Monday, November 29, 2010

Is the Philippines Free?

Freedom House Country Report 2010

Capital: Manila
Population: 92,227,000

Political Rights Score: 4
Civil Liberties Score: 3
Status: Partly Free

Trend Arrow

The Philippines received a downward trend arrow due to a general decline in the rule of law in the greater Mindanao region, and specifically the massacre of 57 civilians on their way to register a candidate for upcoming elections.


Political maneuvering escalated in 2009 as potential candidates prepared for the 2010 presidential election. Meanwhile, the administration remained unsuccessful in its long-standing efforts to amend the constitution and resolve the country’s Muslim and leftist insurgencies. In November, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared martial law in the southern province of Maguindanao after 57 people were massacred in an apparent bid by the area’s dominant clan to prevent the electoral registration of a rival candidate.

After centuries of Spanish rule, the Philippines came under U.S. control in 1898 and won independence in 1946. The country has been plagued by insurgencies, economic mismanagement, and widespread corruption since the 1960s. In 1986, a popular protest movement ended the 14-year dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos and replaced him with Corazon Aquino, whom the regime had cheated out of an electoral victory weeks earlier.

Aquino’s administration ultimately failed to implement substantial reforms and was unable to dislodge entrenched social and economic elites. Fidel Ramos, a key figure in the 1986 protests, won the 1992 presidential election. The country was relatively stable and experienced significant if uneven economic growth under his administration. Ramos’s vice president, Joseph Estrada, won the 1998 presidential election by promising concrete socioeconomic reform, but his administration was dogged by allegations of corruption almost from the outset. Massive street protests forced him from office in 2001 after a formal impeachment process failed.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Estrada’s vice president, assumed the presidency upon his departure, and her political coalition won the May 2001 legislative elections. She nevertheless faced questions about the legitimacy of her unelected administration. In the 2004 presidential election, Arroyo initially seemed to have defeated her challenger by some 1.1 million votes. However, claims of massive fraud triggered demonstrations and were verified by some members of the administration.

When an audiotape of a conversation between the president and election officials surfaced in June 2005, supporting the previous year’s vote-rigging allegations, many cabinet officials resigned to join a new opposition movement. An ultimately unsuccessful impeachment bid was launched, and the first of years of frequent protests called for the president’s resignation.

The administration mounted several efforts to undercut the opposition movement, including punitive prosecutions and executive orders in 2005 and a week-long state of emergency in 2006 in response to an alleged coup attempt. The congressional opposition responded with a second unsuccessful impeachment bid that June.

The Commission to Address Media and Activist Killings, also known as the Melo Commission, was established in August 2006 following a spate of assassinations that year and to address the larger issue of extrajudicial killings since Arroyo took office in 2001. A February 2007 report by the commission acknowledged military involvement, but the panel was not empowered to pursue the matter with criminal investigations or prosecutions. A November 2008 report by a UN special rapporteur also cited military involvement in a significant number of recent extrajudicial executions of leftist activists. The abuses were believed to be encouraged by a government mandate to crush the communist insurgency by 2010, blurred lines between legitimate leftist parties and illegal groups affiliated with the rebel New People’s Army (NPA), the president’s dependence on high-level military support to retain power, and a persistent culture of impunity.

Although the president’s coalition increased its lower house majority in May 2007 legislative elections, the opposition bolstered its control of the Senate. Later in the year, Arroyo was implicated in a major corruption scandal involving a national broadband contract with the Chinese company ZTE that had been approved in April. Separately, Arroyo pardoned former president Estrada in October, a month after the country’s antigraft court sentenced him to life imprisonment. His conviction had been the first of a former Philippine president, and the Arroyo’s pardon was widely perceived as a bid to set a favorable precedent for her own treatment on leaving office.

In November 2007, former navy lieutenant and current senator Antonio Trillanes and Brigadier General Danilo Lim led roughly 20 soldiers in a failed coup attempt. A former vice president and a Roman Catholic bishop joined the men in a live television broadcast to call for Arroyo’s removal from office on the grounds of electoral fraud and corruption.

Yet another failed impeachment bid was launched against the president in October 2008, and likely 2010 presidential candidate Manny Villar was ousted as leader of the Senate in November and replaced with a staunch Arroyo supporter.

Amid the political turmoil of 2008, peace talks between the government and the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) broke down. The negotiations, which aimed to end a Muslim insurgency that had plagued the southern provinces since the early 1970s, had made some progress in 2007, focusing on the creation of a Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE)—a self-governing expansion of the existing Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). In July 2008, the MILF agreed to sign an initial agreement on August 5, defining the BJE as the ARMM plus 712 barangays (small administrative units), with a formal referendum on inclusion to be held in the affected districts one year later and a formal peace agreement to be signed in November. However, local officials joined opposition leaders in calling the agreement unconstitutional, and on August 4 the Supreme Court imposed a restraining order on the deal.

