Friday, 20 May 2011

Filipinos who make us proud

by Harold Geronimo
Manila Standard

We’re lucky that in this generation, we have witnessed succeeding triumphs of the Filipino in different fields. Amid the roaring internal controversies and issues that our nation is facing, we still have enough reasons to be proud about being Filipinos. This week, we salute five Filipinos who helped put our country in a remarkable place in the world map of success.

1. Manny Pacquiao

Undoubtedly, this number one pound-for-pound best boxer of the world has brought the Philippines to the international spotlight. He is the first boxer in history to win ten world titles and first to win in eight weight divisions. Just recently, he again wowed the world when he successfully defended his WBO World Welterweight title against three-division world champion Shane Mosley via lopsided unanimous decision at the MGM Grand Arena. Because of his triumphant years in boxing, Pacquiao (or Pacman) is now one of the wealthiest athletes in the world.

2. Charice

Charice may have not clinched the grand champion title in ABS-CBN’s Little Big Star in 2005, but she made it instantly big in the international scene after an avid supporter posted her performance videos on YouTube. Since then, she was invited to perform in several shows in the US, and has performed with some of the world’s most popular singers like Celine Dion. Dubbed as “the most talented girl in the world” by Oprah Winfrey, Charice is the only Asian and Filipino singer in history to land in the Top 10 of Billboard 200 album chart for her first international album, Charice, released last year. The country became even prouder for her guest appearances on Glee, making her the first Filipino to become part of the hit TV series.

3. Rico Hizon

Being the only Asian and Filipino to anchor two of the world’s most prestigious television news organizations, CNBC Business News and BBC World News, Rico Hizon has gone a long way in broadcast journalism. In his two-decade career as a broadcast journalist, Rico has interviewed some of the world’s newsmakers like Bill Gates, Former US President Bill Clinton and even NBA Superstar Kobe Bryant. He now anchors BBC World News’ Asia Business Report and Asia Today programs that are being watched by approximately 350 million households worldwide. Though he is based in Singapore, Rico comes home once in a while to visit relatives, speak for events or to spend time with his family on a vacation in what he considers as his “real home.”

4. Kenneth Cobonpue

No other Filipino furniture makers have reached the international success of Kenneth Cobonpue. This 42-year old Cebu-based entrepreneur is known for his modern, indigenous, carefully-crafted functional pieces that has gained popularity in many parts of the world. His creations have been featured in several American TV shows and films. Among his most valued clientele is Hollywood’s most popular couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. He has provided furniture and fixtures to some of the world’s luxury hotels and resorts in Spain, Greece, United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Maldives. Truly, Kenneth Cobonpue is a brand himself that the Philippines will always be proud of.

5. Monique Lhuillier

Another native of Cebu is also leaving a mark in the international fashion industry, specifically in Hollywood. She is 40-year old Diane Monique Lhuillier who now owns a couture fashion house in Los Angeles, California. During the annual Oscars, Monique’s name isn’t always missed as many famous Hollywood celebrities wear her gowns perfect for the red carpet. Among her clientele are Reese Witherspoon, Drew Marrymore, Hilary Swank, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez and Catherine Zeta-Jones. She is now a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

For your comments and views, you may e-mail me at or follow me on Twitter: harold_geronimo

P11-B wind-power project gets perks

Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino-Dutch joint venture Northern Luzon UPC was granted tax and fiscal incentives by the Board of Investments for its P11.214 billion wind energy project that will produce a total of 54 megawatt power.

There will be two wind power farms to be located in Pagudpud: One in Caparisisan with 54 MW and Baloi with 26 MW. These two projects are expected to start operation in December 2013.

Board of Investments (BoI) executive director Lucita Reyes said the project is 60 percent owned Filipino and 40 percent Dutch.

The Ilocos region has been a site of wind energy projects because its location near the ocean has been an ideal source for wind energy.

Other wind power projects in Ilocos Norte are Northwind Power, the first operational wind-power plant in Bagui and in Burgos, Pagudpud.

This activity is entitled to tax and fiscal incentives as this is listed in the 2010 Investment Priorities Plan under the mandatory listing which include the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

Earlier, the BoI also approved the P6.453 billion project of Filipino-owned Trans-Asia Renewable Energy Corp. (TAREC) for its 54-MW wind power plant in San Lorenzo , Guimaras, the first wind energy project in Visayas.

Based on its application, TAREC will supply electricity to the Visayas Grid via the Ingore, Iloilo substation owned by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) as stipulated in the Feed-in Tariff Rules starting at P10/kWh on the first year upon ERC approval.

As post registration condition the firm shall submit Certificate of Compliance (COC) authorizing them to operate as FIT (feed-in-tariff) eligible RE plants.

The project, which will employ a total of 75 personnel, start of commercial operations is in November 2013.

It's about money

A new RH bill angle exposed! It's about money!
Bobit S. Avila
Philippine Star

The debate on the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill resumed in Congress this week, where the pros and the antis debate once more on this highly-toxic issue, often with those supporting the RH bill (notice they have dropped their new name Responsible Parenthood and returned to using once again the term Reproductive Health) peddling lies in order to sell their proposed bill. I fully agree with pundits that this controversy has polarized the Filipino people. I would even dare say that something good has come out of this debate because it allowed the Filipino people to totally look at the RH bill from different angles... from the moral, the legal to the economic issue - whether our large population is the cause of our poverty.

Yes, those supporting the RH Bill would dare, misinform, cajole or even lie to the Filipino so that they could have this bill passed, while those that are against the RH bill can only tell you one story... the truth!

We’ve so often quoted the world’s foremost liar, Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s Propaganda Minister (who at the end of the German Reich killed his own family and committed suicide) who made this most quoted quotation, “A lie repeated a thousand times, assumes the substance of truth.”

The RH bill has been peddled in Congress since the year 1999 in so many different House Bill numbers, selling us all sorts of lies, like for instance, contraceptives are not abortifacient. The latest that was revealed no less than by the former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral is that contraceptives can cause breast cancer, though it reduces the risk of cervical cancer.

But one good news out of this debate comes from Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who expressed his opposition to the RH bill saying, “As far as we are concerned here, I don’t think it is a priority. I’ll be very frank with you. As far as I’m concerned, I am not ready to tinker with anything that is an act of God.” Thank God for Sen. Enrile, but what about Sen. Ed Angara and Sen. Miriam Santiago, who recently attacked the Pacman? Ah, that’s what we shall tackle in our column tomorrow.

Meanwhile, there’s that alleged anomaly that Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III exposed during his privilege speech concerning a P2.6 billion allocation for Family Health Programs during the time of Health Sec. Cabral dubbed the Maternal Neonatal and Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) program of the local government units (LGU) which some LGUs say they never got. Sen. Sotto is right in asking for an investigation into this potential mess before the Senate would tackle the RH Bill, which also earmarks a large amount of government funds.

There’s more to the corruption issue now plaguing the RH controversy and it’s about money, money and more money from faceless pharmaceutical lobbyists who no doubt are funding Congressmen and women who support the RH Bill. Here’s a letter that reveals this reality.

“Dear Bobit, I have always wondered why the RH Bill is being pushed through even though with or without it, the consumer is free to purchase contraceptives in the counter. So I made some analysis. Based on National Census Statistics Board data 2000, about 24 percent of the Philippine population is above 20 years old. Based on the same statistics, about 50 percent of that are females.

“Considering we have a total population of about 90 million that means the total population of Filipinos above 20 years old is about 22 million. Half of that would be 11 million females. This is the present target market for contraceptives. If I am not mistaken, based on what I have found out from the internet, the cost of using birth control pills is about P1,000 a month.

“The total potential value of the market in the Philippines is therefore computed to be: 11 million x P1,000 per month x 12 months or a total of P132 billion per year. The problem for the contraceptive manufacturers is that 90 percent of the market belongs to the lower income who cannot afford to spend P1,000 per month. So in order to give this market purchasing power, the RH Bill is now being pushed to enable the government to use taxpayer’s money to subsidize these contraceptives.

“To further expand the market, the 10 to 15 years old will be given sex education in school and they will be allowed to purchase contraceptives even without the consent of their parents. That could mean another 4,000,000 potential users. The value of this additional market is calculated to be another P48 billion. Adding the two markets gives us a whooping valuation of P180 billion per year. Now I understand why the RH Bill is being pushed very hard. God bless! - Bobby Tordesillas.” No bill in Congress has been so thoroughly debated, dissected and discussed by the pros and the cons of various sectors of society. I have read and heard most if not all the comments for and against the RH Bill, but this angle has never been presented in this manner.

* * *

For email responses to this article, write to or His columns can be accessed

Where will you spend 3 billion on?

Boxing champ Pacquiao uncovers Lagman's misleading claims of amended provisions

Diana Uichanco

MANILA, May 19, 2011—In what started out as a seemingly one-sided debate Wednesday between a neophyte and a veteran legislator, with the newcomer looking hesitant in some instances, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman ended up admitting to the newbie that certain provisions of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill he had been claiming amended were, in fact, still intact in House Bill 4244.

Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao queried the bill's principal author on the provision regarding a two-child ideal family size, saying that such a measure may lead to a population drop in the country.

Lagman replied that the bill's authors had already removed the two-child ideal, adding that it would take a century before a feared "demographic winter" would set in.

After expressing his concern over the bill’s P3 billion proposed annual budget, the world boxing champion then focused on mandatory sex education, which the bill requires for students from Grade 5 to 4th Year high school in all schools as well as for out-of-school youth.

"Puwede po bang tumanggi ang isang estudyante sa pamamagitan ng kaniyang mga magulang?" the solon asked, airing his concern that more students will be unable to graduate from high school should they miss their sex ed classes.

"Ang compulsory sex education ay labag sa constitution," he added.

Lagman replied that the provision on mandatory sex education had also been amended.

"Wala na nga pong obligasyon na ito, tinanggal na nga ito," the Albay congressman said. "Walang basehan 'yung apprehension na walang makaka-graduate. Exempted sa pag-attend, exempted din sa pagkuha ng periodic tests. Ang mga estudyante po ay makakagraduate."

The Sarangani congressman then brought up the question of whether or not employers will be required to provide condoms and other artificial contraceptives to their employees, as stipulated by the RH bill.

He expressed concern that this would disregard the religious convictions of employers who believe that the measure goes against their beliefs.

"Amended na ang provision na ito. Hindi mo yata narinig dahil nag-eensayo ka para sa laban mo," Lagman countered. "Incomplete ang impormasyong ibinigay sa iyo. Hindi ito sapilitan."

In an unexpected turn in the line of questioning, the pound-for-pound fighter then asked the solon from Albay why there were amendments to the bill when they were still in the period of interpellations. Once a bill has passed the committee level, amendments may only be proposed and accepted during the period of amendments that comes after the period of interpellations.

Lagman responded by relating the March 22 deviation he and ACT-TEACHERS Party List Rep. Antonio Tinio carried out in which the proposed amendments were merely voiced out. This took place after the Committee on Population and Family Relations had already formally approved the Committee Report.

Pacquiao then asked Lagman by what rules these supposed amendments were accepted, as the period of amendments were yet to be reached. Lagman was unable to provide an answer.

In other words, the so-called amendments that Lagman and the bill's co-authors have been insisting are still proposed amendments. The current version of House Bill 4244—which contains provisions on mandatory reproductive health and sex education (Sec. 16), ideal family size (Sec. 20), and employers' responsibility to provide RH services to employees (Sec. 21), as well on malicious disinformation under "punitive acts" (Sec. 28)—stands.

Reproductive Health Bill Timeline (II)

1914 – American nurse Margaret Sanger invents the term “birth control”.12

1927 - Margaret Sanger organizes first World Population Conference in Geneva, including professors, doctors and scientists to establish credibility and rally people to her cause.13, 14

1942 - Planned Parenthood Federation of America is established to unite the efforts of eugenicists, population controllers and birth controllers.15

1939-1948 - Increase in individual efforts in the Philippines by Presbyterian, Congregational, and other Protestant ministers to spread information about birth control.16

1948 - Planned Parenthood awards a grant to Gregory Pincus, a research biologist who undertook a series of tests leading to the development of the birth control pill.17

1952 - Population Council is founded by John D. Rockefeller III. This would be the nexus of the entire population control movement, going on to coordinate the work of the United Nations, the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, founded just three weeks later, as well as major pharmaceutical firms. IPPF's first director Blacker said of their goal, "You seek to fulfill the aims of eugenics without disclosing what you are really aiming at and without mentioning the word." With the approval of India's PM, India's people became some of the very first subjects of experimentation in the quest to find a cheap contraceptive "to be used in poverty stricken
slums, jungles and among the most ignorant people." Just a few years later, Sanger would go back to the US and promote the sterilization of what she deemed "dysgenic" portions of the population.18

1957 The National Council of Churches establishes the Family Relations Center, a counseling clinic. The Children's Medical Center Foundation is established. One of its semi-autonomous units is the Institute of Maternal and Child Health, which is responsible for extending services to rural areas.19

1959 – Swedish researcher Bent Boving, at a Planned Parenthood-Population Council symposium notes that: “Whether eventual control of implantation can be reserved the social advantage of being considered to prevent conception rather than to destroy an established pregnancy could depend upon something so simple as a prudent habit of speech.”20 Prior to this, all references to the fetus affirm that life begins at conception. The only reason the change was proposed was to pave the way for widespread acceptance of contraception despite its action on the ovum post-fertilization and pre-implantation.

1960 - The US FDA approves the sale of oral pills for contraception.21

1964 – The University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) is formally established as a unit of the University of the Philippines, with an initial grant from the Ford Foundation. Its goal is to undertake population studies and train graduates in demography.22

1965 - American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) adopts Boving’s definition that "conception is the implantation of a fertilized ovum" even though the zygote at implantation is already a blastocyst (five-day old embryo). [to be deleted later, after we find a way of inputting the citation not found online - Ref: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Terminology Bulletin. Terms Used in Reference to the Fetus. No. 1. Philadelphia: Davis, September, 1965.] The Family Relations Center is reorganized into the Planned Parenthood Movement in the Philippines. The Family Planning Association of the Philippines is established to provide education, information and clinic services. The University of the Philippines Population Institute organizes the first Conference in Population with support from the Population Council. US President Lyndon Johnson declares in a speech that every five dollars spent on population control was worth more than a hundred dollars invested in economic growth. American funding soars for family planning programs both in the US and abroad. FIGO (Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society) adopts the ACOG definition of conception.

