Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Signing of Covenant Against the Reproductive Health Bill. Signatories were: 1) BACCI Pres. Victor Quezon for NGOs, 2) NFA Manager Adelaida Nuetro for Government Agencies, 3) Ronnie Loreto for Religious Sector, 4) Balanga City Mayor Joet Garcia for LGU's, 5) Bataan 2nd District Representative Cong. Abet Garcia for Bataan
"Let us pray, for the sake of generations of Filipino babies as yet unborn, that they shall stand fast"
The Philippines Under Fire
By Steven W. Mosher 2011 (v13)
By Steven W. Mosher 2011 (v13)
As I write, there is a battle royal underway in the Philippine Congress. On the one side are the Planned Parenthood types, backed by well-funded international organizations, who are attempting to ram through legislation that would cripple the Filipino birth rate. On the other side stand those who believe that the most precious resource of the Philippines is its people, and who object to the use of what some call “human pesticides” to control the Filipino population.
As you might suspect, the U.S. foreign aid establishment, emboldened by the anti-people mentality of the Obama administration, is on the wrong side of this crucial battle for Life.
The legislation in question is called ”The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health And Population And Development Act Of 2011”—a title which manages the remarkable feat of encapsulating three lies of the abortion/population control movement in the short span of a dozen words.
“Responsible Parenthood’ is shorthand for the wrongheaded notion that couples are somehow doing the world a favor by having few or no children. In fact, the opposite is true: Children are the only future a nation has. Those who are willing to provide for the future in the most fundamental way—by providing the future generation—are a national treasure. They should be praised and encouraged, not condemned and sterilized.
“Reproductive Health,” another favorite of the anti-life movement, is equally misleading. Such programs are not intended to produce health at all, but sterility. Lest you think I exaggerate, consider how the “reproductive health” of a population is defined: It is the percentage of women of childbearing age who have been sterilized or who are using so-called “modern methods of contraception.” The higher this percentage (of women who have been chemically or surgically sterilized), the greater the supposed “reproductive health” of the population is said to be. This leads to the absolutely bizarre conclusion that a population enjoying perfect “reproductive health” would not be able to reproduce at all! Why? Because every last female reproductive system would have been disabled. We should not be surprised that the same people who define pregnancy as a disease, define “reproductive health” as sterility.
Finally, the implication of “Population and Development” is that population growth constitutes an intolerable burden on the economy. But while it is true that growing populations do produce temporary scarcities of goods and services, in a free market entrepreneurs respond by innovating; they devise more efficient means of production, for example, or they find substitutes for scarce materials. At the end of the day a larger population not only produces more goods and services, they do so at a lower price. Economists have a name for this: It’s called economies of scale.
The language of the Philippine Reproductive Health Bill, as it is called for short, is just as dangerous as its name suggests. Section 20, which fixes the “ideal” family size at two children, undermines the God-given right of couples to decide for themselves the number and spacing of their children. It will give further impetus to social engineering projects, already underway in the Philippine Department of Health and other government departments, to reduce family size. In our experience at PRI, any time a government sets population targets of any kind, it leads to human rights abuses.
But this is only the beginning of the mischief. Consider Section 13, which imposes on local government officials the obligation to enforce the provisions of the Act and “give priority to family planning work”. To this China hand, this sounds an awful lot like the PRC, where local officials are under constant pressure to reduce the birth rate, and do so by resorting to forced sterilizations, forced contraceptions and, all too often, forced abortions.
Another provision which could have been taken from Beijing’s playbook is Section 15, which sets up a so-called “Mobile Health Care Service,” and details how it will operate around the country. Apparently, as is the case in China, mobile sterilization teams will be brought in to do the dirty work of population control that local physicians, nearly all Catholic, find morally objectionable.
Incredibly, the proposed law even attempts to stifle dissent by Catholics and others by prohibiting the dissemination of “malicious disinformation about the intent and provisions of this Act.” The “malicious disinformation” that the framers of the bill had in mind would presumably include—aside from my criticisms above—pointing out the simple truth that life begins at conception.
Now I know that you may find this hard to believe, but the “reproductive health” enthusiasts who support the bill deny that a woman who has conceived a child is actually pregnant. It is not until five to seven days after conception, when the developing embryo implants in the lining of the uterus, that they are finally willing to admit its existence.
In claiming that human life does not begin at conception, but at implantation, they violate not only science but common sense. But it is important to understand that they are not fools. They do not engage in this obvious subterfuge lightly, but because they believe that the very success of their population control agenda demands it.
You see, if they admit that life truly does begin at conception, then they would also have to admit that every last one of their hormonal concoctions—from pills and hormonally laced IUDs to implants and injectables—cause early-term abortions. All hormonal contraception works, at least part of the time, by preventing an already conceived baby from implanting in the uterus.
The backers of the Reproductive Health Bill lie about this, too, of course, because they know that few women would take a supposed “contraceptive” knowing that it would actually cause them to abort.
This second lie is especially important to their efforts in the Philippines, where the Constitution, in Article II Section 12, provides that “the State shall equally protect the life of … the unborn from conception.” The Philippine Congress, wanting to leave no doubt about its intentions and no room for misinterpretation, defined the word conception in medical terms, as the fertilization of the ovum. Implantation goes unmentioned
This puts the Reproductive Health Bill, which indiscriminately promotes all types of abortifacient contraceptive devices and services, on a collision course with the Philippine Constitution.
The bill’s backers, supported by foreign “experts” and driven by their anti-people agenda, hotly deny that contraceptives are human pesticides, and that their massive distribution in the Philippines will exterminate large numbers of innocent Filipino babies. But there is little doubt that, if the bill passes, and “reproductive health” becomes the order of the day in the archipelago, that millions will die.
So far, the Philippines has resisted the population control juggernaut that has crushed the populations of other Asian countries like China and Indonesia. Zoe Vidal, a Philippine bioethicist, rightly observes that in this sense the Philippines is “the last country standing.”
Let us pray, for the sake of generations of Filipino babies as yet unborn, that they shall stand fast.
POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star)
Updated March 29, 2011 12:00 AM
CLARK FIELD (PLDT/WeRoam) — It is sad, and somewhat disturbing, that every time our high school class (Pillars ’56, Holy Angel University) gets together, the number that shows up gets smaller. And the women seem to be outliving, and outtalking, us men, but that is all right.
As of press time, only 281 of our 346 classmates are still up and about in varying states of health. Time and the physical ravages of man’s mortality are taking their toll all around.
The age issue prods me to take another look at our national population that seems to have been left to run wild like weeds in the backyard.
* * *
WE’RE ALMOST 101 M: The CIA World Factbook has it that the Philippine population would pass the 101-million mark by July, making us the 12th largest national population — accounting for 1.36 percent of the estimated 6.9 billion warm bodies crammed into this troubled world.
Filipinos who are 0-14 years of age make up 34.6 percent, and those 15-64 years of age are a whopping 61.1 percent! The median age is 22.9 years.
The 15-64-year-old bulge in the profile shows that our population is dominantly young.
Our birth rate is 25.34 per 1,000 population, while the death rate is just a fifth of that, or 5.02 per 1,000 population. Net migration rate is a negative (-)1.29 migrants per 1,000 population.
One report has said that four Filipinos are born every minute. Our population growth rate is 1.903 percent. This is an improvement over the two-plus percent of more than a decade ago, but it remains a concern of demographers and state planners.
