Aborting the RH Bill

Just as the RH bill cleared the House Appropriations Committee yesterday, Malacañang had practically ensured its stillbirth. On the 7th of February, the Inquirer reported that indeed the Palace had retracted its earlier position by de-prioritizing its own version of the bill from among the legislative measures it intended to endorse at the February 28 reconvening of the LEDAC or Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council.

Reacting to speculation that this constituted a caving in by the administration in response to veiled threats issued by the CBCP or Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines following a courtesy call by retired Archbishop Ricardo Vidal, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda defended the Palace position by reportedly stating that “the bill could be introduced in Congress within the year but it would not be certified as urgent anymore” and that “(w)e are not pushing, we are not introducing the bill until after we finish the dialogue with the bishops” adding that “the Palace had nothing to do with the consolidated RH measure now set for plenary debate in the House of Representatives” (quotes taken from two Inquirer accounts).

Indeed by withdrawing its endorsement of its own bill, the Palace may have demonstrated an unwillingness to play the amazing hand that it has been dealt with. The president not only can boast of tremendous popularity, but he could also claim that a sizable majority of Filipinos were in favor of the bill. There was no need or urgency to be circumspect in selecting battles. The inability to call the bluff of the bishops and readiness to fold this early in the game shows perhaps a lack of a political strategy among the players within Malacañang.

It should be noted that for the Palace to endorse a bill to Congress, it was not necessary for it to present its draft of legislation as final. It could endorse a proposed draft or set of drafts subject to consultation as it is most likely to undergo during congressional deliberations. Privileging the voice of the clergy in this way over that of other groups, namely women’s and children’s as well as gay rights groups, was a tremendous concession to make, which could be construed as an act of extreme risk aversion.

Earlier, P-Noy had performed what could be considered an intelligent reframing of the debate by calling the RH Bill the “Responsible Parenthood” Bill, not that it concerns itself with parenthood alone, as HIV/AIDS prevention is an important element. By constructing the target audience of the bill in this manner, P-Noy was legitimizing the policy to power brokers by connecting it with the mainstream and not just the marginalized groups on the fringes of society with negative cultural connotations.

Contrast that with today’s headline that the President would plead with the Chinese president to grant clemency to three Filipinos sentenced to death because of drug trafficking. It might be said that Malacañang was unwilling to take up the cudgels for the thousands of women that die every year (according the the UN Population Fund) due to poor maternal and reproductive health services, yet it will go to great lengths to plead for the lives of three convicted drug smugglers. In either case, it will be seen as being ready to fall prostrate before a “higher power” whether secular or religious for political expediency.

In Parliamentary parlance, what the Palace has in fact done has been to call for a conscience vote on the floor. In effect, if the RH Bill is ever voted upon, the ruling party would not have a policy position either for or against the legislation. Congressmen and senators that comprise the ruling coalition will be free to vote as they please without any reprisal from the ruling party. Being isolated in this way will make them even more vulnerable to lobbying and threats by the vocal groups that oppose it.

What P-Noy might eventually be accused of is leading his troops in the charge and then abandoning them right in the midst of battle. Having been leaned on by the patriarchs of the Church to wash his hands of any parental responsibility over his love child, the president might be viewed as having left the proponents of the RH Bill with only two options: either to abort it or deliver it on their own.

Doy Santos aka The Cusp

Doy Santos is an international development consultant who shuttles between Australia and the Philippines. He maintains a blog called The Cusp: A discussion of new thinking, new schools of thought and fresh ideas on public policy (www.thecusponline.org) and tweets as @thecusponline. He holds a Master in Development Economics from the University of the Philippines and an MS in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

  • PRINCES CADLUM

    PARA SA AKIN,AY KONTRA PO AKO SA RH BILL..DAPAT ANG KORAPSYON ANG KAILANGAN TUTUKAN..SIMPLY LANG,,ASAN PA MATATAGPUAN ANG MAUNLAN NA PAMUMUHAY,DIBA NASA SYUDAD,WALA SA ISANG NAYON..HALATA NMANG,MARAMI ANG TAO SA ISANG SYUDAD,KAYA,HINDI PROBLEMA ANG PAG UNLAD,,KUNG KORAPSYON ANG MASUGPO..ANG PILIPINAS AY KILALA BILANG CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY,NA KUNG SAAN BAWAL ANG PUMATAY..ANG LAHAT NG NILALANG SA MUNDO AY MAY KARAPATANG MABUHAY..HUWAG NATIN HUSGAHAN ANG BUKAS HINDI TAYO DIOS..NASA TAO ANG GAWA,NASA DIOS ANG AWA..DAPAT,IPAALAM SA BAWAT MAG-ASAWA,ANUMANG DISISYON AY RESPONSIBILIDAD NILA SA KANILANG PAMILYA AT SA DIOS..SEX IS A BLESSING PARA SA MAG-ASAWA NA GALING SA DIOS NA KUNG SAAN,HINDI BASTA2X AABUSUHAN..”ANG PAGMAMALABIS AY ISANG KASALANAN”…

  • This is only for students of political economy and not, ahem, “developmental economists.”

