A concerned Alabang Bulletin reader pointed us to the post of Drei Gonzales who witnessed everything that happened during the public hearing set by Barangay Ayala Alabang regarding the ordinance protecting the unborn children.
Here is his take on the public hearing:
After watching and discussing with other barangay attendees, it seems I (we?) can’t accurately confirm whether or not Dr.Aguirre actually did say that sperms had souls. There’s a possibility I misheard what she said, as I was live tweeting the event while she was speaking.
In the spirit of fairness and accuracty, I’ve decided to strikeout the specific part of the transcript where I wrote that she said sperms had souls. It will remain this way until we have undeniable proof that she did say that.
In its place, I’ve linked two youtube videos, courtesy of Jay Ignacio, showing highlights of the ordinance. The audio and video are of great quality, so you can hear representatives for yourselves.
However, if you feel saddened by the loss of the soul sperm joke, please don’t be. If you watch the videos, you will actually witness Dra.Aguirre explaining her incredibly bigoted “shayamtipic” logic.
I’ve also added additional links related to this topic, as well as the RH Bill, courtesy of the “we oppose ordinance 01-11” facebook group.
The fight isn’t over guys. Not by a long shot.
Videos courtesy of Jay Ignacio:
Since time will not permit me to write a proper article, the best I can do is simply put together a better transcript of events, as well as personal comments. Also, I have to point out that I may have missed some statements or replies from those speaking as I was tweeting the event at the time. However, media groups such as GMA were there covering the event in full, so hopefully we’ll all be able to witness it properly.
I do want to make it clear that (contrary to what some misguided people thought) the debate is not, and was never, about who is “Pro-life” or “Pro-abortion”, as they were led to believe. The issue was about the legality of the condom law, and why should it or shouldn’t it be implemented.
Finally, all the times are approximates based on my Twitter posts. 3 hours literally just flew by, and so, I apologize in advance if there are some inconsistencies with the times.
Lastly, please feel free to share this to as many people as possible. I did try my best to make it worth reading in the short amount of time I had.
Arrived at DLSZ auditorium. I signed up with the “NO” (against the condom ordinance) side. I will point out that I did go in there with an open mind – after all, the FOR side might have a good argument.
Now live tweeting from the alabang public hearing.
Seems like the number of people who were “FOR” (FOR = support the ordinance) are greater than the NO side. I noticed that a lot of those in the FOR group were senior citizens and religious people (nuns, priests, etc.)
Representatives have taken their seats. Council (brgy aav council, not city council) states the rules.
Council asking all sides to avoid heckling and respect each other’s views and religion. Ironic, since they were the ones that drafted the ordinance, submitted it during xmas, and passed around papers to sign during a Catholic Sunday Mass to create support for the ordinance.
Ruffy Biazon, Atty. Aguinaldo, and Frank Chavez are the reps from the NO side.
Doctora from UST, Atty. Sison (creator of the ordinance), and Nene Pimentel side on the FOR side.
Reps introduce themselves to the audience. Nene Pimentel is last. Introduces himself as “pro-life” hence the reason he’s on the FOR side. Audience on the NO side react and mumble, saying they are pro-life too and that it isn’t the topic.
First issue is brought up. I can’t recall the full title, but I’ll update this note when my friends show me the photos they took (I believe the the topic titles were photographed as they were flashed on a screen during the discussion).
NO side calls on a representative from the FDA (Food and Drug Admin) (or was it from the DOH? I can’t recall for sure), who states that their stance about the first topic is that anything NOT classified as an abortifacient is NOT an abortifacient.
NO side’s reps each make statments in turn, pointing out how the ordinance is not in accordance with the law. All 3 stick to the issue of the legality of the ordinance.
Council then switches to the FOR side.
Rep Sison makes a speech. Talks about how they were called idiots, bigots, taliban, etc. Starts to talk about how that if we had this hearing 10,000 years ago, we may have not been born (alluding that we are around because of the lack of contraceptives).
Rep Frank Chavez cuts off Sison. Asks council why Sison is allowed to make an opening statement. Council says everyone was given 3 minutes to speak (true), and that Sison’s opening statement counts against his 3 minutes anyway. Mr. Chavez is content.
Rep Sison continues his speech. Tries to equate people’s ability to choose (or, specifically, having too much of the right to choose) with lawlessness.
