned to achieve during her tenure was an “Enchanted Kingdom” within 20 years. During the 27th National Conference of Employers two years ago, she told the audience, “Let’s stay together. Let’s dream together.” And dream, they did.

For the past two years, Arroyo’s spin masters have been heralding an “economic boom,” claiming that the country had never been better in the past 31 years — which was during the martial law era. However, had Arroyo’s men gone further back to the time of the late President Carlos P. Garcia (1957-1961), Arroyo’s claim would have been questionable. During Garcia’s presidency, the Philippines was second only to Japan in economic terms. Garcia’s success was attributed to his nationalistic “Filipino First Policy.”

It was during the time of the late President Diosdado Macapagal, Arroyo’s father, when his policy of devaluation and decontrol started the economy’s downhill slide. As a matter of fact, the Philippines today, notwithstanding Arroyo’s proclamation of an “economic boom,” is still far behind its Asian neighbors — China, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam — in economic status.

The 7.3% economic growth last year that Arroyo had been bragging about has suddenly lost its oomph! Not too long ago, Peter Wallace of Standard Time wrote an article, “Time to face the Facts,” which debunked Arroyo’s economic data. He said, “if you were told that GDP really only grew about 4.8 percent, and that family spending declined, and that there were more people who went hungry during the past three years than in any period during the past ten years, you’d think much differently.” Indeed, the people are still suffering from an economic malaise that doesn’t seem to go away. The economy has been heading towards a turbulent course, a situation that Arroyo did not seemingly anticipate.

In my article, “Economic Boom or Boo-boo Economics” (November 30, 2007), I said: “With 50% of Filipinos poor — 40% of whom have experienced hunger — and with unemployment rate at 7.8%, what we will soon be hearing is the ‘astronomic boom’ of discontent and the cry of the helpless poor. Indeed, Arroyo’s boo-boo economics has created a short span of high — albeit false — expectations. She promised jobs for the people, yet more than one million Filipinos are leaving each year for jobs overseas. In other words, the ‘economic boom’ that the Arroyo government has been heralding is nothing more than a mirage.”

The Filipino people are beginning to wake up from their induced dream of life in Gloria’s “Enchanted Kingdom.” Suddenly, their lives are entangled in a series of crises — oil crisis, rice shortage crisis, fish crisis, water crisis, money crisis. Corruption is still the norm of governance and poverty is still the scourge of the nation. The “Sick Man of Asia” is still as sick as it was for the past four decades.

A recent article, “Thousands want to work abroad to survive crisis,” in the Cebu Daily News, reported the plight of people — mostly college-educated professionals — who couldn’t make ends meet. A licensed pharmacist employed by a small pharmacy in Mandaue City said that she would rather do odd jobs such as dish washing and milking a cow in foreign countries than practice her profession here in the country. Asked why she wanted to work overseas, she said: “The wage here in the Philippines could not suffice for the needs of single woman. How much more for married people.”

A secretary working in a law firm said that she was disillusioned with a government always promising to increase wages. She said that washing dishes in a hotel in New Zealand would be better as long as it would pay more. She graduated in Hotel and Restaurant Management.

Another person unemployed since last year has “criticized the government for not providing enough jobs for the people.” He wanted to go to Taiwan and work in a factory. He is one year short of graduating in Criminology.

In 2006, data from the Philippine Overseas and Employment Agency indicate that 1,221,417 Filipinos left for overseas job placement. And for those who couldn’t go overseas, a large number of them — including farmers who left the farms — moved to the cities looking for jobs in order to survive. The news report further said that “the farmers left their farms because they could not increase their production due to the high cost of the fertilizers, no irrigation projects and not enough support from the government.”

On the eve of Labor Day, Arroyo urged Filipinos to practice eating “camote” (sweet yam) and other root crops as substitute for rice. Feeding on roots! Now, isn’t that pathetic? That reminds me of the pre-agriculture age 5,000 years ago when hunter-gatherers subsisted by foraging for edible plants and roots.

Meanwhile, the Arroyo government continues to encourage large farm owners to convert their rice fields to jatropha plantations to produce bio-diesel. Last year, Arroyo entered into several agro-fuel deals with Chinese companies. The largest was the $3.83-billion contract with Fuhua Group in which 1.2 million hectares of agricultural land — a tenth of the total agricultural land — would be converted into jatropha plantations. This would drastically reduce rice production. At a time of global rice shortage, converting the rice fields would be a betrayal of the people’s trust.

Within a period of less than two years, Arroyo’s failed economic policies have brought the country closer to the brink of economic collapse. Instead of dreaming of living in the land of the “Enchanted Kingdom,” the Filipinos are now living in the land of the “Disenchanted Kingdom.”

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

It’s Time for GK to Break Away from CFC

In my article, “Quo Vadis, Gawad Kalinga?” (September 21, 2007), I said: “Gawad Kalinga is not just an organization, it’s a movement — an ideal, I must say — driven by an army of believers: volunteers, advocates, beneficiaries, and benefactors. Indeed, Gawad Kalinga has taken a life of its own. It’s scope has expanded to become an all-inclusive humanitarian movement. But does that mean that evangelization cannot be a part of Gawad Kalinga’s mission? Sure it can. But not within the context of Couples For Christ. At the end of the day, there is only one way for Gawad Kalinga to go: move forward…on its own.”

