Starting September 8, 2012, anonymous comments -- whether for or against the RH bill -- will no longer be permitted on this blog.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

UNTV interview with Rep. Roilo Golez

Two radio interviews on the RH bill with Atty. Marwil Llasos

Atty. Joe Sison responds to Fr. Joaquin Bernas

A response to Fr. Joaquin Bernas' column, My Stand on the RH Bill

A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away) By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) 
Updated May 27, 2011

In taking a stand on difficult issues, it is always advisable to have an open mind and to consider all angles. The better attitude is to think that there are wiser and more intelligent people who are experts on certain fields and whose views are much respected and often cited. One of them is of course Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, SJ. His opinions are really persuasive and count a lot to us who are still learning and trying to grasp the correct meaning and answer to certain constitutional questions especially those arising from the highly controversial RH bill that is now being heatedly discussed.

It is thus very fortunate that Fr. Bernas has categorically declared that he “adheres to the teaching of the Church on artificial contraception” even if he is “aware that it is not considered an infallible doctrine by those who know more theology” than he does. This means therefore that to Fr. Bernas, contraception or “any action taken before, during or after the conjugal act which is aimed at impeding the process or the possible fruit of conception”, is morally wrong. It is morally wrong because it “separates the unitive and procreative aspects of the conjugal act.” In other words it is like the spouses telling each other, “I love you as long as we do not give birth.” (Catechism on Family and Life (CFL) December 27, 2009).

Another very helpful clarification from Fr. Bernas is his unequivocal stand that “sacred life begins at fertilization and not at implantation” so that “there is already abortion any time a fertilized ovum is expelled” because the “Constitution commands that the life of the unborn be protected from conception”. This is very important because the principal authors of the bill anchor its legality on an entirely different and contrasting concept that life begins at implantation. Following Fr. Bernas’ pronouncement to which we adhere as we highly value his opinion on this issue, the consolidated bill (HB 4244) entitled “An Act for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, Population and Development” is therefore inherently unconstitutional.

It is inherently unconstitutional because its main purpose as reflected in its title is to depopulate our country by promoting, distributing and making available to the people especially the poor, a full menu of modern artificial methods of family planning that prevent the implantation of the fertilized ova based on the belief and concept espoused by its authors that life begins only at implantation. But in the light of Fr. Bernas’ explanation that is diametrically opposed to the authors’ concept of when life begins, the bill will in effect legalize the expelling of fertilized ova which is nothing but mass murder of innocent babies.

On this specific point alone, the RH bill should be junked. It is not necessary anymore to go into other constitutionally objectionable features of the bill like the provision on the mandatory sexual education in public schools without the consent of parents which is clearly against the constitutional provision recognizing the sanctity of human family and the natural and primary right of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character as Fr. Bernas said.

We really look up to Fr. Bernas for guidance on this controversy but perhaps because of our limited understanding and intelligence, several questions still came up as we try to discern his stand on the RH bill, more specifically the following:

1. Can the RH bill nevertheless be enacted into law even if its underlying premise – that life begins at implantation – is clearly contrary to the Constitution mandating the State to protect the life of the unborn from conception or, as he said, from fertilization not implantation? This question still cropped up because of his statement that “if we have to have an RH law”, he intends “to contribute to its improvement as much as (he) can”.

2. Is it alright to have an RH law initiated by and originating from foreign countries and International organizations trying to impose a population control (“development”) policy designed to protect their own interest? This question also crops up because up to now the alleged foreign connection and intervention has not been denied or rebutted.

3. Since the bill prohibits abortion because it is an assault against the right to life, should the “question of scientific fact” on what are the abortifacient pills and devices be settled first so that the bill could already specify them or at least set guidelines in determining them before delegating this function to the Food and Drug Administration? How does the bill define abortion? Is it expulsion of fertilized ova at any time or only after implantation?

4. Are not the bill’s “valuable points in its Declaration of Principles and Policies that can serve the welfare of the nation and especially of the poor women who cannot afford the cost of medical service” already part and parcel of existing laws promoting public health and welfare which are, or should be, given by the various departments and government agencies particularly the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare and Development?

5. Is it in accordance with the Constitution to spend public money for the promotion of “reproductive health” that entails the use of contraceptives just to have “a safe and satisfying sex” even if it runs counter to the religious beliefs of some sects like the Catholic Church? Can Congress appropriate public money to enforce the use of birth control pills and other contraceptives which is against the religious beliefs and moral convictions of some religious groups?

6. Is the Church or the people of God who merely voice their objection to the RH bill particularly to President Aquino in the exercise of their freedom to act on their religious belief really “compelling the President to prevent people from acting according to their own religious belief”? Are not other sects favoring the bill also doing this?

Indeed this RH bill has only caused deep division and serious rift among our people including some clerics. Our country will be better off without it. It is not so necessary after all. There are more effective and less divisive ways of licking poverty here.

Note: Books containing compilation of my articles on Labor Law and Criminal Law (Vols. I and II) are now available. Call tel. 7249445.

Strengthening the culture of life

Better posted here late than never!

Posted on: February 24, 2011 by BCBP EDITOR

The Reproductive Health Bill now in Congress has been the subject of discussions, heated arguments and lengthy position papers for many months. As BCBP members and concerned citizens, we must make it a point to know more about this piece of proposed legislation and how it would affect our lives, our faith, our families, our children and their future.

This Bill is, in the view of our faith, is a prime example of the “conspiracy against life” that is subtly encroaching on the sanctity of life in today’s milieu. This conspiracy takes the form of a “culture of death” and damages us not only in our personal, family, and community relations, but also distorts relations between peoples and nations. It is in direct opposition to the Culture of Life.

For a more detailed discussion of the various aspects of the Culture of Life, the Culture of Death, and other burning issues of the times (contraception, abortion, euthanasia, bioethics, health care, and sexuality concerns), read Evangelizing Presence: Caring for Life, a BCBP publication, authored by Nancy Russell Catan (BCBP Portal Editor), Fr. Pasquale T. Giordano, SJ, and Mitos Rivera. It is available at the BCBP National Office. Some of the salient features of the Culture of Death vs the Culture of Life are summarized in the following paragraphs.

The basic feature of this Culture of Death is the noticeable absence of God in a growing secular lifestyle, influenced by a flood of distorted and hedonistic values where pleasure is maximized and pain is minimized. Having and hoarding become more important than “being”. Sexuality is depersonalized and exploited. The so-called right of women to decide whether or not to kill their unborn child due to various reasons usually in support of their personal life-style is highlighted and the right of the unborn to its God-given life is being ignored.

This is the modern tragedy: the eclipse of the sense of God and man, and the resulting distortions wherein society refuses to accept and care for any life – the sick, the aged, the dysfunctional, the weak – that interferes with its “progress”. We are gradually but inexorably losing the sense of the sacred in our society.

Life as designed by God is always “a good”. It is the seed of an existence that transcends the very limits of time, for God himself has planted eternity in the human heart. Human life has always been sacred to God, and to proclaim Christianity is to proclaim life.

Therefore as a “people for life” we need to view life in its deeper meaning, and to look for God’s living image in every person, in the unborn person as well as in the birthed. By seeing Christ in every person we meet, we can experience a God-given, everyday – or we could say, an every-person – epiphany! This is the Culture of Life.

It is this Culture of Life that promotes and enables us and others to live in dignity and fullness of life. It is in embracing the Culture of Life that helps us build our families as the basic life unit of community and society. It is in strengthening this Culture of Life in our families that the integrity and sanctity of the family as the domestic church, the basic unit of Christian life and cornerstone of society, is truly realized.

Let us ask ourselves and answer sincerely and honestly from our hearts: Who am I, who are we, to arrogate ourselves equal to God by legislating whether a God-created, God-given life should live or die? The future of our society depends on the rediscovery of the innate human and moral values that promote and strengthen the Culture of Life. At the same time we need to fight against those values that promote the influence of the Culture of Death.

