Tag Archives: Inquirer.net

[In the news] Kin of Negros ‘massacre’ victim hoping for justice -INQUIRER.net

Cynthia Avelino will bury her father Ismael and uncle Edgardo Avelino on Monday morning at the Canlaon City Cemetery in Negros Oriental.

Ismael, 53, will be entombed on top of the tomb of their mother, Criscenciana, while Edgardo will be buried on top of the tomb of their brother-in-law, Joel Gallenero.

The city government gave their families P12,000 for each of their coffins.

Two days later, their remains will be subjected to an autopsy to determine and document why how they died.

But for Cynthia and her family, their will loves ones were mercilessly killed by police officer in a coordinated military-backed operation on March 30, purportedly to serve search warrants for unlicensed firearms on suspected members or supporters of the New People’s Army.

“We hope they will have justice,” Cynthia told the INQUIRER.

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[In the news] Supreme Court orders release of all ‘Tokhang’ police reports -INQUIRER.net

Supreme Court orders release of all ‘Tokhang’ police reports

The Supreme Court has ordered the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to release all ‘Oplan Tokhang’ police reports to human rights groups and victims that questioned the legality of the government’s war on drugs.

“The Court just ordered the Solicitor General to submit the police reports [related to Oplan Tokhang] to the Supreme Court copy furnishing the petitioners,” SC’s information chief and spokesperson Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka said at a press conference.

Petitioners that will be given copies are the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) on behalf of residents of 26 barangays in San Andres Bukid in Manila and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).

Last February, the CenterLaw prodded the High Court to order the OSG, through Solicitor General Jose Calida to provide them copies of documents related to the government’s crackdown on illegal drugs.

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[In the news] Wife relates killing of husband, brother in PNP, Army ops -INQUIRER.net

Wife relates killing of husband, brother in PNP, Army ops

Ismael Avelino was sleeping at home with his wife Leonora and two young children in Barangay Panubigan in Canlaon City in Negros Oriental on Saturday.

At around 2:30 a.m., they were roused from sleep when at least six heavily armed men wearing masks barged into their house and ordered them to lie face down on the floor.

Leonora and two of their children, aged 10 and 5, were dragged outside their house. Ismael was left inside.

The 53-year-old Ismael, both hands raised, smiled and said to their 10-year-old son: “Take care of your mother and sister.”

Outside the house, Leonora and their children heard gunshots.

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[In the news] Bishop confirms death threats -Inquirer.net

Bishop confirms death threats

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, whom President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to kill, has been receiving death threats.

On Tuesday, David said his life was in danger so he decided to skip the Ka Pepe Diokno Human Rights Awards in De La Salle University (DLSU) Manila.

“For over a week now my mobile phone has been buzzing with text messages written in screaming and capital letters telling me that I was next in line for execution,” David said through a letter read by his brother Randy.

“Well-meaning friends who are worried for my personal safety have advised me not to take this threat lightly. I am begging off from today’s event,” David added.

“What is paramount is I don’t want to endanger the lives of those who would accompany me to this venue.”

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[In the news] LOOK: Child rights groups stage protest at Senate to oppose lowering MACR -INQUIRER.net

LOOK: Child rights groups stage protest at Senate to oppose lowering MACR

Different child rights groups have staged a protest outside the Senate complex on Monday to oppose the proposed law that would lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) for minors.

Groups such as the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDefend), the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of the Manila Priory and the Academic Community of St. Scholastica’s College and other organizations flocked to the gates of the Senate complex as they urged lawmakers to halt the lowering of the MACR.

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[In the news] De Lima urges Duterte to ratify UN treaty on enforced disappearances -Inquirer.net

De Lima urges Duterte to ratify UN treaty on enforced disappearances

MANILA, Philippines — To provide stronger mechanisms against enforced disappearances in the country, opposition Senator Leila de Lima is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to ratify the United Nations (UN) treaty on enforced disappearances.

De Lima has filed Senate Resolution No. 969 which urged the President to ratify the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED) to “strengthen access to justice and the right to effective remedy.”

