Monday, October 17, 2011

Someone claiming to be a lawyer sees no constitutional infirmity in HB4244 Section 28 Item E

No, I am not letting this one go. Not yet at least.

Some dipshit with a twitter account claims that once a bill passes into law, any constitutional infirmity it has will automatically no longer cease to exist.

That simply does not make sense in cases where some laws have in fact been questioned on the grounds of Constitutionality.  If what his absurd claims were in anyway true, there would be no need to file such cases in the Supreme Court.

The guy was clearly talking out of his ASS.

HB4244 Section 28 Prohibited Acts, Item E states:
(e) Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent or provisions of this Act.
Consider this in the light of Article III Section 4 of the 1987 Philippine 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.
Which, upon consideration, perhaps the author of HB4244 struck it out to avoid any complications in the event that it passes into law.
Author's Amendment 
5. Section 28 (e) on "Prohibited Acts" found on lines 24-25 on page 21 which reads: "Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent and provisions of this Act." should be deleted in its entirety in order to afford widest latitude to freedom of expression within the limits of existing penal statutes.
Of course he wouldn't say "because this may violate Article III Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution and look like as a douchebag.

You don't have to read the RH Bill to have an opinion about it

If one so-called "lawyer" can claim any constitutional infirmity contained in a proposed piece of legislation automatically becomes constitutionally sound if passed, then perhaps other friends of mine who know absolutely nothing about passing laws can also join in the RH Bill debates.

I mean, apparently, reading HB4244 is NOT even a pre-requisite to venturing an opinion on the RH Bill.  After taking the Anti-RH side, I've encountered people who are so passionately Pro-RH that they haven't even bothered to understand what the bill says at all.

It would be so funny if a literal war erupts where in both sides of the RH Bill debate kill each other and not one of them even got to read the bill in its entirety.

Perhaps, in that way, the RH Bill would have proven to be a least cost form of population control that eliminates only opinionated idiots -- some of who may have actually engaged in planking.

Suddenly, the world would be quieter and more peaceful place.

Anyway, a friend of mine who is actually a fan of my writing, sent me a rather interesting text message and although I do not share his opinion, I do believe everyone's say on the matter of RH ought to be counted.

So, here is what my friend has to say:
If you notice the rabid ones online and in media are from the gay and lesbian community, which is so funny because: 
1. They hate the Church for judging them for their moral and sexual preference/practice so anything that the church says is bad, no matter how true it is about them. 
2. They are in a fight for reproductive health even though their practice has no bearing with reproduction whatsoever. 
3. At least half of them -- the MSMs -- are the primary consumers of condoms which means they will be the primary beneficiaries when teh state spends taxpayer money to give condoms away, not the poor families.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Statistics Say One in Three People are Fags

Nabbed from BenK.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

RPN 9 News Singers!

RPN9 News Reporters Eman Paz and Phoebe Javier singing after work.

RH Bill or HB4244 loves Lolong

House Bill 4244 or the Reproductive Health Bill has a serious flaw and that is it hardly addresses the possible corruption that can take place with a program that may cost billions of pesos to finance.

The blog "Urban Meter" is probably atypical of the sort of response that proponents and supporters of the RH bill will give when confronted with its inadequate safeguards against corruption.
Corruption is a different issue. Even if RH Bill is not passed, and the money is transferred to another government project, that money could still be corrupted. With this kind of thinking we might as well stop funding schools or roads or public housing because it will be corrupted anyway.  It doesn’t mean that if the money will be corrupted we should also stop providing services for the people. 
What this says is this: Corruption is inevitable, so don't avoid it.

The responsible thing to do, I guess, is to fix the problematic aspects of the bill before trying to get it enacted.  

If the Reproductive Health Bill is indeed so vitally important, then it should be re-crafted in such a way so as to minimize chances of corruption and maximize the delivery of RH services as well as condoms/pills/procedures.

Leaving the RH Bill wide open to corruption is almost certainly like aiding and abetting the commission of corrupt acts that will surely follow after its enactment.

I've already pointed out the sections and items in the HB4244 that might be exploited by corrupt government officials and bureaucrats in a previous post.  What I'm doing here is just emphasizing key points in that rather long post.

What bugs me is the somewhat naive assertion that the RH Bill, by whatever virtue is conjured up for it, will not be tainted with corruption unlike so many other laws and government programs.

A former boss once said, "Where money flows, corruption goes."  

On one level, it can mean that where money can be made or where money is involved, that's where the graft and corruption happens.  

On another level, it can also point to the fact that if there's little or no money involved there'll be little interest or opportunity for graft and corruption to take place.

Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Public Works and Highways, and other agencies are almost the default examples of corrupt government agencies.