    Hope you all know what factor endowments means.

    It is not free condums for sure.

    http://ideas.repec.org/p/cpr/ceprdp/5867.html

    The Persistence of Underdevelopment, Institutions, Human Capital or Constituencies.
    Raghuram Rajan (IMF & NBER)
    Luigi Zingales (Harvard, NBER, CEPR)

    “Why is underdevelopment so persistent? One explanation is that poor countries do not have institutions that can support growth. Because institutions (both good and bad) are persistent, underdevelopment is persistent. An alternative view is that underdevelopment comes from poor education. Neither explanation is fully satisfactory, the first because it does not explain why poor economic institutions persist even in fairly democratic but poor societies, and the second because it does not explain why poor education is so persistent. This paper tries to reconcile these two views by arguing that the underlying cause of underdevelopment is the initial distribution of factor endowments. Under certain circumstances, this leads to self-interested constituencies that, in equilibrium, perpetuate the status quo. In other words, poor education policy might well be the proximate cause of underdevelopment, but the deeper (and more long lasting cause) are the initial conditions (like the initial distribution of education) that determine political constituencies, their power, and their incentives. Though the initial conditions may well be a legacy of the colonial past, and may well create a perverse political equilibrium of stagnation, persistence does not require the presence of coercive political institutions. We present some suggestive empirical evidence. On the one hand, such an analysis offers hope that the destiny of societies is not preordained by the institutions they inherited through historical accident. On the other hand, it suggests we need to understand better how to alter factor endowments when societies may not have the internal will to do so.”

    “Plus que ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. The development literature used to be focused on endowments, especially on the role of education in development. (See for example, Easterlin. (1981) This approach, however, had a hard time explaining the persistence of underdevelopment.”
    “Cameroon more than doubled its rate of adult literacy in the 3 decades after 1970 (from 30% to 71%) and Libya was able to do even better in absolute terms (from 36% to 80%). Why was India, a flourishing democracy that started in the 1970’s with 33% of adults literate, still lagging behind with a rate of 57% in 2000?”
    Our paper suggests the persistence of underdevelopment is not necessarily die to the existence of bad political, and consequently economic institutions. Institutions may often be only the proximate cause. The deeper reason is the existence of self – perpetuating interest groups. Changing the institutions without changing the constituencies backing them is likely to be a futile exercise, for the constituencies against change will find a way around the constraints imposed by the institutions.
    “The main message of this paper is that rather than focusing on institutions, we should focus on the constituencies that demand them. Such a focus shifts the debate, we believe back to factor endowments and the following question. How do we change factor endowments in a poor society, especially if dominant interest groups oppose such a change. From the perspective of development, this may be a more fruitful question than the question of how we change institutions.”

    • There you go again, J_AG8, contradicting yourself.

      First you say this article is not for students of development economics, and then you cite one whose central problem is under-development!!

      But let me just put the article in its proper context within this discussion of the RH Bill for you.

      Alright, so the argument goes our underdevelopment is due to a concentration of power in the hands of a few. In this instance, the powerful bloc is the Catholic Church.

      The way to break down its stranglehold? I can cite studies which show that democratizing access to information, political enfranchisement is the way, which is exactly what the RH Bill will do in terms of family planning.

      Instead of relying on their local parish priest alone for advise, the RH Bill will allow the poor to gain access to information. All forms of family planning will be able to compete on a level playing field.

      This will lead to greater human development, which will serve as a precedent to better economic well-being for families and the nation in the long-run.

      • J_ag8

        Mahina talaga ang ulo mo.

        That quip was meant for you, Mr. Santos The paper points to the fact that all this talk and efforts for improving the quality of institutions and human capital will not work unless the root cause of the problem of underdevelopment will be addressed.

        The unequal distribution of factor endowments and the hardened constituencies that they create that will act as roadblocks.

        That is more political economy than anything else. I hope you understand the implications of that root cause.

        Two comments on the recent crisis ongoing in Tunisia and Egypt by two economists whose perspectives are economic in nature but look at the problem from the lens of political economy.

        No state is immune from upheaval if conditions on the ground do not match peoples expectations for social mobility with the political institutions. If the political institutions do not keep up you have will social upheaval.

        Equality of opportunities must be matched by equality of outcomes. Otherwise you have breakdowns in society. The rising tidal wave of serious criminality is a sure sign of future social instability to come.

