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Volume 4 Issue 8 First in Time, First in Right September 2012
In Memoriam: Sr. Pilar VerL. Verzosa, RGS, 1944—2012
In death, bigger than life
P a g e 2 H e a d s U p E D I T O R I A L
All reproductive intervention leads to Ideology of Androgyny
It could be as simple and seemingly harmless lyrics of a song by an alternative rock group called Garbage debuting August 2001 through Steve Lamacq at BBC Radio1. “...everybody wants to love someone
Out of the tree go pick a plum Why can't we all just get along? Boys in the girl's room Girls in the men's room You free your mind in your androgyny” “I'm beautiful in my way 'Cause God makes no mistakes I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way” “No matter gay, straight or bi Lesbian, transgendered life I'm on the right track, baby I was born to survive”
You may even hear it packaged by Lady Gaga as an expression of pluralism flowing out of God’s creativity,
but when a sweeping generalization follows,
the attempt of redefining the original intention of the first chapters of the book of Genesis, immediately comes to fore, in a move never in isolation but modernism actively viewing all things from man’s perspective alone. Hear this reverberate in American politics, with Obama’s latest advertising to offset his crumbling votes among US Catholics:
“As America’s religious diversity grows, we have the chance to reaffirm the pluralism that has defined us as a nation. A pluralism that is expansive enough to protect the rights of all to speak their minds and to follow their conscience.”
The liberals and homosexualists have in the words of Obama “expanded” conscience, in the same manner this issue discusses the concept of “constitutional pluralism” being peddled by Joaquin Bernas, a Jesuit priest to the Filipinos, a matter extensively discussed in this issue. See how dangerous this way of thinking is when carelessly allowed to enter mainstream debate. In the words of blogger Thomas Gramstad:“One of the biggest and most prevalent mistakes in Western Culture is the idea that there exist two separate and ‘opposite’ genders, masculinity and femininity. This gender dualism is not only false and without any factual or scientific support, but also very harmful.” So how does he intend to “correct” this “error:” “One strategy to overcome this wrongness is the idea of androgyny, by which masculinity and femininity are not conceived as opposite ends of one spectrum, but as two separate spectrums: you can be or have both at once (or neither), not only the one or the other. Thus, you can combine the various components of masculinity and femininity in any number of ways, according to your individual preferences, needs and nature.” Mind you, the deception does not intend to
Bill Clinton and Barack Obama share an androgynous moment during the recent Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Sr. Pilar passes on at the eve of an RH vote seemingly favoring her
stop at androgyny: “The point must be made that Verzosa would have turned 68 on Sept 24. She died at 4:44 a.m. from herniation syndrome secondary to cerebral bleeding at the DLSU Medical Center, according to Manila Archdiocese communications director Peachy Yamsuan.Her remains were cremated and brought to the Good Shepherd Convent chapel at 1043 Aurora Blvd. in Quezon City Sunday afternoon, said Yamsuan. Interment has been scheduled for September 12 after the 3 p.m. Mass. The pro-life movement leader was giving a talk on Thursday when she collapsed. She was rushed to the university’s hospital, where she slipped into a coma and was placed on a respirator. Verzosa was known to have started the pro-life movement in the country after the visit of the late Fr. Paul Marx, founder of Human Life International, in 1974, according to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. Marx gave a seminar on the issues of abortion, which was legalized in the United States in 1973 following the landmark Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision, which deemed abortion legal and a fundamental right under the US Constitution. The decision also overturned a Texas interpretation of a law considering abortion a crime. The nun, then 28, was inspired by Marx’s call, urging Filipinos to hold on to their life-affirming values. She then started the pro-life movement and became one of the staunchest advocates of life and family in the crusade. She was also at the frontlines of the campaign against the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill now pending in Congress. The latest count of the Catholic Bishops Conference on those who will vote against the RH bill in the lower house is 144, enough to defeat the measure. The prospect of it passing is even bleaker in the Senate.#
Sr. Mary Pilar Verzosa, founder of Pro-Life Philippines, died early Sunday morning, three days after suffering from a brain aneurysm while giving a seminar to medical and nursing students at De La Salle University-Dasmariñas in Cavite province.
keeping the masculine and the feminine apart and separate is what is difficult and unnatural, while keeping them together is simple and natural. We must thus move beyond androgyny, in order to overcome the cultural and social schizophrenia of gender dualism.” In order to achieve this, Gramstad prescribes, “Basically, the gender dichotomy must be healed and sealed: people must be free to develop their own unique identity. In philosophy, the method, or method research orientation most often and most efficiently used to overcome ("transcend") dualism is dialectics.” Paraphrasing Chris Sciabarra’s definition, Gramstad offers: “dialectics is a way to consider the issue in question both structurally and dynamically, as a whole, but changing and developing system, a way of exploring the developments and shifting relationships of a great many interacting factors, never losing track of the whole context of the system - always considering the full context, both analyzing the parts themselves and considering their relative place to each other and within the totality.” Androgyny carries the discussion to a 180 degrees but since this created a thesis (creation) and anti-thesis (androgyny) situation, the modernists suggests to push it further 360 degrees through gender dialectics. The move towards androgyny started in UK in 1930 with the acceptance by the Anglican Church of contraception in its Lambeth Conference. World War II delayed a bit its coming to the US - the post-war generation saw the baby boomers. But it anyhow got there in the 60s, paving the way for abortion-on-demand in the 70s. In 2003, America legalized sodomy and now same-sex marriage is fast being legalized on a state-to-state level. Today, Europe and Japan are experiencing a demographic winter crippling its economy because of unmitigated contraception with its birth rate shrinking to the level at which its population can no longer replicate itself. The reproductive health polemics in the Philippines began a decade ago. If the RH bill passes, then androgyny has landed a foot in our door. #
From the perspective of natural law
by Most Rev. Gabriel V. Reyes, D.D.
Bishop of Antipolo and Chair, CBCP Commission on Family and Life
Bp Reyes defends the Catholic teaching in the light of the Reproductive Health bill
One of the main reasons, if not the main reason, why the Catholic Church is against the House Bill 4244 (Reproductive Health Bill or Responsible Parenthood Bill) is that the bill directs the government to promote contraception and to give free contraceptives to people. According to Father Bernas, SJ (Sounding Board, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 23, 2011), this opposition of the Church is against religious freedom. He says that, because of religious freedom, “the state should not prevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their beliefs nor may churchmen compel President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious belief.” First of all, by opposing the RH Bill, the Catholic Church is not moving for the ban of contraceptives (the non-abortifacient ones), although she would be happy if these contraceptives were banned. At present, in the Philippines, anyone can buy contraceptives from drugstores and even from some “convenience stores”. What the Church is against, I repeat, is that government should promote contraception and provide free contraceptives to people. Therefore it is wrong to say that the Church wants the government to “prevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their religious belief” and that the Catholic churchmen are compelling “President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious beliefs.” What the church does is to try to convince President Aquino and our senators and congressmen not to enact a law that directs the government to promote contraception and provide free contraceptives to people. It is also good to point out that the church teaching regarding contraceptives is not based on Faith or revelation, although it is confirmed by our Faith. This church teaching is based on natural law, which we know through natural reason. By studying through correct reasoning the nature of the human person, we arrive at this teaching regarding contraception. All human beings, Catholic or not, are obliged to act according to right reason. By the efforts of the Church to go against the RH Bill, the Church is not imposing her religious beliefs on others. She is trying to stop a bill which is against natural law, a law which all human beings, Catholic or not, should follow. The RH Bill, judged from the principles of natural law, is against the good of the human person and the common good. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its “Doctrinal Note regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life” tells us that all citizens, including Catholics, have the right “to base their contribution to society and political life – through the legitimate means available to everyone in a democracy – on their particular understanding of the human person and the common good.” In a democracy, any group of citizens has the right to campaign and lobby so that what they consider to be good for the country are enacted into law and what they deem to be harmful for the country are not enacted into law. Father Bernas says further in his column that we live in a pluralist society. This is true and, therefore, we should respect the beliefs and opinions of others. But there is a limit to this pluralism. We cannot accept an “ethical pluralism which ignores the principles of natural ethics and yield to ephemeral cultural and moral trends, as if every outlook on life were of equal value.” (Doctrinal Note on the Participation of Catholics in Political Life) Father Bernas also quotes the “Compendium on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church: “Because of its historical and cultural ties to a nation, a religious community might be given special recognition on the part of the State. Such recognition must in no way create discrimination within the civil or social order for other religious groups” and “Those responsible for government are required to interpret the common good of their country not only according to the guidelines of the majority but also according to the effective good of all the members of the community, including the minority.” The Church, by opposing the HB 4244, is “interpreting the common good of the country not only according to the guidelines of the majority but
From the perspective of secular pluralism
By Fr. Joaquin Bernas SJ
Philippines Daily Inquirer, September 10, 2012 Sounding Board: Conversing with a Bishop
Fr Bernas defends the Reproductive Health bill in the light of all “ethics”
A couple of days ago, Bishop Gabriel Reyes of the Diocese of Antipolo, writing under the stationery of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, published an ad in the Inquirer and Philippine Star, expressing his disagreement with the views of an unnamed columnist on the merits and demerits of the Reproductive Health bill. The regular readers of my columns in the Inquirer immediately recognized that the bishop was referring to me. I too recognized it immediately as referring to me. Not that I object to the reference or to being quoted. In fact I welcome the bishop’s ad and take it as an invitation to dialogue. Dialogue among Christians, high and low, is highly encouraged by the Church today. “In the modern world, the scandal is not that Vatican officials would engage scientists who disagree with church teaching, but rather that such engagement is regarded as taboo.” The bishop takes exception to my statement that “the state should not prevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their religious beliefs nor may churchmen compel President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious beliefs.” The bishop says that he also according to the effective good of all the members of the community, including the minority.” In opposing the bill the Church is interpreting the common good according to the guidelines of natural law, which is valid for all, the minority as well as the majority. Benedict XVI says that natural law must be the foundation of democracy, so that those in power are not given the chance to determine what is good or evil [Zenit.org. Vatican City, Oct. 5, 2007]. Regarding freedom, Benedict XVI said in his Address to the International Congress on Natural Law: “…yet taking into account that human freedom is always a freedom shared with others, it is clear that the harmony of freedom can be found only in what is common to all: the truth of the human being, the fundamental message of being itself, exactly the lex naturalis.” “would be happy if the (non-abortifacient contraceptives) were banned” but that the Church is only against the state promoting contraceptives and providing free contraceptives to people. From the bishop’s ad, I gather three points for dialogue. First, the bishop says that now “anyone can buy contraceptives from drugstores or even from ‘convenience stores’.” Second, (but this is implicit) the state should not use public money to make contraceptives freely available. Third, the Church teaching on contraception is based not only on Faith or revelation but also on natural law. Let’s converse about these. First, on easy availability of contraceptives in drugstores. The clear implication is that the world is free and anyone can buy these. This is simply not true. Only those who have the money can buy them. Legislators, however, are thinking of the vast majority of poor people who need help to be able to practice responsible parenthood. It is good to remember that responsible parenthood means the exercise of freedom. The exercise of freedom is only possible if one has the capacity to choose. A person in shackles is not free to move even if he wants to. The government is thinking of the vast majority of poor and uninstructed people who do not know what the choices are or who cannot afford to make their free choice and are sometimes driven to abortion. What the government hopes to do is not to compel them to use contraceptives but to capacitate them to make their free choice and perhaps even save them from abortion. This brings me to what I call the bishop’s second point. I say that the government can only capacitate the poor to make their choice by using public money. Some would claim that the use of public money or tax money for purposes contrary to some religious beliefs is an illicit use of tax money. The bishop does not say this in his ad, but it is implicit in his desire that the government should not distribute free contraceptives. Can tax money be used for this purpose? One must distinguish between tax money and donated money. The use of donated money is limited by intentio dantis or the intention of the donor. Tax money, on the other hand, can be used for any
Defrocking of a priest by his own admission vs a nun’s saintly devotion up to her natural death... he Majority
The reason why we have bishops in the Catholic Church is precisely because we have priests like Joaquin Bernas. Do not let the cassock fool you, as wolves do come in sheep’s clothing. Engaging in verbal engineering, for which secular humanists and liberal theologians are known for, the Jesuit priest, by his own admission, has placed priority on man’s machinations over the law of nature. This is jingoism in its ugliest form—joggling of words and their moral context until they lose their original meanings. While pluralism is indeed included in natural law, natural law does not necessarily accepts its expansions by man. Father Bernas has ventured too far into the secular jungle imbibing humanistic departures that he cannot locate and find himself back into the discipline of scholastic
legitimate public purpose authorized by Congress. Tax money has no religious face. Whether or not its use is licit can ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. But—and this is the bishop’s third point—natural law prohibits contraception and natural law binds everyone because “[b]y studying through correct reasoning the nature of the human person, we arrive at this teaching regarding contraception.” One might flippantly answer by asking whose correct reasoning are we talking about? Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Grisez, Chappell, Finnis, etc.? But the statement deserves more than just a flippant answer. And it is not flippant to say that many serious thinkers have also studied the human person and have not arrived at the conclusion that contraception is evil. Serious thinkers of other religions have not arrived at such conclusion and for that reason the various religions in the Philippines are not of one mind on the subject. This necessarily brings us to the matter of free exercise of religion and pluralism, which are constitutionally protected. The bishop argues that by opposing the RH
