More public figures, groups, More RH advocates

Ces Drilon: Bakit Ako Naninindigan Para Sa RH Bill

    Ako ay para sa pagpapatibay ng isang batas na naglalayong pangalagaan ang kalusugan ng mga ina, tulungan ang mga mag-asawa sa pagplano ng kanilang pamilya upang mabigyan ang bawat supling nila ng edukasyon at tiyakin na mabuhay sila ng may dignidad.
    Ang Reproductive Health bill ay HINDI naglalayong pumatay, HINDI nito isinusulong ang abortion, sa halip, masasalba nito ang buhay ng may 4,100 hanggang 4,900 na inang namamatay taon-taon dahil sa komplikasyon sa panganganak, base sa pag-aaral ng United Nations. Ang ibig sabihin nito, 11 hanggang 13 na mga ina ang namamatay araw-araw, dahil sa impeksyon, pagdudugo, o iba pang komplikasyon sa panganganak.
     Ang mga ito ay mapipigilan sa pagdagdag ng pasilidad at health care attendants sa probinsiya na nilalayon ng batas. Ang pagbibigay din ng edukasyon ukol sa family planning, natural at modern contraception ay makakatulong sa mga ina para maiwasan ang komplikasyon sa panganganak.
     Ayon sa Department of Health, 12% ng bilang ng namamatay ay dahil sa abortion.
     Ipinagbabawal ang abortion sa Pilipinas, pero ayon sa pag-aaral, may 500,000 hanggang 800,000 (base sa World Health Organization) na sumasailalim dito taon-taon. Karamihan sa mga abortion o tatlo sa bawat apat na kaso, ayon sa Likhaan, isang women's health group, ay dahil hindi na kaya ng isang ina ang karagdagang anak dahil sa kahirapan.
     Sa pagpasa ng RH Bill, mapipigilan nito ang paglaganap ng abortion. Ang isang ina ay mabibigyan ng oportunidad na pumili sa iba't ibang paraan ng contraception para maplano ang kanyang pamilya. Kapag siya ay nakapili ng paraan, mapapangalagaan ang kanyang kalusugan dahil hindi na siya manganganak taon-taon.
     Ayon din sa demographic and health survey nitong 2008, ang pinakamahihirap na kababaihan ang may pinakamaraming isinisilang. Higit lima ang kanilang anak, pero tatlo lamang ang kanilang ninanais. Base sa pag-aaral ng World Bank, 24% lamang ng mga kababaihan sa pinakamahirap na 20% ng populasyon ay gumagamit ng family planning kumpara sa 58% sa Vietnam at 49% sa Indonesia. Ito ay sa kabila ng pag- aaral na nagsasaad na kalahati ng pagbubuntis sa Pilipinas ay hindi planado.
    Ayon din sa pag-aaral, halos kalahati ng mga pamilya na may 7 o higit na miembro ay mahihirap. Noong 2006, higit sa kalahati ng mga pamilyang may 3 o higit na anak ay mahihirap. Ayon din sa pag-aaral, 2 sa bawa't 3 pamilyang mahihirap ay may tatlo o mahigit na anak.
    Sa tinatayang 4,000 sanggol na isinisilang araw-araw, isa lang sa apat ang makakarating sa kolehiyo, at sa bilang na ito, isa sa bawat 100 ay mula sa mahirap na pamilya. Litanya ito ng mga statistics na hindi maikakaila, na ang may kinalaman an laki ng isang pamilya sa kahirapan.
    Ang RH Bill ay isa sa mga paraan para labanan ang kahirapan, iangat ang estado ng kababaihan at bigyang dignidad ang bawa't sanggol na isinisilang.
    Ito ang dahilan kung bakit ako, isang mamamahayag, isang babae at isang Pilipino ay gustong mapabilang sa mga sumusuporta sa RH bill.

Karen Davila
  'RH Bill is not about the Catholic Church nor the INC or other religious sects. It's all about our country and the government's responsibility'

