Friday, February 19, 2016

on enrile and LGBT

Someone needs his jail time back.

It's not for me to lose patience over political issues. I can say that what with my limited patience have for our politicians, I still can spare deep sighs and heaving breaths to understand where they are coming from should they issue some statements which are highly controversial.

The whole Twitterdom exploded when Pacquiao made that scathing statement against the LGBT community. But really, it's not Pacquiao that I want to talk here, but the old man beside him. The old man who, for the amount of luck that he has for being a nonagenarian, now has the liberty to issue another pathetic statement if it were not for the Supreme Court to accord some due respect to him.

Sen. Johnny Enrile was quoted by Rappler as saying that members of the LGBT may go find "another planet" to live. If that suits him, fine, I think I'm better off to some Goldilocks planet. But what I find highly incredulous is his statement that Manny Pacquiao will win even if the entire LGBT will not vote for him. There may be truth in that, yes, but only "may."

True. It may be true that that the entire LGBT electorate is too insignificant a number for Pacquiao to prevent Pacquiao from snagging a senatorial seat. But what is good Enrile missing out on is that the LGBT is not the entire electorate. "Common sense" (pun intended) dictates that there is no gender requirement under Batas Pambasa Blg. 881 or the Omnibus Election Code for an individual to be a voter. Inasmuch as college degree and only an ability to read and write makes for a decent qualification for elective officials, the same vein that no gender requirement is imposed on a voter. In the same vein, no "specific-vote for clause" is in the Section 117 of the Election Code. Nary there is a statutory provision pointing for a voter to specifically vote for someone. It doesn't take a genius to know that we can vote for whoever we want and not vote for who we do not believe deserve our exercise of suffrage. It doesn't take a genius. That's "common sense" (again, pun intended).

Just plain logic. Any registered voter can or can not vote for any senatoriable, which means even a straight person can not vote for Pacquiao. This leads to a nothing but a mere exercise of syllogisms, permutations and premises that even your mother or father or grandfather or grandmother may not vote for Pacquiao. What loss Pacquiao may have with what the entire LGBT community not voting for him may suffer the same with straight people should they choose not to believe in Pacquiao.

What point that Enrile is sorely missing is that if straight people gets tired of all these crass and sick political circus vis-à-vis gender issues, any straight man or woman who are compassionate enough to align with the sentiments of the LGBT community on the most humanitarian basis of social justice will jeopardize Pacquiao's higher ascent to the Senate given that the LGBT are not the only electorate but also the straight community. Plain logic lang, hindi ba?

No provisions in law and in jurisprudence hinders a straight person from not voting a specific candidate. That is the very essence of right to suffrage and political exercise. It may be true that it is a fancy thought for the entire electorate to revolt against a candidate who does not support LGBT causes but the possibility is always there because it is not only members of the LGBT who vote but straight people too.

That's why reading the news piece, I really find it quite taxing, why Enrile, for all the mental tenacity that he has displayed both as a statesman and as a lawyer, have not thought of that. But the question is: should Pacquiao be really threatened by such possibility of straight people not voting for him? Two scenarios: the ideal and the real.

The ideal, he should be threatened. Because what with Pacquiao has done at the heels of his damning statement to put the fire out of the emotional wildfire already eating up people's chest, here comes Mang Johnny who is terribly worsening things. Instead of trying to help Pacquiao boost the Boxer's image as an apologetic athlete, here you have a senator, a former military official, an alleged crook and an extraordinaire macho philanderer taunting the populace that his bet can win the elections without the LGBT's help. And if get in the nerve of the straight people and incest them, they will only belatedly realize what bad mishap Enrile did for not shutting up when good opportunity calls for it.

The real, he shouldn't be threatened. Firstly, Because Manny Pacquiao has cemented himself as a national icon in this society too soft to be reminded of its transgressions against its people. After more controversial issues pick up the primetime news, everything will be forgotten and Manny Pacquiao will always be known as the boxer, not the senatorial candidate who issued a statement too unfitting for a legislator. Secondly, we have a culture of misguided electorate. We confuse national agenda with candidatorial prominence. We confuse legislative performance with regional biases. We confuse great mind with great names. We are a confused electorate--easily bought and easily swayed. (Trust me, I've seen worse during elections day because of my previous work.) And that confusion never allows us to hold on to whatever fear or anger that we have against an unfitting candidate. At the end of the day, when the Internet hubbub died down and the ebb of the political tsunami has receded back to the abyss of pardon and parole, we forget and default to being confused again.

This is why Enrile has had the opportunity to make his statement in the first place. Because we forgot the allegations surrounding him. We forgot about--at this point allow me to legally talk--the strict applications of the Revised Penal Code. The Supreme Court ruled that because of Johnny's old age, he should be given the chance to be excused from serving his temporary jail time while his plunder case is being heard. No intention to criticize the collective wisdom of the Supreme Court but the application of Article 13 (mitigating circumstances) in the bail petition is, in my humble submission, a stray application. In effect, we ushered into a novel jurisprudence and case law--a bad and dangerous precedent at that, and made the equal protection clause under the Constitution questionable? Is it only because of "humanitarian consideration" should Enrile be given the standing in law to not serve his detention when in fact, plunder is a non-bailable offense; and the Sandiganbayan dismissed the bail petition?