1966 - Lyndon Johnson receives Planned Parenthood's highest award (the Margaret Sanger award) for his policies pushing family planning on foreign countries.

1967 – Seventeen heads of state including Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos sign the United Nations Declaration on Population which stresses that the “population problem” must be recognized as the principal element in long-term economic development. The Institute of Maternal and Child Health sets up the National Training Center for Maternal Health Service in accordance with an agreement between the National Economic Council, the Institute for Maternal and Chld Health, and the US Agency for International Development.

1968 - The government starts to participate in population and family planning efforts by creating the Project Office for Maternal and Child Health in the Department of Health to coordinate family planning activities. Paul Ehrlich publishes the book Population Bomb, falsely foretelling a grim future of overpopulation and mass starvation in the 70’s and 80’s as a direct result of the dangerous links between population, resource depletion, and the environment. Reproductive rights develops as a subset of human rights at the United Nation's 1968 International Conference on Human Rights.

1969 – Philippine Population Program is officially launched through Executive Order No. 233, creating a study group known as the Population Commission (POPCOM). POPCOM is mandated to undertake population studies and to serve as central coordinating and policy-making body, make program recommendations on population as they relate to economic and social development. Its goal: to lower family size and fertility rates. The secretary of justice liberalizes the interpretation of an existing ruling to permit the importation of contraceptives. USAID starts funding 80% of contraceptives in the Philippines, amounting to US$ 3 M/year. President Marcos eventually pushes for a systematic distribution of contraceptives all over the country, a policy that is called “coercive,” by its leading administrator. The Family Planning Association of the Philippines and the Planned Parenthood Movement in the Philippines are merged to form the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP). In November FPOP becomes a full-fledged member of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). Congress approves a resolution to establish basic policies aimed at achieving economic development and social justice. The Catholic bishops issue a statement disagreeing with the government's intervention in couples' fertility decisions and objecting to the promotion of family limitation as a measure to reduce population growth.

1970 - First Earth Day. Peaceful demonstrations reflect environmental concerns, promotion of the idea that "population pollutes."

Early 1970's - Planned Parenthood International comes to the Philippines, working with local partner organizations to increase the provision of comprehensive reproductive health care services.

1971 – Republic Act 6365 aka Population Act of the Philippines is enacted into law by Congress. It establishes the national population policy and creates the national agency in charge of population, the Commission on Population (POPCOM). President Marcos instructs the Department of Health to add family planning services to all of its 1400 rural health units. By 1973, 1070 rural health units are offering family planning services.

1972 – President Ferdinand Marcos declares martial law. The Population Center Foundation is set up to forge a stronger partnership between the government and the private sector. Presidential Decree No. 79 revises Republic Act 6365, authorizing nurses and midwives, in addition to physicians, to provide, dispense, and administer all acceptable methods of contraception to those who desire to avail themselves of such services as long as these health workers have been trained and properly authorized by the POPCOM board. It directs the National Family Planning Program to respect the religious beliefs and values of individuals. The Population Education Program is established within the Department of Education Culture to provide instruction in population education for elementary and high school children by training teachers to develop curriculum materials. General Order No. 18 enjoins all sectors to promote the concept of family planning and responsible parenthood. Letter of Instruction No. 74 A directs the secretary of the Department of Public Information and the postmaster general to help implement the POPCOM board programs by disseminating information on family planning.

1973 – Philippine Constitution expresses government commitment to deal with the "problem" of rapid population growth. It provides: "It should be the responsibility of the state to achieve and maintain population levels most conducive to the national welfare." Presidential Decree No. 69 amends the National Internal Revenue Code to reduce the number of children for which additional tax exemptions can be claimed from an unlimited number of children to four. Decentralization of the Population Program starts with the establishment of 11 POPCOM regional offices. Presidential Decree No. 166 appoints two members from the private sector to the POPCOM board for three-year terms. A Department of Justice ruling permits sterilization. The Catholic hierarchy issues a pastoral letter on the population problem and family life. The letter objects to the use of artificial contraceptives to solve the population problem and notes that the government reneged on its earlier pledge not to encourage sterilization. Population Center Foundation (PCF) is established and starts operations to serve as a resource institution for the population program in the Philippines as its purpose, by “managing the growth of the country’s population through fertility reduction or family planning.” Supreme Court Decision Roe v. Wade strikes down many state laws restricting abortion.

1974 – National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM) 200 - Kissinger Report is released in April in the US. In 1975, the United States adopts NSSM200 as its policy to give “paramount importance” to population control measures and the promotion of contraception among 13 populous countries, including the Philippines, to control rapid population growth which they deem to be inimical to the socio-political and economic growth of these countries and to the national interests of the United States. It recommends the US leadership to “influence national leaders” and that “improved world-wide support for population-related efforts should be sought through increased emphasis on mass media and other population education and motivation programs by the UN, USIA, and USAID.” Report soon influences Kissinger’s fellow racist or anti-life presidents, other high-ranking officials, and private institutions such as the Ford Foundation. Like-minded groups such as Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), EngendeRights, and United Nations Population Fund (UNFP) emerge. CRR advances "reproductive freedom," including birth control and safe abortion, as a fundamental human ‘right’ that all governments are legally obliged to protect, respect, and fulfill. CRR releases a book entitled Forsaken Lives saying that the abortion ban causes high abortion mortality rate in the Philippines. Presidential Decree No. 34 exempts contraceptives and supplies necessary for the family planning program from payment of customs duties. Presidential Decree No. 1202 reduces the number of paid maternity leaves to four. Presidential Decree No. 442 requires private companies to provide their female employees with family planning services. In the Philippines, where abortion is both illegal and explicitly against official population policy, the IPPF provides 200 "menstrual regulation" kits for demonstration purposes. (IPPF details)

1975 - The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) is established as “the Philippines’ premier gender and development portal providing access to resources and data on women in the Philippines." Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA) is also founded as an internationally recognized non-profit organization that improves the lives of women and girls in developing countries. The orientation of the Population Program shifts because of the operationalization of the total integrated development approach that is piloted in provinces. The Department of Justice removes the requirements for prescriptions for oral contraceptives, thereby permitting widespread distribution of pills through nonclinical channels by trained field workers. Presidential Decree No. 166 further strengthens the Family Planning Program, requiring the participation of private organizations and individuals in the formulation and implementation of population programs and policies.

1976 - Executive Order No. 123 attaches the Population Commission to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as the population planning and coordinating agency. Presidential Decree No. 965 requires applicants for marriage licenses to receive instruction on family planning and responsible parenthood. The National Population and Family Planning Outreach Project is initiated. Letter of Instruction No. 433 authorizes provincial governors and city mayors to gradually assume the responsbility of funding the cost of all activities related to population and family planning and of projects agreed to by the POPCOM board and provincial officials for their respective jurisdictions.

