Category: reproductive health

The RH fund cut, savings, and DAP

Katrina S.S.

THE P1-billion cut in the Reproductive Health budget, specifically for Family Health and Responsible Parenting, was not in the least surprising. Because for all of government’s press releases about transparency and matuwid na daan, the budget and the decisions that are made about where and how to spend public money remain shrouded in secrecy. Just because documents are made available to us does not mean everything’s happening above ground. And when transparency means going through long lists of line-item budgeting and reams of paper, it’s easy to see how government can take every opportunity to slip one past us.

Read on…

carlos is not charlie

in january 2013, the day after the metropolitan trial court pronounced carlos celdran guilty of offending religious feelings when he posed as rizal brandishing a damaso placard in the manila cathedral, i blogged, in fairness to carlos celdran, reacting to the phrase “there being no mitigating … circumstance.”

“Wherefore, premises considered, accused Carlos Celdran is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Offending the Religious Feelings under Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, there being no mitigating and aggravating circumstance, he is hereby sentenced to suffer imprisonment of two months and 21 days as minimum to one year, one month and 11 days…”

i argued that there were mitigating circumstances back in those last days of september 2010 that drove celdran to take drastic action on the 30th.

two days before, september 28, the new prez spoke out unequivocally in favor of RH in a town hall meeting with expats in san francisco, earning the royal ire of the church. on the morning of september 30, newspapers and websites screamed the shocker that the CBCP was threatening the president with excommunication for being pro-choice and endorsing artificial contraceptives. that very afternoon celdran dramatized his outrage by staging his rizal-bearing-damaso-placard act in the manila cathedral.

the CBCP denied that excommunication threat the very next day but it’s not clear now whose mistake it was, the bishops’ or the reporters’, and the damage had been done.

mid-december that same year, 2010, to get in the mood i found myself doing the nine dawn masses of simbang gabi with katrina.  i hadn’t been to mass in ages except for the occasional wedding or wake, but suddenly i was curious to hear the christmas story again and how the church is telling it in this day and age.  only to be super scandalized and offended by a pre-mass anti-RH video and, after the gospel reading, a sermon partly dedicated to the evils of RH, even, equating RH with abortion, na contrary daw to isaiah the prophet’s admonition to “observe what is right, and do what is just.”  argh.  i remembered celdran and wished i had a placard screaming IT’S A LIE!  except i’m not one to make a scene, lol.

but carlos celdran is, one to make a scene, and, provoked, he did just that, but not at a mass — the day headlines screamed that bishops were threatening the president with excommuncation, it was a thursday, nothing going on in churches, except that ecumenical ek-ek at the manila cathedral, puwede na rin.

i get naman the view that celdran should not have disrupted whatever was going on (or not) in the confines of the church.  he could have pulled his stunt outside, like maybe at the doorstep, or the gates, staged there a monologue, an update on how the RH bill was faring in congress, or why not a dialogue with pro-RH fans and/or critics, even, an impersonation of, not rizal, but damaso, raised consciousness in the process.  media would surely have covered the show.

and i agree, that jail sentence is too much.  celdran was standing up and speaking out for 7 out of 10 filipinos long in favor of an RH law, butting heads with a most powerful and adamantly anti-RH church, and that was brave, and singular.

but please, let’s stop with the charlie hebdo referencing.  celdran being sentenced to some months in jail for offending religious feelings is not in a category with the charlie hebdo staff being killed, executed, for offensive caricatures of allah’s prophet. ibang sitwasyon at ibang level naman ‘yon.  si celdran nga ay matagal nang humingi ng paumanhin sa simbahan at malamang ay hindi na uulit, samantalang ang charlie hebdo ay tuloy-tuloy lang ang banat sa muslim fundamentalists.  to what end nga ba.

in fairness to carlos celdran (updated)

“Wherefore, premises considered, accused Carlos Celdran is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Offending the Religious Feelings under Article 133 of the Revised Penal Code and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, there being no mitigating and aggravating circumstance, he is hereby sentenced to suffer imprisonment of two months and 21 days as minimum to one year, one month and 11 days…”

in fairness to celdran, there was a mitigating and aggravating circumstance back then that drove him to take drastic action.  two days before, september 28, the new prez spoke out unequivocally in favor of RH in a town hall meeting with expats in san francisco, earning the royal ire of the church.  on the morning of september 30, newspapers and websites screamed the shocker that the CBCP was threatening the president with excommunication for being pro-choice and endorsing artificial contraceptives.  that very afternoon celdran dramatized his outrage by staging his rizal-bearing-damaso-placard act in the manila cathedral.

the CBCP denied that excommunication threat the very next day but it’s not clear now whose mistake it was, the bishops’ or the reporters’, and the damage had been done.

it is worth noting, too, that the guilty ruling was issued as early as december 14 but kept under wraps until yesterday (how did the church swing that?).  the house of reps had just passed the RH bll on second reading the day before, december 13, but the senate was dragging its feet and sotto had yet to deliver his may-I-ask-God-the-Father-to-forgive-us-for-we-do-not-know-what-we-are-doing huling hirit speech.  perhaps the bishops were still hopeful that sotto could get the votes, and they didn’t want the celdran case messing up things.

the rest is history.  the senate voted in favor of RH on december 18. theoretically, nothing to lose na ang church, but apparently they were able to put off the announcement of the ruling again, siguro papasko kay celdran, salamat naman, but what took them so long after the holidays?  it’s practically the end of january.

i suppose cardinal tagle’s january 9 homily should have warned us that the CBCP is truly going all out to battle the RH law.  though i’m not sure that showing an apologetic celdran no mercy is winning the church any points.

RH “mocks” Filipino culture?

james imbong, son of lawyer jo imbong who is reportedly the legal counsel of the catholic bishops conference of the philippines (CBCP), has asked the supreme court to nullify the reproductive health (RH) law.

Filing on behalf of their minor children, James and Lovely Imbong said the law “mocks the nation’s Filipino culture — noble and lofty in its values and holdings on life, motherhood and family life — now the fragile lifeblood of a treasured culture that today stands solitary but proud in contrast to other nations.”

ano daw?  bad writing aside, ano ba yang “filipino culture” na yan that the imbongs so sophomorically extol?  what’s so “noble and lofty” ba about filipino culture?  once upon a time there was jose rizal, but who else since, and what else, really, in this dysfunctional undeveloped disaster of a catholic country, where some 70 percent, maybe 80, are poor and hungry by default, thanks to an uncaring elitist leadership, administration after administration, ever long on promises but short on delivery, greedily thriving on systemic corruption and patronage politics.  and what is that “treasured culture” really but some fantasy movie in the imbongs’ and bishops’ pompous minds where families are whole and happy, rather than broken, riven, mother father wife husband forced away by economic necessity to keep family, and country incidentally, afloat.  i think it’s the imbongs who mock us, insult our intelligence, with their holier-than-thou platitudes.

and what about this from CBCP vp archbishop socrates villegas:

“The poor can rise from their misery through more accessible education, better hospitals and lesser government corruption. Money for contraceptives can be better used for education and authentic health care,” Villegas said.

as if.  what if, instead of fighting the RH bill law, the imbongs and the bishops fight, condemn, agitate against, the systemic corruption and patronage politics that plague the nation, for a change?  but first, maybe, the church should start paying taxes voluntarily, so that it’s not forever beholden to government for the exemption; then bishops can truthfully embrace honest-to-goodness pro-poor advocacies, sabay threaten elitist government officials with hellfire and brimstone until they stop enriching themselves in office and finally deliver on election promises of a better life for the masses, yes, accessible education, better hospitals, and lesser corruption, now na.