I asked the titular question at this morning’s HIV Summit hosted by the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC). The event started with several speakers discussing the state of HIV and AIDS in the country; and the measures that must be taken by the people in attendance — mostly leaders from different sectors of society who share HIV/AIDS as an advocacy.
After the talks the participants were allowed to ask questions and make comments. Several participants had their say, some raising issues not mentioned in the talks. These issues were addressed, often at length, sometimes by more than one person.
Yet with the hundreds in attendance, in none of the talks, questions, and comments did anyone raise the CBCP issue. The CBCP is and has been the strongest political opponent of the DOH or any other sexual health advocacy group since Ever. The recent death of the RH Bill is almost entirely thanks to them. More recently, Secretary Cabral, PNAC Chairperson and Secretary of Health, has received harsh criticism and has even been pressured to resign from her post.
The CBCP Problem was the elephant in the room, and I couldn’t wait to cry elephant.
I got my chance toward the end of the open forum. I’ve embedded the video below. (It’s not in the video, but I asked the question using the microphone at the table assigned for members of faith-based groups, which was only a few meters away from mine.)
In case you’re wondering what the answer to my question was, there was none. The reason for this could have been the lack of time (we were about to have lunch) or the lack of an answer. But I realized later why they had their tongues tied.
Shortly after I asked the question, at the faith-based table sat an elephant — Bishop Yniguez, CBCP public affairs director. Ceremoniously, the event host acknowledged the presence of His Eminence. And the participants, leaders in the fight against HIV and AIDS, advocates of artificial family planning and comprehensive sexual health education, applauded.