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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The RH bill: a divisive, unnecessary and distracting cause.

Philippine Daily Inquirer
7:28 pm | Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

THROUGH THE years, the Philippine Daily Inquirer has admirably chronicled the highs and lows of our country, as well as the successes and travails of our fellow Filipinos. Its frank account of the latest news (seen through the eyes of a Filipino), and the incisive opinions of its columnists helped shape the opinion of our policy-makers and of the public itself. Indeed, I for one admit that I look forward to grabbing my copy of PDI every morning, half-expecting a new controversy to wail about, or some trivial news to lighten my day. There is some good-natured, naughty aptness to the moniker attached to PDI by readers as The Philippine Daily Intriguer. I do my best to read up on the latest opinions of Solita Monsod, retired Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban and former UP College of Law dean Raul Pangalangan, among others. It is difficult to imagine a weekday without PDI.

Lately, PDI has been more and more vocal about the public’s frustration with corruption, anomalies and injustice. Our awareness has been the keener for that. PDI must speak out by all means because unless it does, we Filipinos will forget, ignore and neglect democratic governance in this country. Pity a populace that gropes for the truth, that labored under past governments that cared little for its welfare, that has been deceived by its leaders for too long.

I sincerely hope for an end to the self-pity to which our people have been accustomed. We cannot complain and wail endlessly, surely, without hoping that our government will wage a war for good governance. It makes little sense for our leaders to express vexation or disappointment at the recent turn of events, or find endless justifications for the present state of governance. This is precisely why the present administration should reconsider its view that anti-corruption and governance laws are already in place, and as such, there is no need to enact new laws addressing the two maladies.

The inconvenient truth is that the same laws have allowed public officials and bureaucrats to evade responsibility or go scot-free to the embarrassment of our nation. The same laws continue to provide the basis for bureaucrats to protect and favor certain vested interests with impunity. The same laws, in other words, have failed to promote transparent and accountable government since time immemorial.

If good governance was the battle cry in the last elections, let that be the focus of the government’s energies in the coming years. That is why all the attention on the so-called Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, among others, is counterproductive. The RH Bill should not be an issue that this government should be dying for. The fight for good governance is the one big issue we—government, citizens, the private sector and civil society—should all be discussing in public forums. Rather than divide us, it will certainly unite us as no other issue has been able to do.

I just hope that PDI is with me on this.

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