While the MILF leadership expressed interest in continuing talks, 800 MILF fighters responded to the ruling by occupying five towns and nine villages in provinces bordering the ARMM. Government troops were sent in, and clashes erupted. The government officially called off the peace agreement on August 21, and the negotiating panel was dissolved in September. The conflict reached the highest levels of violence since 2003, with more than 600,000 Filipinos displaced by the end of 2008.

With a presidential election set for 2010, political maneuvering escalated in 2009. The lower house mounted a renewed campaign to amend the constitution by replacing the bicameral legislature with a unicameral one and lifting the one-term limit on the presidency. In June, the House of Representatives approved a resolution calling for the House and Senate to form a joint constituent assembly, which would ease passage of constitutional amendments by allowing the progovernment, 269-seat House to overwhelm the opposition-dominated, 24-seat Senate. Business leaders, civic groups, and the Roman Catholic Church objected to the amendment proposals, and they failed to pass by year’s end.

Meanwhile, the two leading progovernment parties merged to form a united front in the upcoming elections, nominating Defense Minister Gilberto Teodoro as their presidential candidate in November 2009. Arroyo herself said she would seek to represent her home district of Pampanga in the House and registered her candidacy the same month. Leading opposition contenders included Villar, the former senator and real-estate tycoon; former president Estrada, who faced new corruption and murder allegations; and Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, son of former president Aquino, who was widely mourned after her death in early August.

Attempting to demonstrate progress before the end of Arroyo’s term, the administration changed its approach to the country’s long-standing insurgencies in 2009. It dropped preconditions for negotiations with the NPA, and the communist rebels did the same, but peace talks scheduled for September failed to get off the ground. The government also sought to resume negotiations with the MILF, ordering a suspension of military operations in July. Both sides then agreed to a truce based in part on recognition of the August 2008 agreement as unsigned but “initialed.” In addition, they arranged to establish an international contact group that would include representatives of the European Union, Turkey, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Peace negotiations resumed in December with talks held in Kuala Lumpur, and joint ceasefire mechanisms were reactivated.

In the worst case of political violence in the country’s recent history, the wife of local vice-mayor Ismail Mangudadatu was ambushed by 100 armed men in November 2009 while traveling with other family members and supporters to file her husband’s candidacy for the Maguindanao provincial governorship. A total of 57 people were massacred in the incident, including 29 journalists and 3 media workers who were accompanying the unarmed group. The graves in which the bodies were found appeared to have been dug in advance, and the mutilation of female victims indicated sexual assault. Evidence soon emerged to implicate the Ampatuan clan, which dominated the province’s politics and was closely allied with the Arroyo administration.

Arroyo responded in early December by declaring martial law for the first time in nearly 30 years. The declaration, which applied to Maguindanao province only, entailed the suspension of habeas corpus and other rights, invoking significant criticism; the administration justified the move by arguing that the Ampatuans were fomenting rebellion. A state of emergency was declared in three Mindanao provinces immediately following the massacre, which remained even after martial law was lifted in mid-December. At least 62 people were arrested, including Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., and the authorities dug up arms caches as part of a broad effort to weaken local clans. Nevertheless, the Arroyo administration was widely criticized for its longtime policy of tolerating local warlords and supporting clan patronage as part of its counterinsurgency strategy, and the massacre brought new international attention the country’s deeply entrenched culture of impunity. Arroyo lifted martial law on December 12 just before a joint session of Congress was due to vote on the declaration, as the Senate had already registered opposition.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties

The Republic of the Philippines is not an electoral democracy. Elections in 2004 and 2007 were marred by fraud, intimidation, and political violence, and the country was shaken by alleged coup plots or attempts in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

The Philippines has a presidential system of government, with the directly elected president limited to a single six-year term. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then the vice president, rose to the presidency in 2001 after military pressure and street protests drove President Joseph Estrada from power. She completed Estrada’s first term and—despite some legal challenges—won her own full term in 2004. Her opponents have repeatedly called for her to step down, partly due to the constitutionally anomalous length of her tenure. She in turn has pushed for the creation of a parliamentary system of government with extended term limits, but these efforts proved ineffective in 2009.

The national legislature, the Congress, is bicameral. The 24 members of the Senate are elected on a nationwide ballot and serve six-year terms, with half of the seats up for election every three years. The 269 members of the House of Representatives serve three-year terms, with 218 elected by district and the remainder elected by party list to represent ethnic minorities. Legislative coalitions are exceptionally fluid, and members of Congress often change affiliation, effectively rendering political parties meaningless. In May 2009, the two leading progovernment parties merged to form Lakas-Kampi-CMD, which accounts for two-thirds of all House members, three-quarters of all governors, and 70 percent of all mayors. Opposition members hold a slimmer majority in the Senate. The main opposition party is the Struggle for a Democratic Philippines (Laban, or LDP).