Dingdong Dantes: I am for a Well-Informed and Empowered Filipino Youth

“Forty-four percent (44.3%) of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unplanned, because of the lack of information on family planning services,” states a 2003 NDHS study by the NSO. Meanwhile, the Allan Guttmacher Institute puts the “incidence of induced abortion in the country at around 500,000 annually.”
“Reproductive health education in schools becomes all the more imperative, especially when young people, in a 2002 Young Adult Fertlity and Sexuality Study 3 conducted by the UP Population Institute & Demographic Institute Research Dev’t. Foundation, showed that only one in every five youth (or 15.7%) freely discuss in their homes issues about sex,” asserted by a group of faculty members at the Ateneo De Manila University.
“Proper birth spacing reduces the risk of death for newborns and infants by fifty percent (50%),” the World Health Organization (WHO) concludes.
      Thus with great clarity in my mind, I support the intent and spirit of RH bill 4244, which is now on its second reading in Congress.
      While I believe there are other larger issues that carry greater weight for the bill’s immediate passage, I cannot, by conscience, allow the continued rise of induced abortions, only because almost half of these pregnancies are unplanned, due to lack of information.
      Importantly, there is no better way to protect our young people from the risk of being alien to their sexuality and the threat of being careless with their sexual behavior, than by making them understand how to nurture their reproductive health. Because I firmly believe on the need to continuously empower the youth, through the power of education.
      And I feel it is more immoral and irresponsible not to do something, when we could, to properly prepare the future of our country.
      I admire the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) and all the groups supporting the RH cause, for being steadfast in its advocacy in the face of so much institutional pressure.
Finally, I salute all the women who are taking their stand today, not just for themselves, but for the welfare and well-being of all the women in the Philippines, as the world celebrates the International Women’s Day.

"We must remember that the Rh Bill that is being debated is a law being crafted not for or against any church, but for the nation. It does not seek to change any law of any church whether Catholic, Islamic, Taoist, Buddhist, or any church at all. The State respects all churches and their laws; it respects and must abide by the law of separation of church and state as enshrined in our Constitution."

Lea Salonga’s Solidarity Message for International Women’s Day 

      Hello, Everyone! I'm so sorry that I can't be here with you in person, but I am with you in spirit, sending good vibes for a successful event from thousands of miles away.
      On March 25, 1911, 146 garment workers, many of them women died because their safety and well-being were not provided for by the people that should have been looking out for them, perishing in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. It is now 2011, nearly 100 years to the day, and 11 of our own women die everyday due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications, because they aren't being provided for by the people that should be looking out for them.
      But the tides are changing. Our voices are getting louder. The so-called weaker sex is going from strength to strength, as we call out for change. We are calling out for recognition of our fundamental right to emergency health care as we carry and give birth to new life.  We are calling out for the right to choose our family size, as well as the means to determine that. We are calling out to keep ourselves safe from AIDS, HIV, and STDs, as well as other diseases that would and could compromise our health and our families. We are women calling out for the passing of a bill that would guarantee that all these are finally given to us.
      I join you today in solidarity and support today, International Women's Day, as you march, shout, scream, and beat the drum for women all over the country. Reproductive health is our fundamental right. Our country needs the RH Bill now.
     Thank you, and may God bless you.

Risa Hontiveros
 The RH bill is not just about choice. It’s about a chance. Chance para sa ipinanganak na mahirap. Chance na makapag-aral nang tuloy-tuloy. Mapakain nang tama ang mga bata. Magkaroon ng pangarap, at di lang mga panaginip. Chance na makaahon. At yun lang naman ang hinihingi natin. Chance sa buhay.

Noel Cabangon, "Mabubuting Pilipino"
"Pinaglalaban ko ang kinabukasan ng ating bayan
Kaya ang RH Bill ay sinusuportahan.
Ito ang sagot natin laban sa kahirapan
At di pasisindak sa banta ng simbahan."

former President Fidel V. Ramos
 “Let me appeal to our highest elected leader who occupies Malacañang, our beloved President Aquino. As your boss–that’s us–we ask his excellency to lead the campaign for the enactment of the RH bill."

Leo Valdez

“I am in favor of the RH bill. I have been wondering for the longest time why nothing of this sort has been passed. It is not even compulsory, as I understand. It is just to make couples realize they have an option to have just enough offsprings to provide a better quality life for the kids. I respect the views of those who are against it but sadly, we are still a struggling country forever going against the tide of economic prosperity. Although giving life is a privilege and a blessing, we must always remember that giving life also means great responsibility.”

Amy Perez

“I’m pro-RH bill because I believe we really need to educate the poor women on the choice they have to make and teach them to become responsible parents para ’di dumami ang batang walang magandang kinabukasan dahil ’di pinaghandaan ng magulang.”

Benjie Paras

“It’s the right thing but for those who want to explore, it’s better to have protection.”

Pinky Amador

“I am pro-RH bill. What’s the point of giving birth if you can’t give them a good life?”

Rachel ALejandro

“I am 100 percent in favor of the RH bill. The population growth is out of control and the government should do what it can to help educate the people and provide family planning options. It’s a matter of survival. I feel for people who can barely make ends meet because they have too many kids to support.”

Luke Mejares

“I’m in favor of the RH bill. It’s better that people have the option to choose from different kinds of contraceptives because in these hard times, the family should be able to feed the kids adequately, send them to good schools and give them a bright future.”

Toni Rose Gayda

“I am for the RH bill. There are too many kids on the streets and no one to raise nor support them. A lot of child trafficking and prostitution, too. Kawawa talaga.”

Carmi Martin

“I am for the RH bill. We need to control the population for our country’s economy to improve.”