* * *
BIRTH CONTROL: Holding aloft the euphemism “reproductive health,” population control advocates led by no less than bachelor President Noynoy Aquino are pushing a controversial bill that would cut the population growth rate by abortifacient means, if necessary.
Malacañang’s obsession with a wide-ranging “reproductive health” law appears to follow the line of least resistance in striking a golden balance between population and resources.
The Aquino administration has failed to carry out an integrated program for good education, food production, job-generation and services-enhancement. So, it is taking the lazy shortcut of simply slowing down population growth to reduce pressure on resources.
The usual donors from the rich West that feel threatened by the poor countries’ growth are offering to help control the population, but they want this done under the umbrella of an RH law.
Malacañang may want to look at a big, dominantly young population not as a problem, but more as an asset — after looking after the youths’ education, livelihood requirements and positive orientation.
* * *
SHORTHANDED: A Filipino traveling in Europe and other places in the developed world notices their aging population. Old folk dominate the human parade in the streets, the parks, in malls, everywhere. A young fresh face is always a delight to see in the dreary setting.
Many countries that have stepped too hard on the brakes to their population growth are now in near-panic as they scout around for younger hands to manage their industries and businesses.
Unlike in the Philippines where an extended family network is alive, they are hard put to find caregivers for the old folk waiting for their passage in hospices and old-age institutions.
Some countries, Canada and Australia for instance, have updated their immigration policies to attract foreign young professionals and skilled workers.
This makes sense since they cannot wait till their own youths, who are not aplenty in the first place, are able to complete their studies and gain experience.
* * *
CHINA BURDEN: Suddenly more countries are feeling the urgency of having educated and technically prepared youths to take over industries and businesses that must grow in step with national requirements.
Some shriveled members of the First World shivering through the winter of an aged and aging population want to advance or prolong the spring of their younger population.
China, in a hurry to leap forward and catch up on the industrialized West, cannot be simply supplying cheap labor (which is increasingly becoming costly too) without also producing the accompanying technical and managerial personnel.
The mainland is starting to feel the drawback of decades of a policy limiting families to one child, its generations-old bias against female babies, and the stunting effects of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) that pulled out the youth from schools and threw them rampaging in the streets.
* * *
GOLDEN ASSET: Breathing down its neck is India, which is bursting with a 1.1-billion population (versus the 1.3 billion of China) despite its state-sponsored abortion clinics where fetuses are vacuumed out of the wombs of women.
Despite the grinding poverty in many places, India is lucky to have a fine educational system turning out a large number of graduates with the technical savvy in demand in the highly competitive information-communication world.
Both China and India, accounting for a third of the world’s inhabitants, could turn their huge population, sometimes regarded as a liability, into a golden asset by looking after their education and health.
Their expanding population could also be the core of a military force needed to add muscle to their economic projection.
There is a lesson here for similarly populous Philippines.
Monday, March 28, 2011
A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away)
By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) Updated March 28, 2011
It is quite plain and clear now. The Aquino administration is overly concerned with the “numbers game” – the number of people supporting or opposing a particular stand, a planned move or a proposed measure. It is still on a campaign mode up to now, always watching out for survey results or the size of the crowd turning out for or against the raging issues of the day. Its stance is apparently influenced by popular public opinion. Hence it tends to overlook or refuse to see what is right or wrong, what is good or bad, about the pros and cons on current issues.
This is especially true with regards to the RH bill now pending in Congress. Yesterday’s news reports say that the prayer rally at the Luneta last Friday, March 25, 2011 was not a “cause of concern” on the part of Malacanang despite the number of people participating which media has rigidly fixed at 40,000. Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ricky Carandang said last Saturday at the PNP graduation rites in Silang Cavite, that the “Aquino administration’s position on responsible parenthood would not change despite the rally organized by the Catholic Church”.
Malacanang’s position in this regard calls to mind the Marcos stand following the assassination of Ninoy Aquino when people started street demonstrations demanding “Justice for Ninoy Justice for All Marcos at that time felt safely ensconced at Malacanang despite the demonstrations and refused to listen to the people’s demand. This stance challenged the people who then organized more and bigger demonstrations leading to the EDSA people power revolution in 1986 that toppled his regime.
The point of comparison or the lesson to be learned here is not to challenge the people by refusing to listen and by remaining adamant simply because the over 40,000 attending the rally is not “a cause of concern”. In the first place that figure is merely based on media reports during the early hours of the rally. Anyone who was there up to the end of the rally would attest that attendance swelled to about 200,000-300,000. Besides, other mass demonstrations are also held or will be held in other parts of the country like Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, Tacloban Baguio and other parts of the country. These are definitely enough “causes of concern” for Malacañang.
Actually, two rallies were also held during the Ramos administration in the 90’s with almost the same number of attendance at the Luneta. The first was also about an intended population control program of the Ramos administration that had detrimental effects on family and life. The second was the Ramos plan to change the charter that would mainly extend his stay in Malacanang. Both rallies were spearheaded by P-Noy’s late mother Cory. They were enough to cause Ramos to heed the people’s demands and to abandon his plans. P-Noy should learn from these incidents.
PCDSPO Secretary Carandang said that he was not talking “specifically about the RH bill pending in Congress but the President’s position on modern family planning”. But “modern family planning methods” indubitably refer to no other than the artificial chemical devices like the pills, or mechanical ones like the IUDs. Undeniably, these devices cause abortion or lead to abortion because they prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus of the mother and thus violate the Constitution mandating the State to protect... the life of the unborn from conception (Article II Section 12) which means from fertilization of the ovum as defined by the framers of the Constitution. They also violate the Revised Penal Code (RPC) which penalizes abortion (Articles 256-259).
But the RH Bill authors still insist that the bill does not violate the Constitution and the RPC. They say that conception or the beginning of life is not upon fertilization of the ovum, but upon the implantation of the fertilized egg in the wall of the uterus. So the use of contraceptives or modern family planning methods before implantation, to prevent implantation, is not abortion. This is however contrary to the meaning adopted by the framers of the Constitution and the medically and scientifically proven fact that life begins at fertilization, that a fertilized egg is already a live human being even before implantation. Apparently when P-Noy’s mouthpiece says that P-Noy is maintaining his position on modern family planning, he is adopting this erroneous position of the RH bill authors. He must thus clarify or change his position on this matter because it is wrong.
Indeed P-Noy’s spokespersons seem to anchor P-Noy’s position on this vital issue only on survey results. Again Carandang explained that P-Noy has not changed his position that as part of responsible parenthood the family should plan its size and that the government has reason to believe that most Filipino couples would like to be educated on how to plan their families. Then he again cited figures and pointed out that “something close to 70% of people surveyed consistently say they want access to modern family planning”.
Of course, couples indeed have the right to determine the number of children they want to have, in the exercise of “responsible parenthood”. This is not wrong. What is wrong here is the use of modern family planning methods that may cause or lead to abortion. Besides, responsible parenthood does not consider sex solely for self satisfaction free from any responsibility of giving birth by using artificial modern methods that supposedly prevent conception but actually cause abortion. Responsible parenthood means that couples should look at sex as always open to the possible transmission of life, so that in planning the size of family, they should not use “modern artificial methods” to prevent such possibility, but practice self control and abstinence for the meantime. Thus the government’s position to provide access to these modern family planning methods with harmful effects will never be right or justified simply because 70% of the people surveyed wants access to them.
