Monday, July 29, 2013

Health Rights

Okay, in the last post I talked about the rights of the unborn. The people who are for RH accuse those who are against it of caring too much about people you can't see that the health and the rights of the people you can see are forgotten.

I am all for maternal health, but I do not agree that maternal health means access to contraception. Read the small print in any oral contraceptive advertisement and you'll see how unhealthy it is. I also do not agree that contraception is the solution to bring down the maternal mortality rate. I mean, since when has pregnancy prevention become the solution to maternal mortality? As if pregnancy is a disease.

And anyway, women's health is already covered in the Magna Carta of Women, which is already a law.

SEC. 17. Women’s Right to Health. – (a) Comprehensive Health Services. – The State shall, at all times, provide for a comprehensive, culturesensitive, and gender-responsive health services and programs covering all stages of a woman’s life cycle and which addresses the major causes of women’s mortality and morbidity: Provided, That in the provision for comprehensive health services, due respect shall be accorded to women’s religious convictions, the rights of the spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions, and the demands of responsible parenthood, and the right of women to protection from hazardous drugs, devices, interventions, and substances.

Access to the following services shall be ensured:

(1) Maternal care to include pre-and post-natal services to address pregnancy and infant health and nutrition;

(2) Promotion of breastfeeding;

(3) Responsible, ethical, legal, safe, and effective methods of family planning;

(4) Family and State collaboration in youth sexuality education and health services without prejudice to the primary right and duty of parents to educate their children;

(5) Prevention and management of reproductive tract infections, including sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and AIDS;

(6) Prevention and management of reproductive tract cancers like breast and cervical cancers, and other gynecological conditions and disorders;

(7) Prevention of abortion and management of pregnancy-related complications;

(8) In cases of violence against women and children, women and children victims and survivors shall be provided with comprehensive health services that include psychosocial, therapeutic, medical, and legal interventions and assistance towards healing, recovery, and empowerment;

(9) Prevention and management of infertility and sexual dysfunction pursuant to ethical norms and medicals standards;

(10) Care of the elderly women beyond their child-bearing years; and

(11) Management, treatment, and intervention of mental health problems of woman and girls.

In fact, why is everybody so rabid about the RH thing getting the thumbs up when a lot of what most people say they like about it (maternal health, sex education) are already State implemented and recognized through this Magna Carta? Actually, the only thing in there that's not already a law is the PhP13.7B government funding that the DOH is requesting for it. Don't believe that they have no money; they already have USAID funding even more contraceptive programs nationwide as we speak. (PhP7.96B, to be exact.)

Another difference between this Magna Carta and the RH is the word "ethical" (Sec. 17.3). RH doesn't include that word, and that paves the way towards another method of family planning that everyone is ignoring as of this moment.

So there you go. More on maternal health when I find time. Ciao for now!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Picky picky

If you say a new person with unique DNA is not alive at fertilization,
then explain why this whole development process starts off at that point.
I'm glad this article came out in PDI last Sunday. After the July 9 oral arguments at the SC, you'd think it would be clearer to the public why the RH Law is unconstitutional. But no, the media is picky, and it decides not to report a lot of things.

So we gotta give The Philippine Daily Inquirer some credit here: Good job for publishing Mr. Chet Espino's op ed piece. :-) Here's something from that article:

Justice Roberto Abad: The Constitution, Section 12 Article 2, states that the state shall equally protect the life of the mother and the unborn from conception. This right to life belongs to the unborn, not the mother or the father. Did I exist when I was still in the egg as an egg alone?

Noche: Not yet, your honor.

Abad: But when the egg, when the ovum, is fertilized, is that the beginning of me?

Noche: Yes, your honor. That’s the beginning of you. The unique “you” that exists already at that point. The unique Justice Abad … not a justice yet then.

Abad: In 1987 before this (RH Law) somewhat changed the concept of conception, how did those who drafted the Constitution understand the meaning of conception?