Political violence is typically tied to local rivalries and clan competition, but it is especially common in the ARMM and has increasingly targeted leaders of legitimate left-wing parties that are perceived to be associated with leftist guerrillas. One far-left party, Bayan Muna, has endured the murders of more than 130 members since Arroyo took office.

The Philippines’ Commission on Elections (Comelec) is entirely appointed by the president, and with the president’s permission it has the authority to unseat military, police, and government officials. Comelec was widely discredited by the 2005 audiotape scandal regarding cheating in the 2004 elections. No internal investigation was conducted, and the 2007 legislative elections were overseen by the same tainted officials. Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos resigned in October 2007 after being accused of bribing a government official to approve the broadband deal with China’s ZTE Corporation.

Corruption and cronyism are rife in business and government. Despite recent economic reforms, a few dozen leading families continue to hold an outsized share of land, corporate wealth, and political power. Local bosses often control their respective areas, limiting accountability and encouraging abuses of power. High-level corruption also abounds. For example, the ZTE contract scandal has entangled the president, her husband Mike Arroyo, and a number of other top officials. In November 2009, a Senate committee recommended that the ombudsman reopen the ZTE contract investigation, and called for corruption charges to be brought against Mike Arroyo and eight others, including government ministers. Senate accusations early in the year also put the president’s husband at the center of a scandal involving road-building contracts, in which he was accused of accepting bribes to influence the bidding process.

A culture of impunity, stemming in part from a case backlog in the judicial system, hampers the fight against corruption. More high-profile cases have been filed in recent years, and several civic organizations have emerged to combat corruption, but cases take an average of six to seven years to be resolved in the Sandiganbayan anticorruption court. The country’s official anticorruption agencies, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC), have mixed records. Many maintain that the former has been compromised under the current administration, as convictions have declined, while the PAGC lacks enforcement capabilities. The president’s 2008 withdrawal of Executive Order 464, which since 2005 had prevented government and security officials from attending congressional inquiries without presidential permission, was a positive development, but administration allies have continued to avoid testifying by invoking executive privilege. The Philippines was ranked 139 out of 180 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index.

The constitution provides for freedoms of expression and the press. The private media are vibrant and outspoken, although newspaper reports often consist more of innuendo and sensationalism than substantive investigative reporting. The country’s many state-owned television and radio stations cover controversial topics and are willing to criticize the government, but they too lack strict journalistic ethics. While the censorship board has broad powers to edit or ban content, government censorship is generally not a serious problem. The internet is widely available and uncensored.

Potential legal obstacles to press freedom were raised in 2007, including Executive Order 608, which established a National Security Clearance System to protect classified information, and the new Human Security Act (HSA), which would allow journalists to be wiretapped based on mere suspicion of involvement in terrorism. Libel is a criminal offense, and libel suits have been used frequently to quiet criticism of public officials. In September 2009, former president Estrada filed a libel complaint against the Philippine Daily Inquirer for a front-page story that included statements accusing his government of coercing a Chinese-Filipino tycoon into selling shares of the country’s largest telecommunications firm.

The Philippines remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work, and impunity for crimes against them remains the norm. Several journalists were killed in separate incidents in 2009, but a total of 29 (plus three additional media workers) were slain in the November massacre in Maguindanao province. The reporters had been invited to accompany the family members of local vice-mayor Ismail Mangudadatu on their trip to file his candidacy for governor, reportedly in an effort to help ensure the family’s safety. Press freedom groups and the head of the national police called for an independent commission to investigate the massacre. The Commission on Human Rights was conducting an investigation at year’s end.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed under the constitution and generally respected in practice. While church and state are separate, the population is mostly Christian, with a Roman Catholic majority. The Muslim minority is concentrated on the southern island of Mindanao and, according to the most recent census, represents 5 to 9 percent of the total population. Perceptions of relative socioeconomic deprivation and political disenfranchisement, and resentment toward Christian settlement in traditionally Muslim areas, have played a central role in the Muslim separatist movement. The U.S. State Department’s 2009 religious freedom report indicated no instances of religious persecution and praised the country for its efforts at interfaith dialogue.

Academic freedom is generally respected in the Philippines, and professors and other teachers can lecture and publish freely.

