House of Representatives

Schedule of 2011 PDAF releases to Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco

Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, acting as a defense witness at the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona, claimed yesterday that the release of the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF)—more commonly referred to as “pork barrel funds”—allocated for his district was delayed as a result of his opposition to the impeachment of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. He testified that he received the first tranche of the PDAF on August 1, 2011.

Navotas (Lone District) Rep. Toby Tiangco
Courtesy of the Toby Tiangco page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/pages/Toby-Tiangco/185633641527060)

In the interest of discussion, we are publishing the schedule of the pork releases in 2011 to Rep. Tiangco as recorded in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) web site.

2011 PDAF – Tiangco, Tobias Reynald M.

Amendments to the consolidated RH bill (HB 4244)

Following below, courtesy of the RH Bill portal, is the text of a letter sent by Rep. Edcel Lagman, seeking to effect specific amendments in House Bill 4244 (“An Act providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development, and for Other Purposes”).

15 March 2011

 

HON. ROGELIO J. ESPINA

Chairman
Committee on Population and Family Relations
House of Representatives
Constitution Hills, Quezon City

 

Dear Chairman Espina:

The principal authors of House Bill 4244, the consolidated substitute bill on “The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011″ met yesterday to formalize voluntary amendments to the bill in order to preclude misconceptions and protracted debates. The authors have also authorized me to inform you that the following amendments be adopted as Committee amendments at the proper time:

1. Section 13 on “Roles of Local Governments in Family Planning Programs” found on lines 9-14, page 12, of the bill, which reads: “The LGUs shall ensure that poor families receive preferential access to services, commodities and programs for family planning. The role of Population Officers at municipal, city and barangay levels in the family planning effort shall be strengthened. Barangay health workers and volunteers shall be capacitated to give priority to family planning work.”

should be amended by deleting the phrase “give priority to family planning work.” found in the last sentence of the Section, and should be substituted with the phrase “help implement this Act.” This would obviate complaints that family planning is given inordinate priority.

2. Section 15 on “Mobile Health Care Service” found on page 12, lines 20-25, and page 13, lines 1-6, reading “Each Congressional District may be provided with at least one (1) Mobile Health Care Service (MHCS) in the form of a van or other means of transportation appropriate to coastal or mountainous areas. The MHCS shall deliver health care supplies and services to constituents, more particularly to the poor and needy, and shall be used to disseminate knowledge and information on reproductive health. The purchase of the MHCS may be funded from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of each congressional district. The operation and maintenance of the MHCS shall be operated by skilled health providers adequately equipped with a wide range of reproductive health care materials and information dissemination devices and equipment, the latter including, but not limited to, a television set for audio-visual presentations. All MHCS shall be operated by a focal city or municipality within a congressional district.”

should be amended to read as follows: “Each Congressional District may be provided with at least one (1) Mobile Health Care Service (MHCS) in the form of a van or other means of transportation appropriate to coastal or mountainous areas, the procurement and operation of which shall be funded by the National Government. The MHCS shall deliver health care supplies and services to constituents, more particularly to the poor and needy, and shall be used to disseminate knowledge and information on reproductive health. [The purchase of the MHCS may be funded from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of each congressional district.] The operation and maintenance of the MHCS shall be operated by skilled health providers adequately equipped with a wide range of reproductive health care materials and information dissemination devices and equipment, the latter including, but not limited to, a television set for audio-visual presentations. All MHCS shall be operated by a focal city or municipality within a congressional district.”

The reason for this amendment is to liberate the PDAF without prejudice to Members of the House who may still wish to use a portion of their PDAF for the purchase and operation of the MHCS.

3. Section 16 on “Mandatory Age-Appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education” found on page 13 from lines 7-25, and page 14 from lines 1-13, which reads: “Age-appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education shall be taught by adequately trained teachers in formal and non-formal education system starting from Grade Five up to Fourth Year High School using life skills and other approaches. The Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education shall commence at the start of the school year immediately following one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act to allow the training of concerned teachers. The Department of Education (DEPED), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), TESDA, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH) shall formulate the Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education curriculum. Such curriculum shall be common to both public and private schools, out of school youth, and enrollees in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) based on, but. not limited to, the psychosocial and physical wellbeing, demography and reproductive health, and the legal aspects of reproductive health.

