Friday, February 13, 2009

On the Magna Carta for Women

(Ms Feny Tatad says it all. H/T sunnyday).
Subject: Anti-Life, Anti Family Agenda in the Proposed Magna Carta of Women

Greetings of Peace!

On Tuesday, February 17, 2009, a Bicameral Conference Committee will begin to work on the final version of the proposed Act Providing for the Magna Carta of Women. This committee will try to reconcile disagreeing provisions of the two versions of the bill from the House of Representatives and the Senate, and craft a common version which will be submitted to the two Houses for final approval. Thereafter, the bill goes to the President for her signature.

The two versions of the bill contain numerous provisions that are completely anti-life and anti-family, and thus immoral, unconstitutional, and unacceptable. They need to be expunged from the bill to make it constitutional and acceptable.. We need to pray that the members of the committee will be sufficiently enlightened to see this, and do their duty to the Filipino family as honest legislators. As of today, Feb. 9, 2009, these are the designated members:

For the Senate:
Senator Jamby Madrigal – Chair of the Committee on Women Women
Senator Loren Legarda
Senator Ping Lacson
Senator Pia Cayetano
Senator Allan Cayetano
For the House of Representatives:
Cong. Nanette Castelo-Daza - Chair Committee on Women
Deputy Speaker Amelita Villarosa
Deputy Speaker Raul del Mar
Majority Leader Arthur Defensor
Cong. Eduardo Zialcita
Cong. Juan Edgardo Angara
Cong. Isabelle Climaco
Cong. Lorna Silverio
Cong. Edcel Lagman
Cong. Liza Masa
Cong. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel
Cong. Luzviminda Ilagan

Most of them are listed as “members” of the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), the foreign-funded NGO, which has been one of the most active campaigners of the bill and the still-pending Reproductive Health bill in the House. PLCPD works with CEDAW Watch Philippines (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which is the frontline organization for this bill. Some of the most toxic provisions of the RH bill have found their way, in some altered form, into the proposed Magna Carta, with virtually nobody in both Houses noticing before the approval of the two bills on second reading.

You will recall how the simultaneous approval of the bill in both Houses caught everyone by surprise. It was a Pearl Harbor attack against the family and human life just before Christmas. To our greater surprise, an appallingly large number of the members of Congress were not completely aware that the bills had breezed through second reading and that what remained was the pro-forma approval on third reading on the printed version of the bill. The Senate reconsidered its approval on second reading to accommodate new amendments, but some of these amendments merely aggravated the assault on the family and the Constitution. The buzz is that the bill is being fast-tracked to become a centerpiece of the Women’s Day celebration in March this year.

We have not relented in our efforts to purge the final version of the bill of its unconstitutional and anti-life and anti-family provisions, but we need to accompany these efforts with intense and unceasing prayer. And action.

We have learned from highly reliable sources that at a pre-bicam meeting in the House on Feb. 9, Congressman Lagman, the principal author of the RH bill, suggested the removal of proposed provisions that would assure the bill’s conformity to the Constitution and existing laws, and anchor it solely on its adherence to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other international instruments. These instruments contain provisions which are in direct collision with our Constitution and existing laws. Lagman also reportedly suggested the retention of all the unacceptable provisions, objections to which the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life and the CBCP Office on Women have already formally communicated to the two Houses. Please note that majority of the members of the House of Representatives Bicam panel agreed with him, I was told.

Here is a short list of the patently unacceptable provisions:

1. In the Senate version :

In the Declaration of Policy:

a) “No one shall invoke religious beliefs or customary norms as a means of
evading compliance with this Act or preventing another person from exercising her rights (as introduced by Sen. M. Santiago); Provided, That each individual shall make their own decision based on their respective religious, moral and cultural beliefs (as introduced by Sen. Pia Cayetano).

The first part of the sentence is in direct collision with Art. III, Section 5 of the Constitution on religious freedom, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The second part of the sentence is irreconcilable and contradictory with the first part. Art. III, Sec.5 of the Constitution provides:
“No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed.” Under the Senate provision, religious belief and practice will now have to bend to the Magna Carta; the State will now decide what religious beliefs the people can practice, which are not in conflict with this proposed Act. This is unconstitutional. The provision must be deleted.

b) “.Consequently, all human rights have equal status and cannot be positioned in a hierarchical order.”

The right to life precedes other human rights, since without life, there is no human being to possess and exercise any other human right. It must be deleted.

c) “Expulsion, non-readmission, prohibiting enrollment, and other related discrimination of women students and faculty due to pregnancy out of marriage shall be outlawed.”