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All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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[In the news] ‘DND misused relief fund’ -INQUIRER.net

‘DND misused relief fund’.

COA: Huge part spent for AFP oil, repairs, etc.
Marlon Ramos, Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 3, 2015

MANILA, Philippines–A “huge portion” of the P352.5 million in emergency funding of the Department of National Defense in 2013 had been misused by the military, which spent money meant to help victims of natural disasters to pay for its fuel consumption and repairs of its offices, state auditors have discovered.

inquirer

According to the Commission on Audit (COA), P843.5 million in Quick Response Fund (QRF) of the DND had also remained unliquidated since 2012.

Answering the findings of the COA, the defense department maintained that the emergency fund was “utilized for the purpose it was released to DND.”

In its periodic audit, the COA found out that a number of projects under the DND’s emergency fund had yet to be completed by its attached units despite the release of the budget.

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Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] Women’s group shows there’s life after Luisita -INQUIRER.net

Women’s group shows there’s life after Luisita
By Fernando del Mundo, Philippine Daily Inquirer
December 26, 2012

HACIENDA LUISITA, Tarlac City—It is harvest time in the sugar plantations.

Trucks laden with freshly cut sugarcane lumber along MacArthur Highway on their way to Central Azucarera de Tarlac, the sugar mill in Hacienda Luisita owned by the family of President Aquino.

On any given day in this nippy season of good cheer, hundreds of these trucks are parked, as far as the eye can see, in the vicinity of the sprawling mill. They wait for their turn to disgorge their cargoes into the maws in the Central to be crushed and refined into white sugar.

Smokestacks from the factory belch clouds in the sky and compete with the majesty of Mount Arayat in the background, where, folks say, Noah’s Ark rested during the biblical deluge. Telltale contours of the vessel are said to be etched atop the peak, a refuge for insurgent guerrillas since World War II.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

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[In the news] ‘Bayani’ -INQUIRER.net

‘Bayani’.

By Conrado de Quiros, Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 27, 2012

I’ve been reading the comments on Jesse Robredo these past days and two things stand out.

One is the question of why Jess was lionized only in death and not in life. Or why his virtues were discovered only when he was no longer in a position to regale the world with them and not when he still could. Strange how death has a way of making people larger than life.

The commentators particularly zeroed in on the iniquity that was the Commission on Appointments (CA) refusing to confirm Jess as interior and local government secretary but now showing eagerness to do so. An offer, they said, that Jess’ wife, Leni, had every reason to spurn, however she put it ever so politely by saying she doubted that would greatly matter now to her husband. Indeed, by saying she doubted that really greatly mattered to her husband even then as he seemed perfectly content to just do his job. One might add whether feebler minds approved or not.

What can one say? The CA has never distinguished itself for the commission of enlightenment, it has always distinguished itself for the commission of benightedness. It has never really distinguished itself for the admission of high-mindedness, it has always distinguished itself for the assertion of pettiness. Proof of which is that only some months ago it flatly rejected Gus Lagman continuing to serve as a Comelec commissioner. The one person who has had a long history of ensuring clean elections as a pillar of Namfrel. The one person who knows about computerizing canvassing as a leading exponent of electoral reform in that respect.

Read full article @ opinion.inquirer.net

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] ‘Another reason to find Palparan’ -INQUIRER.net

‘Another reason to find Palparan’.

By Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon
March 4, 2012

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The wife of missing environmental activist and radio host Joey Estriber has urged the government to find Jovito Palparan and make the fugitive retired major general reveal what he knows about the abduction of her husband.

Lourdes Estriber, who marked the sixth anniversary of her husband’s disappearance on Saturday, said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should compel  Palparan to divulge information because he was commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division based in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, when four armed men  seized her husband just as he stepped out of an Internet shop in Baler, Aurora, on March 3, 2006.

“We want to know who seized him and where they brought, dumped or buried his body. I hope the top brass of the AFP would help us by releasing information and help us get justice for Joey, and closure for us his family and friends,” Estriber told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone from Baler on Saturday.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

[In the news] Parents dare Palparan: Face us -INQUIRER.net

Parents dare Palparan: Face us
By Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon
February 12, 2012

The families of missing University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño dared fugitive retired general Jovito Palparan to turn himself in and face them.

