Liberal Agenda on the Local Level: Philippines

On the local legal level, the liberal agenda is being fought in the judiciary and in the legislature.

Legislation

The 1987 Constitution is the foundation of all laws in the country. If a law violates the Constitution, the Supreme Court will strike it down as unconstitutional. Fortunately, Article II, section 12 recognizes the sanctity of family life, affirming it will protect and strengthen this basic and autonomous social institution. The same provision affirms the right to life of the mother and the unborn from the moment of conception. The government also supports the parents’ natural and primary right to rear their children and develop their moral character.

If the liberal advocates want the laws to conform to their advocacies, they need to push for charter change first. Charter change is often met with hostility from the people. This obstacle helps our cause.

Other relevant laws are the Family Code and Magna Carta for Women.

Beginning with the Family Code, Article 1 affirms that marriage is between a man and a woman. Article 45 and 46, fraud is a ground for annulment when a party concealed his or her homosexuality or lesbianism from the spouse. However, this action must be filed within 5 years from the discovery of the fraud.

As for the Magna Carta of Women, section 3 gives the human rights principles of women. It states that all individuals are equal as human beings with inherent dignity. Therefore, no one should be discriminated based on gender, sexual orientation or other status established by human rights standards and other grounds.

Hence, all people have the right to participate and access information regarding their rights. The State has the obligation to comply with the legal norms in international human rights instrument in accordance with the Philippine Constitution. If the State does not comply, these individuals have the right to institute judicial or adjudicatory proceedings.

It is noteworthy that this principle states that the government must comply with international human rights norms in accordance with the Constitution. The Constitution does affirm that international treaties are part of the law of the land. Hence, for a valid law to be passed, it must conform to both the international conventions and the Constitution. The problem arises when these conventions are interpreted to support rights contrary to the Constitution. Under international law, states cannot invoke their local laws as basis for not complying with local laws. Yet, the Supreme Court will invalidate all unconstitutional laws.

Jurisprudence

There are five Supreme Court cases which are relevant to the LGBT advocacy.

The first is Republic vs Cagandahan. In this case Jennifer Cagandahan was born intersex. She was raised as a girl. However, as she matured, she developed more male characteristics then female characteristics. Hence, he filed a petition to change the gender of this birth certificate and change his name from Jennifer to Jeffrey. The Court granted his petition. Here, the Court acted favorably because this was a biological condition. Cagandan was born with both reproductive organs. His records were merely corrected to conform with his physical development.

In the case of Silverio vs Republic, Rommel Jacinto Dantes Silverio filed a petition to change his first name and sex in his birth certificate. He wanted to change his first name from Rommel to Mely and his sex from male to female. He alleged that he is a male transsexual. He is “anatomically male but feels, thinks and acts as a female” and that he had always identified himself with girls since childhood. He consulted several doctors in the United States, going through psychological examination, hormone treatment and breast augmentation. On January 27, 2001, he had a sexual reassignment surgery in Bangkok, Thailand.

In this case, the Court denied Rommel’s petition to change the name and sex in his birth certificate. There is no law which allows a person to change the sex on his birth certificate. Article 412 of the Civil Code states that corrections may only be done by juridical order.  Article 407 states that judicial decrees on civil status must be recorded in the civil registry. The enumeration in Article 408 does not include change of gender.

Additionally, the Court defined civil status as:

“the status of a person in law includes all his personal qualities and relations, more or less permanent in nature, not ordinarily terminable at his own will, such as his being legitimate or illegitimate, or his being married or not. The comprehensive term status… include such matters as the beginning and end of legal personality, capacity to have rights in general, family relations, and its various aspects, such as birth, legitimation, adoption, emancipation, marriage, divorce, and sometimes even succession.

Clearly, sex affects marriage and family relations. However, Article 413 of the Civil Code states that all other matters related to registering civil status will be governed special laws. Since there is no special law which permits transgenders to change the civil status on their birth certificates, the Court does not have the authority to judicially amend Rommel’s sex and name. Clearly, the LGBT will eventually try to pass a special law authorizing the Courts to change the sex and name of sexually re-assigned transgenders in their birth certificate. But would such law be constitutional?