One smart ass retort that repeatedly crops up is that if all government programs and projects are tainted with corruption, then we should stop funding all these programs and projects.

The fact is that government cannot stop collecting revenues and it cannot stop spending money even if its operations suffer from an almost crippling systemic loss of funds because of corruption.  Otherwise, I guess, that would be the end of government as we've come to know it.

On the other hand, it is quite possible to have an RH program without necessarily relying on government funds or grants from other countries.

Accessibility to contraceptives need not be government funded. Contraceptive companies should instead market their products more efficiently (i.E. Vending machines in rest rooms of hotels/motels/bars/restaurants/gas stations). Government can provide a level playing field for vendors of contraceptives -- sans religious interference. Think about it -- all the commercial establishments in the Philippines making contraceptives accessible and visible to the public. 
I am okay with the push on education and awareness -- but socialized contraceptives procurement AND distribution? National to LGU? Good luck with that. 
It is an apprehension that I share with Benk’s who also stated that: 
“the more I think about it, the more I think this whole fixation on contraceptives is completely wrong — it already is on the church’s part, but on the part of those who think it’s so damned important to have free or low-cost contraception as well. Contraceptives, at least something basic like condoms, are already widely available. If you can’t afford them, you can’t afford to be screwing like a mink. I worry that the RH bill, for all the good it does actually contain, might not unintentionally contribute further to some harmful attitudes and behaviors.”
Further on, BongV points out a number of possible alternatives to government procurement:

I propose that the government procurement section be struck out. Replace it with a blend of tax policy and markets instead, specifically:
Tax exemptions/fiscal/non-fiscal incentives to investments in contraceptives 
Tax deductions on capital outlay for contraceptive business 
Waive off sales tax on contraceptives, contraceptive ads, movies on smaller families, movies showing responsible families 
Additional tax deductions for businesses that sell contraceptives.
Lower taxes for households with only two children

 Better yet, what's wrong with taking another route and one which confronts the real monster: Poverty.

Overpopulation does not per se cause poverty.

This was also tackled by BongV:

Let’s look at hard data and see if the RH bill’s argument that overpopulation causes poverty is spot on. 
* has a population of 240 million
* Land Area: 1,811,569 sq km
* GDP – per capita (ppp): $4,300 (2010 est.) 
* has 90 million population-
* land area: 298,170 sq km
* GDP per capita – $3,500 (2010 est.) 
* 120 million population;
* land area – 364,485 sq km -
* GDP – per capita (ppp): $34,200 (2010 est.) 
North Korea
* has 24.5 million population;
* land area – 120,538 sq km -
* GDP – per capita (ppp): $1,800 (2010 est.) 
The argument that overpopulation is a cause of poverty is negated because for such a principle to hold true then Japan, too should have the same GDP per capita as the Philippines and Indonesia. Obviously – the numbers don’t add up.

Apart from cataclysms that people don't learn to prepare for and avoid, I guess it is the lack of economic freedom and economic opportunity makes people poor.

The thing is, it has been cited ad nauseum that poor people need the RH Bill because they can't afford condoms and pills.  That's why the government must give them free condoms and pills.

I'm looking at it the other way and rather than demean our poor people further by encouraging them to be mendicants, I'd rather that we give them jobs and economic opportunities so that they can earn more money and therefore AFFORD TO BUY CONDOMS, PILLS, and GOOD HEALTH CARE.

And you what it'll take?  It's so simple and so eloquent: Amend the economic provisions of the 1987 constitution, strike out the 60/40 foreign capital participation and limits to land ownership.

By doing so, you can expect bigger investments to flow into the country and that will mean more jobs for as well as opportunities for everybody.

(More on this tomorrow. I've got a 39 degree Celsius fever that won't quit. )

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Purple is the Color of Other Peoples Money: RH Bill is all about money


What's wrong with 

Find out what Pro-RH people

> Inadequate safeguards against corruption. Ensuring what little funds for RH are eaten up by greedy Lolongs everywhere.

> Non-specified source of funding.
Ensuring either under-funding or encouraging untrammeled government borrowing.

> No provision stating how hospitals/health centers will determine stocking levels for 
Family Planning products and supplies.
Ensuring hospitals will either stock too little or too much Family Planning products and supplies.

Eggplants are purple and among vegetables, probably have
the lowest nutritional value. These ones in the picture
probably best depict the hollowness of some arguments
thrown out to anyone who opposes the passage of a bill
that will probably open a gaping chasm of corruption.
I get the impression that some of the more active Reproductive Health Bill advocates on Twitter, Facebook, the blogosphere and elsewhere are wearing purple blinders as they try to rush its passage into law despite its glaring potential for corruption.