They want to confront Palparan about a statement he made through his lawyer on Friday saying that he would not surrender because the missing students were still alive.

The two students have been missing since 2006.

Lawyer Edre Olalia, counsel of the Cadapan and Empeño families, said Palparan should “stop putting [his own] lawyers on the spot… [by making them] trifle with the emotions of suffering mothers [when they issue] recklessly bare claims that their young and abused daughters are still alive.”

Palparan’s lawyer, Jesus Santos, wrote the National Bureau of Investigation on Feb. 1 to say that the missing students were alive.

Palparan’s statement also said that the fugitive retired major general would “try [his] best not to surrender since the filing of the cases against [him] was done illegally.”

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

[in the news] ‘Butcher’ hunted by AFP – INQUIRER.net

‘Butcher’ hunted by AFP.

Palparan must confront charges, says De Lima
By Philip C. Tubeza, TJ Burgonio, Tonette Orejas
Inquirer Central Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer

  CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—A fugitive from the law for the past six days, retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. is besieged on many fronts.

The National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police are after Palparan to make him and three others stand trial for the kidnapping of two University of the Philippines students in Hagonoy, Bulacan, in June 2006.

Now, even the Armed Forces of the Philippines is helping hunt the man tagged by activist groups as “Berdugo” (Butcher), for the scores of activists and ordinary citizens killed, abducted and injured during his tour of duty.

“We will try our very best to help arrest him in support of the PNP,” Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa, the AFP chief of staff, said in a phone interview from Davao City on Friday.

Asked to confirm if the military was helping track down Palparan, Dellosa said: “Since he is a fugitive, he can be arrested. We can assist the PNP through the joint peace and security coordinating center.”

Dellosa also said the military had complied with the request of the Department of Justice to be on the lookout for the fugitive and to prevent him from leaving the country. “So far, we’ve published lookout bulletins,” he said.

On Dec. 19, warrants for the arrest of Palparan and three others were issued by Bulacan Regional Trial Court Judge Teodora Gonzales in connection with the 2006 kidnapping of UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.

The AFP provost marshal had helped arrest two of the coaccused, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio. Both active in the service, the two were remanded to police custody in Camp Crame on Dec. 20.

M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario, the third coaccused, is at large like Palparan.

Hilario is said to be Palparan’s right-hand man. He used a number of aliases, former Bulacan Gov. Josefina de la Cruz said in an interview after five residents of San Jose del Monte City went missing in 2005.

Palparan had earlier said he should not be charged with kidnapping because he was not a private person but an Army commander when Cadapan and Empeño went missing. He retired as commander of the 7th Infantry Division in Central Luzon in September 2006.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

[In the news] Rights groups, bloggers launch HR Online Philippines website – www.gmanetwork.com

Rights groups, bloggers launch HR Online Philippines website.

A group of human rights defenders and bloggers found each other and launched the Human Rights Online Philippines (HROnlinePH) website http://hronlineph.com in Quezon City on Dec. 2.

Its initiators said the website seeks to promote and protect human rights in the Philippines through Information Resources Online.

How HROnlinePH started?

Once editorial decision and content were finalized, the team, considered how best to interact with individual and group human rights advocates and to share online resources; and then the initial group began tackling possible organizational identity.

HROnlinePH team had lot of work to do before the http://hronlineph.com to be registered as site, and developing an editorial policy was first on the list.

Please take a look at the site and you will see entries written by personalities like Fr. Shay Cullen, mssc, of People’s Recovery, Empowerment Development Assistance Foundation (PREDA), Dr. Renato G. Mabunga of the Human Rights Defenders (HRD)-Pilipinas and Prof. Walden F. Bello.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

[In the news] Feared Ampatuan clan outgunned Philippine military—WikiLeaks

Feared Ampatuan clan outgunned Philippine military—WikiLeaks.

MANILA, Philippines—The 2,000-strong private army of a powerful clan suspected of carrying out the Philippines’ worst political massacre was better armed than the military and police, leaked US embassy cables showed.