Perhaps it could be argued this this violates morality under section 13 or family under section 12 of article II in the Constitution. However, religious morality is not equal to public morality. The Court has bases its decisions on morality in the public sphere. If society deems LGBT in line with public morals, then laws in their favor may been deemed constitutional.

This was clearly seen in the case of Ang Ladlad vs COMELEC. Ang Ladlad applied as partylist group with COMELEC in 2006. They represented lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people. The COMELEC denied the application on the grounds of violating public morality. They based this denial on passages from the Bible and Koran. Ang Ladlad now questions the validity of this denial.

The Court ruled that COMELEC was wrong in denying Ang Ladlad’s application based on religious grounds. The partylist has complied with all the legal requirements for accreditation. COMELEC’s moral objection is baseless and violates the policy of religious neutrality.

If religion is used as the basis for government decisions, then non-believers would be forced to conform to this standard. This violates freedom of religion because freedom to believe includes the freedom not to believe. One could call this, the freedom to be secular. Government actions prohibiting immorality must be based on a secular purpose. The State prohibits certain practices because they are harmful to the existence and progress of human society. Religion may be influential in deliberating on the morality of an action but they cannot form the sole basis of government decisions. [1]

Therefore, the Court prescribes benevolent neutrality. This means that the State must pursue its secular aims and interests but it should simultaneously uphold religious freedom as much as possible. The constitutional limits should be flexible. Although the morality contemplated is secular, benevolent neutrality means that the law can consider the morality of religions as long as these do not violate compelling state interests.

There is insufficient evidence that homosexual conduct is publicly considered immoral. Homosexual conduct has not been criminalized. The COMELEC has not sufficiently proven how society would be harmed. Neither have they proved what special protection the youth would require. In conclusion, a “moral disapproval, without more, is not a sufficient government interest to justify the exclusion of homosexuals from the participation in the partylist system.”

Another concession the Court has given to the LGBT is the case of Gualberto vs Gualberto. In this case, a lesbian mother, living with her partner, field for the custody of her child. Article 213 of the Family Code contains the tender-age presumption which grants preferential custody to mothers, whose children are under 7 years old. This presumption is only overcome by compelling reasons.

The husband cited immorality due to alleged lesbian relations as the compelling reason to deprive the mother of custody. Admittedly, under certain circumstances, the mother’s immoral conduct is a compelling reason to deprive her of custody. However, the Court ruled that sexual preference or moral laxity alone does not prove parental neglect or incompetence. Not even the fact that a mother is a prostitute or has been unfaithful to her husband would render her unfit to have custody of her minor child. To deprive the wife of custody, the husband must clearly establish that her moral lapses have had an adverse effect on the welfare of the child or have distracted the offending spouse from exercising proper parental care.

Advocacy

Advocating for laws, must be strategized. According to Harold Koh, the legal adviser of Hilary Clinton, you have to strategize how you package human rights agenda with the government. You need to push for certain rights while holding others back. In pushing for these advocacies, they need to be packaged so that the government also benefits. Make the government think that it is a win-win situation.

This essentially adheres to the human rights principle of progressive realization. It is not advisable to push for your advocacies all at once. There needs to be a gradual legislation and implementation of human rights norms. Rights are progressive realized due to a number of factors, religion, politics, culture, insufficient government resources etc.

Many of these factors are clearly seen in the Philippines. The society is still opposed to abortion, same-sex marriage etc. However, media is slowly changing this. Likewise, we have seen this in the passage of LGBT ordinances in various cities and the anti-discrimination bill pending in Congress.

Yet, these are not enough. For these bills to pass the government needs to benefit. With the RH law, they pushed into to passing it by the United States’ aid for Haiyan victims. Although pro-lifers do not have the backing of big governments, the laws they legislate should give the government, government officials and politicians something they want. Perhaps this can give them an edge, despite the lack of foreign backing.

Liberal Agenda in International Law

The battle for life and family is being waged on two planes, the international level and domestic society. In order to defend the rights of life and family, we need a proper understanding of the legal principles, mechanisms and tactics on both planes. This article is divided into two parts; an overview of international human rights law and local level advocacy strategies.

