Lopez’s rejection and disrespect for Taguiwalo

 

Ms. Regina “Gina” Lopez

I am talking of course about the confirmation hearing by the Commission on Appointments (CA) that rejected with finality the appointment of Ms. Regina “Gina” Lopez as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources DENR) and the deferment of the appointment of Ms. Judy Taguiwalo as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Both women are strong-willed and independent minded and advocate of causes worthy of respect and admiration for their aspirations and beliefs intertwine as it involves the environment, where if mismanaged and abused, it is the poor and the socially marginalized who are greatly affected.

It is no wonder therefore that an advocate of green environment has been chosen by President Rodrigo Duterte to head the DENR (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/sec-gina-lopez-and-the-mining-industry/) and the champion of the oppressed was to lead the DSWD (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/social-welfare-secretary-judy-taguiwalo/).

There is no doubt in my mind that Lopez will be remembered as the best DENR secretary the country never had because of politics and politicians being propped up by filthy rich businessmen who have large stakes in the mining industry.

“If you want to be confirmed, don’t go against big business,” an angry Lopez shouted during a long press conference after the bicameral hearing rejected her appointment.

“It’s wrong when lawmakers don’t stand up for the rights of every Filipino, but rather big business. It’s really very wrong.”

But if there is one good thing that Lopez has done in her short and controversial tenure as DENR secretary, it is to awaken the mining industries in the country that it behooves upon them to replant and to treat their waste water so that environmental disasters affecting the poor and the marginalized can be prevented from occurring.

Ms. Judy Taguiwalo

The case of Taguiwalo was something else.

The CA deferred the confirmation of Taguiwalo because of her strong links to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the confirming body just probably wanted more time to find out where she really stands now – her loyalty and ideology – considering her position as a Cabinet member.

But what really soured and turned off many during Taguiwalo’s confirmation hearing was the blatant display of arrogance and insensitivity, if not idiotic remarks disguised as a joke, by the Senate clown himself, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/more-than-a-senator-sotto-is-a-clown/), who, while grilling her, tried to sound funny, saying: “Just on the lighter side, Senator Drilon and I were looking at the personal info about you. You have two children – daughters or sons?”

Lighter side?

Sotto, with Drilon smiling at his side, considers this question “on a lighter side” when he knew already what went on with Taguiwalo’s life raising her daughters as a single parent?

If it was not meddling enough in Taguiwalo’s private life, Sotto proceeded further to disrespect and humiliate the former by saying that “Single mothers are “na-ano lang” (just got knocked up).”

What is being a single parent got to do with being confirmed, for chrissake!

If it was meant to be a joke, as Sotto later claimed it was, then it was a sick joke that could only come from one with a sick mind who does not deserve to be in the Senate at all.

Unlike Lopez and Taguiwalo, Sotto’s advocacy is simply to be a clown.

 

Reproductive health care finally unleashed

 

rh-lawI had been writing about the ‘tethered’ reproductive health (RH), even until it became a law, advocating its implementation sooner than later, for I believe in its practicality and benefits especially for the poor folks, but it was never fully carried out.

It seemed like it was leashed and had limited usefulness only. Worse is that benefits continued to be unreachable by the poor and to think that RH care was already a law. What an irony!

My last article about it can be read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/reproductive-health-law/.

With President Rodrigo Duterte signing on Jan. 9 Executive Order (EO) No. 12, mandating universal access to modern family planning tools, I feel like this particular welfare program that was just made to dangle for the reach of the favored few is now unleashed so it could drop and roll down to those needing it the most.

Duterte is said to have ordered government agencies, namely, the Department of Health (DOH), the Commission on Population (POPCOM) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to “intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions” to address the “unmet” family planning needs of up to six million Filipina women.

It will be noted that foreign and local authorities have long cited the need for improved birth control in the Philippines which has one of Asia’s highest birth rates as well as high maternal mortality rates.

With a galloping population of over 100 million now and with about 25 percent living in poverty Duterte’s order could not have come at a very propitious time.

Now we could not say anymore that the implementation of the RH law is inadequate because of its limited budget.

“The important part there is that all government agencies will start inputting funds for the program in their 2018 and 2019 budgets,” POPCOM’s executive director Juan Antonio Perez said.

