Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hundreds more learn of RH bill's failure as proposed solution

MANILA, August 31, 2011―As news reports on inconsistencies in statistical numbers and in the agenda of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill and its proponents continue to come out, hundreds of parishioners in Parañaque City got the lowdown on the controversial bill through informative talks delivered by members of Filipinos for Life (F4L).
Following a multi-media presentation on pro-life issues, Anthony James Perez, Anna Cosio and Atty. Marwil Llasos tackled different aspects of House Bill 4244 at an afternoon activity organized by Mary, Mother of Good Counsel Parish and attended by some 300 parishioners, most of them students.
Perez, F4L founder, discussed the reasons for the group’s opposition to the bill, explaining why the legislative measure was not the solution to the country’s problems.
Citing incontestable statistics, Perez debunked the overpopulation myth on which population control advocates have based their claims.
Nurse instructor Cosio tackled the medical and health-related issues surrounding the bill. Armed with science-based research and findings, she proved that human life starts at fertilization–or the meeting of the egg and sperm cells.
As part of the RH bill is the taxpayer-funded procurement and distribution of artificial contraceptives, Cosio also went into a discussion of the harmful–and sometimes fatal–effects of birth control drugs and devices on women.
Tackling the moral, constitutional and legal aspects was Llasos, who declared that the bill was anti-God, anti-human and anti-Filipino. Included in the lawyer’s presentation were explanations as to the constitutional infirmities of portions of the bill.
As the talks concluded, a woman among the participants brought up the situation of an unmarried friend who had considered getting rid of her unborn baby, given that the child’s father refused to acknowledge his responsibility to the mother and child.
Llasos’ advice to the woman was to tell her friend to inform her parents about the situation. Abortion is not an option, he added, and there are government, private and religious institutions that can help women in such situations.
The lawyer also offered F4L’s help in facilitating adoption placement for the baby.
Meanwhile, members of the Speakers’ Bureau of the Vicariate of Real Infanta and General Nakar, Prelature of Infanta, Quezon province boosted their understanding of the issues pertaining to the culture of life through a recent seminar about the RH bill.
As part of the family and life ministry’s series of trainors’ training seminars, Buhay Partylist pro-life advocacy staff Jose Descallar delivered a day-long talk on issues pertaining to the legislative measure to 45 participants–including school principals, teachers and city councilors–upon the invitation of the prelature’s Vicar-General Fr. Mario Establecida.
According to Descallar, the open forum was quite interesting due to questions about the “fine-tuned” version of the bill, supposedly an initiative of Malacañang.
“Hindi pa din okey sa inyo ‘yung amendments na ginagawa dun sa bill?” queried one of the participants.
Descallar explained that such amendments changed nothing because “it’s the bill’s framework that’s the problem. Even if you amend it and all that’s left are four sections–declaration of policy, guiding principles, appropriations, and the penal provisions–hindi pa din okey ‘yan. It is still within the same framework.”
H.B. 4244, authored by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, continues to face a growing opposition due to its mandate of taxpayer-funded procurement and distribution of a “full range” of birth control drugs and devices including abortifacients, six-year sex education program from Grade 5 to 4th year high school in all schools as well as among out-of-school youth, provision of birth control drugs, devices and services by employers to their employees, and punitive measures for those who speak out against the bill. (CBCP for Life)

13 families rescued by army as typhoon ‘Mina’ whipped Abra

BANGUED, Abra, August 31, 2011-At least thirteen families who were stranded in the flooded barangays of Cabuloan and Sta Rosa were rescued by the troops of 503rd Infantry (Justice and Peace) Brigade and 41st Infantry (Partner for Peace) Battalion, Philippine Army as tropical storm ‘Mina’ whipped here Sunday night.

Northern Luzon Command spokesperson Captain Jovily Carmel Cabading said that the joint 503rd Infantry Brigade, 41st Infantry Battalion, Provincial Joint Peace and Security Council (JPSCC) with  the Abra police who were tasked to conduct series of checkpoints inside the town of Bangued versus gun for hire personalities and suspected private armed groups (PAGS) have changed their mandates into Disaster Rescue and Relief Operations (DRRO) to save lives and properties of villagers at the said barangays.

“Soldiers onboard with two M35 trucks and two KM450 military vehicles proceeded to the flooded communities together with volunteers from the Philippine National Red Cross to inspect flooded houses and look for stranded persons,” Cabading said, saying that the villagers were convinced to leave their houses while the water was not yet deep.

