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

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pastor Dennis Sy versus funding condoms with tax money

Pastor Dennis Sy is the Senior Pastor of Victory Greenhills. He had come out against the RH bill in 2010.

From the Evangelical Christian blog "Act Like A Man":

Here Comes the Condoms
Posted by Dennis on September 20, 2012

According to Philippine Daily Inquirer June 19th issue:

The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it would be distributing this year some P500 million worth of contraceptives, including condoms and birth control pills, as part of its renewed effort to reduce the rising maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the country.

The news article then tried to link the need to distribute condoms and contraceptives worth 500 Million on how we as a nation could decrease Maternal Mortality Rate.

In a statement after a press briefing on the issue, Health Secretary Enrique Ona cited the 2011 Family Health Survey that showed that between 2006 and 2011, the MMR jumped from 162 to 221.  This meant the number of Filipino mothers who died in childbirth had risen to 221 in 2011 from 162 in 2009 per 100,000 live births. 

The MMR, said Ona, is an important indicator of the government’s performance in improving the health of its citizens.“We can only say that the entire health system is improving if the maternal mortality rate is also improving,” he said. 

Ona cited the poor delivery of health services to impoverished communities as one of the main causes of maternal deaths which he described as highly preventable.

I am not a doctor but I am not sure if the solution to decrease Maternal Death is the free distribution of Condoms and Contraceptives using tax payer’s money. What we need are teaching seminars and a more long term solution to the problem of mis education or no education. It also means upgrading our public hospitals and clinics.

Does this mean that every year we will be shelling out millions of pesos to give away free condoms and pills to couples who want to have sex. I cannot connect how hard earned taxpayer’s money is used to fund the sex life of my fellow Filipinos. Also how sure are we that the distribution of contraceptives are targeting married people only? If the Department of Health goes full blast does that also mean that single men and women can avail of free contraceptives paid for by Filipinos who have a hard time making ends meet. If this happens among the single men and women in our nation, not only are we mis educating them on sex but giving them more license to engage in premarital sex.

Are we really going to pay for that???

Fr. Charles Belmonte versus "The Dissenter" (Fr. Joaquin Bernas): Round 2!

For part 1: Fr. Charles Belmonte on the dissent of Fr. Joaquin Bernas

The following is from Fr. Charles Belmonte's Facebook page. He published this yesterday, Sept. 24, 2012. The picture (Cimabue's The Treason of Judas) is part of the post. 

“Let me illustrate this through the teaching on contraception. The teaching of the Church on contraception is found in various documents. But Church teaching is not accepted by a vast number of people.” 

I SAY: Being an “eminent constitutionalist” he should know that “acceptance by the people” is not a necessary requirement for the validity or lawfulness of a law; at least in Canon Law. Moreover, “Laws are authentically interpreted by the legislator” (CIC, 16), not by any Dick, Tom or Harry.

THE DISSENTER: “Persons who adhere to Humanae Vitae, etc. and act in the sphere of the relation of man to God are expected to plan their family according to the principles of the Church teaching. 

I SHOULD ADD: Right so. These “persons” are officially called “christifideles” or simply, Catholics.

THE DISSENTER: “But these same persons should not be faulted if in the sphere of constitutional law they do not oppose a state plan that is not in accordance with Humanae Vitae, etc." 

I SAY: I contemplate tree possible motives for which they do not oppose a state plan that is not in accordance with their faith (using the legal resources they may have):

(a) They don’t oppose an evil law because they cannot do so, materially. Possible reasons: All the media are against them; the machinery of the State impedes them from intervening; they have no representation in the assembly, etc.

(b) They don’t oppose an evil law because they have two wills, instead of one, as all human beings have. We should not discard the possibility of aliens possessing two wills.

(c) They don’t oppose an evil law because of duplicity in their character. They are not fully determined in favor of Truth and Good; thus, they harbor in their hearts a certain love for truth and, at the same time, a personal inclination to evil not fully conquered (due to vanity, pride…, whatever). 

THE DISSENTER: “Religious liberty in the constitutional plane does not simply mean freedom to choose what to believe but also freedom to act or not to act according to one’s belief.”

I SAY: I really don’t know, or care, what “liberty in the constitutional plane” implies. 
But “liberty in the moral plane” –definitively and emphatically– does not mean what the Dissenter avers. 

“To act according to one’s belief” is usually called “sincerity,” or “authenticity,” or “having personal responsibility and maturity,” or “being coherent with one’s faith.”

On the other hand, “Not to act according to one’s belief” is usually called “duplicity,” or “insincerity,” or “betrayal of one’s faith.”

Faith is not a “hat” that one can take off when one enters the Congress and then put on when one enters the church; that is, properly speaking, having a “double life”… nakakasuka.

So, who is intolerant? Who is closed-minded?
Two articles on the UP Forum on the RH Bill on Sept. 19, 2012

From CBCP for Life:

Pro-lifers show class amid discourtesy

MANILA, Sept. 24, 2012—Those who spoke for the most defenseless in society and who championed genuine freedom showed class and composure amid discourtesy from some supporters of the reproductive health (RH) bill during a forum on the legislative measure at the University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Physics last week.
Dr. Ligaya Acosta, regional director of Human Life International – Asia & Oceania, and Edgardo Sorreta, Pro-Life Philippines Foundation Chairman, both held their composure even as purple-clad RH advocates spoke out from their seats, apparently in disagreement with what was being said by the speakers.
“We let the other speakers talk and we kept quiet. So we ask that you do the same for us,” Sorreta requested in the course of his presentation.
At one point, Acosta – toward the end of her talk – paused for a few moments when those seated in the first couple of rows in the audience became somewhat unruly and prevented the invited guest from proceeding as they chanted “Time! Time! Time!” – signaling that her time in the program was up.
“Okay lang,” Acosta calmly said with a smile as she waited for the disruption to end.
Mere opportunity for Church-bashing
The glaring difference between the speakers, too, did not go unnoticed by the students. Dash Cordero, a senior Statistics major, was immensely disappointed by the repeated jabs against the Church by one of the speakers, particularly due to the emphasis on academic and “research-based” information made in pre-event announcements.
“I was expecting that Dr. [Ernesto] Pernia would present his arguments the same way as economicst Dr. [Bernardo] Villegas does – which is precise and easily understandable by non-economics people. But it was just a mixture of pang-aaway sa Church and presenting statistics that were really not that well-explained,” Cordero lamented.
She also pointed out that the surveys on perception of Catholics of the RH bill were “irrelevant, at the same time insensitive. I didn’t really like his talk because he kept dragging the Catholic Church into the issue – even making side comments that were insulting to us [Catholics].”
The student pointed out that it was unfair of Pernia to make “rude remarks about Dr. Villegas” since the latter was not present.
The talk was not worth her time, Cordero said, adding that what was presented was not new to her and companions anymore and that economists advocating a culture of life had already refuted arguments brought up by Pernia.

