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Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s RH Bill Illogic

August 8, 2012

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago might have done a very excellent job lecturing and humiliating President Noynoy Aquino’s political assassins during the controversial impeachment trial of ousted chief justice Renato Corona. However when it comes to the equally contentious RH bill issue, the feisty senator is as shortsighted and pathetic as the leftist/statist supporters of the population control measure.

In her official website Santiago explains the alleged logic behind the reproductive health bill. She started the blog with her explanation of the concept of reproductive health rights being a species or part of ‘human rights’. She wrote:

“Our topic is the nature of reproductive rights as part of the greater sum of human rights.  In legal terms, human rights form the totality of the freedoms, immunities, and benefits that, according to modern values – specially at an international level – all human beings should be able to claim as a matter of right in the society in which they live.

“In international law, the basic document is the non-binding but authoritative Universal Declaration of Human Rights, accompanied by the binding documents known as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.”

The problem with the Senator’s illogical, very crude understanding of ‘human rights’, which is a progressive/leftist term, is the implication that they require ‘positive’ government intervention and funding. Historically and in reality there is a philosophical and ideological difference between the terms ‘human rights and ‘individual rights’. 

Thomas Paine and the founding fathers of America believed that every man or individual has ‘natural rights’ derived from the nature of man and the nature of existence itself. They understood the vital role of philosophy in conceptually identifying the necessary requisites or conditions for the establishment of a free society. They believed that the term ‘individual rights’ or ‘natural rights’ was not merely a mystical concept or pixie dust that governments could adopt to protect or guarantee people’s freedom and dignified existence.

As Thomas Paine argued in his Rights of Man:

 “Natural rights are those which pertain to man in right of his existence. Of this kind of all the intellectual rights, or rights of the mind, and also those rights of acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness, which are not injurious to the natural rights of others.” Civil rights, according to Paine, “are those which appertain to man in right of his being a member of society. Every civil right has for its foundation some natural right pre-existing in the individual, but to which his individual power is not, in all cases, sufficiently competent. Of this kind are all those which relate to security and protection.”

That philosophical definition is so rich and full of wisdom in that it could take a number of political articles or treatises or an entire book to properly dissect its essence when applied in the field of politics. Its philosophical or political meaning may not be so visible to the naked eye of a non-perceptive reader or a statist-constitutionalist like Sen. Santiago.

Thomas Paine’s definition of individual rights indicates the following corollaries that modern-day constitutionalists and political theorists should understand:

  • Rights pertain to human action in a social context;
  • Rights do not come from the government or divine revelation;
  • Rights are a necessary condition for man’s moral action in a social context;
  • Rights do not or must not injure or put any form of obligation on the rights of others.
  • Rights do not require state/government funding.

The above-mentioned statement of Sen. Santiago implies that a right is merely a political creature or a product of political consensus, whether local or international. It is true that rights, to be enforceable, require political implementation, however, one needs to understand their proper nature and concept. This actually sets the difference between America’s founding fathers and those who concocted the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Paine and the founding fathers didn’t think that natural rights were simply a set of abstract theories. They thought that rights are a reasoned, provable, necessary structure or condition founded on the objective observation of natural man in a natural universe. This means that rights can be ‘scientifically’ proven, and that they are objectively supported by axioms on observable nature and their requirements. Thus, the Declaration of Independence states that individual rights to life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness are “self-evident” and “that all men are created equal.”

To support her claim, Sen. Santiago argues that the 1987 Constitution provides: “The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”  She concluded that “this right to health is now viewed as including the right to reproductive health.”

Proponents and supporters of the bill and other welfare measures usually cite the same constitutional provision to defeat the arguments of those who oppose welfare programs. They believe that since it is written in the Constitution, it must be right, proper and moral. But what is the implication of that so crude, so immoral, so evil a mentality? It  means that the state has an unlimited power to when it comes to welfare provision. It means that the government cannot merely ‘provide’ people’s rights to health and reproductive health; it can also deliver their rights to food, shelter, clothing, housing, jobs, etc. In fact, former chief justice Reynato Puno strongly, albeit mindlessly, advocated the idea of making these alleged rights mandatory.

