Category Archives: Politics

Do you remember where you were exactly 10 years ago?

As of press time (i.e., September 11, 2011 at 1328 hours, Manila time), I was probably at school, walking aimlessly along the corridors perpendicular to the old pavilions of UP Integrated School, as I used to do after eating lunch. I probably must have come across Victoria Doloricon in front of the library. (She is my grade 9th classmate who noticed that kind of behavior of mine.)

At that time, my adviser and chemistry teacher, Prof. Mel Mapa, was on leave and was currently in the US.

Exactly 10 years ago (i.e., September 11, 2011 at 1328 hours), the 911 attacks have not yet occurred.

Honestly, I don’t remember how I heard the news. But according to this website, which shows the detailed timeline of that date in New York:

8:46:26 a.m.: American Airlines Flight 11 impacts the north side of the North Tower (1 World Trade Center) of the WTC between the 94th and 98th floors. American Airlines Flight 11 was flying at a speed of 490 miles per hour (MPH).

So if it happened at 0846 hours, then in Manila, it was 2046 hours. I was already at home at that time. But I don’t remember hearing about it in the news. Memory gap? Or was I in shock?

The earliest memory I could remember concerning the 9-11 attacks was when Prof. Mapa was back in Manila and she told us that she was in New York City when that happened. I also remember my professor in Algebra (I forgot her name!) when she came into the room and asked Prof. Mapa if she was alright.

That’s it. Ten years ago, I don’t remember much. But that event did change the world (esp. airport and MRT security).

Washington Sycip: Mike Arroyo is heavily involved in jueteng networks

I was browsing ABS-CBNNews.com when I chanced upon a story that grabbed my attention at once.

It was about a classified cable from the US Embassy in Manila released by none other than WikiLeaks. The cable talked about how the corruption in the Philippines was worsening and that then First Family was involved. The First Gentleman Mike Arroyo being personally connected to illegal activities and his wife former president (now Pampanga representative) Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo knew about it.

But of course, the way the cable was written didn’t prove that the two infamous personalities were in fact involved in corruption. It only showed the opinions of the businessmen in the Philippines about the political condition of the country as it relates to the economy and the business community.

But the most intriguing portions of the cable are those statements that came from Washington Sycip, founder of the largest professional firm in the Philippines – SGV & Co. Sycip has always been regarded as everyone’s consultant. He happens to have very strong and wisdom-filled opinions on anything, including corruption.

The way the cable has been written seems to show that Sycip has first hand knowledge of the widespread corruption in the country.

Here are some of the excerpts from “the partial extract of the original cable,” which according to WikiLeaks is not available.

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Summary
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WikiLeaks

¶1. (C) Influential members of the Manila business community increasingly express concerns about how corruption is undermining the RP’s economic outlook. According to long-time Embassy contact Washington Sycip, who is widely respected as among the top economic observers in the country, corruption is at its worst ever and is making it impossible for democracy to work in the Philippines. President Arroyo’s husband, he claimed, is one of the worst offenders, with a reputation for corruption seeping down to all levels of society and eroding PGMA’s political standing. Francis Chua, president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce, claimed that almost all business people perceive worsening problems with corruption. He echoed Sycip’s assessment that the First Gentleman is a major problem with respect to corruption. X X X End Summary.

Mike and Gloria

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Corruption and Democracy
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¶2. (C) Manila business leaders have increasingly expressed serious concern about how corruption is hindering their ability to conduct legitimate business. Washington Sycip, a founding partner of SGV (the country’s most prominent accounting firm and an affiliate of U.S. firm Ernst and Young) has become increasingly pessimistic, claiming privately that corruption nowadays is at its worst, surpassing even the Marcos era. He has expressed doubt about democracy’s suitability for the RP. Emboffs strongly objected to Sycip’s assertion that the RP should reconsider democracy, underscoring that the U.S. would not support any move to non-democratic leadership. Sycip has responded by pointing to countries in the region with stronger leadership, such as Singapore, Malaysia, and China, claiming they have made more progress in improving their citizens’ well-being through non-democratic systems. Sycip has further argued that, in countries with per capita GDP under $3000, Western-style democracy leads to cronyism and corruption. He pointed out that two out of the last five presidents elected here have been removed from office by non-democratic means, leading him to conclude that the Philippine democratic process is choosing the “wrong” leaders. Of special concern was corruption in the judiciary up to and including the Supreme Court, which has destroyed the constitutional system of checks and balances.

¶3. (C) According to Sycip, First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo’s behavior, in particular, is damaging the credibility of the government and hinders President Arroyo’s ability to implement anti-corruption measures. Sycip claimed that Mike Arroyo is heavily involved in the illegal gambling or “jueteng” networks and closely connected with major smuggling syndicates (ref B). President Arroyo, according to Sycip, is aware of her husband’s misdeeds, but she is unwilling to do anything to curb his activities because he was instrumental in marshaling campaign donations and is now keeping those supporters in line to help her maintain her grip on power. X X X

¶4. (C) In response to complaints about corruption, President Arroyo agreed to form an advisory group, of which Sycip is a member. The group has advised the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) to abandon taxes on earnings and shift to taxing evidences of wealth because taxing expenditures “better suits” the Filipino character and will ensure better collection. It has advised the DOF (Department of Finance) to publicize the amount of VAT retailers collect and turn over to the government to dissuade underreporting. Sycip nonetheless has lamented that the GRP and PGMA, in particular, seem rarely to follow the advice of the group. X X X.

Click here to read the entire cable.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s Sponsorship Speech on RH Bill (Part 3)

Click the links to read Part 1 and Part 2.

THE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ACT
Part 3
Socioeconomics

By Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

It is easy to discuss reproductive health in abstract terms such as theology, constitutional law, or international law. But it is not so facile to exchange arguments over the hard facts concerning mother and child among the very poor.

Statistics on Maternal Health

- Due to childbirth- and pregnancy-related complications:
11 MOTHERS DIE EVERYDAY!
3,000 to 5,000 mothers die every year
162 mothers out of 100,000 live births die
11% of all deaths among women of reproductive age in the Philippines are maternal deaths
- How many women will be affected by the RH bill?
23 million (From 15 to 49 years old)
- How many women are at risk of pregnancy?
15 million

Guttmacher Institute made a 2008 study of pregnant Filipinas, with the following results:

- How many pregnancies that year?
3.371 million
- How many were unintended pregnancies?
1.82 million
- What happened to the unintended pregnancies?
570,000 induced abortions
1 million mistimed or unwanted births
90,000 hospitalizations for complication of abortions
3,700 maternal deaths in one year, of which
90% deaths occurred among women using no or natural
family planning methods
- Where do women deliver their babies?
56% at home, specially in rural areas
44% in health facility
- At childbirth, is skilled birth attendance available?
As of 2008:
36% No; only the hilot
62% Yes; with a birth professional
- Does skilled attendance at delivery and emergency abortive case reduce maternal deaths?
Yes, with 75% reduction

In addition to reducing maternal and child deaths during delivery, family planning would prevent not only unwanted and high-risk pregnancies, but also abortion. Under the Penal Code, abortion is a crime, and it will remain a crime under the RH bill. In fact, one important reason to pass the RH bill is that it will reduce abortions. The Act will provide full information to any mother on the entire menu of family planning options, making it unnecessary for the mother to resort to abortion. Hence, pregnancy will result in a wanted child, not an unwanted child that the mother might be forced to abort.

- In the Philippines, how many unplanned pregnancies end in abortion?
1 out of 3
- How many induced abortions are estimated to have taken place in the Philippines?
400,000 in 1994
473,400 in 2004
- Who are the women who resort to induced abortions in the Philippines?
9 out of 10 are married women
87% are Catholics
- Who are the women who resort to induced abortions in the Philippines?
9 out of 10 are married women
87% are Catholics
- Did the mother receive antenatal care?
As of 2008:
4% – No
5% – From hilot
91% – Yes
- Who are vulnerable to risky pregnancies?
Young adolescent women
Women over 35 years old
Women who already gave birth to three children
Women whose pregnancies have short intervals
- Of pregnant Filipinas, how many are aware of danger signs of complications, and where to go in case of complications?
50%

These statistics lead to the question of how the government should prevent maternal death. The obvious answer is that government should provide access to skilled care during pregnancy, during childbirth, and during at least the first months after delivery. Poor women are more at risk of dying from pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications.

- Does voluntary family planning reduce deaths? Yes:
20 to 35% of maternal deaths
20% of child deaths
- Lower fertility rate reduces poverty incidence:
NCR:
Fertility – 2.3%
Poverty – 7.6%
Bicol:
Fertility – 5.1%
Poverty – 49%
- Actual children are more than wanted children:
Wanted fertility rate – 2.4 children
Actual fertility rate – 3.3 children
Each woman has excess of 1 child
Unmet need for family planning – 22%
- Poor women have three times more children than rich women:
Highest class:
Desired fertility – 1.6%
Actual fertility – 1.9%
Lowest class:
Desired fertility – 3.3%
Actual fertility – 5.2%
Childbearing among teenagers:
Uneducated – 25%
College – 3%

Similarly, a Canadian NGO released a fact sheet based on several studies. It showed that school-based sexual health education results in more parent-child communication.

- What is the incidence of failure to protect against pregnancy for early PMS?
40% unprotected for first PMS (Pre-Marital Sex)
70% of most recent PMS
- Is there a double standard between the two genders with respect to PMS?
40% think it is acceptable for young men
22% think it is acceptable for young women

The Abortion Scare

Contraceptives are not abortifacient. This issue was laid to rest as early as 2006, during deliberations on House Bill No. 4643, which sought to declare contraceptives as abortive. A position paper on reproduction issued by international organizations, and released by the World Health Organization, categorically stated: “None of these methods have been shown to cause the abortion of an implanted fetus. Therefore they cannot be labeled as abortifacients.” The position paper covered virtually all the methods of contraception.

As part of the abortion debate, the question has been raised: When does life begin? Doctors and scientists do not know, and it would be presumptuous for legislators to settle this question by the expedient of parliamentary debate. We cannot settle a scientific issue by spouting anecdotal evidence to support a layman’s view. Contemporary ignorance of the answer has been admitted by no less than a former professor of biochemistry, who became former dean of the UP college of medicine. In a book published this year, 2011, the authors apparently reached the conclusion that the process of becoming human is gradual, and that there is no specific point at which a non-human entity suddenly becomes human.

Youth Education on RH

The RH bill provides for RH services and information for the youth. This provision is supported by the results of a 2002 UP Population Institute survey, which showed the following:

- Many young people engage in risky sexual behavior.
- Their knowledge of reproductive health problems are inadequate.
- They rarely seek medical help for reproductive health problems, and
- They have liberal views on sex and related matters.

The survey showed that many young people engage in pre-marital sex (PMS), as follows:

- Among young people 15 to 24 years old, how many have had PMS experience?
23%
- What is the prevalence of PMS among the sexes?
31.1% among boys
15.4% among girls
- What is the incidence of PMS among male youth?
20% admitted that they paid for sex
12% admitted that they accepted payment for sex

Even young men who risk getting infected with HIV also suffer from inadequate knowledge. As a common practice, Filipino youth do not discuss sex at home with their parents. Therefore, it is not realistic to argue that sex discussion should be limited to the parents and the home.

Sexuality education does not encourage promiscuity among the youth. On the contrary, if young people know more about sexual health, they are even more likely to postpone sexual initiation. An American NGO looked at several studies made in countries where sexuality education is being taught, and reached the conclusion that sexuality education reinforces the sense of responsibility of young people in terms of their sexual behavior. When they are given proper education on reproductive health, young people no longer feel a need to explore other sources of information on sex.

Mistimed or unwanted pregnancies result in health risks which are higher for adolescent mothers. They are more likely to have complications during labor. Unwanted pregnancies compel society to pay a social cost. Parents who are able to plan their families are usually able to raise and educate them. But poor families who cannot plan their families have to rely on government for education, health, and other goods and services.

Philippine Demographics

The branch of knowledge that deals with human population, e.g., the statistical analysis of births and deaths, is known as demography. Here are the demographics:

- Philippine Population:
2010 – 91.8 M
2020 – 105.5 M
2040 – 126 M
- Population Growth Rate (PGR) – 2. 04%
No. 3 in Southeast Asia
Added Filipinos each year – 2 M
- What is the biggest age group?
15 to 49 years old – 51.11%
Half of population below 21 years old
Philippine population is young

Implication of Demographics

The consequences of all these statistics were analyzed in the seminal 2008 paper entitled “Population, Poverty, Politics, and the RH Bill.” It was written by some 27 UP economics professors, virtually every single one eminent in this field. The paper is so authoritative that I have to quote the first paragraph:

The population issue has long been dead and buried in developed and most developing countries, including historically Catholic countries. That it continues to be debated heatedly in our country testifies to the lack of progress in policy and action. The Catholic Church hierarchy has maintained its traditional stance against modern family planning (FP) methods, particularly modern (also referred to as “artificial”) contraceptives. On the other hand, the State acknowledges the difficulties posed for development by rapid population growth, especially among the poorest Filipinos.

According to the authors – whom I shall call the Economics 27 – a clear and consistent national population policy is long overdue. The RH bill would be a good instrument of such a policy. Hence, the RH bill would become an integral part of the strategy for development and poverty reduction. The country needs a population policy, together with a government-funded family planning program. A rapidly growing population has a negative impact on economic development. Rapid population growth is largely caused by the least urbanized, least educated, and poorest segments of our population.

The bigger the family, the poorer. The bigger the family, the less educated the children. The poor know this, and prefer smaller families, but they are unable to keep the family small. The 2006 Family Planning Survey showed that among the poorest women, 44% of pregnancies are unwanted. According to the Economics 27: “Contraceptive use remains extremely low among poor couples, because they lack information about, and access, to them.”

The lack of access to contraception results in high maternal mortality. At our present rate, the Philippines will be unable to meet the Millenium Development Goal target of 52 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015. The more children and the more they are closely spaced, the higher the risk of illness and premature deaths for mother and child alike. Everyday, 11 to 12 women die from pregnancy and causes associated with childbirth. The evil of maternal death is compounded by the evil of induced and illegal abortions amounting to half a million annually.

2011 NEDA Study

Perhaps the most telling lesson taught by the Economics 27 is their conclusion that: “Ensuring access to the free range of modern (“artificial”) family planning methods with appropriate information raises the success rate of achieving the desired family size. Limiting family planning options to ‘national family planning (NFP) methods only’ fails to address the social costs of mistimed and unwanted pregnancies.”

One of the Economics 27 is the incumbent Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning, Cayetano Paderanga, Jr. of the NEDA. On our request, he has summarized the key findings of studies related to the impact of population on reproductive health and family planning, as follows.
Continued high population growth rate is principally done to the continued high total fertility rate over the last 20 years. The large number of children, specially among the poorest families, is more a result of the inability of couples to reach their desired (i.e., smaller) family sizes due to poor access to contraceptives.

Getting out of poverty becomes difficult with larger family size. Poverty is strongly affected by population growth. Lower birth rates and slower population growth rate over the last three decades contributed to faster economic progress in developing countries. Countries with higher investments in health – including reproductive health, family planning, and women’s education – register slower population growth and faster economic growth.

Family size makes it difficult for families to emerge from poverty. This is the so-called “burden of dependency.” As family size increases, expenditures for education and health for family members decrease systematically. In the past, our country failed to achieve lower fertility and rapid economic growth. This failure is reflected in poor outcomes in human development concerns, as follows:

- High maternal mortality
- High infant and child mortality
- Poor educational performance
- High unemployment and underemployment

At the household level, large family size correlates with the following:

- Higher poverty incidence
- Lower savings and asset accumulation
- Reduced per capita household expenditures for education and health.

A 2010 study by the Guttmacher Institute and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) shows that maternal deaths could be slashed by 70 percent, if the world doubled investment in family planning and pregnancy-related cases. According to this latest report, investing in family planning and maternal health would have profound additional benefits, as follows:

- Increases in condom use for pregnancy prevention would simultaneously curb transmission of HIV and other STIs.
- Preventing unwanted pregnancies would increase women’s educational and employment opportunities, enhancing their social and economic status.
- Family savings and investment would rise, spurring economic growth and reducing poverty.

“Demographic Winter” Scare

In its paper on Philippine population and development, the UP Population Institute defines the term “demographic winter” as the condition when a population no longer increases after a prolonged period of below – replacement fertility. A total fertility rate or TFR of 2 is the working definition of replacement fertility. A TFR below 2 sustained for a number of generations (with one generation lasting for 25 years) would produce the so-called aging society, where the majority of the population are 60 or more years old.

Critics of the RH bill agree that a large population in the working ages will provide a boon to development, the so-called demographic bonus, because of the large labor supply. This is fallacious, because the issue is not how big the labor supply is, but how skilled the labor supply is.

To paraphrase the UP Population Institute: The Philippines may have a large pool of working-age population. But the quality of that labor pool is not optimal for economic development. They are poorly educated and not well prepared for the jobs required in the market. Further, there may be a large pool of labor. But they may be too many to be absorbed by the market, even if they have the proper education.