Looks pretty much like a RH Bill advocate.
After raising this point against the Reproductive Health Bill or House Bill 4244 on Twitter, I was confronted by a lot of replies which had the definite feel of being somewhat scripted in a call center kind of way.

Instead of being told that HB4244 actually had some safeguards against corruption, I was told  that I lacked faith in the system and that I was merely being pessimistic.


Corruption is a real issue

In an article on ABS-CBN's news website, Senator Vicente Sotto III pointed out a couple of irregularities which tend to bolster the idea that one implementing government agency cited in the RH bill may be riddled with corruption.
Sotto said in an interview before Tuesday's session that billions of these funds were unaccounted for in the past three years: P600 million in 2008, P800 million in 2009, and P1.2 billion in 2010. 
In his speech, Sotto cited the case of Ilocos Norte, where a total of P3.7 million of supposed funds for MNCHN from 2008 to 2010 were not received. 
He said 15 other provinces claimed to have not received any fund. He is now waiting for the reply of other provinces on the issue. 
"If this is really the case, can we afford that this continue to happen? The House of Representatives version of the RH bill enhances these expenditures. Can we be assured that taxpayers' money will no longer be wasted?" he said.
Of course, it may be pointed out that the instances that Sotto has cited still needs to be verified and explained.  After all, some times what appears to be "money that was not received" may be dispelled later by neat official paper work proving the opposite.  Moreover, I am not sure at all if Sotto had submitted actual paperwork proving his claims.

But till Sotto's "revelations" are looked into, this should give people enough reason to doubt the Department of Health's bureaucracy's capability to function without graft and corruption greasing its cogs.  And common sense will probably tell you that if you are doubtful about something, it is always best to investigate and see if the claims are true.

It would be highly IRRESPONSIBLE and STUPID to quickly brand something that runs counter to one's view as mere counter propaganda without examining the claims.

After all, we've seen a number of social media consultants and experts opine about how corruption is endemic to the Philippines.  In fact, I think it's almost cliche to say that corruption is  pretty well established that corruption is an integral part of how Philippine government works.

What bugs me is the somewhat naive assertion that the RH Bill, by whatever virtue is conjured up for it, will not be tainted with corruption unlike so many other laws and government programs.

The thing is, even the best conceived anti-corruption provisions in almost every Philippine law has been circumvented at least once.

Section 10 of HB4244 and how it can go wrong

Anyway, let's look at a couple of sections in HB4244:
Section 10 Family Planning Supplies as Essential Medicines 
Products and supplies for modern family planning methods shall be part of the National Drug Formulary and the same shall be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all national and local hospitals and other government health units.
See also Section 3 Guiding Principles where:  
Item 4 states: "The provision of medically safe, legal, accessible, affordable and effective reproductive health care services and supplies is essential in the promotion of people’s right to health, especially of the poor and marginalized;"
 Item 7 states: "The provision of reproductive health information, care and supplies shall be the joint responsibility of the National Government and the Local Government Units (LGUs);"

A lot of Pro-RH people on Twitter and Facebook bawl out "RH is not just about contraception."

Well, perhaps, one glaring reason which people with purple blinders conveniently overlook is that when you talk about Reproductive Health you talk about family planning and when you talk about family planning, you talk about contraception.

A lot of them do the run-around when you confront them on this issue.  First they say that what's more important is that the country has an RH policy.  But when when you tell them that an RH policy doesn't necessarily mean you should give away free pills/contraceptives, they turn around and say "What's wrong with giving away free pills/condoms?"

Anyway, what I take Section 10 to mean is that all hospitals will be required to stock up on "Products and supplies for modern family planning methods..."

Thing is, I put this section out on the table with a small group of fellow bloggers and Ben Kritz weighed in:
I actually don't see anything wrong with this. The problem with this part of the bill is in the ambiguity in how what constitutes an appropriate supply of 'products' is to be determined. Obviously, Congress can't write what should be a determination by medical professionals into the law, as in "A hospital should stock such-and-so many of item X, etc." But Congress can designate the responsibility for making that decision rather specifically, and set clear guidelines for it. They haven't done that, and the counter-argument "We're not doctors, all we can do is tell the DOH to figure it out" is not valid. Congress *would be* able to write clear provisions, if they had done their homework and consulted with the people who know what's what before drafting the bill.
So, what's wrong with giving away free condoms/pills?

So, basically, all national government hospitals and provincial hospitals will be required to stock up on products and supplies for family planning methods.

Just by rough figuring, that could actually be around 2,000 or more hospitals.  Of this number, 64 are directly under the Department of Health.  That's a lot of hospitals being automatically required to stock up on products and supplies for family planning methods.

