Not your ideal police force

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PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has refused to apologize to the relatives of the eight Hongkong tourists killed during the hostage- taking incident at Manila’s Rizal Park on August 23, 2010. Declaring in a speech during the first anniversary of that incident that the Philippine government regretted it, but that it was not right for the slain tourists’ kin to blame the entire country, Mr. Aquino was apparently also addressing the Hongkong government, which since the incident has warned its residents to stay away from the Philippines, thereby costing the country millions in lost tourism revenues.

Mr. Aquino’s refusal to apologize for the incident has most probably earned him brownie points among the population, particularly that part of it that believes it an affront to the entire country for the government to be apologizing to anyone, especially to people from another Asian country.

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Hold your breath

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WHAT “grave injustice and irreparable injury” would anyone suffer if prevented from smoking in public, or from inhaling the smoke from a burning cigarette and the smoke smokers exhale?

Judge Carlos Valenzuela of Branch 213 of the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court didn’t, and probably can’t, say. But he used that argument anyway to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MDDA) to stop it from enforcing its ban on smoking in the streets under the authorization of RA 9211 which regulates the advertising and sale of tobacco products, and RA 7924, which requires the MMDA to promote public health among other responsibilities.

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Terrorists

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CLASHES between artistic freedom and religious sensibilities occur from time to time, and they become even more contentious when art, whether in the form of a novel, a sculpture, or a painting, is subsidized with public funds.

The controversy over the “Kulo” exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines is not unique to this country. Neither are the demands for the CCP board members to resign, the threats to cut the CCP budget, the insults, hate messages and death threats both the board as well as the artist have received, and even the vandalism of parts of the exhibit.

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Palliatives

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AN appeal based on liberation theology is among the least likely to convince the mostly conservative bishops of the Catholic Church to end their campaign against the Reproductive Health bills now pending in Congress. (The Senate version is SB 2865, “An act providing for a national policy on reproductive health and population and development.” Currently being debated is the House of Representatives version, HB 4244.)

In Part 1 (is there a Part 2?) of her sponsorship speech for SB 2865, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago initially described reproductive health as “a non-issue” in the context of the more urgent problems the Philippines has. But she later argued that a reproductive health law is needed to liberate the poor from social injustice. In her effort to convince the bishops that rather than opposing the RH bills they should instead support it, Santiago described the passage of SB 2865 as in conformity with liberation theology. “The RH bill,” said Santiago, “is an enterprise in social justice and in love for the poor.”

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