A lay Catholic's response to Fr. Joaquin Bernas S.J.'s column "A war of religions"

Dear Editor,

I am very grateful for stumbling-upon the article of Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., "A war of religions" (posted May 2, 2011) for two (2) reasons.

The first reason is that Fr. Bernas enumerated some of the changes RH Bill proponents have made to the draft bill to allegedly make it acceptable to those opposing it. The enumerated changes are as follows:

1) Local government units will "help implement this Act", instead of "give priority to family planning work". (in Section 13 of HB4244)

2) "Parents shall have the option of not allowing their minor children to attend classes pertaining to Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education." (in Section 16 of HB4244)

3) Deletion of the section on employers' responsibility on reproductive health. (Section 21 of HB4244)

4) Deletion of the specific enumeration of allowable contraceptive devices and methods. It will be replaced with the proposal for the allowance of contraceptive methods that are in general safe and legal.

These changes, I believe, are still to be declared and incorporated to the draft bill during the second-reading sessions at the House of Representatives.

I agree with Fr. Bernas that these changes are not enough to stop the opposition of the bishops of the Catholic Church to the bill. The bishops have been insisting from the very beginning that the bill is an attempt to legalize the use of artificial contraception. The bishops have been exhorting the faithful, and the nation at large, that artificial contraception is contrary to the moral law as declared by Pope Paul VI in 'Humanae Vitae'. The bishops have been reminding the nation that something immoral, or against the Ten-Commandments, cannot be legalized or be established in human laws. The bill despite the latest changes still contains provisions that promote artificial contraception and there is no way for the bishops to agree with it.

The second reason for being grateful to Fr. Bernas is his attempt to encourage both sides of the debate to view the issue in the light of religious freedom and respect for human dignity as enunciated in the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCPII), the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church and 'Dignitatis-Humanae'.

In my opinion, the only way for both sides to respect each other's freedom and dignity is for RH Bill not to be enacted into law at all, given that artificial contraception is immoral! It is timely to remind ourselves of the exhortation in 'Dignitatis Humanae' to political authorities that "government is also to help create conditions favorable to the fostering of religious life, in order that the people may be truly enabled to exercise their religious rights and to fulfill their religious duties, and also in order that society itself may profit by the moral qualities of justice and peace which have their origin in men's faithfulness to God and to His holy will." (Dignitatis Humanae, 6)

There are other options available for the government to reduce maternal mortality other than legalizing artificial contraception.

Though I am grateful to Fr. Bernas for his article, I am also disappointed by the vagueness of his position on the RH Bill. He could be of great service to the ordinary faithful if he will be more categorical and direct in his position.

During World War II when ordinary foot-soldiers were in the midst of a gun-battle and artillery barrage, these soldiers (who were mostly young, uneducated, rural boys) greatly appreciated and were extremely grateful for the concrete, simple, and direct tactical directions of their front-line commanding officers.

I believe, we are in a great spiritual battle in this RH bill debate. The more concrete, simple, and direct our declared position in this issue, the better we can serve the simple flock we are shepherding.

Thank you for this chance to write. Should you decide to publish this letter, please show only my email address. Thank you and more power to PDI!

Author's Note:
This letter was submitted by website feedback form on May 3, 2011 (Manila time).

Monday, May 30, 2011

"Colorful Rag" versus Pro-RH Rag

And YET ANOTHER response to the "Salve" controversy stirred up by the PDI.

From the "Colorful Rag" blog.

For a news article, the Inquirer’s ‘Salve’s life: A strong case for RH bill’ is sure opinionated. Sa title pa lang. And there’s nothing logical about it too.

If we’re going to be pilosopo about it, how would education on contraception and providing contraceptives help Salve now? As far as I know, the bill contains no provisions involving time travel, that would allow Salve to never conceive some of her eight kids. Nor does the bill provide a ‘Salve’s choice’ where she is burdened with deciding which of her spawn to have obliterated (RH bill advocates are implicitly saying that poor kids are of little value and better off never being born).


Not even the poor deserve to be spayed or neutered

Another response to the "Salve" tearjerker from the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

"Petrufied" of Drawing Lines

The Philippine Daily Inquirer last Thursday came out with a front page story that detailed the life of a poor woman and her husband struggling to raise their eight children in poverty. I'm not linking the article here because I believe it's one of the worst the Inquirer has ever done, and it puts their motto, "balance news..." in jeopardy. I didn't take up journalism but I recognize a title seeping in bias when I read one. And on the front page with a miserable photo, too.

The reason I brought this up is that it was the core of a discussion my mother and I had that day; she thinking that in cases such as those, the RH bill should be beneficial, and I--very inarticulately--insisting that that woman does not need a freebie ligation but help in the form of better livelihood and education. I learned one thing from Mama that day, too; I learned that for some people, the RH measure is acceptable because it is hard to believe that the poor will ever change.

One of the things we can easily forget is that a person is a person no matter how much he makes, where he lives, how many limbs he's got, or in what stage of life he is. He has a heart, he has a mind, and if you're Christian, you know he is a child of God, therefore that he possesses the same dignity as any of the "better" folks out there.

No one, not even a poor person struggling to raise eight children, deserves to be neutered/spayed, because that is only done to cats and dogs. You do that to cats and dogs because if you don't they just multiply and get galis and spread diseases. People are not like that. People are better than that. We people can be taught, and we have a will, and besides, all of us at some point in our genealogy, were once dirt poor, too.

RH is not a solution to help people in poverty. It is a license to solve poverty by eliminating the poor. Not convinced?

FVR: “I think the philosophy of RH bill is that we must learn to produce quality people in this world instead of producing people who only end up as, say, beggars on the streets, scavengers, or sellers of cheap or prohibited items. This, I think, is the real valid argument in favor of the RH bill.” (May 18, 2011, PDI)

Makes you wonder what "quality people" are.

David versus Goliath: "People for Media"' versus Philippine Daily Inquirer on the "Salve" issue

Jun Daryl Zamora

I shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts or to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. I recognise the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly. -- The Journalist’s Code of Ethics, No. 1

THE Inquirer steps up its campaign for the passage of the RH bill — this time, in a front-page “news” article.

Kristine Felisse Mangunay’s article “Salve’s life: A strong case for the RH bill” (5/26/11) is an account of the woes of a 37-year-old woman living with her 64-year-old partner: her eight children. Generously sprinkled with vivid descriptions of Salve’s destitution, the article appears as a heart-rending argument against those who oppose the passage of the RH bill. “RH services would have prevented Salve’s poverty,” the article seems to cry.

For all the Church haters out there

This was originally posted on this blog on May 29, 2011 at 8:04 PM. Newer articles below.

For all the Church haters, unfreethinkers, glib soundbite-repeaters, pilosopos and fashionably anti-clerical university kiddos and coffee-shop philosophizers out there. You think that the Church is utterly useless, eh? Please explain this article to me. (Try taking a look at THIS POST as well.)

Vatican City, May 27, 2011 / 03:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care reported that the Catholic Church is currently running 117,000 centers to care for AIDS patients throughout the world.

Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski told L’Osservatore Romano that in the past 30 years, more than 60 million people have contracted HIV, mostly in Africa. He spoke to the Vatican paper on the eve of a congress on the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS.

The conference is taking place May 27-28. It was organized by the Good Samaritan Foundation, instituted by Blessed John Paul II in 2004 and entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Health Care.

He underscored the testimony of “numerous health care workers and volunteers who, in their courageous care for the sick … have themselves contracted the infection.”

He also highlighted the work by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and the late Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor of New York, “who promoted numerous heath care centers for AIDS victims” and “many treatment and assistance programs in the United States and in other poor countries.”

The congress is intended to respond to the questions of “many bishops who contact our dicastery in order to receive constant help, with material assistance but above all with information on the latest advances in science in the fight against this disease,” Archbishop Zimowski said.

The objectives of the congress include the improvement of pastoral and health care for AIDS victims and the encouragement of the developed world to show solidarity with poor countries, “as too many people die without access to the treatment they need, especially antiretrovirals” currently available only in developed countries.

