I’ve been involved in poverty alleviation projects for 14 years now, this is what I realized…
RH Bill wont solve poverty and it never will. What made me say that? Because precisely it was not designed to solve poverty in the first place.
Allow me to lay out my findings and recommendations:
RH Bill was not designed to educate and equip people with the knowledge and skills to qualify them to get a job and earn a living. For people to alleviate themselves and their families from poverty, they need to earn a living. No amount of contraceptives can empower them to get a job. Worse, they will even get the side effects of these pills. Not only will they not have the means to keep themselves healthy, they also don’t have the means to get a cure. What we need is affordable but high quality education to qualify them to get a job. If we want to help the poor people, we have to invest on education. Give fundings to vocational and technical skills institutions so that in a short period of time they can already get a good employment.
Two, it wont feed hungry stomachs. What will they do with a bunch of pills if they don’t have food to take even for just a single meal? They might not have any children because of the contraceptives, but they will also remain famished without any energy to get some work done and can even lead to losing their minds. We need to have a broader solution to hunger through affordable cost of basic goods.
Three, families living in shanties are hanging on mere survival. You see them at the side of the creek. They are under the bridge. They are beside a garbage dump. We should not simplify the problem by saying that they are just too many poor people that is why they are bursting in the society’s seems. The problem persists because we, who are capable of analyzing and solving a problem, had failed to make them benefit from our acclaimed expertise.
Let us get things straight. RH Bill is not designed to solve poverty. It is simply wired to emulate unrestrained sexual urges devoid of pregnancy consequence. And what help did that give to a nation with dwindling educated population, increase of hungry people and millions that are homeless? Simply nothing. And that would be a waste of precious money.
These are Catherine San Juan’s words copy-pasted off the replies on an old post of mine about the RH Bill. I knew when I first read it that it merited consideration especially after having read that she’s been involved with poverty alleviation projects for 14 years. Experience is, no doubt, reason enough for me to think twice, even thrice about the things being discussed.
However, upon reading it today, I can’t help but smile. The problem with our arguments is that they don’t readily clash as they ought to. On hindsight, her reply wasn’t quite on tangent and this is why: My point in writing the aforementioned post was meant to signify the need for women to have choices. That’s all. I do agree that the bill is lacking but I have to put my foot down and say that it’s a necessary first step toward actually furthering development. If you truly value poverty alleviation, you’ll know from the get-go that actions need to happen simultaneously and that there isn’t any magical spell that can save us. No one said that the bill would be our one true answer to poverty…we just say that it’s one of them.
Also, the clamor for education to be our edge is an idea I wholeheartedly support. We do, in fact, need information and the bill supports that, doesn’t it? Isn’t knowing part and parcel of education? I understand that it’s mandatory for our education to equip us with the critical ability to think. But, without access to information, education is lacking. How else are we to sharpen our critical minds if in the first place, we are kept away from the reality we are meant to apply it to?
Upon approval of the bill, a false notion also arises. Countless critics have said, Ms. San Juan included, people will immediately do as they please and act as though they were let loose from their cages. We might end up banging each other silly and while that thought scares you, it makes me snicker.
Are we truly animals? No, no, let’s not go there. That’s subjective and I have no business being subjective right now.
What I do know for sure is that reproductive health does not contradict the need for education. In fact, it reinforces this and challenges us (as individuals and authorities in our own spheres) to be responsible. Personally, I think that’s where the difficulty lies. Church officials are hesitant to accept the bill right away and for good reason too, I suppose. How can they allow this at a critical moment in history when, with the advent of technology, religion might be deemed useless by people? It is a real fear that even I fully acknowledge. I see a tension there that cannot be used against the clergy. After all, if I can’t account for all the members of my flock (which isn’t the full story, but is very much relevant, just so we’re clear) why should I allow this? Even as parents and godparents, aren’t we all afraid of our responsibility to raise good children? Yet, despite this nagging fear, hasn’t this been done already by our very own parents? Haven’t they raised us well enough to refuse sex on the basis of character alone? I’m not sure about you but it would be a grave insult to my parents if I said otherwise.
In the end, it has to be said: WE NEED THIS. We need to piece together a system that allows women the chance to choose because above all, it is our right to do so. I cannot emphasize this enough.