Noche: Life begins at fertilization. It was only recently that that was redefined.

Abad: So in other words, all of us started as zygotes … and then developed into a human being. Conception means beginning, isn’t it? But it needs to be sustained to life by attaching itself to the uterus. And it’s not the business of my parents… It’s my right. If they violated my right, I would not have been born. As Justice Carpio says on this issue, if they believe that this law violates the right to life from the time of conception, that’s how we will decide it … on our understanding of when life begins.


Okay, so why does the beginning of life matter in this whole RH shebang anyway? Because the State has the duty to protect the rights of ALL its citizens, and that includes the tiny citizen that was just fertilized. Don't play blind--new life is new life whether or not you see it, or acknowledge its existence. The pill and the IUD are abortifacients because part of the mechanism of the former (and all of the latter's) is to make the uterus too hostile for a fertilized ovum to implant, forcing the body to abort it.

In other words, the State fails to protect its citizens' rights if it chooses to subsidize abortifacients. In the name of the "rights" of the few, with this RH Law, the State will choose to violate a universal right. Picky?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

No to lazy solutions

Last week, a news story on MMDA’s plans of making number coding affect private vehicles twice a week got a lot of people all riled up. As soon as I read it, I passed it on to some of my friends, who all had the same reaction: 1) cursed MMDA, 2) wished the MMDA targeted the jeeps and buses instead, and 3) cursed the said jeeps and buses. Basically, the common sentiment was, “We have more public transpo vehicles wreaking havoc in our roads and highways; perhaps if we pare them down, the heavy traffic dilemma will be resolved.”

The problem with this solution (and the solution proposed by the MMDA) is that heavy traffic cannot be properly solved by just cutting down on the number of vehicles that go out everyday. The reason those vehicles go out at all is that the people need to get to work and back. Everyday. If you cut down on the private vehicles, those who can afford maintaining them will just buy another car to solve the problem. If you cut down on the public transportation, those who use public transport will find they can’t go to work at all (unless they walk, ride bike, or become bullies).

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a rant or two about jeeps and buses—I won’t deny that their drivers seem not to have learned the basics of traffic rules. But don’t forget that no matter how many complaints arise about the ruthless skilled driving of these jeep and bus drivers, you can’t overlook the fact that these guys actually help the majority of the urban population get to where they have to be everyday. As a commuter, I already find it difficult to hop on a ride every morning—and I can’t help thinking how much worse this could be if indeed they cut down on the number of rides available. The reason there are so many public vehicles around is that there is a great demand for them. And I know this by experience.

The solutions presented just barely scratch the surface of the problem. I’m no expert on this and I cannot draw up a solution for the MMDA. But I think that making number coding affect vehicles twice a week will only see desired results in two weeks, then it’s back to heavy traffic again. People are persistent like that.

Here's an old story:
THE WIND and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin.” So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.

If the ultimate aim of the number coding scheme is to get people who drive/ride private cars to take public transportation on some days, and hence lessen the daily congestion on the roads, the solution does not lie in forcing them to do it. Do you know why people would rather take a car than take public transpo? Because it's not pleasant to take public transpo! One has to shrink in the jeep, surf in the bus, play American football in the MRT. Then there's the danger of being pick-pocketed/held up/knifed/killed/road-killed.

The way, then, to get people to leave their cars at home is to makeover the whole public transport system. Make it easy and safe to get from one point of the city to the other. When that happens, word will get around, and once more people see how easy and safe--and cheap!--it could be to take the jeep-bus-train routes, more cars will be left at home--even when it's "not coding."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

How to be kind in a cramped jeepney

Various jeeps in the metropolis. Special thanks to Richard.

The perils of the daily commute include numerous instances of losing one's cool. The jeepney, for instance, is minefield of occasions that test one's mettle--from getting on to hopping off. First, you have to be patient with the driver, who thinks he can smoke his way to heaven just because the vehicle is open air. Then, there are fellow passengers to contend with, ones who don't care whether or not you step on their feet while trying to squirm your way to the seat they left vacant for you, right behind the smoke-belching driver.

