Winners all

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Monday, April 14, 2014

FOR mediators, we utter the double word in our sleep on the Visayan-sounding name: Win-win. You know, Winwin, Chinchin, Maymay, Tintin, Bembem.

Seriously, I doff my hat to the Supreme Court for ruling in favor of the controversial Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 but nullified eight of its provisions. Its decision is a good example of coming with a compromise.

The SC refused a winner-takes-all formula. The law, as it now stands, has something for opposing sides of the aisle. No one was totally happy, but none was absolutely said either.


In effect, the law as it stands gives everyone freedom of choice, the formula for “win-win solution,” as Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benítez said.

CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas agrees. There is a win-win situation for both sides of the aisle. Said the Archbishop, even if the SC upheld the constitutionality of the RH law, the High Court has “truly watered down” the polarizing Republic Act.

“We cannot see eye-to-eye with our pro-RH brethren on this divisive issue but we can work hand-in-hand for the good of the country.”

Rep. Benítez, together with other Western Visayan legislators, lobbied for freedom of choice in the House version of the RH bill. However, the bicameral committee revised their version and inserted sanctions for non-compliance with some provisions. Benítez said the Supreme Court virtually re-inserted those revised and stringent provisions.

Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella said everybody is happy, the SC did a good job of making both Congress and the Church satisfied. “Quite a Houdini. I’m wondering if the die-hard pro-RH law petitioners are really contented. Time will tell,” he said.

Former Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, also one of the authors of the RH bill, concurs. Says Lagman, “few provisions whose constitutionality was not upheld will not diminish the efficacy of the law and deter its full implementation.” Yes, he still came out grinning ear-to-ear.

Ditto for the group Purple Ribbon for RH who thanked the High Tribunal for upholding the law and giving it a chance to be implemented saying the decision is “the victory of women, children, youth, the family, the future of Filipinos and democracy.” See, the group echoed the sentiments of Cong. Benítez.

“From this day forward, we can expect that the government will be with us and help every Filipino in advancing their right, their health and their freedom to make informed decision. This day marks the beginning of a brighter tomorrow,” said the group and virtually echoing Archbishop Villegas.

On the other hand, our Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra remains as feisty as ever. “RH Law is immoral and still constitutes a grave violation of the principles of the right to life and the dignity of the human person in the light of the authoritative doctrine of the Catholic Church.”

Still, he conceded that the RH Law, as it stands after the SC ruling, constituted “a little triumph for the anti-RH law advocates.”

Yes, such statements warm the deep recesses of every mediator’s heart. Both sides of the conflict claim victories on their side and give themselves pat on their backs.

Now can we focus on reducing poverty? And please don’t tell me RH will go on auto-pilot to do that, because it can’t. The dictator Marcos was successful in bringing down the country’s population growth, but the regime also brought down the country’s economic growth.

As the Supreme Court said on its ponencia on the RH Law: “Let it be said that the cause of these perennial issues is not the large population but the unequal distribution of wealth. Even if population growth is controlled, poverty will remain as long as the country’s wealth remains in the hands of the very few.”



Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 14, 2014.


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