It must seem the very height of naivete for an individual to believe that one might make a difference in how our country is run. Why should anyone listen to what you have to say? Has Malacanang’s ever invited you over to discuss the moral implications of pending legislation? Have you ever then, upon finding out that you disagree with Malacanang, blown 200,000 tax-exempt pesos on a full page newspaper ad calling everyone that’s ever disagreed with you pro-death? You don’t have to feel too bad, though. They’re obviously a better sort of person than you, for surely people self-assured enough to claim the monopoly on truth and morality must themselves never have lied.
I remember a time when it was cool to be all cynical and disaffected about government. Up until the last elections there was a pervasive feeling of pointlessness when weighing one’s vote against uncounted millions. No matter who you backed however, last year it finally seemed like your voice mattered, at least at the polls. It’s like we all got behind the idea of an electoral democracy, then through a lot of hard work and despite many, many flaws managed to make the process (mostly) work.
I believe the current fight for the RH Bill can teach anyone, as it has taught me, that living in a democracy means more than risking heat stroke when standing in line at voting stations every few years. In a very real sense, for every day that our elected officials get to sit in the House or the Senate, you are the boss of them. Did you know, for instance, that most of those important looking Congressional and Senate legislative hearings televised on the nightly news are open to the public? You just need to get in early to grab a seat, for they do fill up. Leave any empty and it will be quickly taken by an Anti-RH supporter, for they come to those things in droves, lead by people like Pro-life Philippines President Eric Manalang, who usually makes sure to get a good seat up front.
Just think: if you don’t show yourself at hearings or plenary sessions, what our erstwhile congressmen will see while they’re debating this or that provision of the RH Bill is a sea of solemnly disapproving people all wearing big buttons proclaiming how they and only they ‘heart life’. If you don’t write letters to the office of your congressmen the only messages from their constituents that they will receive are the texts of their districts’ bishops admonishing them for voting to kill unborn babies. If you don’t come to mass mobilizations all they’ll see on the news are Catholic priest-led crowds praying for their soon-to-be-damned souls.
In the same way that the last elections marked a time when we voted to make sure nobody hijacked our ballot, the current debate over the passage of the RH Bill is a time when we can speak to make sure nobody hijacks our voice. If for some reason you are, unlike me, not possessed of the sort of reflexive hubris that enables you to assume yourself automatically qualified for civic engagement, kindly read through this, even just once.
There. You are now more qualified and better informed than the vast majority of those whom I have seen argue against it.
If you want to see for yourself the state of a nation and the plight of a people suffering without an RH Bill, I invite you to take a look at some of the following groups working with affected communities on the ground level. And then, because I believe you to be just as pro-life as any other rational human being, decide how you’d like to let yourself be heard.
Likhaan Center for Women’s Health
Health Action Information Network
Family Planning Organization of the Philippines
Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare, Inc.
Institute for Social Studies and Action
Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights