Archive for the ‘senators’ Category

The dancing senator and her caustic remark

August 18, 2008

You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, dig in the Dancing Queen
.”
—Dancing Queen, ABBA (from the Broadway Hit “Mama Mia”)

When our senators debate on issues, the arguments suddenly get out of focus. Their exchanges degenerate lower than what we expect from sane people. This is what happened when former Sen. Teresita Aquino-Oreta, argued against Sen. Benigno (Nonoy) Aquino III’s comment that the country hasn’t advanced for 25 years, since this his murdered father, Ninoy Aquino died.

Oreta (well-recalled as the “dancing queen” in the senate floor when she sashayed and wiggled in euphoric glee, during an impeachment proceeding of then Pres. Joseph Estrada in January 2001,) disagreed with Nonoy Aquino’s assessment about the country without giving a satisfactory clarification.

Whether the Philippines moved ahead or not is something that needs explanation. From experience, we have strong opinions about where the country has gone. Oreta could have asked Noynoy what he meant. Or she might have rebutted his opinion with evidence to the contrary. Instead, she turned against former Pres. Corazon Aquino, saying, “His mommy led the country for six years. So please don’t tell us now the country hasn’t moved forward.” PDI (08/18/08, Dalangin-Fernandez, L)

Such corrosive exchanges are typical of family feuds in our households that we don’t want to hear. While we suspect malice and emnity in her statement, Oreta missed proving Noynoy wrong. Instead of being defensive (or firing on the messenger for his message,) she seems in need of more maturity to let us understand that she’s telling the truth or helping us move ahead. =0=

The dancing senator and her caustic remark

August 18, 2008

You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, dig in the Dancing Queen
.”
—Dancing Queen, ABBA (from the Broadway Hit “Mama Mia”)

When our senators debate on issues, the arguments suddenly get out of focus. Their exchanges degenerate lower than what we expect from sane people. This is what happened when former Sen. Teresita Aquino-Oreta, argued against Sen. Benigno (Nonoy) Aquino III’s comment that the country hasn’t advanced for 25 years, since this his murdered father, Ninoy Aquino died.

Oreta (well-recalled as the “dancing queen” in the senate floor when she sashayed and wiggled in euphoric glee, during an impeachment proceeding of then Pres. Joseph Estrada in January 2001,) disagreed with Nonoy Aquino’s assessment about the country without giving a satisfactory clarification.

Whether the Philippines moved ahead or not is something that needs explanation. From experience, we have strong opinions about where the country has gone. Oreta could have asked Noynoy what he meant. Or she might have rebutted his opinion with evidence to the contrary. Instead, she turned against former Pres. Corazon Aquino, saying, “His mommy led the country for six years. So please don’t tell us now the country hasn’t moved forward.” PDI (08/18/08, Dalangin-Fernandez, L)

Such corrosive exchanges are typical of family feuds in our households that we don’t want to hear. While we suspect malice and emnity in her statement, Oreta missed proving Noynoy wrong. Instead of being defensive (or firing on the messenger for his message,) she seems in need of more maturity to let us understand that she’s telling the truth or helping us move ahead. =0=

Excommunication, discipline in the marital bed & the controversies of contraception

August 2, 2008

The wagons of confrontation have circled many times between the opposing camps of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and the supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill (RHB.) The former supports natural family planning while the latter aims to make artificial contraception available to the poor. Arguments roil between the two sides with little hint of resolution.

The Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) which identifies itself as protector of the unborn (pro-life) and defender of morals is pushing for sex education, restraint in the marital bed, and responsible parenthood. The Church teaches that proper distribution of wealth, not abortion and artificial birth control, is the answer to over-population and poverty.

Opposing the Church’s doctrine seems to diminish RCC’s influence, but proponents of the RHB face moral censure. They run the risk of being refused holy wafer and sacred wine during masses. They are under threat of excommunication by the Church.

For political expediency and fear of retribution in the afterlife, the Catholic majority and its leaders struggle to abide with the Church teachings. In the name of faith and fidelity, many pander on CBCP’s advices which strongly oppose artificial contraception (pills, intraunterine devices (IUDs), bilateral tubal ligation (BTLs), vasectomies, spermicides, morning after pills, barrier methods such as condoms etc.)

On the other hand, defenders of RHB want to give women the right to decide. Backed by population advisers of other countries, the United Nations (UN,) Asian Development Bank (ADB,) and the World Health Organization (WHO,) they believe the bill is a practical solution to reduce the high incidence of maternal and infant mortality, a way of curbing population explosion. They question the correctness and infallibility of RCC’s teachings on birth control, bringing back the old debates on morals and the separation of the church and the state.

RHB supporters assert artificial contraception is a basic human right. They believe lack of access to contraceptives leads to unwanted pregnancies and drives poor women to seek illegal and unsafe abortions which run up to about 500,000 a year, 79,000 of which are hospitalized for complications and about 800 die.

