RH BILL Starting 1967, the USAID started shouldering 80% of the total family planning commodities (contraceptives) of the

country, which amounted to US$ 3 Million annually. In 1975, the United States adopted as its policy the National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests (NSSM200). The policy gives "paramount importance" to population control measures and the promotion of contraception among 13 populous countries, including the Philippines to control rapid population growth which they deem to be inimical to the socio-political and economic growth of these countries and to the national interests of the United States, since the "U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad", and these countries can produce destabilizing opposition forces against the United States. It recommends the US leadership to "influence national leaders" and that "improved world-wide support for populationrelated efforts should be sought through increased emphasis on mass media and other population education and motivation programs by the U.N., USIA, and USAID.[4] MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Health is proposing close to P14 billion to fund the controversial Reproductive Health bill in 2012, Senator Pia Cayetano disclosed during plenary deliberations of the measure on Tuesday. “For 2012, (the DOH is asking) P13.7 billion,” Cayetano, head of the Senate committee on health and demography, responding to Senator Lito Lapid’s query. Based on the DOH’s proposal, P18.5 million would be allocated for capacity building, P12.5 million for priority health program, and P3 million for the major final output of the health policy and development program. But Cayetano quickly clarified that she has not yet given her support for the proposed budget, saying it was just the proposal submitted by the DOH. Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile then took the floor and expressed his surprise about the proposed budget for the bill. “I was struck by the statement of the sponsor that there were proposals already about the budgetary component of this measure…” said Enrile , who is strongly opposing the passage of the bill. Lawmakers urged to pass K+12, RH bills By Karen Boncocan INQUIRER.net 3:31 pm | Monday, July 23rd, 2012 Tweet House Speaker Sonny Belmonte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Monday said that lawmakers’ efforts will be doubled this third regular session as he urged his colleagues to approve the K+12 measure and to vote on the controversial Reproductive Health Bill.

He said that the RH Bill “has been discussed from every possible perspective by advocates and opponents alike not only in this Congress but in past sessions of Congress. I think it is time we finally put it to a vote. Let the chips fall where they may.” He said that the same could be said for the Freedom of Information Bill. According to Belmonte said, lawmakers will also prioritize proposed measures on investments and job generation, good governance, greater peace and security, and addressing rural growth and urbanization problems. “We must redouble our efforts in this third and last session of this Congress,” he urged lawmakers. Among the bills which he said should be supported are the complementary Anti-Trust Act which seeks to establish level playing field among firms, the amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), the amendments to the National Electrification Administration’s Charter, the Rationalization of the Charters of the Philippine Ports Authority, MARINA, and the Civil Aeronautics Board; and the National Transport Policy Act. Aside from the creation of a Fiscal Responsibility Act, Belmonte also saw amendments as necessary for the Government Procurement Reform Act, the Charter of the Bangko Sentral, Amendment to the National Defense and Security Act, and the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act. Manila, Philippines - Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman yesterday said the benefits of the proposed P2-trillion national budget for 2013 can only be fully realized if the government will enact the Reproductive Health (RH) bill as the country’s growing population continues to eat up scarce public resources. Lagman, one of the principal authors of the measure, issued the statement as the House of Representatives was in the thick of plenary and committee deliberations on the RH bill and the proposed national budget. “The affinity between the RH bill and the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) is too reasonably intertwined to be overlooked,” he said. While the proposed national budget for next year has increased to P2.006 trillion, no amount of augmentation will be adequate if Filipino couples, parents and women are not empowered to freely and responsibly determine the number and spacing of their children through legal, medically-safe and effective family planning methods of their choice, the lawmaker stressed. Lagman added that government appropriations are eroded by population growth rate and consequently, both the budget and RH bills must be prioritized for passage. He said no less than President Aquino expressed apprehension that the government’s great strides in health and education will be negated if the population problem is not addressed with the enactment of a responsible parenthood measure, “which is akin to the RH bill.” RH BILL’S HOUSE JUDGMENT DAY - AUGUST 7 BY ANDREO CALONZO, GMA NEWS July 25, 2012 6:54pm The leadership of the House of Representatives on Wednesday set a date for their final determination on the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill - August 7.The date was decided on after a caucus on Wednesday afternoon, attended by both advocates and

