Inconsistent moves

Published by rudy Date posted on April 11, 2011

The bad news is that HIV/AIDS cases are rising to epidemic proportions in this country despite the availability of condoms and other contraceptives and the aggressive marketing of their manufacturers promoting their use. This means that more people especially the “machos”, as exemplified by the products’ principal celebrity endorser, are duped into believing that they can engage in safe sex with anybody as long as they use condoms and contraceptives. No one, especially in the government charged with safeguarding public health, has warned them that HIV/AIDS virus is smaller and can thus penetrate the minutest holes of the condoms, as established by rigid tests conducted in the US.

Hence using condoms and other contraceptives is not a guarantee for “safe and satisfying sex” especially the latter. Having “satisfying sex” through the use of condoms is beyond the stretch of the imagination. Such practice not only contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS but also promotes sexual infidelity and promiscuity. This is a fact long established in other countries.

More alarming here is that last year, no less than the former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral openly distributed condoms for free at a bus station. She encouraged their extensive use supposedly to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The latest statistics however confirm in no uncertain terms the opposite of what she said. Like what is happening in Thailand, condom use only increases HIV/AIDS cases and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Yet in the proposed RH bill, billions of pesos will be appropriated for the purchase of condoms and contraceptives so that any couple who would like to plan their family through implementation of “two-child policy” under the guise of “responsible parenthood”, can avail of them for free. While the bill supposedly guarantees freedom of choice, the availability of these contraceptives for free courtesy of the taxpayers, plus the deceptive assurance that they are “safe and satisfying”, practically gives them no other choice.

Actually, several provisions of the RH bill are already being implemented by the Department of Health (DOH) although it has not yet been considered and passed even by the Lower House. The   (DOH) budget for 2011 supposed to cater to “Maternal and Child Health Care and Population Development” totals more than P12 billion (P12,073,264,000 to be exact). It contains items where contraceptives and condoms use can be promoted. More specifically, these are: the P731,349,000 for “Service Delivery Programs on Family Health and Responsible Parenting”; and P290,660,000 for the Commission on Population Programs. Undeniably, the DOH can justify the purchase of contraceptives especially condoms under any of these items and it cannot be questioned for such move. In fact Cabral had done it before. She personally distributed condoms for free with impunity.

Furthermore the DOH can also use the budget for “Health Care Assistance” amounting to P 3,589,804,000 for this purpose. The DOH can always say that the purchase of these contraceptives are necessary to prevent pregnancies that may have adverse effect on the mothers’ and the children’s health. The DOH is not telling the people involved that contraceptives do not only prevent conception or the beginning of life but also the implantation of a fertilized ovum or conceived life, in the womb of the mother which is nothing but abortion. Then to assure that the distribution of condoms and other contraceptives will be nationwide, the DOH can also use its budget for “Doctors to the Barrios Program Rural Health Programs” amounting to P123,284,000 and “Health Promotion” in the sum of P153,975,000.

This administration indeed knows that even without an RH bill, some of its provisions can already be implemented particularly the use of contraceptives to manage population growth especially of poor people. Hence when several Barangays passed ordinances thwarting the implementation of these RH bill provisions, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) stepped in and warned them not to enact ordinances that “prohibit the promotion, sale and purchase of contraceptives such as condoms and pills”.

The DILG reaction is actually triggered by the Ayala Alabang Ordinance that seeks to uphold the life of the unborn from conception and protect the mother from harm by requiring duly licensed physicians to prescribe the use of what might be drugs, chemicals, devices or medicines that cause or lead to abortion or acts that harm or injure the health of the mother. When several other Barangays particularly in Balanga Bataan followed suit, DILG Secretary Robredo came up with that warning.

But as former Senator Aquilino P. Pimentel Jr, the principal author of the Local Government Code (LGC), “the DILG has no power to sanction or even threaten any Barangay” for passing such measure because it would be “an act in violation of the devolution of powers mandated by the LGC. Furthermore, Senator Pimentel said that it is not correct for Robredo to insinuate that the Ordinance grabs the power of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure the sale, distribution and delivery of drugs, chemicals, devices or medicines to the public. On the contrary the Ordinance in fact cites the FDA in the adoption of the provision of R.A. 5921.

According to the former Senator, Robredo’s statement that the FDA may permit the sale of those drugs etc without the prescription of a duly licensed physician runs counter to Section 38 of R.A. 5921 which provides that: “Every pharmacist who dispenses, sells or delivers any drug which falls under the classification of the FDA as potent drugs shall do so only upon prescription of a duly licensed physician, dentist or veterinarian”.

Pimentel said that this Pharmacy Law (RA 5921) is not intended to guide pharmacists alone. Section 37 bans the sale of “drugs or chemical products or device capable of provoking abortion or preventing conception as classified by the FDA, without a proper prescription by a duly licensed physician”. Then Section 40 speaks of the responsibility of the manufacturer, or the importer, distributor, representative or dealer on the quality or purity of drugs, pharmaceuticals or poisons sold in their original packings. Then there is Section 40 that penalizes “any person” violating the provisions of RA 5921 or Section 41 imposing penalties on “any person other than citizens of the Philippines” for violating the law.

Finally, Pimentel said that Barangays do not need a delegation of power from the Pharmacy Law to do their duty to ensure the implementation of the Constitutional mandate to uphold the life of the unborn from conception and to protect the health of the mother because “life” is “the highest among the values that the Constitution upholds and protects”. –Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star)

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