Not surprisingly, a few of the very people who spearheaded the implementation of reproductive health law in the Philippines are having a bit of a post-fiesta reflection on just how big (or small) of a win they copped in practice.
Looks like Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of “the main architects of that victory” is feeling a bit insecure about whether the new RH Law will actually prosper considering how much money any of the practical measures the law stipulates should be operationalised by the state will get. Apparently the law, if it were to have any real efficacy will ultimately rely on a “common concern to have pro-RH legislators elected to the House of Representatives and the Senate to assure a continuing and requisite appropriation for the RH Law.”
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The Inquirer.net editors seem to have failed to read between the lines of Lagman’s melodramatic (their words) lament as, to me, all that just sounds like a pitch for a certain favoured set of folk that will likely be shrinkwrapped and packaged as the “Pro-RH-bill” bloc of candidates to vote for in the coming elections. After all, no true politician does nuthin’, supports nuthin’ and says nuthin’ for nuthin’. It is always all about political capital, and being pro-RH last year certainly counts for something in this year’s election. Thus…
[…] Lagman is quite right to focus on the funding, and on the circumstance on which it will depend: the election of enough RH Law supporters to approve adequate funds for the law in succeeding budgets.
To be fair, the veneer of sincerity is quite convincing and the Inquirer Editor does an excellent job articulating Lagman’s surface rationale…
The greatest danger to the new law is complacency, the tedium of the happy winner. Celebratory parties, laudatory print articles and TV profiles, congratulatory forums: They can all act as a natural narcotic, lulling the hard-scrabble coalition to a false sense of permanent victory.
That’s actually a brilliant microcosmic take on the overall character of Philippine “democratic” politics. Fiesta elections is in the air, and it will likely be a fiesta orgy of spending, “debate”, chatter, spectacle, theatrics, and high-fives until May. But what happens after all that? When the hot air of blah blah blahs finally dissipates (or is blown away by the next tropical storm along with the perenial brown smog that envelopes Manila most days), that all-too-familiar opiate of mediocrity we routinely self-medicate ourselves with to soften the crash to reality after these wild parties will begin to flow in the average Pinoy schmoes veins.
My previous article questioned the notion of whether “good systems”, “good leaders” and “good laws” necessarily spell success for a society — specifically one where time and again a profound dysfunction in the DNA of the very fabric of its character, its culture, has long been evident.
When one considers how the Filipino-Chinese who were once mere third-class citizens as recently as half a century ago went on to achieve spectacular prosperity regardless of who was governing and under what system they were governing, the question is begged as to why the larger society of island Filipinos remain cut out from the wondrous pie that is the Philippine economy.
Will a change initiated from the top really matter? Perhaps these times of fiesta election is as good a time as any to remind ourselves where the power to change really comes from. The illusion of change that we medicate ourselves with year in and year out usually comes from the top. But real change will always necessarily come from the bottom, and from within.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.