The cables from late 2009, released by anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, described the reach of the feared Ampatuan clan in the southern region of Mindanao and said it had authorities on the run.

Key members of the clan and its private army are now being tried for the murder of 57 people in Mindanao in 2009 but many of the accused are still at large, making witnesses reluctant to come forward.

“We estimate that the Ampatuan clan maintains a private army of up to 2,000 men – who are often better armed and equipped than their (police) and (military) counterparts,” an embassy cable said.

“Government officials were astonished by the size of the arms caches and the power of the weaponry” that was later recovered from the Ampatuans, another cable said.

Read full article @ inquirer.net

[In the news] Slain farmer’s kin seek arrest of 6 suspects – Inquirer.net

Slain farmer’s kin seek arrest of 6 suspects
Philippine Daily Inquirer

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The family of lumad farmer Wilce Gica, who was shot dead on August 24 in Maramag, Bukidnon has asked authorities to arrest the six guards of Villalon Ranch who were tagged as suspects.

Police confirmed that murder charges had been filed against the suspects, led by a Milo Ceballos, before the Bukidnon prosecutor’s office in Malaybalay City.

Senior Police Officer 1 Jonathan Bataican, Maramag investigator, said the murder charges were filed after witnesses came forward and identified the guards as suspects in the death of Gica.

Gica was to attend a meeting called for by guards of Villalon Ranch purposely to inform him and his group that they were not allowed anymore to till the land they had been farming.

The slain farmer reportedly declined to surrender his farming tools when frisked outside the meeting venue in Pansalan village in Maramag.

Bataican said witnesses tagged Ceballos as the one who shot Gica, using a Carbine rifle.

The other guards were identified as Kevin Musico, Manuelito de la Cerna, Celso Oplimo, Romeo Dacquiano and Dante Cardines.

Glenda Gica Ubanan, the slain farmer’s eldest sister, said they were puzzled why the suspects remained at large.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

[In the news] QC informal settlers resist demolition; negotiations ongoing – Inquirer.net

QC informal settlers resist demolition; negotiations ongoing.

By Chona Yu, Karen Boncocan
990AM, INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippine – Tensions rose as authorities attempted to demolish some 1000 houses in Barangay (village) Old Balara in Quezon City Wednesday morning but authorities are trying to prevent an outbreak of violence through negotiations, according to reports culled by INQUIRER.net.

A 990AM report said residents became hostile as they prevented the demolition team together with some 200 policemen deployed in the area from taking down their homes. Some residents also barricaded the middle of Commonwealth Avenue, causing traffic in the area.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

[In the news] Central Luzon workers to get P14 hike in living allowances- INQUIRER.net

Central Luzon workers to get P14 hike in living allowances.

By Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Workers in Central Luzon have been given a P14-increase in their daily cost-of-living allowance (COLA), acting Labor Secretary Danilo Cruz said on Monday in Manila.

Cruz said the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) approved Wage Order No. RB III-16 in granting the COLA increase to all minimum-wage workers in the private sector.

The board “deemed it necessary to provide workers immediate relief from the rising costs of living, taking into account the interests of both labor and management, as well as the continued sustainability of business and industry,” he said.

Workers of non-agricultural establishments with total assets of at least P30 million in Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales would receive P330 per day, Cruz said in a statement.

“Workers in the establishments with a total assets of less than P30 million shall receive P322.50 per day,” he added.

For agriculture workers in the region, except in Aurora, the minimum wage rates would be P300 for plantation workers and P284 for non-plantation workers.

For workers in retail/service establishments with 16 or more workers, the new minimum wage rates will be P319 while those with less than 16 workers will receive P305 per day. Cottage or handicraft workers would receive P284 per day, Cruz said.

In Aurora, minimum wage earners in the non-agricultural sector shall receive a new daily rate of P279, while those in the agricultural sector will receive P264 for plantation workers and P244 for non-plantation workers.

Cruz said retail/service establishments in Aurora with no more than 10 workers would receive P201 per day, while cottage or handicraft workers would receive P252 per day.

