New laws, old scandals | Inquirer Opinion
At Large

New laws, old scandals

/ 09:17 PM September 05, 2013

“Making Herstory: The Women’s Priority Legislative Agenda for the 16th Congress” is the title of a forum to be held next week to finalize the list of new laws and amendments to existing laws that seek to improve the status of women to be submitted to Congress.

“As the primary policy-making and coordinating body on women and gender equality concerns,” says the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), the body “is committed to support and advocate for the enactment of legislation to recognize, protect, fulfill and promote the rights of Filipino women.”


Because of this mission, the PCW conducted a series of roundtable discussions with stakeholders from government offices, nongovernment organizations and the academe last May and June to discuss the measures to be included in the Women’s Priority Legislative Agenda (WPLA). The WPLA, says the commission, “seeks to amend or repeal the discriminatory provisions of existing laws and moves for the formulation and adoption of new legislation that promote women’s empowerment and gender equality.”

Among the measures covered by the proposed WPLA are: the Magna Carta of Workers in the Informal Economy (nonsalaried work); amendment or repeal of specific provisions of the Revised Penal Code, including the antiprostitution bill, the marital infidelity bill to amend provisions on adultery and concubinage; repeal of Article 351 on premature marriages; amendment of the provision on death or physical injuries under exceptional circumstances. Also, the amendment or repeal of specific provisions of the Family Code, including provisions giving preference to the man’s decisions as father and husband, and repeated physical abuse as a ground for legal separation; amendment to the antisexual harassment law; and amendment to the antirape law.


The general impression, I gather, is that the country has “more than enough” laws to ensure equality of men and women before the law. But the reality is that not only is the gap wide and widening between the letter and the implementation of laws, and between the status of men and women; also, officials and agencies still have to fully know the content and intent of many of our laws seeking gender equality.

Which is why even now the PCW seeks to amend certain laws even as they have yet to be fully implemented or understood. The work never ends, it seems.

* * *

A SIMILAR effort is underway at the international level, with global leaders meeting in New York in a few weeks for the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. The meeting, says an article in the Huffington Post, promises to be “one of the most important conversations of our time.”

Taking center stage are the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), conceived and agreed to by majority of the world’s governments, “to motivate leaders and donors to take action for the world’s poor people.”

In general, the MDGs worked, with writer Kathy Calvin citing progress made in the field of health, “with women more likely to survive pregnancy and childbirth, with maternal mortality down 47 percent since 1990.” Children, too, have benefited from the push from the MDGs, they now have a better shot at surviving their first five years of life, (and) child mortality falling by 41 percent.

But Calvin notes that “significant inequalities in better health outcomes remain—both among and within countries.” This is true in the Philippines, where, in the face of worldwide trends of falling maternal mortality rates, women continue to die in increasing numbers, due to causes related to pregnancy and child birth.


The “conversation” at the UN, then, is meant to spur further and faster action on meeting the MDGs, especially in countries like the Philippines, where the prospect of achieving poverty-related targets and goals meant to improve women’s and children’s health is looking dim, if not dark.

* * *

I DON’T know if this is related in any way to the two previous items, but I am intrigued by news that yet another performer, a comedian this time, has gotten caught in yet another sex video scandal.

The latest word from my more show-biz savvy children is that comedian Wally Bayola of the hugely popular TV noontime show “Eat Bulaga” has been suspended from the show pending investigation of his starring role (I was about to say “upstanding role”) in a tryst with an “EB Babe,” as the dancers on the show are known, that was recorded on video and is now an Internet sensation.

This “scandal,” nothing new, really, has an added complication in Bayola’s case because he is a very-much married man with numerous children.

An online report asks a question on everyone’s mind: “Why in the world record it?”

Why, indeed? It seems from reports that Bayola was fully aware that he and his partner were being filmed, with the comedian getting up many times to adjust the camera’s focus. Was he hoping the video would be used as “evidence” of his macho stature? Was he hoping to watch the “show” later on, as a memento of his sexual conquest? The wrinkle is that the video now provides evidence for his wife should she choose to hale

Bayola to court for concubinage.

* * *

THE BIGGER question is why celebrities would even risk getting their licit or illicit sexual activities recorded. As the report says: “The planning, the shooting and the storing of such videos are risky enough. And when it’s so easy today to hack and leak anything on one’s phone or hard drive, recording your most private moments is almost tantamount to sharing it yourself.”

Or maybe Bayola and other sex video celebrities are just so enamored of their images on the screen that they need to record every single minute of their days. Even if it involves acts better done in privacy, with no third parties included.

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TAGS: Millennium Development Goals, scandals, Sex Scandal, United Nations, Wally Bayola, women
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