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Why RH Law Opponents Should Boycott Inquirer

January 4, 2013

NOTE: I first posted the following as a Facebook note.

I strongly disagree with the Imbongs’ very shallow anti-RH law petition, but this Inquirer editorial simply reveals the PH media’s collective intellectual bankruptcy.

Here’s an excerpt of the Inquirer editorial:

The Imbongs’ suit was summed up more simply, if somewhat melodramatically, by their “collaborating counsel,” James’ mother Jo Aurea Imbong. “The state has no business entering the bedroom,” the older Imbong, a lawyer who works with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, told Agence France-Presse.

At the level of mere sloganeering, Imbong’s fatwa is only as strong, or as weak, as the inevitable retort: But the Church has no business in the bedroom either!

In truth, however, both state and religion are of necessity found in the modern-day bedroom; the laws against sexual abuse or violence against women, for instance, obtain in the bedroom just as much as freedom of conscience and worship. To argue that one or the other is off-limits is to display an impoverished view of what is truly at stake.

The difference is, the Church holds no political power to punish anyone for any acts or omissions. Any catholic is free to ignore the fatwa or teachings of his/her church.

There is a difference between the State forcing doctors (catholics or non-catholics) to help the poor and protecting women against domestic violence or abuse. The first seeks to legislate human behavior, while the second is simply a government’s constituent, necessary function.

There’s a BIG DIFFERENCE between forcing religious hospitals and institutions to perform things/actions which are in breach of their freedom of religion and punishing a man for abusing his wife. The first is a blatant violation by the government of the separation clause, while the second is simply about protecting a woman’s right against her abusive husband.

The service to be provided by the government under the RH law is simply called an entitlement which requires taxpayers money and arbitrary state intervention. On the other hand, the duty of the government to punish wife beaters and criminals is enforced by individual rights.

The issue here is not whether doctors or employers may discriminate, but whether the government may morally and legally take over the medical system  or industry and force doctors and employers to deliver/provide certain services?

As stated in this previous post:

To guarantee women’s rights, the government can now force certain people or sectors (e.g., Catholic Church’s institutions and hospitals, doctors and employers, etc.) to deliver/provide certain services that violate their faith, religion and freedom of conscience.

To help the poor, the government can now use legal coercion against doctors (e.g., Catholics, religious, non-religious or atheists) to render mandatory pro bono (which is a contradiction in terms) services, while anyone who dares oppose the measure would labeled as greedy, anti-poor, anti-women or anti-progress. Isn’t this a great way to bankrupt and divide a nation?

To promote sex education, the government can now indoctrinate our schoolchildren– what to think, not how to think-– and force Catholic and religious schools to adopt certain subjects that are against their faith, freedom of religion and of conscience.

A right of an individual does not impose any kinds of obligations on others except of a negative kind: to refrain from violating his rights. In other words, a person’s right to food or property imposes no obligations on his neighbor to provide him with what he needs. A right is not contradictory or cannibalistic. However, the alleged women’s right to certain government mandated services imposes legal obligations on others, particularly employers and healthcare service providers. It means that certain women are entitled to something simply because they need it.

Now, I think the Inquirer editorial writer should know the big difference between CONSTITUENTS FUNCTIONS and MINISTRANT FUNCTIONS.

Legal scholars identified two main functions of government, namely, Constituent function and Ministrant function. This binary state function actually blasts the American classical mandate that the only proper role of government is to protect rights.

Constituent function, which is compulsory, is akin to the rights-protecting role of government. Among the constituent functions are as follows:

  • The keeping of order and providing for the protection of persons and property from violence, fraud and crimes.
  • The fixing of legal relations between husband and wife and between parents and children.
  • Protection of property rights and the determination of liabilities for debts or for crimes.
  • The determination of contractual rights between individuals.
  • The definition of punishment for crimes.
  • The administration of justice in civil cases.
  • The administration of political duties, privileges and relations of citizens.
  • The dealings of the State with foreign powers; the preservation of the State from external danger or encroachment and the advancement of its international interests.

