Madame Speaker, distinguished colleagues, good afternoon. The CBCP will be holding a prayer rally on March 25 for the “Day of the Unborn”. As early as now I would like to thank them for their prayers dedicated to the unborn while they are still in the mother’s womb.
But as an RH advocate, I would like to take it a step further and ask the Catholic church to include in their prayers those newly born children taking their first breath, half dead because of poor pre natal care. I ask that they pray for the babies that survive but are forced to go through life malnourished and without the benefits of education, for those born without having sucked the breast of their mothers, for those street children that rely on the intoxication brought about by sniffing rugby to make it through the day.
I ask that they pray for the mothers that perish daily because full maternal health care is only accessible to the limited number who can afford it. But most of all, I ask that they pray for the children who will never experience the love and care of a mother.
In memory of my constituent Marcelina, from Sison, Pangasinan and of all women from all over the Philippines who died because of poor maternal health care, I have entitled this message, Death March.
What tortured thoughts must have gone through these dying mothers’ heads as they held their newborn babies in their arms for only a single precious moment. Fathers are left alone to care for their children and are pained when they are left with no other choice but to send them away to relatives just so that they might have a chance at a better life. Even those mothers who survive are forced to watch helplessly as their brood of 10 starve and go to sleep each night feeling the pain of empty stomachs, their hearts breaking with each passing day.
Jose Rizal wrote, “I see the horrible cancer which feeds upon this society, which clutches its flesh, and which demands a violent rooting out.” The reality is that without the RH bill, we will never be able to cure this cancer. Isn’t it sad that our society’s problem centuries ago still persists to this day? How during Rizal’s time the Spanish frailes imposed their beliefs on the people? The truth of the matter is that the biggest stumbling block to the passage of the RH Bill is the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy. Castigate me if you must, but when it comes to this issue I cannot agree with the Church leaders.
Colleagues, as ridiculous as it might sound, it seems that we are still in the dark ages. In fact, I think it is downright barbaric to trivialize and pretend that there are no abortions due to unwanted pregnancies. Just take a few steps outside the Quiapo Church and you will find a tiange of abortifacient products. It is ignorant to say that taking artificial contraceptives leads to more abortions and immorality when these will prevent unwanted pregnancies, the reason women undergo an abortion in the first place. It is almost criminal to not help families in deciding the number of children they want and can responsibly support. Without our help, more children will go to bed hungry at night.
To my colleagues who privately agree and believe in the RH Bill but are silenced by their bishops, I say our inaction kills. We have the power to make a difference in the lives of millions of Filipinos, the very people we have sworn to serve and protect. Our one vote can change the lives of millions and the destiny of our beloved country.
Madame Speaker, isn’t it insensitive that we, the rich and those with the means to do so can just walk into a drugstore and freely purchase the family planning method of our choice while the poor do not have the same choice? Our society is sick and in desperate need of a cure. The Governments of the past have failed to address this problem. But I have hope for the present, I would like to think that our leaders are not asleep.
Dear colleagues, we NEED to make a very critical decision soon. I believe that the RH bill’s passage is the best legacy the Aquino administration and this House can give our country. An institutionalized reproductive healthcare will be a major instrument in improving the life of our people, especially those who need the services most. The Filipino family deserves no less because everybody deserves a lifetime, and a quality one at that.
The passage of the RH bill will give meaning to the deaths of Marcelina and all the nanays who have left their orphaned children and this world too soon. Let us stop this death march. We have the power to do this.