Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Christian Economy

Among those who prop up the PNoy administration are the very rich families. They put up tall buildings, big malls, and wide highways to show “development.” However, development should be measured by the food in the people’s stomach, clothes on their back, decent homes, jobs that sustain dignity, education based on the needs of the people not other countries, good health, support for the elderly, low criminality, disaster preparedness, and recreation in that strict order. The high GNP and GDP growth rates do not mean development because while the wealth of the top 50 richest Filipinos tripled from 2010 ( to 2014 ( ), the unemployment rate remained steady at 6 to 7% ( Moreover, “the combined wealth of the richest 50 amounting to Php3.24 trillion is equivalent to a one year income of 26 million minimum wage earners” ( This means that the wealth created in the economy does not “trickle down” to the poor but is mostly retained by the very rich to bloat their treasure chests further. This is not a Christian economy. A Christian economy operates on the Biblical admonition that we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper.

A Christian economy is not an invitation to laziness. It demands work from those who are able-bodied and looks after those who are not. The able-bodied who wants to eat but refuses to work is admonished and corrected through values formation.

A Christian economy does not blindly abide by capitalism’s “law of supply and demand.” This is what capitalists refer to when they utter, “The fundamentals are in place.” Viewed from the Christian vantage point, that law idolizes greed. It exhorts people to draw as much from others’ misery as their leverage allows. A Christian should not increase the price just because other people badly need a product and there is little left of it.

Capitalists say that failure to follow the law of supply and demand leads to inefficiency. No, a Christian seeks not efficiency first; he seeks effectiveness.

The Christian faith is an example where effectiveness is sought rather than efficiency: the parables of the lost sheep and coin. The lost sheep or coin must be found no matter the cost and Heaven will celebrate! In efficiency, it is preferred to let the sheep or coin be lost forever in order to minimize the expenditure of resources. Christ, however, teaches that the lost should be found. Indeed, He demonstrated this further by dying on the Cross. It would have been efficient for God to just say, “Okay, all the sins of mankind are forgiven.” He does forgive but He suffered first on the Cross. What greater price can be paid for our redemption than the Son of God?

The State is another example. Government is established by the people. It is not the primary goal of government to be efficient. The primary goal of government is to be effective specially in delivering to all its citizens basic services like water, electricity, health and social security. If it can be efficient in one way by stamping out corruption, then it is much better. Government cannot abandon its effectiveness for the benefit of private profit. Privatization of basic services is just a ruse of profiteers to secure for themselves a captive market while conniving instead of competing.

In our search for efficiency, we should never abandon effectiveness.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Myth of Overpopulation
VS Perdigon Jr

We have been told over and over again, in the media and academe for example, that the world is overpopulated. To overpopulate, according to, is “to populate (an area) too heavily for the available sustaining resources.”

Hence, if the world is overpopulated, then the available resources can no longer sustain all living persons. It cannot have enough land to grow plants from which people get food and clothing; to provide space for shelter, other facilities (like schools, factories, offices, hospitals),  forest cover, water reservoir, recreation areas, etc. Let us do some math to verify the claim of overpopulation. 

Land Area. - Currently, world population stands at 7,021,836,029 according to the CIA Word Factbook1. If we gather and make them stand one meter apart in one place, we would need 7,021,836,029 square meters or 7,021.84 square kilometers (since 1 million square meters is 1 square kilometer). The land area of Albay is 2,552.6 square kilometers; Camarines Sur, 5,226.8. Combined, their land area is 7,819.4 square kilometers. So all the people of the world can fit in the two provinces if they stand one meter apart and there will be an excess of 797.56 square kilometers! Albay and Camarines Sur are just a tiny fraction of the Philippines and a teeny-weeny fragment of the entire world land area.

Let us apply the same analysis to Philippine population. The NSCB sets it at 90,000,000. The CIA World Factbook has a higher figure: 103,000,000. If we gather and make them stand one meter apart in one place, we would need 103,000,000 square meters or 103 square kilometers. The land area of Legazpi City is 153.7 square kilometers.2 So all the people of the Philippines can fit in Legazpi City if they stand one meter apart and still have an excess of 50.7 square kilometers. Legazpi City is just a tiny fraction of the Philippines.

Space for Shelter. - Suppose we provide apartments to all people of the world by building a 3-storey structure on every 100 square meters (10 meters by 10 meters). On every floor, let 5 persons live. Hence, for every 100 square meters, 15 persons are accommodated. We divide 7,021,836,029 by 15 to get 468,122,401.93 buildings or lots. Since every lot is 100 square meters, we would need 46,812,240,193 square meters or 46,812.25 square kilometers. The land area of Southern Tagalog is 46,924 square kilometers3. Hence, all the people of the world can be housed in Southern Tagalog and there will be an excess of 111.76 square kilometers.

For the population of the Philippines, we would need [(103,000,000 / 15) x 100] / 1,000,000 or 687 square kilometers. The Second Congressional District of Albay (Legazpi City, Daraga, Camalig, Manito, Rapu-Rapu) has 665.94 square kilometers; Sto. Domingo, 51.22. Their total is 717.16 square kilometers. Hence, all the people of the Philippines can be housed in the Second Congressional District of Albay and Sto. Domingo and still have an excess of 30 square kilometers.

The 7,021.84 square kilometers that would contain all people in the world standing one meter apart is smaller than the red dot inside the box drawn on the map above. The 46,812.25 sq km needed to house them (10 m by 10 m, 3 floors, 5 persons per floor) is approximately the size of the red dot.
Source of map:

The 103 square kilometers that would contain all people in the Philippines standing one meter apart is smaller than the red oblong  drawn on the map above. The 687 sq km needed to house them (10 m by 10 m, 3 floors, 5 persons per floor) is approximately the size of the oblong.

Food. - The following table shows the most recently available data on world production of food requirements:

Maize (2009)4                    –             817,110,509 metric tones
Wheat (2009)4                   –             681,915,838
Rice (2009)4                      –             678,668,289
Meat (2008)5                     –             280,000,000
Fruits (2010)6                    –             609,213,509
Fish (2009)7                      –             145,100,000
Vegetables (2010)8            –             965,650,533
Total                       –           4,177,658,678 metric tonnes

That is more than 4 trillion kilograms of food available per year. In the following table we assume that a person eats ¼ kg of food per meal. If we further assume that he eats 3 full meals and 2 snacks every day with each snack equivalent to ½ meal, then we calculate that he needs 365 kgs of food every year.

kg of food per meal per person
meals per day per person
kgs of food per day per person
kgs of food per year per person
population of the world
kgs of food needed to feed all people per year

kgs excess food per year

Total yearly food consumption is 2,562,970,150,585 kgs while 4,177,658,678,000 is the supply. Hence, there is an excess of 1.6 trillion kgs.

For Philippine food production, we have the following data in 2010:9

Production (MT)
Rice, paddy
Indigenous pig meat
Fruit, tropical fresh
Indigenous chicken meat
Vegetables fresh
Indigenous cattle meat
Mangoes, mangosteens, guavas
Hen eggs, in shell
Indigenous buffalo meat
Other bird eggs, in shell
Indigenous goat meat
String beans

In kilograms, that’s 47.8 billion. Using the same assumptions as for world food consumption, we calculate Philippine food need at 37.595 billion kilograms (103 million x 365 kgs) per year. Hence, there is even an excess of 10.205 billion kilograms and no Filipino should ever go hungry.

There should not be any famine anywhere in the world if only food is easily laid on every table. The queer phenomenon is that while food is abundant in one part of the world, there is hunger in another. We can only think of unnecessary impediments, mostly legalistic and bureaucratic. Worse, it could be due to greed. Sometimes, food aid is used as political leverage among nations.

Given all the assumptions cited, world food production in recent years can support 11,445,640,213 persons (4,177,658,678,000 kgs divided by 365 kgs per person). The fact is that world food output is going up while population growth rate is going down as shown in the following graphs:

The average of world population growth rates from 2000 to 2011 is 1.17%. At this rate, the world population figure of 11,445,640,213 will be attained in 42 years:

                                                7 billion (1 + 0.0117)N     = 11.4 billion
                                                                        (1.0117)N     = 11.4 / 7
                       = 1.63
                                                                    ln(1.0117)    = ln 1.63
                                                                                       N     =  ln 1.63 / ln 1.0117
                       =  0.487703 / 0.011632
                                                                                               = 41.9 years

In other words, even if world food output remains steady at recent levels while population grows at the average of recent rates, there will be excess food for 42 years.

