Tag Archive | "party-list"

“Your Mother Should Have Used RH,” Says BUHAY Spokesperson


I recorded this video interview with Frank when I got home from COMELEC before writing this post. Some details might be inaccurate, which I hope this post corrects. Toward the end of the video is footage of the BUHAY spokesperson saying the titular statement.

“Your mothers should have aborted you” is so 2010. I’m of course referring to members of Prolife Philippines wishing out loud that we hadn’t been born as we were leaving Manila Cathedral. We were there to listen to a discernment mass on the RH Bill, but weren’t allowed to attend because of the DAMASO shirts we were wearing. Aside from wishing we weren’t alive, a public exorcism on us was also attempted by Eric Manalang, president of Prolife Philippines.

Now it’s 2012, and the Prolife greeting has been updated. It now goes, “Your mother should have used RH.” We learned this yesterday when we expressed our opposition to BUHAY’s party-list accreditation at their COMELEC review hearing. After witnessing the most absurd justification for applying to be a party-list, we had an exchange of words with BUHAY that reflects a lot of what happened in the Manila Cathedral incident of 2010.

It began with a question. The BUHAY spokesperson who had represented them during the hearing approached us and asked, “Are you pro-RH?” “Yes,” answers Kenneth Keng, who had earlier expressed at the hearing our intention to oppose BUHAY’s accreditation. “Then your mother should have used RH. So you wouldn’t be here today.”

At this point, I was approached by another BUHAY member. “Did you go to school?” he asked. “Yes,” I replied. “Then why aren’t you using your education,” he said. He probably meant that my pro-RH position betrayed a lack of education.

I was about to explain how education actually leads to being pro-RH when I saw Ken being approached by several BUHAY members. They were trying to grab his camera away from him. I walked over and learned what was happening. The BUHAY spokesperson complained that Ken had started recording without his permission.

They had also asked whether Ken was with the media. Ken had initially said yes out of fear and confusion; their demeanor had given him the impression that they might harm him. He later clarified that he wasn’t with the media and was just a regular blogger, something that I’d clarified earlier with the BUHAY member I’d been speaking to.

At this point we were all huddled between the elevators and the COMELEC reception, where several security personnel were watching. The BUHAY member I’d been speaking to, the one who asked whether I was educated, started talking. He said that if we weren’t with the media, he doesn’t have to treat us that way, and can just treat us like kanto boys. He repeated this, removing his coat as if preparing for a fight. He told us that he would meet us at our levels as kanto boys and invited us outside.

I clarified: “Just to be clear, are you inviting us to a fist fight outside?” He replied, “Anywhere.” I was actually surprised that he was behaving like this in front of COMELEC security. When they finally got on the elevator, we decided it was probably wise that we stayed. Some members of the COMELEC security thought so, too. They advised us to stay for a bit because the BUHAY members might be waiting for us downstairs with less than good intentions.

Surely enough, they were waiting. As I was exiting the building, the BUHAY spokesperson blocked my path, holding a cameraphone to my face. “Excuse me, I need to get out,” I said. He stands aside after a few moments, keeping the cameraphone on me. He asked me for my name and organization, and I give it to him. At this point, Ken also has his cameraphone out, and we were recording each other (another member had a proper camcorder, too).

With all the cameras turned on I wished that Ken’s was on when the BUHAY spokesperson wished Ken’s mother had used RH. Luckily, he repeated his wish, and we got it on video. At first he said that he didn’t mean anything bad when he said this. After all, he says, isn’t RH a good thing? To this we agree, and I further explain that my parents used RH: after all, it includes family planning, birth spacing, etc.

Then he says that my parents used failed RH, because after all, I am here. By doing so he betrays the malice in his wish. To him failed RH means we are born, and successful RH means we aren’t, and it’s pretty clear which of the two outcomes he’d been wishing for us.