Financial Cost of RH Act

Experts estimate that it will cost government some P3 billion a year to implement the RH law. This is considered modest. In the context of promoting development in less developed countries, the higher cost-benefit ratio is obtained from family planning programs than from infrastructures investment. Similar hardware requirements for development are more lumpy, time-consuming, and demand longer gestation periods.

The RH cost of P3 billion a year is only one-seventh, or 14.3 percent, of the P21 billion cost of the Conditional Cash Transfer program. The two programs should be compared. On the one hand, the RH program is self-targeting, meaning that typically, it is the poor who self-select to obtain RH services which they cannot afford on their own. The RH program is simpler and less costly to administer.

On the other hand and by contrast, the CCT program distributes cash which is fungible, meaning that it can be precisely replaced by another. By comparison, a reproductive health service is non-fungible. Because the CCT program distributes cash, it prevents the real danger that the cash could be diverted to unintended recipients, such as principals and schoolteachers. The CCT program is more costly in terms of direct budgetary allocation, as well as the administrative requirements.

The 2011 SWS Survey

The Social Weather Stations conducted a survey for the second quarter of 2011 in June 2011. The respondents were 1,200 adults in Metro Manila, the balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, with a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3 percent.
This most recent survey shows unequivocal public support for the RH Act: 73 percent want information on legal methods available from the government, while 82 percent say family planning method is a personal choice.

Here are the test statements and the scores:

“If a couple wants to plan its family, it should be able to get information from government on all legal methods.”
Agree – 73%
Disagree – 13%
Undecided – 13%

“The choice of a family planning method is a personal choice of couples, and no one should interfere with it.”
Agree – 82%
Disagree – 8%
Undecided – 9%

“The government should fund all means of family planning, may it be natural or artificial means.”
Agree – 68%
Disagree – 16%
Undecided – 15%

“The use of pills can also be considered as abortion.”
Agree – 29%
Disagree – 52%
Undecided – 18%

“The use of condoms can also be considered as abortion.”
Agree – 30%
Disagree – 51%
Undecided – 18%

“The use of IUD can also be considered as abortion.”
Agree – 29%
Disagree – 51%
Undecided – 19%

“If family planning would be included in their curriculum, the youth would be sexually promiscuous.”
Agree – 31%
Disagree – 46%
Undecided – 22%

“For me, the plan of those who oppose the RH Bill not to pay their taxes is a reasonable protest.”
Agree – 32%
Disagree – 39%
Undecided – 26%

Yesterday, 16 August 2011, at the Ledac meeting, President Aquino announced that he has listed the RH Bill as one of his priority bills. Thus, by this announcement, the President of the Philippines has spoken. And more importantly, the greater majority of the Filipinos have spoken. In the light of these developments, the democratic option is to pass the RH Bill.

-o0o-

Conclusion

Marketplace of Ideas

Allow me to conclude with one of the most famous quotes in the history of the law, written by the superlative Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.:

Click the image.

But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas – that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s Sponsorship Speech on RH Bill (Part 2)

Read the Part 1 here.

THE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ACT
Part 2
Constitutional and International Law

No Prohibition in the Constitution

There are a number of constitutional provisions that underlie the RH bill. But the most salient is what I would call the “Sanctity of Life” Clause found under Article 2, as a declaration of state policy:

Sec. 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.

This provision does not mention the term “reproductive health” or any of its affiliate vocabularies. This is in the nature of a constitution. As explained in the 1930 case of Lopez v. de los Reyes, speaking of the Constitution:

It is an instrument of a permanent nature, intended not merely to meet existing conditions, but to govern the future. It does not deal in details but enunciates the general principles and general directions which are intended to apply to all new facts which may come into being, and which may be brought within those general principles or directions.

The Constitution should not be read like a newspaper story, on the basis of which each reader can feel free to express his own interpretation. Instead, to discover the intent and meaning of the Constitution, we have to turn to a process called “constitutional construction.”

In the 1938 case of Gold Creek Mining Corp. v. Rodriguez, the Supreme Court ruled that fundamental principle of constitutional construction is to give effect to the intent not only of the framers, but also of the people who adopted it. It is not sufficient to quote the opinion expressed in the records by one delegate to the constitutional convention; that would be only one person’s opinion. Neither would it be sufficient to claim that a certain interpretation was the intent of the people who approved the Constitution in a plebiscite.

Hence, we are left with the conclusion that the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is. In other words, no legislator can authoritatively construe the meaning of the Sanctity of Life Clause, and it would be pointless to debate its meaning here in the legislature. We can save a lot of time in Congress by waiting for the proper branch of government to tell us what this Clause means – the Supreme Court.

To maintain peace and order, the sovereign people agreed to lend some of their sovereignty to the government, under terms which are defined in the Constitution. If there is no applicable provision in the Constitution, the implication is that the power has been reserved to the people in their sovereign capacity. Thus if there is no prohibition in the Constitution, then it is deduced that the people’s representatives in the Congress are free to legislate on the matter. In other words, the Constitution serves merely as a limit to the police power of the State.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court ruled in the 1924 case of People v. Pomar: “The state, under the police power, is possessed with plenary power to deal with all matters relating to the general health, morals, and safety of the people, and so long as it does not contravene any positive inhibition of the organic law . . . .” (Emphasis added.)

The Constitution, directly or indirectly, does not prohibit the RH bill. Therefore, in constitutional terms, this Senate is free to enact this bill. It is now well accepted in our jurisdiction that under the “rational basis” test, so long as an act of Congress bears some reasonable relationship to the grant of power to the national government and it is not otherwise prohibited by the Constitution, a reviewing court must find the law to be necessary and proper.

If the Senate passes the RH bill, our action would amount to a legislative construction of the Constitution. The rule is that a practical construction by Congress of a provision of the Constitution is entitled to great weight and should not be lightly disregarded. Hence, if we pass the RH bill, it will enjoy a presumption of constitutionality if it is questioned in the Supreme Court.

It has been said that even if we abolish the entire Bill of Rights, all the rights enumerated would still exist, provided that we keep the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause. These two great clauses are found in our Bill of Rights, which provides: “Sec. 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.” The right of the mother to protect herself and her baby from death-dealing poverty is a liberty protected under the Due Process Clause. Similarly, the right of the mother in the lowest social class is equal to the right of the mother in the highest social class, when both rights pertain to freedom of information. Thus, to make information on reproductive health accessible to the rich but not to the poor would be a violation of the Equal Protection Clause.

RH Bill Upholds Right to Information

Since there is no prohibition of an RH bill in our Constitution, it is constitutional for this Senate to pass the bill, until the Supreme Court rules otherwise. I would go even further. I respectfully contend that the RH bill is positively mandated by the Bill of Rights, particularly Art. 3, which provides as follows:

Sec. 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.

In the 1989 case of Valmonte v. Belmonte, the Supreme Court ruled that “the right to information goes hand-in-hand with the constitutional policies of full public disclosure and honesty in the public service.” Critics might argue that the right to information under Sec. 7 was meant to cover only official records; but there is nothing in Sec. 7 or in the Records of the Constitutional Commission to support this view.

We are therefore compelled to follow the rule of constitutional construction that where the law does not distinguish, courts should not distinguish. Ubi lex non distinguit, nec nos distinguere debemus. In the 1903 case of Velasco v. Lopez, the Court also ruled: “Courts are not authorized to distinguish where the law makes no distinction. They should instead administer the law not as they think they ought to be, but as they find it without disregard to consequences.” And in the 1946 case of Lo Cham v. Ocampo, the Court ruled that the general term or phrase should not be reduced into parts and one part distinguished from the other, so as to justify its exclusion from the operation of the law.

RH Bill Upholds Right to Privacy

Although the Bill of Rights does not specifically provide for a right to privacy, nevertheless it is a right protected by the Constitution, under the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause. The development of the contemporary concept of a constitutionally protected “right of privacy” in sexual matters can be traced to the 1942 case of Skinner v. Oklahoma, decided by the US Supreme Court.
In Skinner, the Court struck down an Oklahoma law which authorized the sterilization of persons previously convicted and sentenced to imprisonment two or more times of crimes of moral turpitude. This opinion did not mention a “right of privacy” relating to sexual matters. But it established interests in marriage or procreation as areas of special constitutional significance.

In the landmark 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut, the US Supreme Court held that Connecticut laws were invalid, because they restricted the right of married persons to use contraceptive devices. The majority of the justices created a new “right to privacy.” Justice Douglas found that the “penumbras” and “emanations” of several guarantees of the Bill of Rights established this right to privacy.

In the 1972 case of Eisenstadt v. Baird, the US Supreme Court invalidated a law which prohibited distribution of contraceptives to unmarried persons. Thus, under the rulings in Griswold and Eisenstadt, the state has no power to forbid the use of contraceptives by adults. However, the state has the power to restrict the manufacture and sale of contraceptive devices to ensure that the products meet health, safety, and anti-abortion standards.

In the 1977 case of Carey v. Population Services International, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a law which allowed only pharmacists to sell non-medical contraceptive devices to persons over 16 years old, and prohibited the sale of such items to those under 16 years old. The majority opinion ruled that the burden on an adult’s freedom of choice could only be justified by a compelling state interest. The Court said that distribution only through pharmacists was not justified.

In the Philippines, the right to privacy was first recognized in the 1968 case of Morfe v. Mutuc. It was similarly upheld in the 1998 case of Ople v. Torres. Most recently, the right to privacy was again upheld in the 2006 case of Sabio v. Gordon. Since the Philippine Supreme Court has already recognized the right to privacy in several cases, then this right also applies to sex, marriage, and procreation, as shown by the American cases. Because of our judicial history, today, American cases are no longer decisive, but American cases remain authoritative in Philippine jurisdiction.

Constitutional Right of Parents Over Child Education

The Constitution provides: “The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government.”

There is no equivalent provision in the United States Constitution. But in a 1990 decision, the US Supreme Court upheld what is called the constitutional “right of parents . . . to direct the education of their children.”

This parental right was discussed in the 1972 case of Wisconsin v. Yoder. The U.S. Supreme Court held that Wisconsin could not require members of the Amish Church to send their children to public school after the eighth grade. The majority opinion cited due process rulings concerning parental rights. They focused on the Free Exercise Clause, and used the two-part balancing test, meaning striking a balance between public interest and individual rights. The two parts are:

1. A significant burden on the free exercise of religion would have to be shown.
2. This burden would be balanced against the importance of the state’s interest, and the degree to which it would be impaired by a religious exemption.

The U.S. Court found that the parents’ refusal to send their children to school was based on religious belief. However, the Court found that there was a significant burden on the free exercise of religion. The Yoder decision was based on both the Free Exercise Clause, and the parental interest in directing the education of their children that was protected by the Due Process Clause.
Senate Bill No. 2865 provides in Section 13 for age- and development- appropriate reproductive health education. If there is any objection to Sec. 13, it can easily be met by a potential amendment which in effect shall adopt the option for parents provided in the Constitution for the teaching of religion in public elementary and high schools. Such an amendment would make the Yoder case inapplicable to the Philippines.

RH Bill is PH Obligation Under International Law

The Constitution under Article 2 on the Declaration of Principles provides in Sec. 2 that the Philippines “adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land.” Therefore, when the Philippines becomes a party to an international treaty or convention, its principles become part of our international obligation. If our country fails to discharge these obligations, we can be held liable under international law, and we run the risk of being branded as a rogue state, or as a pariah in the international community. That is what would happen if we fail to pass the RH bill.

Conservative Catholics are still opposing the RH bill. But as early as 1968, the Philippines already participated in the International Conference on Human Rights, and became a party to the Final Act, known as the Proclamation of Teheran, which explicitly provides:

The protection of the family and of the child remains the concern of the international community. Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.

As a Philippine commitment, the Proclamation of Teheran was followed by the 1976 International Covenant on Economics, Cultural, and Social Rights. It provides in Article 12:

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for:

(a) The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child;

Subsequently, the Philippines became a party to the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, also known as CEDAW. This innovative and ambitious treaty already had 187 states parties as of 7 July 2011. It provides:

Women have the right to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of . . . children and to have access to the information, education, and means to enable these rights.

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, as a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.

The Philippines further became a state party to the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, which includes the following commitments:

- Ensuring women’s ability to control their own fertility, as one of the cornerstones of population and development policies.
- Making family planning universally available by 2015 or sooner, and calling on Governments to make these resources available.
- Reducing infant, child, and maternal mortality; and ensuring universal access by 2015 to reproductive health care, including family planning, assisted childbirth, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.

To summarize, the Philippines is already committed to our RH law, and to debate this commitment at this time is too late and pointless.

Principle of Pacta Sunt Servanda

The Philippines is a party to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. It defines a treaty as “an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments, and whatever its particular designation.” The instrument can be designated as a treaty, convention, protocol, covenant, charter, statute, act, declaration, etc.

The Philippines is a party to various treaties which impose the obligation to protect reproductive health. If we fail to pass the RH bill, it is highly likely that the Philippines would be designated as “in breach of international obligation.” The law of treaties plays a role in international law similar to that played by the law of contracts in municipal law. Since the Philippines is a party to various treaties providing for reproductive health of mother and child, for Congress to fail once more to pass the RH bill is tantamount to breaking a contract with other states.

The Vienna Convention provides: “Every treaty in force is binding upon the parties and must be performed by them in good faith.” This provision embodies two principles: the principle of pacta sunt servanda; and the principle of good faith. The Latin term pacta sunt servanda means that agreements must be kept. The term “good faith” in law means faithfulness to one’s duty or obligation.

The Philippines is a party to a number of treaties imposing the duty to protect the health of mother and child. These treaties in principle are binding only on the parties. But their effect goes further than that. These treaties are so-called “law-making treaties,” because they have a strong law-creating effect. Unlike contractual treaties, law-making treaties are not dissolved, after their legal obligations have been observed. Law-making treaties create general norms for the future conduct of parties.

Law-making treaties include the conclusions of international conferences and resolutions of the UN General Assembly. The “Final Act” or other statement of conclusions of a conference of states is a form of multilateral treaty, even if it was not adopted unanimously. The resolutions of the UN General Assembly in general are not binding on member states. But when such resolutions are concerned with norms of general international law, their acceptance by a majority vote constitutes evidence of the opinions of governments.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s Sponsorship Speech on RH Bill (Part 1)

Senator Santiago, according to her twitter account, divided her speech on the Reproductive Health Bil into three parts so as not to bore the listeners and herself.

Honestly, I have not yet read the Senate version of the RH bill, but I will. For now, I will hold my reaction on the dear senator’s speech.

Just a few thoughts:
1. I believe the Muslims have already expressed their opposition against the RH Bill this 2011? I read it somewhere. (Needs confirmation) In 2010, the Muslims supported the bill.
2. Is it right to use the papal encyclicals to support the RH bill when the popes themselves who wrote those encyclicals publicly opposed artificial contraception when they were alive?
3. I support a reproductive health bill, population development bill, however you call them. But I do not support the House version. If this version will not be re-written properly/fine tuned, greater evils and abuse of rights and privileges may arise.
4. The Congress should uphold and protect the rights of every individual. But proper measures should likewise be promulgated to ensure responsible exercise of these rights.

THE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ACT,
Part 1: Primacy of Conscience in Catholic Theology

As principal author, I am now tasked to co-sponsor Senate Bill No. 2865, officially titled “An act providing for a national policy on reproductive health and population and development,” also known as the Senate version of the RH bill. It is the companion bill to House Bill No. 4244, which is undergoing plenary debate in the House of Representatives.

Reproductive health bills have been passed by the majority of Catholic countries, particularly by Catholic developing countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico. Other countries include Italy, Poland, Paraguay, Portugal, and Spain. When the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), now known as the UN Population Fund, profiled 48 Catholic countries, only six countries did not have a reproductive health law. The Philippines is one of them.

In our country, the Catholic church is the only major religion that opposes the RH bill. Other major Christian churches have officially endorsed the RH bill, and in fact have published learned treatises explaining their position. They are:

1. Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood, 2007
2. National Council of Churches in the Philippines, 2009
3. Iglesia ni Cristo, 2010
4. Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, 2011

The position of these Christian churches is supported by the most authoritative body of Islamic clerics in the Philippines, the Assembly of Darul-Iftah of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. These Islamic clerics constitute the top-ranking ulama who are deemed to have the authority to issue opinions on matters facing Islam and Muslims. In 2003, they issued a fatwah or religious ruling called “Call to Greatness.” It gives Muslim couples a free choice on whether to practice family planning, particularly child spacing.

Further, the RH bill is supported by a big majority of Filipinos in the country, as shown by certain nationwide surveys. In October 2008, Social Weather Stations reported that 71 percent were in favor of the RH bill. In October 2010, Pulse Asia reported that 69 percent were in favor of the RH bill.

Vatican Council 2 and the Revolution in Moral Theology

Despite these surveys, certain Catholics, notably certain bishops, seem poised to fight to the death against the RH bill. To understand why Catholics are so divided on this issue, and why there is such fierce antipathy, we must go back to the Second Vatican Council, the greatest of the councils held by the Catholic Church. A Vatican council is an ecumenical council, meaning that it includes the whole Christian world, or the universal Church. The decisions of an ecumenical council are considered authoritative.