Expect more prayer rallies therefore asking God that P-Noy and our legislators obey His will by saying No to RH Bill.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Far from ideal, but better than maintaining silence. Still... when will Filipino Catholic institutes of higher learning for the laity begin enforcing Ex Corde Ecclesiae? -- CAP
Statement on Reproductive Health Bill 4244
date posted: 2011-03-25 06:35:37
Statement on Reproductive Health Bill 4244
date posted: 2011-03-25 06:35:37
24 March 2011
MEMO TO : THE UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY
FROM : THE PRESIDENT
SUBJECT : STATEMENT ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH BILL 4244
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
There is a recent article in the press that “UP, Ateneo Profs call for passage of RH Bill.” The article also lists the signatories from the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila.
A similar position paper was issued by Ateneo faculty on October 15, 2008 and, on that occasion, I issued a statement to the Ateneo community to clarify the stance of the University. In that memo, I said that the position of the Ateneo de Manila is as follows:
1) We appreciate the efforts of these members of the Ateneo faculty to grapple with serious social issues and to draw from Catholic moral teaching in their study of the bill.
2) We acknowledge their right to express their views as individual Catholics and appreciate their clear statement that their views are their own and not that of the University.
3) However, the Ateneo de Manila University does not agree with their position of supporting the present bill. As I said in my letter of October 2 to Archbishop Aniceto and Bishop Reyes, it is “the considered opinion of our moral theologians that, although there are points wherein the aforesaid bill and the Catholic moral tradition are in agreement, there are certain positions and provisions in the bill which are incompatible with principles and specific positions of moral teaching which the Catholic Church has held and continues to hold.”
We thus have serious objections to the present bill in the light of our Catholic faith.
4) Ateneo de Manila thus stands with our Church leaders in raising questions about and objections to RH Bill 5043. (This should be H.B. 4244 -- CAP)
5) It is also the responsibility of the Ateneo de Manila as a Jesuit and Catholic university to ensure that, in our classes and other fora, we teach Catholic faith and morals in their integrity.
6) At the same time, as I also wrote on October 2, we support continuing efforts on the critical study and discussion of the bill among Church groups including the University and in civil society.
The position of the Ateneo de Manila remains the same. In matters of faith and morals, the Ateneo de Manila as a Jesuit and Catholic university, stands with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus. At the same time, we recognize the right of our faculty, as individuals, to express their views and appreciate their clear statement that these views are their own and not that of the University.
BIENVENIDO F. NEBRES, S.J.
Friday, March 25, 2011
LIVE BROADCASTS FROM THE EVENT WILL BE AVAILABLE THROUGH
“Filipinos! Unite Under God for Life!”
March 25, 2011
The Feast of the Annunciation
Day of The Unborn
PROGRAM: Emcees (Fr. Erick Santos, Fr. Joel Jason, Ms. Gaines Rosario)
3:00 -Arrival and Animation - Emcees
EL SHADDAI CHOIR
Welcome and acknowledgment of Participants
70’s Beats and Pieces band
3:50 – 4:00 --Lively Cultural Dance Number by Hiyas ng Pilipinas
4:00 – 4:15 -- Recitation of the Holy Rosary - youth group
4:15 – 4:45 -- Istasyon ng Krus Para sa Buhay c/o Fr. Genie Diwa
4:45 – 5:00 -- Inter-faith prayer and Declaration of Opposition c/o Fr. Caloy Reyes
5:00 – 6:00 -- Testimonies/Declaration of Opposition
- Ms. Mae Belgica
- Congresswoman Aliah Dimaporo
- Cong. Lucy Torres-Gomez
- Bro. Bo Sanchez
- Cong. Roilo Golez on HB 13
- Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile
- Video Message from Cong. Manny Pacquiao
6:00 -- Recitation of Angelus/Prayer for the Unborn led by Sr. Pilar
6:05 – 6:20 -- Animation and Inspirational Songs
EL SHADDAI Choir
6:20 – 7:00 -- “Interrogation” and “I Stand” chant
CFC Singles for Christ
Symbolic Tearing of RH bill by different sectors of society
- Youth (EJ Aguila and Renelyn Tan)
- Politician (Mayor Lito Atienza)
- Religious (Sr. Pilar Verzosa)
- Medical (Dra Angie Aguirre)
- Muslim Faith Sector (Cong. Aliah Dimaporo)
- Archbishop Paciano Aniceto (CBCP)
Live Pure presentation (CFC-FFL)
“Masterpiece” song and dance (CFC-FFL)
7:00 – 8:30 -- Holy Mass presided by His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, concelebrated by Cardinal Jose Sanchez, and the Bishops and the Priests.
Prayers of the Faithful:
· Doctors – Dr. Oscar Tinio (President, PMA)
· Catholic Physicians Guild – Joe Yamamoto / Oca Tagulinao
· Lawyers – Justice Santiago Kapunan (President, IBP)
· Filipino Families – Rodrigo Family
· Politicians – Michael Velarde (Buhay Party List)
After Post Communion Prayer -- Consecration of the Family to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
· Fr. Yulito Ignacio
Special Address by Bro. Mike Velarde of El Shaddai
9:00 -- Fireworks Display and Singing of Happy Birthday to celebrate LIFE.
***NB: THE MANILA RALLY WILL BE ACCOMPANIED BY RALLIES IN 20 DIOCESES AND PRELATURES IN THE REST OF THE COUNTRY
,On the eve of what promises to become the biggest protest action against the RH Bill, I think it would be appropriate to look back to the PICC rally against the RH Bill held only a few weeks ago, and to revisit some of the presentations made at that time: Filipinos, Unite for Life!
The link leads to a website with summaries of the speeches delivered at the event by various pro-life congressmen.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Please go to Finally, the Truth About the RH Bill (English) and its slightly different Tagalog counterpart, Ang Katotohanan Ukol sa RH Bill.
This little website contains informative excerpts from presentations on the RH Bill by the following experts:
Atty. Jose Sison (Lawyer)
Prof. Pamela "Mimi" Fabe (Economist and Sociologist)
Liza Manalo M.D. (Doctor of Medicine)
Atty. Rolando Reyes (Lawyer)
Here's an example of the information provided in the website:
The Gift of Family and Life
HOMILY OF IMUS CAVITE BISHOP LUIS ANTONIO TAGLE
THANKSGIVING MASS FOR THE GIFT OF FAMILY & LIFE, MANILA CATHEDRAL, MARCH 23, 2011
Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, our beloved priests and religious, our Honorable members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, our beloved lay people, the valiant lay people.
We are gathered for this Eucharistic celebration in thanksgiving to God for the gift of life and for the energy that has been given to us to promote and defend life.
We also want to pray, we have to pray because the forces against life are always present. Let us not delude ourselves that we have only one enemy, that life has only one enemy. There are many faces of those that are against life, so we have to pray. And in this thanksgiving mass, we want to strengthen our resolve to work together to defend God’s precious gift of life. And since it is Lent, a holy season when we are invited to reflect on the meaning of the life, Jesus’ has won for us, through His Paschal Mystery, let us allow the readings for today to help us develop a spirituality. I repeat, a spirituality towards the defense of life.