Assuming, just for the sake of illustration, just how much money that would involve, here's a rough figuring just for condoms...
Price of condom = 20 pesos 
Quantity to be bought = 1 pack of 3 condoms for every male Filipino multiplied (X) by the number of Filipino males (let's figure it at 30 Million). 
That gives us 20 x 30 Million or P 600 Million just to supply all males of reproductive age with 1 pack of condoms each. 
Imagine if you figured that every male has sex just 3 times a week, every week of the year... That's P 600 million multiplied by 52 or Php 31 billion.
Well, maybe the figure I ended up with may be a bit big, just for condoms and I suppose the Department of Health may be in a better position to determine its stocking requirements.

So given that corruption usually eats up 30 percent to 70 percent of government supply contracts, can you imagine just how few condoms will be delivered in a year?

Where will the government get the money to fund the RH Bill?

So far, we haven't even factored in that government budget requests sometimes only get partially funded.

You have to realize that just because a law or program says it requested X amount of money as budget, it doesn't mean that X amount of money will be approved and even if it is approved, funding will depend largely on available revenue.

And in instances where revenue cannot support spending, the government then has to borrow money or delay payments to contractors.

I'd figure that using borrowed money to fund a government program or projects within a government program will cost more than getting the money from revenue.

The other option, which is to delay payment (which happens fairly easily and regularly) has the tendency to create more graft and corruption.  With suppliers wanting to collect as soon as possible, the usual practice is to bribe people within the bureaucracy to speed payment up.

So, with corruption eating away at whatever budget is allocated, we're also looking at a situation where the RH program may not be fully funded (because no funding source was contemplated) and if it IS fully funded, we'll be saddled with more government debt.

For the poorest of the poor, I guess they're looking at PhilHealth.
SEC. 25. Implementing Mechanisms 
(d) Take active steps to expand the coverage of the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP), especially among poor and marginalized women, to include the full range of reproductive health services and supplies as health insurance benefits;

LAST Nov. 22, an inspection team from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) made an unannounced visit to the Januaria Marcial Memorial Hospital in Banga town, in South Cotabato province in southern Philippines.  
In the 50-bed hospital, the team found more than a hundred pages of fabricated claim forms and other documents with false entries. "The team made the surprise inspection on Nov. 22 but some of the dates on the forms were already Nov. 25. The same forms were filled up by persons who (had) yet to be confined in the hospital," said lawyer Jay Villegas, head of PhilHealth's Fraud Prevention and Detection Unit (FPDU). When the team tried to confiscate the documents, however, hospital officials refused. "Instead, they set the forms on fire," Villegas said. "We have video and photos of the incident." Januaria Marcial is one of many health care 
providers on the "watchlist" of PhilHealth, a state-run insurance firm administering the National Health Insurance Program for both private- and  public-sector employees. On Dec. 23, PhilHealth suspended the hospital's  accreditation. (The INQUIRER tried but failed to reach Dr. Elizabeth Bayuga, the hospital's medical director, for comment.) 
Here's another case of PhilHealth being scammed:
MANILA, Philippines -- Some doctors and hospitals have defrauded the government’s Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) by P4 billion in unnecessary or overpriced medical procedures since 1995, an official has disclosed to the Senate. 
Dr. Madeleine Valera, PhilHealth vice president for health finance policy, said fraudulent claims included one doctor who conducted more than 2,000 cataract surgeries worth P17 million in one year. She said among the cases being investigated by PhilHealth were those involving circumcisions and toenail extractions. 
“It would appear [from medical records submitted to PhilHealth] that a lot of Filipinos are supot [uncircumcised] and have infection on their toenails,” she told a hearing Tuesday. 
“May mga raket din ang mga doctor [Doctors also have their rackets], more as individuals than as syndicates. Some doctors are in on the scam. Many have earned millions from PhilHealth,” Valera said. 
She said the scam involved some “scalawag” doctors treating “ghost patients,” and making “dubious claims.” Others “harvest” these patients by enrolling them in PhilHealth before they are treated.
How will hospitals balance RH products and supplies with essential, life saving medicines and supplies?

Looking over HB4244 again, I can't seem to find a section or provision that explicitly states how the DOH and its 64 hospitals will balance the purchase of "Products and supplies for modern family planning methods..." with other medicines, supplies, and equipment.

It looks like a carte blanche or a blank check giving hospitals almost free reign to determine how much "products and supplies for modern family planning methods" they need to buy.

