This is an open letter to our senators, many of whom I did not vote for, but nonetheless wield the power to either enact the RH (Reproductive Health) Bill into law or consign it to even more years languishing where it has been all these years: the back burner, never to see the light of day.
Listen to the people, Senators.
Survey after survey have stated the same thing: Majority of this country wish to see the RH Bill approved. (http://m.gmanews.tv/story/207185/pulse-asia-69-of-filipinos-agree-with-rh-bill) These are polls done by reputable surveying organizations, not those hired by religious groups with a stake in these RH discussions.
As OUR representatives, you are REQUIRED to take all of our voices into account whenever you craft your pieces of legislation. You must consider what will benefit most, if not all of the people that you are serving.
I will take this moment to remind you: you are PUBLIC SERVANTS.
You are not in your positions to enrich yourselves at our expense. You are not there to lecture us about the particular tenets of your personal religions. You are there, imbued with power and being accorded respect based on your position, a secular one, on the assumption that you will do what will benefit this country. You are there to ensure that no particular religion gets to railroad this process into what suits their particular "morality" the best.
Let me also remind you: you are there to PROTECT freedom of religion.
The choices you make and the decisions and bills you will vote upon must predicate on this basic tenet of democracy and of our Constitution. There should be no establishment of a particular religion as supreme or revered when laws are made. They should respect the right of people to have their own religion while making decisions freely based on their own volition, in matters relating to reproductive health, planning their family size, and having correct, scientific and factual information regarding their own health and their own bodies.
This bill has been an "almost" for years. We cannot go by a discussion of the RH Bill without mentioning, even in passing, the Catholic Church, particularly its arm known as the CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines), which has been leading the charge in opposing the RH Bill. They are entitled to their own opinion, but kindly remember, they do not have the monopoly on the word "morality". Many of the stances that this particular religion embraces are considered offensive by other people who draw their morality from other, equally valid sources. They are certainly not the authority when it comes to medical information and scientific facts, so do not use studies conducted by the CBCP as your "be-all", especially with something as important as the RH Bill.
More than anything, the RH Bill recognizes the many dangers that women face in childbirth, induced and illegal abortions, as well as maternal deaths. This bill will provide services and personnel that will address many of these concerns. There is no "perfect" bill, everything can still be further improved. But the longer you wait to "continue discussing and listening to other arguments", mothers are continually dying needlessly from dangerous childbirths. Teenagers are risking both their bodies and their futures with unintended pregnancies. Many of our citizens, particularly those at a financial disadvantage, engage in dubious and questionable practices because they do not have access to correct and factual information.
Population is our greatest resource, say those who oppose the bill. They even cite the remittances of the OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) as proof of this. Do you think our people wish to be away from their families in order to improve their station in life? There are not enough jobs to offer our people, and even if they are available, the wage they will provide is not enough to cover even the most basic of necessities for a family that has more than 6 members. And how can a person contribute to this country's development if they are suffering from malnutrition because there is no money to feed him and his 9 other siblings? Even if education is covered by the government, children are forced to stop schooling because parents need the older ones to help provide enough income for the entire family, which continues to grow day after day.
This is not a picture of a population that contributes to our country.
But this is what is happening right here, right now. Just take a look at the children scrounging around for trash or selling sampaguita flowers by the road, when they should be in school. Only the most callous of people will say they haven't seen one of these children.
You have had enough time to study the merits and the disadvantages of this bill. Do not bide your time, just to see how the political climate will sway. Do not "protect" your vote in an attempt to incur favor with a particular religious group. At the end of the day, we are in a secular society with a democratic form of government.
You are there to serve ALL Filipinos, regardless of religious affiliation.
VOTE ON THE RH BILL ALREADY!
A Citizen of this Country