That is one contribution that Christians should make in this whole debate and I’m challenging all of us here to check ourselves, to reposes the right spirit in our defense of life. Are we coming from a deep commitment to God? Or are we coming from other agenda which in the end might prove to be counter life. Humanda po tayong lahat, maganda ang sasabihin ng mga pagbasa, at sana maging bukas tayong lahat para magpasuri sa mga pagbasa tungkol sa hinahanap ng Salita ng Diyos sa mga nagiging propeta para sa buhay. Prophets of life, prophets for life, how do we distinguish them? What makes someone a prophet of life and a prophet for life?
In the first reading, from the prophet Jeremiah, we see the sorry state, the miserable state of a prophet, he goes around proclaiming God’s word, and what does he gets? The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem were conniving against him, they were plotting against him. They were carefully noting his words. They wanted to eliminate him, the destiny of every prophet. And Jeremiah knows it. He knows the evil forces that were plotting against him. The one sent by God, the God of life, the God who wants to restore life. And what is the response of Jeremiah? He breaks into a prayer. He turns to God, the God who calls him, and his prayer in the whole book, you may want to look the book of Jeremiah, the prayer of the prophet Jeremiah is simple, very open, you can see the humility of this prophet, he talks to God openly. He tells God, heed O Lord and listen to what my adversaries say, should good be repaid with evil. Sa tagalog maganda, Diyos, ano ba? Naririnig mo ba yung kanilang pinagbubulong-bulungan? Nagbubulung-bulungan sila sa kanilang mga caucus, naririnig mo ba o Diyos? Hindi nila pinaririnig sa amin, naririnig mo ba o Diyos? Naririnig ng Diyos.
And Jeremiah reminds God in his prayer, remember, I stood before you, to speak in their behalf, to turn away your raft from them. Jeremiah was very clear about his role, he was not there only to speak to people on behalf of God, he was there to speak to God on behalf of the people, so that God’s raft may be turned away from the people. The prayer of Jeremiah, so open to God, and in his prayer he’s role gets clarified for him.
If we go to chapters later, the 20th chapter, you see Jeremiah in his prayer again, struggling with God. I don’t know how many of us pray to God this way, Jeremiah even said, God, you fooled me, and in exasperation he said, and I allowed myself be fooled by You. Because you were stronger than I was, and looked at what was happened to me, because I spoke your word, he even curse the day that he was born because of the suffering that he undergoes. For the sake of the Word of God and for the sake of the people. And he tells God openly, I want to retreat, I want to give up. No more. Ayaw ko na. But then he says, when I discovered Your Word, I devow your Word, and whenever I try to runaway, I feel Your Word like a fire burning within me. A fire flaming my bones, I cannot run away. I maybe subjected to suffering but I’m committed to Your Word. Your Word is in me, Your Word is in my bones. I cannot escape Your Word. This is the commitment that every person who defends life must have and it has a clear source, not any self seeking, not any agenda for my sake. Jeremiah the prophet only had one reason, I am consumed by the flame of the Word of God, burning in my bones. Even before the adversaries could burn them. He was already burning within him with the fire of the Word of God. That type of prophet is an assailable, that type of prophet is beyond all compromises and pride because the source of fire is burning within spirituality.
So I’m inviting all of us to turn to Jeremiah, to turn to his sufferings and to marvel at how such a person stipped in ridicule and adversity could sustain his prophetic role in the purity of his commitment to the Word of God.
This is fulfilled in the prophet who is much greater than Jeremiah, because He is the Son of God, Jesus. In the Gospel, Jesus plainly tell His disciples of His destiny. They were going to Jerusalem where we would be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes who were condemned Him to death.
He would be handed over to the Gentiles. He will be mocked, he will be scourged, he will be crucified. But on the third day, he will rise from the dead. But Jesus interprets the meaning of his sufferings at the end of this passage, He says the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to hive His life as a ransom for the many.
The death of Jesus was not a case of other people claiming His life. For Jesus, His death was really an act of service. He will serve even if it means giving My whole life. My last breath will be my last act of service. And so nobody takes His life away from Him. I give my life as a ransom for the many. Life is always a gift. God gives life and no one should take away life. Life as a gift should continue being a gift.
The moment life is taken away, we destroy the very nature of life as gift. And Jesus says so, even His dying in the Gospel of John, he says, no one takes my life away from me, I lay it down freely. I give my life as a gift and no one should take it away. There is only one interpretation on the death of Christ that matters to us according to the Gospel, His death has been faced by Jesus as the ultimate giving of Himself in the form of service. Again, this is part of our spirituality. We will be offering our lives for life, we will be offering our lives for the sanctity of life. But let it be fueled by the spirit of Christ, just like Jeremiah, only one motive, loving service. That makes the fight for life redemptive. Loving service, if I do not give my life out of service, then I am actually claiming the lives of others, misusing the lives of other. It is only in that purity of intention that we find in Jeremiah and in Jesus were life is truly served.
But my dear brothers and sisters, we have to be warned because in the middle of the Gospel for today, we find the sons of Zebedee, James and John, Jesus has 3 closest friends among the 12, Peter, James and John. And in the Gospel, we find the mother, the mother of James and John, approaching Jesus with a request, command that this 2 sons of mine will seat one at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom. They missed the point, and this is the warning to all of us. We might missed the point.
Katatapos pa lang ng napaka-dramatic na pagpapaliwanag ni Jesus, wa effect. At mga kaibigan pa, mga kaibigan, the closest, pati naman yung nanay naki-alam pa, yung nanay ni John and James, expert sa lobby, mahusay maglobby. Pero yung mga nagla-lobby nay an, sometimes they think what they are talking about, but they missed the point. They could not understand this new kingdom, this kingdom of life that will come when life is given as a gift. In their minds, life is preserved only through prestige, power, positions, and for that life they will sacrifice other lives. This is the history of humanity which Christianity wants to counter. The end to sacrificing lives is by the spirituality of life given as gift and service. And so Jesus, patiently turned to them, ask them, can u drink of the cup that I will drink of and can you be baptized in the baptism that I will undergo, meaning are you ready to undergo my life giving death. For it is only in life given in service this life promoted.
Two figures, Jeremiah, Jesus, life threatened but they took the threat and transformed the threat into love, service and life is nit threatened anymore, life remains a gift given to others and others live because of Jesus. We hope that our defense of life will go to that deep part of ourselves, where Jesus has ford the Holy Spirit transforming us into true prophet of life, patterned after Jesus Himself. Let us pause and enter into our hearts and allow the face of Jesus to challenge us to ask us deep and disturbing questions about the spirituality of our commitment to life.
H/t to Ash Paul.
Photo is from the FB account of "Tito Robert Sfldop".
By MERCEDES B. SULEIK
March 24, 2011
MANILA, Philippines – The Reproductive Health Bill is not what it purports to be. It is not about reproductive health rights. It is not about women’s maternal health. It is not about preventing infant mortality. It is not about responsible parenthood. Nor is it about poverty alleviation.
The RH Bill is in fact a tyranny of half-truths. This Bill, which has gone through so many permutations and attempts to be passed, is a melange of obfuscations and inadequate information.
Efforts to ram it down our throats through apparently tainted media coverage, through surveys that ask leading questions, and through taking advantage of general ignorance of the substance of the bill, not to mention apathy of fence-sitters, is perhaps the reason why it is vaunted that the RH Bill is the best thing that could ever happen to the Filipino family and nation.
