(This is an article I wrote back in 2011 about my thoughts after the debate on the merits of the passing of RH Bill in the Philippines. As I repost this, I believe, the topic is still relevant as well as the theories as to how to analyze policies, laws or social issues in general.)
I intended to write about my stand against RH Bill for my first article here in this column, but I reconsidered because I need to update my research on it and I had only two days before my deadline. I felt it was too crucial to say something unprepared because my column will be published on a Wednesday after President Noynoy Aquino declared full support of the bill on Easter Sunday.
But why write about it now?
Well, after watching Harapan in ABS-CBN last Sunday (May 8, 2011), when they debated whether the RH Bill would be passed or trashed, it was disheartening to see how the Pro-RH Bill sloppily defended their cause. And that left me telling myself why won’t I write about my stand on RH Bill issue, given that I have studied it, researched on it; in fact, written several articles about it in post-graduate school, in Candlelight (Jaro Cathedral’s Parish Paper) (http://jarocandlelight.blogspot.com/2009/04/gods-mystery-vs-mans-misery-population.html; http://jarocandlelight.blogspot.com/2009/04/making-most-of-human-power-goodness-and.html); discussed it – academically – in my classes in Philippine and world history, sociology, economics and cultural anthropology, when the principal authors and supporters of the bill simply reasoned out of sentiments and beat around the bush. I know the Pro-RH Bill defenders came in with their notebooks at hand (even with a calculator), having researched on it (personally; if not, thanks to their researchers), but they were unprepared to stand their ground. They were able to pull through their turn in the interpellation but they flunked it. I think this is where conviction comes in. When you are convicted to a cause, you will never be dissuaded; you will never lose track; you will never grope for words nor blurt out off-tune, off-track side comments that will make you look dumb just to get the attention.
The Pro-RH Bill defenders simply came to class unprepared. Come to think of it, just as they qualified it, their cause stood still for 16 years. Don’t you wonder why? The Anti-RH Bill defenders, on the other hand, were prepared. They may have groped for words to say – for propriety sake – but they stood their ground. They were convicted to the cause of life. They know what to say, how to say it and why they are saying it. They studied and never stopped studying. It shows. Why? They were convicted to the cause of life of the Filipino people. It is inspiring to watch them defend my cause, too (hopefully, yours as well). They were not rattling and ranting. They were not angry. They were composed and not desperate knowing that many Filipinos stand for the same cause: that RH Bill is not the answer to our problems. Insight-wise, next to conviction is confidence. They were confident. Coming in to debate on a crucial issue as RH Bill in the Philippines is like grilling yourself in a furnace of criticism. You know you will be grilled. Given that, you should prepare head on.
Watching the debate, I cannot help point out a very simple framework of analyzing our society, especially in the perspective of economics. These are positive analysis and normative analysis. I am sure that even my 4th year high school students in economics can distinguish and apply these to even how they share food in the canteen during recess time.
Positive analysis is a statement about what is without indication of approval or disapproval. It simply stating facts, dry and plain as it is. What you see is what you get. On the other hand, normative analysis expresses a judgment about whether a situation is desirable or undesirable. It tells us what ought to be. This is where right or wrong, good or bad is dealt with. Ethics and morality are considered here. These two should complement one another; positive analysis first, followed by normative analysis. Study and continuing research are necessary for positive analysis. (How much study and research were done by the proponents of Pro- and Anti-RH Bill?) At the same time, clear judgment (to make the “concept of conscience” applicable to all) is necessary for normative analysis. Come to think of it, it is easy to analyze our society through positive analysis. We can see right away, especially when you are in the urban area, that we are congested, we are all too many; and, we are poor. What you see is what you get. And this is the level of the argument of the Pro-RH Bill. (Sad to say!) To bring them into normative analysis, so many issues are discussed because it deals with judgment; it deals with ethics and morality; with what is right or wrong, good or bad. The Pro-RH defenders got tired of arguing it out that is why they got angry; they got sentimental, and so on. Why? Because their level of analysis is what they can only see; projecting the consequences of the bill, if implemented, is yet to be seen. But it is still necessary to make whatever programs and policies we are working on now relevant to the Filipinos of the future. That is why we cannot afford to listen to arrogance that this is what we need NOW – only. That is why we need to analyze society normatively; we need the guidance of experts.
The Anti-RH Bill, indeed, came from different walks of life, from different professions, from the clergy and professors to doctors and lawyers, even the youth. They are not only speaking in behalf of an interest group or a party; they speak from what they know, from conscience or clear judgment, because they are experts. They teach and live what they continually study. That is why they don’t grope. That is why they are credible; they can speak from different perspectives and simply say, “Yes, I understand your point, but this is how it is…” This is crucial to a dialogue or debate, and to make things work not only now. That is why they can stand on their ground; keep the conviction and confidence alive.
The Pro-RH Bill should be thankful of the Anti-RH Bill because their dry analysis of facts, of reality, is substantiated by the scrutiny of experts who not only study or research on facts that they, the Pro-RH Bill may not know yet, but also bring clear judgment (if not conscience) to the table, now and for the future.
I don’t need to commit the fallacy of argumentum ad hominem nor deal with the merit of the case anymore because it was clearly reiterated by the Anti-RH Bill several times especially with Joel Lina that the problem being argued upon is “we are poor because we are too many,” of which, the Pro-RH Bill argued only at the surface and with arguments from air and sentiments, affirming it. Thus, the Pro-RH Bill defenders affirm their cause for RH Bill unconsciously, that it is ultimately for population control; and thus, contraception, abortion, mandatory sex education in schools and many other provisions of the bill are dubious to the good promise reproductive health and family planning tell.
I just hope that the Filipinos who have watched Harapan last Sunday saw the glitches and loopholes, the non-conviction and non-confidence to, about, and of the bill our Pro-RH Bill legislators and leaders are supporting. The saw the problem of the Philippines, we are poor. This is positive analysis. RH Bill is simply a direct response to positive analysis. There are more to the Filipino spirit than just looking at their poverty. We should just be more convicted to help one another for the common good, at all cost; and be confident that we will survive life without playing with life for trivial progress; or worst, killing lives in the simply common acts RH Bill will bring to our society.
I am no saint but RH Bill plays with the lives of men, women, children and the unborn Filipinos.
Study the issue; don’t just listen to our legislators and clergy speak of this. Research on it yourself, speak up and get involved. Start from reading the actual bill. The bill is not just for the legislators to parrot or debate on. Then, try reading the National Security Study Memorandum 200 of the United States (http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PCAAB500.pdf). You will see how the Americans structurally forged this control on us since 1974. RH Bill, in all its forms and provisions, is the heart of this memorandum. And it is enslaving us. The legislators who authored this bill may seem to show us the good promise of the bill but they are subjecting the greatness of the Filipino people back to slavery. The power of the Filipino people is with our number! Get convicted and be confident.