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RH Law and RP’s Economic Prison

January 5, 2013

Why does the government need to force some people in order to help the poor? Is it because this country is poor? But why punish the innocent? Why resort to legal cannibalism? We are poor because of the fatal, dangerous economic mistakes of our government. We are poor because of our Constitution that establishes an economic prison.

My blog post titled Top Ten Reasons why the RH Law is Unconstitutional generated a number of comments from those who strongly, passionately support the alleged pro-women, pro-poor measure. One of the commenters

If poverty can be simply used as an excuse to pass coercive laws, then, it would be very easy for a potential tyrant to establish dictatorship and take away our remaining rights.

If poverty can be simply used as an excuse to pass coercive laws, then, it would be very easy for a potential tyrant to establish dictatorship and take away our remaining rights.

claimed that my blog is riddled with “seriously flawed arguments”.

Lito Fernandez, a lawyer, probably thinks only catholics could be against the newly passed law. Well, I think he’s just one of millions of pro-contraception Filipinos who think that the RH law is purely a religious issue. For the information of everybody, there are people like me– some of them are Libertarians and free marketers– who oppose the measure purely on secular grounds.

Here’s what Mr. Fernandez said:

Your opinion against the RH Law certainly deserves respect despite your seriously flawed arguments. I still believe that we are in a democratic country and every opinion matters in the marketplace of ideas. [You may view his entire comment here]

I made the following comment.

Dear Mr. Lawyer Lito Fernandez,

Let me try to respond to some of the points/arguments you raised.

I think it would have been more interesting if you spelled out those “flawed arguments” I made so we could easily sort out our differences.

You said: “I’m a lawyer (and also a Catholic!) but I don’t understand where you and the Anti-RH Law advocates are coming from.”

If you read some of my previous blogs, you’d have informed yourself where I’m coming from. My anti-RH bill arguments are entirely different from the popular Catholic position. My arguments are primarily grounded in secularism and individual rights.

I wrote dozens of blog articles about the RH bill (now a law). If you want to honestly know where I’m coming from, all you need is read my previous anti-RH bill blogs.

But to be very clear I am not against contraception. In fact I am in favor of abortion, but this is another issue. I am against the idea that the government (using taxpayers’ money) should pay for people’s RH services and force doctors and others to comply with a coercive, useless law.

I believe that the government doesn’t need (and should be powerless) to resort to force. The only way to help the poor is through free, voluntary trade. This makes this issue an economic issue.

Here are some of my anti-RH law positions:

Since you are a lawyer, then, I expect that you should be more knowledgeable about this issue. However, I don’t think lawyers properly understand the concept of rights.

You said: “I took the time to read the Declaration of Policy of the RH Law and I found it in consonance with the 1987 Constitution.”

I honestly ask you to read the blog again. Consonance with the 1987 Constitution in what way? Well, perhaps because what we have is a Charter that establishes a semi-socialist government, or a mixed economy with more government control and power to rule people’s lives.

You should understand, since you said you are a lawyer, that our Constitution is riddled with ideological, philosophical contradictions. While the Constitution guarantees the rights of every Filipino to practice their faith and enjoy freedom of religion, certain welfarist/statist provisions empower the government to breach that right in favor of the undefined and undefinable rights of some people to government services. In fact the Constitution also authorizes the government to force certain people/sectors (real estate companies, etc.) and to issue price controls to serve the welfare of the country’s poor and homeless. Fortunately all of the mediocre, anti-reality welfare provisions or alleged rights (translation: entitlements) in the Constitution, namely, right to full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all, right to affordable and decent housing and basic services, right to agricultural support and other state-funded services, etc., are not self-executing, as they still require enabling legislation.

You, including others who share your view, should understand that the government is not a productive agency. It does not produce real wealth and services, as it merely relies on the country’s taxpayers for money to fuel its operations and welfare goals. Just imagine if the government assumed to provide everything the people need. I don’t think this government would last a few months.

Now freedom of religion, as stated in the blog, is a by-product of secularism or the separation clause, which mandates that the “government must be neutral among religions and nonreligion: it cannot promote, endorse, or fund religion or religious institutions.” It also means that the government can neither interfere with religious affairs, nor force religions to perform or do things that are against or in breach of their faith or the exercise thereof.

For example, the government should not have the power to force Catholic hospitals to perform things or deliver RH services that violate their faith and freedom of conscience.

You should understand, since you are a lawyer, that we borrowed this doctrine and the principle of individual rights from the Americans. The USA was established as a limited government. If you try to read the American Constitution, you would probably notice that the Bill of Rights simply recognize people’s individual rights and protect them against government abuse or misuse of power– that its purpose is to limit the powers of the government. You’d also notice that the American Charter does not speak of any Americans’ right to education, food, government services, etc. Historically, public education in America was introduced only around 100 years after its founding in the 19th century and that the rapid expansion of its welfare powers took place during the progressive era (from 1890s to 1930s).

What I mean to say is that the principle of individual rights is consistent with the concept of limited/small government. It is the idea of Welfare State that destroys– or has been destroying– this time-tested, moral principle. Since our system of politics was originally conceived as a Welfare State, our government is constitutionally authorized to interfere with individual affairs– or even to destroy individual rights– in the name of the greater good. That is, it is empowered to steal from Pedro in order to serve the welfare of Juan. This is what the RH law is all about.

What the heck is this “greater good” in the first place, and who determines it? Well, I think this utilitarian principle simply means the greater good is whatever is good for the greatest number. Again, who actually decides what is good for the greatest number? Perhaps the greatest number.

