Monday, February 22, 2016

Same-Sex Marriage and Our Approach to the Issue

Well, Manny Paquiao dropped a bombshell on us: 

Of course, this video was cut. A lot of his supporters are actually encouraging people to look for the full video as the one being circulated by the media doesn't fully capture his stance. So okay, here's the "full, raw, uncut" video they are encouraging us to watch:

Manny P.
Eto ang tunay na clip! Gago din ang media eh!!!Panoorin nyu bago nyu ibash si Manny PacquiaoShare nyu nadin!#KupalLord#KupalCares#SiKupalAngMayAlamCTTO
Posted by Kupal Lord on Thursday, 18 February 2016

There you have it. Pacquiao may think that people engaging in same-sex relations are worst than animals. But at least, he's not condemning them. He's just condemning the practice of same-sex marriage. Those last few seconds taken away by major media outlets really saved Manny for me. I mean without those few seconds, I would have thought he is a bigot or whatever word people are using nowadays (sarcasm?).

But hey, you can interpret his words any way you want. You may interpret it as him calling for Martians to attack and enslave our children if you want. But there is one thing that we must keep in mind when watching this interview: Manny Pacquiao is running for public office.

By filing his Certificate of Candidacy, Manny announced that he is ready to represent every individual in our nation regardless of race, religion, social standing or whatever. Well, that's what I hope. That's the kind of professionalism I hope from anybody running for public office. But sadly, professionalism is not really a word that people associate with our politics.

Manny Pacquiao gave us his religious view. And he also pointed to it as his reason for being against same-sex marriage. Many politicians do it. Going to the bible for guidance is not a bad thing. But if you're in a position to change the lives of millions of people of differing world views and different holy books, maybe it's time we slide that bible back in its drawer.

The separation of church and state has been discussed in this blog before. I've long discussed my belief that the state should not concern itself with religion. You see, government is not doing God any favors by following His teachings in crafting laws. We've criminalized adultery and yet people still do it. The reasoning behind criminalizing adultery is not necessarily because it is "evil". It is criminalized because the legal spouse and children are being put in disadvantageous situations by the practice. This line of reasoning should be at the forefront when discussing policies. The state was not created to further the advances of a particular religion. It was created to improve the physical state of living of all of its constituents regardless of their personal beliefs. Manny Pacquiao and other politicians fail to realize and practice the separation of their religious views and their political responsibilities.

But aside from that particular lack of realization, another observable political feature showing itself in the issue is our inability to digest ideas solely on their merit. When Vice Ganda voiced his displeasure with Manny's sentiments, he was attacked vigorously by social media. People are saying he's a hypocrite for negatively reacting to Manny's sentiments when he himself profits from ridiculing others. Some people on the other hand went quickly to the defense of Pacquiao because of the pride he has brought to the nation. With Pacquiao being a national treasure, they encouraged people to give the legendary pugilist some slack. But the problem here is that this issue is not about Pacquiao or Ganda or Abunda or anybody else.

Pacquiao exercised his right to free speech and there is nothing wrong with that. We shouldn't be scrutinizing him. We should be scrutinizing the idea that we are okay with denying same-sex couples the right to adoption, the tax right-offs, inheritance and other rights being enjoyed by heterosexual couples just on account of their sex. Mon Tulfo was quick to Pacquiao's defense and explained he just exercised his right to free speech and went on a little homophobic tirade of his own. The problem is we forget that with our right to voice our opinions, others also have the right to scrutinize those said opinions. Vice Ganda, regardless of his past, has the right to react to Manny's views. And the validity of Ganda's sentiments should not be tied down to his past.

With that said, this issue has brought out several of the traits of Philippine Politics.We certainly don't have the perfect political environment for instilling progress on all fronts. But it is time we change that. We are far removed from the colonization of other nations. We have long passed the times of dictatorship. It's time we start getting the most of our democracy through intellectual and logical approaches to current issues.

We are now at a point where we should ask ourselves several key question concerning same-sex marriage: Are we okay with people having the gall to liken our fellowman to animals just on account of who they choose to love? Are we okay with denying rights on account of their preferred sexual partners? Are we okay with distinguished people marginalizing the LGBT since they have "gay friends"? Are we okay with individual beliefs stopping the happiness of millions? Should we limit the other people's paths to providence and happiness by our own individual beliefs?