What came as a surprise to Cordero and probably to most of the 100-plus attendees at the forum were Atty. Elizabeth Pangalangan’s remarks and demeanor in the open forum.
Responding to a question regarding the rights of mothers and their unborn children, the lawyer’s answer betrayed a belief that the equal protection of “the life of the mother and the life of the unborn” by the State as provided in the Philippine Constitution is not really equal.
Insisting on the inequality of mother and unborn
As observed by Cordero, though Pangalangan recognized the Constitutional provision, the lawyer put forth “the condition that the life of the mother is not endangered. Clearly, she doesn’t consider the mother and the baby having equal rights and dignity under the law.”
“She even said that it’s okay to use ‘procedures’ – which can be taken as their euphemism for ‘abortion’ – since the baby is not yet born,” the student continued, adding that the lawyer’s view was even worse than that of many, since it implied recognizing the baby’s personhood only after birth.
John Walter Juat found the implications of inequality between born people and babies in the womb objectionable, “as if it is the law that states that the life of the mother is worth more than the unborn. One cannot define anything based on what it has or doesn’t have. You define it by its identity,” the Education student said.
Human beings are defined by their DNA, Juat explained, and an unborn child or a person who has been born bur has disabilities is not less human just because of the inability to do certain tasks that most people can do.
“It’s really wrong to say the mother has more worth because she can work, earn money, can walk, talk, etc. And the unborn child has less worth because it cannot do these yet,” he said. “But when the lawyer said something about the circumstances to veer away from the equal protection of the State, it really makes me question…”
Unwittingly revealing an abortion agenda
“And now they still deny that they are in favor of abortion? [Pangalangan] had just revealed their intentions – and that is to eventually find a way for abortion to be legalized [in the Philippines],” Cordero lamented.
During the open forum, the lawyer responded to a question concerning the rights of mothers and of their unborn children. When she answered, betraying a belief in the in equality in dignity between mother and unborn child, she was visibly peeved by the reactions of disapproval from the audience. This prompted her to ask the audience in clipped tones, “Are you a law student?”
The arrogant manner in which Pangalangan delivered the question and succeeding remarks generated yet more comments of protest.
During the lawyer’s presentation, she stated her belief of human beings “from the moment of birth” as entitled to human rights that are universal and cannot be aliented.
Cordero admitted being saddened by insinuations of the absence of facts in the arguments presented by anti-RH bill folks when “we are presenting the facts while their side always finds ways not to answer directly. Their response has often been derogatory remarks about the Church, the fallacy of ’11 maternal deaths per day,’ … and many more fallacious statements.”

“I’ve noticed that the pro-RH people fear so much when the truth is revealed – based on their reactions when Dr. Acosta revealed things about Likhaan and the RH bill budget,” the student continued. “Then their speakers didn’t have the same composure as ours did. And most of them were also very rude – you know, that ‘Time! Time! Time!’ incident.”
It is a challenge for life-affirming people to practice charity toward these persons who condemn the Church and destroy the sanctity of life, Cordero admitted. “I think our Lord is doing this for us to grow in virtue. Kaya sana the Lord always gives us the grace to love and to pray for them.” (CBCP for Life)


Pro-life speakers in UP forum urge students to protect freedom threatened by coercive RH bill

MANILA, Sept. 24, 2012—Forty years after the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines, Filipinos are still hounded by attempts to impose legislation despite vehement opposition. Fortunately, the opposition is sustained – and continuously growing, as more and more life-loving, God-respecting citizens learn more about a measure which seeks to earmark P14 billion  of taxpayers’ money annually for its implementation.

The reproductive health (RH) bill – which includes penalties of fines and imprisonment for those who insist on recognizing conscientious objection, abortifacient effects of certain contraceptives, and the freedom to inform others of the truth on the issue – was the subject of a recent forum held at the University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Physics, which had a former Department of Health (DOH) public information officer as one of the speakers.
“In 2004, I discovered deadly deception of contraception. For a year I was quiet, I made intensive research, and the more I read, the more I cried. I realized that contraceptives kill and cause horrible side effects. And that there is no overpopulation – it’s a myth,” said Dr. Ligaya Acosta, regional director of Human Life International  – Asia and Oceania.
Reacting to insinuations of economist Dr. Ernesto Pernia, who peppered his supposedly academic presentation with jabs against the Catholic Church for “holding Catholic countries hostage” and for “being in the Dark Ages,” Acosta ran through the salient points of House Bill 4244, at one point stressing the punitive measures contained in Section 29.
Overwhelming evidence
“The RH bill curtails freedom,” she said, explaining the penalties even for employers and health workers, and pointing out that even cases of youngsters’ requests for condoms being refused at health centers may mean punishment being meted out.
“Where is freedom of choice there?” she asked.
She gave a rundown of the various contraceptives and their damaging health consequences, making sure she didn’t leave out the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) study establishing oral contraceptives as Class 1 carcinogens. The IARC is an agency under the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Twenty-one scientists from eight countries ‘yan – hindi po Simbahan ang nagsabi niyan. Hindi po Catholic Church ang nag-conduct ng study na ‘yan,” she casually remarked.
Bakit nga ba tumututol ang napakarami sa RH bill? Let me tell you that it is overwhelming scientific evidence… and of course coming from [the other side], I have a lot of documents,” said Acosta, who was part of DOH for more than 20 years.

