Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Reading Marx's Capital with David Harvey

How cool is this? Free video lectures! With the world turned into shit, Uncle Karl is in vogue once more. And with Socialist Imperialism (read the Soviet Union) dead and discredited, perhaps a review of Marx and the permutations/elaborations of his scholarship can again be undertaken without the ideological baggage.

"A close reading of the text of Karl Marx's Capital Volume I in 13 video lectures by David Harvey."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Vicious Cycles of Technological Underdevelopment

As some of you may know, I am currently scanning as many documents as possible. Uncluttering my home has lead to unearthing some nifty stuff - like my STS readings! I present the first entry under my 'fun with a scanner' label.

To help explain the diagram above, please refer to The Uncertain Quest: Science, Technology and Development.

Christmas Wish

Holidays and merriment, arms - metaphorical and not, are temporarily put away as the nation celebrates the season. The future looms in uncertainty, but all that is put aside. A cease fire this is. A halt in hostilities. The calm in the eye of the storm. Next year will be a rough ride, when has it ever been different? My only wish as we go into 2009 - that we get our shit together. And fast.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Newest Doggie Schublig

Is it a hamster or a dog? :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Depoliticisation of the Filipino and Marketisation of Everything

It begins with the Self - the subject at first born free then subsequently shaped and subsumed by its environment. The political is born of the bargaining of conflicting desires of individual selves. The political dies in the event where all desires are harmonised. Anti-politics it is called. While conflicts remain in the realm of the real - manifesting in actual wars, in petty crimes, in the overburdened justice system - they take a backseat to the realm of the unreal, that seething mass of collectivised desires, fed by the basest insecurities of our ego.

The siren call of self-realisation is impossible to resist. The call is heeded in those gigantic structures that litter the urban landscape. In these sanctuaries of hyperconsumption we engage in highly ritualized masturbation. The Self abuses the commodified body - that blank canvass to adorn, to modify, to pamper. To satisfy the self-perpetuating hunger for ego-stroking, the Self must sell its labour to the market, earn enough to reproduce itself its life and its lifestyle, then quickly return to the leisurely activities with which to prop its ego.

Individualised selves comprise this atomised urban society. They are in general young, hip and cosmopolitan. Now a good majority are plugged in to the globalised economy, their body clocks ticking in disharmony from the local, their id swimming in deterritorialised tastes and norms. For this class of selves, the facade of the public are inconvenient barriers that must be transcended, for collectivised desires always reside in the realm of individual private consumption. The public sphere is an anomaly, a paean to a collective identity, an anathema to the autonomous Self.

This, however, does not preclude social relations between Selves. However these relations can only be mediated by market relations. Friendships, loves, kinship are entangled in the web of monetisation. Social relations are at base motivated by the need to quench the thirst of the fragile ego, which can only be satisfied by the currency of money, that symbol of power and capacity in this late stage of modernity.

In the peripheries and interstices of urban centres, there reside masses of bodies unrecognsible. Undifferentiated, inconsequential, eking sustenance from the dregs of the urban centres' wealth-creating machine. These non-Selves are unable to self-articulate and are thus rendered mute. Like garbage and stray animals on the streets or politicians on television, they are background decoration of the public. To avoid seeing the often ugly morass of these bodies and the facade of public institutions - the articulated Self rarely ever ventures in the public sphere. It prefers to inhabit the private sanctuary of its labour and its leisure. It prefers to extenuate social relations with other Selves similarly bent on satisfying collectivised desires of consuming mass-produced objects and mass produced culture, to realise its increasingly mass-produced Self.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Defense Has to Hold

Practised salespersons, two young ones rushed to us selling their leis of ilang-ilang. We were smoking off my brother's birthday bounty outside a restaurant in Quezon City. And there they were eagerly shoving their wares to our newly-stuffed faces.

As I have been wont to do lately, I conducted a mini-interrogation of these child labourers. One is in the fifth grade and the other in third. They looked small for their ages - purportedly 9 and 11. They were residents of NIA road - that slum area near the QC central post office. Like all sob stories, their parents were mostly unemployed. I asked them why they were working when their parents weren't. The practised answer was - of course they wanted to help their families. Their classes are from 12 to 6, after which they hit the hard streets selling their little bit of fragrant heaven.

How long do you stay out here? Until we sell everything off. Do you have time to play or do homework? The fifth grader eagerly pointed to the little satchel at the foot of a tree. Home work on top of work work.

Bright kids, I thought. It didn't matter whether I was fed lies. I suspected as much given how fast the answers flew out of their little mouths. Maybe liars - but quick-witted ones. I was impressed and so I bought a couple of strings of ilang-ilang.

Tomorrow these little girls' evening will be exactly the same as this one. After school they will doff their uniforms and hie off to places of conspicuous consumption to earn their keep.

Tomorrow I will go to Makati, one among the multitude. Amorphous, symbolic, the many voices of those who say no to changing the highest law of the land to suit the interests of the lawless.

I will go because those little girls cannot.

Farmers' Homily

Mnsr Gerardo Santos' homily at yesterday's Pro-Carper/Anti-Chacha march.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Pro-CARPER, Anti-CHACHA, Pro-Reform Rally on December 10

These past few months have once more exposed the absurdities of our political and governance systems. The shameless attempt of politicians to extend their term, their blatant inaction on the extension of our unrealized agrarian reform, and the heartless reversal of the awarding of land to land reform communities has exposed how this administration can only work for its own agenda and how our system of
governance allows for such acts.

In this light, the CEAP is calling us to join a rally to manifest our indignation and our call for reform. Tomorrow, there will be held a Pro-CARPER/Anti-CHACHA/PRO-Reform rally. Assembly will be at the St.

Peter's Cathedral at Commonwealth. A mass at 12 will initiate the activities, which will be followed by a march to Batasan at 1 and a whole day national situationer till 8 pm.


We need genuine social and political reform for the many; Not self-serving charter change for a few.

Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come…May he not come
suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’
(Mark 13:33-37)

As we begin the season of Advent, we are called to prepare ourselves for the Lord’s coming – to be ready to welcome Him into our hearts and our communities not only at Christmas, but at every moment in our lives as individuals and as a people, in faithful and hopeful vigilance.

Sadly, in our country, the common good is often subordinated to narrow private interests. The needs of the majority who are poor are often sacrificed for the self-serving ends of a few. Many unresolved questions of corruption and abuse of power are fostering a culture of impunity and a political climate of deep distrust and powerlessness. Thus the call to watchfulness beckons Christians to become engaged citizens in a perilous time when democracy and social justice are under serious threat.

It is unfortunate that in the present context, charter change (cha-cha) which could truly be a genuine instrument of long-term institutional reform, is viewed with deep suspicion and is seen as endangering democracy itself. This is so because just as in 2006, its advocates can barely conceal that their real aim is not reform but further concentration of power. Even as they pay lip service to economic and political development, cha-cha proponents cannot disguise their overriding objective of prolonging the stay in power of current officials, particularly the President. One draft resolution (HR 550) even blatantly extends the terms of officials for one year without elections. The hasty efforts to collect 197 signatures in the House of Representatives calling for a constituent assembly (conass) or directly amending the economic provisions of the constitution are being pursued in order to get the supreme Court to rule quickly on the meaning of a three-fourths majority in Congress which is needed to pass amendments via this mode of charter change. Those who are brazenly pushing these resolutions believe that if they can get the numbers, both in Congress and the Supreme Court, they can simply ram cha-cha through.

As Catholic schools, we cannot stand idly by while the common good is sacrificed and our basic political institutions, including popular sovereignty through regular elections, the bicameral nature of Congress, an independent judiciary, and the hard-won 1987 democratic constitution itself, are thoroughly undermined.

What we need from our leaders is truth, accountability and genuine social and political reform for the majority. We certainly do not need any charter change that will only serve the narrow interests of the few who are currently in power. Thus we
emphatically say: “No to any cha-cha before 2010”!

But more than just rejecting charter change now, we highlight two issues which Catholic schools are already engaged in and which demonstrate that there are more urgent questions that deserve the attention of Congress and other political leaders than self-serving cha-cha.

1) CARP extension with reforms and the issues of land, food and equitable development
We call for the immediate passage of HB 4077/SB 2666 which seeks to extend the agrarian reform program to cover over 1.8 million more hectares affecting almost 1.5 million farmers. It also aims to strengthen CARP by increasing its resources and strengthening the institutional infrastructure for support services to agrarian reform beneficiaries and compensation to landowners. It also calls for the stricter enforcement of rules banning the conversion of irrigated and irrigable lands.

