MAYBE these distinguished members of our Philippine National Police, after admitting that they are unaware of Administrative Order 103 that suspended all foreign travel as part of the government's "austerity measures", should again claim that they are not also aware that ignorance of the law does not exempt anybody. Otherwise drug dealers can claim that they are not aware that they are selling shabu and they thought it was only tawas or calling up a Comelec commisioner during election time asking for a safe victory margin is only a lapse in judgement. Russel Fernandez of Chiba, Japan via e-mail
October 2008 Archives
I AM glad you are now at peace with yourself and that you have finally come to terms with your conscience after giving up the wheeling-dealing life of big time corruption. I know it was not easy giving up the perks of high living that corruption has brought to your life. Weaning yourself from the exciting life of rubbing elbows with the rich and famous and sharing the wealth and decadent pleasures with the corrupt even if you temper your greed in moderation must have been tough. But it certainly is not a stricken conscience that forced you to abandon all that and return to an honest and clean living. Certainly it is nowhere like the conversion of Saul who was enlightened by a bolt of lightning on his way to Damascus and later became the Apostle Paul. It was in fact your fear for your safety and your dear family, not a bothered conscience that made you cling to dear life and beg tender mercies from the good nuns to help you. All these fears are bound to happen when you ignored the Four Way Test the Rotarians have taught you. These fears are consequences of your actions that you should have thought of first before you employed yourself with the corrupt and joined political partisanship as you do now. If you feel harassed you can only blame yourself for making your family victim of your own follies. I respect you for encouraging Joc Joc Bolante to join you in seeing the light. But rather than for love of family that you enjoin him to tell the truth, I would think Bolante and you should bring back your patriotic sense to do it for love of country to atone for the grievous offenses both of you had committed while in government. Serving in the government is to serve the country and people. When the two of you cheated the government you have in effect broken the covenant of trust that you were supposed to uphold. You have committed punishable crimes against the state and its people that cannot and should not be extinguished by public apology. Sure, others have committed worse criminal acts too but their time will come as it did to you. It is unfair that this is the only country I know where too many lawbreakers have gone unpunished. And most unfair of all a convicted unremorseful felon who committed a capital offense was pardoned without feeling the cold iron bars of prison. Your self-cleansing mea culpa did not hit well for many people. Your detractors do not see it as an act of remorse because your words contradict your actions. Thus, many skeptics find it difficult to believe in your new-found advocacy to fight corruption in government. Your story does not end here though. For one, many are cynical about your accusation of kidnapping against your protectors who fetched you at the airport on your return from Hong Kong. These are the same people who you asked for help to keep you away from the Senate investigation and it becomes incredulous to charge them with kidnapping unless others have motivated you to do it. Your arrival was obviously intended to be inconspicuous but for the unexpected presence of media waiting at the airport your clumsy excitable handlers turned the welcome reception into a comedy of errors. You came home safe nonetheless but people close to you are not satisfied. They have other plans for you yet. Also, you admitted to having been used in corrupt activities which you now abhor and find repulsive. But you seem unaware you are being used once again and this time for political reasons. It does not matter if your handlers are the heavenly saints, the ungodly or the wicked and which side of the political divide they belong to. To fight corruption you must remove yourself from political partisanship. You said you are not afraid to fight for the truth. Good, fight your own battle then. I do mine like many citizens who want to be free from political influences and partisanships. Do this and the skeptics will believe in you. I wish you and your family well. De Los Reyes, Via Reader’s Comment
FOR the past two weeks, the name of our country has again been dragged into shame by an international scandal that has been caused by the P7 million in cash that was found by airport authorities in Moscow, Russia in the possession of former Philippine National Police (PNP) Comptroller Director Eliseo Dela Paz. According to statements made by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ronnie Puno, the money was supposed to be used for the representation expenses of the police officials who attended an international police conference in Russia. In another statement, PNP Chief Jesus Versoza said that he was not the one who authorized the travel of these police officials and claimed that the money was supposed to be used to purchase intelligence equipment. In light of this, we the leaders of Kaya Natin! A Movement that espouses good governance and ethical leadership in our government would like to express our disappointment by the seeming lack of transparency and accountability that is being displayed by the leaders of the PNP. We are also appalled by this incident due to the callousness to the plight of the ordinary policeman and policewoman that the leaders of our PNP is showing by traveling with millions of pesos in cash while members of the police force continue to make ends meet with very meager resources. As local government leaders, we are witness to the day to day struggle of the ordinary policemen and policewomen such as their lack of funds to purchase bullets, better firearms and to provide for the gasoline of their police vehicles. Moreover, we are further saddened by this event since many members of our police force continue to live in poverty while their leaders wallow in luxury abroad. We are also greatly concerned with suspicions that have come out that the money must have come from jueteng. Being some of the very few who fight jueteng in our respective