SC rules on RH Law today/ Grace under pressure

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - The Philippine Star

The Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the Reproductive Health Law today. During the past few weeks, anti-RH people have been actively engaged in denouncing the law as “intrinsically” evil. A columnist  likened the RH legislation, if it were to be approved by the High Tribunal, to a crime against humanity at the Nuremberg trials. “It is condemned as genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 and the statutes of the International Criminal Court.”  But, he added, “…it has not received any attention even among legal luminaries here.” I am not surprised.

The columnist challenged President Aquino to avoid committing the mistake he made in forging a peace agreement that will “pave the way for Shar’iah law to reign supreme over the country’s laws in the so-called Bangsamoro political entity.”

He ended his tirade with the threat of the “Catholic majority” creating a turbulence. “Some of us will want to defy the power of the devil and die as martyrs, if need be, in the only cause that gives us a chance to fight for something much bigger than ourselves.”

On the other hand,  people who are for the implementation of the RH Law have the pictures – and figures – on women who are dying by the hundreds on account of their lack of access to information and availability of  family planning methods. They are not for abortion – as explicitly stated in their arguments, contrary to  the antagonists’ unassailable claim. They are for quality life.

The desire of families to choose family planning methods,  space childbirths and raise children they can afford to feed and clothe and house decently, not to breed them like rats in poor communities whose morals are determined by their church – this is what the pro-RH Law advocates are deeply concerned about.

To know what people want, whether they are for the implementation of the RH Law – the Forum for Family Planning and Development commissioned the Social Weather Stations to conduct a nationwide survey of 1,200 adults from March 27-30, 2014.

The survey results show no surprises and affirm previous results on public support of the RH Bill/Law. Below are the results:

• 84% of adults in March 2014 agree that â€œThe government should provide free supply or service to the poor who wish to use any family planning method.”

• 68% of adults in March 2014 are aware of the RH Law and 72 % are in favor of it.

• 77% of adults in March 2014 agree that â€˜â€˜The RH Law follows what the Constitution should stand for, so it is only proper for the Supreme Court to allow it.’’

I wonder what a similar survey conducted or commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church would show. Pulido-Tan has been crucifying legislators for reported irregularities in the use of the discretionary Priority Development Assistance Fund, possibly putting them behind bars for non-bailable plunder, she would, if she were an ordinary mortal, buckle down to pressure  from all concerned who want her to shut up and be gone. But not this Grace. She was our guest at last week’s Bulong  Pulungan sa Sofitel Hotel,  where she was cool and serene and  sure of her figures and her rights. Aside from the three senators who are being indicted, there are scores of other legislators and government agency executives who are being charged with plunder –  and they will have to show that they can sleep well at night.  

Tan was appointed by President Aquino to chair  the COA  on April 18, 2011. Previously, she held top-level positions in the  Presidential Commission on Good Government, Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs. Her CV  lists as her “core competencies… legal, finance, audit, governance and administration expertise  acquired from 30 years of professional work in  the Philippines, United States, People’s Republic of China and the Kyrgyz Republic as private law and accounting practitioner and as international consultant.”

Law and taxation are no easy fields, but she is master of them. She finished law, seventh place in the 1981 class of the University of the Philippines, and a master of laws, major in taxation,  at New York University.

When she was appointed to COA, she knew what her job was: to audit all accounts pertaining to all government revenues and expenditures of government resources. Her findings  of irregularities  have not resulted in death threats, she said with a smile. Nobody could  order her around, not even the President. He  could not even just dismiss her; she has to be impeached by Congress for good reason. Her husband, also a lawyer, likes it that she is busy.  Sometimes she is at work, computing  figures and expenditures for two straight days. But the 58-year-old  petite and workaholic  COA head  said, smiling,  she has remained pretty and afraid of no one.

One thing she  made clear at the media forum: Her staff (about 8,000), do their homework, look at records, consult with other government agencies, and inform the “errant” money spenders.

She is due to retire from COA  ten months from now. But there’s a job already waiting for her: As Associate Justice of the Supreme Court ­if she wins among the nominees who would replace  Associate Justice Roberto Abad who will retire on May 22.

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For winning an award from St. Scholastica’s College’s  communications department   for a column I had written on media’s treatment of women, my friends, PLDT communications manager Evelyn del Rosario and former Philippine Information Agency head Betty Lou Peñera took me to  the one-night only concert of the world-famous Il Divo at the World Resort Entertainment Theater recently.

 The four performers were so good, we, like the rest of the audience that included celebrities, cabinet and local government officials, foreign dignitaries and business leaders, were  enthralled the whole  evening. They sang so  well and looked deliciously good: Carlos Marin, a baritone from Spain; Urs Buhler, tenor, from Switzerland; another tenor,  David Miller from the US, and Sebastien Izambard, a pop vocalist from France.

It was the second time Il Divo,   formed by that popular “X-Factor” British music impresario Simon Cowell, performed in Manila. Knowing Manila’s audience well, Cowell had made sure his artists would present a mix of classical Broadway numbers and popular  tunes in  new arrangements recorded  in their latest album, “This Is a Musical Affair.”

The evening  was made more dazzling with the performance of Lea Salonga, who  is part of Il Divo’s world concert tour. The tour has been to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, then after Manila, would go to Jakarta, Hong Kong  then  end up  in June in Arizona, Phoenix as the last stop.

Some of the  Il Divo’s numbers were “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Can You Feel the Night,”  “Memory” from “Cats,” “All I ask of You”  from “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Somewhere,”  and “I will Always Love You.” Lea’s solo numbers included a medley of Andrew Weber’s “On My Own,” “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Back to Before,” and “Defying  Gravity.”

It was a night of falling in love again, through the Il Divo’s and Lea’s songs.

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Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com


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