This collides with the constitutional provision on academic freedom, which empowers the schools to decide whom to admit and retain, and who will teach the students, as well as the constitutional mandate that schools shall strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline among students and teachers. The provision suggests that getting pregnant outside of marriage is a woman’s right which everyone must respect. It must be deleted or replaced with something like this:

“No school shall turn out or refuse admission to a female student or faculty member solely on account of her having contracted a pregnancy outside of marriage during her term in school, except after due process as provided for by the appropriate school authorities.”

d) On comprehensive health services:

Item 6 – “Prevention of abortion and management of abortion complications”

Deletion of “and management of abortion complications” had been proposed but disregarded. Since abortion is a criminal offense, the State would be sending conflicting signals with such a clause. Omission of this clause will not deprive women who are victims of accidental abortions of medical care. In fact, it will not deprive women who have contracted abortion willfully from medical care. Judging by the fact that no woman, or even abortionist doctor, appears to have been prosecuted for abortion, the only logical conclusion is that women do get medical care without any hassle after an abortion. This constitutionally untenable language has to be deleted.

Item 3. “Family collaboration in youth sexuality education and health services”

Under the Constitution and moral law, parents have the primary right and duty to educate their children. This is especially so in the matter of sexuality. Parents may seek the assistance of the Church or the State in the exercise of this right and duty, but it would be wrong to let the State assume this primary right, and the parents merely “collaborate.” This has to be deleted.

e) On equal rights relating to Marriage and Family Relations:

“The same rights to enter into and leave partnerships or relationships without prejudice to personal or religious beliefs”

The bill does not define “partnership” or “relationships.” It is a blind alley. Neither the Constitution nor the Family Code recognizes such terms, and a homosexual or even heterosexual “partnership” that claims to have all the rights of marriage cannot have such rights. Art. XV of the Constitution provides: “Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.” The family, in turn, is the foundation of the nation. The above-quoted provision of the bill must be deleted to protect the family as the Constitution wills it.

2. In the House Version:

a) Gender defined: “Gender refers to the socially differentiated roles, characteristics and expectations attributed by culture to women and men”

A person’s sex has always been determined by nature; a person is either male or female, according to that nature. The new concept of gender, according to United Nations documents and other international instruments, argues that a person’s sexual identity is not limited to male or female, but may be expanded by personal choice and social construction. Thus, one could be either a male or a female heterosexual, a homosexual, a lesbian, a bisexual, or a transgendered individual, depending on one’s sexual preference or orientation. This provision seeks to replace a person’s divinely and nature- ordained identity with a self-constructed gender arising from one’s sexual preference or orientation. This has no place in our laws.

b) On Human Rights of Women

“All rights of women shall include all rights recognized under international instruments duly signed and ratified by the Philippines which are not violative or in conflict with the provisions of the Constitution and other existing laws.”

Our information is, Cong. Lagman wants to delete the clause “which are not violative or in conflict with the provisions of the Constitution and other existing laws”in the pre-Bicam House meeting. He also reportedly wants to delete the words,“in consonance with Philippine law” in the Senate version on the same subject. The clause must stay.

c) On comprehensive health services:…”following services shall be ensured:

Item 3 – Legal, ethical, medically safe and effective methods of family planning.

Cong. Lagman reportedly wants to strike out the word “ethical” from this provision, obviously to bring it fully in line with his RH bill. Ethical must stay. He also wants “management of abortion complications” to remain in the bill. This must be deleted.

This list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an indication of the many bad things some legislators have succeeded in inflicting upon an otherwise badly needed bill.

We need to reach out with sure purpose and speed to the members of the bicam conference and all members of Congress to persuade them to be faithful to the Constitution and to our Christian culture. To reject fidelity and service to both, for any reason whatsoever, is a serious form of moral and intellectual corruption, which should not come from legislators who are so eager to denounce the economic corruption of other people.

We have to reach out to all our legislators in the next 6 days. It is a Herculean task but with system and efficient distribution of labor it can be done. Visits to the legislators to present concerns are always effective. So let us all move!

Attached is a directory of Congress for your use. It has their office numbers and their email addresses. The Senators can be reached through the Senate trunkline – 02 5526601. You may also check the Philippine Senate Website for their individual office numbers and email addresses.

There is no time to waste. Let us consecrate this effort to our Lady of Lourdes, whose feast day falls on February 11, so that she may help us turn the hearts of all our friends in Congress.

Thanks and God bless!

Very sincerely yours,

Ma. Fenny C. Tatad
Executive Director
Bishops- Legislators Caucus of the Philippines
Thank you Ma'm Feny.
God help us.


sunnyday said...