1977 - The National Population and Family Planning Outreach Project begins implementation. Between 1977 and 1979, 30,000 volunteers are recruited to provide contraceptive supplies and referrals. Presidential Decree No. 1204 amends certain sections of PD 79. This amendment further strengthens the powers of the Commission on Population in order for it to implement its functions more effectively.

1978 - Letter of Instruction No. 661 creates the Special Committee to Review the Philippine Population Program in the context of the overall development goals of the country and to recommend policy and program directions for the future.

1979 - CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) Philippines is established, to “promote women's rights everywhere, by aligning laws with international obligations and treaties, …to realize the goal of women's human rights.”

1986 – Pres. Cory Aquino issues Executive Order No. 123, attaching POPCOM to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as the planning and coordinating agency for a 5-year plan to improve health, nutrition and family planning, with particular focus on maternal and child health, not on fertility reduction. During Aquino's administration, the Philippines still posts steady declines in population growth rates.

1987 - Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) is founded as a socialist feminist organization involving “women’s right advocate” Elizabeth Angsioco, RHAN, et al. Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare (PNGOC) is founded "by 17 Philippine NGOs with the objective of becoming the voice of population and development advocates within the NGO, government and funding circles and to respond to the growing demand for NGO services in population, reproductive and sexual health and development." Policy statement under the Aquino Administration is issued by the POPCOM Board which states: "The ultimate goal of the Population Program is the improvement of the quality of human life in a just and humane society. … The achievement of this goal requires a recognition of the close interrelationships among population, resources and environmental factors."

1989 - The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) is established in Congress, “dedicated to the formulation of viable public policies requiring legislation on population management and socio-economic development.”

1990 Executive Order No. 408 is issued, placing POPCOM under the control and supervision of the Office of the President in order to "facilitate coordination of policies and programs relative to population."

1991 - Executive Order No. 467 (476?) is issued, making POPCOM an attached agency of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). PCF is renamed as Philippine Center for Population and Development (PCPD) on February 15, now with a wider scope beyond common concerns on population. Members of the board include various well-known media personalities: Ricky A. Carandang, Peter D. Garrucho and Cecilia L. Lazaro. New members include DOH Secretary Esperanza Cabral and Luchi Cruz Valdez of TV5. Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Juliano Soliman, the Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, along with Cecilia L. Lazaro (Cheche Lazaro) of the TV magazine show The Probe Team, is also part of the Nomination & Membership Committee of the PCPD chaired by Ricky Carandang.

1992 - Fidel Ramos’ presidency shifts from population control to population management. Earth Summit on Sustainable Development is held in Rio de Janeiro, with several influential documents produced, including "Agenda 21" and "The Rio Declaration." Discussions about population control are central to the event, and the abortion agenda is pushed under the umbrella of "reproductive rights." The Philippines is one of the signatories.

1993 - The Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW) is formally established in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (see ASAP study 2008-2009) as a sort of a middleman between funders and fundees. CRR’s partner, Reproductive Health, Rights, and Ethics Center for Studies and Training (ReproCen) is established as a joint project of the College of Law and the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines System with support of the Ford Foundation. The Philippine Population Management Program and the Population, Resources and Environment Framework are adopted by the Ramos Administration.

1994 - "Ethical and Pastoral Dimensions of Population Trends” is published by the Pontifical Council for the Family. It studies and reflects on population trends and “sets out ethical principles in the light of which the Church analyzes these realities.” United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. Several nations seek to define reproductive health services to include (safe and legal) abortion.

1995 - The Likhaan Center for Women's Health (Philippines) is established, “a collective of grassroots women and men, health advocates and professionals dedicated to promoting and pushing for the health and rights of disadvantaged women and their communities,” with Dr. Junice Melgar as Executive Director.

1996 – Maguindanao, the largest of the five provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in terms of population and number of municipalities and barangays, is assisted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) since the 4th Country Programme. Official UN terminology on contraceptive use is noted to have evolved from one euphemism (doublespeak) to another: from "safe motherhood" to "family planning" to "sexual health" and "reproductive health" to "fertility regulation" (which involves abortion).

1998 - Pres. Joseph Estrada uses mixed methods of reducing fertility rates. The first reproductive health measure is introduced in Congress, but is stalled on the committee level long before reaching the floor. Similar bills have been introduced almost every year since. Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) is established. (See their Yahoogroup started in 2007.) IPPF presents its Youth Manifesto (Christopher Penales is a participant). Kiko de la Tonga becomes Youth Program Coordinator of Likhaan.

1999 - Felipe Medalla, Secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and chair of the Board of POPCOM, unveils the idea of Philippine contraceptive self-reliance to the world at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in July. Melgar is in alliance with Inter-Pares, which “works with social change organizations around the world who share [their] analysis that poverty and injustice are caused by structural inequalities within and between nations, and who are working to promote social and economic justice in their communities.” Prochoice Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network Philippines (or LAGABLAB-Pilipinas) is formally launched. The Estrada Administration reformulates the Philippine Population Management Program, with Responsible Parenthood as its lynchpin.

2000 – In board meeting of January 31, POPCOM Board of Directors pass a resolution that launches the Contraceptive Independence Initiative and creates the multisectoral Technical Working Group. The Philippines signs the Millennium Declaration and commits to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015, including promoting gender equality and health. MDG Philippines and MDG Youth Philippines are founded. Women's Legal Education, Advocacy and Defense Foundation, Inc. (WomenLEAD) is founded, with staff and Austria, Lucson, Melgar, and Claudio in the board of trustees.

2001 - Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration focuses on mainstreaming natural family planning, while stating that contraceptives are openly sold in the country. Carolina Ruiz-Austria’s (WomenLEAD) paper, "From Mortal Sin to Human Rights: Redefining the Philippine Policy on Abortion," is published.

2002 - WomenLEAD co-sponsors on December 9 a conference on the Women's Reproductive Rights as Human Rights sponsored by the Institute of Human Rights, University of the Philippines Law Center at Malcolm Hall, UP College of Law. In May, Womenlead Foundation, representing RHAN, files a petition and a position paper to re-open the Department of Health case on Postinor, arguing that women want to use it and women's reproductive health advocates have been denied due process of law in the hearing on the original petition that has led to the ban.

2003 - Clara Rita Padilla founds EngendeRights, which seeks to “raise awareness and access to emergency contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies, post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS, and safe and legal abortion.” USAID starts to phase out its 33-year-old program by which free contraceptives are given to the country. Aid recipients such as the Philippines face the challenge to fund its own contraception program. On March 24, 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issues Executive Order No. 188 attaching POPCOM to the Department of Health. In her State of the Nation address in July, President Arroyo labels the Reproductive Health Care Act as "the abortion bill" and vows to veto it if it is passed. However, the bill does not even contain a clause to amend the current penal law on abortion; rather, it establishes the integration of post-abortion care into the health services and sets standards for humane treatment in public hospitals of women with complications from unsafe abortions.
Australian philosopher Peter Singer's book Rethinking Life and Death is published. Singer replaces the sanctity-of-life ethic with a quality-of-life ethic that, in his view, has a more solid and realistic foundation.

