Limit of law

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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — The honeymoon is over. Or there was no honeymoon ever even for his first 100 days. PNoy’s young administration is battered with two raging public controversies already– for his publicly-declared support of the Reproductive Health Bill, and his crusade against jueteng.

On the RH Bill, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has stated that President Aquino risks excommunication if he actively promoted distribution of artifcial contraceptives to Filipino couples.

CBCP President Bishop Nereo Odchimar said the President should consider the position of the Catholic Church because it is approaching the issue from the moral aspect. He argued that abortion is a grave crime. That is an issue of gravity, that is a violation of God’s commandment.

In a rapidly-secularized society, the CBCP exhortation for morality is somewhat refreshing. A muslim group, the Imam Council of the Philippines, is backing the Catholic Church in its fight against the passage of the RH Bill.

Dura lex, sed lex. The law is harsh but it is the law. In a multi-racial society where every group brings into the round table its respective belief system, everyone gravitates to the law as the ultimate provider of the standard norm of human behavior. To stand steadfast on Christian values nurtured from the Words of God, therefore, is the demand of the moment.

President Aquino, however, remains firm in advocating for an informed choice on the issue of using artificial contraceptives in family planning and spacing among Filipino couples.

He stressed the State’s duty is to educate our families on their responsibilities and to respect their decisions. In espousing responsible parenthood, the President is open to the idea of using government resources to educate couples on both natural and artificial methods of birth control. “We are all guided by our consciences,” PNoy declared.

The President’s predicament calls to mind King Canute. Surfing the Internet, I learned that he was the Danish King of England in 1017 best remembered for his vain attempt to stop the incoming tide.

In reality though, it was the King’s way to cut the flattering courtiers down to size. Flattery was his daily fare. “You are the greatest man that ever lived.” “Your Highness, there is nothing you cannot do.” “Nothing in this world dares to disobey you.”

One day, the King put the flatteries to a test. He summoned his men and courtiers to bring his chair to the edge of the water by the sea. As he sat down and surveyed the on rushing tide, he asked the courtiers, “Do you think the tide will stop if I give the command?”

One replied with assurance, “Give the order, O great king, it will obey.”

Even after King Canute decreed his command, the water rose higher and higher, the waves were rolling, and the surf kept on pounding. The King’s robes got wet as the flatterers turned sheepish.

King Canute reminded them that there is only one King who is all powerful, ruling the sea, and holds the ocean in His hand. He told them to reserve their praises for Him.

The point here is not of critics and flatterers. The point here is the limit of human law whether secular or of the church. No one can legislate morality. No one can legislate to ensure good behavior. One can only legislate a law that serves to deter bad behavior for being inimical or disruptive to society.

Being good and being right are functions of one’s love relationship with God. It is an exercise of one’s free will. The change is in the Inner Man irrespective of what are the outside stimuli and circumstances.

The point here is to hold in every Filipino mind what is crystal-clear about the RH Bill: it is proposing to educate the Filipinos on the use of artificial contraceptives in family planning and spacing.

The Church is against such advocacy as it insists on the natural method of rhythm and abstinence.

There is no provision in the bill that legalizes abortion. Equating the bill with abortion is only the fear of the conservative members of the church who brandish excommunication against President Aquino.

For all intent and purposes though, the education on the use of artificial contraceptives in the Philippines is already a done deal. It started in the 1970s with the establishment of the Population Commission.

Judging from the number of families embracing zero population growth, a majority of the Filipinos are no longer limiting themselves to the rhythm-and-abstinence rule.

The conservatives may judge them to be anti-life by being pro-choice. Curse or blessing, life or death.

They choose blessing by making the right decision in ensuring a life abundant for a fewer number of children.

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