        The CCT program of the government’s strategic goal is to break the patronage politics that is imbedded in the country. But the program will still be dependent on the local politicos who will use it to gain pogi points.

        http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/rodrik53/English
        http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/rogoff77/English

        • The bottom-line here is that I don’t think even the authors of that article you cited would propose cutting off educational programs just because it does not address the so-called underlying factor for underdevelopment.
          By the same token it would be misconstruing their message to say that health programs including reproductive health do not deserve attention.
          Both are still necessary conditions for development. They may not be sufficient as you need good institutions and asset reform, but they are still necessary nonetheless.
          And the Left which strongly supports your views on asset reform also supports this type of health reform because it supports gender equity.

  • mario taporco

    Manuel, thanks for pinpointing that out. “Go Fish”…, 😉

  • manuelbuencamino

    First, everybody has to accept that the Philippines is a secular State.

    Second, issues of public policy should be debated on a secular baseis i.e. morality preached by any religious cult has no place in debates over public policy.

    Third, if any religious cult wants its morality to enshrined in the Constitution or the law, then they should run for public office.

  • mario taporco

    To make it short, what you guys are really inmplying on is that, there are no irreconcilable conflicts of class or group interest in Filipino society, for that matter our government. That everyone’s interests are always compatible, and that therefore any political clashes can only stem from misapprehensions of this common interest. Can we Filipinos make a better judgment for ourselves, to improve our ways of dealing with such intrusive religious[CBCP] groups.

    Religion and Government does not, nor will not, be compatible as a whole. Or else, “Let’s Play… Go Fish”

    What makes matters worse, in the short run an individual or a group may profit from violating the interests of other groups or individuals. But in the long run, in indulging in such actions, they damage their own selfish interests no less than those of the people they have injured. The sacrifice that a Filipino or a group makes in renouncing some short-run gains, lest they endanger the peaceful operation of the apparatus of social cooperation, is merely temporary. It amounts to an abandonment of a small immediate profit for the sake of incomparably greater advantages in the long run. What type of political virtues does our government invokes, or should i say, inflicts to our people. Hmmm…,!

    Specially CBCP. If these man with robes cannot seem to pinpoint such intrusion for the cause (“Responsible Parenthood”), they have know idea what Hell is.

  • KG

    submission of drafts to congress is not a sure way that the place version will have a sponsor in the upper and lower house

    I can give an example and that would be
    “The amendments to the national defense act”

    2006 pa ginawa ni Atty Cruz ang draft matagal na nila ito gusto isubmit sa congress kaso yung congress me sariling version

    The Biazons have their own national defense and security act.

    Sa senate Jinggoy and Honasan also have their own versions national security act. Now Jinggoy filed an identical bill to that of congressman Biazon.

    Hindi ito gumagalaw not because wala pang certification as urgent ng president.

    The reason is because the senate president does not think that the national defense act needs amending.

    Now the defense department did some revisions to the draft. when the president puts this on his priority to do lists, who will sponsor it?
    The only way to make it move is to sell it as a defense reform bill, which is exactly the long title of the draft:AN ACT TO ESTABLISH REFORMS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESTATING, AMENDING, AND REPEALING CERTAIN LAWS, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

  • Bert

    Nobody is aborting this RH Bill, certainly not the government, much less President Noynoy. Well, the Catholic Church wants to abort it, but what can they do. If the Filipino people wants it, then the church can’t prevent it from happening.

    De-prioritizing the RH Bill is a win-win move by Noynoy. One step backwards, two steps forward. He gave the church a false sense of confidence for them to shut-up in the meantime, he gave Congress independence to do its work re-RH Bill, he now has more time to observe the people’s pulse re-the RH Bill, then when the finished law reached Malacanang for his approval…then that will be the time of reckoning.

    In the meantime, private citizens should do what have to be done, for or against the bill, and not continually badgering the President for something that he has to approve or disapprove anyway,in the end.

    If thousands of women die next year, or thousands of fertilized eggs in the womb, then that’s everybody’s fault…for not doing enough.

    Or for having made the wrong decision.

    • I’m sorry, Bert. I just fail to see how de-prioritizing the bill at this stage can give it a boost.
      It might allow a watered-down bill to emerge down the track. The Palace is touting its version (to be introduced later in the year after consultations with the bishops)to emphasize poverty rather than population reduction, but that would be an anachronism since the two are related.
      The Catholic Church is behaving like a large corporation (in the words of Posner) protecting its interests. The problem for it is that Catholics in Ireland, Spain and America have now been disregarding its teachings with regard to contraception. This is the logical explanation for why Catholic Ireland, Spain and Italy now have some of the lowest fertility rates in the West.
      A majority of Filipinos say they are in favor of the RH Bill. The least the palace should do is meet with some of the advocates of it. Otherwise it could be seen as kowtowing to the corporate interests of the Catholic leaders to the detriment of a majority of the laity not to mention the citizens who are non-Catholic.

