Friday, June 25, 2010

Sex education in schools is simply dead

New Philippine president Benigno "Noynoy' Aquino III said his cabinet is almost complete. What's left to determine are the posts of Health secretary and foreign affairs. Names have been bruited about for the health posts, including the name of former health secretary Jaime Galvez-Tan who served during the Ramos administration.

Tan is perfect for the post. He is a rural health physician. For those who don't know, here is Dr. Tan's brief background.

Dr. Tan served as Chairperson of CFSI from late 2003 until November 2006 and is a former Secretary of Health for the Philippine Government. He served as Undersecretary and Chief of Staff of the Department of Health from 1992 to 1994. Prior to that time, he held senior positions at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), both at the national and the regional levels. Earlier, Dr. Tan served as a rural health physician and trainer. Dr. Tan has been a Consultant for UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), The World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Dr. Tan is widely published and has lectured in fifteen countries on several continents. The recipient of numerous awards, Dr. Tan is currently an International Consultant on Health Policy Development and was until recently Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of the Philippines Manila and, concurrently, Executive Director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Tan is President and/or Chief Officer of several health-related nongovernmental organizations. He is a graduate of the University of the Philippines and the Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium. Dr. Tan is a Philippine citizen.

It seems that Esperanza Cabral's job is on the line. Probably, Cabral is being "sacrificed" for her strong stance against the Catholic church stand on sex education.

Cabral has been a strong advocate of pro-choice, and has even publicly shown herself on television, promoting the use of condoms. Her controversial statements that even kindergarten kids should be taught sex education have incurred the ire of the Church.

With La Sallian brother Arman Luistro poised to take the education department, it is all but certain that Cabral will surely not be retained as health secretary of Aquino. How will these two departments implement the sex education policy when two department heads are at odds? Cabral's position is simply too radical and different from Luistro's. Luistro of course will follow Church teachings. How then will Luistro as EDUC head implement the state policy on sex education? Will we expect Luistro to countermand government or state policy in lieu of the church's?

Curiously, Aquino has yet to formalize the alleged appointment of now Foreign Affairs secretary Alberto Romulo, who, at 76, is the oldest Cabinet member of the outgoing Arroyo administration. Romulo who reportedly supported Aquino but remained as a political ally of former president Arroyo, is confident that he'll retain his post. Yet certain quarters are demanding for his removal, particularly the president of the association of Filipino diplomats.

Romulo is a veritable asset to the administration for his strong networks and of course, the high regard for his name. The name Romulo has been synonymous with Philippine diplomacy. This position should be entrusted to someone experienced in the arts of diplomacy and is highly respected among his peers in the foreign service.