Agrarian reform is about creating a socio-economic system which seeks the inclusion of the majority of the rural population, and focuses on the imperative of food production, agricultural productivity and equitable development which in the end serves the needs of all, whether in the urban or rural areas.

Thus rather than pushing for the term extension of the few who are in power, we call on Congress to legislate the CARP extension with reforms that address the needs of the many who are poor. This is consistent with the social teachings of the Church which we uphold. Instead of amending the constitution to extend land ownership rights to foreigners, Congress should work for social and economic development by
expanding and completing CARP.

2) Electoral reform, voters’ education and credible and meaningful elections in 2010
In rejecting cha-cha before 2010, we want to ensure that the Filipino people are able to exercise their fundamental right to choose their next set of leaders as provided for in the constitution. Thus we oppose any schemes to cancel, postpone or change the nature of the 2010 national elections. Because the political crisis facing the country is deeply linked to unresolved questions of electoral cheating, it is crucial that the next presidential election proceeds as scheduled and is seen as credible and meaningful by our people.

Our work in the educational apostolate puts us in close touch with the youth who comprise at least half of our potential voters. We are committed to help them exercise their right of suffrage wisely by encouraging first-time voters’ registration and providing full support to political education for responsible and engaged citizenship.

Beyond traditional voters’ education, we want to facilitate continuing processes for
our people, especially poor communities, to be able to articulate their real needs and aspirations. We will also work to develop mechanisms that challenge politicians to make concrete commitments of genuine and effective response and monitoring systems to make them accountable for their promises. We are mobilizing especially
our human resources to safeguard the process in the context of automated elections.
Automation needs to be enhanced and fine-tuned to guard against disenfranchisement
and to make it more accessible to and protective of vulnerable groups. But reforming
our electoral process to make it truly inclusive and meaningful to the majority
requires further reforms in voters’ registration, the party system, campaign finance
and political dynasties. These issues call for serious attention and dedicated work
from our legislators and executive officials. We cannot afford to get sidetracked by
moves toward self-serving charter change, from the urgent need to prepare for
credible elections and truly meaningful citizen participation in 2010.

Both the demands of our faith and of citizenship call on us to keep vigil against the
continuing threats to the common good. We are challenged to engage the present situation wherein democracy is in grave danger of being usurped by those who want to
hold on to power indefinitely and evade accountability to the people.

But the call is not just to defend democracy. We are asked to help deepen democracy
to make it truly inclusive, participative and socially just. It is this kind of democratic system that truly befits the name. Thus we commit ourselves to building a genuine democracy which enshrines our core belief in the dignity of every human being, that God Himself shared by becoming one like us in Jesus.

Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP)
Manila Archdiocesan Parochial Schools Association (MAPSA)
December 3, 2008

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Juana Change Cha Cha?

I don't know who made this, but its absolutely brilliant.


This video was produced by the Convergence Team - a group of Filipino artists. It stars Mae Paner, artist and former advertising executive.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Let the Right One In

Forget Twilight. If you want a vampire love story, see this work of art.

Monday, December 01, 2008

JPEPA: President Arroyo's Coup d'Etat?

My favorite Fil-Aussie Benign0 subscribes to the notion that the specificities of those who occupy his former country's positions of power do not matter. He writes:
If we are not able to prove that our prospects for prosperity are a function of who is sitting in Malacanang, then why bother even wasting precious bandwidth on any discussion about whether Gloria is out to extend her term or not?

Now a more inane statement I have not read in a while. To claim that structure trumps agency, i.e. that the institutions matter and actors do not, is a view taken by people who are probably so brilliant they have foregone common sense.

Manong Benigs also claims the Philippines is in a "normal" state:
We are in a situation that is part and parcel of what it means to be a democracy.

According to Manong Benig's normative standards, a democracy does not need to address serious allegations of electoral cheating and massive graft and corruption among the country's top-level officials. A democracy does not need to address accusations of its armed forces making people disappear. Nevermind the trail of anomalous deals the Arroyo administration has pursued in the last four years. Nevermind the impeachable offences outlined yearly by those who are still outraged but still go through due process anyway. Nevermind that the law in this democratic society only applies when and if the law-makers and law-enforces deem them applicable.

So, Manong Benigs wants a concrete example of Gloria Arroyo's activities which can only be described as a "serious injury" to the Republic? If the allegations of the past four years are not enough to satisfy, then let me offer the case of the JPEPA - Arroyo's largely silent coup d'etat.

The JPEPA was signed by the President in September 2006 in Finland. It was signed under a cloak of secrecy as has been wont to do by the Arroyo administration. It is the country's first bilateral agreement of such an extensive scope, dealing with trade in commodities, investments, and labour. From 2004 to September 2006 (after the president signed the treaty), the initial drafts of the treaty were kept from public view.

The House of Represenatives, mandated by no less than the Constitution to participate in crafting trade agreements, had zero participation in the trade negotiations. The Supreme Court acceded to this secrecy by ruling in favour of "Executive Privilege." This privilege is normally invoked in diplomatically sensitive negotiations - understood to be security-related. The JPEPA is explicitly an economic treaty - divulging the nitty-gritty of negotations would in no way compromise 'national security.'

In a belated attempt civil society groups and certain representatives brought the issue on executive privilege to the Supreme Court. They cite three grounds to gain access to the full text of the treaty - it is of public interest, the right to participate in an agreement of such a wide scope, and a concern that disclosure of the full text to the Senate after the negotiations have been concluded would make the latter a mere 'rubberstamp' of the Executive.

So here is a "slice" of how the Arroyo executive works.

Owing to the ignorance and indifference of the general public, the co-opted legislative and judicial branches and the weakness of civil society groups, the Arroyo government has assumed such massive decision-making powers in violation of this country's own Consitution, laws and interests of various domestic sectors.

To humour Manong Benigs, how is JPEPA "injurious" to the republic?

1. It normalizes trade in toxic wastes. DTI Secretary Favila himself admitted in November 2006 that it was a necessary condition that the Philippines include the toxic waste provisions for Japan to open its services market in caregivers and nurses.

JPEPA provisions directly clash against domestic legislation which aim to protect the environment - the Clean Air Act, the Toxic Susbtances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act and the Solid Waste Management Act.

2. JPEPA will subject domestic industries to competition with Japanese goods through tariff elimination and through the most-favoured-nation clause - which means that Japanese investors should be treated the same way as Filipinos. This may well kill what is left of local industries.

Unthinkingly, due either to sheer incompetence or malicious side-deals (you can imagine a Filipino negotiator being susceptible to bribes), Philippine negotiators eliminated tariff lines unnecessarily - making reservations only for rice and salt. Japan on the other hand was able to uphold its tariff protection on 238 agricultural and manufactured products.

While Philippine exporters may well benefit from open Japanese markets, JPEPA also assures that each party should able to uphold standards, i.e. SPS requirements. SPS are known to be 'non-tarriff' barriers - which could include something as innocent as requiring Philippine bananas to be certain size and blemish free. To comply with these standards would cost domestic exporters money.

3. The agreement has not won any clear benefits for the Philippines in terms of foreign direct investments (FDI). Countries such as China and South Korea have demonstrated the capacity of FDI to transfer know-how and technologies to benefit their domestic firms specifically and to be integrated into national development plans generally.

Under JPEPA, the Philippine government cannot impose these transfers of technology to the Philippines. Under normal investment treaties, foreign corporations are required to hire a certain number of locals. This has also been scrapped in the agreement.

4. The provisions on trade in services short-change Philippine nurses. No less than the Philippine Nurses' Association has rejected the JPEPA. Their grounds for rejection include the very stringent requirements needed for Filipino nurses to enter the Japanese healthcare service market.

To illustrate, despite having four years of higher education, passing the Philippine Licensure Examination and three years of actual nursing practice, nurses will enter Japan as "trainees" to undergo training for two more years. If after these two years they do not pass the licensure exam in Nihonggo, they will be deported.

As trainees these nurses will not be paid the salary of professional nurses. They also forego employment rights under the Japanese Immigration Control Act.

5. JPEPA limits the Philippine legislature's space to maneuver. Again in a monumental oversight of disastrous proportions, the Philippine negotiating team did not make reservations for future legislation that would ostensibly protect Filipino interests, while allowing the Japanese the same privilege. This means that should the Philippines craft another treaty which extends certain benefits to a third country in the name of 'national interest' then the Philippines can be sued by Japan. In negotiating for JPEPA, the Arroyo executive branch compromised Congress' law-making power.

