Stumped by the RH bill vote

Joey Ramirez
The reasons cited by some of the legislators indicate we are now a theocracy, not a democracy

JOEY RAMIREZ“Stumped” encapsulates what I felt while hearing our legislators defend their opposition to the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill until the wee hours of Thursday morning.

That’s your defense?

I must say, though, their “defense” kept me awake, for all the wrong, and patently hilarious reasons.

The first one that grabbed my attention was from Rep Thelma Almario, who wanted in essence to send Filipinos to every part of the world, and maybe, in her lifetime, see this planet “Filipinized.”

And I thought one of the charges of the anti-RH camp was that approving the bill would mean “Western” domination of our laws. Tayo pala ang may planong sakupin ang mundo, Rep Almario (And we’re the ones with the plan to conquer the world?) And what does that even mean, “Filipinize?” Is this some homage to ethnic cleansing, popularized by that moustached man from Germany?

And who could miss the pronouncement of recently defeated boxer Rep Manny Pacquiao, who claimed that because of his recent bout with Marquez in Las Vegas, it strengthened his resolve about the sanctity of life…could the boxer/representative still be reeling from that fateful, devastating punch that Marquez used to decide the outcome of their match?

To use current vernacular jargon, nasaan ang konek? (Where’s the connection)

What does his decisive loss have to do with the “sanctity of life?” How does boxing even come close to the concept, when the entire fighting profession is built on the idea of beating another man black and blue, with money exchanging hands and crowds cheering for more blood? Where’s the “sanctity” in this scenario? After we teach our children that violence is wrong, we cheer on Manny trading blows, and he thinks it’s somehow because of “sanctity?”

And, unless we forget it, we are a “Catholic country” — we must be, since an overwhelming majority of these legislators used this particular concept as their defense.

“The bishops guide us.”
“We’re going against the (Roman Catholic) Church.”
“I cannot turn my back on my (Catholic) religion.”


These are essentially what they are saying — maybe not in those exact words — but yes, they claim these, which effectively means we are now a theocracy, not a democracy.

What a sad day for democracy, when the right to choose one’s religion is spat on by our own lawmakers.

When our very own Congress goes against the very document that founded its existence, the Constitution, that proclaims the separation of state and church to be “inviolable.”

When they attempt to make everyone Catholic by force — let’s call it what it is, because that is the effect of legislating Catholic teachings and belief into our SECULAR laws.

I do not want to be hearing from these particular legislators how bad it is for people in Afghanistan, where people can be executed — justifiably — for offending the state religion. They shouldn’t cluck their tongues when they hear of female genital mutilation in certain parts of the world who insist on the barbaric practice because “it’s a part of our religion!” They are just as equally guilty of enforcing, or wanting to enforce, a state religion, if they had won last night.

And then there were the sob stories: about how a legislator had trouble conceiving with his wife. About how, even after using the pill, a legislator went on to have many children. Or how it was a dying wish of a lawmaker’s parents. And the ones that go back, all the way to the baptism of their first child.

Excuse me, what is this, “Dregs Of Our Lives?” 

Why am I seeing a telenovela, or worse, a series of mini-telenovelas, being discussed by Congress and why are legislators acting like scriptwriters pitching for a storyboard?

Pati ba naman sa Kongreso, may drama-dramahan na? (Even in Congress, there is drama?)

But just as my attention was starting to wane, my mind went into full salute when I started to hear a prayer being uttered by Rep Syjuco as his “explanation” for opposing the bill.

As a non-Catholic, I had to rely on what people online were saying — that Syjuco (from what I could gather) was praying either the rosary or the Apostle’s Creed…how is this relevant to ME? And to the millions of other people of this archipelago who are not Catholic?

Intelligent discourse?

Is that what passes for intelligent discourse from our honorable legislators?

I had hoped that with so much time and energy having been expended on this bill, we would see better arguments from our supposed representatives as to why they voted in the negative. Instead they wasted so much effort, trying to prevent it from being voted upon.

Instead, Congress thought it was a branch of the Catholic Church.

No, anti-RH legislators, you do not get to hijack the laws of this land to suit your religious preference. There is no “religious oppression” against you, the CBCP and Catholicism. On the contrary, it is you who continue to disrespect the right of each citizen to choose his own beliefs, and would like to see nothing more than a Catholic theocracy come into fruition.  

This seems to be a fact that those in the hierarchy do not even bother hiding as their most desperate desire, claiming this country to be the “only Catholic nation in Southeast Asia” – which it isn’t, by the way.

We could have done away with nominal voting. You could have given authentic, valid and factual reasons to oppose the bill. Instead, you chose to use the most winding of roads, leaving me and many others feeling the same way even before the debates began: Stumped. –