International Human Rights Law

In order to understand how the international bodies promote advocacies and influence other countries, we need to understand the sources of international law. The sources of international law are bilateral and multilateral treaties, customary law, decisions of international tribunals and opinions of highly qualified publicists. Human rights advocates have used all of these at one point in time or another.

I’m sure we have all heard of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a document passed by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 which recognizes the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. This is a declaration, not a treaty. This means that States are not legally obligated to implementing this declaration. However, they may be legally bound to uphold human rights because these rights now comprises customary law.

Customary law exists when certain principles and actions are consistently practiced by many States over a substantial period of time. Since human rights are universally recognized by practically all the countries in the world, universal human rights may be considered part of international law.

These universal human rights are further codified in the International Convention for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Convention for Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). These multilateral treaties have been ratified by most countries in the world. Since they are ratified, States are bound to implement them. This includes the Philippines, which has ratified both.

Since then, there are various human rights conventions (multilateral treaties) which have advocated for certain vulnerable sectors in the world. The most relevant Conventions to our cause are the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Convention for the Rights of the Child (CRC). These have been used to promote reproductive rights, gender equality etc.

When a State ratifies these Conventions, they hold themselves obligated to implementing them in the territory. They are bound to implement these rights through their executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The only time they are exempted from implementing these Conventions is if they have made reservations to certain provisions upon signing the treaty. International law prohibits States from making reservations which violate the main purpose of the treaty. They also prohibited them from using their internal laws, like Civil Code, Constitution etc., as their rationale for violating the Convention. However, these treaty rules are often broken.

State parties to these Conventions are mandated to submit periodic reports of their human rights compliance every few years. These reports are reviewed by a Committee of experts. These experts are periodically elected by the other members States. The Committee gives concluding observations to State parties. These observations delineate whether the State parties have sufficiently complied with their human rights obligations. They do this by interpreting the Conventions and how they should be implemented.

It is easy to see how these human rights mechanisms can be co-opted to promote liberal agenda. They can claim that the right to health includes contraception and abortion. They can claim that domestic laws violate non-discrimination because they do not support same-sex marriage. They can also claim that teaching traditional gender roles in schools also violates non-discrimination. In fact, they have already done this through CEDAW and CRC.

The question is, what is the weight of their concluding observations? Are they binding on State parties? Can the Committees obligate the Philippines to change their laws based on their treaty obligations?

This was the question raised in my class last Friday. Strictly speaking, these Committees cannot obligate the Philippines. Their concluding observations are mere interpretations of the Conventions. They do not form part of the Convention per say.

However, it may be argued that the Philippines is obligated because the Convention contains provisions regulating the relationship between the Committee and the Philippines. Since the Philippines is obligated to the Convention, and the Convention requires the Philippines to accept the recommendations of the Committee, the Committee’s observations bind the Philippines.

Apart from these human rights conventions, LGBT activists have also lobbied for their rights through the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council issued Resolution 1719 which discussed non-discrimination of LGBTs. The votes were somewhat divided. 10 countries voted against the resolution. 3 countries abstained. 41 countries supported the resolution.

They issued another resolution in 2014. In this case, the votes were more in favour of LGBT rights. The Philippines was one of those who voted in favour of this resolution. Resolution 2732 expressed, “grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.” “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.”  Granted, there may be valid concerns of violence against LGBT in some countries. However, this is may be also used to pressures countries to legislate same-sex marriage, legalize transgender status etc.

Over time the decisions of international tribunals have supported same-sex marriage. In 1998, the ICCPR Committee ruled that a lesbian couple from New Zealand did not have the right to marriage. However, more recent cases have turned the tide.[1] The ICCPR Committee ruled in favour of the right to same-sex marriage in 2003.[2]

Remember that treaties, conventions and decisions of international tribunals are sources of international law. That means that the Philippines could be held accountable for violating international law if they do not legislate and enforce these liberal agenda. Boon or bane, our history of compliance with these Conventions have not been outstanding. And in the end, the UN does not have the authority to force the Philippines to change its laws. Ultimately, international law is merely influential. Although these are part of international law, they cannot force us to comply the way a government exacts obedience from its citizens. They can exert a lot of pressure though. As seen in the passage of the Reproductive Health Law though, ideological colonization continues to threaten us.

