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Residents of Barangay Payatas, one of the poorest barangays in Quezon City where people literally live on and from garbage dumped by Metro Manila residents, took a break from their usual routine to join reproductive health advocates and community leaders in launching the first Purple Ribbon campaign in an urban poor community.
Present during the activity were more than two hundred women and men, old and young residents, school representatives, and Barangay officials from Payatas. According to Elizabeth Angsioco, Chairperson of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP), the event dubbed, “Buhay at RH sa Payatas” disproves the misconceptions about the RH bill peddled by an irresponsible misinformation campaign spearheaded by some bishops and lay leaders.
“While we fully respect freedom of religion, it is lamentable that some bishops and Catholic leaders resort to misinformation, twisting facts about the RH bill,” said Angsioco. “They, who are supposed to be vanguards of truth and fairness, are the people behind the misinformation campaign against the RH bill. We need to continuously engage communities so these misinformation campaign is countered with facts.”
Angsioco added, “It is very sad that because of the maneuverings of these bishops, the Philippines still does not have a law that provides reproductive health education and services to women, most especially poor women who had been clamoring for it for many years.”
“Because of the expressed need of women in the poor areas for reproductive health education and services, DSWP in cooperation with the Barangay Payatas and the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) decided to bring Purple Ribbon campaign to this community where DSWP has several member organizations” she explained.
Purple Ribbon is the symbol for the growing RH movement in the country.
The launch of the Purple Ribbon Campaign in Payatas featured real life stories and reproductive health experiences of some residents. It has become an eye opener among the residents who later on expressed their support for the RH bill. Later participants of the launching went around the community and distributed RH flyers and tied purple ribbons.
Von Rondilla, a community educator and volunteer in Payatas for 12 years, expressed support for the Purple Ribbon Campaign. He said in Filipino, “Ako bilang kabataan at mamamayan ng Payatas, masasabi ko na ito ay isang pagpapatunay ng bawat isa sa atin ay may karapatan mabuhay at at mamuhay ng maayos na may kaakibat na tungkulin at responsabilidad.” He stressed, “Ako po ay pabor maisabatas ang RH Bill sapagkat ito ang magsasalba sa ating lahat lalo na sa mga kabataan.”
Community leader, Lilia Japson, President, Aktibong Manggagawang Kababaihan ng Dumpsite (AKMD) said, ”Kung mayroong batas na maglalaan ng programa para sa information at serbisyo sa pagpaplano ng pamilya malaking tulong yan sa mga pamilya dito sa payatas. Mas maiiwasan ang sunud sunod na panganganak at maagang pagbubuntis na marami dito sa amin. Naniniwala ako na makakatulong ang karagdagang health professionals at pasilidad para masagip ang buhay ng babaeng may mga problema sa pagbubuntis at panganganak.”
Angsioco, expressed optimism despite all the misinformation campaign that the RH Bill will pass this Congress. “RH Bill will be passed this Congress because of the sustained, broad and continuous support coming from all sectors of the country, including President Noynoy Aquino. Only the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and its allies are against it. But the RH bill is not for them, it’s for the poor people especially women and our lawmakers should be respond by voting for it. An RH law will help poor communities,” she ended.