“Age-appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education shall be integrated in all relevant subjects and shall include, but is not limited to, the following topics:

  1. Values formation;
  2. Knowledge and skills in self protection against discrimination, sexual violence and abuse, and teen pregnancy;
  3. Physical, social and emotional changes in adolescents;
  4. Children’s and women’s rights;
  5. Fertility awareness;
  6. STI, HIV and AIDS;
  7. Population and development;
  8. Responsible relationship;
  9. Family planning methods;
  10. Proscription and hazards of abortion;
  11. Gender and development; and
  12. Responsible parenthood.

“The DepEd, CHED, DSWD, TESDA, and DOH shall provide concerned parents with adequate and relevant scientific materials on the age-appropriate topics and manner of teaching Reproductive Health Education to their children.”

should be amended by providing a final paragraph which shall read: “Parents shall exercise the option of not allowing their minor children to attend classes pertaining to Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education.

4. Section 20 on “Ideal Family Size” found from lines 5-9 on page 15 which reads: “The State shall assist couples, parents and individuals to achieve their desired family size within the context of responsible parenthood for sustainable development and encourage them to have two children as the ideal family size. Attaining the ideal family size is neither mandatory nor compulsory. No punitive action shall be imposed on parents having more than two children.”

should be deleted in its entiretyconsidering that the norm on ideal family size is neither mandatory nor punitive. Its total deletion will preclude further misinformation and misrepresentation as to the import of the provision. Moreover, its deletion will also underscore freedom of informed choice.

5. Section 21 on “Employers’ Responsibilities” found on page 15 from lines 10-15 and on page 16 from lines 1-4 which reads: “The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall ensure that employers respect the reproductive rights of workers. Consistent with the intent of Article 134 of the Labor Code, employers with more than 200 employees shall provide reproductive health services to all employees in their own respective health facilities. Those with less than 200 workers shall enter into partnerships with hospitals, health facilities, or health professionals in their areas for the delivery of reproductive health services.

“Employers shall furnish in writing the following information to all employees and applicants:

  1. The medical and health benefits which workers are entitled to, including maternity and paternity leave benefits and the availability of family planning services;
  2. The reproductive health hazards associated with work, including hazards that may affect their reproductive functions especially pregnant women; and
  3. The availability of health facilities for workers.

“Employers are obliged to monitor pregnant working employees among their workforce and ensure that they are provided paid half-day prenatal medical leave for each month of the pregnancy period that the pregnant employee is employed in their company or organization. These paid prenatal medical leave shall be reimbursable from the Social Security System (SSS) or the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), as the case may be.”

should be deleted in its entirety considering that this provision is a restatement and amplification of the existing Article 134 of the Labor Code. This deletion would obviate further objections and debates.

5. Section 28 (e) on “Prohibited Acts” found on lines 24-25 on page 21 which reads: “Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent and provisions of this Act.” should be deleted in its entirety in order to afford widest latitude to freedom of expression within the limits of existing penal statutes.

Thank you and warmest personal regards.

 

Very truly yours,

EDCEL C. LAGMAN

Sex toys still being sold in Manila’s downtown area

Amid the filing of a proposed law penalizing the production and sale of sex toys by a pro-life lawmaker, such items continue to be sold in Manila’s downtown area.

As of Friday morning, the items continue to be sold at an overpass in Raon and near the Light Rail Transit station in Sta. Cruz, radio dzBB’s Carlo Mateo reported.

The report said the toys were on display, even as police in the area admitted that they could not go after the vendors because there is no law against these items.

Read more at GMA News Online.

Pacquiao: Putting the 'twit' in Twitter?

The nominally honorable Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao, officially elected Representative of the sole district of Sarangani, was conspicuously absent from the House proceedings on the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, who has been charged with betrayal of public trust. (The House, as reported elsewhere on this site, eventually voted in favor of impeachment by an overwhelming majority.) The world-renowned boxer, however, was apparently monitoring the action on television, as he announced via his official Twitter account (@CongMP) that he was “watching the impeachment trial” and thought that it was a “very interesting topic”.