I hope that this article helps us understand what we are up against on the international plane. God Bless!

 

 

[1] https://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/undocs/902-1999.html

[2] https://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/undocs/941-2000.html

Christmas and the Passion of Christ

Today, Christmas falls on a Friday. When I realized that my family would be praying the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary today, I felt hesitant. Couldn’t we pray the joyful instead? Why should we meditate on Christ’s Passion and death on His Birthday?

Yet, suffering and Christmas go hand in hand. Recall the hymn, “What Child is This” has a line which says:

“Nails, spears shall pierce him through, the cross he bore for me, for you.”

Likewise, the Filipino word for Christmas is “Pasko,” is literally translated as “Paschal.” The Pascal mystery is the Passion , death and ressurection of Jesus Christ.

Christmas is intrinsically linked to His Paschal mystery because this what He came for. This is why He left the glory of heaven, becoming a baby in a manger on a cold December Eve. He came to save us from our sins. And He saved us through His suffering, death and ressurection.

Through the Sacraments we now participate in Christ’s Divine life. Hence, the Paschal mystery is also lived out in our own lives.

As we prayed the rosary, I felt a sense of peace, even joy! Joy in the midst of suffering? Christ came that we might have His joy and our joy may be complete. All true joy can only come at the price of great suffering. The greater the suffering, the greater our capacity for true joy. The wider and emptier the cup, the more it can be filled.

As the Christmas season continues, let us strive to carry our crosses and empty our cups, so that Christ’s Divine life may truly be born and grow in us!

Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday Lord Jesus!😀

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Nestled in Your Sacred Heart

In the farthest corner of the chapel, as the lambs graze below, I sit there nestled in Your Sacred Heart. As I contemplate my dwelling place, this truly is Your Sacred Heart. The tabernacle lamp burns with the fiery love You long to pour out on miserable human souls. The altar of Your sacrifice is the crown of thorns, the suffering You willingly bore for us. On the crucifix and in the Eucharist are the same image and presence of Your great humility and life-giving sacrifice.

Sacred Heart

How can it be that You would love us so? How can it be that You would let this poor, weak sinner rest in the depths of Your Heart? But You do! You bid me enter, “Come to Me all You who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.”

With my head on a cushion above the windowsill, I am warmed and consoled as Your embers melt the cold, stone walls I built over my broken heart. Looking at the crucifix, I see that Your Heart is broken too. I do not bear this grief alone for You bore it before me and continue to bear it with me. “Make my heart like unto Thine,” I see that my heart must be broken if it is to resemble Your own. To be transformed by You and love like You, I must suffer with You.

Good Shepherd's Embrace

Yet, You are a God of mercy and compassion. There is no bitterness, no darkness that comes without Your love. Broken, my heart is open to the torrent of blood and water that flowed from Your pierced side. It inebriates me, filling me joy and peace I could never imagine possible in the midst of such agony. The warmth of Your embrace envelops me, like the blanket a Father gently draws over his sleeping child. You hold me close, as I rest there, nestled in Your Sacred Heart.

Baptism: God’s Humility and Man’s Dignity

Yesterday, we celebrated the Feast of our Lord’s Baptism. Meditating on the Gospel reading gives a glimpse into the profound reality of this great sacrament. The most high God went to the Jordan River to be baptized by His servant John the Baptist. The Creator lowered Himself before His creature, allowing John to cleanse Him with the life-giving water of a river in Galilee.

If you recall this scene, John himself says that it is Jesus who should baptize him. Yet, Jesus asks for his baptism. He does this because He wants to identify with us. Although He was God, He started His public life by humbling Himself to our sinful nature.

When I pray the Lauds, one of the most striking passages is the Psalm Prayer, “Father, He who knew no sin was made sin for us, to save us and restore us to your friendship.” Jesus is not only compassionate for our sinful nature. Jesus, the most pure, good and holy God, chose to “become” sin for our sake. He “became” sin so that poor sinful humanity could be freed from the slavery to sin. He took on the full weight of all the sins of mankind from Adam and Eve till the end of time.

Thus in Philippians 2, “Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”

And it is this death on the cross and the resurrection from the dead which grants the divine life we receive in baptism. We all know that Baptism makes us the sons and daughters of God. Yet the Son of God had to become man, so that man could become like God.

