Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

ICRC worker Mary Jean Lacaba freed by Abu Sayyaf bandits

April 3, 2009

After 78 days in captivity, Filipina hostage Mary Jean Lacaba has been freed by the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers. The fates of two of her companions, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) humanitarian workers Andreas Notter of Switzerland and Eugenio Vagni of Italy are not known.

Though Alain Aeschlimann, regional operations chief for the ICRC, disclosed he doesn’t have information on the condition of the two other hostages, Foreign Minister of Italy Franco Frattini was reported to have said the two hostages are alive.

Thirty-seven year old Lacaba who endured the hostage ordeal since her abduction on January 15, 2009 was abandoned by the Islamic extremists on April 2, 2009. The ICRC worker was fetched in Barangay Palig in the border of Indanan and Parang at about 7 P.M. and was brought to a hospital for evaluation and treatment.

The release of Lacaba comes when government authorities prepare to evacuate an estimated 21,000 residents who may be caught in a crossfire if confrontations between the bandits and the military forces occur. (Photo Credit: AFP/ ICRC) =0=

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ICRC worker Mary Jean Lacaba freed by Abu Sayyaf bandits

April 3, 2009

After 78 days in captivity, Filipina hostage Mary Jean Lacaba has been freed by the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers. The fates of two of her companions, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) humanitarian workers Andreas Notter of Switzerland and Eugenio Vagni of Italy are not known.

Though Alain Aeschlimann, regional operations chief for the ICRC, disclosed he doesn’t have information on the condition of the two other hostages, Foreign Minister of Italy Franco Frattini was reported to have said the two hostages are alive.

Thirty-seven year old Lacaba who endured the hostage ordeal since her abduction on January 15, 2009 was abandoned by the Islamic extremists on April 2, 2009. The ICRC worker was fetched in Barangay Palig in the border of Indanan and Parang at about 7 P.M. and was brought to a hospital for evaluation and treatment.

The release of Lacaba comes when government authorities prepare to evacuate an estimated 21,000 residents who may be caught in a crossfire if confrontations between the bandits and the military forces occur. (Photo Credit: AFP/ ICRC) =0=

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Iraq unveils a shoe monument

January 30, 2009

We can forget Imelda Marcos’ shoes for a while. Iraqis are still elated and angered by the shoe thrown at Pres. George W. Bush and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki last December 2008 by journalist Muntadhir al-Zaidi. A brown shoe sculpture seems a funny retaliation by a culturally sequestered people who appreciate al-Zaidi and boil mad on the former US president even if they have been liberated from Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule.

Surely, the Iraqis have strong reasons to be mad. The cost of war is high in places of ethnic strife and tribal clashes. Many human lives have senselessly been lost in the name of freedom. 5.1 million people were displaced and about an equal number of children were left without parents.

To vent their anger and send praises for the jailed shoe-thrower who dreams of getting an asylum status in Switzerland, Iraqis and children from the Tikrit Orphanage helped sculptor Laith al-Amiri make a symbolic shoe monument. A brown footware with a raggedly brown surface was mounted on a white cloth so the people could see and ponder.

Whatever thrill one gets in looking at the oversized shoe, the use of children to make a political point is disturbing. There is negatism and darkness young minds can’t miss when they see the controversial shoe. The footware is less likely a symbol of disrespect and misplaced rage, but more a reminder of the derision the Muslims have for USA and Pres. George W. Bush.

Lacking gratitude after being saved from Saddam’s terroristic regime, some Iraqis have taken the low road of the warring militants who succeed in teaching generation(s) of children on selective memory and tough love. The faith-based beliefs against the “infidels” are still the driving force of hatred against the Western civilization. There are those who have become one-track thinkers— intolerant, violent, self-righteous, and unforgiving in their political views. This is one reason why the culture of violence kills the innocents. And peace is so elusive in that part of the world. (Photo Credit: CNN) 0=

UPDATE: Feb. 1, 2009. Iraqi officials ordered the dismantling of the shoe monument in the Tikrit Orphanage. They say government facilities must not be used as a venue to air political views.

“To make a man and prepare him as a good citizen” in a Bicol town, circumcision is required

January 24, 2009

In Camarines Norte, there was laughter during the deliberations of the “Tunay na Ulirang Lalake Ordinance” aka TULI or Real Model of Manhood Ordinance.

The piece of legislation was on its second deliberation to make male circumcision in that place mandatory. It was uncertain whether those considering the ordinance were serious or just joking.

According to its author, Provincial Board Member Joeffrey B. Pandi, the circumcision law is important “to enhance the physical well being of a boy or pre-teen, preparing him for early manhood and as a good citizen of his community.”

Really?

There is practically no dissenting opinion against Pandi’s odd proposal. The ready acceptance is a reflection of how we regard circumcision today. Many of us still adhere to the old tribal idea that the surgical removal of the prepuce covering the glans penis is a passage to manhood. Without acrimony, we accept a parochial belief that the uncircumcised deserves to be a butt of jokes, short to being a subject of continual humiliation. In our town, to be uncircumcised is to be identified as “half a man.” As a result, many children grow up in trepidation, believing the myth which their families and friends hand down to them.

Our society to this day still exerts strong pressure against being “supot” (uncircumcised) even if it infringes on our freedom to decide on what to do with our bodies. The TULI ordinance perpetuates myths, indirectly encourages intolerance, and curtails our right of choice even if we fail to see it that way.

How will the law be enforced? What punishments will the lawbreakers get? Who will pay for the procedure? Are we ready for the physical and psychological complications which go with surgery?

There are many conflicting justifications for or against the penile operation. An ordinance to force boys to have the procedure disregards the contrary arguments against it. The minor cutaneous surgery comes not without risks; complications like bleeding, tetanus, infections among others do occur in circumcision. Fortunately, the risks are minor compared to the benefit of keeping genital cleanliness (hygiene,) the usual valid reason for the operation.

It has been argued that circumcision lessens the incidence of HIV, HPV (warts,) and penile cancers. The skin removal is part of the religious traditions of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Upon the introduction of the “germ theory” at the turn of the 20th century, the Western World adopted circumcision to keep infections away. Primitive tribes in the Africa and the Pacific, consider it an important cultural milestone towards manhood.

So we know the myriad reasons why most of us agree to circumcision. We consider factors like hygiene, medical reasons, religious beliefs, cultural norms, and individual choice in our decisions. A personal matter which causes no harm on others, the minor tampering of our sexual organs is OK. It goes without saying that going against it is also OK.

But the lawmakers of Camarines Norte might be half-serious. The TULI ordinance unwittingly undercuts our basic liberty to choose. Although it appears, the ordinance gets easy support from the community, I don’t think the “funny” ordinance will benefit us in the long haul. Photo Credits: The Passing Strange; Snaphappy4)=0=

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