WHAT’S NEXT?

Sports

WHAT’S NEXT?

No Comments 14 March 2010

By Doug Fischer

Manny Pacquiao’s welterweight title defense against Joshua Clottey lived up to its billing as an event — drawing the third biggest crowd to an indoor stadium in the U.S. — but it didn’t deliver much of a fight to the 50,994 fans who packed Cowboys Stadium on Saturday.

It’s obvious that Pacquiao’s on such a level that fights with good, solid fighters like Clottey will not produce compelling fights.

For a real event — one that would dwarf Saturday’s — and one that would deliver a compelling fight, Pacquiao’s next fight must be against the winner of the Shane Mosley-Floyd Mayweather Jr. welterweight showdown on May 1.      READ FULL STORY.

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RYAN AGONCILLO: A MAN FOR ALL STATIONS

Entertainment

RYAN AGONCILLO: A MAN FOR ALL STATIONS

No Comments 12 March 2010

By Pepper Marcelo

Ryan Agoncillo is a one-of-a-kind celebrity. In an industry where battle lines are starkly drawn, with warring networks vying for talent exclusivity, he is able to deftly navigate from station to station without damaging his career or making enemies. Working under non-exclusive contract with competing networks, Ryan is inundated with projects that utilize his many talents, including acting, hosting and modeling.

Asked how he felt to be in such a unique situation, the 30-year-old says he is blessed and lucky. “Mas madalas akong magdasal ngayon, yung thank you. Higit sa panghihingi pag nagdadasal, it’s more on thank you.”

On ABS-CBN, he co-stars alongside his wife, Judy Ann Santos, in the sitcom George and Cecil. On the revitalized TV5, he hosts the talent show Talentadong Pinoy. And just recently, after numerous guest appearances, he became a full-time co-host of the long-running noontime variety show Eat Bulaga on GMA-7.

But he says that if he were made to choose only one network to work for, he would stick it out with ABS-CBN, his wife’s “mother” network. “I am a Kapamilya definitely, kung exclusivity ang pag-uusapan, loyalty goes to them. The contract is not exclusive, but of course, yung loyalty ko nasa kanila. On a personal level, yung loyalty ko is with them.”

He quickly adds, however, that he always maintains a high level of professionalism when shifts from one project and network to another. “When we guest on, let’s say Eat Bulaga or Bubble Gang or Master Showman (all GMA-7 shows), may paalam, may pasabi. At ano naman, hindi sila [ABA-CBN] maramot sa ganun.”

He hopes no animosity would develop between competing stations, explaining that he doesn’t want to get into network politics, but simply wants to do the job at hand. “Ayoko siyang isipin, sa totoo lang. Ayoko siyang dumating. Kumbaga, sa tingin ko, sa tiwala ko sa mga katrabaho ko, hindi dadating sa ganung punto. I have so much faith and there’s so much respect with the people I’m working with. Hindi sila maggaganun. Kasi we all need to work.”

So far, work has been very good. ABS-CBN’s George and Cecil has been a solid success. But the biggest surprise has been Talentadong Pinoy. Patterned after America’s Got Talent and its British counterpart, the show, which features a wide variety of performers – from singers and magicians to dancers and acrobats – has become TV5’s highest-rated Saturday primetime show. Capping the show’s high ratings was Ryan’s winning his second trophy for “Best Talent Search Host” in the Star Awards for TV last November.

Asked which work he prefers – hosting or acting – he says it’s a toss-up because he likes doing both and they both bring in income. “Ang kagandahan lang kasi ng relationship ng acting at hosting sa akin ay I’m afforded a break from hosting when I’m acting and so is with hosting. So, it doesn’t get too neurotic, yung you don’t get burned out kasi halo-halo.”

His better half is naturally very proud of his individual success. When Ryan hooked up and eventually married one of the industry’s top actresses, many predicted Juday might overshadow his career. But Juday downplays the suggestions.