God’s love is a creative love, ever fruitful. The Paschal Mystery was the definitive manifestation of God’s love. Through the Paschal Mystery Christ merited sanctifying grace for man. It is in our Baptism that we first receive this sanctifying grace. This sanctifying grace is a participation in the life of God Himself. Sanctifying grace is God living His life in us. Hence, Christ’s Baptism manifests Jesus taking part in our life. Our Baptism is when we take part in the divine life of God. What a sublime dignity!

It is in Baptism that God’s life is born in us. We are not only His children by name. We are His children because of the divinity in our souls. Yet with this great this dignity must also come great humility. As God was humble, we must also be humble. It is God’s life in us that sanctifies us. Without Him, we are misery and sin We cannot do anything truly good and holy. It is when we cooperate with God that we grow in this divine life.

Knowing this, let us try to give more importance to our Baptism. Do you remember when you were baptized? Instead of merely celebrating our birthdays, why don’t we also celebrate our Baptismal anniversary? After all in the scheme of eternal life, this is our true birthday. And our lives striving for holiness is our true life in God.

As posted in Ignitum Today.http://www.ignitumtoday.com/2015/01/14/baptism-gods-humility-mans-dignity/

My first article on Ignitum Today! Thank you Lord!😀

2014: The Divine Paradox of God’s Love

This past year has been the most difficult in my life. After losing my brother to depression last April, sometimes I can barely even believe that I am living through all this. I still struggle with the grief, trauma and bouts of depression. There were days when I was tempted to doubt God, even leave Him. It was then that He held me close tighter than ever. As an online friend once said,”He doesn’t want to lose you.” God’s grace has always been there, protecting, guiding and strengthening me. I have also experienced God’s love, mercy and compassion more intimately, deeply and tenderly than ever before!

Jesus and me

The break from law school has given me the chance to discern my vocation. I met religious sisters, consecrated virgins, volunteered to proof-read for St Pauls, volunteered at the Good Shepherd Sisters baby orphanage. I also took a few online classes on Spiritual Theology. I love my classes! Even more than law school? (Yikes!) More and more I do feel that God is calling me to a religious vocation of some sort. I am not yet sure what.

I do not know what the next year will bring. But after what I lived through in 2014, I know that God will always be there for me. Thank you to everyone old friends and new, in person and online, who have been there for me this past 2014! Thank you for manifesting God’s great love through you. May God Bless you and shower you with His love and mercy always! I leave you with this quote and and a beautiful song by Corrinne May.

The Cross by St Francis de Sales

The everlasting God has

in His wisdom foreseen

from eternity the cross

that He now presents to you

as a gift from His inmost heart.

This cross He now sends you

He has considered with His all-knowing eyes,

understood with His divine mind,

tested with His wise justice,

warmed with loving arms

and weighed with His own hands

to see that it be not one inch too large

and not one ounce too heavy for you.

He has blessed it with His holy Name,

anointed it with His consolation,

taken one last glance at you

and your courage,

and then sent it to you from heaven,

a special greeting from God to you,

an alms of the all-merciful love of God

The Answer by Corrinne May

An Advent of Rebuilding: Baclayon Church Bohol and Our Family

My family just got back from Bohol. It was a peaceful and pleasant trip. Visiting San Jose de Obrero Cathedral in Tagbilaran City and attending the Fiesta Mass for Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon Church. Baclayon Church, it was difficult to visit that place without grief surfacing in our hearts. In May last year, my family visited that Church. All four of us made the pilgrimage of the old churches of Bohol. These gorgeous stone churches were a testament to the Catholic and cultural history of our country. Immaculate Conception Church in Baclayon was the oldest, built in the late 1500s. There were antique religious images, beautiful Renaissance paintings on the ceilings and Churrigueresque altars and side chapels. I remembered my aesthetics courses in college. How I wished I brushed up on them before we left! Having stood for centuries, the churches seemed immovable, invincible.