philosophy. Nothing that man has is In necessari made can be part unitas, in of natural law beopinabilibus cause man is himlibertas, in self a creature, and omnibus caritas. natural law is all LINAWAN ADO PAG about the God’s creations. Obvious ba? Kaya nga the first letter of St. Paul is to the Romans, who lost in polemics, could no distinguish the laws of God from the laws of man, specifically from the laws that Moses imposed on the Jews in addition to God’s commandments and revelations. Bernas confessed, “Constitutionallyprotected pluralism includes non-theistic religions such as Buddhism, ethical culture, secular
bill “the Church is not imposing its religious belief on others. She is trying to stop a bill which is against natural law, a law which all human beings, Catholic or not, should follow.” What he is saying is that pluralism should not include what the natural law, as the Church sees it, prohibits. I do not intend to dispute the meaning of natural law as taught by the bishop or the Church to which I also belong. But I believe that the bishop’s view is a very narrow understanding of the pluralism which is part of our constitutional system. Pluralism, which flows from freedom of religion, is not just about the plurality of theistic religions. Neither is it merely a matter of which God or god to worship. Constitutionally-protected pluralism includes nontheistic religions such as Buddhism, ethical culture, secular humanism and a variety of ethical philosophies. Of course, it also includes the bishop’s understanding of natural law. But his understanding is just one of the many, including those which do not arrive at the bishop’s conclusion. #
T of Juan
humanism and a variety of ethical philosophies.” This fallacy of Fr. Bernas would have been forgivable, but not when he arrogantly followed it up with an insult “Of course, it also includes the bishop’s understanding of natural law.” Through that pomposity, Bernas makes it appear that he is wholistic while Bp. Reyes is narrow. It is that condescension that makes me puke. What is true is that he has become modernist while the good bishop toes the orthodox teaching of the Catholic Church. By giving preference to modernism, Bernas therefore could be anything else but Catholic. St. Paul says, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid profane babbling and the absurdities of so-called knowledge. By professing it, some people have deviated from the faith.” Bernas further depreciates his position when he delved on what he called ethics or standards affecting human choice. I will deal with this from the point of secular legality as well as natural law. He rebutted Bp. Reyes “(...on easy availability of contraceptives in drugstores) The clear implication is that the world is free and anyone can buy these. This is simply not true. Only those who have the money can buy them. Legislators, however, are thinking of the vast majority of poor people who need help to be able to practice responsible parenthood.” Then on a classic stroke of verbal engineering he postulates his point of departure, “It is good to remember that responsible parenthood means the exercise of freedom. The exercise of freedom is only possible if one has the capacity to choose. A person in shackles is not free to move even if he wants to.” The false assumption Fr. Bernas is making here is that the majority of our people cannot afford artificial contraception and thus is denied access. This is not true. What is true is that a single 30-day supply pack of contraceptive pills costs only P43. A
September 2012 Page 7
pack of three condoms cost less than P20. This is way way below what an average person preloads into her or his cellphone. They may even be secured for free from government health centers. Second, the distortion is that the poor wants contraception not babies. But worst, he is assuming that these artificial contraceptives are beneficial to humans at all, on top of allowing the poor free access to it. Can condoms really substitute for what natural law allows like abstinence or natural family planning that does not expose the practitioner to clear and present dangers? How can condom use guarantee responsible planning when its pores are bigger than the size of the sperm or the AIDS virus? The astronomical leap of AIDS in Thailand is directly attributable to the false promises that accompanied the promotion of condom use. (AIDS incidence in the Philippines is less than tens of thousands, compared to over the million mark in Thailand over a very short period of time.) Can contraceptive pills thoroughly exclude the possibility of hormonal disturbance that has greatly increased the incidence of breast cancer in the United States and Europe? Can it safely preclude cervical cancer from the use of intrauterine devices or IUDs? Can injectibles and oral abortifacients be totally free from hCG hormones that prevent the implantation of the fertilized ovum to the woman’s womb, which in effect is abortion, and which use can lead to sterilization? What is Bernas really giving the poor freedom of access to? Is he advocating choice for choice’s sake? How can that be ethical at all? That’s irresponsible! His whole house of cards totally collapsed when he commented further: “The government is thinking of the vast majority of poor and uninstructed people who do not know what the choices are or who cannot afford to make their free choice and are sometimes driven to abortion.” OMG, my heart further bleeds for the least fortunate of our entire constituencies, but the constitutionalist priest not only expands the reaches of ethical, but also of legislative irresponsibility. This is Ramon Magsaysay all over again, tickling our ears with his enshrined but improvished dictum “Those who have less in life should have more in law.” Not too fast please, by its very essence, laws must have universal application, provide equal protection and must serve all and not just even the majority of the people. But what is really the RH bill doing that we can-
8 Page September 2012 not base on American jurisprudence? Early this year, the US Supreme Court ruled short of rendering Obamacare unconstitutional, but categorically called it taxation.of religions. In the Philippines, Bernas says “The bishop does not say this in his ad, but it is implicit in his desire that the government should not distribute free contraceptives.” He asks “Can tax money be used for this purpose?” and answers his own question, “Tax money, on the other hand, can be used for any legitimate public purpose authorized by Congress.” In one stroke, the Jesuit constitutionalist exposes the real intention of House Bill #4244 - money. It’s all about money. Kuwarta! This administration, like the ones before it, is cash strapped. The total taxes paid are only able pay for government payroll and departmental operations. Hardly are there programs funds. This is the reason why the government has always engaged in deficit spending that is usually offset by loans or assistance ballooning our foreign obligations. Bernas explains “One must distinguish between tax money and donated money. The use of donated money is limited by intentio dantis or the intention of the donor.” The United States in pursuit of population control under its NSSM 200, and the United Nations, have been pressuring the government for legislation that will enable the Philippines to receive massive funding under the Millennium Development Goals. The proponents of the RH bill does not hide the intention for sourcing what it calls “sustainable funding” for healthcare. In a country where “fertilizer funds” end up funding the political campaigns of candidates running under the administration ticket, the obvious “creative financing” scheme is to motivate astronomical amounts for socalled reproductive health and then cause its “realignment” to other presidential priorities. Kung tayo lagi na lang niloloko harap-harapan, e yung mga puti pa kaya? Samakatuwid, hindi ito “daang matuwid” at importante lang dahil sa pera-pera! But what makes my blood boil is the attendant verbal engineering that accompanied this seething scam. Even Bernas is now part of the super-packaging. The willing endorser said, “What the government hopes to do is not to compel them (the poor) to use contraceptives but to capacitate them to make their free choice
and perhaps even save them from abortion.” Are you hearing yourself Father Bernas? Not to compel them but to capacitate them to make their free choice...to what? Towards using contraceptives, no less. Tell who in Philippine society is most prone to using contraceptives? Tell me who are most likely to terminate their pregnancy with abortion? The poor or the nonpoor? For the meantime, government will engage in promoting, procuring and distributing products, a confine once reserved for the private business sector. HEROIC VOCATION FOR LIFE If Father Bernas has defrocked himself by his own admission, the vocation story of Sister Pilar Lahoz Verzosa is a far departure. The former never abandoned law even after becoming a priest; the latter abandoned everything in pursuit of a charism for the welfare of women. There is a lot of questions on why a priest will would edify legalisms over the expectations of his Holy Orders, but the early spirituality of a nun does explain why she had remained faithful to her death. When the ministry office of Religious of Good Shepherd (RGS) asked each of their members to write about their calling, Sister Pilar shared, “Being a nun was not a strange idea to me. I grew up with nuns in St. Theresa’s College. In fact, all of us - my four sisters and three brothers studied there while my mother was school physician. What surprised everybody was why I entered the Good Shepherd Congregation, not with the St. Theresa’s College or the St. Paul College nuns.” (The good sister took her elementary and high school at STCQC and finished a Bachelor’s degree in nursing at St. Paul.) Sister Pilar continued, “ (I ate) Marian Bread everyday for breakfast when I was in grade school. Yes, I recall the Marian Bread delivery van passing by our house every morning. (I would later know) the bakery was owned by the Good Shepherd Sisters.” The only time that she would not know that her affinity to Good Shepherd was deep-seated when she had already stayed with the sisters for five years. Her mother made a casual but startling revelation: “Do you know that I used to play around in your 1043 Aurora Blvd. compound as a child? (In the 20s) “Your grandfather was the partner of Mr. Lord, the American owner of the property. (He) owned a bus company and would bring men from Vigan to Quezon City to be taken to Hawaii or California to work in the plantations.”
