Monday, 7 November, 2011

The Controversal Reproductive Health (RH) Bill of Philippines, What will be the way forward?

The Senate Bill 2378 or “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development” commonly known as RH Bill introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor Santaigo  has a significant importance for the country like Philippines.

The Bill as intended was to provide Filipinos with information on the reproductive health, access to health care facilities and skilled professionals and save the lives of mother and unborn. As reflected in Bill, it is infect the fundamental duties of State enshrined in Constitution of Philippines to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instil health conscious among them and shall equally protect the life of mother and unborn. Also, country being signatory to many of the international convention and being a members of international communities has responsible to strive to provide better health education and facilities to all the citizens as per international standards.

Considering indicators available with government on maternal death with 162 mothers out of 1,00,000 live birth, Infant mortality rate of 19.34 death per/1000 live birth, birth rate of 25.34 per 1000 population (2011), 32.9 percentage of population below poverty line (2006) etc. gives the government an enough evidence and statistics for the need of a laws that protect the health of people and control the population growth. Today, Philippines stands at world 12th ranking interms of population in the world with 94.01M (NSO-Projected 2010) and given current growth rate and fertility rate, it is expected to further claim and it will be a great challenge for the Philippine government to cope up and meet the demand with current level of economic growth. The wellbeing of the citizen of any nation depends on the law that exists in country to promote a better ways and means supported by the policy, plans and programmes.    

However, the RH bill over the past years has been debated in house of Senate sponsored by Senator Miriam Defensor Santaigo and Sentor Pia. S Cayentano without much progress and conclusion. The RH movement was strongly opposed by the Catholic Church group and supported by few other Senators. The issue has been too much polarised between Pro-RH Bill and Anti-RH movement and for more than 10 years it has been a controversial issue. It is my personal view that the Bill will further take time until the younger generation of Filipinos and citizens are educated and understand the essence of the Bill and demand from the government in way and language that politician could only understand and that is “Vote”.

The approach taken by the Pro-RH Bill from the beginning has been also too arduous which has already insighted an abhorrence in the mind of Ant-RH which led to unnecessary impediment in legislature process. During the subsequent following of Senate debate online on RH Bill, it was pretty clear that the debate was not much focus on contents and essence of the bill rather it was beating around the bushes to unnecessary delay the process. The Anti- RH Senators are simply questioning the legitimacy of statistics provided by National Statistics Office, unnecessary debating on the biological term of conception and questioning the motives of agencies promoting family planning indicates the clear motives behind the movement.

They are more worried and debate on rights of unborn child but the irony is that thousands of children goes hungry daily and it is not uncommon to see kids roaming on the streets. May be it is time for Filipinos to ask the Senators and Congress man to ride a ‘Jeepney’(mode of transport used by ordinary people)once and go around Metro Manila or any other cities to find the truth instead of them travelling in luxury car with black shell preventing them from seeing the truth and reality.   

It is undeniable fact that if not late it is not at all early for Philippines to pass the law for the general wellbeing of the Filipinos. The difference between the Pro- RH and Ant- RH has to find an amicable solution including a political will. For the interest of Filipinos, the tone of language used by both the parties may have to be lowered down to come to a reasonable conclusion.

Note: This is just a part of my Reaction Paper for accadamic purpose in Population Studies and open Lecture on RH Bills and by anymeans does not represent the views of any organization or movement.

Miriam Defensor Sentiago, Senate Bill 2378 or “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development”

 Statistics, retrieved from Index website on October 19, 2011:

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