In Barangay Cabuloan, two families were carried by soldiers mostly old women to safer place and to evacuation centers, while in Santa Rosa, eleven families were evacuated.

“They were evacuated to the Provincial Capitol while others were brought at safe houses of their relatives in the adjacent barangays, particularly at Zone III of said town,” Cabading stated.

Army 503rd Brigade chief Col Eliseo Posadas said that the soldiers are always ready to help civilian populace when need arises as their mandated tasks call for it, assuring that all of his troops are well equipped and prepared in disaster response.

Municipality of Bangued is one of the towns that suffered considerable damage to properties from the wrath by the storm, especially agricultural crops due to the proximity of farmlands along Abra river.

“Soldiers are also involved in the search and rescue of missing persons who were reportedly drowned due to heavy current in Abra river. The dead bodies of the missing were recovered expeditiously,” Posadas said. (Jason de Asis)

Special Report: New Zealanders urge P-Noy to end disappearances in PHl

MANILA, August 30, 2011—In solidarity with Filipinos, the people of New Zealand urged President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to help ease the pain and agony of the families and friends of the disappeared by surfacing them; or if quite impossible, make the people responsible in enforced disappearances and abductions in the Philippines accountable.
The call was made by a New Zealand human rights watchdog in commemoration of the International Day of the Disappeared.
Murray Hurton, the general secretary of the human rights watchdog, Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) pleaded to the Philippine government to use its political will to stop all atrocities and end the culture of impunity, and let the disappeared and illegally detained safely return to their families' embrace.
Dismayed over GPH-NDFP peace talks
The PSNA, together with Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS) and the Wellington Kiwi-Pinoy (WKP) had expressed their dismay over the state of the peace talks between the Reds and the Philippine Government (GPH), which is, again, in danger of deadlock due to allegations of gross disrespect of the military forces to human rights and the statements of GPH chief negotiator, Atty. Alexander Padilla on Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), which he says, "inoperative."
The JASIG, which was signed by the NDFP and GPH in 1995, virtually protects the members and consultants of the NDFP from arrests and detention.
"With the gross record of globally-condemned human rights violations under your predecessor Mrs Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, hopes for justice and change were raised when you assumed the presidency in June 2010. At the series of public meetings around New Zealand in October-November 2010 where Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Negotiating Panel spoke on the prospects for peace in the Philippines, New Zealanders were keen to hear whether the perpetrators of the Ampatuan massacre have been brought to justice and whether the killings of journalists and activists under your presidency.
"[Yet] [w]e find it alarming that in addition to the thousands of unresolved cases under Arroyo, there are now 48 cases of extra-judicial killings, 5 enforced disappearances and 336 political prisoners remain in detention under your administration. Equally alarming is the fact that many peasant and trade union activists, social justice and human rights advocates including church workers and at least one labor rights lawyer are again threatened with arrest on trumped up charges filed at the time of Arroyo and now revived under your watch. We are also aware that NDFP personnel who played significant roles in the peace process are among the hundreds who have become victims of enforced disappearances and illegal detentions," reads the open letter signed by Hurton for PSNA, Daphna Whitmore for the APS, and Rod Prosser for the KWP, dated August 30, 2011.
‘Arbitrary’ arrests continue
Earlier, the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and other militant youth groups had sounded the alarm over the arrest of three youth leaders in Cebu and some members of the local peasant group there.
In a statement issued by the LFS national headquarters in the social networking site, Facebook (FB), it says that Melanie Montano, a member of the League of Filipino Students UP Cebu chapter; Remy Jade Manzon, a member of Kabataang Artista para sa Sambayanan (Karatula)-UP Cebu chapter, and Januelle Rontos of the Nagkakaisang Kusog ng mga Estudyante, a political party in UP Cebu were arrested while elements of the Philippine National Police violently dispersed a protest camp of peasants in Sitio Camarin, Brgy Bonbon, Aloguinsan, Cebu as they were doing a "basic mass integration" in the area. The incident happened around 5:30 in the morning yesterday (August 29).
The arrest, said the LFS, was an overkill since 300 PNP personnel were deployed to disperse the peasants' protest camp, erected in the disputed 168-hectare land of the Aboitizes, known shipping magnate in the country.
"The LFS is fuming over this recent blatant violation of the people’s human right, [which is] another manifestation of whose interest [that this] government is serving. The peasants of Sitio Camarin have all the right to defend their land, more so, [to] continue till it, but elements of... the Philippine National Police became the principal ushers of the ruling few in stepping on the right of the peasants to land and their right to peaceably assemble for redress of grievances," the LFS statement read.