Strategic use of “reproductive health” rather than “abortion”
She also revealed that the use of the use of the phrase “reproductive health” was a well-thought-out strategy in the global effort to make abortion on demand an acceptable option in as many parts of the world as possible – and eventually a legal one in nations where it is currently illegal.
“They were told that they would lose [in efforts to convince people  if they used the word ‘abortion’ so they used ‘reproductive health.’”
Pro-Life Philippines Foundation Chairman Edgardo Sorreta likewise alluded to the coercion being carried out on the Filipino people via the RH bill.
"The government has no right to fund the purchase of bibles, crucifixes, copies of the Koran etc. because these are [personal] preferences. In the same way, the government has no right to fund the purchase of contraceptives,” he explained.
He addressed the audience – composed of over 100 students mostly of UP Diliman – and told them that the proposed P14 billion that will fund the population control bill is the same amount that could enable over 50,000 scholars to finish a 4-year course in the university.
Why give the poor what they are capable of buying?
Sorreta also pointed out that oral contraceptives, contrary to the message RH supporters have been trumpeting, are within the buying capacity of the country’s poor. At P40 per sheet containing 28 pills, the expense comes up to less than P1.50 a day.
Kaya bang bumili ng mahirap niyan?” he asked the audience, who was visibly surprised by the figures presented. “Yes!”  the audience called out.
“So bakit natin ibibigay sa mahihirap yung kaya nilang bilhin samantalang puwede namang ibigay sa kanila yung hindi nila kaya? Edukasyon…” he pointed out, interrupted by applause and cheers.

Bawal bang bumili [ng pills]? Hindi bawal. Mahirap bang bumili? Naka-distribute ‘yan, umaabot pa sa bundok. Hayaan niyo na ang mga pharmaceutical [companies], sila na ang mag-distribute. That’s their marketing challenge,” he added. “But don’t get government to do the distribution and spend my money for that.”
“Is the Church forcing people not to use contraceptives? No, you are free to use them. But don’t expect the Church to keep quiet and be remiss in its mission to proclaim the Truth,” Sorreta added, again eliciting applause from the students.
Besides Sorreta, Acosta and Pernia, also speaking at the forum was Atty. Elizabeth Pangalangan, who delved on a rights-based approach to evaluating the issue of the RH bill.
While Pangalangan stated that “every human being is recognized as a person and as a right-holder,” her remark that everyone from the moment of birth — not from conception —  is entitled to human rights, angered the audience.
During the open forum, suggestions by the lawyer that the unborn baby is of lesser value than the mother carrying the unborn further unveiled an openness to the justification of abortion on demand, thereby generating more reactions of disapproval from the audience. (CBCP for Life)

When "commonly-shared values" are not enough: A diocesan priest's response to Ateneo De Manila

From Katolikong Pinoy:

Sept. 23, 2012
by Fr. Neil Gavan Tenefrancia

Full text of the MEMO here:

“Together with our leaders in the Catholic Church, the Ateneo de Manila University does not support the passage of House Bill 4244 (The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Bill). As many of these leaders have pointed out, the present form of the proposed bill contains provisions that could be construed to threaten constitutional rights as well as to weaken commonly shared human and spiritual values.”


I think, it is best to add to the reasons cited above (threats to constitutional rights & to commonly shared human and spiritual values) the non-negotiable basis of the Church’s objection to the present form of the RH Bill: it is objecting based on DOCTRINAL reasons to a proposed public policy that will significantly impact the freedom of its constituents with regard to their Christian moral witnessing.

This DOCTRINAL ground is the area where the Church is most competent to speak on, namely- the objective immorality of artificial contraception (aside from the questionable mandatory sex education in schools which is contrary to the inalienable, immediate, and primary right of parents to the upbringing of their children).

Basing the objection to the RH Bill on “commonly shared human and spiritual values” (aside from the constitutional implications) can be misleading. This is because “commonly-shared values” can be understood to be founded on, mediated by, or a result of CONSENSUS which can never be, according to the Catholic understanding of divine Revelation, the infallible and immutable foundation of moral and existential certainty.

In the Church, we receive God’s will as REVELATION which is faithfully transmitted and interpreted by the Teaching Office of the Church (the Magisterium), itself gifted by the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. All of us will not want to follow a blind and erroneous guide.

God’s will, therefore, cannot be based on human CONSENSUS or on “commonly-shared values” if these values are understood as arising from CONSENSUS.

“In connection with this, I call attention to the 192 members of our faculty who have grappled with the underlying issues in the context of Catholic social teaching, and who have spoken in their own voice in support of the bill. Though the University must differ from their position for the reasons stated above, I appreciate their social compassion and intellectual efforts, and urge them to continue in their discernment of the common good.”


I wonder how the “social compassion” of intellectuals can lead themselves to positions contrary to the doctrines of the Catholic Church. The Church, herself a world-expert in organized charity, cannot be accused of being insensitive to and ignorant of the various human forms of physical and spiritual poverty.

I think the questions to be asked are: Can Catholics innovate for themselves their own understandings and practices of CHARITY and do them outside the mission of the Church? Can we set up our own understanding of MINISTRY within the Catholic Church which is contrary to the very nature of the Church, to the nature of divine Revelation, and exercise them outside the supervision of our Church leaders?

Operare sequitur esse. The Church’s mission necessarily flows from its specific identity. You cannot tinker, therefore, with matters relating to the Church’s MISSION without inevitably tinkering with the Church’s very own IDENTITY.

The proper and healthy alliance of FAITH and REASON, a source of “strength and compassion in our often tortuous journey as persons in community toward the greater glory of God and the service of God’s people,” should imply that ‘intellectual liberalism’ will be employed at the service of the integrity of the Church’s identity and mission and not be used to relativize the truth claims of its doctrines nor to create cleavages and gray areas in matters that are non-negotiable.

