The Cebu Archdiocese Commission on Service-Cebu Caritas formally launched its Justice and Peace Program at the Balamban sports complex on December 10, 20222.
More than 90 chapel leaders of the Parroquia de San Francisco de Asis in Balamban, Cebu and Parish Caritas volunteers from district 5 parishes joined the activity, which was co-organized by the Balamban Parish Caritas and its Justice and Peace committee headed by Atty. Danrey Cabataña, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu Chapter, and the University of San Carlos School of Law and Governance.
“it is indeed true that our care and concern for the poor goes beyond the needs for mere survival. Our love for the Anawim, our caritas is more importantly for their integral well-being. Love for neighbor includes upholding their dignity as fellow human beings and as children of God. This is the true meaning of our faith and this is the true consequence of our love. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta said — ‘the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, and the fruit of service is peace.”– Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma, said in his message to the participants,
He thanked Cebu Caritas for organizing the Justice and Peace Program as one of its tripod programs of faith through a grassroots-based education and information campaign. He said this will hopefully continue to empower the marginalized, who will become not just passive receivers, but active agents of their own well-being and development.
The activity, which carried the theme “Good Governance through People’s Empowerment and Participation”, coincided with the worldwide observance of International Human Rights Day, the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights “sets out a broad range of fundamental rights and freedoms to which all of us are entitled. It guarantees the rights of every individual everywhere, without distinction based on nationality, place of residence, gender, national or ethnic origin, religion, language, or any other status.”
In its advocacy statement, the Justice and Peace Program of Cebu Caritas emphasizes that —“It is not enough that the Anawim (the lost, the least and the last) are provided aid, relief, food, health care, shelter, and other basic necessities. They should also be made aware of their basic human rights. Through a grassroots-based education and information program, the Anawim are enabled and empowered to exercise their rights as citizens and to actively participate in governance and to hold public officials to account.”
The day-long activity opened with a Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Balamban Parish Priest and Vicar General Msgr. Rey Penagunda. Co-celebrants were Cebu Caritas Good Governance Head Msgr. Daniel Sanico, Fr. Alex Cola, Jr., Cebu Caritas President, Fr. Alden John Baran, Cebu Caritas Program Director, and Fr. Sherwyll Mingo, District 5 Parish Caritas Priest-in-charge and Parochial Vicar of the San Vicente Ferrer Parish in Bato, Toledo City.
In his homily, Msgr. Penagunda said “Salamat sa Dios, nga naay mga kaigsuonan nato nga batid sa balaod nga ania karon kanato aron pagpadayag są ilang pagpakabana kanatong katawhan. Mao usab kini ang pagpadayag nila sa ilang pagpanginlabot, dili sa pagpanghilabot. Mao kini ang pagpadayag nila sa ilang pagtabang, dili tabang og duot. Mga igsoon, grasya kini, bendisyon kini nga gihatag sa Dios kanato. Ug alang kanamo sa Parroquia sa San Francisco de Asis, mao ni ang among pasiuna nga Christmas bonus, Christmas gift nga gihatag sa Cebu Caritas.”
A rite of commissioning of Balamban Parish Caritas volunteers was also conducted within the Mass.
After the Mass, retired Court of Appeals Executive Justice Gabriel Ingles gave a talk on “Public Office is a Public Trust” while retired deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Virginia Palanca-Santiago discussed salient provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Volunteer lawyers from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu chapter and law student practitioners from the University of San Carlos School of Law and Governance, under the supervision of Dean Jose Glenn Capanas, offered free legal services such as consultations, notarization of simple documents, drafting of legal documents, and assistance in PhilSys ID registration.
Attorney Paredes is a Trustee of Cebu Caritas, Inc. and Member of the Good Governance Committee. Before her retirement, she led the Public Affairs division for Visayas and Mindanao of Smart Communications, Inc. She used to work in media both for print and broadcast.