She did not know that that early her family was already involved in sending Filipinos overseas! “I entered the RGS,” Sister Pilar said despite of her mother’s oft-repeated warning whenever her brothers and she were naughty, “I will place you with the nuns at the convent at Aurora Blvd on the way to Ateneo. Their convent have high walls and you will never be able to get out of there.” Her parents were the foundation of her early spirituality. “We prayed the rosary every evening as far back as I can remember...having our First Communion was a special event for each of the eight of us children. I remember walking to church every morning with my mother and father ever since I was in Grade Five. My other siblings would join us sometimes but I was the most regular even during weekdays. I even volunteered to go with my mother for her parish church activities. ” Sister Pilar narrated about the STC Belgian nuns. (They) “instilled in me a missionary spirit. They would tell stories of the poor Igorots in the Mountain Provinces and they taught me how to knit sweaters for them during the noon break in school so that I could send them to the children who must be feeling so cold up there. ” “The SPC nuns, on the other hand, taught me how to be caring and nurturing, gracious and sensitive to the needs of others,” she said. The rest of her account follows: “I had at first wanted to join a congregation that would take care of the physically handicapped but I did not know of any in the Philippines. One day, I saw an article in a weekly magazine about Heart of Mary Villa, the RGS Home for Unwed Mothers (I still have that article I clipped that day). “My curiosity led me to asking Fr. Reuter about the RGS. He instructed me to visit the Superior that weekend. And so I got to know about the Good Shepherd Sisters. I visited the convent a couple of times more before I entered that same year after graduation. “Although my parents would have wanted me to work a couple of years first after college, they did not object to my going to the Aspirancy Program by June. I praise the Lord for their understanding... “I have never regretted it! The community life of sisterhood, the life of prayer, and the various assignments have challenged, inspired and sustained me to do my best to follow Jesus in the life He called me. “Working in the home for unwed mothers as a young Sister fulfilled the dream I had when I cut out the article (about unwed mothers.) It was there that I gained a special compassion for these girls and women - a special charism I developed into the pro-life mission
that I have been sustaining for the past thirty years.” The Pro-Life organization that she founded has grown nationwide even gaining wide reputation throughout the world, through her radio programs, TV appearances, books written and training programs. Since Sister Pilar entered the novitiate 46 years ago, the saving grace of the Good Shepherd has reached out into schools, parishes, offices, factories, depressed communities and rural areas. Women who would have aborted come to the Sisters of Good Shepherd but better yet girls are referred to their shelter because of rape or incest or prostitution or unwanted pregnancy to save the unborn! The work has seriously expanded to students and teachers receiving information materials and training on Christian sexuality, while couples learning responsible parenthood. Sister Pilar testifies: “My work with Pro-Life has never been separate from my RGS assignment. The mutuality has enhanced both areas toward effective ways of bringing God’s salvation. Congregational support and appreciation for my participation in the work of God has never been wanting. And sisterly concern and admonition (nobody is perfect!) likewise has not been lacking. “Joy and peace - this is what I would want other young women to experience. This is what I experience here at RGS and I know that for many women out there, God is waiting to give this to them too through the Good Shepherd vocation. God is a generous God. He cannot be outdone in showering us with the promised hundredfold.” Finishing her narrative, Sister Pilar verbalized a great personal wish “I am sure (God) will continue to outpour His love on me from day to day in pasture yet untrodden. I would like to dwell in His house forever.” While delivering a lecture at De La Salle in Dasmarinas, Cavite last September 6, she became tipsy and disoriented. Before stopping, she asked the national coordinator of ProLife Philippines, “Please take over…” She was later taken to a nearby hospital and survived the birthday of Our Blessed Virgin Mary on September , to succumb to aneurysm the morning of the next day. When Jesus said in John 14:12, we would do greater works than him, he must have been fulfilling Sister Pilar’s wish in mind. Her legacy in service of women , especially those in distress will surely live on. She had surely replicated herself many times over. Imagine on the other hand if one’s a priest and his legacy were passing the reproductive health bill. #
A Beautiful Story +Sr. Pilar L. Verzosa, RGS
From conception to birth...up to her natural death, like a cherished child conceived out of love, born to stand up for life.
Her story is actually the history of Philippine proLife work.
Edited from The Best of Life, Silver Jubillee Commemorative Issue
Pro‐Life Philippines|Manila Philippines | August 2008
Addressing the foundation publics on its anniversary, its founder Sister Pilar L. Verzosa recalled that 34 years ago, “what was thought of as a means to educate women on the horrors of abortion grew into a national prolife movement. “Through the years, we have faced massive anti-life forces, but we have proven time and again that the simple, humble, loving acts of (our) members have sustained (us) and enabled (us) to carry out (our) mission to uphold the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of life.”
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Boldly said, she echoed the travails of the years even before the Pro-Life Philippines Foundation was formally organized. It was actually sometime in 1974 working in the Good Shepherd Home for single mothers that the pro-life seed landed a fertile soil. A certain priest, Paul Marx OSB, came to the country to conduct a seminar for health and religious groups, and Sister Pilar was in the audience. It was when Father Paul showed a movie, “Abortion—A Woman’s Decision” containing gruesome pictures of aborted babies, and challenged his listeners to birth pro-life here, that Sister Pilar got her empowerment. With this film and a heavy 16mm projector in tow, she began as a proverbial lone voice in the wilderness, crusading for the protection of the right to life of the unborn. She went to schools, parishes, communities and awed her audience with the miracle of life in a mother’s womb while at the same time shocking them, as Father Paul did her, with the footages of horrifying effects of abortion. It was not difficult for her audience, young and old alike, to understand the urgent import of the message she was putting across. So eventually, she attracted volunteers into her mission men and women, young and old from the religious, ecclesial movements, parish workers, teachers and youth organizations. After four years, she attended the International Conference on Billings Ovulation Method in Australia where she got the idea of setting up training opportunities in Natural Family Planning. She came back to Manila with voluminous brochures, handouts and posters and reprinted them here through the help of donors, among which were her own parents. By the end of that year, she formally launched on December 10, 1978 the Pro-Life Movement of the Philippines in the presence of 10,000 supporters at the Araneta Coliseum
Sr Pilar and her powerful films to show and tell.
in Quezon City. The throng consisted of delegates from the Manila Archdiocesan Family Life Education Program, the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Teachers Guild of the Philippines, the Catholic Physicians Guild, the Institute of Human Reproduction of the University of Santo Tomas, the Association of Major Religious Superiors for Women in the Philippines, the Christian Family Movement and the Episcopal Commission on Family Life of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. The launching of the movement easily gathered momentum. With the growing number of broken marriages and related marital problems, Msgr. Francisco Tantoco, chaplain of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate (DMI), asked Sister Pilar’s collaboration in devolving the prolife work to the parishes.
Sr Pilar at the 1978 Billings Method Conference
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Among DMI members who joined her in conducting parish-based training and workshops was Mrs. Rose Padre, her longtime friend and teacher. In 1980, Mrs. Padre produced the first ProLife Trainors Manual that is still being used up to this day. The prolife network continue to steamroll. Fr. Paul Marx returned to Manila after nine years, and to mark his second visit, DMI sponsored the First National ProLife Convention at St. Bridget’s School in Quezon City. Jaime Cardinal Sin led the honored roster of guests that also included Bishops Jesus Varela and Bacani. During the conference, the prolife core group drafted the Constitution and ByLaws of the ProLife Foundation of the Philippines, leading to its incorporation with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Attorneys Greg and Cora Fabros, served as the first couple/ president of the Board of Directors. The following years saw the active confrontation between the ProLife Foundation and the Population Commission (PopCom). On December 5, 1975, the first of many protest rallies and pickets in front of the Ministry of Health happened. But it was eleven years after that its first big break happened. After the EDSA revolution, Sister Pilar began dialogues with Mita Pardo de Tavera, then Sec-
retary of Social Welfare, towards the reorientation of the Population Commission to welfare and development programs instead of population control. The ProLife Foundation’s persistent lobby during the drafting of the 1987 Philippine Constitution saw the insertion of Article II Section 12 in the basic law of the land: “The State shall recognize the sanctity of human life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.” As the term “prolife” was becoming a byword, the Foundation started receiving distress calls from women in serious need of guidance. That prompted the establishment of various counseling centers in Manila as well as the provinces. In 1989, the first Pregnancy Counseling Services Center was inaugurated at San Andres, Malate, Manila with volunteer counselors trained by Nina and Barry Martin of New Zealand. Another milestone came as response to reports about fetuses found floating in toilet bowls, dumped in garbage dumps or left to rot in the most unlikely places . The first Tomb for Aborted Babies was setup at La Loma Cemetery. As a result the Knights of Columbus led prolifers in erecting Memorials for the Unborn in their respective parishes all over the Philippines, not to mention two more tombs that were subsequently out up at the North and South Cemeteries in Metro Manila. But government did not stop its counterpoise against the vision and mission of the ProLife Foundation, as it intensified its campaign for artificial family planning and other forms of birth control towards the end of the 1980s. The Pregnancy Counseling Services Center launched As the Catholic Church saw the need for a with Nina and Barry Martin of New Zealand. program to educate couples on the purpose of
One of the top prolife patrons, Cardinal Sin, raises funds abroad for Sr. Pilar’s counseling centers.
