GRACE OVER CONFLICT WINS THE NIGHT

When two conflicting sides come together, it’s always a volatile situation or awkwardly uncomfortable at best. That realization dawned on the guests at a gathering over the weekend hosted by Mayor Vivien Villar, when Pangasinan 5th District Representative, Kimi Cojuangco, one of the strongest RH advocates, came face to face with Bishop Jacinto A. Jose, D.O. and his entourage composed of several parish priests, Fr. Franklin Tandingan, Fr. Alex De Guzman, Fr. Richard Abalos and Fr. Ralph Christopher M. Itchon .

The congresswoman’s vehement support of the RH bill is as transparent as the Catholic Church’s staunch opposition to it. As the congresswoman reiterated during her last privilege speech, “An institutionalized reproductive healthcare will be a major instrument in improving the life of our people, especially those who need the services most. The Filipino family deserves no less because everybody deserves a lifetime, and a quality one at that.” 
Strong statements such as that hovered over everyone’s mind on the evening of March 24, 2012. The occasion was a celebration for the founding anniversary of Sto. Tomas, Pangasinan and also the birthday bash of Dangerous Drugs Board Secretary Antonio Villar, Jr.

IF OPPOSITES CAN ATTRACT, THEY CAN SURELY PARTY?

Bishop Jacinto A. Jose and Rep Kimi Cojuangco

The encounter caused a momentary pause in the celebration as guests waited for reaction from either side. As everyone who follows the congresswoman’s advocacy knows, she has been quite unrestrained in her support of the RH bill, insisting on the rights of women specifically in her district, who are not always of the Catholic faith, to have the opportunity and access maternal health. She is also firm in her belief that being a good Catholic does not always mean following the church’s dogma but doing what is right for all people regardless of their religion. But when the gracious and naturally vivacious congresswoman is concerned, that apprehension is unfounded. Following the lead of Mayor Villar and Congresswoman Cojuangco, everyone was welcomed and enfolded into the conviviality with courtesy and grace. It wasn’t long before everyone was having fun like old friends.

Political agendas briefly set aside, the evening’s celebratory ambiance continued to the delight of all in attendance.

(L-R) Standing – Fr. Franklin Tandingan, Fr. Alex De Guzman, Fr. Richard Abalos, Former Villasis Mayor Nonato Abrenica, Mayor Libradita Abrenica and Fr. Ralph Christopher M. Itchon. (Seated L-R) Sto Tomas Mayor Vivien O. Villar, Bishop Jacinto A. Jose and Congresswoman Kimi Cojuangco. - By Loejan Anudon


Death March (Privilege Speech of Congw. Kimi S. Cojuangco)

 

Madame Speaker, distinguished colleagues, good afternoon. The CBCP will be holding a prayer rally on March 25 for the “Day of the Unborn”. As early as now I would like to thank them for their prayers dedicated to the unborn while they are still in the mother’s womb.

But as an RH advocate, I would like to take it a step further and ask the Catholic church to include in their prayers those newly born children taking their first breath, half dead because of poor pre natal care. I ask that they pray for the babies that survive but are forced to go through life malnourished and without the benefits of education, for those born without having sucked the breast of their mothers, for those street children that rely on the intoxication brought about by sniffing rugby to make it through the day.

 

I ask that they pray for the mothers that perish daily because full maternal health care is only accessible to the limited number who can afford it. But most of all, I ask that they pray for the children who will never experience the love and care of a mother.

In memory of my constituent Marcelina, from Sison, Pangasinan and of all women from all over the Philippines who died because of poor maternal health care, I have entitled this message, Death March.

What tortured thoughts must have gone through these dying mothers’ heads as they held their newborn babies in their arms for only a single precious moment. Fathers are left alone to care for their children and are pained when they are left with no other choice but to send them away to relatives just so that they might have a chance at a better life. Even those mothers who survive are forced to watch helplessly as their brood of 10 starve and go to sleep each night feeling the pain of empty stomachs, their hearts breaking with each passing day.

Jose Rizal wrote, “I see the horrible cancer which feeds upon this society, which clutches its flesh, and which demands a violent rooting out.” The reality is that without the RH bill, we will never be able to cure this cancer. Isn’t it sad that our society’s problem centuries ago still persists to this day? How during Rizal’s time the Spanish frailes imposed their beliefs on the people? The truth of the matter is that the biggest stumbling block to the passage of the RH Bill is the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy. Castigate me if you must, but when it comes to this issue I cannot agree with the Church leaders.

Colleagues, as ridiculous as it might sound, it seems that we are still in the dark ages. In fact, I think it is downright barbaric to trivialize and pretend that there are no abortions due to unwanted pregnancies. Just take a few steps outside the Quiapo Church and you will find a tiange of abortifacient products. It is ignorant to say that taking artificial contraceptives leads to more abortions and immorality when these will prevent unwanted pregnancies, the reason women undergo an abortion in the first place. It is almost criminal to not help families in deciding the number of children they want and can responsibly support. Without our help, more children will go to bed hungry at night.

To the Bishops that threaten us in their daily masses, I ask you: please stop playing political games with the State and mothers’ lives.

To my colleagues who privately agree and believe in the RH Bill but are silenced by their bishops, I say our inaction kills. We have the power to make a difference in the lives of millions of Filipinos, the very people we have sworn to serve and protect. Our one vote can change the lives of millions and the destiny of our beloved country.

Madame Speaker, isn’t it insensitive that we, the rich and those  with the means to do so can just walk into a drugstore and freely purchase the family planning method of our choice while the poor do not have the same choice? Our society is sick and in desperate need of a cure. The Governments of the past have failed to address this problem. But I have hope for the present, I would like to think that our leaders are not asleep.