I think this somewhat springs from Section 3, Item 10:
There shall be no demographic or population targets and the mitigation of the population growth rate is incidental to the promotion of reproductive health and sustainable human development;
Which makes me wonder if Section 3, Item 6, Sub-item 4 has set two rules in opposition or at the very least makes one or the other moot :
conduct studies to analyze demographic trends towards sustainable human development 
Without targets, there seems little basis for conducting studies.  It fails to articulate where those studies will be used for.

My older brother, who is a doctor and actually ran a hospital in the boondocks of Palawan years ago tells me that he had to consider very carefully what medical products and supplies to stock up on.

He had to base it on whatever data he could gather that showed which supplies were needed more than others.

The thing is this, there is no limit to the amount of sex people can have or want to have.  But there is a limit to how long a person will live if he is stricken by malaria, dengue, cholera, typhoid fever, or what have you.

What little it has in guiding the DOH in determining stocking levels for Family planning products and supplies is  
Section 11:

The DOH shall spearhead the efficient procurement, distribution to LGUs and usage-monitoring of family planning supplies for the whole country. The DOH shall coordinate with all appropriate LGUs to plan and implement this procurement and distribution program. The supply and budget allotment shall be based on, among others, the current levels and projections of the following: 
(a) number of women of reproductive age and couples who want to space or limit their children; 
(b) contraceptive prevalence rate, by type of method used; and 
(c) cost of family planning supplies.

(More aggravation to follow)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Most Popular Pro-RH (HB 4244) RANTS debunked

If you listen and read to the proponents of this measure, you might actually begin thinking that it will solve so many problems confronting the Philippines.

Just considering the tweets and not the actual wording of the bill, here's a list of claims made for RH bill:

It will solve overpopulation.

A more gifted and glib Pro-RH advocate from Ateneo was stumped when I asked him this question: Being partly a bill that will address population growth issues, how fast will the RH Bill decelerate Philippine population growth?

Being the glib and agile talker that he is, he didn't answer the question directly.  His argument, or what he offered as an argument was mere rhetoric, "What I can say is that without the RH Bill, we can be certain that  in 10 years our population will reach over a 100 million."

The right answer would have required him to project growth rates to prove the impact of free and freely available contraception and contraception propaganda.  His numbers should show that upon the start of the implementation of a free contraceptives program, a percentage of poor fertile women would actually space their births with 3 year gaps and then come up with a figure that should be lower than the current 1.8 percent population growth that was registered by the World Bank in 2009.

More over, if you did Google the publicly available data on Philippine population growth, you'd see that our population growth rate has in fact slowed down -- for the most part -- without a massive government funded contraceptive program.

If this is so, what explains our population growth if fewer people are being added to the population?

To get a bead on the population of a country, you have to figure out a number of things:

1. Birth Rate.  That is the number of children born every year.
2. Life Expectancy. That is the average or expected life span of people who are born.
3. Death Rate.  That is how many people die every year.
4. Migration.  That is how many people move into or out of a given places every year.

One simple explanation given for our huge population is that people are simply taking a longer time to die or move to another country.  That isn't even factoring in the migration of people into the Philippines through our porous boarders and through legal means.

More than just providing contraception, another objective of RH is to prevent maternal deaths and this increases life expectancy for women even more.  Yet another is decreasing infant mortality.

From a population perspective alone, this will mean more mothers surviving pregnancy and more children surviving infancy. Ergo, more people and perhaps, an increase in population.

Anyway, with the population growth rate already dipping for the past few decades, the question is: Do we really need to give away free contraception versus other options such as a sustained, pervasive information campaign or using the parallel import scheme of the Cheaper Medicines Act to lower the cost of contraceptives?

In marketing cycles, when a product is new to a population, it becomes necessary to promote its use by giving it away free.  We've had all sorts contraceptives out in the open market for decades and with the exception of  a few types, they're pretty much a no-brainer to use -- would you believe condoms have instructions on it?

The point here is that people are already aware of or know about condoms, pills, and various kinds of contraceptives.  I think it's pretty unnecessary for government to still foot the bill for free contraceptives when the population in general already knows these things exist and can easily obtain information on its use from almost anywhere.

So, the next phase in the marketing cycle, really, is to get people to commit to use contraceptives and after that, the next phase will be to get the public endeared to the contraceptives. These two phases are much better tackled by private companies because government propaganda really sucks.

Premiere condoms, for example, is doing great -- as far as I can tell.  And you know what? These guys understandably support the RH Bill because they stand to benefit from any government action that's meant to promote the use of contraceptives.  So do several other pharmaceutical firms that make and sell various brands of contraceptives.

So, in the light of a slowing population growth rate, do we need to spend more money on contraceptives? Who is really going to benefit from RH? The poor or the rich multinational pharmaceutical companies and their PR/Advertising dogs?