Vatican II was held in 1962 to 1965, and immediately unleashed a tidal wave of change. It is now viewed as the most tumultuous decade in the whole modern history of the Church. In the words of an eminent Catholic historian: “So many spiritual and religious landmarks were suddenly swept away that the average Catholic was left in a state of complete bewilderment.”

The central issue of Vatican II was authority. Before Vatican II, the typical Catholic accepted the authoritarian structure of the Church “as a dictate of divine revelation.”My generation were still children at that time. We were taught that the Pope was a kind of superhuman potentate, whose every word was a command coming from a supernatural authority. I recall that the autocratic procedures of the Church were positively medieval.

But with Vatican II, the seeds of a democratic revolution were sown. It emphasized that the Church is primarily the whole people of God. It called for dialogue between all members of the Church. It asserted that the Pope and bishops are collegial. And it called for the establishment of senates among the priests and of pastoral councils that include the laity.

With authority as the central issue, the Church reached a state of extreme tension when Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical Humanae Vitae. An encyclical is a papal letter sent to all bishops of the Catholic Church. Humanae Vitae condemned the use of artificial methods of contraception, including the pill. Notably, the Pope did not act collegially with the bishops in issuing his encyclical.

The current problem of authority in the Church is rooted in a conflict between two theologies:

1. Traditional theology still sees the Church as a superstate governed by an absolute monarch, whose aim is to impose the maximum amount of conformity.
2. Progressive theology sees the Church as above all a fellowship of spiritual communities held together in essentials by their recognition of papal primacy.

In the pre-Vatican II Church, the independence of the individual conscience was kept to a minimum. In the past, the task of the layman was simply to obey the directives of bishops and priests. But in the post-Vatican II Church, there is now a mood of questioning. Many Catholics, as Philippine surveys show, are no longer willing to obey the Church blindly. “In a few years the climate in the Church changed so drastically that few bishops dared to express a hard-line on Pope Paul’s birth control encyclical. Most of them followed a generally permissive policy.”

The divide between pre-Vatican II theology and post-Vatican II theology is mirrored in the RH debate among Catholic Filipinos. Theology means the branch of knowledge that deals with Christian theistic religion. It also means the organized body of knowledge dealing with the nature, attributes, and governance of God; in other words, divinity.

After Vatican II, the Catholic church has been divided into two schools of thought, in theology and in ecclesiology. The two camps in theology are:

1. The classicist or traditional Catholics on the one hand; and
2. The historically conditioned or progressive Catholics on the other hand.

The two schools of thoughts on ecclesiology, meaning the branch of knowledge that deals with the Christian Church, are:

1. Pre-Vatican II ecclesiology, which stresses the constitutional and hierarchical aspects of the Church;
2. Post-Vatican II progressive ecclesiology, which understands the Church as the whole People of God, always in need of renewal and reform.

This division into two schools of thought in theology and in ecclesiology represents a crisis of authority within the Catholic Church. This crisis is represented as a transition, and thus has a certain implication. In the words of a Catholic historian:

One way of looking at the current crisis of authority is to see it as the travails of a Church still trying to make the transition from the classicist to a historically conscious worldview. The classicist mentality viewed the Church as moving through history, but more or less unaffected by history. The historically conscious point of view, however, acknowledged how much institutions, governing precepts, and basic ideas about religion and morality are shaped by history, and therefore how relative they are.

The post-Vatican II period has seen a revolution in moral theology in the Catholic church, because of the following factors:

- The acceptance of the historical dimension.
- The profound shift of emphasis on the Church not only as a hierarchical institution, but also as a sacrament, as people of God, and as servants.
- The adoption by Vatican II of an ecumenical point of view, which now considers the experience, reflection, and wisdom of the other Christian churches.

Vatican II emphasizes the nature of the Church, as an eschatological, very imperfect, and unfinished reality. Eschatology is the branch of theology that deals with the four last things – death, judgment, heaven and hell – and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind. In the past, Catholics viewed certain moral doctrines as immutable. But today, many Catholics now accept that so-called immutable moral doctrines should be legitimately re-examined.

One relevant shift in moral theology concerns the principle of proportionalism, which is a new way of looking at actions that cause a double effect, one good and one bad. According to the theory of proportionalism, a person does not sin in causing the bad effect, if there was a proportionate reason. The basis for this theory is that there is no sin, if the person’s intention was aimed at a good effect and not at the bad effect. Thus, very few actions could be labeled as intrinsically evil. Certainly RH is not an intrinsic evil.

Another shift involves the identity of the priest, including the bishop. Today, being a priest really means:

The person of the priest is no longer sacred. There is no longer a strict division between the sacred and the profane.

The treatment of priests and bishops as a special caste in society is no longer observed. The Church does not consist of the priests and bishops alone. The Church consists of the whole faith community. Catholicism is no longer an affair of the person who happened to be born a Catholic, but an affair of the human being who is personally committed.

The priest is not a special person, just because he performs strictly cultic tasks, such as presiding at the Eucharist and administering the sacraments.

With these recent developments in the identity of the priest, one historian was moved to comment: “It is no wonder then that many priests suffer from a sense of confusion about their role.”

The Encyclical Humanae Vitae

The Catholic opposition to the RH bill is based on the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae issued by Pope Paul VI. The Latin title literally means “Of Human Life,” but it is more popularly translated as “On the Regulation of Birth.” This encyclical is the result of a Special Papal Commission established by Pope John XXIII and concluded during the term of Pope Paul VI. The commission submitted two reports: the majority report, and the minority report. The majority report proposed that contraception should no longer be condemned. The minority report urged the Pope to continue to condemn contraception.

Paradoxically, Pope Paul VI decided in favor of the minority view. His unusual decision shook the Catholic world, and that is the reason why the Catholics in this country are so intensely divided over the RH bill.

After Pope Paul VI rejected the majority report, many Catholics were no longer ready to give blind obedience to his decree. It is fair to say that no moral issue in the 20th century impacted so profoundly on the discipline of moral theology. As a result of the contretemps and the succeeding controversy, Catholics now raise such questions on how conscience is to be sought, the response due to the ordinary magisterium or teaching function of the Pope and bishops, and the meaning of the guidelines of the Holy Spirit.

Catholic theologians and even some Episcopal conferences voiced opposition to the Humanae Vitae encyclical, or at least took positions that were less than enthusiastic in their support. Surveys in the United States, for example, have indicated that the overwhelming majority (more than 80%) of Catholics of childbearing age do not, in fact, observe the encyclical’s teachings.

On the one hand, the controversial encyclical adopted the minority report which condemns artificial contraception, based on the following arguments:

- The constant and perennial teaching of the Church.
- The natural law that certain acts and the generative processes are in some way especially inviolable, precisely because they are generative. Contraception is evil, because it changes an act which is naturally oriented to procreation, into an act which is oriented to the mutual benefit of the spouses.

On the other hand, the encyclical rejected the majority report which supports artificial contraception, based on the following arguments:

- Traditional teaching fails to recognize the evolutionary character of that teaching. For example, the official Church has changed its teaching in such matters as religious liberty and usury.[7] A change in that traditional teaching would not necessarily undermine the moral teaching authority of the Church. Such a change is to be seen rather as a step toward a more mature comprehension of the whole doctrine of the Church.
- The natural-law theory of those who support the traditional teaching has been proved to be erroneous. Because of this mentality, many advances in medical science were prohibited for a time, and the same was true of other areas of scientific experimentation. The conjugal act must be viewed not as an isolated reality but in a larger context of human love, family life, education, etc. This is called the principle of totality. Sexuality is not ordered only to procreation. Sacred Scripture says not only: “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28), but also: “they become one flesh” (2:24), portraying the partner as another self (2:18).

Allow me to emphasize the most categorical support for artificial contraception in the majority opinion:

In some cases intercourse can be required as a manifestation of self-giving love, directed to the good of the other person or of the community, while at the same time a new life cannot be received. This is neither egocentricity nor hedonism, but a legitimate communication of persons through gestures proper to beings composed of body and soul with sexual powers.

The whole controversy over the encyclical is painful and disturbing to a Catholic. But it has also aroused the ordinary Catholic to be much more aware of her own personal responsibility. It has made the Catholic realize that the Church hierarchy does not have all the answers. It has forced her to think about the role of individual conscience.

The teaching of the Catholic Church on contraception is one of the important reasons why the absolute authority of the Church has grown weaker over the years. The RH Act is a result of the deepened sense of history among Catholics. Many of us Catholics are now more aware that our Church authorities made wrong decisions in the past. To our mind, those errors show that certain teachings should only be relative to their own times, and not permanent for all times. I very humbly appeal to Church authorities to emphasize strong leadership on moral issues such as war and peace, poverty, and corruption in government, instead of a non-issue like the RH Act.

Humanae Vitae defends the rhythm method. Thus, it rests its argument on the physiological structure of the act. However, certain contemporary theologians insist that the basic criterion for the meaning of human actions is the total person, and not some isolated aspect of the person.

I very humbly submit that the reason for an exclusive rhythm method given in Humanae Vitae is too strongly biological. I very humbly submit that Humanae Vitae has opened a disconnect with Vatican II which allowed for a wider basis for evaluating the morality of such a human act, namely, “the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love.”

Reformulation of Catholic Doctrine

After Vatican Council 2, Catholic doctrines began to be reformulated under the recent historical theology. According to a Church historian, the guiding principles of this new historical theology are:

- The inadequacy of every era to define truth for future eras.
- The traditional view of revelation as the transmission of definite fixed concepts, was replaced by the idea of revelation as a personal self-disclosure by which God encounters the total person and communicates with him in a historical dialogue.
- Therefore, no formula of faith can exhaust the truth. It can be exchanged for another formula more meaningful to the contemporary mind.

Every formulation of a divine mystery is only the beginning, never the terminus.

A theory of the development of dogma which emphasizes the social, historical, and non-conceptual forces impinging on this process.

On the basis of these principles, Catholic doctrines have been reformulated. Allow me to take an overview of this process. One of the first to reformulate Catholic doctrine was a famous book entitled A New Catechism, and subtitled Catholic Faith for Adults. It was originally published in 1966, but later revised in 1970, under the general responsibility of the Dutch hierarchy. It became an international bestseller.

This so-called Dutch Catechism contained a section on Family Planning. It noted that there was a clear development in the late 1960s, both within and outside the Church, toward the use of several methods in regulating births. The Dutch Catechism said:

There is now a growing sense of the independent human value of sexuality. Sexuality and fertility are seen more clearly as values which are combined in the one totality of life, rather than as factors simply arranged in the relationship of means to an end. . . .

Are all methods of regulation of births of equal value to the Christian conscience? The council gave no answer to this question. It does, however, call on married people to ask themselves conscientiously whether the practices in question do, or fail to do, full justice to the great personal values which should be expressed in sexual intercourse and in the whole of modern life. . . . The last word lies with the conscience, not with the doctor or with the confessor. But reverence for life undoubtedly demands that no practices be chosen which could be harmful to health for the affective life.

Nearly two decades later, in 1986, an Oxford University chaplain took note of the then raging debate on family planning after Vatican Council 2. He wrote:

The resolution of this dilemma between the care for the family and responsible parenthood, on the one hand, and the sustaining love, on the other, seems to be found in contraception. But as everyone knows, the teaching of the Catholic church forbids the use of artificial contraceptives . . . There seems to be an impasse at this point . . . . It may be, therefore, that a positive attitude, marked by purity of heart, could help most to resolve the impasse.

By 1994, a widely-hailed masterpiece, the book entitled Catholicism, stated:

The birth control question, once a sharply divisive issue in the Catholic church, is no longer a matter of intense discussion among the theologians. But it retains its importance as a paradigm of the 20th century debates concerning the nature of Catholic morality and the limits of Catholic teaching authority.

What is really the issue here, therefore, is not birth control in this generic sense but contraception, i.e., the intentional placing of a material obstacle to the conception of a child: e.g., a contraceptive pill, an intrauterine device, contraceptive foam, a condom.

One side argues that contraception by such artificial means is always wrong. (That remains the official teaching of the Church today). The other side argues that contraception may be not only legitimate under certain circumstances but even mandatory. This side speaks in terms of “responsible parenthood. . . .”

Liberation Theology

Liberation theology is a theory, originating among Latin American theologians, which interprets liberation from social, political, and economic oppression as an anticipation of eschatological salvation. Liberation theology is a species of progressive theology, which is based on the following principles:

- The Church, not just the hierarchy, is a mystery, or a sacrament.
- he Church, not just the hierarchy, is the whole People of God.
- The whole People of God participates in the mission of Christ, and not just in the mission of the hierarchy.
- The mission of the Church includes service to those in need, and not just the preaching of the Gospel or the celebration of the sacraments.

Liberation theology is a part of post-Vatican II ecclesiology, which emphasizes the nature of the Church as an earthly community of human beings who have a mission in and for the world that includes the struggle on behalf of justice, peace, and human rights.

The appearance of liberation theology has been called “one of the most significant developments of the last several decades.” It is called “a new way of doing theology.” Classical theology aimed at a deeper understanding of faith. Liberation theology aims to transform the world, following the famous dictum of Karl Marx that the task of philosophy is not to understand the world, but to change the world.

Classical theology seemed removed from day-to-day experience. Liberation theology has grown out of the experience of certain Catholics with the harsh reality of the miserable poor. Classical theology interpreted Jesus’ message of the kingdom as a guide to personal morality. Liberation theology sees Jesus’ message as above all a call to struggle against the social forces of oppression. Liberation theology believes that the kingdom of God is partially realized, when social justice and love are advanced in society. When we take a step toward social justice and love, we take one further step toward the final consummation of the kingdom of God.

I humbly submit that the struggle for an RH bill to protect the health and quality of life of the mother and child in the context of unspeakable poverty is part of liberation theology. It emphasizes that the Church’s existence is not for itself, but for others. Accordingly, to liberation theology, the Church must listen to the world, and be evangelized by it.

According to the principal theologian of liberation theology, Gustavo Gutierrez, the Church should be a place of liberation where there is a break from an unjust social order. I respectfully submit that in the Philippines, the Church must take a clear stand against social injustice. In all humility, I dare to echo the call of liberation theology: the first step in abolishing injustice is to recognize how much the Church itself is tied to the unjust system that oppresses the very poor. RH is available to the rich; why should it not be made available to the very poor?

Catholic support for RH is a call to the major themes of liberation theology in a developing country like the Philippines, namely:

- The injustices visited on the Filipino people by neocolonialism and imperialism.
- Reinterpretation of salvation to include every form of servitude; and
- The kingdom of God as beginning in this world, in this country, the Philippines, in this time, now.

In the light of the Filipino experience of the poor, we should take a profoundly historical approach to God. The self-revelation of God and the Filipino’s human response is an ongoing historical process. The God revealed in Jesus Christ is not an “unmoved mover” but a God whose very essence consists of love. The RH bill is an enterprise in social justice and in love for the poor.

In 1986, the Vatican made a positive critique of liberation theology by issuing the document entitled Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation. According to the Instruction, the supreme principle of the Church’s social doctrine is Jesus’ great commandment of love. Christian love when applied may take various forms, in accord with the changing circumstances of history.

We now understand that as compassionate disciples of the Lord, the Church exercises a special option for the poor and shows them a loving preference. The compassion and love of the Church must extend toward the poor of whatever kind – to the infant in danger of being aborted, and particularly to the poverty-stricken Filipino mother denied the basic information about her own reproductive health.

The Primacy of Individual Conscience

In 1965, Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical letter entitled Dignitatis Humanae, also known as Declaration on Religious Freedom. In Section 3, para. 4, he wrote:

Man perceives and acknowledges the imperatives of the divine law through the mediation of conscience. In all his activity, a man is bound to follow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious. (Emphasis added.)

In 1967, the same Pope Paul VI issued another encyclical entitled Populorum Progressio, also known as On the Development of Peoples. In Section 37, he wrote:

It is for the parents to decide, with full knowledge of the matter, on the number of their children, taking into account their responsibilities towards God, themselves, the children they have already brought into the world, and the community to which they belong. In all this they must follow the demands of their own conscience enlightened by God’s law authentically interpreted, and sustained by confidence in Him. (Emphasis added.)

In 1993, Pope John Paul II issued his encyclical entitled, Veritatis Splendor, also known as The Splendor of Truth. In Section 64, he wrote:

The authority of the Church, when she pronounces on moral questions, in no way undermines the freedom of conscience of Christians. This is so not only because freedom of conscience is never freedom “from” the truth, but always and only freedom “in” the truth, but also because the Magisterium does not bring to the Christian conscience truths which are extraneous to it; rather, it brings to light the truths which it ought already to possess, developing them from the starting point of the primordial act of faith. The Church puts herself always and only at the service of conscience, helping it to avoid being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine proposed by human deceit (cf. Eph. 4:14), and helping it not to swerve from the truth about the good of man, but rather, especially in some difficult questions, to attain the truth with certainty and to abide in it. (Emphasis added.)

