I was watching a recorded interview of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte who was ask about the Reproductive Health (RH) law in relation to the country’s burgeoning population and his answer was a classic no-holds-barred DU30 answer that buoys up your spirit because his remarks exudes of political will.
Yes, political will because if one does not have this trait as a leader of a poor, populous country like the Philippines, which is predominantly Catholic, the fight you will be having against the Catholic Church hierarchy for its implementation can be exasperating, at best, and at worst, divisive.
This happens because weak politicians allow the Church to meddle in the affairs of the State, which in this case is the RH law and which has an enormous implication to the population, but to avoid conflict and possible political backlash during elections they give in to the will of the Church officials.
President Benigno Aquino may have been instrumental in passing the RH law in 2012, which for many, many years had been advocated by health agencies and concerned citizens for Filipino couples, especially the poor and the less-schooled from the rural areas and more so the women whose lives are put in danger due to high-risk pregnancies because of their ignorance about family planning and responsible parenthood, yet to this day the law is not being implemented fully. His sense of urgency is simply not there for the implementing agencies to follow through.
There have been questions about the constitutionality of the RH law, but the Supreme Court decided with finality that the RH law is not unconstitutional (save for a few provisions).
But somehow there is still so much to be desired in the full implementation of the RH law four years after and even by the Department of Education in their school curriculum, and this snag could only be attributed to the unseen but strong felt hard stand of the Church.
We all know how the high ranking Church officials exert their influence in this country, even in state matters, thinking that by sheer number of followers they will win their arguments.Well, not anymore. Somebody now with political will is making sure that the separation of Church and Sate is to be respected.
Now with Duterte taking over the presidency there is now a good chance that the RH law will be fully instituted and sustained.
The church leaders should understand that it is primarily the government’s responsibility to implement reproductive health care as part of our country’s commitment to various international agreements recognizing it as a fundamental human right and everybody is expected to tow the line, including the Church.
Directing at the Catholic Church hierarchy, Duterte said, “Family planning in the country cannot maintain its momentum because you keep the people in total ignorance.”
Duterte has explained he has no quarrels with the Catholic Church, but he is not fond of it either because it conditions the people to follow its doctrines using the concept of hell.
I could not agree more with Duterte on this. Is being ignorant, poor and miserable on earth not punishment enough?
I am just wondering if the buffoon Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, who is already in “heaven” as a senator, and a strong supporter of the Church, has an answer to this and will bare his teeth against Duterte on the implementation of the RH law.