The government’s annual family planning budget could now increase four-fold to the ideal level of two billion pesos, Perez said.

With the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), working on the truism that delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled, and praising Duterte for his political will in providing free contraceptives to poor women, describing it as a ‘new momentum’ in the provision of family planning services in the Philippines, we can only hope and pray that the Catholic Church and its excessively pious followers will respect Duterte’s stand on this controversial issue and look at it as an act beneficial to the interest of the country and its people, for that is all there is to it.

Good Samaritans uplifts old popsicle vendor’s life

fidencio

Anybody who sees this still photo of an elderly man struggling to push his paleta cart (popsicle cart) will surely be moved with pity and compassion.

Apparently the vendor, 89-year-old Fidencio Sanchez, went on retirement a couple of months ago but had to get back to work when he and his wife, Eladia, lost their only daughter who left behind two sons to be taken care of.

Eladia also used to sell paletas but now sells Mexican candies because pushing the heavy cart became too physically demanding and hurt her arm, according to the Sanchez’ granddaughter, Dulce Perez. Fidencio Sanchez has been pushing his cart in the area about 23 years, Perez said.

The kind soul of Joel Cervantes Macias posted Sanchez’s photo on FB. This in turn got the attention of Joe Loera who started an online GoFundMe campaign which resulted to more good Samaritans donating that Sanchez need not have to work anymore.

To complete the story I am also posting a video of this inspiring man that went viral.

Sotto’s 14th month pay proposal for workers

Sen. Vicente Sotto

Sen. Vicente Sotto

I don’t think anybody in his right mind will go against Sen. Vicente Sotto’s proposal to grant the rank-and-file employees, both from the private and public sectors, a 14th month pay on top of the 13th month pay, which is more known as Christmas bonus, that the workers are already enjoying.

Indeed, this is a very laudable proposal considering, as Sotto explained, that the recent P10.00 increase in the minimum wage was “too small.” He further elaborated that the 13th month pay is gobbled up by Christmas expenses and so there must be a need for extra earnings in the middle of the year to help in school and medical expenses.

No argument on that, but then again if Sotto is in his right mind, meaning rational and realistic and not pretending to be shrewd as he is wont to do, he should be asking himself if such a move across the board will not be ‘killing the goose that lays the golden egg?’

Sure, big, stable multi-national and local companies that employ over 500 workers can afford it. Banks are doing it, for that matter.

But how about the small and medium sized enterprises that are just starting and groping? Is Sotto saying that they too, will have to participate in this new scheme of more bonus giving? Is it not fair enough that such SMEs were established to provide work for people and yet Sotto now wants them to bleed more than they should?

“Health and education needs of the ordinary Filipino must be assisted by our government. This will make the maxim attributed to President Ramon Magsaysay become a reality: Those who have less in life should have more in law,” the senator added.

This is what I am saying about Sotto pretending to be clever and intelligent when what he is good at is blurting out idiotic remarks and illogical decisions.

Could somebody please tell Sotto that the law referred to in Magsaysay’s maxim is more related to equal access, meaning that those who have less in life should have as much access to the law’s protection as those who have more and, therefore, nothing to do with pay differentials. It is a known fact that the poor folks who do not have the wherewithal and resources to initiate or sustain litigation in the courts of law are often times defeated no matter how strong the evidence is to favor their side.

Sotto now seems to be acting as President Duterte’s factotum, but how I wish Duterte would confront Sotto and ask the latter why he reduced by P1.3 billion the funding for the implementation of the Reproductive Health and Responsible Parenting Law during the Aquino administration, but is now supporting Duterte’s full implementation of the same?

Once a clown, always a clown!

 

Implementation of RH Law now in earnest

 

Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial

Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial

It was reported recently that incoming Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial will review the Department of Health’s (DOH) “distorted” health expenditures which resulted in the failure to implement an ideal health insurance program.

This should be a much welcome gesture especially by the poor afflicted families because not only is Ubial determined to push for higher health spending in order to better cater to the needs of the Filipino people and vowed to use her expertise as a public health official to prioritize primary health care, but incoming President Rodrigo Duterte himself has vowed to allocate part of the earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), which run to billions of pesos for health services.

