Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A new twist in the RH bill saga

Church, MalacaƱang agree on family planning agenda

THE Aquino administration has gained the Catholic Church’s support for a “responsible parenthood” bill by agreeing not to set targets for population growth, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Monday.

President Benigno Aquino III will certify the new bill to Congress as urgent, but the state will not insist on the use of either natural or artificial birth control, Lacierda said.

At the second meeting between Palace officials and representatives of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on Monday, administration officials agreed with the Church view that population is not the root cause of poverty, Lacierda said.

...Lacierda did not say how the responsible parenthood bill would differ from the reproductive health bills that already are in Congress, and which have drawn stiff opposition from the Catholic Church.

But his remarks indicated that the Palace will not support the reproductive health bill.

“We have never endorsed the reproductive health bill,” Lacierda said.

“The President has consistently said he is for responsible parenthood.”

He added that it would be up to Congress to determine if they wanted to merge parts of the reproductive health bill with the Palace’s responsible parenthood bill.”

Palace drafts new RH bill, elates bishops

...“We give them choices for them to come up with a decision on when to have babies, spacing (their children) and all their concerns which in a large measure help them plan a family,” Lacierda said.

“It’s more again really of making sure the individual would live a life that they can afford without any burden on the family itself. That’s important and therefore again we’re saying, let’s provide access to all the information about it,” he said.

Lacierda said Health Secretary Enrique Ona was in charge of drafting the responsible parenthood bill and that it would be discussed in the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting at the end of the January.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said MalacaƱang had agreed with the Church’s position that the growing population had no relation to poverty.

Such an admission from the government was an indication that “things were becoming clearer” for both the Church and the Palace as to the many issues surrounding family planning, said CBCP secretary general Msgr. Juanito Figura in a press conference Monday...

Let's see. If there is one sure thing to be gleaned from these recent developments, it is that Malacanang will craft its own version of a "Responsible Parenthood" bill, and that this bill will be directly in relation to the pending RH bills being deliberated in Congress. Although Palace spokesman Lacierda "did not say how the responsible parenthood bill would differ from the reproductive health bills that already are in Congress", he did say that the Palace authored bill will "give them choices for them to come up with a decision on when to have babies, spacing (their children) and all their concerns which in a large measure help them plan a family". Accordingly, there will certainly be crucial overlaps in the scope in what the Palace certifies as urgent in its RP bill, in direct relation to what the RH-bill proponents advocate in their current versions of the bill.

As it is, the Lower House has already started committee hearings on the RH bill amidst a debate on rules of procedure and the issue as to the Constitutional protection of the unborn from "conception". Meanwhile in the Senate, a parallel RH bill still has to find its way into the order of business, amidst the strong opposition of Senate Majority leader Vicente Sotto III.

A few questions now come up. Will the House now suspend its committee deliberations on the RH bill and prudently wait for the Palace draft so as to reconcile it with the stated "responsible parenthood" priorities of the President? Will the House opt to totally ignore the Palace draft, only to face a tall risk of a Presidential veto? Do we assume that the current version/s of the RH bill gets to be arduously passed in the Lower House? Assuming further that it is later reconciled with a Senate version of the bill that is yet to take off from the order of the Senate's business? Can the RH bill proponents prove that conception means implantation in the Constitution?

The RH bill sponsors have oftentimes expressed with uncontained glee that PNoy has their support, but now Presidential spokesman comes out and flatly says: “We have never endorsed the reproductive health bill". Isn't it a wonder that Albay Representative and staunch RH-bill sponsor Edcel Lagman has said he is "overwhelmingly confident" of the passage of the measure?


Friday, January 21, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

CFC theme 2011: Put on the Armor of God

CFC Leader's Conference
Araneta Coliseum
January 15, 2011

Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.

For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.

Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.

So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate
and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.

In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all (the) flaming arrows of the evil one.