marriage and the nuptial meaning of sexuality of sexuality to couples. So on February 12, 1989 Sister Pilar led in organizing a general assembly for Natural Family Planning at the Malate Catholic School Gym. The project caught fire— community-based NFP programs spread to many pariehes all over the country. The late Jaime Cardinal Sin even funded NFP programs in selected parishes in Metro Manila calling it Buhay Pagmamahal. The onset of the nineties saw even more ferocious government initiatives in pursuing its population control agenda, bent on legalizing abortion, divorce, same sex marriage and euthanasia. While the stage started enlarging to the legislative fronts, prominent political figures and Church lay leaders formed a ProLife Advocacy and Lobby Coalition, with the following as initial stalwarts: Senators Joey Lina, Kit Tatad, Tito Sotto, Mayor Lito Atienza, El Shaddai head Mike Velarde and charismatic leaders Willie Nakar and Sonny de los Reyes. A mammoth prayer vigil attended by about one million people sounded off “Save the Child, Save the Family” at the Quirino Grandstand, followed by Lakad Buhay, the local Walk for Life counterpart. Simultaneous rallies and motorcades were also held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the papal encyclical; Humane Vitae, involving nine parishes in the Vicariate of Espiritu Santo,
the Miraculous Medal parish in Cubao and also parishes in Cotabato and Olongapo City. In 1994, a Marian Rally in front of the Department of Health where more than 2,000 including victims of abortion, presented a Manifesto objecting to the family programs of the government. While this was going on, another rally was held simultaneously at the Department of Education protesting the inclusion of “population control education” in the curriculum. That notwithstanding, another mammoth rally mobilizing over one million people again at the Quirino Grandstand with the theme “Shout for Life”. Counterpart rallies in Cebu and Davao were also well attended with 50,000 and 70,000 respectively. As if these activities did not require monumental preparation and organizing, Sister Pilar celebrated her 25 years as a Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) with a testimonial dinner show entitled “StandUp for Life” featuring pop singer Joey Albert, tenor Noel Cabahug, jass singer Joni Feliciano and the Glee Girls of the famous composer Ryan Cayabyab. NEW TACTICS The Foundation launched its first radio program “Buhay Kalingain” acronymed Bukal in 1987 and it went on the air two hours weekly for six months. Seven years after in January 1994, “Little People, Little Friends” went on the air four days in a week as a radio counseling program arranged by Bob Garon over DWSS K-Love station. With the advent of the internet, the Foundation website www.prolife.org.ph went online serving the new trend among researchers to download materials electronically rather
than browse pages of books and periodicals. The use of mass media was expanded not just for on-the-air counseling, but distance education on prolife issues, and “Love Life”, a regular radio program with Sister Pilar herself as anchor. Despite these efforts, anti-life bills went through another cycle of filing, archiving, rehashing, and refiling backed by the second half of the nineties. The Foundation also adopted new tactics, and spread its wings to gather millions of signatures that led to some lawmakers to withdraw their authorship of “death” bills, in addition to ProLife monthly celebrations, pickets and rallies in front of suspected abortion clinics, lobbying in the halls of Congress, strategic seminars, workshops and counseling training. Bringing itself closer to its publics, Sister Pilar brought the Foundation counselors more available to its clientele - boys and girls, young men and women inquiring about love relationships, unwanted pregnancies, marital problems, sexual abuse, parent-child gaps, and runaway teens. The Foundation also organized “STOP” rallies to protest human trafficking ang and the proliferation of pornography. In 2002, ProLife Philippines brought to Manila, the late Dr. Bernard Nathanson, one of the pioneer advocates of abortion rights in the early 60s, but who after discovering himself verifiable life in the unborn, turned around af-
ter a few years to serve as one of the American prolife icons. His testimony has brought many pro-abortion and pro-choice converts to prolife. It was Dr. Nathanson who filmed for the first time what actually occurs to a fetus in the woman’s womb as he is aborted through systematic mutilation up to actual suctioning out of the remains. The compelling documentary entitled “Silent Scream” was annotated by the doctor himself. Sister Pilar made sure the powerful audio-visual material is a mainstay in the information arsenal of the Foundation. Today, the Foundation defines itself as a national body coordinating pro-life groups, providing education and documentation of life issues, and raising the consciousness of the Filipino people on respect and responsibility for human life. Among its flagship projects are: PROJECT VERONICA Volunteers go to OB-Gyne wards in government hospitals and speak to women who aborted, miscarried or have still-birth babies. They give out rosaries to the women and give them information on the Billings Method and side effects of artificial contraception and ligation. They encourage the mothers to breastfed in order to delay ovulation and give their babies the best nutrition available. An annual visit to the North Cemetery Tomb of Unborn Babies is also observed every December 28, the feastday of the Holy Innocents. Sister Pilar and Dr. Nathanson PROJECT RACHEL The babies are not the only victims of abortion as the mothers also suffer in silence and fathers also have to deal with guilt. Volunteers do pregnancy counseling services to women primarily catering to men and women who are in need of reconciliation and healing after an abortion experience. Prevention programs through prolife education in barangays, schools and health centers have also become targets of Rachel seminars.
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Part of Sr. Pilar’s charism is exposing the culture of death especially among the youth while informing them of the full blessings of the culture of life .
PROJECT MICHAEL This calls for the defense of life from conception to natural death. It also defends marriage and the family from the Satanic cultures of “deaths” - that is divorce, euthanasia, abortion, two-child policy, homosexual union, sex education for children. Activities involve lobbying constructively for prolife laws but vociferously against anti-life measures. Advocates also conduct signup programs gathering support among urban and rural poor, farmers and fisherfolk, students and teachers, the clergy and the religious, and other sectors of society. PROJECT JOSHUA In the ProLife movement, Joshua refers to Baby Joshua, the three-month old model of a fetus used to demonstrate the humanity and personhood of the unborn. Every year and whenever the need arises, prayer vigils are conducted in front of abortion clinics, leaflets showing the effects of abortion on women and their babies are distributed and whenever possible, sidewalk counseling is attempted to inform Michael Voris and Charles Hornbacker share a Kodak would-be abortionists of other alternatives, like moment with Sr. Pilar (extreme right) and the ProLife Foundation staff Lorna Melegrito, Marita Wasan, adoption and available assistance outside of Malou Agsaluna, Lhot Perez, Kent Bianes, Aurea Jau‐ abortion. Spiritual adoption is also a feature of cian, Ellen Sanchez, and Andrew Bonifacio. this project.
PROJECT ELIZABETH This project aims to give accurate, valueoriented information and counseling on natural fertility regulation methods that enhance couples relationship and parental responsibility. Specifically, it deals with community-based natural family planning seminars. Unknown to many, Sister Pilar is a nurse who has influenced a lot of people to replicate herself, among others, Sister Tarciana of Tayabas, Quezon; couple/ doctors Leo and Rey Calimlim; Dr. Pinky Baclig; Emma Culanag; Linda Ganar. PROJECT GABRIEL This refers to Teen Sexuality Programs that provides information to teenagers on love, dating and marriage in the context of adult responsibility and on the remedial aspect, how to deal with teen pregnancy decisions about contraceptives and abortion, early marriage and how manwoman relationships can enhance or ruin one’s future. This also involves cooperation and networking with non-government organization, the academe, businessmen, media as well as government and church groups concerned about combating pornography and human trafficking.
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Ateneo does contract work for WHO/RH
A blogger said that this document is a smoking gun against the Ateneo. Research grants are one infiltration technique that has worked very well against Catholic Universities. You kind of wonder where the money comes from and how it gets to them. No wonder the professors are pro-RH! They are beneficiaries of WHO payments! Talk about infernal fumes entering the Ateneo through crevices in their walls! In fairness the president of Ateneo de Manila University has come out into the public standing foresquare behind the teachings of the Catholic Church. But could it be that he has spoken with a forked tongue? He says they accept teach Church doctrines, but without admitting how they aid and abet those who oppose it.
