As the Reproductive House (RH) Bill 5043 is being debated in Congress, the RH Davao Network demands that the Arroyo government recognize the lack of a strong population and development and reproductive health program which will uphold the right of Filipino families to health and better quality of life.
There are now more than 80 millions Filipinos, 40 percent of whom are in dire poverty. Yet it is apparent that the government is apathetic towards the Filipino couples’ right to choose and access quality reproductive health services, including family planning and choice of contraception.
A significant manifestation of this is the construction of the number of choices of the government’s Family Planning Program to two methods only despite claim of the Department of Health (DOH) officials that the government will promote All Family Planning Methods. In fact the DOH budget allocation on contraceptive supplies has been reprogrammed and diverted for natural family planning.
President Arroyo must respect the role of non-government organizations as partners in development and recognize the contribution of Reproductive Health non-government organizations (NGOs) to Philippine society. But she cannot shift her government responsibilities on effective health care to NGOs. By turning her back on the responsibility of providing for the needs of Filipino couples Arroyo has abdicated her duty to care for the health of all Filipinos specially poor women. How can she claim to be ‘Ina ng Bayan’ (mother of the country) whom she denies, critical services to those who need them most?
But even more appalling is that the President has subjected all Filipinos to the beliefs of her religion on contraception, depriving us of the right to choose healthy and reproductive lives. No one, not even a President has the right to impose her personal beliefs on our citizens if these drive women and girls to poverty and forced pregnancy. By limiting access of our citizens to the full range of contraceptive methods, our President imperils the future of our nation, sacrificing the lives of women and girls at the altar of her religion.
If she is truly our leader President Arroyo should allow Filipino couples to be given access to all methods of family planning. Her government should empower Filipino women to exercise their right to make decision on matters regarding their own health and body.
Thus today we call on our leaders to:
1. Ensure the provision of universal access by all people to family planning services, information and supplies.
2. Ensure the availability of and access to a full range of methods, techniques and services that contribute to reproductive and sexual health and will being by preventing and solving reproductive health related problems such as rape, sexual abuse, battering in order to achieve enhancement of life and personal relations.
Lyda J. Canson, (082) 2277714, 2215691Gender Issues