Saturday, January 12, 2013


Unfinished Debate Over the RH Law
A recent article on the Kennedy legacy published in The Tablet, a British Catholic weekly, recalls a speech of John F. Kennedy given before a hostile crowd crowd of Protestant ministers.  Kennedy said:  “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President – should he be Catholic – how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference, and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him, or the people who might elect him.” 
The speech, given in the heat of a presidential campaign, was designed to quell fears of a Catholic President.  To a large  extent it served its purpose as shown by the election of Kennedy as President.
In 2012, another Catholic but Republican candidate, Rick Santorum, would contradict the Democrat Kennedy saying, “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of Church and State is absolute. The idea that the Church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the State is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country … To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up.”
Political campaign speeches tend to be absolutist in tone and frequently have to be subjected to distinctions in order to arrive at the full truth.  Kennedy’s statement, for instance, about the grant of public funds to religious institutions have been nuanced by recent jurisprudence.  Government financial aid may now be given to religious institutions provided that the grant  (1) is for a secular legislative purpose, (2) must have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion, and (3) must not require excessive government entanglement with  the recipient institution.  A number of other decisions have refined this teaching.
As to religious influence on the life of society, we are too aware of the excesses of churchmen the Catholic reigion was the established, or of efforts to prohibit the reading of the novels of Rizal, or now of efforts of some preachers to exclude from the Church those who favor the RH Law or to punish legislators who voted for the Bill.
The Catholic teaching on this subject may already be found in the Compendium on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church which says, “Because of its historical and cultural ties to a nation, a religious community might be given special recognition on the part of the State. Such recognition must in no way create discrimination within the civil or social order for other religious groups” and “Those responsible for government are required to interpret the common good of their country not only according to the guidelines of the majority but also according to the effective good of all the members of the community, including the minority.”
During the earlier debates on the RH Bill I myself had argued against some provisions of the bill which I thought should be deleted before the approval of the bill or should be challenged constitutionally if included in the partial version of the bill.  Because of this, I and a number of colleagues offered ways of improving the bill and we published what we called talking points on the bill. 
I have studied the final version, the approved law, and I notice that points which I would have considered constitutionally objectionable have been removed or nuanced.  Moreover, the prohibition of abortion has been made more specific.
But the debate on the approved law continues.  I am rather disturbed by preachers who use their opposition to the law as a way of defeating electoral candidates who favor or have favored the law.  Tactics are being used which can have the effect of driving Catholics away from the Catholic church or at least from Sunday Masses where the preachers subject the audience to prolonged attacks on the RH Law and to threats of damnation against those who favor the law.
As to the constitutional arguments being used against the law which are not impressive.  The arguments I have seen can be reduced to one sentence: “The law is unconstitutional because it does not hew closely to the teaching of the Catholic church on contraception.” 
This is a throwback to pre-1908 political society in the Philippines.  It forgets what the Compendium teaches: “Those responsible for government are required to interpret the common good of their country not only according to the guidelines of the majority but also according to the effective good of all the members of the community, including the minority.”  Worse yet, it ignores both the non-establishment clause and the free exercise clause of the Constitution.
P.S. on an unrelated subject.  The Supreme Court is revising the Rules of Civil Procedure and will hold a National Conference from 28-30 June 2013. The deans of our country's leading law schools and experts in Civil Procedure are already preparing drafts for the new Rules. The Office of Justice Roberto A. Abad is open to receiving suggestions from all lawyers (
14 January 2012


  1. The prince of darkness acted as a suavely dressed, courteous young man and went into Padre Pio’s confessional… This is beloved St. Pio’s own account: “One day, while I was hearing confessions, a man came to the confessional where I was. He was tall, handsome, dressed with some refinement and he was kind and polite. He started to confess his sins, which were of every kind: against God, against man and against the morals. All the sins were obnoxious! I was disoriented, in fact for all the sins that he told me, but I responded to him with God’s Word, the example of the Church, and the morals of the Saints. But the enigmatic penitent answered me word for word, justifying his sins, always with extreme ability and politeness. He excused all the sinful actions, making them sound quite normal and natural, even comprehensible on the human level.. He continued this way with the sins that were gruesome against God, Our Lady, the Saints, always using disrespectful round-about argumentation. He kept this up even with with the foulest of sins that could be conjured in the mind of a most sinful man. The answers that he gave me with such skilled subtlety and malice surprised me. I wondered: who is he? What world does he come from? And I tried to look at him in order to read something on his face. At the same time I concentrated on every word he spoke, trying to discover any clue to his identity.. But suddenly; through a vivid, radiant and internal light I clearly recognized who he was. With a sound and imperial tone I told him: “Say long live Jesus, long live Mary!” As soon as I pronounced these sweet and powerful names, Satan instantly disappeared in a trickle of fire, leaving behind him an unbearable stench.” FATHER BERNAS PLS STOP BEING MORE POLITICAL. YOU ARE A PRIEST. YOU SHOULD NOT CONTRADICT THE CHURCH AS PADRE PIO DESCRIBED THE ENIGMATIC PENITENT "He excused all the sinful actions, making them sound quite normal and natural, even comprehensible on the human level"

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thank you for sharing this is a nice post.i like this post very much.
    Fathers rights

  4. Thank you for sharing this RH Bill is one of the big issue in our country.

  5. I've read but, I am not an expert on Philippine laws and Catholic teachings:
    - On the content, I don't know what phrases or sentences or provisions are poisons of the devil and which ones actually reflect the true Catholic teachings
    - On the format, I don't know what would be the best format that will also ensure the survival of the true Catholic teachings
    - On what's next,
    --- I don't know if the government institutions specifically mentioned in the law are well-resourced to provide the highest levels of capabilities and integrity necessary to fulfill their duties.
    --- I don't know if an NGO accreditation program would be implemented to enable public+private partnership

    So, yes, the debate should continue because, using the same format as a TV commercial, there is no single source of truth that has been presented to the public:
    - by research groups, well-respected for their integrity, on the factual pains and/or problems that is needing urgent attention
    - by all sides, the different anti and pro groups, on the specific provisions that may provide the solutions and the threats and risks to the proposed solutions

    Here's an absolutist statement: "kung makaka-lusot, i-lu-lusot!" Unfortunately, absolutist statements from all sides are the ones getting highlighted because the media have hostaged everyone ... everyone's fear of becoming unpopular is being abused by media and everyone. And, this is exactly what the devil wants to happen, for the likeness of God to be destroying each other so the Lord can be humiliated, again! Catholics need to renew their self-respect and dignity. Everyone, especially the public figures, needs to have or strengthen their backbone against the traps of the devil!