media complicit in division over RH bill

after ANC’s harapan RH debate last night, i’m really hoping that GMA news and public affairs will rethink its promised “definitive debate” on may 22.  is a debate really the way to go?  we’ve heard them all before, especially the antis like golez and lina, and those priests and their blind believers.  in fact any debate is lopsided in favor of the anti-RH, considering that every sunday for many months now priests and bishops have been ranting against the RH bill from the pulpits.  i wonder what ANC thought they accomplished by even holding an online poll a la american idol that had more than 60 percent voting to “ibasura” the RH bill.  so is that supposed to have reversed SWS survey findings that have 7 out of 10 filipinos in favor of the RH bill?

priests and bishops and their faithful as well as the media should read the latest column of john j. caroll, sj (via flor lacanilao) who dares disagree with the church on the RH bill:

With all due respect for the position of the Philippine bishops, I do not see that total opposition to the bill necessary. First of all, the bill does not legalize contraceptives; they are already legal and may be purchased in any drugstore.

Neither does the bill legalize abortion; on the contrary it reaffirms the constitutional prohibition. It is highly probable in fact that if contraceptives become more available to the poor, the scandalous number of illegal abortions performed annually will be dramatically reduced.

On whether the IUD and some contraceptive pills may prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum and so destroy a human life, the current draft of the bill passes the responsibility to the Food and Drug Administration, which should ban any such “contraceptives” from drugstores throughout the country.

The charge is made that the RH bill will destroy the Filipino family. On the basis of more than 25 years of pastoral and social work in Payatas, and some seven years sponsoring natural family planning programs, I can say that the family is already at great risk—and not because of contraceptives.

These are often one-parent families abandoned by the fathers who have gone on to father second and even third families. Or no-parent families abandoned by both father and mother and being raised by grandparents.

If only the effort and resources being now invested in opposition to the RH bill were being used for serious family-life education and family support services, there might be little reason to oppose the bill.

this is a prime opportunity for GMA news tv do ANC better by scrapping the debate format to level the talking field that is dominated by the anti-RH.  let mel tiangco be the devil’s advocate, raise the arguments of the anti-RH for the pro-RH to respond to without imposed time limits that do not help the discourse any.  this is one of those issues (like the u.s. bases issue in the late 1980s) when the media networks should not stand by as neutral observers but should take a stand, if not expressly pro-RH, at least expressly for a fairer hearing of the pro-RH side.  allow the majority sentiment full expression, for a change.


  1. Lester Del Rio


    Like you I have watched the RH Bill debate on “Harapan” but unlike you I will not completely rule that the Anti-RH side is completely composed of, in your words, “priests and blind believers”. I am not talking about the two politicians (one can never trust these bastards) nor the medical practitioners or the
    ethicist nor even the conspiracy theory nutcase (that rather old fart with glasses). I am referring to the lonely voice of non-religious opposition to the RH Bill in that panel: the UP academic (a physicist actually), Dr. Johnrob Bantang who represented the Position Paper on The RH Bill by individual faculty, students and alumni of the University of the Philippines. See this link for the paper:

    What is truly frustrating with persons such as yourself who is Pro-RH Bill is that you assume that the only opposition to the RH Bill is unthinking robots who are minions (the blind believers as it were) of the Catholic Church and some smart-sounding soundbites from Mr. Carlos Celdran whose appreciation of statistics is whatever verifies the socio-economic realities he sees in his rather narcissistic walking tours of Manila.

    Have you ever considered the non-religious arguments against RH Bill? At the heart of the logic of most if not all of the RH Bill proponents is to claim that population is detrimental to development and economic growth (a point–to my utter amazement and disbelief–distilled and exposed by former Sen. Lina, a known
    idiot). This is the myth and now the empirical record. Since 1966 economist Simon Kuznets’ research has already been showing the non-existent link between population growth and economic output per capita (which is measured as GDP/capita) and rather the growth rate of technology in an economy, the efficient
    employment of technology by the population are key features to sustained economic growth. The UP position paper site further studies upholding these (US National Research Council (1986), the UN Population Fund Consultative Meeting of Economists (1992), Eric Hanushek and Ludger Wößmann (2007), among others). In fact the Hanusek and Wößmann (2007) paper actually looks at education and economic growth and they conclude that “differences in learning achievements matter more in explaining cross-country differences in productivity growth than differences in the average number of years of schooling or in enrollment rates.” Now may I ask you, does this sound like religion to you? Magisterium? Biblical? Hardly. But empirical? logical? factual? Definitely.

    Next, none of the pro-RH bill has ever talked about in depth of the fiscal impact of this bill. They always cite a figure of P3 billion yet the breakdown is hardly discussed. If this bill purports to socialize the cost of contraceptives, continually educating about RH, upgrading provincial hospitals for RH-specific services, building a national stockpile of contraceptives and related medicines (as the bill requires contraceptives to be classified as “essential medicines”) we have to reach the logical conclusion that the P3 billion figure is not only an extremely low-end conservative estimate but should be expected to grow overtime as the population growth rate will not decline that quickly and the availment of “free”
    RH services (not free but taxpaid in truth) should be expected to initially rise for some years before reaching a steady state. Given this, is it really true that such an ambitious spending bill such as this have no significant impact on our national budget deficit (which is currently in record levels)? Also, will this force government to plan for higher income taxes or more value added tax? I assume you, like the rest of the nation, are not big fan of taxes in this inflationary times and especially when we read the latest corruption story in the newspapers?