local government units, we do not find this far-fetched, knowing that the social cancer that is would not have thrived all these years without the connivance of people up to the highest echelons of the police force. As such, we call on the leaders of the PNP particularly PNP Chief Jesus Versoza to be accountable to the members of the PNP and the general public on where these funds came from and what purpose was this to be used. Since the budget of the PNP generally comes from our taxes, we encourage General Versoza to be transparent in the use of the funds of the PNP. Finally, we appeal to General Versoza and the leaders of the PNP on behalf of the ordinary policemen and women to be more prudent in the use of funds especially in these trying times of economic and financial crisis. We call on the highest leader in our land, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to ensure that a proper and independent investigation take place so that the general public may know the truth about this incident. We also urge her to hold accountable and punish people who are found to be responsible for this incident. Finally, we urge our lawmakers particularly our Senators to pass the much needed Freedom to Access of Information Law that would promote greater transparency and accountability in our government. Let us not allow more scandals such as these to bring shame to the Filipino people before we finally act on putting in place laws that would help prevent incidents like these from happening again. Signed: Hon. Jesse Robredo, Mayor, Naga City Hon. Grace Padaca, Governor, Isabela Hon. Eddie Panlilio, Governor, Pampanga Hon. Teddy Baguilat, Jr., Governor of Ifugao Hon. Sonia Lorenzo, Mayor, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija For more information about Kaya Natin! You can contact Kai Pastores at (02) 426-5657 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
By Jun Lozada* ALLOW me to call you Joc-Joc as you are known in the media and by many Filipinos, too. As of this morning of the 24th of October, 2008, news about your lawyer petitioning the Supreme Court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the implementation of the arrest warrant issued by the Senate upon your arrival, hugs the headline of the major dailies together with the radio and TV news broadcast. The whole country seems to be anxiously awaiting your return, I am sure your family is also eager to see you back as well. It is about your family that I am writing you, because of what my own family went through when I was in a similar situation that you are in now. Being a father myself, I know that the welfare and safety of your family is your foremost concern in the middle of all the controversy and the uncertainty that you are facing. There is so much fear right now that pervades your life along with your loved ones. Questions such as, how safe are you in Manila? Is there a possibility that someone may attempt to harm you or your family? How are the people that you are covering for going to help you? How are you going to answer questions from media? How can the people you are covering up be trusted with their dilatory tactics to get you off the hook, away from the prying questions of the opposition senators? We're caught up in all of these questions and an "us versus them" way of thinking, that we almost forget to ask the right questions anymore - right questions such as: how are my children hurt with the truth that I am generally perceived as a corrupt criminal by the Filipino nation? How are my children going to explain my involvement in this fertilizer scam to their friends? How is my wife going to face our friends and still be seen as a person with integrity? What legacy am I leaving my children? Is leaving them with millions and big houses in Ayala Alabang better than leaving them with a good name? I am sharing these insights with you, because if there is one thing that I did regret in telling the truth about how this Arroyo administration has been stealing from the very people it is supposed to serve, it is that I was not able to prepare my wife and my children well enough against the backlash of this government's wrath against me for telling the people about their crimes. You still have time to discern your next move, whether or not you are going to tell the people the truth about the fertilizer scam or bring the secret to your grave, just like Romy Neri. As a father, I am asking you to please think about your children, please consider the legacy you are going to leave to them. Are you going to forever leave them as pariahs branded as children of a thief--or as children of someone who did wrong and yet chose to serve his country in the end, rather than to be a captive forever of the dark forces he used to serve? And, please prepare your family whatever way you may wish to choose. Discuss this together with them because at the end of it all, they will suffer or be affected more as a consequence of your decision. Secondly, as a fellow Rotarian, how about taking the Four Way test as part of your discernment process? Is it the Truth? Is it fair to everyone concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendship? Will it be beneficial to everyone concerned? You have been a good Rotarian for many good years of your life. Will you now turn your back on these ideals in the biggest test of your Rotarian values? Lastly, let me share with you one of the most profound lessons I have learned in my own journey towards the truth, a truth not as a goal to be reached but rather as a way of life to be lived. I have found that the opposite of all the fears I am confronted with is not courage but faith. It is faith in a God who said, "I am the way, the truth and the life", a just God who will judge us not in terms of the wealth we have on earth but in terms of what we did to our fellow human beings. It is my faith in this God that allowed me to face all the fears that I am confronted with when I decided to tell the truth that I know about the NBN-ZTE scam. May you find the faith to lead you to the Light of God's love that no darkness can ever defeat, not even a President of the Republic of the Philippines. May God bless you with the wisdom to choose your path. *This is an open letter written by Jun Lozada, the star witness in the controversial National Broadband Network project of the Department of Transportation and Communication. Copies are now being circulated on the Internet through e-mail.
