Rappler Newscast | April 8, 2014

Rappler Newscast | April 8, 2014
The SC upholds the RH law but strikes down some provisions. Noli de Castro says he didn’t give Lee special treatment. Pistorius testifies

Today on Rappler.

  • The Supreme Court declares the Reproductive Health Law constitutional, but strikes down some provisions.
  • Former Vice President Noli de Castro denies he gave developer Delfin Lee “special treatment” when he was Pag-IBIG chairman. 
  • Athlete Oscar Pistorius reveals details of his relationship with the girlfriend he allegedly murdered.


After more than a decade languishing in Congress and a year-long order stopping its implementation, the reproductive health law finally passes legal scrutiny.
The Supreme Court declares the RH law constitutional, except for some provisions.
Buena Bernal reports.

Purple and red ribbons representing opposite camps.
surround the Supreme Court compound in Baguio City.
Celebration breaks out as the High Court declares the Reproductive Health law constitutional.

THEODORE TE, SUPREME COURT SPOKESMAN: The Court, after a scrutiny of the various arguments and contentions of the parties in the foregoing consolidated cases consisting of 14 petitions challenging the constitutionality and two interventions to uphold the constitutionality of Republic Act No 10354 or the RH law held that the RH law is not unconstitutional based on the grounds raised.

Long-time advocate Chi Vallida saw the growth of the movement.
Once sidelined in the media, RH became an issue people want to talk about.

CHI VALLIDA, RH ADVOCATE: During the early years of the campaign for reproductive health, we feel so defeated, because even the media then we’re telling us we’re not frontpage issue…Social media has really catapulted the discussion… It has really raised awareness of people, and it has really changed the landscape of our advocacy campaign.

The law funds the distribution of free modern contraceptives, requires government hospitals to provide reproductive health services, and mandates public schools to teach sex education.
Lobbyists are asking the High Court to review the provisions it struck down.
This includes allowing health workers to follow their conscience in giving or not giving treatment.

RISA HONTIVEROS, PRO-RH FORMER LAWMAKER: Ang sa amin yung saya namin sa matamis na tagumpay na ito. Ibig sabihin, alam namin na meron talagang solid na panalo ngayon at basehan para saaming mga susunod na hakbang. Para kung ano man ang sinabi nilang bahagi ng mga probisyong o seksyong na unconstitutional ay magawan pa namin ng solusyon. (For us, we are happy with this sweet victory. What it means is we know that there really is a solid win today, and a basis for our next steps. For a solution can still be made for whatever are the portions of the provisions or sections declared unconstitutional.)

But the Catholic Church, the law’s staunchest critic, likens the Court decision to the persecution of the Saints.

FR MELVIN CASTRO, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, CBCP COMMISSION ON FAMILY AND LIFE: When we remember the Lord, when he suffered and died, before the human courts, he lost. Before the public opinion, they were crying out crucify him. And the Lord said, followers would suffer just as he did. We’re prepared to suffer… What matters is to teach what is true and good.

Even the CBCP leadership maintains the court ruling waters down the law.

BUENA BERNAL, REPORTING: The debate is sure to continue on the nuances of the law, even as anti-RH advocates refuse to concede defeat. But as the core provisions of the law are upheld, its impending implementation already spells victory for the RH activists.
Buena Bernal, Rappler, Baguio City

The declaration of the Reproductive Health law’s constitutionality leaves proponents happy and critics disappointed.
Former Albay representative and RH principal author Edcel Lagman says the provisions struck down by the Supreme Court do not weaken the law.
He adds, it’s more important to leave the core provisions untouched, like providing poor sectors free access to reproductive health services and supplies.
He says, “This monumental decision upholds the separation of Church and State and affirms the supremacy of government in secular concerns like health and socio-economic development.”
Health Secretary Enrique Ona also welcomes the decision.

ENRIQUE ONA, HEALTH SECRETARY: So you now go to your doctor, irerefer ka to either a health facility, or obstetrician para kayo na ang mag-usap… what are the options that you have? You’re going to time your sex act, when is your so-called safe period, or whether you would like to use the pill, or you’re going to use the IUD, or whether you would like to have a tubal ligation. So maraming options. (It will now help us identify, help mothers, not necessarily just mothers – but help women plan a family. So you now go to your doctor, who will refer you to a health facility, or an obstetrician you can talk to. What options will you have? You’ll have to time your sex act, when is your so-called safe period, or whether you would like to use the pill, or use the IUD, or whether you would like to have a tubal ligation. So many options…) It will now help us identify or help yung mga mothers, not necessarily mothers but women plan a family.

The Catholic Church led protests denouncing the RH law as “evil,” and at one point threatened President Benigno Aquino with excommunication.
Father Melvin Castro of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines says the decision is not a defeat for the “pro-life” camp.
But for RH law principal sponsor Senator Pia Cayetano, the ruling is a victory for poor Filipino women.
She says the decision –quote– “tells the whole world that the Filipino women are important in our country that reproductive health rights will finally be acknowledged.”
Senator Miriam Santiago also hails the ruling, calling it a “triumph of reason over superstition.”
While Cayetano opposes the removal of some provisions, RH law critic Senator Tito Sotto says he is vindicated.
He says, “It’s a good thing they struck down Section 7 and other provisions we questioned. I was right all along.”
The court ruled against a portion of Section 7 requiring private health facilities owned by religious groups “to refer patients not in an emergency situation to another health facility conveniently accessible.”

