Monthly Archives: October 2008

Sorry, Jocjoc Bolante is not Coming Home Yet

The Final Update:

Joc-joc Bolante arrived already in RP from the US last Tuesday night but brought to the St. Luke’s medical Center not in the Philippine Senate. The question, will he appear in the Senate to answer all the accusations hurled against him being the architect in the multi-million fertilizer scam? How will the opposition in the Senate handle Angara’s refusal to re-open the case?

Below is a news update from abs-cbn.NEWS.com

“Former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn ‘Joc-joc’ Bolante arrived from the US Tuesday night and vowed to appear before the “proper forum” to give his side on allegations that he orchestrated the diversion of P728 million in fertilizer funds to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s election campaign in 2004. Bolante arrived at the NAIA on board Northwest Airlines flight 71 around 10:45 p.m.”

“Bolante, who has visibly aged and lost weight, was then wheeled to the airport’s immigration office for processing.”

“After the processing at the immigration, he was whisked to a white ambulance van which took him to the hospital.”

Upon arrival at SLMC, Bolante was immediately taken to a room.

Dimacali said the Senate arresting team will be guarding the former agriculture official while he undergoes the check up.

UPDATE from abs-cbn.NEWS.com Joc-joc Bolante is on Northwest Airllines flight 71 to Nagoya, Japan en route to Manila according to Alfonso Cusi’s, Manager of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport . He said at ANC, “The info we had is Jocjoc Bolante is on board Northwest 71, that’s coming from [a] source which I can’t name, it’s confirmed that he is on board Northwest 71.” 

“We’re making arrangements… he has to follow normal process for arriving passenger, except that of course, he being a deportee, he has to undergo certain processing, turnover from [US] marshal escorting him to our officers here in immigration,” the airport chief said

For those who are waiting for Jocjoc Bolante, sorry but your man will not arrive in the country as expected. He is still at the US after he failed to board Northwest Airlines flight 71 bound to Nagoya, Japan. Don’t worry; said the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), he is still in their custody. Here is an excerpt of that news 

Former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante failed to board Northwest Airlines flight 71 to Nagoya, Japan en route to Manila after he was ordered deported by the United States earlier this week.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), however, said Bolante, wanted by the Philippine Senate for repeatedly ignoring its summons to explain his alleged involvement in the malversation of P728 million in fertilizer funds, is still in their custody. ICE did not elaborate. According to Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau correspondent, they did not see Bolante on the Northwest flight 71 bound for Nagoya from Detroit as of 4:05 a.m. Manila time.

Gail Montenegro of the US ICE, meanwhile, told ABS-CBN new bureau chief Ging Reyes in an e-mail that Bolante “remains in the custody of the immigration and customs department.

“Mr. Jocelyn Bolante remains in the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pending his removal from the United States,” Montenegro said.

She, however, did not say anything about Bolante’s present location.

Montenegro added that Bolante has been accorded due process and is awaiting a final order for deportation from a federal immigration judge.

A check at online flight status Website www.flightstats.com, meanwhile, said Northwest flight 71 left on time from the Detroit International Airport. The flight was scheduled to arrive at 6 p.m. in Nagoya.

Tentative schedule for arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 1, on the other hand, was at 11 p.m. Tuesday.

From: abs-cbn.NEWS.com

But upon his arrival at the Airport, he will immediately be arrested. Senate president Manny Villar already issued an order to Gen. Jose Balajadia Jr., the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to implement the arrest order. Villar insisted that the arrest order issued against former Agriculture Usec. Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante for his failure to attend the public hearings of the Committees on Agriculture and Food and Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon) on the P728 million Fertlizer Fund Scam is still valid.

Although Jocjoc Bolante’s lawyer Antonio Zulueta warned that only the Office of the Ombudsman could investigate Bolante. And if the Senators want to arrest him, they should first secure a warrant of arrest from a court. But Zulueta said he will only allow officials of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Immigration to “process” his client upon his arrival. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez already instructed NBI director Nestor Mantaring to “receive” Bolante “as is required in all cases pf returning Filipinos who are deported from abroad.”   

Now the question, who will prevail in arresting, receiving, and processing Jocjoc Bolante? A lot of people is interested with him, a lot of people will be waiting for him when he finally comes home upon release by the US immigration and customs authorities. Like any other Filipino citizen hoping that justice be done to what he did, I want this guy alive to speak what he knows about the multi-million pesos fertilizer scam. But I am afraid too that some shadowy groups may just be lucky to silence him forever. 


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Majority of Filipino Catholics Support the Reproductive Health Bill

You may agree or disagree with me but news indicate that majority of the Filipinos are now supporting measures that control the swelling of the population and a law that promotes the reproductive health of women based on the result of the latest survey conducted by Social Weather Stations where 71 percent favor the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, and 76 percent are in favor of teaching sex education and family planning in public schools. 