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This is In reaction to the "Telcos, not text senders, will be taxed." It’s understandable for the domestic telecom companies to block any proposals that would reduce their enormous profits. Gordon’s proposal is noble one but i think people should realize that the main issue here is the negative impact of the duopolistic behavior (forget Sun, they are not yet earning) of the two main telecom players. Congress should work hard to induce more industry competition (lower cost, better service). Better yet, investigate the respective ownership structures of these companies. My worry is that foreign interests are the ones benefiting more on the growth of the industry. Sorry but I’m just thinking aloud. paruparo via Reader's blog comments.
FREEDOM of religion is written into the Constitution of Australia as well as the United States. Both countries also share the concept of fairness, and indeed in Australia "a fair go." The protesters calling themselves Anonymous, have attempted to harass Scientologists exercising their freedoms. What the Church of Scientology has found, is that Anonymous is in fact run by a small number of unscrupulous individuals, and most of the protesters are by and large young people, possibly Uni students, some appear as young as 14. So what makes a young person so fired up that they would tear themselves away from their computer screens long enough to protest the Church of Scientology? There is no doubt that their 'rage' is being fuelled by misinformation and often blatant lies on the Internet. We have found that very few, if any of these protesters have any actual knowledge of the subject of Scientology. What is Scientology? It was founded by author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard in 1952. His stated aims for it are: "A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights are the aims of Scientology." It is recognized world over as a bona fide religion. The High Court of Australia ruled on the matter stating on October 27, 1983, "The conclusion that it [the Church of Scientology] is a religious institution entitled to the tax exemption is irresistible." Scientology ministers are officially recognized as ministers of religion allowing them to perform marriages. All new religions in history have been attacked, usually by bigoted and prejudiced individuals. But even in these instances, the courts have upheld the rights of Scientologists, the Church of Scientology and its religious foundation in recognizing the framework in which these services are offered. Scientologists are just people. That they apply this philosophy which literally means "the study of wisdom or knowledge" actively towards solving the problems of their life and improving themselves and helping others is what makes them different. But we all share common humanity. Scientology's traditions are as old as Man, even though its practice and applications are as new as the technology which brought us supercomputers. So should a Church whose only aim is to help people with their lives be the target of the people wearing costume masks? Is this the beginning of a whole new social conscious for our young or are they being manipulated and used in an effort to discredit the Church by religious bigots? The only real way to understand Scientology is to read a book by L. Ron Hubbard. There are many titles available. So who should decide your religious freedom? You do, firstly by being informed, secondly by thinking for yourself. After all, Scientology is really only a body of knowledge, and knowledge, after all should be available to all. Cyrus Brooks, Church of Scientology via e-mail
By Soliman Santos, Jr. THESE are initial notes based on the Supreme Court Public Information Office bulletin of October 14, 2008, titled “SC Declares MOA-AD Unconstitutional” and a quick scanning of the 87-page majority Decision of the same date penned by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales based on an 8-7 vote declaring the MOA-AD “contrary to law and the constitution.” Those who joined her in the majority are Chief Justice Puno and Associate Justices Santiago, Carpio, Azcuna, Reyes, Quisumbing and Martinez, all of whom except the last two wrote separate concurring opinions. Those who voted to dismiss the petitions were Associate Justices Tinga, Nazario, Velasco, Nachura, De Castro, Brion and Corona, all of whom except the last wrote separate dissenting opinions. (All these separate opinions are not with me as of this writing). Being initial notes, we limit ourselves to main points on the key thrusts of the Decision and their implications. The aforesaid majority declaration is based on two substantive issues:  that the respondents GRP Peace Panel and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP) violating constitutional and statutory provisions on public consultation and the right to information when they negotiated and later initialed the MOA-AD; and  that the contents of the MOA-AD violate the Constitution and the laws. [p. 36] “MOA-AD” actually