#TalkThursday: Challenging the RH law
MANILA, Philippines - For this #TalkThursday episode, Maria Ressa talks to Jo Imbong, senior counsel of the St. Thomas More Society on the campaign to block the Reproductive Health bill, now the Reproductive Health law. She's also the mother of James Imbong who, on January 2, filed a petition on behalf of his family asking the Supreme Court to strike down the RH law.
#TalkThursday was streamed live at 12:00PM (Manila time) on January 3, 2013.
Previous #TalkThursday Episodes:
- #TalkThursday with Globe's Ernest Cu on the future of Mobile
- #TalkThursday with Ernest Bower on the Philippines and the global landscape
- #TalkThursday with GSIS President Robert Vergara
- #TalkThursday with Jones Lang Lasalle Leechiu's Lindsay Orr on the Philippine real estate market
- #TalkThursday with ADB Assistant Chief Economist Cyn-Young Park on inclusive growth
- #TalkThursday with President Aquino: Steering the PH economy
- #TalkThursday with President Aquino: Risks and Lessons
Raw Transcript of #TalkThursday interview with Atty. Jo Imbong
Interviewer: Maria Ressa, Rappler.com
Interviewee: Atty. Jo Imbong
00:06 – Ressa: Hello. Welcome to Talk Thursday. I'm Maria Ressa. Today we speak with Atty. Jo Imbong, Senior Counselor of the Thomas More Society on the campaign to block the Reproductive Health Bill, now the Reproductive Health Law. She is the mother of James Imbong who filed a petition, Tuesday, on behalf of his family , asking the Supreme Court to strike down the RH law. We already had several questions coming in from social media. Please go ahead, hashtag “Talk Thursday”. We'll put them in.
Jo, thank you very much for joining us today.
00:40 - Imbong: It's a pleasure you know. It's a great year opener as well.
00:42 – Ressa: It's an incredible year. First of all, let's just start with how fast things moved in December. What did you think of the process that turned it into law?
00:50 – Imbong: Really fast- that's a really accurate word to describe the process that just went-got through. We were both under so much pressure from both houses, the Senate and the house. The advocacy was up on its feet the whole time and even after that, Ressa, we didn't have a vacation – a seasonal vacation. Well, of course, lawyers don't take vacations but in this case, wow. Really, it was a very hectic season.
01:21 – Ressa: Were you surprised that it passed so fast?
01:23 – Imbong: Well, we were sort of expecting it in view of the facts- of the preceding facts that transpired. For instance, the president's declarations of course that this was a priority bill in his executive agenda and so that spurred- that accelerated the process and so we were really expecting something like this that would happen before the close of the season.
01:51 – Ressa: This is a question from Albert Leiah(?) Manlangit from Facebook. What is your opinion on the passage of the RH law? Is there a feeling of regret within the Catholic church regarding its passage and the people who voted for it?
02:09 – Imbong: Mixed feelings, Ressa. First, no feelings of regret. We did the fight. We were given an audience. We were given space as a matter of fact to explain why this law will wreak havoc on our country especially on the women and the families, parents, children. You never have this opportunity to speak and explain thoroughly to different audiences, including social media for that matter and it's a great opportunity as well in terms of church mission of what we call “evangelization” and it helps to touch the hearts of people, to touch their minds as well so that they could discern and see all sides of the issue.
02:58 – Ressa: The petition that your son filed against – yesterday- at the Supreme Court. What is the basis of this?
03:07 – Imbong: There are two pillars on which the petition is grounded. The first one is that the bill, in its entirety- in law school, we are told to read a bill in its entirety, not by different parts, isolating each other. In its entirety, the bill will wreak havoc on the culture. I will explain this. Our culture is founded on universal principles and it is something that is unique among other nations in the world in the sense that we still have our values for life, family, for the bonding of children under parents and virtue – virtue as a contradistinction with vice. We value all the good things that make up a good person. To say it very plainly, this bill – I mean this law is going to strike at that culture which is already so fragile, it already has cracks in its foundations. It's so vulnerable to change and influences, especially with technology and other channels of media so the culture is something we should cherish and value and protect because that's our soul. We're going to lose our soul, our Philippine soul, identity...