In 2008, then-president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, reported that 27 percent of institutions around the world caringfor AIDS patients are Catholic; 44 percent are governmental; 11 percent are operated by NGOs; and 8 percent are run by other religious confessions.

A good shepherd's rallying speech: Cardinal Vidal speaks out versus media bias and pro-RH sound bites

This was originally posted on this blog on May 29, 2011 at 7:28 PM. Newer articles below.

Received this via email from a veteran pro-life leader:

May 25, 2011; Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
Readings: Acts 15: 1-6; Jn. 15: 1-8

Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu and HLI Foreign Advisor

Your Excellency, Archbishop Jose Palma,
My Brother Bishops,
My Brother Priests,
My dear Dames of the Order of St. Sylvester,
My dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has honored us once again with the conferment of the Ecclesiastical award Dame of the Order of St. Sylvester to nine illustrious Cebuanas, distinguished by their works of charity and long service to the Church.

As I congratulate you, Dames Anita Cabinian, Julia Gandionco, Rosa Maria Garcia, Conchita Go, Lourdes Jereza, Lourdes Vilma Lee, Anita Sanchez, Alita Solon and Mariquita Yeung, I also thank you for the work you have done for the Church and for the underprivileged. Through your apostolates, you have given the Church in Cebu a heart that truly cares for the poor.

There are many who profess to take the cudgels for the poor nowadays. They say they empower the poor by giving them control over their lives. Yet, instead of providing them basic medicine, they gave them contraceptive pills that can cause cancer. Instead of curbing corruption so that basic services may reach the poorest of the poor, they focus on pushing a bill that has been rejected so many times before, as if it is the only bill that really matters for all Filipinos.

It is difficult to be Catholic nowadays. To profess the Catholic faith nowadays, in its integral fullness, is to be labeled “medieval”, “outmoded”, “bigoted.” We are the ones given all kinds of names, yet we are also accused of name-calling.

We are challenged to argue our case with sobriety and intelligence, yet, no matter how you explain the matter comprehensively, only sound bites, taken out of context, many times portraying the Church in a bad light, see print or is carried on television. Sometimes one wonders whether the media are deaf, blind or simply biased.

We have said it before, and will say it again, contraception is immoral, and no one has the option to be immoral, whether you are rich or poor. They would argue that contraception is immoral only for Catholics, and many Catholics do not even think it immoral. Reducing morality to a matter of faith or personal opinion is precisely what the Church is warning against. If today they say everyone must be given freedom of choice, and the object of the choice is contraception, tomorrow they will say everyone must be given freedom of choice, but the object of the choice would be abortion, homosexual marriage, divorce or euthanasia. You may say it is far-fetched, that contraception is far less serious a sin than the ones I have mentioned. But the logic by which contraception is pushed is the same logic by which all the others are proposed: the key words are “freedom of choice” and “moral relativism.” The argument goes as follows: because we cannot agree on what is moral or not, we might as well allow everything and anything. After all, everyone must have freedom of choice.

It is true, the RH Bill prohibits abortion today, but the language of the bill already prepares the way for abortion to be legalized. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the current US Secretary of State and former First Lady was quoted as saying thus: “… If we’re talking about maternal health, you cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.” (end of quote) Do you really think they will stop at contraception?

Morality is the limit of freedom. Or rather, morality is the perfection of freedom. We become more free by moral choices. We become less free by immoral decisions. Some say we Bishops do not listen, that we are narrow-minded and are concerned only of preserving our power at the expense of those who wallow in poverty. I say we listen first and foremost to the Chief Shepherd, for we are not the vine, we are only the branches. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.

Some say we should listen to what the people say. “Vox populi, vox dei.” I say, if such is the case, then Moses should have listened to the Israelites who wanted to return to slavery in Egypt, and Barabbas should have been hailed Messiah instead of Jesus, for the crowd preferred that rebel over our blessed Lord.

So, after all is said and done, when the dust of this battle settles, will the poor have hope for the future? Let us not use the name of the poor in vain. If you really cared for the poor, you would have crafted laws to bring down the cost of medicine and basic necessities. You would have liberalized restrictions to attract more investments, clamp down on corruption to encourage investors, focused on building homes and schools and infrastructure to shelter and educate and promote development. Instead, the nation’s energy is wasted on a bill that, in its positive aspects, is already in place, but only needs implementation.

Some argue we are just too many, our meager resources are overwhelmed by the sheer number of people to house, to educate, to hire, to feed. They conveniently forget that the Marcos years saw the most aggressive population program in our nation’s history. It did not bring us anywhere, for unless we root out corruption from our system, we will always have meager resources, whether we are only 40 or a hundred million.

I would like to apologize to our awardees if I used this occasion to engage in polemic over an issue that has no bearing on today’s festive occasion. But does it not have any bearing at all? Is not the essence of this award the catholic character of your work?

I chose to speak on this subject today because of its urgency. I chose to speak on this topic on this occasion because as Catholics awarded for loyalty and devotion, you need to understand what you believe, so that in understanding, your faith may grow ever stronger, your devotion ever more fervent, your work to help the poor and support the Church ever more zealous.

May the Lord bless you and your families. May the Lord bless our nation and enlighten our leaders. Amen.

First response to anti-Catholic "Church of the Poor" article

Jemy Gatdula

Here’s a short, suggested response to this nonsense:

The Church is not rich. By her logic, the Philippines is rich. And yet, why doesn’t she ask that the Philippines, being the 13th largest economy in Asia and the 33rd largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity according to the International Monetary Fund in 2010, with a GDP - purchasing power parity of $373.6 billion in 2010, yet sees 33% of its people under poverty line.

In fact, by that logic, then we should be demanding that the Philippine government, all the pharmaceutical companies, and even international organizations like the UN and WHO, or even large local companies like ABS-CBN or the Lopez Group of Companies, to dispose of all their assets, buildings, etc. and donate them to the poor. But presumably that would be wrong because these organizations apparently do more good to Filipinos if they are existing and operating. Well, the same could be said for the Church and more. The argument regarding supposed Church wealth is very old and very dumb. It’s not that you own a lot it’s what you do with what you own. And the Church has been more effective than any other institution in dealing with poverty, not merely locally but globally.

The Catholic Church supports faithful from all over the world. And each Catholic Church is financially independent. The local Catholic Church does not get any financial support from the Vatican or it's own diocese. Rather, it’s the local church that supports the Vatican. Besides, being a 2000 year old institution, it has accumulated assets, including lands or buildings, many through donations, of which many are quite old.

Even then, these assets are not liquid assets. Most are held in trust for the people of the world to use or simply look at. So when a socialite writer, just for example, wants to go touring Rome and see the valuable paintings at the Sistine Chapel, it must be remembered that the huge upkeep for these treasures are shouldered by the Vatican (with funds from either donations or minimal museum fees; note that there are even days you can visit the museum for free), which in the end is a non-profitable endeavour to it.

A lot of the physical assets such as cathedrals, chapels, etc. are not built for the benefit or vanity of the priests but because the believers themselves (who are human beings and can be reached through the senses) would hopefully be inspired to see through their surroundings and by it seek to know more and be closer to the One who created all. The same reasoning goes for museums, they are done in such a way to provoke interest (even inspiration) for history. And this has to be emphasized again: Church property is not so much owned but rather is held in trust by the present for those faithful to come in the future.

Any profit (or any asset, in fact) that the Church owns is utilized for the costs needed by the faithful the world over. Aside from the upkeep for maintaining churches, masses, priests, etc., it must be emphasized that the Catholic Church is the leading charity in the world. It has, at any given time, donated more money, effort, goods, than any other multinational organization, charitable organization, or even governments.

This bears worth emphasizing: no pharmaceutical company or international org or government has done more than the Catholic Church in terms of charity, education, health and hospital care, scientific research, poverty alleviation. Bill Gates can actually learn from the Church on how to conduct charity.

