Reproductive health backers up despite bishops’ threats

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — ADVOCATES of the reproductive health bill hail DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian and Cebu Mayor Tomas Osmeña for their public announcement of support for reproductive health.

“This is what public service should be. Despite the open threats of political backlash from Catholic Bishops, Cabral, Gatchalian and Osmeña are being true to their avowed task and standing up for what the people actually need,” Romeo Dongeto, deputy executive director of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD), said.

In an interview, Cabral blamed the government’s poor population management for the high hunger rate of the Filipinos, going as far as saying that she was ready to lose her job as she stands by what she believes in.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview, Gatchalian announced his support for reproductive health by issuing an executive order reorganizing the population council of Valenzuela. Gatchalian said that the city’s health workers are ready to give mothers adequate and correct information on their right to have safer pregnancies and on reproductive health services.

In Cebu, Osmeña announced over the weekend that he will not let religion dictate him on his reproductive health programs.

In other areas of the country, more and more public officials are coming up with their reproductive health ordinances.

In Luzon, Quezon City, Antipolo City, Olongapo City, the provinces of Aurora, Ifugao, Mt. Province, and the municipalities of Tinoc, Sagada, Lagawe, Asipulo, Bontoc and Paracelis have passed their own reproductive health ordinances. In the Visayas region, the municipalities of Talibon, Ubay and Carmen of Bohol province, and the municipalities of Llorente and Maydolong of Eastern Samar have also enacted their own RH ordinances. In Mindanao, General Santos City, the provinces of Sulu and Lanao del Sur, and the municipalities of Lebak and Kapatagan have also passed their RH ordinances.

“A reproductive health policy is a practical solution to reduce the high incidence of maternal and infant mortality. This is why policymakers at the local level are starting to enact their own policies.” Rene Llorin of the Local Legislators’ League on Population, Health, Environment and Development (3LPHED) secretariat said.

The 3LPHED is composed of local legislators from all over the country advocating for sound policies to address population, health and environment concerns.

“The ongoing debate has educated policymakers in the LGUs on the bill more than anything. Even without any intervention or direct advocacy coming from us, many of them have already decided that there really is a need for a reproductive health policy, especially in the poorest regions,” Llorin adds.