Mae Paner, more popularly known as Juana Change, starred in an 8-minute video titled Mga Anak ng Diyos (Children of God)

"We love our Church. Pero mahal din namin ang aming mga pamilya. Ang aming buhay bilang babae, at bilang ina....No More Padre Damaso...Ipasa Ang R.H. Bill"

Rep. Janette Garin
  "Bakit in-allow ng Vatican mismo magkaroon ng reproductive law pero tayo dito sa Pilipinas hindi?"

Dr. Esperanza Cabral

"RH LAW NECESSARY TO PREVENT SABOTAGE BY NATIONAL GOVERNMENT The national government can sabotage any rational health policies. Main reason why RH Bill needs to be legislated. Major failure of the Gloria Arroyo administration when it did not support this national family planning program. The Catholic Church continues to interfere with the government. Existing natural family planning programs are ineffective. The poor remains uneducated and the population doubled. When RH becomes a law, any next elected presidents can improve and govern this program according to the needs of the people."

Mr. Benjamin De Leon, President of FORUM for Family Planning and Development

 “The public figures who will join us on May 11 will add up to the growing voices of  personalities and influential people who are clamoring for the enactment of the RH bill. President Aquino has already spoken and he is now more explicit in his support. I believe that recent political developments will finally pave the way for the enactment of this bill.”

PLCPD Executive Director Ramon San Pascual
Our champions in the legislature will join other gravitas in this event and I’m sure that this symbolic gathering will further strengthen the unity and commitment of national leaders to pass the RH bill within the next few months.”

Mocha Uson
“Kung kailangang magbigay ng mga condom, siguro ay puwede kaming sumama sa rally. Wala naman kasing masama sa paggamit ng condom, ang masama ay ‘yung hindi ka gumagamit ng condom, dahil wala kang protection. Naniniwala kami sa safe sex, sa paggamit ng condom. Naniniwala kami na dapat ay educated at informed ukol dito ang mga kababayan natin. Ito ang proteksiyon, unang-una sa sexually transmitted disease. And pangalawa, sa unwanted or unintended pregnancy."

Jim Paredes
"Religion should not stand in the way of compassion to understand, and accept people as they are. If we cannot see their full humanity through the prism of our religion, then I don’t believe that religion serves us properly. God is bigger than any religion. That is why religions keep updating themselves to attempt to catch up with the unfolding reality of God, which no one will ever succeed in fully defining. We also argue and make judgments about raising kids, religion, our system of government, money, the behavior of public persons, global warming, fossil fuels, among other hot topics. In the end, the understanding that will matter will not be the one that will eradicate parts of the world or life itself, in order to save it. In a strange way, the world is beautiful with all its little and monstrous contradictions. Without these, our lives would have less dimension and depth. We may even have to invent the devil to make our lives more interesting."

Leah Navarro
"The RH Bill will help curtail abortion."

Princess Manzon, former housemate of the hit reality TV show Pinoy Big Brother

 " protecting one’s self from unprotected sex & being responsible, one ensures that his or her loved ones are respected and maintaining a status of integrity to the self, family and others...."

Dr. Junice Melgar, RHAN Executive Director
"With the extremist language and actions of the bishops and their allies, women are seeking for spiritual inspiration elsewhere. This will worsen as the bishops' intransigence on the RH bill continues."

Boy Abunda

 “Naniniwala ako na una, ang babae ay may karapatang mamili ng klase ng buhay na gusto niya. The RH Bill that I'm talking about is the RH Bill na pro-Filipino, pro-Filipino family. Sana 'wag tayong mawala dun sa ating pinag-uusapan. Let's stop the name-calling. This has become very emotional... Let's keep on talking so that we'll reach a resolution that will be good for the country. It's a different feeling when you speak to your own people. I was talking to kids. Sabi ko nga sa kanila, 'Alam ko kung sino kayo. Nandiyan ako dati e.' I'm a proud Waray. I'm really a proud Waray and I'm a proud Filipino. It's so enriching"

Direk Joey Reyes
 "That's more or less unanimous. We disagree with all the priests and all the saviors of the planet."

Julius Babao

"It's normal to debate on the RH Bill, but for a priest to ask a parishioner to leave mass is soooo unChristian."

G Tongi

"By not allowing the RH bill to pass is essentially a modern form of oppression on women because we are not given authority over our own body"

Kat de Casto

"Dear Baguio Cathedral priest, YOU ARE NOT GOD. You're a SERVANT of God. Catholics, whether pro/anti-RH can keep the faith w/o your opinion. Yes, I support RH Bill. And that doesn't make me less Catholic."

Adrienne Vergara

"I'm just very expressive. It shows my strong support for RH Bill. It's a need, it's our right. Actually, it's one thing that will help everyone. It's pro-poor; Ang dami talagang magagandang provisions ng RH Bill kaya't hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit hindi nila ito masuportahan."

Noem Lardizabal-Dado: Why I support Reproductive Health Bill?