In the US alone (simply because these are the easily available figures), the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students everyday at no cost to taxpayers. But this does cost the Church 10 billion US dollars. Note that enrollment in all of these schools is open to all religious faiths. It also operates in the US 637 hospitals which account for hospital treatment of 1 out of every 5 people not just Catholics in the United States today, all shouldered by the Church.

Now clearly the foregoing was merely scribbled hastily and is obviously not meant to be an authoritative source on the charitable and beneficial works of the Church. But what it does at least demonstrate is that there is a very apparent and real benefit that the Church gives to the world’s poor. Note that the social, material realm is not even the primary focus of the Church, its overriding purpose is to save souls. Poverty alleviation and social development is primarily the duty of governments. It is significant, however, that even in this aspect it is the Church that leads the way.

Nevertheless, I have no illusions as to the effect of this blog entry. Proverbs 23:9 is most instructive: "Don't waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice." At the least, should this blog entry help fellow believers and defenders of the faith, then all is well.

(Addendum: note from my friend Ipe Salvosa of BusinessWorld. This is merely from Caritas Manila financial report for 2009, it does not include the rest of the activities of the Church in the Philippines: "A total of 146,139 families affected by tropical cyclones Ondoy and Pepeng were given relief assistance. It was made possible by the outpouring of cash and in-kind donations from domestic donors and from other countries and the thousands of volunteers that participated. Caritas Damay Kapanalig typhoon program for Ondoy and Pepeng raised over PhP 57 million (Cash = PhP 39,336,757.91 and in-kind = PhP24,099,285.52)."

"And although 2009’s highlight was the Caritas Damay Kapanalig Ondoy and Pepeng relief and rehabilitation efforts, throughout the course of the year Caritas Manila continued with its highly committed social services and development efforts. 5,463 scholars were maintained under the Youth Servant Leadership and Education Program or YSLEP. 98,552 patients were attended to through the different Caritas charity clinics in Mega Manila. Under preventive health care, 58,118 patients were given health counselling. 12,180 children were fed and monitored under the Caritas Hapag-Asa Feeding Program. 107 inmates were released through paralegal assistance under the Caritas Restorative Justice Program or Caritas RJ. These are just some of the notable accomplishments for 2009.")

A lay Catholic's response to Fr. John Carroll S.J. over the RH bill

Dear Rev. Fr. John J. Carroll, S.J.

I am very happy to read your Commentary at Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) entitled "'For he is our peace" (Eph. 2:14)". 

It seems to me that you are admonishing everyone to be calm and level-headed in the issue of the Reproductive Health bill (RH bill) under discussion at the Philippine House of Representatives. The way you are proposing is by forging a compromise between the two sides of the issue.

I also notice that you are alarmed by the obstinacy of the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines in insisting in the total and complete dismissal of the proposed law or bill.

With all due respect for your reverence, I wish to send you my seven (7) reactions to your commentary. These are the following:

1. ON THE APPARENT MEDDLING OF THE CHURCH IN POLITICS. I think it is only proper and note-worthy for the Philippine bishops to interfere in political exercises, such as the passing of new laws, when the spiritual welfare of the faithful is dangerously at stakes. It is their duty and responsibility to speak-out that the RH bill contains provisions that are immoral and contrary to natural law and God's will (contraception is immoral). I am convinced that this alleged meddling of the Catholic bishops is not a violation of the "separation of Church and State". Since both the Church and the State are serving one and the same society of human beings, there is bound to be some overlapping of interventions, particularly in matters of faith and morals. Indeed, the RH bill is a moral issue due to provisions on contraception embedded in it.

2. IS IT LEGALIZING CONTRACEPTIVES OR LEGALIZING CONTRACEPTION? I beg to disagree that "the bill does not legalize contraceptives". Aside from the attempt to legalize the practice of contraception, RH bill seeks to enshrine contraceptives (drugs and devices) as "Essential Medicines". Is that not an attempt to legalize contraceptives? It is true that contraceptives are already available to those who can afford. The RH bill attempts to make contraceptives even more available and free-of-charge. Moreover, RH bill attempts to legalize the human act of tampering with the divinely ordained procreative process by means of technological devices, so-called contraceptives. Thus, RH bill attempts both: the legalization of contraceptives and contraception.

3. IS RH BILL AGAINST ABORTION? Blessed Pope John Paul II has already mentioned that "the negative values inherent in the 'contraceptive mentality'-which is very different from responsible parenthood, lived in respect for the full truth of the conjugal act-are such that they in fact strengthen this temptation when an unwanted life is conceived. Indeed, the pro-abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church's teaching on contraception is rejected." (Evangelium Vitae, 13). It may be claimed that abortion is not explicitly promoted in the RH bill, but the common mentality from which the two arises makes RH bill suspect of being pro-abortion by implication. Moreover, there are valid claims that some contraceptives are abortifacient in its biochemical physiological mechanisms.

Blessed Pope John Paul II has already refuted the claim that "if contraceptives become more available to the poor, the scandalous number of illegal abortions performed annually will be dramatically reduced." He wrote, "The close connection which exists, in mentality, between the practice of contraception and that of abortion is becoming increasingly obvious. It is being demonstrated in an alarming way by the development of chemical products, intrauterine devices and vaccines which, distributed with the same ease as contraceptives, really act as abortifacients in the very early stages of the development of the life of the new human being." (Evangelium Vitae, 13)

4. DO WE WAIT FOR FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION (FDA) TO DECLARE SOME CONTRACEPTIVES ABORTIFACIENT? In a globalized world, it is a waste of time to "reinvent the wheel". There are already valid credible and conclusive studies in other countries that some contraceptives are abortifacient. These have been banned and thrown away in these countries. The burden of proof should be in proving that these are not abortifacient in the Philippines, not the other way around. Indeed, it is a "tricky scientific question".

5. "OPT OUT" PROVISION FOR PARENTS. Sex education should be the prerogative of parents as primary educators of their children, that is, they should decide, by default, when and how to impart sex education to their children. The "opt out" provision is a violation of that parental right. The provision is based on the assumption that the state must teach sex education to children, by default. The right of parents to "opt out" could be liken to an "after-thought". Moreover, it does not take a rocket-scientist to forsee that, in implementation, very few parents will bother to choose to "opt out" their children from state-mandated sex-education, since, by experience, very few parents bother to inform themselves of their children's school activities.

6. "CONSCIENCE CLAUSES" AND OTHER FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE PROVISIONS. These are applicable only when all the desired behaviours and expected actions are licit and only differ by cultural preferences. These loses its significance and authority when the mandated action is immoral. No amount of "conscience clauses" can hide the damage that a "legalized" immoral act can inflict to society.

7. "THE FAMILY IS ALREADY AT GREAT RISK - AND NOT BECAUSE OF CONTRACEPTIVES". Indeed, the institution of the family is already at great risk even at the dawn of creation after our first parents committed original sin. The threat is rooted in the heart of every woman and man. Perhaps, interventions to strengthen families have not really identified the root cause of the problems. Blessed Pope John Paul II and the magisterium of the Catholic Church has been exhorting all the faithful that the family ought to be built upon the institution of marriage (cf. Pope John Paul II, Letter to Families, 1994) It might be possible that interventions to strengthen the union of couples in marriage have not been enough or lacking. Figures have shown that many couples in slum areas are just cohabiting or in "de-facto unions" which are not suitable substitutes to the institution of marriage. In addition to family-life education and family support services, it would be good to explore initiatives to help couples to enter into legal-marriage or, better yet, to receive the sacrament of Matrimony. It is easier said than done, I admit. But the desire and honest-to-goodness effort to undertake these solutions is already note-worthy.

Irresponsible male partners will not be cured by teaching their women partners artificial birth control. Sad to say, contraception could make the irresponsibility more worse. I hope, artificial birth control is not viewed as the "silver bullet" to kill the "were-wolves" of irresponsibility of men.