And if you're thinking that poverty is caused by overpopulation, better test your thinking by reading this piece from Anti-Pinoy.

(More aggravation in the next few articles)

Called ignorant for saying NO to RH Bill (HB4244)? You are not alone.

"Stupid to f**k and expect the government to buy your condom (contraceptive)."

It feels like the 2009/2010 Presidential Elections all over again but this time around the heated arguments are not whether Noynoy Aquino is or isn't a good choice for President.  This time around, people are calling each other names over their views on the Reproductive Health Bill (currently also known as House Bill 4244).

I've actually seen at least one blogger whom I respect and will continue to respect refer to a valid question regarding RH as ignorant.  Or at least I am taking it that way, otherwise I could take offense and think that that blogger actually meant I was ignorant.

Tsk! And from someone who advises that people should be respectful and tolerant of others' views.

To be fair, I think the blogger probably got razzed by another blogger hidden behind an alternick and perhaps I've been hit by stray fire.

The Anti Pinoy Strikes Again

Most might find this blogger's views extreme and abrasive but I do tend to take their points into consideration because it forces you to confront certain realities of Filipino culture.  And if you are to advocate for a point of view, it's best to be circumspect

In any case, I think it is ignorant to go on looking at things from just one point of view and ignore all others, even when other points of view have merits.

There have been a number of times that I've wanted to stop reading the Anti-Pinoy or stop participating in their Facebook group.  Some times these guys can really give you a tough time and some of the things they say can be down right painful.

They can be abrasive, uncouth, shocking... They can rile you up and they can give you sleepless nights.  But, there is value in what these guys do.

As one member of the AP GRP said it, though not specifically about AP, "Even dead shrimp can go with the flow."

These guys won't let you sleep in the comfortable arms of complacency.

There is greater value in people who test your ideas, values, and beliefs than people who just go along with everything you say.

Good ole Dick Gordon told me once, "In my life, I've had a lot of stern teachers.  Teachers who really don't give a shit about how you feel and get to the business of teaching you by all means possible.  I thank those teachers because they trained me to be mentally and emotionally tough.  Even if the world is your oyster, it won't open up willingly and yield its bounty to you.  It takes some effort to shuck an oyster, you got to have hands that can grip the jagged shell and the skill to wield a knife to loosen its hinge."

(I think we were eating oysters that night when he went into this monologue.)

Pro RH Negativity: He who lives in glass houses shouldn't throw stones

I've seen a lot of Pro-RH Bill arguments on Twitter and the more current ones seem extremely negative even  going to the point of attacking at least one religion in particular for opposing the RH Bill consistently.  

Perhaps it's because that one religion has the numbers which the other religion doesn't.  And if you actually looked into the holy books of the other one, you'd be a bit concerned that their religion prohibits any form of mutilation and allows marriage to multiple partners.  

Prohibition against the excision of any part of the human will prevent hysterectomies, tubal ligation, and other surgical procedures which could save the life of the woman.  

Allowing marriage to multiple partners actually encourages more births and is actually a more efficient way of increasing population, than say, just having one partner.

Misunderstanding "Secularism"

I just don't see the point in responding to assertions made by leaders of any religious organization especially if it is not grounded on scientific facts and scientific analysis.  Neither am I impressed by supposedly "secular" rhetoric but are actually just promoting a misunderstanding of secularism.

Secularism is NOT atheism and is NOT anti-religion or advocates the attack of any religion.

Really, there's no point in responding to religion based arguments against the RH Bill.  For one, it actually acknowledges that these religious based arguments actually has weight or that it matters.  If you are really aiming for a secular discussion of RH, why even include or respond to such views?  

It's pretty much a basic rule in formal discussions to exclude arguments that are irrelevant to the thing being discussed. Why would people insist on being so IGNORANT about this basic rule?

Perhaps, it's not really ignorance.

Generating Buzz

The thing is, in any online campaign, one of the tricks in starting a conversation is to create controversy.  Some times this involves scanning the environment for established positions and then luring them into a discussion.  This has an enormous potential for getting people to generate content on the topic and it doesn't really matter what position they take as long as the keywords are there.  I don't really know if the people who are hired to do this make money from the number of people who carry their keywords or hash tags.  


Some Pro-RH "advocates" who are now wearing different shades of purple might as well start looking at their new found fanaticism (oh, they're fans of anything that will give them visibility and internet traffic) and consider that perhaps the Pro-RH advocacy may have become a religion in itself.

Really, they're beginning to sound like the kind of zealots who go house to house asking people to have a personal relationship with the RH Bill or face eternal damnation.  

Some pitch their Pro-RH with a heavy dose of scare tactics (very much like what they accuse one religion of doing): "Without RH, the Philippines will be like Soylent Green!", "We're already overpopulated!!"... 