04:26 – Ressa: But values are different from development issues or do you see them... For example, the argument of course for the RH bill, now the law, it will help in development of the country- that the more number of people you have, the fewer resources- these types of arguments that we've heard over and over. And what you brought up: the values, the pillar that's there. Are the values connected to the policies
04:56 – Imbong: Oh, yes. In fact, John Adams, the former president of the United States said that the American constitution which is founded on values – democratic values – in fact, Christian values. They were all Christians who molded the United States constitution to which our constitution is modeled (after). He said the constitution of the United States is meant for a religious country. It is not meant for any other. For good and upright people, not for any other. Look, if we look at the provisions of the constitution now, these are all based on moral principles not in so much words but... I'll give an example. For instance, that there should be integrity in public office. That's honesty. That's truth, isn't it? That's a moral principle but not in such words, of course.
05:47 – Ressa: But yet, the founding fathers of the US constitution... that constitution has evolved with time – with different processes, with different conditions that are there. The argument for the RH bill has been that without it, women aren't given the choice...
06:04 – Imbong: Okay, choice. That's a good thing to bring up. We must distinguish between choice and rights. Now, choices – anyone can have choices. I can choose not to wear this today. I can choose to come here as a wacky person. Now that's okay. But when we speak of rights as the ones being enshrined in this bill, it becomes different because we speak of them as the right to buy contraception, to have contraception available for young adolescents, and they have choices of their own. It now assumes a very different treatment because if it is a right, you have to stand by that. The government, also in this law, guarantees those rights. If it guarantees those rights, it gives penalties if you do not give it to them, to the young people. It goes even further. It guarantees those rights, it gives penalties and it promises to remove any impediment to those rights, any law which will impede those rights. Now, if it's choice, anyone can do this style of dressing, for example, or this lifestyle but a choice is a desire, a dream, or a lifestyle. It's not a right.
07:24 – Ressa: It's so interesting, we are getting deluged by a lot of questions. First, you said there are two pillars: the first pillar was the moral foundation and the second pillar is...
07:35 – Imbong: The second pillar is that, in the enactment of this law, in its eventual enforcement if ever, government oversteps its powers as circumscribed in the constitution. There are limits to government power.
07:46 - Ressa: In what way does the government overstep its power?
07:49 – Imbong: Okay, I'll be more specific. I'll go to the matter of the rights of the family. The Philippine constitution just – not with any constitution in the world describes marriage as sacred. It uses the word, “sanctity” and that gives it a supernatural character, something which is now beyond the reach of human authority, much less the state authority. It is a sacred institution and it goes even further. The constitution says that it is the foundation of the nation therefore it is the building block that stands at the bottom. If you destroy that cornerstone, you destroy the edifice of society. It also goes further. It says it is autonomous. The family is autonomous so, in more common terms, what we are saying is that in prescribing contraception and putting it as a government policy and enabling all the entire government from top to bottom. Government is going—intruding in to the bedroom, it’s not its domain. It is the autonomy of the spouses, the family, and the parents. That’s what we’re saying with this petition. It’s really based on legal principles.
09:03 – Ressa: Let me just throw to you the reactions to some of the things you’ve said. Pilosopo Tasyo on Twitter says, “If CBCP, if you are against any form of contraceptive, why attack the RH law and not try to ban these in the Philippine market?”
09:20 – Imbong: Oh good, he brought it up. Alam mo, Pilosopo Tasyo, nakikita kita sa Twitter eh. [You know, Pilosopo Tasyo, I see you in Twitter] As private citizens, in my capacity as a lawyer as well, we have worked towards the banning of the morning-after pill. It was, in fact, banned in the year 2005 by the Department of Health (DOH), imagine? It was then the Food and Drug office, and they banned it. Our reason for asking for its ban, its delisting, is that it has abortificent actions. It leads to abortion of new life, and they banned it.
