Friday, April 15, 2011
Sen. Antonio Trillanes on the RH Bill
Not exactly "against" the bill, but a significant call for caution towards it:
By: Sonny Trillanes
I was interviewed last week by some 4th year law students from UP Diliman as part of their course requirements. Among the questions they asked me was about my position on the Reproductive Health bill. For this particular question, instead of answering, I threw back the question at them by asking their position on the matter. They replied that their class was unanimously in favor of the RH bill. So, I inquired further by asking if they have read the RH bills filed in the current Congress. To this, they candidly admitted that they haven’t.
Such is now the reality of the on-going debate about the RH bill issue. People, particularly the enlightened class of society, are actually engaging in a heated discourse on the subject based on very limited information. For some, it has even reached the “either-you-are-with-me-or-against-me” approach that is similar to the pre-Edsa Dos atmosphere that pervaded the same enlightened class. Of course, I need not remind everyone how that said socio-political phenomenon gave birth to the dark GMA era.
Going back to the subject, the RH bill being referred to should be the current versions filed in the 15th Congress by, as of last count, around eight Congressmen in the House of Representatives and by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago in the Senate. The bills filed by Sen. Santiago, Cong. Lagman, Cong. Bello of Akbayan and other Congressmen are largely similar and consists of around 25 to 27 sections. The Gabriela version filed by Cong. Ilagan, on the other hand, is substantially different and has 36 sections. There are some provisions in the bills that may be considered contentious, such as the sex education for children as low as pre-school (for the Gabriela version) or Grade 5 (for the other versions). Being a father of a grade 6 student, I may not be too warm to the idea of having my own 11-year old daughter go through a sex education class conducted by teachers who may not be thoroughly qualified to teach the subject. As it is, some are already complaining of the quality of teaching in both the public and private schools. Another, is the provision on the budget allocation. How much is the program going to cost? Would it be considered a higher priority given our financial standing than providing employment, education, food security, salary increase, etc.? Finally, are there any interested parties that stand to gain from the passage of this bill?
In sum, the RH bill issue is not as simple as whether one is in favor or not of artificial contraceptives. It is definitely much more complicated than that and we really need to thoroughly and objectively scrutinize this bill just like any other piece of legislation brought before us.