At this point, most of the people on the NO side are already shaking their heads. Murmurs of “Authoritarian”, “Oppressive”, and “Taliban” being said around me.
FOR side continues with second speaker. She introduces herself as a doctor. Mentions UST (she’s either a doctor or a professor or a graduate from UST – she wasn’t that easy to understand). I’m under the impression she is or was s a professor. Her statements are very erratic. Often contradicting her stance by saying things such as abortion is dangerous for the mother, which is why people should be properly educated about the risks – However, the ordinance is not about abortion, it’s about contraception, and ironically, sex education is one of the activities the ordinance wants to limit, so it’s almost like she’s helping the NO side. She really seems confused.
Nene Pimentel speaking. Not saying anything relevant, but he’s very charismatic and funny. Lightens the mood. I can see that the people on the FOR side are feeling confident. However, the only real statement he makes in 3 minutes is that the FDA is not fool-proof. He’s obviously trying to weaken the FDA in order to question their credibility on the matter. Very lawyer of him, but that stuff won’t fly when your audience is intelligent enough to see through the ploy.
(Sorry Mr.Pimentel – that won’t work in Alabang, or any educated audience for that matter.)
Of course, the FOR side gives a positive reaction.
About 10:15-10:20 now.
Council “ends” first topic, moves on to the second topic.
(Again, I’ll update the note when I get the accurate titles for each topic. No sense in posting wrong topic titles).
FOR side given the opportunity to speak first. The FOR side’s stance is basically about morality, with the exception of the doctora from UST, who is simply continuing her previous statement. If she is indeed a teacher, then I feel very very sorry for her students (and her patients for that matter). Nothing she said made any sense, although it seems she is trying her very best, and struggling, to paint a clear connection between pre-marital sex, ignorance, abortion, and abortifacients. Again, I wonder which side she’s fighting for. She’s certainly not helping the FOR side.
Both Sison and Pimentel are using morality as the basis for their statements.
Let’s be clear however, that their definition of morality is definitely in line with the Catholic definition. I should know. I was raised Catholic.
Council now gives the NO side a chance to react.
Ruffy Biazon goes first. Bringing back the discussion to law. Reiterating that the debate is about the legality of the ordinance, and not a debate of morality. Atty. Aguinaldo and Frank Chavez continue the point about legality. Very strong points from Ruffy Biazon. Frank Chavez making good points by showing how the ordinance twists a law meant for pharmacies, extending it to cover citizens, and then penalizes them (at this point, he points out the barangay has no constitutional power to do either, since ONLY a specific branch of gov’t has the right to do that).
Council now ends the second topic. Moves on to the third.
Third topic covers pharmacies – basically discussing the power of the barangay over pharmacies, rights governing them, etc. (again, will update the topic titles)
Council asks the NO side to speak first.Ruffy Biazon, Atty Aguinaldo, and Frank Chavez continue their stance on legality. This time pointing out how the ordinance has no legal basis or right to impose a law regulating pharmacies and the distribution of pharmaceuticals which isn’t in accordance with the FDA or DOH. All three stick to this stance and cite clauses and sections of the constitution supporting their argument.
Council turns over the floor to the FOR side.
Sison and Pimentel again reiterate their stance, which is based on morals. UST Doctor speaks, continues her previous statement and rambles on. She’s way off topic because the debate is already discussing the issue of pharmacies, yet she’s still speaking about studies and success rates and failed pregnancies. By now, the audience sitting in the NO side can’t believe what they’re hearing, and murmurs of “that’s not the topic”, “stick to the topic”, etc. are being said. I’m just thinking that I feel even more sorry for her students / patients. I can imagine somebody dying in front of her, and she’s still thinking about something else. She’s clearly not all there mentally.
Pimentel pushes the topic towards the RH bill by questioning the power of the gov’t departments (FDA / DOH / Muntinlupa City Commitee on Health and Sanitation) who are against the ordinance, saying that the ordinance isn’t really illegal because there is no RH bill contradicting it.
Best part was Pimentel saying that foreign examples (of what? It wasn’t clear what he was alluding to) cannot be used (I think he means compared to / implemented) in the Philippines, because their (foreign countries’) constitutions promote sex.
Let me repeat that: Pimentel clearly said foreign countries’ constitutions promote sex.
Making sweeping general statements with no factual basis? I can see why Pimentel is sitting in the FOR side.