refers to the final draft of the “Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001.” The Decision also finds “grave abuse of discretion” in respondents exceeding their authority by agreeing to Paragraph 7 under the Governance strand of the MOA-AD that “virtually guarantees that the necessary amendments to the Constitution and the laws will eventually be put in place” which is (as far as amendments to the Constitution are concerned) a “usurpation of the constituent powers vested only in Congress, a Constitutional Convention, or the people themselves.” [p. 87] PAPP Esperon in particular was found to have “committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation process, as mandated” (by EO 3, the Local Government Code, and IPRA) [p. 86]. The Decision, in dealing with the contents of the MOA-AD, summed it up this way: “The MOA-AD cannot be reconciled with the present Constitution and laws. Not only its specific provisions but the very concept underlying them, namely the associative relationship between the GRP and the BJE, are unconstitutional, for the concept presupposes that the associated entity is a state and implies that the same is on its way to independence.” [p. 86, underscoring and bold face in the original] The effect of this ruling would appear to be to confine future peace negotiations with the MILF, and for that matter other rebel groups, “within the box” of existing provisions of the Constitution and national laws. The reported (by the SC PIO) pronouncements of the Chief Justice and others in the majority tend to reinforce this. CJ Puno wrote that “the President as Chief Executive can negotiate peace with the MILF but it is peace that will insure that our laws are faithfully executed… without crossing the parameters of powers marked in the Constitution.” He added that “respondents’ thesis of violate now, validate later makes a burlesque of the Constitution.” Associate Justice Carpio said that in negotiating the MOA-AD, the Executive branch “committed to amend the Constitution to conform to the MOA-AD.” These statements reflect a rather conservative judicial view of the MOA-AD negotiation effort that does not augur well for similar efforts. The SC PIO bulletin says that the Decision “enjoined the respondents and their agents from signing and executing the MOA-AD or similar agreements.” There appears to be nothing as explicit as that in the Decision but that could be the effect. The Decision notes that the MOA-AD, as “a significant part of a series of agreements necessary to carry out the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace” of 2001, “can be renegotiated or another one drawn up that could contain similar or significantly dissimilar [or drastic] provisions compared to the original.” [p. 84, see also p. 34] Precisely, because of this prospect of renegotiation of the MOA-AD “in another or in any form” to carry out the Ancestral Domain Aspect of the Tripoli Agreement on Peace of 2001, the Court was “minded to render a decision on the merits in the present petitions to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, the public and, most especially, the government in negotiating with the MILF regarding Ancestral Domain.” [p. 34, underscoring and bold face in the original] Are future peace negotiations now therefore necessarily confined “within the box” of existing provisions of the Constitution and national laws? Not necessarily. Because the Decision itself provides some opening for that albeit with due regard to non-derogation of separation of powers particularly the matter of constituent powers in proposing and adopting amendments to the Constitution. In the discussion in pp. 71-73, there are these guidelines: The President may not, of course, unilaterally implement the solutions that she considers viable, but she may not be prevented from submitting them as recommendations to Congress, which could then, if it is minded, act upon them pursuant to the legal procedures for constitutional amendment and revision. “While the President does not possess constituent powers … she may submit proposals for constitutional change to Congress in a manner that does not involve the arrogation of constituent powers.” From the foregoing discussion, the principle may be inferred that the President – in the course of conducting peace negotiations – may validly consider implementing even those policies that require changes to the Constitution, but she may not unilaterally implement them without the intervention of Congress, or act in any way as if the assent of that body were assumed as a certainty. In other words, these guidelines do not necessarily preclude, but on the contrary inform, any subsequent effort to reframe the GRP-MILF peace negotiations as constitutional negotiations – which they should be, in order to settle the relevant constitutional issues once and for all, otherwise the charge of unconstitutionality will always be raised when a better form of self-determination is sought for the Bangsamoro people in order to solve the Bangsamoro problem. The Decision, to