Illustration by Carla T. Gamalinda

THE FIRST thing to be said about the integration of sex education by the Department of Education’s Memorandum No. 26 in the curriculum from Grade 5 to senior high school is that it is overkill: the subject will be integrated in Science, Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP), Health, Heograpiya, Kasaysayan, at Sibika, and Mathematics. The subject may as well be called Sex in Excess.

It is quite galling that at a time when Filipino students – going by world comparative scores in basic literacy and math skills – are just a step removed from cretins, the DepEd wishes to further burden them with a subject on the more titillating aspects about the birds and the bees beyond basic biology where their scores are similarly appalling.

The second thing to be said about it is that it’s unconstitutional. The Constitution upholds the rights of parents to be responsible for the development of the moral behavior of their children. At the least, the DepEd didn’t consult parents about its initiative and discarded subsidiarity which soundly leaves to the parents an area where they have the better competence—moral formation especially about sexual matters.

Of course, everyone knows why the DepEd and other agencies would like to get in on the sexual act of minors. It is because of the money. If they don’t introduce curricular innovations and, in the case of Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, come up with outlandish campaigns like condom-distribution, they will not be able to justify asking for a bigger budget

The subject is called “Adolescent Reproductive Health.” Obviously, this was the sex education subject that was being proposed in the Reproductive Health bill that failed to pass in the last Congress, since it was hardly a health, but a birth-control, measure. When it failed to pass muster, Cabral, like DepEd Secretary Mona Valino, a careerist who has been on government payroll since time immemorial and who has to come up with just about every project to keep taxpayer’s money coming to the DOH and pay her payroll, went ballistic and distributed condoms—funded by taxpayer’s money—at the Dangwa flower market in Sampaloc, Manila last Valentine’s Day ostensibly to stem the rise of HIV-Aids and sexually transmitted diseases.

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Who was she fooling? There’s no HIV-Aids epidemic in the Philippines: as epidemiologists who are not being quoted by the media would tell you—4,000 HIV-Aids cases out of a population of 89 million do not an epidemic make. (In contrast, the media and the World Health Organization say that condom-happy Thailand’s HIV-Aids situation —half a million HIV-Aids cases and half a million dead —is under control!) But for Cabral and her overwrought imagination, that middling statistics are enough to scare the wits out of everyone, enough for her to spend taxpayer’s money on harebrained schemes like calling for an Aids summit and justify her relevance and her payroll.

Valisno is stirring the same panic to justify sex education. But she betrayed her real intention when she absurdly connected HIV-Aids with population control: she said she would push for full implementation of Memorandum 26 “because the country needs it, and the country’s prevention [of HIV] will just be put to waste if the population continues to grow at an outstanding rate.” Ergo, Adolescent Reproductive Health is an excuse to implement birth control. We credit her at least for her candor.

The growing population has always been the scapegoat for the nation’s poverty and illiteracy. Going by the logic of Valisno, the high dropout rate should also be blamed on it. Of course, she and Cabral are not expected to see the moat in their eyes since one reason for the country’s poverty is the size of government and its corruption and mismanagement. With too many bureaucrats and careerists on the payroll, there would never be enough for the poor. Worse, the poor themselves are blamed for their poverty! They’re perceived as rabbits with voracious sex habits and rampaging populations! Valisno and Cabral perhaps should go back to school and learn lessons from Nobel economists like Simon Kuznets, who denies any negative correlation between population and economic growth, and Amartya Sen, who urges that money spent for birth control be used instead for poverty amelioration.

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Valisno and Cabral should at least appreciate the principle of subsidiarity. Things are better left discussed where people are more knowledgeable and more experienced than adolescents are – the home and the family. Parents are the ones who should guide their children in growing up as responsible, sexually healthy, and morally sound persons. It is in the home where basic education begins. While sex may be a queasy topic for both parents and children, the cardinal rule still applies: parents know what is best for their children.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Unconstitutional? Did the memorandum say, in any manner, that it is discarding the rights of parents “to be responsible for the development of the moral behavior of their children?” No, it didn’t. Secondly, could we honestly say that it is our parents who taught us about matters of sexually? I even doubt if more than 5% of families in the Philippines have experienced such discussions. Thirdly, I think further clarification is warranted by the statement that the rubbers distributed in Dangwa were funded by taxpayers’ money. Remember that the Arroyo gov’t refused to provide funding for contraceptives. The DOH and the Palace explicitly said that. Fourthly, yes there is no HIV-Aids pandemic in the Philippines, but the cases being reported are on a steep ascent that warrants attention at this nascent stage. Information and provision of the available choices are two of the answers. And remember, in the surveys conducted, majority of Filipinos favor Reproductive Health bill. And borrowing and re-phrasing your “cardinal rule”: Filipinos know best for them and for their children.