Finally, I am sad to find your commentary to reflect a certain bias towards favouring RH bill. I am afraid your position even make the division of the Filipino nation on this issue more worse.

Thank you for giving me the chance to give my feedback. I am a simple college graduate who tries hard to live an upright life. Thank you.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Manila Times analyzes the political support behind the RH Bill

An interesting and rather disturbing take on the RH bill and its political implications. I cannot vouch for its complete accuracy even though much (but not all) of it rings true for me. Caveat lector. CAP.


THIS is because, as Jesuit-trained Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani has pointed out, the country’s bishops are all united in their opposition to the RH bill. The only other time the bishops were as united was after the February 1986 snap elections when they declared that the then newly “reelected” President Ferdinand Marcos had lost any moral authority to govern. That provided the moral basis for the 1986 EDSA uprising.

PNoy may have been led to believe that he could fight our country’s most numerous church with the support of the local communists and the foreign population controllers. The global population-control operators seem determined to throw all the money needed to pass the anti-family bill.

And the “rejectionist” and “reaffirmist” blocs of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)—meaning those who reject on the one hand, and those who reaffirm on the other, the leadership of Utrecht-based Jose Ma. Sison—are amazingly united in trying to railroad the measure, even though they may not agree on anything else.

Leading the charge is Akbayan, the party-list group which has become President Aquino’s most visible partner in running his “program-free coalition government.” Despite the fact that the communists had lost the Cold War worldwide with the collapse of the Soviet Union, they seemed to have gained unusual ascendance in the Philippines. Is this because PNoy’s father, being a shrewd politician, was once a friend of Sison and Bernabe Buscayno before they founded the Maoist CPP and the New People’s Army (NPA) in the 60s. (To be fair to Akbayan, I don't think it is accurate to call it "Communist" in the MLM [Marxist-Leninist-Maoist] sense. Akbayan is nearer to Eurocommunism -- which is considered "revisionist" and anathema by old-style Filipino Communists -- and Socialism. CAP.)

In a radio interview aired over at least 30 stations, Dr. Bullecer warned on Monday against Akbayan’s de facto takeover of Malacañang.

PNoy has named Akbayan’s Roland Llamas, a shooting buddy and (together with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa), said to be a constant companion in partygoing, not only his secretary for political affairs but also his unvetted vice chairman of the all-sensitive National Security Council.

Questioned actions

Llamas is said to have written his own job description. He is believed to have succeeded in convincing PNoy to:

(1) Focus his anti-corruption attack on the Armed Forces of the Philippines, while sparing the new lords of corruption at the DILG and PNP, Bureau of Customs, DOTC, DBM, DOH, DSWD, etc. who have simply taken over the multi-billion peso rackets that allegedly used to be run by then First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and his boys during the past administration.

(2) Postpone the ARMM elections without any legitimate reason, so that many suspect that the true reason is that the administration cannot find a “winnable” candidate for governor.

(3) Appropriate P21.9 billion as Conditional Cash Transfer to the DSWD, purportedly as an anti-poverty measure, but in reality to serve as Akbayan’s political war chest for the 2013 senatorial elections, where Llamas close co-worker Riza Hontiveros Baraquel, DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, losing vice presidential candidate Mar Roxas and some of the congressmen who would be prosecuting Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez at the Senate impeachment trial would be running for senator, mostly likely along with Kris Aquino, the president’s sister.

(4) Use the infamous congressional pork barrel to secure the impeachment by the House of Representatives of Ombudsman Gutierrez and also to make public speeches against her even after her impeachment, in an attempt to divert public attention from the administration’s dismal performance and excessive bungling.

(5) Endorse the RH bill in a big way, and attack the Catholic Church at the same time, in order to regain his sagging popularity rating and overtake Vice President Jejomar Binay by regaining the support of gays, lesbians and others of the liberal persuasions who feel betrayed.

An effort to harm PNoy?

With all these developments, one is made to wonder if there is an an effort to put the President in harm’s way. Pinapahamak ba si Presidente?

PNoy now looks just a little higher than Baraquel, who is already on You Tube campaigning for her 2013 senatorial bid in the guise of personally endorsing the RH bill.

Her campaign ad must be paid for by the foreign-funded Philippine Legislative Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), the most active arm in Congress of the population controllers.

The authors are worried that PNoy is not giving much consideration and thinking time to his decisions and his pronouncements. He has to weigh his words more carefully and stop sounding like a manipulated puppet.

A Mindanao-based pro-life group called PNoy’s UP statement “a grandiose display of ignorance, arrogance and demagoguery without precedent in the history of Philippine Church-state relations.”

They explain as follows:

First, under Canon Law, excommunication in this case applies to Catholics who take part in an actual abortion. They are excommunicated, latae sententiae, meaning, automatically upon commission of the act, without having to be tried, sentenced and informed by any tribunal that they have been excommunicated. PNoy’s ecclesiastical advisers should know this.

Second, Aquino talks of his “obligation as leader to explain his principles.” What principles are those? Does he not confuse his biases and prejudices with ethical “principles?” There are two well-known “first principles”: the first principle of practical reason, which is to do good and avoid evil; and the first principle of speculative reason, or the principle of non-contradiction, which says something cannot be and not be at the same time.

Utter impossibility

Translation: contraception and sterilization cannot be both bad and good at the same time. The State cannot simultaneously be the constitutional protector of the life of the unborn from conception (ordained by the Constitution) and at the same time the author and executor of a program of contraception and sterilization. It can only be one or the other, not both.

Third, PNoy says he must follow his conscience. Indeed, everyone has a moral duty to follow his conscience. But people must first make sure they have a true or well-formed conscience. No one forms a true conscience by spending most of one’s time on trivial matters and fun pursuits and not seriously studying what is good and bad, what is morally right and morally wrong.

Fourth, like so many Filipinos, PNoy has been misled by his pro-RH friends into believing that the RH bill is about giving women the right to choose whether to practice contraception and sterilization or not, and if so, what kind of contraceptives or sterilization agents to use.

“This is not what the bill is all about,” says former Senator Kit Tatad, a board member of the International Right to Life Federation and the World Youth Alliance, two global pro-life organizations based in the United States.

Despite the Catholic Church’s teaching against contraception and sterilization, no law prohibits them in the Philippines, Tatad points out.

True goal of RH bill

“Everybody is free to do it, and the national contraceptive prevalence rate is already 51 percent and counting. In fact, the government has been appropriating billions for RH since the 1970s, even before they started using the term (RH), under the DOH and POPCOM. This year at least P2 billion has been so appropriated. It is, therefore, a gross deception to say this is what the bill wants to achieve,” the former senator says.

What the RH bill wants to do, he points out, is:

(1) to make fertility or birth control, even by unethical means, an essential aspect and compulsory requirement of marriage; and (2) to make the State the supplier of contraception and sterilization, despite its being constitutionally mandated to equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from the moment of conception, and to defend the right of couples to found a family according to their religious convictions.

For that reason, the RH bill is “void ab initio [void from the very beginning],” Tatad said.

“I can’t understand why not a single one of those lawyers trying to railroad this legislation seems able to read correctly the simple provisions of Article II and Article XV of the Constitution, which provide no room whatsoever for the proposed legislation. Since ignorance of the law excuses no one, even the non-lawyers should be able to see what these provisions mean,” he added.

Destruction of the family

Not only is the bill unconstitutional, Tatad said. As far as he is concerned, it seeks the destruction of the family and marriage, which is founded on the God-given gift of procreation, and the destruction of the democratic state, which recognizes the right of couples to live their married life according to their religious convictions, in favor of the totalitarian state, which seeks to control the private lives of its citizens.

“The Nazis did this to captive peoples during World War II. And the Allies condemned it as a crime against humanity at the Nuremberg war trials. That the apostate powers have since enacted into law the evil they had once condemned is no reason we should import the same evil into our system,” Tatad said.

We feel that if the President continues on this crooked path, conservative Catholics will be driven to revolt.

