Tag Archives: Rufus Rodriguez

[People] The historic RH vote: How a democracy manages conflict over values By Walden Bello

The historic RH vote: How a democracy manages conflict over values By Walden Bello
December 15, 2012

Walden Bello word.world-citizenship.orgWhen the presiding officer, Rep. Lorenzo Tanada III, arrived at my name and asked for my vote during the historic House of Representatives’ vote on the Reproductive Health Bill last Wednesday night, December 12, I replied in the affirmative and walked towards the rostrum to explain my vote.

He then posed the standard question, “What is the pleasure of the gentleman from Akbayan?” To which I replied, “I hesitate to answer that question since ‘pleasure’ has become a controversial word during the last few days’ debate.”

It was my attempt to inject some humor into a proceeding that had become like a tense basketball game, where one team maintained a slight edge but could not quite pull away owing to the tenacity of the other side. Some of the other statements that evening drew more laughter than my intervention, probably because they were inadvertently funny, as when Rep. Thelma Almario of Surigao del Sur expressed her sanguine wish that “in my lifetime we will have enough Filipinos so we can ‘Filipinize’ the whole world.”

Or when Congressman Dong Gonzalez of Pampanga hoped his parents would know he had fulfilled their dying wish that he vote against the RH Bill “in case they’re now flitting around in this hall.”

Conflict of Values

Apart from such moments of light humor, the situation was deadly serious, and much of the country stayed glued to the voting via television or the internet. To many on both sides of the RH debate, the outcome of the vote would either be a national triumph or national tragedy. Unlike other major legislative encounters in the last few years, the RH debate was not over national security. Neither was it about clashing economic interests, nor about different political visions about the future of the country. It was about a clash of values or beliefs on key social relationships: the relationship of the state to the family, the relationship of the church to the state, and the responsibility of the State towards its citizens.

Many of the anti-RH legislators rose that historic evening to express the deep beliefs that informed their scorched earth efforts to block the bill till the very end. Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro and Rep. Pablo Garcia of Cebu claimed it was anti-constitutional because in their view, it was against life, the right to which is protected by the constitution. Rep. Amado Bagatsing said that between a church that was over 2000 years old and a state that was just a few decades old, he was taking the side of his church. Earlier in the RH debate, Bagatsing earned the distinction of claiming that “contraception is abortion.”

Yet the debate showed that conservatism on the use of contraceptives has its roots not only in religious conviction, but in personal circumstances. Not a few members recounted how they were part of poor large families—in the case of Congressman Dong Gonzalez, 12 siblings—where parents and children pulled themselves up by the bootstraps. Their message was if they could do it through hard work, why couldn’t other poor families, why should the state promote smaller families via the provision of contraceptives?

On the pro-RH side, the articulation of fundamental values was equally impassioned. These were the values mainly of the liberal tradition. For Rep. Edcel Lagman, whose 14-year-long leadership in promoting the bill will be remembered as a legislative epic, the key principle was the state’s right to “benignly intervene” in the reproductive area, as in other dimensions of individual and social life, to promote the collective interest. This intervention was being done in the service of free choice. Providing access to contraceptives to the poor was the liberal state’s way of assuring that couples could in fact exercise free and informed choice in deciding the size of their families and the spacing of their children.

Rep. Emmeline Aglipay of party Diwa spoke for many on the pro-RH side when she said she was casting her vote “for reason and against ignorance.” For Rep. Linbelle Ruth Villarica of Bulacan, the bill was a necessary step forward in the struggle for women’s rights and women’s welfare. Rep. Angelo Palmones said that by the time the legislators finished voting for the measure, another 14 women would have died owing to the maternal health complications addressed by the bill. Several said that the bill was not only pro-life, but “pro-quality of life” owing to its presumed effect on reducing poverty.

It was left up to two Mindanao legislators to bravely bring up the issue of population management, which the anti-RH side had made into a bogeyman, with their shrill warnings against “population control.” Rep. Tupay Loong of

Sulu asserted that uncontrolled population growth had become a hindrance to national development and necessitated action on the part of the state. In the view of Rep. Joey Zubiri of Bukidnon, the last congressman to speak, the RH bill was necessary because “population growth has become the number one national security problem” that had to be addressed by the state.

Democracy and Value Clashes

Coming out of Wednesday’s night debate, which saw the bill win by a vote of 113 to 104, with three abstentions, I can only be grateful that we have a democratic process whose rules are internalized by most Filipinos, particularly the principle that the majority rules.

Conficts over basic values often turn into bloody wars. Take the wars of the reformation in 17th century Europe or the current fundamentalist-instigated conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the rules of representative democracy have not taken hold. We may have fundamentalists on the anti-RH side, but thank god, they believe in the rules of democracy.