Pro-RH advocated doesn't understand the dynamics of population growth

And there's this one Doctor on Twitter who tried to make a case that Baguio is overpopulated because people there are not getting contraceptives and are therefore breeding like crazy, therefore making Baguio overpopulated.

Oh! My! Religion!

Doc, I'm sorry to tell you this, but you are IGNORANT about the real reasons why Baguio is overpopulated -- you have to distinguish between the resident population and the people who live in Baguio temporarily.

There are a number of reasons why people go and stay in Baguio... One reason is that it is a tourist spot and in the summer time, you can see the population of Baguio balloon enormously.  Another reason is that people pass through Baguio on their way to other parts of Benguet and nearby provinces.  Another reason is that this is where agricultural produce, minerals, and other things are traded. Yet another reason is that there are many Universities and colleges in Baguio.

Binay to the rescue

The reason why Baguio is overpopulated is not because people are breeding like rabbits but because it is a poorly managed urban center and Benguet probably has to enforce urban planning policies that seem to have become forgotten.

In this case, what would help is NOT RH, but the consistent implementation of a Land Use Plan and this is something that is already contained in several laws.  This is an area where Vice President Jejomar Binay, being the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council Chairman, will be relevant.

A woman of her age resorting to grade school taunting.

Yeah, make fun of my name.

There are less than 500 people that I know of that have the last name Farol.  Most of my relatives lived in Quiapo and the house that we have there is over a hundred years old.  The land where it stands has been in my clan's name for longer than a hundred years.

My grandparents were, at one time, prosperous.  They were one of the largest suppliers of fruits in Manila from the 1920's to the 1950's.  My Eldest Uncle fought under the USAFFE, another uncle was the first in the clan to become a Doctor and practice in the US, and another uncle was quite a popular Tenor.  An aunt was world famous as an opera singer.

I didn't choose my last name, but I did choose my friends.  In grade school, my best friend's last name was Anchorman. When I got to college, my best buddy's name was Martillo.

Recently, I met the mother of a very popular official in Laguna. Her last name is Palacol.

Cheapshot... Really.

So, really, when you make fun of someone's name, you're making fun over everyone else with a funny name.

A lesson in Tagalog idioms, "What does nagmumurang kamias mean?"

A gay friend looking at the tweets and Facebook pictures of this woman blogger remarked that perhaps green would be a better color for her since she's nagmumurang kamias.  

And I don't really agree with that friend's penchant for sniping at people's fashion statements because I am hardly fashionable myself.  The last time I bought fashionable clothes was in the 1980's and they were acid wash jeans -- these days I'm pretty much stuck to classic denims, t-shirts, and GEOX shoes, which I buy because I admire the one who invented breathable soles.

It's always better to dress in a way that is appropriate for your age or at least dress in a way that reflects who you really are.  If some people insist on looking like Barney the Dinosaur, they're free to do so. (I'll try my best not to laugh.)

Look! This dinosaur is pro-RH!

Wait till the credit grabbing starts

There are actually two women that I know of in the online world that is actively advocating RH.  One has been doing it for years and is actually connected to an organization that has been working on women's issues.  

The other is an advocate of many things and according to other circles has been branded as a "credit grabber".

I just wonder if it'll come to a point when the other one begins self-proclaiming that she was both the fulcrum and lever of turning public opinion to favor RH.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Reading the full text, final consolidated Reproductive Health (RH) bill, HB 4244

A few days ago, I got into a bit of an online tussle with a few people who support the Reproductive Health Bill or House Bill 4244.

One even said that I had lost (in the argument) or lost his respect.  Though it did sting a bit because it came from someone who loved Red Horse as much as I do, I somehow managed to steel myself and keep myself from falling on the floor, wailing "Why GOD WHY ME!!!"

In truth, the concept and intent of the bill appeals to me quite strongly.  Especially when I think of all those nameless and faceless unwilling mothers who suddenly, surprisingly find themselves in dire need of reproductive health care.

In my brain, the strains of Les Miserables well up and my heart floods with tears.

Man! That shit just makes me blow snot bubbles.

The producers of Les Miserables in the Philippines
barred me from entry the second time around
after ushers found me weeping inconsolably
after Fantine croaked on stage.
Moreover, I do not have any reason to question the motives of those who are pushing for the passage of what they believe will be landmark bill insofar as safeguarding and promoting women's rights are concerned.