Declaration of the Youth of the Diocese of Cubao

Debate between pro-lifer Cong. Roilo Golez and a pro-RH congressman

Church critic versus radical anti-Catholic feminist over the RH Bill.

Erstwhile Church critic Herman Tiu Laurel is staunchly against the RH bill, and in one of his most recent articles he skewers Elizabeth Angsioco's inflammatory article Damaso and Ovaries in the following manner:

Herman Tiu Laurel

The critics commentaries on the RH bill is reaching a crescendo and while new topic, the sexual assault case against IMF’s chief DSK (Dominique Strauss-Kahn) is catching the attention of many newspapers columnists of many newspapers columnists, but most of these opinion writers miss the heart of the issue and fail to enlighten the public.

We’ll start with Elizabeth Angsioco of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (apparently a branch of Bert Gonzales and Jesuit Archie Intengan’s PDSP) whose twopart article “Damaso and ovaries” appeared in the Manila Standard sometime April and is one of the popular expressions of the pro-RH bill that has come out and appears frequently in Internet discussions.

I commented on Angsioco’s title in a recent OpinYon column of mine pointing out the highly picturesque and effective title she used in her article. But now that the climax of the debate is nearing, I take the opportunity to evaluate the content of her article. I have found it to be vacuous except for the hysterics.

A Maria Clara or a Josephine Bracken?

Angsioco raged against the Damasos for using the pulpit to harangue against the RH bill, the anti-RH ordinances of Barangay Ayala Alabang and seven Bataan barangays, and Mayor of Manila Alfredo Lim’s city programs of family planning that is limited to the natural methods but nothing on the issues that the RH bill itself represents.

At the end of her two-part article she states: “I dressed up as Maria Clara and handed out condoms and he was in a barong. People were more than slightly amused by the idea and started having their pictures taken with us.”

I would be amused too if Maria Clara, the quintessential conservative and traditional Filipino who would use the abaniko as Muslim women use the burqa to hide their “evil” feminine allures, were used as a poster woman for the contraceptives and condoms crusade because that’s totally inappropriate.

Josephine Bracken would have been the only appropriate Philippine historical female to represent women’s liberation.

The woman’s rage of Angsiaco is a shrill and hysterical as the eunuch-y fits and frenzy of the Damasos, with the latter calling pro-RH advocates “terrorists” and the former considering anybody questioning the RH bill as anti-women’s rights bigots.

Women’s Rights

I wonder if Angsioco or many of the other pro-RH advocates, crusaders and lobbyists have even read the many versions of the RH bill.

If they did they’d discover that there is nothing in it that changes any basic women’s right to their own body, as they argue today, or their ovaries.

All Filipino women’s rights are already robustly protected by the Magna Carta for Women passed on August 14, 2009 by the previous Congress.

None of the updated RH bills is even attempting to change the present status of the law’s abhorrence of abortion as most pro-RH bill crusaders themselves recoil from the idea of a blanket de-criminalization of abortion which is inherently reprehensible.

Nobody but the Catholic Church issues edicts against the use of birth control devices and pills, but who follows the Church among the women’s flock these days?

Mythical Poverty vs Population

The Malthusian argument that population robustness equals poverty is inane, as a simple comparison easily shows: Japan, with a population of around 130 million (the 10th largest in the world), has a per capita income of $35,500 while the Philippines, with a population of around 94 million (ranking 12th in the world), has a per capita income of only $2,000.

Before the 2010 elections, where the previous lameduck government’s spending-inflated GDP “growth” became the basis for this latest estimate by some economists, ours even hovered lower at around $1,500 to $1,700 per capita.

The point is, the pro-RH proponents’ propaganda, based on an imaginary correlation between poverty and population, is hogwash (as Nobel prizewinning economist Simon Kuznets work demonstrated)--characteristic of the pigsty that is Congress, more so when spewed from the mouths of the usual pro-FVR-Gloria Arroyo porkers. (As I've previously noted on this blog, GMA herself - whatever we might think of her -- is ostensibly anti-RH bill. CAP)

Veiled Pecuniary Interests

The real issue in the RH bill is Big Pharma and political pork barrel feeders’ disguised pecuniary interests: providing subsidies to purchase and distribute for free as “essential” medications and devices such contraceptive and condoms, hundreds of RH supplied “vans” politicos can skim from and put their names on, amounting to at least P3 billion clearly described in the RH bill plus untold billions mandated by the bill that others agencies such as PhilHealth, Presidential Anti-Poverty Commission, Pop- Com, etc. must extend to the RH program which is estimated to top P10 Billion per annum, and that such budgets included in the RH bill when it becomes law “shall be” provided for in succeeding National Budget that is tantamount to “automatic appropriations”.

All these subsidies when there has never even been a specific allocation for real killer diseases such as TB, dengue, and many other illnesses.

And they can’t even have a kind word for MRT/LRT working and wage earning commuters who are seeking a mere P4-5billion fare “subsidy” which come from their VAT and income taxes, anyway.

The Damaso’s and Angsioco’s hysterics do not benefit the public debate, they only obfuscate and obscure allowing the Big Pharma (that’s why Fidel V. Ramos is there, for the Carlyle group with billions investments in contraceptives and condoms) and political porkers to slip their greed past the people’s scrutiny.

(The rest of the article is about other matters.)

In defense of civil disobedience and the Church's power to withhold communion

Jemy Gatdula

To everything, a reasonable basis is needed. One just can’t act like a spoiled brat and do or say anything because he felt like saying it. And the basis must have a logical connection to the action done or contemplated. All of which is founded on law. Because we are supposedly a society of laws and not caprice. Because, simply put, that is what a sane society does and should be.

Calling for civil disobedience, for example in relation to the RH Bill, may be said to be justified under constitutional law. Not to mention history. The most probable legal rationale for which can be found in the Constitution’s Articles II and III. There is also the Supreme Court ruling validating the Cory Aquino government. Following the 1986 People Power uprising (a good example of civil disobedience which, incidentally, was first called by the Catholic Church), the Supreme Court recognized in Lawyers League vs. Aquino that the new government is indeed de jure rather than merely de facto.

In fact, threatening imprisonment against those organizing civil disobedience could be tantamount to the "chilling effect" that is frowned upon by our laws. The case of Chavez vs. Gonzales is but one recent legal basis for this, as well as the "overbreadth doctrine" and the "freedom from subsequent punishment principle."

Civil disobedience could possibly also find eloquent basis in Estrada vs. Escritor, which tolerated non-application of the law on the basis of "sincere religious belief." The ruling recognizes the "religious nature of Filipinos" and the "elevating influence of religion in society." Considering the highly dubious necessity of the RH Bill, this ruling arguably provides the basis for refusing to pay taxes due to religious conviction. As the Supreme Court declared: "man stands accountable to an authority higher than the State." After all, if civil disobedience calling for a change in government (as Cory Aquino did in 1986) could be legally acceptable, then all the more should civil disobedience in the mere form of non-payment of taxes.

An interesting aside is Fr. James Reuter’s call for those teaching in a Catholic school to leave if they are preaching support for the RH Bill. Indeed, it’s quite insane to insist in teaching in a Catholic institution while publicly going against the doctrines of that institution. This is covered under Article XIV of the Constitution. Also in Supreme Court rulings such as Miriam College vs. CA, Camacho vs. Coresis, and UP vs. CSC, as well as guiding foreign opinions such as Sweezy vs. New Hampshire (cited by Supreme Court Justice Antonio Nachura in his Political Law Reviewer). It is the academic institution’s prerogative to decide "who may teach [and who may continue to teach], what may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study."

For Catholics, the foregoing should definitely not be construed as restricting academic freedom. This point has been addressed in Ex Corde Ecclesiae. As superbly explained by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: "As you see with, a medical faculty, you have complete academic freedom, but the discipline is such that the obligation of what medicine is determines the exercise of this freedom. As a medical person, you cannot do what you will ... Catholic theology is not individual reflection but thinking with the faith of the church. If you will do other things and have other ideas of what God could be or could not be, there is the freedom of the person to do it, clearly. But one should not say this is Catholic theology."