  2. I am personally not a lawyer nor a law student, but I know that beyond the words of the Constitution lie a deeper meaning. Lack of public consultation to something that concerns the public is already, in its face value, UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Yes, the sex ed being pursued by the DepEd does not usurp the right of parents to rear their children, but the it certainly lacked DUE PROCESS, which is the right of all stakeholders to be heard on things that concern them. DepEd did not even bother to conduct a public hearing of its proposal, and just “stepped on” their right as government agency, without even realizing that theirs is the power given by people.

    Secondly, yes, you were right in saying that Filipinos are conservative in talking about sex matters, but the question is not if parents of these nine year-olds are doing their responsibility, that is out of the State’s agenda already. The question is why is the State stepping inside the portal of what otherwise should be an independent community within the State? Besides, not talking about sex within the family is not usually the parents’ fault, it is actually a product of this generation’s tendency to be more open to their friends.

    Thirdly, and where did DOH got the funding for the rubbers distributed in Dangwa??? From their own savings?? From the savings of their employees, which I doubt even had the guts, or heart to initiate such ridiculous project? For one, I’m sure that some members of the health dep’t. also have their own families, and would not have wanted to do the distribution if only it was not an order from the dumb higher up. Saying something to the public that you do not do this, does not actually mean that the same is true in action. In a country like ours, walking the talk is not a mantra.

    Fourthly, this cannot be overemphasized any more. Thailand has one of the highest number of AIDS cases in the world, and guess what, the government is actually paying for their people to use condoms and contraceptives. Studies have proven condoms’ 80% effectiveness. Yes, that’s high, but how about the 20%? Does something that says to be 80 percent effective do not have the risk of being ineffective? The rising cases of HIV-AIDS in the country should not be complemented by the government’s condoning of Filipinos’ continuous arrogance and irresponsibility by providing something that would serve as a mere scapegoat, and not a pure solution, such as contraceptives. The government should be there to promote the welfare of the public, not to act as a publicity of their immaturity. Filipinos will naturally favor reproductive health because of that. Look around you, and tell me just how many people are living in shanties with about a dozen children. And ask them how did they had such. They will answer the same thing: “We thought a big family will be happier.” Yes, it is, but they forgot one thing: to prepare for their families’ future.

  3. Honestly, parents don’t teach their kids how they’re done. But current biology classes in high school and marriage and family classes in college do. So why push that bill when its has been the status quo since time immemorial? Just tell your teachers to deliver them the right way and we’re good. Require colleges to have marriage and family classes before they let their kids face the real world. That’s it. No more fuzz.

  4. Have you read the modules? Because it seemed to me that you were in a state of hysteria, caused by hearing the phrase sex education, while writing the editorial. You are already making a stand (or rather obeying like a good lapdog you are to the stand of the Catholic Church) without even hearing the two sides. And then, thousands of students will be reading your editorial, which is merely a propaganda tool of the Church if stripped of all the pleonasms, kidding aside.

    Instead of becoming a lowly press release for the “reverend” fathers, there are many things that the Varsitarian should aim its lens at such as the godforsaken Magna Carta, the perniciously annual tuition hike, and as well as the quality of education the University “sells.”

    Good luck on your future releases and I am waiting for an editorial on your front pages, Minitrue.

    P.S.
    Go to Asec. Teresita Inciong for the modules. Read it very hard like good boys and girls of the Rector and look for the word “sex” and other obscenities that suggest sexual activity.

    • “Instead of becoming a lowly press release for the ‘reverend’ fathers, there are many things that the Varsitarian should aim its lens at such as the godforsaken Magna Carta, the perniciously annual tuition hike, and as well as the quality of education the University ‘sells’.”

      Do you really know what you are talking about?

