Akbayan youth to Pacquiao: Switch corners in the RH brawl

This is a press statement from Akbayan.

The recent interpellation of Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao against the Reproductive Health Bill only served to strengthen the argument in favor of the bill rather than against it. Rep. Pacquiao was armed with the same debunked accusations against the bill when he questioned Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman. By raising the issue on whether the bill was taken up in the proper committee, whether the bill was right in calling for mandatory teaching of sex education, and whether it was appropriate to require companies to provide reproductive health services, Rep. Pacquiao reused and rehashed talking points by the anti-RH advocates. It was quite amazing how Rep. Lagman parried and deflected each point with ease. In the end, Lagman was able to fight toe to toe with the 8-time world champion and put up a better challenge to the People’s champ than his previous opponents on the ring.

But just the same, we commend Rep. Pacquiao for the effort that he made to build the case of those against the RH bill. But in the end, like all Pacquiao fights, it ended decisively in favor of the intelligent fighter with the most guts, and tragically against the fighter who is unknowledgeable of the battle terrain and depended too much on the bad game plan of his coach. It’s not surprising that Pacquiao was overwhelmed in the plenary debates. His “coaches” in the anti-RH camp were too busy feeding him the same points and questions that were already raised numerous times and repeatedly debunked since the bill was filed.

There’s no question as to whether Pacman is pro-poor. Rep. Pacquiao came from a family that also faced the same lack of access to health services such as pre-natal healthcare and family planning. His life filled with poverty and deprivation is a testament to a person’s capacity to surmount all odds and stand tall. His outreach projects to serve the poor only cements his image as the People’s Champ. As he said before, poverty is the biggest fight he has had to face. We commend Rep. Pacquiao for this.

Thus, it is distressing that he is opposed to the RH Bill, a proposed piece of legislation aimed at empowering poor families no different from his own to make informed choices and live healthy and balanced lives. We know if Rep. Pacquiao wasn’t fed misleading statistics and erroneous studies emanating from those who wish to derail the RH Bill, he would stand by many poor families who are fighting for this legislation. It’s no secret that Rep. Pacquiao is pushing for the building of the first state-of-the-art provincial hospital in his home province of Sarangani. His dedication to bringing proper health services to those who need it the most is no different from the goals of the majority people advocating the RH bill; in fact, it is exactly that.

As such, Akbayan-youth calls on Rep. Pacquiao to switch sides, to go to the corner of the ring where the people are and push for the passage of the Reproductive Health bill to complete his image as the people’s champ.