Of course, there’s that weird argument that Catholic teaching proscribing contraception is not an infallible but rather "reformable" Church teaching. Whoever said that need to consult more knowledgeable theologians. Giovanni Montini, Karol Wojtyla, Joseph Ratzinger, George Weigel, Steve Ray, John Murray, John Hardon, William Most, Jimmy Akin, Scott Hahn, Janet Smith, Mike Aquilina, Roberto Latorre, Mark Shea, Charles Chaput -- one cannot get a better set of theologians than that and all uphold that the doctrine against contraception is an ordinary "universal" Magisterium of the Church. One can see this clearly from Humanae Vitae, Theology of the Body lectures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Caritas in Veritate.

Finally, the authority of priests to refuse to give Communion to anyone deemed unqualified is protected by Article III of the Constitution, elaborated upon by the Supreme Court in cases such as Austria vs. NLRC and Taruc vs. Bishop De la Cruz. Accordingly, matters relating to doctrine or enforcement thereof are left to the discretion of the bishops or priests. Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law also affirms the priests’ authority to refuse Communion to those publicly disagreeing with Church teaching.

In any event, to have "Communion" means to be at "one" with the Church. I don’t see the logic of one publicly and obstinately going against Church teaching and then wanting to have Communion. That’s just plain childish. And stupid.

Why are we pro-lifers like this?

Another for the "better late than never" category :)

by Anna Cosio

Discussing why I am personally against the bill would entail hours of writing. But since blogs are meant to be short and easy to read, I will just share with you guys the main reasons why I think such a bill is not the solution to the country’s problems. My reasons happen to be the same as those by the Catholic Church. If you’re in a hurry, you can just read the parts in bold letters. I hope that through this, those who support the RH Bill would at least rethink, if not totally change their views about life and the acts that are against it.

1. I pay my taxes and I don’t like the government using my money for something that is totally against my values and beliefs. Once the RH Bill is passed into law, the government will allocate a budget for “contraceptives and sterilization.” And I am against those things. They are against my Faith. Where is freedom of religion there if they leave me with no choice but to pay for those things through my taxes? The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, would it be just to use the people’s money to fund some programs that are simply anti-life, anti-Catholic?

2. The RH Bill has punitive measures against those who will not obey the Bill’s provisions. For sure, we’ll find many faithful priests, school owners, and medical practitioners behind bars if this bill is passed. Again, where is freedom of religion there? Where is respect for one’s beliefs?

3. The Philippines is NOT overpopulated, but there IS “over-concentration” of people in the urban areas– and this is a fact, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO) itself. So the Population Committee, whatever their hidden agenda is, should simply stop pushing this bill. You’re solving the wrong problem, guys, and with the wrong solution at that. Just like in nursing: Wrong assessment = wrong nursing diagnosis = wrong nursing care plan = wrong interventions = ineffective nursing care. One of the causes of poverty is “a flawed philosophy of development” and RH Bill is a good example of that.

4. “Moral corruption is the root of all corruption.” (CBCP) And P-Noy, during his campaign, said, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” True. I just hope he digs deeper into the cause of the problem and see that greed is rooted in a corrupted conscience. Because you cannot distribute the country’s resources fairly, you’re just going to prevent birth of new citizens? How selfish. Greedy. Exactly the mentality of the corrupt.

5. “Contraceptives provide a false sense of security that takes away the inhibition to sexual activity.” (CBCP) Where the use of contraceptives is prevalent, there the higher rates of unwanted pregnancy, abortion, and HIV/AIDS are. “Safe sex to diminish abortion rates is false propaganda.” (CBCP) History repeats itself because we don’t learn from past mistakes and the mistakes of others.

6. I simply do not trust schools teaching sex education to my children (in the future). I’ve met enough untrustworthy teachers in my life– teachers with distorted values (or no values at all). Who knows? My children (in the future) might encounter them someday as their sex education teachers. O God, spare their innocence. Parents are still the best teachers of this subject. Even Sharon Cuneta said this on one of those advocacy advertisements.

7. Not all women have right and formed consciences. The proponents of the RH Bill claim that such bill empowers women without dictate of any religion, BUT with dictate of the government. Are they saying it’s better to follow human law than divine law? Seriously, what does the Philippine government know about morality? Poor women of the Philippines… trying to be like the so-called liberated women of the West who had been used by men, whose dignity had been trampled upon, and they still think that’s empowerment.

I have seen the RH Bill and I’ve read almost the entire thing to avoid biases. Yea, there are good programs, but I think those programs for health can be handled by the Department of Health. Those programs, like care of the pregnant mother and the newborn, education on family planning, and the like are already existent. They only have to be reinforced. Might I just suggest improving the sterile practices in lying-in clinics? They’ve been breaking the principles of asepsis there (based on what I’ve seen in my duties). Instead of buying contraceptives, they could buy autoclaves instead.

Read the RH Bill yourself and you’ll understand why we “Pro-Lifers” are like this.

Big Pharma and the RH Bill

As noted in a previous post, Herman Tiu Laurel is by no means a supporter of the Church, but this does not prevent him from speaking out versus the RH Bill.

Herman Tiu Laurel

As we near the climax — so to speak — of the so-called “Reproductive Health” (RH) debate, the main issue becomes all the more apparent as the excitement of the foreplay fades. One pro-RH columnist wrote in his column last Friday: “What is at the heart of the RH law — and this is what the anti-RH groups strangely underplay — is using government money to subsidize reproductive choices.” Well, lawyer-columnist, I am highlighting it in my column; and I say you and so many other pro-RH supporters are either being taken for a ride or are taking others for a ride on one of the biggest scams in this nation’s history.

It seems that the real reason for the RH bill is not stemming the Malthusian formulation of population robustness equals poverty, or preventing the spread of HIV, or promoting sex education, or upholding the woman’s right to decide on matters relating to her ovaries. The real purpose is “using government money to subsidize” sex choices!

RH bill proponents really have a strange idea of what government money or subsidy should be used for; and that is coincidentally the way Aquino III’s government and his “civil society” cohorts — who are all backing the RH bill to the hilt — think of it, too.

First of all, PeNoy does not look kindly on the subsidy for rice farmers that the National Food Authority has been extending all these decades. His Budget secretary has in fact made the motions of totally slashing the NFA budget several times. Neither does PeNoy view with kindness or understanding the appeal of millions of MRT/LRT commuters to continue with the state’s “subsidy” (if it can be called that) of their fares, which they solely rely on to travel daily from home to work or school, which is as basic a necessity as power and water in modern life. But when it comes to “reproductive choices” — or sex — this they will subsidize to the tune of billions!

The appeal for the MRT/LRT subsidy was met with different tactics of dissuasion by Aquino III to convince commuters that it is such a burden to government. And when the commuting public wasn’t fazed, PeNoy’s spokesmen even attempted to browbeat Metro Manila’s MRT/LRT-riding population into thinking that they’re being unfair, selfish and abusive for demanding this transport subsidy when the rest of the nation’s taxpayers aren’t using the system. Yet what these prevaricators conveniently omit is that these MRT/LRT commuters are precisely the majority that go to work everyday earning subsistence wages from which government exacts its pound of flesh in terms of taxes — taxes that pro-RH proponents would now want to subsidize the sex choices of the beneficiaries of “free contraceptives and condoms,” the poor and unemployed (that is, if these reach them at all, given that macho culture and inebriation are some reasons that condoms are cast to the wind).

The only thing certain is that, once it becomes law, billions will be specifically allocated by the RH bill, whereby its first approved budget “shall be included in the subsequent General Appropriations Act,” i.e. automatically appropriated and/or sponsored — in perpetuity. That budget is certain to reach Big Pharma (including the FVR-linked Carlyle Group), which then also translates to “automatic sales in perpetuity.” Equally certain are the congressmen’s pork barrel allocations for a least one RH van per congressional district (including drugs, condoms, sex education materials, staff and fuel) that will have the congressman’s likeness emblazoned for all to see. Then, all of these monies are sure to come from the nation’s taxpayers, a great majority of whom are Metro Manila commuters who won’t get any subsidy for their essential work-related fares.

