By KIMBERLIE OLMAYA NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Proponents of the Republic Act (RA) 4244 also known as Reproductive Health Bill are confident that the bill will be passed in congress this year despite World boxing champion and Sarangani Representative Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao’s resounding anti vote.
It can be recalled that Pacquiao took the stage at the Congress plenary hall last May 18 where he threw a battery of questions to Minority floor leader Edcel Lagman and declared his opposition to the RH Bill.
Ifugao Representative Teddy B. Baguilat Jr., a co-author of the RH Bill during the Cordillera Regional RH Summit said the momentum has shifted this time in favor of the bill.
He disclosed that as of their latest survey, 43% of congress representatives are in favor of the bill, 37% are against and the rest (20%) remain undecided. “We believe we have the numbers (to pass the bill) in congress,” he stressed.
Baguilat further said it was unfair for Pacquiao because the anti-RH block used him. He pointed out that Pacquiao was not even listed as among the interpolators that day and that many among those listed were not able to talk as the Pambansang Kamao took much of the time. “I think the Filipino people are more discerning than just being sports enthusiasts,” he added.
According to Baguilat, many congress representatives still do not openly support the bill because of the notion that they will lose their “Catholic mass base”.
He added that there is also a perception of other representatives that the public is still not sure about the RH Bill as most undecided representatives say they have to consult their constituents.
Baguilat reiterated that debates on the RH Bill should be brought to a more intelligent level. He added that discussions on the bill inside and outside congress should be focused on its salient provisions and not whether it is pro or anti life or church.
“We could always discuss in congress, in forums or over coffee but the pulpit should not be used to discredit the RH Bill,” he said.
He also pointed out that just as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act provides for a free prior and informed consent for indigenous peoples regarding development project applications in their territories, the RH Bill if passed into law will provide couples with informed choices for family planning and reproductive health care.
Director of the Center for Information, Communication and Capacity Building (CICCB) of the Philippine Legislator’s Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc (PLPD) Romeo Dongeto stressed that while debates are going on more and more women and children die due to the inaccessibility to maternal health care.
He also pointed out that the debate on the RH Bill has been over a decade now and that there is nothing new in the arguments of the anti block. He added that the only thing new in this more than a decade debate is that the misinformation about the bill has heightened.
Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) National Chair Elizabeth Angsioco said family planning is just among the provisions of the the RH Bill. “The RH Bill is not to control population but to empower people for family planning,” she added.
Angsioco stated that among the salient points of the RH Bill is the provision of accessible health care to cure or prevent reproductive illnesses.
She explained that the bill also aims to provide health care to couples with reproductive problems to be able to conceive children.
Angsioco added that it also wants to prevent reproductive health illnesses among single young men and women so that they can have children when they decide to.
Moreover, Angsioco stressed that Article II Section 12 of the constitution provides for equal protection of the unborn child and the mother. She explined that the unborn child would not be born without the mother and in the same way it is the mother who will have a major role in raising a child.
“It will never be acceptable for a mother to die inorder to give life,” she added. # nordis.net