From the graph of world agricultural production, it can be seen that in 1990 the amount produced was around 82; 2006, 114. (The units are not specified but this lack of information will not matter as they will just cancel out in the formula

             82(1+r)16  = 114
     (1+r)16  = 114/82
       = 1.390244
                     1 + r   = (1.390244) exp (1/16)
                        = 1.020806
                           r   = 0.020806 or 2.08%

This is higher than 1.17%, the average of world population growth rates from 2000 to 2011. Given that, there is no possibility of food shortage due to “overpopulation.”

Philippine food production has also been going up as the following graph shows:

Philippine population growth rate, on the other hand, has been going down.

From the formula
          30(1+r)20    = 47.8

we calculate the Philippine food production growth rate r:

(1 + r)20 = 47.8/30
    = 1.593
                  1 + r  = (1.585014) exp (1/20)
                    = 1.023565
                      r    = 0.023565 or 2.36%

This is higher than 1.9225%, the average of the growth rates of Philippine population from 2000 to 2011. If Philippine population growth rate is going down, then why enact an RH Bill? It ain’t broke. Why fix it? Could it be that abstinence and natural methods are already at work? If we suppose that the decline is due to artificial methods, then why should government still interfere? It is then an issue between the Church and its flock. If the Church eventually convinces its flock to use only abstinence and natural methods, then both institutions’ objectives are achieved. If the government is still unhappy, then those running it must have ulterior motives such as profits for corporations producing condoms, pills and other devices.

While it may be conceded that the world population growth rate is on decline due to artificial birth control methods, the same result can be achieved with the natural. Couple that with values education and we will avoid a situation where we seemingly solve what one sector perceives as a problem only to replace it with real problems for other sectors – sexual promiscuity among the youth, cancer due to birth control pills, irreversible population decline, loss of replacement for the labor force, loss of security for the elderly. It needs no mathematical proof to understand that once a nation has zero or negative population growth for one generation, then its people will just get old and vanish after one lifetime regardless of its current population. The lesson here is that it is better to bear one problem than to solve it and face worse problems.

There are important points we need to emphasize. One, a problem to some may not be to others. To those with economic power, more people means more competitors for the world’s resources. Thus, for them to maintain dominance the population of the world must be controlled.  Two, in solving a problem there are constraints that should not be breached. Among such constraints are moral principles. Solutions that do not compromise morality can be found. Unfortunately, people in power prefer shortcuts, unmindful of the dire consequences.

We cannot dissociate the economic from the moral, sociological and political considerations in addressing the RH issue. Nevertheless, if only to debunk the often repeated argument (that we are “overpopulated” hence we need to control birth) then the preceding calculations have to be presented.


The reader may be interested in the following articles:

Hong Kong's mounting food waste problem
By Dean Irvine, CNN
January 21, 2013 -- Updated 0505 GMT (1305 HKT)

India tackles supply chain to cut food waste
By Amy Kazmin, The Financial Times
April 11, 2014 12:18 am

Filipinos Waste P14.4 Million Worth of Rice Alone a Day

Written by Estrella F. Palafox, NAMD-FNRI   

Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill
Author: Dana Gunders , Natural Resources Defense Council

Food wastage footprint

Food waste around the world

As China's leadership announces reducing food waste as a priority, we take a look at how other countries are tackling the issue
• South Korea
• America
• Sweden

Written August 3, 2012; uploaded April 25, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pro-Life Victories in the Supreme Court Decision on the RH Law
VS Perdigon Jr