But since you are a lawyer, I think you’re somehow aware that almost all of the dictatorships and atrocities in the past were made in the name of the greater good, right?

You said: “In fact, it even gives life to the provisions of the Constitution particularly the provisions relating to the right to equality and nondiscrimination of these rights, the right to sustainable human development, the right to health which includes reproductive health, the right to education and information, etc.”

Right to equality of what? Equality of economic results? Do you even know what that means? Can the government legislate equality? If yes, HOW?

Is it moral and just to redistribute wealth or to take away the property of those who ‘have more in life’ in order to serve the needy, the destitute, the homeless, the taong grasa? What you said is an economic question. If that’s your belief, then the government has the power to punish the successful and the productive. The question is: Why is this country poor and why there is rampant inequality? Is it because the rich become richer and the poor become poorer? Whose fault is it in the first place? Why are the Oligarchs and cronies become richer? Well, it’s because they’re protected by the Constitution against foreign competition, right?

I think you should know this since you are a lawyer.

You should ask yourself, Mr. Lawyer: Why are some Asian countries that do not impose protectionism (or our version of protectionism and regulations) more progressive than us? Why are countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea– which have a higher degree of economic freedom and less restrictive economic policies– adopting PRO-NATALIST POLICIES to increase their fertility rates instead of population control programs?

You talked about right to equality. For your information, that concept, which we borrowed from the Americans, purely speaks of EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW, not equality of economic results. It means that no one is and should be above the law. You should know that since you are a lawyer, right?

You said: “There’s nothing in the law which states that it’s goal is to take away State protection of individual freedoms, freedom of choice or equal protection of the law.”

Did you even read the law? Of course the law does not categorically state anything about taking away the rights of individuals. If that’s the case then nobody would have supported it. Every brainless socialist would have freaked out. Members of the Bayad Muna would have taken to the streets and protested against the bill. That’s part of the art of law-making: TO FOOL THE UNTHINKING AND THE GULLIBLE. But what about the provision that obliges all healthcare providers to provide mandatory pro bono services? What about the provisions that force Catholic hospitals, doctors, employers and Catholic schools to violate their freedom of conscience?

In the first place, why should the government do that? Why would the government resort to force? Why does the government need to force some people in order to help the poor?

Is it because this country is poor? But why punish the innocent? Why resort to legal cannibalism?

But we are poor because of our failed and repressive economic policies! We are poor because of the fatal, dangerous economic mistakes of our government. We are poor because of our Constitution that establishes an economic prison.

You should be one of the first to know this basic, self-evident fact since you are a lawyer, right?

You can argue by asking: Are you saying the government should not resort to taxation, which is a form of legal force?

While I’m against taxation, the point, when it comes to this RH law issue  (to make it clearer), is the government cannot and should not legislate charity. Charity or help should be personal and voluntary.

You said: “Those who are challenging the constitutionality law before the Supreme Court are waging a very difficult battle, but personally, I’m glad that these legal challenges would at least, remove the cloud of unconstitutionality on the RH Law.”

If poverty can be simply used as an excuse to pass coercive laws, then I think it would be very easy for a potential tyrant to establish dictatorship and take away our remaining rights.

Yes, it looks like an unwinnable war. But this war is worth fighting for. We have to fight for what is right.

The law may be constitutional, but is it proper? You may continue to appeal to authority but the thing is, man has no power at all to cheat reality. The Court may affirm this law as constitutional and valid, but truth is, this country or government can never escape the negative, bad, unintended consequences of the RH measure.

With more welfare programs such as the RH law, universal healthcare program, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, among many others, this poor, protectionist nation will undoubtedly face more crises and soci0economic problems in the future:

  • Fiscal crisis due to unsustainable welfare programs/policies, high budget deficit, poor investment, low FDI, protectionist and anti-business regulations/policies.
  • Debt crisis
  • High budget deficit
  • More taxes
  • Brain drain
  • Lower FDI and poor investment
  • Higher unemployment
  • More corruption (particularly RH-related corrupt practices)

Here’s my prediction: the RH Law will go down in Philippine history as one of the biggest political scams ever perpetrated by our welfare politicians.

You said: “I’m glad that Fr. Bernas has been on the Pro-RH initiatives side of the fence (anyone try arguing with Fr. Bernas on the 1987 Philippine Constitution and that person will appear like a simpleton.”

The problem is, Bernas doesn’t know what he’s talking about. That’s a big problem.

You said: “He wrote a scholarly book/treatise on the 1987 Constitution, right?).”

I don’t know. I haven’t read any of those treatises he published. But I don’t think he understands the proper concept of rights. A right is not cannibalistic or contradictory. There is no such thing as a right to something. A right is a moral concept that pertains only to man. It means freedom of action in a social context– that a man is entitled to his rights (to life, liberty, property and pursuit of happiness) as long as he abstains from violating other people’s rights. Observe the intellectual precision of John Locke, Jefferson and the America’s founding fathers. They said, the right to “pursuit” of happiness, not the right to happiness. The keyword there is “pursue”.

I don’t think Bernas is aware of that. You know, the visionaries and geniuses that discovered these principles and concepts were not lawyers. They were philosophers… and their ideas are undeniably timeless.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Eldi permalink
    January 6, 2013 3:38

    First of all thank you for sharing us the secular nature of the RH law with respect to its constitutionality. However, it got me thinking as well that within the same line of argument you have on the RH law, will that also makes income taxation unconstitutional as well on the grounds that it takes away your right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness without due process of the law?

    • January 6, 2013 3:38

      Hi Eldi,

      You may read my answer HERE.

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