Well, to help make commuting more bearable, you have to keep a happy disposition, and if you stick by these Rules of Kindness, you can help others stay happy as well.

1. Be small. A jeepney is admittedly not one of the most spacious modes of transportation around. And it's even worse when it's rush hour and everyone tries to squeeze in, never mind that people.can't.breathe.anymore. So one good way to help others is to shrink--that is, try to take as little space as possible. Put your bag in your lap, push back both feet away from the center of the aisle, keep those elbows in, and sit straight. When you take up little space, that person who thought he would have to be "sabit" might actually find himself a seat.

2. Let people coming in find a seat nearer the entrance. The jeepney is filling up, and one bad habit passengers have is to squeeze themselves as close to the entrance/exit side as possible. Okay, so everyone wants to be able to hop off as soon as they get to their stop, but think about that poor last passenger whose balance is tried as he makes his way to that empty space near the driver the moment the jeep starts accelerating to Full Speed Ahead. It's actually dangerous--just like trying to fasten your seat belt in a carnival ride after the ride has started moving--but nobody seems to care because perhaps nobody has slipped and fallen to oblivion before. Must we wait for an accident to happen before being a little more charitable?

3. Let people getting off exit with grace (and without harassment). You can practically say that a jeepney is the one place in which men and women sit hip to hip and thigh to thigh without any malice. The harassment I'm talking about here is the doom-cloud feeling that people won't let you off at this stop because they are so eager to get on even when there is no breathing space seat available inside.

There are those chaotic jeepney loading zones that don't have the word "pila" in their vocabulary, and so the mob that welcomes the newly-arrived jeepney practically pushes back in those people trying to get out. Once, when I was getting off at Eastwood, the mob tumbled right into the jeepney and one lady decided she would like to sit on my lap all the way to Cubao before I cried, "Bababa ako!!!"

Common sense dictates that nothing can occupy a space already occupied, so having a little patience in waiting for occupant to vacate coveted wormhole is an act of kindness.

4. Assist the driver and fellow passengers by being willing to help pass the payment/change to and fro. No one has extendable arms, so kindly pass the money and nobody gets hurt. Feigning sleep... for what? You don't want to get your hands dirty by touching loose change? How did you pay for your own ride again?

5. Help the "para" whisperers be heard. Jeepney drivers are a curious type of Homo sapiens sapiens. They have incredible voices that can call you from one block away. They have keen eyesight that can spot a potential passenger 200-500 meters away. They have impressive math skills that can keep track of calculations for change demanded by harried passengers who have no coins. In fact, they can calculate and drive at the same time. But one thing they are not good at is to hear pleas of "Para!" over the loud hip hop music to which they all seem to prefer going deaf. When somebody has said "para" twice already with no apparent results, it's time for you to intervene and echo the "para" too.

6. Refrain from any outward show of temper. All right, you may be the victim. Fine, justice dictates you've got the upper hand. But that's no excuse to mutter under your breath, make loud tutting sounds, or shoot the evil eye at anyone. Just remember this: in a cramped jeepney, everyone is not comfortable, everyone just wants to go home, and everyone is tired. Don't be the sore one who loses cool. It won't facilitate anything anyway.

7. Pay up! You see those signs in some jeepneys that go "God knows HUDAS not pay" and think they're funny, but in a cramped jeep, there are people who really just "forget" about paying up. Just this morning, the jeep driver called after somebody who got off at Eastwood when he said he was getting off at Cubao. Nope, he didn't pay! All the driver could do was holler [insert unkind words here]. Dude, you may not have taken anything, but not paying for a service you availed of is injustice, plain and simple. To be blunt, it's called stealing. And as the funny sign reminds us, even if nobody noticed, "God knows."


So, there you have it! Can you think of other ways to be kind in a cramped jeepney? I'd love to hear them :-)