Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Box, A Bunny, and the Easter Eggs

It's time for a late (or early for next year) Easter Egg Hunt. I'll lay the clues, you can all follow and show me the Eggs you find.

1st Clue
The PCIJ Investigation that was brought up in a prior entry and was pointed out in an anonymous comment.


Here is a quote from the article:

In 2004, DOH even awarded P50 million to the religious group Couples for Christ to fund a government program called Responsible Parenthood-Natural Family Planning (RP-NFP). According to its own website, the CFC considers sex education, contraception, sterilization, in vitro fertilization, and population control as “anti-life.”

Couples for Christ was one of the first groups to mobilize its members during Edsa II, which resulted in the ouster of then President Joseph Estrada and Arroyo’s ascension to power. In a June 2004 report to then Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit to cover the first tranche of the money, CFC said it used the fund to conduct almost a hundred lectures on natural family planning, “chastity education” campus tours, and media and public relations expenses.

Lawyer Rhodora Roy Raterta, executive director of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP), says the deal violated the principle of separation of church and state, “as the CFC is known to have links with the Catholic Church.” But what made it worse, she says, were reports that CFC also used its trainings to denounce artificial contraception.

“The bottom line is, it’s wrong,” says Raterta. She also says that funding natural family planning alone violates the Constitutional provision that says the government will protect the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their personal religious convictions.

2nd Clue

An article by A.G. Romualdez Jr. in the Malaya titled "Biblical Pregnancies."

Here is a quote:

Given their facility for rationalization, it is not surprising that those who ousted Joseph Estrada for plunder (defined as stealing at least 50 million pesos from the people) did not hesitate to enter into a fraudulent contract (worth 100 million pesos) with the Department of Health. Theirs was a just cause, extremists among the "Couples for Christ" claim, they were preventing government from promoting sexual promiscuity among the Filipino people. Ostensibly, the contract was to promote "natural family planning" among the poor. However, all evidence – participants’ accounts of training programs as well as the teaching manuals developed – indicates that the intention was to discourage family planning as a norm and to denigrate the other "sinful" but scientifically effective methods such as pills, condoms and IUDs. For some reason, after the initial release of 50 million pesos, the organization did not pursue the subsequent release – possibly because, in order to do so, they would be required to submit a financial accounting of the original disbursement.

3rd Clue

Senator Loi Ejercito Estrada's proposed Senate Resolution No. 117:


Read the whole resolution in pdf format here:


And finally, the 4th Clue, one from our own commenters.

"The CFC Shame That Is Poised To Be A Scandal"

Here is an excerpt:
And inside CFC, the uneasiness of many about how Gerry Padilla and Maribel Descallar were using the money to fund travels and meetings which had more to do with building the Teodora agenda that a massive natural family planning program worth the government's money and value-added contributions by CFC which already claimed Pro-Life as a pillar - paid or not.

Now, for my questions (I've already led the way to the interesting answers) :

What is the DOH CFC project?

How much was involved?

What happened to the project?

If you know more, or have answers to the questions, please feel free to email or comment.

Coming soon...we find out if Pandora's Box contains Playboy...err, Easter Bunnies. Find your Eggs!

Edit to add:

The DOH/CFC project has allegedly not been audited. Some people have claimed that it has, I would certainly appreciate proof of that.

If it has not been audited since the project cessation in 2005, one would wonder if it has anything to do with Alex Padilla (SFC), the brother of Frank, being the U.Sec of DOH.


Anonymous said...

i think you are more interested in sensationalizing things and feeling good about it than fixing the problem of CFC. I hope that one day, may God touch your heart.

IDotRCFC said...

I beg to disagree. This headline on the other hand:

"‘I heard Arroyo, Garci talk,’ says ex-sergeant"

IS sensational.

Anonymous said...


By: Dr Vic S. Cabuquit
CFC-North B


The Couples for Christ, the foremost Catholic lay organization, is 26 years old this year. It has grown into a world-wide network of about one million members. Its thrust has been mainly on evangelization, beginning with the couples themselves and gradually branching into several family and social ministries, offering a unique “womb to tomb” type of evangelization that has reached all the corners of this country and in 160 countries in the world.

It has done remarkably well in its efforts to make a difference, particularly for the poor and indeed, it has achieved accolades from all sectors of society. The plaudits though may have lulled CFC into a false sense of achievement. And pride is just a step away from this.