      • “The Catholic Church is behaving like a large corporation (in the words of Posner) protecting its interests. The problem for it is that Catholics in Ireland, Spain and America have now been disregarding its teachings with regard to contraception. This is the logical explanation for why Catholic Ireland, Spain and Italy now have some of the lowest fertility rates in the West.”

        For one to relate low fertility rates to economic development is a primary example of agnotology…

        “Why do we stay ignorant?

        There are in fact two things, science and opinion;

        the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.”

        Hippocrates, Law, Book 1

        “Agnotology: The Cultural Production of Ignorance”

        Stanford Professor Londa Schiebinger invented the word Agnotology – the Cultural Production Of Ignorance. Epistolmolgy is the study of why we know what we know, Agnology is the study of why we don’t know things. Why does our culture deliberately avoid or push a side knowledge? Why do we believe nonsense? Who controls information, and what mechanisms work at the individual level to control knowledge.

        Truthiness is a term coined by Stephen Colbert, on the first episode of his TV show on Comedy Central, the Colbert Report. It refers to our tendency to believe or not believe something, not based on facts, evidence or logic, but by whether it “feels” true.

        • I was making a statement of fact: those countries have some of the lowest fertility rates.

          I was not making any inferences from that quote except to say that the people in these predominantly Catholic countries had probably changed their practices viz. contraceptives and family planning because of the decline in their fertility rates over the years.

          And this idea comes from Nobel Laureate Gary Becker whose work in the field is beyond reproach.

          http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2010/11/the-behavior-of-catholics-and-contraceptive-use-becker.html

          • If Catholics in Spain, Italy and Ireland are deciding to limit the size of their families by any means available for them in contravention of their Church teachings isn’t it their educated choice?

            Was there or is move to limit population growth in these developed societies to be managed by the State.

            While they were in the early stages of their societal development even before modern methods were invented was there a move by their government to manage their populations?

            Your piece actually proves that all developed societies do have low population growth rates. Their rates have dropped below replacement rates. That has provided openings for their immigrant population.

            Even the U.S. minus their net immigration would have a declining population growth rate.

            But did this happen due to a population policy and program by the state or economic conditions. Your link said it all. During recessions population growth rates drop. Do you know what a recession is and can the Philippines go through a recession?

            Somehow you have a weird sense of logic. Your sample above does not make sense. In advanced and modern societies religions play a smaller part in their actions. Economics does. It has always been the economy that drives human actions.

            Your premise is simple.

            The poverty rate in the Philippines is due to a overpopulation and therefore the poor are responsible for the mal-development and underdevelopment of Philippine society.

            Please note that contraceptive technologies came into being only in the 60’s.

            However the West grew their societies in population size and economically by industrializing.

            So tell me is the fertility rates in the West due to population policy by the State or to advances in development to afford couples the ability to make a well informed educated choice?

            The answer is obvious. The faster a country develops the faster its population growth rate will drop. In China they imposed a one child policy. Now in certain parts of China that are they are reversing that process. In Singapore they did almost the same thing and then they reversed it.

            To make the development process contingent on moving to limit population growth through state intervention is somehow ludicrous most especially in a state that is still searching for its own reason for existing.

            If you are a maven in economics then you will probably be able to tell one and all where the Philippines is exactly, in the ladder of its economic development?

          • My dear J_ag8, first you say that to relate fertility rates with economic development is a sign of ignorance, and then afterwards you say that “the faster a country develops the faster its population growth rate will drop.”

            It’s like having an argument with a person with multiple personalities.

            Actually, if we were to construct a model for determining fertility rates, we would say that it is a function of a number of factors such as:

            1. Economic growth, i.e. higher incomes
            2. Public policy, i.e. reproductive health
            3. Cultural preference, i.e. religion
            4. Human development, i.e. child care and maternal care
            5. Other idiosyncracies, i.e. HIV/AIDS prevalence

            Households or couples will be influenced in making their decisions by these factors. Actually your statement that the more advanced a country’s economy, the lower the birth rate is also false.

            If you had followed the links I supplied in the piece, you would have found that the latest literature shows that some of the richer countries like Sweden have recently seen an increase in their birth rates.

            And it is due to the effect of higher human development. Better childcare (which is absent in Italy for instance) has encouraged couples in some of the most advanced countries to have children.

            http://www.thecusponline.org/2009/08/child-rearing-no-longer-luxury-for-rich.html

  • KG

    I beg to differ a bill can move even without it being considered urgent.

    The FOI bill almost made it(di ito priority bill) yun nga lang nag kaproblema sa quorum ng botohan na sa lower house.