Life begins at fertilization. The Supreme Court says so in its decision on the RH Law (Paragraph 5 Page 47). Fertilization is the process whereby the sperm unites with the egg cell. From then on, asserts the Court, the fertilized ovum is a human being (Par 7 Pg 46). The Constitution states that life begins at conception (Article II Section 12) and the Court declared that the moment of conception is “when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm” (Pars 2 and 3 Pg 42). Records of the Constitutional Convention reveal that the delegates were referring to fertilization when they used the term conception (September 12, 1986 Pg 669). They used conception instead of fertilization “because . . . the phrase ‘fertilized ovum’ may be beyond the comprehension of some people.” They wanted “to use the simpler phrase ‘from the moment of conception’” (Par 9 Pg 42).  It is, therefore, unconstitutional to prevent through substances, devices (IUD) or procedures the fertilized ovum from getting implanted in the womb. It is illegal to prevent it from ultimately being born. This is a major victory of the pro-life advocates.
The principal author of the RH Law, Edcel Lagman, argues that life begins at implantation (Par 1 Pg 48). The SC ruling struck down his argument. I believe this is the big reason the ex-congressman from the First District of Albay opted to remain quiet after the publication of the decision. Recall that he proposed to fund the use of contraceptives from the pork barrel. Well, the pork barrel was earlier declared unconstitutional by the high court. As a taxpayer, I comprehend why his enthusiasm has fizzled out like a spent firework.
Indeed, the pro-life advocates have reason to rejoice. Two-thirds of the battle is won – fertilization to implantation and implantation to childbirth. On issues beyond childbirth (such as skilled birth attendance, maternal care, reproductive tract infections), the pro-life and pro-choice, I suppose, do not have major contradictory positions so there is no battle to speak of.
We now train our “guns” on the remaining third – the pre-fertilization arena. This is where we grapple with issues involving the condom, vasectomy, tubal ligation, sex education, etc.
The second victory of the pro-life advocates is the SC ruling that the RH Law is principally for population control, thus chastising the pro-choice for their claim that RA 10354 is not intended to reduce the growth rate. Par 4 Pg 34 of the decision states:
Despite efforts to push the RH Law as a reproductive health law, the Court sees it as principally a population control measure. The corpus of the RH Law is geared towards the reduction of the country’s population.
Par 2 Pg 35 further states:
The Court, thus, agrees with the petitioners’ contention that the whole idea of contraception pervades the entire RH Law. It is, in fact, the central idea of the RH Law.126 Indeed, remove the provisions that refer to contraception or are related to it and the RH Law loses its very foundation. 127 As earlier explained, “the other positive provisions . . . are already provided for in the Magna Carta for Women.”128
The third victory of the pro-life advocates is the unequivocal ruling by the Supreme Court that the Constitution prohibits enactment of any pro-abortion law. Par 6 Pg 48 states:
The clear and unequivocal intent of the Framers of the 1987 Constitution in protecting the life of the unborn from conception was to prevent the Legislature from enacting a measure legalizing abortion. It was so clear that even the Court cannot interpret it otherwise (emphasis in the original).
At face value, the pro-choice was favored by the SC ruling declaring the RH Law “not unconstitutional” on the ground that it does not allow abortion. Ironically, the ruling favors the pro-life advocates because the real battle is not against the constitutionality of the RH Law but for the sanctity of life. By asserting the sanctity of life, the Court has made moot and academic the constitutionality of the RH Law on the basis of its provisions about abortion.
The SC ruling is significant because it pre-empts any abortion law that might later be advanced by the pro-choice through equation of conception to implantation.
The fourth victory of pro-life advocates is the Supreme Court ruling that stymied the attempt of pro-choice advocates to “smuggle” back through the IRR what RA 10354 removed from HB 4244 – contraceptives that prevent implantation or kill the fertilized ovum – by inserting the seemingly innocent word “primarily” in the definition of “abortifacients” and “contraceptives.” The Court prudently exposed the trick by declaring that provisions 3.01 a and j of the IRR are contrary to Section 4 a of the Act.
The Supreme Court put its foot down by declaring a one-paragraph sentence on Pg 53: This cannot be done (emphasis supplied). Henceforth, if it is shown that a certain contraceptive intended to prevent fertilization also prevents implantation or kills the fertilized ovum, then such contraceptive shall be illegal and unconstitutional.
Not too long ago, Sergio Apostol was interviewed on television about another subject matter and he commented that sometimes the IRR obviates the intent of a republic act by providing a different statement. What some parties fail to accomplish through an RA they succeed through the IRR.