If carefully studied or analyzed, these people’s welfare arguments are utterly detached from reality, as they’re not supported by logic and reason. That is, their pro-welfare argument is utterly fallacious and illogical, and the type of fallacy they committed or breached is the is-versus-ought fallacy.

Yes, Filipino people’s alleged ‘right’ to healthcare and reproductive health IS guaranteed under the 1987 charter, however the question is: Should the government finance them? Should the government spend taxpayers’ money to guarantee some people’s rights to RH care? What is the proper role of government? Is it the provider of people’s needs or the protector of their rights?

Healthcare or reproductive health is NOT a right, Sen. Santiago. It is a commodity. The mere fact that your semi-socialist constitution states that the state has to “promote the right to health of the people” doesn’t mean that health care is a right. Again, it is a commodity or a consumer product, like anything else that we buy or use to improve our well-being.

Thomas Paine, John Locke and the founding fathers properly understood that things like education, healthcare, housing, or any kinds of government services are not a ‘right’. By definition, a right is a necessary, indispensable, inalienable, non-intrusive, non-injurious human condition for man’s moral action in a social context. That is, a right is simply a freedom to act morally, practically in a social context.

In devising the greatest, most moral constitution in the history of mankind— the American Constitution— the founding fathers

Santiago’s failed logic…

designed and implemented a political structure that guarantees man’s rights: the Bill of Rights. This bill of rights is typically defined as a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. It was designed and enacted to protect people’s rights and freedom? But protect against whom? Against the state! That makes rights a negative concept.

The founding fathers and many other intellectuals of the Age of Enlightenment clearly understood that a government holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force. To protect people’s rights and freedom, a government has the power or authority to promulgate laws. A law is a negative concept and it means force. The purpose of a law is to serve justice, and it cannot serve it by making the government intrusive or invasive of people’s rights.

Frederic Bastiat, a French legal theorist and philosopher, explained the nature of law in his great work The Law:

“Since the law organizes justice, the socialists ask why the law should not also organize labor, education, and religion.

“Why should not law be used for these purposes? Because it could not organize labor, education, and religion without destroying justice. We must remember that law is force, and that, consequently, the proper functions of the law cannot lawfully extend beyond the proper functions of force.

“When law and force keep a person within the bounds of justice, they impose nothing but a mere negation. They oblige him only to abstain from harming others. They violate neither his personality, his liberty, nor his property. They safeguard all of these. They are defensive; they defend equally the rights of all.”

Applying Bastiat’s theory to the present case, our government cannot use the law to organize healthcare or to provide reproductive healthcare in the guise of promoting rights or social justice.

Observe that the bill of rights strictly focuses on the protection of people’s rights to life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness. Your right to life does not mean you can force your neighbor to feed you nor can you ask the state to provide you the food you need to survive. Your right to property does not entitle you to your neighbor’s property. Your right to liberty simply means that you cannot be forced to work as a slave without your consent or receiving just compensation. That you cannot be jailed by the state without due process. Also, your right to pursuit of happiness does not mean others are obliged to make you happy. The key word there is PURSUIT! It means you have a right TO PURSUE happiness. That particular phrase shows the intellectual precision of the founding fathers in drafting the American constitution. I don’t think Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago and her colleagues understand this very simple, very elementary concept.

Yes, Sen. Santiago, a right does not impose any form of obligation or burden on others. The only proper role of the state when it comes to the issue ‘rights’ is to protect them. Again: against whom? Against the state, its agents, or any private gangs or criminals!

A right does not require government funding. Our right to free speech does not necessitate the allocation of government budget to guarantee people’s freedom of expression and of the press. This is why that disgusting, mediocre Right of Reply Bill should be killed outright because it imposes obligation or burden on others (e.g., publishers, journalists, newspaper and media companies, bloggers, etc.) The religionists’ right to practice religion does not require government funding or special treatment. In fact, the freedom of religion is a limitation on state authority to prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion. Unfortunately, only a few people, particularly the atheists and theists, understand this.

Also, the following statement of Sen. Santiago is really alarming and disturbing:

“In brief, the RH bill merely wants to empower a woman from the poorest economic class to march to the nearest facility operated by the Department of Health or the local government unit, to demand information on a family planning product or supply of her choice. The bill, at the simplest level, wants to give an indigent married woman the freedom of informed choice concerning her reproductive rights.