Anyway, here's an excerpt of the news article in Inquirer:
“For 2012, (the DOH is asking) P13.7 billion,” Cayetano, head of the Senate committee on health and demography, responding to Senator Lito Lapid’s query. 
Based on the DOH’s proposal, P18.5 million would be allocated for capacity building, P12.5 million for priority health program, and P3 million for the major final output of the health policy and development program. 
Okay... If you don't see what's wrong with the picture here, then you've got bigger problems than reading comprehension.

Lito Lapid, aka Mr. Lahar Quarrying permit, asking about how much money there'll be for RH and prior to that being quite vocal about being against the proposed legislation.

Okay... Hmmmmm....  Isn't that just like asking, "So, how much will my take be if I approve the bill?"

I have been known to successfully ignore the fact that concepts and intentions are wonderful winged creatures until they touch the ground.

While the fact that implementing the proposed law will cost the government (or Filipino taxpayers) a lot of money gave me some cause to be quite concerned, I did make some effort to believe that the the Philippine Government could actually be relied upon to use whatever funds are allocated for RH efficiently.

I mean, for God's sakes! If bigger, better governments can be very efficient with the taxpapers' money, I'm sure it'll be a cinch for the good only Philippine Republic which according to Transparency International has is 134th in its Worldwide Corruption Perceptions ranking of countries.  I mean, that's got to count for something right?

I'm sure, that with President Benigno Aquino the Third at the helm, by golly, we'll be closer to Denmark in no TIME AT ALL!

Moreover, I entertained the idea that the authors, proponents, advocates, and supporters of the proposed legislation would have thought of including mechanisms that would safeguard it from the usual abuse, circumvention, and what-not that ails most of our nobly conceived laws.

When I asked around, among the answers I got essentially amounted to: "Have faith in 'the system,' and don't be so pessimistic."

Another answer is:

"The Commission on Audit will make SURE the budget for RH will not be dissipated by corruption!"

Yet, another answer was:

"Then we should stop spending for free education and other free benefits as well because those too are being corrupted."

To which I say, 'Why not?'

(More aggravating points of view to follow)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

PALEA: When Unionism Becomes Anachronistic

I think unions are becoming anachronistic, a bit out of step in a time when jobs are no longer 'manufacturing centered' but 'information and skills centered'.

We live in an age where Filipinos can be employed by companies abroad without having to leave their homeland. Yes, I am referring to BPO's -- not just call centers, but the entire spectrum of BDO services.

Unions were basically formed by workers to guard against abuses by "management" and acting as a group, the idea was that unions could act en masse to pressure management into adopting more 'worker friendly' management practices.

Unionism has given birth to minimum wage, 8-hour working days, rest days, over time pay, annual salary increases, job security, financial benefits, retirement benefits, medical insurance, life insurance and a whole slew of other things.

Of course, these things adds costs to "management" and "management" will always try to get away with paying as little as possible for as much work as possible.

Obviously, the solution here really, is for management to hire people who will not necessarily do the job best but those who can do the job reasonably well at a much lower wage and with as little benefits as possible.

Rather than deal with CBAs and wages made higher because of "benefits", most companies opt for contractual arrangements with workers.  Which isn't really a bad thing.

Looking at it from the point of view of an entrepreneur, it makes perfect sense.

Labor is cheap in the Philippines and as long as the job you need to be done doesn't need a Rocket Science degree, any of the 60 million able bodied Filipinos will do.

Moreover, there is a thing about Filipino employees that make them difficult to handle after a couple of years...

Take a master carpenter we usually hire for jobs around the house. First time we had him do a project, he did it in less time and at less cost than we expected.  The next job we gave him, he did the project slightly longer than it should take him and we spent more than we expected.  Third job we gave him, he slacked off and not only did the project go beyond the deadline.... It cost us more because of the botched job he did.

If we were locked into keeping him employed from project to project, we'd be deep in debt.  Thankfully, we weren't and we were able to contract another master carpenter for the next slew of projects.

The thing is, there are master carpenters that have been with us for 10 years and none of them have any assurance from us that we will keep them employed, yet they are continuously employed -- if not with us, then with some of our relatives or friends or associates.  To retain their services, those who hire them gladly pay more as long as they are assured of the same quality as their last job.

In other situations, employees who last with a company for more than a year begin to develop a sense of entitlement and what were first given to them as privileges soon become thought of as rights.  Bonuses are usually given for exceptional performance, but these days, employees think that bonuses are a right -- it is not.

Another thing is security of tenure or job security...  perhaps that's all right for a government agency, but not so for a privately owned company which isn't assured of income at all.

These days, job security in companies is mistakenly thought of as a RIGHT.

It is not.

Have you heard of Profit Security?

No? Try Googling it/  Click here and you will see that nothing that turns up on google actually comes close to the idea that companies or entrepreneurs are assured of an income.
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