Finally, the third major excuse for the country not progressing is on the verge of being crossed out from the history of this sad Republic. The passing on second-reading of the controversial Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill) in theory paves the way for measures to be put in place to control galloping population growth in wretchedly impoverished Philippines. The first two excuses — subjection to colonial rule and lack of “democracy” were dealt with in 1946 and 1986 respectively. The Year 2012 marks the third major “victory” in Filipinos’ on-going “fight” versus the “oppression” they perceive to be hobbling their march to prosperity — freedom from the ravages of over-population.
In a country like the Philippines where every new child born is more likely a liability than an asset to the economy, the solutions are obvious. Though packaged as “reproductive health” improved access to artificial contraception is really all about reducing the birth rate — specially amongst people who are not in a position to honour commitments to raise productive citizens.
After all, the only real underlying principle behind poverty is quite simple:
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Poverty is the outcome of entering into commitments one is inherently incapable of honouring.
The RH Bill and the presumed existence of tenets within it that will make artificial contraception widely available to Filipinos is the Philippines’ biggest shot at arresting its people’s unfettered signing up to contracts they, for the most part, fail to understand and, as such, are likely to breach. Each child born, after all, involves its parents’ signing a hypothetical contract that said child will (1) not be a menace to society, (2) contribute a net positive added value to the economy and (3) be an overall nice, decent, and pleasant person.
In an ideal world where prospective parents are clear on the stipulations of this hypothetical social contract they’d sign up to as they set out to produce offspring, we’d rest assured that we are facing a future of progressively improving our chances of building a country that is free from crime, is prosperous, and populated by a great people worthy of earning the respect of the global community.
This of course is not an ideal world we live in and the country created by Filipinos known as “the Philippines”, in particular, is among the least-perfect of the lot. The moving forward of the RH Bill is a momentous achievement as it brings the prospect of controlling the impact of those among us who irresponsibly enter into commitments they consistently fail to understand on those of us who are more adept at thinking things through properly.
The moving forward of the RH Bill is a promising outcome as it proves that Filipinos and the politicians who represent them are showing tentative signs that they are capable of freeing themselves from the inbred primitivist ideology of the extremist brand of Roman Catholicism propagated by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. More important is the broader implications to Philippine society in this symbolic socio-cultural leap. It is a manifestation of a major crack developing in the shackles that have for so long held the Filipino mind captive to the influence of medieval institutions that seek to undermine her sense of personal responsibility.
The future of the RH Bill rests in the system — the process of getting it passed across the desks of Filipinos’ popularly-elected politicians. Time and again, the system has proven that where there is political will just about anything can be passed — including even the most shoddily-written, most ill-thought-out, and most irrelevant of legislation. The RH Bill may not be the best of its kind Filipinos will be getting but, hey, pwede na yan. It’s a start. The solution to chronic impoverishment in the Philippines is an obvious one, and the RH Bill in its current form is the single biggest shot at the moment to implementing that solution.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.