We explain that RH isn’t abortion, which is what he keeps on implying, but he disagrees. He advises us to read the Cairo conference. I explain that the RH Bill and the Cairo Conference are two different things. At this point Atty. Macalintal, who had been mostly quiet this time, left in a car with the BUHAY member who had challenged us to a fist fight.

We also headed for our car, leaving the BUHAY spokesperson alone, waiting for his. As we were leaving, I saw the Manila Cathedral and thought about how similar the event from 2010 was: the wishing we hadn’t been born, the prolifer’s fear of being caught on video, the trying to forcefully take our cameras. I sort of expected the BUHAY spokesperson to shout “Your mothers should have aborted you!” as we were leaving. But then I corrected myself: “Your mothers should have used RH.” Because “Your mothers should have aborted you” is so 2010.

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The Unborn Representatives: How BUHAY Makes a Mockery of the Party-List System


Note: Please also read how BUHAY responded to our opposition of their party-list accreditation in COMELEC.

The party-list system of representation is broken. Want proof? Consider the case of BUHAY party-list.

According to COMELEC, you have to be a member of the sector you claim to represent. BUHAY claims to represent “the unborn, the sick, the disabled and others not capable of protecting themselves alone, through observance of their basic right to live.” Never mind being sick and disabled and incapable of self-protection (all at the same time!). Is even a single BUHAY representative unborn?

Even if we grant for rhetorical purposes that every BUHAY representative is unborn, they would still be disqualified for one simple reason: the unborn is not a sector recognized by COMELEC. This fact was repeated several times at BUHAY’s accreditation hearing at COMELEC yesterday.

And every time the COMELEC official mentioned this, the BUHAY spokesperson would answer the same way: BUHAY representatives actually represent its own political party, which is the one marginalized and underrepresented.

Setting aside how self-serving this reasoning is, does BUHAY actually think that a political party should be considered a sector of society? Let’s humor them a little and pretend that it is. Why is BUHAY party marginalized?

According to their spokesperson, it’s because aside from their party-list seats, they haven’t won any major political positions (senator, president, etc.) in the past elections, so they aren’t a major political party. And according to BUHAY, that means they are marginalized. Poor BUHAY. Since 2004, they’ve only won 7 seats in the House of Representatives.

That’s right. Seven seats in almost as many years have been allotted to the unborn representatives of BUHAY party, each representing the unborn citizens of the Philippines, and of course, that other marginalized and underrepresented sector, the BUHAY party itself. If that can’t convince you that the party-list system is a joke, I don’t know what can.

But there’s hope. COMELEC has been reviewing the current party-list candidates, and from the way they’ve been conducting these accreditation hearings — I’ve witnessed a few — they seem to mean business. I just hope it translates to disqualification, especially in the case of BUHAY and Ang Prolife — another conservative Catholic religious group trying to disguise itself as a political organization.

When we opposed Ang Prolife’s application, I thought nothing could ever beat the absurdity of their claiming to represent OFWs and “the structure of the Filipino family.” Well played, BUHAY party. Well played.

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Note: This post isn’t meant to be a comprehensive opposition to BUHAY’s application. We’ll leave that to our formal opposition, which we were given 3 days to file, and will post as soon as it’s available. For now, check out Kontradaya’s reasons for objecting to the accreditation of BUHAY (follow the link for other party-list groups they argue should also be disqualified):

Buhay claims to represent the following sectors: the unborn, the sick, the disabled and others not capable of protecting themselves alone, through observance of their basic right to live.

However, none of its present representatives in Congress, and nominees for 2013 elections belong to these sectors.

First representative Mariano Velarde, Jr., the son of El Shaddai’s Mike Velarde, has a personal net worth of P53.326 million for 2011. He does not belong to any of the marginalized and underrepresented sectors Buhay claims to represent. He is not unborn, sick, disabled, nor incapable of protecting himself.

So is second representative Irwin Tieng, whose net worth amounts to P20.054 and whose family owns Solar Sports. He does not belong to any of the marginalized and underrepresented sectors Buhay claims to represent. He is not unborn, sick, disabled, nor incapable of protecting himself.