 “Doesn’t every woman deserve the right to have a safe pregnancy and a baby that’s born healthy? I believe this is a very basic human right.”
Katya Matanovic

Lauren and I participated in wednesday’s pro-RH rally. Both my daughters are RH advocates too. We were at the rally to make sure there were no delays at the Committee on Appropriations before it went into Plenary where debates, pros and cons are heard, before coming to a vote.
The good news was that the RH Bill passed the committee and will soon be debated in the plenary. A lot of hurdles still face the bill. Your congressman may conveniently be absent and thus, make a quorum impossible. But for now, baby steps until it becomes a law. In the photo you can see our happy faces, full of hope that the RH Bill will become a law.

So much has been said for and against the reproductive health bill. Just like I wrote in 2008, I support the RH bill because:

1. I believe Filipina women or their spouses should have the freedom to choose what is best for them and the family. (help couples/parents achieve their desired fertility size in the context of responsible parenthood;)
2. I believe that sustained information campaign be imparted on reproductive health rights, care, services and facilities coupled with universal access to all methods of family planning ranging from the natural to the modern which are medically safe and legally permissible.
With many of the RH Bill’s provisions sparking controversy and debate, only certain elements of reproductive health are emphasized by critics, such as the moral issue on contraceptives, while the rest are largely ignored. Some of these misconceptions are:
1. The RH Bill is anti-life – It is, in fact, pro-quality life, because it will ensure that all births are planned and wanted by their parents. The bill is not against the birth of children and does not advocate that couples stop having children. Rather, it only aims to help them achieve their fertility goals – to have the number and proper spacing of children that they desire.
2. The RH Bill is biased for modern methods – Since it makes available all possible family planning methods – including the natural family planning method preferred by the Catholic Church – it actually “democratizes” family planning.
3, The RH Bill legalizes abortion – Abortion is illegal, criminal and punishable by law. There is absolutely no provision in the RH Bill about the legalization of abortion.
4. The RH Bill endorses abortifacients – All contraceptive pills and intrauterine conceptive devices (IUDs) are not abortifacients and will not induce abortions. These are meant to suppress ovulation, which stops fertilization and the formation of a fetus.
5. Contraceptives kill – Medical risks connected with contraceptives are infinitely lower than the risks of an actual pregnancy. The risk of dying from maternal causes is 1 in 100. The risk of dying from IUDs is 1 in 10 million; vasectomy, 1 in 1 million; birth-control pills, 1 in 200,000; condoms, absolutely zero.
6. Sexuality Education will promote promiscuity – Sex education promotes the correct sexual values. Studies on countries where sex education is part of the curriculum have found it beneficial in that it actually delays sexual relations and encourages abstinence before marriage. Multiple sex partners are also avoided, therefore the preventing the spreading of sexually-transmitted diseases.
7. The RH Bill will promote a contraceptive mentality – Contraceptives will prevent unplanned pregnancies, but couples who want children will not stop just because contraceptives are widely available.
8. The RH Bill claims to be panacea to poverty – The Bill simply recognizes the correlation between a large population and poverty. Family planning and reproductive health will help reduce poverty.
9. The Bill will lead to a demographic winter – Research has shown that a demographic winter is not possible in at least another 100 years.
10. The RH Bill is unconstitutional – The Bill has been accused of violating Art. II, Sec. 12 of the Philippine Constitution, when it fact it actually supports it. As required by that specific provision, the Bill offers resources that may help parents, particularly to the majority who regard discussing sex at home as taboo, educate their children about sexuality and reproductive health.

The CBCP pastoral letter is misrepresenting the Reproductive Health bill as promotive of abortion and of adolescent promiscuity. Risa Hontiveros in a letter to the CBCP says that “they have not only been intellectually dishonest and ignored the good faith of RH advocates, but also failed to proclaim the life-saving and values-formation character of this public health measure, which many of us in your own flock, in conscience, desire to be passed into law. ” When the the bill becomes a law, it brings many benefits.
  • The passage of the RH Bill will mean a “national, rights-based, comprehensive and integrated approach to reproductive health” for the Filipino nations.
  • The RH Bill will help curb maternal mortality and morbidity.
  • The RH Bill will give greater access to reproductive health information and services
  • The RH Bill will ensure an adequate number of skilled health providers to assist births in every local government unit.
  • Early pregnancies can be prevented through mandatory and age-appropriate reproductive health education from Grade 5-4th Year High School.
Indeed, the RH Bill is pro-life, pro-poor, pro-women, pro-youth, pro-informed choices. That’s the reason, my two daughters and I support the Reproductive Health Bill and participate in direct lobbying; monitoring developments in the Congress; holding or joining mobilizations; and writing about it like in this blog.

