Category Archives: Politics

RH BILL: A Hot Bed of Contention

It’s possibly not wise for me to over indulge in private opinion too much, but as I am in fact human (or rumour has it), then I naturally cannot keep myself out of my own posts too much. Besides I’m vain and conceited as all of us foreigners are 🙂 so what the heck.

As everyone is talking about Janet Napoles at the Senate enquiry, I thought I would raise a now out of date and almost forgotten discussion, the RH Bill.

Well for outsiders, I will give you a little idea of the topic matter. It may surprise some to know that contraception at one time was not at all allowed here. In the time I’ve been here, it is available but expensive. Condoms are in most pharmacies so I think the issue was more about a family planning programme.

Pro RH Bill

You may ask why I am touching on this topic at all. Well part of my mission is to get into the underbelly of the culture here and attempt to define it to outsiders. Not always easy when I’m still working it out for myself, but the issue of overpopulation is a very relevant one here.

I think that the controversy that has come about due to the passing of the RH Bill in December of 2012 has opened some very deep divisions within this society and has opened some very old wounds. Although, “the Supreme Court delayed implementation of the law since March 2013 in response to challenges. As of August 18, this delay was still in force “until further orders”.” Source: Wikipedia

Unbelievable, if you ask me that it’s been delayed yet again.

My position in as much as I understand the topic matter is possibly best explained in a Facebook exchange I had with a friend. I hasten to add that she is a dear friend whose beliefs I don’t always agree with, but always respect and on many topics, we are of like mind. When it comes to the RH Bill though, I fail to agree with her.

It all began when she posted this article by a respected journalist here by the name of Carmen Pedrosa. I beg your patience and to understand the exchange between myself and my friend, you need to read the article.

Rightly or wrongly, I was a little overwhelmed with what I felt was misinformation, and proceeded to comment on my friends post a response. Due to the controversial nature of the topic, I withdrew my comments soon after and we had this exchange in private. I publish it because it sets out some of the thinking here as represented by my friend and is worthy of trying to fathom out the opposition to it.

As I do not wish to cause my good friend any discomfort and open her up to possible attacks as can easily happen with this topic matter, I have protected her identity by changing her name to Maria (why not).

11:20
From Maria:
My friend James, this is the way I see this RH thing. Our population rate is going down from 1960 to the present without this RH bill passing into law. The fertility rate of our women is also going down as provided by statistical data procured from studies. Although the longevity of life of Filipinos slightly increased, the overall picture given by such studies (the links are with me and I have read them but for purposes of swift discussion, I beg your indulgence to bear with me). We have the resources to care for our population, but our government is not prioritizing health, education, and creation of jobs for our people. I and my like-minded FB friends looked at the foreigners to benefit from our depopulation because they are the ones pressuring our government to do so. It was no secret that the American pharmaceutical companies will sell us the pills, sexual devices (includes condoms and IUD), sex education paraphernalia for early sex education of our children, this would encourage sex practices outside of marriage, abortion, destruction of the sacredness of family unit, destruction of the moral fiber of our society. I’m sorry if I cannot satisfactorily convey my beliefs to you my friend. The shortcoming is mine, but I believe we do not need this RH bill into law, because other laws similar into this that are already in place are not being fully implemented by our government. We asked ourselves, and the answer pointed into the funding. Money to be given to the legislators by the foreign pharma co in exchange for the passing of the bill. Then they will recover the bribe money from the sale of the drugs, condoms, everything related to this legislated RH from the taxpayers money collected by our government forever and ever. That is how I take this RH bill. We do not need to legislate procreation of our people. We are relatively ok despite the wrong priorities of our government in managing our resources. But with the passage of this bill, the more we will be screwed up.

Overpopulation

Again, forgive my opinion being such a feature of this article as it’s really not for me to make decisions on this, but I’m curious as to readers’ views and as much reacting to Carmen Pedrosa’s article as my friend’s comments, I said this in reply:

From Me:
Maria, I’ve read your comments and I know we can respectfully debate this between us and I will remove my comments and bring them here instead.
Maria, I love you dearly but I have to ask, how unsustainable population growth in a country that cannot even feed itself benefits the Philippines or Filipinos, and how exactly do foreigners benefit from the RH bill.
(I had not taken in her first comment at this point and yes I know she explained her view already.)

Isn’t the opposition to RH bill mostly from the Catholic Church, which was a foreign religion, imposed on the Philippines anyway?

