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Posts tagged "Senate"

Putting the political desires of men over the reproductive health needs of women and the country.

By Garrick Bercero

“Marunong pala managalog si Kennedy, ah!”

A common, probably the only mildly-reasonable, criticism of the public condemnation of Senator Tito Sotto’s pathological penchant for plagiarism is that it distracts from the issues—mainly the reproductive health bill. Sotto himself has taken this route to defend himself against the accusations, saying that his critics could not answer his unimpeachable points, so they’ve resorted to “cyber-bullying.” He challenged his opponents with an aphorism (which I’m sure he’d never claim to be original), to shoot the message, not the messenger.

Of course, if his intellectual honesty and credibility were irrelevant to the interests of the Filipino people, then his excuses would be valid. It is, however, not the case that calling Sotto out on plagiarism is an argumentum ad hominem fallacy.

Ad hominem or “to the man” argumentation is not fallacious if it is not taken to refute “the man’s” positions and if the subject is “the man’s” character itself. In the case of Sotto’s plagiarism, of course his intellectual dishonesty does not affect the credibility of his case against the RH Bill.

But, let’s first take Sotto’s claim on face value. Is it indeed true that nobody at all has even tried to rebut Sotto’s claims during his long-winded turno en contra speeches that spanned four parts?

Read the full article in the Filipino Freethinkers website.

From Inquirer.net:

Critics demanding that Senator Tito Sotto resign as majority leader for his stand against the population control bill should think twice.

Sotto said he could resign his post but becoming a “regular senator” would allow him to filibuster and block passage of the contentious measure.

An obviously peeved Sotto told the Philippine Daily Inquirer he has been getting a lot of flak on networking sites for his critical stance against the reproductive health (RH) bill that would require the government to distribute or make available contraceptives and other forms of artificial birth control pills to poor couples.

Read the full article on the site.

From GMA News:

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday called on the Senate to finally vote on the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill. He issued the statement after leaders at the House of Representatives said they will push for a vote on the same measure on August 7. 
Sa aking tingin, sa paguusap sa kapwa senador, sa tingin ko ipapasa ito.  It’s about time dalhin ito sa floor para sa botohan,” Lacson, a known supporter of the RH bill, said during a weekly forum at the Senate on Thursday.
Last June, the controversial measure hurdled its interpellation period in the Senate, with at least nine senators interpellating on the bill.
Lacson said the greatest obstacles to the bill would probably be the Senate’s two highest officials: Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III. Both have been vocal on their opposition to the measure.

By Sylvia Claudio

Sin number 1: My productivity is much diminished these days because I am addicted to watching the impeachment. Every boring detail. I seethe at every bone-headed move by the prosecution, at every legal victory of the defense. I think Juan Ponce Enrile is a vampire. He can’t be that good. Especially as I hated him during martial law. I think Serafin Cuevas is brilliant. But I don’t like his bombastic oratorical style. It reminds me of all those men thundering at us during the dictatorship, chief among them, macho Marcos himself.

And so, I am now in search of my ideal man, one with the soft rhetorical style of Neil Tupas and the competence of Cuevas. My ideal man would have argued that nothing prevents the Senate from conducting the impeachment more like a fact finding mission or a truth commission and less like a court.

Sin number 2: I am obsessed with the reproductive health (RH) bill and see connections between the impeachment efforts and the effort to pass the RH bill. I may have imbibed the conspiracy theory paranoia of the religious fanatics who keep claiming pro-RH people are drug company and imperialist lackeys.

I hope that Renato Corona is convicted. (Parenthetically, those who accuse me of not abiding by the rule, “innocent until proven guilty” are to be condemned to 20-minute tongue lashings by Miriam Defensor Santiago. That rule is meant to regulate the police power of the state. It was not meant to substitute for individual discernment and not meant to prevent the social disgrace of scoundrels. Taking that rule out of context would mean that citizens should not be concerned with graft and corruption since very few people get convicted anyway.) I believe Corona is an ally of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who would uphold all her leanings including her refusal to pass an RH bill during her term. It was during GMA’s term that the Supreme Court junked the petition of 20 affected women to invalidate Lito Atienza’s egregious order banning contraceptives in Manila. From the anti-RH camp, even from some of the legislators we hear it often: “if the bill passes we will take it to the Supreme Court”. They say it with confidence.