critics of the measure.“We have already set na August 7, at which time a motion to terminate the debate will be made. At least we gave both sides time to marshal their people,” House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II told reporters after the caucus.He added that anti-RH bill lawmakers wanted to continue debates on the measure. But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. was determined to push for a vote to terminate the period of interpellation.“The mere fact that we have been debating this for more than one-and-ahalf years, the mere fact that a House member is allowed to interpellate for more than three hours, by what stretch of the imagination can you say that this was railroaded?” Gonzales said.The House majority leader said the vote on the RH bill two weeks from now “will be an indication of the stand of the members.” Only until August The RH bill, formally known as House Bill 4244, was identified by President Benigno Aquino III as priority legislation. It endorses the use of both natural and artificial modes of family planning.The bill is being opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, which promotes only natural family planning methods.Gonzales said that the House “realistically” has only until August to approve the bill. He said he expects House members to be busy with budget deliberations and preparations for the 2013 elections by September“Ang sinasabi ko sa kanila, ang nakikita kong window is August. After August nito, mahihirapan na tayo,” he said.During the start of the third regular session on Monday, Belmonte had asked his colleagues to put the RH bill to a vote as the measure has been thoroughly discussed at the plenary. Last Monday, Aquino also told Congress during his third State of the Nation Address that “responsible parenthood” is the answer to some of the country’s education woes. This statement was met with loud applause from lawmakers who support the RH bill. — DVM, GMA News RH bill’s House judgment day - August 7 BY ANDREO CALONZO, GMA NEWS July 25, 2012 6:54pm The leadership of the House of Representatives on Wednesday set a date for their final determination on the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill - August 7.The date was decided on after a caucus on Wednesday afternoon, attended by both advocates and critics of the measure.We have already set na August 7, at which time a motion to terminate the debate will be made. At least we gave both sides time to marshal their people,” House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II told reporters after the caucus.He added that anti-RH bill lawmakers wanted to continue debates on the measure. But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. was determined to push for a vote to terminate the period of interpellation.“The mere fact that we have been debating this for more than one-and-ahalf years, the mere fact that a House member is allowed to interpellate for more than three hours, by what stretch of the imagination can you say that this was railroaded?” Gonzales said.The House majority leader said the vote on the RH bill two weeks from now “will be an indication of the stand of the members.” Only until AugustThe RH bill, formally known as House Bill 4244, was identified by President Benigno Aquino III as priority legislation. It endorses the use of both natural

and artificial modes of family planning.The bill is being opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, which promotes only natural family planning methods.Gonzales said that the House “realistically” has only until August to approve the bill. He said he expects House members to be busy with budget deliberations and preparations for the 2013 elections by September“Ang sinasabi ko sa kanila, ang nakikita kong window is August. After August nito, mahihirapan na tayo,” he said.During the start of the third regular session on Monday, Belmonte had asked his colleagues to put the RH bill to a vote as the measure has been thoroughly discussed at the plenary. Last Monday, Aquino also told Congress during his third State of the Nation Address that “responsible parenthood” is the answer to some of the country’s education woes. Palace: No backing down on Reproductive Health bill MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang declared yesterday it would not back down on its position to have the bill on responsible parenthood and reproductive health passed by Congress despite a rally against it led by Catholic bishops. At the same time, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office chief Manuel Mamba and deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte stressed the issue should not be seen as a political one. Some quarters believe the issue is pitting the Aquino administration against the Catholic Church and former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Mamba said the unpopularity of Arroyo might actually harm the bishops’ moves to oppose the passage of the RH bill. Mamba also shrugged off concerns that the rally at the EDSA shrine yesterday would affect the votes of lawmakers. Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Gregorio Honasan attended the prayer rally. “Of course, they are very adamant or very insistent on their stand but I think we still have a majority of the senators supporting the bill,” he said, reacting to the presence of the senators at the rally. “For us the congressmen have decided. The important thing is for them to come (on Aug. 7) and vote. Majority of those we have talked with are supporting the bill overwhelmingly. That is why what we want is to end the debates and we go into voting so we will get into the period of amendments and then ultimately, reach the second reading and have this approved,” Mamba said over radio dzRB. Mamba said those opposing the bill were working to stall its passage, “at the same time bring it as close to the elections so that politicians will be more afraid” to take position. “But in our view, with many lawmakers (I spoke with) they are really supporting this bill at this point in time,” Mamba said. Mamba said that in more than a decade of discussions on the measure, anti-RH lawmakers had even resorted to repeatedly questioning the quorum just to stall the measure’s passage.

“Something like that happened (question on quorum). And it is more of stalling and not taking into consideration the merits of the bill. So hopefully on Tuesday this can be put to a vote and we will see who really are supporting this,” Mamba said. He said that although anti-RH advocates were getting support, the administration is confident that more congressmen would turn up to voice their support for the measure. He claimed that some priests have even expressed support for the measure. “I talked to a lot of friends who are priests and religious people and they are supportive of the bill but they don’t want to say it because the Church hierarchy is really anti-RH. But the truth is even the young priests, most of them are also supportive of the bill,” Mamba said. He also said support for the measure is unlikely to imperil any politician’s chances in the elections, adding “this is a very popular measure, as far as our people our concerned.” “So I honestly believe that if congressmen attend the (voting on Monday), we will have an overwhelming support of the bill,” Mamba said. He lamented what he called misinformation, particularly from spokespersons who were clueless about the issue. “That’s why sometimes, we do not know who are really telling them to go into an offensive, hitting the bill. But if you hear it even over the radio, you can see that their arguments were…beyond the merits of the bill already. It’s really more of the misinformation that they got,” Mamba said. “But as far as members of our Congress are concerned, this has been debated for almost 10 years now. In fact, you will already get irritated because the interpellation are just being repeated…it will never end,” Mamba said. “From the very start, because it’s the leadership who are really opposing it, that’s why some senators are complaining. But we feel that if this is passed on second reading at the House…Senate will also be prodded to put it to vote and ultimately, in my view, the Senate will follow,” Mamba said. Name pro-abortion groups Mamba also said it would be up to Sotto to name the individual and groups pushing for the legalization of abortion in the RH bill. “In any measure there are the pros and the antis, and we have always been encouraging them to come out also. But in the long run, our Congress people will have to talk of the merits and demerits of the bill,” he said. “And it’s not easy to fool those who will vote on this because they are our representatives and we feel that they have enough knowledge to really go to the merits of the bill,” he added. “Let’s give our people choices on what to do about (their families),” Mamba said. Asked about Arroyo being anti-RH, Mamba said this should not be politicized because “really the former president is very unpopular at this point in time” and “in fact, I think, that will even worsen their chances if that is the case.” “For us, we don’t want to politicize it. We just talk of the merits,” he said.

Valte, for her part, said the position of President Aquino and his administration was not plucked out of thin air, even as she urged the public to study the matter closely. “There are some who are trying to make this political. Again, let’s concentrate on the issues and let’s focus on the issues,” Valte said. Proof of support The principal author of the RH bill, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, said the low turnout at the rally should confirm overwhelming public support for the measure. “That is definitely not massive,” Lagman said in a telephone interview, referring to the low turnout at the prayer rally. “That (prayer rally) was just an instant replay of all the repetitive statements that the congressional allies of the clergy have been saying in the debates. The only difference is that in the House there are debates, theirs is only soliloquy,” he said He said the better gauge of the people’s support for the measure is the “empirical data of surveys after surveys that showed that an overwhelming majority of Filipinos favor family planning and the use of government resources for reproductive health and purchase non-abortive contraceptives.” Sen. Pia Cayetano said there’s no telling if the rally would influence lawmakers when they vote on the measure on Tuesday. Cayetano and Sen. Miriam Santiago are the main authors of the RH bill in the Senate. In a feature on the RH bill presented by BBC News television, Santiago pointed out that the bill only aims to provide all Filipinos with all the necessary information and access to the various methods of family planning. “That’s all that it says and yet in this benighted country, as if we’re living in the middle ages, that is considered heresy. Why is there so much opposition to information? We just want the poor Filipino woman to know what are the ways of family planning. If she wants to reject all of them, that’s fine, there’s no compulsion,” Santiago said. Santiago argued that the claims of the Church are false because the bill does not promote abortion. “There is absolutely no connection between contraception, on the one hand, and abortion on the other hand. Contraception means the use of a barrier so that the eggs and the sperm never meet. If they never meet, you can never get pregnant, you can never have fertilization,” Santiago said. “It has absolutely no relation to reality. These bishops have never been married. They don’t realize what the sexual urges are capable of doing and to claim exclusivity or a monopoly of knowledge is always a dangerous situation,” she added. Santiago pointed out that 11 mothers die from pregnancy and childbirth complications in the country every day because of the lack of information and access to reproductive health care. “This means that every year some 3,000 to 5,000 Filipinas die simply because they do not know about reproductive health methods or do not have access to facilities,” Santiago said.

She warned her colleagues in Congress about the consequences of not passing the RH bill, not only on the health of the poor mothers, but also on the image of the country in the international community. “First, we will be the joke of the international community, in addition, the Philippines will sound very much like it’s still in the dark ages,” Santiago said. New warning The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), meanwhile, has expressed alarm over the increasing maternal mortality rate in the country, with young and poor women as primary victims. “It is very concerning for your rates to be increasing. Even in Afghanistan, the rates of maternal deaths are decreasing,” UNFPA Country Representative Ugochi Daniels said last Friday. The 2011 Family Health Survey showed that the country’s maternal mortality rate went up to 221 deaths per 100,000 live births from 2006 to 2010, from 162 deaths per 100,000 live births from 2000 to 2005. Daniels noted the increase is “certainly alarming” because it is a reflection of the “inactions with regards to ensuring all women have access” to information and reproductive health services. “What is the impact? The impact we know comes within the lives of the women and these are preventable deaths. I think we’ve gone from 11 (maternal deaths) a day to between 14 and 15 a day now. And unfortunately, most of these are poor women,” she added. In the Philippines, she explained that women “in higher economic roots get to have the number of children that they want to have, which is usually two or three. Poor women, on the other hand, bear more than the children that they actually want to have.” Ugochi, along with World Health Organization Country Representative Dr. Soe Nyunt-U and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, is pushing for the passage of the RH Bill. Also voicing support for the measure is United Nations Children’s Fund Country Representative Vanessa Tobin. “It is not possible to over emphasize what is the urgency around us. For us, we are trying to see whatever it is that we can do to support this from the point of view of good evidence, from the point of view of what the data in the Philippines is saying,” Daniels maintained. With Paolo Romero, Marvin Sy, Sheila Crisostomo SOTTO SAYS FIGHT VS RH BILL VERY PERSONAL Manila, Philippines - Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III admitted yesterday that his fight against the proposed Reproductive Health (RH) bill is “very personal to him and is his mission from God.”

Sotto, who has long carried a “macho” image in the Senate, broke down in tears after he delivered the first part of his speech against the RH bill during the so-called turno en contra for the measure. Last week, Sotto said that he would reveal the significance of Aug. 13 to him and to his fight against the RH bill. It turned out that exactly 37 years ago yesterday, Vincent Paul, the only son of Sotto, died five months after he was born in 1975. He noted that the public knew of only four children that he and his wife, actress Helen Gamboa, sired since they got married in 1971. He recalled that soon after Gamboa gave birth to their eldest daughter Romina in 1973, she was advised by her doctors to take contraceptives so as not to disrupt her schedule in doing movies. However, the contraceptives did not work and Gamboa became pregnant with their first son. According to Sotto, the weak heart of his son led to the need for regular blood transfusions, which went on until his death five months later. Sotto said that his son never left the hospital during the entire five months of his life and he made it a point to visit him every day. He noted that two of his colleagues, Senators Manuel Lapid and Pia Cayetano, both lost children just like he did. During his interpellation on the RH bill, Lapid said his wife also used contraceptives but still got pregnant. Lapid said that his baby was born with a heart defect and that he was convinced the use of contraceptives by his wife led to that condition. He lost his child nine years later. In the case of Cayetano, she lost her son Gabriel nine months after he was born due to a rare congenital condition. “It is sad to hear this from them but the truth is, I even envy them because they got to hold their children,” Sotto said. “I was not able to hold my son in those five months. I got to hold him when he was dead already,” he added. Sotto said that he was convinced the use of contraceptives by his wife led to the death of his only son and that is why his campaign against the RH bill is very personal to him. “At that time I asked God why this happened to me. I badly wanted a son, why did you take him away from me? Thirty-seven years later, the Lord gave me his answer, it is my mission to stop this bill (from being approved),” Sotto said. He ended up sobbing after his speech and was comforted by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Ramon Revilla. Cayetano, one of the principal authors and sponsors of the RH bill, was also seen talking to Sotto while the session was suspended.