“As there is a spectrum of views on this ethical and public policy issue, I ask all those who are engaged in the Christian formation of our students to ensure that the Catholic position on this matter continues to be taught in our classes, as we have always done.”


I think there is a need, so as to avoid misunderstanding, to emphasize the nature of the CATHOLIC POSITION alongside the other views. All Catholics should know that the truth-claims of Catholic doctrines on matters of faith and morals are essentially different from that of the others. They are expected to be infallible and binding on all who claim that they are Catholics. And here, intellectual liberalism cannot be considered a virtue. Yes, let us teach the Catholic position but let us also teach the infallible and necessarily-binding nature of this Catholic position.


Finally, some words from St Ignatius of Loyola:

“Always to be ready to obey with mind and heart, setting aside all judgment of one’s own, the true spouse of Jesus Christ, our holy mother, our infallible and orthodox mistress, the Catholic Church, whose authority is exercised over us by the hierarchy…

That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity with the Church herself, if she shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black. For we must undoubtedly believe, that the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of the Orthodox Church His Spouse, by which Spirit we are governed and directed to Salvation, is the same.”

[RULES FOR THINKING WITH THE CHURCH, From the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Documents of the Christian Church, 3rd ed., Henry Bettenson, ed., pp. 364-367.]

Sin of omission

Too harsh, perhaps, but expressive of the righteous anger and frustration of many long-suffering Catholic pro-lifers with clerics who are either ambiguous or are for all intents and purposes supporting the RH bill:

Admit it Fr. Bernas.

That is what you have been trumpeting all along.

You keep on saying that a person cannot be coerced to follow a law when his rights are protected by the Constitution, isn't it?

Yes, we all know you are a Constitutionalist.  You had been telling us that since day 1.

Yes, we also know that you are dean emeritus of the Ateneo Law School.  You keep on telling us that.

You just told us that you support Humanae Vitae, which is the first time you ever wrote about.

Now when will you ever tell that the State cannot force a person to disobey his religious convictions?


You did not write about it.

All you ever care about is to tell that Catholics cannot force others to follow their law.

Is that what the bishops are talking about when they oppose the RH Bill?

Did you even write why the bishops are against the RH Bill?  Did you even write about the teachings of the Church against contraception?

Check your works.  You write more for the protection of the Constitution rather than the Laws of the Church.

Yes, we know you are a lawyer, a constitutionalist.  We all know that.

What we do not know is that you are a Catholic Priest.  You cannot even prove that, other than insisting that you are a Jesuit priest!

You have been so ambiguous, we just want to forget to respect you that you are even a priest!

"I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:15-16)

Jemy Gatdula's responses to Fr. Joaquin Bernas and Fr. Ranhilio Aquino

(September 24, 2012)

By this article Fr. Joaquin Bernas (and those from whom he gets his advice) is again sadly mistaken. It is very evident that he compartmentalizes his reasoning, distinguishing the theological, philosophical, and constitutional points from each other. This is wrong. The arguments are actually unified and one. They are all constitutional arguments (and philosophical, and theological). The fact that he can't seem to see that is unfortunate.

His arguments on taxation, the nature of legislation, and the application of natural law are also myopic and, at times, quite fallacious.

Ultimately, how one understands the law, the nature of law, the nature of rights, and the nature of human beings would be determinative of how one ultimately views constitutional law. Though there would be occasions to properly discuss 'pluralism' and 'tolerance', there is still that point when one has to make a consideration of what is the objective standard (or else admit the lack of one) in determining what is constitutional or not and what what is right from wrong.

Far from helping achieve clarity on the issue, Fr. Bernas, I am grieved to say, continues to feed confusion to it.

I still stand on my previous comments on the issue, noting that Fr. Bernas has said nothing new that would give me cause to revise it. For a further exposition on natural law and how contraception violates it, see Catholic Sexual Ethics: A Summary, Explanation & Defense.

Lamentably, another priest, Fr, Ranhilio Aquino, also seems to not "get" natural law (see The Trouble With Natural Law). One can point to so many reasons why this is so. Suffice to say, however, that the fact that he does not seem to grasp that the very authority he mentions (i.e., John Finnis) is actually quite clear on his position that contraception violates natural law (see "Every Marital Act Ought To Be Open to New Life': Toward a Clearer Understanding"; co-written by John Finnis with Germain Grisez and William May) points to his inadequate depth on the matter.

Friday, September 21, 2012

"The Spirit will not lead you to bad-mouth the Church, whatever your stand is."

(UPDATE: In a series of blog posts in September, Pauline Cauton clarified her stand on the RH bill, from being somewhat undecided, to being not in favor of it: PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4)

(I have revised and clarified my comments in this post as of 5:00 a.m. of Sept. 22, 2012)

There are many Catholics who cannot (for now) bring themselves to agree with the stance of the Catholic hierarchy on this issue and thus withhold their assent (at least for now) from the orthodox Catholic position on this matter. If they have a hard time giving their assent on this matter, then I hope that they would at least withhold it discreetly, with reverence for the Church and her hierarchy, and in a spirit of willingness to learn and understand the Church's reasons for the position that she has taken.

Withholding assent ("I cannot as yet agree with the Church on this matter but I am open to the possibility that she is right") is not the same as dissent ("I disagree with the Church on this matter and I think she is wrong"). Unfortunately, many Catholics seem to be unaware of this difference, such that if they have difficulties understanding the Church's position, they immediately think that this means that they should reject that position. It is a rejection that is commonly expressed by lashing out against the Church and declaring her to be in error, as if a position is wrong simply because it is not easy to understand. Withholding assent also properly entails not condemning the Church's position in public, and airing one's difficulties with her position only in a manner that avoids scandalizing the faithful.

(What I am discussing here is the situation of those Catholics who find themselves privately opposed to, or unconvinced by, the public positions taken by the Church hierarchy on doctrinal grounds. This is not the place to discuss the situation of those who, precisely in the name of Catholic orthodoxy and doctrine, oppose the real or perceived compromise of some official representatives of the Church with heterodoxy.)

