Starting September 8, 2012, anonymous comments -- whether for or against the RH bill -- will no longer be permitted on this blog.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Belinda Olivares-Cunanan on the Palace-CBCP "Dialogue" and the RH Bill

The Palace has appealed to the bishops to “cool it” with regard to the RH bill. But who started the “heating up” in the first place? Wasn’t it President Noynoy when he said in various forums that he’s willing to be excommunicated if only to push it? Reports from the grapevine say the bishops reached the end of their rope, so to speak, two weeks ago when P-Noy kept a group of them, led by a very high-ranking prelate, waiting for him at the Palace for two hours for the appointed dialogue (long delays are getting to be a habit with P-Noy: reports said he also kept a group of generals waiting interminably the other day to take their oath of office).

Once the much-delayed dialogue commenced, however, the President would dash out every half hour to smoke his cigarette. The bishops doubtless felt he was not serious enough and after two attempts they called it off.


P-Noy now seems to be cooling down the situation. Despite the appeal of his House leaders he has refused to certify the RH bill as urgent, and in fact, at last Wednesday's LEDAC meeting in Malacanang, it was ranked only 19th in the list of priorities. The RH bill seems to be losing steam in Congress. With at least 41 anti-RH members signing up to interpellate its passionate sponsor, Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, and only about nine session days to go, assuming each interpellator takes at least an hour, there's little chance of the bill squeezing through even just the period of sponsorship.

The senators said they will seek to feel the pulse of the public on this issue, but it’s a reality that the Senate President would have a big influence on them, and here Senate Chief Juan Ponce Enrile is playing his cards well. On the issue of the postponement of the ARMM elections, he is going along with the Palace in seeking to justify coinciding the ARMM elections with the May 13, 2013 mid-term national and local elections. But on the RH issue he's definitely opposed.

One factor may be that his wife Cristina was once Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican and close to the Church; but he was also quoted by Star columnist Bobbit Avila as saying, “As far as I’m concerned, I am not ready to tinker with anything that is an act of God.” In fact Enrile is said to be filing his own version of the RH issue which will be quite far from that being pushed in Congress.


Everyone is weighing in on the RH issue and this blogger, even before I was fired by the Inquirer last year for my political views, has been writing against it, mainly from the standpoint that it places too much emphasis on “controlling” population growth instead of doing something about misplaced economic priorities that's causing a lot of poverty. I’ve said endlessly that “overpopulation” is only in the mega-cities that are bursting at the seams because there’s little opportunity for gainful employment in the undeveloped rural areas.

At this juncture some senators, among them Majority Leader Vicente Sotto, have pointed out the utter lack of need for such a highly controversial legislation, and I agree completely. Why pass an RH law compelling the use of means to control the population artificially, when these means are already available everywhere to everyone who wants to use them? Why the need to legislate a bill that will compel even those who have objections based on religious beliefs to push sex education at a certain level, or health workers to push the use of artificial means of birth control against their religious convictions? It's the coercive aspect of the bill that riles up so many anti-RH people. Why get into something that divides the nation so bitterly?

Instead of spending an estimated P310 billion on artificial means of control, why not set up meaningful livelihood projects that would train adolescent out-of-school girls in gainful employment, so that they don’t marry too young? Population gallops because there’s no alternative to copulation especially for idle young people.

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