    The foi bill made it this far:

    Legislative History

    Entitled:
    AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO INFORMATION ON MATTERS OF PUBLIC CONCERN GUARANTEED UNDER SECTION SEVEN, ARTICLE THREE OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION AND THE STATE POLICY OF FULL PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF ALL ITS TRANSACTIONS INVOLVING PUBLIC INTEREST UNDER SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT, ARTICLE TWO OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
    [ SECOND REGULAR SESSION, 14TH CONGRESS ]
    [ 2009 ]
    6/3/2009 Prepared and submitted jointly by the Committee(s) on PUBLIC INFORMATION AND MASS MEDIA and CIVIL SERVICE AND GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION with Senator(s) RAMON A. REVILLA JR., MAR ROXAS, JINGGOY P. EJERCITO-ESTRADA, MANNY VILLAR, LOREN B. LEGARDA, ALAN PETER “COMPANERO” S. CAYETANO, “COMPANERA” PIA S. CAYETANO and JUAN MIGUEL F. ZUBIRI as author(s) per Committee Report No. 534, recommending its approval in substitution of SBNos. 16, 109, 576, 592, 1578, 2571 and 3273, taking into consideration HBN-3732 and SRN-11;
    6/3/2009 Sponsors: Senator(s) ALAN PETER “COMPANERO” S. CAYETANO, ANTONIO “SONNY” F. TRILLANES IV;
    6/3/2009 Committee Report Calendared for Ordinary Business;
    8/26/2009 Transferred from Ordinary Business to Special Order;
    8/26/2009 Sponsorship speech of Senator ALAN PETER “COMPANERO” S. CAYETANO;
    8/26/2009 Co-sponsorship speech of Senator JUAN MIGUEL F. ZUBIRI;
    10/12/2009 Interpellation of Senator MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO;
    11/16/2009 Interpellation of Senator JOKER P. ARROYO;
    12/7/2009 Period of committee amendments;
    12/7/2009 Period of committee amendments closed;
    12/7/2009 Period of individual amendments closed;
    12/7/2009 Approved on Second Reading with Amendments;
    12/8/2009 Printed copies were distributed to the Senators;
    12/14/2009 Approved on Third Reading;
    12/14/2009 In favor: (12) BENIGNO S. AQUINO III, JOKER P. ARROYO, JINGGOY P. EJERCITO-ESTRADA, JUAN PONCE ENRILE, FRANCIS “CHIZ” G. ESCUDERO, RICHARD “DICK” J. GORDON, GREGORIO B. HONASAN II, MANUEL “LITO” M. LAPID, FRANCIS N. PANGILINAN, AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL JR., RAMON A. REVILLA JR. and JUAN MIGUEL F. ZUBIRI;
    12/14/2009 Against: N o n e;
    12/14/2009 Abstention: N o n e;
    12/16/2009 Sent to the House of Representatives requesting for concurrence;
    12/16/2009 Senate requested the House of Representatives for a conference on the disagreeing provisions of SBN-3308 and HBN-3732, designating Senators Cayetano (A.), Zubiri and Cayetano (P.) as its conferees;
    [ 2010 ]
    1/26/2010 House of Representatives agreed to a conference on the disagreeing provisions of SBN-3308 and HBN-3732, designating Representatives Abante, Jr., Zialcita, Tañada III, Marcoleta, Antonino, Remulla, Villanueva and Cruz-Gonzales as its conferees to the Bicameral Conference Committee on January 18, 2010;
    2/1/2010 Conference Committee Report submitted to the Senate, recommending that SBN-3308, in consolidation with HBN-3732, be approved as reconciled;
    2/1/2010 Conference Committee Report Approved by the Senate;

    =====
    campaign period happened pag balik pagtapos ng election nagkalimutan na

  • KG

    Ang importante it won’t start from scratch

    The ledac is just for consensus building.

    Granting that during the 14th congress had a so called opposition senate and admin lower house it was expected that some of the bills will be archived. Notwithstanding the so called configuration many priority bills were enacted into law.

    http://ledac.neda.gov.ph/legislativeAgendaStatus.htm

    We are really over rating the priority status trump card

    At the end of the day it is just an agenda for guidance of the respective majority leaders of congress

    The ledac won’t stop a congressman or a senator from filing 300 bills or more

    nasa majority leader ang bola.

    Now my concern is :the majority leader of the senate publicly thumbed down the bill during the budget hearings.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wIMef21g68

    The influence of Tito sotto with regards to the rh bill remains to be seen.

    What is the status of the bill in the house and the senate?

    http://www.congress.gov.ph/legis/search/hist_show.php?congress=15&save=1&journal=&switch=0&bill_no=HB00096

    http://www.senate.gov.ph/lis/bill_res.aspx?congress=15&q=SBN-2378

    http://www.senatorpiacayetano.com/index.php?option=com_sectionex&view=category&id=2&Itemid=5

  • Although it would certainly be nice if government could get a little progressive and move away from the 15th century dogma of the Church, there is nothing wrong with private citizens banding together as an organization to promote responsible parenthood and birthing, via education. They just have to be willing to put their money where their mouths are. I think there are few who can get out of their ego-bound self interest to work up the energy or charity to promote responsibility for the good of society.