It is for this reason that I would like to point out the article "My Problem with the RH Bill" by Pauline Cauton, one of the founders of the Living Hope Catholic Charismatic Community. Mrs. Cauton makes it clear that she cannot, as yet, proclaim herself to be staunchly against the RH bill. Nevertheless she cries out against the wave of anti-Church vilification that has been coming out from not a few "pro-RH Catholics". 

Some of the salient passages from her article:

In the past, whenever the Church mobilized Her members to make a stand on an issue, those who deemed it worth the effort would participate in all the rallies, noise barrages and prayer vigils while those who disagreed would show dissent by staying home. This time round, everyone has something to say: Twitter, Facebook, and whatever medium our current age has to offer has been deluged with every man’s expert opinion on the matter (and yes, apparently, we are all experts on this subject). I can take people being vocal about their views, and ultimately, having some openly (and unfairly) criticize the Catholic Church is to be expected.

But what bothers me, hurts me, to the core is how Catholics themselves are insulting their own Church and their leaders.


... while I cannot, as yet, bring myself to staunchly proclaim that I am against it (at least not in the way those in the prayer rally last Saturday did), I know that I most certainly will never post an FB status, write a blog, or tweet a message openly declaring that I am for it.

Because that would be deliberately attacking the Church. And I would never do that.


Sure, at the height of passionate arguing (I presume), some anti-RH campaigners have let loose their own share of below-the-belt tirades, as have some pro-RH supporters. Again, it is no surprise when those who’ve had issues with the Church from way back rant away like there was no tomorrow. But for Catholics who parade their pro-RH stance proudly and boldly, I ask:

If you had a disagreement with your mother, would you broadcast it to the world that your mother was wrong? 
Would you call your mother ignorant, stupid, out of touch, not all there? 
Would you post it on your Facebook page that she’s a self-righteous hypocrite? 
Would you tweet that you’re declaring an all-out war on her?

For our Church is not an irritating aunt, or a nagging cousin, or even a difficult in-law–She is our Mother Church.

Blame the politicians’ hidden agendas, blame the misinformation campaigns, blame the convictions that have transformed into hate. But please, Catholics, do not blame our Holy Mother Church.

Does that mean Catholics are not allowed to have their own opinions when it comes to issues like this? Of course not–if anything, it should bring us to search for the truth, to pray earnestly for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and guidance. I confidently encourage you to pray about this, because I am quite certain the Spirit will not lead you to bad-mouth the Church, whatever your stand is.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Girls defending Life -- Two Open Letters on the RH Bill from Young Filipinas

On July 11, 2011 the Manila Times published on its website an open letter from eight PAREF Woodrose Students (Woodrose students explain why they object to HB 4244). In these past few days my attention has been drawn to two more open letters (see below) that were very recently written and published, I am told, by PAREF Woodrose students. These were originally posted on a Tumblr account (Defending Life, the Truth, and Everything) that is currently dedicated to the defense of the Church's position on the RH bill.

We Defend the Truth - Letter for Life

The Philippines is now in a state of conflict. A rift has been formed between our fellow countrymen and the mature Catholics that reside in this country.

We believe that the government’s insistence on the RH Bill has a story many of us don’t know. The bill itself is vague to begin with; its words sugarcoated to mask the underlying truth of what this will all bring to the country. It’s not enough to read and accept the bill at face value; you have to read between the lines to truly understand what the government is promising.

In fact, the RH Bill is not what the country needs because population is not the problem. We should work on finding ways to give the people proper education and well-paying jobs, instead of decreasing the growth of our population in order to reduce poverty.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

UPDATED: Q&A on Economic and Demographic Aspects of the RH Bill

The following is the updated version as of September 8, 2012. I had previously uploaded the version of September 8, 2011. Many thanks to Dr. Roberto De Vera for the updated text. Q & A on Economic and Demographic Aspects of the Reproductive Health Bill

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why the underlying principles of the RH bill are inherently flawed

No need for an RH bill, now or ever
By Bernardo Villegas, Evelina Atienza Frank Padilla Anthony Lumicao and 15 others
(Published online by Philippine Daily Inquirer on Sept. 15, 2012)

There is no need for any legislation that guarantees universal access to contraceptives, the so-called reproductive health (RH) care devices, now or ever. Whatever “band-aid” amendments may be proposed by well-intentioned proponents of the RH bill to make it more palatable, the underlying principles behind it are inherently flawed.

Anti-sustainable growth

The first component of sustainable development is a rate of economic growth that is high enough to contribute, together with appropriate economic policies, to the eradication of poverty. High gross domestic product growth is dependent on a growing and young population as has been stated by numerous international economists and top officials.

The just released Global Competitiveness Report 2012 of the World Economic Forum, like the HSBC 2012 Report, had the Philippines jumping several notches up in economic competitiveness because of our large, growing population.

Population control, however, will backfire and cause the acceleration of our falling fertility rate. Many pro-RH proponents harp on the dangers of population explosion. They have not learned from the lessons of the last two centuries of unparalleled economic progress in many countries of the East and the West that have disproved the Malthusian theory of perpetual poverty caused by the so-called geometric growth of population.

New resources

The unlimited capacity of the human mind to discover new resources and technologies has overcome the “limits to growth” that sowed fears in the last century.

Some of the greatest minds of the 20th century such as Nobel laureates Simon Kuznets and Michael Spence; Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, creator of the development index; and resource specialists Colin Clark and Julian Simon have shown through cross-country studies and long-term analyses of the economic experiences of developed countries that population growth was a positive stimulus to economic progress and that it was surpassed by the growth in real income.

Economists who purport to show the opposite have for their sample very few countries. They also have access to data over a relatively short period compared with the studies showing that there is no correlation between population growth and the spread of mass poverty, which is due to erroneous economic policies and failure of good governance.

Even those few countries in which there is some evidence that birth control policies temporarily helped in boosting economic growth in the short run are now regretting their fertility reduction programs. Well-known are the attempts of the leaders of Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan to appeal to their women to bear more babies.