The experience with the RH Law and the criticism of Mr. Apostol should prompt a policy shift in lawmaking. Perhaps, the Senate should adopt a fourth reading of a law where there would be no more debates but mere checking if the IRR is faithful to the RA. The Supreme Court is there to ensure faithfulness of the IRR to the RA but it can only perform such function if a law is challenged. If no stakeholder questions, “smuggling through the IRR” would easily subvert the intent of the law. A checking of every IRR by the Senate through a fourth reading will protect the people. It will not, nevertheless, prevent any challenge of a particular IRR before the Supreme Court.

The fifth victory of the pro-life advocates is the Supreme Court ruling that the sale, distribution and dispensation of contraceptives (defined in RA 4729 as substances or devices that prevent fertilization) will be according to RA 4729 and RA 5921 which require the involvement of licensed prescription drugstores, hospital pharmacy, and pharmaceutical companies, and qualified medical practitioners in the aforementioned transactions (Par 2 Pg 57 and Par 5 Pg 59). Without the pro-life challenge and the consequent SC ruling, the repealing clause of RA 10354 would have voided the requirements of RAs 4729 and 5921. Moreover, this ruling proves that the RH Law is a redundancy over earlier laws.
The SC ruling chastises the respondents by declaring as empty and absurd the proviso in Section 9 stating “any product or supply included or to be included in the (Essential Drugs List) must have a certification from the FDA that said product and supply is made available on the condition that it is not to be used as an abortifacient” (emphasis supplied). Par 4 Pg 51 states:

The FDA, with all its expertise, cannot fully attest that a drug or device will not all (sic) be used as an abortifacient, since the agency cannot be present in every instance when the contraceptive product or supply will be used. 171

Hence, the Supreme Court points out that the phrase it is not to be used should “bend to the legislative intent and mean it cannot be used” (Par 4 and 5 Pg 51; italics in the original).

The Supreme Court reminds the government that “it may be held accountable for any injury, illness or loss of life” caused by the contraceptives distributed. The Court also awaits cases to be brought before it when specific contraceptives shall have been submitted to the FDA (Par 6 Pg 59).
The Court reminds Congress that “safe, non-abortifacient, and effective” contraceptives cannot be ascertained by legislation but through proper scientific examination specifically to be done by the FDA (Par 7 Pg 59 and Par 1 Pg 60).
Be that as it may, this point addresses the fear of proliferation of contraceptives and sexual promiscuity. The pro-life advocates cannot be complacent on this victory. Drugstores, pharmaceutical companies and medical practitioners can still sell, distribute and dispense with contraceptives left and right yet cleverly be in technical compliance with the law. They can comply with the letter but subvert the spirit of the law.
The sixth victory is the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the inviolability of conscience and freedom of religion. On such ground, the Court sustained the pro-life contention that conscientious objectors, even if they are public officials, cannot be coerced into referring patients to RH service providers. Denying such public officials their right to conscientiously object is to deny them equal protection of the law (Par 4 Pg 72, Par 2 Pg 73, Par 1 Pg 75). The same exemption is granted to hospitals operated by conscientious objectors (Par 1 Pg 74). The pro-choice advocates failed to prove that a compelling state interest would be jeopardized by the conscientious objection of public officials according to the Court (Par 5 Pg 76).
The Court cited another redundancy of the RH Law when it declared in Par 1 Pg 78 that other laws already protect the right to health which would not be infringed upon by conscientious objectors – RA 4729 (Contraceptive Act), RA 6365 (The Population Act of the Philippines), RA 9710 (The Magna Carta for Women). In fact, cited the Court, even without the RH Law maternal mortality in the Philippines dropped 48% from 1990 to 2008 and 81% from 1980 to 2008, outperforming first world countries like Germany, Russia and Israel where abortion is legal (Par 2 Pg 80 and Footnote 236).
The SC ruling confirmed the pro-life position that in emergency situations necessitating reproductive health procedures on the mother and/or the child “the doctor is morally obliged to try to save both lives. If, however, it is impossible, the resulting death to one should not be deliberate." (Par 5 Pg 80)
The Court also reiterated the right to free speech and its coverage of the right to remain silent (Par 1 Pg 73). Thus, objectors cannot be coerced into disseminating information about substances, devices or procedures that they believe contravene religious freedom.
The seventh victory is the SC ruling upholding the great importance of the family as the basic unit of society. The Court struck down Section 23 a 2 i and agrees with the pro-life position that the provision intrudes into the privacy and autonomy of the family (Pars 1 and 2 Pg 82). The Court further comments in Par 11 Pg 82:
In this case, the RH Law, in its not-so-hidden desire to control population growth, contains provisions which tend to wreck the family as a solid social institution. It bars the husband and/or the father from participating in the decision making process regarding their common future progeny. It likewise deprives the parents of their authority over their minor daughter simply because she is already a parent or had suffered a miscarriage (emphasis supplied).
The eighth victory is the SC affirmation of the primary role of parents in educating their children about sex. Although the Court ruled that Section 14 is constitutional, it grounds the decision on prematurity and would rather wait for the Department of Education to come up with the curriculum. The Court sees the provision as supplementary to “the rights and duties of parents in the moral development of their children.” (Par 2 Pg 88)
The ninth victory is the comment of the Supreme Court in Pars 4 and 5 Pg 101 which upholds the pro-life arguments that (1) poverty and unemployment are problems whose solution lies not in the RH Law but in equitable distribution of the country’s wealth; and (2) “population control may not be beneficial for the country in the long run.”
The European and Asian countries, which embarked on such a program generations ago, are now burdened with ageing populations. The number of their young workers is dwindling with adverse effects on their economy . . . These countries are now trying to reverse their programs, but they are still struggling. For one, Singapore, even with incentives, is failing (Par 5 Pg 101).
Bear in mind that the Court states in Par 4 Pg 34 that the RH Law is a population control measure. The Court took note of the fact that the younger generation is propping up the Philippine economy. The Court expressed its apprehension over the economy if it were to be weighed down by an ageing population and fewer younger generation as a result of growth control policies. The ruling stated the fact that the sustainable growth rate is 2 children per woman (Par 1 Pg 102).