09:55 – Ressa: But you’re talking only about the morning-after pill. This is, basically, contraceptions, contraceptives, contraceptuals…
10:01 – Imbong: With abortificent action. It’s admitted, even in the United States. There are cases now which are now in court against health minister Caballus. A lot of cases now, attacking in the manner we’re doing it here. Attacking the ATHS, the Affordable Care Act of President Obama.
10:19 – Ressa: It’s so funny, most of these—let me, I just asked you—you mentioned it seems like both pillars are actually anchored in values, in a way of looking at the world, and one of the questions that’s always thrown is the separation of Church and state. Shouldn’t the state go ahead and push this forward despite what the Church wants?
10:42 – Imbong: You noticed, recently, that these—I have brought up two pillars, two arguments, which are not religious. They are based on constitutional grounds. I haven’t gone into the moral arguments yet, so far. Now, separation of Church and state is meant, in jurisprudence, to impede or prevent or prescribe the state from intruding into religion or Church affairs. That is the legal meaning of the separation clause. It’s not the other way around
11:15 – Ressa: It’s funny, is the glass half-empty or half-full? [smiling] This is an interesting question that’s connected to that. Renato Barayuga says that “The poor Roman Catholic Church does nothing to develop the nation but always wants to intervene in national affairs. What are you really fighting for?”
11:35 – Imbong: Not helping the poor, the Church doesn’t banner its help. We—well, I represent the Church clergy in official issues. There are so many social action and social welfare programs. We don’t announce these things because we don’t have to. When we do things to help those who are helpless, we do it for the sake of charity, for the sake of love, as the Holy Scriptures use the words “charity” and “love”. And you don’t announce to the whole world what you do, I mean, you’ll lose your merits for that. So the Church has so many programs helping the poor not only in this country, but all over the world, as a matter of fact, even in AIDS interventions and addressing the AIDS problem, but we’re not telling everyone about it. We know what we are doing, those who are helping anonymously, perhaps, also know what they’re doing. Now the second part of Mr. Barayuga’s question?
12:34 – Ressa: What are you really fighting for?
12:35 – Imbong: Ah okay. We’re fighting for basic inalienable human rights and the dignity of every person, especially the helpless, the vulnerable, and these are the unborn, the unborn.
12:46 – Ressa: But you can also argue, of course, the other side also says that this is also fighting for—to give women, who don’t have the means, the choice. Women like you and me, we certainly have the means to be able to control our lives, to choose to use contraceptives or not, but women who are poor, who can’t afford it, who don’t have education, who don’t understand the complexity of family. This is part of leveling the playing field. How do you respond to that?
13:19 – Imbong: Okay, it is often said—well, during the days of the campaign, we hear that this bill at that time is pro-women. Now if one is pro-woman, then one must work for the good of the woman. That means her entire persona, her health, her development as a woman, her maternal role, as a matter of fact, in her home because she is meant to be a mother not in the sense that she gives birth, but in the sense that she nurtures life as a big sister, as the abbess of a monastery, you know, as an ate [big sister] of the family. She’s meant to be a nurturer, and that one is also in the constitution that we should protect the maternal role of women, which is connected again with the sanctity and strength of the family as the foundation. Now, why is it against women? Poor, helpless and marginalized women for that matter, as the bill says. Well, it says that they have no access, they cannot afford if they want to use contraceptives. Now if we’re really helping them for their so-called “reproductive health”, then let’s give them authentic health. What is authentic health? Is the meaning of that? Something that which will not harm their bodies. It is so sensitive, the woman’s body. It’s beautifully made to nurture that if you introduce substances that will harm her, and destroy her natural functions, and bring her serious illnesses later on in her life she might regret, which the government would not fund. If the woman contracts cancer, for example. Is she going to be given expensive treatment for that? The poor, especially, who have no care, who are not members of Philhealth, so where is the pro-women attribute in that respect?