  • UP nn grad

    Beth Angsioco has written about the truthiness of Noynoy Aquino administration and Noynoy Aquino, the person:
    RH advocates continued to trust PNoy. After all, he always spoke of respect for couples’ choice, availability of information, not having any bias for any family planning method, availability of contraceptives especially to the poor, even RH education — all important components of the RH bill.

    Advocates were repeatedly assured by some Cabinet members, specifically, Secretaries Soliman, Ona, and Carandang that the President was pro-RH. We were not about to doubt these credible officials. RH/RP was always included in the list of possible priority measures.

    Then, deadma time began. Malacañang initiated the dialogue with the bishops to the exclusion of more important stakeholders like women and civil society organizations. Deadma. Women requested to dialogue with the President. Deputy Spokesperson Valte’s statement that she did not know of any request (despite being sent to at least three intermediaries) betrays the Palace’s attitude on women which is: Deadma.

    • Yep. I know UPnGrad. We republished Deadma a few days ago: here. As I’ve written in my comment to Manuel, the palace has drawn a line on the sand. It would either be: we get a more active citizenry, or the palace gets blowback from its tactical decision. There is a bigger picture playing out here and RH is just one theater of war.

      The palace has chosen to let the insurgents fight off the bishops, thinking the former can fight without Presidential support. The insurgents may win. They will also remember they won without the president’s support and will go on thinking: we don’t need the president.

      In the long run, this is good for the country as a whole. You get a more active citizenry at the same time diluting the power of the presidency. We may get a political system that doesn’t look up to the president as King.

      What are the political consequences of Aquino not actively supporting the RHBill? That depends on: are the pro RH Bill folk that much influential it matters to Aquino’s strategic position?

      • The problem however with this view is that P-Noy controls the agenda. By taking it off his agenda, other bills will be given priority.
        It doesn’t matter whether the RH Bill supporters can muster enough votes in both houses or not.
        If it is not placed on the agenda, it will not even go up for a vote. The tactic of the anti-RH camp is to let the clock run out in this session of Congress–to postpone it till later this year.
        What could possibly happen is that the Palace might then propose a watered down version of it late in the year, too late for it to be included in the 2012 budget.
        So you are looking at 2013 at the soonest. By then Congressmen will be worried about the mid-term election. They will be extremely vulnerable and risk averse.
        What will that mean for the 2015 deadline of the MDG targets? More importantly, what will it mean for the lives that will be wasted in the interim due to this political game.

  • GabbyD

    @cusp

    what is the likelihood of passage without pnoy’s support?

    has there been a count of prospective votes?

    • That’s a good question. According to Lagman, the bill’s “inexorable progression towards enactment” was assured.
      Progression is not the same as enactment though. They may have the numbers, but the question is will they have the time.
      Without P-Noy’s certification of the urgency of the bill, other priorities might take precedence over this measure.
      It might get passed first reading, but will it eventually get passed third is now the question.

  • J_ag8

    For all practical purposes the reality is simple. All new programs that require funding usually go begging.

    The CCT program is being funded by a loan from the multilateral institutions. The national government still does not have the adequate delivery system and structures in place for this program.

    When separating the health requirements for women while the health department and welfare department are already lacking in funding while the issue of reallocation of funds are being done for personal gain all over the place, why beat on a dead horse?

    When the national government is still seen as a cow with so many teats things do not get done.

    Maybe it is time for us to break up the center and divide power all over the country. That maybe the first step in resolving the systemic and structural problems in the country.

    One of the more successful policies of the PRC is their village system of representative government.

    There are democratic mechanisms at the grassroots level of Chinese government. Also the central government has been very successful in decentralizing power to the provinces. The Communist party and the Military keeps it all together with strict political guidelines at the top.

    It is time to destroy the center that is Imperial Manila.

    • The funding for 2011 will initially come from DOH and POPCOM funds that are already embedded in their budgets to the tune of 731 M.
      For 2012, the idea is for as much as 3B to be alloted if this bill is passed.
      The CCT program is only partly funded by multilaterals. Much of the fiscal space for it came from a reduction in the grains importation program of the DA.

      • GabbyD

        where did u get this data? from the internet:

        “P21 billion of the DSWD’s proposed budget of P34.3 billion is earmarked for the CCT, which involves 10 monthly cash handouts of up to P1,400 to more than a million poor families. Of this, P500 is intended for the mother on condition she undergoes regular maternal checkups while up to three children get P300 each provided they regularly attend classes.”

        so, total budget of 34B.

        ADB lent: “Davao del Sur Representative Marc Douglas Cagas said funding the CCT from a $400-million Asian Development Bank loan would tie the country to a 25-year debt, long after the five-year program’s lifespan.”

