Two UPD students, two different takes on the RH bill

Yesterday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer published my rebuttal to a letter written by Kiboy Sagrado Tabada. In a brief note published last April 2, Tabada criticized newly-elected university student leaders for pushing for the passage of the reproductive health (RH) bill. To better understand the events behind this tit-for-tat, please read my entry titled “Student leaders to solons: Decide on the RH bill before 2013 polls,” which I posted coincidentally yesterday as well.

Tabada is studying materials engineering in UP Diliman. He is a graduate of the Philippine Science High School, batch 2008. From 2009 to 2011, he listed himself as a coordinator of Campus Ministry ng UP. I culled these details from his Facebook page. Tabada is the convener of UP Against the RH Bill, according to this entry posted in ProLife Philippines. Curiously, he did not mention this in his letter to the Inquirer last week.

For transparency, let me tell you about myself. Aside from taking MA History in UP Diliman and maintaining this site, I do freelance writing – which means I am not affiliated with any media outlet (and NGO, for that matter) at present. I have written about human development topics since I was in college and late last year.  Kindly refer to the Some Self-Introduction section of my blog for more about me.

You can read Tabada’s letter at Click the screenshot below to enlarge.

A screenshot of Kiboy Sagrado Tabada's letter to the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Meanwhile, here’s my rejoinder to that piece. Keep in mind that the one I sent to the Inquirer is a slightly modified version of this one:

April 3, 2012

Ms Chato Garcellano

Opinion editor, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Sts., Makati City, Philippines


Dear Ms Garcellano,

Numbers don’t lie, but it is prone to (deliberate) misinterpretation. I am referring to Kiboy Sagrado Tabada’s letter to the editor published in last April 2. Tabada, a UP Diliman student like me, claimed that Heart Diño does not speak in behalf of the UP studentry since she was elected “by a mere 17.02 percent” of the students in the university student council (USC) polls last February. Tabada’s logic is flawed.

He did not take into account the voter’s turnout this 2012. Out of the over 23,000 students enrolled in the last semester, 11,345 or just 48.91% voted. To put things in perspective, only 10,024 students or 42.96% (totaling about 23,000 as well) voted in the 2009 USC elections. In that year, Titus Tan of the party KAISA won the chairpersonship with a margin of 1500 from his nearest competitor.

If less than half of UP students take part in the polls, how can a candidate realistically obtain the majority of votes of the entire student population? Does this mean Diño does not have the “strong mandate” necessary to lead UP Diliman students and represent their interests?

A screenshot of my rejoinder to Tabada's letter

In case Tabada does not know, garnering a majority vote is not a requirement to do this. And on another thought, I wonder how Tabada was able to claim that he speaks “for the youth who are against the RH bill and for the rest of (his) generation who do not know that it’s their future that’s at stake.” Is he a representative of the youth or, to borrow his own words, am I just listening to his personal views?

I happen to be present in the news conference where Diño, JC Tejano of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, and other student leaders reiterated their support for the reproductive health bill. They pointed out that reproductive health issues are indeed affecting the youth.

According to figures from the National Epidemiology Center, 704 or 30% of the 2,349 new cases of HIV reported in 2011 came from the 15-24 age group. That being said, I challenge Tabada to explain how “a lawmaker’s vote for the RH bill is a vote against the youth.” And, how exactly does he want student leaders to “speak (his) voice, too”? Is he implying that they should avoid taking a definite stand on this issue? It is foolish to imply that one person can represent the views of ALL of his/her constituents.

And while Tabada is challenging Diño‘s authority to speak on behalf of UP students because she didn’t get the majority of votes during the USC elections, more and more mothers are dying while giving birth, as Inquirer’s Jocelyn Uy reported last February 18. There are bigger issues to debate on, right? 

I am part of the youth, and I support the RH bill.

Mark Pere Madrona, MA History

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Mark Pere Madrona

The Filipino Scribe (TFS) is managed by Mark Pere Madrona, a multi-awarded writer and licensed professional teacher from the Philippines. Mr. Madrona earned his master’s degree in history from the University of the Philippines-Diliman last 2020. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in journalism cum laude from the same university back in 2010. His area of interests includes Philippine journalism, history, and politics as well as social media. Know more about him here:

3 thoughts on “Two UPD students, two different takes on the RH bill

  1. I am a former student leaser myself (Adamson University Student Government President, 2004), and what Kiboy Tabada did was just to somehow question the mandate of the studentry. Diño was elected, therefore people wanted and trusted him to speak on their behalf. i am with you on this.

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