Thursday, July 21, 2011

Responsible parenthood cannot be legislated, Part 4

Yesterday, there was a good, fast and dynamic debate in twitter on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill in Congress. I joined the debates, it was very engaging and fun at the same time.

Then I went to my facebook account and posted this in my status,

Just joined the debates on RH bill on twitter, enjoyed it :-) Too many planners and interventionists in society. They want more money from our pockets so they can plan the family of other people.

Then my fb wall was (happily) peppered with a number of comments and counter-comments from some friends. In particular, from Danny A, Doods dlR, Francis, and Ted J. Below are our exchanges.

WARNING: this is looonggg. Nice to read this if holding a cup of your favorite drink :-)

Doods: no to sex education in schools, yes to sex education from the parents. yes to choices, no to religious exclusivism. let tolerance and understanding reign, as long as no laws are being broken and human rights are protected.

Nonoy: RH bill says we pay more taxes so that DepEd can hire more teachers to teach sex education from Grade 5 to HS (7 years!)

Doods: we need more teachers to teach basic education. and more classrooms.

Danny: But if you think spending for sex education is expensive, try ignorance.
The effects of ignorance are pretty obvious: teen pregnancies, abortions and high mortality rates for pregnant women. Can't blame RH for that because there is no policy or program for it. These are the problems a comprehensive RH policy and program intend to help solve.

Nonoy: Parents, older family members, older friends, NGOs, can teach sex education for free. Here, I counted 12 sections of RH bill that say spend-spend-spend,

Danny: That's the result of "free education". Or should we call it free ignorance?

Nonoy: Only the state thru DepEd has monopoly of sex education? From other sources are called "free ignorance"? wow.

Danny: And why oh why should basic education be so divorced from human biological programming?

Nonoy: Pub educ has been hijacked by so many interest groups. Gender equality, environmentalism and saving the planet, sex education, etc. Could mean little time for science and math, good english and grammar.

Doods: I myself don't subscribe to the "free condoms is the solution" doctrine. i think eliminating the macho man mystique, gaining respect for your partner and the other sex in general, respecting choice, and empowering women would go much further and actually fix a lot of the social ills especially among the poor.

Danny: Explain the problems cited and show how "free education" is positively impacting on it. Better yet, check out the communities where these problems are happening. It is so easy to spin theories and dreams of freedom from the ivory tower, but what is to be learnt from there?

Doods: Danny: IMO the effects you cite can also be directly attributed to lack of choices and opportunities for women in the countryside, lack of health services at the barangay level, and lack of sex education within the family unit. The RH bill doesn't really directly solve any of those problems.

Danny: A thorough check of the public school system shows that there is so much time for learning English, Math and Science but it isn't happening. How many students per teacher and classroom? How much are teachers paid and why? No one is claiming full health socialism, only education on and access to a full range of options so families can plot their future. Will you let the parish priest dictate on this?

Francis: I hate it when people proclaim 'tolerance.' Do you tolerate a beautiful day? A child's smile? Your basketball team crushing the opposition? Of course not.

So what do people tolerate? Broccoli. Someone farting in an elevator. Your boss' stupid plan. If whatever someone tries to sell you can only be sold through tolerance... screw it. It's probably ugly, evil, without merit, disgusting, or smells like old socks.

Danny: There is no hijacking of public education, only loud expressions of concern and continuing deterioration. Otherwise, there would be no need for a reproductive health law. Without a policy and programs in place, reproductive health will not happen. The important first step is to pass that law. The next step is to implement it. Happily, most Filipinos agree.

I believe the time for debate has passed. Let all arguments pro and con be fully aired, but let a vote decide the matter, preferably a binding referendum.

Francis: I don't think there is a 'need' for a reproductive health law. I do believe the politicos have found a 'need' for the P 3billion payload. With that kind of money involved, they could find a need in providing bubblegum to coma patients...

Nonoy: As I said earlier, I counted at least 12 sections of RH bill that say, spend-spend-spend. Do you have the figures how much they will cost, initial year and continuing spending each year? P300 B/year budget deficit even w/o RH bill is not enough yet, we shd make it P320 B? more? Please provide the numbers. People just approve of something without bothering how much it will cost them.

Danny: No one was asking how much it would cost when we voted in a referendum for the 1987 Constitution. No one was asking how much it would cost when provisions for free elementary and high school education were included in it. How much are teen pregnancies, abortions and deaths of pregnant women costing us? How many poor Filipinos are asking about the cost of information on choices that they can make so they can have just the number of children that they can support?

It is expensive to be healthy. But how much more expensive is it to be sick?

Francis: P300 billion? Not P3billion?! Crap. Worse than I thought. How much is the deficit now after Arroyo's pump-priming plans in the last three years of her Presidency? I know we're broke, so how on earth are we gonna pay for this?! This probably explains why the BIR has been so agressive these past three years. I thought this RATE thing was over the top, but it's damn deliberate.

