Giving Sen. Tito Sotto a dose of his own medicine, a group of women advocates working in grassroots communities says that legislators and politicians such as Sen. Sotto are the very reasons why the Reproductive Health (RH) bill should be voted on and passed into law.
Taking offense against the claim of Sen. Sotto that the RH bill is no longer needed since the Department of Health (DOH) is already doing what the RH bill wants to do, Elizabeth Angsioco, National Chairperson of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) stressed: “Sotto’s words and his position against the RH bill are very good arguments why the highly clamored RH bill should be passed immediately.”
It will be remembered that it was Sotto who cut last year’s DOH FP budget.
Angsioco said, “If an RH law is already in place, politicians like Sotto who are against funding family planning (FP) will no longer be able to prevail over the law.”
According to Angsioco, various surveys through the years conducted by reputable institutions’ results have been very consistent in showing that the Filipino people overwhelmingly approve of government-funded FP program.
The most recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) Survey done in June of this year revealed that almost 70% of the Filipinos want the government to fund all FP methods including contraception.
Angsioco opines that Sen. Sotto’s position as an elected official smacks of serious insensitivity to the dismal RH situation in the Country that primarily victimizes women in poverty. “Poor women’s lives are sacrificed because of their lack of access to adequate life-saving programs,” she said. “These are the very programs that will be implemented once the RH bill becomes a law,” she added.
“If Sotto really wanted to know the truth about RH-related problems, he should have asked DOH why they ask for such budgets. Then perhaps, Sotto will understand the real situation and not be blinded by propaganda peddled by his anti-RH allies. Perhaps he will see that the budget asked for by DOH is NEEDED by those in poverty Sotto vowed to serve.
Angsioco explains that an RH law is needed so that DOH programs are determined NOT by the whims, caprices, even religious biases of politicians such as the president, DOH Secretary, legislators and even local government officials.
“What former President Gloria Arroyo did – curtailing FP other than the CBCP-endorsed Natural Family Planning (NFP) – cannot happen if we have an RH law,” Angsioco said. She elaborates, “GMA’s FP program was a dismal failure because according to the 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey, NFP is used by less than 1% of couples doing FP.” She added, “the same is true with the City of Manila where until now, the policy of former Mayor Atienza restricting modern contraceptives is still in place.”
“With an RH law that makes all FP methods accessible and available, the President will not have the power to do as what GMA did and the Manila order would have been revoked. Unfortunately to the detriment of poor women, Sotto conveniently misses this point. By insisting that the RH bill is unnecessary and therefore, delaying it’s approval, Sotto is doing a huge disservice to the people, especially, women in poverty” Angsioco ended.
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