Let’s start by considering the premise on which this bill rests. An early title of the bill said “Reproductive Health and Population Development Act,” which in its present “consolidated form” now has been revised to include “Responsible Parenthood” in the title, hijacking this very proper term to dissimulate and thus appear to indeed be for everyone’s good! Its view of development is very narrow, averring that the Philippines is overpopulated, and only by lowering the birth and fertility rates will this country finally burst out of its mire, and alleluia! We become a first world country!
In the first place, the Malthusian (and its other manifestations) population argument has already been shot to pieces, with most of the developed world in fact facing a demographic winter, threatening the prospects of these economies over the long term. Picking up a quotation from an article by former Secretary of Finance Roberto de Ocampo, he said that according to some researches, “in order for a culture to maintain itself for more than 25 years, there must be a fertility rate of 2.11 children per family. With anything less, the culture will decline. Historically, no culture has ever reversed a 1.9 fertility rate.” Is this what we want for the Philippines?
Regarding its claim to provide the “right to complete information” particularly about contraceptive options: the advocates completely forget to inform women about the health risks of hormonal contraceptives. The World Health Organization itself has classified these as bringing about the risks of cancer, particularly breast cancer, in their WHO/IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) Report wherein it was found that hormonal contraceptives do cause cancer. At least, let the women know the risks!
It’s the same with other contraceptive devices, such as the condom. It has been found that these do not prevent pregnancy from occurring, nor has it been proven that it protects against AIDS. Moreover, failure of contraception eventually leads to abortion, which while it is claimed that the bill has taken note of the fact that abortion is illegal, the effect of failed contraceptions is an implicit support of abortion.
Another obfuscatory provision hidden in the bill are the punitive sanctions that are, if truth be told, attempts to curtail the Filipino’s civil liberties: obligatory requirements for medical health practitioners to actively promote artificial birth control without regard for their consciential rights, for example, if they in conscience cannot do it themselves, they are obliged to refer to someone else who don’t have the same misgivings. And hey, there are even sanctions for “criticizing” the bill (if passed).
The bill, while pretending to be for the benefit of the Filipino and the family, overreaches itself. Why is it taking over areas best left to the decision of the Filipino married couple, such as whether they want to have children or not, such as their right to educate their children on matters related to sex and morality. The State should govern, and not meddle in the Filipino individual’s decision.
A key principle in corporate governance is that the Board should govern, and let Management take care of the micro aspects of business.
Another hidden provision is to consider contraceptives as “essential medicines,” which effectively means that there is no need for bidding nor for COA restrictions. As far as I know, no other medicine has been declared “essential”...(and I do have a quarrel with calling contraceptives as “medicine” because pregnancy is not a disease!) This provision thus leads to the use of tax money on what many citizens consider offensive to their beliefs – is this not a devious way of allocating money which have been paid into the government’s coffers by a majority of Christian taxpayers?
Let me repeat. The RH bill is not about reproductive health. It is not about giving women a choice. It is not about poverty alleviation. It is not about the Filipino and his family. It is about state control.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
(UPDATE October 13, 2011: All of Msgr. Tagle's videos on "The Word Exposed" versus the RH Bill can now be found in chronological order at this page: The Word Exposed - RH Bill Series.)
(Talk of His Eminence GAUDENCIO B. CARDINAL ROSALES, Archbishop of Manila, delivered for him by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo (with power point accompaniment) at the MAGPAS First Saturday Catechesis on March 5, 2011 at the Paco Catholic School Auditorium).
The late Winston Churchill once said that “there is no doubt that it is around the family and home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society are created, strengthened, and maintained.” People who succeeded in their profession, business or any undertaking can always look back at the way they had been reared, encouraged and accompanied by their parents. Parents may not be rich; they may not be highly educated, but a good mother, in her simple ways, and a responsible father can shape the life and character of a son or daughter in such ways that later in life they becoe endearing examples to others and are able to guide and motivate many young people as well.
Parents Who Influenced Their Young Child
Giuseppe Sarto was born to a very simple family, not exactly very, very poor, although he went to school barefooted, and heput on his shoes when already he was near the school. His father was a simple village official, not the equivalent of a Barangay Captain, probably the equal of a Kagawad ng Sanggunian Barangay; the mother was “onlyu” a simple housewife whocooked for the family, washed the laundry, and cleaned the house for her brood. It was the Mama who influenced little Giuseppe very much. From her stories, her reminders and prayers, this little Giuseppe Sarto received the great motivation to be a good son and a hardworking student. Maybe it was also the mother who prayed for the vocation of her son. Giuseppe entered the seminary and ultimately became a priest, and lived and served to be a very good priest. He was promoted Bishop, Cardinal, and eventually, Giuseppe Sarto became Pope Pius X … and he went beyond the Papacy. He was canonized Saint Pius X, the patron of special devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist. Much of his progress in studies and his priestly vocation, Father Giuseppe Sarto attributed to his mother.
Admiring her son’s Episcopal ring, Mama Sarto once remarked to Giuseppe that without this ring, pointing to her original wedding ring, “there will not be that Episcopal ring on your finger,” she remarked to the young Bishop Sarto.
Many times the fidelity and refinement of man or woman would be traced to the mother, while the courage and industry are linked t the father. Without doubt the fused devotion and faith of Papa and Mama will one day determine the children’s fear and love of God and marked compassion for the poor and the weak. The early influence of parents on their children will tell on the future of their matured life, even and especially when, the daughter or the son becomes a parent himself/herself.
This is how important the role of man and woman, as husband and wife, has become in the gift of the procreation of life, that the covenant they enter into requires that they mutually offer to each other an “intimate communion of life and love,” and this covenant has been endowed withits own special laws by the Creator. “By its very nature, marriage is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of the children.” (CCC 1660).
Unity, indissolubility and openness ot life ar essential elements of every Christian marriage. Such was the mind of the Creator that He made humans, male and female. Then the Lord Jesus said, “have you not read that the Creator from the beginning made them male and female and that he said, “this is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and the to become one flesh. They are no longer two, therefore, but one flesh. So then what God ahs united, human beings must not divide.” (Mt 19:4-6). They are united as one, because fidelity is one of the binding qualities of Christian marriage, with one person faithful to a partner, man faithful to his woman as wife, and wife faithful to her man as husband. The question of fidelity will always find its roots in unity. In a unified and faithful union of man and women, it is a muct to consider their union as the natural nest (or early home) of life.
Everything in Life Is Sacred.
Every life is sacred and its early receptacle or cradle needs to be considered sacred, just like the Sacred Consecrated Host, the Body of Jesus Christ is kept in a clean and consecrated ciborium. The first task towards life, when one is alerted to its presence, is to protect, preserve, nourish and defend it. And the first place where to do these is in the family and the home. It is not right to consider the woman as the only one tasked by the Creator to care for the life of the yet unborn, simply because it is in her womb that the feeble life seeks its sanctuary. The woman welcomes this little life in her womb that within the next nine months she can call her own --son or daughter. All-embracing motherhood is the great privilege that can belong only to woman. It is a great gift from God that a woman will especially partner with God (with the help of her husband) to share life with a divinely chosen person who one day will show great wonders, possibilities hope, grace, and the ever-astonishing mystery of love. Without the loving care of parents, the tragic opposite can happen.