In 1995, without the force of legislation, a criminal act by WHO and the Ramos-Flavier government to sterilize more than 3 million of our women was executed. The conspirators behind this atrocity are still scot-free up to this day.
While surfing the internet one day, I came across a post from Finland asking what has become of this modern day inhumanity of man against women. My search brought me to the doors of Brian Clowes of Human Life International in my homestate of Virginia. He sent me a huge box of documents from their file that were mostly provided by Sister Pilar Verzosa from Manila, compiled from her work with the Simbahayan Commission of the Archdiocese of Manila whose functions have now been absorbed by the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life. The past year networking with Sister Pilar has certainly been most fruitful. I never realized I would be part of the final year of her life. ‐THE EDITOR
Read the full coverage at http://www.cfcfflusa.org/sites/ cfcfflusa/files/headsup/Heads‐Up‐1011.pdf
cuthe full do an access c.who.int/ Readers c /whqlibdo p:/ .pdf ment at htt O_RHR_11.04_eng H hq/2011/W
No need for RH bill, now or ever
A Joint Statement | September 15, 2012
By Dr. Bernardo Villegas, Ph.D Economics [Harvard University]; Maria Conception Noche, Alli‐ ance for the Family; Frank Padilla, CFC‐FFL; Rolando de los Reyes, Courage Philippines; Dr. El‐ eanor Palabyab, Doctors for Life; Alan Dacanay, Families against the RH Bill; Dr. Angelita Aguirre, Family Media Advocacy Foundation; Leonardo Montemayor, Federation of Free Farm‐ ers; Evelina Atienza, Kababaihan ng Maynila; Joseph Tesoro, Live Pure Movement; Eric Ma‐ nalang, Pro‐life Philippines; Jemy Gatdula and Felipe Salvosa, Pro‐life Professors; Dr. Raul Ni‐ doy, Science and Reason for Human Beings; Maribel Descallar, Teodora: In Defense of the Au‐ thentic Woman; Kiboy Tabada, UP for Life; Luis Buenaventura III, YUPamilya; Anthony Lumi‐ cao, Youth United for the Philippines; and Anthony Perez, Filipinos for Life.
Antisustainable growth The first component of sustainable development is a rate of economic growth that is high enough to contribute, together with appropriate economic policies, to the eradication of poverty. High gross domestic product growth is dependent on a growing and young population as has been stated by numerous international economists and top officials. The just released Global Competitiveness Report 2012 of the World Economic Forum, like the HSBC 2012 Report, had the Philippines jumping several notches up in economic competitiveness because of our large, growing popula-
There is no need for any legislation that guarantees universal access to contraceptives, the so-called reproductive health (RH) care devices, now or ever. Whatever “bandaid” amendments may be proposed by well-intentioned proponents of the RH bill to make it more palatable, the underlying principles behind it are inherently flawed.
tion. Population control, however, will backfire and cause the acceleration of our falling fertility rate. Many pro-RH proponents harp on the dangers of population explosion. They have not learned from the lessons of the last two centuries of unparalleled economic progress in many countries of the East and the West that have disproved the Malthusian theory of perpetual poverty caused by the so-called geometric growth of population. New resources The unlimited capacity of the human mind to discover new resources and technologies has overcome the “limits to growth” that sowed fears in the last century. Some of the greatest minds of the 20th century such as Nobel laureates Simon Kuznets and Michael Spence; Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, creator of the development index; and resource specialists Colin Clark and Julian Simon have shown through cross-country studies and long-term analyses of the economic experiences of developed countries that population growth was a positive stimulus to economic progress and that it was surpassed by the growth
in real income. Economists who purport to show the opposite have for their sample very few countries. They also have access to data over a relatively short period compared with the studies showing that there is no correlation between population growth and the spread of mass poverty, which is due to erroneous economic policies and failure of good governance. Even those few countries in which there is some evidence that birth control policies temporarily helped in boosting economic growth in the short run are now regretting their fertility reduction programs. Well-known are the attempts of the leaders of Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan to appeal to their women to bear more babies. Premarital sex, abortion Since material well-being is not the only component of human development or happiness, there is another problem that widespread use of contraceptives can unleash. The findings of Nobel laureate George Akerlof who, despite his protestations that he was
in favor of abortion and artificial contraception, demonstrated with empirical evidence that the “reproductive technology shock” led to an increase in premarital sex, and due to contraceptive failure, also in unwed mothers, children without fathers and other societal ills. A 2009 University of Pennsylvania study, titled “Sexual Revolution,” showed that premarital sex in the United States ballooned from 0.06 percent of women in 1900 to 75 percent today as contraception provided the youth the ease of sex without “cost” or responsibility. False sense of security This same link with premarital sex was also suggested by the studies by JE Potter in Brazil, and clearly seen by the work of Dr. Edward Green in Africa. Green, former director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at Harvard University, affirmed that “condoms have not worked as a primary intervention in the population-wide epidemics of Africa,” citing studies at the Lancet, Science and British Medical Journal and explaining that the availability of condoms led to earlier and riskier sex by creating a false sense of security. As the contraceptive mentality sets in (contra = against; conception = beginning of human beings), a negative view of human beings is promoted. A 2011 study in the scientific journal Contraception showed that the rise in contraceptive use in Spain also saw a jump in abortion rate. This link—both logical and empirical—has been acknowledged by leaders of the abortion industry, such as Malcolm Potts, the first medical director of International Planned Parenthood. Only five nations in the world still prohibit abortion. A hundred
years ago all nations did. It was acceptance of contraception that changed their minds. This will happen here, too, if we accept contraception. Secularist ideology Another serious flaw in the RH bill is the sweeping generalization about “unwanted pregnancies.” Scientific studies in the United States, especially those by Lant Pritchett of Harvard University, have seriously questioned the assumption made by pro-RH bill advocates that unwanted pregnancies among married women are rampant. The finding of social scientists is that mothers have the number of children they want. Surveys in the Philippines that purport to show that there are many mothers among poor households, who regret having given birth to some of their children, are suspect. These surveys are usually funded by international organizations that have a strong bias for population control. Obama administration It is no secret that in the Democratic National Convention, the Obama administration made it clear that there will be continuing support for abortion. One does not have to be paranoid to assume that if President Obama wins a second term, he and his Secretary of State will continue to target countries like the Philippines to spread their culture of death. Besides being part of an ideological interpretation of “women’s rights,” such aggressive campaign to promote reproductive health (which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton averred “includes access to abortion”) continues the USsupported worldwide program that was unleashed by the National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide
Population Growth for US Security and Overseas Interests. Considering the revelations about the participation of foreign interests in lobbying for the RH bill, any version of it will be suspect. Let us not be naïve. Only last year, Green, through his book “Broken Promises,” exposed in brilliant detail how the West’s AIDS establishment disowned scientific evidence that wide condom use was in fact ineffective in stopping AIDS in Africa, and how those who dominate it—the homosexual ideologues, population controllers and condom suppliers— worsened the epidemic and betrayed the developing world. Taking away funds for poor Besides being the antithesis to sustainable economic growth and human development, the RH bill also unwittingly goes against inclusive growth, i.e. economic progress that benefits the poorest among the poor. It misdiagnoses the reason households of larger family sizes are poorer than those with fewer children. Studies have shown that households with larger family sizes are poorer not because they have too many children but because their heads are the least educated. This should lead policymakers not to convince these poor households to have fewer children, but to invest more resources in their education, especially the women, a proposal that is strongly supported by the studies of Economics Nobel laureates Amartya Sen and Gary Becker. Improve basic education Government should divert whatever is budgeted for contraceptives to improving the quality of basic education among the poor. Poor households, es-
