Monday, December 17, 2012


I vote “YES” to enacting the RH bill into law. It’s an affirmation of our basic human rights, especially the rights of women, and the right to reproductive health.

At the moment, we have to respond to the challenges that threaten our country:

1,000 women continue to die yearly during pregnancy and childbirth;
about 150,000 children are born from teenage mothers every year;
women who cannot support their children put them into orphanages or labor work;
we have almost 2 million orphans from 0 to 17 years of age, and about 4 million child laborers ages 5 to 17;
about 9,000 Filipinos are afflicted with HIV/AIDS;
and, at 100 million, we’re the 12th most populous country in the world.

These numbers will continue to rise, if not for the enactment of the RH bill. The RH bill’s provisions on family planning information and services, emergency obstetric care, and reproductive health education intend to respond to these challenges.

We have to consider that maternal deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth are unique to women alone. Without family planning, women will continue to bear children. As they do so, they continue to be exposed to the risk of life-threatening complications. And so, they will need to have access to obstetric services. Failure to provide such services Mr. President, constitutes discrimination against women, because it is only women who face this risk of dying, once pregnant.

On top of these, the United Nations General Assembly ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1979 to address these very issues. The CEDAW was agreed upon by 177 states, including the Philippines. CEDAW mandates that states should provide services that prevent maternal deaths and provide family planning information and services, among others. It has been more than 30 years since that agreement, and yet we haven’t done anything about these issues.

Today I do not just speak as a long-time advocate of public health legislation, and the principal author of PHILHEALTH Law and the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers. Today I speak as both a lawyer and a lawmaker. 

I acknowledge the grave concerns of my fellow Roman Catholics and our leaders in the clergy. I do not see anything in the RH law that forget the moral dimensions of sexual relations, which undermine the Filipino family.

In the first place, the RH bill does not legalize abortion. Second, unwanted pregnancies are the leading cause of half a million abortions yearly. Third, the RH bill does not impose any family planning method, but leaves the Filipino couple free to choose whichever method they want. Finally, to withdraw from enacting the RH bill because one church opposes it is inconsistent with our constitution of the separation of the church and state. We have to consider that not all Filipinos are Catholics. While Catholics comprise 70 percent of our population, we also have Muslims, Protestants, Buddhists, non-believers, and others. Regardless of religion, it is the right of the state to enact the bill for the best interest of our nation, especially for our mothers, our wives, and our sisters and daughters.

Mr. President, today I vote as a Filipino, a lawyer, a public health advocate, a husband, father, and grandfather. I vote YES to the RH bill. May God bless our people.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Suspected NPA rebs burn heavy equipment in NE

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, December 17, 2012-Four heavily armed suspected New People’s army rebels stormed the compound of a construction company in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija and burned heavy equipment Saturday night allegedly over “broken promises” of revolutionary taxes.

          Senior Superintendent Walter Castillejos, provincial police director, said the rebels, including an amazon, entered the premises of the field office of the Northern Builders Co. at Sitio Maligaya, Barangay Putlan, Carranglan at around 8:30 pm Saturday and accosted timekeeper Willy Layug.

          The unidentified woman rebel then asked Layug what happened to an earlier letter given by their group to the firm’s engineer Riza Organista.

          When Layug could not provide an answer, the woman got angry and told Layug “Ang Northern Builders ay hindi tumutupad sa usapan (Northern Builders does not honor an agreement).”

Afterwards, the woman and her companions poured gasoline on the firm’s two transit mixers and set them on fire which lasted for 10 minutes.  
          The rebels then walked away casually. (Manny Galvez)

Fugitive ex-Ecija mayor hiding in Metro condo?

GAPAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, December 17, 2012-A former three-term mayor of this city who has gone into hiding since last February after a warrant for his arrest was issued by a Manila court  in connection with the raid of a cockpit arena here six years ago, may be somewhere in the metropolitan area.

          This was disclosed by the family of Cristina Pascual whose sons Erickson and Ebertson were killed in the cockpit attack.

          Emerson Pascual, brother of the two Pascuals, told reporters that they have received information that former mayor Ernesto Natividad, the alleged brains in the killing of Erickson and Ebertson, is hiding at an undisclosed condominium in the metropolis.

          “He’s just in Manila based on a highly reliable information we received,” Emerson said of the fugitive ex-mayor.

          Natividad, his late brother Romeo, Ricardo Peralta  and 16 others were placed on a hold-departure order by the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) last February on orders of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 8 Judge Felixberto Olalia Jr.

          The Pascual family has raised a P1 million reward each for the arrest of ex-mayor Natividad and Peralta.  