Regarding the RH vans, it must stated that there is already a proliferation of barangay health centers with literally hundreds of thousands of health workers all over the country, so why the RH vans for each congressman, over and above the free ambulances? Local governments do have a big say in these health centers’ budgets and supplies, as well as the dispensation of essential drugs; but keep in mind that neither the national or local governments dedicate budgets for free medication for deadly diseases such a tuberculosis and dengue (go to East Avenue Medical Center and see how expensive these are for the poor).

Yet the bleeding hearts of PeNoy’s government as well as many RH bill proponents believe “contraceptives and condoms” deserve a subsidy of at least P3 billion or more (when we factor in other government agencies such as PhilHealth, National Anti-Poverty Commission, etc. being mandated to fund the RH program)?

An important observation was made by one veteran street parliamentarian about the RH bill proponents taking to the streets to picket, rally and demonstrate for this subsidy for the poor’s “reproductive choices.” He noted the brand new tarpaulins, canvasses and cardboards, and the gleaming colors of the streamers and placards used, not to mention the full page ads. These can only mean huge funds flowing into the pro-RH bill campaign.

I’m sure that — despite my opposition to the Church’s many positions — whenever the Roman Catholic Church funds its campaigns, we know where these are coming from; but for those activist groups associated with Etta Rosales and Dinky Soliman, just where do they get their money? I guess we shouldn’t look far.

We know that USAid, as mandated by Henry Kissinger’s 1974 NSSM 200 (which we have no space to elaborate on), has always been for population control; same with Big Pharma. And, lest we forget, these people have the conditional cash transfer funds at their disposal too, which, as of the latest news, has already been increased by P2 billion over the P21 billion originally allocated. Shades of the CodeNGO PeaceBonds again?

(Tune in to Radyo OpinYon, Monday to Friday, 5 to 6 p.m., and Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 to 7 p.m. on 1098AM; Talk News TV with HTL, Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m., with replay at 11 p.m., on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 8; visit and for our articles plus TV and radio archives)

Friday, May 27, 2011

No constitutional basis

I received this in my email from someone very close to the former Senator. I see that at least two other Catholic blogs have posted this as well.

“The Big RH Swindle” 
by former Senator Kit Tatad

We can all probably agree that respect for the Constitution, the moral convictions, religious beliefs, human dignity and solidarity of our people is indispensable to the health and wellbeing of the nation. And that no democratic government ever enacts a law that is certain to divide its people.

Yet never before have we seen so many Filipino politicians trying to savage that view, and further divide an already divided nation. All in the name of a foreign-dictated Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

Many of the debates, arranged or sponsored by the RH patrons and funders, have been one big swindle. Often moderated by the uninstructed and uninformed, they have tried to discuss every tangential issue, while evading the central issue that will ultimately decide whether the bill, if enacted into law, could bind anyone in conscience.

They have tried to scare us with all sorts of doomsday scenario about our birth rate of 1.9 percent, and the country’s population density of 313 per square km, which are quite healthy, without ever mentioning the plunging birth rates and the rapid ageing and dying in the developed countries, which should terrify anyone living in this century.

They have tried to make us feel guilty that ten or so childbearing women are dying everyday for lack of proper obstetrics and maternal care, even though several times more women are dying everyday from cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, tuberculosis, and other diseases, without any medical or burial assistance from government.

Not every congressman or senator has read the RH bill. And not everyone who has read it has correctly understood its whys and wherefores. They say its purpose is “to protect the right” of women (and men) to decide whether or not to practice birth control and what method/s to use. But that is not true at all. It is patently false, a gross deception.

No law prohibits contraception or sterilization. Everyone is free to contracept or get sterilized on their own. No law distinguishes abortifacients from mere contraceptives either. A woman could commit abortion while ostensibly practicing contraception only. This has been so for the last 35 years.

Since the 1970s, the government has been funding what it now calls RH every year. At least P2 billion this year. Additionally, some LGUs are now implementing some foreign-funded RH programs. The constitutionality of these things has yet to be ruled on. But the nation’s contraceptive prevalence rate now stands at 51 percent and counting.

So what women’s “right” to contracept are they talking about? What need is there for this RH bill? We have the global population controllers and contraceptives and abortion providers to thank for.

At the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, there was a proposal that poor countries should assume at least two-thirds of the cost of their RH programs, which until then had been borne by the rich governments. This means two-thirds of $20.5 billion in 2010, and $21.7 billion in 2015, which were the cost estimates at the time. But even the ICPD document did not contemplate the totalitarian approach of the present RH bill.

The bill seeks to require all married couples to practice birth control as an integral part of marriage, regardless of their religious beliefs and moral convictions. This will revise the very nature and organic laws of marriage, an institution that precedes the State. ("Require... to practice birth control" may have to be reworded, as even I would not consider this to be accurate, without prejudice to the other points in this essay. - CAP)

Indeed, the bill will allow individuals to choose what method/s of birth control to use, but it wants all married couples and even unmarried individuals to be part of a state-run program of population control. It also wants to impose a mandatory sex education program on schoolchildren from Grade V until fourth year High School, without parental consent.

However, these points have been muted in the debates. The proponents have tried to dance around the real issues, and many of those against have been lured into joining the dance too. Thus we have discussed the side issues, but left untouched the central issue, which is, Does the State have the right or duty to organize the intimate private lives of its citizens? Can Congress enact the RH bill into law without regard to the moral law and the Constitution?

The mandate of Sec. 12, Article II of the Constitution is clear and cannot be obscured. It needs no interpretation. “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government.”

Some people, including some supposed theologians and constitutional experts, have tried to muddle this issue by asking, “when does life begin?” Is it upon “fertilization” of the egg, or upon “implantation” of the fertilized ovum? That would be quite relevant if we were discussing abortion, which we are not.

The only relevant issue here is this: If the duty of the State is to equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception, does it also have the right or the duty to run a program of contraception and sterilization whose purpose is to prevent the birth of children? Can the State be the protector and preventer of childbearing at the same time? Clearly, the State can be one or the other, but not both at the same time.

Likewise, it parents are the natural and primary educators of their children, the State can only support, but not replace them in that role. It cannot, therefore, impose a compulsory sex education program on schoolchildren, without parental consent.

Now, Article XV “recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation,” and marriage “as an inviolable social institution,” “the foundation of the family,” which “shall be protected by the State.” Sec. 3 provides: “The State shall defend: (1) The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood.”

This is where the Catholics and other religious believers come in. They have to defend their basic human right to their own respective religious beliefs. I am a Roman Catholic. I believe, with the Church, that contraception and sterilization are intrinsically evil, and I try to practice what I believe. My friend and neighbor is of a different faith; he believes that contraception and sterilization are good for his health. The absence of an RH law has not impaired, and will not impair, his “right” to practice contraception and sterilization. It will not hurt the practice of his faith. But the passage of an RH law will certainly hurt mine.

I do not want the State to act as the enforcer of my Catholic faith, and compel my friend and neighbor to believe what I believe. But I cannot allow the State to tell me to abandon my belief either and support with my tax payment a government program that attacks my religious belief. I would feel religiously persecuted, and I will have to respond accordingly.

I may or may not march against the government. I may or may not call or join any call for civil disobedience. But the so-called RH law would have no moral or constitutional basis and could not bind me or anyone else in conscience. It would simply further divide the nation. The law would have turned this country into a totalitarian state, and the government would, in the language of the February1986 CBCP statement, lose the moral authority to govern.

For these reasons, the House of Representatives would be well advised to simply archive the RH bill now, revoke the present RH program and appropriation, retool the Department of Health and the Population Commission, and begin to mind our more authentic and pressing national concerns.