2004 - The Department of Health introduces the Philippines Contraceptive Self-Reliance Strategy, arranging for the replacement of these donations with domestically provided contraception. The Waray-Waray Youth Advocates (WARAYA)is established as youth arm of Youth Innovation Fund of Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP). Forum for Family Planning and Development Inc (FFPD) starts its operations with the belief that prominent steps need to be taken to raise concerns on family planning and development . The objective of such move is to attract key stakeholders ready to plunge with the operations, after an influential group spearheads the movement. In an international conference conducted by the International Consortium for Medical Abortion (ICMA) titled "Medical Abortion: An International Forum on Policies, Programmes and Services," Dr. Junice Melgar is a participant, particularly on Oct 19 when she co-chairs on Research and Terminology. (2004 Details)

2005 - UNFPA works “to ensure the improvement of reproductive health of the people of Masbate.” The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) Report is released. UNFPA Mountain Province is established. RHAN YOUTH is established. Lanao del Sur is included in UNFPA’s 6th Country Programme of Assistance in 2005, as it belongs to the 10 poorest provinces in the Philippines. In a Statement of Support, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo joins “the community of nations in expressing support for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).” The statement also reiterates the principles that guide the Philippine government in the implementation of population program. These principles are based on the four (4) pillars of Responsible Parenthood, Respect for Life, Birth Spacing, and Informed Choice. Health services, including Reproductive Health services, are devolved by the Local Government Code to the local government units, which have the responsibility of providing couples and individuals with information and services to enable them to exercise Responsible Parenthood.

2006 – Ifugao becomes the first among the UNFPA provinces to pass a Reproductive Health Ordinance at the provincial level in July 2006. It is followed by the passage of the Gender and Development Code the following year. “Contraceptive use in Sultan Kudarat [is] 48.9% in 2005, almost equal to the 49% national average. This is still a long way to the 60 per cent contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) target by 2012.” On October 10, 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issues guidelines and directive for the DOH, POPCOM, and local government units to take full charge of the implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Program. The Responsible Parenthood and Natural Family Planning Program’s primary policy objective is to promote natural family planning, birth spacing (three years birth spacing), and breastfeeding, which are good for the health of the mother, child, family, and community. While LGUs can promote artificial family planning because of local autonomy, the national government advocates natural family planning.

2007 – Olongapo becomes the first city to pass a Reproductive Health Code, providing a P3 million annual budget to cover procurement of contraceptives, among others. The UNFPA Youth is established. The UN-initiated Youth Association of the Philippines starts its formal operation in October. The International Planned Parenthood Federation’s Comprehensive Sexuality Education Framework is released. Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WNGRR) transfers its Coordinating Office to the Philippines from Amsterdam. Dr. Sylvia “Guy” Claudio Estrada of the Philippines serves as the Board Chair of WNGRR. (2007 Details)

2008 - Contraceptive use goes down mainly due to non-availability of free contraceptives. Sulu becomes the first province in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the entire Mindanao to have its own Provincial Reproductive Health Ordinance. 37 participants from 13 countries meet in Kuala Lumpur in March and form the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP), facilitated by the International Consortium for Medical Abortion. “A Study of Knowledge, Attitudes and Understanding of Legal Professionals about Safe Abortion as a Women’s Right” is conducted by ASAP in 2008-2009, with WomenLEAD. Atty. Claire Luczon, Executive Director of WomenLead, is part of the Steering Committee for ASAP on the said meeting. (ARROW and Fr. Bernas are also involved.) In October, a reproductive health bill is introduced by Cong. Edcel C. Lagman and reaches plenary debate on the House floor for the first time. (2008 Details)

2009 - The International Alliance of Young Nurse Leaders (AYNLA) is established, to “advocate for the UN MDGs and nurses' rights that started in the Philippines.” The United Nations Youth Association of the Philippines Cagayan de Oro Chapter is established. A UNFPA video is released. In the 14th Congress, RH bill passes first reading and stalls in second. Caritas in Veritate is published, the Encyclical letter by Pope Benedict XVI which expresses the importance of adopting an authentic human ecology, one that includes a genuine respect for nature while placing humanity at the center of development. He directly states that: “To consider population increase as the primary cause of underdevelopment is mistaken, even from an economic point of view”. Guttmacher Institute publishes a report, "Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress," with Dr. Junice Melgar as one of the colleagues referred to by the authors who contributed, made suggestions and offered advice. (2009 Details) Former US First Lady Hillary Clinton confirms what pro-lifers have known all along about the pro-choice movement: access to reproductive health means access to abortion.

2010 – Dr. Esperanza Cabral is appointed by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Secretary of Department of Health. Sen. Benigno Aquino III and Sen. Mar Roxas run in the national elections, with the RH Bill in their platfrom; Aquino wins as president. Cabral expresses support for the RH Bill. Pres. Aquino replaces Cabral with Sec. Enrique Ona as Department of Health Secretary. Pres. Aquino vows to sign the Bill into law. Reproductive Health Practitioners Network of the Philippines (RHPN) is established, involving nurse Prof. Alvin Cloyd Dakis, founder and national president of the AYNLA and representative of RHAN Youth. IPPF Report calls for youth sex rights and reveals new UN funding. The Intercollegiate Asian Parliamentary Debate Tournament is held, to stir youth action on MDGs. WARAYA receives funding from IPPF (Planned Parenthood). The Summit on the Millennium Development Goals is held. LGBT Philippines is on Facebook. The Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WNGRR) publishes "Recommitting to the Struggle for Safe, Legal Abortion" for its members and partners, which includes Likhaan. (2010 Details) Dr. Elard Koch's studies show that legalizing abortion isn't necessary to reduce maternal and infant deaths.10

2011 - The Young People for the Passage of RH Bill is founded. Other women NGOs are established. In the 15th Congress, five similar bills are introduced to the House and consolidated in January 2011 by the House Committee on Population and Family Relations. The consolidated bill is scheduled for plenary session in mid-February.

12 Adler, Robert E. Medical Firsts: from Hippocrates to the Human Genome. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2004. Print.
13 Sanger, Margaret, Esther Katz, Cathy Moran. Hajo, and Peter Engelman. The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger. Urbana: University of Illinois, 2003. Print.
14 Franks, Angela. Margaret Sanger's Eugenic Legacy: the Control of Female Fertility. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005. Print.
15 Adler 150.
16 Robinson 278.
17 Sexual & Reproductive Health - Sex Education - Planned Parenthood. Web. 13 May 2011. .
18 Connelly 163.
19 Robinson 278.
20 "Birth Control Pills: Contraceptive or Abortifacient? |" American Life League: The Nation's Largest Grassroots Catholic Pro-Life Organization . N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2011. .
21 Adler 155.
22 Robinson 279.