Pia Cayetano

"Contrary to the misinformation campaign being spread by some, the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill pending in the Senate does not allow abortion, and will not force any contraceptive method on anyone. [The Bill] will respect the moral convictions and religious beliefs of all, but at the same time, protect the unborn child by providing health services for the pregnant mother, and likewise save the lives of mother from dying at childbirth. Currently, 11 mothers die from giving birth daily, as per the latest estimates of the United Nations (UN)."

Rep. Kaka J. Bag-ao

Sa mainit na debate tungkol sa RH bill, hindi ka pa nga nakakapagsimula pero agad agad ka nang ikinakahon. Pro-life ka, anti ako. Immoral ka, pro-God ako. Sila ang pro-choice, kayo anti-women. Mahirap makipagusap o makipagdebate kung lahat nagsisigawan. Yung pro-RH, evil. Yung anti, sila ang tunay na Katoliko. Sa panahon ngayon, kung merong mang may karapatan na sumigaw, sila yung mga ordinaryong Pilipino na matagal nang may posisyon na issue na ito.
     Mister Speaker, majority of Filipinos are eagerly awaiting the passage of the bill. In the October 2010 Ulat ng Bayan national survey of the Pulse Asia, seven out of ten Filipinos support the enactment of the measure that we are tackling today. This support is not just in Metro Manila or in one corner of the country. It cuts across all geographic areas, whether in the urban jungles of Metro Manila or in the rural communities of Mindanao. Hindi rin ito agenda ng mga mayayaman, kundi agenda ng lahat kahit ano pa man ang katayuan nila sa buhay.
     In another survey done also by Pulse Asia in 2010, Filipinos expressed their desire to have the government install a range of reproductive health programs, and not just the promotion of natural family planning methods. 87% believe that the government should fund support for contraceptives, including IUDs, condoms, ligation, and vasectomy. Only 4% said that it is not important. Klaro ang ating instructions - dapat kumikilos nuon pa man ang pamahalaan sa issue ng RH bill.
    The debate is not about who’s pro-life or pro-choice. As members of the House of Representatives, as the voice of the people, the debate is about who’s willing to listen to the people and who wish to turn their back to this truth: there is a consistent and overwhelming demand for reproductive health programs and services. Pano pa at naging kinatawan tayo ng mga mamamayan kung hindi natin sila gustong pakinggan?
     At the core of the bill that we hope would be passed soon is a fundamental human right - the right to choose. Gusto lang natin siguruhin na kinikilala natin at binibigyan ng kapangyarihan ang mga karapatan na kalagay sa ating Konstitusyon. The bill seeks to ensure informed choice through free and full access to adequate, relevant and correct information. In this case, a full range of family planning methods and devices. Hindi natin idinidikta kung anong serbisyo o method, kung artificial lang o natural. Instead, the bill provides for a wide range of services that are allowed by our laws. It only seeks to empower Filipino couples, so that they are aware of all the methods and they have the capacity to decide what is best for them.
     HB 4244 will provide RH information and services to all who need it, and an important element of this is providing appropriate and medically correct information on sex and sexuality to young Filipinos. Binibigyan natin ng armas ang mga kabataan laban sa mga sexually transmitted infections at laban sa mga pangaabuso. It seeks to counter myths that reinforce fears and flawed beliefs about the functions of our bodies. It seeks to counter ignorance and misinformation. Sa isang pag-aaral, nakita na 80% ng mga batang babae ay walang kaalaman kahit tungkol sa kanilang menstrual cycle, at ano ang relasyon nito sa pagbubuntis. They don’t even have the basic knowledge about the safe and unsafe time to have sex.
     Adolescence is a period where forging one’s identity means exploring all matters related to one’s life, especially sex and relationships. Education is especially important given the risks the youth face today because a growing number of them are engaging in risky behaviors without understanding its consequences. They are at risk and they are vulnerable because they lack access to information about their reproductive health.
     It has been said repeatedly and wrongly that the bill would only promote premarital sex. Here’s the news - unmarried young Filipinos are already engaging in sexual activities. It is not because of sex that they are at risk. They are at risk because there are no programs that can help them eliminate these risks, educate them about healthy sexual behavior, and arm them with tools to prevent sexual abuse. Filipino women, most of them young, resort to abortion - 800,000 a year, according to the World Health Organization - not because they are promiscuous or immoral but because they have no knowledge on how to plan their pregnancies.
     Studies have shown that the right sexuality education for children and young people do not hasten sexual initiation but instead promotes safer sexual behaviors, and reinforces the sense of responsibility on our young people in terms of their sexual behavior. The RH bill will teach the youth to be responsible, and not the other way around.
     HB 4244 will not undermine the roles of parents and families in educating their children. It will instead support parents in ensuring that their fears of what their children are learning about sex and relationships do not come from irresponsible and misguided sources - but from trained teachers who can provide correct information and responsible guidance. At the same time, this will also encourage our children our youth to be more open with their parents, to discuss such important matters with them, and communicate their problems. HB 4244 requires the DepEd, CHED, DSWD, TESDA, and DOH to provide concerned parents with adequate and relevant scientific materials on the age-appropriate topics and manner of teaching reproductive health education to their children.
     Ginoong Speaker, as we celebrate today the International Women’s Day, I wish to remind this august chameber of the primary goal of this bill - the recognition of the dignity of our women, especially poor women. Ang gusto lamang ng bill na ito ay bigyan ng patas na karapatan ang mga mahihirap na babae at pamilya na mamuhay ng marangal.
     Regardless of our religious or ideological persuasions, we must at least unite that families must be given a choice to plan their families according to methods that suit their faith and condition. We must at least agree to stick to the truth, scrutinize the text of the bill, without embellishments. In our disagreement on this bill we must not lose our integrity and our sense of truth. As legislators, we must not lose our commitment to uphold and defend the text and substance of our Constitution. At bilang mga kagalang galang na kinatawan, sana ay di natin makalimutan na tayo ay nandito para pakinggan ang boses ng bayan.