15:08 – Ressa: Again, it’s so fascinating. Glass half-empty, half-full. [laughing] There are two questions now that I’ll throw at you that came in from social media that’s connected. Because the foundation of a lot of the arguments that you’ve put forward is still a very conservative Catholic perspective, right?
15:25 – Imbong: Yes. [nodding]
15:26 – Ressa: So, @poppisunga on Twitter says, “Why should Catholic culture be given precedence in public matters over any religious or cultural idea?” and James Rice, also on Twitter, says, “How can the CBCP justify hijacking the democratic process and imposing their own views on millions of non-Catholics?” The same thing. Why should Catholic culture and norms prevail?
15:50 – Imbong: Number one answer is this is not a Catholic issue. The pillars of arguments that we’re bringing forth applies to any person, Catholic or not. Why? Because we are all the same. We have the same kind of bodies, we have the same needs, basic needs, we have the same dreams for health, for wellness, for whatever you call “quality of life”, so it’s not a Catholic affair, no. We speak for the human person as a person.
16:22 – Ressa: But these particular views though, come—stem from a conservative Catholic view.
16:28 – Imbong: But the Church is the most vocal…
16:30 – Ressa: Right.
16:31 – Imbong: It is the most vocal, so it is now conceived purely as a Catholic voice. It is not. The Catholicity, or universality, of these values applies [sic] to everyone. I give an example: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It reflects everything that the Church is saying. The Universal Declaration is not a Catholic document, it’s a universal document.
16:56 – Ressa: This is an interesting reaction though, Jo. Reneer Louie Bibona, also on Twitter @Reneerbona, says, “Jo Imbong mistakes that giving accessibility to contraceptives is equal to forcing couples to use contraceptives.” This is the choice…
17:14 – Imbong: Yes, the choice.
17:15 – Ressa: Again, we took the word, “choice”, and looked at it from both sides, but is it the same way? Just giving —it’s like access to education.
17:21 – Imbong: Okay.
17:23 – Ressa: Some people argue that talking about sex leads to more sex, and yet other would say if you don’t talk about it, it will lead to a misunderstanding. [Imbong nodding] And possibly pregnancies.
17:34 – Imbong: Mistakes.
17:35 – Ressa: Correct! How do you…
17:38 – Imbong: Okay, when we speak of the Catholic culture, it really strikes at the very essence of the individual person, every individual person. Now, we mustn’t get lost there and say that it is a purely Catholic point of view. I mentioned the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Now, forcing to take contraception, or allowing or tolerating or making it feasible or easy for them. Now, if you really want to help, for the good—for the well-being of the person, or for his quality of life. For example, as the law says, “A safe and satisfying sex.” Those are the words of the law. Give it to him. That is the kind of life that he wants to live, but are you going to give it to him together with a price tag that says, “Wait, don’t you know…” We don’t—the bill doesn’t say it, the law doesn’t say it. You should know that this comes with a caveat, that you must know that these are the side-effects that women in America have died because of these, cancers everywhere, lawsuits and damage suits, settlements, as a matter of fact, for a lot of contraceptive devices, which the law speaks about: devices, equipment and supplies. It’s so broad that everything else comes in there. Whatever else is there, out there which probably FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) will welcome here, and pharmaceuticals will bring into this country, for which we will incidentally spend for our taxpayer money.
19:15 – Ressa: You talked about… Sorry, I’ll let you…
19:16 – Imbong: It’s okay.
19:18 – Ressa: So you talked about the principles of law. This is my understanding of it. It’s that, effectively, when you question this at the Supreme Court, you should be—who are the people who are aggrieved? There has to be an aggrieved party, right?
19:29 – Imbong: Yes.
19:30 – Ressa: And technically, and again I don’t know if this is correct, but the aggrieved party would be an unborn child.