Dear colleagues, we NEED to make a very critical decision soon. I believe that the RH bill’s passage is the best legacy the Aquino administration and this House can give our country. An institutionalized reproductive healthcare will be a major instrument in improving the life of our people, especially those who need the services most. The Filipino family deserves no less because everybody deserves a lifetime, and a quality one at that.

Your signatures in favor of the RH bill is your legacy to present and future generations. From these signatures come the collective inspiration for this House to do what must be done.

The passage of the RH bill will give meaning to the deaths of Marcelina and all the nanays who have left their orphaned children and this world too soon. Let us stop this death march. We have the power to do this.

By 5thdistrictpangasinan Posted in Congress, RH

KIMI UNLEASHES STORM OVER STAGNATED SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION

By: Loejan S. Anudon

The immense need to provide schoolrooms to meet the ever increasing number of students at the Urdaneta City National High School (UCNHS), Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, impelled the school officials to bring their dilemma to then Congressman Mark Cojuangco.

Their request was granted and a three-story building with six classrooms per floor was soon underway, overlooking the vast expanse of the Urdaneta City athletic field at its western end. On the end of each floor, state of the art comfort rooms were apportioned in the building plan to match the expansive classrooms. The design included toilet bowls and sinks imported from the U.S.

The storm brews

On March 2, 2012, the UCNHS celebrated its 67th founding anniversary and Pangasinan 5th district representative, Kimi Cojuangco, was invited as the Guest of Honor and Speaker during the coronation night. The graceful presence of the congresswoman is always a welcomed event in any celebration and this night was no different.

To the consternation of the congresswoman, she arrived at the venue to find that the festivities have not yet started and only a few organizers were milling about to the accompanying melodies created by the famed EC Jammers Orchestra, overpowering the still night air.

The Congresswoman conferring with Dr. Patacsil while one CR makeshift door is forcibly opened. Ms. Dhang Manaois is seen here lighting the area with the faint light coming from her cellphone.

The school principal, Dr. Alexander Patacsil, came in haste as soon as he was informed of the congresswoman’s arrival. While waiting for the program to begin, the topic of conversation wound its way to the still unfinished building that then Congressman Mark Cojuangco approbated for the school. The revelation that the building is still not completed to this day, particularly the comfort rooms, compelled the congresswoman to request for an outright tour inside the building which the principal led with pleasure. It was dark along all its corridors as electrical connections have yet to be installed properly thus cellphone lights and anything on hand that could help illuminate the way were utilized.


The abysmal sight of makeshift doors, broken windows, uninstalled toilet bowls, missing sinks, and all six comfort rooms sullied and covered with cobwebs was extremely disappointing and shocking for the congresswoman. The stagnant state of the construction project caused her to let loose a storm triggering mayhem and a hurricane of frantic activity among her staff. Even as it was late in the evening, she ordered her secretary, Ms. Dhang Manaois, to call all the engineers in charge of the building construction but not one replied to the continuous rings except for DPWH District Engineer, Noel Diaz, who ended up bearing the brunt of the ire intended for all.

The congresswoman’s ire was magnified by the realization that the building project was still unfinished to the extent that it is; even as the Four Million Pesos (Php4,000,000.00) from the congresswoman’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to complete the CR project including the water system was released long time ago.

Rep. Cojuangco talking to the District Engineer through her cellular phone.


Broken windows and poorly installed sewage pipelines


Missing sinks and mirrors


The Congresswoman (in green) enraged at the inactivity of her engineers for so long a time to finish the CR project. One of her photographers is seen here hiding to dodge a cut of the ire.


The eye of the storm

Rep. Cojuangco in her usual genial self pledges to revive the stalled construction of the building that her husband initiated to the delight of the school officials and parents.

In her speech, she passed on good wishes to the school and all the teaching staff including the members of the event’s royal court and the parents who shared their time and effort in supporting the school program. In addition, she also pledged the immediate revival of the stalled construction and to complete all the comfort rooms of the building that her husband initiated during his incumbency as congressman.

The day after – hurricane of activity blows in

True to her promise, construction resumed vigorously the following day as four contractors were called on to divide amongst them specific tasks to ensure the completion of all the comfort rooms. A representative from the DPWH office also arrived to help oversee that each contractor was appropriately assigned and on schedule for completion.

Engineers from the office of the congresswoman were tasked to supervise the completion of the project which includes the installation of all electrical wiring in the whole building.

Rep. Cojuangco (in white long sleeves blouse) conversing with Urdaneta City Vice Mayor Bong Gorospe (center - in dark shirt) and Mr. Ronald San Juan (wearing peach colored shirt). Others in the meeting were the contractors.




Drilled water source waiting for completion.


Urdaneta City Vice Mayor Bong Gorospe and Mayor Bobom Perez’ executive assistant, Ronald San Juan, in behalf of the mayor who is out of the country, also arrived to provide any help that the congresswoman might require.

Two days later – the aftermath

A worker preparing the beam to be installed


Mr. Keong Reyes, project assistant of the congresswoman (3rd from left) is seen here giving instructions to Engr. Archie Delim while the workers (background) are busy preparing the construction materials


The contractors and workers, all in haste to finish the project before the specified deadline set by the congresswoman.


Contractors started fixing the CR ceilings


An electrician is fixing the electrical wirings


Broken windows are cleaned of glass fragments prior to the installation of new ones.


Engr. King Wrobi Llarenas (in blue-green polo shirt) supervising his men resizing the construction materials


“Puwede pala nilang tapusin agad kung gugustuhin!” (So, it is doable to finish the project immediately if they want it) One staff said referring to the construction engineers.

By 5thdistrictpangasinan Posted in District