Prior to its issuance of the new wage order, RTWPB III declared the existence of a supervening condition on May 9, 2011 because of extraordinary increases in prices of petroleum products, transport fees, and basic goods and services, Cruz said.

“The Regional Board exercised its wage fixing function even if the previous wage order, which was issued on November 22, 2010 has not yet expired,” he added.

Cruz said that the COLA granted under Wage Order No. RB III-16 would be included in the computation of private sector workers’ five days service incentive leave, vacation leave, sick leave, paternity and maternity leaves, and leaves under Republic Act 9262, or the Victims of Violance against Women and their Children Act.

He added that the COLA would also be computed in the payment for 12 national holidays and three special holidays. It is also included in the determination of the premium payments for Social Security System (SSS), Pag-Ibig housing, separation, and retirement pays.

[In the news] Aquino: Filipinos starting to taste ‘true freedom’- INQUIRER.net

Aquino: Filipinos starting to taste ‘true freedom’.

By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino underlined on Sunday morning the key reforms that his administration had instituted in the past 12 months to give Filipinos a taste of “true freedom.’’

Mr. Aquino raised the flag from the balcony of the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite at 7 a.m. as he led the country in marking the 113th celebration of the country’s Independence from colonizers.

In a speech that gave a preview of his State of the Nation Address before Congress on July 25, Mr. Aquino mentioned key reforms that addressed corruption, poverty, electoral reforms and tourism, among others.

These included the passage of the GOCC (government owned and controlled corporations) Governance Act, the synchronization of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao elections
with the May 2013 elections, the expansion of the conditional cash transfer program, and the implementation of the “pocket open skies policy,’’ he said.

“All of these are meant to give you a taste of true freedom. True freedom is first of all freedom from hunger, ignorance, poverty and joblessness,’’ he said.

[In the news] Salve’s life: A strong case for RH bill – INQUIRER.net

Salve’s life: A strong case for RH bill.

SALVE Paa does not know what the RH bill is, but she admits that her family is suffering financially, primarily because she has too many children. LESTER CAYABYAB/CONTRIBUTOR. Photo from INQ.net

By Kristine Felisse Mangunay
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—In a tiny house at a resettlement area in Valenzuela City, a woman recounts a scene: watching her eight children devour half a kilo of rice among themselves.

Pregnant again, 37-year-old Salve Paa says she is just as hungry. But she tells herself that a mother must make sacrifices, and waits for her turn to eat.

Minutes later, one of the boys starts to cry, a little finger pointing at the empty plate before him.

The scene, though seemingly surreal, is typical in Salve’s life. Until recently, she has not heard of family planning and has no idea of the reproductive health (RH) bill, and admits that having so many mouths to feed has made such an episode a general norm.

It’s something she laments, especially because she and Alfredo Francisco, her partner of 22 years, do not make much. (Alfredo, 64, has a first family from whom he is separated.)

“It’s difficult. The little that we earn just goes to food and other expenses in the house,” Salve tells the Inquirer in an interview at Northville, where families dislocated by the North Rail project were resettled by the city government.

P5,200 a month

Salve works in a plastics factory (but she is temporarily off the grind because she is due to deliver another child this month).

She is paid based on her output: On good days, she earns P1,500; on bad, P700. Alfredo earns P150 a day selling cotton candy.

In all, they take home an estimated P5,200 in a month.

“But minus the expenses, we can barely make ends meet. We can hardly complete three square meals a day,” Salve says.

She details the monthly expenses as: P200 for the house, P200 for electricity, P300 on the average for water, “which is only retailed to us,” and food for 10 people, among others.

As a result, a regular breakfast for the family consists of rice porridge (lugaw) bought at P3 a cup. Small galunggong, the so-called poor man’s fish, bought at P20 a handful, are “delicacies.”

“If there is enough, we have bread for breakfast, but that is very rare,” Salve says.

Because of the money constraints, not one of the 37-year-old’s children has been able to finish his or her studies.

Ana Liza, 21, managed to complete the sixth grade—the highest educational attainment in the family. She is married but often visits.

Her brothers—Aries, 15, and Albert, 12—reached the first grade and prep school, respectively.

Throw ’em out

“We can’t afford to send the children to school,” Salve says. “It’s already a struggle to put food on the table for them every day.”

Then there’s the space problem.

The family lives in a 32-square-meter enclosed space with two tables and a makeshift wooden bed. A hole in the ground serves as the toilet.

The windows consist of square holes covered with leatherette.

During the rainy season, the water easily seeps through the concrete walls and onto the floor, Salve says.

In the summer, the sun’s rays easily heat up the structure. “The roof has not been fixed,” she explains.

At night, Salve has a hard time making the children fit on the “bed.” She says she manages to squeeze herself in, and shows the Inquirer how it’s done.

Alfredo sleeps on the floor.

The situation has moved Salve to throw out two of her elder sons—Alvin and Alfred—several times in the past.

She says that with the two fending for themselves, she figured that she could concentrate on feeding and caring for the rest who cannot as yet survive alone in the world.

Take Angelito, the sickly 3-year-old who has been in and out of the hospital in recent months. The bills for his blood transfusions alone have amounted to some P16,000, Salve says.

“When he becomes ill, I take him to the National Children’s Hospital on España. They care for Angelito there, free of charge,” she says.

But despite having been driven away repeatedly, Alvin and Alfred always came back, and Salve took them in with open arms. After all, she says, she is still their mother.

12, actually

The family should have been much bigger because Salve has given birth to 12 of Alfredo’s children.

Christian and Trisha, then 4 and 7 years old, respectively, died in 2006, followed a year later by Sarah Fe, then 10. Doctors said the three died of sepsis, or the invasion of the body by pathogenic microorganisms.

In 2008, Alvin was accidentally run over by a bus in La Union. Salve lamented the loss of her son, also because the then 18-year-old, who worked as a truck helper, was a big financial help to the family.

Salve admits that her family experiences financial difficulties primarily because she has too many children.

It was only when she was 26 that she learned out about artificial contraceptives. But by then, she had already borne eight children.

In an effort to lessen the number of mouths they were obligated to feed, she and her partner also tried abstinence. But the attempt did not work.

“At one point, I slept at the factory just so I could get away from Alfredo. But he followed me there,” Salve recalls with a chuckle.

Planning a family

Salve does not know what the RH bill is, or what it stands for. But when asked, she says that she is not opposed to sex education.

Had she known about the importance of family planning much earlier, she would not have allowed herself to get pregnant so many times, she says.

This view is in line with some of the provisions of the measure that proposes the integration of sexual awareness in school curriculums and offers couples an informed choice in ways to plan their families.

The proposed legislation is being debated upon in the plenary in the House of Representatives. If passed, it will be sent to the Senate, which can choose to adopt it or pass another version of it.

President Benigno Aquino IIi himself has expressed support for the RH bill. But the Catholic Church and a number of lawmakers remain firmly opposed to the measure and have vowed to block its passage.

Late awareness

“If we had fewer children, then we won’t have most of our financial problems,” Salve muses.

She says that in her community, large families are the trend because some, if not most, of her neighbors do not become aware of family planning methods until much later.

She cites as an example her elder sister who, in her 40s, has seven children.

Salve says that like herself, her sister has to carry on her shoulders the responsibility of feeding too many kids with very little income.

“If you don’t have much money, having too many children is too stressful,” she says. “You’re always thinking of ways to get them through the day.”

Because of her newfound knowledge, Salve plans to undergo tubal ligation to avoid getting pregnant again.

Her ninth (or 13th) child is due, but she says she cannot even think of celebrating. “Our earnings are better spent on food on the table,” she says, smiling weakly.

[In the news/Column] Provocations – INQUIRER.net

Provocations.

By: Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer

ARCHBISHOP RAMON Arguelles says it’s government that provoked first. He cited in particular President Aquino’s warning that the prolife groups who are threatening a tax boycott against the RH bill would be charged with sedition.

“Will you be calm if you are held at gunpoint? We can’t be calm when the results of similar bills like [the RH bill] are evident in other countries … We can’t be calm because they are pushing for what is not right.”