'Twitter _ Emmanuel D_ Pacquiao_ I'm watching impeachment t ___' - twitter_com_CongMP_status_49851426041626624

When he was asked by a couple of citizens to explain why he was not at the session, Pacquiao resorted to what might be magnanimously referred to as attempts at wit.

'Twitter _ Emmanuel D_ Pacquiao_ @RAndRat e di mag reklamo ___' - twitter_com_CongMP_status_49857233164574720
'Twitter _ Emmanuel D_ Pacquiao_ @momblogger e di mag rekla ___' - twitter_com_CongMP_status_49856708150968320

Pacquiao later took a stand on the impeachment issue, declaring, “I vote NO! and I can give my explanation thanks“.

'Twitter _ Emmanuel D_ Pacquiao_ I vote NO! and I can give ___' - twitter_com_CongMP_status_49864893465243648

In all likelihood surprised by the flood of criticism he received for his unbecoming online behavior, Pacquiao then bid Twitter good-bye, an act that, according to Cocoy, only befits a wuss. (The account is still active as of this writing, and the post pictured below has been removed.)

'Twitter _ Emmanuel D_ Pacquiao_ Sorry everyone but hanggan ___' - twitter_com_CongMP_status_49869490770558977

Precisely why he had refused to perform his sworn duty of representing his constituents and giving them a say on an issue of national importance is unclear—not to mention moot and academic. It may well be that he was training in Baguio, but Baguio is merely six to eight hours away from Metro Manila by land. What is certain is this: Pacquiao’s absence from the impeachment proceedings is utterly irresponsible, a fact that his inappropriately flippant—even scornful—tweets serve only to underscore, and which does not augur well for the rest of his political career. If the pugilist conceives of Twitter as an informal forum intended for casual banter, then, at the very least, he should consider restricting his updates to inconsequential banalities, instead of setting the stage for being remembered as a laughingstock of a solon.

Meanwhile, Pacquiao ought to be condemned not only by the people of Sarangani or civil society as a whole, but also by his colleagues, for surely his disdainful disregard of parliamentary procedure, to the point of voting via a micro-blogging service, besmirches the House of Representatives as well.

Noy lauded for remaining firm on RH Bill support

Noy lauded for remaining firm on RH Bill support
By Paolo Romero
The Philippine Star

House Minority Leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Mr. Aquino “needs to be complemented and supported for standing firm against the Catholic hierarchy in his advocacy for responsible parenthood and contraceptive use based on freedom of informed choice.”

Curiously though, a prominent member of the House minority bloc, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is against the RH Bill and has co-authored a pro-life measure to protect the rights of the unborn.

“The steadfast position of the President on voluntary family planning is an unequivocal endorsement for the enactment of a comprehensive and nationwide statute on reproductive health and population development,” Lagman said.

PH warned it may end up like Somalia

PH warned it may end up like Somalia
By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Like Somalia, the Philippines may become a failed state in 40 years if the reproductive health (RH) bill is not passed by Congress and the country’s rapid population growth is unchecked, an American population expert said Thursday.

Malcolm Potts said the Philippines would suffer far worse economic, environmental and even national security problems if the population would reach a projected 160 million by 2050.

“I think this is probably the most important single issue facing this country … the consequences of having perhaps 160 million people in 40 years time are very, very somber,” he told a population conference at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati City.

Potts works for the Bixby Center for Population, Health and Sustainability of the University of California, one of the organizers of the conference titled “Demographic Governance: The Philippines’ Way Forward.” The agency’s partners were the AIM, Venture Strategies for Health and Development and the Asia Society.

“Unless the RH bill goes through and unless you are able to offer the poorest economic quintile the choices that they deserve, then people will be poorer. You will be importing food, you will be more like Somalia than Thailand,” Potts said.

“I think these (data) charts should give us all nightmares—those who love this country and have been here many times and those of you who belong here and love your country,” he added.

The RH bill seeks to promote both natural and artificial birth control methods through government programs and advocates the education of students on reproductive health at the appropriate age, among other aims.

It is being strongly opposed by the Catholic Church, which prohibits the use of artificial means of family planning such as birth control pills and condoms, and only favors natural means such as abstinence and the use of fertility beads among women.

Advocates in the House of Representatives expect the controversial measure to be passed by June next year, or the end of the first year of the 15th Congress.