I still cannot understand why the majority reached that decision. Asked, I'd rather side with the minority. Anyway, it is already an operative fact that Enrile is out on a hefty bail and now challenging gay people to go find another planet. Tongue-in-cheek, why won't he go back to jail first, before I dispatch for another planet? Quid pro quo.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

compulsory testing?

What about compulsory HIV testing in extreme cases?

One kind soul approached me at my PlanetRomeo HIV account, let's call him F, and asked about the early symptoms of HIV onset. Since I am no doctor but a disciple of law, I could not be too exact as to what the "symptoms" are regarding HIV. HIV could be asymptomatic. But it could also show early signs when we are properly informed about HIV literature as applied to how raunchy we are in bed.

Fast forward, I told F that I had rashes back then in my chest area which actually were not itchy. He inquired if I have had fever. None, I said. The conversation went on and finally into its climax. F said that his late partner died, but up until now he and the people around him and his late partner cannot be fully sure if it were AIDS behind the late partner's passing because the significant other refused treatment. Even refused to take the HAT or the HIV Anti-bodies Test. The only speculation he had, and mine as well, was that it was AIDS as it already shown dire complications (as what F told me at least). I asked F if he tried talking down his partner to at least get an HAT; he did to no avail and no change of heart. One then can only speculate as much--even the doctors who I think at that moment had the hunch--because the patient waived his right to treatment. At that point and on hindsight, I saw how doctors could be bound by what is only permitted by the patient. A more existential question then: In cases like that, where do we draw the line for doctors to truly heal and to strictly adhere the decisions of their patients? I am in absolutely no position to answer.

Enter law. It is well-within the Philippine Patient's Bill of Right for a patient to refuse treatment, as can be gleamed in paragraph 5, "The patient has the right to refuse treatment/life-giving measures, to the extent permitted by law, and to be informed of the medical consequences of his action."

But, take heed readers of the one important passage: "to the extent permitted by law." That is an important statutory phrase in paragraph 5 because then we ask, which law permits refusal and which law overrides a patient's refusal to treatment? I think there is none yet to date because it would be highly controversial to think of the least if a doctor, who in his utmost good faith and impelled by the good intent of the law, to do what the patient otherwise permits.

Apply it to the scenario of F's partner, what if his doctors, with their healthy medical reasoning, conducted a HAT despite the stern refusal of the patient? Would that be allowed?

Be that as it may, weeks passed and F's story had me thinking, what if there is a law that actually does not permit refusal of patient as regards their care management when life and death is on the line? Are we to look at it on a moralistic viewpoint or on a legal philosophical view of crafting laws for people's sake? I bet it would be a tough consideration because moralists have been on the look out as regards our health laws in this country.

It fancy me to think about the unpopular opinion. Let's give compulsory testing a chance to save lives in dire cases of death. But right now, no law actually permits that unsavory opinion of mine. The rule under the Philippine HIV/AIDS Law (Republic Act 8504) is that it is prohibited to conduct compulsory testing. The last thing I've heard as regards development of RA 8504 is an amendatory bill filed by Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao province. As to the bill's content, I am not privy to it.

But again, take heed, because Sec. 2(b)(1) of RA 8504 admits of an exception to prohibition against compulsory testing, that is, unless otherwise provided in this Act.

Down in Section 17 of the Act, there are three instances where the Act may allow compulsory HIV testing: criminal charge of rape and injurious substance; relevant issues as regards the Family Code; and compliance as regards organ and blood donation.

The exceptions, in legal parlance, methinks, are not a closed-list exception, which means, instances to allow compulsory testing may still be added as lawmakers have the good faith to include those new instances as worthy exceptions, and, in my whimsical thoughts, in articulo mortis.

The way I see it, if our lawmakers only have the balls to consider--of course, always reaching out to public consultants and experts--the need to have a compulsory testing to determine if a patient's disease is caused by HIV, it will make care management more efficient. Of course, what is only made compulsory is the testing, not the treatment. If after testing and results showed that the patient is reactive to HIV anti-bodies, then this information may be used to properly inform the patient of his situation. Only then will the patient be allowed to choose whether to opt for treatment or not because with HIV now a reality after testing, doctors can now move to explain how HIV in these day and age can be manageable as diabetes or hypertension.

What is important, methinks, is that there is a testing done per se. This may give the patient a new perspective as to his survival if done with the guidance of doctors. Unlike if the testing--not the treatment--is made to depend on the decision of the patient, doctors have no slim chance to fight for the survival of the patient. Doctors are immediately bound to wait for the patients to die.

Surely, after testing, and reactivity, a patient can still choose whether to move on to the treatment. If he opts to, good. If he doesn't, the doctor has done his fair share.

If this is the way, we can save people such as F's partner. If we are to include in articulo mortis as an exception in RA 8504, we can save lives. And since the Patient's Bill of Right is a general law, and HIV Law is a special one, any first year law student will know that special law overrides a general law.

If this is a way to save lives and truly make doctors as lifesavers we can fancy the thought of how long the shot is and try to shorten it by making it a reality. This is where HIV/AIDS and law intersects. This is HIV policy-making and lawmaking. This is where the law can actually respond to a medical phenomenon.

So I ask, how about compulsory testing urgente mortis periculo, any takers?