19:36 – Imbong: Yes. [nodding]
19:37 – Ressa: How can your son, your family file a petition for an unborn child? Is that… a good, legal precedence?
19:48 – Imbong: Okay, this suit is at taxpayer suit and the nature of a class suit— meaning to say that any person, any citizen can bring a suit to assail or question a law because it matters to him as a taxpayer and as a citizen.
20:03 – Ressa: But you don’t need to be an aggrieved?
20:06 – Imbong: In the matter of being aggrieved party to be able to have standing…
20:09 – Ressa: Right.
20:10 – Imbong: Legal standing to question it in court, you prove that you have legal standing. And here, now that petitioners here are husband and wife, spouses, with two minor young children.
20:20 – Ressa: Right.
20:21 – Imbong: And so, it will affect their marriage, the way they relate to each other as spouses, and the children who will be going to school, and there’s also a third petitioner here which is the school because the two young persons [sic] own a school…
20:38 – Ressa: I see.
20:39 – Imbong: Which gives education up to high school level and so the law will cover the school, in terms of mandatory sex education. There is also a reference that it is a class suit, meaning it is brought in representation not only of themselves and their children, but for all other individuals and couples who have similar interests. That’s the nature of class suit
21:05 – Ressa: What do you think will happen now?
21:06 – Imbong: Here?
21:07 – Ressa: Yes.
21:08 – Imbong: Well you know, these are the issues that were brought up here in this petition are so—for the first time, these are first impression issues. Never before has any petition been raised in the Supreme Court on such transcendental matter as this; and it is substantially important in our jurisprudence not only for our books, but more for the community, not only for our time as we sit here but it will affect future generations. That is why it is a case which will become probably, I hope, a landmark decision for us.
21:53 – Ressa: Let me throw to a question to you from Brocky Road, “Was the filing of the petition by your son and his wife the next strategy of the Roman Catholic Church to clear the Church of any insinuation it’s meddling in politics?” I guess two questions there is: are you speaking for the Catholic Church? Number one, and number two, is this part of a collective strategy?
22:17 – Imbong: Well, you see it’s unfair to attribute this to the Catholic hierarchy.
22:21 – Ressa: Correct.
22:22 – Imbong: This is brought by individuals who have the right…
22:27 – Ressa: But you are the legal counsel for CBCP?
22:28 – Imbong: Ah, yes yes. I’m a Church volunteer aside from, you know, my professional life, so I assist in monitoring legislation in Congress, things like that. But in this particular instance, I’m lawyering for two private citizens.
22:42 – Ressa: Okay. And then, I guess the flip side of it is other countries around the world—it seems like this law, much as it moved fast in December, it actually stayed in Congress for almost 14 years, right?
22:58 – Imbong: Yes, yes.
23:00 – Ressa: So it did—it really did take a long time, and we seem to be one of the last countries in the world to do that. Are we doing—I don’t have an idea on how you’ll respond to this question. [laughing]
23:12 – Imbong: I like that twinkle in your eye. [laughing]
23:16 – Ressa: I guess in either direction, it’s a perspective that goes back to that anchor that you pointed out, which is still the values.
23:23 – Imbong: Yes, yes.
23:24 – Ressa: There are a lot of other questions here for you…
23:26 – Imbong: 14 years only means [sic] one thing: that this country is not ready for something like that. 14 years ago, we started a bill like this with several numbered names already. And it couldn’t sit well with us, why? Because we have very clear declarations of aspirations and ideals in the constitution. At that time, we already had the 1987 Constitution, so unique and different from all other constitutions in the world, that gives citizens expressed protection to the unborn from conception, it says, to the family that it’s autonomous…
24:03 – Ressa: Then again, those are all connected to the Roman Catholic nature. We are Asia’s largest Catholic nation.
24:09 – Imbong: Yes, yes.
24:11 – Ressa: Let me throw a question to you from @amogani. I understand what you were—actually, I interrupted you. Was there anything else that you wanted to finish on what you said?