It's not that we have a, as Mon Tulfo put it, primitive society. It's just that we fail to ask the questions that would determine if we are ready for same-sex marriage.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Major Problem: Unopposed Candidates

As the 2016 election draws near, the question of who to vote for is slowly creeping into the minds of our people. In my family, my mother seems dead set on foregoing her right to vote for anybody in the presidential and vice-presidential race. My brother and sister-in-law seem to have set their sights on Robredo as their vice president. I, on the other hand, still don't know who I will vote for but am completely aware on who not to support. The influx of candidates looking to be elected for the top posts has definitely made choosing a difficult endeavor. But if choosing through a multitude of names seems problematic, can we imagine having no choice when it comes to our leaders? Well, a few of our countrymen have this problem and there seems to be no solution in sight.

By the way, the problem with the high number of candidates with very similar platforms has been discussed in many shows and may become a subject of a future post here in my blog.

As for now, let's focus on how, in some places, we citizens are given no choice. and produced an awesome picture of how many unopposed candidates are running for major provincial posts here.

ABS-CBN News also produced a report on the matter.  

Clearly, the problem is a recurring theme in our elections.With the high number of political families controlling their own respective little kingdoms, it would be a surprise if all our LGU's had all its positions contested by at least two individuals. But what makes a lack of opposition in elections such a problem?

If you've managed to stumble upon a news segment discussing the issue, an analyst would always say that the strength of the democracy lies in the choices the citizens are given. It seems like an ambiguous statement with no real meaning sometimes. But a person who studied these kinds of stuff for the better part of their adult lives can't possibly be blurting out generic gibberish on national TV, right?

To me, democracy is a system of controlled compromise whose end game is to pass policies that would lead to the improvement of its constituent's lives. I've said before that voting should be based on ideals. Since no candidate truly captures our personal preference, we compromise and should vote for the persons who have the platforms that resemble our ideals the closest.

In the absence of electoral opposition, we as citizens concede our voices when it comes to our leader and we compromise uncontrollably to whatever agenda the elected official has. Instead of the leader adjusting to the ideals and needs of the people, the people adjust their needs and ideals to that of the leader. Some people call it a dictatorship or even despotism. I wouldn't go that far since the officials still have to abide by a constitution approved by the people. But nonetheless, it still leaves the people, the ones for which the government was designed, somewhat voiceless.

But aren't the people voiceless regardless of the number of candidates running? Well, let's look at Duterte who, along with a few other people, is running for the presidency. He once expressed his support for same-sex marriage in 2015 in Vice Ganda's show. Here's a video of him addressing the matter:

He expressed these sentiments back in 2015. I was genuinely surprised when he said same-sex marriage was good. I hate the fact that our government is tied down to principles espoused by the Christian church. It was a refreshing and candid answer. It was clear that he supported it then.

But things change. In late January, the Davao mayor changed his tone. Nowadays, he supports gays but won't push for same sex marriage. This is not a surprise since he has officially confirmed his desire to be president since the release of the video. Aside from that, there is also the statistical fact that 70% of Filipinos oppose same-sex marriage. I guess same-sex marriage is not good enough for us to revisit our constitution.

Duterte needed to change his tone and his platform to be able to win this election. He had to compromise to the electorate's ideals. He doesn't have the luxury that Imee Marcos has in Ilocos who only needs to vote for herself to win the post. Instead for calling for the changing of the constitution to conform with the needs of our LGBT brethren, he chose to compromise with the people's ideals and stick to the status quo.

It sucks to be part of the 30% in this issue. But at least, I can rest assured that the country is being shaped by its citizenry and not some person who is given authority just because nobody else can compete. I mean, I can still assess the field and vote for the presidential aspirant who most likely will take same-sex marriage seriously. Unlike the people of Ilocos Norte who have no choice but to accept Imee Marcos and whatever projects she has in store.

Diversity is important in a democracy. Though things get watered down sometimes, the choices the people are given are the ones that define our nation's present and the ones that will shape our future.

Maybe it's time to get an anti-dynasty law. Maybe it's time to make running for positions cheaper. Maybe gerrymandering is an issue we need to address. I'm not really sure about the solution to the problem of lack of opposition in some areas. But I'm definitely sure it's time we start addressing it.