Saturday, July 17, 2010

Nationalism...where, from here?

I was a student of Development Studies way back in the '80's. After more than 20 years of struggling to contribute something for my country's development, I am still disheartened that the same 'systemic' problems persist: 'dependency', violence, poverty, among others. At this point in my life, I am still searching for paths that would allow me to contribute to the upliftment of my fellow Filipinos. Thus, I enrolled in this peace studies. True enough, I have attained a wider perspective in seeing the problem of 'underdevelopment'. Now, I understood it better from the point of view of class dynamics, from 'dependency' theories and from the perspective of international relations. But it made the task more daunting.

Now, I am quite sure that nationalism has something to do with it. I was touched when a classmate of mine said, "maybe Filipinos do not claim their country enough that they are willing to do something to contribute to its development". I must say, "enough" must not be the word instead "one passion" for one's country must be cultivated so much so that it can not be easily eroded in time. Of course, colonialism has been running in our history for more than four centuries now (and perhaps, in our blood) that saying it must be supplanted with nationalism is easily said than done. How to go about conceptualizing nationalism in this time of globalization proved to be a much harder task.

But I know that being born in this piece of island called 'Philippines', being raised with this kind of people and context allows me to claim something that I felt more like 'power of identity'. I believe nationalism must take off from here: this identification to one's land and one's people and that desire to see them develop holistically in the years to come must be the single passion of both the leaders and the led. How to initiate and sustain this desire is the more difficult process to start with...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Abortion in the Philippines

The Philippines is hitting half million induced abortions since 2005. Why? because of sheer lack of reproductive choices. GMA is hell bent on implementing the NFP policy. Cory had sealed the unconstitutionality of abortion in her 1987 Freedom Constitution. Only Ramos had managed to put in substance to the RH concerns of the women by defining the Ten Elements of RH and one of them is the PMAC policy which up to now meet rough sailing in government hospitals.

The Roman Catholic is worst. It construed conception as starting from the meeting of the sperm and egg. St. Augustine and Aquinas were not even sure when is the start of hominization of humans but our great bishops were very confirmed on their stance. Whereas the medical field says that conception starts upon fertilization or when the zygote had been formed. Morowitz & Trefil even said that formation of cerebral cortex which at the last term of pregnancy was the likely start of being human (capable of acting as a unit or as a person).

This belief in the beginning of humanity or being human is very crucial in the debate because the RC offer no exceptions in case of abortion: whether you were raped, or there was a threat to your health, or there was fetal impairment. No woman is exempted: a woman who aborts a fetus is a criminal, "worse than a murderer" says our parish priest.

Thus, the realpolitik of the abortion debate is being molded primarily by the Church, not the presidency, not the legislative or the judiciary.

So what is the chance of passing a law on comprehensive RH? Perhaps, it would not come in our lifetime. But changing the 1987 Constitution by striking this Art 2, Sec 12 on the "right of the unborn" might be the first step...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Why Gender and Peace Building?

As a woman who longed to live in a peaceful society, as a sister, an aunt and counselor who wants to protect my nieces and nephews and my counselees and as a human being who knows that peace is possible...These are the simple reasons why I want to pursue a gender and peace building course. One really takes off from one's personal stake in the process.

Of course, there are bigger issues such as less visibility and non-recognition of women in the peace process, lack of support and other nurturance to make women peacebuilders in her own society, non-recognition of gender issues in peace and human rights advocacies, women takes on secondary role in interfaith dialogues, and non-visibility of women in the peace zones.

