Filipino politicians have given their country a Christmas present of major significance this year. Its giving may well have involved some arm twisting by President Aquino which media spin indicates worked because a significant number of the Philippine’s elected representatives consider the dollar to be mightier than the Cross.
Spin aside, after some 13 years of inaction the Reproduction Health Bill has been passed by both the Senate and the Congress. In essence it encourages the dispensation of free contraceptives to the poor and fact based sex education in the schools.
It is this later element that has the Catholic Church knickers in a knot. It has brought the Philippine Chapter of the Rome based institution kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Filipino children will now be given knowledge about all the means of contraception available not just the convoluted method favored by the Pope and his Vatican advisers. And if overseas studies are anything to go by there will be a reduction in the number of that horrific contraception method of last resort, the abortion.
Filipinos are now entrusted and assisted to manage the number and the spacing of the children they beget. For individuals, especially those on the lower economic runs of society, they can now escape the one step forward, two steps backwards shuffle an unplanned bundle of joy enforces. For the country the specter of rampant over population has been mitigated. For the world the pressure on Global Warming that each new body entails has been reduced.
For this Aussie, who now makes his home in these islands, the most encouraging aspect has been to see the political system make a far reaching decision for Filipinos by Filipinos. And this in the face of the intense pressure brought to bear by foreign entities. For make no mistake about it, with only three Cardinals, the Philippine’s influence at the Vatican is minimal.
Whether it was the pork barrel or the well-being of their constituents that the President used to motivate his colleagues to support this legislation it is destined to become a Christmas present that keeps on giving.