Balls. Testicles. Cojones. Nuts. You, Philippine President Noynoy Aquino, need them. You really do.
Have the balls, President Aquino, to face inevitable controversy when you need to make a decision. It was announced earlier that the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, which was written to guarantee access to education and resources on reproductive health and birth control to the Philippine population, was not included in Malacañang’s list of priority bills. This was a cowardly, spineless move to avoid the certain backlash you’d receive regardless of whether or not the bill is passed.
How is the bill not a priority, when it’s been a major topic of debate since the day it was authored? How is it not a priority, when the issue’s resolution has such profound effects on mortality, population issues, healthcare, economics, and human rights? How is it not a priority, when you have two very polarized groups of citizens battling each other over the bill? How is it not a priority, when a candidate’s stance on the issue significantly affected his chances of election?
The bill IS a priority, President Aquino; you’re just too afraid of the repercussions it’ll have on you once a decision is made on it. If it isn’t passed, you’ll have pro-RH Bill folks on your back, calling you a fool for disregarding the effect poor reproductive health care, a lack of education, and overpopulation have on both the health of your citizens and the economy as a whole. You’ll lose the approval of 69% of surveyed Filipinos who support the bill. If it’s passed, on the other hand, you’ll lose the approval of the CBCP, pro-life groups, and a significant number of unaffiliated Filipinos. They’ll judge you for promoting loose morals, lies developed by pharmaceutical companies, and a host of other spiritual and psychological issues that contribute to the decay of society. You’re taking the easy way out by setting it aside for another day.
Have the balls, President Aquino, to stand up for your convictions. This past month, we’ve seen your ability to stick by your own words dwindle into nothingness. On January 20, 2011, it was reported that the RH Bill was one of your 12 priority bills to be presented to Congress this year. You yourself said that you limited the number of priority bills to 12 to “ensure swift passage”. On that same day, however, you changed it to the Responsible Parenthood Bill (a watered-down version of the RH Bill, no less) in an effort to appease its strongly-Catholic opposers. On February 7, a mere 18 days after the announcement, it was reported to no longer be a priority bill.
What happened to the need for its “swift passage”? What caused you to change your convictions so quickly? I find it hard to believe that 18 days is a substantial amount of time to completely turn your perspective around on such a large issue. Is this a quality of an effective leader, to go back on one’s word so quickly and clumsily?
Have the balls, President Aquino, to stand up to the CBCP and put them in their place. You’ve made it clear to the media that you were a stickler for the constitution. Why, then, do you need to engage in talks with a religious authority over a matter of governance when the constitution demands a separation between church and state? Why do you allow them to bully you through threats of cancelling the talks? Why do you allow them to coerce you by calling for civil disobedience?
I understand that your family owes much of its fortunes to the CBCP. After all, they played a significant part in your mother’s election into office. They also played a major role in your election, swaying popular opinion in your favor. That, however, does not give them the right to undermine government proceedings. That does not give them the right to meddle in matters of the state. Sure, they helped free us from a dictator that oppressed us and ended innocent lives in the process. However, poor reproductive health practices and overpopulation creates oppressive situations and kills innocents as well. Why prevent a bill that seeks to stop that?
Grow some balls, President Aquino, because a great number of men who have them can’t keep them in their pants. The CBCP argues that men and women simply need to be good boys and girls and practice abstinence. That doesn’t stop hormonal teenagers from exploring their sexuality. That doesn’t stop women from being raped. That doesn’t stop couples from fucking out of drunkenness. The CBCP preaches using the rhythm method if couples can’t pull their crotches away from each other. How are people supposed to know what their rhythms are without any education on the matter? Women’s cycles can be rather unpredictable, fluctuating with the slightest change of habits. Even when used properly, pulling out is still far less effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies than using contraceptives.
Anti-RH Bill groups argue that corruption and poor healthcare programs are responsible for unfortunate deaths caused by maternal complications and abortions. A lot of people wouldn’t even need medical attention if they were properly educated on reproductive health, which is a major consideration of the RH Bill. The education component of the bill discusses the different ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies, which in certain situations might lead to medical problems. The bill also makes provisions for emergency obstetric care specifically to prevent maternal deaths. Nowhere in the bill is it stated that abortions will be promoted as a “convenient” way to terminate unwanted pregnancies. In this regard, the bill is just as pro-life as its opponents.
The CBCP and other pro-life groups argue that a growing population actually contributes to the economy by increasing the country’s number of workers. They say that overpopulation is a delusion created by the slums of Metro Manila, that only the urban settings are overcrowded and that rural areas hold wide open spaces. They fail to recognize that the number of jobs available does not increase with the number of workers available. In fact, a surplus of workers tends to lower wages, because for every Juan with a job, there’ll be a hundred more willing to do the same work for less money. They also fail to acknowledge that urban areas are overcrowded because we have rural folk migrating here for better work opportunities. There may be space away from the city, yes, but not jobs – just the struggles of poverty and the threat of death.
Grow some balls, President Aquino, because we need you to.
Author’s Note: I can only speak from my own perspective. If you want a better picture on the state of women’s reproductive health in the Philippines, please visit this post from Lauren and take the time to watch the videos embedded. Thank you.