6. JPEPA sets a bad precedent for the Philippines' other bilateral agreements - all taking place outside the WTO regulatory framwork. The Philippines is no different from a host of countries entering these FTAs and EPAs as the WTO's Doha Round has failed to progress in the last six years. Philippine bilateral and multilateral agreements outside the WTO ambit are taking place in the context of an increasingly "deregulated" international trade regime - a race to the bottom, the survival of the fittest.

JPEPA will enter into force on December 11, ten days from now. The question we need to ask is this - was JPEPA an end product of the Arroyo Administration's sheer incompetence? A lapse in governance? A result of her neoliberal ideologue-advisors? Or was it a product of more malicious intentions - i.e. officials of the Arroyo government engaging in massive rent-seeking activities to enrich themselves?

Cross-posted at FilipinoVoices.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

RH Rocks!

Come one come all! If the free concert doesn't hook you, I bet the free condoms will :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Junking the Impeachment Complaint

11.00 am, November 26, 2008.

Rep. Satur Ocampo asks the House Committee on Justice not to dismiss the issues presented by the impeachment complaint.

Rep. Risa Baraquel thanks Rep. Defensor for finally calling on her, that she is no longer "invisible." She insists that documents that would prove the President's culpability in the ZTE-NBN contract should not be grounds for the committee finding the impeachment complaint insufficient. The Rules of Impeachment of the 14th Congress says that the impeachment need only allege facts and hard evidence is not needed at this stage.

Rep. Casino says he is not new to the impeachment process. He states it is a political, not a juridical process. "We will not be judged as judges...but as representatives of the people...Mahirap magreklamo laban sa presidente...and it takes a lot of guts...Yan po ba ay lulunurin natin sa legalismo?"

Rep. Casino then says that during the Erap case, the most damning of evidences came during the hearing in Senate, not during the discussion of substance and form. "Ano po ba ang kinakatakot natin?" He asks whether the committee members are afraid of implicating themselves for accepting bribes from Malacanang.

Rep. Guingona asks that the committee give the impeachment complaint a chance. He questions whether the Congressmen who were rumoured to again have received money in Linden Suites were also present in the committee. He then unveils a timeline of a master plan that would lead to Martial Law. Junking the impeachment complaint is but the first step. Next Tuesday it will be dismissed in the plenary. On Wednesday Congressmen will then hie off to the United States to watch the Manny Pacquiao fight, and also to cool off. When they come back, then charter change will come into full gear.

Rep. Maza again motioned to have Kampi party members be disallowed from voting on the substance of the complaint - especially those who received money in 2007 and the recent "pamumudmod ng pera." Rep. Defensor asked to have the body vote on Rep Maza's appeal - summarily denied with resounding "ayes."

Rep. Mariano asked to have these committee members be disqualified. He then insisted on reading out loud the 22 members who received money from the President's party. Defensor insisted it would be unparliamentary.

Rep. Casino then says the committee members are not only mute and deaf, but also blind.

Motion to dismiss the impeachment complaint - 42 in favour versus 8.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Here Kitty, Kitty

When all the world has gone crazy, my little piece of happiness. Meet the latest addition to the family. The proud, fierce, cute and cuddly Tinay!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Truth Hurts

Being a woman who is not naturally personable nor charming, being unpopular is probably not new to the President. In her latest loyalty check, she thanks the LGUs for realizing that "effective governance is not a popularity contest."

I beg to disagree. A government that works should garner the support and approval of the majority. Surveys show that her approval and trust ratings have been steadily declining. If you're not the kind who gives credence to surveys, just ask your family, your friends, the friends of your friends, the underclasses on occasion that you might have a brief moment to speak with them.

They will all tell you the truth.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Minutes of Justice Committee Hearing and the Quezon Intervention

10.00 Roll call. 32 members of the Committee are present.

Rep. Defensor’s opening statement lays down the agenda for the hearing – to determine whether the De Venecia impeachment complaint is sufficient in substance and also to determine the status of the Sotto complaint and the Quezon intervention.

Rep. Golez interrupts Defensor’s opening statement on point of order. He questions why the committee chair is already stating his position on the complaint.

Reps. Garcia and Datumanong question Golez’ interruption.

Rep. Golez insists that the moment the chair hints his position, this compromises the proceedings’ “fairness” and “objectivity.”

Rep. Defensor continues his opening statement. He cites legal justification to uphold the one year ban rule. He says “the right to intervene is not an absolute right” and that the Quezon intervention is a totally disparate (pronounced ‘desperate’ by Defensor) from the De Venecia complaint filed on October 13.

Rep. Liza Maza brings up the inhibition of Rep. Villarosa from the proceedings.

Rep. Villarosa says she chooses not to inhibit herself.

Rep. Maza continues to question the continued participation of Rep. Villarosa on grounds of comprising the process the latter’s involvement in bribe distribution. Also, the latter might unduly influence her co-party (Kampi) colleagues in the committee.

Rep. Villarosa defends herself, saying Kampi members have independent judgment.

Rep. Domogan motions to dismiss the Sotto impeachment complain and the Quezon intervention.

Rep. Casiño insists that the Quezon intervention is not a separate complaint because it puts forward the same charges as the De Venecia complaint. The intervention also charges the President of the culpable violation of the constitution, but cites specifically the MOA-AD.

Further, Casiño says the complaint has not yet been sent to the Senate and therefore it should be allowed amendments. The committee should consider allowing ordinary people to participate in the process.

Rep. Barzaga says that while the law allows ordinary people to file impeachment cases, there should be some order as to how these proceedings are run. He insists that the Intervention should be considered a second, separate complaint.
Rep. Castro says the committee has no jurisdiction to entertain the Quezon intervention.

Rep. Maza on parliamentary inquiry says the she has only received the copy of the Sotto complaint and the intervention this morning. She questions why the chair seems well-versed in its contents.

Rep. Defensor: “You don’t have to read the whole document” [to determine its contents].

Rep. Mariano says it is premature to summarily dismiss the Quezon intervention. “Hindi ko po inaasahang may paunang-husga na ang committee chairman.” He says the constitution only prohibits multiple impeachment “proceedings.” The case can be considered one proceeding with multiple complaints.

Rep. Domogan quotes some legalese. He again insists on the dismissal of the intervention.

Rep. Casiño insists this is the first impeachment proceedings and the multiple complaints can be consolidated.

Rep. Raul Gonzales provides historical background on the amendment of impeachment rules. He says the 13th congress failed to liberalize the rules.

Rep. Maza wants Rep. Defensor to answer, when did the committee transmit the Quezon intervention document to committee members?

Rep. Defensor quickly replies Nov. 17

Rep. Maza says she wants it on record she only received the documents this morning. “Paano itatapon ang hindi pa nababasa?”

Rep. Barzaga picks up from Rep. Castro, the committee has no jurisdiction to decide on the three complaints.

Rep. Mariano says the motion to dismiss the Quezon intervention is out of order.

Rep. Datumanong says “We return the Sotto and Quezon complaints for violating Sec 3, Article 5 of the Constitution.”

Reps Garcia, Domogan and Lagman move the committee to vote.

The Quezon intervention is dismissed, 35 in favour and 4 against.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Minutes of the Justice Committee Hearing on GMA Impeachment

10:00 am House Committee on Justice begins hearing of impeachment complaints against Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. 31 committee members are present.

Rep. Casiño says Rep. Villarosa should be disqualified in the committee hearings as she admitted on record that she distributed bribe money. Committee chair Defensor replies inhibition is voluntary. Rep. Villarosa admits to distributing the money to only 2 representatives – Abante and Dumpit.

Rep. Golez raises a point of order, hearings are too rigorous. He questions why the committee seems to be rushing the proceedings. He wants the justice committee to have a “more reasonable calendar.” Rep. Defensor defends the 4-day marathon.

Rep. Guingona wants to have his resolution to endorse the impeachment complaint be recognized.

Rep. Defensor’s opening statement says the House of Representatives is on trial. Proceedings have to proceed swiftly and should not be motivated by person and political ambitions.

Rep. Mariano of Anakpawis wants to have on record all parties to the complaints.

Rep. Puentevella says the complaints are so voluminous. Which one should be deliberated upon? “Every year this is an annual fiesta…’Wag na tayong mag-utuan ditto.”

Rep. Jala: The complaint is a “mere scrap of paper.” It is insufficient in form and should be dismissed. He says it should not be considered since it violates the rule that there can only be one impeachment complaint filed against an official in a year.

Rep. N. Gonzales says “We are not aware of the Quezon complaint.” The Committee on Rules does not have the authority to add another complaint to the order of business.

