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Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Deadly Cocktail of Religion and Politics in the Philippines

December 5, 2015
by Jelen
The Philippines is a nation of people who would describe themselves as “God fearing”; where their lives revolve around entrusting everything to God. 80% of the population consists of Roman Catholics.
This is also a nation where the phrase “malling” exists as a hobby since Filipinos just love to spend their spare time hanging out in malls. Due to this obsession they have even introduced Sunday mass in malls so that they can enjoy this pasttime whilst at the same time being able to pray and have their dose of biblical quotes. A household wouldn’t be complete without an altar where Santo Nino, Mother Mary and the rosary are on display.
I don’t see anything wrong with being devoted to your religion but what I just can’t seem to understand is the concept of the Catholic Church dictating the government on policies on how the country should be run. President Aquino tried to push for the birth control law with no luck as the influential Roman Catholic Church won’t allow it. This is a law that can make contraception available to the poorest and introduce sex education in schools. However, the church condemns “artificial” contraceptive pills and condoms to prevent pregnancy.  They preach and advocate that the nation should only use “natural” means like abstention from sex.
As a result of this the poorest people keep having children who they can’t afford to support financially. They are simply trapped with a life of hardship. This is a domino effect as these children will simply follows their parents’ footsteps of having kids they simply can’t afford to have.
I watched a clip of the retired Archbishop Father Oscar Cruz interview where he said, “If Philippines is poor it’s not because of the population”. Does he really believe this? The UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the world where the average household have 2.3 children compared to that of 4.6 in a Filipino household. The Philippines, on the other hand, is one of the poorest. Just simply apply this to the concept of poor families who have plenty of children. The more children you have the more money you need to feed them, clothe them, and send them to school, plus any other expenses required in raising kids. In comparison to the UK, having fewer children in the household and with more disposable income parents can support their kids more comfortably.
Majority of the nation, specially women, would like to have the option of being able to decide if they should use contraceptive pills or not but because of the Church interference, this is not possible.
It’s about time for the government and politicians to stand up to the Church and tell them that their moral and religious ideology should only stay inside the walls of their church. The Church interference in running the country is limiting the health and wellbeing of women. If women want contraceptive pills they should be given this option and if they are happy to use what the church advocates as “natural” so be it.
Another issue is that there’s no divorce in Philippines. This is the only country left in the world with the exception of the Vatican where you can’t get a divorce. The country seems to think that if they allow divorce in the Philippines, it will be like Las Vegas Style where you can get married the day before and get divorced the next day. This is simply a myth. Of course there’s a very tiny minority that people do this but in reality, people in the West are given the option of mediation so that both parties can decide if divorce is definitely an option.
It’s just absurd to think that you can be married with someone for a long time and the only option is annulment – meaning as if the marriage did not exist at all. Annulment is very expensive & complicated. As a result of this, people are living in “sin” with someone else while they are still “legally” married.
Even Pope Francis, the very head of the Catholic Church hinted when he visited the Philippines “I WOULD LIKE FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TO KNOW IT’S PLACE IN THIS COUNTRY-WHICH is NEITHER IN CITY HALL NOR IN MY HOME, BUT IN THE CHURCH”.
Take note: the Philippines’ religion and politics is a deadly cocktail that shouldn’t be mixed together.

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