Sunday, August 5, 2012

Silence Means YES?

by Dominic John Galeon
Creative-Accounts Engineer at IdeasXMachina (IXM)
Instructor- University of Asia and the Pacific

"It’s no surprise that most of the pregnancy mortality cases are from the poor. How many of them actually get to be in a hospital when giving birth? How many of them can’t afford a good hospital so they die in a public hospital, which lacks the most basic materials to be a proper, honest to goodness hospital? - Dominic John Galeon"

First of a three-part essay on the RH Bill by Dom Galeon

I am a relatively new Twitter user. I don't really tweet much. As a matter of fact, the reason why I created my Twitter account was to follow the RH Bill trend. That was a few months back. Since then, I’ve managed to tweet even stuff not related to the RH Bill. 

Yesterday, I started tweeting about it again. A thirty-something woman started a tweet debate with me on the subject. Our tweet-versations covered the economics of the RH Bill up to its healthcare promises. We reached a point where this woman tweeted about unwanted teen pregnancies. She said that the RH Bill would prevent such a thing form happening. I replied by pointing out that unwanted teen pregnancies happen because of lack of discipline and virtue. She replies to this, saying that she doesn't care what unmarried couples do, that it’s “nobody else’s business.” And then I replied, “So, it’s okay for you to have your daughter going around having sex with anyone she likes?” 

And then there was silence. 

She didn't reply anymore to that tweet. She, instead, went off pursuing another line of argumentation. 

Why the silence?

Is this the point where morals fail?

With the Catholic Church now strongly praying and gathering support against the RH Bill, I will try to give my two cents on the matter, perhaps without talking about Catholic doctrine (I myself am a Catholic and I believe and understand the Church’s doctrine on why the RH Bill, especially its points on contraceptive promotion, is immoral). 

I will attempt to talk about the RH Bill as an ordinary, tax-paying citizen who is not rich, and who belongs to a happy family of now 6 children (my mom just gave birth to my 5th sibling). 

Why am I not pro-RH?

Main answer: It’s the wrong solution to the right problems. 

Anyone who has been following the RH debate would know that the original premise of the proponents of the bill was this: overpopulation is the cause of poverty in the Philippines. Now, this premise has become irrelevant and even absurd. I never believed that population is a problem. In fact, it’s an asset. The Wallstreet Journal, after Noynoy’s latest SONA, came out with an article criticizing the president’s push for the RH Bill. The article said that Noynoy would be making a mistake if he pursues a population control program, saying that one of the greatest assets of the Philippine economy is its booming population. Other Asian countries are now suffering from a demographic winter – the low birth rate cannot compensate for the higher mortality rate. There are fewer people being born to replenish their population. As a result, these countries have more people on pension than people who work and pay taxes. Talk about an unbalanced economy.

This brings me to the three reasons why I am against the RH Bill.

First: It is absurd to spend at least P3 Billion on contraceptives every year.

The RH Bill proposes to allot P3 Billion on contraceptives. This is a waste of taxpayers’ money – of my money. Instead of spending this much money on contraceptives, why not put them into better use? Improve the state of public schools, especially in the provinces. Every year, come the back-to-school days, we see how many public schools don't even have a proper classroom, or how some share the same desk, etc. You want to help the poor? Give them better schools.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThis money can also be spent on improving public hospitals. How many hospitals, especially in the provinces, suffer from lack of doctors, staff, and equipment? Even the Philippine General Hospital suffers from this. What more the provincial hospitals? Not to mention towns where there are no hospitals at all. Yes, pregnancy mortality rates are up, but not because women are getting pregnant left and right. It’s because the poor do not have access to genuine healthcare.

It’s no surprise that most of the pregnancy mortality cases are from the poor. How many of them actually get to be in a hospital when giving birth? How many of them can’t afford a good hospital so they die in a public hospital, which lacks the most basic materials to be a proper, honest to goodness hospital? 

The poor are poor not because they are many. They are poor because they are not given enough opportunities. What they need are jobs, not contraceptives. 

This is where the vicious cycle of poverty in the Philippines deserves an explanation. The main reason why people who are born poor remain poor is the lack of opportunities for improvement. They cannot get good jobs. How so? Because there are not very many good jobs available, and because most of the poor are not educated enough to qualify for these jobs. 

So the root is lack of education. Now, in principle, basic primary and secondary education is free. And yet, you have people who never finished gradeschool, or those who never stepped into highschool. Clearly, the educational system has to be improved. The K-12 system is a good step towards this. But, the facilities also have to be improved. 

What the poor need are opportunities. Give them something to do. Give them jobs that will improve their state in life. This will keep them busy and productive – not just reproductive. They don't need condoms. They need education and jobs. They need better healthcare, not just reproductive healthcare. 

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