Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s RH Bill Illogic
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
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.