its credit, does touch a bit [in p. 69] on peace-building and constitution-making by quoting from an American law journal: “Constitution-making after conflict is an opportunity to create a common vision of the future of a state and a road map on how to get there. The constitution can be partly a peace agreement and partly a framework setting up rules by which the new democracy will operate.” The SC PIO bulletin’s quote from the dissenting opinion of Justice Nazario is what to us is the right perspective on these negotiations: “In negotiating for peace, the Executive Department should be given enough leeway and should not be prevented from offering solutions which may be beyond what the present Constitution allows, as long as such solutions are agreed upon subject to the amendment of the Constitution by completely legal means.” The other major legal guideline for any subsequent effort is, of course, that on public consultation and the right to information. This brings us back to the substantive issues that were the basis for the Decision declaring the MOA-AD “contrary to law and the Constitution” as well as ruling the respondents to have “committed grave abuse of discretion.” These rulings are reconsiderable, i.e. can be the subject of a Motion for Reconsideration. Whatever violation of constitutional and statutory provisions on public consultation and the right to information when respondents negotiated and later initialed the MOA-AD is not as sweeping or as grave as has been made to appear. The numerous documented consultation and information efforts by respondents (including in the local government units of most petitioners), even granting the consultation and information inadequacies during a process of difficult negotiation and hard bargaining, should be made clear on the record, at least for possible reconsideration of the “grave abuse of discretion” ruling. PAPP Esperon in particular is unfairly singled out to have “committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation process, as mandated… “ [p. 86] But he just got into the job in June 2008! – at the tail end of the MOA-AD negotiation process of three years and eight months since 2005. As for respondents supposedly exceeding their authority by agreeing to Paragraph 7 under the Governance strand of the MOA-AD that “virtually guarantees that the necessary amendments to the Constitution and the laws will eventually be put in place” [p. 87], this interpretation of Paragraph 7 as a “guarantee” or “commitment” to the MILF “to amend the Constitution to conform to the MOA-AD” is highly debatable, to say the least. There is definitely no “usurpation of the constituent powers…” on the part of respondents. The respondents were all along following a recommendatory mode vis-à-vis their principal, the GRP – along the lines in the above-quoted paragraphs of the Decision. As stated in the “Supplement to the Memorandum for Intervenors Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society and Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum, Inc.” dated 28 September 2008 in support of respondents [at pp. 47-48]: Such needed constitutional amendments, as well as needed administrative action and new legislation, in pursuit of reforms aimed at addressing the root causes of the armed conflict, are well within the authority, mandate and parameters of the GRP Peace Panel to submit by way of recommendations to the Executive as a result of long discussions and eventual consensus at the negotiating table. Thereafter, the Executive may consider these for appropriate action by itself, or coordination with and referral to the Legislature which may then take the necessary legislative and constitutional processes. As also argued in that CBCS-BWSF Supplement [at pp. 54, 78], Paragraph 7 under the Governance strand of the MOA-AD should not be seen negatively as “making the Constitution conform to the MOA” but rather as a matter of good faith implementation of peace agreements through constitutional processes that may include any necessary amendments or revisions of the Constitution, as would be the approach too with certain international obligations. In the context of recommendatory amendments to the Constitution to address pursue reforms to aimed at addressing the root causes of the Moro armed struggle, it is unfair to the MOA-AD negotiation effort and the whole GRP-MILF peace negotiations to prematurely shoot down a mere preliminary (to a final) peace agreement just because the Decision finds that on its face, “The MOA-AD cannot be reconciled with the present Constitution and laws. Not only its specific provisions but the very concept [associative relationship] underlying them.” [p. 86] This early shooting down preempts and prejudices the whole peace process effort. For the Decision to say that “the concept [of associative relationship] presupposes that the associated entity is a state and implies that the same is on its way to independence” [p. 87] is again highly debatable. There are states and there are states, including constituent states in