Now, CFC is on the throes of its most severe crisis; a crisis within its ranks, a crisis amongst its leaders. During the last few years, there had been tell-tale signs of a looming crisis. Unfortunately, these signs were largely ignored.

What Went Wrong? (1)

The decline in membership was one sign. From a high of about 1.2 million members, CFC’s membership dropped to a low of 900,000 in a period of just five years. New members were hard to recruit; participants in Christian Life Programmes (CLPs) were disappointingly low. Ominously, members were simply dropping out. The reasons were varied: different priorities, conflict with members/leaders, wrong charism, lost zeal. Some preferred to stay in the background, as if waiting for the penny to drop.

The significant drop in membership resulted in a decrease in tithes, a perennial problem going from bad to worse. The unexplained CFC debts, which, for a time, ballooned to millions of pesos, further worsened the situation. Overall, there was lack of transparency in how money was being handled. There were instances when money was being spent in advance, that the council was spending beyond its means. This cavalier attitude on finances was reflected in the absence of year-end financial reports and an aversion to so-called ”corporate” auditing procedures. Members were asking amongst themselves, ”how is our money being spent?” The council’s reply, equally cavalier, was, “trust us.”

Another sign centred on the interminable tenures of the members of the Executive Council, the governing body of CFC. Key figures like Frank Padilla, Tony Meloto, Lachie Agana, and Roquel Ponte, had had uninterrupted memberships in the council for about a quarter of a century; an endless merry-go-round of multiple positions and of course, attractive perks. It was not uncommon, for example, for Frank Padilla to report to Frank Padilla who would also report to Frank Padilla. Padilla, in an audacious retort to probing e-mails last year, rationalized this anomaly by claiming no one outside of the council was competent enough to do multiple jobs. These astute men were able to wield a kind of collusive leadership because they themselves were the ones who determined who would constitute the Elder’s Assembly, ostensibly the body with the final say on CFC policies. It was observed that the members of the Executive Council, to preserve their territoriality, nominated only those members who they saw fit as friendly and obedient to their cause. Members who asked too many questions, especially the awkward questions, were excluded. The “awkward” members who somehow managed to get in the council did not last long and were speedily replaced. “Obedience” was the unofficial mantra for that select group.

What Went Wrong? (2)

The Executive Council was dominated by two individuals. Frank Padilla and Tony Meloto: both brilliant, headstrong, and ambitious. One can say that they epitomized CFC. Padilla is a great communicator: excellent in speech and prose. But he often exudes a stiff countenance, lacks a sense of humour, and comes off as an obsessive, controlling icon.

Meloto is a first class strategist, an exceptional man who can readily walk his talk. He has more charisma than Padilla. He has an incredible memory which can be quite disarming. He has the knack of making the other person feel important. Like Padilla, Meloto is passionately controlling.

In the hierarchy of things, Padilla is the mentor, Meloto is the protege. That is, until Gawad Kalinga. The success of Gawad Kalinga, rightly or wrongly attributed to Meloto, upset the hierarchical apple cart. GK generated so much positive publicity that it created a bandwagon effect. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry wanted to be part of the ground-breaking phenomenon called GK. Meloto began to reap laurels from all quarters. Meloto basked in the limelight. Meloto felt heady with success. Can pride be far behind?

A significant event that catalysed the crisis was the Ramon Magsaysay Award given to Meloto, as an individual achievement. Significantly, the announcement of the award was met with less than cacophonous jubilation by the CFC. Many were wondering, “why Meloto, why not CFC?” There were unconfirmed but widely believed reports that there were attempts by some backroom boys (actually girls) to prevent Meloto from garnering the individual award. To make a long story short, Meloto and CFC, represented by Padilla, received individual and group awards, unprecedented in the history of Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. It was plain the backroom boys (girls) were able to strike a compromise.

But the arrow had been released, and CFC bled. Many felt that Meloto should have declined the honour as an individual achievement because it was not he but CFC which created, nurtured, and sustained GK. The fact that Meloto accepted the award meant he thought otherwise.