Reproductive Health Bill Timeline (I)

It would be impossible to look back and trace the history of the Reproductive Health Bill currently pending in the Philippine congress without taking a peek into the roots of birth control and population management that began in the late 1800s. In 1793, economist Thomas Malthus fathered the population control movement when he published An Essay on the Principle of Population, effectively frightening British leaders with his claim that food production would never be able to keep up with population increase.1 Contraceptives weren't unknown at the time, but social norms meant that they weren't talked about either. It was in this environment that atheists and Malthusians Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh gained notoriety in 1877 by publishing Charles Knowlton's booklet promoting what they called "sex without pregnancy". The booklet had already been in quiet circulation for decades but its publication triggered quite the response even from the prosecutors that convicted Besant and Bradlaugh. Although the duo was found guilty of publishing the obscene booklet, the attention that they received did much to encourage a large number of people to employ contraceptive measures. Even before they went to trial they had sold more than 130,000 copies of the booklet. It was also around this time that the birth rate of England began to fall, at first in privileged households, and then eventually in every social class and occupation.2, 3

Two years after Besant and Bradlaugh, Margaret Sanger was born to a poor New York household with eleven kids. Growing up she was exposed to much hardship and suffering and she attributed this to the fact that they had a large family. As a nurse she witnessed the tragic death of a pregnant woman, and it forever changed her. She was convinced that eliminating procreation from the sexual equation was the solution to many social ills. Sanger coined the term "birth control" in 1914.4 She, along with Marie Stopes from the UK, Elise Ottesen-Jensen from Sweden, Baroness Shidzue Ishimoto from Japan and Lady Rama Rau from India, would be the pioneers of the sexual revolution. They not only broke rules, they made new ones: rules that would shape the attitudes of the world about the meaning, purpose and value of human life.5

Events in the early 1900s -- war, famine, migration -- fueled the efforts of neo-Malthusians, eugenicists, birth controllers, and demographers. Each of these groups had different concerns for which they were seeking solutions. Some believed in preserving and increasing "good stock" to maintain national identity. Others were alarmed with the growing population outside their borders and thought it would be in their nation's interests to control migration and preserve racial purity. Included in these were world leaders apprehensive about the loss of economic and political power. Yet others were concerned about replacing people lost through war, famine or disease. And still others were afraid that growing populations in places like India would eventually be difficult to sustain and that humanitarian efforts to help these nations would certainly end up in bringing Western civilizations down.

Sanger was a genius in organizing and she was able to bring together well-known and moneyed people from different disciplines to advance her cause. Sanger wanted everyone -- the eugenicists, the population controllers, the demographers, the Malthusians -- to see that all of their concerns could be solved by one thing: contraception. Though she was marginalized at first by the very men she invited to her conferences, her ideas soon took hold and became promoted as useful for "the common good." It would take a while before these movements would eventually grow into global coalitions, but Sanger and others like her planted the seeds wherever and whenever they could.6 Today, many who recite the mantras that grew out of this eugenicist and racist movement scarcely realize the beginnings of the causes for which they fight.

In the Philippines early on, President Ferdinand Marcos bought heavily into US and UN agenda of depopulation, signing the 1967 Declaration on Population, a statement made the previous year by representatives of 12 countries.7 Since then, much effort has been expended within and without to increase contraceptive use and promote voluntary sterilization. Marcos, Ramos, Estrada and now Aquino, all had similar views regarding population as it relates to economic development. It was during their watch that depopulation programs made the biggest strides.8

Today, the clamor to pass the bill comes from non-governmental organizations such as Likhaan and coalitions like the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN). Though seemingly concerned with benevolent ends, their motivations remain suspect because of the monies they've received and continue to receive from these international organizations. In 2010 the Philippine government received $434M from the Millennium Challenge Corporation of America for a five-year ‘development’ contract. MCC is the new millennium's version of the old organizations; new name, same goals, same methods.

Let's take the International Planned Parenthood Federation for instance, whose country programmes are partnered with and get funding from MCC. While founder Margaret Sanger did not have abortion as her goal, the seeds of contraception that Planned Parenthood started from has blossomed since Roe v. Wade into a booming abortion business, currently making hundreds of millions of dollars a year, the majority of these dollars made on abortion alone.9

Since 1973 when abortion became legal, there have been 53,000,000 abortions in the United States.10 What does the IPPF want to achieve in the Philippines?

In the following timeline, we trace how the idea of contraception was born, and how it grew to its status now, a perceived quick fix as commonplace as the air we breathe. Its promotion and use around the world has resulted in an anti-life, contraceptive mentality, widespread acceptance of abortifacients, legalization of abortion and its use as the ultimate contraceptive, coercive family planning policies, divorce, the breakdown of the family, pornography, and an overall tolerance for promiscuity and immoral homosexual behavior, giving rise to more and more sexually-transmitted diseases.11

1 Malthus, Thomas Robert, An Essay on the Principle of Population. 1798. Library of Economics and Liberty. 13 May 2011. .
2 Connelly, Matthew James. Fatal Misconception: the Struggle to Control World Population. Cambridge, MA: Belknap of Harvard UP, 2008. Print.
3 D'Arcy, F. "The Malthusian League and the Resistance to Birth Control Propaganda in Late Victorian Britain." Population Studies 31.3 (1977): 429-48. Population Investigation Committee. Web. .
4 Sanger, Margaret. The Autobiography of Margaret Sanger. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2004. Print.
5 Connelly 24.
6 Connelly 55-76.
7 The Population Council, "Declaration on Population: The World Leaders Statement." Studies in Family Planning, No. 26, January, 1968. Web. .
8 Robinson, Warren C., and John A. Ross. The Global Family Planning Revolution Three Decades of Population Policies and Programs. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2007. Print.
9 Simon, Stephanie. "Planned Parenthood Hits Suburbia -" Business News & Financial News - The Wall Street Journal - 23 June 2008. Web. 12 May 2011. .
10 "Factsheet Has New Abortion Totals & Analysis: Over 53 Million Abortions since Roe."National Right to Life. Web. 12 May 2011. .
11 Malhotra, Sheetal. "Impact of the Sexual Revolution: Consequences of Risky Sexual Behaviors." Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 13.3 (2008): 88-90. Web. .

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Elevated monorail to connect to Metro Manila rail systems

Jeremiah F. de Guzman
Manila Standard

THE state-run Bases Conversion Development Authority says it plans to build an elevated monorail that will connect with the rail transit systems in Makati, Pasay and Taguig.

The Makati-Taguig-Pasay Monorail Alignment would be built through a partnership with private investors, agency chairman Felicito Payumo said in a statement.

He said the project was aimed at easing the congestion in the Metropolis over the next five years, connecting with the Metro Rail Transit serving the Edsa route, the Light Rail Transit running along Taft Avenue, and the Philippine National Railways, which cuts across Metro Manila in traveling to Southern Luzon.

Civil engineers chose an elevated monorail because of the narrow streets in Makati and Taguig, Payumo said, adding its completion would possibly be followed by the relocation of the country’s international airport to the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga.

“We are on the right track,” he said.

The agency has raised some P51 billion for the Armed Forces modernization program from the disposition of former military camps in Metro Manila. Those camps include the Bonifacio Global City, Market! Market!, Serendra, McKinley Hill, the JUSMAG Property in Fort Bonifacio, and the Villamor Air Base.