The CBCP counters by saying the pro-choice supporters’ position isn’t morally sound. Catholic bishops reject the legislative measure as anti-family and anti-life. Airing their position, Msgr. Oscar Cruz, Archbishop of Ligayen-Dagupan asserts artificial contraception is a pathway towards “killing the unborn” and are “instruments that favor abortion.” Brian Clowes, research manager for Human Life International agrees, saying that RHB had traces of “influence” from England and the United States, linking the issue with foreign intervention.

Yet Filipinos expect the government to uphold their rights independently from the Church. RHB proponents like Reps. Edcel Lagman (Albay,), Mark Leandro Mendoza (Batangas,) Janette Garin (Iloilo,) and mayors Sherwin Gatchalian (Valenzuela) and Tomas Osmena (Cebu) want the RCC to reconsider its Vatican-backed anti-contraceptive stance. Because the Church is unlikely to change its position, they go ahead working for the bill’s passage which they believe will benefit the country.

Pia Cayetano, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demographics, said she welcomes the views of all sectors on the controversial issue, but she can’t give weight on views solely from one religious doctrine. Social Welfare Secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral who supports artificial contraception debates the issue with Environmental Sec. Lito Atienza, instrumental in foiling birth control from the services offered by the government.

Too many babies, worsening poverty, and pervasive hunger are real problems that can’t be ignored. Sooner or later, Filipinos have to make a choice on an issue whose decision is long overdue. The bill proposes the state to launch a nationwide information campaign on all methods of family planning and then have the people decide which method to use. The Church calls for discipline in marital bed, responsible parenthood, and natural family planning. Many Catholics however dodge the controversy by quietly deciding for themselves. Not all of them however follow the teachings of the Church. =0=

Recurrent Shipwrecks And The Horrific Maritime Record in the Philippines

June 24, 2008

The reason why there is the repeat of negligence among these shipping lines is because the law takes such a long time. We need to execute a swift prosecution and conviction of the guilty on this case,” -Sen. Francis Pangilinan. Malaya (06.25/07, Montemayor, J.)

Sulpicio Lines—that’s the company! The recurrent shipwrecks befalling this shipping outfit are disgusting entries in the bloody maritime record of the Philippines. The inter-island company has the hideous distinction of being involved in several of the world’s unforgettable ship mishaps, one of them, the history’s worst sea disaster which claimed the lives of innocents, larger in number than those who perished in 911.

Princess of the Stars keeled at the height of Typhoon Frank (see pictures by Reuters.) With shifting inaccurate numbers of passengers which cast doubt on the veracity of the manifest, the ill-fated ship was whacked and swallowed by the churning waves—bigger and more fearsome than the rugged tall mountains nearby. Disaster-prone Philippines had been in a state of temporary shock, begging for international aid.

Pray for those who died. They need justice. Think of the victims’ families who shed tears, their eyes red in seething anger. In grief, they know their poor loved ones are gone, never to set foot on dry land again. Perhaps they’ll not get the justice they deserved. Think of the good works the hapless 800+ victims could have contributed in their lifetime if they weren’t cut silent by negligence, bad luck, or act of God.

MV Princess of the Stars, sank during Typhoon Frank, 800 plus missing or lost, June 22, 2008
MV Dona Marilyn, sank during Typhoon Unsang, Oct 24, 1988, 250 lives lost
MV Princess of the Orient, sank during Typhoon Guding, Sept 18, 1988, 150 lives lost
MV Dona Paz, sank after a collision with tanker Vector, Dec 20, 1987, 4000+ died (worst maritime disaster in history)

How can we rest our thoughts with this? We have ample blame to spread around. The “royal” liner sank with several capsized smaller boats at the height of the storm. Littered bloated bodies in the sea soon commingled after Typhoon Frank left, making it hard to know from which sunken ferry they came from. Does God bear grudge on our people?

Not learning its lessons, Sulpicio Lines pulled through (with least accountability) in the past. The rulings on earlier shipwrecks placed little blame on this company whose victims, too poor to wage protracted legal battles, hungered for justice.

Since the storm’s path could be ascertained in real time, its progress could be accurately charted. There should have been ample wiggle room to successfully escape the typhoon if caution was observed.

Negligence and incompetence were more likely when too frequent mishaps recurred in the hands of the same people—the ship’s crew and the Coast Guard. Whether Sulpicio Lines and the Coast Guard took safety and human life for granted was something the whole nation deserved to know.

The United States donated $100,000 to the ferry disaster fund. The French government also offered help. In appeals so familiar, the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP,) Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo and the swanky troop of 59 senators who joined her to the White House, begged for more generous donations.

Who will ascertain that these dole-outs will go to the right beneficiaries? How much will the ferry company spend as aid and compensation? With taxpayer’s money, how much will the government spend to put this avoidable tragedy far in the backstage— so that the next national disaster in the offing can catch our attention? =0=