Saving the Magna Carta

Published by rudy Date posted on March 9, 2009

Philippine society already accords high status to women. But many of them in the marginalized sector still undeniably need the protection and access to resources that will help them achieve their fullest potential as a human person. This is precisely the objective of the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW for short) to which the Philippines is a signatory. Hence HB 4273, “An Act Providing for the Magna Carta of Women” and its Senate version SB 2396 is being hailed as a major achievement in the advancement of the cause of the Filipino Women. This Magna Carta is meant to be the policy instrument to provide implementing teeth favoring women in the government’s development programs. Its various provisions giving assistance to women in the marginalized sector could really spell a lot of difference for them.

There are, however certain provisions in both the House and Senate versions calling for much needed corrections and improvements because they are fraught with ideological meaning given by feminists who are currently at the helm of the UN CEDAW Committee. The reconciled version of the Bicam Committee must therefore have these revisions to conserve the Magna Carta’s noble designs.

To be sure, the framers of the 1979 CEDAW clearly affirmed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by proclaiming that human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms enumerated therein without distinction of any kind including distinction based on sex. Obviously, the CEDAW framers belonged to the old school firmly founded on male and female differentiation based on nature. Unfortunately the CEDAW committee set up after the 1995 UN Beijing Conference on Women to monitor the implementation of CEDAW in signatory countries has fallen into the hands of feminist ideologues who promote a ‘new perspective’ by advocating legislation of gender language that is a threat to marriage and the family.

The insertion of the term “gender” in the Magna Carta for women is plainly for the sole purpose of providing a legal basis for the eventual legitimization of other gender forms to the prejudice of normal women and men. It adversely affects family and marriage, institutions that have been accorded protection by our Constitution. Instead of promoting women’s rights in an authentic manner it is in fact opening the doors to new forms of gender. This is reason why some quarters are calling for a definition of woman in this Magna Carta.

The threat to marriage and family in the proposed legislation can be found in the definition of “Gender and Development in Section 4 (H) of SB 2396, which states that:

“Gender and Development (GAD)….seeks to achieve gender equality as a fundamental value that should be reflected in development choices; seeks to transform society’s social, economic and political structures and questions the validity of the gender roles they ascribed to women and men; contends that women are active agents of development and not just passive recipients of development assistance; and stresses the need of women to organize themselves and participate in political processes to strengthen their legal rights.”

This appear so innocent and harmless to one not versed in the gender feminist ideology which is essentially a Marxist ideology that considers exploitation, subordination, and discrimination as originating from unjust structures. Since any structure implies a relationship of subordination and the most basic and pervasive structure in society is of course marriage and family, hidden between the lines of this provision is therefore a declaration of war against marriage and family which are relationships that subordinate women as mothers and wives and therefore active institutions that supposedly discriminate against women. This would eventually legitimize processes to bring about changes in these structures such as legalization of divorce and legitimization of civil unions or common law relationships. This is clearly damaging and prejudicial to normal marriages and families which have been accorded protection by our Constitution.

Section 19 of the Senate version supposedly designed to give women equal rights within marriage and the family confirms this interpretation when it provides that:

“The State shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations consistent with Philippine law and shall ensure:

(1) The same rights to enter into and leave partnerships or relationships without prejudice to personal or religious beliefs;

The use of the term “partnerships” or “relationships” are very ambiguous. In normal parlance the term “partnerships” refer to civil unions without marriage and the term relationships unfortunately may refer to homosexual relationships. In one stroke this provision would give legal recognition to said civil unions that would undermine the inviolability that the Constitution and the Family Code accords to marriage. By the same token it also extends legal recognition to homosexual relationships again to the prejudice of heterosexual marriages. On the other hand if the term “marriage” will be used in no. 1 of this provision instead of “partnerships and relationships” then it would in effect be a legalization of divorce!

Furthermore, it is a biological fact that only a woman can be a mother, and only a man can be a father. Gender feminism’s denigration of motherhood as a subordinate role which allows men to exploit women is based on an outlook which considers motherhood an onerous burden and which naturally decries the fact that women cannot enjoy a “safe and satisfying” sexual life without the risk of getting pregnant. This is the connection between the Magna Carta of Women and the RH bill. Some people conclude that if the Magna Carta is ratified under its present form the provisions on “comprehensive health care” program could easily be defined to include Reproductive Health Service in the context of the ‘new perspective’. If this is true then even if the RH bill does not get ratified its provisions can easily be invoked in the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the comprehensive health component of the Magna Carta of Women!

In the last Bicam Conference, these issues were reportedly addressed. The only remaining “bone” of contention is the inclusion or non-inclusion of the word “ethical” in the health care services for women. It is hoped that the final copy will finally weed out all the pernicious provisions to save the beneficial ones. It is the only way to preserve the validity and legality of the Magna Carta of women and the inviolability of marriage which is the foundation of the family which in turn is the foundation of the nation.– Jose C. Sison, Philippine Star

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