From another end, Bishop Arturo Bastes cautioned the youth not to be swayed by celebrities advocating family planning. “They do not know what they are talking about.” They have not thoroughly studied the effects of the RH bill on the morality of the youth.

I agree completely, the results of measures like the RH bill are evident in other countries. They have progressed beyond our wildest dreams. They have left us biting their dust. And they are far more moral—just look at the 9-year-old Japanese kid—than we have ever been, than we are now, than we will ever be with this kind of Catholic Church guiding us.

I’ve heard the camp opposing RH say again and again that family planning hasn’t really succeeded elsewhere without bothering to offer proof. What can one say? Habits are hard to break, particularly the one that says you should take everything on faith. It flies in the face of reality.

China for one maintains a one-child policy. If they hadn’t done that, can you imagine the mind-boggling size of the Chinese population today? Especially if they had retained the pre-Revolution practice of having epic households? Can you have any more formidable proof of success, and one that has benefited not just China but the world, than that?

The Chinese say that to assure immortality you have to do one of three things, or all of the above: plant a tree, write a book, and have children. The Chinese have done all three, while heroically trying to limit the third. We have done only the third. We do not particularly care to plant trees and write books (let alone read them), we just like to breed like rabbits. My apologies to rabbits. Immortality is the least of the things it assures, oblivion is first.

Indonesia for another has had a successful family planning program, reducing the average number of children per family from six to seven in the 1970s to three today. Courtesy of its current president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, it has leaped out of the pack to become the poster boy of democracy in our part of the world. Or do you still think we hold that title? Indonesia is home to the biggest Muslim population in the world, a fact that has not deterred its inhabitants from trying to limit their size, lest life in this planet stops being sustainable. It’s called responsibility. It’s called morality. It’s called a concern for life. Real life.

Or, what, Allah holds life less precious than Jehovah?

What takes the cake is that Arguelles’ supporters should want to wage a tax boycott against RH. I had been calling for a tax boycott before—against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. That was so especially after “Hello Garci.” You pay taxes only to a legitimate president, not to an illegitimate one. You pay taxes only to a moral government, not an immoral one. I did as I preached, refusing to file my taxes since 2005—I filed it only this year, with the new government, a perfectly legitimate one—urging others to do so as well in my column. (Unfortunately for me, though I wasn’t filing my taxes, I was having them deducted from me through tax withheld. But that is another story.

You want to refuse to pay taxes, refuse to pay taxes for the right reasons. But if I recall right, Arguelles in particular not only did not join the protest against Arroyo, least of all urge people not to pay their taxes, he defended “Hello, Garci” by saying everybody cheats anyway. An astonishing proposition from anyone, let alone a prince of the Church. As I said then, if everyone cheated anyway, then it was time to stop it and not tolerate it. But talk of “pushing for what is not right.”

The provocation began long before RH, except that the bishops did not hurl it at government, they hurled it at the citizenry.

Pray, what are, or can be, the immoral effects of the RH bill on the youth? While at that, who knows less what they are talking about, the celebrities, many of whom have families of their own, or the priests and bishops, some of whom have children of their own but who have neither owned up to them nor taken care of them? Former President Fidel Ramos made the most sense when he said at the “purple ribbon” launch last week that while everyone has been heard on this issue, including the mythical “unborn child,” the mothers have not been so. And they are the ones who really matter.

Who is the more concerned about life, the one who takes care to have only as many children as he or she can take care of—not by abortion but by contraception, it has to be said again and again—or the person who bangs away without thought of tomorrow, without thought of others, bahala na si Batman, it’s up to God, or the throw of the dice, or the spew of the seed? Who embraces life more fiercely, the one who makes sure that the child he or she launches into the world will have a life, and not only a death, of body and of soul, or the one who spawns like there’s no tomorrow, and truly there won’t be any, oblivious to the plight of one’s own, oblivious to the plight of others, oblivious to the plight of the planet? Who is more open to life, the one who is open to love, who sees conjoining of bodies as the supreme expression of it, without fear of producing more mouths to feed, or the one who feels only need and creed and obligation?

Who has the right values?

You say the second, you’re just provoking-laughter.

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