UN supports RH bill for Phl

Published by rudy Date posted on April 2, 2011

MANILA, Philippines –  A member of the United Nations delegation visiting the country underscored yesterday the importance of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, citing global evidence of improvement of countries after putting similar measures in place.

Nojibur Rahman, economic minister of the permanent mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations and team leader and spokesperson of the UN delegation that visited the Bicol Region, said countries do better when families are managed well.

“Without getting into politics of the issue, if we look at other countries’ success, it’ll show the evidence that by managing the family well these families have done a better job,” Rahman said in a press conference.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Global evidence shows by putting in place (an RH policy), these countries are doing better. My country Bangladesh is a case in point,” he added.

UN Resident Coordinator Dr. Jacqueline Badcock said the UN provides support to programs of the Philippine government but will not include providing contraceptives.

“The UN is a group of agencies. We’re not here to replace the government program so the UN agencies are working in close partnership with government to plan and implement. It’s not our role to take over government functions but our role is to support for improved program,” Badcock said.

The UN said high-level executive board officials of the UN visiting the Philippines for one week were encouraged by strong UN and government collaboration and innovation towards poverty alleviation and humanitarian assistance.

The team also cited a need to increase efforts in the most vulnerable and conflict affected areas.

The officials from the executive boards of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and World Food Program (WFP) had also visited Sarangani, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat where they talked with beneficiaries, civil society organizations and government officials.

“While we only spent a few days in the provinces, it was encouraging to see effective UN collaboration with local officials and civil society organizations. In a middle income country, it’s these innovative practices and partnerships, including those with private sector, that can create opportunities to alleviate poverty for many families,” said Ambassador Brian Bowler, team leader of the delegation.

The Philippines has been selected for the 2011 joint field visit because of several innovative developments and humanitarian approaches taken in the country, including the close collaboration of the UN Country Team (UNCT) with national agencies in emergency preparedness and relief and recovery operations, as well as the UNCT’s support for peace-building in the Philippines specifically through poverty reduction programs.

Meanwhile, two groups advocating the passage of Reproductive Health bill yesterday lauded the order of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo against the enactment of anti-contraceptive ordinances by local government units (LGUs).

Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines chair Elizabeth Angsioco said they are hopeful that with Robredo’s order, local officials would stop imposing their beliefs on their constituents.

Robredo’s directive was a result of the ordinances passed by the barangay council in Ayala-Alabang in Muntinlupa City and seven barangays in Balanga, Bataan banning the sale, purchase and distribution of birth control devices in their jurisdiction without prescription.

Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development Foundation executive director Ramon San Pascual noted that Robredo’s “quick and resolute action” was “commendable.”

San Pascual added the order would stop other barangay leaders from “imitating the misguided anti-contraceptive ordinances.”

“Other government agencies like the Department of Health and Food and Drug Administration must also admonish local officials from using their positions to impose their religious dogma over their constituents,” he said.

San Pacual added that Malacañang and Congress should realize that “unless national policy on reproductive health is enacted, these Taliban-minded local officials will continue to experiment with local policies to suit their warped views on matters of family planning and maternal health.”  –Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) with Sheila Crisostomo

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