Nonoy: So anyone can propose new spending, like free bicycles or free motorcycles for the poor, w/o bothering how much they will cost, how much they will add to the P4.7 trillion public debt, where to get the new spending? We've had educ & healthcare for the poor, housing & MRT subsidy for the poor, AR, irrig & credit for the poor, now cash transfer for the poor, soon condoms & pills for the poor. What's next? No one shd bother how much they will cost?

Francis: Question. These meds are essential, so how come they ain't tax-free? We don't manufacture them, so why is there an importation duty on them? I buy dopamine from overseas and it's only P3.00 a tablet compared to P120 a tablet local. You want people healthy, get these damn politicians out of the equation. Then you'll see poverty levels go down.

Doods: Danny: i myself am in favor of an RH Bill, with revisions. It's high time this country paid attention to the health, social, and economic problems caused by our population explosion. i don't think the RH Bill in its current form is going about it correctly. Sex education in schools takes away time and resources that can be used for teaching something else, and I think parents have the moral ascendancy to teach their children about sex and the family unit. Let the RH Bill teach parents how to talk to and educate their children about sex, and let this be done at the barangay level instead of in schools.

Danny: If you really want concrete answers to questions about cost, visit communities were the local government has put in place a reproductive health law and programs, like Aurora province, I'm sure you can find the information, if you really want it. You can compare the situation there with the situation of communities that actually ban or do not bother to put in place reproductive health policies and programs.

Then again, if you've already decided against it, what's the point? The ivory tower is a comfortable place to stay. Just don't expect people to hang around and accept what can be found there.

Nonoy: The burden of providing the numbers shd be on those who propose it. Convince us that it won't be costly, that the benefits are larger than the costs. Otehrwise, don't propose it.

Danny: I don't have to convince anyone. You convince yourselves. the burden is now on those who oppose it. Politics, in the end, is a numbers game.

Nonoy: That's why I dont support that RH bill because it's a lousy proposal. Proponents cannot even provide the numbers, we just have to accept it daw, be an idiot supporter and not ask questions.

Danny: by the way, the latest version of the bill allows parents to choose not to have their children undergo sex education in school. What version are you reading? This bill is still undergoing revisions and the proponents are listening. but to insist that things should stay the way they are, with no law in place, is unacceptable.

Doods: Danny: be that as it may, it only allows parents to exclude their children from such. it doesn't empower the parents to do the proper guidance themselves.

Danny: Saka na ito, time for a gym workout. As I said, health is expensive, but I'm spending, for myself and my family. Are you?

Nonoy: I spend money for my family. that's why I dont want the state to confiscate more money from me so the politicians and bureaucrats can just propose and implement new spending, even for programs that I don't even support. Govt business is coercion, right?

Doods: i just got a health insurance policy from Manulife. :) the only sure things in life are death and taxes. must do all we can to uplift our quality of life, must we not? :)

Nonoy: Yes, we work hard for ourselves, our family, other people close to us. And govt says it should confiscate more money from us, to spend on programs that we may not even support.

Ted: Spending on reproductive health is investing in human capital. The ratios that the RH bill are aiming to achieve are necessary in the context of a poverty rate of 3 in 10. Proposed RH measures will have to be targeted accurately at these poor households. Details will have to be fleshed out through the GAA but indicative figures would need to be discussed by Congress. Yes, responsible parenthood cannot be legislated but women from poor households need help.

Nonoy: Ted, all those public spending on educ (elem to tertiary), healthcare (brgy centers to DOH), housing, social work, environment, agri, etc. are investments in human capital. Why new programs like cash transfer for the poor and condoms for the poor? Because past programs were failures or mere opportunities for robbery. If this is the case, the solution is to improve existing programs, or abolish them first before we create new programs, like condoms and ligation for the poor.

Francis: Yeah. It sounds dumb any way you sell it. I'm being tapped to help some other guy's family. At least I think it's some other guy's family and not some politico's wife's Hongkong junket... Still, while I'm doing who is going to take care of my family? Some other guy the government is tapping? That's just so wrong.

"Spending on reproductive health is investing in human capital." I dunno. Sounds more like you're reducing human capital right there.45 minutes ago • Like

Ted: Helping others makes society possible. Given the problems of governance in the Philippines, a lot of work needs to be done in terms of the effective and efficiency of this help. Looking for better mousetraps presupposes the need for mousetraps.

Nonoy: Helping others via voluntary charity is highly possible. Govt thinks it is impossible, thus govt shd coerce people to contribute and govt itself will do it. And that's how large-scale coercion and corruption happens. Govt can force its way, whether we like it or not.

Francis: Helping others, sure. But don't we get a say in what we can give and what our capabilities and resources are? I can't exactly give what I don't have or have prior allocation. Things should stand on their own intrinsic merits. If something has to be mandatory or needs someone behind you with a stick to get it done... maybe we should be asking what is it really worth.

Ted: Government (the state), by definition, is coercive. And, yes, you can fight City Hall.

Nonoy: So by bending on another coercion by the state, after we've bent hard on its many other programs that were mostly failures, we end up big losers, the politicians, bureaucrats and their rent-seeking allies in media and NGOs are big winners.

Francis: MalacaƱan, yes. City Hall, no. I can go to Edsa and kick out the President. But when the Mayor declares your street is now One-way... SHIT!!!!

