Tag Archives: Wednesday

[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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[In the news] Manhunt on for publisher’s killer – MindaNews

MindaNews » Manhunt on for publisher’s killer.

By Edwin G. Espejo | Thursday| February 2, 2012| Filed under: Top Stories

 GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/1 Feb) – The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Region 12 launched a manhunt against the suspected gunman who shot and killed General Santos publisher Christopher Guarin on the evening of January 5 following the filing of murder case Wednesday morning.

CIDG regional chief and Task Force Guarin vice chair Senior Supt. Albert Ignatius Ferro said murder charges were already filed against one Marvin Palabrica who was “positively” identified by at least three witnesses from a police rogue gallery of suspected guns for hire operating in the region.

CIDG director Chief Supt. Samuel Pagdilao also made the announcement in the national press.

The suspect Palabrica is also known by his nickname Niño and is also facing several murder cases.

Read full article @ www.mindanews.com

[In the news] 15 human trafficking victims rescued – SunStar.com.ph

15 human trafficking victims rescued
By Bong Garcia, SunStar.com.ph
January 11, 2012

 THE multi-agency Sea-Based Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (SBATTF) has intercepted and rescued 15 victims of human trafficking in Zamboanga City, a top police official announced Wednesday.

Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) director Senior Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo said the victims were rescued around 9 a.m. Monday at the local port.

De Ocampo said the rescue came after receipt of information by his command’s Women and Children Protection Desk (WCPD) that some ten women were allegedly recruited to work abroad and are being kept in a house in the village of Rio Hondo.

Read full article @ www.sunstar.com.ph

[In the news] PHL bans Pinoys from working in 41 countries- GMANews.tv

PHL bans Pinoys from working in 41 countries

MANILA – The Philippines said Wednesday it had banned Filipinos from travelling to work in 41 countries and territories that had allegedly failed to provide enough safeguards to protect them from abuse.

The Department of Labor and Employment in a board resolution posted on its website said the blacklisted countries failed to sign international conventions protecting foreign workers.

Neither have these countries signed bilateral agreements with the Philippines “on the protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers,” the resolution said.

They also do not have their own laws protecting foreign workers, the resolution added.

Read full article @ www.gmanews.tv

[Press Release] PALEA to hold another big protest on Wednesday, asks people to join

As the lockout and termination of some 2,600 members of the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) enters its second week, the embattled union announced that it will hold another big protest on Wednesday at its protest camp outside the In-Flight Center of Philippine Airlines (PAL) along MIA Road.

“The big protest on Wednesday is inspired by and in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement against corporate greed and for social justice. We call on our fellow workers, especially those who are contractuals, and all Filipinos who oppose contractualization to join the rally,” declared Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and vice chair of Partido ng Manggagawa.

PALEA’s protest against contractualization continues to generate solidarity as yesterday His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Manila Archbishop, personally graced the general assembly of the Church-Labor Conference (CLC). Cardinal Rosales together with CLC chair Bishop Broderick Pabillo assured labor of the support of the Church in its advocacy for regular jobs and workers’ rights. (photo attached below)

The Occupy Wall Street movement started with just scores of participants but has since grown to thousands of protesters with the street occupations being replicated in many cities in the United States and even other countries. “One common thread ties protesters in New York with PALEA members—the fight for a better future for workers and their families. On Wednesday, let us show that in the Philippines, the long hands of solidarity extend across the thousands of miles to our brothers and sisters in the US and the world,” Rivera insisted.

Meanwhile today is the second family day at PALEA’s protest camp. Scores of PALEA family members are expected to attend the activities today dubbed “Palarong PALEA para sa Regular na Trabaho.” Among the parlor games will be “pukpok palayok” in which the makeshift jars to be used are marked “outsourcing” and “contractualization” and “pabitin” in which the prizes are labeled “regular jobs,” “decent wages,” “access to education,” and “affordable health care.”

Rivera added that “This is a family-friendly protest camp.” Arts workshops will also be organized so children can express their sentiments regarding their parent’s protest against contractualization at PAL. A child’s rights advocate will also give a talk on the topic to educate both parents and kids.

Press Release
October 9, 2011