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Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

P-Noy has little room for maneuver on ‘Libingan’ issue

Definitely an issue that threatens to wrench the nation in coming weeks, much more than the Senate trial of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, is the move by pro-Marcos elements to have the late President Ferdinand Marcos accorded a hero’s burial at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, which was established as the "Rizal Memorial Cemetery" by presidential edict in 1947. Various groups are coming out against this move being pushed by some 200 or so members of the House of Representatives.
President Aquino has to come out openly on where he stands on this issue, as otherwise he will disillusion---as he already is with his pregnant silence---his horde of followers whose loyalty to his family dates back to EDSA and what the Aquino legacy stands for. At this point P-Noy may truly be searching for the “politically correct” position on the proposed Marcos burial in Libingan, particularly since the Marcoses have staged an incredible comeback and appear to be targetting the re-capture of Malacanang in 2016. But I’m afraid P-Noy has little room for maneuver here. He has to tell the Filipino people where he stands.


Noynoy the child of Edsa
The fact is that his illustrious parents found their niche in history because of their courageous stand against Marcos, with Ninoy paying the ultimate price. Noynoy himself is the child of Edsa, and he won the presidency not on any other merit but that. P-Noy has to join the big number of Filipinos who are resolutely against a Marcos burial in the nation's most hallowed ground, as allowing it is to make a mockery of Edsa and all that it has stood for in this country and in the world for the past 25 years.


By the way, I have it on good authority that his sister, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, is against a Marcos burial in Libingan, but she has kept this sentiment close to her chest so far. Hope she speaks out.

Continuing indignation
Recall that a few weeks back the purported illegitimate child of President Marcos in Australia with a former model was removed from her job in Sydney when the producers of her show learned about her alleged paternity. It’s indication of the continuing indignation some sectors of the world still feel about the former strongman who was driven out of Malacanang in 1986 by people power and who died in exile in Hawaii in 1989. Contrast the Aussies' reaction to how some of our countrymen, led by the 200 infamous representatives, have developed what Cecile Alvarez likes to call Alzheimer's disease on Marcos. 


Recall too, how Marcos’ so-called war exploits were torn to shreds first by former Rep. Bonifacio Gillego and later by foreign authors, led by Alfred McCoy, in a series of damaging articles published by the New York Times.
The Marcos era has been judged by history of human rights violations,  crony capitalism, corruption, destroying democratic institutions and other misdeed against the Filipino people. If Marcos, deemed a fake hero, is accorded a hero’s burial in the nation’s cemetery of heroes, martyrs and prominent leaders, we Filipinos would become the laughing stock of the world. It's something we cannot recover from easily.
Binay's office---E for efficiency 
News reports say President Noynoy has delegated to Vice President Jejomar Binay the resolution of this issue;  I hope the delegation is just for VP Binay to study the matter and get a sense of how the people and various groups and institutions feel about it. 


Text messages going around from Binay’s office to people’s cell phones, however, (how does his office manage to get everyone’s cell numbers? One has to hand it to the VP’s office for efficiency---how his people have such access not only to the air lanes but the internet as well! Shades of Big Brother, as some observers have put it) are asking citizens to text back their stand on this issue, purportedly before he “resolves” it.
But the resolution of the Marcos burial in Libingan cannot be left in the hands of the VP (who is likely to exploit it to his political advantage in his drive toward Malacanang, with the help of P-Noy officials who want to ensure their place in a Binay presidency) nor even of P-Noy. The Marcos burial is a highly symbolic but most crucial national issue that has to involve the entire Filipino people; each and every Filipino has to come out and express his sentiments on it---most especially our President. The world will watch how we resolve it. 
Irreconcilable parting of ways among SocDems?
News from the political grapevine is that in the world of the “Social Democrats” (Socdems) there may be an irreconcilable parting of the ways between the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (PDSP), led by chair Norberto Gonzalez and Fr. Archie Intengan, chief of the education committee, and the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) led by Chair Beth Angsiongco. Apparently the trigger factor in this “final” split is the issue of "Reproductive Health" or RH bills being discussed in Congress, including consolidated House Bill 4244.


Differences on various issues, especially on RH 
It is interesting to note that in earlier times the DSWP constituted the women’s group of PDSP, but two groups began drifting away from each other in 2009, when DSWP decided to withdraw and form itself into a party---a move that PDSP accepted.
One of the reasons for this withdrawal by DSWP from the PDSP and the latter’s acceptance of that move was precisely the support of the DSWP for the previous versions of the RH bills, first introduced in the 13th Congress. But now that lines are drawn more firmly on this controversial issue, the parting between the two Socdem groups has become irreconcilable. There were other differences, such as the fact that in the last elections, the DSWP reportedly went all out for candidate Noynoy Aquino, while most PDSP members supported Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro. But the most serious difference centered on the RH issue.
It’s also significant to stress that majority of the female members of the PDSP were not in DSWP and have remained with PDSP to date.
PDSP: let's understand various nuances of RH issue
From what I gather, the PDSP is opposed to the RH bills especially in various aspects, whereas the DSWP has been strongly supportive of these bills, and vehement in criticizing those who oppose or have reservations about themI can see where the irreconcilable parting would come in.  
From all indications, PDSP is committed to women's and children's health and to gender equality and justice, and in fact it sides with the citizenry in deciding freely on the basis of correct and adequate information.  PDSP is also convinced of the need to understand the demographic situation and prospects of our nation, with its nuances in terms of socio-economic class, and also the need to address this demographic situation and prospects in manner both ethical and effective and in conformity with the law, especially the Constitution.


No to birth regulation means that are abortifacient 

Given this background, it’s easy to see that PDSP cannot support the RH bills because, according to its thinking, even in their present amended and attenuated versions, these bills still leave room for the use of means of birth regulation that are abortifacient at least some of the time.  These means include intrauterine devices, low-dose progestins, and "emergency contraceptives" widely referred to as "morning-after pills."  


This posture is founded on its belief that scientific data and the correct philosophical interpretation thereof would indicate that human life begins at fertilization, and that any attribution of personhood and proportionate attribution of personal rights to the product of conception beyond contraception is arbitrary and indefensible.
Not sufficiently protective of freedom of conscience


Moreover, to many people, including the PDSP membership, the present versions of the RH bill remain problematic in terms of freedom of conscience, because it requires the use of the same curriculum for sexuality education in both public and private basic education schools or units, in which the use of contraceptives such as condoms will be proposed, and probably even the abortifacients mentioned above. PDSP notes that the only way to avoid having one's child taught such modules, under the proposed bill is to apply for individual exemption, which it says it cannot support. 

Whether they agree with the teaching of the Catholic Christian Church (and other like-minded religious groups who joined the 25 March rally at the Luneta) on contraceptives, PDSP members I’ve spoken to have stressed that requiring Catholic Christian and other dissenting schools to teach such a curriculum and only allowing individual rather than corporate exemption is violative of freedom of conscience, or at least it’s not sufficiently protective of freedom of conscience.



I agree with the PDSP stand on the various aspects of the RH controversy, most especially on the aspect of the violation of the freedom of conscience.



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