Nagkakilala na kami na may sari-sarili na kaming mga pangalan; siya as a host at ako bilang artista,” explains Juday. “May sarili siyang talent at ibigay natin sa kanya ‘yon kasi pinaghirapan niya talaga ‘yon at talagang prinoblema niya nang bonggang-bongga ‘yon.

Now Ryan has more projects than his more established wife. But this has not created any tension or conflict between the two.

Masayang masaya ako [para sa kanya],” says Juday. “Bilang may-bahay, sapat na nagagampanan ko ‘yung trabaho ko bilang asawa, bilang nanay at bilang artista. Okey na ako. Lahat ng blessings buong puso naming tinatanggap ‘yan. Masuwerteng-masuwerte si Ryan sa taong ito at sana sa mga susunod pang taon.”

For his part, Ryan says he and Juday are still on Cloud Nine one year after their wedding last year. “It’s evolving pa. More than the romance, the friendship is evolving. I thought yung pagpe-prepare namin ng wedding, yun na yung best of friendship talaga. Hindi pa pala. And then now, we’re building a nest, nasa building nest pa kami. Nasa tanungan pa kami kung paano gawin yung budget, paano gawin yung sa school, sino ang magtuturo sa anak namin? May ganun pa, e.”

Last March 12, Juday confirmed reports that she is two months pregnant. The couple is very happy and excited that their five-year adopted daughter Yohan will soon have a sibling. They are planning a month-long overseas trip in April or May to mark their birthdays and wedding anniversary. Ryan is celebrating his 31st birthday on April 10, Judy Ann is turning 32 on May 11, and their first wedding anniversary is on April 28.

Ryan has a traditional view of marriage. “Being the man of the house, I believe that I always have the last say in whatever decisions that we make,” he says. “Very traditional yung roles kasi nga parang nung kami. Kasi kahit naman sa pagba-budget, si Juday ang may hawak ng libro at siya ang nagba-budget.”

But what really matters, he says, is not the division of labor at home but that the mutual realization and commitment to help out each other in carving a happy married life.

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OFWS FACE BLEAK PROSPECTS

Migration

OFWS FACE BLEAK PROSPECTS

3 Comments 11 March 2010

By Pepper Marcelo

The Philippine Overseas Employment sector is at a crossroads. For decades, the country has relied on remittances to fuel the local economy and its domestic consumption. Now it faces rough sailing as labor demand from overseas slows down as a result of the global financial crisis.

No other country has had as much an over-reliance on remittances as the Philippines. Compared to other top recipient countries such as India, China and Mexico, the high percentage of remittances to the national income, or GDP, is highly disproportionate.

For example, the ratio of remittances (in billions of dollars) to the GDP of India is 27-to-3, China 27.5-to-1, and Mexico 25-to-2.8. The Philippines, on the other hand, is 17-to-13.8.

The country’s economic survival is dependent on sustaining these OFW remittances. With the current global financial crisis effecting migrant workers, however, the OFW sector faces an accelerating number of complex challenges going into the new decade and beyond.

Europe, North America and Asia are in a recession of unknown duration and depth. Job orders from Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, previously considered the best countries for expatriates, have stopped.

Only Middle East countries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, and Libya are hiring workers, using government and sovereign funds that sustain much of their current infrastructure projects and OFW manpower demand.

“To them, the Middle East is a difficult place. There’s no freedom there,” says Loreto Soriano, executive director of the Federated Association of Manpower Exporters (FAME). “The point I want to clarify, is that in those first world countries that the Filipino would normally want to go, they are the first to be affected by the crisis. You have to be practical. If you’re looking for a job and want to earn, that’s the place.”

Soriano is an Overseas Contract Worker (OCW) himself, having experienced personal economic benefits (as well as family sacrifice) while stationed in Saudi Arabia in the 80’s. Over the last two decades he has become involved in the migration of workers, and has been advocating the design of OFW components that would be beneficial to OFWs and the nation.