For our social media post of the day:
Graduation season’s coming to a close and a lot of fresh grads are now on the lookout for jobs.
The age-old question still holds: do graduates from the top 4 universities have it better?
We have an ongoing debate on our Facebook post.
Some cry out discrimination, while others say employer’s prerogative makes things fair and square.

Former Vice President Noli de Castro insists the Pag-IBIG Fund under his leadership did not give “special treatment” to Delfin Lee’s Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corporation or GA.
GA is accused of using ghost borrowers and fake documents to obtain P7 billion in loans from Pag-IBIG Fund from 2008 to 2010.
During a Senate probe into the scam, Senator Koko Pimentel asks about a 2009 Memorandum of Agreement between Pag-IBIG and GA.
The agreement allowed GA to be the sole developer to obtain P5 billion in loans and a 5-year buy-back guarantee.
Under the usual arrangement, other developers can only loan a maximum of P500 million a year from Pag-IBIG and have a two-year buy-back guarantee.
Pimentel asks de Castro to explain why the agency gave “preferential treatment” to Lee’s firm.
De Castro denies any special treatment.

NOLI DE CASTRO, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Ayokong tawaging special treatment but this is under a regular program. Ang pagkakaiba lang P5B ang involved na pera. Pero ipapautang ng initial line na P500M at pag-naubos mo dapat ang PAR mo ay 95% so dapat ang 95% pinangangalagaan ng Pag-IBIG, sinisigurado totoo bago pautangin. Walang special treatment, only special program dahil ang project ay township: may simbahan, may munisipyo, may high school, may palengke, plaza. Ito ang pangarap na development na developers. (I don’t want to call this special treatment, but this is under a regular program. The only difference is there’s 5 billion pesos involved. But the amount loaned will be P500M initially, and once you’ve spent all of it your PAR should be at least 95%. Pag-IBIG should be taking care of the 95%, this should be verified before loaned out. There’s no special treatment, only a special program because the project is a township – there’s a church, municipal hall, a high school, a marketplace, a plaza.. this is a real estate developer’s dream.)

The question was prompted by Lee’s previous admission in the Senate investigation that GA, not Pag-IBIG members, paid monthly amortizations to maintain good standing with the agency.

The Supreme Court en banc will take up the petition of Senator Bong Revilla to suspend the Ombudsman’s probe into his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te says the High Tribunal will look at the merits of Revilla’s petition, and the written replies of the government and other concerned parties.
Revilla faces plunder charges for supposedly channeling public money to fake NGOs in exchange for multi-million-peso kickbacks.
Revilla brought his petition to suspend the probe to the Supreme Court after the Ombudsman denied it.
On April 1st, the Ombudsman announced the indictment of Revilla and 9 others for plunder.

At number 3,  Philippine police arrest an Italian diplomat for alleged child abuse.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima says Daniele Bosio was caught in the company of 3 boys, ages 8 to 12.
Police say the Italian violated the Philippines’ law on anti-trafficking and abuse of children.
De Lima says Bosio, the Italian ambassador to Turkmenistan, will be unable to invoke diplomatic immunity because he was not stationed in the Philippines.

At number 7, A nine-month-old boy charged with attempted murder in Pakistan is granted bail.
The toddler was arrested in February along with family members for allegedly throwing stones at police during a raid.
The judge noted the absurd nature of the case, and quickly granted bail for the toddler, but he cannot dismiss the case.
The boy’s grandfather says, “He doesn’t even know how to pick up his milk bottle properly. How can he stone the police?”

And at number 9, Protesters in San Francisco wave banners outside the home of Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose, calling him a “parasite.”
CNN says it’s the latest in a wave of anti-tech-industry protests in the city over the past year.
Protesters say an influx of highly paid tech workers is driving up rent, forcing out longtime residents and robbing the city of its famously eccentric character.
Most of the anger focused on big companies Google and Twitter.
Rose, co-founder of news aggregation site Digg, says he agrees with the protesters, adding, “We need to solve rising rent, keep the SF culture, and crack down on landlords booting folks out.”

On the second day of his trial, South African athlete Oscar Pistorius speaks about his relationship with Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend he killed last year allegedly in self-defense.
Pistorius says he was “besotted” with Steenkamp, and the couple was planning a life together despite troubles in their relationship.
The athlete explains a series of text messages, including one where Steenkamp said she was scared of Pistorius.
Pistorius says it was sent during a “bad day” in their relationship.
On the first day of his trial, Pistorius addressed Steenkamp’s family, saying, “I can’t imagine the pain and the sorrow and the emptiness that I have caused you and your family.”
Pistorius is accused of intentionally murdering Steenkamp, but the athlete maintains he thought she was an intruder and accidentally shot her.

 – Rappler.com

Newscast Production Staff

DIRECTOR Rupert Ambil
  Dindin Reyes
HEAD WRITER / PROMPTER Katerina Francisco
  Marga Deona
  Emerald Hidalgo
  Jaene Zaplan
  Adrian Portugal
  Francis Lopez
  Naoki Mengua
GRAPHICS Jessica Lazaro
  Raffy de Guzman
3D GRAPHICS Sten Bautista

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