At the time I wrote the article, Frank Padilla had already formed a breakaway group, the Couples For Christ Foundation for Family and Life (CFC-FFL). However, Gawad Kalinga (GK) remained with CFC. After the split, the two groups went their separate ways and the furor subsided. But underneath the appearance of civility between the two groups, the rivalry between their leaders continued underground, shielded from the scrutiny of the media.

About two weeks ago, a news article written by ABS-CBN News’ Carmela Fonbuena titled, “Vatican admonishes Couples for Christ over Gawad Kalinga,” struck like a 50-foot tsunami. Fonbuena said, “The Vatican has chastised the Couples for Christ (CFC) group supportive of Gawad Kalinga founder Antonio Meloto for the ‘erroneous steps [it has] taken’ when it decided to shift focus from the spiritual to the social. The group was instructed to make a public apology.” Further, she said, “Central to the concern of the Vatican was the direction taken by CFC-founded social action group Gawad Kalinga (GK). The Vatican disapproved of CFC’s ‘overemphasis on the social work’ and GK’s openness to donations from groups that promote artificial family planning.”

The basis of Fonbuena’s article was a letter dated March 11 sent by Stanislaw Cardinal Rylko of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Laity to CFC President Jose Tale which said that CFC should “counterbalance the overemphasis on social work…” And in regard to donations from entities who promote “artificial family planning” — specifically, use of condoms — Cardinal Rylko said, “Your decision to stop receiving this type of funding will help recover the good standing of your association Couples for Christ.”

Fonbuena said that Cardinal Rylko’s letter was the result of Tale’s March 3, 2008 visit to the Vatican, where he “admitted [that] some mistakes have been made and a certain scandal and confusion [was] caused among the faithful.”

It is interesting to note what William M. Esposo said in his recent article, “Tony Meloto’s sanctification,” to wit: “In a September 20, 2007 posting on www.restorecfc.multiply.com (website of Frank Padilla’s breakaway group), Padilla admitted having sought and talked to Cardinal Rylko. Padilla stated that he went ‘to speak with Archbishop Rylko and apprise him of the situation of CFC. That is my responsibility as the one who got our recognition and as the one whose name appears in our recognition.’ Now, do you think that Frank Padilla told Cardinal Rylko the whole unvarnished truth or did he try to sell to the Cardinal his slanted version of the controversy?”

If Tale indeed admitted that some “mistakes” were made, then it is presumed that Cardinal Rylko addressed only those “mistakes” admitted by Tale. I believe, however, that if Tale did not go to the Vatican, the rift between CFC and CFC-FFL would have remained underground and the Vatican would have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the imbroglio. In essence, Tale forced Cardinal Rylko to react to his admission that some “mistakes” were made.

So, what now? Before we proceed, let’s take a quick look at the history of CFC: In 1993 Padilla together with several others broke away from another Catholic lay organization, the Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (Joy of the Lord), to form CFC. In 2002, another split occurred when the Families in Christ Jesus (FCJ) was formed by a splinter group within CFC. The organizers of FCJ believed that CFC was veering away from its evangelistic mission when it started raising funds to build homes for the poor. They were of the belief that CFC should not be in the business of fund-raising. At that time, Padilla was the head honcho of CFC. Ironically, it was for the same reason that Padilla formed the CFC-FFL. It’s amazing how history repeated itself in so short a time.

I said in “Quo Vadis, Gawad Kalinga?”: “The CFC-Gawad Kalinga relationship was like a case of a square peg in a round hole: no matter how you try to fit it in, it won’t fit in. Gawad Kalinga simply wouldn’t work the way it was conceived or, more appropriately, the way it evolved into what it is today. One can argue that nothing is wrong with what Gawad Kalinga has been doing. Indeed, nation-building is one of the noblest missions to pursue. However, the Couples For Christ is not about building a nation; it is about building the Church. And that was the reason why the Vatican recognized and sanctioned CFC in 2000.” It seems that Cardinal Rylko merely reinforced what the Roman Catholic Church is all about.

One of the leaders of FCJ told me: “CFC and GK are both right in their missions. However, the members have to choose between the two missions using their own personal charism.” In other words, they have to choose between “winning the souls” and “building communities for the poor.”

I believe that it’s time for Gawad Kalinga to break away from Couples for Christ and to stand on its own, without any ties — directly or indirectly — to the Vatican. By severing its ties with CFC, the Vatican cannot interfere with GK. GK can then work unrestricted with any group. It would then become a true humanitarian movement and in that capacity it can do more “miracles” in uplifting the poorest of the poor, not just in the Philippines but anywhere in the world where GK is needed.

CFC and CFC-FFL could then reconcile and reunite into one cohesive organization, and continue what they were mandated to perform when the Vatican recognized and sanctioned them in 2000. With a reunified — an reinvigorated — CFC, it can then extend its evangelical work in Gawad Kalinga villages. CFC and GK can then say that they’re building communities for the poor as well as winning their souls. It’s a win-win solution and I’m pretty sure the Vatican couldn’t be happier.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)