Against these encyclicals on freedom of conscience, the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI, based on a minority report of the papal commission, strikes a discordant note. It declared as erroneous the principle of totality, under which contraception could be considered morally legitimate, in the context of the totality of a fruitful married life. Instead, the encyclical declares:

The Church calling human beings back to the observance of the norm of the natural law, as interpreted by constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life.

Humanae Vitae by itself has drawn a great divide between Catholics. It has stirred up a storm, thus:

The negative reaction of many theologians, moralists, and non-moralists alike, was vigorous and widespread. Bishops’ conferences around the world accepted the encyclical as authoritative teaching. However, some of these conferences drew attention, for example, to the primacy of conscience, the need to be understanding and forgiving, and the judgment that Catholics who sincerely cannot follow the encyclical’s teaching are not thereby separated from the love of God. Such themes were sounded by the bishops of Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, France, Canada, and the Scandinavian countries.

My own favorite excerpt from the bishops who supported the primacy of individual conscience comes from the Scandinavian bishops:

No one, including the Church can absolve anyone from the obligation to follow his (or her) conscience. . . . If someone for weighty and well-considered reasons cannot become convinced of the argumentation of the encyclical, it has always been conceded that he (or she) is allowed to have a different view from that presented in a non-infallible statement of the Church. No one should be considered a bad Catholic because he (or she) is of such a dissenting opinion.

Allow me to emphasize this 1971 statement by the U.S. Sacred Congregation for the Clergy over the signature of its cardinal, as follows:

Conscience is inviolable and no person is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his (or her) conscience, as the moral tradition of the Church attests. Thus, in pastoral practice priests must not be too quick to assume either complete innocence or moral guilt in the persons they counsel. One must recognize persons who are “honestly trying to lead a good Christian life.” There must be confidence “in the mercy of God and the forgiving power of Christ.”

In 1994, a volume called The New Dictionary of Catholic Social Thought took note of the progress of liberal progressive Catholic thinking by analyzing the major modern encyclicals and reaching the following conclusion:

The Catholic church, in its official pronouncements at least, continues today to affirm that natural family planning and sexual abstinence are the only morally acceptable means of controlling births.

What has become the key issue for Catholic thought in the matter of birth control, therefore, is not the intended ends sought by proponents of artificial birth control, but the morally legitimate means to the admittedly good ends that birth control advocates claim to seek and the human values that will be lost or distorted in using morally illegitimate means.

There seems to be several major concerns behind the continued opposition of Catholic social teaching to the practice of artificial means of birth control, be those means mechanical (condoms, IUDs, diaphragms, cervical caps), chemical (spermicidal agents, the “pill”), or surgical (sterilization, abortion). Those concerns focus on the dignity of man and woman, the well-being of children and families, and God’s role in the creation of new life. More cynical or suspicious views of Catholic social teaching would also see a fear and contempt for sex on the part of celibate clerics and a desire by those same celibates to maintain their power in the church and their control over the laity. Whatever merit such suspicious views may have, they are not necessary to account for the continued opposition of the official teachers of the Roman Catholic church to artificial contraception.

The book, Christ Among Us, which has been described as America’s most popular guide to modern Catholicism, describes the ongoing process of reformulating Catholic doctrine:

In this matter, as in anything, the Church has not spoken the final word, and a development of its teaching is quite possible in the future. The large majority of theologians agree that no question of infallibility is involved. . . .

Soon after the encyclical, 500 American theologians – in concert with many throughout the world – asserted that for grave reasons Catholics may follow their conscience on this matter even though the Pope has spoken. . . .

The large majority of Catholic couples have been unable to square this teaching with their consciences. Priest-sociologist Andrew Greeley estimates that nine out of 10 Catholic couples practice contraception at some time during their childbearing years. These couples may be respectful of the Church’s duty to teach in moral matters, or trying to live good Christian married lives, and are willing to practice self-denial. They have tried to inform their consciences as best they can, and feel that for serious physical, financial, or psychological reasons they cannot use periodic abstinence. Their consciences tell them that another child at this time would cause great damage to their married life, and perhaps to the children they already had – and, for some, contraception presents itself as the only alternative to a possible abortion, obviously a far greater evil.

As we have seen, it is a clear teaching that, while erroneous decisions might be made in following one’s conscience, one who has tried to inform one’s conscience as best one can must then follow it.

If a Catholic disagrees with a moral teaching of the Church, according to an eminent theologian, we must take into account the following principles:

- If, after proper study, reflection, and prayer, a person is convinced that his or her conscience is correct, in spite of a conflict with the moral teachings of the Church, the person not only may but must follow the dictates of conscience, rather than the teachings of the Church.
- The Church has never explicitly claimed to speak infallibly on a moral question.
- No teaching of the Church can hope to account for every moral situation and circumstance.
- The teachings themselves are historically conditioned. What may have been perceived as morally wrong in one set of circumstances would be regarded as morally justifiable in another situation.
- No individual or groups of individuals can hope to identify and grasp moral truth by relying entirely on our own resources. We are all finite and sinful.

Let me end this overview on the primacy of conscience doctrine with an excerpt from a 2010 book, which lists four grounds for artificial contraception:

1. Population explosion is a major issue. It is irresponsible to encourage large families – especially in the “developing world” (a term often used for the world’s poorest countries, which masks the fact that some nations are growing poorer).
2. Responsible stewardship requires adults to plan their families according to their means, their preferences, and their health.
3. Sexual intimacy within marriage is good in itself; the fact that it need no longer be linked with the possibility of conception is to be welcomed with thanksgiving.
4. HIV/AIDS is an immense problem. Its spread is more likely to be stemmed by widespread use of condoms than by unrealistic calls for sexual abstinence.

I most humbly join the observation that today, 2011, even within the Catholic church, private judgment is widespread on the use of artificial contraception. It is said that Italy has a very low birth rate, even though some 80% of the population claim to be Catholic. The Italian example is one illustration that one strand of Christian ethics acknowledges the supremacy of the individual Christian conscience, even over official Church teaching.

The Lesson From the Catholic Past

Today, the scientific community and society in general consider that science and religion are fully independent of each other. I am one of the optimistic Catholics who do not subscribe to the so-called conflict thesis. I do not believe that there in an intrinsic intellectual conflict between the Church and science. But I am acutely aware that history gives us many examples of the conflict thesis and how wrong the Church was.

One example was the case of Copernicus, who was denounced by the Church in the sixteenth century for publishing a new cosmology. Copernicus announced that the sun occupied the central place in the universe, and that the earth moves around the sun. He was made to suffer for his conviction.

Another example was the case of Galileo, who was similarly denounced by the Church in the seventeenth century. Galileo supported the heliocentric view of the universe. Galileo was tried by the Inquisition, found guilty of heresy, forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. However, after a study conducted by the Pontifical Council for Culture, in 1992 Pope John Paul 2 acknowledged that the Church had been wrong.

Still another example was the case of the theory of evolution, which had to struggle against misguided opposition. Like the theories of Copernicus and Galileo, the theory of evolution is now accepted by the Catholic Church. The official position now is that faith and scientific findings regarding human evolution are not in conflict.

To conclude this part of my speech on the RH Act, allow me to use the language of liberation theology. The Word of God is mediated through the cries of the poor and the oppressed Filipinos. Faith is the historical praxis of liberation. Faith must always be directed toward the changing of the existing social order. We have to participate in the struggle of the poor and the oppressed Filipino mother and child.

Let us adopt the project of theological feminism, by searching the tradition for what has contributed to female subjugation. Uncontrolled pregnancies are certainly one of them. Jesus himself was radically open to woman. Jesus was a revolutionary who accepted women as equal, and rejected any use of God to perpetuate patriarchal or hierarchical relationships.

As legislators and law-abiding citizens of our republic, we are prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause from enforcing anti-female prejudice. The RH Act seeks to correct the fallacy of intrinsic female inferiority. Fathers of the Church like St. Augustine saw woman as dominated by the body, in comparison with man, who stood for the predominance of the spirit. We have since discarded that archaic view.

Upon his resurrection, Jesus appeared first to women, thus sending a message. It was, and still is, the message of responsible love.

State of the Nation Address 2011 [English Transcript]

Click here for the original Filipino transcript.

The Philippine President Benigno Aquino State of The Nation Address 2011

State of the Nation Address
of
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
To the Congress of the Philippines
[Delivered at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City on July 25, 2011]

 

(Copied from http://www.annalyn.net)

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.; Vice President Jejomar Binay; former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; Chief Justice Renato Corona and the honorable Justices of the Supreme Court; honorable members of the diplomatic corps; members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; Local Government Officials; members of our Cabinet; members of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police; to my fellow servants of the Filipino people;

And to my beloved countrymen, my Bosses:
I stood before you during my inauguration and promised: we would do away with the use of the wang-wang. This one gesture has become the symbol of change, not just in our streets, but even in our collective attitude.

Over the years, the wang-wang had come to symbolize abuse of authority. It was routinely used by public officials to violate traffic laws, inconveniencing ordinary motorists—as if only the time of the powerful few, and no one else’s, mattered. Instead of behaving like public servants, they acted like kings. This privilege was extended to their cronies and patrons, who moved along the streets as if they were aristocracy, indifferent to those who were forced to give way and were left behind. Abusing privilege despite promising to serve—this is the wang-wang mindset; this is the mindset of entitlement.

They had no right to do this. The law authorizes only the President, the Vice President, the Senate President, the Speaker, the Chief Justice, and police vehicles, fire trucks, and ambulances to use sirens in the fulfillment of their official duties—no one else. Yet the flagrant abuse we bore witness to prompts us to ask: if they felt it their privilege to flout the simplest traffic laws, how could we expect them not to help themselves to a share of projects funded by the Filipino people?

Do you want the corrupt held accountable? So do I. Do you want to see the end of wang-wang, both on the streets and in the sense of entitlement that has led to the abuse that we have lived with for so long? So do I. Do you want to give everyone a fair chance to improve their lot in life? So do I.

We have fought against the wang-wang, and our efforts have yielded results. Just this year, the number of Filipinos who experienced hunger has come down. Self-rated hunger has gone down from 20.5% in March to 15.1% this June—equivalent to a million Filipino families who used to go hungry, but who now say they eat properly every day.

As for business, who would have thought that the stock market would reach seven record highs in the past year? At one time, we thought that for the PSE Index to reach 4,000 points would be, at best, a fluke. We now routinely exceed this threshold.

Our once low credit ratings have now been upgraded by Moody’s, Standard and Poors, Fitch, and Japan Credit Ratings Agency—in recognition of our prudent use of funds and creative financial management. These improved credit ratings mean lower interest on our debts. Our innovative fiscal approach has saved taxpayers 23 billion pesos in the first four months of this year. This is enough to cover the 2.3 million conditional cash transfer beneficiaries for the entire year.

Let me remind you: in the nine and a half years before we were elected into office, our credit ratings were upgraded once, and downgraded six times by the different credit ratings agencies. Compare this to the four upgrades we have achieved in the single year we have been in office. This was no small feat, considering that the upgrades came after ratings agencies have grown considerably more conservative in their assessments, especially in the wake of criticism they received after the recent American financial crisis. But while they have downgraded the ratings of other countries, they have upgraded ours, so that we are now just one notch below investment grade. Our economic team is hard at work to sustain the momentum.

And allow me to share more good news from the Department of Energy: having rid the DOE of wang-wang, we have revived the confidence of investors in our energy sector. 140 companies, all ready to participate in the exploration and strengthening of our oil and natural gas resources, can attest to this. Compare this to the last energy contracting round in 2006, which saw the participation of only 35 companies. Just last Friday, a new contract was signed for a power plant to be constructed in the Luzon grid, so that by 2014, our country will have a cheaper, more reliable source of energy.

There is confidence and there is hope; the government is now fulfilling its promises. And I cannot help but remember a woman I spoke with during one of my first house-to-house campaigns. She lamented: “It won’t matter who wins these elections. Nothing will change. I was poor when our leaders campaigned, I am poor now that they are in office, and I will still be poor when they step down.” This is a grievance echoed by many: “Our leaders didn’t care about us then, our leaders don’t care about us now, and our leaders will not care about us tomorrow.”

Given the persistence of the wang-wang attitude, wasn’t their sentiment justified? This was the attitude that allowed helicopters to be bought as if they were brand new, but had in fact already been extensively used. This was the attitude that allowed GOCC officials, like those in the Philippine National Construction Corporation, to pay themselves millions of pesos in bonuses, even as they failed to render decent service and plunged their respective agencies deeper into debt. Before they stepped down from their positions, the former heads of the PNCC gifted themselves with two hundred and thirty-two million pesos. Their franchise had lapsed in 2007; their collections should have been remitted to the national government. They did not do this, and in fact even took advantage of their positions: the bonuses they allotted to themselves in the first 6 months of 2010 was double the amount of their bonuses from 2005-2009. Yet they had the audacity to award themselves midnight bonuses, when they had already drowned their agencies in debt.

To end the wang-wang culture in government, we employed zero-based budgeting to review programs. For this year and the last, zero-based budgeting has allowed us to end many wasteful programs.

For example, we uncovered and stopped an ill-advised plan to dredge Laguna Lake. We would have borrowed 18.7 billion pesos to remove 12 million cubic meters of silt—which would have re-accumulated within three years, even before the debt could be fully paid. We also uncovered a food-for-school program with no proper targeting of beneficiaries, and other initiatives that were funded without apparent results. All of these were discontinued, and the funds rechanneled to more effective programs.

The budget is the clearest manifestation of the straight path upon which we tread. I say to those who would lead us astray: if you will further disadvantage the poor, do not even think about it. If all you would do is to fill your own pockets, do not even think about it. If it is not for the benefit of the Filipino people, do not even think about it.

I wish we could say that we had completely eliminated the wang-wang attitude, but in some parts of our consciousness, it still persists.

It still exists in the private sector. According to the BIR, we have around 1.7 million self-employed and professional taxpayers: lawyers, doctors, businessmen who paid a total of 9.8 billion pesos in 2010. This means that each of them paid only an average of 5,783 pesos in income tax—and if this is true, then they each must have earned only 8,500 pesos a month, which is below the minimum wage. I find this hard to believe.

Today we can see that our taxes are going where they should, and therefore there is no reason not to pay the proper taxes. I say to you: it’s not just the government, but our fellow citizens, who are cheated out of the benefits that these taxes would have provided.

We are holding accountable—and we will continue to hold accountable—those who practice this culture of entitlement in all government offices, as there are still some who think they can get away with it. A district in Region 4B, for example, began a project worth 300 million pesos, well beyond the 50 million pesos that district engineers can sign off on their own. But they could not leave such a potentially large payday alone.

So they cut the project up into components that would not breach the 50 million peso limit that would have required them to seek clearance from the regional and central offices. They tried to keep this system going. And often, since lump-sum funding was being used for the projects, no questions were asked about the plans or project details. They could have been spinning webs and they would have still been given the funds, so long as they knew someone in power.

Secretary Babes Singson did not let them get away with this. He removed the district engineer from his post, and suspended the awarding of the project in an effort to uncover other anomalies that may have happened. A thorough investigation of all those involved in the case is underway; we will blacklist all contractors proven to have engaged in foul play.

Because the project had to be delayed, Filipinos who would have otherwise benefited from them are still made to face unnecessary inconveniences.

These anomalies are not limited to Region 4B. We are putting an end to them. We are eliminating the patronage politics that had been prevalent in DPWH, and replacing it with a culture in which merit prevails. All projects must have work programs; we will require those involved in projects to submit well thought out plans for consideration, so that each project complements the other. We have also instituted an honest and transparent bidding process to provide equal opportunity to interested contractors.

Because of this, we have already saved 2.5 billion pesos, and expect to save 6 to 7 billion by the end of this year. The most important thing, however, is that now, we can count on well-paved roads—as opposed to the fragile pothole-ridden paths that our people had grown used to. Once, we believed that the system in the DPWH was impossible to fix; but look—it’s possible, and we’re fixing it.

Even in agriculture, the culture of wang-wang once persisted. Before we came into office in 2010, the Philippines imported 2.3 million metric tons of rice, which was already a million metric tons more than the 1.3 million that we needed. We even had to pay extra for warehouses to store the rice acquired through excessive importation.

How many years have we been over-importing rice? Many Filipinos thought that there was nothing we could do about it.

We proved them wrong in the span of a year. What was once an estimated yearly shortage of 1.3 million metric tons is down to 660,000—that’s almost half of the original amount. Even with our buffer of 200,000 metric tons as contingency against natural calamities, it is still significantly less than what was once the norm.

Our success in this sector was not brought about by mere luck. This is simply the result of doing things right: using the most effective types of seedlings, and careful and efficient spending on irrigation. In the past year, we irrigated an additional 11,611 hectares of fields, not to mention the near 212,000 hectares of land we were able to rehabilitate. The result: a 15.6 percent increase in rice production.

We envision two things: first, an end to over-importation that only serves to benefit the selfish few. Second: we want rice self-sufficiency—that the rice served on every Filipino’s dinner table is planted here, harvested here, and purchased here.

