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RH bill advocates fight on despite legislative roadblocks

Around 400 students from leading universities and colleges in Metro Manila held last November 14 a demonstration dubbed “Busina Para sa RH” (“Blow Your Horn for RH”) in support of the reproductive health bill. The pro-RH activists converged in Katipunan Ave., along the gates of Ateneo de Manila University, at 6 PM – to coincide with the opening of the legislative sessions in both Houses of Congress for that day.

After the short program, the protesters marched toward the House of Representatives. The participants dyed their hairs purple to show their “solidarity and commitment” in campaigning to push Congress to vote on the RH Bill. Last week, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales, Jr. (Lone district, Mandaluyong) announced that the solons would vote on the measure by June next year, instead of December this year, since “at least 20 congressmen are still lined up for interpellations.”

RH bill advocates organized the "Busina Para sa RH" last November 15 (photo courtesy of Ms Chi Laigo Vallido)

Gibby Gorres, national secretary general of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, stressed that the support of the youth for the RH bill is important since the sector “comprise 30% of the country’s population,” a fact that has made them a “driving force in elections and campaigns.” He also warned lawmakers who are against the said bill: “Young people are a force to reckon with in the 2013 elections.”

Ha also urged the youth to get involved in the campaign, saying: “Young people should demand that information and services that allow them to practice their sexuality responsibly, such as the comprehensive sexuality education, be made available to them.” An article in the Jakarta Globe published last November 7 noted that “ignorance and poverty, which cause large numbers of children to drop out of school, are the main drivers of persistently high rates of teenage pregnancies in the Philippines.”

In response to this pronouncement, RH advocates launched an “Occupy Wall Street”-inspired protest right in the South Gate of the Batasan Complex beginning last November 21. Dr. Junice Melgar, the movement’s chief coordinator, told GMA News in an interview: “The lawmakers can’t keep interpellating ‘til kingdom come. ‘Wag nilang patayin ang RH bill dahil sa delay.” (They should not kill the RH bill through delays.)

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10 thoughts on “RH bill advocates fight on despite legislative roadblocks”

  1. Sony Fugaban says:

    I’m pro RH Bill. That’s all!

    1. markpere2010 says:

      Me, too. Sir, I’ll soon be writing about the Occupy for RH event last night.

  2. Mr. Curiosity says:

    I am against RH Bill. But not because of moralistic grounds but on financial grounds. I think what many people forget is that we do not have a balanced budget – we have so much debt. To take on a legislation like this, along with the huge possibility of it not being properly implemented, and the doors for corruption that it opens. is just billions of pesos worth of gamble we cannot take. I wrote a satiric entry about it http://bolderviews.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/why-the-reproductive-health-bill-should-be-passed-in-the-philippines/

    1. markpere2010 says:

      But it’s hard to deny the realities on the ground:
      1) high maternal mortality rate
      2) high rate of premarital pregnancies
      3) inadequacy of sex education among the youth
      4) no proper health care for those who performed abortion
      Of course, the RH bill is not a cure all solution to this, but you cannot deny that it will help. *I have written quite a lot about this subject on this blog.*

      1. Mr. Curiosity says:

        I agree that the government needs to address both number 1 and number 3. But a government with trillions of foreign debt has no business legislating numbers 2 and 4. The argument here is not about whether these problems should be addressed or not – of course they should be. But the question is, do we really trust the government to take on a national issue (that mostly deal with personal choices) that will cost taxpayers billions of pesos? I think many people brush off this point or so simply make it a sidebar but this is the main issue. We do not have enough budget to sustain our current projects. This is why PhilHealth is going to increase OFW payment by 150% and BIR wants to tax government contributions by 22%. Do we really want to give more money to a government that does not know how to live within its means to take on a personal issue? When was the last time the government managed the taxpayers’ money properly? The thing is, RH Bill is another way of expanding government jurisdiction that will justify another increase in taxes. Aren’t you tired of spending only what you earn but your government doesn’t? RH Bill is a great idea for an ideal government. This is not the time for us to be gambling billions of pesos on a legislation that may or may not be effective on an issue that the government should not be meddling with.

      2. markpere2010 says:

        Obviously, the concerns you raised about government spending is a valid one. I hope RH bill advocates would be able to come up with financial estimates or projections about the costs of implementing the requirements set by the bill. The government is not legislating the answer to number two. That would be addressed by including reproductive health education in the school curriculum.
        The issue of abortion is one thing I hope I can expound on a future post.

        1. Mr. Curiosity says:

          I believe in a small fiscally conservative government. By that, I mean it is better if they pass laws that does not incur costs. For example, single people without any dependents should get a higher tax break than those with more dependents. They should pass legislation along those lines – encouraging less children and discouraging more by incentives and burdens, respectively.

      3. markpere2010 says:

        Nice idea. I agree with you on that. Maybe some of our lawmakers can think of crafting a bill that goes with that. The debate in government spending here in the Philippines hasn’t reached the level the topic has attained in US. Hope it will someday.

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