          Natividad was mayor of this city for three terms from 2001 to 2010. In May 2010, he fielded his wife Baby to succeed him but she lost to his former ally, incumbent Mayor Christian Tinio by landslide.  

          Others in the HDO were civilians Rommel Baying, Jenny Canlas, Jonathan Cartujano, Dalia Cruz, Romeo Dacles, Jovert Dumlao, Frangilico Gerona, Randy Gerona, Elly Macariola,Dennis Matias, Crisanto Mateo, Sienna Quiambao, Cristina Gerardo Peratel, Lloyd Perez, Randy Puno and Lorenzo Rueda.

          Romeo died while in hiding while Dacles was caught in Muntinlupa two months ago.

          Last January 25, the court issued a warrant for the arrest of Natividad and the others in connection with the murder cases filed against them over the killing of the Pascual brothers inside the Gapan cockpit arena owned by the Pascuals in 2006. The siblings are scions of Rodrigo “Boy” Pascual, a bitter political rival of Natividad.

The elder Pascual challenged Natividad but lost in the 2007 polls. One of Natividad’s daughters is challenging the reelection bid of reelectionist Mayor Tinio in the 2013 polls. 

The Department of Justice initially ordered the filing of murder charges against the suspects in 2009 and forwarded these to the Office of the Ombudsman for review.

On February 10, 2009, the Office of the Ombudsman affirmed the DOJ ruling. But when the two Natividads and Peralta filed a motion for reconsideration, then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez reversed her ruling on April 8,2009, excluding the three from the charge sheet.

Mrs. Pascual appealed the Ombudsman ruling.  

On November 25, 2011, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found probable cause and ordered the filing of murder charges against the two Natividads and Peralta, in effect reversing a 2009 ruling of her predecessor Gutierrez and granting the  motion for reconsideration of  Mrs. Pascual.

          The latest Ombudsman ruling said the DOJ ruling should have been affirmed outright because the three filed their motions for reconsideration way too late, thus rendering as final and executory the Ombudsman’s February 10 ruling affirming the DOJ’s findings.

          The murder cases were eventually transferred to the sala of Manila RTC Branch 10 Judge Virgilio Alameda who last September 17 also found probable cause against Natividad and Peralta based on the records of the preliminary investigation and affirmed the findings of both the Office of the Ombudsman and the DOJ. (Manny Galvez)  

Legarda Expresses Concern Over Lack of Consensus in Doha Climate Talks

MANILA, December 17, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda expressed deep concern over the lack of concrete result in the 18th Session of the Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar as some industrialized countries refused to participate to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that legally binds developed nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are saddened by the fact that many developed nations were reluctant to deeply cut their greenhouse gas emissions and set new aid targets in light of their own financial difficulties, even as global temperature rises. The World Bank has already warned that we are nearing a crisis—that of a 4 Degrees Celsius global temperature—which if not responded to proactively, will continue to endanger the survival of this and the next generations,” she said.

Legarda, the UN Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, noted that the Doha Climate Talks, which was held from November 26 to December 8, 2012, left many disappointed because of the lack of commitment to address the threats of climate change even as a lot of nations, even those who refuse to commit to the climate agreements, are already experiencing the threats of extreme weather events.

“We have just recently experienced the results of the international community's continued lack of meaningful action to mitigate the impacts of climate change.  Nearly a thousand lives have been lost, and hundreds are missing.  Industrialized countries, like the United States, have had their share of losses resulting from climate-induced disasters.  And yet, when countries are given a chance to collectively agree on measures to correct the situation, nothing is done,” Legarda said.

“No nation is safe from climate change unless we do something now. The feared 4-degree Celsius rise in global temperature is likely to happen if nations do not commit to meaningful reduction levels of greenhouse gas emissions,” Legarda stressed.

The Senator cited the World Bank report in giving a fair warning that a 4-degree Celsius global temperature will cause sea level rise by up to 3 feet. It would also cause flooding in many coastal cities; dry regions are expected to become drier while wet regions will be wetter; there will be extreme heat waves, water scarcity, stronger tropical cyclones, and loss of biodiversity.

If global mean temperatures exceed 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, 30% of all species will face high risk of extinction. Moreover, a 2 to 4-degree Celsius rise in global temperature will also result in a 3% decline in global GDP.

“Even as the result of the Doha Climate Talks is far from being encouraging, there is no reason to stop or waver. We are still hopeful that we can gain, even outside of these conferences, the needed commitment to deep cuts in emissions and support for poor countries in coping with the impacts of climate change,” Legarda concluded.


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?