24:21 – Imbong: No, no. Maybe we should go to this question.
24:24 – Ressa: Okay. This is a woman, Leilani Almacarañas, who says, “So, what can you offer as an alternative to control the increasing rate of overpopulation and HIV?”
24:34 – Imbong: Okay. Two things there: number one, assumption and her question there is overpopulation. We are not overpopulated. If we look at the census from the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB), from year 1960 to 2011, it has been a downward trend. We don’t even need numbers, statistics like this. Look around us. You will see couples in the mall, how many children do they have? Two? One?
25:01 – Ressa: But a part of that is also that they can’t afford it.
25:03 – Imbong: Yes, yes.
25:04 – Ressa: Poverty has also increased.
25:06 – Imbong: For whatever reasons, which is their own reasons [sic], we cannot question those reasons. During the time of our grandparents, well the average, according to NSCB, was six children to a family. Now it’s down to about two, actually the population growth rate is below the ideal replacement level, which is 2.1, according to demographers. Meaning, a couple, in order for the race to continue, should have at least 2.1 children. There is a .1 there but I won’t explain that, I’m not a demographer. But now, we’re going below that. It’s 1.6 from six in, how many years ago? 50 years ago? That’s not overpopulation. The reason why we feel—we perceive it as a country as overpopulated, we are overcrowded in the urban areas. They all come in here because there’s no life for them in the provinces.
26:05 – Ressa: But statistically, the Philippines has one of the fastest growth rates…
26:08 – Imbong: Yes, comparatively speaking.
26:09 – Ressa: Population growth rates, right? ‘Cause there’s around 2.3 at a high then going down to about 1 point something.
26:17 – Imbong: The reason why we are seeing large figures, billions as a matter of fact…
26:21 – Ressa: A hundred and one million now is our population
26:22 – Imbong: As projected, yeah. It’s because the mortality rates have also gone down because of advances in medicine. The lifespans have gone higher, and so we have more people. Necessarily, isn’t that a good thing that we survive for a longer time? That we are healthier in terms of, comparatively, the previous years. Infants survive more, etc. Talking about population, the past what? Three months or so, the headlines banner an economic boom.
26:58 – Ressa: Yes.
26:59 – Imbong: Optimism. It’s true.
27:01 – Ressa: In fact, we’re looking at more than a seven percent (7%) growth rate next year.
27:05 – Imbong: Exactly, and other media have been noticing this trend. We might even surpass Vietnam on the ‘Most Promising’ and then Singapore is in problems [sic] because they don’t have enough working hands…
27:17 – Ressa: Well, they’re just—undergoing a recession.
27:19 – Imbong: Japan as well, and other countries…
27:21 – Ressa: Japan has the oldest population. So you’re with Enrile in saying that our population is a strength?
27:30 – Imbong: It is an asset. It is what they call, the economists call it, the human capital.
27:35 – Ressa: Okay.
27:36 – Imbong: We have the human capital. We have a robust growth rate of people who are educated, hardworking, English-speaking. We have values. That is valued in the world, look, wherever we go, we shine.
27:51 – Ressa: But we don’t have enough resources to—not enough schools, hospitals…
27:57 – Imbong: We have enough natural resources, that is a given. So if we have a good wealth, in terms of natural wealth, we develop them. We have a good wealth of human capital, we develop that capital. We don’t restrict or diminish it because that’s where our strength lies. Who’s going to run all these things if not people? Educated people for that matter.
28:21 – Ressa: Jo, you are off the scale in terms of the number of questions we are getting. [laughing] Thank you very much to everyone who is watching.
28:29 – Imbong: I understand this continues so we can probably exchange views…
28:32 – Ressa: In fact, you’ve gotten an invitation from #gangsters. Guys, you gotta get a name so— #gangsters would like to Atty. Imbong to a Tweet-up. Let us know when. They want to continue the conversation. There are a lot of questions that nitpick on things that you have said.
