At the Kapihan sa Senado press forum last Thursday, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile explained why he is against the RH Bill.
“Ang pinakamalaking export natin is OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers). Export iyan eh, kaya ako kontra ako sa RH dahil diyan. Ang magpapalago ng bansa natin ay iyong excess population natin na sinanay natin na tumatanggap ng mga trabaho abroad that others don’t want to handle. We have to accept that. Korea started that way.”
(Our biggest export is Overseas Filipino Workers. That’s why I’m against the RH Bill. The excess population that we accustomed to accepting work that others don’t want to handle is what will improve our economy. We have to accept that. Korea started that way.)
“Ganun ba? Did Korea really finance its development by exporting its excess citizens to other countries?” she asked the reporter sitting beside her.
“I don’t know,” he replied, “but if Enrile said so then it must be true. You read his memoir, didn’t you?”
“I don’t feel comfortable treating people as commodities,” she said dismissing his remark about a book she had not read.
“What Enrile said is true, like it or not,” he insisted.
“You believed his memoir?” she asked thinking that’s what he was talking about.
“No, I meant his opposition to the RH Bill makes perfect sense. OFWs are our biggest export. Excess population is the solution to our economic woes. More people equals more OFWs equals more remittances equals …Filipinos must reproduce like rabbits because overpopulation will create a huge surplus for export.”
“So why is the government giving incentives to foreign investment? Won’t that lead to jobs that will discourage Filipinos from working abroad to do jobs that others don’t want to do?” she asked.
“That just goes to show you PNoy does not know what he is doing. He is killing off our number one export looking for ways to create jobs here at home instead of finding ways to make Filipinos leave!” he replied. “Stupido talaga!” he added for emphasis.
“But that OFW policy was Blas Ople’s brainchild, when he was Labor Secretary of Marcos!Kinagisnan na natin ‘yan,” she argued.
He ignored her remark, “As Enrile said, we have to accept the fact that most Filipinos are excess and must become exports so instead of getting all touchy-feely negative about it why don’t we offer positive suggestions for a change?”
“You’re right. I’m for positive, what can I do to help?” she asked.
“We can support Enrile’s opposition to the RH Bill,” he said.
“But we have to do more than just show our support, we must also help propagate Enrile’s views on OFWs as export commodities,” she said.
“Like what?” he asked.
“We can look for ways to increase rather than limit the growth potential of our number one export,” she replied.
“Well, instead of giving away birth control pills and condoms we can distribute Viagra for free,” she replied. “Enrile should introduce that as his first amendment to the RH Bill.”
“I’m not playing games,” she told him.
“Sorry,” he said, incredulous.
“Listen, if Enrile wants our OFW exports to grow, why is he against the SIN tax?” she asked.
“Is that a trick question?” he said refusing to take her question seriously.
“I’m serious!” she exclaimed. “Enrile should be for the Sin Tax. If that tax is passed hundreds of thousands working in the tobacco and alcohol industry will lose their jobs and means of livelihood. That’s potential OFW exports right there. And think of the number of people who will not die from tobacco and alcohol related diseases. That’s more OFW exports. Why is he against the Sin tax?”
“I can’t find a good reason for his inconsistency. I don’t have the hang of Enrileconomic Development Plan yet,” he protested.
“Enrile said he has 17 amendments to the RH Bill but not one of them proposes lowering the age of sex education. That should be his second amendment,“ she said.
“What does sex education have to do with it?”
“How are we going to produce more OFWs if we don’t teach sex starting from the first grade?” she replied. “We want to instill in our youth that it’s their patriotic duty to reproduce as early and as often as possible.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,“ he replied.
“Nope. What we need are slogans like “Old enough to bleed, old enough to breed” if we want to make full use of our baby factories. Women have a shelf life, you know.” She was on a roll.
“We are trying to protect innocence for as long as we can.”
“Innocence is unpatriotic. It will kill the golden goose.”
“How would you feel if your daughter started having babies before she’s twelve?” he asked.
“Are you questioning my patriotism?“
“Of course not.”
“May I continue?” she asked, a bit irritated that he questioned her patriotism. “We would be saving billions of pesos in overhead if we did away with high schools and universities. Filipinos don’t need a diploma to do jobs that other people don’t want to handle, right?”
“Well, I don’t think that’s what Enrile meant,” he said. Firmly.
“Oh, so now you are going to parse his statement. You’re going to walk it back like the bishops did with the Pope’s statement on condoms.”
“No, I didn’t mean that. What I’m trying to say is Enrile is against the RH Bill because OFWs are our biggest export,” he replied.
“Precisely. But he won’t do anything to increase population production or reduce overhead costs. He won’t even introduce a law lowering the age for OFWs to 14. Do you know how many countries would import our 14-year- olds to do what they can’t do to their 14- year- olds?” she asked.
“That’s preposterous!” It was his turn to exclaim.
“No. The question is how far Enrile will go to support our number one export. Is he for real or is he posturing?
“I don’t know what he wants but I know what I want,” he replied.
She gave him a quizzical look.
“Let’s go to my place and do our share for the Enrileconomic Development Plan.”
“This one’s for you and your idol!” she cried as she got up, picked up her laptop, and smacked the stupid out of his head.
Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph).