Dear Senator Revilla

All I am asking is that you put as much effort into the Senate as you do in your movies, worry about your constituents as much as your fans, accept that not all natural phenomena can be explained by your wives’ experience.

DR MARGARITA HOLMESNo worries. I will not accuse you of your fellow actor-senator’s latest perfidy. However, there is a common thread between your stories, thus this letter.

This is about the stories you each shared to explain the reason the RH Bill should be reconsidered. It has to do with your leaps in logic where you each claim that birth control measures led to the death of one of your children. 

I am unaware if you cried to bolster your point, but the message you tried to bring across warrants the same response Sec Cabral gave to Sen Sotto: 

Without meaning to belittle the anguish that Sen. Sotto felt and apparently still feels over the loss of his son, allow me to say that condoms, hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices etc, have not been shown by scientific methods to cause “weak hearts” in babies born following their mothers’ use of these contraceptives. Sen. Sotto seems to have fallen into the fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc, Latin for ‘after this, therefore because of this’ – or…‘My wife used contraceptives, then my son was born with a weak heart; therefore my son’s weak heart was caused by my wife’s use of contraceptives.’

Following that line of argument, if at the time of Vincent Paul’s conception, Sen Sotto failed to brush his teeth, it could be argued that his son was born with a weak heart because he failed to brush his teeth before having sex with Mrs. Sotto.”

Sen Sotto’s response in typical “shoot-the-messenger-because-you-got-busted” fashion was to accuse Dr Cabral of being callous and insensitive.

If a politician uses his own son to bolster his arguments but twists the facts to fit the case, people have every right to criticize him, and it is entirely legitimate to use his own words against him to show the leaps of logic he has taken. No one asked him to make his son’s case public; and he must take sole responsibility for having done so.

Dr Cabral is a scientist with impeccable credentials. If one makes spurious connections, it is a scientist’s duty to show what the true connections are, so that we can make decisions based on evidence-based studies, and not on anecdotes designed to win the Famas awards.

In fact, Dr Cabral was quite gentle with Sen Sotto (and, by extension, to you too, Sen Revilla). She did not criticize him for another of his fallacies: argumentum ad misericordiam: an argument from pity or misery, committed when pity or a related emotion such as sympathy or compassion is appealed to for the sake of getting a conclusion accepted.

You may claim that, unlike Sen Sotto, that was not your intention. But why else would you share your story with your fellow senators during interpellations? The occasion, after all, was not a presscon to generate more interest in your next movie.

In fact, your storylines were virtually the same: a heart-wrenching story about how your child died before he reached adulthood, and then a spurious connection to your wife using contraceptives.          

Kahit anti-RH si Lani, my wife, I will do a conscience vote, konsensiya ang magiging basehan ko ng aking pagboto (Even if Lani, my wife, is anti-RH, it will be a conscience vote for me).”

Surveys say

A conscience vote? You really want us to believe that, don’t you? But if that is really true, then why not listen to the 2010 survey conducted by Pulse Asia that showed  73% agreed with the RH bill, 7% disagreed, and 20% were undecided.

This is comparable to the 2011 survey conducted by Social Weather Stations with the following results: 73% want information on legal methods available from the government, and 68% agreed government should fund all methods of family planning.

It’s possible, of course, in true anti-RH senatorial fashion, you are also being patronizing, presuming to know better than women themselves what women really need.

Or maybe you didn’t know about the above findings? Maybe you were preoccupied with your latest showbiz project, “Indio”? If so, how about telling your chief of staff who, presumably is more ethical and competent than Sen Sotto’s, to do further research for you? 

How I wish you could be as excited about how the RH bill could help us Filipinos as you are about your film.

Perhaps I shouldn’t grumble. After all, you made another contribution to the discussion of the RH Bill: “I don’t want other mothers to suffer what Lani had gone through.” 

But they won’t, Sen Revilla. Of that I am certain. 

Please do not rush to conclusions based on your and Sen Sotto’s experiences. Your wives are out of the ordinary. 

Incredibly lucky

Usually, this is cause they are incredibly lucky – stellar careers of their own, plus enough wealth to afford plush houses, trips abroad, etc. But in terms of success with birth control, they seem to be particularly unlucky.

1. Only 8% of us get pregnant while taking the pill. Yet in the case of your wives, Sen Sotto and you, Sen Revilla, your wives both got pregnant. How to explain the difference? Hypotheses might include: (i) the way your wives take the pill; or (ii) the magical capacity of your sperm.

2. There is no increased risk of having congenital anomaly in the offspring of women who took the pill while pregnant. Yet, again, 2 out of 2 senator-actor-wives who took the pill gave birth to children with a congenital anomaly. That’s a 100% occurrence. Wow. 

With all due respect, if you insist on blaming this tragedy on something, the most probable cause is genetic: your wives’ or yours. I know you may not believe me, but I am not merely being bitchy by suggesting the culprit may be your or your wives’ genes.

Take a look at the journal Pediatrics. Robert L. Brent, the principal author of “Environmental Causes of Human Congenital Malformations: The Pediatrician’s Role in Dealing With These Complex Clinical Problems Caused by a Multiplicity of Environmental and Genetic Factors,” says: “In 65-75% of the cases, the cause of congenital anomalies is unknown, 15-25% are due to genetic causes, and 10% are caused by environmental factors that include maternal conditions like diabetes and nutritional deficiencies (4%), infections like rubella and varicella (3%), mechanical problems in the uterus (1-2%) and chemicals like prescription drugs and high dose ionizing radiation (<1%).”

Please don’t misunderstand. I, too, feel gutted about what happened to your children, but I strongly feel your experiences are insufficient reason to derail the RH Bill.

Dr Brent, who wrote “Nongenital Malformations Following Exposure to Progestin Drugs: the Last Chapter of an Erroneous Allegation, concluded that after all the epidemiologic analysis and basic science principles are reviewed, “it is obvious that clinically utilized progestational drugs (like birth control pills) do not cause nongenital malformations (like congenital heart defects).”

Look beyond wives’ experiences

If the Senate considers personal experience as convincing as evidence-based research, then I have several hair-raising stories to tell you too. Not only my own, but many others who send write, email, text, PM and approach me. I daresay, DOH (Department of Health), DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), Likhaan, other NGOs, foundations, etc can tell you some heart-wrenching stories themselves. 

I am not asking you to abandon a sinking ship – that of Sen Sotto’s future in politics. History shows how senators re-invent themselves as often as snakes molt. Even you, Sen Revilla did a volte-face when your best friend’s father was replaced by ex-President Arroyo.  

All I am asking is that you put as much effort into the Senate as you do in your movies, worry about your constituents as much as your fans, accept that not all natural phenomena can be explained by your wives’ experience, and finally, seriously consider all the pros and cons regarding the passage of the RH bill.

Alas, in real life, not even the heroic blacksmith panday can save us, no matter how heavily laden he is with agimats. However, the sincerity, competence, relentless hard work of you, senators, could make all the difference. –



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