Citizen activism is robust, and demonstrations are common. However, permits are required for rallies, and antigovernment protests are often dispersed. Freedoms of assembly and association were suspended to varying degrees in the provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat and in the city of Cotabato (all in Mindanao) in November 2009 following the declaration of a state of emergency in these areas and the imposition of martial law in Maguindanao. While martial law was lifted in Maguindanao in mid-December, the state of emergency in these areas was upheld.

The Philippines has many active human rights, social welfare, and other nongovernmental groups, as well as lawyers’ and business associations. Various labor and farmers’ organizations that are dedicated to ending extrajudicial killings and helping families of the disappeared face significant threats, and their offices are occasionally raided. Trade unions are independent and may align with international groups. However, in order to register, a union must represent at least 20 percent of a given bargaining unit. Moreover, large firms are stepping up the use of contract workers, who are prohibited from joining unions. Only about 5 percent of the labor force is unionized. Collective bargaining is common, and strikes may be called, though unions must provide notice and obtain majority approval from their members. Violence against labor leaders remains a problem and has been part of the greater trend of extrajudicial killings in recent years. Workers’ groups claim nearly 90 cases of abduction or murder since Arroyo took office, while government records put the number at 35.

Judicial independence has traditionally been strong, particularly with respect to the Supreme Court. In 2007 it spearheaded efforts to resolve the issue of extrajudicial killings and similar abuses, promulgating the writ of amparo (protection) to prevent the military from delaying cases by denying that it has a given person in custody. Human rights lawyers generally describe the new writ as a success. In 2009, the Supreme Court issued a writ of amparoto protect a navy lieutenant from military authorities after she accused her commanding officers of embezzling U.S. military funds. In early December, an appeals court in Cagayan de Oro issued a writ of amparo on behalf of members of the Ampatuan family, who claimed they were unnecessarily detained when government troops sealed off their homes following the Maguindanao massacre.

Rule of law in the country is generally weak. A backlog of more than 800,000 cases in the court system contributes to impunity, and low pay encourages rampant corruption. The judiciary receives less than 1 percent of the national budget, and judges and lawyers often depend on local powers for basic resources and salaries, leading to compromised verdicts. At least 12 judges have been killed since 1999, but there have been no convictions for the attacks. In September 2009, a Sharia (Islamic law) court judge was killed by two gunmen on Jolo Island.

Reports of arbitrary detention, disappearances, kidnappings, and abuse of suspects continued in 2009. Mounting evidence has confirmed the military’s responsibility for many of the numerous killings of leftist journalists, labor leaders, and senior members of legal left-wing political parties in recent years. Military officers maintain that the killings are the result of purges within the communist movement. The lack of effective witness protection has been a key obstacle to investigations. About 90 percent of extrajudicial killing and abduction cases have no cooperative witnesses. Especially problematic is the fact that the Department of Justice oversees both the witness-protection program and the entity that serves as counsel to the military. Similarly, the Philippine National Police, tasked with investigating journalist murders, falls under the jurisdiction of the military.

Convictions for extrajudicial killings are extremely rare, and not a single member of the military has been found guilty of such a murder since Arroyo took office. Overall numbers of extrajudicial killings have declined from an annual peak of 220 in 2006. However, there was a significant spike in death-squad killings at the local level in 2008 and 2009, especially in Davao. Local-level officials are believed to keep lists of suspected criminals who are abducted or killed if they fail to heed warnings to reform or leave the area. The death squads responsible reportedly collect about 5,000 pesos (US$100) for each job. In a positive development, the Commission on Human Rights launched independent investigations into the death squads in March 2009. There has also been a recent rise in kidnappings for ransom; authorities killed at least 47 suspected kidnappers during 2009, while 60 others were arrested in a government crackdown.

The Muslim separatist conflict has caused severe hardship for many of the 15 million inhabitants of Mindanao and nearby islands, and has resulted in more than 120,000 deaths since it erupted in 1972. Both government and rebel forces have committed summary killings and other human rights abuses. The escalation of violence in the south in late 2008 displaced more than 600,000 people; an estimated 300,000 remained displaced as of September 2009. Meanwhile, the communist NPA continues to engage in executions, torture, and kidnappings in the countryside, especially in central and southern Luzon.

Citizens may travel freely outside conflict zones, and there are no restrictions on employment or place of residence. The poor security situation inhibits individuals’ ability to operate businesses.

Women have made many social and economic gains in recent years. The UN Development Programme notes that the Philippines is one of the few countries in Asia to significantly close the gender gap in the areas of health and education. Although more women than men now enter high school and university, women face some discrimination in private-sector employment, and women in Mindanao enjoy considerably fewer rights.

