Thursday, July 26, 2012

Project 52 (30/52): On PNoy's SONA (And Why It's Such A Mixed Bag)

.:Project 52 (30/52): On PNoy's SONA (And Why It's Such A Mixed Bag):.

Damn You Gloriaaaa Part 3: The Legend Continues

So another year, another State of the Nation Address, and considering the awesome (in a horrible kind of way) irony of the fact that after taking shot upon shot against GMA in the speech, she has actually posted bail and is (at the moment) a free woman, this SONA is yet another mixed bag in my book.

I simply cannot have a strong opinion on PNoy either way, and to me, that's arguably worse than absolutely loathing GMA in contrast. Indeed, Kring was right when she pointed out that we shouldn't expect miracles from PNoy, and it was also certainly absurd to expect that he would bring up every single pet cause we have, or thank every single person in this country, the way people who weren't listening to his speech actually went and lambasted him for "not thanking the OFW's." Except he actually did.

During his speech, he received raucous applause, a standing ovation, at his mention of "Responsible Parenthood". This was pretty surprising, since he just snuck it into the middle of his speech and never bothered talking about it again. He did the same thing with the Ampatuan massacre situation, and never even brought up the Freedom Of Information Act, which seems to be a hot-button topic for a lot of the people keeping an eye on him.

It really was a mixed bag, to say the least: people cheered him on for emphasizing education. People picked on the fact that he took shots at GMA again, but praised him for taking shots at Marcos in his opening. He was cheered for making a clear but pacifist stand against China, but was derided for wishy-washiness on other issues.

It was really the RH Bill where he caught flak from all sides, though, in spite of the massive applause he got during the speech.

You see, when he uses "Responsible Parenthood" as a euphemism or Bowdlerization of "Reproductive Health," and then clearly makes no further mention of it, the hardcore advocates of RH recognize this as a move to pander to them and nothing more. He said something that has all the plausible deniability in the world if ever the backlash proved too much for him to take. He was half-@$$ing it, quite bluntly. For the pro-RH people, it was do or do not. There was no try.

On the other hand, the mere words "Responsible Parenthood" were enough to make the hardcore anti-RH advocates throw up their arms. They are wildly offended at even the most benign attempt to couch the issue, which only explains why arguing against them will always get you dismissed as being "too uptight" or "too invested" or "too aggressive" or "too oppressive" against their beliefs, because clearly, no amount of tone would soften the blow for them: it's all or nothing.

And that's really the whole point of the RH Bill debate: it's all-inclusive or nothing doing. When religious people register their disagreement with the policies in the RH Bill, they do so in accordance to their religious beliefs. What they fail to realize is that not only do a lot of people not share their beliefs with them, but even their fellow believers actually use contraception, to begin with, whatever the CBCP says be damned.

However, RH Bill benefits less you and me reading blogs on the internet and more the people who need to know their options and need to be able to afford these options afterwards: the ones who have ten mouths to feed on a 50 peso-a day take. The ones who don't know how to even properly put a condom on, or know how their menstrual cycle works.

And yet, at no point does the RH Bill say "you, poor people! You will use condoms now, and be happy about it!" Instead, what the RH Bill says is, "you may use condoms, but you may use these other methods," which is the whole point of educating people in the first place. A combination of options and education would mean that people do not take additional risks just because they have condoms, much in the same way education would mean people don't assume seatbelts will always save them while they drive like maniacs.

And yet, at no point does PNoy delve into this. Which is fine, really. He could just be another one of those guys reneging on promises he has made in the past. He certainly can do that. But that doesn't spare him from the repercussions of half-@$$ing a cause worth fighting for, because he ended up hurting his standing on both sides of the fence by being wishy-washy, rather than actually playing it safe.

Well, onward first world status in 2020, I guess? I hope P Noy does grow a spine at some point. In the meantime, I recognize that he cannot do it alone, so those of us who support basic yet life-saving legislation are going to have to keep on fighting the fight rather than giving him the middle finger and missing the whole point of this cause.

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