Dutch disease

To him, remittances are causing a “Dutch Disease.” “It is a phenomena in which you are awash with wealth but spend it unwisely.”

The concept is based on the impact of the high remittance growth rate in many sectors of the economy, including appreciating the peso, increasing foreign imports and discouraging domestic production, increasing government debt, encouraging smuggling and allowing for the growth of corruption.

“For example, before, to sustain the wealth of your family, you had a farm, a piggery or small poultry. This is the source of income that provided education to your kids. If you have a daughter in Japan or Saudi earning overseas and sending home money, you don’t need to sustain that farm.”

On a larger scale, “Dutch Disease” is the detrimental outcome of a country’s foreign exchange income without the government’s cost of development and investment.

Erroneous data

The financial sector and government agencies have propagated the falsehood that the last few years’ remittance record increases have been driven by a large increasing group of OFWs working in “recession-proof” occupations.

In fact, professional deployments have declined by 45% from 2005-2007, and less than 5% of all OFWs should be considered working in recession-proof positions, such as healthcare, 70% of whom are employed in Saudi Arabia.

There is a fundamental flaw to the collection and processing of OFW deployment and hiring data. Deployment statistics reflect multiple counting, while job classifications are too few, outmoded, and not sufficiently detailed. Financially, authorities have been aware of OFW statistical inconsistencies and deficiencies for years. Most statistical claims are believed but “upwardly biased.”

Many officials say there is record growth, but it is attributable to change in mode of transfer rather than increased deployments of professionals with increased salaries.

These statistics reflect different channels of delivery – from banking to non-banking, or non-informal channels such as couriers, hand carry and padala transfer methods.

“If there is growth, why can’t poor people feel it? Because it is a jobless growth. From a productive economy, it has changed into a consumptive economy. Because of the inflow of dollars, and industries are dying, there is so much consuming by the families of OFWs. And if there in nothing to buy locally, we import everything we need.”

And contrary to popular belief that OFWS are employed in recession-proof industries and a high percentage of them are professionals, they are not. Though it is stated that 90% of the OFW workforce is composed of professionals, the number is closer to 13%, and that is steadily declining.

The fact is that OFW deployment is dominated by low-skilled workers, encompassing household, service, factory and labor. The deployment of professionals – nurses, doctors, etc. – remains low compared with other skills categories. In the supposedly “recession-proof” healthcare industry, only approximately 3% of nurses were new hires in 2007, down 36% from their peak of 9,000 in 2001.

It is also believed that hundreds of thousands of nurses are deployed each year, when in reality, it is less than 10,000. And that many of them go to the U.S., but actually only 186 went in 2007.

Unemployable graduates

“That kind of dialogue – that tens of thousands of nurses are deployed since 2003 – invited half a million enrollees in nursing for the past six years,” Soriano says. “That’s why you have computer schools like AMA and STI and Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT), companies that are dedicated to IT and engineering, opening nursing courses.”

The Philippines is producing unemployable candidates and qualified graduates for most job orders, yet nationwide specialty “schools” and programs keep proliferating, ignoring the job market reality.

For many years, the Overseas Employment Service Providers (OESP) has voiced their concerns on the incompatibility of college, technical and vocation courses with international standards.

Unfilled job vacancies, approximately 500,000 according to the POEA, were not filled due to the lack of experienced, qualified professionals and skilled workers. There are 389,000 job orders, but only 25% can be filled in the next 6 months.

Increased competition and lack of experienced, qualified applicants will continue to increase and accelerate. There is also a lack of permanent jobs for gainful experience, with manufacturing industries that offer permanent jobs quickly dwindling.

“Can we change that? No, unless there are structural changes.” One of his solutions is that returned and “retired” OFWs should be treated as productive assets and become part of a new economic model that utilizes their experience, knowledge and available investment funds by working under sustainable domestic programs. This includes agriculture and community-based commerce.