Second nominee for the 2013 elections is Jose L. Atienza, more famously known as Manila Mayor Lito Atienza. Mayor Atienza served as Manila Mayor from 1998 to 2007. Previous to that, he served as Manila Vice Mayor from 1992 to 1998. He also held other high positions in government, being appointed by former President Gloria Arroyo as the Secretary of Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Clearly Mayor Atienza can compete for a position in Congress through regular elections. This is in addition to the fact that he does not belong to any of the sectors that Buhay claims to represent, and neither is he marginalized and underrepresented.

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Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: The Lies of Ang ProLife


Red Tani called out Eric Manalang for lying at the Ang ProLife COMELEC party-list accreditation hearing. But don’t just take his word for it. We have video footage of the hearing.


As an aside, its interesting to note that the presiding judges, the Hon. Lucinito Tagle and the Hon. Elias Yusoph, were involved in the Commission on Election’s boneheaded decision to violate church-state separation by rejecting the Ang Ladlad partylist on religious bases. I’d hope at the very least they would learn their lesson on the separation of church and state from the Supreme Court when it overturned the COMELEC decision.

Besides Ang ProLife not even coming close to the requirements for a party-list, establishing Ang ProLife as one is tantamount to establishing a political entity in Congress that represents religious interests. A party-list that would be intent on enshrining their religious values in our laws. A party-list that wishes to use the force of law to impose their religious morals on the entire country.

Posted in Politics, Religion, RH Bill, Secularism, VideoComments (3)

From Pro-Lies to Puro Lies: Why Ang Prolife Lied to COMELEC


Eric Manalang swore under oath: to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him God. But it appears that God didn’t help because as we told you yesterday, he lied. Now I’m going to tell you exactly why he lied — because if he had told COMELEC the truth about Ang Prolife, their petition, then and there, would have been rejected.

Because Ang Prolife goes against the core principles of the Party-list system:

It is a mechanism of proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from marginalized or underrepresented national, regional and sectoral parties, or organizations or coalitions thereof registered with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

It is part of the electoral process that enables small political parties and marginalized and underrepresented sectors to obtain possible representation in the House of Representatives, which traditionally is dominated by parties with big political machinery.

From this, we can see that to check whether a group deserves Party-list accreditation, we must ask three questions:

  1. Do they represent a marginalized group?
  2. Do they represent an underrepresented group?
  3. Do they lack “(big) political machinery”?

The answer to all three is “no,” and I’ll show you why.

For starters, read Ang Prolife’s official Party-list declaration. In ten pages, they make it absolutely clear that their primary purpose is to oppose the RH bill — and other such “DEATH” bills — and to ensure that such laws will never be legislated.

Their introductory principles are peppered with vague and religious statements, but eventually they talk about what they’ll do in concrete terms:

Ang Prolife… against all legislation and policies that seek to legalize or institutionalize, among others:

Abortion
Un-reproductive Health Rights
Divorce
Same-Sex Unions
Depopulation
Radical Feminism
Public Child Sex Education
Pornography
Euthanasia

We can see that two of these — un-reproductive health rights [sic] and public child sex education — are provisions of the RH bill, while two others — abortion and radical feminism — are what anti-RH groups perceive to be the RH Bill’s direct implications. Almost half the list then is RH-related, and if we consider their slippery slope thinking — RH will inevitably lead to others “DEATH” bills — then the entire list is an anti-RH advocate’s nightmare.

Which is exactly the group Ang Prolife actually aims to represent: anti-RH advocates.

But are anti-RH advocates marginalized? Are they underrepresented? Are they lacking in political machinery? History says no. Almost two decades of fighting for an RH law tells us that if anything, anti-RH advocates are overrepresented. Even the more prominent members of Ang Prolife will tell you this themselves. Not in those words, of course.