Nonoy: A friend commented that the RH bill is not that expensive, mura lang naman daw. If it's cheap, then PNoy and other RH supporters can chip in, or ask Henry Sy & Gokongwei to donate big time, ask the WB-ADB-WHO to give grants, no more debates and social division on that bill while goal is attained. Mura lang naman pala eh.

Danny: The idea that an RH law means more taxes is a lot of bullshit. If that;s where this is coming from, then the burden of proof is on those spreading this lie. Facebook discussions obviously cannot provide all the information you are demanding for, but surely you should know where to find that information.

The driving motive behind an RH law is informed choice, the right of couples to choose from various options so they can plan their families. Information on this is not readily available yet and in many cases is denied to those who need it. Now where is the coercion there?

I am glad that most people aren't asking questions about budget items per RH provision because no such budget exists. Anyone with common sense who is immersed day in and day out in the lives of poor communities know there is a crying need for an RH policy and programs. They know how much more expensive it has been because there is no RH law.

Nonoy: RH bill is expensive, that is why it has to be done by legislation and all the state's revenue collection agencies will be compelled to look for more revenues to finance it. If it's cheap, then private donations + grants from the foreign aid establishments would be enough to finance it.

In our ordinary private lives, if we want our kids to go to a language school, or ballet or music school, or a swimming or basketball clinic, we ask, "how much does it cost?" But in govt programs like RH bill, we are supposed NOT to ask questions how much it will cost, we should just sheepishly and idiotly support it, wow.

We ord folks are busy working to sustain our households, communities, etc. We also have to work hard bec govt already gets lots of taxes and fees to finance its old programs like public educ, healthcare, housing, social work, agri, env., public works, MRT subsidy, irrig, AR, etc. Then pro-RH bill groups say, "Hey we got a really bright idea to solve poverty, you all shd support it too." But when they are asked, "how much will it cost? the existing programs are already costing us some P300 B a year on average in budget deficit alone." The pro-RH camp says, "The burden of finding the numbers how much it will cost is on you, just support it, blindly as much as possible." Really cool.

Stephen: Nonoy, I'm a bit chagrined to ask the RH bill proposal posted someplace so we can read it? I'd like to know more, but not sure where to look.

Nonoy: One of the mysteries of Philippine Congress and other govt agencies that support the RH bill, it is hard to find the most recent copy. Check, search "Reproductive Health bill" and their online query system will ask you more questions instead of just pointing to you the bill. I read a copy from via google, problem is that I dont know if it's the most recent or not.

My next query was the DOH website, since DOH is one of the major implementing agencies once this becomes a law. They have the comm report no. 664, but it's dated Feb 17, 2011, so obviously it's not the most recent bill with many changes,​s/rh_bill_2011.pdf, DOH website

Danny: Not much mystery here. For updates on a controversial bill still undergoing heated deliberations, information online is hard to come by. However, the bill's proponents, or their staff, or the staff of House committees to which the bill is assigned, or enterprising reporters at the House who are actively covering the issue, would have the information

Nice quote: The pessimist sees difficulty in opportunity; the optimist sees opportunity in difficulty

Nonoy: ‎"entertaining reporters at the House..." Which means we ordinary mortals cannot see that document online? No transparency how much that bill will cost, no transparency of what's newly added or removed on that bill. That's government.

The optimists say that even if you keep hiding info from those who will be affected, state coercion will prevail. Cool.

Fralin: P300 B? A big amount... but i'd be happy to instead spend that to buy off the sanctimonious brains and the ridiculous contentions of the 4x4-hungry, child-molesting hypocrites who are stopping the Divorce Law from beng passed.:))

Nonoy: Fralin, the P300 B per year is the budget deficit, or difference between lower revenues and higher spending. Because so many sectors and politicians are sooo bright in coming with new spending each year, revenues always fall behind, so the deficit don't go away, and accumulated public debt keep rising, now P4.7+ trillion. Interest payment alone this year, excluding principal amortization, is P357 B.

And now we are told that we shd swallow, no question, the expensive RH bill, they won't even tell how much this will cost, how much this will add to the deficit of P300 B per year on average. Basta daw gastos lang ng gastos, don't ask how much the cost and where to tax next to finance those additional spending. Really bright ideas.

Fralin: Well then, i hope the govt. does not end up purchasing condoms at P5,000/pc. ...brings back memories of Joey Marquez's walis-tingting controversy.:)) Always a need for a streamlined program and an extensive cost-benefit analysis (after all, we have already allowed the Arroyos to steal billions, what's to spend some more?), but i always appreciate it when democracy is at work: when people are given the right to CHOOSE; when govenment decides on stern realities, and not on dogma or sentimentalities Back to divorce... lolz

Nonoy: There is no assurance, zero, that the political and bureaucratic class will not resort to over-pricing of everything, from condoms to pills to injectibles to hospital lab equipment. That is why the total cost of this bill remains a mystery, a deliberate mystery.

Related article is Responsible parenthood cannot be legislated, Part 3, May 22, 2011

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