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.

by Pepe Bawagan

A false notion of secularism is that it prohibits any form of public religious expression. At least that much I can agree with on John Pesebre’s recent article. Where he chooses to go from there, however, is an entirely different train wreck.

First and foremost, he states that Red’s recent article exhibits the false notion stated above. Nowhere in the article was it stated that the act was an outright violation of the separation of church and state. All it did was express valid concern over how this prayer was done in poor taste.

Let it be clear that we know how secularism does not prohibit any form of public religious expression. If we’re going to delve strictly into legal terms–”No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”–there was no violation as no laws were made that pass the criteria for one. As some would incessantly insist, it would appear to be “just another prayer”. Well it would not have been a problem if our dear senator had said the prayer in his bed, or with his family, or before his meal, or before eating his family in bed. Heck, he could have even prayed in senate on his own and you wouldn’t have heard as much as a squeak from us.

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.

[Image from: http://ashleyconnick.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/off-target.jpg]

by Jong Atmosfera

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III asserted that “only” four or five mothers die everyday of maternity complications instead of 11 as claimed by the pro-RH advocates. He furtherargued, “How many more (mothers) die from cardiovascular, respiratory and other diseases? Why don’t we just concentrate on the 20 deaths a day from other causes and not on this, (which promotes) contraceptives?”

While his lower estimate has already been refuted through showing how the figures were arrived at erroneously,  it must be pointed out that even four to five deaths per day amount to about 1,600 deaths per year. For comparison, the following are the number of fatalities in some of the recent disasters in Philippine history:

Typhoon Ondoy – 747

Sinking of MV Princess of the Stars – 800+

Air Philippines Flight 541 plane crash – 131

Cebu Pacific Flight 387 plane crash – 104

Tragic as they were, these catastrophes that shocked our nation for months actually pale in comparison to the maternity-related deaths; even with Sotto’s “low” estimate, annual maternal casualties are the equivalent of two Ondoys, two shipwrecks, or more than a dozen plane crashes.

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.

September 7, 2011
Senate Interpellation on the RH Bill: 3 PM, Senate Plenary Hall
National Day of the Purple Ribbon Ceremony: 6 PM, Senate Grounds
Wear purple and bring purple ribbons
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It’s clear: from SWS survey results to the President’s own LEDAC endorsement, the Philippine nation is clamoring for the decade long debate on the RH Bill to finally conclude. It is only the handful of anti-RH representatives in both our houses of Congress that still attempt to delay voting on the bill. This is due to the orders of their handlers from the CBCP, and done at the cost of women’s lives and health.

When Rep. Roilo Golez can freely quote medical evidence from Wikipedia as authoritative fact, and Senator Sotto can callously dismiss mothers’ deaths, literally laughing at the faces of the poor women who suffer due to the lack of this bill, it is up to each and every concerned citizen to go directly to them and show that our country is still a democracy.

We would like to ask any and all concerned Freethinkers to join fellow members of the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) for the National Day of the Purple Ribbon on Sept. 7, 6 PM at the Senate Grounds (right outside the main gate of the Senate Compound, which is also the GSIS Building in Pasay City). There is a simple ceremony to commemorate those who have died as a result of the bill’s being delayed. This will be the first of a series of monthly events until the end of this year’s legislative season.

Also, anyone interested in attending the Senate interpellation between Miriam Santiago (the bill’s cosponsor) and Senators Sotto, Enrile, etc. may come to the Senate Plenary Hall in the same building earlier, at 3 PM. It is open to the public, as long as one is ‘decently dressed’ and can present a valid photo ID. It is recommended that you come in by 230 PM to secure seats.


Reproductive Health (RH) supporters all over the country are calling for a series of nationally coordinated mass actions to ask Congress to finally put the RH bill into vote. Starting September 7, the RH Consortium, together with its allies and partners in the different regions, will organize a monthly “Day of the Purple Ribbon for RH” with various activities ranging from motorcades, candle and torch parades, purple ribbon tying and stickering, rallies and cultural presentations.

Hundreds of RH supporters from grassroots organizations, local government units, arts and entertainment industry, interfaith groups, academe, business and national government agencies are expected to join the mass actions. Likewise, the organizers are calling the public to participate in these activities and to wear purple clothes, tie purple ribbons in their homes and cars and to light a candle at exactly 6PM during that day.