a federal republic and associated states. But these said states are not sovereign independent states. There is nothing in the MOA-AD about a grant of independence to the Bangsamoro – even if they have good grounds for this (and maybe the Decision has just reinforced those grounds). These questions of substantive constitutionality of the MOA-AD’s key provisions, as well as the numerous documented consultation and information efforts by respondents, were presented and discussed in the CBCS-BWSF Supplement [pp. 50-52, 56-79, also Annexes 3 & 4], even as these were not presented and discussed in the Memorandum of Office of the Solicitor General. Unfortunately, it appears that the Decision had not taken note of that CBCS-BWSF Supplement and its considerable set of Annexes, including especially information materials on the ancestral domain negotiations. As we said, this is just an initial quick reading and commentary on some key thrusts in the Supreme Court Decision declaring the MOA-AD “contrary to law and the Constitution.” There is no doubt more to be done in terms of deeper and more thorough reading and study of the Decision, as well as the separate concurring and dissenting opinions, including their discussions of international law and indigenous peoples rights in relation to the peace negotiations. This is more than an academic exercise, for what really matters is its implications on the fate of the GRP-MILF peace negotiations, which is basically to say the fate of war and peace in Mindanao.
You cannot serve two masters at the same time. Many are called, few are chosen. With these lines, I ask, "What did Fr. Ed now Gov. Ed Panlilio hope to achieve when he ran for Governor?" I think he was confused about a lot of things. First he must have thought that being a priest is also like being a governor. Or that he could bring his priestly duties to his new job. Fact is, that is ideal but highly improbable. Simple lang po. Pag ikaw po ay pari, lumalapit ang tao sa yo para magkumpisal ng kasalanan. They have acknowledged their wrongdoings and are asking for forgiveness and penance. Mabait na sila. They are also not afraid to confess to a priest kasi di naman sila nito ipapahamak o isusumbong dahil may vow of confidence ang confession, di po ba? But in a governorship, di ganun ang mga tao. Gagawa pa lang sila ng kasalan. Masama pa sila. At sigurado di sila aamin sa governor kung gagawa o gumawa na sila ng kasalanan. It is very naive to think people are angels and saints all the time. So see, there are a big chunk of difference there is that what is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander here. Ang approach ng pari ay iba sa approach ng isang public official. Ang sitwasyon ng simbahan ay iba sa sitwasyon ng kapitolyo o munisipyo. Kaya nga siguro, pag pari, pari at pag public official, public official. Di pwdeng double personality. May conflict of interest kaagad. Many will be bound to be frustrated. As for the calling, may I ask. Did Fr. Ed heard the wrong calling when he answered the call to become a priest because what he really wanted to be pala ay maging public official. Or he heard wrong when he thought he had a calling to be a public official. He can’t be right in both cases. Ok lang naman ang maging pari o maging governor but you can’t be both and certainly you can’t expect people to see you as both. I think Fr/Gov Ed is confused and the whole situation confuses people around him. Reader's Comment by goldenrule
By Erika Tapalla INQUIRER.net "I'm a lesbian," Jane says, "but not by choice." Hidden under the name Jane, this senior Miriam College student admits to liking girls. Unlike many of the closet homosexuals, she's come out to everyone, except her family. Standing five foot two with silky shoulder-length hair, she epitomized the physicality of a heterosexual female. She even had ladylike manners during the interview, sitting primly cross-legged with her hands on her knee. "There was a stage in my life where I wore my brother's clothes and cut my hair like a boy but that's over," Jane describes, "People only looked." Psychiatrist Gina Mohnani, specializing in abnormal psychology and children's special needs, claim that being a predominantly Catholic country with strict religious and moral codes, people will always look simply because it is unnatural. "In today's society, we are already in fact being very accepting to homosexuality," Mohnani asserts, "If you look closely to the socialites and celebrities in the newspapers and magazines, they are always with a gay guy. In the malls, lesbians walk holding hands all the time. People look, but that's all." How a particular sexual orientation develops in any individual has remained a question marked in the field of science. Theories have been proposed offering various answers to the physiological roots of a person's sexual orientation, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, but Mohnani strongly disagrees to these. "Sexual orientation is shaped for most people at an early age through complex interactions of psychological, emotional and social factors," Mohnani says. Environment plays a very big role that if a young girl grows up to be surrounded by lesbians, or grow up to the idea that lesbianism is common, it would only seem acceptable to be one -- possibly explaining why lesbianism is more frequent in all-girls schools in the Philippines. Being in an all-girls school all her life, Jane feels that this assumption is valid and says, "I was never exposed to the opposite sex and only had friends who were attracted to the same sex. So I thought, it was okay, sanayan lang naman eh [It's just something you get used to]." Mohnani adds: "Lesbians aged 30 and below can be helped through therapeutic sessions where they can talk of their experiences and problems so they can more clearly identify with themselves and live healthier lives without fear or discrimination.” However, Lorna Q. Israel, an International Studies professor at Miriam College, associate of the Women and Gender Institute (WAGI), and advocate of transgender identities, laughs at the idea of ‘therapeutically fixing’ a lesbian. "How can they be re-oriented to becoming female when female, as a concept and in practice -- is heavily oriented to heterosexual female -- precisely why they found themselves in the lesbian term?" Israel says, "Lesbians are females who resist the heterosexual concept of a woman." Israel suggests that if there was any root to lesbianism, or any sexual orientation problem for that matter, it would be the labels society creates for us. Labels only create confusion, discrimination and other problems. "Every one must be respected regardless of their sexual orientation. Any labeling is an exclusionary act," Israel points out. "I would never tell my parents I'm a lesbian or I like other girls," Jane admits, "They are very traditional and believe that man is made for woman and vice versa. They'll never accept me and make me feel like a sinner." Concepts of religion, man and woman, and their roles in society, have been handed down for many generations nearly forcing everyone to accept it and comply without question. Even Jane herself has trouble in establishing her role in her romantic relationship. Jane admits to breaking up with her girlfriend months back because she wanted her girlfriend to wear her hair long so she could wear her own hair shorter since she was the one who courted her, but her girlfriend wouldn't follow this rule Jane was strict about. Eventually, Jane's then ex-girlfriend grew her hair and they got back together. Beyond the labeling society and the Church imposes, there is further labeling involved in lesbian relationships. "You know how there is pink and blue. Pink is for the 'girl' in the relationship, and blue is for the 'not girl'," Jane explains, "I'm the blue one in my relationship but it doesn't mean I'm the 'boy' or do everything boys would do, 'cause I'm a girl." Israel claims, "Some lesbians will insist that they are women as a tactic to convince the homophobic public that they are also humans." Problems in lesbian relationships emerge because people obsess with labels and lesbian couples "try to mimic man-woman or heterosexual relationships because it provides the template of any relationship," Israel says. But it's the mimicking of this man-woman template that Mohnani cites to be "detrimental". Mohnani noticed that lesbians are generally more possessive than heterosexual females, and have higher tendencies to do anything to get what they want from their partners. In a study Mohnani encountered in the US, 80 percent of lesbians can still be attracted to the opposite sex. "I never tried to be 'normal' 'cause I'm not well-exposed," Jane confesses, "Maybe after college, things could change and I could like guys. Who knows?" This would then make Jane a bisexual. Still different and subject to discrimination. Having her own gender as unclassifiable, Israel states, "I am an advocate of fluid sexual identity. I don't like people being pigeonholed as one–heterosexual–or the other–homosexual. I am more comfortable in allowing people to choose whatever sexual orientation they want attached to their bodies but critical of those who unfurl that label that would promptly exclude other sexualities or identities." "It's hard to feel something you were taught was wrong," Jane confides, "I didn't choose to be like this." There are some females out there who are lesbians due to emotional and psychological problems deeply rooted in their childhood, as Mohnani asserts; and some simply because societal labels them as such creating even more confusion, as Israel explains. Regardless of what and who they feel they are, both Mohnani and Israel agree that they are human beings that should be respected and treated as human beings. Israel points out that instead of questioning the nature and existence of lesbians, maybe the question should be redirected to the people, "How can we help people not to be afraid of the lesbians?" To those like Jane, Mohnani stresses, "As long as you're happy, by all means, live your life because you only have one."
