I would like to believe that individuals or institutions could always justify the exercise of their liberal rights. They are free to express their thoughts, beliefs and perspectives. Whatever ‘handwriting on the wall’ seen in public or private spaces is an expression that speaks of a viewpoint , worldview or perspective. An expression does not come from a vacuum. It has always a basis that comes from a standpoint representing a class, gender, religious and social-cultural bias.
A poor, pregnant woman waiting to deliver at Fabella Hospital would have a different view with that of a rich woman waiting to deliver in a private room at St. Luke’s Hospital. A privileged priest would have a different view of reproductive health compared to a woman scavenger who has to choose between buying sardines first or sanitary napkins.
A poster ad with an innovative way of expressing a political-electoral endorsement by dubbing candidates as Team Patay and Team Buhay was posted at the wall of San Sebatian Church in Bacolod. Team Buhay are those who are anti-Reprodcutive Health (RH), while Team Patay are those who are pro-RH. The heading says: “Conscience Vote” . The poster did not mention all the names of the Pro- and Anti- RH, just the names of those running for elective positions this coming elections.
The words ‘Patay’ and ‘Buhay’ alone speak well of a message describing where the church is now located. And what message do these words Patay and Buhay convey to churches and its flock?
One may ask, what’s wrong with Teams Patay and Buhay? Does the church have no right to expose whom it favors and whom it doesn’t?
Well, there is something wrong with a concept like the one conveyed by ‘Patay-Buhay’ if it is narrowed down to Reproductive Health issues, particularly when RH comes to be understood as abortion and contraceptives alone.
Why not bluntly call Team ‘Patay’ those who:
· voted for the Mining Act of 1995,
· endorsed the Value Added Tax,
· voted for the Visiting Forces Agreement,
· did not vote for the impeachment of Arroyo?
· are not pushing for GPH-NDFP Peace Talks,
· are not making any substantive criticism on the budget that gives crumbs to health services ( P46.8B or P1.30/ day/Filipino), but extravagant on debt servicing ( P333.9B or P9.30/day/Filipino) ?
· did not raise their voices against extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances and political persecution?
· espoused privatization of hospitals, schools, water services?
Why not “Team Buhay” for those who are obviously and courageously speaking out for genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization, social justice, and who bravely speak against development aggression and ecological plunder ?
Why not “Team Buhay” for those who risk and dare side with the Hacienda Lusita farm workers especially at the height of their life-and-death struggle for land and dignity?
After all, the ordinary laity and religious who are immersed in people’s daily woes and hopes understand life as stated in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
The thieves are the TEAM PATAY who cohorts with the plunderers or are plunders themselves, the looters of people’s wealth and resources, those who make rules and policies that lead to the untimely death of malnourished children, make more out-of-school youth, tolerate unfair labor practice, and allow perennial control of business of the services like water, education and health.
Perhaps it’s a better idea to categorize political candidates whether they are ‘agents of death’ or ‘agents of life’.
Norma P. Dollaga
KASIMBAYAN Women’s Collective
Kapatirang Simbahan Para sa bayan
Letter to the Editor
March 23, 2013