Tough Leadership Decisions: RH Bill & Gun Control

by Jess Lorenzo

Posted at Dec 20 2012 12:12 PM | Updated as of Dec 20 2012 08:34 PM

Congratulations to the congressmen and women and the senators who pushed for the RH Bill.

Congratulations to PNoy for taking us through a threshold of change.

The RH Bill has been a long debated policy that has been painfully divisive to the country. It has brought so much conflict with so many people.

I had my own painful experience in the course of this discussion. When I wrote my ABS-CBN article last August on how I decided to support the RH Bill, one of our neighbors confronted me and asked me to correct myself.  Imperfect as it maybe, I chose to support the RH Bill because the opposite would be inaction. I felt that Anti-RH proponents do not present any clear alternative. Since then I look upon the RH Bill as a response and a perspective shift towards addressing poverty.

Just this week, Congressman Walden Bello posted a comment in his facebook quoting Archbishop Arguelles of Batangas likening PNoy to Adam Lanza, the Newtown mass murderer. This irresponsible comment only widens the great divide that the church and the government leaders are suffering from.

Raissa Robles wrote on her blog that she was unhappy that she is taking a stand against the church. “And yet, and yet, this time I need to stand my ground. I believe priests are not always right in every way. Sometimes they are wrong. Very wrong.” I also feel bad as she does. The influence of the church remains strong and felt even with pro-RH proponents. This same influence with our government leaders is the reason why the RH Bill remained illusive even before the Aquino administration. As I look at the Church in all this discussion, I am left wishing that they use the same influence and energy towards fighting corruption. If they do, I am certain the country will change.

The same maybe expected with the United States and the decades long Gun Control arguments. Gun ownership in America is the epitome of freedom. It is so embedded in American culture that it is constitutional and fundamental. It is constitutional because it is stated in the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and part of the Bill of Rights. It is fundamental because the right of the individual to bear arms has been present in the generations since the United States Independence. It is the most potent form of empowerment; to be able to defend yourself. For a long time, US lawmakers have been unable to tackle this issue because of the strong cultural bias. It is also staunchly protected by the lobby of the National Rifle Association in America.

According to CNN, "The laws are being driven by politics, and the politics are being driven by groups such as the National Rifle Association. Once a relatively modest organization of gun enthusiasts and hunters, it has become one of the most powerful political groups in the country. The Washington Post estimates that the NRA succeeded in helping elect four out of every five candidates it endorsed in the 2010 congressional election."

In speaking with the families of Newtown, President Obama said, “We can't accept events like this as routine. Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom? These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.” Obama commits by saying, “In the coming weeks I will use the power that this office holds to engage the citizens... in an effort aimed to prevent more tragedies like this.” President Obama stepped up to go against this fundamental gun-culture that America holds dearly in spite of the uphill battle he faces. “What choice do we have? Are we prepared to say that we are powerless in the face of such carnage; that the politics are too hard?”, He continues.

President Obama know full well the uphill political battle he faces as he said, "We will be told that the causes are complex and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil and prevent acts of violence, but that can't be an excuse for inaction." One opinion in CNN even said that he should not tackle gun control because doing so will split even the democrats. He may loose political support that is vital to the other priority bills he needs to pass.

Fortunately we did not need a Sandy Hook massacre for our president to take on the change that is needed. Unpopular as it may seem, the passing of the RH Bill comes with it the perspective to address the issues and dynamics associated in ending poverty. Just like Gun Control, it may not be the answer but the valiant effort is a strong indication and commitment to addressing overwhelming social problem. In this respect, the whole exercise of moving the RH Bill into Law can be considered an effort towards towards Good Governance. It is a heroic push in trying to address the real needs of the country despite mounting odds, religious pressures, and cultural biases.

President Aquino is brave and commendable for taking on these unpopular issues to implement much needed reform.

The RH Bill is just one of them.
The impeachment of Corona, the Sin Tax are among others.
I hope he keeps this up.

President Obama could learn from President Aquino.

Comments are welcome at [email protected] or private message through Facebook. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jesslorenzo for stories of good governance.
Jess Lorenzo is currently the program director of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership's public health initiatives. @kayanatin on Twitter

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.