Ministrant functions, on the other hand, are those adopted or carried out to promote the so-called general interests of society, such as regulation of trade and industry, public charity, and public works. They are only optional and not mandatory. It is this ministrant function that justifies the expansion of the welfare power of the government.

There is only one reason why it is impossible to stop the RH law in the high Court: the country’s Welfare Politics.

In fact, the Court may simply dismiss the petition by invoking the doctrine of “growing complexities of modern society” in established in one landmark case.

The Supreme Court, in the case of Agricultural Credit v. ACCFA, reiterated its theory of “growing complexities of modern society” as a justification for repudiating the residual- or to be more precise, ‘pretended’- laissez-faire policy in the Constitution. The Court declares, to wit:

“The growing complexities of modern society, however, have rendered this traditional classification of the functions of government quite unrealistic, not to say obsolete. The areas which used to be left to private enterprise and initiative and which the government was called upon to enter optionally, and only “because it was better equipped to administer for the public welfare than is any private individual or group of individuals,”5 continue to lose their well-defined boundaries and to be absorbed within activities that the government must undertake in its sovereign capacity if it is to meet the increasing social challenges of the times. Here as almost everywhere else the tendency is undoubtedly towards a greater socialization of economic forces. Here of course this development was envisioned, indeed adopted as a national policy, by the Constitution itself in its declaration of principle concerning the promotion of social justice.”

In his book titled Political Law, former associate justice Isagani Cruz made the following obviously ‘sarcastic’ commentary:

“Thus it is now obligatory on the part of the State to promote social justice, to provide adequate social services to promote a rising standard of living, to afford protection to labor, to formulate and implement urban and agrarian reform programs, and to adopt other measures intended to ensure the dignity, welfare and security of its citizens. It is also required to establish and maintain a complete, adequate and fully integrated system of education, to offer free elementary and secondary education, to promote scientific research and invention, and to patronize arts and letters and develop Filipino culture for national identity. These functions, while traditionally regarded as merely ministrant and optional, have been made compulsory by the Constitution.”

The Court said the State “was better equipped to administer for the public welfare than is any private individual or group of individuals”…

With that welfare doctrine, the Court may simply aver that the State is “better equipped to administer for the public welfare”. This is why it is impossible to strike down the welfare law. This is a big possibility that the court might dismiss any anti-RH law petition simply because the poor or some group of women badly need the measure.

However, it should be pretty clear and self-evident to the schooled or educated that ‘need’ is never a legitimate moral claim on other people’s lives and property. Also, the government should not use the country’s seemingly incurable poverty, which is primarily caused by its repressive economic laws, as an excuse to expand its coercive welfare powers and destroy some innocent people’s rights.

This country is poor because of its protectionism, anti-business regulations and repressive economic policies.

People in rich countries have personal access (not government funded) to contraception and RH services because most of them are employed. This is one of the reasons why fertility rates in economically progressive countries have been steadily declining. In fact most of them, like Singapore, France, Japan, South Korea and Russia, have adopted pro-natalist policies to encourage more births. This shows that economic progress is the best form of natural contraception, and this is what many UP economists and demographers fail to understand.

The government cannot reverse the law of cause and effect. The truth is, demographic transition follows economic growth, not the other way around, and this is supported by empirical evidence (e.g., the cases of Singapore, Japan, South Korea and many other progressive nations). Thus, if our altruistic politicians really want to curb our population and reduce dependency rates, the best way is to support economic progress by adopting free market reforms.

Yet what is disturbing is that the government has been blatantly exploiting poverty in the Philippines. It has been taking poverty as an absolute excuse to expand its welfare powers and violate the “natural”, innate rights of others. However, what is more disturbing is how the people foolishly rejoiced in their loss of rights and freedom.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country’s disgusting version of the Soviet Pravda (not the current one which has now embraced classical liberalism and liberty), is no friend of rights and freedom. Strong opponents of the RH law, including peaceful, law-abiding gun owners, should declare a mass boycott against anti-rights, anti-liberty Philippine Daily Pravda, which has been shamelessly promoting welfare statism, palamunin culture, massive environmental regulations and absolute gun control and confiscation in these parts.

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