RG Cruz
  "From the people i have talked to on the RH Bill, i've observed that those who oppose have mostly NOT READ THE BILL."

Carlos Celdran on HARAPAN: RH Bill, Ipasa o Ibasura (ABS-CBN and ANC Debate or RH Bill)

The Reproductive Health Bill is not a new bill.

It's no secret that the RH Bill has been languishing in Congress for the last 16 years.

And unfortunately, the problems we face today are not new as well.

Because after all your fancy words have been said and done, your economic numbers and scientific data thrown about, one thing will remain for sure: outside on the streets, life is a living hell for a majority of Filipinos.
     We’re still plagued by high infant mortality, high maternal deaths, overpopulation, & a skyrocketing HIV and abortion rate and it’s the worst it’s ever been in our history.
     And for the last 16 years, people in Congress have been trying to pass the RH Bill, a piece of legislation that would holistically address these issues. And this bill has been held back, delayed, and shot down by Anti-RH lawmakers such as yourselves for reasons that were either legal, economic, or religious.
     But it also seems that for the last 16 years, these problems that I have mentioned have gotten worse. So tell me, your honors, if your alternate solutions to the RHBill are so great, why haven’t you implemented them in the last 16 years? Why haven’t I felt its effects on a national scale? Your honors, tell me: After 16 years, why are we STILL where we are?
     And since the RH bill has been shot down so many times by lawmakers like you, in effect, we have been trying it your way for the last 16 years and we haven’t seen any tangible results at all. The mortality numbers are still there and staring at us in the face.
     So as a member of the public and as your boss – so to speak – allow me to say that either your solutions to these problems have failed, you aren’t doing your job, or you are just plain ineffective as public servants.
     I sincerely believe it is time for us to try a different strategy, a new one. We don’t have much choices anymore. Your side has never really presented us with any. It is time to turn away from this ineffectiveness of the last 16 years. It is time to activate the RH bill and let the power of education, information, and choice create a better Philippines before it’s too late.
     Because unless you Anti-RH lawmakers can present a cohesive, concrete plan of action to solve these problems holistically TODAY and right now. I’m not going to wait for another 16 years.
     Let the RH Bill start doing it’s work or get out of the way. Because if you have no better solutions, then you are just part of the problem.

Christine Babao
  "Malinaw nman sa panukalang batas na hndi papayagan ang ABORTION ."