Premarital sex, abortion

Since material well-being is not the only component of human development or happiness, there is another problem that widespread use of contraceptives can unleash. The findings of Nobel laureate George Akerlof who, despite his protestations that he was in favor of abortion and artificial contraception, demonstrated with empirical evidence that the “reproductive technology shock” led to an increase in premarital sex, and due to contraceptive failure, also in unwed mothers, children without fathers and other societal ills.

A 2009 University of Pennsylvania study, titled “Sexual Revolution,” showed that premarital sex in the United States ballooned from 0.06 percent of women in 1900 to 75 percent today as contraception provided the youth the ease of sex without “cost” or responsibility.

False sense of security

This same link with premarital sex was also suggested by the studies by JE Potter in Brazil, and clearly seen by the work of Dr. Edward Green in Africa. Green, former director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at Harvard University, affirmed that “condoms have not worked as a primary intervention in the population-wide epidemics of Africa,” citing studies at the Lancet, Science and British Medical Journal and explaining that the availability of condoms led to earlier and riskier sex by creating a false sense of security.

As the contraceptive mentality sets in (contra = against; conception = beginning of human beings), a negative view of human beings is promoted. A 2011 study in the scientific journal Contraception showed that the rise in contraceptive use in Spain also saw a jump in abortion rate. This link—both logical and empirical—has been acknowledged by leaders of the abortion industry, such as Malcolm Potts, the first medical director of International Planned Parenthood.

Only five nations in the world still prohibit abortion. A hundred years ago all nations did. It was acceptance of contraception that changed their minds. This will happen here, too, if we accept contraception.

Secularist ideology

Another serious flaw in the RH bill is the sweeping generalization about “unwanted pregnancies.” Scientific studies in the United States, especially those by Lant Pritchett of Harvard University, have seriously questioned the assumption made by pro-RH bill advocates that unwanted pregnancies among married women are rampant. The finding of social scientists is that mothers have the number of children they want.

Surveys in the Philippines that purport to show that there are many mothers among poor households, who regret having given birth to some of their children, are suspect. These surveys are usually funded by international organizations that have a strong bias for population control.

Obama administration

It is no secret that in the Democratic National Convention, the Obama administration made it clear that there will be continuing support for abortion. One does not have to be paranoid to assume that if President Obama wins a second term, he and his Secretary of State will continue to target countries like the Philippines to spread their culture of death.

Besides being part of an ideological interpretation of “women’s rights,” such aggressive campaign to promote reproductive health (which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton averred “includes access to abortion”) continues the US-supported worldwide program that was unleashed by the National Security Study Memorandum 200:  Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for US Security and Overseas Interests.

Considering the revelations about the participation of foreign interests in lobbying for the RH bill, any version of it will be suspect.

Let us not be naïve. Only last year, Green, through his book “Broken Promises,” exposed in brilliant detail how the West’s AIDS establishment disowned scientific evidence that wide condom use was in fact ineffective in stopping AIDS in Africa, and how those who dominate it—the homosexual ideologues, population controllers and condom suppliers—worsened the epidemic and betrayed the developing world.

Taking away funds for poor

Besides being the antithesis to sustainable economic growth and human development, the RH bill also unwittingly goes against inclusive growth, i.e. economic progress that benefits the poorest among the poor.

It misdiagnoses the reason  households of larger family sizes are poorer than those with fewer children. Studies have shown that households with larger family sizes are poorer not because they have too many children but because their heads are the least educated.  This should lead policymakers not to convince these poor households to have fewer children, but to invest more resources in their education, especially the women, a proposal that is strongly supported by the studies of Economics Nobel laureates Amartya Sen and Gary Becker.

Improve basic education

Government should divert whatever is budgeted for contraceptives to improving the quality of basic education among the poor.  Poor households, especially in the rural areas, choose to have more children because human beings are their only resources, especially considering the failure of the state to provide farmers with infrastructure.

The poor farmers will suffer manpower shortages in their labor-intensive farming if they start imitating the rich in having only one or two children. The same applies to those millions of households that have at least one of its immediate members working abroad. Seducing them to have fewer children could very well leave them even more destitute, as publications of the UN and Asian Development Bank have predicted.

Disseminating a contraceptive mentality among the poor unmasks a condescending and elitist attitude that the poor should not be allowed to multiply. This policy is dangerously close to the eugenics practiced by authoritarian leaders like Adolf Hitler.

Considering that the competitive advantage of the Philippines in the global economy is its young, growing population, a really propoor economic strategy should allow the poor to choose to have as many children as they wish and then to generously support them with infrastructure, educational and technical skills training, and microcredit support, among other things, so that they can turn their children into truly productive resources.

Suspect surveys

Those who support the RH bill refer to surveys purporting to show that there is a large demand for free contraceptives among the poor. As mentioned, these surveys are suspect because they are funded by international agencies advocating contraception and abortion. Questionnaires are formulated to influence respondents to give the desired answers.

A recent consumer survey conducted among the C, D and E households (constituting more than 60 percent of households) by SEED Institute, a field research group, came out with more objective data about the demand for contraceptives among mothers in poor households in Metro Manila.

Wish list

The survey was conducted to identify the consumer patterns of the poor with the intention of giving guidelines to profit-making firms and social enterprises about what goods and services could be tailored specifically to the needs of the poor. The respondents (all mothers) were asked to list down the top three goods or services that they most wanted the government to provide for free after they exhausted their resources to meet their most basic needs. Among more than 20 goods or services on their wish lists, there was no mention whatsoever of “free contraceptives.”

The Philippine Medical Association also asserted that the goal of reducing maternal and child deaths “could be attained by improving maternal and child health care without the necessity of distributing contraceptives. The millions of [pesos] intended for contraceptive devices may just well be applied in improving the skills of our health workers.”

Provoking moral crisis

Several religious groups, Muslim, Protestant and Catholic, oppose the RH measure on moral grounds. Belying pro-RH surveys, these groups, together with other people of goodwill, have rallied by the thousands in many cities and towns around the country, and have contributed in winning post-debate polls on national television.