        400 mill X 44 (approx)==17B

        the WB also loaned a similar amount.

        the only way you make sense is that total spending for the 5 year duration is 34Bx5==160B, of which 34B is debt financed.(ie. 1/5th debt financed).

        • I based it on the budget statement issued last year which remained intact at least as far as this program is concerned.

      • J_ag8

        “The CCT program is only partly funded by multilaterals. Much of the fiscal space for it came from a reduction in the grains importation program of the DA.”

        Another example of ignorance masquerading as knowledge.

        The national government budget and the budget for the NFA is separate. NFA is a GOCC. It is not funded by the national budget. However the interest it pays is funded from the national budget as the BFA is operating with a huge debt overhang. It operates using debt financing for its operations.

        If it were a private corporation it would have declared insolvency a long time ago. However it can borror at lower rates than our noted economist can simply because it is state owned.

        Procurement of rice is handle independently by the NFA as it is able to get credit from suppliers and has the ability to float bonds. In fact the volume of rice to be imported will be lower for this year. There is no budget allocation for the purchase of rice in the national budget.

        The NFA will now stop selling its imported rice for the poor directly to retailers and sell this to the DSWD. The DSWD will look after the subsidized selling. The government is slowly going to stop the policy to sell NFA rice.

        Now please note that the imported rice of the NFA is taxed at 40% by the national government. But the tax is not actually collected from the NFA. So on the books when the NFA sells it it carries with it a paper loss. However that so called tax collection is only a mirage.

        That is to provide a protective net for domestic prices as imported prices if duty free would decimate local rice prices and decimate incomes for farmers.

        So what budget allocation for NFA are you talking about that will be transferred for the CCT.

        Do you know anything about the rice procurement program of the NFA? DA is an agency under the executive while the NFA is a GOCC… Do you know the difference between the national debt and the total public sector debt?

        The total public sector debt includes the debt of all GOCC’s, local governments and all the contingent liabilities of the private and public sector that carry an implicit and explicit government guarantee.

        Where did you learn your economics? Do you know anything about fiscal policy?

        • Please visit the DA’s budget in the DBM’s website. Go back to the years under GMA. You will see there that in the years when rice importation was expanded, the appropriations for the DA went up dramatically.
          GOCC’s may be independent of the national government, but the NFA was never set up to make money. In fact quite the opposite. For that reason it has had to rely on the national government to fund its deficits. That is the only way it has been able to continue operating.

  • UP nn Grad

    While it is (in my opinion) a tactical mistake by Noynoy to now wilt and fade-in-the-background when the surging pro-RH seem to command the lead….

    WHAT I REALLY WANT is for Noynoy to be strong with this “Walang Korap” slogan. It is appalling that the anti-plunder inside-AFP was led by Congress, not by Department of Justice. Noynoy is presenting his administration as just waiting for accidents to happen (and the Rabusa / Heidi were accidental, to mean serendipity — it just happened without any leadership from Noynoy administration).

    • manuelbuencamino

      UP,

      apparently you are ignorant about how rabusa/mendoza happened.

  • UP nn Grad

    Manuel B writes: You know how politics works in this country. If the president wants a law passed then he has to bribe members of congress, either through outright cash pay-offs or pork barrel releases or some form of patronage or accommodation.

    that is so lame to shade the passage of “ending capital punishment” as Gloria Macapagal Arroyo bribing the senators and congressmen who passed the bill.

    that is so lame to shade the passage of the appropriations bill last year as Noyinoyi Aquino bribing the senators and congressmen who passed the appropriations bill. Gloria- and Mikey-Arroyo, Bongbong- and Imelda Marcos accepting a bribe from Noynoy? Surely, that can not be true.

    Cory Aquino getting the 1987 Constitution… how much bribe money did she pass around?

    • manuelbuencamino

      Up,

      Have you ever heard of the word horse-trading?

      Now, during Cory Aquino’s time and now during PNoy, I never saw anyone walking out of the Palace with a shopping bag full of money. I have also never heard anyone testify under oath that they received a P500K bundel of cash from the Palace during Cory’s or PNoy’s time. It is only under your idol GMA when it happened.

      So does horse-trading happen? Yes that’s politics. Did Cory or Pnoy ever give out cash? Never. Only GMA did that.

  • manuelbuencamino

    Doy,

    I don’t see the comparison to parliamentary practice because there is no ruling party in this country except in name. There is no entity that can discipline anybody, at least not unless one resorts to gangsterism.

    You know how politics works in this country. If the president wants a law passed then he has to bribe members of congress, either through outright cash pay-offs or pork barrel releases or some form of patronage or accommodation. The problem with this president is he refuses to play that game.

    As to not prioritizing the bill or adopting it as his own. I’ve commented on this issue in another thread. But to repeat: It does not make sense for the president to become the lightning rod in this issue at this time.

    This is a war of attrition not a duel at the OK Corral. Let the pro-lifers do battle in Congress first because that’s where battle is still being fought.

