Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On Noynoy and the RH bill (3)

Note: 3rd in a series.

Part 1.
Part 2.

The following article by Mr. Antonio Montalvan II appeared in the November 8 issue of the Inquirer, under his regular opinion column: "Kris-Crossing Mindanao".

Reprinted here with the permission of the author.
Conversations with Noynoy

By Antonio J. Montalvan II
Philippine Daily Inquirer

INCREDIBLE as it may seem for a son of Cory Aquino, has Noynoy Aquino seems to have made double-faced pronouncements on his stand on reproductive health? That question must be asked, much to the consternation, I know, of anti-life/pro-choice advocates. But on two separate occasions of recent knowledge, Noynoy has been heard to have said entirely contradictory positions on reproductive health.

One making the rounds of the short messaging world has since been disowned by Aquino’s Manila headquarters as “inaccurate,” but it has not denied that the conversation had indeed taken place. But for the sake of intellectual argument, let’s have the reprise of the conversation that Noynoy had supposedly made in Tagbilaran City after visiting the Bishop’s House there last October 16. The “excerpts” run this way:

MM (name of a Bohol Catholic monsignor): Is it true that you are for the reproductive health bill?

Noynoy: Yes, monsignor, it is the key to the ills in our country, especially overpopulation. I always remember the poor couples in Payatas with 11 children; they got to be helped with contraceptives that should be made available to them.

MM: You believe in overpopulation and contraception?

Noynoy: Yes, monsignor, it is what you see around us. Contraception per se is not bad, as what my Jesuit priest friends told me in the Ateneo.

MM: That’s the idea of the Jesuits. They are not the magisterium, they don’t represent the Pope.

Noynoy: But that’s what my conscience tells me.

MM: Are you sure? Consciences need to be formed under the teachings of the Church. If you insist on your pro-RH stand, I will assure you the entire clergy will campaign against you.

Noynoy: Thank you for the conversation, monsignor.

Now contrast that with a conversation Noynoy had with a family friend, a religious nun whose identity we shall not divulge, but whose connection with Cory’s family, beginning in 1986, remains intimate. The venue of the conversation alone tells you the close ties of the good sister with the Aquino family: on Cory’s grave side during the family gathering for the 40th day of the late president’s death.

The nun relates to me that conversation by summing up what Noynoy had said on the same issue of reproductive health: that he is against abortion, that he is against the legislation of artificial contraception and that couples cannot be coerced into contradicting their faith.

One thing in private, another thing in public. That about sums up Noynoy’s position on reproductive health. That is not just an enigma. That spells danger for the Filipino electorate who now count, as the survey demographics say, by probably the millions who now look up to the young senator as this country’s next president. We are hitching the future of this country to a man who, as the two conversations suggest, has seemed to have learned the crafty world of traditional politicians and their proclivity for double talk.

How now to explain that enigma? Search us please, but we do know that political statements are measured to please a myriad of interests. Perhaps he is only playing lip service to the “popularity” of artificial contraception as computed by survey numbers, as if to say that faith and morality are dictated by a count of heads. It is like saying that if more heads say abortion is okay, then it is truly okay and so it becomes the norm. The wisdom of Church magisterium is made of less fickle stuff.

What we do know, however, is that Noynoy Aquino, since his days as Tarlac congressman, is a member of PLCPD. That stands for Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development which is the main lobby for the legislation of artificial contraception in Congress. Noynoy is surrounded in his provincial sorties by PLCPD stalwarts, some of whom are the most militant advocates of reproductive health. Politics is more addition and less subtraction, and Noynoy is playing that game like a pro.

Last week, a blogger who is a regular in a talk show on national television made a plea to bishops and cardinals not to mobilize people to not vote for candidates who espouse reproductive health. Needless to say, that was said to the wrong people. Bishops and cardinals are not the only ones who constitute the Church. It is the right of lay people, who too want to see the Cory phenomenon sustained, to express contrary opinions to Noynoy Aquino the candidate.

There are three conditions for membership in the Church: baptism, communion of faith, communion with the Pope. Communion of faith means believing every truth the Church teaches. Anything less than those three conditions do not make one a Catholic. At best, one is only a nominal Catholic, but that is really a misnomer for one can only be a Catholic or not, no matter if you are a Jesuit priest, albeit a wayward one.

Having said that, we should not fear bishops and cardinals who do not “endorse” Noynoy Aquino. What we should fear instead are leaders who disperse our people into believing myths and fallacies that destroy the natural dignity of the human being. That is the real threat to the moral fabric of this already decadent country of ours that lives on lies.

I would rather see Noynoy go down in defeat than compromise his faith.
Antonio J. Montalvan II, PhD
Director of University Publications
Director-Curator, Museum of Three Cultures
Capitol University


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