Rep. Defensor implies complaints not submitted to the Justice committee should be dismissed.

Rep. Lagman intervenes, the one year ban rule has already expired. It need not be mentioned in the De Venecia complaint since it was submitted on Oct. 13. The one year ban expired on October 11. On this ground, the complaint is sufficient in form.

Rep. Golez: “We are so repressed in the minority. This is what you call the essence of democracy?”

Rep. Domogan insists that only the De Venecia complaint should be considered by the committee, whether it is sufficient in form.
11.30 Recess. Lunch break.

Rep. Liza Maza clarifies whether the Sotto complaint should be excluded. Minority clarifies that the Quezon intervention was referred by the Secretary General to the Justice Committee.

Rep. Puentevella mocks House minority.

Rep. Antonino-Custodio calls on Rep. Defensor that the Justice Committee already received the intervention. She wants to the committee to consider the intervention and how it should be treated. Should it be accepted as an amendment or supplementary to the De Venecia complaint?

Rep. Defensor is non-committal. He says the committee will consider the Quezon complaint a separate one, violating the one year ban rule.

Rep. Antonino-Custodio calls on Rep. Defensor not to unilaterally make this decision. The matter should be decided upon by the whole body.

Rep. Casiño says he has no copy of the intervention and so he cannot decide on the matter. He calls for the resumption of the hearing tomorrow.

Rep. Antonino-Custodio expressed concern that should the intervention be considered a supplement to the De Venecia complaint, then it will also be dismissed without the committee’s deliberation.

Rep. Golez calls on Defensor’s opening speech, seemingly “in favor of dismissal.”

Rep. Zialcita asks, “How many interventions should we entertain?”

Rep. Puentevella says the minority should get its act together and consolidate only one impeachment complaint.

Rep. Antonino-Custodio says the minority needs time to present the complaint(s) properly.

The majority proposes having only 5 representatives from either group present their sides. Minority representatives all express dissent against limiting only 5 representatives from either side present their case. All minority representatives should be able to speak.

12:15. Hearing adjourned and to be resumed tomorrow.

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Small p, big P

Of the people we know, how many take interest in politics? In this country, it is synonymous to greed, filth, corruption. Politics is never associated with honor, justice, ideals.

The spectacle of Bolante's interrogation in the Senate is a perfect example of how we tend to focus on the small p, not the big P. I'm afraid traditional media has a role in this kind of discourse. Through its filter of information, we are fed "frames" on how to interpret events. They've got the who, what, where, when and how covered. "Why" is probably the most difficult, and so there is little media coverage following this line of questioning.

The small p will focus our attention on the details of the fertilizer scam. People whom I've heard discuss the media spectacle do so in jest, as though it were entertainment. In a way it is. That is the frame we are fed.

A discourse on the big P will frame this spectacle within a larger context - the crisis of our agricultural sector, the corruption diverting funds away from farmer support, the food security of the country, the global crisis in agriculture given the current international trade system.

Let's focus on the big P. The bigger, the better. :)

My Worldview

A cool quiz from Chris Williams. I'm a postmodernist. No surprise there.

You Scored as Postmodernist

Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis.



Cultural Creative














Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Precariousness of Hope

Change. We can all agree that we can probably easily quantify what change would mean for all of us. For me it means not feeling so powerless, not feeling like a victim of everyone and everything. It means being able to live decently and fairly. It means living in a society whose leaders do not make it their official business to rob everyone blind. Is that too much to ask?

From the periphery of our collective mentality, we all know this government is corrupt. This society is corrupt. Our values are corrupt. Most of us know this, and in our acquiescence of the fact we are complicit in keeping the monster within alive and well. Over a century ago, Rizal had a name for it. Over the decades the cancer has metastasized a dozen-fold, eating away at everyone and everything. Is there anything healthy left?

Change. It has to start somewhere. Powerlessness means not knowing how or when or where. Powerlessness means not being able to picture any other alternative. The reality of now is resolute and etched in stone.

Ignorance is truly bliss. Most everyone goes about the business of their lives not knowing the extent to which greed rules this country. The most rapacious of criminals reside in the halls of power. There are no laws. There is no justice. Has everyone gone blind or have we simply grown inured to this fact? Numbed by scandal after scandal after scandal?

I am twenty-eight years old. Privileged to have been granted the best education this country can offer. In me resides the promise of the generations who came before me. I am too young to be jaded. Let me see a glimmer of something. Let me see.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fr. Nebres' Statement on Reproductive Health Bill 5043

This is Ateneo President Fr. Nebres' response to some faculty's support of the RH bill. Of course the Jesuits will toe the line. But read the university memo carefully. Is it me or does he not endorse the continued debate on the bill?

Fr. Nebres is a wise, wise man :) 

Statement on Reproductive Health Bill 5043

Yesterday, the Manila Standard had a headline story entitled “Ateneo profs defy bishops, back family planning bill.” The article is based on an October 15, 2008 position paper issued by individual faculty members of the Ateneo de Manila, “Catholics Can Support the RH Bill in Good Conscience.” A shorter version of this position paper is attached.

In reply to a request for clarification from His Excellency Most Rev. Angel N. Lagdameo, D.D., President of the CBCP, I wrote him yesterday, October 22, as follows:

First, that “the faculty members clearly state that they are not speaking for the Ateneo de Manila and that this is their personal position.”

Second, that I was asked to respond to this concern a few weeks ago by Archbishop Paciano Aniceto and Bishop Gabriel Reyes and I wrote them on October 2, 2008 regarding our position on the Reproductive Health Bill 5043:

As in all matters that are connected with faith and morals, the Ateneo de Manila, as a Jesuit and Catholic university, stands with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.

I am familiar with the considered opinion of our moral theologians that, although there are points wherein the aforesaid bill and the Catholic moral tradition are in agreement, there are certain positions and provisions in the bill which are incompatible with principles and specific positions of moral teaching which the Catholic Church has held and continues to hold.

I trust that this will help clarify our position. At the same time, together with the CBCP and the Philippine Province, we favor and encourage honest, sincere and mutually-respectful dialogue on the important issues taken up in the bill.

In my letter to Archbishop Lagdameo yesterday, I also said that several Jesuits would be meeting with the Ateneo faculty members yesterday in a dialogue on this important matter. The dialogue yesterday was forthright and mutually respectful and we pointed out that, while we respect their deep concern for the poor and appreciate our mutual dialogue with them, it is necessary for the Ateneo de Manila as a Jesuit and Catholic university, to state clearly our position on RH Bill 5043. The position of the Ateneo de Manila is as follows:

1) We appreciate the efforts of these members of the Ateneo faculty to grapple with serious social issues and to draw from Catholic moral teaching in their study of the bill.

2) We acknowledge their right to express their views as individual Catholics and appreciate their clear statement that their views are their own and not that of the University.

3) However, the Ateneo de Manila University does not agree with their position of supporting the present bill. As I said in my letter of October 2 to Archbishop Aniceto and Bishop Reyes, it is “the considered opinion of our moral theologians that, although there are points wherein the aforesaid bill and the Catholic moral tradition are in agreement, there are certain positions and provisions in the bill which are incompatible with principles and specific positions of moral teaching which the Catholic Church has held and continues to hold.”

We thus have serious objections to the present bill in the light of our Catholic faith.

4) Ateneo de Manila thus stands with our Church leaders in raising questions about and objections to RH Bill 5043.

5) It is also the responsibility of the Ateneo de Manila as a Jesuit and Catholic university to ensure that, in our classes and other fora, we teach Catholic faith and morals in their integrity.

6) At the same time, as I also wrote on October 2, we support continuing efforts on the critical study and discussion of the bill among Church groups including the University and in civil society.


Migrant Workers are Not Commodities

To add to the official discourse of governements meeting in the Global Forum on Migration and Development kicking off today, this is the declaration of the parallel civil society forum I attended last week, the People's Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights. Also read the Madrid Declaration during the 3rd World Social Forum on Migrations.

Peoples’ Global Action Declaration
on Migration, Development and Human Rights

Submitted to the Global Forum on Migration and Development - Manila, Philippines, 27 October 2008

A world of migrants

There are over 250 million people in the world today that are in various conditions of being a migrant. Throughout human history people have been migrants or descended from migrants – with the exception of indigenous peoples residing in their ancestral lands.

There are many root causes of migration, including armed conflict, persecution, discrimination, poverty, underdevelopment, forced displacement, environmental destruction, and a search for family unity. And in the last decades, migration flows have been intensified because of neoliberal, corporate-centered globalization such as that promoted by the World Trade Organization (WTO), including free trade agreements, reduction in publicly-provided social reproductive services, and the expansion of the rights of business, have created wealth for economic elites but have consistently widened the gap between rich and poor and deepened vulnerabilities of individuals and communities.