But ask them what they think will happen if the RH Bill is finally put to a vote and you’ll invariably get the same answer: “The RH Bill will not pass because we have the numbers.” That is, they claim they have more representatives in both houses of Congress, at least more than the pro-RH side.

And it’s easy to see just how committed anti-RH legislators are — from merely delaying the debates the way Team Delay has to saying that they’re staking their careers to stop the bill’s passage as Senator Sotto has. Can anyone honestly say the anti-RH is politically underrepresented?

They may argue that these anti-RH legislators are not directly affiliated with Ang Prolife. But that would once again be a lie. Two congressmen — William Irwin C. Tieng and Mariano Michael M. Velarde of Buhay party-list [Life (!) party-list] — are active members of Pro Life Philippines’ board of trustees. So is Buhay party-list’s secretary-general, Wilfrido Villarama.

Sure, Prolife Philippines is not the same entity as Ang Prolife, but with the same people and principles guiding both groups, this might as well be a distinction without a difference. Compare the Ang Prolife partylist declaration with the issues and principles in Prolife Philippines’ website. (You’ll probably find plagiarism, but then again, you can’t plagiarize yourself.)

We can even go further than saying Prolife Philippines and Ang Prolife is one and the same. They may do their best to deny it — in fact this is one of the first things they had to do — but Ang Prolife, if accredited, will be the CBCP party-list.

This is what logically follows from the kind of religious obedience Ang Prolife’s members give to their bishops in the CBCP. The similarities in their principles are not merely a correlation or coincidence. The relationship is causal. Whatever the CBCP teaches (or commands) Ang Prolife will follow. This is of course unstated in their declaration, but ask anyone in Ang Prolife if they have the ability to dissent with anything the CBCP says and you’ll get the same answer.

And even if the CBCP is not exactly the same as Ang Prolife (at least not on paper) the Catholic bishops are among the anti-RH citizens Ang Prolife aims to represent. And ideologically, the CBCP is the main source and promoter of every principle Ang Prolife wants to promulgate. It would be fair then to ask the same questions of the CBCP and the position they represent: are they marginalized, underrepresented, or lacking in political machinery? I won’t even justify the question with an answer.

It becomes clear then why Eric Manalang had to lie under oath and say (initially) that they had no plans about the RH Bill and that they would primarily represent the 10 million families with members who are OFWs. Telling the truth — that Ang Prolife is the political arm of Prolife Philippines — would get them an outright rejection.

One thing that baffles me though is the forethought (or lack thereof) they put into their lying. With all the effort they put into trying to convince COMELEC that they represent OFW families, they should have dedicated more space to OFW issues in their 9-page document. As it stands, they only put a single sentence:

Legislate entrepreneurial education programs to benefit families of Overseas Contract Workers.

I think we’ll have to change our term of endearment from “Pro-Lies” to “Puro Lies.”

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How Religious Party-Lists Circumvent the Separation of Church and State


An anti-Reproductive Health bill group composed of members of the Catholic laity is seeking accreditation from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to run under the party-list name Ang Prolife. While the separation of Church and State prohibits the registration of religious denominations and sects as political parties, the prohibition does not extend to organizations with religious affiliations or to political parties which derive their principles from religious beliefs.

In a Supreme Court decision on the petition for disqualification filed against Ang Buhay Hayaang Yumabong, a party-list group backed by the Catholic charismatic movement El Shaddai, the court remanded the case to the Comelec with the directive to immediately conduct summary evidentiary hearings under the following guidelines for screening party-list participants:

[I]n view of the objections directed against the registration of Ang Buhay Hayaang Yumabong, which is allegedly a religious group, the Court notes the express constitutional provision that the religious sector may not be represented in the party-list system.  The extent of the constitutional proscription is demonstrated by the following discussion during the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission:

“MR. OPLE.  x x x

In the event that a certain religious sect with nationwide and even international networks of members and supporters, in order to circumvent this prohibition, decides to form its own political party in emulation of those parties I had mentioned earlier as deriving their inspiration and philosophies from well-established religious faiths, will that also not fall within this prohibition?