Just saying, as I’m struggling with this.

I’m replying to parts of this article as I read it so excuse it being broken up. First, the lady who wrote the article seems concerned that it’s an issue of sovereignty. This has no bearing on the rights or wrongs. It is simply bizarre that this is being cited as any kind of reason to oppose it. It’s just logical advice from the world that has seen much benefit from population control. Please note all the wealthiest countries in the world practice family planning options for their benefit and they don’t have to use a contraceptive if they don’t want to; nobody forces them.

Same applies here, nobody is forcing a Catholic to defy his beliefs but anti-RH politicians and the Catholic Church have been imposing their belief on everyone in this country by denying them the right to family planning.

I quote from the article which uses this quote:

“But come to think of it, is overpopulation really bad when China and India are the envy of everybody these days? Is it not, in fact, partly because of their huge population of conspicuous consumers that investments are pouring in?”

Well, it seems to have escaped the writer’s notice that China for one, rightly or wrongly, had a huge problem with population control and 30 years ago, they introduced a one-child-only policy and that is much of the reason why China is now a major economic player. If that was not done, then it would be a totally different story.

India has family planning options I believe already in place, (I may be mistaken.)

Also, please note as the writer again failed to state it, India especially has massive poverty despite its growth. It may eventually trickle down to the poor, but as of now, there are still many living in desperate poverty. Not saying it’s entirely population related, but I am saying that it’s wrong for the writer to make much of the growth and not mention that the growth is benefiting the elite but still isn’t trickling down to the poorest of the poor.

Again, I quote from the article:

“But what are the facts on the Philippines?

“According to data culled from reliable statistics, population growth rate decreased from 3.0% to 1.8%, for the period from 1960 to 2009; birth rate decreased from 26.3% to 25.68%, for the period from 2003 to 2010; Death rate went down from 5.6% to 5.06%, for the period from 2003 to 2010; fertility rate went down from 7% to 3.1%, for the period from 1960 to 2008; life expectancy at birth increased for the period from 2003 to 2010.

“The data shows that the population KPIs are consistently trending down and not going up as previously claimed. All these happened via fund realignment and without increased funding for health.”

Well to that, I have to say that that are hardly figures to be proud of, it’s tiny and the apparent trending down is so small, it’s virtually insignificant.

From me yet again, my god I really do talk too much on Facebook!

As regards your own comments, I will just say that people will always have sex and not being able to obtain contraceptives doesn’t stop it. Maybe I’m not too moral myself, in fact in some ways I know I’m not so in some respects perhaps it qualifies me to say that from my own experiences, when the moment has been there, lack of a condom has rarely stopped me being naughty. I have many kids. Something I’m not proud of apart from being a proud dad of course but I don’t think contraception or the lack of it is any key to making people behave in a more moral fashion. I believe more damage on that level is done by TV companies and media in general who sexualize everything rather consciously or subconsciously.

At which point Maria interceded with:
Supposing, my friend, that the RH bill passes into law today. Does it mean that our poor people with 4 children and more will be able to study, and their parents will be given jobs immediately? In our thinking, it does not matter if you have 1 or 10 children. You can provide for the health and education of your children if the parents are gainfully employed, no matter if you have 10 children. But you cannot provide for the health and education of your only one child if you do not have a job that will sustain your own and your family’s needs. The reason why the Philippines is managing to stay alive is because of our people who are seeking employment abroad. If we depopulate, our people will grow old, the next generation should we dwindle in population will not be able to sustain our existence as a people, who will take care of our old people, who will work for us to sustain our race’s survival? We are intelligent, industrious, peace-loving people (also beautiful, artistic people). The world is a better place with Filipinos around. I hope you agree with me, my friend James.

Yes, big mouth is back. This is from me yet again:

I would have to say that worrying over profits that med companies make is a poor reason to inflict the lack of right to family planning.

I also despair at the weak argument that contraception is some form of abortion. Contraception simply prevent a sperm and an egg from being fertilized, it does not kill any embryo (is that the right word?)

I’m done now forgive my opposition to this viewpoint.

Maria, tomorrow it will make no difference whatsoever, but in 30 years the impact will be massive. I think it’s obvious this is a long-term solution and not a quick fix. There are no quick fixes and a long-term plan is what was always required.