pecially in the rural areas, choose to have more children because human beings are their only resources, especially considering the failure of the state to provide farmers with infrastructure. The poor farmers will suffer manpower shortages in their laborintensive farming if they start imitating the rich in having only one or two children. The same applies to those millions of households that have at least one of its immediate members working abroad. Seducing them to have fewer children could very well leave them even more destitute, as publications of the UN and Asian Development Bank have predicted. Disseminating a contraceptive mentality among the poor unmasks a condescending and elitist attitude that the poor should not be allowed to multiply. This policy is dangerously close to the eugenics practiced by authoritarian leaders like Adolf Hitler. Considering that the competitive advantage of the Philippines in the global economy is its young, growing population, a really propoor economic strategy should allow the poor to choose to have as many children as they wish and then to generously support them with infrastructure, educational and technical skills training, and microcredit support, among other things, so that they can turn their children into truly productive resources. Suspect surveys Those who support the RH bill refer to surveys purporting to show that there is a large demand for free contraceptives among the poor. As mentioned, these surveys are suspect because they are funded by international agencies advocating contraception and abortion. Questionnaires are formulated to influence respondents to give
the desired answers. A recent consumer survey conducted among the C, D and E households (constituting more than 60 percent of households) by SEED Institute, a field research group, came out with more objective data about the demand for contraceptives among mothers in poor households in Metro Manila. Wish list The survey was conducted to identify the consumer patterns of the poor with the intention of giving guidelines to profit-making firms and social enterprises about what goods and services could be tailored specifically to the needs of the poor. The respondents (all mothers) were asked to list down the top three goods or services that they most wanted the government to provide for free after they exhausted their resources to meet their most basic needs. Among more than 20 goods or services on their wish lists, there was no mention whatsoever of “free contraceptives.” The Philippine Medical Association also asserted that the goal of reducing maternal and child deaths “could be attained by improving maternal and child health care without the necessity of distributing contraceptives. The millions of [pesos] intended for contraceptive devices may just well be applied in improving the skills of our health workers.” Provoking moral crisis Several religious groups, Muslim, Protestant and Catholic, oppose the RH measure on moral grounds. Belying pro-RH surveys, these groups, together with other people of goodwill, have rallied by the thousands in many cities and towns around the country, and have contributed in winning postdebate polls on national television. The Imam Council of the Phil-
ippines, leaders of our 4.5 million Muslims, pronounced that contraceptives “make us lose morality.” Throughout the centuries, the Catholic Church has taught that contraception is intrinsically evil. Pope John Paul the Great wrote that contraception “leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love.” It is, therefore, advisable that Congress refrain from passing a law that would oblige citizens who adhere to their religion to fund an item which they consider immoral. Considering the strong arguments against the RH bill based on secular sciences, it would be prudent for the state not to provoke a religious-moral crisis among a large majority of the Filipino population. Need for virtue Lastly, two Asian intellectuals spoke of the virtue needed by a nation. Speaking of the “crime” of contraception, Mahatma Gandhi taught: “Even as many people will be untruthful and violent, humanity may not lower its standard, so also, though many, even the majority, may not respond to the message of self-control, we may not lower our standard.” Jose Rizal wrote: “Only virtue can save! If our country has ever to be free, it will not be through vice and crime, it will not be so by corrupting its sons, deceiving some and bribing others, no! Redemption presupposes virtue, virtue sacrifice and sacrifice love!”
In the HeadsUp July‐August 2012 issue, we inadvertently made some references to Senator Vicente Sotto III or Tito Sotto as “Vic” Sotto, her brother. We apologize for whatever confusion this error has generated. ‐ED
September 2012 Page 2 1
Diokno: Realignment creates more problems than fixes
Apparently, his economic managers have abandoned Aquino III’s promise y part of Provisions alread to balance the budget by the end of his term. Welcome to reality! e inserted existing laws wer As I have argued many times before, it is not possible to deliver on Aquino make it into the RH bill to III’s campaign promises of expenditure expansion in education, health, dethese are fense, and military spending, not pass any new tax measures, and have a balpalatable. When n‐ e non‐ anced budget by 2016 simultaneously. The three promises are internally inconred out, only thre filte ‐ s remain: manda sistent. negotiable , govern‐ Now the April surplus. Some analysts are now convinced that the Aquino III adtory sex education ministration would not be able to meet its deficit target of P286 billion. That would be tion of contra‐ ment distribu timizing the unfortunate. The deficit in itself is too small given the weak state of the Philippine ceptives and legi economy, the poor state of public infrastructure, and backward state of disaster pren. ion. practice of abort paredness. RH In order to accelerate disbursement, Abad said the DBM is considering a range of These are the real the interventions in cooperation with key departments. One such intervention is “that led to goods being pedd a tune ex‐ DBM and the departments are jointly identifying and determining solutions for impleFilipino public to mentation bottlenecks.” After two years in office, this looks like a pretty elongated on its eding P13 billion ce learning curve. It has nothing to Abad said that “DBM is also considering the realignment of unobligated allotfirst year. e ments of agencies to faster-moving programs and projects.” This creates more probith the uplifting th do w he poor or lems than fixes. First, if one assumes that every project that is funded in the 2012 apconditions of of t . ealth. propriations act has passed through “zero-based-budgeting” process, completely priimproving their h oritized and approved by the legislature, then DBM is substituting its choice of prot to the money, tha jects for those earlier prioritized by the Executive and Congress. Such substitution is To get evelop‐ dubious. is the Millenium D The process penalizes potential beneficiaries of discontinued projects. The first pine hilip ment Grant, the P best option is to fire the heads of departments who consistently fail to implement t meet the government mus projects on time. Or at least strengthen the support staff of the head of the lagging sla‐ itionality of a legi agency. cond form or Second, it makes monitoring of government programs and projects more diffition of whatever s cult. Expenditure items listed in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) could be e that will serve a substanc o that the lost and new items emerge and funded. For a government that is strongly commitan enabling act s be used ted to fiscal transparency this is a major step back. Keeping track of all the realignpublic money can ments would be a nightmare for even the best organized nongovernment organil. rol. as population cont zation. Third, the administrative process of realigning unobligated allotments of ageno admini‐ The BS Aquin use cies from slow-moving projects to faster-moving programs and projects is itself ing beca stration is salivat time-consuming and could be a source of further delays. Issuing negative allotmoney it will have more ments to recover the unobligated allotments and issuing new allotments for fastead at it needs to spr moving projects will only delay rather than speed up the process. th er. This is Fourth, the whole realignment process is open to abuse. Because the ound to buy pow ar through budget process will be a deviation from what is shown in the General Appropriations achieved ique so Act, DBM will have full discretion to slice and dice the GAA to suit Malarealignment techn Philippine cañang’s whims and caprices. With mid-term elections just around the corner, commonplace in become there is a risk that the realignment of funds may be made on the basis of politigovernance it has cal, rather than economic, considerations. for Benjamin Diokno id professor of Economics at the UP School of Economics, other term used an n" (Diliman). He was formerly budget secretary in the Estrada Cabinet and underl corruption" "officia
secretary for budget operations in the Cory Aquino administration.
Just like some Blue Eagles, few Green Archers miss the mark
RH Bill is not pro‐life
Changing World | By Bernardo M. Villegas | September 13, 2012
MANILA, Philippines — It is not my usual practice to debate with specific individuals or groups about the issues I address in my columns. I am making an exception this time, as some might already have inferred from the title of this commentary. Recently, some faculty members of the De La Salle University declared publicly that they support the RH bill and asserted categorically that "the RH bill Is Pro-Life." As an alumnus of De La Salle University, having spent my formative years in both high school and college in this prestigious university, I would like to engage in a friendly dialogue with my fellow La Sallites by stating that there are provisions of the RH bill that are clearly anti-life.