As Executive Director, Meloto controlled GK. Controlled, with a capital C. Meloto became the face of GK, a fact not all discouraged by the council. It turned out to be a big time blunder. The GK bandwagon rolled on but somewhere along the way, CFC’s evangelical wheel suffered a puncture. It was now becoming evident that GK, spearheaded by Meloto, was getting too big at the expense of CFC. CFC programmes were taking a backseat in favour of GK activities. CFC talks were being cancelled or postponed because of GK. On a personal note, the protege has now overshadowed his mentor. Not a good recipe for equanimity. When two brilliant, headstrong, and ambitious egos clash, a crisis inevitably erupts. Publicly, Meloto would say Padilla remains as his mentor. But Meloto was less than vociferous, let alone enthusiastic, in proclaiming CFC during his numerous public orations. Meloto’s star shone so brightly that some political commentators started to consider him as presidential timbre.

As GK Chair, Padilla was out of the media limelight. For the first time, people were talking more about the protege than the mentor. Padilla was quite supportive of GK from its inception up to as late as November 2006. Padilla has high regards for Meloto and the feeling is mutual. Both had developed a very close bond after being together so long in the council. That is why his trenchant defense of GK in his paper CFC-GK2 was no surprise.

But his paper CFC-GK3, released six months later, was a shocking surprise. In it, he spun 180 degrees from his former position on GK. In GK2, he was all for it; in GK3, he was against it, raising the spectre of a split between the original wholistic, global, Catholic CFC from the CFC-GK, which has turned, in Padilla’s opinion, into a mere social phenomenon. Padilla, in a brilliant anticipatory move, got the bishops involved. He knew that when push comes to shove, the bishops would be on his side. He was right, as subsequent events showed. The gambit worked like a charm.

Are You Pride? Come In

What drove Padilla, in just six months, to change his ideological suit from GK2 to GK3? In that six- month period, Padilla, Meloto, and Agana resigned from the Executive Council for reasons largely unexplained. It is not certain if their resignations were for good or for the meantime, with the elections coming in about four months. Speculations abound, from the sublime to the ridiculous. But their resignations had one stunning effect: they were out of the Executive Council, their power base for so long. Suddenly, they found themselves out looking in. A thoroughly unfamiliar position for the trio.

Padilla, whose creativity and energy require power and position, felt like fish out of water. The report, most likely true, that he was surprised and piqued that he was not re-nominated, speaks of his penchant to remain in control. Meloto, surprisingly (perhaps not really, for his protege, an obtrusive young chap, whose loyalty to him is second to none, took over as Executive Director of GK) coped better than Padilla in the aftermath of their resignations.

Psychologically, any man who publicly declares he has no need for power and position actually hungers for them. Padilla and Meloto are such men. Meloto does it more subtly, though. For Padilla, there has to be a stage to showcase his admittedly prodigious talents; one smart way to get back on track was to get back people’s attention. He got their attention indeed with his CFC-GK3 paper.

Read on its own, the CFC-GK3 paper is a bombshell. In measured tones and exquisite prose, he seemingly hit the bull’s eye. But read in tandem with his CFC-GK2 paper (something highly recommended) written barely six months earlier, one realizes that all his GK3 arguments are hollow and shallow, and a bellow from someone who is barely mellow.

For he could as well have rebutted the GK3 issues he raised by quoting his own defense in GK2. Call it semantic somersault. Call it erudite contradictions. Call it strange ruminations but this kind of thinking needs further observation. It is worrisome. He was the GK chair all those years the problems were incubating. His hands, one may argue, are also tainted.

Nevertheless, his moves rattled everyone. The Executive Council members, headed by the disenchantingly ineffective Joe Tale, did not know what hit them. Tale, who is really a nice chap, was not impressive in communicating the council’s defense and Padilla simply found him and the rest vulnerable. Meloto’s sepulchral silence did not help the council’s cause. And people wondered why. “Our house was on fire and he did not do anything,” noted an insightful member.

The Choices We Have to Make

Now, CFC is virtually rendered split into two factions: the original CFC (with GK) and the CFC (with Foundation for Family and Life or FFL). It might as well read “Meloto versus Padilla." Curiously, both deny a continuing desire for power or position. But both suffer from cognitive dissonance: what they say do not tally with what they do.

Consider these: Meloto’s influence in CFC-GK remains potent. The CFC Executive Council and the majority of the Board of Elders are loyal to him. His hold on GK is secure: lock, stock, and barrel. He remains the power behind GK. Padilla, who implored members to trust him, is now the President of the CFC-FFL and will surely be the leader of his group. He may act coy about it but a clamour for his leadership is too tempting to ignore.