    Realistically, Congress, if it is determined, can pass that bill whether the president likes it or not and can even override his veto if it so chooses.

    There is a practical reason for staying out of the fight at this time: If the president leads the charge, the pro-lifers can concentrate all their fire on him instead of having to face an army of pro-RH legislators and their backers.

    To be specific, remember the threat to excommunicate? It will be easier to excommunicate one man than more than a hundred legislators. Excommunicating one person is easy, excommunicating a hundred at the same time makes the whole thing an exercise in absurdity.

    When the clergy asks their flock to make a “moral choice”, as they did in both EDSAs, they will have to ask their flock to overthrow the entire congress and not one man. You get the drift.

    So why give pro-lifers an easy target? Let them do battle with a hydra-headed monster. You can’t beat those pro-lifers mano-a-mano because they play dirty.

    • MB, you and UPn raise distinct but equally important points.

      It is indeed a pity that party discipline and platforms are meaningless in our society, so perhaps the analogy might have been stretching it a bit(although if that is the case, why did the LP make such a big deal out of its platform prior to the elections–I thought they were different).

      I don’t necessarily think that P-Noy was serving as a lightning rod for anti-RH vitriol. It should be noted that he was in prior discussions with the clergy and in fact came very close to gaining their consent to the actual wording of his draft prior to last week.

      But there is a very thin line between being in discussions and being dictated upon, and in this instance perhaps that line has been crossed.

      Which is why if this RH bill does become enacted and leads to a significant reduction of maternal deaths of about 5,000 a year, it won’t be part of P-Noy’s legacy. If on the other hand, it flounders and the deaths continue at the same rate as in the past, that would be a significant blow to his health agenda.

      At any rate, this latest move by him marks a significant retreat from where he was late last year. I wonder what other significant pieces of reform will flounder in similar manner.

      • What’s more is that by abdicating leadership in this reform bill, he has effectively ceded the field to house minority leader Rep Edcel Lagman (Albay, Lakas-NUCD), a staunch advocate of the bill.
        Instead of demonstrating a bit of cross-party unity in the face of stiff opposition from the Church, which in Posner’s words is a large corporate entity struggling to protect its interests, the president has left it to the opposition to face the music.

        • manuelbuencamino

          edcel lagman has been at the forefront of the RH bill even before this current congress.

      • manuelbuencamino

        Your post attests to the fact that he is a lightning rod. Media reports and the statements of the anti-RH are focused on him. That too proves he has become the focus of everyone’s attention.

        Let’s focus on him when the bill gets to his desk.

        • Let’s face it. P-Noy will cop some flak either way. I guess the question is whether he wants to cop it for sticking to his principles or not.

    • Manuel,

      What i’m getting here is that the President prefers not to waste political capital on the issue.

      Supporters of the RHBill feel that they need the President’s approval, preferably not a tacit one, which could in their eyes, make the difference between passing the bill or not. And the President’s “I am for responsible parenthood,” stance confuses them.

      I recognize that it is utterly pointless to engage the Church in this issue. It is a useless enterprise to do so, and that the real battlefield, and I agree with you, Manuel is in the Congress.

      I agree too with Doy’s point of view. This is a dangerous gamble by the palace.

      There is an upside to letting RH people battle it out in the Congress, other than the ones you’ve mentioned. It is giving people the ability to pass important pieces of legislation without the approval of the palace. It is a good gamble if it works. It also dilutes the power of the presidency in a country— as you’ve mentioned— has no ruling party. Victory in the RHBill without the President can only empower people.

      The downside of which could be lose-lose for the president. RH Supporters may feel that the President abandoned them in their hour of need. Would they have the guts and the maturity to stand by the President as he passes /his/ pieces of legislation?

      It is a tactical decision of the palace. As I’ve mentioned before, it is an acceptable move in only so far as that it works for the overall strategy. I see the palace launching prioritizing bills such as the whistle blowers’ act, of fixing how Congress writes the general appropriations bill. These are things that normal people will not understand, will not get. Most critics of the president won’t get the chess move either. It is certainly different from what everyone is used to in the past.

      We may find a nation and a political system that has grown up. Only if the gamble works.

      • manuelbuencamino

        cocoy,

        “Supporters of the RHBill feel that they need the President’s approval, preferably not a tacit one, which could in their eyes, make the difference between passing the bill or not. And the President’s “I am for responsible parenthood,” stance confuses them.”

        That is precisely the problem I was trying to point out.

        “There is an upside to letting RH people battle it out in the Congress, other than the ones you’ve mentioned. It is giving people the ability to pass important pieces of legislation without the approval of the palace. It is a good gamble if it works. It also dilutes the power of the presidency in a country— as you’ve mentioned— has no ruling party. Victory in the RHBill without the President can only empower people.”

        And that is exactly what I want to happen.