Elizabeth Angsioco: Power Point

 The time to pass the reproductive health bill has come. RH is among the hottest topics as shown by extensive media coverage and discussion. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ veiled threat to excommunicate the President for his pro-responsible parenthood pronouncements and the call for civil disobedience has angered many. Not only is the CBCP going against a very popular President, it is also going against a popular sentiment among its members—that the bill should immediately be passed.
Through the years, surveys by reputable agencies like the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia have revealed that the Catholic laity has continuously favored having a government family planning program and a reproductive health law. The 2004 Pulse Asia national survey said that 97 percent of Filipinos believed in the importance of family planning. Eighty-seven percent of the respondents to this survey were Roman Catholics. The October 2008 national survey of the SWS, on the other hand, indicated that 71 percent of Filipinos wanted the RH bill passed. Eighty-one percent of the respondents to the survey were Catholics. One cannot escape the conclusion that pro-family planning and pro-reproductive health sentiments prevail among majority of Filipinos, including Catholics.
The latest manifestation of this sentiment is the public reaction to Carlos Celdran’s singular act of defiance of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Celdran’s Damaso episode gave voice to the brewing resentment among Catholics and non-Catholics against the CBCP on RH issues. Based on reactions in cyberspace and mainstream media, many are disgruntled with their church. There are Catholic groups saying that they do not see the RH bill as inconsistent with their faith. There are also those who say they have excommunicated themselves from the Catholic church, there are calls to boycott masses, stop donations to the Catholic church, and to protest in masses where anti-RH disinformation is propagated. These has never happened before. Now, the public is increasingly and passionately involved, and rightly so, for reproductive health is a matter not only of rights, but of life.
For 16 long years, the bill has been languishing in Congress like a prisoner wrongly accused of a crime but denied freedom. The first bill was filed in July 1995 as House Bill 120, ‘An Act Establishing A Population Policy’ by then Rep. Socorro Acosta and has since evolved to its present forms co-authored by more than 40 members of the House of Representatives led by Rep. Edcel Lagman and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago in the Senate. Considering RH realities in the country, a girl who was born on the day the bill was first filed could probably now have her own children, and yet, the law that could have helped her (and many others similarly situated) make better and informed decisions remains absent.
For 16 years, advocacy for the law has been steadfast but has been met by two major stumbling blocks: the Catholic hierarchy’s rejection of the bill and the lack of political will among many of our legislators.
Indeed, outside of government, the biggest objection comes from the Catholic hierarchy, the bishops and priests who claim to speak on behalf of a laity whose position on the issue runs counter to theirs. Perhaps the men in robes should be reminded that their vows are meant to minister to the needs of their flock. The majority of Catholics has already spoken loudly, clearly and repeatedly about their need for reproductive health services. The hierarchy should learn to listen—or risk irrelevance.
Having said these, however, I think our lawmakers cannot escape blame for the bill’s continued imprisonment in their chambers. Congress is there to enact laws that will address people’s needs, especially those of the poor and marginalized. Religion should not even be an issue since legislators are supposed to protect the interest of ALL Filipinos, not only those of Catholics, and most certainly not the interests of the Catholic hierarchy.
Records show that legislators from Manila, Parañaque, and Cebu are among the staunchest opponents of the RH Bill. It will, therefore, be good to look into the sentiments of their constituents who voted them into office. The SWS December 2008 Manila survey (with 88 percent Catholic respondents) indicated that 86 percent favored the passage of a family planning and reproductive health law. The SWS February 2009 Parañaque survey (with 91 percent Catholic respondents) revealed that 87 percent agreed that the RH bill should become a law. Lastly, the July 2009 SWS Cebu survey said that 87 percent of respondents (with 93 percent Catholics) favored the passage of such a law, as well. Thus, the questions begging to be asked are: who do the anti-RH legislators from these places represent? Whose interests are they protecting? Certainly, not their constituents’.
This is where political will comes in. It is quite unfortunate that for 16 years many of our lawmakers have allowed themselves to be hostaged by a Church hierarchy that chooses to remain blind to the problems faced especially by poor women. The fact that 11 Filipino women die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth complications is more than enough reason for caring legislators to ignore dogma and enact the bill into law. Many of the women who die are poor, with little or no access to information and services that can save their lives. Imagine the agony they go through and the suffering of their families. Reproductive health is primarily a gut issue of women in poverty because the rich, like in many other things, can well afford the services they want and need. In effect, legislators who do not stand up to the Catholic hierarchy are sacrificing our poor women’s lives on the bishops’ altar. This must stop.
The good news is that things are looking brighter for the bill’s passage. Public clamor is at its strongest. Other religions have come out for the bill. The political environment has changed with more public officials from both the administration and opposition favoring the bill. Champions in Congress are increasing in numbers. The prospects of having a reproductive health law has never been brighter.

“I am not against life- I am against ignorance." - Rep. Emmeline Aglipay

The RH Bill is not about our own religion but about the obligation of the state to its citizens regardless of religion. And I believe that the State has an absolute obligation to protect and respect a broad spectrum of reproductive health rights for every citizen.
The essence of the RH Bill is informed choice by making RH services and information available to all, most especially the poor.
The RH Bill does not require anyone to behave in a manner that is against their conscience.
Couples can decide freely which family planning method to use or not to use any to begin with. There is no ideal family size imposed on them and they have the right to decide the number and spacing of their children or not to have children at all.
Parents retain control of their children’s access to RH education and they can even avail of the “opt-out provision” and decide that their children will not go through RH education in schools.
Sectarian schools are accorded the flexibility in teaching RH education.
Hospitals run by religious groups are exempted from the obligation to offer modern family planning services.
Health care providers can refuse to give RH services or information that go against the religious beliefs. So much so that the RH Bill makes room for non-compliance due to conscientious objection like no other law ever has.
All the RH Bill does is to enable Filipinos with fewer resources and those in the far-flung rural areas access to services and information that they would otherwise be deprived of.
The RH Bill is necessary because today’s status quo is simply unacceptable: individuals are limited in the exercise of their reproductive health rights not due to their personal choices, but because of a lack of information and resources. To allow this to continue, is to promote ignorance instead of empowering our people. To reject this bill is to discriminate against the poor instead of advancing social justice.
I just want to make it very clear Mr. Speaker, that I am not against life- I am against ignorance!
I vote yes to the RH Bill.