The trafficking of women and girls abroad and internally for forced labor and prostitution remains a major problem, despite antitrafficking efforts by the government and civil society. The fact that many women trafficked for illicit labor are heavily indebted by the time they begin working exacerbates the problem. There are reports of bonded labor, especially of children, in black-market trades such as prostitution and drug trafficking. The country’s various insurgent groups have been accused of using child soldiers.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

To My Messenger

Rory, you were my messenger when you wrote: Thru The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Rory, thank God for your message. I started reading this after coming in from my outside closet where I talk to my Lord. For a long time my body has been broken. In January 2009, I had a terrible motorcycle wreak here in the Philippines. A drunken man riding a bicycle darted in front of me and we crashed. While those at the accident site claim I was conscious and talking, to this very day I remember nothing of the aftermath of the crash. For 3 days after the crash I remember nothing, some bits and pieces, a few seconds of words that seem like dreams, possibly true, but I've never been sure.

Complicating my crash, I was prescribed Oxycontin and apparently my body reacts differently than most. Everything I put in my mouth tasted like cardboard, making me sick. For 30 days I struggled losing about 1 pound per day. I now weigh less than I did when I wrestled in high school where I was trying to reduce my weight to maintain my weight class. Less than 126 lbs. My normal weight is 170 lbs. To this very day I have struggled to get the weight back on, but it seems issues that come from mysterious places prevent me as I start making any progress.

At this same time I am fighting against poverty and corruption in the Philippines, while also teaching and speaking out about Salvation, the End Times, my doubts about Pre-/Mid-Tribulation Rapture, and anything else the Holy Spirit guides me to address. I am nothing but a good old Kentucky country-boy, a rural raised man, not a minister, not a teacher, but I have been called to do both of those here. I sometimes feel so weak, not capable of doing the Lord's Work properly. The crash weakened me, while I was still trying to recover from a earlier illness in 2007, Amoebic Dysentery. All of my medical attention for those was here in the Philippines, so the quality of the medical treatments is a little in question. I sometimes experience Vertigo and my balance is disrupted a great deal. A shame because I loved snow skiing, water skiing, roller skating; many of the sports that require good balance. Of course most of those are not even available here, so maybe I’ve lost little.

My Prayer before reading your article was for Jesus to come make His presence felt by me, so I could gain strength to help non-believers. To guide them; my community and my family to Jesus. I'm over 8000 miles from my home, and actually right now, I don't even have a home in the US. But the US is still my home; I don't need a house there. My memories are the home that I remember. My strength over the past few weeks has ebbed, and then been renewed by Jesus. I've felt His Presence, but there are also times when I don't feel him. It worries me; I know that during my lowest times He promised to carry me. And someday when I look back at this time I will know then that he was carrying me, but when you are at those moments, it feels so lonely. I miss my Lord during these times. I reach out to others and confess myself, just as you did. I guess my messenger does not have to be in person. The internet provided mine. And I thank you for being that messenger Rory.

I really wish the Lord would reveal those 3 days to me, but if not I will still follow His teachings, and will still do His Will. I would like to ask you Rory, to keep me in your prayer if you will. I don't ask for anything for myself, but for these dear friends and family here in the Philippines, I do ask for your prayer for them. And I ask you to also pray for my home family in the United States. So much trouble happening there right now. My heart is with all my American Brothers and Sisters.

With all My Blessing,
Mark Borders

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Who is Mark Borders?

Who is this crazy evangelical fanatic Mark Borders? Why is he here in the Philippines? What right does he have to make statements against our country?

These are just a few questions I’ve seen asked over the internet lately. So give me this opportunity to answer them.

Mark Borders, born Mark Franklin Borders on August 27, 1956. Parents were Chester Franklin Borders 3/15/1925 to 1/5/1995, Pauline Hatfield Borders 2/3/1934 to 2/7/2007. Born in Hardin Memorial Hospital, Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

I was raised by my extended family in my very early years, and raised within the religious community of White Mills Baptist Church, an old-time conservative church which taught the true belief of Jesus Christ.

I am a Judeo-Christian, the WikiPedia definition of that is below (or see it by type Judoe-Christian into a search engine and select the WikiPedia article. The below excerpts are not the full article, just selected quotes:

In our country, ‘Judeo-Christian values’ is shorthand for a complex idea: the common culture of the American majority. The values are called Judeo-Christian because they derive from the complementary ideas of free will, the moral accountability of the individual rather than the group, the spiritual imperative of imperfect man’s struggle to do what is right and the existence of true moral law in the teachings of Christ and the Jewish prophets. Along with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they are the political and cultural heritage of the Founding Fathers. The declaration and the Constitution define the source and the limits of state power. But they do not tell us how a moral life within this society should be led. While they have provided a durable structure for America’s success, only Judeo-Christian values, freely held by the majority, explain its continuing realization. These values are not identical with the Christian religion, although they manifest its universal insights. Americans, as the Founding Fathers hoped, uphold the Constitution, but live according to “Judeo-Christian values.
The term became particularly associated with the conservative right in American politics, promoting a "Judeo–Christian values" agenda in the so-called culture wars, a usage which surged in the 1990s. Hot topic issues in the battles over the Judeo–Christian tradition include, in a typical example, the right to display the following documents in Kentucky schools, after they were banned by a federal judge in May 2000 as "conveying a very specific governmental endorsement of religion":
  • an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence, which reads, "All men ... are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
  • the preamble to the Constitution of Kentucky, which states, "We, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy, and invoking the continuance of these blessings, do ordain and establish this Constitution."
  • The Mayflower Compact, in which the colony's founders invoke "the name of God" and explain that their journey was taken, among other reasons, "for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith."
  • the national motto, "In God we trust"
  • a page from the congressional record of Wednesday, February 2, 1983, Vol. 129, No. 8, which declares 1983 as the "Year of the Bible" and lists the Ten Commandments
  • a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan marking 1983 the "Year of the Bible"
  • a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln designating April 30, 1863, a "National Day of Prayer and Humiliation"
  • an excerpt from President Lincoln's "Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible," which reads, "The Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man."
Supporters of the Judeo–Christian concept point to the Christian claim that Christianity is the heir to Biblical Judaism, and that the whole logic of Christianity as a religion is that it exists (only) as a religion built upon Judaism.
In the American context, historians use the term Judeo–Christian to refer to the influence of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament on Protestant thought and values, most especially the Puritan, Presbyterian and Evangelical heritage. Some early colonists saw themselves as heirs to the Hebrew Bible, and its teachings on liberty, responsibility, hard work, ethics, justice, equality, a sense of closeness’ and an ethical mission to the world, which have become key components of the American character, what is called the “American Creed.

Now, how can you know I am this Judeo-Christian? A Christian who before 11/16/2010 I never knew, wrote the below article. I present it as a guide in judging me:


by: Erlhynda Rosel

Our integrity is in a state of crisis. The lack of integrity of private individuals and public officials has made us lose our standards-personal and national- and put personal interest ahead of all else. What we have is a society driven by the need for personal gratification. We have lose sight of the good of the larger community and how we as individuals can make it what it ought to become.
The lacks of integrity among politicians are more evident because their actions are magnified a hundred times over. Because they are public figures and they are suppose to serve the public and consider the best interest of the people they serve, any decision and action that shows their total lack of concern for and neglect of their community obligation is like an insult to the Filipino people who voted for them. When we trusted them with our votes, we assumed that they had our best interest at heart, they would be honest and remain true to their oath of office. But the political culture of selfishness and hypocrisy has swallowed them.
Let us say, we have a popular political figure, like a government official, who did something wrong and when it was discovered, denied having anything to do with it. But then after the investigation, he was found to be responsible for the wrong he committed. Only then he admit that he did it. He then expected that everything would be forgotten and he would be forgiven too. When the next elections came, he hoped to be elected again. Would you still want this person to hold a public position? Is he, or anyone else like him, a person of integrity? The answer is plain and simple: NO!
Integrity is an important character trait of people, especially those who hold important positions and who are in public service. People who have no integrity have no RIGHT to run for any public office and expect people to TRUST them with their votes and their future. But what is INTEGRITY? And WHO has it?
INTEGRITY is a virtue that seems to be lacking in many of us these days. It refers to a quality of person's character, its wholeness, intactness or purity. This means that the person is not corrupted by any immoral, sinful or wrong ways of other people.
Persons of integrity take the time to know right from wrong. Their decisions are not based on simple but are based on careful study and reflective thought. In other words, they do not make decisions without first looking at the morality and soundness of these decisions. They use moral standards to guide them in their actions and judgments. At present, because many people live in the fast lane, many people who do not have the time to carefully weigh their decisions that affect their lives and the lives of those around them. They believe that as long as their actions do not physically harm others, they can do anything. But thinking is an important part of forming integrity. Through reflection and careful thought, one develops a strong sense of right and wrong.
Persons of integrity act on what they believe. Their beliefs are products of careful consideration of the moral standards and their actions are consistent with their beliefs. They do not have double standards and value conflicts. They are faithful to their words. What they know and understand, they show manifest and manifest in their actions. They do not say one thing and do another thing. As we always say in Values Education, the WALK their TALK, they practice what they preach and profess. This way, they do not confuse others and themselves. Because what we see is what we get, it is easy to know what they believe in and what they stand for. Integrity, therefore, is not something that we can choose to show whenever we want to. It is not like a dress that can be worn on special occasions and kept in the closet when are not seeing anyone. Integrity is a way of life, it is integrity into what one thinks, believes and does.
Persons of integrity stands up for what they believe in. They don’t simply manifest it, they also advocate it. This is why integrity has a social dimension. It can't be personal... can't be kept in secrecy... coz it has to be shown to and seen by the others. We cannot say we have integrity without the people around us knowing that we really do. A person who has it cannot be silent about what they believe in, they have to publicize it and try to influence others to see their point of view. Lying about one's view, concealing them, taking back one's words because of pressure or threat are indications of the absence of integrity. If a person of integrity has committed a mistake or a wrong decision, she/ he readily admits its mistake and does not wait for others to find out about it. She/ he also do not claim to do things or take credit for things she/ he did not do.
Persons of integrity put the good of the community ahead of the individual. They sacrifice their interest and those of others who are close to them if they do not meet the ethical and moral standards. Personal satisfaction is the last thing in their mind if it will be detrimental to the community. This can be illustrated with the simple act of talking as loud as i want. Can i do that? Can you do that? Of course, you can. But the other side of this act, the one related to integrity, is the consideration of your action’s effects on others. Should you consider your obligation to respect other people's interest? Of course, you should! Between these two, doing what you want to do and considering the effects it has on others, integrity dictates that you should sacrifice personal interests in favor of the interests of the others. So, integrity is doing the right thing no matter what it costs the person. Can our government officials and lawmakers voluntarily give up their position if there are issues against them or their motive is questioned? The stakes are high, it is their political career, But can they sacrifice it in favor of the greater good?
Because INTEGRITY is a significant virtue, we should work to develop it in us. We have to look for models that have it, people who exhibit clean character and life. Our leaders should be our model but if they fail to become one, we should remember not to elect them next time. Because if they keep getting elected into their position, we are just as UNFIT to become electors as those whom we elect as leaders. Our country, our world, needs people with integrity. What we hope to become as a nation, as a world, lies in the leaders in whose hands we entrust our future.