The Gift of Motherhood Is Only for Woman
Woman, because she has partnered with man in a most intimate and selfless trust and love, earns, above all, the confidence, not only of her husband, but especially the loving trust of and partnership with God, because she has lovingly consented to be a mother. This gift of motherhood as given to woman, was beautifully described by an author. “it is in fully being a wife that a woman fully becomes a mother. There is no motherhood without marriage, without the gift of elf and the reception of the other … It is a wonderful blessing that is bestowed upon the woman to carry a child in her womb, to participate so intimately in Creation by giving her own flesh and blood. Her entire being is designed according to her vocation of motherhood. To deny it by attacking her biological rhythm, by wanting to do away with anything that would be a handicap to the female condition, so that she might be equal to man seriously harms the woman as deeply as her most subconscious part. It renders her sterile. But the woman was made to be a mother, in her body and in her soul. She can only attain fulfillment if she is faithful to her vocation. If she is not granted the happiness of finding a husband, she can receive even greater happiness through meeting the Lord and becoming the spouse of God. Thus she will not give birth physically but spiritually. It is awful to remain single all of one’s life, to become an “old maid.” Every woman is called to be a daughter, a wife and a mother: daughter of God, bride of Christ, mother of mankind, mother of humanity, through a motherhood that goes beyond that of the flesh and constitutes depth of her being.” (Jo Croissant, Woman’s Unique Vocation, The Priesthood of the Heart, pp. 91-92). This is the reason why a woman lives a more sublime calling than man. Like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in her motherhood, a mother shapes the future of the earth by ensuring the character of the person she receives as her child.
Man Is Co-responsible for Life.
Both woman and man, wife and husband, are co-responsible for the life that they have both brought to birth. It is true as we have seen, that the mother is closest to the child, after having carried that “little life within her” for nine months, nevertheless, the husband, the Papa, shares the responsibility to care for and sustain that life and relate with their child, not just as in a state of co-ownership, but the father enters a relationship with as a child (son or daughter) to its father, or as beloved to its lover. The Papa cannot only be a simple provider. The feeding task can be provided by an institution or a machine. He cannot just be a defender-protector of his family and children; an agency can very well function as its security. But the father of a family, husband to her woman (wife), father to his children is the head of the family. He wields the authority in the family. He makes definite and concrete corrections on every occasion that the young needs to be reminded about.
These are perhaps the reasons why so many of the young people today behave as if there is no direction at all in life, act as if there is no authority at all, and live as if there is no tomorrow that will judge every act and conduct. The papa is the person who can usher, with knowledge, experience and prudence, both son and daughter into the cruel and deceiving ways of today’s world. He can very well introduce the child into the struggles of adult life (Enchiridion on the Family, No.3284). This is another responsible task of the father.
As a consequence of this perspective on the family, it is within the responsibility and influence of Papa and Mama that the children first get their first lessons not only on truths but also on values. The “rub on” effect of formation and instruction is picked up by the child from his parents at home. If this interaction between the elders and the youth does not take place now or has been abandoned because of too much exposure to the video and computers, then it will be sad to admit that mama and papa’s has badly corroded them.
Care for Life Starts at Home
The first care for life begins at home. It shows not only in the way the conversation goes among the members of the family. It is proven by the respect and the reverence given to life and the dignity that goes with that life. The elders and those with authority not only enjoy the respect of the youth, they equally respond by carrying mutual deferential response to any one who gives them that care. It is in the family that life at its feeblest moments gets the attention and the extremely sensitive care appropriate to the weakest. Fittingly, the first defense of life must be in the family, especially when all kinds of threats are thrown against a newly formed life in the womb or about to be formed in the womb of the mother. And it must not only be the woman who cares, it must also concern the man who shares in the responsibility, because mutual openness to love and absolute surrender to the possibility of life (as the greatest gift) is always carried by the spouses.
The second care that is learned at home is in the use of food. The respect for food nearly always becomes “reverence” simply because food is linked to life in order to support it. Some of the gravest mistakes children are confronted with at home, and sometimes with special “little punishing teachings” is the irreverence given to food. “Natatapon … o kay ay nasasayang” ….”Sobra ang takaw ng mata” … when the children cannot consume the food they put on their plates. Again and again, parents lecture this to the children.
Anything can be linked to life as support or as protection will be treated with reverence. The “heart of the Catechesis” on the Theology of the Crumbs in Pondo ng Pinoy is precisely the truth that nothing that supports or can support life should be thrown to waste. In the Gospel of Luke (Chapter 16:19-31) the life sustaining capacity of even a tiny bit of crumb was underlined by the Lord Jesus by allowing the beggar Lazarus to desire even the crumbs that feel from the rich man’s table. For us the lesion is clear on the values of this enriching catechesis on the resources that pass through our home, our dining table, our school bag, our purse, and our littlest “barya”-- and the teaching begins in the family.
The third care for giving the young the power to be responsible in their life of respect, concern and love begins also in the family. In a family where no teaching is given by the parents, nothing will be learned at home. Alas, the wrong learning can be earned outside the home, from fiends, and sometimes doubtful acquaintances. Where no initiative for good works and friendliness to others outside the clans is taken, sociability will only be among a few select groups. Existence even within a village or neighborhood can be ghetto-ish. Let papa and mama not give influencing good examples (loud or whispered) and the values of the family’s young will come from others.
To ensure the stability of the young adult and to help ensure the soundness of christian civil life in tomorrow’s society, marriage as the bedrock of the family must be supported and strengthened. This is our commitment in MAGPAS.
MAGPAS MONTHLY CATECHESIS
05 March 2011
New RH bill: Deadly, anti-constitution
(An Excerpt from the UST Varsitarian Editorial for March 15, 2011)
(An Excerpt from the UST Varsitarian Editorial for March 15, 2011)
PRESIDENT Aquino III should be commended for dropping the reproductive health (RH) bill from his legislative agenda. But his minions in the House of Representatives just the same are prioritizing the passage of the bill. They have in fact consolidated several versions of the bill and rammed it through the process so that, despite the denial of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte that they were rushing the bill, it’s now on its second reading and up for plenary debates. What the right hand giveth, the left taketh.
The consolidated version incorporates the President’s version of family planning, “responsible parenthood,” and further pushing the envelope, now uses the word “population,” making Edcel Lagman and his battened likes eat their word since they had been claiming before that heir original version of the bill was not a population-control measure. Considering that just about every shade and nuance of the population-control movement has been incorporated into the consolidated version, the bill is now known as “The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011.”
With 35 sections and more than 5,800 words, the bill promises to become the most extensive measure by any Congress in history, and should leave no doubt to anyone about its Stalinist conceit and social-engineering intentions. Just about every possibility of unwanted pregnancy and regeneration by the poor is checked by the bill. While ostensibly declaring it does not set “demographic and population targets,” it declares that the ideal family size is two, which is just about saying that the population growth target should be zero. (The ideal population growth for the Philippines is zero, according to RH backer and former health secretary Alberto Romualdez!) The bill adds that the state “shall assist couples” to achieve that size.
Those who say that there’s nothing wrong with this should be reminded that the state is not exactly wet behind the ears: it is after all the state and its bureaucracy that have fostered the corruption and waste that characterize the debacle that is the Filipino republic. Considering the sorry tale of the tape as far as the Philippine state is concerned, should the state, which has an overpopulation of bureaucrats battening themselves like Lagman and congressmen on people’s money, have the right to suggest, much less, declare that there’s such a thing as an “ideal” number of children for couples to have?
