PCW, NAPC, POPCOM lead RH mobilization
More than 3300 members of various government agencies and civil society joined the “Go NaGo for RH Bill, Ipasa Na!” on February 18, 2011 at the Risen Garden, Quezon City Hall. The event called for the immediate passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.
The legislation will fast track the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals on gender equality and women empowerment (Goal 3), reducing child mortality (Goal 4), improving maternal health (Goal 5), and combating HIV and AIDS and other diseases (Goal 6).
The supporters uphold that a firm national policy on RH is the response to current alarming situation:
- Maternal mortality rates in the Philippines remain deeply troubling with eleven mothers dying of child birth and pregnancy complications every day while seven out of ten infant deaths occur at child birth or within a day of delivery.
- National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) indicates that women in the lowest quintile tend to have not only the highest number of children but also the greatest difficulty in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.
- The reality of overpopulation leading to significant scarcity, deprivation and environmental degradation can worsen over time particularly if RH is not treated as an urgent national priority.
Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman argued that the heart of the RH Bill is informed choice. He emphasized that the RH bill does not endorse abortion but linked the illegal practice to poverty. “More poor women resort to abortion because they cannot afford to have another child,” he said.
According to National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Undersecretary Florencia Dorotan, the Philippines is the “lone Asian country with no consistent population control.” She added that overpopulation has led to the country’s “weaker economy compared to other Asian counterparts.”
Dr. Ernesto Pernia of the UP School of Economics shared Dorotan’s view. He commented that in his study of theology there is no biblical phrase which mentions that contraceptives kill life.
Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) Convenor Dr. Junice Melgar stressed the urgency to “end the 10-year battle” and “start saving the lives of women.”
Partido ng Masa (PM) Secretary General Judy Ann Miranda reminded President Benigno Aquino III of his promise to support the RH bill regardless of the Catholic Church’s threats.
Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) Youth Desk Officer Lady Lisondra articulated that the youth sector strongly supports the RH bill.
For the basic sector representatives, universal access to reproductive health is not made available because of social, religious, economic and political pressures.
Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) Chairperson Remedios Rikken led the ceremonial signing of the “Declaration of Support of the RH Bill.” Rikken maintained that the measure is too important for President Aquino to “postpone” its inclusion in the administration’s priority legislative agenda.
Other key personalities who expressed support were Secretary Jose Eliseo M. Rocamora (NAPC), Commissioner Benjamin de Leon (Population Commission), former Congresswoman and AKBAYAN National Spokesperson Risa Hontiveros, former Senator Leticia Shahani, Bishop Rodrigo D. Taño (Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood, Inc.), Quezon City Councilor Dr. Antonietta Inumerable, Magdalena Bacalando (Pinagsamang Lakas ng Kababaihan at Kabataan), Trinidad “Ka Trining”M. Domingo (Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan), Lorena Purificacion (SANLAKAS), and Princess Nemenzo (Woman Health). “Go NaGo for RH Bill, Ipasa Na!” was organized by the PCW, NAPC, PopCom and Department of Health (DOH). – Photos by Sherwin Maniquiz and Franz Monique Viray