MANILA, Sept. 5, 2012–Here are the facts that the pro-RH lobby would rather obscure. Issues that will supposedly be addressed by the “reproductive health” (RH) bill are already covered by 23 laws and government regulations. Moreover, the 2012 budget already has P8 billion for RH programs.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III delivered the last of a series of speeches against the RH bill Wednesday on the Senate floor, saying effective implementation of government health programs was needed instead of the proposed RH law. “Ang dahilan kung bakit hindi ipinasa ng mga nakaraang Kongreso ang panukalang batas na ito ay dahil nga wala namang pangangailangan para rito,” he said.
Questioning why P3.5 billion would be needed annually for the RH bill, Sotto pointed out that the 2012 General Appropriations Act already contains P7,876,314,212.00 in funding for RH programs, as follows:
1. Health Human Resource Development – P1,905,105,000.00;
2. Capability Building – P14,431,200.00;
3. Support Maternal, Newborn at Child Health at Nutrition (MNCHN) Grants – P167,000,000.00;
4. Health Facilities Enhancement Program to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal deaths – P5,078,000,000.00;
5. Women’s Health at Safe Motherhood Project II, for maternity or birthing clinics – P122,857,000.00;
6. Family Health and Responsible Parenting Leveraging Services, for family planning supplies, MNCHN Commodities – P300,000,000.00;
7. Commission on Population, Grants, subsidies and contributions for population programs – P148,389,000.00; coordination of population policy and programs – P220,252,000.00;
8. Family Health and Responsible Parenting, including seminars for birth spacing and responsible parenthood; reproduction of the Manual of Operation on Adolescent Health -P500,000.00; Family Health Guide – P35,000,000.00; Community Health Team (CHT) Organization, Training and Deployment Manual – P31,250,000.00; Community Health Team Guidebook (Helping Families Access Health Care); and
9. Health Promotion – P153,230,000.00.
Sotto also pointed to existing laws, administrative orders, presidential decrees and government programs addressing reproductive health:
1. R.A. 9710 or An Act Providing for Magna Carta for Women
2. Republic Act No. 9262 or Anti-Violence against Women and Children
3. Republic Act No. 8504 or Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998
4. AO 2008-0029 Implementing Health Reforms for Rapid Reduction of Maternal and Neonatal Mortality
5. Children’s Health Program of the DOH
6. Family Planning Program of the DOH
7. Prevention and Management Control of Abortion and its Complications (PMAC)
8. PD No. 965 or A decree requiring applicant for marriage license to receive instructions on family planning and responsible parenthood
9. R.A. 7883 or the Barangay Health Workers Benefits and Incentives Acts of 1995
10. R.A. 7160 or The Local Government Code of the Philippines
11. AO No. 2010-0036–The Aquino Health Agenda: Achieving Universal Health Care for all Filipinos
12. Women’s Health and Safe Motherhood Project ng DOH
13. Republic Act No. 8504 or Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998
14. Republic Act No. 7875 o ang National Health Insurance Act of 1995
15. Republic Act No. 9502 o ang Cheaper Medicine Act
16. Executive Order No. 453 o Directing the Enrolment of 2.5 Million Indigent families pursuant to E.O 276
17. AO No. 2010-0010 o ang Revised Policy on Micro Nutrient Supplementation to Support Achievement of 2015 MDG Targets to Reduce Maternal Deaths and Address Micronutrient needs of other population groups
18. Botika ng Barangay Program of the DOH
19. PD No. 79 Revising the Population Act of Nineteen Hundred and Seventy One
20. PhilHealth Circulars and Policy Guidelines
21. CCT program of the DSWD
22. PD No. 79 Revising the Population Act of Nineteen Hundred and Seventy One
23. Administrative order No. 2012-0009 -National Strategy Towards Reducing Unmet Need for Modern Family Planning as a means to Achieving MDGs on Maternal Health
“Sa dami ng binanggit kong mga batas at programa ng pamahalaan, makikita nating hindi ang kawalan ng batas ang problema sa reproductive health ng bansa. Marami po tayong mga batas na mas malawak, mas matatag, at mas detelyado kumpara sa RH bill. Samakatuwid, ang problema po rito ay hindi ang kawalan ng batas, kung hindi ang wasto, epektibo, at mabisang pagpapatupad ng mga batas na mayroon na tayo. Tungkulin po ito hindi na ng kongreso, kung hindi ng ehekutibong sangay ng ating pamahalaan,” Sotto said.
Sotto again criticized the proposal to list contraceptives as “essential medicines” when condoms and intrauterine devices do not cure diseases. He also zeroed in on the RH bill’s provision providing for care for post-abortion complications, saying this was incompatible with the measure’s supposed reiteration of abortion restrictions and is being inserted at the bidding of foreign pro-abortion groups.
“Kung susuriin ng higit na malapitan ang probisyong ito, maaaring makahikayat pa ito sa marami na magsagawa ng aborsyon sa kanilang sarili. Dahil nangako naman ang gobyernong pagkatapos nilang magsagawa ng aborsyon, gagamutin sila sa paraang makatao, walang pag-huhusga, at may malasakit na pamamaraan. Sana po ay maging mas maingat tayo sa ganitong probisyon dahil puwede po itong ituring na pagpayag na gawin ng kaliwang kamay ang hindi kayang gawin ng ating kanang kamay,” he said.
He added: “Hindi sa madumi ang isip ko, pero bakit kaya pinasukan ng probisyon sa aborsyon ang bill na ito? Hindi kaya may kinalaman po rito ang nabanggit ko sa Part II ng aking turno en contra na may mga international organizations na nagsusulong ng aborsyon sa ating bansa? Maari pong ang probisyong ito ay may kaugnayan sa isinulat ni Douglas Sylva, Ph.D. noong March 4, 2004 sa ipinahayag ni Secretary General Kofi Annan ng United Nations sa isa sa kanyang mga talumpati na ‘in countries where abortion is illegal, we must find ways how to skirt these ‘restrictive abortion laws?’”
The discussion became heated when RH sponsor Sen. Pia Cayetano questioned Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s interpellation. Enrile castigated Cayetano, saying that in all his years in the Senate, he was never questioned on his motives for interpellation or was on record as having delayed any bill.
Sen. Ralph Recto, for his part, warned that controlling the population could have serious consequences on the economy.
He also expressed concerns that RH bill provisions ensuring “universal access” and the creation of a new set of sexual and reproductive rights would allow minors access to contraceptives. (Dominic Francisco)