The News: (From ABS-CBN news on line) 

Majority of Filipinos are in favor of  Reproductive Health Bill and Sex Education in Public Schools

Seventy-six percent of adult Filipinos want family planning education in the public schools while 71 percent favor passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, a survey by research firm Social Weather Stations said Thursday.  

In the survey conducted last September 24 to 27, 76 percent of 1,500 respondents agreed to the test statement “There should be a law that requires government to teach family planning to the youth” while 10 percent disagreed.  

Support for family planning education is high in all areas: agreement is 78% in Balance Luzon, 77% in the Visayas, 76% in Metro Manila, and 72% in Mindanao. It is also high across socioeconomic classes: 78% in class ABC, 78% in class D, and 71% among class E. 

Sex education in classrooms is one of the issues opposed by hardline Catholics in the proposed RH Bill. Under the proposed measure, sex education will be taught to students from Grade 5 to fourth year high school.  

The survey, however, showed overwhelming support to teaching sex education to classrooms with three out of four men (75%) and women (77%) supporting a law requiring family planning education for the youth. The support is equally high among singles and marrieds.  

It also showed 76 percent of Catholics and 78 percent of non-Catholics supporting sex education for the youth, regardless of frequency of church-going, and regardless of trust in the Catholic church. 

Faculty Members of a Catholic School Support Reproductive Health Bill (HB 5043) 

Fourteen faculty members of Catholic school Ateneo De Manila University are out to prove that not all Catholics agree with the Catholic Church’s opposition to the controversial reproductive health bill pending in the House of Representatives.

In a 16-page position paper full of quotes from Catholic Church teachings and scientific studies on health, population, and poverty, the faculty members expressed their strong support for House Bill 5043 because “we believe that the provisions of the bill adhere to core principles of the Catholic social teaching.”

The bill is controversial for promoting contraceptives and imposing sex education in schools starting in Grade 5. Catholic bishops have tagged the bill as “pro-abortion” and “anti-life.” 

Although they are aware of the Church’s position, the faculty members said in the paper “our reason, informed by our faith, has led us to believe and say otherwise.” They argued that the bill is actually pro-life, pro-women, and pro-poor.

They argued that the HB 5043—by providing universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health services—will improve the country’ maternal and child health situation, prevent abortion, help poor families, and make the youth more responsible sexually.

“We ask our bishops and fellow Catholics not to block the passage of House Bill 5043…. To campaign against the bill is to deny our people, especially our women, many other benefits, such as maternal and child health and nutrition; promotion of breastfeeding; adolescent and youth health; reproductive health education; prevention and management of gynecological conditions; and provision of information and services addressing the reproductive health needs of marginalized sectors, among others,” the paper said. 

Reaction:

It appears, as shown by the survey, that majority of the Filipinos are in favor of Reproductive Health Bill and the teaching of Sex Education in the public schools. What is surprising here is the number of respondents Catholics (76 percent), and Non-Catholics (78 percent) among the Filipinos supporting measures that control the swelling of the population and promoting the reproductive health of women. There is one reason for this in my own opinion, poverty and the worsening world economic crisis. Besides, people are getting more practical these days. You may not agree with me but gone are the days when the church could dictate anything it wants to its believers. 

Take the case of 14 faculty members from Ateneo de Manila, a Catholic school, who are out to prove that not all Catholics agree with the Catholic Church’s opposition to the passage of the controversial reproductive health bill. In their “16-page position” paper they countered the Church opposition to the Reproductive Health Bill “quoting from Catholic Church teachings and scientific studies on health, population, and poverty.” One faculty unfortunately belongs to the Department of Theology. 

Does this show a crack in the position of the church against reproductive health bill? Of course those who support the position of the church may say no. And the debate continues even if majority of the Filipinos are now seeing more on the practical advantage of the bill.

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The foundation of trust, the population management debate

Trust is defined as “firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing.” This phenomenon has been extensively explored by various disciplines across the field of social sciences, including economics, social psychology, and political science. And socio-behaviorist have different ways of looking at it.

 

Rousseau and her colleagues define it in this manner. “Trust is a psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another.” Likewise, Lewicki and his colleagues describe trust as “an individual’s belief in, and willingness to act on the basis of, the words, actions, and decisions of another.” Because we are not the only organism in the social environment we exist, trust transpires from our interdependence with others. We depend on others to help “us obtain, or at least not to frustrate, the outcomes we value,” according to Lewicki and Tomlinson.