The major staging areas for the September 7 purple ribbon events are the cities of Baguio, Iloilo, Davao and at the Senate grounds in Pasay City. The Baguio Day of the Purple Ribbon will feature street performances, an RH forum, a candle parade at 5PM and a concert at the UP Baguio starting at 7PM. In Iloilo City, the whole day event will start with the early morning tying of purple ribbons in major thoroughfares, memorial march and cultural program in the afternoon at the Jaro Plaza.

In Davao City, a motorcade in the morning will launch the purple ribbon campaign, followed by a photo exhibit and a rally at the people’s park. In Pasay City, women’s groups will hold a cultural rally at the Senate grounds to draw attention to the daily deaths of mothers. The rally will coincide with the plenary debate on the RH bill in the Senate. A candle lighting ceremony at exactly 6PM will be the common feature for all the activities on September 7 to remember women who died needlessly due to pregnancy and childbirth complications.

The other dates and venues for the National Day of the Purple Ribbon for RH are on October 7 in Pampanga, Legaspi, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga and on November 15 in Tugegarao, Tacloban and Quezon City.

For interviews and clarifications, please contact Ms. Vigie Benosa-Llorin, PLCPD Media Advocacy Officer, Mobile No. 0918-2936786.

by Kenneth Keng

The Board of the Cultural Center of the Philippines will face a Senate hearing this Tuesday morning, August 16 at 930am in the Plenary Hall of the Senate Building in Manila to answer for their ‘crime’ of displaying the Kulô exhibit. The CBCP and its conservative religious right allies will be mobilizing en masse to support their new inquisition, so we are putting out a call to any and all who can make it to troop to the plenary hall gallery (as its a public hearing any valid ID will get you in) and support freedom of speech.

Just by sitting in the hall in numbers across from the same religious right groups that continually threaten violence against the CCP and the artists it supports, you can make a difference by showing the Senators in attendance that there are those who are willing to stand firm against censorship.


Read the full article in the Filipino Freethinkers website.

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by Pepe Bawagan

My disappointment knows no bounds.

Earlier, the Bantay Bishop movement was jumpstarted with a march to the Senate. Our main objective was to push for fairness in the Senate’s treatment of the bishops, particularly in response to certain senators’ assurance that these men of the cloth would be coddled like scared little children.

Despite all of the effort put into getting our message across, it seems that our wishes fell on deaf ears.

First and foremost, our protest met a sour greeting by Sen. Miriam Santiago with a hostility based on pure speculation. A word of advice to Sen. Santiago: I would be more careful to spout accusations about other people until I had significant evidence of the motives and/or funding behind their actions. Let me just say that this protest was the result of the concerted effort of many involved organizations, and not something simply pushed forward by lump funding from any single private institution. If Sen. Santiago, however, would be willing to disclose the name of the suspect she speaks of, then we would be glad to assist in calling for justice should subsequent investigations reveal them to be guilty of gross misconduct.

Second, the blatant double-standard that the Senate has displayed defies any sincere attempt at delivering swift justice. What I take from their way of handling the situtation is as follows: If a common thief seeks forgiveness by issuing a non-apology and returning the ill-gotten wares, he is sent to prison. If a bishop seeks forgiveness by issuing a non-apology and returning the ill-gotten wares, he is pardoned unquestioningly.

And last, I was expecting at the very least that Pueblos would have been prosecuted for a clear breach of the law. There is no room for twisting interpretations and the law about this is crystal clear. Pueblos had no excuse whatsoever to ask for favors from none other than then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In the end, however, it would seem that even my lowest hopes were still much too high. Instead, all of the bishops were allowed to go scot-free. And all this, after a constant display of hypocrisy on their part.

I, for one, have long been disillusioned by the spiteful actions of clergy. Getting the majority of the Filipino people to share in this realization of mine, though, is still a distant dream. The struggle to emancipate others from the blindfolds of religious high-horseback riding is arduous indeed. The apparent failure of our recent appeal to the Senate shows this. True, others may not take us seriously at the moment, but I cannot help but feel that those whom we do not take seriously are more deserving of this treatment.

Read the full article at the Filipino Freethinkers website.

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