Let us look back on the situations of many of our policemen a year ago. The average salary of a common PO1 in Metro Manila is around 13,000 pesos. Around 4,000 pesos or abour a third of their salaries goes directly to paying the rent. Another third goes to food, and the final third is all that is left for electricity and water bills, commuting, tuition fees, medicine, and everything else. Ideally, their salaries match their expenses—but this is not always the case. Those whose salaries are not enough would probably resort to taking out some loans. What happens when the interest piles up and they end up having to spend even more of their salaries? Will they still be able to do the right thing when tempted with an opportunity to make a quick buck?

This is why, this July, we have followed through on the housing promise we made in February. We were able to award 4,000 Certificates of Entitlement to Lot Allocation. This is only the first batch of the 21,800 houses we will have constructed by the end of the year. Awarding our men in uniform these houses will turn their 4,000 peso rent expense into an initial 200 peso per month payment for a house that is all theirs. The cash they once paid for rent can now be used for other needs.

I hear that there are still more than a thousand houses left, so for our policemen and our soldiers who have not yet submitted their papers, this is the last call for this batch of houses. But do not worry, because this housing program will continue next year, covering even more people and more regions. The NHA is already preparing the sites for housing projects in Visayas and Mindanao, with an expanded list of beneficiaries that will also include employees of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and of the Bureau of Fire Protection.
Speaking of security, does enhanced security not also enhance our national pride? There was a time when we couldn’t appropriately respond to threats in our own backyard. Now, our message to the world is clear: What is ours is ours; setting foot on Recto Bank is no different from setting foot on Recto Avenue.

At times I wonder if the stories about some of our past stand-offs are true—that when cannons were aimed at our marines, they could only reciprocate by cutting down a coconut tree, painting it black, and aiming it back. True or not, that time is over. Soon, we will be seeing capability upgrades and the modernization of the equipment of our armed forces. At this very moment, our very first Hamilton Class Cutter is on its way to our shores. We may acquire more vessels in the future—these, in addition to helicopters and patrol crafts, and the weapons that the AFP, PNP, and DOJ will buy in bulk to get a significant discount. This goes to show how far we can go with good governance; we can buy equipment at good prices, without having to place envelopes in anyone’s pockets.

We do not wish to increase tensions with anyone, but we must let the world know that we are ready to protect what is ours. We are also studying the possibility of elevating the case on the West Philippine Sea to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, to make certain that all involved nations approach the dispute with calm and forbearance.

Our efforts to enhance the capabilities of our men and women in uniform are already succeeding. In the first six months of 2010, we had 1,010 cases of car and motorcycle theft. Compare that to the 460 cases in the first six months of 2011. Unfortunately, it is the one or two high-profile cases that make the headlines, and not the bigger picture—the fact that there is a large drop in car and motorcycle thefts, and that we have returned a higher percentage of stolen cars to their rightful owners.

And here is another example of positive change in law enforcement. The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act was signed in 2003. Unfortunately, because the government did not properly implement it, only 29 individuals were convicted in a period of seven years. In just one year, we have breached that amount, convicting 31 human traffickers. Perhaps, this is the “sea change” that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was referring to; and because of this change, the Philippines has been taken off the Tier 2 Watchlist of their Trafficking in Persons Report. If we had not been removed from this watchlist, the assistance we have been receiving from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, among others, would have been jeopardized.

Allow me to talk about jobs now. Our foremost pledge to the Filipino people was to create more jobs, and we have delivered. In April 2010, the unemployment rate was at 8%; in April 2011, it was at 7.2%.

To put things into perspective: We must all remember that the ranks of the unemployed represent a moving target. Every year, thousands of fresh graduates join the ranks of job hunters. Last year, the number of unemployed Filipinos in our labor force grew after many of our countrymen who earned a temporary living from election-related jobs—the people assigned to hanging buntings, the people tasked with clearing a path for politicians in crowds of people, the drivers, and other campaign staff—were laid off. But, despite all this, our results make our success evident: one million and four hundred thousand jobs were created last year.
Before, our foremost ambition was to work in another country. Now, the Filipino can take his pick. As long as he pursues his dreams with determination and diligence, he can realize them.
The number of jobs generated in our country can only grow from here.

According to the Philjobnet website, every month there are 50,000 jobs that are not filled because the knowledge and skills of job seekers do not match the needs of the companies. We will not allow this opportunity to go to waste; at this very moment, DOLE, CHED, TESDA, and DepEd are working together to address this issue. Curricula will be reviewed and analyzed to better direct them to industries that are in need of workers, and students will be guided so that they may choose courses that will arm them with the skills apt for vacant jobs.

Despite the demand for these jobs, there are still people who are being left behind. What do we do with them? First, we identified the poorest of the poor, and invested in them, because people are our greatest resource. Of the two million families registered with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, 1.6 million are already receiving their conditional cash transfers. Through the initiative and leadership of Secretary Dinky Soliman, we have been able to give much needed assistance to an average of more than 100,000 families per month. I am optimistic that we will reach our target of 1.3 million additional beneficiaries this year. With a compliance rate of 92%, millions of mothers are already getting regular check-ups at public health centers, millions of babies are being vaccinated against common diseases, and millions of school-aged children are now attending classes.

With these significant early results, I am counting on the support of the Filipino people and Congress to expand our Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Before the end of 2012, we want to invest in the future of 3 million poor families.

We are giving these poor families a chance to improve their lives, because their progress will be the country’s progress. How can they buy products and services from businesses if they do not have a proper income? When a poor father turns to crime in order to feed his family, who would he victimize, if not us? When people cannot properly take care of themselves and fall ill, do we not run the risk of getting sick as well?

We are laying down the foundations for a brighter future for the poor. For example, in the health sector: PhilHealth beneficiaries increased during elections, as the agency was used as a tool for dispensing political patronage. Today, we identify beneficiaries through the National Household Targeting System, to make sure that the 5.2 million Filipino families who benefit from PhilHealth are those who really need it.

Let us turn our attention to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The politics there have been dominated by horse-trading and transactional politics. During national elections, whoever is in power in ARMM is free to manipulate the electoral machinery in his region, ensuring that non-allies do not get votes. That Mayor or Governor then demands payment for his services come the ARMM election, and it is the administration’s turn to manipulate the electoral machinery to secure the win of their candidate.

According to the Commission on Audit, in the office of the regional governor of ARMM, eighty percent of the funds disbursed were for cash advances that cannot be justified. If those funds had not gone to waste, a child could have gone to school. Instead, we built ghost bridges to reach ghost schools where only ghost teachers went to work.

We want ARMM to experience the benefits of good governance. And so, the solution: Synchronization—candidates in ARMM will run at the same time as candidates in other parts of the country. There would be less opportunity for them to employ command votes for political patrons. The result would be fairer elections. Thank you to Congress for passing the law synchronizing ARMM with the national elections.

And why do we need to postpone the elections? Because, in their desire to return to or retain power, many are prepared to engage in corrupt practices just to win again. Imagine if we had listened to the critics, and allowed the election to proceed under these circumstances. We would have perpetuated the endless cycle of electoral fraud and official abuse that has led ARMM to become one of the poorest regions in the country.

I do not doubt that the reforms we are putting in place will yield concrete results. When we talk about the straight and righteous path, we talk about that new road that was built in Barangay Bagumbayan in Sta. Maria, Laguna. When we say clean government, we are talking about the clean water that residents in Barangay Poblacion in Ferrol, Romblon now enjoy. When we refer to the light of change, we also refer to the electricity that now powers light bulbs in Barangay San Marcos in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. This is happening in many other places, and we will make it happen everywhere in our country.

Government agencies are now focused on realizing this; they are working together to creatively solve the problems that have long plagued our country.

Have we not had flooding problems, which we know are caused by the incessant and illegal cutting down of trees? The old solution: A tree-planting photo opportunity, whose sole beneficiaries are politicians who want to look good. They plant trees, but they do not ensure that the trees would remain standing after they leave.

One of the possible solutions we are studying is to make the stewardship of these trees beneficial to communities. They will be given coffee and cacao seeds to plant. While they wait for harvest, they will receive stipends for safeguarding the trees planted to mitigate flooding. We are looking at informal settlers, who are currently crammed into our cities, as possible beneficiaries of this program. We will be investing in the people, even as we invest in the environment.

Who could have thought that little over a year ago, we could accomplish this? Today, we dream; one day soon, these dreams will be a reality.

This same creativity is in display with the innovations that are already being implemented. We have developed low-cost traps that kill mosquito larvae, probably contributing to the nearly fourteen percent decrease in dengue incidents; coconut coir fibers that are normally just disposed of have been used as a cost-effective way to strengthen our roads; we have landslide sensors that warn when soil erosion has reached dangerous levels; we have developed early flood warning systems for riverside communities. All of these are products of Filipino creativity.
DOST and UP have even teamed up to develop a prototype monorail system, which could potentially provide a home grown mass transport solution that would cost us as little as 100 million pesos per kilometer, much cheaper than the current cost of similar mass transit systems. The potential savings could result in more kilometers of cheap transport, decongesting our urban centers and allowing rural communities easier access to centers of commerce and industry.

Let me reiterate: These proposals were developed by Filipinos for Filipinos. Do you remember the time when we were unable to even dream of these kinds of projects? I am telling you now: We can dream about them, we are capable of achieving them, and we will achieve them. Isn’t it great to be a Filipino living in these times?

All of these things we are doing will be wasted if we do not do something to end the culture of corruption.

To my colleagues in public service, from those at the top and to every corner of the bureaucracy: Do we not feel the pride that working in government now brings? That, now, we are proud to be identified as workers in government? Will we waste this honor?
I call on our Local Government Units: Those of you who are in the best position to understand the needs of your constituents can expect greater freedom and empowerment. But we trust that in providing for your communities, you will remain committed to the straight path, and will not lose sight of the interest of the whole nation.

For instance, there are some municipalities that want to tax the electricity transmission lines that run through their jurisdictions. Although this will augment local coffers, the rest of the Filipino people will have to deal with higher electricity rates. Let us try to balance the interests of our constituencies with that of the nation as a whole.

It is imperative that our programs remain in sync, because the progress of the entire country will also redound to progress for your communities. Let us do away with forward planning that only looks as far as the next election, and think of the long-term national good.

Ultimately, we have to unite and work together towards this progress. I thank the Congress for passing laws regarding GOCC Governance, ARMM Synchronization, Lifeline Electricity Rates Extension, Joint Congressional Power Commission Extension, Children and Infants’ Mandatory Immunization, and Women Night Workers.

Last year, Congress demonstrated their support by approving the budget even before the year ended. The timely passage of the budget allowed projects to be implemented more quickly. Tomorrow we will deliver to Congress our budget proposal for 2012. I look forward once again to its early passage so that we can build on our current momentum.

We have already made progress, but we must remember: This is only the beginning, and there is much left for us to do. Allow me to present to Congress some of the measures that will bring us closer to the fulfillment of our pledge to the nation.

We aim to give due compensation to the victims of Martial Law; to grant our house help the salaries and benefits that they deserve; and to improve the system that awards pensions to our retired soldiers. We likewise support the expansion of the scope of scholarships granted by DOST to outstanding yet underprivileged students; the advancement of universal quality healthcare; the responsible management of the environment; and the formation of facilities that will ensure the safety of our citizens during times of great need and calamity.

Our agenda also includes the development of BuCor, NBI, NEA, and PTV 4, so that, instead of lagging behind the times, they will better fulfill their mandate of public service.

Not everything we want to do will be explained today, but I invite you to read the budget message, which contains a more comprehensive plan for the coming year.

Some of my critics say that I take this campaign against corruption personally. It’s true: doing what’s right is personal. Making people accountable—whoever they may be—is personal. It should be personal for all of us, because we have all been victimized by corruption.

What is wrong remains wrong, regardless of how long it has been allowed to persist. We cannot simply let it pass. If we ignore the crimes of the past, they will continue to haunt us. And if we do not hold people accountable, then they will do it again and again.

The truth is, we have uncovered so many anomalies. In PAGCOR, the previous management apparently spent one billion pesos on coffee alone. At one hundred pesos per cup, that would be ten million cups of coffee over the last several years. Where did all that coffee go? Who drank it? Perhaps we can find the people who consumed all that coffee and ask if they have been able to sleep in the last few years.

When the new Ombudsman, former Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, takes office, we will have an honest-to-goodness anti-corruption office, not one that condones the corruption and abuses in government. I expect that this year, we will have filed our first major case against the corrupt and their accomplices. And these will be real cases, with strong evidence and clear testimonies, which will lead to the punishment of the guilty.

We are aware that the attainment of true justice does not end in the filing of cases, but in the conviction of criminals. I have utmost confidence that the DOJ is fulfilling its crucial role in jailing offenders, especially in cases regarding tax evasion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, graft and corruption, and extrajudicial killings.

We are not leaving anything to chance; good governance yields positive results. Think about it: We have realized our promise of providing the public with the services that it needs and implementing programs to help the poor without having to raise our taxes.

This has always been the plan: to level the playing field; to stop the abuse of authority; and to ensure that the benefits of growth are available to the greatest number.

We have put an end to the culture of entitlement, to wang-wang: along our roads, in government, in our society as a whole. This will bring confidence that will attract business; this will also ensure that the people’s money is put in its rightful place: Funding for infrastructure that will secure the sustained growth of the economy, which will then give rise to jobs, and public service that guarantees that no one will be left behind. More opportunities for livelihood will be opened by tourism; the strengthening of our agriculture sector will ensure that every Filipino will have food on his table. We will invest on those who were once neglected. All this will create a cycle wherein all available jobs are filled, and where businesses flourish through the empowerment of their consumers.

I am aware that, until now, there are still a few who complain about our style of governance. But you have seen our style, and its ensuing results. You have seen their style, and, especially, where that took us. Anyone with their eyes open can clearly see which is right.

We are steering our government in a clear direction. A country where opportunity is available; where those in need are helped; where everyone’s sacrifices are rewarded; and where those who do wrong are held accountable.

I remember a woman warning me during the campaign: “Noy, be careful, you will be stepping on many toes.”

Sometimes, I do worry about what I am doing. But I am heartened because you are with me, and we stand on the side of what is right.

I thank the priests and bishops who have continued to dialogue with us, like Cardinals Rosales and Vidal. Cardinal Rosales and I may not be the closest of friends, but I believe that he did all that he could to reduce the tensions between the church and the government. The election of Archbishop Palma, defender of human rights and of the environment, as head of the CBCP only bolsters my confidence that the state and the clergy will be able to engage each other in a positive manner. I likewise thank my Cabinet, who have sacrificed their personal comfort to fulfill the national agenda. I give special mention to PAGASA, who now truly delivers reliable advice and warnings during times of calamity.

And to those who may resist the change we are trying to bring about, this I say to you: I know what I must do, and my personal interests are nothing when compared to the interests of the nation. There are many of us who want what is right for this country; and there are more of us than you. To those of you who would turn back the tide of reform: you will not succeed.
To those who have chosen to tread the straight and righteous path alongside us: it is you who created this change, and it is you who will bequeath our success to your children. To the jeepney driver plying his route; to the teachers and students coming home from class; to the artists whose work inspires our sense of nationhood; to our policemen, our soldiers, our street sweepers, and our firemen; to you who work with honor, in the Philippines, in the oceans, or in other countries; our colleagues in government who stand steadfast with us, whatever province you come from, whatever party you belong to; every Filipino listening to me now—you made this happen.

You created a government that truly works for you. We still have five years left to ensure that we will not return to what once was. We will not be derailed, especially now that what we have begun has yielded so many positive results.

If you see a loophole in the system, do not take advantage of it. Let us not acquire through patronage what we can acquire through hard work. No more cheating, no more taking advantage of others, no more one-upmanship—because in the end we will all realize our shared aspirations.

Let us end the culture of negativism; let us uplift our fellow Filipinos at every opportunity. Why are there people who enjoy finding fault in our country, who find it so hard—as though it were a sin—to say something nice? Can we even remember the last time we praised a fellow Filipino?

Let us stop pulling our fellow man down. Let us put an end to our crab mentality. Let us make the effort to recognize the good that is being done.

If you see something right, do not think twice—praise it. If you see a policeman directing traffic, coatless beneath the rain—go to him and say, “Thank you.”

If you fall sick, and you see your nurse caring for you, when she could easily be treating foreigners for a higher salary—say, “Thank you.”

Before you leave school for home, approach your teacher who chose to invest in your future—say, “Thank you.”

If you chance upon your local leader on a road that was once riddled with holes, but is now smooth and sturdy—go to him and say, “Thank you, for the change you have brought.”
And so, to the Filipino nation, my Bosses who have steered us toward this day: Thank you very much for the change that is now upon us.

The Philippines and the Filipino people are, finally, truly alive.

State of the Nation Address 2011 [Full Transcript]

Click here for the English translation

The Philippine President Benigno Aquino State of The Nation Address 2011

State of the Nation Address
of
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
To the Congress of the Philippines
[Delivered at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives, Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City on July 25, 2011]

 

(Copied from http://www.rodmagaru.com)

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Bise Presidente Jejomar Binay; mga dating Pangulong Fidel Valdez Ramos at Joseph Ejercito Estrada; Chief Justice Renato Corona at ang ating mga kagalang-galang na mahistrado ng Korte Suprema; mga kagalang-galang na kasapi ng diplomatic corps; mga butihing miyembro ng Kamara de Representante at ng Senado; mga Local Government officials; mga miyembro ng ating Gabinete; mga unipormadong kasapi ng militar at kapulisan; mga kapwa ko nagseserbisyo sa taumbayan;

At sa mga minamahal kong kababayan, ang aking butihing mga boss:
Humarap po ako sa inyo noong aking inagurasyon at sinabing: Walang wang-wang sa ating administrasyon. At ngayon, patuloy nating itinitigil ito. Naging hudyat at sagisag po ito ng pagbabago, hindi lamang sa kalsada, kundi pati na rin sa kaisipan sa lipunan.