 

“Trust has been identified as a key element of successful conflict resolution (including negotiation and mediation). This is not surprising insofar as trust is associated with enhanced cooperation, information sharing, and problem solving.” In the light of this, there are three factors that influence trustworthy behavior. Ability, assessment of other’s knowledge, skill, or competency, it requires some sense that the other is able to perform in a matter that meets expectations. Integrity, the degree to which the trustee adheres to principles that is acceptable to the trustor. Trust in this context is based on “consistency of past actions, credibility of communications, commitment to standards and fairness, and the congruence of the other’s words and deeds.” Benevolence, trusted individuals are concerned enough about promoting our welfare interests and at the same manner do not impede them.   

 

In the case of our population program, which is more trusted here, those who propose and support population laws/policies that governs population management in the country or those who impede them because they find it as something immoral and unnecessarily counter productive? 

 

Why do we trust the position of the Catholic Church in its pro-life stance?

 

If one has to trust the words of Francisco Tatad, this is what he says in favor of the position of the Catholic Church in its pro-life stance.

 

“The population has many problems. But population is not itself the problem. Assuming there are problems associated with population growth, the reproductive health bill does not provide any answers. I hope the following will help put this bill to rest and allow the nation to devote its time, energy and resources to its real and more pressing problems.”

 

There are two items in his views which worth looking into:

 

There is no “population explosion” and the country is not overpopulated.

”The population growth rate and the total fertility rate (TFR) have declined. The National Statistics Office puts the growth rate at 2.04 %, the TFR at 3.02. However, the CIA World Factbook (2008), for one, puts the growth rate at 1.728%, the TFR at 3.00.” 

“The country has a population density of 277 Filipinos per square km, with a GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) of $,3400”

”This means a Filipino has more years to be productive than his counterpart in the developed world, where the population is graying and dying, without adequate replacement because of negative birth rates.”

 

The Bill according to him is destructive of public morals and family values

”It seeks to legislate a hedonistic sex-oriented lifestyle whose aim is to assure couples and everybody else of “a safe and satisfying sex life” (the other term for contraceptive sex), instead of a mutually fulfilling conjugal life, and ultimately change time-honored Filipino values about human life, family life, marriage, in favor of the most destructive counter-values that are wreaking havoc on the morals of many consumerist societies.” 

But what is there too in the statements of the pro Reproductive Health Bill that deserve our trust?

 

In his privilege speech in the Congress, proponent of the Reproductive Health Bill Congressman Edcel Lagman has this to say.

 

“The use of contraceptives for family planning does not make acceptors bad Catholics. But having more children whom parent can ill-afford to feed, educate, medicate, guide, and love makes them irresponsible regardless of their religion.”

 

“We must open our minds to the import and merits of the reproductive health bill and reject contrived criticisms, expose barefaced lies, refute malicious innuendoes, and resist menacing threats.”

 

AKBAYAN Representative Risa Hontiveros on the other hand also expresses the significance of recognizing the health of every woman still in the reproductive age in this country. She says:

 

“We may not be united in supporting the RH bill, but we must at the very least recognize that reproductive health is a women’s issue. It is us, after all, who bear and nurture the child.”

 

One group of supporting the Reproductive Health Bill asks: “Why is it important to focus on reproductive health?”

 

The results of the 2003 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) show that Filipino women, especially among the ranks of the poor, still bear more children than they desire.

Only half of married women practice family planning because of lack of information and proper knowledge of various family planning methods and services. The greater proportion of these women live in rural areas where there are few service providers and where services are scarce and inaccessible.

 

Poor women have three times more children than the rich (5.9 children for the poor and 2.0 for the rich), give birth to their first child at a younger age, and have more problems spacing their children than wealthier women.

 

Likewise, men who belong to the poorest segments of society have more children (5) compared to those who belong to the richest sectors (3). One in four pregnancies is mistimed and one in five is not wanted at all.

Meanwhile, despite the advances made in medicine, maternal health remains problematic in the country:

 

Maternal mortality is pegged at a disturbing 162 for every 100,000 live births (2006 Family Planning Survey). The only exceptions are a handful of areas where there is an efficient program on maternal and child health, such as the municipality of Carmen, Bohol. The vast majority of local governments have yet to establish a system that would drastically reduce maternal mortality.

Only 38 percent of deliveries have been found to be attended by skilled health professionals (2003 NDHS). Majority still seek the services of traditional hilots because they could not afford birthing in hospitals or because of lack of proper information.

 

Unless these people’s needs are addressed, Filipinos will keep on having more children than they want and can afford to have, and thousands of mothers will continue to die from causes that could have been prevented, were they only provided with complete information and services on reproductive health.

 

Who can be trusted?

 

The debate on population has been going on for years. Majority of people have been confused and keep confusing themselves with these varying views. But who among them are really telling the truth? Who among them is really concerned about life and the conditions for a rightful living? Who among them shows real benevolence in looking into the social and economic interest of the people? Unless population views are really guided by the interest of the people morally, spiritually, and physically it will be difficult to build our trust on whoever is speaking pro or against the Reproductive Health Bill.

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