The agency also built the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, the country’s longest expressway at 93.77 kilometers.

The double-minded Philippines

Business Mirror

Running in front of me was an SUV with two large bumper stickers. The one on the right side read “Aquino for President”; the left side sticker proclaimed “No to RH bill.”

This may be representative of the basic problem in the Philippines right now. The traditional definition of this condition is called “double-mindedness.”

The most accurate definition is probably found in the letter of Saint James, who wrote that, “A double- minded man is inconstant [inconsistent, unstable, uncertain, undetermined] in all his ways.” We are seeing the result of “double-mindedness” in too many places.

Malacañang wants both an “executive secretary [Little President] and a chief of staff [the other Little President?].

Anti-mining groups demand that the rights of Philippine indigenous people (IP) be absolutely respected while some of those same groups support a government plan to directly lease mining areas that would trample and destroy the IP’s right to private property in their ancestral domains.

One side demands a weaker peso to protect the interests of those 10 million overseas Filipino workers remitters while 90 million Filipinos suffer very high fuel costs because of a weak peso.

From Monty Guild, CEO and chief investment officer of Guild Investment Management: “Other currencies have been rising versus the US dollar, which has cushioned their economies. As an example, the Australian dollar has risen 23 percent versus the US dollar in the last 12 months. The price of oil has risen by 31 percent in US terms. Therefore, to Australians, crude oil is only up about 8 percent.”

Let me rephrase that to apply to your personal finances: “The Philippine peso has risen 4.5 percent versus the US dollar in the last 12 months. The price of oil has risen by 31 percent in US terms. Therefore, to Filipinos, crude oil is only up about 26 percent.”

Less than two weeks ago the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) raised interest rates. At that time, BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said, “With these considerations, the board deemed it prudent to rein in inflation expectations further.”

From the BusinessMirror: “Monetary authorities said they would rather have the exchange rate approach the consensus rate P42 per US dollar and manage the external sector a tad more difficult than usual instead of having inflation average above forecast at 5.6 percent this year—which may happen if they didn’t increase policy rates.”

Yet this week, the Department of Finance (DOF) rejected offers to buy Philippine Treasury debt because the banks wanted a higher interest rate than the DOF was willing to pay. In other words, the BSP raised rates, acknowledging that the “external sector” (selling government debt) would be more difficult, but the DOF rejected the debt offers because it would be at a higher rate.

This “double-mindedness” of the two most important government money agencies was best expressed by Yvette Marquez-Carlos, who helps manage the $11 billion at BPI Asset Management, quoted by Bloomberg as saying, “Some government securities will probably need to align the rates accordingly with the central bank.” Ms. Marquez-Carlos was being kind and diplomatic. Had Bloomberg asked me, I would have said that the BSP and the DOF must have lost each other’s phone number because neither has the slightest clue as to what the other is doing and what the government interest-rate policy is supposed to be.

It is not just the government that is suffering from inconsistent thinking. While BSP Governor Tetangco sees a peso at 42 to the US dollar, the experts at First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) and the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) believe (from the Inquirer) “the peso is seen settling at 45.21 against the US dollar by the end of the second quarter as monetary authorities take steps to curb the local currency’s continuing ‘appreciation bias.’” Further, “The FMIC and UA&P study also said that demand for long-tenor Philippine debt paper may gradually rise as emerging markets make a comeback when the demand for US bonds wanes if Washington does not curb its high fiscal deficit. The paper explained that the likelihood of such a scenario is boosted by inflation continuing to fall below earlier expectations.”

Let me explain how inconsistent the thoughts are in those conclusions. At no time did the BSP imply any interest in stopping the peso’s appreciation bias. In fact, Tetangco said the opposite. If, as FMIC and UA&P believe, there will be more demand for Philippine debt, then all that new money flowing into the Philippines will make for a stronger peso.

Finally, their conclusions are “boosted by inflation continuing to fall below earlier expectations.” What?

The reason the BSP just raised interest rates is that inflation is continuing to rise above earlier expectations. Bloomberg: “Inflation risks ‘are tilted to the upside,’ Governor Tetangco said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel last week.”

To the subscribers of my “PSE Strategy Guide,” I have been saying for the past weeks that the stock market is in a period of hesitation and confusion, “double-mindedness.” Yesterday the PSE index was up 1 percent; Monday it was down 1 percent. Two weeks ago we were down a little over 2 percent, since then we are up a little under 2 percent. On Friday, April 8, the PSE closed at 4,241.10; last Friday, May 13, the closing price was 4,291.01. That is a net move of 51 points, or 1 percent, in five weeks.

A specific example is the shares of Alliance Global Group, a PSE Index component. In 18 weeks, AGI has been stuck between P11 and P12. This not a minor issue. AGI on average trades 100 million shares per week, equaling P1.2 billion in value. P21 billion has been bought of AGI with no movement.

Some are saying that the Philippines has no direction. Not true at all. The problem is that the Philippines is trying to go in too many directions at once…and not succeeding.

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Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Breakfast with Vice President Binay

Business Mirror

BusinessMirror, and sister media outlets Philippines Graphic magazine and radio station dwIZ participated in a breakfast forum with Vice President Jejomar Binay, graciously hosted by chairman emeritus Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua and publisher T. Anthony Cabangon.

Forums like this provide an informal opportunity to question a leader like the Vice President without the time constraints and the limitation of topics of a normal press conference.

The questions are fairly standard, and the answers rarely offer any surprises. However, I always walk away from these meetings with an increased insight about the interviewee and his/her role in government.

As a long-time resident of Makati, I had met Mr. Binay on several occasions when he was the mayor of Makati and listened to him speak at a variety of functions. Mayor Binay picked up a reputation in Makati as being determined and sometimes unyielding or stubborn and sometimes inflexible, depending on whether you agreed with his viewpoint.

One disclosure that came from the meeting was the disappointment that Mr. Binay felt at the rejection of his idea for the government to establish and fund a bank for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that would eventually be owned by those same workers.

This is an idea that has been talked about for more than a decade. A bank that was focused on OFW financial and investment needs could fill an important niche and provide particularly unique services.

But the Department of Finance and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas believe private banks and remittance companies already provide “adequate financial and credit facilities and services to meet OFW needs.” Yes and no.

For example, Citystate Savings Bank (a public company of Ambassador Cabangon Chua) has remittance, investment and lending services geared just for overseas workers, and I am sure the other banks also do similar things. However, one of the kickers of the Binay proposal was to resurrect the idea to use the services of the Philippine Postal Corp. (with its 2,300 post offices nationwide) as minibranches for the OFW bank. Using post offices as bank branches has been hugely successful in other countries, particularly in Japan.

As the Vice President is also taking a lead role in housing, particularly affordable housing for the lower-income groups, questions regarding “informal settlers” came up.

A question was asked about what the government policy would be regarding these “settlers” who chose to live on government-owned public land, often valuable and choice property.

The Vice President gave a reasonable answer with regard to policy, but he ended his message by saying that these situations would have to be handled on a case-by-case basis.

That phrase, “case-by-case,” struck an important note with me.