Hopefully, the third reading of the RH bill will proceed smoothly in the House and the Senate will approve its version next week, so we can a bill that can be reconciled and ratified early in January and ready for the president’s signature.


I will look back with pride to the 15th Congress that passed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Bill. Indeed, even if no other bill I am associated were to be passed in this Congress, the victory of this long overdue measure, which will enable our country to have greater capacity to confront the challenges of the 21st century, will be enough to bring me immense satisfaction.

It was probably this sense of history-in-the-making and his wish to be part of it that made one of my colleagues, notorious for his absenteeism, to emerge out of the woodwork to vote for the bill. Hopefully, he won’t vanish again.

INQUIRER.net columnist Walden Bello represents the party Akbayan in the House of Representatives.

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[Press Release] Likas-Yaman caravan: Pass the Alternative Minerals Management Bill!

Likas-Yaman caravan: Pass the Alternative Minerals Management Bill!

IPs, farmers, fisherfolks and church leaders bring their calls before the 15th Congress

Two thousand supporters from communities in Metro Manila joined the 350-strong leaders of indigenous communities, farmers, fisherfolks and church leaders and marched towards the House of Representatives to call on legislators to pass the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB).

Today is the last day of a 4-day caravan, which started last October 14 from Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya and culminates today. Part of the whole day program will be a stopover at the House of Representatives to have a dialogue with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and at the same time hold a creative action outside.

The dialogue is in time for the deliberation and consolidation of the minerals management bills currently lodged at the House Committee on Natural Resources set to be discussed and adopted this afternoon.

Long-time champions of AMMB – Reps. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Carlos Padilla, Kaka Bag-ao, Walden Bello, Rufus Rodriguez, and Erin Tañada will be joining the representatives of the contingent in the dialogue.

“I call on my fellow legislators to urgently pass the alternative minerals management bill that would repeal the Mining Act of 1995,” Rep. Baguilat said. He further reiterates, “it is time to correct the historical injustices committed against indigenous peoples and give due justice to their struggles. We should throw away our long standing colonial framework in mineral extraction and institute a rational needs-based mineral governance that would cater to our sustainable development.”

Carmen Ananayo, an IP woman from Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, also said that the passage of AMMB is pro-women because with mining, violence in affected communities escalates and the indigenous women are the first to become victims of this aggression.

Apart from the passage of AMMB, the contingent also calls for the following: (1) revocation of the FTAAs of OceanaGold Philippines Inc for the Didipio Gold and Copper Project and SMI/Xstrata for the Tampakan Copper Gold Mining Project and (2) moratorium on all large-scale mining operations in the country.

After the dialogue with legislators, the contingent will meet more supporters from different stops (Sto. Domingo Parish, Welcome Rotonda and UST, España. From this point, the Likas-Yaman caravan contingent will march towards Malacañang in Mendiola with the aim of a dialogue with President Nonoy Aquino III.

The Mendiola program will start with a mass and continue with a cultural night.

SOS-Yamang Bayan Network is a national, multi-sectoral movement is composed of mining-affected communities, national peoples alliances, environmental organizations and networks, church-based organizations, human rights organizations, national NGOs, sectoral organizations from the indigenous peoples, youth, women, farmers, Congressional representatives, known leaders and personalities advocating for the repealing of the Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of the Alternative Minerals Management Bill.

For more information, contact the SOS-Yamang Bayan Network Secretariat through
Gerry Arances, 0939.241.5575, gerry.arances@lrcksk.org
Farah Sevilla, 0915.331.3361, policy@alyansatigilmina.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.

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] Lawmakers file measures for ‘mining-free zones’ -InterAksyon.com

Lawmakers file measures for ‘mining-free zones’
by Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, InterAksyon.com
March 3, 2012

MANILA, Philippines — Several members of the House of Representatives have filed measures declaring “mining-free zones” as they raised concerns over the “destructive effects” of mineral extraction.

Representatives Deogracias Ramos (Sorsogon), Isidro Ungab (Davao City), Cesar Sarmiento (Catanduanes), Eleandro Madrona (Romblon) and Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro City) have filed various measures in the House of Representatives affirming their districts as mining-free.

Representatives Carlos Padilla (Nueva Viscaya), Teddy Baguilat (Ifugao) and Mel Senen Sarmiento (Western Samar), Raymond Palatino (Kabataan), Teddy Casino (Bayan Muna) and Luz Ilagan (Gabriela) have also filed similar measures “to protect the environment from environmental plunder due to mining operations.”

“We need to protect our environment, protect our people and put a stop to destructive mining,” the lawmakers said on the 17th anniversary of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

[In the news] Move to revoke mining exploration permits in CDO, Iligan lauded -InterAksyon.com

Move to revoke mining exploration permits in CDO, Iligan lauded
by Cong Corrales, InterAksyon.com
February 21, 2012

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Anti-mining advocates here lauded the unexpected but “long overdue” resolution of the Regional Development Council 10 urging the Mine and Geosciences Bureau to revoke all mining exploration permits in the uplands of Iligan and this city.

The advisory committee of RDC 10, which includes the representatives of Northern Mindanao, said the disaster wrought by tropical storm “Sendong” late year, showed clearly enough that the unabated extraction of natural resources has threatened both cities’ fragile ecologies.

Authored by Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Representative Rufus Rodriguez, the resolution stems from a disclosure of MGB Regional Technical Director Alfredo Relampagos that they issued four exploration permits in Cagayan de Oro and one in Iligan City.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

[In the news] House okays bill imposing life imprisonment on illegal loggers – PhilStar.com

House okays bill imposing life imprisonment on illegal loggers
By Jess Diaz , The Philippine Star
January 04, 2012

 MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking the imposition of life imprisonment on illegal loggers.

Under the proposed Sustainable Forest Management Act, harvesting, gathering or collecting timber or other forest products from any forestland with a market value of more than P500,000 and without authority from the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would be illegal and punishable with life imprisonment.

Those who buy logs, flitches and lumber from illegal loggers will also suffer the same penalty.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, principal author of the proposed law, said he hoped that with such a heavy penalty on offenders, the destruction of watersheds and other forested areas and the resulting flooding of low-lying communities will be minimized.

In a related development, Rodriguez and his brother Maximo, who represents the party-list group Abante Mindanao, filed on Monday Bill 5663, which seeks the appropriation of P2 billion for the rebuilding of Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City after these were devastated by tropical storm “Sendong” recently.

In filing the bill, the two said residents of the two cities need state help “to be able to recover from the recent tragedy and start a new life.”

“In the short term, there is a need to provide basic necessities to the evacuees including food and non-food items and a way to give them access to proper hygiene. Also, debris cleanup is a priority as well as provisions for temporary shelter before school and classes resume,” they said.

Read full article @ www.philstar.com

[In the news] Referendum on divorce for PH? | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features

Referendum on divorce for PH? | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features.

MANILA, Philippines – Authors of the Divorce Bill at the House of Representatives on Tuesday welcomed the idea of a referendum to feel the pulse of the public on their proposed measure.

Gabriela Party-List Rep. Luz Ilagan replied, “Why not?” when she was asked if they would support a referendum on divorce, similar to Sunday’s referendum in Malta which saw citizens voting in favor of the measure.

Moves to enact a divorce law in the Philippines gained traction after Malta’s referendum.

Malta’s referendum, though non-binding, is expected to pave the way for passage of the a divorce law in that area. If that were to happen, the Philippines would be the only country left without a divorce law.

Ilagan, however, hoped this would not become another contentious issue with the Catholic Church. “We dont want it to be bloody. This is legitimate, [there are] valid reasons kasi 13th Congress pa ito. Ngayon nga lang umabot na sa committee level,” referring to the Committee on Revision of Laws ‘ hearing on the bill Wednesday.

Gabriela’s bill is one of 2 divorce measures in the House. The other was authored by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, which seeks to recognize divorces granted overseas.

Rodriguez’s bill amends the Family Code of the Philippines to require that a divorce obtained by an alien spouse of Filipino overseas only needs to be authenticated by the Philippine consul in the country where it was granted for it to be effective here in the Philippines.

It also seeks to amend another provision in the Family Code to say that all divorces overseas for marriages solemnized overseas are also valid here in the Philippines.

In lobbying for her bill, Ilagan stressed the need for divorce in the country, citing the difficulty of availing an annulment despite the graveness of the grounds for dissolution of a marriage.

Lobbying for RH bill

Meanwhile, Gabriela held a picket at the House of Representatives grounds to lobby for the passage of their other pet measure: the equally controversial Reproductive Health bill.

Ilagan, fellow Gabriela party-list Rep. Emmy de Jesus, and Gabriela members Jessica Rufin and KJ Catequista and HEAD member Beng Rivera Reyes called on Congress to pass the RH Bill.

They stressed that RH is a matter of women’s rights and health, not population control. They are seeking to remove provisions in the RH Bill on population control.

The group recognized that population or demographic targets were thrown out of the bill, and desired family size was made neither mandatory nor compulsory.

However, they cited remaining provisions in the bill (Sections 3(l), 12, and 25) that promote population control, especially Section 12 . This to them “unabashedly states that family planning and responsible parenthood be integrated in anti-poverty programs.”

“Unguardedly, this provision can release the floodgate for the State to carry out its population control program under the guise of pro-choice and poverty alleviation. Also, allowing the notorious Population Commission under section 25 to serve as coordinating body in implementing the bill once it becomes law underscores the State’s intent in pushing for population control,” the group said.