MANILA, Philippines – Reproductive Health bill (RH bill) principal author Albay Rep Edcel Lagman on Wednesday, October 17, released to the media a new list of amendments to the controversial measure.
Lagman said the fresh set of amendments is a result of the latest round of consultations. It is meant “to address the objections, reservations and concerns of oppositors,” he said.
Lagman also maintained that all the amendments they introduced “do not dilute or destroy the essence of the original bill even as they accommodate the suggestions and concerns of well-meaning oppositors.”
Congress is currently on recess. House majority leader Neptali Gonzales said they will tackle the RH bill again when session resumes on November 5.
In a press statement, Lagman listed the amendments as the following:
1. The State guarantees public access to and relevant information and education on medically safe, legal, ethical, affordable, effective and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices and supplies which do not prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
2. The State shall likewise prioritize the needs of poor women and men in marginalized households as identified by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) and other government measures of identifying marginalization, who shall be voluntary beneficiaries of reproductive health care, services and supplies for free.
3. The State shall also provide funding support to promote modern-natural methods of family planning consistent with the needs of acceptors.
4. The State shall promote openness to life, provided that parents bring forth to the world only those children that they can raise in a truly humane way.
5. There shall be no demographic and population targets and the mitigation, promotion and/or stabilization of the population growth rate are incidental to the advancement of reproductive health and sustainable human development.
6. Family planning information and services shall include as a first priority making women of reproductive age fully aware of their respective fertility cycles.
7. The teaching of reproductive health and sexuality education shall be promoted and conducted with due deference to cultural, religious and ethical norms of various communities.
8. Flexibility in the teaching of reproductive health and sexuality education shall be accorded to sectarian schools within the provisions and parameters of the Section on age-appropriate mandatory reproductive health and sexuality education.
9. The FDA shall update the Philippine National Drug Formulary (PNDF) with respect to modern family planning products and supplies in accordance with standard medical practice.
The foregoing amendments are contained in the proposed substitute bill which was announced by Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales, Jr. in the plenary and distributed to all Members of the House.
First batch of amendments
1. Deletion of the provision on “Ideal Family Size” to assure critics that the bill does not impose a “two-child policy” like China’s “one-child policy”. The original version merely contemplates an ideal norm which is neither mandatory, compulsory nor punitive.
2. Deletion of the section on “Employer’s Responsibilities” to address concerns that a similar provision in Article 134 of the Labor Code is already adequate.
3. Deletion of the section on “Family Planning Supplies as Essential Medicines” to accommodate objections that such a prior classification cannot be made by law. In lieu of the protested provision, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with the determination of the safety, efficacy and classification of modern family planning products and supplies pursuant to existing law.
4. Deletion of the prohibited act on malicious disinformation in order to fully guarantee the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion.
5. Assurance of funding support to promote modern natural methods of family planning like the Billings, Sympto-Thermal and Standard Days methods.
6. Hospitals owned and operated by a religious group are given the option not to provide “a full range of modern family planning methods” in order to further guarantee religious freedom.
7. Imposition of penalties to pharmaceutical companies, whether domestic or multi-national, which collude with government officials and employees in the purchase, procurement and distribution of modern family planning supplies, products and devices, and/or contribute to partisan political activities, in order to disabuse the minds of critics that there is a pharmaceutical lobby for the enactment of the RH bill.
8. Deletion of the provision making the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as the mandatory source for the acquisition and operation of the Mobile Health Care Service vehicles to respect the differing views of Congresspersons.
9. Emphasis that the bill is not a population control measure.
10. Parents are given the option not to allow their minor children to attend reproductive health and sexuality education classes to accord respect to religious convictions and beliefs. – Rappler.com
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