The Imam Council of the Philippines, leaders of our 4.5 million Muslims, pronounced that contraceptives “make us lose morality.” Throughout the centuries, the Catholic Church has taught that contraception is intrinsically evil. Pope John Paul the Great wrote that contraception “leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love.”

It is, therefore, advisable that Congress refrain from passing a law that would oblige citizens who adhere to their religion to fund an item which they consider immoral. Considering the strong arguments against the RH bill based on secular sciences, it would be prudent for the state not to provoke a religious-moral crisis among a large majority of the Filipino population.

Need for virtue

Lastly, two Asian intellectuals spoke of the virtue needed by a nation. Speaking of the “crime” of contraception, Mahatma Gandhi taught: “Even as many people will be untruthful and violent, humanity may not lower its standard, so also, though many, even the majority, may not respond to the message of self-control, we may not lower our standard.”

Jose Rizal wrote: “Only virtue can save! If our country has ever to be free, it will not be through vice and crime, it will not be so by corrupting its sons, deceiving some and bribing others, no! Redemption presupposes virtue, virtue sacrifice and sacrifice love!”

(The 19 authors are Dr. Bernardo Villegas, Ph.D Economics [Harvard University]; Maria Conception Noche, Alliance for the Family; Frank Padilla, CFC-FFL; Rolando de los Reyes, Courage Philippines; Dr. Eleanor Palabyab, Doctors for Life; Alan Dacanay, Families against the RH Bill; Dr. Angelita Aguirre, Family Media Advocacy Foundation; Leonardo Montemayor, Federation of Free Farmers; Evelina Atienza, Kababaihan ng Maynila; Joseph Tesoro, Live Pure Movement; Eric Manalang, Pro-life Philippines; Jemy Gatdula and Felipe Salvosa, Pro-life Professors; Dr. Raul Nidoy, Science and Reason for Human Beings; Maribel Descallar, Teodora: In Defense of the Authentic Woman; Kiboy Tabada, UP for Life; Luis Buenaventura III, YUPamilya; Anthony Lumicao, Youth United for the Philippines; and Anthony Perez, Filipinos for Life.)

Handbooks of Truths Behind the RH Bill

Published online on September 15, 2012.

Handbook of Truths Behind the R.H. Bill v.1

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fr. Charles Belmonte on the dissent of Fr. Joaquin Bernas

(UPDATE: For Fr. Belmonte's second response to Fr. Bernas, see this:  Fr. Charles Belmonte versus "The Dissenter" (Fr. Joaquin Bernas): Round 2!)

From Fr. Belmonte's Facebook page:

Conversing with a Dissenter

(Sept. 10, 2012)

Or where the Dissenter went off the road

To have a meaningful dialog, it should be on a level ground.

The Dissenter uses the Philippine Inquirer as his sounding board. The Bishop of the Diocese of Antipolo, writing under the stationery of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, had to pay to publish an ad in the newspapers. Is this a symmetric dialog?

The Dissenter voices his “opinion;” the Bishop reminds him of the definitive pronouncements of the Church. The Dissenter can change his points of view as he wishes; the Bishop can only be faithful to the Truth. The dialog the Dissenter proposes is flawed because there is no “symmetry.” 

These two individuals are not at the same level. The Bishop is a part of the Magisterium of the Church (when he declares united with the pope and the College of Bishops, which is the case, please, check the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the pronouncements of the pope). The Dissenter is not a part of the Magisterium. If he were a sound theologian, he should talk “within” the Church, not “against” the definitive pronouncements of the Church. The theologian’s work should be “ecclesial” not “purely rationalist,” without any reference to Revelation or to the guidance of the Church. Pope John Paul II reminds us:

“It is necessary truly to distinguish the attitude of some theologians who, with spirit of collaboration and of ecclesial communion, present their difficulties and questions, from the attitude of some others, who publicly oppose the Magisterium; this should be qualified as ‘dissent.’ While the first attitude contributes positively to maturing the reflection on the deposit of the faith, the second one tends to institute a kind of counter-Magisterium, formulating positions and alternative ways of behavior for the believers” (On the Authority of the Church in Doctrinal Questions, Nov. 24, 1995).

If he is priest, he should know that priests are collaborators of the bishops. They must be attuned to their bishop “like the strings of a sitar are tuned up to compose a symphony,” not really engaging their spiritual father in a cacophony of despondency, as if the bishop were the enemy. Thus, any dialog should be between a Bishop and a Priest. Unless, of course, the Dissenter wants to force the Bishop to give up his condition (the full expression of ministerial priesthood), so that he can engage him on even terms. But, I muse, should the Bishops give up his being a bishop? or should not rather the Dissenter give up his opposition and critique to the definitive pronouncements of the Church? 

There could be a real dialog, nevertheless, between a Bishop and a Dissenter when the latter has some objection to the explanation given of the truth, I guess. But in this case, the dialog should be realistic, not illusory. It would be realistic if it were a dialog between a Bishop and a theologian, not between two buddies. Bishop Reyes is not “your buddy,” I am afraid; he is more like a spiritual father. The Dissenter may as well have challenged him to a public boxing match in Araneta Coliseum with Manny Pacquiao as referee, to see what theological view is the right one. I am sure the Dissenter would have won. If so, would it mean that contraception was no longer “intrinsically evil”?

This dialog should be “indoors” not making the ordinary people take sides (pro-Bishop or pro-Dissenter; pro-Catholic or anti-Catholic). The Christian faithful should not be invited to be “against” the unequivocally announced Magisterium of the Church. Well, yes, unless someone has been baptized “in the name of the Dissenter” instead of “In the Name of the Father…”

What is a theological question or a misunderstood theological issue should not be brought to the public forum, presumably to solve the question by public vote. 