Sa matagal na panahon, naging simbolo ng pang-aabuso ang wang-wang. Dati, kung makapag-counterflow ang mga opisyal ng pamahalaan, para bang oras lang nila ang mahalaga. Imbes na maglingkod-bayan, para bang sila ang naging hari ng bayan. Kung maka-asta ang kanilang mga padrino’t alipores, akala mo’y kung sinong maharlika kung humawi ng kalsada; walang pakialam sa mga napipilitang tumabi at napag-iiwanan. Ang mga dapat naglilingkod ang siya pang nang-aapi. Ang panlalamang matapos mangakong maglingkod—iyan po ang utak wang-wang.

Wala silang karapatang gawin ito. Ayon sa batas, tanging ang Presidente, Bise Presidente, Senate President, House Speaker, Chief Justice, at pulis, bumbero, at ambulansya lang ang awtorisadong gumamit ng wangwang para sa kanilang mga opisyal na lakad. Kung sa trapiko nga ay di masunod ang batas, paano pa kaya sa mga bagay na mas malaki ang makukuha, tulad ng sa mga proyektong pinopondohan ng kaban ng bayan?

Kayo po ba gusto ninyong makulong ang lahat ng tiwali? Ako rin. Gusto ba ninyong matanggal ang wang-wang, hindi lamang sa kalsada, kundi sa kaisipang nagdulot ng baluktot na sistema na pagkatagal-tagal na nating pinagtiisan? Ako rin. Gusto po ba ninyong mabigyan ng patas na pagkakataon ang lahat na umasenso? Ako rin.

Narito po ang halimbawa ng resulta ng ating kampanya kontra wang-wang sa sistema. Nitong taong ito, taumbayan na mismo ang nagsabi, nabawasan ang nagugutom sa kanila. Mula 20.5% na self-rated hunger noong Marso, bumaba na ito sa 15.1% nitong Hunyo, katumbas ng isang milyong pamilyang Pilipinong nagugutom dati, pero ngayon ay nakakakain na nang tama kada araw.

Sa larangan po ng negosyo, sino ba ang nag-akalang pitong ulit nating malalampasan ang all-time-high ng stock market? Ang dating 4,000 index na inaakalang hindi maaabot, o kung maabot man ay pansamantala lang, ngayon, pangkaraniwan nang hinihigitan.

Kung dati napako na ang bansa sa mababang credit ratings, itinaas ng Moody’s, Standard and Poors, Fitch, at Japan Credit Ratings Agency ang ating ranking, bilang pagkilala sa ating tamang paggugol ng pondo at sa malikhain nating pananalapi. Ang mataas na credit rating, magpapababa ng interes sa perang inuutang natin. Kumpara sa unang apat na buwan ng nakaraang taon, mas malaki po ng 23 billion pesos ang natipid nating interest payments mula Enero hanggang Abril ng 2011. Maaari na po nitong sagutin ang dalawang milyon at tatlongdaan libong benepisyaryo ng CCT hanggang sa katapusan ng 2011.

Paalala ko lang po, sa siyam at kalahating taon bago tayo maitalaga sa puwesto, iisang beses lang tayong nakatikim ng ratings upgrade, at anim na beses pang na-downgrade ng iba’t ibang ratings agency. Sa isang taon pa lang po natin, apat na beses na tayong nabigyan ng upgrade. Alam naman po natin na hindi madaling ma-upgrade sa panahon ngayon. Itong mga ratings agency, nabatikos na mali raw ang payo bago magkakrisis sa Amerika, kaya ngayon ay mas makunat na sila sa pagbibigay ng magandang ratings, at nakikita nga natin ito sa sunud-sunod na pag-downgrade sa ibang bansa. Pero tayo po, inupgrade pa nila. Sang-ayon silang lahat: gumanda at lalo pang gaganda ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas. Isang hakbang na lang po, aabot na tayo sa investment grade, at wala pong tigil ang ating economic team upang tuluyan na tayong makaarangkada.

At may mabubuting balita pa pong parating. Dahil wala nang wang-wang sa DOE, muling nabuhay ang kumpiyansa ng mga namumuhunan sa ating energy sector. Patunay dito ang isandaan at apatnapung kumpanya na nakahandang tumaya sa eksplorasyon at pagpapalakas ng ating oil at natural gas resources. Sa huling energy contracting round noong 2006, tatlumpu’t lima lang po ang nakilahok. Nitong Biyernes lamang po, nilagdaan na ang panibagong kasunduan para sa isang bagong power plant sa Luzon grid upang pagdating ng 2014, may mas mura at mas maaasahang pagmumulan ng enerhiya ang bansa.

May kumpiyansa, may pag-asa, at tinutupad po natin ang ating mga pangako. Naaalala ko nga po ang babaeng nakausap ko nang ako’y unang nagha-house-to house campaign. Ang kaniyang hinaing: “Miski sino naman ang manalo, pare-pareho lang ang kahihinatnan. Mahirap ako noong sila ay nangangampanya; mahirap ako habang nakaupo sila, at mahirap pa rin ako pag nagretiro na sila.” Sa madaling salita, ang hinaing po ng marami, “Walang pakialam ang mga pinuno namin kahapon, wala silang pakialam ngayon. Bukas, wala pa rin silang pakialam.”

Di po ba’t may katuwiran naman siya sa pagsasabi nito, dahil sa pagwawang-wang sa mga ahensya ng gobyerno? Wang-wang po ang pagbili ng helicopter sa presyong brand new, pero iyon pala ay gamit na gamit na. Wang-wang ang milyun-milyong pabuya na tinanggap ng mga opisyal ng GOCC, tulad ng sa Philippine National Construction Corporation, gayong hindi naman sila nakapaghandog ng disenteng serbisyo, at ibinaon pa sa utang ang kanilang mga ahensya. Bago sila bumaba sa puwesto, dalawandaan, tatlumpu’t dalawang milyong piso po ang inomento ng dating pamunuan ng PNCC sa kanilang sarili. 2007 pa lang po, wala na silang prangkisa; lahat ng kikitain, dapat diretso na sa pambansang gobyerno. Hindi na nga nag-abot ng kita, sinamantala pa ang puwesto. Ang bonus nila mula 2005 hanggang 2009, dinoble pa nila sa unang anim na buwan ng 2010. Ibinaon na nga po nila sa bilyun-bilyong pisong utang ang kanilang tanggapan, nasikmura pa nilang magbigay ng midnight bonus sa sarili.

Para po pigilan ang pagwang-wang sa kaban ng bayan, sinuyod at sinuri natin ang mga programa. Dalawang magkasunod na taon na po nating ipinatutupad ang zero-based budgeting, na nagsisilbing kalasag sa walang-saysay na paggastos.
Sa Laguna Lake po, magtatanggal nga ng 12 million cubic meters sa dredging, pero pagkatapos ng tatlong taon, garantisado naman itong babalik. 18.7 billion pesos ang magiging utang natin para lang maglaro ng putik. Hindi pa bayad ang utang, nag-expire na ang pakinabang. Pinigilan po natin iyan. Ang food-for-school program na bara-bara lang ang paghahanap ng benepisyaryo, at iba pang inisyatibang pinondohan ngunit walang pinatunguhan—binura na natin sa budget upang ang pera namang nalibre, ay mailaan sa mga proyektong totoong may silbi.

Ang budget po ang pinakamalinaw na pagsasabuhay ng ating tuwid na landas. Ang aking pahiwatig sa lahat ng gusto pang ilihis tayo rito: Kung mang-aagrabyado ka lang ng mahirap, huwag ka nang magtangka. Kung sarili mo lang ang papayamanin mo, huwag ka nang magtangka. Kung hindi iyan para sa Pilipino, huwag ka nang magtangka.
Sana masabi na natin na tapos na ang utak wang-wang, pero nakikita po natin ang latak ng ganitong kaisipan na pilit bumubulahaw sa aliwalas ng ating biyahe sa tuwid na landas.

Mukhang marami rin po kasi ang nagwawang-wang sa pribadong sektor. Ayon sa BIR, mayroon tayong halos 1.7 million na self-employed at professional tax payers gaya ng mga abogado, doktor, negosyante na nagbayad lamang, sa suma total, ng 9.8 billion pesos noong 2010. 5,783 pesos lang ang ibinayad na income tax ng bawat isa sa kanila—ang ibig sabihin, kung totoo po ito, ang kabuuang kita nila ay umaabot lang ng 8,500 pesos lamang kada buwan. Mababa pa sa minimum wage.Naman.

Nakikita naman po ninyong napupunta na sa tama ang buwis ninyo, kaya wala na pong dahilan upang iwasan natin ang pagbabayad. Nananawagan po ako sa inyo: Hindi lang po gobyerno, kundi kapwa natin Pilipino ang pinagkakaitan sa hindi pagbabayad ng tamang buwis.

Pinananagot at pananagutin po natin ang wang-wang saanmang sulok ng gobyerno. Ang masakit, hanggang sa mga araw pong ito, may sumusubok pa ring makalusot. Mayroon nga pong isang distrito sa Region 4B, may proyektong gagastusan ng 300 million pesos. Kaso hanggang 50 million pesos lang ang puwedeng aprubahan ng district engineer.
Kaya naisip nilang ichop-chop ang proyekto para di lumampas sa 50 million pesos ang halaga, at di na umabot sa regional at central office ang mga papeles. Kani-kaniyang diskarte, kani-kaniyang kaharian ang nadatnan nating situwasyon sa DPWH. Sinubukan nilang ipagpatuloy ang nakasanayan na nila. Kadalasan, dahil sa lump-sum na pagbibigay ng pondo, wala nang tanung-tanong kung ano ang plano at detalye ng proyekto. Miski yata bahay ng gagamba ang ipapatayo, bibigyan ng pondo, basta may padrino.

Hindi ito pinalusot ni Secretary Babes Singson. Tinanggal na niya sa puwesto ang district engineer. Pinigilan din po ang pag-award ng proyektong ito para busisiin kung ano pang magic ang nangyari. Masusi na ring iniimbestigahan lahat ng nagkuntsabahan. Ang mga kontratistang mapatunayang nakipagsabwatan para mag-tongpats sa mga proyekto, ibablack-list natin.
Tingnan nga po ninyo ang idinulot na perhuwisyo ng pagwawang-wang sa sistema: Tuloy ang pagdusa ng mamamayang dapat nakikinabang na sa proyekto ng bayan.
Hindi lang po iyan sa region 4B nadiskubre. Ngunit natigil na po ito dahil hindi na padrino kundi tamang proseso ang naghahari sa DPWH. Hindi na puwedeng walang work program; kailangang magpakita ng pinag-isipang plano para hindi magkasalungat ang pagsasagawa ng mga proyekto. Malinis at hayag na ang bidding, at pantay na ang pagkakataon sa pagpasok ng mga kontratista.

Sa sistemang pinaiiral ngayon sa DPWH, nakatipid na tayo ng dalawa’t kalahating bilyong piso, at umaasa tayo na aabot pa sa anim hanggang pitong bilyong piso ang matitipid sa taon na ito. Ang pinakamahalaga po, nakakaasa na tayo sa mga kalsadang matino, hindi ‘yung maambunan lang ay lulundo o mabibiyak agad. Paniwala natin dati, imposibleng maitama ng DPWH ang sistema nila. Hindi lang po ito posible; sa unang taon pa lamang, ginagawa na natin ito.
Kahit po sa mga bukirin, may mga nagwawang-wang din. Bago tayo maupo noong 2010, nag-angkat ang bansa ng 2.3 million metric tons ng bigas. 1.3 million metric tons lamang ang kailangan nating angkatin, ngunit pinasobrahan pa nila ito ng isang milyon. Dahil nga sobra-sobra ang inangkat, kinailangan pa nating gumastos muli sa mga bodegang pagtatambakan lang naman ng barko-barkong bigas.

Ilang taon bang walang saysay na pinasobrahan ang bigas na inaangkat? Dahil dito, umiral ang pag-iisip na habambuhay na tayong aangkat ng bigas. Ang akala ng marami, wala na talaga tayong magagawa.

Ngunit sa loob lamang ng isang taon, pinatunayan nating mali sila. Ngayon, ang dating 1.3 million metric tons na kakulangan natin sa bigas, halos nangalahati na; 660,000 metric tons na lang po ang kailangan nating angkatin. Kahit dagdagan pa natin iyan ng panangga laban sa sakuna at gawing 860,000 metric tons—na ginagawa na nga po natin—mas mababa pa rin ito sa tinatayang taunang kakulangan na 1.3 million metric tons.

At hindi po buwenas lang ang nangyaring pag-angat ng ating rice productivity. Bunga po ito ng matinong pamamalakad: ng paggamit ng maiinam na klase ng binhi, at masusi at epektibong paggastos para sa irigasyon. Nito nga pong nakaraang taon, labing-isang libo, animnaraan at labing-isang bagong ektarya ng bukirin ang napatubigan natin. Dagdag pa iyan sa halos dalawandaan at labindalawang libong ektarya na nakumpuni o nabigyang muli ng irigasyon matapos ang panahon ng pagkakatiwangwang. Ang resulta: umangat ng 15.6% ang inani nating palay noong nakaraang taon.

Ang gusto nating mangyari: Una, hindi tayo aangkat ng hindi kailangan, para lang punan ang bulsa ng mga gustong magsariling-diskarte ng kita sa agrikultura. Ikalawa: Ayaw na nating umasa sa pag-angkat; ang isasaing ni Juan dela Cruz, dito ipupunla, dito aanihin, dito bibilhin.

Balikan din po natin ang dinatnang kalagayan ng ating mga kawal at kapulisan. Labingtatlong libong piso po ang karaniwang suweldo ng isang PO1 sa Metro Manila. Apat na libong piso daw rito ang napupunta sa upa ng bahay. Tila tama nga po na isang-katlo ng kanilang sahod diretso na sa upa. Isang-katlo pa nito, para naman sa pagkain. At ang natitirang isang-katlo, para sa kuryente, tubig, pamasahe, pampaaral sa anak, gamot sakaling may magkasakit, at iba pa. Maganda na nga po kung tumabla ang kita niya sa gastusin. Kapag naman kinapos, malamang sa five-six po sila lalapit. At kapag nagpatung-patong ang interes ng utang nila, makatanggi kaya sila sa tuksong dumelihensya?
Kaya ang ipinangako nating pabahay nitong Pebrero, ngayong Hulyo ay tinutupad na. Nakapag-abot na po tayo ng apat na libong Certificate of Entitlement to Lot Allocation sa magigiting nating kawal at pulis. Bahagi pa lang po ito ng target nating kabuuang dalawampu’t isang libo at walong daang bahay sa pagtatapos ng taong ito. Ang dating apatnalibong ibinabayad para sa upa kada buwan, ngayon, dalawandaang piso na lang, para pa sa bahay na pagmamay-ari talaga nila. Ang dating nalalagas na halaga na pambayad sa buwanang renta, maaari nang igugol para sa ibang gastusin.

Mayroon pa raw pong mahigit isang libong bahay na natitira, kaya po sa mga pulis at sundalo nating di pa nakakapagpasa ng papeles, last call na po para sa batch na ito. Pero huwag po kayong mag-alala, sa susunod na taon, lalawak pa ang ating pabahay, at hindi lang pulis at kawal sa Luzon ang makikinabang. Inihahanda na ng NHA ang lupang patatayuan sa Visayas at Mindanao, para sa susunod na taon, makapagpatayo na tayo ng mga bahay doon. Sa ating mga kawani ng Bureau of Jail Management and Penology at Bureau of Fire Protection, may good news po ako: kasama na po kayo rito.

Kung seguridad na rin lang po ang ating pag-uusapan, di ba’t karugtong din nito ang ating pambansang dangal? Dati, hindi man lang natin makuhang pumalag tuwing may sisindak sa atin sa loob mismo ng ating bakuran. Malinaw ang pahiwatig natin ngayon sa buong mundo: Ang sa Pilipinas ay sa Pilipinas; kapag tumapak ka sa Recto Bank, para ka na ring tumapak sa Recto Avenue.

Tama nga po kaya ang kuwento tungkol sa isang stand-off noong araw? Tinapatan daw ang mga marino natin ng kanyon. Ang ginawa nila, pumutol ng puno ng niyog, pininturahan ito ng itim, saka itinutok sa kalaban. Tapos na po ang panahong iyan. Parating na ang mga capability upgrade at modernization ng mga kagamitan ng ating Sandatahang Lakas. Literal na pong naglalakbay sa karagatan papunta rito ang kauna-unahan nating Hamilton Class Cutter, isang mas modernong barko na magagamit natin para mabantayan ang ating mga baybayin. Maaari pa po tayong makakuha ng mga barkong tulad nito. Idadagdag iyan sa kukunin na nating mga helicopter, patrol craft, at sandata na bultong bibilhin ng AFP, PNP, at DOJ upang makakuha ng malaking diskuwento. Lahat po ito, makakamtan sa matinong pamamahala; mabibili sa tamang presyo, nang walang kailangang ipadulas kung kani-kanino.