Of course, the NO side is reacting (there were a lot of expats and foreigners on the NO side), saying what Pimentel said was not true, etc.
Council asks for order, and the meeting is temporarily adjourned for recess.
Recess ends. Closing remarks to begin before the Q&A.
Reps from the different gov’t agencies, voting groups, etc. to make statements before the appointed reps (appointed reps being Biazon, Sison, et al).
Rep from the FDA speaks. States very clearly that they agree with the NO side.
Commission on Human Rights speaks. Sides with NO.
Woman’s rights group makes a statement. Sides with NO.
Board of Pharmacies (or pharmacists?) voice their sentiments. Sides with NO. States that brgy. Ayala Alabang has no legal right or power to reclassify contraceptives as anything else (abortifacients) other than what the FDA classifies them as. Points out that they have been given the title of “honorable”.
Professor Elizabeth Pangalangan, Rep for the UP College of Law, speaks. Pointing out that the ordinance is a violation of our rights. Then talks about the life of the mother (as opposed to the FOR side’s constant referrence to the life of the unborn) Prof. Pangalangan is completely taking the YES side to school. Openly wonders how you can abort something that isn’t there (contraceptives prevent the creation of a baby, hence there is no baby to abort anyway).
Council now gives the YES side a turn to speak.
The speaker from the YES side is a child. Probably 1st or 2nd year high school student named Paolo P. I’m pretty sure he had tons of eyeliner and extended lashes. Hokay… (maybe he’s just emo?)
I have to say though, this was clearly a way for the FOR side to play the youth card. Seriously guys? This was a debate, not a noon time show. What were you guys going for? “Awwww… he’s so cute!”. Is that how low you thought the IQ of the residents were?
Paolo P recycles statements from the YES side that try to connect contraception with abortion. By now it was beyond anyone’s doubt that the YES side is not very knowledgeable on what the difference is between a contraceptive and an abortifacient.
The NO audience reacts.
Paolo P is incensed. Snaps at the NO audience. Meow! FIERCE! Paolo continues his statment. States that the ability to purchase contraceptives freely will encourage unwanted pregnancies among the youth. NO audience reacts again at the Paolo’s self-contradicting statement. Paolo P snaps back, firing the question: “would you like your children to be doing these dirty acts?”
NO audience responds an unorganized, but quite clear, “YES! BUT WITH CONDOMS!”
My friends and I can’t help but laugh because the ones who shouted the loudest were the parents from the NO side. Plus points for REALISTIC PARENTING.
Council says Sen. Pia Cayetano could not make it, so her letter would simply be attached to the brgy letter later on because there isn’t enough time. Audience from the NO side demand that it be read. Saying that they have the time. They have all day if needed. Council yields and allows Sen. Pia Cayetano’s rep to read the letter.
Sen. Pia Cayetano’s rep reads excerpts from the letter, but sums it up with a statement that says the brgy Ayala Alabang Ordinance is not in accordance with the law.
Council now moves on to begin the closing statements from each of the reps. NO side goes first.
Ruffy Biazon puts aside the legal stance for a minute, and states his personal perspective. Biazon pointing out how the ordinance created a divide in the community that never existed before.
Atty Aguinaldo sticking to legality, simply reiterating their stance in general.
Frank Chavez sticks to the legality. Says “the constitution is not suspended in brgy ayala alabang”, clearly alluding to the questionable legality of the ordinance.
Council now asks the FOR side to speak. All FOR reps relegate their time to Mr.Pimentel.
Pimentel speaks. Heckles the “honorable” point brought up by the pharmacists. Says that honor does not come through titles, but through actions. FOR side cheers. Pimentel continues, says that no divide was created by the ordinance (Biazon’s point). NO side reacts, loud shouts of “You wouldn’t know! You don’t live here!” coming from the NO side, to which Pimentel retorts: “Yes, but you invited me to speak, so I shall speak!”
A combination of laughter and jeers envelope the auditorium.
Ambassador goes to the mic and brings calm to the forum. Clarifies that the rope dividing the two sides was not a symbol of community division, but a measure to ensure that one side would not flood the auditorium, allowing both sides to have an equal amount of seats. Ambassador then tells the NO side to let the YES side finish (btw, the ambassador is sitting on the NO side).
Pimentel continues, makes statements that aim to undermine the weight and credibility of the statements made by Biazon, Aguinaldo, and Chavez.