While hugely profiting from the labor of migrants, the majority of countries in the world, have continuously adopted anti-migrant policies through scapegoating migrants for all social ills and perceived threats to national security. The adoption of simultaneous policies of being ‘open’ but at the same time ‘closed’ to migrants have led to the increased fragmentation of the working class, heightened insecurities for all migrants especially those in the grey zones like exiled peoples, amplified racial discrimination, and worsened the vulnerability to abuse and exploitation by organized crimes and corrupt officials, especially among women migrants. Meanwhile, the re-emergent emphasis on state-centered security as developed states secure their economic privilege has sharpened territorial divisions and pre-border surveillance as well as strengthened inward looking governance especially since the so-called ‘war on terror’ was unleashed.

The GFMD’s “migration and development” paradigm does not go far enough in affirming the human dignity of migrants and migrant workers, firmly placing their inalienable rights at the center of development and addressing their myriad insecurities. Moreover, such paradigm calls for the rendering of female migrant labor in specific gendered ways and is thus likely to reinforce inequalities between men and women.

Instead, the GFMD seeks to create an international migration regime that manages temporary workers for the benefit of global production and profit while at the same time institutionalizing more coercive and restrictive migration policies that penalize and lump together as one undesirable group all so-called ‘irregular’, ‘undocumented’ workers and all other migrants who fall in the grey zone.

As well, civil society including migrants’ organizations, trade unions, women’s organizations, and others have been severely restricted in their participation in GFMD debates, while the role of banks, financial intermediaries, and the corporate sector has been enhanced.

Obviously, the GFMD is not about respecting migration as a human activity in all of its varied forms, nor is it about protecting the rights of migrants and of workers. It is certainly not about realizing development for the majority of the world’s poor. Simply put, the GFMD is about protecting the security of states and markets. The GFMD and other new forums have been vigorously promoted, funded and controlled by developed countries together with a handful of developing countries. The result has been to further undermine an already weakened United Nations system where developing countries at this time stand a better chance of representation and participation.

Our challenge to governments attending the GFMD

Governments hold mutual obligations and responsibilities to respect, protect, fulfill, and promote the human rights of all peoples, migrants and workers everywhere included. In this regard, governments must ensure that the core UN and ILO conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and human rights treaties, including the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, ILO Conventions 97 and 143,and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and ILO rights-based Multilateral Framework on Labor Migration are enforced at every level.

Governments have also been called on “to protect the vital core of human lives in ways that enhance human freedoms and human fulfillment” especially in dealing with issues of conflict, poverty and migration (Commission on Human Security 2003).

Governments must not deviate from but rather build upon the normative rights-based framework-approach to development. We recall Chapter 1 of the Declaration on the Right to Development (UNGA Resolution 41/128, 4 December 1986) - “The right to development is an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.”

Governments must ensure the genuine and meaningful participation of migrants and other stakeholders in international discussions on migration policy, and migration and development.

Governments must not differentiate between ‘regular’ or ‘irregular’ migrant workers in respecting migrants and workers rights. Regardless of their status, migrants are participants in contributors to and members of the community and country in which they live and work.

Governments must ensure that migrants enjoy equality of rights and non-discrimination in the places where they live. Discrimination based on any status, including national origin, nationality, migration status, race, gender, sexual orientation, religiousbelief and language, is prohibited by international law and human rights principles. Governmental policy must also address de facto discrimination (unequal conditions), and promote empowerment and equity for migrants.

Governments must protect and uphold the human rights of women migrants as subjects within a gendered history and context of migration. The vicious cycle of ‘poverty – human trafficking – poverty’ denies poor women their basic rights including the right to decent work and the right to security and justice. Policies aimed at curbing trafficking must address its myriad root causes and avoid pushing vulnerable women into deeper exploitation and abuse.

Governments must cease its implementation of state migration policies that constitute or cause violations of human rights. These include policies that: deny migrant workers decent work and the protection of their basic rights as workers; criminalize migrants, including the criminalization of migrants with irregular status; militarize borders and externalize migration control in international waters or in countries of origin and transit; discriminate against migrants based on nationality or migratory status; enforce collective deportations and deportations which violate any human right, including right to protection of the family, due process of law, right to security of person, and the principle of non refoulement; allow for arbitrary detentions and arrests, and all other deprivations of liberty of migrants in contravention of international standards on detention including on the reasons, conditions, procedures, and allowable time period of detention; and policies that fail to prevent and eliminate the exploitation and abuse of migrants, including trafficking of persons.

Governments must institute a functioning international system with migration and development policies that guarantee the human rights of migrants, workers, and all peoples, and promotes sustainable, rights-based development. This requires that forums for multilateral discussions on migration and development policies ensure genuine civil society participation. It also requires that all developing country governments have equal participation and voice.. Governments in the South should not adopt policies or enter into agreements with Northern countries that increase forced migration of its population, such as free trade agreements, Neither should they make any multilateral or bilateral agreements that that does not fully respect and protect the human rights of migrants, such as many repatriation, border control, and temporary labor agreements. We call on governments to respond to these challenges and fulfill its obligations, and create new global mechanisms and processes that are genuinely democratic, transparent and accountable and which will meaningfully ensure each individual’s human rights, freedoms and sustainable development.

Endorsed by the Philippine Working Group

Akbayan, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), ASEAN Trade Union Council (ATUC), Asian Migrant Center (AMC), Asian Migrant Domestic Workers Alliance (ADWA), Atikha, Batis Center for Women, Building and Wood Workers International, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD), Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific (CATW-AP), Coalition for Migrants Rights (CMR), Daughters of Charity, Focus on the Global South, Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW), Global Network Asia, International Gender and Trade Network-Asia (IGTN), Jubilee South-Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development, KAKAMMPI, Kanlungan Center Foundation, Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), National Union of Building & Construction Workers/BWI, Philippine Consortium on Migration and Development, Public Services International (PSI/PSLINK), Save the Children-UK, Solidaritas Migran Scalabrini-Philippines, Stop the New Round, UNI-PLC/UNI-APRO, Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation, Women and Gender Institute-Miriam College (WAGI), Women Legal Bureau (WLB).

The Core UN Conventions are:

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) 1965
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 1966
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) 1966
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)1979
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) 1984
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 1989
International Convention on Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (ICMRW) 1990
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPAPED) 2005
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) 200

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ateneo Faculty Declaration of Support for the Reproductive Health Bill

To those who left comments expressing their misgivings with regard to the prohibited acts provision of the bill, please read the Response to the Couples for Christ Ad. If you do not want your kids to attend sex ed class, you will NOT be jailed.


Declaration of support for the Reproductive Health Bill’s immediate passage into law from individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University

* This declaration of support is based on the 15 October 2008 position paper entitled “Catholics Can Support the RH Bill in Good Conscience” by individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, namely Marita Castro Guevara (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies), Raymond B. Aguas (Department of Theology), Liane Peña Alampay (Department of Psychology), Fernando T. Aldaba (Department of Economics), Remmon E. Barbaza (Department of Philosophy), Manuel B. Dy, Jr. (Department of Philosophy), Elizabeth Uy Eviota (Department of Sociology-Anthropology), Roberto O. Guevara (Department of Theology), Anne Marie A. Karaos (Department of Sociology-Anthropology), Michael J. Liberatore (Department of Theology), Liza L. Lim Department of Sociology-Anthropology), Cristina Jayme Montiel (Department of Psychology), Mary Racelis (Department of Sociology-Anthropology), and Agustin Martin G. Rodriguez (Department of Philosophy).

We, individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, speaking for ourselves and not for the University, strongly support House Bill 5043 on “Reproductive Health and Populatio Development,” and call for its immediate passage in Congress. After studying the bill’s provisions in the light of the realities of Filipino women, poor families, and our youth, we have reached the conclusion that the Philippines urgently needs a national policy on reproductive health and population development, as provided by the RH Bill.

A consistent, integrated, and comprehensive population framework guarantees budgetary support from the national government for reproductive health initiatives, and ensures their sustainability across local government units regardless of changes in national and local leadership. While curbing our rapid population growth rate of 2.04 percent will not, by itself, solve poverty in our country, addressing the population problem is crucial to overall economic growth and poverty reduction, along with asset redistribution, employment and livelihood opportunities, combating corruption, improving governance, and strengthening institutions.

We further believe that it is possible for Catholics like ourselves to support HB 5043 in good conscience, even as we recognize, with some anguish, that our view contradicts the position held by some of our fellow Catholics, including our bishops. Those who oppose the RH Bill have denounced it as “pro-abortion,” “anti-life,” “anti-women,” “anti-poor,” and “immoral.”

However, our reason, informed by our faith, has led us to believe and say otherwise. The RH Bill is pro-life and pro-women. HB 5043 categorically rejects abortion, which it deems a “crime,” in consonance with the 1987 Constitution. What it, in fact, wants to do is prevent abortions by offering couples an array of “medically-safe, legal, affordable and quality” family planning methods, from which they can choose the one that will work best for them. In so doing, the RH Bill seeks to avert unwanted and mistimed pregnancies, which cause mostly poor and married women despairing over yet another pregnancy to seek an induced abortion. We are alarmed that an estimated 473,400 Filipino women went for an abortion in 2000, and that some 79,000 of them wound up in hospitals for abortion complications. We consider it our guilt and our shame that so many of our women should be driven to such dire straits as to make abortion a family planning method, for want of information on and access to an effective means to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.

We believe in the sanctity and dignity of human life, whether that life is the mother’s or the unborn child’s. It is for this reason that we support the RH Bill’s intent to expand couples’―but especially women’s―access to safe, legal, and reliable family planning methods,whether modern natural or modern artificial. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)says that women’s access to effective contraception would avert 30 percent of maternal deaths, 90 percent of abortion-related deaths and disabilities, and 20 percent of child deaths. Thus, the RH Bill is not only pro-life (in that it aims to prevent the termination of an unborn child’s life), but also pro-women, because it enables them to plan the number and spacing of their children so
as to avoid frequent and closely-spaced pregnancies that imperil their health and lives. Moreover, given that our maternal mortality rate is a staggeringly high 162 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, the RH Bill aims to improve maternal and infant health by enjoining cities and municipalities to provide an adequate number of skilled birth attendants and hospitals rendering comprehensive emergency obstetric care.

In sum, because reproductive health is central to women’s overall health, fundamental aspects of women’s wellbeing are compromised when reproductive health is ignored. The conditions under which choices are made are as important as the actual content of women’s choices: the right to choose is meaningful only if women have real power to choose.

The RH Bill is pro-poor. Based on the Pulse Asia 2007 survey on family planning, an
overwhelming majority (92%) of Filipinos believe that it is important to plan their family, and most (89%) say that the government should allocate funding for modern artificial methods of family planning, including the pill, intrauterine devices (IUDs), condoms, ligation, and vasectomy. And yet only 5 out of 10 married women (50.6%) use any family planning method, whether modern natural or modern artificial. This suggests a significant unmet need for reproductive health services.

By treating contraceptives as “essential medicines,” HB 5043 makes contraceptives (including those requiring hospital services like tubal ligation, vasectomy, and IUD insertion) part of the National Drug Formulary, and therefore more accessible and cheaper for Filipinos.

This is a decidedly pro-poor measure, considering that the majority (58.1%) of those who use modern artificial family planning methods rely on the government for their supply of contraceptives. Our Catholic faith calls on us to embrace the preferential option for the poor and marginalized. We therefore support the RH Bill, which we believe will be especially beneficial for our poorest 20 percent who cannot afford family planning services, and therefore have the highest unmet need for family planning (26.7%), and 2.5 children more than they desire.

Furthermore, we uphold the principle of integral human development, which is why we want couples to be able to have only the number of children that they want and can adequately feed, clothe, care for, and send to school, so that they can attain their full potential as human beings, and contribute to the development of Philippine society.

The RH Bill is pro-youth. As teachers of our young people, we are deeply concerned that, over time, more of them are getting initiated into sex at increasingly younger ages. Based on the 1994 and 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality surveys of the UP Population Institute, not only did the proportion of youth aged 15-24 who are engaged in premarital sex increase (from to Declaration of support for the Reproductive Health Bill’s immediate passage into law 17.8% in 1994, to 23.4% in 2002), but the average age for their first sexual encounter declined (from 18 in 1994, to 17.5 in 2002). Even more worrisome is how their premarital sex act is often
unprotected, with three in four of them (75.1%) admitting to not using any kind of contraceptive during their most recent premarital sex act, primarily because of lack of knowledge on contraception. Our young people’s premarital and unprotected sex therefore places them at high risk for early pregnancies, and contracting HIV-AIDS and sexually-transmitted diseases.

We favor the RH Bill’s provision of mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health
education, believing as we do that much of our youth’s risky sexual behavior is linked to their lack of information and values formation on their reproductive and sexual health. We take exception to the opinion that teaching them about sex will make them prurient and promiscuous.

Rather, we hold the view that by providing our young people the information and values they would need to take care of their reproductive health, and by creating opportunities for them to articulate and clarify their questions and feelings about sex, we are empowering them to make responsible decisions regarding their sexuality and sexual behavior, whether now or in the future.

After all, Catholic social theology teaches us that the principle of human dignity requires us to uphold human rights, which include the right to education and appropriate information (Gaudium et Spes, 1965) and the right to develop one’s intelligence and freedom in seeking and knowing the truth (Centesimus Annus, 1991).

The RH Bill is pro-informed choice. In seeking to promote both modern natural and
modern artificial methods of family planning (with “no bias for either”), HB 5043 recognizes105 that couples, especially women, have the right to choose the family planning method that they consider to be the safest and most effective for them, provided that these are legally permissible.

Although natural family planning (NFP) which the Catholic Church promotes offers many
benefits, it is important to realize that pursuing an NFP-only population policy will be a disservice, if not a grave injustice, to women and couples for whom NFP simply cannot work.

We are thinking of women who find it impossible to predict their infertile periods; or couples who see each other on an irregular basis; or women who are trapped in abusive relationships with men who demand sex anytime they want it. Why is it morally wrong for such women and couples―and even others not encompassed by the above situations―to use a modern artificial family planning method that has been pronounced safe and non-abortifacient by health authorities, if their discernment of their particular situation has led them to conclude that such a method will enable them to fulfill the demands of marital love and responsible parenthood?

Catholic social teachings recognize the primacy of the well-formed conscience over wooden compliance to directives from political and religious authorities. Gaudium et Spes (1965) tells us: “In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his heart: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged” (no. 16).

We respect the consciences of our bishops when they promote natural family planning as the only moral means of contraception, in adherence to the teachings of Humanae Vitae (1968). In turn, we ask our bishops to respect the one in three (35.6%) married Filipino women who, in their “most secret core and sancturary” or conscience, have decided that their and their family’s interests would best be served by using a modern artificial means of contraception. Is it not possible that these women and their spouses were obeying their well-informed and well-formed consciences when they opted to use an artificial contraceptive?

We therefore ask our bishops and fellow Catholics not to block the passage of HB 5043, which promotes women’s and couples’ access to the full range of safe, legal, and effective modern natural and modern artificial family planning methods, from which they can choose the one most suitable to their needs and personal and religious convictions. To campaign against the bill is to deny our people, especially our women, many other benefits, such as maternal and child health and nutrition; promotion of breastfeeding; adolescent and youth health; reproductive health education; prevention and management of gynecological conditions; and provision of information and services addressing the reproductive health needs of marginalized sectors, among others. In pursuit of the common good, or the “sum total of social conditions which allow people... to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” (Gaudium et Spes 1965, no. 26), we call on the Catholic Church to let the RH Bill pass in Congress, and to consider forging a principled collaboration with the government in the promotion of natural family planning which Humanae Vitae deems morally acceptable, and in the formation of consciences with emphasis on the value of responsible sex and parenthood.

To our fellow Catholics who, in good conscience, have come to conclude, as we have, that we need a reproductive health law: we ask you to declare your support for HB 5043.

Finally, we call on our legislators in Congress and in the Senate to pass the RH Bill. Doing so upholds the constitutional right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions; honors our commitments to international covenants; and promotes the reproductive health and reproductive rights of Filipinos, especially of those who are most marginalized on this issue―our women, poor families, and youth.

We sign this declaration as individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, and speak for ourselves and not on behalf of our colleagues nor the University.

15 October 2008
Signatories (as of 15 October 2008)

Raymond B. Aguas (Department of Theology)

Liane Peña Alampay (Department of Psychology)
Fernando T. Aldaba (Department of Economics)
Remmon E. Barbaza (Department of Philosophy)
Manuel B. Dy, Jr. (Department of Philosophy)
Elizabeth Uy Eviota (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Marita Castro Guevara (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies)
Roberto O. Guevara (Department of Theology)
Anne Marie A. Karaos (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Michael J. Liberatore (Department of Theology)
Liza L. Lim (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Cristina Jayme Montiel (Department of Psychology)
Mary Racelis (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Agustin Martin G.
Rodriguez (Department of Philosophy)


ETA: Apparently this is not the final list. More signatories to come.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cinemanila 2008 Screening Schedule

Hat tip to Pelikula76 who helmed the camera of one of the entries: The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela. Please do see it. After 3 years, Raquela has come home to the Philippines.

Oct. 16-29, 2008
Gateway Cineplex 10
Araneta Center

Friday, Oct. 17, 2008

Cinema 1
6:00 p m West 32nd (Korea)
8:30 pm Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone (Japan)

Cinema 2
1:00 pm You, the Living (Sweden)
3:00 pm Sparrow (Hong Kong)
5:00 pm Sukiyaki Western Django (Japan)
7:30 pm I'm a Cyborg but that's OK (South Korea)
9:30 pm Love of Siam (Thailand) SEA Competition

Cinema 4
12:00 pm 12 Lotus (Singapore) SEA Competition
2:30 pm The Band's Visit (Israel) Main Competition
4:30 pm Noise (Australia)
6:30 pm California Dreamin' (Romania)

Cinema 7

12:30 pm Shahida: Brides of Allah (Israel) Docs in Competition
2:00 pm Dreams from the Third World (Singapore)
4:00 pm Sita Sings the Blues (USA)

Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008

Cinema 1
Digital Lokal Competition Films
6:30 pm Ala Pobre Ala Suerte (Briccio Santos)
9:00 pm Sisa (CJ Andaluz)

Cinema 2
12:30 pm Confessional (Philippines) SEA Competition
2:00 pm Invisible City (Singapore) (Q&A with director)
3:30 pm United Red Army (Japan) Main Competition
7:00 pm Love of Siam (Thailand) SEA Competition

Cinema 4

12:00 pm 10 Canoes (Australia) Part of 6th Australian Film Festival
2:00 pm Sukiyaki Western Django (Japan)
5:00 pm Evangelion 1.0: You are Not Alone (Japan)

Cinema 5

Young Cinema Night: Shorts in Competition (7:00 pm)

* Amihan (Joanna Vasquez Arong)
* Bunot (Ivy Universe Baldoza)
* Esbat (Carlo Obispo)
* Frou Frou… Shh, Wag Mo Sabihin Kay Itay (Michael Juat)
* Inday Wanda (Nelson Caliguia Jr.)
* Kalawang na Ginto (Vic Acedillo Jr.)
* Kamera (Mikhail Red)
* Surreal Randon MMS Texts Para Ed Ina, Agui, Tan Kaamong Ya Makaiiliw Ed Sika: Gurgurlis Ed Banua (Christopher Gozum)
* Tumbang Preso (Antoinette Jadaone)
* Undertakers (Emmanuel Quindo Palo)

Cinema 7

1:00 pm Vanished Empire (Russia) Main Competition
3:00 pm Sparrow (Hong Kong)
5:00 pm Noise (Australia)
7:00 pm I'm A Cyborg But That's OK (South Korea)
9:00 pm Night Bus (Iran) Main Competition


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cinema 1
Digital Lokal Competition Films
6:30 pm Ang Manghuhula (Paolo Herras)
9:00 pm Carnivore (Ato Bautista)

Cinema 2
12:00 pm Storm Boy (Australia) Part of 6th Australian Film Festival
2:00 pm Sukiyaki Western Django (Japan)
4:30 pm 4 Minutes (Germany)
7:00 pm Blind Pig Who Wants To Fly (Q&A with director) SEA Competition
9:00 pm West 32nd (South Korea)

Cinema 4
12:00 pm The Photograph (Indonesia) SEA Competition
2:00 pm It's A Free World (UK)
4:00 pm Youth Without Youth (USA)
6:30 pm Lucky Miles (Q*A with director and actor) (Australia) Main Competition
9:30 pm Diving Bell & the Butterfly by Julian Schnabel (France)

Cinema 7
1:00 pm Sita Sings the Blues (USA)
3:00 pm Adela (Philippines) SEA Competition
5:30 pm PVC 1 (Colombia)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cinema 1
12:30pm With A Girl of Black Soil (South Korea)
2:30 pm Boxing Day (Australia)
4:30 pm Shahida - Brides Of Allah (Israel)
6:30 pm Be Like Others (Iran)
8:30 pm The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela (Iceland/Philippines/France/Thailand) Main Competition

Cinema 2
1:00 pm Sparrow (Hong Kong)
3:00 pm Diving Bell & the Butterfly (France)
5:30 pm Night Bus (Iran) Main Competition
7:30 pm Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone (Japan)
9:30 pm I'm A Cyborg But That's OK (South Korea)

Cinema 4
12:00 pm Love Of Siam (Thailand) SEA Competition
3:00 pm The Mirror (Russia)
5:00 pm Not Quite Hollywood (Australia)
7:00 pm Susuk (Malaysia)
9:00 pm It's A Free World by Ken Loach (UK)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cinema 1
Digital Lokal Competition Films
7:00PM Next Attraction (Raya Martin)
9:00 pm Imburnal (Sherad Anthony Sanchez)

Cinema 2
12:00 pm California Dreamin' (Romania)
3:00 pm God Man Dog (Taiwan)
5:00 pm Noise (Australia)
7:00 pm Diving Bell and the Butterfly (France)
9:30 pm Youth Without Youth by Francis Ford Coppola (USA)

Cinema 4
11:30 pm The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela Main Competition
2:00 -5:00 pm Master Class In Script Writing (Bing Lao)

Cinema 7
1:00 pm Vanished Empire (Russia) Main Competition
3:00 pm West 32nd (Korea/USA)
5:00 pm The Photograph (Indonesia) SEA Competition
7:00 pm Noise (Australia)
9:00 pm The Bands Visit (Israel) Main Competition


Tuesday, Oct. 21 Scriptwriting Master Class with Bing Lao
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Wednesday, Oct. 22 SEA Indie Filmmaking: With Lav Diaz (Philippines)
Amir Muhammad (Malaysia) and Raymond Red (Philippines)
2:00 - 5:00 pm
Thursday, Oct. 23 Cinematography Master Class
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Monday, Oct. 27 Editing Master Class with Miranamedina
2:00 – 5:00 pm


Saturday, October 25 Young Cinema Night II: Shorts in Exhibition 7:00 – 9:00 pm

* #cafe (Leo Valencia)
* Bulong (Pedro Valdes)
* Pass (Vicente Garcia Groyon)
* Walong Linggo (Ana Isabelle Matutina)
* Trails of Water (Sheron Dayoc)
* Pagtakas sa Kawalan (Richard Soriano Legaspi)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

On Prostitution

Corollary to the BBC brouhaha, Jeg writes a post on the world's oldest "profession":
Not one to pass on the chance to defend scantily-clad women, I asked why is it sexploitation. Those dancers were not being coerced. They freely chose their profession and are being paid for it. And with that I think it is time to come to the defense of what is called the World's Oldest Profession, the prostitutes, those purveyors of venereal services that society has maligned; indeed our legal system considers their profession illegal. A prostitute is here defined as one who engages in sexual services for a fee.
A slippery slope we have here. I can only think of more questions in response to this post. Does anyone willingly choose to become a prostitute? As a worker who engages in the labour market, what does a prostitute offer? Sex as a service? Her body as a commodity for consumption? Both? Can we compare services rendered by, say, a call centre agent to that of a prostitute? A call centre agent sells his time, his expertise, his skills as service. This does not include his body for exploitation (i.e. use) and consumption.

A prostitute's body is a fictitious commodity. It is is not "produced" for consumption in the market. Like bags and tupperware. When her body is consumed - like agriculture, her value is "renewable." Her body as commodity does not disappear. However it "depreciates" because her customers put value in pliable, wrinkle-free flesh. Is her body a public good then? Like clean air and public order? A private good by definition must only be consumed by one.

And what about the value of her service? Why do societies around the world normally equate prostitution with women? Do women not require sexual release without strings attached as men? There is a stastic somewhere that in the US at least as many as 60 percent of men who hire prostitutes do not engage in intercourse. They talk. He confides in her. She listens. In this case, what kind of service is she offering? Care? Attention?

We go back to the issue of motivation - is it her own free will to engage in prostitution? Can anyone think of any other work where a human being sells both his service (i.e. labour) and the use of his body in a transaction? Hm...acrobats maybe?

