A dialogue with the presidential candidates – Manila Bulletin

(Part 3)

In the first two parts of this series, I engaged the Presidentiables in a dialogue about the economic policies and strategies they will pursue if elected. In this series, I will focus on some very critical issues that I consider to be of paramount importance to the survival of Filipino society in a rapidly changing world that seems to challenge some of the fundamental tenets of our Constitution. I refer above all to public policies affecting the institution of marriage, the family and the right to life. Before I focus on analyzing some of the opinions publicly expressed by presidents on these issues, let me remind all potential national leaders that they should be familiar with what the basic law of the land, the Philippine Constitution of 1987, clearly provides for the respect due to the sanctity of the family, the inviolability of marriage as an institution and the right to life of every person “from the moment of conception”. I am very attached to these issues, much more than the changing economic views that I have, not only for moral and practical reasons, but also because I was part of this small committee within the Philippine Commission which drafted the Constitution in 1986 and was charged with formulating the basic principles for the protection of marriage, the family and human life. The Committee was led by no one other than the President of the Commission herself, the late Judge Cecilia Munoz Palma. I owe it to him to ensure that no President of the Philippines, or indeed any representative of the government, pursues social policies contrary to the spirit of the Constitution on those matters more important to Philippine society than economic well-being. .

To begin this dialogue, let me remind Presidents of the key provisions of the 1987 Constitution regarding the family and the right to life. At the very beginning of the document, after article I which describes the national territory of the Philippine archipelago, is article II on the declaration of principles and policies of the State. Article 12 of this article states: “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and protects and strengthens the family as an autonomous basic social institution. It also protects the family as an autonomous basic social institution. It also protects the life of the mother and that of the unborn child from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the education of youth for civic efficacy and the development of moral character will receive government support.

The 1987 Constitution expressly stated that the family was the very foundation of Philippine society. Article XV (The family) has four sections. Our national leaders and policymakers should re-read these provisions frequently because all other concerns about promoting the common good of Philippine society are not as important as those state policies that protect the very foundation of a strong society. Article 1 states that “The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. As such, it will strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development. Article 2 states that “Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and is protected by the State. Article 4 stipulates that the State must defend: (1) The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the requirements of responsible parenthood; (2) The right of children to assistance, including adequate care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation and other conditions harmful to their development ; (3) the family’s right to a living wage and income; and (4) The right of families and family associations to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and programs that affect them. Finally, Section 4 discusses the inevitable demographic trend of the growing aging of society: “The family has a duty to care for its elderly members, but the state can also do so through social security programs.

Allow me now to dialogue with those Presidentiables who have publicly declared their support for a law that will allow abortion in special cases such as rape or incest within certain prescribed time limits from the moment of conception. I understand their sympathy for the aggrieved mother. The Constitution, however, is unequivocal. There are no exceptions. By the time there is a fertilized egg (the moment of conception), the fetus is already considered a person by our Constitution. Unless the 1987 Constitution is repealed, there is now a way to single out the Roe v. Wade jurisprudence in the United States which first opened up the possibility of abortion in very restrictive cases, but ultimately opened the floodgates killing babies even when they are already being born. The vast majority of babies who have been killed in their mother’s womb were not conceived as a result of rape or incest. To prevent the slaughter of innocent human lives, which are least able to defend themselves against aggression, we should adopt the hard line advocated by the President of the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines, Inc., Atty. Maria Concepcion S. Noche in a letter she sent to the Inquirer.

In this letter, using her legal mind, she categorically states that abortion is illegal under all circumstances under the laws of the Philippine Constitution, as we have seen above. Abortion should not be permitted even when the life of the mother is in danger, and indeed even when the life of the unborn child is threatened. As the Constitution clearly stipulates, the life of the unborn child and the life of the mother must be equally protected because they have the same value. But what about specific situations in which the fetus threatens the life of the mother. Atty Noche has the answer: “In a situation of conflict between the life of the unborn child and the life of the mother, the doctor is professionally and morally obliged to try to save both lives because both are his patients. However, he can act in favor of one (not necessarily the mother) when it is medically impossible to save both, provided no direct harm is intended for the other. The direct killing of one or the other is never justified to produce a “good” effect. Here, Atty. Noche applies the principle of double effect which has been recognized by the Supreme Court of the Philippines. A typical example of this is when the doctor has to remove certain cancerous cells from the mother’s womb, resulting in the unintended death of the baby. It is legally and morally permitted. However, it is not permissible to directly kill the baby to save the life of the mother. So-called “therapeutic abortion” is illegal and a crime under Philippine law. Fortunately, medical technology has advanced so much that these difficult choices are rare these days.

A presidential candidate defended abortion by granting a woman the absolute right to do what she wants with her own body. Atti. Noche has a very lucid response to this misguided thought. She argues that the unborn child’s right to life is more fundamental and superior than the woman’s right to privacy. This principle should prevent a woman from doing what she wants with her body by expelling an unwanted unborn child from her womb. It is scientifically evident that the unborn child, although totally dependent on the mother, is already a separate body – and a new life distinct from that of the mother. We should never pit the unborn child against the mother as both are human beings whose life is equally precious. The law clearly states that no one should be deprived of human life without due process. A fetus, like any other human being, must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. It is obvious that the fetus did no wrong, except that it resulted from an unwanted pregnancy.

These legal and moral arguments against abortion can be reinforced by the obvious economic harm resulting from the widespread use of abortion in countries that have killed millions of babies in the name of population control. These countries, the most notorious of which is China, are today suffering from demographic suicide, with the corollary of a rapid aging of the population and the scarcity of a young workforce, which is already wreaking havoc in the world. Chinese economy. Over the past few years, the Chinese government has been frantically trying to reverse the very low fertility rate that has become a liability for continued economic growth, which China still needs because it still has more than 400 million or more poor people. . However, despite their attempts to encourage Chinese couples to have two or even three children each, there has been no positive response. The easy resort to abortion (not to mention contraception) has entrenched a contraceptive mentality among women, making it nearly impossible to reverse declining fertility rates. (To be continued.)

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