I would like to apologize at this point for not being able to give a detailed account of Mr. Pimentel’s statements. They were long and thorough, but to summarize, he basically used his time to question the foundation of the bases of the statements of Biazon, Aguinaldo, and Chavez.
Question from the FOR side to the DOH/FDA asking about how a contraceptive pill works, and why do the effects not clarify as an abortifacient.
DOH/FDA states that the contraceptive pill the audience member asked about prevents ovulation. Meaning there is no egg cel for the sperm to fertilize, so there is no life to abort, since life begins at fertilization.
Council gives UST doc a chance for counter DOH/FDA.
UST Doc says that life does not begin at fertilization, but begins on ______ (states a word that’s pretty much the same thing as fertilization – basically when the sperm PENETRATES the egg). People from the NO audience wondering what’s the difference, since there’s no egg to “penetrate” anyway. So the issue of semantics is irrelevant, as the pill is still not causing abortion.
UST Doc rambles on. Says that the contraceptive pill was created by the Nazis. Yes. Nazis.
Let me repeat that one last time for emphasis:
(I leave it up to you, dear intelligent reader, as to how we can prosecute these Nazis for bringing these evil contraceptive pills into our country)
Question from the FOR side, but was directed, oddly, to their panel.
Questioner asks the UST doc to show (via a power point presentation that she brought), how a contraceptive pill aborts the child. Doc remarks that “some people” may not want her to show the power point (she’s literally accusing the technical staff that they are biased). NO side reacts with “SHOW IT”.
At this point, since they have to set-up the power point, the council lets the next question through from the NO side.
Question from the NO side: Parent says that she’s a Catholic, and raises her kids Catholic, but says that’s because it’s her right and her belief to do so. She asks why does she need an ordinance telling her to do that.
FOR gives an answer that practically confirms that the motives behind the ordinance are religious. Pimentel seems to catch his side’s slip up, states that the ordinance is not Catholic-based, but based on their concern and the from goodness of their hearts.
Now the UST doc is given the chance to show her power point and to answer the question on how a contraceptive pill aborts a baby. Doc then shows a power point presentation on how a life is formed. It is, quite frankly, reproductive studies 101.
UST Doc showing that the sperm must penetrate the egg cel first in order for the sequence to begin. (Again, she’s basically confirming that no egg cel or no spearm = no baby exists. See why I said I have no idea which side she’s on?)
(This is the part which I’ve decided to edit for the time being. I’ve left it as a quote so that it would easy to return to its original state in case we do find proof she did say sperms had souls)
She uses up 3 minutes showing basic reproduction 101. Ends with a spurrious statement that causes the NO audience (notably the doctors) to react, and then contradicts her earlier statement by saying quite clearly that life begins at the sperm cell because the sperm cell has a soul.
Whoa… What? The sperm cel has a SOUL??? I never heard that one before. Or have I…
*ahem* and they said the ordinance was not religious *ahem* anyway…
At this point, Pimentel makes a vague remark, but clearly stating “…certain people who are idiots and imbeciles”, losing his cool as quickly as his side was losing the argument.
Atty Aguinaldo counters Pimentel’s statement (something to do with the levels of importance of the rights protected by the constitution), and Pimentel counters Aguinaldo, and Chavez counters Pimentel, and Pimentel challenges Chavez, Chavez accepts, more posturing and bickering, and then the council asks for calm.
Funny how a barangay hearing morphed into a debate of the meaning of the 1987 Philippine constitution. I only wonder if the doctora from UST was paying attention or still thinking about nazis or sperms with souls.
After calm was restored, a doctor from the NO side asks a question directed at the UST doc.
UST doc answers. Brings up the failure rates of contraceptives, and states that they are between 35-40% (meaning there is a 35-40% chance the contraceptive won’t do its job). The NO side reacts to the numbers, saying that the UST doc is completely wrong (I need to point out that it was doctors who were saying she was completely wrong) However, the answer seemed to have personally annoyed the NO doc, as he stands up again and repeats his question.
UST Doc again states an answer, and the NO doc stands up again, saying “You’re not answering my question!”, UST doc continues to babble on, which causes the NO doc to raise his voice “You’re NOT answering MY QUESTION!”. The UST doc responds, again citing the failure rates, and at this point, the NO doc growls loudly into the microphone while pointing his finger directly at the UST doc, and says “YOU ARE WRONG LADY! WRONG!”
