From comedy to farce | Inquirer Opinion
At Large

From comedy to farce

/ 12:14 AM December 04, 2015

This is indeed proving to be among the oddest and quirkiest “silly seasons” in our history as a democratic republic.

We’ve been lurching from one outrage to another, one controversy to an even bigger one, a comedy to a farce, a joke to a hugot line.

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Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte briefly occupied the headlines and lead stories with his—to say the least—provocative remarks and outrageous behavior. And then, in reply to criticisms from Church officials, especially Archbishop Soc Villegas, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, who chastised him for cursing Pope Francis (no polite way to mask this), Duterte released what he apparently hoped would be a bombshell to shut up Church criticism once and for all. He said he was, along with many of his classmates, “abused” by a priest (or priests?) as a student at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao.

The college’s head, Fr. Nono Alfonso, SJ, has issued a statement inviting the controversy magnet to expound on the details of such abuse and identify the priest or priests he accuses. Otherwise, all Jesuits in AdeD or who had been assigned to it in the past, would have this dark cloud hanging over them, even if they were innocent. This is an injustice, plain and simple.

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It’s about time Duterte put up or shut up. As Archbishop Villegas pointed out, there are many more forms of corruption than stealing government funds. Corruption is “a devil with many faces,” said the Lingayen-Dagupan prelate, and among these are killing (especially illegal executions), adultery, vulgarity and, if I might add, lying and cheapening the nation’s values. And if Digong Duterte truly wishes to lead the country, then he must speak and behave in a manner worthy of the office and worthy of emulation by the youth. Lord save us from a generation of braggarts swaggering around, thinking that exploiting women and resorting to vulgarity is the way to manhood.

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Sen. Grace Poe has many things going for her, but the questions surrounding her citizenship—especially the many twists and turns she has taken to establish her rightfulness to hold public office—continue to hound her.

I can’t believe it is only a matter of arithmetic that has done in her candidacy. She explains that she was being “conservative” when she filed her certificate of candidacy for the Senate, but that she followed her advisers when she recalculated the date her residency began when she ran for president.

Well, it seems that she should have adopted the opposite strategy. The presidency is a far more serious position, with a bigger stake, and if there was a time to be “conservative” in reckoning her residency, it was before she trooped to the Commission on Elections and announced her presidential run.

I really don’t know what her options are at this stage, but she should at least take the time to step back and rethink the legal and moral route to take, and ask herself if her road to Malacañang cannot wait until she puts all legal issues behind her.

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Still prevalent, apparently, is the belief that Islam is against all forms of family planning and hostile to many elements of reproductive health and rights.

And yet, as a new fatwa, or formal legal opinion (with implications on Islamic teaching) proves, Islamic leaders, including Muslim religious leaders and legal experts, are not averse to protecting the rights and health of young people even when it comes to their reproductive practices.

The new “Fatwa on the Model Family in Islam” urges Filipino Muslim youth to “get married when the necessary conditions are met.” But it clarifies that the urgency is not applicable to the prepuberty or childhood stage.

As a statement in the Fatwa says: “Although the generally-accepted marrying ages for Muslims are 20 years for males and 18 for females, Islam does not precisely fix any marriageable age.” But “in instances where the bride is under 18, the couple can practice contraception to delay her pregnancy.”

Klaus Beck, country representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), hailed the endorsement of the Fatwa by Islamic leaders, noting that early marriage and consequent teen pregnancy are among the major causes of maternal mortality.

“Global medical evidence shows that adolescent girls 15 to 19 are twice likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth compared to women in their 20s. Likewise, infants of adolescent mothers are 50 percent more likely to die during their first year of life compared to babies of older women,” Beck said.

Comprehensive health and gender education for the youth can provide adequate guidance on how Muslim boys and girls should responsibly approach sexuality, adolescent reproductive health, and gender equality, he said.

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The Fatwa, signed by Abuhuraira Udasan, Mufti of the Dar-al-ifta Bangsamoro, also reaffirmed women’s “sublime status” in Islam and stated that “gender-based violence and other forms of abuses against women are absolutely against the principle of the Shari’ah.”

The UNFPA, which supported dialogues and consultations among Islamic leaders on these issues, said the new Fatwa strikes at the very core of reproductive health and rights. “It conveys a loud and clear message that reproductive health is not at odds with Islam. The Fatwa will help debunk misconceptions and misunderstandings about Islam,” Beck said.

Prior to the adoption of the Fatwa, the Dar-al-ifta Bangsamoro sought the expert advice of the eminent Muslim religious scholars of the Al-Azhar University in Egypt and the spiritual guidance of the Grand Mufti of Egypt.

The new Fatwa is the second to be endorsed by Islamic leaders pertaining to reproductive health. The first was issued in 2004 when it clarified that family planning is not forbidden among Muslim couples.

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TAGS: Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, disqualification, Elections 2016, fatwa, Grace Poe, Islam, reproductive health, Rodrigo Duterte
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