Loon Church Altar  (Laurence Go Copyright)

Loon Church Altar
(Laurence Go Copyright)

Loon Church

Loon Church (Laurence Go Copyright)

Dauis Church, Panglao Island Bohol (Laurence Go Copyright)

Dauis Church, Panglao Island Bohol
(Laurence Go Copyright)

Our timing was quite lucky! Or should I say blessed? Since it was late May, the townspeople all over all Bohol were celebrating Flores de Mayo. From church to church, we would see children dressed as angels or flower girls. As the townspeople, young and old prayed the Rosary, they would slowly carry the words “Ave Maria” down to the altar. I know that these practices are common in the provinces, but as a city-girl all my life, these were quite a novelty for me. How I wished I had a childhood like that! Clothed in pretty dresses everyday, with baskets of flowers and Rosaries for Mama Mary! We admired their faith. In Bohol, Masses can be full to capacity even on weekdays!

Immaculate Conception Church, Baclayon, Bohol (Laurence Go Copyright)

Immaculate Conception Church, Baclayon, Bohol
(Laurence Go Copyright)

My brother enjoyed climbing to the choir lofts and bell towers of Bohol. I remember him telling us about the bats in the belfry. Once, he was at the very top, when the parish workers rang the bell. The clanging bells were deafening! Still it’s nice to know that they still use bells. Many churches in the Metro resort to loudspeaker recording of bells instead of ringing real ones.

My brother took this photo in May 2013.

My brother took this photo in May 2013. (Brian Go Copyright)

The final stop in our pilgrimage was Baclayon Church. Fortunately, they were having Mass when we arrived. After Mass, there was a procession around the neighborhood. We stayed in the church and explored the grounds while it was empty. At dusk, my dad took a photo of us outside. It was one of many family vacations we’ve had around the country. We didn’t know that it would be one of our last as a complete family.

Family Picture at Baclayon Church Bohol

Family Picture at Baclayon Church Bohol

But the memories of that happy family trip were not the only reason why I felt sad when we visited. You see, Baclayon Church is a lot like our family now. On October 15, 2013, approximately 6 months before my brother passed away, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake devastated much of Bohol, hundreds died. And those centuries-old churches? They collapsed, caved in or crumbled to dust. Estimates say that it will take at least a decade or more to reconstruct the churches. Some of them can never be fully rebuilt. The damage was too much and their parishioners could never afford to rebuild it as it was.

Loon Church After Earthquake (Laurence Go Copyright)

Loon Church After Earthquake (Laurence Go Copyright)

Baclayon Church’s bell tower collapsed and the roof and wall of the church caved in. That same bell tower, my brother climbed when we visited before. The bell tower and my brother are both gone now. Yet, there is a seed of hope. The church parking lot is now filled with rubble. Archeologists and architects have helped the parishioners segregate them into piles for rebuilding. In the same way, God consoles us with the promise of eternal life.In the unfathomable immensity of His Divine Mercy, God assures us of my brother’s salvation. This may be the most difficult Advent for my family. Though we grieve, we are slowly healing. With trust in God, we pick up the pieces, living our live as best we can.

Baclayon Church Rubble

Baclayon Church Rubble

Slow Growth and Slow Healing: Everything in God’s Time

In this dark night of my life, I sometimes wish healing were faster; that I could move on and live a normal life. Not that I don’t miss my brother. I miss him every day. I try to remember what his voice sounds like when he calls me “Sis.” I’m scared I’ll forget. I still wish this never happened. Everyone else’s life hasn’t changed much. And I wish mine were the same.

The other night I was talking with my friend. She told me that this could be a very fruitful period in my life. I said I felt like I was wasting a lot of it. I still think I am. But then she said, it is not like we look at a mango tree and say “Look at that mango grow!” Growth takes time and we don’t see it while it’s happening.

It’s a weird mix of daily life and darkness. Some days are good but the next may be difficult. Maybe its growing accustomed to a suffering that always lies just below the surface. Maybe that’s what the road to sanctity is supposed to be like. A life peacefully and joyfully surrendered to God’s will. A life which has not eradicated suffering; rather it is a life which has elevated suffering. Elevated it so that it is not a cause for bitterness and despair; but a foundation for true joy and beatitude. For we cannot know the light if we have not known the darkness. Jesus’ wounds did not disappear with His resurrection. Instead they made His new life all the more glorious!  

