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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A lay Catholic response to Fr. Joaquin Bernas' article "My Stand on the RH Bill"

Manuel Abejo

Dear Fr. Bernas,

This is in reaction to your article "My stand on the RH Bill" in your PDI-Sounding Board column.

I wish to comment on your second point.

To my understanding, you wish to raise at the same level of respect and public esteem the conviction of some people that "artificial birth control is a good method for spacing births" to that of "spacing births through the use of infertile periods" recommended by Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae. The ground for raising such demand is your alleged perception that we are living in a "pluralist society".

Is Philippine society actually a "pluralist society"?

I have reasons to believe that Philippine society is still far from being a "pluralist society". If we will compare our society to that of the American society (a pluralist society par excellence), we will see the big difference. American society is more like a "big park" where groups could co-exist as long as their rights to life and property are respected and enforced. There are many characteristics in Philippine society that would indicate it is not a pluralist society. In my opinion, these are the following:

1. Majority of Filipinos are not empowered financially, economically, intellectually to participate politically in society. Due to low educational attainment of many, they could not participate independently in the political arena. In addition, the inequitable distribution of wealth among the people further aggravates this lack of political empowerment.

2. Philippine law enforcement and justice system is not so efficient enough to enforce property rights and right to life of the under-privileged.

3. Philippine economy is not so free as it is free in the US. The free-market system here is not exactly a free-market system. The entrepreneurial spirit here is not so active to provide ample opportunities for the majority.

Analogically, Philippine society is more like an "organic body" (human body) than a "big park". As in an organic body, anything harmful to that body the immune system will get into action to reject and expel it. That would probably explain the current upheaval of a significant sector of our society against the rh bill.

Given this consideration, I think it would be confusing to insist that our society is like the pluralist American society. Differing outlook and perspectives on life co-exist in the American society. There, pro-contraception people could live side-by-side with pro-life people as long as they respect each others' rights to life and property. Like in a free-market system, they compete with each other by trying to win support from the majority through proof and evidence from life.

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