Much more, should the state have any right to add what follows after the bill’s arrogant discourtesy of declaring how many children Filipino couples should have: “Attaining the ideal family size is neither mandatory nor compulsory. No punitive action shall be imposed on parents having more than two children.” One should rightly cringe at that.
“Assisting” couples to attain the ideal family size wouldn’t be hard for the state since the bill sanctions just about any contraceptive means and, making free use of taxpayer’s money and funding from foreign donors that support abortion, makes them available to all. Those who argue that the bill is pro-choice but not necessarily pro-abortion should look at the bill’s liberal sanction of contraceptives, some of which even physicians admit are technically abortifacient. And they should look at sections 2 and 3 on “Declaration of Policy” and “Guiding Principles.” While the bill enshrines “reproductive health” as a “universal basic human right” and exalts “freedom of choice” – where do you find such in the Philippine Constitution? – it doesn’t mention key state policies in the charter that should be the guiding principles of any law relating to family, life, demographics, and sex education for the young, the most important of which is:
“Section 12. 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.”
Why the very telling bypass of such a very relevant constitutional policy in a bill that seeks to use hundreds of millions of pesos to shower contraceptives and abortifacients on the poor; to provide sex education to the young and teach them how to have “safe sex,” even if the education ministries, the biggest bureaucracies, can hardly teach school kids properly the three R’s; and generally to neuter the poor by mass ligation and vasectomy?
Amid the mass of words and declarations and provisions and platitudes of the consolidated RH bill, try to search for constitutional principles such as “the sanctity of family life,” “(protection of) the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception,” “promotion of social justice,” and “dignity of every person.”
So sorry, but you search in vain.
Ona, Akbayan, Jalin
Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona, should also be praised for sticking to his job as health agent of the state and shunning outlandish stunts like the ones staged by his hopeless predecessor Esperanza Cabral, who distributed condoms at Dangwa Flower Market last year during Valentine’s Day.
Eager to strike back at the bishops who had been holding back the passage of the RH bill, Cabral found a bogeyman last year out of the increase in HIV cases to press for safe sex. Insisting that she was within her jurisdiction as a state health official, she distributed condoms near UST on Valentine’s Day. In doing so, she merely showed the arrogance of the state because Valentine’s is a Catholic feast. Apparently, she had thought February 14 was Motel Day.
Those who cry separation of church and state whenever the bishops and the clergy criticize the RH bill should learn from Cabral’s case. The constitutional provision is really a re-expression of the republican dictum, “non-establishment of religion”; thus, separation of church and state is really a prohibition against the state, not against the church. Cabral’s case shows that it is often the state that transgresses on the church. And whatever the alleged meddling of the church on state affairs is, it’s merely one that is suasive, unlike that by the state which, because of its police and taxing powers, is coercive. For example, where did the condoms that Cabral distributed in Dangwa come from? Didn’t they come from the money of ordinary people who were taxed by the state into supporting such an unsavoury stunt as condom distribution during a religious feast which is supposed to enshrine human love, not animal lust?
Meanwhile, the blasphemous stunt of Cabral last year was restaged on Valentine’s this year by the Akbayan party-list group at the Nepa Q Mart in Quezon City. Its youth arm, Akbayan Youth, is the same group that criticized UST Theology professor Aguedo Florence Jalin for giving incentives to students who would post criticisms on the Akbayan stunt and the RH bill on Akbayan’s Facebook fan page.
It is quite galling that a group that by and large receives international funding, some of them from groups that espouse “reproductive rights,” should take to task a Catholic educator who gives incentives to students doing a completely optional assignment to defend the pro-life stance of the Church against RH and safe-sex proponents. Considering too that the professor did not force his students to do the posting, even making it clear to those who support RH among his classes that they need not join the opposition to the measure, considering further that hardly anyone fails Theology (except those always absent) in UST, Akbayan doth protest too much. Hasn’t Akbayan heard of “academic freedom” and “intellectual honesty”? Jalin was teaching Social Issues of the Church and he had the perfect right, nay the responsibility, to tackle the RH bill and the threat it poses to things which the Church holds dear—the natural law, the dignity of the human person, and the sanctity of life. By urging his students to post their criticisms of RH and of Akbayan’s attack on religion through its distribution of condoms on Valentine’s, a religious feast, Jalin was merely asking them to stand up for what they believe in. To put their money where their mouth is. Which cannot be said of other educators, such as the Ateneo 14, who oppose Catholic teachings on birth control and flaunt their defiance despite teaching in Catholic schools: they put their money where their pocket is while completely chucking intellectual honesty.
Akbayan should be reminded that it is part of the administration coalition and technically, a part of government. Since it has representation in parliament and its people occupy key posts in the administration, it has no choice but to consider criticisms and opposing views. No one in power has the right to be onion-skinned.
Monday, March 21, 2011
A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away)
By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star)
By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star)
Updated March 21, 2011 12:00 A.M.
According to latest reports, the principal author of the RH Bill (HB 4244) has introduced some amendments. This move may look like a tactical retreat as the opposition gains ground. But it may also be just a “one step backward two steps forward” strategy. Indeed, a cursory look at the changes shows that they were apparently designed to make the Bill more attractive especially to his colleagues in the House of Representatives who are still undecided.
But the amendments are not actually that substantial and significant as to lure these legislators in the Lower House to make up their minds and support the Bill. This is not my own assessment only. Several readers have sent in their reactions after closely analyzing the proposed revisions like these ones from Zoe Vidal (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Linda Valenzona (email@example.com). They have apparently been closely monitoring the developments and have conducted an in-depth examination of the changes which are specifically found in:
* Section 13 on the role of the Local Government Units, where the final line now reads “help implement the Act” rather than “give priority to family planning work”. Whatever may be the intent here, “the Bill still imposes the obligation to enforce the provisions of the Act” some of which are unconstitutional. So it is still objectionable.
* Section 15, where the procurement and operation of Mobile Health Care Service shall now be funded by the National Government rather than from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of each congressional district. Obviously, the amendment aims to assure members of the House of Representatives that the RH Law will not diminish their respective pork barrels.
* Section 16, where parents are now given the option of not allowing their minor children to attend classes pertaining to Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education. This is still not acceptable because it does not prohibit but mandates the DepEd to “conduct the immoral and deformed UNFPA sex education programs” which are of doubtful constitutionality.
* Section 20 fixing the ideal family size, has been deleted. But such deletion “does not mean that the government cannot set population targets or engage in cultural re-engineering activities to reduce family size. In fact such programs are now being implemented by the DOH and other government departments”.
* Section 21 on employers’ responsibility has been deleted because it is just a “restatement and amplification of the existing Article 134 of the Labor Code”. So the deletion actually means nothing and adds nothing to the acceptability of the RH Bill. If anything, it merely confirms how laws can be crafted to coerce employers to apply inhumane and anti-life policies on their employees”.
* Section 28 (e) prohibiting the “malicious disinformation about the intent and provision of this Act” will also be deleted in its entirety “in order to afford widest latitude to freedom of expression within the limits of existing penal statutes”. This deletion however does not diminish the imposition on moral consciences of the Filipinos. The very existence of an RH Law is an oppressive imposition on freedom of conscience”.
Actually, the foregoing amendments do not at all change the underlying premise of the RH Bill, “the cornerstone upon which it builds the legal framework supporting its mandate for the promotion and distribution of artificial methods of family planning, particularly all forms of contraceptives”.