Two days to go. I wonder if such proceedings are open to the public.

I was told that bicameral meetings like that are held at the Senate...

Undistracted said...

the bicameral conference committee is done. majority of the member signed the report (15 out of 19).

it was supposedly closed to the public but mrs tatad, posing as staff of rep. zialcita (does the word LEGACY ring a bell?) was able to enter the meeting.

ETHICAL is NOT in the bicam report approved by the conferees. ethical was not in the Senate version of the bill and it was inserted in the HOuse version due to some very last minute calls made by mrs. tatad's allies to some congress people.

can mrs. tatad explain what is meant by ethical family planning? it is so irrational for her to just say that "ETHICAL MUST STAY" without explaining why because it has long been resolved by the members of the Congress that ethical is very subjective and that the word legal can already cover it. why is it subjective? think..think..EVEN THE MAFIA HAS THEIR CODE OF ETHICS SO WHOS ETHICS ARE WE REFERRING TO HERE?

why can't she just leave it alone, anyway, we have the Supreme Court to decide if they want to question anything.

this blog is about random thoughts and musings on the narrow road...i do hope that it would not be NARROW MINDED THOUGHTS AND SUDDEN MUSINGS ON RANDOM ROADS!

WillyJ said...


First, thank you for the updates. I didn't see it in the news...

"can mrs. tatad explain what is meant by ethical family planning?"

If you've been following the RH debates closely, it is all about protecting the unborn from the moment of conception. The clause is about family planning and you should try to understand "ethical" in that context. All legislators on both sides of the coin are already aware by now why there is so much concern on the word "ethical". That is why they are quarreling about it, they know the contentious arguments behind. Try a bit doing more research into the debates. It is no secret anymore, you should not wonder as in "who's ethics...?".

If you're game, lets have some further productive discourse on this.

That jab on "narrow thoughts" is quite funny, haha. I will try musing more about it, but would you rather have broad thoughts in error or narrow thoughts in the truth?.

Undistracted said...

so it's ethics in the context of the roman catholic church, esp humanae vitae. i know that the catholic church frowns on any method of family planning other than the so called natural methods which refer to billings, etc. they are not just against abortion, but also against contraceptives because they say those things induce abortion. but why is it that doctors say otherwise? even the department of health approves it. is there a difference between what is ethical from the point of view of the roman catholic church and that of medical practitioners? if so, then whose ethical standards are we trying to put in that magna carta of women? we should remember that while majority of filipinos are roman catholics by virtue of being born in the said religion, there are also other faiths like the iglesia ni cristo, moslems, jehovahs witnesses, baptists, evangelicals, mormons, born again christians, 7th day adventists, the eastern catholic church or even those atheists. am pretty sure that there will be arguments later on on what is meant by ethical and for sure the supreme court will define it from a legal parlance, not from the roman catholic church.

what am saying here is that, if we insist on inserting ethical at whatever cost, it can really backfire because the word can be interpreted in a lot of ways. if the people from the field of medicine opines that something related to health and family planning is medically safe and ethical then people from the legal profession would believe them.

i just have worries about that vague term. those who push for legal abortion can even claim that withholding abortion services is unethical for people in the medicine field. "legal" is already there, isn't that enough to ensure that abortion is not a family planning method? or can we just suggest that they explicitly say that abortion is not a family planning method?

just hanging some questions before it's too late.

WillyJ said...


I do get your point. There seems to be no unanimity with regards to ethics. Moral relativity always coming into play. You might want to clarify it when you say "why is it that doctors say otherwise...". Even among doctors, there is no single position on ethics when it comes to contraception. We also cannot claim that all doctors and scientists are of one mind here. It would also be too sweeping to say that it is the ethics of the roman catholic church as if the r.c.c. is in a vacuum, as I know of people of other faiths and even atheists who take the prolife stance.

Yes, your worry is understandable that the "ethics" clause could be vague, but as I said in my first comment, narrow it down from the point of view of protecting the unborn from the moment of conception (which by the way, is right there in our constitution, Article II, Section 12). As you might have discovered already (if not yet), pro-contraceptive legislators (like Lagman and Garin) refuse to acknowledge that life starts and should be protected at conception and that the state has the standing policy to "equally protect the mother and the unborn from the moment of conception".

My suggestion is for the pro-contraceptive legislators to make a clear and cohesive stand regarding Article II Section 12, from a legal as well as from an ethical standpoint. And that the clause "following services shall be, ethical, medically safe and effective methods of family planning.." is categorically not at odds with this (as supported by medical science facts). To date I have not heard them do so, please correct me if I am wrong.

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