UP for Life

This statement by UP for Life is issued as a message on the occasion of the resumption of sessions of the 15th Congress. 7 May 2012
CAVEAT This statement is not an official statement of the University of the Philippines. UP for Life is a UP system-wide alliance of students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

As we demand from our government its commitment to genuinely invest in our people, we must stand united. We have seen how the debate on the Reproductive Health Bill has divided our people. It has pitched the plight of mothers against the need of children for classrooms and books. It has pitched the need for reproductive health against the healthcare agenda of the less-privileged infirm. It has pitched the Church against the State. It has pitched church against church, our nation against itself. Priorities are at war yet we cannot afford to harbor such a divide. Today, we demand that we end it. This is a call to solidarity. The youth now calls upon the entire nation to rally behind us and demand that the Reproductive Health Bill, pending in both houses of Congress, be laid to rest once and for all. The Bill must never be passed, not just because it is uneconomic, not just because it is unhealthful, not just because it is impracticable, not just because it is flawed, but, most importantly, because it divides our people. A nation divided is easily conquered. Indeed, we face the threat of being conquered by the motives of larger, more powerful nations who dangle the promise of aid and support in exchange for the shifting of our mindsets, the erudition of our values, and the degradation of our identity as Filipino families and individuals. Against this, we must stand united. We acknowledge that our country is expected to respond to the exhortations of the international community to promote responsible parenthood, improve reproductive health, manage our population, and ensure development by means that they have determined. We can and we must comply. It is not so much a question of whether we will or we won’t. Rather, it is a question of how. The RH Bill, if and when passed, merely meets the expectations. The RH Bill, if and when passed, would have meant that we have bit their bait, hook, line, and sinker. If and when the RH Bill is passed, it is as much as a loss to us as it is a victory for them. Our society, and their advance at the expense of our decline, would have been more subject to their design, their whims, and their caprices.

Today, we challenge our government to exceed these expectations and rekindle its faith in our identity as Filipinos. We can and we must achieve the goals that have been set for us, not by the designs of foreign pressure or intervention, but by what the best of the Filipino culture allows. We have exceeded expectations by winning independence through the genius of a mere writer, by ending a dictatorship with much peace and faith. In several areas in our country, we have achieved zero maternal mortality, without resorting to the false promises of artificial contraception, and by capitalizing instead on reviving bayanihan – improving the participation of men in childbearing and involving entire communities in efforts to improve standards of health. We have such strong regard for family values and we greatly treasure the bonds between husband and wife, between mother and child. We can and we must exceed expectations again. Against foreign pressures to remould our sense of identity by infecting our ailing education system with their thinking, we must stand united. We are for responsible parenthood and we, too, desire to see every Filipino family free from the burdens of poverty. However, while the RH Bill posits itself as a comprehensive attempt to relieve our people of a particular ill, it is this very claim of comprehensiveness that blinds it from its cons. It is a solution that imposes itself over a span of issues while it remains oblivious to the threats it poses. We raise concerns over poverty and population, maternity and death, ignorance and disease but we wish to take action by intervening in waning demographics, promoting “health” without regard for detriments, and condoning, instead of correcting, parents’ inability to aptly educate their children. To ignore impending dangers to demography, public health, and family integrity is sheer absurdity. The RH Bill is an ambition to resolve a complex of issues with one hasty “comprehensive” solution. If we are to secure our nation’s future, then we must learn to gauge the worth of our ambitions based BOTH on what these intend to do AND what these will inevitably cause. We cannot afford to gamble our future. We cannot afford to legislate what constitutes harm to our people. If there exists no warrant against the consequences of the RH Bill, and while it is clear that there are other measures that strike poverty at its core, then we could conclude with certainty that the RH Bill is not worth passing. Dear legislators, as you resume sessions in Congress today, be reminded that the RH Bill is not our best option, and neither is it our last. Why the haste to force uncertainty into reality when you have in your hands the opportunity to give the Filipino people what they really, direly need: quality education and employment opportunities, genuine rural development, and the protection of the integrity of the Filipino family and society? Opposition to the RH Bill would not have lingered if the arguments against it were not valid, if the chances of detriments were slim, and if the strong need for it were justified. But the arguments remain valid, and the threat of detriments remains real, and our need for it is greatly surpassed by other direr needs.

Consider greater truths beyond imagined predicaments, consider our future beyond sensitized stories, and oppose the RH Bill. We, the youth, know how to invest our support in legislators who know how to genuinely invest in us.

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