Failure to act now, Soriano says, to protect and sustain the OFW economic engine will cause great political and social uncertainty in the country and affect the capacity to be a regional player in the future.

“Our economists and government policy makers should realize this. The effect of their failure to protect the local economy is now affecting the overseas employee.”

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TOO CLOSE TO CALL

Politics

TOO CLOSE TO CALL

1 Comment 10 March 2010

It’s a very tight two-man contest for the presidency, according to the latest survey.

Going into the last two months the campaign, Liberal Party standard bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III maintained a two-digit lead over closest rival, Sen.  Manuel Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party.

The latest survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) from Feb. 24 to 28 showed Aquino’s lead down to only 2 percentage points, with Aquino at 36% and Villar at 34%. (See related story – Tracking the Numbers.)

“We’re saying it’s a 2-point lead [in the latest survey],” said SWS president Mahar Mangahas. “We’re not calling it a tie. To say that it is a tie is to lean toward one side. So we’re not calling it a tie unless it is the exact same point.”

He said the correct way of interpreting the results of the latest survey is that, given the margin of error of 2%,  it’s either a statistical tie or that Aquino has a 4-percentage-point lead.

But what is clear, he added, is that there has been a consistent decline in support for Aquino based on the four presidential surveys conducted by SWS from December 5-10, 2009 to February 24-28 2010.

Aquino’s lead over Villar was 19 points in December 5-10, 2009, 11 points in December 27-28, 2009, 7 points in January 21-24, 2010, and 2 points in February 24-28.

Other contenders

Trailing the front-runners were former President Joseph Estrada (15 percent, up 2 points), former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro (6 percent, also up 2 points), Bro. Eddie Villanueva (3 percent, up 1 point), Sen. Richard Gordon (2 percent, no change), Nicanor Perlas (0.2 percent), Olongapo Councilor JC de los Reyes (0.1 percent) and Sen. Jamby Madrigal (0.1 percent).

SWS said the 6-point decline in Aquino’s rating since January was due to drops in all four areas across the country: 7 points in the balance of Luzon, 6 in Mindanao, 5 in the Visayas, and 3 in Metro Manila.

Villar lost 6 percentage points in Metro Manila, 2 in the balance of Luzon, and one in Mindanao, but picked up 5 in the Visayas to trim his overall slide to just 1 point.

By socioeconomic class, Aquino was ahead in Class D (38 percent compared with Villar’s 34 percent), while Villar was ahead in Classes ABC (33 percent compared with Aquino’s 30 percent) and Class E (34 percent versus Aquino’s 32 percent).

Pulse Asia survey

Meanwhile, the most recent survey of another polling firm, Pulse Asia, showed Aquino leading Villar by 7 percentage points. In the Pulse Asia’s survey, conducted on Feb. 21-25, Villar rated 29 percent, down by six percentage points from the Jan. 10 survey. In contrast, Aquino held on to 36 percent, down by one percentage point from the previous survey.

Explaining the different results of the Pulse Asia and SWS surveys, political analyst Ramon Casiple said it could be an indication of voters’ “wild swings.”

“There are wild swings among the voters, and there are only a few undecided. They have somebody in mind, but their choice is affected by issues that come out in the media. That’s why the trending is not fixed,” said Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms.

He said the voters had a “deep interest” in the presidential election and were closely monitoring the news coming out in the media about the candidates.

“You may have a lead, but it does not necessarily mean that this will be maintained. But it appears that it’s a one-on-one between the two,” Casiple said of Aquino and Villar.

Vice presidential race

In the latest SWS survey for the vice presidential race, Aquino’s running mate Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II maintained his wide lead over nearest rival Sen. Loren Legarda, running mate of Villar.

Roxas garnered 45 percent, a drop of 4 percentage points from the January survey. Legarda remained at 28 percent.