Sotto and Cayetano have been at odds over the RH bill, with the latter accusing him on a number of occasions of delaying the progress of the measure. In fact, before Sotto started his presentation, he engaged Cayetano and her co-sponsor Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago in a minor exchange on the procedure for the start of the turno en contra and stated clearly that they should not worry about his presentation being a source of delay again. He cited several international and local studies, which showed that life begins at fertilization and as such the use of anything that prevents the fertilized ovum from being implanted in the uterus is already considered abortive. He said many of the contraceptives are even harmful to those who use them because of a number of side effects and even carcinogenic properties. For the pill, Sotto cited the following listed major adverse effects: breast cancer, cervical cancer, liver cancer, premature hypertension and coronary artery disease resulting in heart attacks and strokes, thromboembolism/pulmonary embolism. Other adverse effects are decreased libido, infertility, leg cramps, gallstone formation, nausea and bloatedness. In the case of IUDs, he said that side effects include cramps, bleeding between periods, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and tear or hole in the uterus. “Given all these harmful effects to women, are we going to allow our government to spend billions of money to purchase condoms, pills and IUDs for the sake of what they call reproductive health?” Sotto said. “This is not the solution to their claim that 11 mothers die every day, if it is true that 11 mothers die every day. If the RH bill is approved, most likely more than 11 mothers will die every day. And I thought the RH bill is for our women,” he added. Population, poverty, politics and RH bill The population issue has long been dead and buried in developed and most developing countries, including historically Catholic countries. That it continues to be debated heatedly in our country merely testifies to the lack of progress in policy and action. The Catholic Church hierarchy has maintained its traditional stance against modern family planning (FP) methods, particularly modern (also referred to as “artificial”) contraceptives. On the other hand, the State acknowledges the difficulties posed for development by rapid population growth, especially among the poorest Filipinos. But it has been immobilized from effectively addressing the issue by the Catholic hierarchy’s hard-line position, as well as the tendency of some politicians to cater to the demands of wellorganized and impassioned single-issue groups for the sake of expediency.

Caught between a hard Church and a soft State are the overwhelming majority of Filipinos who affirm the importance of helping women and couples control the size of their families and the responsibility of the government to provide budgetary support for modern FP services. Renewed impetus to the debate has been given by the public and political interest in the decade-and-a-half old bill on “Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development” (RH bill, for short). Unfortunately, serious discussion has been hampered by the lack of reliable information and the proclivity of some parties in the debate to use epithets that label the bill as “proabortion,” “antilife” and “immoral.” There were a few aspects of the bill to which some groups have expressed objections, which the latest version has already addressed. In any case, the main thrust of the bill— “enabl(ing) couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information and means to carry out their decisions”—is something we strongly and unequivocally support. In what follows, we explain why. Real score The experience from across Asia indicates that population policy cum governmentfunded FP program has been a critical complement to sound economic policy and poverty reduction. Moreover, the weaker the state’s ability to tax and mobilize resources (including spending on the right priorities) is, the greater the negative impact on economic development of a rapidly growing population, which in every developing country is largely accounted for by the least educated and poorest segments of the population. Owing to the lack of a clear population policy (RH/FP programs) besides just modest economic growth since the 1970s, our country sadly has fallen well behind its original Asean neighbors (Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia) in terms of both demographic and economic indicators. (See Table 1.) Sadder still is the prospect that unless the RH (or responsible parenthood) bill is passed in Congress and swiftly implemented, our country will likely be overtaken even by its latecomer Asean neighbors (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar) in a few years time. At the micro level, large family size is closely associated with poverty incidence, as consistently borne out by household survey data over time. In short, poor families are heavily burdened when they end up with more children than they want.

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