The Couples for Christ and the Families for Life (CFC-FFL) have correctly pointed out in their position paper opposing the RH Bill that its “underlying premise — that life begins at implantation — is wrong”. According to them both the “Philippine Medical Association and renowned embryologists concur that life begins at conception, when the male sperm fuses with the female egg cell”.
And pursuing the point further, the CFC-FFL then said that: “The framers of the Constitution had the same notion about the onset of life when they adopted Article II Section 12 which pertinently provides that ‘the State shall equally protect the life of….the unborn from conception. Thus during their deliberations to clarify this provision, the authors adopted the medical definition of the term conception (i.e fertilization of the ovum).
Since life begins at conception, then any post-conception act that prevents or stops the natural development of the fertilized ovum — an essential element of which is its implantation on the uterus — is an attack against life. If the attack is done deliberately — and succeeds — it may well qualify as murder. In any case, the act falls squarely within the legal meaning of abortion.
Many contraceptives exist for this specific purpose. They prevent the fertilized ovum from implanting itself on the uterus, depriving the ovum of its natural habitation and life support. Except for the relative degree of helplessness, the effect is no different from where an assailant kills an infant by means of starvation and suffocation.
By indiscriminately promoting all types of contraceptive devices and services, the RH Bill violates Article II Section 12 of the Constitution. In terms of effect, it will legalize the mass murder of innocent babies”.
The CFC-FFL also pointed out that while the Bill proclaims that the “State shall promote without bias all modern natural and artificial methods of family planning… practically all the important provisions relate to the promotion, implementation and funding of artificial family planning, e.g. Section 10 (Family Planning Supplies as Essential Medicines), Section 11 (Procurement and Distribution of Family Planning Supplies), Section 15 (Mobile Health Care Services), Section 16, (Mandatory Age-Appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education), Section 19, (Capability Building of Barangay Health Workers), Section 25 (Implementing Mechanisms), Section 26 (Reporting Requirements), Section 28 (Prohibited Acts), Section 29 (Penalties),and Section 30 (Appropriations). There is hardly any doubt therefore that the RH Bill is tilted heavily towards contraceptives and other forms of reproductive health services”, the CFC-FFL rightfully observed.
Undeniably, the RH Bill will sink because it is laden with provisions heavily weighed down by constitutional infirmities. But because of this Bill, “the fundamental love of Filipinos for family and life is under serious threat today”. Being the last country standing against this threat, there is an urgent need to stop it. So let us heed the call of Cardinal Rosales and join the prayer rally at the Luneta on March 25, 2011, 4:30 pm, the feast of the Annunciation, also the day of the unborn children. This promises to be “another EDSA at the Luneta”.
(I originally posted this on March 18, 2011, using a forwarded copy. On March 20, 2011 I received a copy of the PDF file of the original article by Mr. Estanislao, which has a short introduction that was absent from the apparently truncated copy I had received earlier. I am now posting the full version of this article. - CAP)
Over these past several months, I have often been asked for the reasons behind my stance regarding the proposed Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
Many have long known I am against the bill in its present “consolidated” form. They guess that since the Bishops are unanimously against it, then I must also be against the RH bill.
When it comes to matters of faith and morals, Bishops provide guidance; they have spoken clearly and authoritatively in accord with their Pastoral responsibilities.
Nonetheless, as an ordinary person, while I listen to the moral guidance of our Bishops, I also put forward my own reasons, based on my professional background, for my stance on the RH bill.
As I make clear in the attached, being against the RH bill in its “consolidated” form is being for: transparency; the value of human life; enjoyment of freedom with corresponding responsibility; a balanced approach to development; the dignity of every person, including each person’s sexuality; putting proper limits on the role of government; respect for the primary right of parents to educate and bring up their children in an atmosphere that respects and promotes high moral standards; respect for the right of conscientious objection; and securing the foundations of our long-term, sustained progress as a people.
WHY I AM AGAINST THE RH BILL
by Jesus P. Estanislao
1. The bill, in its present “consolidated form”, dissimulates. It is far from transparent: it purports to be for reproductive health. In fact, by its aim, it is dangerous not only to the health, but even the life, of unborn babies. It can also be dangerous to the health—both physical and psychological---of women.
2. The bill aims at fewer babies being born in our land, under the premise that the fewer they are, the better off the Philippines would be: fewer mouths to feed, fewer children to educate, fewer people to care for. This premise looks at children---indeed at people---as mere liabilities. It turns a blind eye on the other side, that they can be---indeed often are---great net assets.
3. The bill claims to make the road to development much easier: the fewer babies we have to provide for, the more resources we free up for investments, particularly for infrastructure. It forgets that the best investment we can make is on people, on a big natural base of human resources.
4. The bill ignores one of the most pressing development issues now confronting Japan and a few other countries as well, including many European countries and soon also South Korea and China. Ageing of the population, arising from too few babies being born, is bringing about a demographic winter, which considerably darkens the long-term prospects of the economies concerned.
5. The bill is simplistic in its view of development: one shaped and determined mainly by lowering birth rates and population growth rates. It fails to give due importance to the key determinants of development, which include the following top five factors: “good governance; openness to knowledge; stable finances; allocation of goods and services principally by markets; high rates of savings and investments” (Michael Spence).
6. The bill expands the role of government considerably, expanding it into areas that are best left to individual choices and responsible decisions of married couples. It violates the key governance principle of leaving to individuals, institutions, and other lower bodies those decisions and duties that they can and should take up on their own. It disregards the maxim that governments govern best by refraining from over-reach.
7. The bill proposes to spend tax money on population control programs, featuring artificial methods of family planning, which many citizens find offensive to their conscience and objectionable on the basis of the constitutional protection of the unborn. Indeed, many citizens are asking: what business does the government have dispensing contraceptives and condoms and spending public funds on items that are supposed to be a matter of individual “choice”?
8. The bill is not only intrusive; it is also coercive. It tramples upon the right of conscientious objection on the part of individuals and institutions by threatening jail and other punishments to those who refuse to promote and observe its anti-life orientation and propagation of artificial methods of birth prevention.
9. The bill offends the basic dignity of human sexuality so essential for strong families as the foundation of a strong society. While proposing to improve the condition of families, it can easily lead to a fools’ paradise, characterized by “more premarital sex, more fatherless children, less domesticated men, more crimes, more social pathology, more single mothers, and therefore more poverty”, as has actually occurred in some countries that have taken the path the bill proposes (George Akerlof).
10. The bill promotes a mind-set that weakens the ethical fiber of our people. It devalues human life. It fosters short-term enjoyment of “freedom” without instilling a deep sense of duty to take on its corresponding long-term responsibilities. It views personal relationships and social processes from a narrowly pragmatic, materialistic perspective without giving due consideration to ethical and spiritual values, the bedrock foundations for the genuine development of our people.
Manila, March 2011
Dr. Estanislao holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he was also a Teaching Fellow and Research Fellow. He obtained his MA in Economics from Fordham University in Economics and Ph.B. (summa cum laude) from the University of San Carlos. He has been conferred honorary doctoral degrees from Angeles University, Xavier University, St. Paul University, and Manila Central University. He holds the title of University Professor at the University of Asia and the Pacific. He was Finance Secretary during Pres. Corazon Aquino’s administration. Currently, Dr. Jesus Estanislao is head of Institute of Corporate Directors and Institute for Solidarity of Asia.