Wala tayong balak mang-away, pero kailangan ding mabatid ng mundo na handa tayong ipagtanggol ang atin. Pinag-aaralan na rin po natin ang pag-angat ng kaso sa West Philippine Sea sa International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, upang masigurong sa mga susunod na pagkakataon ay hinahon at pagtitimpi ang maghahari tuwing may alitan sa teritoryo.
Alam ko pong magbubunga ang pag-aarugang ipinapamalas natin sa mga lingkod-bayan na nakatutok sa ating seguridad. Mantakin po ninyo: sa unang anim na buwan ng 2010, umabot sa isanlibo at sampung (1,010) kotse at motorsiklo ang nanakaw. Ikumpara po natin iyan sa apatnaraan at animnapung (460) kotse at motorsiklong nanakaw mula Enero hanggang Hunyo ng taong ito. Ang laki po ng naibawas. Malas ko lang po siguro na ‘yung isa o dalawang kaso ng carnapping ang nai-heheadline, at hindi ang pagbawas sa mga insidente nito o ang mas mataas na porsyento ng mga nanakaw na kotse na naibalik sa may-ari.

Isa pa pong halimbawa ng pagbabagong tinatamasa natin: Mayo ng 2003 nang lagdaan ang Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, pero dahil hindi sineryoso ng estado ang pagpapatupad nito, dalawampu’t siyam na indibiduwal lamang ang nahatulan sa loob ng pitong taon. Nalagpasan na po natin iyan, dahil umabot na sa tatlumpu’t isang human traffickers ang nahatulan sa ating administrasyon. Ito na po siguro ang sinasabing “sea change” ni Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ng Amerika. Dahil dito, natanggal na tayo sa Tier 2 Watchlist ng Trafficking in Persons Report nila. Kung hindi tayo natanggal sa watchlist na ito, siguradong napurnada pa ang mga grant na maaari nating makuha mula sa Millenium Challenge Corporation at iba pa.
Dumako po tayo sa trabaho. Dagdag-trabaho ang unang panata natin sa Pilipino. Ang 8% na unemployment rate noong Abril ng nakaraang taon, naibaba na sa 7.2% nitong Abril ng 2011. Tandaan po natin: moving target ang nasa hanay ng ating unemployed, dahil taun-taon ay may mga bagong graduate na naghahanap ng trabaho. Nito nga pong huling taon, nadagdag pa sa bilang nila ang libu-libong hawi boys, tagasabit ng banderitas, at iba pang mga Pilipinong kumuha ng pansamantalang kabuhayan mula sa eleksyon. Ang resulta po natin: Isang milyon at apatnaraang libong trabahong nalikha nitong nakaraang taon.

Dati, nakapako sa pangingibang-bansa ang ambisyon ng mga Pilipino. Ngayon, may pagpipilian na siyang trabaho, at hangga’t tinatapatan niya ng sipag at determinasyon ang kanyang pangangarap, tiyak na maaabot niya ito.
Malaki pa po ang puwedeng madagdag sa trabahong nalilikha sa ating bansa. Ayon pa lang po sa website nating Philjobnet, may limampung libong trabahong hindi napupunan kada buwan dahil hindi tugma ang kailangan ng mga kumpanya sa kakayahan at kaalaman ng mga naghahanap ng trabaho. Hindi po natin hahayaang masayang ang pagkakataong ito; ngayon pa lang, nagtatagpo na ang kaisipan ng DOLE, CHED, TESDA, at DEPED upang tugunan ang isyu ng job mismatch. Susuriin ang mga curriculum para maituon sa mga industriyang naghahanap ng empleyado, at gagabayan ang mga estudyante sa pagpili ng mga kursong hitik sa bakanteng trabaho.

Ngunit aanhin naman po natin ang mga numerong naghuhudyat ng pag-asenso ng iilan, kung marami pa rin ang napag-iiwanan? Ang unang hakbang: tinukoy natin ang totoong nangangailangan; namuhunan tayo sa pinakamahalaga nating yaman: ang taumbayan. Sa dalawang milyong pamilyang rehistrado sa ating Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, isang milyon at animnaraang libo na ang nakakatanggap ng benepisyo nito. Sa pagpapakitang-gilas ni Secretary Dinky Soliman, tinatayang may mahigit isandaang libong pamilya ang naiaahon natin mula sa kahirapan kada buwan. Kaya naman mataas ang aking kumpiyansang makukumpleto ang 1.3 million na dagdag na pamilya, mula sa kabuuang 2.3 milyong pamilyang target na benepisyaryo ng CCT bago matapos ang taong ito. At sa compliance rate nito na hindi bababa sa 92%, milyun-milyon na rin po ang inang regular na nagpapacheck-up sa mga health center, ang mga sanggol na napabakunahan, at ang mga batang hindi hinahayaan sa labas ng paaralan.

Simula pa lang po ito, at sa ganitong kalinaw na mga resulta, umaasa ako sa suporta ng bawat Pilipino, lalo na ng lehislatura, sa mungkahi nating salinan pa ng pondo ang Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Inaasam po natin na bago matapos ang 2012, tatlong milyong pamilya na ang mabibigyan ng puhunan para sa kanilang kinabukasan.
Binibigyan natin ang mga maralitang pamilyang ito ng pagkakataong makaahon sa buhay, dahil ang pag-asenso nila ay pag-angat rin ng buong bansa. Sino ang tatangkilik sa mga produkto at serbisyo ng mga negosyante, kung isang kahig, isang tuka naman ang mamimili? Kapag may amang kumakapit sa patalim para may kainin ang kanyang pamilya, at siya ay nagnakaw o nangholdap, sino ba ang puwedeng mabiktima ng krimen kundi tayo rin? Kung ang mga kababayan natin ay walang maayos na pagkain o tahanan, mahina ang kalusugan at may malubhang karamdaman, hindi ba’t tayo rin ang nasa peligrong mahawa sa kanilang kapansanan?

Naglalatag po tayo ng pagbabago upang mas mapatibay ang pundasyon ng maaliwalas na bukas para sa lahat. Halimbawa, sa kalusugan: Di ba’t kapansin-pansin ang pagtaas ng bilang ng mga benepisyaryo ng PhilHealth tuwing maghahalalan? Ngayon, sa pamamagitan ng National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR), tiniyak natin na ang limang milyon at dalawandaang libong pamilyang Pilipino na nakikinabang sa PhilHealth ay ang talagang mga nangangailangan nito. Malawakang pag-unlad at pag-asenso ng lahat: Iyan po ang panata natin. Walang maiiwan sa tuwid na landas.

Tumungo naman po tayo sa ARMM. Ang dating sistema: Nagbabatuhan lang ng huwad na utang ng loob ang mga baluktot na kandidato. Kapag pambansang halalan, malaya ang nakaupo sa ARMM na imane-obra ang makinarya sa kaniyang rehiyon para matiyak na bokya ang boto ng mga hindi kaalyado. Kapag naman eleksyon sa ARMM at maniningil na ng utang si Mayor o Governor, ang administrasyon naman ang magpapatakbo ng makinarya para manalo ang kanilang kandidato.

Ayon nga po sa naungkat ng COA, sa opisina ng regional governor ng ARMM, mula Enero 2008 hanggang Setyembre 2009, walumpung porsyento ng mga disbursement ang napunta sa mga cash advance na wala namang maayos na paliwanag. Kung hindi nawala ang pondong ito, nakatapos na sana ang isang batang tumawid sa ghost bridge, para pumasok sa ghost school, kung saan tuturuan siya ng ghost teacher. Walang humpay na paghihirap, at walang pag-asa ng pag-asenso.
Gusto nating maranasan ng ARMM ang benepisyo ng tamang pamamahala. Kaya ang solusyon: synchronization. Dahil dito, kailangan nilang tumutok sa kani-kanilang mga kampanya; magiging mas patas ang labanan, at lalabnaw ang command votes. Salamat sa Kongreso at naipasa na ang batas na magsasabay ng halalan sa ARMM sa halalang pambansa.
At bakit po postponement ang kailangan? Sa kagustuhang makabalik sa puwesto, nakahanda ang ilan na ulitin ang nakagawian para manalo. Isipin na lang po ninyo kung pumayag tayo sa kagustuhan ng mga kontra, at itinuloy natin ang eleksyon. Wala po silang ibang gagawin sa loob ng dalawang taon kundi paghandaan ang susunod na halalan at isiksik ang kalokohan nila sa mas maigsing panahon. Habang nananatili sa pwesto ang mga utak wang-wang na opisyal, naiiwan namang nakalubog sa kumunoy ng kawalang-pagasa ang taumbayan.

Wala akong duda sa kahihinatnan ng mga repormang inilatag natin. Hindi po tayo nagbubukambibig lang; may kongkretong resulta ang ating mga paninindigan. Kapag sinabi nating tuwid na daan, may katapat itong kalsada sa Barangay Bagumbayan sa Sta. Maria, Laguna. Kapag sinabi nating malinis na pamamahala, may dadaloy na malinis na tubig sa mga liblib na lugar gaya ng nasa Barangay Poblacion, sa Ferrol, Romblon. Kapag sinabi nating liwanag ng pagbabago, titiyakin nating may liwanag na tatanglaw sa mga pamayanang dati ay nangangapa sa aandap-andap na gasera, gaya ng ginawa natin sa Barangay San Marcos, sa Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. Ganito na ang nangyayari sa marami pang ibang lugar; pinipilit nating ito rin ang mangyari sa kabuuan ng Pilipinas.

Nakatutok na po ang iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno; nag-uugnayan at nagtutulungan sila upang maabot at mapabilis ang mga solusyon sa mga problemang kaytagal nang pinapasan ng bayan.

Di po ba’t may problema tayo sa baha, na alam naman nating dulot ng walang humpay at ilegal na pagputol ng mga puno? Ang dating solusyon: photo-op ng pagtatanim na ang tanging benepisyaryo ay nagpapapoging pulitiko. Nagtanim nga ng puno kontra-baha, pero hindi naman siniguro na mananatiling nakatayo ang mga ito pag-alis nila.

Isa sa mga solusyong pinag-aaralan ay ang gawing kapaki-pakinabang sa mga pamayanan ang pagbabantay ng puno. Bibigyan sila ng binhi ng kape at cacao para itanim at mamunga ng kabuhayan. Habang hinihintay ang ani, makakakuha sila ng stipend upang bantayan naman ang mga punong itinanim laban sa baha. Puwedeng maging benepisyaryo ng programang ito ang mga informal settlers, na ngayon ay nagkukumpulan sa siyudad. Mamumuhunan tayo sa taumbayan, habang namumuhunan din sa kalikasan.

Noon bang isang taon, inisip ninyo na kaya nating gawin ito? Sa ngayon, tinutupad na natin ang ating mga pangako. Bukas makalawa, katotohanan na ang lahat ng ito.

Marami pa pong malikhaing konsepto na inilalapit sa atin. May mosquito trap na pinapatay ang mga kiti-kiti ng lamok, na siguro naman po ay may kinalaman sa halos labing-apat na porsiyentong pagbaba ng insidente ng dengue; may hibla ng niyog na itatapon na sana, pero puwede palang murang solusyon sa mga daanang madaling mabitak; may landslide sensor na magbababala kung tumaas na ang panganib na gumuho ang lupa; may mga kagamitang magbibigay ng senyales kung malapit nang umapaw ang tubig sa mga ilog. Lahat po ito, gawa ng Pilipino.

Pinag-aaralan na rin po ng DOST at UP ang pagkakaroon ng monorail system, para tugunan ang problema sa pangmalawakang transportasyon. Sa malikhaing pag-iisip ng kapwa Pilipino, may pag-asa palang magtayo ng light rail system nang hindi hihigit sa 100 million pesos ang gagastusin kada kilometro. Sa matitipid na pondo, mas mahabang kilometro ng riles ang mailalatag at makaka-abot sa mga lugar na malayo sa sentro ng komersyo. Ang mga dating sumisiksik sa siyudad para maghanap ng trabaho, maaari nang tumira sa malayo, nang hindi pahirapan ang biyahe.
Uulitin ko po: ang mungkahing ito ay galing sa kapwa natin Pilipino, para sa Pilipinas. Naaalala po ba ninyo ang panahon kung kailan ni hindi man lang maabot ng mga pangarap natin ang ganitong mga proyekto? Ngayon, sinasabi ko sa inyo: pinapangarap natin ito, kaya natin ito, gagawin natin ito. Hindi ba tayo nagagalak, Pilipino tayong nabubuhay sa ganitong panahon?

Sa kabila ng lahat ng ito, huwag po sana nating lilimutin: masasayang lang ang lahat ng ating narating kung hindi tuluyang maiwawaksi ang kultura ng korupsyon na dinatnan natin.

Sa mga kapwa ko empleyado ng sambayanan, mula sa tuktok hanggang sa bawat sulok ng burukrasya: Di po ba’t napakarangal na ngayon ang magtrabaho sa gobyerno? Di po ba’t ngayon, sa halip na ikahiya, gusto mo pang isuot ang iyong ID kung sumasakay ka ng bus o jeep papasok sa iyong ahensya? Sasayangin po ba natin ang karangalang kaloob sa atin ng sambayanan?

Iyan din po ang aking panawagan sa ating Local Government Units. Kabilang po ako sa mga sumasang-ayon na kayo ang pinaka-nakakaalam sa pangangailangan ng taumbayan sa inyong mga lungsod at munisipyo. Makakaasa po ang ating mga LGU sa higit na kalayaan at kakayahan, kung makakaasa rin tayong gagamitin ito sa tuwid na paraan, at isasaalang-alang ang kapakanan ng buong sambayanan.

Halimbawa po, may ilang munisipyo na naisipang magbuwis sa mga transmission lines ng kuryente na dadaan sa kanilang mga pook. Magpapasok nga po ng kita sa kanilang lokal na kaban, pero kapalit nito, tataas din ang gastusin ng mas nakararaming Pilipino sa kuryente. Tiwala po akong kaya nating balansehin ang interes ng inyong mga nasasakupan sa interes ng sambayanan.

Kailangan pong manatiling magkatugma ang ating mga programa, dahil ang ikauunlad ng buong bansa ay manganganak din ng resulta sa inyong mga pook. Wakasan na po sana natin ang agendang nakatuon sa susunod na eleksyon lamang, at ang kaisipang isla-isla tayong maihihiwalay ang sariling pagsulong sa pag-unlad ng bansa.

Tayo-tayo rin po ang dapat magtulungan tungo sa kaunlaran. Malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa Kongreso sa pagpapasa ng mga batas ukol sa GOCC Governance, ARMM Synchronization, Lifeline Electricity Rates Extension, Joint Congressional Power Commission Extension, Children and Infants’ Mandatory Immunization, at Women Night Workers.

Noong isang taon nga po, nagpakitang-gilas ang Kongreso sa pagpasa ng budget bago matapos ang taon. Dahil dito, nasimulan agad ang mga proyekto at hindi na inabot ng tag-ulan. Bukas na bukas po, ihahain na namin sa lehislatura ang budget para sa susunod na taon. Umaasa po ako na muli kayong magpapakitang-gilas, upang tuluyan na nating mapitas ang bunga ng mga naitanim nating pagbabago.

Maganda na po ang ating nasimulan. Pero mahalaga pong maalala natin: simula pa lang ito. Marami pa tayong gagawin. Hayaan po ninyong ilatag ko sa Kongreso ang ilan sa mga batas na magpapaigting sa pagtupad ng ating panata sa bayan.
Layon nating bigyan ng kaukulang kompensasyon ang mga biktima ng Martial Law; ang pagkakaloob ng makatarungang pasahod at benepisyo para sa mga kasambahay; at ang pagpapatupad ng isang mas maayos na sistema ng pensyon para sa mga kawal. Sinusuportahan din natin ang pagpapalawak ng sakop ng scholarship na ipinagkakaloob ng DOST sa mahuhusay ngunit kapuspalad na mag-aaral; ang pagtataguyod ng pinaigting na pangkalahatang kalusugan; at ang pangangalaga sa ating kalikasan at sa mga pasilidad na titiyak sa kaligtasan ng mga mamamayan sa oras ng sakuna.
Kabilang din po sa ating agenda ang pagpapalakas ng BuCor, ng NBI, ng NEA, at ng PTV 4, upang sa halip na mapag-iwanan ng kaalaman at panahon, mas maayos nilang magagampanan ang kanilang pagbibigay-serbisyo sa publiko.
Hindi ko po nailagay ang lahat ng gustong magpasali ng kanilang adbokasiya dito sa SONA. Pero kumpleto po ang detalye sa budget at budget message. Sa mga interesado po, pakibasa na lang.

May mga nagsasabing pinepersonal ko raw ang paghahabol sa mga tiwali. Totoo po: Personal talaga sa akin ang paggawa ng tama, at ang pagpapanagot sa mga gumagawa ng mali—sino man sila. At hindi lamang dapat ako ang namemersonal sa usaping ito. Personal dapat ito sa ating lahat, dahil bawat Pilipino ay biktima nito.

Ang mali—gaano katagal man ito nanatili—ay mali pa rin. Hindi puwedeng “Oks lang, wala lang iyan.” Kapag kinalimutan natin ang mga ito, mangyayari lang ulit ang mga kamalian ng nakaraan. Kung hindi magbabayad ang mga nagkasala, parang tayo na rin mismo ang nag-imbita sa mga nagbabalak gumawa ng masama na umulit muli.

Ang totoo nga po, marami pang kalokohan ang nahalungkat natin. Halimbawa, sa PAGCOR: kape. Isang bilyong piso po ang ginastos ng dating pamunuan ng ahensya para sa kape; sa isandaang piso na lang po kada tasa, lalabas na nakakonsumo sila ng sampung milyong tasa. Baka po kahit ngayong iba na ang pamunuan ng PAGCOR ay dilat na dilat pa rin ang mata ng mga uminom ng kapeng ito. Hanapin nga po natin sila, at matanong: nakakatulog pa po ba kayo?

Pagpasok ng bagong Ombudsman na si dating Supreme Court Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, magkakaroon tayo ng tanod-bayan na hindi magiging tanod-bayad ng mga nagwawang-wang sa pamahalaan. Inaasahan ko nga po na sa taon na ito, masasampahan na ng kaso ang lahat ng nagkuntsabahan sa katiwalian, at naging sanhi ng situwasyong ating inabutan. Tapos na rin po ang panahon kung kailan nagsasampa ang gobyerno ng malalabnaw na kaso. Kapag tayo ang nagsampa, matibay ang ebidensya, malinaw ang testimonya, at siguradong walang lusot ang salarin.

Tutok tayo na ang pagkakamit ng ganap na katarungan ay hindi natatapos sa pagsasakdal kundi sa pagkukulong ng maysala. Buo ang kumpiyansa ko na tinutupad ng DOJ ang malaki nilang bahagi upang maipiit ang mga salarin, lalo na sa mga kaso ukol sa tax evasion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, graft and corruption, at extrajudicial killings.
Wala pong tsamba: ang tapat at mabuting pamamahala ay nanganganak ng mabuti ring resulta. Isipin po ninyo: naipatupad natin ang mga ipinangakong serbisyo ng gobyerno, at nakapaglaan pa ng sapat na pondo para sa mga proyekto nang hindi kinailangang magtaas ng buwis.

Iyan naman po talaga ang plano: siguruhin na patas ang laban; itigil ang panlalamang ng mga makapangyarihan; at tiyakin na ang dating sistema kung saan nakikinabang ang iilan ay magiging bukal ng oportunidad para sa lahat.

Tinutuldukan na po natin ang wang-wang: sa kalsada, sa gobyerno, sa kalakhang lipunan. Ito po ang manganganak ng kumpiyansa na magdadala ng negosyo; ito rin ang sisiguro na ang pondo ng taumbayan ay mapupunta sa dapat nitong kalagyan: Imprastruktura na titiyak sa tuluyang pag-angat ng ekonomiya at pagmumulan ng trabaho, at serbisyong panlipunan na sisigurong walang mapag-iiwanan. Bubukas ang marami pang pintuang pangkabuhayan sa pamamagitan ng turismo; sisiguruhing hindi magugutom ang Pilipino sa pagpapalakas ng agrikultura. Ang mga dating kinakaligtaan, bibigyang-puhunan ang kinabukasan.

Magbubunsod ito ng siklo kung saan tiyak na may pupuno sa mga nalilikhang trabaho, at may mga konsumer na lalong magpapalago sa mga negosyo.

Batid ko po na hanggang ngayon ay may kakaunti pang nagrereklamo sa ating estilo ng pamamahala. Nakita po ninyo ang aming estilo, at ang kaakibat nitong resulta. Nakita po ninyo ang estilo nila, at kung saan tayo nito dinala. Sa mga taong bukas ang mata, maliwanag kung saan ang tama.

Ngayong tayo na ang nagtitimon sa gobyerno, malinaw ang direksyong tinatahak ng ating bayan. Isang bansa kung saan ang pagkakataon ay abot-kamay; kung saan ang mga nangangailangan ay sinasaklolohan; kung saan may saysay ang bawat patak ng pawis, bawat sandali ng pagtitiis, at bawat butil ng hinagpis na dinaanan natin. Kung may gawin kang mabuti, may babalik sa iyong mabuti. At kung may gawin kang masama, tiyak na mananagot ka.

Naaalala ko nga po ang isang ginang na lumapit sa akin noong kampanya; ang babala niya, “Noy, mag-iingat ka, marami kang kinakabangga.”
Tama po ang sabi niya: Tao po akong may agam-agam din. Pero wala po akong alinlangang tumahak sa tuwid na daan: Buo ang loob ko dahil alam kong nasa likod ko kayo.

Salamat po sa mga pari at obispo na masinsinang nakikipagdiyalogo sa atin, katulad nina Cardinal Rosales at Vidal. Di naman po kami ganoong kalapit ni Cardinal Rosales, pero naniniwala akong ibinuhos niya ang lahat para mabawasan ang hindi pinagkakaunawaan ng gobyerno at simbahan. Sa paghahalal kay Archbishop Palma, tagapagtanggol ng karapatang pantao at kalikasan, lalo pong tumibay ang aking kumpiyansang ugnayan, at hindi bangayan, ang mabubuo sa pagitan ng estado at simbahan.

Salamat din po sa ating Gabinete, na walang kinikilalang panahon ng tulog o pahinga, maipatupad lang ang pambansang agenda. Special mention po ang PAGASA, na tunay na ngayong nagbibigay ng maaasahang babala.

At sa mga nasasagasaan po natin sa landas ng katapatan at integridad sa pamamahala, ito naman po ang aking masasabi: Pinili ninyo ang landas kung saan naaapi ang sambayanan. Pinili naman namin ang landas na ipagtanggol ang taumbayan. Nasa tama po kami; nasa mali kayo. Sa inyong magbabalik ng pang-aapi sa sambayan, hindi kayo magtatagumpay.
Sa lahat ng mga kasama natin sa tuwid na daan: Kayo ang lumikha ng pagkakataong baguhin ang dinatnan, at gawing mas maganda ang ipapamana natin sa susunod na salinlahi ng mga Pilipino. Kayo pong mga tsuper na pumapasada pa rin; kayong mga guro at estudyanteng pauwi pa lang mula sa klase; kayong patuloy ang paglikha ng mga obrang nagpapaalab sa apoy ng ating pagka-Pilipino; kayong mga pulis, sundalo, kaminero at bumbero; kayong mga marangal na nagtatrabaho, sa Pilipinas man, sa gitnang dagat, o sa ibang bansa; kayong mga tapat na kasama natin sa gobyerno, anumang probinsya o partido; kayong mga Pilipinong nakikinig sa akin ngayon—kayo po ang lumikha ng pagkakataong ito.

Lumikha po kayo ng gobyernong tunay na nagtatrabaho para sa inyo. May limang taon pa tayo para siguruhing hindi na tayo babalik sa dating kalagayan. Hindi tayo magpapadiskaril ngayong napakaganda na ng resulta ng ating sinimulan.
Kapag may nakita tayong butas sa sistema, huwag na po tayo magtangkang lumusot. Huwag na nating daanin sa pakiusap ang madadaan sa pagsisikap. Tama na ang unahan, tama na ang tulakan, tama na ang lamangan, dahil lahat naman po tayo ay makakarating sa minimithi nating kinabukasan.

Tapusin na po natin ang kultura ng negatibismo; iangat natin ang kapwa-Pilipino sa bawat pagkakataon. Bakit po ang iba, ang hilig maghanap ng kung anu-anong pangit sa ating bayan? At napakahirap—parang kasalanan—na magsabi ng maganda? Naalala pa po ba natin noong huling beses tayong pumuri sa kapwa Pilipino?

Itigil na po natin ang paghihilahan pababa. Ang dating industriya ng pintasan na hindi natin maitakwil, iwaksi na po natin. Tuldukan na po natin ang pagiging utak-alimango; puwede bang iangat naman natin ang magaganda nating nagawa?
Kung may nakita kang mabuti, huwag kang magdalawang-isip na purihin ito. Kapag nakita mo ang pulis sa kanto, nagtatrapik nang walang kapote sa ilalim ng ulan, lapitan mo siya at sabihing, “Salamat po.”

Kung magkasakit ka at makita mo ang nars na nag-aruga sa iyo, sa halip na magserbisyo sa dayuhan kapalit ng mas malaking suweldo, sabihin mo, “Salamat po.”

Bago ka umuwi galing eskuwela, lapitan mo ang guro mong piniling mamuhunan sa iyong kinabukasan kaysa unahin ang sariling ginhawa; sabihin mo, “Salamat po.” Sa aking guro, Salamat po Ginang Escasa.

Kung makasalubong mo ang iyong kinatawan sa kalsadang dati ay lubak-lubak, at ngayon ay puwede nang daanan nang maaliwalas, lapitan mo siya at sabihing: “Salamat po.”

Kaya po, sa sambayanang Pilipino, ang aking Boss na nagtimon sa atin tungo sa araw na ito: maraming, maraming salamat po sa pagbabagong tinatamasa natin ngayon.

Buhay na buhay na ang Pilipinas at ang Pilipino.

Bishops’ salvation, Juico’s damnation

By the process of lateral thinking, I respectfully move to investigate the source of the false report about the so-called “Pajero bishops,” when it turns out that no Pajeros were involved. Who is this maleficent twisted genius? Was this media spin designed to cover up the crime of depositing without authorization in a private bank the sum of P1.548 BILLION? Was this media spin further designed to call public attention away from the annual sum of some P 7.603 BILLION made available to the sticky fingers of the PCSO Board?

Like the wanton world-class theft of public funds and conspicuous consumption generated by the road user’s tax, the PCSO anomaly is bodaciously corrupt. Keep the bishops out of it. – Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago

Read the entire speech of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago here.

The Salvation

The “Pajero Bishops” brouhaha has been finally clarified during the Senate investigation:

1. There were no Pajeros or any other sports cars given to the Bishops out of the coffers of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
2. The funds were acquired by the bishops for valid reasons (i.e., for purposes of advancing medical and other charitable works).
3. The vehicles were registered to the bishops, not on their personal capacity, but as a corporate sole.
4. The vehicles are not luxury cars.

PCSO Chairman Margie Juico does not deny the above facts. Yet…

The Damnation

… she did not straighten out the facts.

Earlier, when asked by the honorable senators whether it was she who told the media that seven bishops received luxury cars or whether the PCSO Board lied about the issue, PCSO Chairman Margie Juico denied it. According to her, she never mentioned Pajero in her interviews.

All we had was the COA report. We never said Pajero.

She even dribbled the accusation to another PCSO official. But she doesn’t remember who it was.

Granting that she is telling the truth in this case, did she have the initiative to call at least one major media outfit to clarify what was actually in the audit report of the Commission on Audit? Did she correct the media reports when they coined the term “Pajero Bishops”?

No. She did nothing to correct the misinformation. She let the bishops drown in mud. She let the people throw sticks and stones to the bishops.

But then, this video from GMA News TV.

Nanghihinyang lang ako, sana naman ‘yung pondo ng PCSO na ginamit pambili ng Pajero, marami na sanang natulungan dun sa pondong ‘yun.

(I’m just disappointed, the PCSO funds that were used to buy Pajero could have already helped many people.)

Liar.

On the other hand, she seemed to be enjoying the feeling of a hero, who exposed an embarrassing anomaly between the government and the church. Having the guts to imply the bishops are corrupt is simply heroic among the poor and the non-believers.

Do you remember how she started this issue as a blind item? She released the information little by little. She wanted the public’s interest to gain momentum, and when the people’s emotions turned into outrage, she finally named the bishops.

E kung palitan mo na lang si Cristy Fermin sa Juicy?

The Real Issue

The COA report mentioned that the money used to buy the vehicles given to the bishops was taken out of PCSO’s charity fund, which can only be tapped to finance medical missions

If that is the case, then why are we focusing the blame on the bishops? Is this not a corruption within the PCSO and among the members of its Board?

Hinahabol ng pusa ang daga, para hindi sya pagalitan ng amo nya ngayong ang pusa naman pala ang nakabasag ng plorera.

Mar Roxas doing a headstand?

Mar Roxas’ Facebook page posted this photo:

Is that really Mar Roxas?

I sure hope it was the Department of Transportation and Communications Seceretary...

Duterte wins by KO (a blow-by-blow account)

Pacquaio will have a night of thinking whether to retire or face a brawler.

Duterte vs. Andres

Duterte approaches.

Duterte throws her deadly right hand!

Duterte punches Abe smack in the face!

No record of her reach, but analysts say it could be 74 inches - an inch longer than Pacquiao's.

Here's the second throw!

Andres cringes!

Duterte wants more.

Here’s the video.

The Real Score

Davao City Regional Trial Court (Branch 15) Sheriff Abe Andres went to a slum area in Davao City to execute a demolition order after the private owner of the property won over an eviction case. Before the actual demolition could be carried out, an exhausted Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, who just came from a relief operations, arrived on site steaming with anger.

Unable to get a postponement of the demolition order from the Court, Duterte faced Andres and asked (not gently, though) to give the residents two more hours to properly vacate the area. But Andres was eager to carry out the order immediately. That’s when the mayor’s nostrils started to flare up and the rest, as you know it, is history.

I will definitely not forget this one.

Many have already given their reactions on the incident. The one thing that I agree on is that it is understandable that Duterte was not able to contain her anger towards Andres considering all the circumstances before the brawl. In fact, I’d say that she was not angry, she was just overly frustrated over things.

She was at a relief operations before the incident, helping her typhoon-hammered constituents, when this another problem came about. She was under a lot of stress at that time.

The punching (the first punch, that is), for me, is reasonable. She needed to release the tension, and anyone who’s in that situation may also become a little bit violent. That’s human nature. Those who have the guts to be a little bit rough will show some abrasiveness, than merely drop a tear or two.

But the rage, that is a different story. After one strong blow, she should have stopped. That’s not anymore excusable. Being a public official, she is a representative of “a government of law and not of men”. She should have faced the issue with Andres civilly and not brutally knock Andres’ face.

And here’s another episode of the incident that had me beleaguered.

Andres already stayed out of Duterte's reach, but she commanded her men to get him back to her.

Her guards braced Andres in the neck.

When the guards took Andres back to Duterte, she tweaked Andres' hair.

All of these were done by Duterte while her guards were clutching Andres.

The Aftermath

- Duterte brought Andres to the hospital and paid for the bills. (^_^)
- She has not issued a public apology yet. Her lawyers prevented her from speaking to the media. (>_<)'
- The Court issued a 10-day temporary restraining order on the demolition citing judicial courtesy and to avoid further violence. (-_-)Zzzz
- Andres suffered a black-eye, but will not file charges against Duterte because he understood the mayor’s sentiments. (-_-)’
- Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, although laughing at the video, said he will seriously investigate on the matter and check if there had been act of misconduct on the part of the mayor. W(-L-)W

In fairness to Duterte

She has command of everyone. (or everyone is afraid of her?)

Before the sparring session with Andres, she arrived at the shanty with great courage and literally brought the mob to their knees…

and their arms raised!

Although she was angry with the demolition team that they were not able to control the situation, she was equally angry with the residents who resisted the demolition and fought back (by throwing rocks and bottles and even launching several arrows, one of which hit a policeman’s leg). At the top of her voice, she cursed at them and ordered them to the ground.

Well, violence cannot be deterred with another violence.

Postscript

The Davao Death Squad may be a myth, but Sara Duterte is a reality. :P

Tweets

coach_potat0: Astig ang anak ng hommie kong si Sarah Duterte! Dapat lang yun. Konting oras lang hinihingi ‘di pa pinagbigyan.

jayceeRepublic: Tawa ako sa reaksyon ni Mayor Duterte eh. Ang astig nya. :))

marvingil: @CheckLit Rody Duterte aka The Punisher. Inday Sara Duterte aka The Puncher

mygoodriddance: Oh mayor Duterte Can kick@ss just like that! Hi5! Em gonna raise my hand on the roof and say woot!

DearShiiena: http://t.co/v4sMFsd IKAW NA TALAGA MAYOR DUTERTE !! :)) SAYO NA LAHAT, IKAW NA .. THE BEST KA !!

OfficialJohnKay: Mayor Duterte.. kinda warfreak.

icheb: Agree! RT @makemaqsmile: @bayanmo A punching mayor is better than a corrupt mayor. OH! WATCHA SAY!?? MAYOR DUTERTE FOR THE WIN!

IMGoryo: RT @mitwistedworld: Next best PPV attraction: Sarangani’s Pacman vs. Davao’s Sara “Sweet Slugger” Duterte!

Video screencaps courtesy of Solar Sports ANC (via Youtube).

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