Other vice presidential candidates did not gain substantially. Trailing were Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay (17 percent), former Metro Manila Development Authority chair Bayani Fernando (3 percent), former Optical Media Board chair Edu Manzano (2 percent), broadcaster Jay Sonza (1 percent), former Securities and Exchange Commission chief Perfecto Yasay (0.4 percent), and Dominador Chipeco (0.4 percent).

Aquino upbeat

Despite his slide, Aquino remained upbeat. “I’m still No. 1, but it doesn’t mean we’re satisfied with that. The tightening race means that we’d just have to redouble our efforts,” he said.

Aquino said that getting ahead of his rivals despite what he called a “tsunami” of political ad and media spending by Villar was in itself an achievement. (See related story – Money and the Presidency.)

“I think our message is getting to its target audience despite our lack of resources. We just make it up with our campaigns and grassroots volunteers,” said the LP standard-bearer.

LP campaign strategist Florencio “Butch” Abad Jr. said Villar had failed to overtake Aquino in the surveys despite exceeding the limit on ad spending.

Villar happy

For his part, Villar said: “We are statistically tied,” referring to the SWS survey.

“As for me, I am comfortable with my lead and, of course, we still look to Noynoy (as a close rival) although we respect all the candidates. However, (Estrada’s) distance (or lead) from us is still far,” Villar said.

He said he was happy that “surveys have confirmed that we are responding to the hopes of the people across the country.”

He attributed the rise in his ratings to the frenetic pace of his campaign sorties across the country since Feb. 9.

“Of course, the others who are (trailing in surveys), we expect them to get more points now because of their wider exposure,” Villar said.

Estrada elated

Estrada expressed elation over his rising rating. He said that if his numbers continued to go up at the rate they were going, he would have a high-enough rating to win come May.

“It’d be over for them,” Estrada said.” In 1998, I started in third place. It’s hard to be No. 1. It’s more difficult (to start) from the top (and then) going down, isn’t it?”

The camp of Teodoro welcomed his slight improvement in rating. “We’re gaining ground right in time for the presidential elections in May,” said Mike Toledo, spokesperson for Teodoro.

Gordon wondered how a small sample of respondents could accurately represent more than 50 million voters across the country. He warned against the mind-conditioning effects of the surveys.

Madrigal said she did not believe in surveys. “Unless and until these survey groups clarify who are funding them and what their methodology is, there will always be a cloud of doubt on their accuracy,” she said.

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CORRUPTION IS STILL THE ISSUE

Politics

CORRUPTION IS STILL THE ISSUE

No Comments 09 March 2010

By Juan T. Gatbonton

To geezers like me, whose memory runs back to the postwar period, it is striking—and sad—that corruption should remain the main election issue during all this time.  Right now, a presidential candidate, also a real-estate magnate, stands accused of engineering the diversion of an arterial road through his property; and the greatest qualification of another candidate for president is his claim to probity: the moral guarantee that “he will not steal.” READ FULL STORY.

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MONEY AND THE PRESIDENCY

Politics

MONEY AND THE PRESIDENCY

1 Comment 07 March 2010

By Randy David

In more ways than one, Noynoy Aquino, Manny Villar and Erap Estrada—the current front-runners in the 2010 presidential race—represent the three distinct faces of Philippine politics. Aquino draws heavily from the charisma of his illustrious parents. Villar banks on the power of his personal wealth. And Estrada continues to rely on his movie hero charm. They also embody, respectively, the three dominant institutions that shape political fortunes in our society: the family, the economy, and the mass media. Each one of them brings to politics a different kind of admission ticket—lineage for Noynoy, purchasing power for Manny, and star appeal for Erap. READ FULL STORY.

IN PHOTO: Manny Villar

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SWISS COP QUITS JOB TO HELP KIDS IN PHILIPPINES

Current Affairs

SWISS COP QUITS JOB TO HELP KIDS IN PHILIPPINES

No Comments 05 March 2010

BERN, Switzerland – Thomas Oliver Kellenberger was an ordinary policeman here. But not to children working in the garbage dumps in Cagayan de Oro. Kellenberger, 27, quit his job to relocate to the Philippines this month, where he will work full-time in the love of his life — a foundation helping scavenger children. READ FULL STORY.

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‘ELECTION CATECHISM’ ON THE POPULATION ISSUE

Current Affairs

‘ELECTION CATECHISM’ ON THE POPULATION ISSUE

1 Comment 04 March 2010

By Martin Benedict Perez

Towards the end of 2009 the debate on the controversial Reproductive Health Bill pending in the two houses of Congress registered several decibels higher when two presidential candidates voiced support for the measure. For a while supporters of the bill thought the endorsement by Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro would finally give the bill the focus and attention needed to get the nod of lawmakers.

The RH bill was still up for plenary debate for second and third reading in the House of Representatives. The Senate has not even started its floor deliberations and debate on its counterpart bill. But less than two months later, Aquino and Teodoro backtracked from their initial position. And then Congress adjourned without any action on the bill. In short, the measure is now dead. The simple explanation: it’s a highly charged issue that politicians dreaded to tackle.

The Reproductive Health Bill, or House Bill 5043, seeks to provide education about reproductive health, facilities to improve maternal health, and essential medicines and supplies to couples raising their own family. Nowhere is abortion legalized, supported, or mandated in the bill. Neither does the bill promote promiscuity or make pornography more widely available. Completely absent in the bill – in both spirit and form – are additional powers for the state that would infringe on a person’s right to freely practice religion or live out virtues such as abstinence and chastity.

‘Election catechism’

And yet, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) asserts — through an “election catechism” in the form of 20 pages of “election guidelines” —  that “it would not be morally permissible to vote candidates who support anti-family policies, including reproductive health, or any other moral evil such as abortion, divorce, assisted suicide and euthanasia. Otherwise one becomes an accomplice to the moral evil in question.”

A candidate’s position on the RH bill is thus the basis on how a Catholic should vote, the CBCP suggests. CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life Executive Secretary Fr. Melvin Castro would further suggest that when casting their votes, Filipinos must consider social interest over self-interest, and decide guided by moral principles.

The suggestions, however, come somewhat forcefully. With these come the threat of a candidate losing a sizeable number of votes due to their support for the bill, and the attendant promise of the Church endorsing candidates who oppose the bill. .

The veiled threat obviously paid off. Speaker Prospero Nograles on Feb. 2 said the measure would not be discussed in the last two session days of the House as it was too contentious and had little chance of being voted on. Feb. 3 was the last session day at the House.

Turnaround

In explaining his turnaround, Teodoro said the debate over the measure had become so “acrimonious” that the stakeholders totally forgot about the problem of population.

“The big debate is whether or not the government can shape a moral choice. And that is the argument of the Church. That the government should not actively advocate for making a moral choice. The debate stopped there,” he said.

Teodoro indicated that he agreed with the Church position, and said that the government should be “neutral” but should support the “moral choice” of every individual with resources. “I’d rather have resources to support a moral choice rather than fight over a bill,” he said.

For his part, Aquino pointed out, “There are provisions that I cannot support.” After saying last October that he was in favor of making contraceptives available in all government hospitals, Aquino later said he now believes the RH bill must be amended. And like the other presidential hopefuls, Aquino would now leave it to parents to plan the number of children they want and to educate them on the issue.

Constitutional separation

By its involvement in the electoral process, specifically in how voters choose and what side of the issue one must side on, isn’t the Church in violation of the constitution separation of Church and State? How decisive is the Catholic vote really, and is marching lock-step with the Catholic Church the politically safe thing to do?

The first question can be answered most easily from a legal standpoint. Both University of the Philippines sociologist Randy David and constitutional law expert Fr. Joaquin Bernas are in agreement that when it comes to the constitutional provision of the separation of the Church and State, only the state can be a violator.

Sec. 5 of the Bill of Rights states, “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of a religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious text shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.”

These commands can be interpreted to mean that our political system will not allow the adoption of an official state religion, nor the banning of any religion or sect. Every citizen is free to choose and worship as he pleases, and that belief in a Supreme God is not required to enjoy one’s political and civil rights. Moreover, Sec. 28 of Article 6 provides tax exemptions to all charitable institutions, churches, convents, mosques, non-profit cemeteries, and lands and buildings used exclusively for religious, charitable, and educational purposes.

Only State can violate

Fr. Bernas concludes that only the State can be in violation of the separation of Church and State either by prohibition or compulsion. In an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he wrote, “Thus only the State can violate it. As far as the churches are concerned, they can be beneficiaries of the State’s violation of the non-establishment clause but they cannot be the violators. Thus when politicians decry a violation by the Church and churchmen of the Church and State separation principle, what they are really doing is violating not only free exercise but also freedom of speech and expression.”

But this will not suffice. Even Fr. Bernas would admit that the real question whenever we feel uneasy about the Church’s advocacy against the RH Bill or about priests who endorse politicians in their homilies is not one about legality, but about propriety.

This unease is best explained by the sociologist David who often argues that our country is in a state of transition from one that is traditional – relying on forces such as family honor, clan loyalty, and the power of the pulpit – to one that is more modern, where society is further subdivided into spheres with their own set of norms and laws. Hence, modernity recognizes the bonds of family, the truth of the Bible, the power of the constitution, and the judgment of the individual.

Hence, he sees the Catholic Church as a traditional force that is trying to make its way into the modern world. It is still grasping for its place – at times thinking that it still has the power to make kings – and it is still in denial about the harsh reality of our times: 78% of Filipino adults support the Reproductive Health Bill and, if we aggregate the survey results of the leading candidates supporting the RH Bill, more than 60% are inclined to vote a candidate that supports the controversial legislation.

Thus, politicians who try to curry favor with voters by falling in lockstep with the Church are equally confused. If their plan is to secure the Catholic voting bloc, there is none; or if they fear a Catholic backlash if they support the bill, there isn’t one either. They will neither gain nor lose votes, but their positions can suggest how they intend to move our country forward, or whether they are transformational or traditional politicians.

Hence the irony of a democracy is that the Catholic Church too can have its say, but its voice is a dwindling one, lost in the wilderness and tempted by its own power.

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ARROYO’S FEAR

Current Affairs

ARROYO’S FEAR

1 Comment 03 March 2010

By Marites Dañguilan Vitug

What is happening in two countries not far from us must be giving President Arroyo the chills. Last week, Thailand’s Supreme Court ruled that former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra should be stripped of more than half of his contested $2.3 billion fortune. These assets, the Court said, were gained illegally when Thaksin was prime minister. He abused his power to benefit the companies that he owned. Earlier, in January, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the government to reopen cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, citing President Ferdinand Marcos and other heads of state who were taken to court to answer corruption charges. The Supreme Court asked the government to account for $600 million in Zardari’s bank accounts in Switzerland. FULL STORY.

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UNSUNG HEROES OF A FAILED HEALTH SYSTEM

Current Affairs

UNSUNG HEROES OF A FAILED HEALTH SYSTEM

No Comments 02 March 2010

By Arnold Padilla

In a poor country where one out of every two people dies without receiving any medical attention, 50 percent of the population do not have access to health care, 40 percent do not have access to essential medicine, 10 mothers die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth-related causes, and 100 municipalities are doctorless and nurseless, while more than 7,700 nurses, 83 doctors, and 196 professional midwives leave the country yearly to work abroad, trainings to equip ordinary citizens attend to the basic health needs of poor and neglected communities should be welcomed. READ FULL STORY.

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