Sex and Religion

Finding Religion and Spirituality in Population, Gender, Sexuality, and Reproductive Health Advocacy in the Philippines.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pro-RH Legislators: The People’s Champions

The Filipino people need champions.

Champions in Congress to craft policies that respond to the needs of their constituents. We need them to address pressing issues through laws so that pro-people and pro-poor programs are implemented, rights are respected and, therefore, lives become better.

A national policy on reproductive health (RH) is one of our needs. At a time when prices of basic commodities and services are soaring amidst widespread poverty, ordinary people urgently need all the help they can get.

Wage increases, tax breaks, food and electricity-consumption subsidies are good but not enough. These initiatives are not sustainable. With the ever-increasing scarcity of resources, government will eventually not be able to adequately address the needs of the people.

Legislators have to deal with the need of our families, especially the poor to plan their lives. RH information and services are needed to enable people to make informed and intelligent decisions that will: save women’s lives, facilitate having children that parents can provide for, prepare the youth to handle responsibilities that go with having relationships, and empower men to realize and use the various options available to them in planning their families.

The existence of such urgent needs cannot be denied. In the City of Manila alone where RH services have been virtually absent for the past eight years, throngs of residents flocked to the Tondo Sports Complex last Friday to avail of free family planning information and services offered by NGOs and the City Health Department. Manila residents in poor communities acted on their need at the first opportunity offered them.

An increasing number of local government units (LGUs) are also stepping up to address this need as evidenced by the passage of RH ordinances in Aurora province, Sulu, Olongapo, and Quezon City to name a few. Moreover, there are LGUs that are presently processing their own RH ordinances.

In Congress, we have RH champions. These legislators have taken action based on the facts that:

• 10 Filipino women die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth complications;
• 3 out of 4 of these women who die are aged 15-19 years old; and
• Internationally, 99% of all women who die from such causes come from developing countries.

We, RH advocates laud the courage, determination and foresight of these legislators to work for measures that offer strategic solutions to current crises.

Like many of our people, we are one with our legislators who stand with ordinary Filipinos; with women on the issue of RH. As shown by the 2004 Pulse Asia survey:

• 86% of respondents support candidates with programs for women’s health;
• 82% supports candidates who are in favor of couples’ free choice of family planning methods;
• 82% considers candidates supportive of a law on population as worthy of their votes; and
• 83% favors candidates who support allocating funds for family planning.

We ask our legislators not to give up on our needs--not to give up on our rights.

We ask our legislators to continue being our champions until that day when all Filipinos, rich and poor, shall have the opportunities to pursue a life of quality.

Press statement of the Reproductive Health Advocacy network (RHAN), July 24, 2008


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