Palace on RH: Democracy gives people a choice

Published by rudy Date posted on April 20, 2011

MANILA, Philippines –  Malacañang yesterday defended the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill that President Aquino is espousing, taking into consideration the benefits of a democratic country like the Philippines where people have a choice.

“This is part of democracy. The people cannot be forced to do only one method,” Presidential Communications Office for Strategic Planning and Development Secretary Ricky Carandang said.

Carandang said the overall objective is to give people a choice in contraception, whether the artificial or the natural method.

Last Sunday, the President hinted to graduates of the state-run University of the Philippines that he is willing to be excommunicated for supporting legislated birth control measures.

It was the strongest statement so far from the President on the burgeoning population issue.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino has not wavered on his stand since the 2010 campaign.

Aquino said he is not afraid of threats of excommunication.

He said he is pushing for the passage of RP bill, which would “reorient, refocus and empower” Filipino couples and provide them with full public information regarding the natural and artificial methods of family planning.

Aquino claims the RP bill has a “lot of common grounds” with the RH bill now under plenary debate at the House of Representatives, downplaying speculations he is rejecting the consolidated RH measure.

“We are focused on the quality of life of all of their children and also on the idea that responsibility has to be borne by the parents together with the churches that they belong to and the state,” he said.

Aquino said the RP bill – which Health Secretary Enrique Ona is drafting – is a “reorientation” of what “the RH bill has been.”

Aquino though evaded comparing approaches to the issue of population growth.

“Those who advocated one child per family are now regretting that they did so. Those that didn’t have policy, regretted also,” he said.

Malacañang said the Responsible Parenthood version of Aquino in the RH Bill in Congress would neither be in favor of the Catholic Church or RH bill advocates.

“The RP bill means that we will not favor one over the other. There would be no favor on family planning method,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson expressed support for Aquino for standing firm on his position in favor of the RH Bill amid threats of excommunication from sectors of the Catholic Church.

Lacson said he personally supports the RH bill as a way to curb poverty in the country but not as a means to promote abortion.

According to Lacson, the President was on the right track in pushing population management to curb the perennial problem of poverty.

“Finding ways to curb our monstrous population growth rate, which has been a major part of our poverty problem, is one sensible approach in poverty alleviation. Advocating population management is not being anti-life. In fact, it is pro-country and pro-people,” Lacson said.

Lacson said he filed a similar proposal during the 14th Congress, seeking for reproductive health and population management to curb poverty.

Lacson has proposed the creation of a reproductive health and population management council to implement an integrated policy on reproductive health.

Lacson’s proposal contained provisions for timely, complete and accurate information and education on reproductive health and access to safe, adequate and affordable reproductive health care services, all of which are similar to the current RH bills filed in Congress.

Lacson stressed he does not support any move to promote or legalize abortion, which he said has no place in the definition of responsible parenthood and is a crime under the Revised Penal Code.

“Any form of abortion should be condemned and punished. That much is clear,” he said.

The Senate committee on health and demography and youth and family relations has conducted several hearings on the proposed RH bill filed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and so far, the supporters and critics were split down the middle on the measure.

The Catholic Church is leading some sectors against the bill, saying there is no need for a legislated birth control and in some instances, condemning the supporters of the measure.

Lacson chided critics of the bill for saying that it is anti-life.

He said population management must be addressed as most poor Filipinos do not have enough food or access to basic services.

“There is not enough food on the table, many are homeless, the poor have almost zero opportunity to have access to education, health care and the most basic social services, which they can otherwise enjoy with an efficient but moral population management program,” Lacson said. – With Marvin Sy –Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star)

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