According to a conference briefing paper, population pressures can also “increase environmental degradation and may push more people into areas more prone to natural disasters.”

The Philippines already faces severe environmental problems, the paper noted.

The country has less than 10 percent of its forest cover and coral reefs, less than 50 percent of its ground fresh water resources is potable while untreated domestic wastewater threatens water bodies further, and diseases from polluted water—which account for 31 percent of the total illnesses in the country—cost P6.7 billion annually.

House Approves First Bill on Flag, Anthem

House Approves First Bill on Flag, Anthem
By RIO ROSE RIBAYA
Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines — The pressure to sing the national anthem correctly has just gotten more intense even before the camp of world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao picks out an artist, who will render “Lupang Hinirang” before thousands of boxing enthusiasts at the Cowboy Stadium when he fights Antonio Margarito in Dallas, Texas, on November 13.

The House of Representatives approved a bill criminalizing the improper singing of the national anthem and disrespect to other national symbols on third and final reading on Monday. This will be sent to the Bicameral Conference Committee to be reconiled with the Senate version.

A total of 196 lawmakers, who were present in the first session for budget sponsorships and deliberations that started on Monday morning, voted in favor of the House Bill No. 465, also known as An Act Prescribing the Code of the National Flag, Anthem, Motto, Coat-of-Arms, and other Heraldic Items and Devices of the Philippines.

Before discussing the P1.6 trillion proposed national budget for 2011, the Lower Chamber tackled all the pending bills after the sponsorship speech of House appropriations committee chairman Rep Jose Emilio Abaya in a morning session.

Under the proposed measure, a P100,000 fine and two-year imprisonment await the performer, who will deviate from the official musical arrangement of “Lupang Hinirang” as composed by Julian Felipe.

“Lupang Hinirang should be sung in a marching-type tempo, within the range of 100 to 120 metronome, in 4/4 beat and 2/4 beat when played,” the bill stated.

Filipino popular singers like Journey vocalist Arnel Pineda, Martin Nievera and all-female group La Diva were criticized for their mainstream rendition of the national anthem during the previous fights of Pacquiao.

The bill also proposes sanctions to moviegoers caught not “standing up with fervor as a sign of respect” when the national anthem is being played in cinemas should the measure becomes a law, empowering security personnel and ushers to arrest violators and summon law enforcement officers to assist in conducting citizens’ arrest.

Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero III, chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, earlier said the proposed measure will give the government more teeth to invigorate respect, patriotism and love of country, instilling in the citizens’ consciousness the nation’s history.

He added that the proposal will serve as a reminder to continuously struggle for justice, equality and freedom which the national flag, anthem, motto, coat-of-arms, and other heraldic items and devices signify.

The measure also prohibits “the use of the Philippine flag and other heraldic items and devices as an advertising tool for political or private purposes, and as clothing or fashion accessory other than what is prescribed.”

“The National flag, anthem, seal, motto, coat-of-arms, and other heraldic items and devices are not to be mutilated, defaced, defiled, or trampled on… Anyone who shows contempt or commits any act or omission casting dishonor or ridicule on heraldic items will also be held liable under the law,” the bill stated.

“The flag may be used to cover the casket of the honored dead of the military, veterans, national artists, and of civilians who have rendered distinguished service to the nation, as maybe determined by the local government unit concerned, but not to be lowered to the grave or touch the ground,” it added.

The measure also requires all government and private offices as well as Filipino residences to display the Philippine flag from May 28, the National Flag Day to June 12, the Independence Day of each year, declaring the period as Flag Days.

Redrawing the circle

Manila Cathedral

To entrench oneself in a position diametrically opposite to that occupied by a ideological adversary may well be a significant demonstration of whatever convictions one holds dear. That said, the problem with such a move, however ferociously or passionately undertaken, should be obvious enough: it merely reinforces the area and the circumference of the already existing discursive circle. Moreover, antipodal antagonism confirms, if not intensifies, in the foe the power that one is trying to deny it.

Thus, no matter how many individual skirmishes or battles one claims as triumphs, the war itself cannot be won—the terms of the conflict only ensure the maintenance of the status quo, which is to say endless and unproductive enmity, rather than victory, which is to say any hoped-for change: the expansion or contraction of the circle, or its transformation into a different, more feasible shape.