The root of the problem, as I see it, is a certain inability from the Dissenter to understand the essence of the Magisterium of the Church, rejecting what is expressed in the Code of Canon Law, number 749 #2 and Catechism of the Catholic Church 891 and 892. The Dissenter sticks to the reductionist theory that “only what has been declared ex-cathedra” should be fully accepted by a Catholic. The Bishop is reminding him of what is expressed in the law of the Catholic Church.

Monday, September 10, 2012

On being an orthodox Catholic

From an Atenean of the old school:

By Minyong Ordoñez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Sunday, August 26th, 2012

It’s not easy to be a doctrinal Catholic today, one who adheres to the official teaching of the magisterium of the church. It’s easier to be a relativist, the obey/disobey type, depending on one’s pleasure and convenience.

A myriad of forms of independent thinking are peddled today in the public square of our pluralistic society. Media churns out messages and ideas, uncensored for intellectuality or banality. Desktops and laptops empower the youth to think and speak in personalistic terms.

Social issues interpreted by the State to legislate laws run in conflict with the Church’s doctrines, i.e. birth control, divorce, same-sex marriage, etc. When the debates ensue, the thin line between the separation of Church and State becomes thinner and thinner, to the point of intellectual and emotional violence.

More responses to the 192 pro-RH Ateneo professors

For more on this ongoing story, please see the following:

* An open letter, a petition, a statement of the obvious, an appeal to common sense and a call for fidelity: the first five responses to the latest stunt pulled by pro-RH Ateneo professors


(It should be noted that a majority of the responses in this post come from alumni of the Ateneo De Manila University.)

Following on his petition to reclaim the Catholic identity of the Ateneo De Manila University, Ateneo alumnus and Catholic blogger and apologist Dr. Ricardo Boncan came up with two more responses to the 192 pro-RH Ateneo professors and those who have defended their actions on the basis of 'academic freedom'. 

The first is an article entitled It Appears We Have to Burn the House Down to Roast the Pig. The title alludes to an article written by Fr. Joaquin Bernas SJ ("RH bill: Don’t burn the house to roast a pig") where he defended the RH bill from some of its critics. 

Aug 22, 2012

The very same day that Fr. Jett Villarin came out with an official letter to quell the fire of dissent started by the 190 or so professors who publicly and surreptitiously used the Ateneo’s name to push their ideology in support of institutionalized contraception espoused in the RH Bill, hordes of Ateneo students, graduates and faculty, started beating on the drums in support of their president and in support of these dissenting faculty members and their cause. I was amused (and baffled) at the “drum beating” because Fr. Villarin explicitly said that the Ateneo rejects the bill and supports the position of the Catholic Church on the matter of rejecting the bill and the teaching on contraception, which means (not sure if they got this) that the Ateneo is dissociating themselves from these faculty members. Did the drum beaters’ clouded minds miss this fact totally or was there a cryptic message that the ADMU president sent to them that the rest of us, including the Bishops, didn’t know about? 
While many welcomed the letter, including me (tiny woohoo, what could I do, sigh  ), in reality, Fr. Vilarin merely repeated the perfunctory, mild dissociative statement issued by Fr. Ben Nebres three years ago when 14 faculty members made their first stand. Would those 14 abscess into 190 if that letter was stronger in tone and if reprimands were given and enforced, I wonder, hmmm. Looking at the statement in detail, one cannot miss the double-speaking style that pseudo-orthodox dissenters are so fond of employing. The letter, in my opinion, serves one purpose and one purpose alone and it is to satisfy (and douse) the Bishop’s warning that Catholic schools who do not tow the Catholic line may be stripped of their “Catholic” status. 
The Jesuits, it appears, are so very fond of doing the finger wagging with the left and patting the back of dissenters with the right hand. It is the “Ateneo magisterium’s” interpretation of Christ’s words, “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Without going into details, the letter appears to be an adaptation of Fr. Joaquin Bernas’ idea that we can accept the bill if we remove the “problematic” provisions in them. He penned this in his blog with the title “Do not burn the house down to roast a pig.” Strange for a priest to essentially say, yes we can accept contraception for society but as Catholics we should obey Church teaching and shouldn’t…huh?? You mean artificial contraception has no negative societal effects and is only applicable to Catholics, really? 
Oh my dear Bishops I am afraid you no longer have to do any canonical sanctions to the Ateneo because they themselves are jumping out the window committing spiritual suicide. They had already started to cut themselves off from the vine a long time ago and fortunately for them it is a rather thick vine from which they are still hanging on by a mere strand! They hardly realize they are at the edge of a cliff and see their worldly prestige, honor and accolades, their social justice activism and their championing the causes of the poor as their new “life line.” They no longer understand the meaning of the passage “what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul for it.” A long time ago the Jesuits of the Ateneo had started this by inventing for themselves, an imaginary, separate Catholic “magisterium” devoid of any real accountability to Rome (brings me back memories of Fr. Tanseco and his famous alternate magisterium hypothesis). They say one thing and do another, that’s the trick, the official stand and the de facto stand which no one hears about except if you are an insider within the halls of the institution. 
This is diabolical because of its insidiousness. It seems that Ateneo students really think that what they are being taught, this alternative, dissenting “magisterial” teaching, is what the Catholic Church teaches and that the CBCP and everyone else is, well, just too stiff, orthodox and not cool (they should get all the coolness they can for where they’re headed!). Could this be the “Catholic position”,  that “…continues to be taught in our classes, as we have always done” that Fr. Villarin refers to in his letter? I only ask because based on my exchanges with Ateneans in that Facebook page, there is not a single iota of evidence I have seen that is reflective of this “Catholic position”, that corroborates the claim of Fr. Villarin, that the Ateneo teaches what the Church authentically teaches. Instead, you see students with an utter hatred for the Bishops and their requirement for the Ateneo to adhere to the Church’s line against the RH Bill. It appears that the dissent is alive and healthy within the House of Ignatius and it will be for many more years to come! 
If that is the case my dear Ateneans, I believe that what Fr. Bernas said was wrong, it appears that we DO have to burn the house down to roast that pig!

The second is a radio interview on DXND, a Catholic radio station in Mindanao: