From Manila Standard:
Monday, December 10, 2012
An attack on religious liberty
From Manila Standard:
By Francisco S. Tatad
For the past two and a half years, President Benigno S. Aquino III has managed to exercise power with no apparent effort to check his own excesses nor a visible opposition party or a militant free press to render him accountable to the public.
But he may have overplayed his hand in pushing for the passage of the widely opposed reproductive health bill through the use of presidential power and pork barrel funds. Many are outraged by this continued coercion and corruption of Congress and do not believe Aquino should be allowed to get away with it. That could change the situation overnight.
Aquino’s directive to his Congress allies to dispose of the controversial measure before Congress adjourns for Christmas, despite the inability of its authors and sponsors to refute the various constitutional, moral and scientific objections to its passage, could provide a turning point.
It could provoke a firestorm and create an active, organized opposition on the ground, which no political party fielding candidates in the May 2013 elections has so far been willing or able to provide.
Opposition to Aquino could be led by those who regard the bill as a naked attack on religious liberty and a deliberate attempt to destroy the Filipino family and society, and are ready to accuse him of abuse of power. This could revive the situation in the seventies, although probably not in all its details.
In the seventies, the principal organized opposition to the abuses committed during martial law came from the Catholic Church. The most active then were the religious and the clergy.
In the final push for regime change in 1986, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) statement of Feb. 13, 1986, on the conduct of the Feb. 7, 1986 elections, provided the “moral basis” for the civilian-backed military uprising that brought down Marcos. It was the powerful voice of Jaime Cardinal Sin, the archbishop of Manila, that drew entire families out into EDSA to support the military. In 2000-2001, the same voice was heard again to call for the resignation of then-President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
A similar statement from the CBCP at this time denouncing the grave immorality of Aquino’s action vis-à-vis the RH bill could produce the same “moral convulsion.” It could provoke a clamor for regime change.
So far no Catholic Filipino prelate has replaced the charismatic and politically active Jaime Cardinal Sin, who retired as Manila’s archbishop in 2003 and died in 2005. There may be no high churchman around to lead the call for Aquino’s resignation. But where the laity had tended to give way to the political initiative of the clergy and the religious in the seventies, they seem prepared to assume a more active and pronounced political role today.
They are likely to lead any political resistance to Aquino. Resistance could be either passive or active, both of which are permitted under moral law. It could take the form of civil disobedience at the very least and armed resistance in the extreme, depending on the injustice or injury that needs to be addressed.
In either case, Aquino would not find it easy to govern, assuming he has been governing at all.
The irony is that whereas in 1986, Mrs. Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, the President’s late mother, was the beneficiary of active Church intervention in the nation’s politics, this time her son, whom many of the Church’s faithful mistakenly supported when he sought the presidency in 2010, would be the adversary.
What they seem to resent is not so much his apparent inability to understand even the most fundamental issues or his inability to recognize his enormous limitations—his countrymen seem prepared to overlook or forgive these—as his apparent eagerness to use the powers of the presidency to carry out the dictate of foreign population controllers who are out to destroy the Filipino family and society for their own ends.
And he does not even try to hide it. In the 1974 U.S. National Security Study Memorandum 200, which provides the template for the population control policy for poor countries, foreign government leaders are advised never to make it appear that they are taking directions from the imperial powers, after they have agreed to do so.
Both Aquino and the global powers appear to have violated this prescription when officials of the British government, the UN Fund for Population Activities, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation came to Manila, and through their corporate proxies, openly called for the passage of the RH bill, and when Aquino rolled out the pork barrel to direct congressmen to railroad the bill.
To many, the country is being recolonized through the RH offensive, and Aquino has allowed himself to become the unabashed instrument of that recolonization. In war, that used to be known as treason, or “collaborating” with the enemy—a term that was once attached to many “illustrious names” in Philippine history some of whom must be known to Aquino.
The war on population being waged by the global controllers does not use the usual weapons of war, but rather condoms, contraceptives, sterilization agents, and a lot of money. At the Family Planning Summit in London last July, Melinda Gates raised $4.6 billion to fund RH programs for 220 million women in at least six countries.
Britain alone was said to have pledged $800 million to that fund, despite the precarious condition of its own finances, which has recently led its Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to announce that Britain’s austerity measures would be extended until 2018.
It is not known how much of this fund has been appropriated for the Philippines, but it is no secret that pork barrel funds have been dangled to the members of Congress in exchange for their support of the abominable bill. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has been reported as saying an extra P100 million could be made available to every senator, while some members of the House of Representatives have been heard to say that supporters of the RH bill have been promised at least P280 million each.
Aquino is apparently determined to use the same tactic he used when he bamboozled the congressmen last year to sign an impeachment complaint they had not read against then Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. The chief magistrate was subsequently impeached and removed after the Senate impeachment court found him guilty of what so many reputable lawyers until now consider a non-impeachable offense.
In an election year, many congressmen who are running again in the May elections could be particularly vulnerable to any bribe money from the highest source. But Malacañang cannot afford to discount any surprises. There could be any number of congressmen who would not be prepared to trade their moral convictions and religious beliefs for Malacañang’s favors. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? This is what some congressmen are saying.
To many such congressmen, the RH bill is a moral evil that cannot be allowed to prosper. From the purely secular perspective, it is an attempt to destroy the country’s real source of economic, social and political strength. They recognize that leading authorities from all over the world, notably those from countries that are now facing the so-called ‘demographic winter,’ consider the Philippines’ young, dynamic population as its primary resource. This, however, is precisely what the RH bill seeks to extinguish.
To the same congressmen, it is a patently unconstitutional bill which no legislator who can read the alphabet can possibly misread. The Philippine Constitution cannot be read to provide any legal leg or cover for the RH bill. The Constitution does not allow the State to dictate to private individuals, couples and families how they are to live their lives in the intimacy of the bedroom. It provides no room for the State to be the protector of the life of the unborn and, ipso facto, of the process of conception, and at the same time be the source, provider, agent or channel of contraception.
It is absolutely clear to all that it is not the business of Congress or the State to determine the validity or even rationality of a particular religious belief. The only duty of the State under the Constitution is to recognize that belief and respect it. Congress cannot pretend not to know that the Catholic Church condemns contraception and sterilization as intrinsically evil. It cannot purchase all those crooked surveys to show that so many Catholics do not follow what the Church teaches, and that it is completely in order for Congress to enact a law that attacks such teaching. Congress cannot simply enact a law that requires Catholics to practice birth control.
In the same manner the State cannot enact a law or prescribe a policy that would violate the rights of those who believe contraception is good for their health. The absence of a law that prohibits contraception is in full accord with that principle. Nothing more is needed. To make sure that the rights of one religious group are not sacrificed to serve the rights of another, the only correct policy is for the State neither to prescribe nor to prohibit contraception. This makes the RH bill completely unnecessary and superfluous.
Although Aquino has painted himself into a corner, he still can get out of it if he so wishes. All he has to do is to tell his foreign patrons that while they may have succeeded in having their way everywhere else, there is no way this can be done in the Philippines. Why? Because the Philippines is determined to remain strongly Catholic, and because the Constitution, which the President’s late mother had a personal hand in drafting and promulgating, is unalterably pro-life and pro-family.
Moreover, it is simply the wrong time to propose anything like it. It is the “Year of Faith”, as declared by Pope Benedict XVI for Catholics around the world, and it is the year when Filipino Catholics are celebrating the gift of a new saint—a 17th century teenage catechist who chose to die as a martyr rather than renounce his faith.
Aquino was in Cebu when about a million devotees sang hymns of thanksgiving in honor of St. Pedro Calungsod. How many young men and women in that crowd or elsewhere may want to follow the path of the new martyr in case religious persecution comes through the RH bill, nobody knows. But the more important question for Aquino, who says he is still Catholic, is this: Is he ready to be known as a mini-Nero, Trajan, Decius, or Diocletian and persecute his own people, whom he once called his real “bosses”, for merely wanting to live according to their Faith?