Within such a scheme of struggle, the question of strategic value is often elided or ignored, because the effect and defect of committing to diametrical distance, to absolute opposition, is the reduction of one’s vision—if vision it can indeed be called—to a narrow set of premises, which in turn lead to action that is limited in scope and efficacy. It should be unsurprising that agitators of this stripe tend toward maneuvers that are predicated less on dignity, respect, or logic than on puerility, sanctimoniousness, or auto-eroticism.

One such agitator is Carlos Celdran, a tour guide and an advocate for the immediate passage of the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill—a bill that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is strongly against.

Let us call a spade a spade: Celdran’s recent disruption of an ongoing mass at the Manila Cathedral by holding up a placard emblazoned with “Damaso”, yelling at the assembled bishops, and—according to a report from The Philippine Star—later goading police officers on the scene to arrest him is an act not of subversion in the vein of José Rizal, regardless of Celdran’s attire—or utterly destitute notions of Rizal and heroism—but of perversion.

If with his gimmick Celdran had intended to catch the spotlight of national attention, he has certainly succeeded brilliantly. But now that he has drawn our collective notice, I have to ask: So what? Or, perhaps more crucially: Now what?

Perversion, admittedly, has a long and honorable tradition of being deployed in the name of critical commentary. For example, Diogenes of Sinope, perhaps the most famous of the Cynics, deliberately behaved like a dog in order to foreground the falsehoods of civilization and uphold the virtues of asceticism. To my mind, though, Celdran’s publicity stunt partakes of the same kind of perversion that motivates a child to sneak cookies before dinner, draw on the walls with crayons, or grab the shiny new toys of another: for the primitive pleasure of being able to do something that is conventionally forbidden.

Insofar as Celdran can be described as a cynic, it is in the modern sense of word, because if the manner in which he chose to make his protest is any indication, he seems to believe the only way to forward his cause is to sensationalize it, to appeal to the lowest common denominator, to frame a complex matter in the crudest and most simplistic of ways: by stoking the fires of generic underdog rage. Perhaps the bishops did need “to hear what the Filipinos are saying“, but Celdran’s objective did not appear to be so much clarity as it was blasphemy.

Whatever Celdran thought he was doing—in his own words, he wanted to give the bishops “a dose of their own [medicine]“—I have serious doubts that his stunt has helped matters any, chiefly because he and like-minded ilk missed a very important point: engaging the CBCP on the RH bill is an exercise in futility, because, as an institution of the Roman Catholic Church, it cannot and should not be expected to take a stand that runs counter to official Church teachings or defies the Holy See. For better or for worse, the Church accepts as axiomatic that artificial contraception is evil, and the actions of the CBCP with reference to the RH bill proceed from that same premise. Given this, it must be understood that there is no room for negotiation at all.

Nevertheless, it is exceedingly evident that what the CBCP thinks, says, or does as a body clearly does not have much of an impact on the general populace, considering that several surveys have already shown that a majority of Filipinos—including Catholics—favor the passage of the RH bill. Furthermore, as I have pointed out elsewhere, Catholic doctrine allows for the possibility of dissent if that is what one’s conscience dictates. Going head-to-head with the bishops, therefore, is myopic and wasteful, even gratuitous: one might as well bash one’s head repeatedly against a wall for all the good that arguing with the CBCP will do, even if cracking one’s skull open is “gutsy” and “bad-ass”—oh, and, of course, thoroughly mediagenic.

In the realm of public opinion, church and state are already separate, so why bother to fight the CBCP and accord it more power, more influence, and more exposure than it ought to have, entitled though it may be to a voice in the peanut gallery of our rowdy democracy? Enshrined in the Constitution is the freedom of expression, which necessarily includes the freedom to ignore. The battle for the passage of the RH bill, at this particular juncture at least, is not with the bishops, but with the nominally honorable members of Congress. As blogger iwriteasiwrite has suggested, dialogue with the Catholic Church can—and should—resume after the bill has been passed into law.

[This also appears in my blog, Random Salt.]

Photo credit: Manila Cathedral, by Micropawn217, some rights reserved.