Law in the Philippines

If Shakespeare were alive today, he would also repeat his famous line from Hamlet’soliloquy — to be or not to be that is the question. In this Shakespearian classic line , the hero, Hamlet is confronted with a philosophical dilemma whether to take his own life or rage against his misfortune after knowing how humans can be so gullible and untrue. This is the same question that any ordinary Filipino citizen also raises: to be a proponent or to be an opponent of this highly controversial law that has rocked the country these past several months.

A lot of opinion has been said and written from two warring sides of this “reproductive health law” authored by Representative Edcel Lagman with fellow legislators joining him in fighting for the passage of the said bill for the past two years. This “controversial” law has spawned a number of debates on its merits and demerits. Both sides – the proponents who claim to push for the emancipation of women to reclaim their “bodies” from the oppressive patriarchal structures—the dehumanization of the Filipina as a person with dignity and the opponents who believe that the bill is anti-life.

Indeed, in this country of 90 million people and where poverty is one factor that hinders a person to reach self-actualization the RH bill can be said to be a boon and a bane to all . However, after everything has been said and done, what is this writer’s personal take on this issue? A shift in tone and point of view will be done in this essay to illumine and illustrate this writer’s personal stand and opinion on the said issue. The pronoun “I” will be employed to signal to the reader that the writer has taken a more personalized and subjective stance in presenting his views/opinion on the same.

Do I dare disturb the universe? The line lifted from T. S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is my personal slogan to present my views on the proposed bill. Do I dare disturb the universe? Yes, I dare and I believe that any person is entitled to speak out his mind and be heard. In a democratic society such as ours, a person is given the opportunity to ventilate, argue and refute any idea that affects his personal and communal life. For the past several months , our national dailies have been inundated with headlines on the signed law.

Opinions have been sent to the editors, columnist lambasting the national government for its myopic vision of curbing the ever-increasing population of the country—these and more have given us a picture that indeed democracy is alive and well in this country. Though having been educated in a Catholic school since elementary is no guarantee that I have become a staunch defender of the teachings of the Church, I believe that my God provides man with a leeway, freedom and will to choose what he/she thinks is good for him/her . He is a God who allows man to think and act according to what a person believes to be right or wrong.

Indeed, a God who never imposes his will but gives man the freedom and capacity to know his own self. This is indeed ironic but I believe that the approved law violates a lot of issues concerning human rights. Let me discuss them one by one from my vantage point of view in this way I get to objectify my thoughts to you — my dear reader. At the outset of this essay, let me state my stand on this issue: I am against this law based on the following grounds. The State Playing Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes is a teenage classic I used to read during the heyday of my adolescent life.

It is a literary classic that popularized the detective genre in literature. I believe that the state has become a modern version of Sherlock Holmes who investigates and barges into the private world of the citizens. Though, others may find the metaphor too trite or overused , but I advance the idea that the law would allow the state to invade individual or personal privacy. What happens inside the matrimonial room is beyond the affairs of the state. In the most intimate encounter between a husband and a wife— do you believe that they would still think of the government’s family program amidst the intensity of their passion ?

Do you think, dear reader you would allow the state to pry into your personal and most intimate of human acts and dictate to you what is good for your marriage and family life? Hence, I believe that this Sherlock act of the state is a clear violation of the most intimate of all human rights. The Constitution – the most fundamental law of the land Any college graduate worth his salt would agree with me that the constitution is the most fundamental law of the land and all state policies and laws should not supersede if not transgress it.

Though not a lawyer I believe that the signed law is a violation of the constitutional provisions that guarantees protection for the life of the unborn from conception . The law in a way is proposing the uncontrolled use of the contraceptives. Proponents of the artificial contraceptives and the multinational corporations who manufacture and produce them would be raking lots of profits from this enterprise. Sex has become just any ordinary play among consenting adults . Without marriage , sex and the use of contraceptives endanger the family as an institution and belittles the dignity or worth of both men and women.

Life is no longer held as sacred and any act that undermines the sanctity of marriage and family life becomes a violation of the covenant between God and man. The state supplanting the role of the parents I believe that the law is supplanting the primary role of parents in educating their children by requiring sex education in public elementary and secondary schools. Though, I would be labeled as a conservative but I affirm the primacy of the role of the parents as educators of their children. The first values learned and imbibed by our kids are learned and socialized in the confines of home.

The parents should be the frontliners in educating their children on matters related to sex and family life. However, I also believe that today— there are creative ways of teaching the young about the human body and sex but again, without the guidance of the parents—the young would be in danger of learning things that are not within the bounds of morality. A waste of tax payers’ money I am against this law because from one of its provisions it will be using taxpayers money for the hospital services that would prevent pregnancy. People’s money is invested on acts that would undermine life.

It allows the state to buy contraceptives from multinational corporations abroad to the detriment of the local economy. Instead of purchasing such expensive medicines why not invest on infrastructures that would lessen traffic, making life more convenient for the commuters and building wide and accessible roads for farmers to have an easy access to the market to sell their produce. More importantly, I am against this law because it is a waste on the legislative time and taxpayer’s money. There are bigger things in the cultural life of the people that need utmost attention.

A shade of the dictatorial regime of the past As a student of history , we learned the lessons of the past. The Marcos era has curtailed a number of our basic human rights . The proposed bill sounds dictatorial for the reason that it would penalize public servants who refuse to render preventive services. What if a person holds a strong conviction that performing such an act is a clear violation of the tenets and beliefs of her religion which brings us to the idea of the curtailment of freedom of religion and conscience.

This law is a subtle way of subverting the people’s right to practice their religion and to refuse any act that would undermine their beliefs . The state machinery of imposing sanctions and penalties on erring officials who violate one of the provisions of the law would tantamount to an act of the state to terrorize and impose its iron hand on infractions which do not advance the agenda of the government. Such blatant disregard of the rights of individuals to exercise their freedom to practice their rights brings us back to the dark days of Martial law.

Modern day Judases—betraying the people. Every idea that we profess and defend is a political act says one noted philosopher. I believe that the signed law and the agenda of some lawmakers is a betrayal of the cause of the people. The country is pressured to legislate this law in exchange for some millions of US dollars as aid to uplift the economic status of the country. The US would give $ 434 million as aid to reduce poverty by 2015 (to meet the millennium goals) if the Philippine government would legislate and create programs to address the unabated population growth of the country.

This is a way of exterminating the poor in exchange for millions of dollars in development assistance—a modern Judas indeed! Now, where can you find a government like that that betrays its own people for money ? Only in the Philippines! Conclusion Amidst the hullabaloo of the issues raised by the recently signed law, I am confident that our people with their firm moral conviction would fight against the abolition of this controversial law. Any moral person will shudder at the thought of playing “god” if this law is implemented .

But at the end of the day, we would ask, in what way did I contribute in the building of God’s kingdom in the here in now? Did I propagate the idea of love, life and goodness during my lifetime? Did I advance the welfare of the people instead of the selfish motives of the government? Did I affirm the primacy of life amidst our culture of death? Did I do something to make life more pleasing to my fellowmen? These are the questions that I would ask if faced by such a formidable issue like this RH law.