    Further still, since government works on a limited budget, this means the budget for health is also constrained. This implies that if contraceptives and related medicines are classified as “essential” they compete in the budget allocation with other “essential” medicines to prevent polio, malaria, dengue, basic vitamins, basic pediatric medicines. Doesn’t it bother you that in the event of the seasonal dengue or hydrocephalus outbreaks, contraceptives will unhappily limit the purchase and distributions of these medicines? Doesn’t this risk a public health issue in and of itself?

    Another point on the socialized feature of the RH Bill. The pro-RH bill camp tends to argue that “we need this bill because the low income Filipinos cannot afford to spend on contraception, much less on a square meal per day”. Great! So my question is why should the RH Bill spend for every Filipino when a certain percent of the population who cannot afford it will need this feature while the rest of the population–who can afford to budget for contraceptives in a disciplined way–will also get it for free? So essentially, the RH Bill will end up spending for both people who can afford and those who cannot
    afford RH services? Doesn’t that strike you as wasteful government spending when the government spends for those who can afford for a certain product or service? It would make more fiscal sense for the government to make RH services for free to low income groups as they do now with the Conditional Cash Transfer Program: this is the same income group and same demographic. The government would be upholding its constitutional mandate to provide for the public welfare by (a) having a targeted, less-wasteful spending program; (b) extending health services to the public and (c) promoting disciplined family planning. Surely, this is a much better alternative than an all-out socialization?

    Now there are five other arguments the UP Position Paper takes up and I urge you to take a look at it. I am not from UP and I learned of it when Dr. Bantang mentioned it last week (we have a common acquaintance). I am certain you might learn from it and realize that not all Anti-RH are religious zombies and blind believers.

    It would be good to take this to heart: “The persistent tendency of men to see only the immediate effects of a given policy, or its effects only on a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on that special group but on all groups. It is the fallacy of
    overlooking secondary consequences.” — Henry Hazlitt (Economics in One Lesson)



    • GabbyD

      i dont think its the information that these particular people are objecting to.

      i think its the cost of providing the tools.

      to make the case for the subsidy, you really do have 2 show why this kind of spending is worse, or better, than spending/subsidizing other health requirements.

      to put it another way: we ALL agree that govt should spend our tax money to improve health outcomes. Question: WHICH health outcomes? why those?

      also, i’ve been finding more and more that bills that promise services dont really have the funds to back them up. so parang wala ring mga services ang na-proprovide.

  2. I am pro-Choice, hence I am totally in favor of the proposed RH-Bill. However, my only concern is that, in order for an individual to know whether she/he is making a wise choice that does not come in conflict with her/his conscience, that individual must not be mislead into taking any kind of contraceptive without proper guidance as to what it is that she/he wants to use, whether pills or IUD. Therefore, it is imperative that this RH law must require all manufacturers and distributors of these contraceptives here in the Philippines to tagged their product/s with a notice that it is an abortifacient if it is an abortifacient.

    That’s all.

  3. Lester Del Rio


    I kindly suggest that by ignoring the unintended consequences of the RH Bill which impacts all Filipinos in varying degrees would further harm and intensify pressing issues you see in your preferred interest group. It is our duty as a taxpayers who will. Foot the bill to realize that social policies such as these have unseen implication affecting members of society outside the intended parties and that these unseen impacts happen over time.



  4. manuelbuencamino

    Interesting how a priest who has spent 25 years working with the poor can develop a view at odds with prelates who spent the last 9 years working with someone who stole from the poor.

    John Caroll was celebrated Mass and gave holy communion to the poor and those prelates concelebrated high masses and gave holy communion to a crook, cheat, and human rights violator.

  5. Sanjay Rajeevani

    Hello Ms. Angela,

    Your reference to the “Kerala Model” hits close to home for me as I’m Indian but born here. My parents are from the Kannur district in northern Kerala state which is part of the Malabar region. Having visited Kerala state almost yearly believe me that this “Kerala Model” is only good for providing a certain level of quality of life in the social sphere like very literate population, healthy people, various social programs. But the trade-off is that Kerala is persistently, at best, sand-trapped in economic mediocrity and, at worst, industrial backwardness. Furthermore, people in Kerala are trapped relative in poverty despite the outstanding economic performance of India since 1995.

    It is no wonder that the famous Kerala Gulf boom is not because Kerala, being in the Malabar gulf coast of India, has an economic boom but because a lot of its people has migrated to the Persian Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Dubai and so on to find work–cheap work at that–because Kerala state government is communist and very much discourages businesses to flourish. Instead, a majority of the state resources are utilized for this so called “Kerala Model”. Hence the Kerala economy is partially dependent on immigrant remittances which means, to make this sustainable requires more people to find jobs outside of Kerala state, as did my parents and other relatives.

    I would like to say to you that please do not just look at the benefits of this “Kerala Model” because it comes with a very high price on the economy and more importantly on what economists call human capital.

    Kind regards.