“If the bill is highly controversial, it is not because it is dangerous to humans or to the planet. It is not subversive of the political order. It is not a fascist diktat of a totalitarian power structure. The reason this bill is emotionally charged is because of the fervent opposition of the Catholic church in the Philippines and those who wish to be perceived as its champions.”

Speaking like a clueless, mediocre statist! Speaking like a grade-conscious student who merely memorized her class lectures just to get high grades.

Such a statement reeks of Marxist rhetoric, although Miriam might be unaware of it. Empowering “a woman from the poorest economic class” at what cost?

At the cost of putting the entire medical industry under state control?

At the cost of prohibiting anyone who failed to secure a so-called Certificate of Compliance from getting married?

At the cost of justifying the imposition of higher tax rates and levying of more taxes in the near future?

At the cost of enslaving employers and health care providers and stifling our out to free speech?

At the cost of destroying ‘freedom of religion and other inalienable rights’?

At the cost of giving more intrusive powers to our highly intrusive government?

Giving ‘an indigent married woman the freedom of informed choice concerning her reproductive rights’? The Senator must have lost her mind. The problem with her alleged ‘intelligence’ is that she knows too much that isn’t so. Since when did the idea of ‘informed choice’ become a government concern? Why should informed choice be funded by the state? Do freedoms and rights require state budget? Yet that is NOT just the bill is all about! It’s all about government control and intrusion.

Again, the RH bill cannot serve justice by destroying it. That is, it cannot serve the interests of indigent women and the poor by using state’s legalized force against other members of our society (e.g., doctors, teachers, taxpayers, employers, the entire medical industry, and innocent individuals).

The bill, if enacted, would violate other people’s freedom of conscience, right to property in the case of employers, and freedom of religion.

The problem with this already bankrupt country is that it started as a statist or semi-leftist society. If America was a product of philosophy— the philosophy of Aristotle— the Philippines is a product of mediocrity. The main reason why this country is poor is because of its welfare state conceptions that are bringing the entire Filipino society to economic and social collapse.

The RH bill issue is at root a philosophical issue. What is at stake here is the proper concept of rights.

Several decades ago, America’s first progressive/semi-fascist president Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to destroy America’s individualist, free market foundation by introducing his evil concept of Second Bill of Rights.

Roosevelt in a historic speech said the following:

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

Roosevelt’s so evil, so immoral a concept of economic rights undeniably inspired Miriam Defensor Santiago’s UN Declaration of Independence, which is usually cited by leftists and welfare-statists whenever they try to defend alleged rights to education, healthcare, RH care, housing, etc.

After FDR’s death, his wife, Eleanor, led the drive to get the UN to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and later the economic rights were codified in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. By 2003, 142 nations, the Philippines included, had ratified this covenant, but not the United States. Again, NOT the US. Why should America subordinate its superior Constitution to the UN’s progressive, semi-leftist Declaration? The UNDHR is totally incompatible with the American charter.

The idea that the government should provide, guarantee or promote people’s right to a good/accessible education, adequate medical care, RH services, housing, employment, etc. is so evil and immoral because— 1) the government is not a productive agency and that it only relies on taxation to defray its expenses; 2) the government has to use state force against certain social sectors in order to help or provide the needs of some beneficiary sectors; 3) it destroys economic and individual freedom; and 4) it destroys the true concept of justice.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. August 13, 2012 3:38

    What is your concept of justice? What of all the babies born to poor families whose fates have been decided on even before they were born? That’s exactly why a government is formed–to represent and uphold the rights to the greatest extent possible, of all its people. When you say the government has no responsibility to make sure education is accessible, that they get adequate health care, etc–you are immediately discriminating against the poor. Many of these poor may remain to be poor because of their own lack of effort, because of their laziness, because of their ingrained mentality that they can do nothing to alter their fates, etc–but the great power vested in the government equally bears it responsibility to help them, redirect them, whatever. The government has the right to tax its people surely to act beyond being an unemotional custodian of a country’s resources and taxes. That’s what you happen to call normative economics–harnessing the economy not just for sake of the maximization of GNP, but also making sure the poor too share a more morally* fair share of this GNP.