Church peoples saddened over postponement of GPH-NDFP talks
Even Church peoples have sounded the alarm over the indefinite postponement of the peace talks between the State and the communist insurgents, represented by the NDFP.
In the statement issued on August 28 by the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), the largest and widest ecumenical formation of church leaders pushing for just and lasting peace in the Philippines, Kalookan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., and Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdez had expressed their fears that the peace talks, would once again, be derailed because of the indefinite postponement of the GPH-NDFP meeting in Oslo, Norway. Iñiguez, Ledesma and Ruiz-Duremdez serve as head of the secretariat and co-chairpersons of the PEPP, respectively.
"After the spark of hope that was brought about by the GPH-NDFP formal peace talks last February, which produced the February 21, 2011 Oslo Joint Statement, the recent pronouncements to the media from both GPH Peace Panel Chair Atty. Alex Padilla and NDFP Peace Panel Spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili, bodes for another postponement of the formal talks. The talks were postponed already last June and we feel that another postponement may truly derail the peace negotiations," reads the PEPP statement entitled "Stay on Course, Pursue Formal Peace Talks".
The PEPP says that the bone of contention, which started the exchange of words between the leaders of two panels, was the issue of the release of NDFP consultants, which the latter claims are covered by the JASIG.
"The NDFP called for a postponement of the talks last June to give time for the GPH to release the consultants. While the GPH already released four consultants, the NDFP is demanding that GPH honor the February 21 Joint Statement by releasing all consultants covered by the JASIG. The GPH recently stated that until the reciprocal working committees on CASER shall have completed the common tentative agreement on social and economic reforms, the talks will be postponed indefinitely and that there will be no formal talks on issues concerning the JASIG. This in turn was seen by the NDFP as a move to scuttle the negotiations," read the PEPP statement.
"In this light, we would like to appeal to both panels to iron out their differences and proceed with the formal peace talks. We believe that it is better to engage in principled debate over the negotiating table rather than other venues. The PEPP also encourages both sides to abide by their own reaffirmation of the validity and binding effect of all previous bilateral agreements as stated in the February Joint Statement. This includes the JASIG. We have previously stated that both parties “... follow the spirit of the JASIG as it is a crucial issue around the formal peace talks” and that “... its faithful implementation enables the two parties to resume the negotiations in earnest” (“Resolve the Issue on JASIG, Resume the Formal Peace Talks” PEPP Statement, June 8, 2011)," the PEPP statement continued.
It also furthers that one of the big developments on the talks last February was the timetable for the negotiation.
"For advocates, the schedules indicated in the timetable can be guideposts to peace. We call on both panels to work hard in order to meet the proposed schedules. If both sides abide by this, and try to build bridges instead of hurdles, and we reiterate this — through principled negotiations — our country will enjoy what the Psalmist promised, “a future awaits those who seek peace” (Psalms 37:37)," the PEPP statement ends.
Peace advocates remove profile photos on FB for the disappeared
Meanwhile, the Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace (EMJP) and other members of the "netizens" had their share of the grief and longing of the families of the forcibly disappeared by making their faces at Facebook literally "disappear."
The taking down of profile pictures in FB as a symbol of solidarity for the family and friends of the Desaparecidos (Spanish term for the disappeared) had started with the letter of appeal from the human rights advocates that reads:
"Dear friends,
"In solidarity with the friends & family of the missing who continue to seek justice, & in remembrance of the thousands of desaparecidos in the Philippines & around the world, we are requesting that you take down your profile picture on August 30, Tuesday.
"August 30 is the International Day of the Disappeared. Please pass to those who are supportive of this cause."
Catherine Bantoy, a graduate student from University of the Philippines-Diliman and currently working as a guess coordinator in one of the big channels in the Philippines, says she needed not to think twice in removing her photo in FB.
"I have removed it (my photo) to show support to the family and also to stir awareness to FB friends who didn't know [about] the issue," she said in an email interview.
For Angelica Carballo of the Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project (PPTRP), she did remove her photo in FB for she knows that "if these atrocities don't stop, one day, I might become a victim, my child can be a victim, my sister, brother, parents, can be victims. And as a mother, I feel for the mothers of the disappeared who, until now, are searching for their children. Nothing can be more painful than to wait for nothing today or tomorrow." (Noel Sales Barcelona)


Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this blog do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of "THE CATHOLIC MEDIA NETWORK NEWS ONLINE".

Should the Philippine government legalize same-sex marriage?