Cross-posted at Filipinovoices.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Speak for the Subaltern

It's a short clip, but devastating nonetheless. In less than sixty seconds the BBC comedy show Harry & Paul normalises, even trivialises the hardships, indignity and abuses suffered by many Filipina migrants abroad.Domestic helpers have rights too. Speak for the subaltern. Sign this petition.

Friday, October 03, 2008

RH Bill Sponsorship Speeches

See the speeches here.

How not to deliver a speech, c/o Rep. Antonino-Custodio.
How to deliver a good speech, c/o Rep. Baraquel.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Global Conspiracies on Reproductive Health, Population and Development: What It Means for Filipinos

A well-meaning historical account of the supposed global population control movement threads together eugenics, racism, imperialism, feminism and humanitarianism gone wrong. There is a supposed global conspiracy, which began over a hundred years ago and which, as certain Filipinos now suggest, continues today. It is then suggested that those who support the Philippines' Reproductive Health Bill be made aware of such a history, of "how the reproductive rights movement began and where it would lead." Is this the "hidden agenda" of a national policy that would consolidate already-existing government initiatives? A national policy which would provide the services for which Filipinos express a need? A national policy which is not in any way coercive, but would provide choices for Filipino families to take control of their own lives?

If we go by accounts of how movements and ideas are born, then history is replete with examples of what we now deem as heinous and unjust practices perpetrated by humans to each other. The birth of modern medicine, as well as a host of other sciences, has seen numerous inhuman experiments conducted in the name of modernity and progress.

The introduction of Christianity in the Philippines, and the role played by the Catholic Church can likewise be seen in a problematic light. The early nationalist movements and our very own national hero, Jose Rizal, recognized this. Once the concept of an all-seeing, all-knowing God was introduced to pagan and animist Filipinos in the 16th century, this became a mechanism of control over the native population. The fear of offending the Christian God, and enduring eternal damnation in hell was a more effective weapon than wielding swords or firing muskets. Indeed the expansion of the Christian faith worldwide is a history as bloody as any.

And yet today we think not of doing away with doctors or scientists and the contributions that modern medicine and science have made to improve the quality of life. We think not of condemning Christians and the Catholic clergy for the sins committed in name of ideas and institutions of the past.

Historian Michael Connelly, author of Fatal Conception: The Struggle to Control World Population, focuses his archival research on the supposed confluence of interests of Malthusians, racists, eugenicists, imperialists, environmentalists, feminists, public health advocates and international organizations in a global conspiracy to control global population. If this shadowy network, in operation for more than a hundred years and funded by multibillionaires and rich-country donors, were truly bent on keeping non-whites from reproducing, then two-thirds of the world's population in 2008 will not be either Indian or Chinese.

In the latest surveys, 92 percent of Filipinos think it is important to plan a family. Almost 9 in 10 think it is important that the government provide budgetary support for modern methods of family planning. Filipino families are having more children than they can support with the respect required of a truly dignified life. Risky abortions, committed mostly by married mothers in their thirties, occur because there are no options and information on safe and reliable family planning methods.

The economic and developmental exigencies aside, Filipino families have expressed the need for family planning services as a first step to lead a just and quality life. Those who choose to ignore the glaring reality of this need and who insist on global conspiracy theories to mar the simple and functional purpose of the Reproductive Health bill need to take off their ideological blinders and take note of Mr. Connelly's advice; the fatal misconception is "to think that one could know other people's interests better than they knew it themselves."

I Heart Craig Ferguson

Yin, Yang. Thesis, Antithesis. Here's Scottish-American Craig Ferguson's take on the US financial meltdown, capitalism and democracy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Response to Couples For Christ Ad

The Couples for Christ ad which came out Monday, September 22, put the Penalty provisions of the RH bill completely out of context. It was effective in scaring people into thinking that the bill would intrude into their individual right to manage family life as they see fit. The CFC ad is reproduced by WillyJ on his blog.

I am sure there are lawyers among the leadership of the CFC and so this ad was not crafted in ignorance. I can only surmise that they mean to sow misinformation. I am truly disappointed by the un-Christian tactics being used by those against the bill. Their surrogates in Congress are prime examples of how the sacred have been more than willing to get in bed with and roll in the dirt of the profane.

I think some clarifications are in order.

CFC: 1. As employers, do you agree to be compelled to provide free reproductive health care services, supplies, devices and surgical procedures (including vasectomy and ligation) to your employees, and be subjected to both imprisonment and/or fine, for every time that you fail to comply? Section 17 states that employers shall provide for the free delivery of reproductive health care services, supplies and devices to all workers more particularly women workers. (Read the Definition of Reproductive Health and Rights Section 4, paragraph g, Section 21, Paragraph c and Section 22 on Penalties)

CLARIFICATION: The bill complements already existing provisions in the Labor Code which mandates employers to provide family planning services and incentives to their employees. The labor code also prohibits employers to deny these benefits to women employees to avoid having pregnancy be a reason for employment termination. The bill expands on these provisions by mandating free RH services and commodities to their employees providing of course that employees request them (Labor Code Article 134 (a-b) and Article 137(a1-a3).

CFC: 2. As health care providers, do you agree that you should be subjected to imprisonment and/or fine, if you fail to provide reproductive health care services such as giving information on family planning methods and providing services like ligation and vasectomy, regardless of the patient’s civil status, gender, religion or age? (Read Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Letter a, Par 1 to 5 and Sec 22 on Penalties)

CLARIFICATION: The bill's penalties are primarily geared towards preventing health care providers from refusing to offer RH services based on the client’s personal circumstances.

Those who refuse to render services on account of religious convictions will not be penalized provided that they immediately refer clients to others with the same facilities. Provided also that the client is not in an emergency or serious case as defined by RA 8344.

CFC: 3. As a Spouse, do you agree that your husband or wife can undergo a ligation or vasectomy without your consent or knowledge? (read Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Letter a, Paragraph 2)

CLARIFICATION: The bill does penalize those who refuse to perform vasectomy or ligation on a person of legal age on the ground of lack of spousal consent or authorization. Once a spouse has sought these services, it is assumed he or she has done so in consultation with his or her partner. It is no longer within the purview of the law and the state whether he or she has decided to undergo these procedures without the express consent of the partner.

A husband does not own his wife's body and vice versa.

CFC: 4. As parents, do you agree that children from age 10 to 17 should be taught their sexual rights and the means to have a satisfying and “safe” sex life as part of their school curriculum? Reproductive Health Education will be mandatory from Grade 5 to the end of High School (see Sec 12 on Reproductive Health Education and Sec 4 Definition of Family Planning and reproductive Health, Par b,c and d)

CLARIFICATION: The bill endorses age-appropriate sexuality education to ensure that young Filipinos have the right information while instilling values for them to exercise responsible decision-making in matters of sex and reproductive health. Section 12 lists the main elements of the proposed sexuality education to be incorporated in school curricula. The bill does not contain specifics on having a “satisfying and safe sex life.”

The following are the general topics to be taken up in sexuality education class mentioned in the bill:

1. Reproductive health and sexual rights
2. Reproductive health care and services
3. Attitudes, beliefs and values on sexual development, sexual behaviour and sexual health
4. Proscription and hazards of abortion and management of post-abortion complications
5. Responsible parenthood
6. Use and application of natural and modern family planning to promote reproductive health, achieve desired family size and prevent unwanted, unplanned and mistimed pregnancies
7. Abstinence before marriage
8. Prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and other STIs/STDs, prostate cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer and other gynecological disorders
9. Responsible sexuality
10. Maternal, peri-natal and post-natal education, care and services

So, yeah. No details on kama sutra.

Also, only teachers who agree to teach sexuality education will undergo training.

CFC: 5. Do you agree that you should be subjected to imprisonment and/or pay a fine, for expressing an opinion against any provision of this law, if such expression of opinion is interpreted as constituting “malicious disinformation”? (See Sec 21 on Prohibited Acts, Par f and Sec 22 on Penalties)

If you answered NO to any of the questions above, then you are not for RH Bill 50433. Read the bill. You will find more objecrtionalble provisions such as losing our parental authority over a minor child who was raped and found pregnant (sec 21, 1, no. 3), reclassifying contraceptives as essential medicines (Section 10) and appropriating limited government funds to reproductive services instead of basic services (Section 23).

CLARIFICATION: In accordance with the law, the bill does not curtail every individual’s right of free speech. To express disagreement or dissent against the merits of legislation is the cornerstone of any democratic society.

HB 5043 does penalize any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent or provisions of the Act. This includes such acts as claiming that the bill will punish parents who, in good conscience, disallow their children to attend sexuality education class.