Interesting is the Court comment in Par 4 Pg 102:

Be that as it may, it bears reiterating that the RH Law is a mere compilation and enhancement of the prior existing contraceptive and reproductive health laws, but with coercive measures. Even if the Court decrees the RH Laws as entirely unconstitutional, there will still be the Population Act (R.A. No. 6365), the Contraceptive Act (R.A. No. 4729) and the reproductive health for women or The Magna Carta for Women (R.A. No. 9710), sans the coercive provisions of the assailed legislation. All the same, the principle of “no-abortion” and “non-coercion” in the adoption of any family planning method should be maintained (italics in the original, emphasis supplied).

By declaring the RH Law “not unconstitutional,” the Court does not state that it is a wise solution to the population problem (Par 2 Pg 102). It merely reiterates the policy of “non-interference in the wisdom of a law.” The Court is limited to the judicial task of “saying what the law is, as enacted by the lawmaking body” (Par 3 Pg 102). As a layman, I interpret that to mean the Court cannot prescribe an alternative but only rule on the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of what is presented before it.

It is the tenth victory for pro-life advocates when the Supreme Court partially granted our petitions. Eight (8) provisions are declared unconstitutional. Without the resistance posed by the pro-life, the Act could have been as virulent as it was when passed by Congress. 
In summary, by this taxpayer’s and citizen’s understanding of the SC decision, there were 27 issues contended. Sixteen (16) were won by the pro-life. One issue, the constitutional ban on abortion, is neutrally decided being acceptable to both. Nevertheless, the significance of the victory or defeat should not be measured by these figures. The issues are not equal in gravity and consequence.
The triumph on fertilization as the beginning of life, I believe, trumps all other issues. We win this battle and we win a tremendous victory in the war for life. Some argue, no longer in the realm of medicine but philosophy, that life begins earlier than fertilization. The sperm and the egg cells each has life prior to contact. Only life can beget life. It cannot be begotten by two grains of sand that fuse. However, we save that discussion for another day.
Though neutrally decided, the ruling that reaffirms the unconstitutionality of abortion is very valuable to the pro-life. With this assurance from the Supreme Court, the pro-life pre-empts the second phase of the pro-choice drive against life – the legalization of abortion. We have defeated them long before they craft their pro-abortion battle plan. Also very valuable is the defense of religious freedom. The SC ruling is a warning to the pro-choice never again to assail it through the worn-out strategy of Church-State separation. Also very valuable is the primacy of parents in rearing their children and the privacy of the family which the State must not intrude upon unless compelling reasons obtain for justifiable good.
The issues lost are of varied importance. Except for natural law and RH Law ban on abortion, the issues we lost are tactical and operational, not strategic. The argument on natural law is a battle we can fight another day. The RH Law ban on abortion is an argument won by the advocates of the Law but for all intents and purposes, the pro-life must be singing halleluiah. Arguing that the RH Law favors abortion, the pro-life was able to induce a ruling that reiterates the constitutional ban on the procedure.
All the preceding points considered, I do not have to question why the advocates of the RH Law are also claiming victory. Let them. It is sometimes good tactic to allow your opponent a graceful exit from battle.
