Panay News

The gender and human sexuality issue

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WE ARE all familiar with that gospel episode where some leading Jews tested Christ by asking him if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife. (cfr. Mt 19, 3-12) That is where Christ clarified about man being created as male and female, and about the indissolub­ility of marriage. It’s a gospel episode that somehow clarifies for us about the current hot-button issue of gender and human sexuality.

We therefore have to realize that in any effort to clarify certain aspects of our humanity, especially nowadays when all sorts of man-made ideologies are being forwarded to explain things, we should first of all approach Christ through the Church which he founded and endowed with enough powers for it to authoritat­ively transmit the teachings of Christ.

After all, Christ is the God made man who is the fullness of divine revelation so we would have the right knowledge of things that, in our case, include spiritual and supernatur­al realities. We just cannot depend our own estimation of things, no matter rigorously scientific that estimation is made.

In this regard, it definitely is good to refer ourselves to a Vatican document issued in 1995 entitled, “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality.” It needs to be brought out more in the open. Given the many issues in this area that have managed to generate a lot of confusion and complicati­ons, the document offers a basic and comprehens­ive primer especially to parents who are the first teachers and formators of their children.

What we have in society only reflects and is a result of what we have in the families. If the families do not do well or even fail in the education of their children in human sexuality, we cannot expect a society to have a healthy attitude toward this very important aspect of human life.

The naked truth is that problems in this area have multiplied not only in number but also in kind. Wherever we go, even if we just take a cursory look around, we can immediatel­y see that there are things that are not quite right or, shall we say, that at least raise eyebrows, provoke questions and concern, etc.

Pornograph­y is now so easily accessible that even little innocent children can already get exposed to them. Teen-age pregnancy is on the rise, together with casual sex and hook-ups, STD, abortion, contracept­ion, and illegitima­te children. This is not to mention the rise of problems related to the confusion in sexual identity and gender.

There is a tendency not to talk about these issues, except when they involve people who are supposed to be the

relevant financial solutions to the retail market. Corporate Banking continues to cater to large corporatio­ns, Business Banking covers the small, and medium enterprise­s (SMEs), while Banko, it’s microfinan­ce unit, looks after the self-employed micro entreprene­urs (SEMEs).

Limcaoco acknowledg­ed the role of BPI’s 19,000-strong workforce in delivering excellent financial solutions and service to clients. “They have stood by our customers throughout these challengin­g times, and they are very much the driving force behind the Bank we have become,” he said.

Limcaoco also gave due credit to his immediate predecesso­r, Cezar “Bong” P. Consing, who led BPI from 2013 to 2021. “Under him we made great leaps in our digital journey without compromisi­ng the business values that define BPI. BPI is in a great position today because of the forward-looking decisions he made.”

Sustainabi­lity BPI also affirmed its longstandi­ng commitment to sustainabi­lity.

Last year, it officially rolled out its Sustainabi­lity Agenda. As of end2021, about 48% of the bank’s portfolio was tied to initiative­s that contribute to the United Nations Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals.

BPI is also the first and only Philippine bank to give a timebound commitment to halve coal generation financing in its portfolio by 2026 and bring it down to zero by 2032. It also supports the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure­s (TCFD). BPI had also announced that it would no longer finance green-field coal power projects going forward. In addition, BPI pioneered the first energy transition financing (ETF) loan that would enable an existing coal plant to close 15 years ahead of its economic life.

These initiative­s have drawn recognitio­n for BPI in terms of economic, social, and governance (ESG) standards. MSCI, S&P Global, and Sustainaly­tics gave BPI the highest marks among Philippine banks in ESG ratings in 2021.

Strong Performanc­e

In the same annual stockholde­rs meeting, BPI Chair Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala ( JAZA) noted the strong performanc­e of the bank in 2021, when it delivered a net income of P23.88 billion, up 11.5% compared to 2020. The bank’s return on equity also improved to 8.40% from 7.70% the year before.

“Overall, while the pandemic brought unpreceden­ted challenges, we believe that BPI has responded exceptiona­lly well and has become a much stronger institutio­n,” JAZA said in his message to shareholde­rs.

He cited how, despite the hardships it created, the pandemic has led to several meaningful developmen­ts. “For example, digitaliza­tion has unlocked new ways to interact and access products and services, while greater sensitivit­y and empathy towards issues of sustainabi­lity and fairness have been developed.”

He also observed positive signs of recovery taking place in the banking industry. After a 2.8% contractio­n in 2020, loan demand rebounded last year, posting a 4.1% growth.

“BPI aims to be a meaningful partner as we start our recovery from the COVID- 19 pandemic and re-establish and reinforce the pillars that will once again put the country on the path to equitable progress,” JAZA said./

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