17 July 2010

RH Bill Finally Refiled

RH Bill Ad
After it was ignored by most lawmakers who wanted to campaign early in the last national election, the Reproductive Health bill is trying to make a big comeback by becoming one of the first set of measures being refiled this early. Representative Edcel C. Lagman has refiled his controversial legislative measure in the 15th Congress as House Bill No. 96.

The Albay legislator explained in the bill's explanatory note that when the first comprehensive version of House Bill 8110 or "The Integrated Population and Development Act of 1999" was filed in the 11th Congress, the Philippines had a population of roughly 75 million. Today, 10 years later, the Philippines is the 12th most populous country in the world with a population of 94.3 million or a staggering increase of 19.3 million. The number clearly revealed that the country has an annual average increase of almost two million people in a decade.

According to the same Explanatory Note, the bill filed in the 14th Congress fared a little better than its predecessor because even if it "languished in the committee level and sponsorship stage," it reached extensive debates on second reading. Unfortunately, it was not enough to get it through because of "opposition dilatory maneuvers, lack of quorum and faltering commitment of the House leadership."

If this is how the lawmakers of the 14th Congress spent their time, then it was not surprising that many of them were not elected again. Failing to recognize the significance of the measure and cowardly giving in to the pressure of medieval religious groups who failed to address their own problems on pedophilia, the lawmakers of the previous Congress do not deserve a second chance to waste the taxpayer's money.

According to Lagman, RH Bill 96, or the "Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population and Development," maintains freedom of informed choice wherein parents, couples and women enjoy the liberty or option of choosing from a menu of modern-natural and artificial family planning methods which are medically safe, legal, accessible, affordable and effective.

"Neither the State nor the Church can compel the citizens or the faithful to adopt a particular method of family planning," said Lagman.

Let us repeat the phrase again because this is the provision that many of those who oppose the bill doesn't want to happen, "Neither the State nor the Church can compel the citizens or the faithful to adopt a particular method of family planning."

Once the bill becomes a law, some sectors of our society will most probably lose whatever meager power they hold over the masses and ultimately affect the collection they receive every week. This privilege is cultivated by a culture of subservience to those who were the white cloth even if many of them do not practice what they preach. The bill, seeks to counter this culture by applying the comprehensive principles of reproductive health nationwide.

The measure's principal objectives are six-fold.
  • It will give parents the opportunity to exercise their right to freely and responsibly plan the number and spacing of their children.
  • Help improve maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition and reduce maternal, infant and child mortality. (In the Philippines, 11 mothers die daily due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.)
  • Give women more opportunities to finish their education and secure productive work by freeing them from unremitting pregnancies.
  • It will help reduce poverty and achieve sustainable human development.
  • It will help lower the incidence of abortion by preventing unplanned, mistimed and unwanted pregnancies.
  • It will generate savings for the government through the improvement of maternal and infant health and reduction of maternal and infant mortality.