With those issues, there are needs of women that must be addressed such as: women's overall empowerment with mentoring and training, highlighting what women contribute to the peace process, more links among women's groups and the overall peace movement, women also need self-healing and re-conceptualization of peace and security, and women must be able to share their perspectives and processes in creating a just, diverse, peaceful and free society that co-exists and co-regenerates with nature.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

LGBT as a new social movement

This forms part of my report on "women's rights" subject. I intend to tackle how the LGBTs as sexual identities become politicized and was moved into collective actions by using Edelman's concepts of political opportunities, mobilizing structures and framing processes. Various social institutions have different takes on sexuality. The religious institution promotes "procreational ideology", that is sexuality can only done through marriage, with the goal of having children. Thus, it also exalts abstinence from sexual pleasures as virtuous. Now, the Church has been polarizing the presidentiables into "pro-RH bill" and "anti-RH bill". On the the other hand, with the people earning more than enough money, some of them engage in extramarital affairs and even in same-gender sex. Also, with it comes the commodification of goods, even of sexual images and gratification. Another institution, the family, teaches children how to become masculine and feminine. The concept of love, marriage and sex is also taught in this institution. But during the '70s, with the "flower power" revolution, sex was delinked from love and marriage. So, it becomes permissible; so as with same-gender sex.

Moreover, the medical institution also medicalize sexuality. Before 1973, it regards homosexuality as a an 'abnormality'. But after that, the APA delist homosexuality from the list of abnormal disorders. The law, on the other hand, seeks to control sexual behaviors by regarding it as 'illegal' (e.g. rape, exhibitionism, etc.). But all these institutions promote heterosexuality as the norm.

So, two critiques surfaced: compulsory heterosexuality and queer politics. Both seeks to debunk the primacy of hetersexuality. According to Rich, heterosexual preference is not a real choice because women were socialized to that. While according to Blasius, sexuality is more fluid. One can choose from a continuum of sexual choices. From this redefinition of sexualities, come the birthing of various lesbian groups, with the support of the women's movements. It started out as 'cliques' or clandestine groups. Then, in 1993, the lesbians declared a statement in the Mendiola March condemning discrimination against lesbians. Since then, lesbian issues were tackled in various conferences around the country and even in Asia.

At this point, the Left forces also recognized the lesbian and gay issues; thus, two ND groups were created: LesBond (lesbians fro national democracy) and Pro-GAY. In the second phase of the LGBT struggles, it become closer now to the LGBT groups. LAGABLAB, Lunduyan and LADLAD were born. The last one now attempts to participate in the electoral politics. But that was not an easy struggle. In 2007, the group was rejected due to lack of constituency. So, they organized all over the country. Now, they were rejected still, due to 'immoral doctrines". This
becomes part now of the re-framing process especially when CHR director De Lima branded the COMELEC action as 'patently discriminatory'. LADLAD won this time because the Supreme Court enabled them to run for this May 2010 elections as one of the party list group.

Emerging issues and concerns are a lot: conservatism, fundamentalism, etc. But the LGBT groups can still count on various rights as specified in various UN documents(CRC, CEDAW, UDHR, etc). Most of all, the LGBT movement can count on the dynamism of its own. Padayon!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Proposed Electoral System for the Philippines

This topic was very new to me but I found it exciting and inspiring for several reasons. First, it was here that I learned various electoral systems such as the SMP, AV, TRS, PR and MES. Whew! those were lots of acronyms but to tell you the truth, it was only in this class that I met the hardest question ever posed: which electoral system would be best for your country. I started my report citing the positive points about Philippine elections: high voter turn out (70-80%), increasing women elected in national offices (10-12%) and having experienced two women presidents. From there, I said I was alarmed when I read about an editorial saying, GMA will be seizing the speakership of the Lower House by massing 159 votes to her favor. So, given those reasons, I would like to propose two goals: a strong government and viable party list system.

The presidential elections would be conducted using AV (alternative or preferential voting). Here, we will use an ordinal ballot structure where voters rank order their candidates. As to counting, it involves two round: first round would be counting votes for first preference. Those with the least votes will be rejected and their votes will transfer to the second preference candidates. The process continues until the winner got an absolute majority vote.

For the Lower house, I proposed for a 70:30 ratio where the former is the constituency candidates using SMP or single member plurality and the latter use PR closed list for the party votes. I was thinking it would be very hard for the "president" to mass up a 70% votes. The closed list would be zipped, women nominees would amount to 50% of the party nominations. I also would like a 30% quota legislated for women elected in the House. I am retaining the bicameral structure, the senators would be voted using SMP. In essence, I am just refining the present mixed electoral system of the Philippines.