THIS concerns the recent column of Mr. Honesto General titled, "GSIS law on foreign investments" (PDI,10/08/08). I really have no idea why the GSIS general manager Winston Garcia has declared that the GSIS investments under the Global Investment Program (GIP) "was earning 5 percent," which is contrary to what the GSIS said a year ago that the said investment was supposed to have a guaranteed earnings of at least 8 percent? Is the GSIS hiding something from its millions of active members, most of whom are having difficulty applying for loans with the pension fund agency? And if ever loans are granted to them, most often computations are questionable and beyond the understanding of ordinary government employees whose mathematical skills are not at par with those of the magicians at the GSIS loans processing department. What seems to be mystery right now is the way in which the GSIS is tinkering with its members' money? The difference between 5 and 8 percent should be misconstrued as something that should be accounted for. The GSIS management should explain this in a public hearing which maybe called by Congress to shed light on the details of the said offshore investments. Otherwise, the difference should be another case of "finding a needle in the hay." If not, it is about time that any government employees association must stand up and do something to stop these shenanigans in the GSIS by filing a lawsuit before a proper court to stop GSIS from collecting members’ contributions until the GSIS shortcomings and loopholes in the processing of loans are corrected. Or they can lobby Congress to rectify some of the provisions of the GSIS charter, especially if it concerns matters that have something to do with investments abroad and other matters that are beneficial to its millions of members. As a former GSIS member, I haven’t heard of any government organization that had protested in behalf of its members to ventilate their grievances in the proper courts so that these things could be ironed out, once and for all. If a consumer organization had succeeded in suing the Manila Electric Company for what it did to millions of hapless consumers, why not the GSIS members, too? Al Jeratso via Reader's Comment
THIS is with regards to the article about the complaint on the BBC TV comedy program that portrayed a Filipina with racist tone. Filipinos whine and complain quickly when one of their kind is made fun of especially when made by foreigners. They will quickly paint it as racist. Let’s face the fact. Filipinos are also racist. When you portray Visayans in a funny way as to mock them, isn’t it racism? When you mimic their heavy accent when they try to communicate in Tagalog, isn’t it racism? At least they can speak Tagalog while you can’t speak their language which you call dialect. The truth is, you don’t even understand the difference between a language and a dialect. One example, a dialect of pure Tagalog is Batangas people’s mother tongue. The thing is, racism is alive and rampant in the Philippines done against the other ethnic groups in the islands not only against the Visayans but also against the Muslim Filipinos. Before you take the speck on other people’s eyes, clean your eyes of your own log. Talk against racism? Talk about racism first that is rampant in your own backyard. Joe Duterte via Reader’s Comments
THIS month of October we are celebrating Children’s Month. I find it very inconsistent though that the very same body which started all these rights-of-the-child thing, the United Nations, would be the very same body also that would spearhead something that violates one of the basic rights that have been ratified by governments and states of the world after a decade of consultations with various religions, cultures, societies, institutions, organizations, etc. Then here in the Philippines, which is one of the states which ratified the Rights of the Child, our lawmakers are trying to pass a law which once again destroys the spirit of the Rights of the Child through a bill comfortably labeled as something for the sake of women. This very fundamental right is the Right To Be Born. Maybe I see it in a very simplistic way but isn’t it ironic that the United Nations initiated this activity but then again they would disregard such a very important right (the very first right according to the Rights of the Child) and promote the use of contraceptives among its member-nations? It is written in very simple English and has been translated in all languages and dialects I suppose. This right is a very significant part of the entire list of children’s rights because upon it stands all other rights. It is a foundation upon which all the other rights stand as pillars. Without this right all the other rights would be useless. How can one enjoy the right to grow and develop if he or she is not provided with all the support to enjoy the right to be born? The celebration of the Children’s Month would be another useless waste of time, money and resources if the sanctity of this right would not be upheld. If we really want to have a true celebration of Children’s Month then let us support all the rights of the child especially the fundamental right which is the right to be born and oppose every program, project or activity that would make this right a thing of the past! Lance2008 via Reader's comment