'Sila ang pari, sila ang hari'

() - October 3, 2010 - 12:00am

Three hundred thirty-three years of Spanish colonization has virtually made our country stop in a time warp, where the friars or padres as they are called nowadays continue to influence almost every aspect of Filipino life and culture from birth to marriage to death. Today, it seems the Church continues to play a major role in governance, making them like kings and priests all rolled into one. Many Spanish friars during the colonial days had families on the side — and this was what “instant celebrity hero” Carlos Celdran alluded to when he carried a placard with “Damaso” written on it as he protested the Catholic Church’s continued interference in Philippine politics.

The Catholic Church — particularly Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin — displayed considerable political clout during the Cory administration because of the major role he played during EDSA I. During FVR’s time (who himself is a Protestant), the influence of the Catholic Church was put to a test when then Secretary of Health Johnny Flavier ran for senator. Cardinal Sin openly told the Catholics to vote for anyone except Flavier because he was advocating the use of condoms. Johnny won anyway, coming out number two in that year’s senatorial elections. The perceived Church influence with voters turned out to be a myth.

And yet today we see many of our politicians without “cohones” in defying the Church on the issue of population management despite the fact that they are well aware of the issue’s long-term consequences on the life of the people in this country. These so-called “servants of the people” are like closet queens when it comes to the reproductive health bill that has been languishing in Congress because a number of these congressmen have been wishy-washy, waiting to see which way the wind would blow.

This issue will be the defining moment for Noynoy Aquino. Many are waiting to see whether he has the political will to see this thing through. He must be strong, steadfast, and display the trait that people close to him say he is — stubborn. This is the time for him to summon every stubborn bone in his body and dig in his heels on the reproductive health issue. He has made his position clear: His government advocates responsible parenthood — and that includes giving couples informed choices on the different methods of birth control that could help them manage the size of their families.

Aside from the President, this issue will also be the defining moment for this country. We must let it come to a head once and for all and put to test whether we can really have a separation of Church and State as defined by the Constitution — or forever be doomed to remain in the old colonial days when the friars ruled in a manner described in the old Tagalog saying, “sila ang pari, sila ang hari.”

The hardball play threatening P-Noy with excommunication (later denied by the Church) will only compound the issue. It has already upset so many people who have grown tired of the continued interference of the Church in State matters. Despite strong pronouncements from the CBCP, surveys affirm that majority of Catholics approve the use of artificial contraceptives, firmly believing that population management is a “necessary evil” (as some conservatives want to call it). If indeed a majority of the flock believes in population management, then the good bishops will have to excommunicate 68 percent of the Catholic population in this country. Like what happened in England during the reign of King Henry VIII, we might end up having a “Church of Aquino.”

But we have to seriously look at the bare facts. According to the World Factbook, there are 97,976,603 Filipinos as of July 2010 — so whatever economic gains we may achieve, we will never have enough resources to provide for the needs of a population that keeps growing faster than the economy. Even a country like China continues to struggle with its population of 1.3 billion people despite the rapid pace of its economy.

It has already been established that those with the most number of children, averaging five or six — come from the poor sector of society, or couples who could barely afford to feed their children. One of the areas with the biggest squatter colonies in Metro Manila is Quezon City. During the “demolition job” in one QC squatter area last week, you could already see symptoms of a class war that could easily escalate into a conflagration of total chaos all over the country. Having been QC mayor for many years, Speaker Sonny Belmonte knows only too well the dismal conditions in these overpopulated colonies with the poverty, the squalor and the crime that abound in them.

In contrast, educated and well-informed couples belonging to the middle class and the upper crust are those with only two children, at most an average of three. It’s all very simple really: 1+1= 2, not 1+1= 6. The simple fact is that couples must be given informed choices, especially when they know they cannot afford to have more children than they can responsibly care for.

If we continue to bury our heads in the sand and not confront the issue of population management squarely and allow the men in white robes to be both kings and priests, then as sure as the sun will come down tonight — this country will end up a failed state as projected by a United Nations report, because we will have too many people but very little resources. In the end, we may not even “have cake” to feed the people.

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Email: babeseyeview@yahoo.com

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