So examine my blogsite at, search out where I have not followed all the statements in both the two articles above. 

Judge me completely, I am transparent. My blog contains all the evidence you need to know who and what I am.

But just to help you know me more the below article, also written by someone I’ve never met, continues to describe me and my work here in the Philippines.:

What does it mean that,
‘many are called & few chosen?’

By: Iris Nasreen, Servant of Lord Jesus Christ

Matthew 20:16
16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
In this verse God is welcoming all humble & meek. Arrogant, self-important, proud & self-righteous have no part in God. God resist the proud, “he that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he that exalteth himself shall be abased”. Lord Mighty God has called many but only those are chosen & elected who deny themselves & are ready to pick up their own cross to walk in His Will. “For many are called, but few chosen.”
Colossians 3
12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
John 15:16
16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
This verse is referring God’s appointed servants. True servants bear fruits of righteousness that brings forth great harvest for Lord Mighty God. These elect are sent out all over the world to be His witnesses. Their fruit is accepted & never stolen by enemy. Since they become one heart & soul in God’s love; their prayers reach throne of God due to their mediator Lord Jesus Christ who is the only way & hope.
In John 17:6-19; Lord Jesus Christ is praying or talking to His Father Almighty God about His servant/ chosen/elect. It is very important to understand why His chosen are apart from others.
John 17:6-26
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.
9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
In these precious verses Jesus Christ is referring about His twelve disciples & all servants appointed until the end of age. These are chosen one are given to Lord Jesus Christ by His Father. “They were Yours, You gave them to Me.”
What is so unique about these elected servants of God?
• They kept God’s Word.
•  They understood & accepted Lord Jesus Christ has come from Father. “they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.”
• They are mediator between Lord Jesus Christ & whole world. Perfect chain of command. They receive Word directly from Heavenly Father through His son Jesus Christ. No one can reach mind of God due to sin. God is pure. But, blood of Jesus Christ has brought that lost relationship back. This is a reason that we all need Jesus Christ for salvation. These servants of God are appointed elect given by Father to His son to connect with the whole world. “8. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them,”
• Their heart is not attached to this world & its desires. Diamond is dust in their eyes. This Satan’s world does not belong to God & His servants do not fit in either. “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” These servants know that world hates them, but it not important to them because God & His opinion is their only concern.
• They are transformed to be pure like God. God guard “them from the evil one.” This is a very unique sign of God’s elects. They start to see, think & talk like God. God takes them to a 100% perfection of purity where they become one in God through an intimated love & connection through Lord Jesus Christ. This is reason why Jesus told His disciples in John 20:23 that, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” Be aware that you should not be deceived by so called priests or servant of God who are wolf in sheep’s skin. God’s elect are not necessaily labeled professional church ministers who get graduated as pastors from schools established in world. I am talking about God’s chosen elected servants whose teacher is Jesus Christ. They can speak only through the guidance of Holy Spirit. I am not saying that all pastors are not God’s children. These are ones who made a choice to live for God. God helps them too, to guide His sheep: BUT THEY ARE NOT 100% PURE SAINTS OF GOD. It is important to recognize this difference. One who do not care about earthly needs & live a simple, humble life without greed. Tree is judged by its fruits. As Jesus said, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
God’s reward for His chosen servants is:
Revelation 4:4
4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Verses 20-26 is referring about: Matthew 20:16
16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
Let’s read & understand what is a position of, “multitudes that are called through the gospel through God’s elected servants of God.”
Jesus Prays for All Believers
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
Lord Jesus Christ not only prayed for His chosen; but also for all who are called to enter into the Kingdom of God. Let read verse 20 again, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.”
We will learn the importance & worth of all who are called.
• They will receive the union with Heavenly Father & Lord Jesus Christ. Holy Spirit is poured on all who are called (who will believe in Lord Jesus Christ through the Gospel sent out to them). What a marvelous gift is given, as Lord Jesus said: “they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You.”
• Another amazing gift they will get is a glory of God. Lord Jesus Christ will bestow His Glory over all who will receive Him as their Lord & Savior. What is reason to transfer this glory to all believers? Because they will be united with their Heavenly Father. As Jesus Christ said, “the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:”
• They will rejoice & live their eternity with Lord Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of God. As Lord said, “they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am.”
• They will be transformed into a perfect being through a perfect transformation through guidance of Holy Spirit within them that they receive as a gift of salvation from Heavenly Father. Love of God will be rooted in their heart that will help them to overcome this world’s desires & sins. Love of God is a key to salvation that is sown only through their acceptance of Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior. As Lord said, “that they may be made perfect in one.”
• It is Lord’s desire to spend eternity with them. As Lord said,” they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am”.
Here is a marvelous gift of all who are called & they willingly accepted Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior.
Revelation 7:9-15
A Multitude from the Great Tribulation
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

