Thursday, December 13, 2012

Population Control 16: RH Bill as HR, Coercion as Choice

The Reproductive Health (RH) bill as a human right (RH) was passed on second reading at the House of Representatives early this morning. It was a close fight and debate, 113 Yes and 104 No. I did not expect that. I thought that it would be something like 150+ Yes and 60+ No, or other overwhelming figures in favor of Yes to RH bill. What happened? 

Nonetheless, here are my pieces of small debates in facebook recently:

A friend Louie Montemar posted,  "Ayon sa aking isang maaasahang Oracle, papasa ang RH Bill na yan. Manalig kayo mga kasama! :)" 

I replied,
Ako rin, kumbinsido magiging batas yan. Sa dami ng Pilipino na ang pag iisip eh, bawat kembot ng buhay, ke lapis or libro or condoms man yan, dapat may gobyerno, magiging batas talaga yan. May momentum na ang pro-BIG government. Ke libro or medicines, kalsada, trains, ospital, condoms or pills, gobyerno dapat. Kaya puro tax-tax-tax, fees-fees-fees tayo nyan, sa dami ng mga nakatunganga kakahintay kung ano iaabot ng gobyerno sa kanila ng libre.

Pero madi-disappoint din yong maraming nakatunganga. Kasi bago dumating sa kanila ang daming hingi nila na libre, syempre dadaan muna sa milya-milyang burukrasya. From Congress to DOH and DepEd to LGUs to rural govt clinics bago dumating sa mga tao. Sa sweldo, meetings and junkets pa lang, di pa kasama nakaw at korupsyon, konti na lang matitira sa mga nakatunganga.

Then Ador replied, 
Wow, never thought I would encounter a GOP/Tea-Party-ish anti-big-government argument. Here's a basic arithmetic question: What is more expensive? Spending on a pad of pills or raising a baby? A pack of condoms or lifetime HIV (hepa-B,herpes, etc.) treatment? Educating a couple about natural and/or artificial family planning methods or educating, feeding, treating, and supporting the welfare of additional children beyond their means?

And I replied back,
Wow, raising a baby like all of us once is now an "expensive" undertaking and by implicatiom, a liability. People are liabilities? Incl yourselves? thats news. In my book the real liabilities are thieves and plunderers, killers and rapists, kidnappers and carnappers, both in the private and government sectors. Government should go after these criminals,that's what our taxes are meant for, not to demonize new babies who will become the future workers , entrepreneurs, teachers, bus drivers, nurses, etc.

There is prevalent or dominant thinking that government is the only entity that can expand choice for couples, no one else, so everyone, whether they like it or not, should send more money to the government. This is pro-choice, cool.

That "RH is pro choice" argument is simplistic. Here's why.

a. Government to create more state universities in Metro Manila or in other provinces, funded by taxes of course. Then government will say, "It's up to students and their parents whether they will enroll in those new state universities or not, they are not coerced to do so. We are only expanding their choices in university education."

b. Government to put up a new bus corporation or a jeepney corporation or taxi corporation and offer rides at subsidized fares then declare, "It's up to passengers whether they will ride those government buses, jeepneys or taxis or not, they are not coerced to do so. We are only expanding passengers' choices."

And many other possible cases where government will provide a product or service at low or zero cost to the public and say that government is "expanding choices" for the public. Cool. People will grab freebies, no need to conduct a survey for that. But the only people who have zero choice, nada, zero, are the taxpayers, especially in the private sector, the fixed income earners. So, say that again: government is expanding choices to the people? 

Anoter friend, Karla Montemayor of Akbayan posted,
Ayaw niyo ng contraception, huwag niyong gamitin! Pero wala kayong pakialam at poder sa katawan at buhay ng mga Pinoy.

My reply,
Eto rin. Kung gusto nyo mamudmod ng condpms and pills, bumili kayo. Bakit pati bulsa ng mga ayaw, gusto nyo lusubin? Bakit sila gawad kalinga, gusto nila build houses for the poor, e di naman humingi ng GK bill as precondition? Bakit kailangan sumipsip sa state coercion mga civil society?

Lovers of more government think that reproductive health or public health in general should be government responsibility and should not be dependent on charity or volunteerism. That's their disease, deep distrust in civil society volunteerism and high trust of government coercion, yet call themselves as civil society leaders, whew.

The DOH is actually spending a lot on RH ever since. In the DOH 2013 budget for instance, it has alloted P2.54 billion for various RH services, P539 M of which are just for pills, DMPA vials, IUD, etc. The DOH has enough leeway to spend on these things even without the RH bill. 

I also think that there is over-spending in public health already. If you combine health spending of DOH + PhilHealth + LGUs + other national government agencies (UP Philippine General Hospital AFP hospital, PNP hospital, Veterans hosp, health clinics in almost all agencies) + PCSO + medical missions by other agencies, government funding is already big and not just 3+ percent of GDP, which I think refers only to DOH budget. UP PGH budget, about P1+ billion a year, is charged to UP budget, not DOH budget. The same for AFP hospital, PMA hospital in baguio, etc. which are charged to DND budget, PNP hospital charged to DILG budget, LGUs hospitals. Manila City govt alone runs about 7 hospitals. I read that there are about 618 government hospitals nationwide. These are not enough, all of them incl. DOH have little or no RH services to the poor, so there should be another legislation for more RH spending, cool. 

Anyway, panalo na ang pro state coercion, as expected. Lahat gobyerno kung pwede lang. Ngayon kapag sila ay aangal sa more taxes (cell phone text tax is already waiting after the sin tax hike), more government fees, there should be something wrong with them. Government has no money of its own except what it takes by force from the productive sectors of society.

So, sige lang, gastos lang ng gastos. Where to find the money to cover for the ever-rising public debt, bahala na si Batman.

Meanwhile in the Senate, I think it will also be passed there and soon, bicameral conference committee meetings will be held to produce an RH law. One downside for the pro-RH camp is that some rigid provisions like mandatory sex education from Grade 5 to high school, mandatory pro-bono services for all OB professionals, something like at least 48 hours a year, and mandatory RH services for pregnant personnel in private companies, have been removed or will be removed. I think this is a good compromise, somehow. 

So a new RH law will simply be formalizing and expanding what the DOH, PhilHealth, LGUs and other government agencies are already doing anyway.  .  

See also:
Population Control 11: Church Coercion vs. State Coercion, August 12, 2012
Population Control 12: RH Bill will Become a Law, August 17, 2012
Population Control 13: Excess People are Liabilities kuno, August 25, 2012
Population Control 14: Lessons from the Cybercrime Law, October 08, 2012
Population Control 15: Debate, Debate, on the RH Bill, December 03, 2012

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