A presidential system of government is divided into the legislature, which creates laws and, through those laws, government policy. The Executive branch is mandated to execute and administer the implementation of those laws.

In the last elections, the idea that the Philippines needed a “businessman” to be elected President was often voiced. That same thought is becoming a part of the United States political scene as their 2012 presidential election becomes closer.

Although I agree emotionally, the intellectual arguments for electing a “business person” seem shallow and incomplete. Why would such a person understand macroeconomic policy and effects better than a university academic? Businesses run only on the profit motive and some government functions like national and public security are not designed to turn a profit.

Legislators see their roles as creating a policy vision that is then turned into law. However, the last paragraph in most laws is that the implementing rules—the crucial details—will be written by an Executive branch department. The laws that the legislature passes are made to be all-encompassing and not for “case-by-case” examination.

And that may be the problem.

Lawmakers are not always in tune with the application of their vision. In the musical Camelot is the title song which says, “The crown has made it clear/The climate must be perfect all the year/A law was made a distant moon ago here: July and August cannot be too hot. I know it gives a person pause/But in Camelot, Camelot/Those are the legal laws.”

A set of wonderful laws to pass, but not practical to implement. How many national visions are on the books now that are as unrealistic as those from mythical Camelot?

Nearly half of the US presidents were formally governors, administrators who had to deal with real life on a “case-by-case” basis. These include Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, Wilson, Taft, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush, among the 20 governors who became president.

Not all were successful but all did bring to the table the ability to administer government, not just to create a vision.

So why elect a businessman? Because a “businessman,” whether owner or employee, must take individual and practical responsibility for certain personal duties within a larger framework. Even the owner does not exclusively create the company vision and each employee must have the ability and opportunity for creative flexibility while not straying outside the corporate vision. But the vision can never come to reality without flexibility. Legislators cannot create laws loaded with flexibility.

Most would agree that Makati was and is a successfully run and administered city. Yet, Vice President Binay had little “business” experience. Early in his life, Mr. Binay was active in the Order of DeMolay. I know from my own participation as a young man in DeMolay, taking individual responsibility is a core principle. The same is true of Mr. Binay’s other youth organization he is deeply involved in, the Boy Scouts of the Philippines.

Nations around the globe are realizing that it is not necessarily a “businessman” who needs to be the head of government. Italy’s business tycoon, Prime Minister Berlusconi, for example, is a miserable failure. What is needed is someone who has strong administrative ability to lead a country in these difficult times.

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Monday, 16 May 2011

Chant the RH mantras

Antonio J. Montalvan II
Philippine Daily Inquirer

YOU WERE born yesterday. Your science is outdated. Your faith should be schizophrenic—leave it at your doorsteps.

That, in recap, seemed to be what pro-RH Bill adherents are saying to those who oppose it. Watching ANC’s “Harapan” more than a week ago, the time has come for us to shift to what is not being said because these actually speak volumes. To get anywhere near the truth which precisely cannot be afforded any denial is what is owed to a public on the verge of making an informed decision. But by arguing with the “follow what I say, not what I do” mode?

Edcel Lagman, for instance, was clearly caught on the defensive when confronted with what he had repeatedly claimed, that the RH Bill is not a population measure. Lagman could not counter the fact either that the Philippine population growth rate has been steadily declining. Why the need for the bill?

Esperanza Cabral did not deny saying that the pill can cause breast cancer. Yet that fact is slurred over by pro-RH advocates precisely because it will demolish their cause. I am sure Cabral did not commit a boo-boo. She is a medical doctor and knows the truth and for that we must be grateful to her. In fact, we must now use her statement as a mantra. The medical evidence on the link between contraception and breast cancer is well established. But in downplaying that fact of science, is that not lying?

Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel kept on saying “no name calling” yet could not stop colleague Carlos Celdran from making an unkind cut on the still-speaking Joey Lina by saying, audibly to televiewers, “liar!” Who started the Damaso trend of name-tagging anyway? Wow, so much integrity is indeed at stake here, let alone proper manners.

A Thomas-Aquinas-quoting Sylvia Estrada Claudio admitted she was no Catholic yet could not explain how the RH Bill could in fact impose its domination on those who deem it contrary to their faith. Imagine an employer who is Catholic face the specter of jail if that employer refuses to make available contraceptive services to employees.

Again, the mikes picked up Carlos Celdran, muttering audibly without being asked, that “We have the Pulse Asia and SWS surveys behind us, where the respondents did not have to pay 2.50 to text in their answers.” Precisely, the inutile selectivity for surveys. We are pleased with them only when the results are in our favor. But when a soaring 65 percent is against the bill?

It is the taxpaying public who will pay the costs of the RH Bill, truly a bonanza to multinational pharmaceuticals. Going base in denying the truth about contraception is a vicious approach at educating the public. That approach will be futile: the history of contraception is long.

We have much to learn from one of the most astute contraception magistrates of the world. To Hillary Rodham Clinton goes that credit. At the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in Gatineau, Canada, Clinton chastised the host Canadian government, a conservative at that moment, for focusing on maternal health by omitting discussions on contraception.

“I’m not going to speak for what Canada decides, but I will say that I’ve worked in this area for many years. And if we’re talking about maternal health, you cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.” (underscoring mine)

There you have it. A bogey it is not.

Besides the Cabral mantra we must now chant, add the Clinton mantra that contraception and abortion are, verily, conjoined twins. Thank you, Mrs. Clinton.

The US Secretary of State could not have skimmed over the fact that in Canada, the birth control pill was legalized there in 1969, the same year it legalized abortion. Just a year after, Canada Statistics reported 11,152 abortions. Today that number is a whopping 106,418, a ten-fold increase since 1970. And yet how pervasive is contraceptive use in Canada? The World Health Organization reports that “among Canadian women age 15-44, 86 percent report using the pill.”

“There is no culture or subculture in the world that has permitted contraception and then has not gone on to permit abortion,” writes Natalie Hudson in “The Contraception Misconception.”

“As acceptance of contraception increases, so does acceptance of abortion. Why is this the case? Because at the root of contraception is the notion that a couple can engage in sexual activity and avoid its natural consequences. Couples who unintentionally conceive a child while using contraception are far more likely to resort to abortion than others.

“Contraception alters our understanding of human sexuality by changing its purpose. The effects are far reaching and affect the way that we understand relationships, gender roles and the human person. Contraception has historically been promoted as a means of women’s emancipation, yet ironically it has led to a much greater objectification of women. Women’s bodies have become a testing ground for pharmaceutical companies to reap profits from the myth that the natural consequences of sex can be avoided; women are put out of touch with their bodies as their fertility cycles become chemically controlled; and contraception can also be used to hide the evidence of abuse that is sometimes perpetrated among young or marginalized women.”

“It is a sin to tell a lie,” medical doctor Rep. Janet Garin, sworn to the Hippocratic oath, says. If my understanding is correct, I suppose the Garin Morality also covers not lying to the public that now has to make an informed decision on the RH Bill? Transpose that to a doctor not disclosing all the medical consequences to a patient. No wonder the ignorance is much.

Now comes Death knocking on the Philippines’ doors. But chant the mantras.

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