    *I’m using the term moral because it might be argued that everyone deserves only a proportional return on their investment in the economy and that they should be their own champions, even when they’re living way below the poverty line.

    • August 13, 2012 3:38

      A poverty line figure that is ridiculous as it comes at only Php46 a day per person. As a student, I can tell that P46 doesn’t even cover three full meals of only rice plus noodles (its Php2 short). Throw in the cost of education and reasonable health care–and really what does Php46 mean at all?

    • August 13, 2012 3:38

      arfrances,

      You asked: “What is your concept of justice?”

      Read the blog again. My concept of justice is not just the result of my own concoction. It is based on the philosophies of Aristotle, Bastiat and the founding fathers, and it was proved to be true and necessary.

      Justice does not require sacrifices- or that the rights or freedoms of some men should be sacrificed or negated by the state to serve the welfare or interests of other social sectors/members. Justice simply demands that the government protect the rights and freedoms of individuals against state agents or any private gangs or violators of rights. It does not require the use of force in order to serve the welfare of some community members.

      What you don’t understand is that Miriam’s utterly flawed and mediocre concept of justice is nothing but that statist concept of “social justice”, which is in reality against justice. In fact, that was explained by Bastiat more than 200 years ago (see Bastiat quotation above). The guy who proposed the concept of social justice was John Rawls. What Rawls really meant was that the state should adopt redistributive policies in other to serve the welfare of the “least disadvantage”.

      I said previously:

      “And we have that BULLSHIT “Social Justice” in our constitution… Social justice simply means the government may control the means of production and redistribute wealth.

      “John Rawls’s “social justice”, which infected many Filipino intellectuals, academics, and even the Philippine Supreme Court and the 1987 Constitution, justifies the alleged virtue or goodness of welfare state. Rawls is being admired by both the leftists and the rightists simply because his political philosophy or theory is full of basic contradictions and compromises.

      “It is the anti-concept of “social justice” that legitimizes the Philippines’s welfare state and socialistic policies like land reform, redistribution of wealth, excessive economic regulations, protectionism, welfare programs, among others. Also, it is this anti-concept of social justice, which is a new derivative of strict egalitarianism and part of the New Left’s intellectual and moral ammunition, that has been impoverishing this semi-socialist country. It must be exposed, rejected, and destroyed.”

      Also HERE:

      “In the past century political philosopher and Harvard academic John Rawls applied the same method by distorting or destroying the concept of justice. Rawls, one of the most admired thinkers by the leftists and modern-day liberals, introduced the anti-concept of social justice or redistributive justice. The main thesis or gist of his ‘intellectual’ work postulates that justice is served only through the use of state powers to guarantee and serve the well-being of the least advantaged. In reality, this is done by taxing or punishing the most productive and successful members of a society simply because of their productiveness and success. Does justice demand the sacrifice of some group of people in order to serve the welfare and well-being of the least advantaged? No explicit, direct answer was given.”

      You know one doesn’t have to be a UP parasite or a moron to understand these very basic, elementary concepts. Unfortunately, these things are not being taught in any college or university in the country.

      You said: ” What of all the babies born to poor families whose fates have been decided on even before they were born?”

      You should understand that you cannot simply pass laws to legislate poverty or dying women or babies. The issue of poverty is an ECONOMIC ISSUE. No amount of laws or welfare programs could even defeat poverty. The only solution to poverty and unemployment are sound economic policies. If you don’t understand what causes poverty in this country, then, you’d simply think that overpopulation is what’s causing our economic collapse. That’s a fallacy.

      I honestly suggest that you read my previous blogs if you’re interested to know where I’m coming from.

      I said in a previous blog:

      “The Philippines is poor because of its protectionism, regulations and failed welfare and economic policies that discourage both local and foreign investors. It is poor because of our high level of corruption due to our highly intrusive political system. A number of Asian nations achieved economic growth, not by curbing their population, but by adopting sound free market economic policies. The only key to economic growth is economic freedom or liberalization, not population control policy. For instance, Japan, which has one of the highest populations in the world, is so much worried about its fast declining and ageing population that it adopted drastic, aggressive measures to increase population growth. Other economically progressive countries that try to boost their population growth are Russia and Portugal. These countries, which are faced with alarmingly low fertility rates, are economically rich and stable, unlike the Philippines, because of their relatively freer economies and practical economic policies, and not because of their low population growth. Doing Business Index ranked Japan 20th, Portugal 30th, and Russia 120th in terms of ease of doing business. The Philippines was ranked 136th.”

