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Life goes on . . .

If Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral ever needs a new career, she should apply for the position of Senior Lightning Rod in the next administration or in a public relations firm.

Cabral has consistently managed to draw national attention to DOH concerns to the point that when she makes a pronouncement, one group or another will undoubtedly get ruffled or antagonized. Once again Cabral has the ire of the moralists and the Catholic Church concerning sex education in schools.

While critics of the plan are busy getting all fired up about the dire consequences of sex education, I need to ask what else have they done regarding the issue and parallel concerns.

It seems that the prudish people of the cloth are so afraid about knowledge that ignorance would be the preferred state of mind for the flock. This is quite similar to the practice of telling people in the dark ages that only priests, or friars had God’s authority and the ability to read and understand the Bible.

That serious and sorry mistake is one of the reasons the Catholic Church was weakened monetarily and morally. Having failed to educate and empower their believers, the flock became subservient and in time became disenchanted or rebellious.

In the case of sex education, there is never anything exciting or titillating in the mechanical or even graphic materials used to teach kids in private school. As far as I remember, the charts and illustrations did not seem any different from the ones they used in Botany and science.

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If the priests and pastors are truly concerned and sincerely want to carry the battle against sexual immorality or premarital sex, they should consult “experts” or former practitioners such as myself, and others like me who know how to address the situation.

I am presuming that priests and nuns, based on their presumed or declared chastity and celibacy would not know the first thing about the problem. Knowledge is not the problem. The examples around us are the problem.

If fathers send daughters to buy “sexy” magazines such as FHM, MAXIM, Playboy etc., if parents don’t raise hell about the presence of pornography or screen TV programs shown at home, if mothers are “Inappropriately dressed to look younger and sexier than their daughters, what can we expect.

Rather than criticize and battle people who are doing their jobs, the churches should rally around actors and actresses who refuse to do kissing scenes. What noise have the churches made about companies and entertainment outfits who try their most to pressure wholesome actors and actresses to become “Hottie”. What noise have the people of the cloth and their flock made about billboard commercials that are just as “pornographic” or “sexy” in selling lingerie?

Perhaps the CBCP should really call for a summit, but instead of talking to themselves like ten blind men and an elephant, they should bring in “experienced” people to help them refocus and redefine their battle plans.

The pulpit is a nice place to stand, but it’s too far from reality.

* * *

While much of media attention is on the pending proclamation of Noynoy Aquino and the “murder” of the Freedom of Information Act, the rest of us ordinary Filipinos contend with day-to-day realities and annoyance at the barangay level.

In the back alleys off C-5 lurk bands of “local traffic enforcers” doing their daily ambush on unsuspecting and often innocent “motorcycle riders”. If it’s any consolation, these “traffic enforcers” are a slightly kinder bunch compared to the “thugs” in the Makati part of C-5 who stop every delivery van or truck in sight to inspect their smoke emission levels.

There is something very wrong in a society that is so obsessed with the Freedom of Information Act in order to chase the “big fish” but are blind to the fact that the daily harassment of commuters and delivery of supplies and logistics is equivalent to hundreds of millions of pesos in petty bribes, time/productivity losses and increased cost of doing business.

It would be interesting to see how many times an employee driving a scooter or a motorcycle is stopped by barangay tanods, local traffic enforcers, MMDA enforcers, the Police and the Highway Patrol, all in one day.

Thanks to the Local Government Code what we have is localized, compartmentalized extortion at the hands of “Hilly Billy’s”. I am reminded of the argument people used in support of having a “National Police”. They said that we would put an end to mayors using the law and the police as their own private army or force.

So we removed the power to control the police from the mayors. But in effect we now give mayors and governors the power to create multiple forces. They have the barangay tanod, peace and security force, traffic enforcement force, environmental task force, and their infamous parking task force, etc.

They now make their own laws, collect money with no accurate and strict accountability, they even have their own tax tables and taxation systems which from time to time cause companies to go to court or simply shut down and relocate to friendlier communities.

This is one aspect that President “Noy” should seriously study.

Local autonomy is well and good, but when it creates a gauntlet that people have to go through everyday, it is clear that the laws of the land need to be clarified and unified. The “reign of the Hilly Billy’s” must be put to a stop.

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