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SELDA on proposals for Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and the distribution of the victimsí compensation from the settlement agreement

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Law, yes; legalism, no

By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, roycimagala@gmail.com
March 29, 2011

A SIDELIGHT in the RH Bill issue that is gaining public interest is that ordinance of the Ayala Alabang Village that seeks to regulate the availability of contraceptive materials. It so happens that the same ordinance is now being copied by other barangays in Luzon, and so, the controversy thickens.

The brouhaha actually surfaces a more important aspect of life, and that is none other than the interplay between legality and morality, manís laws and Godís laws. This is an area prone to a lot of problems.

For one, there is an emerging attitude of considering any reference to God in the making of our laws as completely out of place. How this mindset came to be is quite a mystery to me, since as far as I can see, the ultimate basis of our laws should be Godís laws.

Of course, we are now in some secularized and Godless world, and thus, we should not be all too surprised when we meet anomalies like this not only in the streets, but also in our lawmaking congresses worldwide. Some would ask, how would we ever know that such and such is the law of God?

So, some of our legal minds are held captive by what is known as legal positivism. Thatís purely human law with God having no place in it. Unfortunately, in some so-called developed countries and among some of our bright minds, this narcissistic anomaly reigns supreme.

There are also people who may not openly profess atheism and agnosticism, but put God in brackets when they pursue their temporal affairs, like making laws and ordinances. They consider God a drag, a bother or an embarrassment in law-making. At best, they give him only some formalistic references, but no more.

This is actually a common problem. While we need to have law and a whole legal and judicial system to regulate our life in society, what we donít need is legalism, or the distortion and abuse of our man-made legal system.

We are, of course, vulnerable to this predicament, since manís intelligence and free will can take tortuous turns that in the end are determined by how our heart tilts Ė either toward God or is it just stuck with our own selves?

Apropos of this point is what St. Paul once said about freedom: ďYou have been called unto freedom. Only do not make freedom an occasion to the flesh, but by charity of the spirit, serve one another.Ē (Gal 5,13) St. Peter said something similar when he said we should not make freedom a cloak for malice. (cfr 1 Pt 2,16)

That's why Christ told us to be most faithful to his word. ®"Whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Mt 5,19)

When our freedom is not acknowledged as coming from God and therefore, for God, when it is not lived in charity for the others as God wants it, then we can make laws and ordinances that cater to our own ideas, and not anymore Godís, of who we are and of how we are supposed to behave, etc.

We can abuse our freedom and use it to pursue what we want, even to the point of disobeying God. This abuse of freedom and of the other gifts of God to us is rampant these days. Thatís why we have many brilliant people entangled in their own web of conceit and pride.

In this RH Bill-related Ayala Alabang ordinance, for example, it is claimed that some sector of the Catholic Church is imposing their option on others, and therefore, unconstitutional.

How that conclusion was arrived at is again a mystery to me. I suppose we can look at things in different ways and through different lenses. If one is not clear about the intrinsic evil of contraception, not to mention abortion to which the RH Bill is bound to approve one day, if experience of other countries is to be considered, then anything that regulates or restrains the use of contraceptives would be viewed negatively.

Some so-called legal luminaries are questioning this ordinance when in fact other RH-related ordinances that favor contraceptives not only regulate and promote but rather impose the use of contraceptives.

In this RH Bill issue, we are not mainly concerned about the legalistic intricacies involved. We are more concerned about the morality of such bill.