      The former dean of UP school of economics and now PNoy’s economic czar claimed that “about a third of economic growth in Asia is due to population management.” THAT’S NOT TRUE. That’s a big, big fallacy, as it is NOT supported by facts, statistics, and empirical studies. That same assertion was parroted by many so-called economists from UP.

      Last time I checked, Singapore, Hong Kong and other Asian tigers achieved economic growth by adopting free market reforms. Perhaps China’s one-child policy helped lighten the communist regime’s welfare concerns, but it certainly improved its economy after it joined the WTO in 2001 (related studies here, here, here, here, here ) and compromised its Maoist principles by embracing free market reforms (see related studies here, here).

      Singapore did not become an economic tiger by curbing its population. To develop Singapore, its founding father Lee Kuan Yew did exactly the opposite of what Filipino intellectuals advocated and politicians did in the Philippines. Instead of embracing protectionism and limiting foreign ownership of land and businesses, Lee Kuan Yew adopted free market reforms like lower taxes (the country has no capital gains tax), less regulations, no import tariffs except for duties on alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, petroleum products, and a few other items, no export duties, among others. In Singapore it will only take three days to start a business compared to our 35 days. This made Singapore the freest economy in the world and the easiest place to start and do business, according to Doing Business Index.

      I must repeat: Singapore did not become an economic tiger in Asia by controlling its population. It became so by adopting free market reforms and sound economic policies.

      On the other hand, China’s one-child policy might have helped lighten the communist regime’s welfare concerns, but it certainly improved its economy after it joined the WTO in 2001 (related studies here, here, here, here, here ) and compromised its Maoist principles by embracing free market reforms (see related studies here, here). Remember, Mao Tse Tung’s brilliant economic plan ‘Great Leap Forward’ killed more than 40 million in just four years (between 1958 and 1962), but that did not make China achieve higher economic growth.

      If you’re so concerned with the country’s poverty, dying women and unemployment, the only solution is sound economic policy, NOT the RH bill. The RH bill has no capacity at all to alleviate poverty or to serve women’s or poor’s people’s needs. How will the government finance that pipe dream? You should understand the country’s economic reality. We have a very high unemployment rate, HIGH BUDGET DEFICIT, high inflation rate, high public debt, and high corruption rate.

      You said: ” The government has the right to tax its people surely to act beyond being an unemotional custodian of a country’s resources and taxes.”

      LOL! Is that what you learned in college? Sure the Constitution states that one of the powers of the state is taxation. But do you have any idea how destructive our tax system is? What’s your proposed tax increases? Should the government increase the rates of capital gains tax, income tax, corporate income tax, etc.? That’s actually the mentality of the MEDIOCRE UP professors. Their idea that the government should tax more to achieve economic development is NOT supported by real-world economics and empirical study. Just read THIS. http://fvdb.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/up-economists-rh-paper-emotionalism-plus-anti-intellectualism/

      Also, what’s your ideal fertility rate or population for this country?

      Again, Singapore did not become an economic tiger by increasing its taxes. In fact, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and even China lowered their taxes in order to encourage investment. Do you know the tax system in Singapore? It has no capital gains tax. It has no customs and duties, etc. If you want to help indigent women, you should understand that your stupid RH bill will NOT achieve a long term benefits for our country.

  2. Marcial Bonifacio permalink
    August 28, 2012 3:38

    Ang galing, Froi! This blog was well-researched, and I agree completely with your understanding of the founders and their concept of natural rights. Sa katotohanan, the historical context of the American founders lays the groundwork for amending the Constitution, abrogating the “social justice” and “welfare” clauses. Samakatuwid, until our kababayans come to the same understanding, they will continue feeling justified in pushing such “progressive” policies.

    • August 28, 2012 3:38

      Agree! That very simply ‘point’ is something that is hardly understood by many Filipinos…

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