      The Varsitarian is a Catholic campus paper, thus it should take a stand regarding this matter. Are you an avid reader of the Varsitarian? I guess not because if you are, you would know that the V is not a “PR paper” of your so-called “reverend fathers” whatever you mean by that. The V has reported news which have irked/annoyed/raised administrators guards (Dominicans out of UST Ethiopia, UST Press magsasara na?, Prinz Magtulis’ column VIPs, Pope Spanish royals skips quadricentennial, among others). The V have been consistently reporting about the Magna Carta (Column by last year’s Filipino editor, Special Reports articles for the past three years also included the Magna Carta, the tuition hike (which was its banner story last May), even stories on the quality of education UST has been giving its students have been written.

      Now, do your research before commenting anything.

      • Ah, Mark Andrew Francisco! (Am I right?) I just advertised one of your columns to a green columnists as a source of inspiration, since that article about Magna Carta also doused my burning heart with gasoline. Anyway, what I am trying to say here is that the Varsitarian should already be putting its dead weight on the administration as early as today. That’s all. About those things you’ve said, yes, I’ve read them, especially you and Prinz’s columns (very critical, indeed). I may not be an avid reader (if what you meant by that is consuming the totality of your paper) but I read those that are what I deem necessary to my studentship at the University, like how we fared on the top Asian universities but previously cried foul at the results of the top universities worldwide, saying that their method is “problematic” (since you have proof on your claim), which I also deem the same.

        Maybe, my idea of a critical press does not match yours. (Before commenting, it only means different, not one’s criterion is better than the other.) Maybe because V has to focus more on positive stories since it is a school paper. Maybe I was wrong and you are right. Maybe otherwise. I don’t know; my head begins to ache.

        With regards to the May issue, I have not read that, but saw your banner story. Like what I said before, what we need now is a wake-up call as early as now, like the tuition hike article, to the sleeping admins to perform better and focus more on the students since we are the “customers” in this huge cartel of businessmen and reverend fathers. I believe that under the leadership of Venzon, this is going to be possible (and it also was during the previous years) and hopefully, more eye-opening than before. Especially now, since we are near to our Quadricentennial celebration.

        P.S.
        What I meant by the phrase “lowly press release” is that are the voices of the writers really heard, or only the admins’? Like for example, an appearance of critical articles might result to a courtesy call by the Rector. Is that what you call autonomy in the press office?

        P.P.S.

        I believe that V is “the official student publication,” not “a publication of the Catholic Church ran by students.” The line drawn between them is certain. Thank you.

        P.P.P.S.
        Don’t you think that the construction of the UST Sports Complex is being rushed, only to add it as one of the quadricentennial projects? Although a professional construction firm was contracted, I have my doubts since our safety is at stake at the price of one project to brag on our 400th anniversary. It’s just a tip, though…

    • matanong nga kita…
      alam mo ba yung ibig sabihin ng salitang euphemism at innunuendo?
      hindi porke wala kang nababasa sa module na “sex” “and other obscenities that suggest sexual activity” ay ok na yung sex ed module.

      at ikalawa…
      taga-UST ka ba?
      alam mo ba ang kalakaran sa loob ng UST?
      how far have you gone in navigating the bureaucratic entrails of this univesity as well as the varsitarian before posting this minitrue opinion of yours?

      alam mo ba ang silbi (kung meron man) ng magna carta para sa mga taga-UST?
      para sa ‘yong kaalaman, ilang beses na naming inurirat yang lintik na magna carta na yan at marami pang maseselang topics.

      this is the reason why fools can’t write put history in its proper perspective…
      they don’t bother putting the prefix “re’ in reading and searching…
      puro kasi sex ed module ang binabasa at pinagtutuunan ng pansin e…tsk tsk

  5. editorial writing is about making a stand. and not hearing two sides? i doubt. yes, you were correct that one thing wrong about media was it failed to report what are in those modules, but this does not change the fact that the DepEd is abusing its discretion by issuing a memorandum order that incorporates sex ed to primary and secondary schools, WITHOUT, due process. That is enough as ground for its dismissal.

    And to tell you, without the need to read the modules, I can frankly say that DepEd Memorandum No. 261 implores sex education. Why? Because it is operationalizing under the United Nations Population Fund which adopted the definition of International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action in reproductive health that include the right of people “to have a satisfying and safe sex life.”

    Now, that explains it. 🙂

    If you want to read the memo, find it here: http://www.deped.gov.ph/deped.asp?i=M&s=2005

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