And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Don't judge my Lancer

Aquino: Don't judge my Porsche

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III is proud of his new toy, but he just does not want to "flaunt" it.In an ambush interview, Aquino dismissed reports this recent purchase will affect his government’s austerity measures. Aquino bought a "third-hand" 2007 Porsche using his own money, according to Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda. He ditched his old BMW in exchange for the more attention-grabbing Porsche. He supposedly paid P4.5 million for it.

President Noynoy is receiving a lot of flak for being so "insensitive" as to buy a P4.5M Porsche in the face of grinding poverty in the Philippines. It is a price you pay when you are in the spotlight -- people will be watching your every move and ascribing all sorts of motives. In Noynoy's case: his choice of residence, cars, even girlfriends, and just about anything from day one since he assumed the presidency. He should have understood that close scrutiny comes with the job. It's all part of the game. Personally, I don't care. He can buy all the fantastic cars he wants, the houses, (he can't buy girlfriends, no?) and just about anything that takes his fancy -- as long as the money comes from his own pockets. Most important, as long as he does his job as President and fulfills all his campaign promises. I will leave him alone to his private fancies.

Now I suppose the Porsche (did I spell that right?) does not blare sirens (wangwang), shame if it does. I suppose further that Noynoy will abide by the speed limits on our roads. Come to think of it, even our expressways have a maximum speed limit of 100km/hr, while the Porsche is easily capable
of 300+ kph. With the perennial traffic congestion, the actual driving experience hereabouts averages at about 12 to 50kms/hr, including at the expressways. Every motorist around down to the last person can attest that the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) should be renamed as South Luzon Turtleway. I bet I could race Noynoy's Porsche with my vintage '96 Lancer on the whole stretch of SLEX and we would end up about even-steven, as long as we play it fair and square under the same road conditions. But if he's happy with his new toy, let him be.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

God's voice works wonders

Homeless man with velvety voice becomes star

CLEVELAND (AP) – From the streets to the studios.

Ted Williams, whose deep, velvety radio voice and touching story prompted an outpouring of sympathy and job offers from across the country, has become an overnight sensation.
He's America's hottest — and most improbable — star.

On Thursday, Williams, who was living in a tent near a highway in Columbus, Ohio, just days ago, was in New York for an emotional reunion with his 90-year-old mother, media appearances, and to do some commercial voiceover work. On NBC's "Today" show, he described his previous 48 hours as "outrageous."

"There's no way in the world that I could have ever imagined that I would be — I mean, just have all of this just all of a sudden come into this portion of my life," he said during a live interview in the program's studio...
Now, he's in demand.

"I don't know which one to choose, which one is the right one," he said on "Today," regarding the job prospects. But he said he was ready to handle the second chance he was being given and predicted that in five years, he'd be working as a radio program director and living in his own apartment. Williams said he found a "new sense of spirituality" in 2010 that would help him deal with whatever success comes.
Well, I believe he found his voice back after hearing God's voice. Check him out on the second vid.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Religious superiors join call to reverse SC decision on Webb acquittal

Religious superiors join call to reverse SC decision on Webb acquittal

MANILA, Philippines—The Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP), through its chairperson Sister John Mananzan, asked the Supreme Court to reverse its decision acquitting Hubert Webb and six others in connection with the Vizconde massacre case.