The Supreme Court decision is a win-win arrangement. It can be described as Solomonic. Even the UN was appeased. By analogy, we may liken the RH Law to a plate of rice with bits of stones in it served to us by the cook. We complained to the restaurant manager who then ordered the food to be replaced with clean rice. We are happy, the cook is happy, and everyone else is happy. Still, we are watchful for any bit of stone we might still find or consequent effects eating the rice may result into.
The declaration of 8 provisions as unconstitutional is a reprimand to RH Law proponents. It sustained the pro-life arguments. Their removal almost returns us to the legal provisions prior to the RH Law. With the demise of the pork barrel as a source of funding for the implementation of the Law, congressmen can no longer gain financially from it.
We do not say that the RH Law is totally acceptable to the pro-life. The Law has its inherent objectionable defects. For one, the allocation of taxpayers’ money to contraceptives will redound to the profit of multinational drug companies while basic needs of the people are crying for funds. The danger of sexual promiscuity is real. As mentioned, there is still a battle to be fought. Our experience with the RH issue taught us the importance of continued vigilance, even beyond the passage of the Act.
There are two seeming inconsistencies that need to be addressed:
1.      As regards natural law. - The Supreme Court decision invokes the natural law in assessing the arguments on the right to life but the same Court belittles it in assessing arguments on the constitutionality of the RH Law. Par 2 Pg 38 states: 
It is a universally accepted principle that every human being enjoys the right to life. 137 Even if not formally established, the right to life, being grounded on natural law, is inherent and, therefore, not a creation of, or dependent upon a particular law, custom or belief. It precedes and transcends any authority or the laws of men (emphasis supplied). 
On the other hand, Par 2 Pg 100 states: 
With respect to the argument that the RH Law violates natural law, 276 suffice it to say that the Court does not duly recognize it as a legal basis for upholding or invalidating a law. Our only guidepost is the Constitution. While every law enacted by man emanated from what is perceived as natural law, the Court is not obliged to see if a statute, executive issuance or ordinance is in conformity to it. To begin with, it is not enacted by an acceptable legitimate body. Moreover, natural laws are mere thoughts and notions on inherent rights espoused by theorists, philosophers and theologists. The jurists of the philosophical school are interested in the law as an abstraction rather than in the actual law of the past or present.277 Unless, a natural right has been transformed into a written law, it cannot serve as a basis to strike down a law (emphasis supplied). 
2.      As regards coercion. – The Supreme Court states in Par 2 Pg 102:
Indeed, at the present, the country has a population problem, but the State should not use coercive measures (like the penal provisions of the RH Law against conscientious objectors) to solve it (emphasis supplied).
However, in Par 4 Pg 102, the Court states:
Be that as it may, it bears reiterating that the RH Law is a mere compilation and enhancement of the prior existing contraceptive and reproductive health laws, but with coercive measures (italics in the original, emphasis supplied).
How these will be harmonized remains to be seen. Ultimately, the RH Law will be judged by its effects.

April 20, 2014

(The complete text of the Supreme Court decision on the RH Law, including the concurring and dissenting opinions, may be viewed at or downloaded from the site