Despite the fact that Filipinos traditionally highly treasure children in their midst, sexual abuse and exploitation of children tragically remain common in Philippine society. Adding to this poignant irony is that even as the clamor for greater vigilance against child abuse is spreading worldwide, incidents of rape and murder of children in both urban and rural settings in our country continue to be reported with seeming regularity, many of them perpetrated by those who are supposed to care for them.
It’s a little-known fact, so the public may be surprised to know that every Aug. 11, the Armed Forces of the Philippines officially celebrates the passage of the International Humanitarian Law by having its soldiers renew their commitment to human rights and the rule of law at all times in the discharge of their duties. Or as Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin put it, “We should execute our duties and responsibilities to protect our citizens caught in the midst of armed conflicts in the country, and guarantee total respect for their human rights as prescribed by International Humanitarian Law.”
The “Season of Creation” campaign of the Archdiocese of Manila is well named. Similar campaigns are held in many countries as a celebration of the Earth during the month of September. In the Philippines, it will run on Sept. 1-Oct. 5, with the aim of encouraging Filipino Catholics to be “more proactive in protecting and preserving the environment.” Celebrations of the Mass, such as the opening Mass to be officiated by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, will be joined with an information campaign on pressing environmental problems throughout the archdiocese’s many parishes and communities.
How many more mishaps like the one that befell the MRT train last Wednesday should happen before the government undertakes an honest-to-goodness rehabilitation of this worn-out transport system? It’s tempting to call the accident, which saw a train break through the metal railings at the Taft Avenue station and cause injury to at least 38 people, a wake-up call—except that it is not the first accident to afflict the MRT.
The tiff between lawmakers and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is heating up. Both sides should temper the rhetoric lest they lock themselves into unreasonable positions that betray the spirit of the law they purport to uphold. We all lose when the constitutional fabric is frayed and sacrosanct principles are cheapened in the harsh exchange. The lawmakers have been counseled thus. The same counsel should be extended to Sereno.