Fidelity with my Church: speech of Rep. Antonio C. Alvarez against the RH Bill

Rep. Antonio C. Alvarez, 1st District, Palawan

Rep. Antonio C. Alvarez, 1st District, Palawan

From GMA News Network:

Mr. Speaker:

Three months from now, I will be marking my 27th year of uninterrupted service as an elected public official.

In formulating my final vote in this House, I drew mainly upon my experience as mayor for 12 years and provincial board member for six.

For in my years here, that has always been my way of appraising  proposals: to imagine the “implementability” of policies in a grassroots setting.

That is the best test because what I have discovered is that what is good on paper is not necessarily good in practice; what is good in the Batasan, is not always good for the barrios.

So far here are my conclusions:

All the purported things that this bill will do are already covered by a multitude of laws.

Thus, it is not a matter of legislation but implementation.

A barangay council can buy pills and even distribute them like confetti, but no barangay chairman will tell you that the same pills will cure poverty.

He will tell you instead that in the hierarchy of his constituents’ needs, schools, books, roads, water, and livelihood are far more important to them.

Sa bawat araw na ginawa ng Diyos, kadami-dami ang natatanggap kong sulat at text na humihingi ng tulong, mga resolutions na nakikiusap ng pondo, pero ni minsan hindi po ako nakatanggap ng sulat na humihingi sa akin ng condom o pilduras o IUD.

In many areas of my District, the best form of contraception is not the one that is unsheathed, but one that is switched on—and that is electricity.

There are good provisions in this bill, I admit, like the improvement of health facilities, but these are mere reiterations of what a government must do, so whether a government is pro-, anti-, or deadma on RH, it is duty-bound to provide these services.

So whether a woman is carrying a baby on purpose or by accident, through artificial insemination or by immaculate conception, she deserves to have access to the best medical care which should be provided—without the need for an RH bill.

Mr. Speaker:

I vote NO to this measure, and Mr. Speaker, please allow me to cite my last reason for it is also the most important reason for me.

I know that a lawmaker’s religious beliefs must not solely guide his vote.

But I will take the risk of allowing my final vote as a congressman to be shaped in part by the teachings of my Church, not because I believe that they are infallible, but because my final act should be in fidelity with what my Church stands for.

This is also an act of solidarity with my Church as it has come under attack as regressive, as archaic, and as antiquated.

But its past and its present belie this slander.

This is the Church that fought against tyranny, ousted a dictatorship, struggled against repression, and defended human rights.

This is the Church which continues to educate our young, heal our sick, shelter our homeless, and comfort our poor.

This is a Church that treats people as the most important resource of a community. Unlike those pushing for this bill who treat them as liability.  Let us never forget that the most precious capital of all is HUMAN CAPITAL.

This is the Church whose teachings form our social glue, provide our moral anchor, and whose celebrations, including Christmas, strengthen our bond as a community.

So pray, tell me my friends, with this heritage and record how can I vote against it?

I vote NO to this measure.

About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

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