Council reprimands NO doc, says he’s out of line. Council calls for order, and says the debate must end at 12nn as La Salle needs the auditorium (I didn’t see anything akin to a schedule board though. My guess is that they truly did book the venue up to only 12noon, but used it as an excuse to end the debate because they simply couldn’t take the slaughtering anymore).
The debate ends. Council thanks everyone for coming. People leave the auditorium. Most of the NO side were annoyed that they were not able to ask questions (before the debate began, 30+ number tickets were passed around to people who wanted to ask questions. The Q&A only reached question 3.)
Now, this is my personal summary of the entire event:
The FOR side:
A number of them were clearly ignorant as to how contraceptives worked. This was made obvious by the questions that came from their side during the Q & A (how is this contraceptive not an abortifacient, how does this contraceptive abort the baby from the womb, etc.)
I do think that they sincerely believe that contraceptives are no different from abortifacients, as they both prevent a child from being born. Unfortunately, they seem to have skipped basic biology, as any high-school student knows that a sperm must first fertilize an egg for life to happen. Bluntly, their ignorance is frightening, as these are the same people who are supporting a legislation which would make their children ignorant as well by restricting their access to information, specifically information on reproduction.
However, to be honest (and because I love a good debate), I was hoping that they would have something concrete, like statistics supporting their stance (contraceptives increasing risk maybe? etc.), which would have led to a good, intelligent debate. That was truly not the case this time though. Their side, simply put, was supporting an ordinance that was about restricting an individual’s rights in such a way that conformed to the preferrences of the Catholic church. It was as simple as that.
The NO side
I have to say, they kept it smart and factual. Sticking mostly to facts, the law, and only sometimes delving into theology. It was also great that Frank Chavez pointed out how the law must not be based on the belief of one religion. Now, if you can’t figure out why religion must not be a basis for law, then at least you now know that you shouldn’t ever run for any position as a public servant.
As for the representatives:
Ruffy Biazon and Frank Chavez were superb. Completely controlling the floor when they spoke. No doubt, they were boosted by the statements coming from other experts, including doctors and lawyers, as well as the various government representatives. I hope Ruffy Biazon and Frank Chavez run for office again. They will have my vote. Good show gentlemen.
Nene Pimentel, on the other hand, may be regretting his decision accepting the invitation. He probably thought that this was going to be some small barangay hearing, and that his presence would have shifted the discussion to his favor. Unfortunately, GMA (and I believe ABS-CBN) were present, as well as other bloggers, and he was met instead by a very educated and very skilled opposition.
Still, I have to give him respect. If it wasn’t for him, the FOR side would have been completely destroyed. He held up their sinking ship as long as he could, and for that, he has earned my respect. But, crucially, he’s lost my vote.
As to Atty. Sison and that UST doctora… if you would like some books on basic biology, I still have my high school ones tucked away somewhere. I would be happy to donate them to either of you, as I believe that a good education (a.k.a. access to information) is an invaluable gift for anyone.
To conclude – I hope that the incumbent brgy officials have learned their lesson. I advise you all to give up, kill this ordinance, and save face, as the debate clearly showed that you don’t have a legal leg to stand on.
Lastly, I’d like to recycle my last statement on the ordinance. If you’ve read this far, then you shouldn’t mind reading this:
The ordinance is clearly about imposing the beliefs of one religious sect across an entire community.
If you believe in the teaching of the Catholic church, you will follow their teachings regardless if the ordinance (and the RH bill for that matter) is passed or not.
However, for everyone else who does not, or is not Catholic (i.e. a good amount of the community and the nation, even those who were baptized Catholic), the choice of whether to use contraceptives or not is part of the person’s right, and no single religious sect should be allowed to impose its beliefs on others.
Church and state must always be kept separate. Otherwise the Philippines will eventually turn into a country akin to those run by Islamic fundamentalists, like Iran.
Oh, and next time Atty Sison tries to suggest something to your council, you may want to get a second (or even a third) opinion from any of the thousand other intelligent people who reside in the barangay. Mmmmmmkay?
Thanks to Christian Silva for the name of the Professor from UP. I’ve updated the transcript and included her name.
For pictures on the public hearing, kindly go to this link by Paolo Dolina.
Thank you very much, Paolo for hooking us up. Much appreciated by everyone.