In her petition-in-intervention, she told the high court that it should take a second look at the case because it cannot simply disregard the findings of the Paranaque City Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals....Mananzan said the high court should have given weight to the findings of the lower courts. “It was the Paranaque RTC that observed the behavior of principal witness Jessica Alfaro during her direct and cross-examination,” she said, pointing out that based on such observation, it could determine if she was lying or telling the truth.
With due respect to Sister Mary John Mananzan, her reasons for asking the Supreme Court to reverse its decision does not hold water. She says the Supreme Court "cannot simply disregard the findings of the Paranaque City Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals....the high court should have given weight to the findings of the lower courts.". And why not? This is not the first time that the Supreme court has overturned lower courts' decisions. To remain consistent with her reasoning, Sr Mananzan would have to petition for reversal every single case that the Supreme Court overturns. Of course each of us are entitled to their own opinion with respect to the appreciation of the SC ruling. However, Sr Mananzan questioning the SC ruling in her official capacity as head of the AMRSP is another thing. Sr Mananzan is no legal expert, neither is the AMSRP an organization of law experts who possess training to engage the Supreme Court justices on the intricate points of legal jurisprudence. Neither is questioning SC decisions their true calling as nuns. The SC is well within its right and the purview of the law to reverse the lower courts in this case. Whether the decision is fair or not in the Vizconde case is not a matter of faith and morals, it is a prudential judgment that is best left to the secular court hierarchy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Lagman grasping at straws

Life begins at conception, Lagman insists

MANILA, Philippines—Contrary to the position of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), a staunch advocate of the reproductive health bill in Congress affirmed that life begins at conception, and not during fertilization.

Minority Leader and Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said this issue has long been resolved by the Constitution and medical authorities, and that the debate on when life starts should not stunt the passage of the reproductive health bill.

“The issue on whether life begins upon fertilization or at the onset of conception has long been resolved by the 1987 Constitution and reputable medical authorities worldwide in favor of conception or when the fertilized ovum implants in the uterus,” Lagman said in a statement Friday.

Earlier, the PMA through its president Dr. Oscar Tinio bared the stand of the organization that the “beginning of life” occurred at the moment of fertilization, a view shared by the Catholic Church.
Ayan na. Rep Anthony Golez was right in insisting that this particular point gets to be cleared first.

Earlier, the Philippine Medical Association thru its president Dr. Oscar Tinio, has affirmed that life begins at fertilization. This has prompted anti-RH bill advocate Roilo Golez to say that the PMA definition thwarts the belief by the advocates of the bill that “life begins at implantation,” and that any move supporting the RH would be unconstitutional, in reference to Section II Article 12 which states - "[The State] shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception."

Staunch RH-bill advocate and Albay Rep. Lagman however, remains undeterred. He likes to believe that the word conception in the Constitution refers to implantation and not fertilization. According to Lagman, Father Joaquin Bernas, a commissioner of the Constitutional Commission, initially proposed for inclusion in the Bill of Rights the following provision: “The right to life extends to the fertilized ovum.”. Lagman claims that the proposal did not materialize, and its non-adoption “unmistakably shows that the concept that life begins at fertilization was not constitutionalized for lack of concurrence from the commissioners,”.


I believe the fate of the RH bill now rests on this single point - whether the Constitution means fertilization or implantation with the term "conception". Lagman cites Fr Bernas to bolster his argument that the Constitution does not refer to fertilization, however Fr Bernas has asserted many times in the past that the constitutional provision referred to the very moment of fertilization. It is worth noting that the particular sponsor of that particular Constitutional provision in Section II is the economist Bernardo Villegas, who recently affirmed thus -

"It was, therefore, the intent of the large majority of the framers of the Constitution of 1987 to define conception as fertilization. No amount of further debate will change that. Only a charter change can modify that conclusion."

I knew that at a certain point, the RH-bill advocates will have to face this issue squarely, whether they like it or not. Clear out all the smokescreen arguments, please. Lagman is now grasping at straws. Huli ka.

“it is when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm that there is human life. Just to repeat: first, there is obviously life because it starts to nourish itself, it starts to grow as any living being, and it is human because at the moment of fertilization, the chromosomes that combined in the fertilized ovum are the chromosomes that are uniquely found in human beings and are not found in any other living being”

(Record of the Constitutional Commission, Volume 4, p. 668).

"The intention is to protect life from its beginning, and the assumption is that human life begins at conception, that conception takes place at fertilization"

(Record of the Constitutional Commission 799, cited in Bernas, J., The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Manila: 1996 ed., p. 78)