MR. MONSOD.  If the evidence shows that the intention is to go around the prohibition, then certainly the Comelec can pierce through the legal fiction.”

The following discussion is also pertinent:

“MR. VILLACORTA.  When the Commissioner proposed “EXCEPT RELIGIOUS GROUPS,” he is not, of course, prohibiting priests, imams or pastors who may be elected by, say, the indigenous community sector to represent their group.

REV. RIGOS.  Not at all, but I am objecting to anybody who represents the Iglesia ni Kristo, the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church et cetera.”

Furthermore, the Constitution provides that “religious denominations and sects shall not be registered.” The prohibition was explained by a member of the Constitutional Commission in this wise: “[T]he prohibition is on any religious organization registering as a political party.  I do not see any prohibition here against a priest running as a candidate.  That is not prohibited here; it is the registration of a religious sect as a political party.”

And the rest is history. With a Comelec that denied accreditation to the LGBT group Ang Ladlad based on “moral grounds” by quoting passages from the Bible and the Koran, it is no surprise that it did not choose to “pierce through the legal fiction” and instead dismissed the petition to disqualify Ang Buhay Hayaang Yumabong. And it should also not come as a surprise if Ang Prolife can “go around the prohibition” and its application for party-list accreditation easily passes approval.

But all hope is not lost to the vanguards of secularism. While many are aware that the Supreme Court granted Ang Ladlad’s petition for Certiorari and directed the Comelec to grant its application for party-list accreditation, perhaps only few have read the jurisprudence where the decision contains many gems that can be cited as precedence in future cases involving not only the LGBT movement but the separation of Church and State itself:

  • At bottom, what our non-establishment clause calls for is “government neutrality in religious matters.” Clearly, “governmental reliance on religious justification is inconsistent with this policy of neutrality.”
  • Government must act for secular purposes and in ways that have primarily secular effects.
  • The morality referred to in the law is public and necessarily secular.
  • Religious teachings as expressed in public debate may influence the civil public order but public moral disputes may be resolved only on grounds articulable in secular terms.
  • If government relies upon religious beliefs in formulating public policies and morals, the resulting policies and morals would require conformity to what some might regard as religious programs or agenda. The non-believers would therefore be compelled to conform to a standard of conduct buttressed by a religious belief, i.e., to a “compelled religion,” anathema to religious freedom.
  • If government based its actions upon religious beliefs, it would tacitly approve or endorse that belief and thereby also tacitly disapprove contrary religious or non-religious views that would not support the policy. As a result, government will not provide full religious freedom for all its citizens, or even make it appear that those whose beliefs are disapproved are second-class citizens.
  • In other words, government action, including its proscription of immorality as expressed in criminal law like concubinage, must have a secular purpose. That is, the government proscribes this conduct because it is “detrimental (or dangerous) to those conditions upon which depend the existence and progress of human society” and not because the conduct is proscribed by the beliefs of one religion or the other.
  • Succinctly put, a law could be religious or Kantian or Aquinian or utilitarian in its deepest roots, but it must have an articulable and discernible secular purpose and justification to pass scrutiny of the religion clauses.
  • We cannot countenance advocates who, undoubtedly with the loftiest of intentions, situate morality on one end of an argument or another, without bothering to go through the rigors of legal reasoning and explanation. In this, the notion of morality is robbed of all value. Clearly then, the bare invocation of morality will not remove an issue from our scrutiny.

If we cannot stop religions from circumventing the separation of Church and State by filling congress with their party-list groups especially when there is little resistance from a Church-friendly Comelec, we can at least stay vigilant and expose potential and actual violations of the constitution when such groups try to impose their own brand of religious morality without having the decency of articulating their arguments in secular terms. That way we can prevent the Church from wielding political power and violating our much-cherished religious freedom.

 

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