So do you know me now? 

Have I answered all your questions? 

Do you need any other information that I have not yet provided? 

I would be happy to give you all the information you need to know me completely. I want everyone to know who I am, and I want everyone to know what my purpose and mission on this earth has lead me to do.

I welcome any comments, or questions.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Last Corruption Fight

I hope this will be the last time I have to talk about corruption in the Philippines. The letter below was sent to the Ombudsman Office in Davao. The first attempt with that office went without a response therefore the following update was sent. The writing in Red is the edited version of the first letter to the Ombudsman.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Mark and Merejen
Cc: Joe Joson ; Benjie Otagon ; Numeri Galgo Jr.
Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2010 1:22:54 AM
Subject: Corruption

I would like to draw your attention to a letter to your president I posted in my blog at

Ok, let me simplify this a little. I said in a letter that I posted on my blogsite, that a CENR had asked me for 50,000 pesos to get my wife's Wood Processing Permit approved within 2 weeks. We had worked on this permit for over 2 years. All along I have known that he, the CENR was causing much of the delay, I have all the proof of his delaying tactics as evidence I'm willing to present to anyone.

I have now been sent a subpoena, you can view here:

The picture you should see is a scan of the subpoena I received on Nov. 12, 2010. Now, for following the law, telling the truth, making an effort to improve the community, I must defend myself from this corrupt official, using money that is dearly needed to keep our businesses running, so thanks again to this corrupt official, we will now soon have to close permanently our mini-sawmill.

I will be making a full report of my difficulties with the "Doing Business" organization in the very near future. All of my dealings here are recorded permanently in hard copy, and on computer, backed up many times over, and stored in email messages, which now sit on servers around the world.

 I read with interest the article and have to wonder if the article is factual, since I obviously will be required to defend myself soon.

I now wonder if a government office charged with the responsibility to protect its citizens (wonder if "citizen" includes 13A Permanent Residents) will carry out its responsibility. You should have received the first version of this letter on Monday Morning Nov. 15, 2010, as of Tuesday evening at 20:50 I have received no email acknowledging receipt of my message, or that the problem would be investigated.

The article listed just above says for us (citizens?) to sue these officials? It is not the responsibility for a private citizen to have to spend money to get proper treatment from a government office. A private citizen can only report the incident to the proper authorities, then it is up to the government to do their job to investigate.

So now, this Small American Investor has spent 12 million pesos for absolutely nothing. My letter to the President produced no results, my appeal to the public has gone unheard, my report to the DSWD went without resolution, and now a report to the Ombudsman has gone unnoticed. Would someone care to explain? Does God have any part of this country? Is this how you want to go down in history? Is this what you want the world to see?

Would welcome your comments.