It was a Tuesday and I was in the halls of the House of Representatives. Thanks to Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao, I realized just how out of shape I was. I hoped for an exclusive interview and I got it. That it was less than 5 minutes is irrelevant; I got my answers and that's all that mattered.
But one thing I learned is that the world boxing champion walks really fast. I had to trail him from the plenary hall to his office in the adjacent building, and so as not to lose sight of him, I had to semi-run. Hence, by the time his party and I slowed down outside the building elevator, I was nearly out of breath (but of course trying to conceal it).
Small (and irrelevant) details aside, below are several articles I recently wrote for CBCP for Life, the portal launched by the media office of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines not too long ago which focuses on life and family issues and which contains not just news reports but Church documents, position papers of different groups, videos, podcasts, and many other resources necessary for anyone who wants to know more about and understand the issues. Expectedly, there's quite a lot you can read about House Bill 4244 or the reproductive health (RH) bill here since this piece of legislation is right smack in the middle of the whole issue.
Does the RH bill really promote freedom of choice? Can we call it a truly pro-women measure? If we're so family-oriented and life-loving, why is there such a thing as an RH bill that is even getting the rabid support of some dudes on our shores? Here are some articles, starting with the one containing Rep. Pacquiao's briefly stated insights, to shed more light on the proposed measure. Please feel free to share with others --
MANILA, June 3, 2011―Sectors that stand to gain materially from a reproductive health law are among the supporters of House Bill 4244, asserted Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao.
When asked why something like an RH bill is being proposed by Filipino lawmakers and being supported by many despite being a naturally life-respecting and God-fearing people, the solon said that this can be attributed partly to the presence of big companies in the local birth control industry.
“Sa tingin ko ‘yan ay suportado ng mga naglalakihang companies dito sa atin―’yung mga gumagawa ng mga condoms, pills. Iyon ang sumusuporta dito para lumakas ang [business] nila.”
Based on the DKT International website that detailed figures concerning the Philippine market, the company’s program in 2010 sold over 40 million condoms, over 27 million oral contraceptives, over 1 million injectable contraceptives, and over 30,000 IUDs.Full story
MANILA, June 18, 2011—Though often touted by its proponents as a necessary measure that responds to the needs of women, the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill is nothing like the pro-women piece of legislation its supporters make it to be, asserted a lawyer during a four-hour forum at the Sta. Isabel College, Manila.
“Marami diyan ang nagsasabi na pro-women sila. ‘We are for women, they say, but I tell you, nothing can be more anti-women than the RH bill. Bakit? Sino ang pinapalagok ng pills? Babae. Sino ang nagkaka-kanser? Babae. Sino ang ginagamitan ng condoms? Babae,” said Atty. Marwil Llasos, one of three representatives of Filipinos for Life.
And yet who basks in the pleasure everytime, he asked the audience. “Mga lalaki.”
No self-respecting woman should support the bill “because it violates your personhood. Ang babae sa ating pananampalataya ay minamahal, inaaruga at inaalagaan,” he said to the audience, composed mostly of female high school and college students as well as faculty members, who at this point responded with thunderous applause to Llasos’ statements.
The lawyer, also a staff apologist of the Defensores Fidei Foundation, expressed misgivings about the controversial bill for its apparent basic assumption that persons are incapable of self-control and of understanding truths about human sexuality.
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In a June 17 forum on the RH bill held at Sta. Isabel College, Atty. Marwil Llasos of Filipinos for Life cited the provision concerning refusal to extend reproductive health services (Sec. 28. Prohibited Acts), which states that while the conscientious objector’s refusal due to ethical or religious beliefs is acceptable, he is required to “immediately refer the person seeking such care and services to another health care service provider within the same facility or one which is conveniently accessible who is willing to provide the requisite information and services.”
In other words, if a doctor refuses to perform a vasectomy, for example, because he believes this to be unethical, the bill compels him to refer the patient to another doctor. The lawyer pointed out that this still goes against the first doctor’s conscience “because what you are prohibited from doing directly, you are mandated to do indirectly.”
“At mas imoral po ‘yon. Bakit? Kasi kung siya lang ang gagawa ng paglabag sa kanyang konsensya―halimbawa, nagbigay siya ng condom o pills, nag-perform siya ng vasectomy o naglagay siya ng IUD sa isang tao, siya lang ang nagkasala. But if he is going to refer to another doctor, dalawa na silang nagkasala,” Llasos pointed out.
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MANILA, June 21, 2011―The State is remiss in its duty to protect the people’s right to health, based on the facts presented by pro-lifers in a June 17 forum on the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill or House Bill 4244 at the Sta. Isabel College, Manila.
Atty. Jo Aurea Imbong, Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Legal Office, alluded to a constitutional violation that the State is committing by mandating the distribution of dangerous drugs and devices as part of its family planning program.
Article II Section 15 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states that “The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”
The government has been carrying out its family planning program since the mid-1970s, facilitating the distribution of artificial contraceptives and now seeking to pour additional billions of the national budget into a proposed measure to ensure the swift procurement and distribution of the “full range” of contraceptives and reproductive health services despite established findings of grave side-effects.
“Ito po ang mga devices na pinamumudmod sa ngayon,” Imbong began, enumerating a list of drugs that are easily accessible to anyone in the local market in spite of serious health dangers that these pose, which the lawyer briefly explained.