Iglesia ni Cristo, other religious groups favor RH bill
 "We are ready to support the bills on Reproductive Health as long as there would be no immoral elements in them. Hence, parents have a moral obligation to plan the number of their children and keep it under control. The Bible states that a parent who does not provide for the needs of his own household is worse than an unbeliever. Since modern methods of contraception — by preventing married couples from having any unplanned pregnancies — assist in supporting this Christian principle, we support their use as long as these methods are empirically not abortifacient. These methods are not only unnatural and ineffective but they are also immoral, since they contradict the commandment that God has given to married couples... not to deprive one another of intimate marital relations for long, extended periods of time. Any abstinence at all for a married couple is supposed to be with the mutual consent of husband and wife and not for the purpose of preventing pregnancy." - INC Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo
Faith-based organizations who are supportive of the measure - as members of the IPPRP - are:

  • the National Council of Churches in the Philippines;

  • United Church of Christ of the Philippines;

  • Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches;

  • United Methodist Church;

  • Philippines for Jesus Movement;

  • Iglesia Filipino Independiente;

  • Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines;

  • Seventh-Day Adventist;

  • Salvation Army,

  • Catholics for Reproductive Health, and

  • Episcopal Church of the Philippines.

  • Reproductive Health Advocacy Network
     RHAN lauds you for your intuition and heart for the poor. It is the poor who continue to have at least 2 children more than they want to have; the poor who use as much FP as the rich except for surgical sterilization, which they cannot afford; the poor who die from the complications of pregnancy and delivery, including abortion – which is the tragic consequence of women being unable to control their fertility. Denying poor women and men the Family Planning supplies and services that they so badly want and need condemns them to greater poverty, hardship, poor health and sometimes death. It spells the same fate for their children.     
         Family Planning is among the cheapest and most effective health interventions ever designed, comparable to mosquito nets for malaria and anti-TB drugs. It is also a life-saving intervention estimated to prevent at least 30 per cent of maternal deaths and an equally significant number of neonatal deaths through the prevention of unplanned pregnancies and deliveries. It is a basic component of primary health care in almost all countries of the world, the exceptions being war-ravaged countries where the health system – like other government institutions – are in shambles; and in religious fundamentalist countries where women and children’s safety are sacrificed in the name of religious ideology. Family Planning use is high in Catholic countries in Latin America (Mexico, Colombia and Brazil) and among the Philippines’ Southeast Asian neighbors (Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia). The Philippines’ low rate of FP use, especially of effective FP methods, is one reason why we have difficulty attaining the Millennium Development Goals.

    Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines
    "The Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines believes that ALL issues are women's concerns and that women's issues affect society and are, therefore, social concern."

    Filipino Freethinkers
    "When we believe in something, we do our best to support and further it in the public sphere. In the fight for the RH Bill’s passage, for instance, we have taken to the streets with like-minded organizations to protest before the headquarters of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and show our solidarity before the Batasang Pambansa during the RH Bill sessions. "

    Forum for Family Planning
    "The Forum is a leading voice in the adoption of a national policy on population management, health and family welfare and in the provision of universal access to information and service for all Filipinos especially the poor and the youth."


    "We are a collective of grassroots women and men, health advocates and professionals dedicated to promoting and pushing for the health and rights of disadvantaged women and their communities."

    PLCPD looks forward to more support for RH bill
     "“I am aware of those who are opposed to it (RH Bill) but it is my obligation as a leader to reach out to all sectors and talk and explain this to them calmly—even if some are saying I should be excommunicated"- Ramon Pascual

    Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare (PNGOC)
     "PNGOC is the lead network of sustainable NGOs that strives for the health and empowerment of Filipinos towards a humane, just, and equitable society."

    Rep. Edcel Lagman

    Ruffy Biazon
    "My Take on the Reproductive Health Bill"

    Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago
     “Access to reproductive health information and services are virtually denied to the poor, the less-educated, the adolescents, the rural, indigenous women, and women from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao...By responding to the reproductive health needs of women, the RH bill affords women more employment, educational opportunities and ultimately, economic empowerment...Child-birth related deaths could have been avoided, if more Filipino women had access to reproductive health information and health care...Unfortunately, the proposed law that could reduce the number of abortions is being opposed by fundamentalist groups. Increased access to information and services on modern contraceptive methods will reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, eliminate the need for abortion, and prevent maternal deaths."

    "Matataas ba ang IQ ng mga Pari?"
    Other public figures also expressed their support to the Bill in some other activities and or have made their statements such as:

    Tuesday Vargas
    Tom Rodriguez
    Arnel Ignacio
    Cooky Chua
    The Dawn
    Aiza Seguerra
    Joey Mead
    Wanggo Gallaga
    Loida Nicolas Lewis
    Marga Deona

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