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.”
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.)