Talk about not wanting power and position. That is cognitive dissonance.

The Crux Of The Crisis

The crisis is actually a crisis of two egos gone wrong. A case of an immovable object versus an irresistible force. Shall CFC suffer because of the conflicts of these ambitious men? A million members to be split between these two? Should it be allowed?

What needs to be done? Simple. Take away both the immovable object and irresistible force. How?

The Five Steps To CFC Crisis Resolution:

1. The current CFC Executive Council and the Board of Elders should step down. Just stand down. No two ways about it. A great sacrifice. But no individual or group should be greater than the CFC community. To raise legalese arguments will not wash. Their mandate has been declared null and void by at least one half of the community. And we are not talking about numbers here. Refusal would only mean they are in there for themselves.

2. The restoration CFC-FFL should still its trumpets and go back to CFC. Perish the thought. No more separatist adventurism. It is difficult to believe that God really wants CFC to disintegrate, which is likely if separation occurs. Refusal would likewise mean they are in there for themselves.

3. A new election of Executive Council members and of the Board of Elders. Past and current members of the council and the board should not run for any post, at any time; if nominated, they should decline. Terms to be fixed. No multiple positions. The slate has to be wiped clean. Very clean.

4. The work in GK should continue but with revisions in its priorities. Evangelization of families should be the main focus. CLPs and all CFC programmes must be offered to all housing beneficiaries. GK should have no human face. Its face, should there be one, is Christ’s. GK’s CFC provenance must be openly declared. And for CFC to welcome those who want to help but to be wary of “Greeks bearing gifts.”

5. In a general gathering of members, together with the cardinal and bishops, public apologies must be expressed by Padilla and Meloto, on behalf of their groups, followed by firm handshakes and warm embraces. Their wives should do the same. The cardinal and bishops will pray over our community

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain” (Rev. 21.4)
20 August 2007

Anonymous said...

Regarding the CFC CRISIS by Dr. Vic Cabuquit:



Anonymous said...

This incident isn't in the analysis and I don't know if Dr. vic is aware of it. Let me post it as a question. Why did Bishop Soc draft a document for the separation of GK from CFC, apparently without the knowledge of tony meloto and other council members? The email comments of Gary Faustino and Maricar Descallar to the Bishop's draft, intended for Gerry Padilla, fortunately or unfortunately, was missent to Gerry Bacarro. Gerry Bacarro is reportedly under Tony Meloto's household. Nagkabukuhan tuloy. Pero bakit ginawa iyon ni Bishop Soc? At whose instance? at bakit behind the back of GK leaders. Or with knowledge ba of the council? bakit? bakit? Kasama na ba si Bishop soc sa ating internal structure at siya na ang nagdraft ng GK separation document? Meron bang nakaka-alam?

Anonymous said...

Once a filipino always a filipino...
When it comes to money, there's no such thing as family...

Money and Power is always the root cause of many of our problems..

Anonymous said...

A big Amen on Vic Cabuquit's analysis and recommendations. He makes me proud to be part of North B being a true voice of reason in this whole crisis.

As for Bishop Soc. Ganyan talaga yan. Pakialamero! He should really question himself if he has any right whatsoever in drafting that resolution. I think he was craving for the same influence as what his mentor Cardinal Sin had. Too bad, Cardinal Sin had perfect timing and restraint.

Ang magandang tanong kung bakit nagkakaganyan si Bishop Soc ay pareho din kung bakit sya "pinatapon" sa Diocese of Balanga.

Omar said...

Hello. Does anybody has information as to whether or not the Commission on Audit is actually looking into that 50M DOH deal? I understand that an expenditure like that should be accounted for (e.g. liquidated) and then post-audited. If indeed there are anomalies then the responsible persons should be charged beginning with Speaker de Venecia (i heard reports that the money came from his pork barrel allocation called "PDAF" or priority development assistance fund), DOH officials and even people from the CFC office who were the implementors of the project. I also understand that COA will not just conduct an audit investigation unless someone comes out and files a request for audit and submit useful information.

I guess its about time COA conducts a special audit investigation and if it is already conducting one, then to conclude its investigation and make known the results. The truth must come out.

Ruel said...

What are the findings of the Senate for the CFC DOH Project?
Where did the 50million peso-fund go?