MANILA, Philippines – It’s not about political pressure. It’s about the facts.
An official of the World Health Organization (WHO) belied statements of critics of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill that the measure should not be passed just because of pressure from international bodies.
WHO Country Representative to the Philippines Dr Soe Nyunt-U reiterated the need to pass the RH bill, saying it is an issue of reproductive health and responsible parenthood, and “should not be misused as a political tool.”
“We are organizations that do not take sides. What we want to do is to provide the basic facts and figures about the issues and considerations,” Soe told select media representatives on Friday, August 3.
Debates on the RH bill again heat up ahead of a crucial vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, August 7. The vote will determine whether the debates in Congress will be prolonged or the measure will finally enter the period of amendments.
Ugochi Daniels, United Nations Population Fund Agency country representative, said passing the RH bill will help empower couples, especially poor ones, to decide on the size of their families.
“The women in the higher economic group are having the number of children that they want to have which is two or 3, but women in the poor group, they are having more than they want to have because they are poor and don’t have access to services and information.”
For the youth, too
Aside from empowering women, Daniels said the RH bill will also help educate the youth.
“We are failing our young people in the Philippines. There is no policy. There are no services for young people and there is no formal education on sexuality, etc. and the consequence is the increase in maternal deaths and the increase in the number of young women having kids.”
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS or UNAIDS also stressed the importance of the RH bill for the youth.
UNAIDS Country Coordinator Teresita Bagasao said that over 90% of new HIV infections in the Philippines is sexually transmitted through unprotected sex.
“Those who are getting infected are getting younger and it speaks of the lack of access to adequate information that will equip our young men and women with information and life skills.”
With strong opposition from Catholic bishops, the RH bill has been languishing in the Philippine Congress for about 17 years now.
This week, Catholic bishops said they have mustered 140 votes in the House to junk the measure. Supporters of the bill, however, debunked the claim and said 143 lawmakers will vote for the RH bill next week.
RH advocates are hopeful that with the support of President Benigno Aquino III, the bill will finally be passed soon. – Rappler.com