Validity of TRO Against RH Conference: Part 1

On January 23, 2014, the Regional Trial Court of Pasay denied the petition for a temporary restraining order against the Reproductive Health Conference in PICC on the grounds of free speech. The petition was filed by Pro-life Philippines due to the lectures promoting abortion on the 3rd day of the Conference. There were speakers from Planned Parenthood International and other pro-abortion advocates. The question is, were there were really valid grounds to deny the petition? Does freedom of speech have greater  importance? Or could the law have restricted this right?

The right of freedom of speech is found in Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution.

No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

There are two ways to regulate freedom of speech. They are prior restraint and subsequent punishment. Prior restraint refers to suppressing and censoring speech. Subsequent punishment imposes a penalty for having expressed oneself. Both these restrict or regulate the right to free speech. The right to freedom of speech, of expression is not absolute. Court determines the validity of regulation by balancing the interests of the parties. The balancing of interest test determines which of the two conflicting interests demands greater protection based on the circumstances.

Obviously, the petition for a temporary restraining order was an example of prior restraint. The petition sought to stop the lectures discussing and promoting abortion. Based on past Supreme Court decisions, prior restraint can only be exercised under certain circumstances. A clear and present danger exists when the evil sought to be avoided is serious and imminent to a high degree. The evil must be present and inevitable.

Apart from these, there are also limitations to freedom of speech in Criminal Law. The Revised Penal Code criminalizes inciting to war, rebellion or sedition, false testimony, threats, libel, slander etc.

The question is, do lectures in a Reproductive Health Conference promoting abortion constitute a clear and present danger? In balancing the interests involved, was the court right in favoring freedom of speech (advocating the murder of unborn babies) and denying the plea for prior restraint (promoting the right to life)? Is promoting abortion a criminal act?

Let it Go

Let it go, let it go

Can’t hold it back anymore

Let it go, let it go

Turn away and slam the door

Let it Go Frozen

 

Since I first heard this song on “Frozen” last December, it captivated me. The apparent “freedom” of letting it go. Letting go of rules, responsibilities and burdens appealed to my busy, stressed out, pre-midterm exam psyche. How wonderful it would be if I could just let it go and forget about everything! To just do what I want! I felt so burdened by everything happening around me. It was a hectic and sad Christmas. My Grand-Aunt in California passed away. My Mom took a flight for the funeral on Christmas night. So before that, my Mom and I were rushing through Cubao to buy Christmas presents for relatives abroad. With all that was going on Christmas was not as festive as it would normally be. And I still feel like it came and went too fast.

 

Thankfully, our parish next door had Simbang Gabi every night. And my family was still together for Christmas Eve Mass at Gesu. Those helped! But nonetheless Christmas was way too fast this year.

 

Let it go, Let it go

 

I found myself really drawn to this song but I didn’t know why. My attraction scared me because I knew the song was so hedonistic. And that wasn’t right. So one day, I sat in bed praying to God about it. As I did, I sensed Him telling me to let it go. To stop holding on to my worries, my burdens and fears. To let it go. To let it go and to trust in Him. Letting it go didn’t mean do what I wanted, living however I pleased. Letting it go meant trusting in Him. Letting it go meant that I should stop trying to control the chaos in my life. Letting it go meant believing that He knew what was best for me. And He would always provide for me what was best.

 

And He always has provided the best. For example, last week I was working bonus papers for my Public International Law class. I was writing digests or summaries of the cases. We weren’t allowed to write on anything already on our syllabus. So you can imagine my frustration when I realized that the case I spent so much time summarizing was on our syllabus for last Saturday! The name was written in an acronym and so it didn’t register when I searched the syllabus. I’d wasted so much time! Then on Saturday, our professor announced that we would have voluntary recitation. Suddenly I realized that this was my chance! Maybe my summary would not go to waste after all! When out prof called out that case, I raised my hand. And full of confidence I recited the case and good a pretty good grade! God is good! I am so grateful to Him for that because it really pulled my grades up!🙂

 

Let it go, Let it go

 

Let go and let God. Let go and stop holding on so tightly. Let it go and let God love you as He wants to. Because that all that He wants do for you. He wants to love you.

Jesus and me