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The SC, Leni and Rosalie

opinion / Columnists
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At Large

The SC, Leni and Rosalie

A friend on Facebook asks why the Supreme Court rejected the petition of a group of supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo to intervene in the poll protest filed against her by her defeated rival Bongbong Marcos. No reason was cited in the high court’s release.

The group that calls itself “Piso para sa Laban ni Leni” managed to raise about P6.5 million to help the VP pay the second tranche of P7.4 million for her own protest. The amount was raised within six weeks from some 25,000 supporters, who gave on average P100-P1,000 each, though some gave as little as P1 as well as much bigger amounts.

The high court’s ruling, says my friend, is puzzling because last April, it accepted without a peep the P36 million that Marcos paid for his election protest, which he said had been pooled by 40 of his “friends and supporters.” So what’s the diff between 40 friends and supporters, and 25,000 concerned voters? my friend asks. Why would the Presidential Electoral Tribunal accept the donations of 40 Marcos cronies and not those of 25,000 people, ordinary folk for the most part, who said they wanted to protect and defend their votes for the Vice President? Are some voices and choices louder than others?

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I, for one, am eagerly awaiting a more detailed and logical explanation from our esteemed justices.

* * *

Rosalie, the mother of 22 whose story was told in this space last Wednesday, offers many lessons for all women, mothers and advocates of reproductive health.

By the time she met the staff of the Likhaan clinic in Baseco, Rosalie, then 49, said she was done with pregnancy and motherhood, besides which the staff thought she was already too old and burdened with too many health issues to qualify for family planning. But even then, Rosalie told them that she had never availed herself of RH supplies or services because she didn’t “believe” in these. For one, she didn’t know enough of the various methods and was worried about the side effects. She had been prescribed with contraceptive pills years earlier, she disclosed, but tried them only briefly because she didn’t feel well while on them.

One would think that after 10 or so children, Rosalie would have chosen a permanent method such as a tubal ligation (or vasectomy for her husband) or even a semipermanent method, such as an IUD which provides up to 10 years of protection. Even the contraceptive implant, which is still under the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order, would have helped her avoid pregnancy for up to three years.

What kind of counseling and information did Rosalie receive during her childbearing years? And what role did her husband Danilo play in her decision-making? Did he support her right to decide whether and how often she was to get pregnant? Or did he stop or discourage her from using contraceptives altogether?

Whatever, the greatest burden of Rosalie’s serial pregnancies, it turns out, was borne not by her or Danilo but by their children. Most of them failed to complete their education, with only a few able to enter high school; none of them managed to make it to college.

Instead, to help out with the heavy demands of sustaining an oversized family, the children were forced to stop schooling and start earning their keep as “watch-your-car boys,” laborers, garment workers, and even as “akyat barko” sex workers (those who cater to sailors on shore leave).

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Then there was also the question of parental care. Did Rosalie ever enjoy sufficient time, away from her frantic efforts to supplement Danilo’s take-home pay, for rest and for closer caregiving for her children? Did she, Danilo and the children ever find time for family bonding and sharing values?

Indeed, Rosalie made an effective educator on reproductive health when she worked as a volunteer for Likhaan’s community outreach and advocacy programs. All she had to do, I would imagine, was to share her life story with audiences to illustrate the drawbacks of uncontrolled and unplanned fertility. I hope that the listeners, at the very least, had taken away lessons from her life and her family’s history, instead of focusing on the “teledrama” aspects of the story.

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TAGS: At Large Rina Jimenez-David, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, leni robredo, Presidential Electoral Tribunal, Supreme Court, vice presidential election protest
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