I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.


With the wedding over, things are starting to slow down around here. The bride and her man have flown off to their honeymoon, one set of parents have started the long trip home, and the neighbor’s dog no longer barks quite as incessantly as it did when stranger scents filled the air. And me? I can feel the itch to write coming back.

And Nick has thankfully given me a way back into the conversation.

In his post about the supposed redundancy of the RH Bill, Nick uses the word redundant at least 10 times, not counting the various forms of the same word. Now if that isn’t … that word … I don’t know what is. LOL!

Seriously, though, I have to disagree with him.

The RH Bill is tantamount to a non-binding resolution, simply because it creates more bureaucracy without the need to actually strengthen existing ones … and does not do anything much than sound off on existing responsibilities that should be handled by existing agencies and departments of government.

In either case, the debate is misconstrued, pushed towards ideological extremes, and misses the most important of all debates, how and why should any part of this bill be implemented, when in fact, current laws and agencies can already do what is being proposed.

From his words, it should be obvious that Nick’s thesis rests on the belief that the RH Bill simply calls for what other agencies and departments should already be doing, in effect a duplication of functions. The key word there is SHOULD, and its use is what makes Nick’s sweeping generalization false.

Everyone can agree that many of the things mandated by the RH Bill  are things – or acts – that should be performed by the Department of Health, or by hospitals and medical practitioners in general. But then again, implicit in that agreement is the acknowledgment that even though these things should be performed, the fact remains that they are NOT being performed.

Nick frames this acknowledgment by saying that

… our focus should be efficiency, of which government implementation is severely lacking.

Methinks Nick is thinking of a different law altogether.

The RH Bill – in providing as it does – serves the laudable purpose distilling RH-related provisions of existing laws, regulations, and government programs, thereby making those provisions more urgent and enforceable with the addition of punitive measures.

Taking Nick’s example – so what if the provision of ‘family planning services’ is part of the Family Health Office’s program? Supposing the FHO didn’t actually provide significant ‘family planning services.’ All the FHO has to say – and it would be correct too! – is that there are several gazillion other good and important programs that compete with ‘family planning services’ for funding and manpower.

Under those circumstances, would it be better then to whine about the inefficiency of implementation or to enact legislation that would separate ‘family planning services’ from the mass of other programs and thereby ensure that it gets its own funding and administrative support?

As for this one:

Take for example, in the bill, the stipulation that medical care must be extended to those who are requiring emergency treatment in cases of pregnancy and those of maternity cases, or even those that need post-abortion attention. Redundant. Inasmuch as this seems like a responsible statement to make, the most responsible and legal act is to extend medical care to all medical emergencies, period. Already, such statements flies against the face of the fact that emergency care must be provided to everyone, in all cases, irrespective of the background of that case.

This statement ignores the fact that real life rarely plays out the best case scenario or the ideal. Sure, people should be provided emergency care for any and all reasons, but in reality, there are many ways the hospitals – which are businesses after all – can totally ignore this moral imperative without any accountability. By making a law out of this, you attach the element of coercion, in effect punishing violators for not doing the right thing (which they would have gotten away with if the law didn’t exist).

So, does the RH Bill repeat what existing laws, regulations, government programs provide for? I would have to say yes. But is it redundant? Is the repetition needless as Nick repeats over and over again? No, it is not, because the repetition serves the purpose of emphasizing certain things, and penalizes certain acts and ommissions that normally would not have been violative of the law. Because the repetition is for a good purpose, the RH Bill is therefore not redundant.


Filed under: politics, society,

4 Responses

  1. Nick says:

    I made it a point to use redundant as many times as I could, to emphasize it.. crude strategy, but i think the point came across…

    As your argument points out, is it then safe to assume that one reason for this bill is to allocate funds specifically towards family planning? If so, then it still has to pass through the national budget right? then the focus should then be the budget, should it not?

    Another point you make is that we need this bill because, even though, it is redundant (yes, I will strive to use it again), it will have a coercion affect.. and I have to say, if current laws and bills do not have that affect, what then is another bill to the current situation? Again, enforcement is the key, not a new bill… if this bill passes, the problem of implementation is still there.. why add another step?

  2. Nick says:

    lol, i know.. i did use redundant in a ridiculous amount.. and sidenote.. PICTURES!!

  3. rom says:

    nick: focus should be on the budget? the focus of what? discussions on the bill? well, first people have to be convinced that it is worth funding at all. When people decide that it should be funded, then we talk about getting money allocated for it in the national budget.

    coercive effect? I don’t think that being part of a broader program of some government agency gives RH issues the prominence it needs. Like I said in my example, if RH is just one of many concerns, it can easily be de-prioritized. But if RH were being pushed as the specific mandate of a specific law, money for it will be more forthcoming.

    Enforcement may be essential, but ultimately, if you have to spread a very limited amount of money over several endeavors, just how effective can your enforcement be?

    And if this bill passes, yes the problem of implementation persists.But You could say the same about the Firearms law, nick. And if we can’t curb loose firearms, shouldn’t we then just scrap the whole law by your logic? Come to that, we shouldn’t have ANY laws at all because we’re so poor at implementing laws.

    The difficulty one might foresee in implementing a proposed law should not be a deterrent to passing that law, especially if the law in question seeks to accomplish a desirable end.

  4. cvj says:

    Rom, how does it feel to be in the thick of the action? You should write about it when you get back.

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