It should be remembered that a few years back the Bicameral Conference Committee (Bicam) of Congress slashed P1 billion from the budget of the DOH, which had been targeted for the purchase of Family Planning products—condoms, birth control pills, intrauterine devices, and contraceptive injectables. The cut resulted in the reduction of the Family Health and Responsible Parenting budget from P3.27 billion to only P2.27 billion.

As was reported before, the RH Law was supported by a large majority of the nation’s population. What the anti-RH Senators in the Bicam managed to do with this budget cut was—without public knowledge or support—to return contraception availability from its legislated state as a public good back to the status quo ante—rendering it an “excludable” public good. Women with sufficient money have taken advantage of reproductive health and contraception all along—and continue to do so. But poor women are now excluded from that public good once again—despite the intentions of the law as passed and signed. Clearly, what happened was an attack on poor women.

One of the staunchest critics of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill and, who, no doubt took the cudgels of the Catholic Church in the Senate, was Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto, who now will be the Senate Majority Leader in the incoming Duterte administration.

It remains to be seen whether Sotto will continue to be a dependable mouthpiece and ally of the church when it comes to the full implementation of the RH law in the whole archipelago or he is going to turn now into a lamb – meek and submissive, the clown, with Ubial pushing strongly for it?

What is even more encouraging about the RH law is that Ubial said that she and her department would push for higher health spending in order to better cater to the needs of the Filipino people and vowed to use her expertise as a public health official to prioritize primary health care.

“Before, the focus was on hospitals. But because I’m a public health official, I will prioritize primary care, preventive, promotive services. Our dictum will be ‘prevention is better than cure.’

Talking about character and resolve for the interest of the poor and needy Filipino families!

 

Duterte chides church officials for hard stand on RH law

 

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte

I was watching a recorded interview of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte who was ask about the Reproductive Health (RH) law in relation to the country’s burgeoning population and his answer was a classic no-holds-barred DU30 answer that buoys up your spirit because his remarks exudes of political will.

Yes, political will because if one does not have this trait as a leader of a poor, populous country like the Philippines, which is predominantly Catholic, the fight you will be having against the Catholic Church hierarchy for its implementation can be exasperating, at best, and at worst, divisive.

This happens because weak politicians allow the Church to meddle in the affairs of the State, which in this case is the RH law and which has an enormous implication to the population, but to avoid conflict and possible political backlash during elections they give in to the will of the Church officials.

President Benigno Aquino may have been instrumental in passing the RH law in 2012, which for many, many years had been advocated by health agencies and concerned citizens for Filipino couples, especially the poor and the less-schooled from the rural areas and more so the women whose lives are put in danger due to high-risk pregnancies because of their ignorance about family planning and responsible parenthood, yet to this day the law is not being implemented fully. His sense of urgency is simply not there for the implementing agencies to follow through.

There have been questions about the constitutionality of the RH law, but the Supreme Court decided with finality that the RH law is not unconstitutional (save for a few provisions).

But somehow there is still so much to be desired in the full implementation of the RH law four years after and even by the Department of Education in their school curriculum, and this snag could only be attributed to the unseen but strong felt hard stand of the Church.

We all know how the high ranking Church officials exert their influence in this country, even in state matters, thinking that by sheer number of followers they will win their arguments.Well, not anymore. Somebody now with political will is making sure that the separation of Church and Sate is to be respected.

Now with Duterte taking over the presidency there is now a good chance that the RH law will be fully instituted and sustained.

The church leaders should understand that it is primarily the government’s responsibility to implement reproductive health care as part of our country’s commitment to various international agreements recognizing it as a fundamental human right and everybody is expected to tow the line, including the Church.

Directing at the Catholic Church hierarchy, Duterte said, “Family planning in the country cannot maintain its momentum because you keep the people in total ignorance.”

Duterte has explained he has no quarrels with the Catholic Church, but he is not fond of it either because it conditions the people to follow its doctrines using the concept of hell.

I could not agree more with Duterte on this. Is being ignorant, poor and miserable on earth not punishment enough?

I am just wondering if the buffoon Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, who is already in “heaven” as a senator, and a strong supporter of the Church, has an answer to this and will bare his teeth against Duterte on the implementation of the RH law.

Just asking.