Will nothing shut this opinionated foreigner up? Me again:

Also, I fail to understand how people believe that good family values is promoting slavery via OFWs and sees its people as potential earners for the country by breaking up homes and making the population slaves so the elite can prosper. The elite of this nation are home wreckers and criminals and enemies of the people in my eyes, and this whole debate has been perverted into something else. The winners would be the elite who keep their monopolies and continue to enslave their people by shipping them abroad. Only the elite benefit from this system (meaning the old system before the passing of the Bill). The poor suffer and mom goes to Dubai and dad drinks himself silly here and can’t get a job because the elite owners of this country maintain a monopoly that only benefits them.

Okay, debate over, and I’m sorry that it’s so full of my own thoughts and sentiments, but I want to get some reactions from pro and anti RH Bill people to have their say. I also wanted to use this exchange to present a small part of what my friend and other anti-RH bill advocates believe.

This post and this conversation between Maria and I is only really scratching at the surface and I’m already on nearly 2000 words, to report the whole issue would be a book.

Well, I will leave it here, and I simply ask what your thoughts are. This is an emotive subject for many and I ask contributors to keep their emotions under control so we can exchange civilly. I disagree with Maria, but she is not someone who deserves abuse even if she is anonymous here, so kindly keep to the topic matter and agree with either party or disagree, but please no abuse. Maria represents what many think and that’s the only reason I have used this exchange.

What I have noticed is that many on the anti-RH side have altered their views. It was all about religion at one time. Some here have much misunderstanding of many things including sex education. I have no idea why but I’ve seen eruptions from many when the topic is raised. It seems that some believe it means teaching sexual technique and I really don’t see how they have come to that conclusion, but some do. The media don’t do much of a good job in pointing out facts, they seem to enjoy controversies so they just let them ride as it gives them more to write about and more stories come out of the misunderstandings, so they don’t bother to explain.

I cannot understand more though the views in the article from Carmen Pedrosa. Strangely, she doesn’t seem to be aware that China has a one child policy. Did she miss that?

Also, I notice that people who used to quite rightly attack the whole notion of breaking up families and in a culture of no work people having to go overseas to work, when they debated RH Bill, they would completely change their view, and as a way of attacking the bill, would suddenly claim they were a benefit to the country. That’s how fickle people’s viewpoints can be sometimes here.

It’s a big turning point for the Philippines, and my views apart, it’s worth trying to see how others see it. I know it’s a lot to read taking Carmen Pedrosa’s article into consideration too but I think some of the thinking here is represented by her article. It’s only my view that what she said in the article is wrong. I know this isn’t my usual type of post but I really would like to hear varying viewpoints, respectfully of course.

In truth, it would appear that the fuss and delays in getting this bill passed as it took many, many years seems to be a little futile as I really don’t see much difference at this moment in time. I don’t know why people are so upset about pharmaceutical companies making a profit. Don’t they anyway every time you take a headache pill?

If you read this, you may or may not agree that some of the anti-RH advocates are bordering on the insane. Sorry to inject my opinion again, but it is becoming increasingly unbelievable that such ridiculous claims and stalling tactics can be applied to such an important issue.

I’m not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree and I’m sure I may have some details wrong here and there, but it is interesting to reopen a topic that seems to have gone down the interest ladder with the current pork barrel scam dominating all the news lately. So I’m just reopening it and why is it that it can be delayed further by nonsensical arguments. Kind of makes you lose belief in the democratic process when religious doctrine can be politicked with such outrageous arguments.

This issue has been dragging on long enough. How long are these zealots going to continue with their insane ramblings whilst at the same time the population continues to grow and prevents the progress of the fight against poverty?

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Culture, Impressions, Manila, Philippines, Politics

The Unquestioned Philippines

Sat at home in our home countries, it is doubtful many of us give much thought as to why Filipinos work abroad so much instead of in their own country. We most likely believe it’s a simple matter of poverty alleviation. Well, in a nutshell that would be a correct assumption, but I doubt very much if many of us really do not think about the impact that has on those left behind, nor do we think of why they left in the first place other than for more money. Breaking up families because of poverty is a sad fact of life for many here. Of course, not everyone who leaves is immersed into poverty either. Everyone has his own story.

In our relatively comfortable world, we possibly even frown at how easily they can leave kids behind all for the want of money. Well, the truth is that it’s not always about just wanting money as in just to be wealthier. It’s often about keeping a family fed back home. The real story is often very different to what too many of us assume it is. It’s too much of a simplification to say it’s just about money. In essence it’s often true, but sometimes it’s more about having the chance to earn some. When people are leaving kids behind, it’s usually because of need, and of course, some are fortunate enough after long petition processes to take their offspring with them.

Most do not leave for high salaries by the standards we know. The majority of overseas Filipino workers are low wage earners depending on where they are headed. But that low wage is simply a lot more than the nothing wage some earn in the Philippines. Those in jobs in the Philippines are often massively short of the national minimum wage. There is a minimum wage but more often than not many are not on it, they are well short of that figure.

Some go to advance their careers and were previously doing okay in the Philippines but want the chance to further their skills and prospects, but for many it’s more about need and not want.

We probably seldom think of the hurt and pain of being separated from your family and the difficulties this creates. I doubt if many ask themselves, were they heartbroken when they left? We most likely think that when they get a job in another country, everyone is happy and it’s a great thing for that person and they are lucky. Again, loosely speaking, this is true in some respects as regular income means a fed family back home and the ability to actually make some plans for the future.

When you arrive and see the Philippines for yourself, you very quickly start to realize why so many want out. This country lacks opportunities for professionals let alone the non skilled sector. It’s engrained into the culture that your best prospects are to get out. It’s sad but that really is the thinking of many here; it’s a mentality that is not without some justification. They have had quite a few decades of no hope.

The Myths of Revolution

Much of the impressions I had of the political culture here were based on an event which the world labeled a people power revolution where a baddy was forced out of office and went into exile and the nation was saved by the mother of the nation who selflessly took up the mantle to lead a people out of dictatorship. Well, I’m not going to stir up any nests, but I will say that a dictator was toppled and forced into exile true enough. But I also soon learned that the EDSA revolution was reported terribly outside of the Philippines and even within, and a fairytale was fed to the world by journalists, and to this day, it remains a badly misreported event.

As much as I’m tempted out of anger to give an extremely opinionated account of the possible reasons as to why things are so hopeless for so many here, I shall resist. But what I am saying is to possibly question some of the ideas you have about this country. You will soon learn that much of what you thought is simply wrong.

Of course I have an opinion but I’m consciously trying to minimize it. The real objective of this piece is to have outsiders questioning things about what they believe. In short, I’m suggesting you rethink everything that you thought and take another look. I will resist links that only serve to back up my opinion but let’s say a revolution that was organized by the elite for the elite has only benefitted the elite. Some of the alleged heroes of the peaceful EDSA revolution could possibly be better described as not truly heroic. This is not a defense of Marcos; he left the country branded as the second most corrupt leader in the modern age and with a lot of justification to earn that label. But I’m also saying that events after his exile are not quite what some believe. The revolution was widely covered in the world media at the time; the follow-up stories were neglected.

edsa-people

There are many unsavoury aspects to the Philippines. If you plan to settle here, you will need to understand much of what you are observing. It really does help though if you at least have some idea of the reasons some things can be a little bit difficult here. The circus of politics has played a large part in that. I hope you find out a little for yourself without me preaching opinion. Keep an open mind when you read the modern-day history and don’t always believe in fairy tales. Corruption continued unabated and is still as rampant despite noble speeches.

This place is obviously malfunctioning on many levels for a million different reasons. At the same time there are hopeful signs, many in fact and it’s not all about gloom and poverty, but it’s there and never far away in some form or another.

When you go out to eat, most likely you are going to get served by someone well under minimum wage, on a temporary contract designed to keep them far below minimum wage and they are doing better than most. That’s what you will be seeing from the sidelines.

Empty your head of everything you thought you knew before you got here. Many tend to think of Filipinos as simply economic migrants seeking nothing other than citizenship in another country. What they forget is that they are individuals with unique stories and circumstances, and it’s not always so joyous to get out.

Stereotyping all overseas Filipino workers as people who just want to earn more money means you’re unable to recognize them as individuals. Consider that they possibly left kids behind and missing them like crazy. They are not just economic migrants; they are people often undergoing their own heartbreak at being separated.

Next time you see a Filipino in your country doing a low paid job somewhere, just try to imagine that they just may be experiencing the heartbreak at having to abandon their families to be able to feed them. If you can be bothered to learn a little about the politics of the Philippines, try to find out why this happens. If you learn that, the EDSA revolution has another darker story not talked of in the world media, or the media here. I won’t say more as that’s how you get yourself in trouble with the authorities sometimes, especially if you’re a foreigner. And that is something else for you to think about.

8 Comments

Filed under Impressions, Philippines, Politics