28:52 – Imbong: Yes, yes.
28:53 – Ressa: There are several on the drugs and how we talked about women not using drugs. @jesternexiles says, “Please ask if Atty. Imbong has filed complaints to the FDA regarding these dangerous substances. If none, she cannot claim danger.” This is from, another one…
29:13 – Imbong: Thanks for reminding me. [laughing] In fact, we’re doing it. The St. Thomas More Law Society is handling all these cases, especially…
29:23 – Ressa: So you’re planning to file a case?
29:25 – Imbong: It’s all in the works, especially with vaccinations which have caused death of infants, ah? Imagine.
29:29 – Ressa: Filipino Freethinkers is saying, “You mean ensure women only have maternal roles?” I think, they’re saying that it’s not just women who have…
29:40 – Imbong: We acknowledge paternal roles. Hi there, Freethinkers. I see you a lot in Congress and I would like to have a good conversation with them. They’re intelligent guys, you know.
29:50 – Ressa: I’m sure they would like to chat with you. Guys, we’re running out of time and space. There’s a comment on Jo Imbong’s, “We should protect maternal role of women.” That is from Filipino Freethinkers, and several more. Let me just give you—continue the conversation on Facebook. Do you have a Twitter account?
30:10 – Imbong: Yes, yes. @attyjoimbong (ed. The real account is @joimbongatty).
30:13 – Ressa: Atty. Jo Imbong has a Twitter account and we’ll continue using #TalkThursday. Jo, looking forward now, it is a law. It is a law already.
30:23 – Imbong: Yes.
30:24 – Ressa: If you don’t get your TRO (Temporary Restraining Order), it becomes—it kicks in.
30:29 – Imbong: And we are subject to penalties, imprisonments, and fines. That’s the bottom line there. But we have rights, which are inalienable. We know how to protect our rights, basically—especially, the freedom of religious exercise, which has priority among the fundamental and basic rights.
30:48 – Ressa: But I think the argument is that the majority—that the Church, which is the majority, should not be imposing on, say the 5% Muslims or the atheists.
31:00 – Imbong: You know, we have Muslims among our friends who have opposed this bill when it was still in Congress.
31:10 – Ressa: You’re—the anti-RH lost. Is that a sign of something? I mean, there are people for…
31:16 – Imbong: For all of us, there is a message there somewhere, and we might not even read or understand the message today. It will emerge as we go along, in coming years, in coming times. And my only hope is that we will not reap the windstorm of this thing. My only wish is that we still emerge as a whole nation with all these ideals and aspirations still in place. It was not by accident that the constitution wrote it in that manner, it was by design and we to cherish those aspirations and values.
31:52 – Ressa: My last question is this: You’re obviously continuing the fight.
31:57 – Imbong: Yes, yes.
31:58 – Ressa: What do you want people to do now?
32:01 – Imbong: Oh, to be knowledgeable with all these things about what the law is telling us to do, and then to judge it. To see whether it is really for the good, and if it is not for the common good, it’s bad law.
32:15 – Ressa: Is there anything—I know I said last question, I lied. Sorry. [laughing] I wonder, ‘cause this argument galvanizes, you know, on both sides. What would change your mind?
32:29: Imbong – Change our mind? Oh. [sigh] Of all the questions you asked me, that’s the most difficult to answer. We cannot change what we are. We cannot change what we ought to be. It’s beyond us to do that. Human nature is there, it’s for our own good, so let us work towards that. Everyone will be fulfilled in that manner.
32:55 – Ressa: Thank you very much. We’ve been speaking with Atty. Jo Imbong. She is working on a petition with her son and her daughter-in-law. They’ve petitioned the Supreme Court to strike down the RH law and to stop its implementation. Let’s continue the conversation on social media, both on Facebook and on Twitter. Her Twitter account is @attyjoimbong (ed. The real account is @joimbongatty). I’m Maria Ressa. Thank you for joining us on Talk Thursday.