Let me start, however, with the truths contained in their declaration on which we agree. There is no question that "the right to life is a fundamental Christian tenet that finds full meaning when combined with the inherent rights of humans to a decent, safe, and productive existence as well as to an all-round development." It is also true that "part of a meaningful celebration of life itself is the affirmation of the inherent moral standing of every human being... The ability to make moral judgments...requires knowledge and information, and for those living in materially constrained circumstances, requires further support from society. The capacity to provide that support now rests with the State and its instrumentalities." As one of those who drafted the 1987 Constitution, I could not agree more that the Constitution declares as illegal abortion and, by implication, the sale and promotion of abortifacient birth control technologies. At the practical level, it is also laudable that the La Salle professors opine that "a health worker cannot be compelled by the state to disseminate artificial contraceptives, or parents may pull their children out of sex education classes." All these truths stand, whether or not there is an RH bill. What I find faulty in their reasoning is the unscientific statement that Philippine poverty can be attributed to the large size of the population in general or to the large sizes of the households in the 7th to the 10th decile groups in particular. I have spent at least the last 40 years of my professional life as an economist gathering evidence from the studies of leading economists in the world, a number of them Nobel laureates, that demonstrate convincingly that population growth is a very positive stimulus to economic progress and human development when accompanied by intelligent economic policies and good governance. Among these great minds are Simon Kuznets, Michael Spence, Colin Clark, Julian Simon, and Mahbub ul Haq (the Pakistani economist who developed the Human Development Index). The De La Salle professors have misdiagnosed the roots of Philippine poverty. More than a quarter of our population are living in dehumanizing poverty, not because there are too many Filipinos, but because our leaders had followed for almost three decades an economic strategy that was completely biased against rural and agricultural development. It is no coincidence that 75 percent of the poor in the Philippine are in the countryside. Added to this error in economic strategy is the sheer waste of resources (about R400 billion yearly according to studies of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank) due to both private sector and government corruption. It is terribly unfair to blame the babies being born for the sins of dishonest executives and public officials. Thanks to the limited use of artificial contraceptives, especially among the 7th to the 10th decile income groups, the Philippines is still enjoying the demographic dividend which is a distinct advantage in a global economy where all of the developed countries are gradually being wiped out of this planet because of very low fertility rates. What Julian Simon wrote in his famous book "The Ultimate
Resource" is especially applicable to our country. If the Philippines is now entering a "sweet spot," to use the words of our top government officials, it is because we are among the countries in the developing world that are still enjoying a growing and young population. The RH bill is antilife because it is founded on the assumption that the poor should be encouraged to have fewer children because society in general and the State in particular are unable to help them maintain their large family sizes because of the failure to provide the countryside with the infrastructures needed by the farmers to make a decent living. In fact, it is the height of folly to convince a farmer (whose average age is now about 57) to have a small family size when his only resource to eke out a meager livelihood is what is contributed by the hands available in a large family. Other societal failures that cannot be blamed on the birth of babies are the lack of access to credit by the poor, the low quality of basic education, policy biases in favor of large businesses against the small and medium-scale enterprises, and the continuing waste of resources through corruption at the lower levels of the government bureaucracy. The statement of the De La Salle professors also makes the usual mistake of assuming that it is the availability of condoms and pills that will address directly the problem of women dying at childbirth (some 4,500 women every year). There is absolutely no factual evidence that these are cases of unwanted pregnancies. In fact, the very concept of "unwanted pregnancy" as a general phenomenon among the poor has been challenged by very scientific studies in the US, such as those of
September 2012 Page 2 3
Photo by Samantha Darlymple http://www.lostateminor.com
The De La Salle professors have mis‐diagnosed the roots of Philippine poverty. More than a quarter of our population are living in dehumanizing poverty, not because there are too many Filipinos, but be‐ cause our leaders had followed for almost three decades an economic strategy that was completely biased against rural and agricultural development. It is no coincidence that 75 percent of the poor in the Philippine are in the countryside.
Lant Pritchett of Harvard University. It is more sensible to address the problem of maternal mortality by providing more maternity clinics and other facilities needed by mothers from the lower-income groups. Public and private funds that would otherwise be allocated to the purchase of artificial contraceptives are more productively used to assist mothers of poor households have a safe delivery. Finally, considering that the signatories are teaching in a Catholic university, I find it disconcerting that their declaration smacks of religious indifferentism. Respecting the religious views of others in a pluralistic society is not equivalent to being silent about your own convictions. Unless these professors have already made up their minds that they will not listen to the ordinary teaching authority of the Church, an obligation common to all Catholic faithful, they should also have made it clear that in the same way that they are strongly against abortion, they also oppose artificial contraception. The teaching on the intrinsic evil of artificial contraception binds the consciences of all Catholics who want to remain faithful to all teachings of the ordinary Magisterium of the Church on all matters touching on morals and dogma. A Catholic in good standing cannot be nitpicking and claim that he will only adhere to those teachings on morals that have been declared ex cathedra. For comments, my e-mail address is email@example.com.
Obama launches desperate ad
As his Catholic vote crumbles
By Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 9/18/12
The Obama campaign has launched a desperate new ad that it hopes will somehow turn around its poor standing with Catholic voters across the country who are turned off by the Obama administration’s pro-abortion attack on religious liberty. The video is meant to get Catholics and other faith-based voters to sign up to support Obama’s re-election campaign. IN 2008, In 2008 Barack Obama carried “American Life League CATHOLICS 54% of the Catholic vote. Today only speculates that such a dra PROVIDED 27% of Catholics support Obama, matic shift may be caused OBAMA’S MUC H according to figures from the pro-life by Obama’s HHS mandates NEEDED SWING group American Life League. and ensuing legal battle VOTES; TODAY HE “Between August 15-19 of this over religious freedom, as ENJOYS ONLY year, American Life League commis73 percent of Catholics HALF OF THAT sioned a nationwide telephone survey polled believe that the
of 900 self-identified Catholic registered voters. The focus of the survey was Catholic perspectives on the Church and nation. Below are some of the results of the survey,” the group said about a poll it conducted last month. “Only 27 percent of the Catholics surveyed support President Obama. Of those surveyed, 74 percent of Catholic men over the age of 50 do not support Obama, while Obama support among Catholic men under 50 years is only 25 percent. With Catholic women over the age of 50, the president’s support is only 23 percent, with just 31 percent among Catholic women under 50 years.” The pro-life group added:
mandates violate their religious freedom.” Now, Thomas Peters of CatholicVote is highlighting a new video from the Obama campaign designed to turn these figures around. The Obama campaign has released a nearly three minute video of the President making an extended pitch to “faith” voters — the entire goal of the exercise is to give him the opportunity of saying these words while staring into the camera: “The American people should know this: In a changing world, my commitment to protecting religious liberty is and always will be unwavering. As America’s religious diversity grows, we have the chance to reaffirm the pluralism that has defined us as a nation. A pluralism that is expansive enough to protect the rights of all to speak their minds and to follow their conscience.” The rest of the segment is window dressing. Obama’s comment that he believes in “religious The other side of midnight. liberty” is in direct response to
the accusation of the U.S. Bishops, faith leaders, faith employers, and the Romney campaign that Obama has trampled on religious liberty. Obama offers no proof whatsoever that he cares deeply about religious liberty or about the rights of conscience. He has been granted a multitude of opportunities to address the religious liberty concerns raised by faith leaders across the country in the wake of the HHS mandate implementation and he has unilaterally attempted to ignore these concerns and has chosen instead to misdirect the conversation away from the core issue. When it comes to religious liberty, Obama has backed himself into a corner. He cannot (or will not) take back his promises to the pro-abortion lobby and the far-left to curtail religious liberty by promoting free contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. So the only option he has left is empty rhetoric.