SWS Paranaque survey: A sign from the Heavens?

Last March 4, the Forum for Population and Development (The Forum) had publicized its second commissioned survey, through the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

Last December, The Forum commissioned its first local survey in six districts of Manila, the city wherein the reproductive health (RH) advocates had gone underground due to the former Mayor Lito Atienza’s Executive Order No. 003, though implicitly, which bans the provision of artificial contraceptive goods and performing surgical contraception procedures in almost all clinics and hospitals run by the City Government.

The survey, which results are publicized last February 18 at the 23rd Usapang Population & Development (PopDev), had an amazing result, 7 out of 10 Manileños and Manileñas want the controversial RH Bill (House Bill No. 5043 or the to be passed.

The second SWS survey on RH was done in Parañaque City, where the two anti-RH legislators have powers, namely Reps. Roilo Golez and Eduardo Zialcita.

With an astounding result, the RH advocates hail the Parañaque survey as a confirmation of the desire of the Filipino people to have a law passed, regarding the protection and promotion of RH rights of the Filipino, especially women. These rights include the access to modern contraceptive methods and medical help whenever a woman is suffering from infections due to miscarriage.

Mr. Benjamin De Leon, president of The Forum said in his speech during the presentation of the survey results, “The Filipino people deserve nothing less. So we urge our respective congressmen to listen to the true voice of the people and not be a mere self-serving politician.”

A peep on the SWS February 2009 Special Survey in Parañaque City

The survey was conducted last February 14 to 17, with 600 respondents, 300 on each district, with a margin of error of ± 4. The margin of error is the percentage, if there is any, of inaccuracy of the survey.

All of the respondents are in their reproductive ages, 15-54 years for men and 15 to 49 years for women. Forty-one percent (41%) of men and women of reproductive are in District 1, Golez’s district and the remaining 59% are in Zialcita’s district.

More than half or 52% of the respondents are married; 29% have no spouse or partner (never married); and three percent (3%) are currently single as a result of being a widow/widower or separated/divorced and 15% have a partner.

Majority of the respondents belong to masa: 73% belong to class “D” or just on the poverty line, while 19% of the respondents belong to “walang-wala” or the class E. The rest belongs to classes A, B and C.

Based on religious membership, 91% of the respondents said that they are “active” Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholic Church is vehemently opposing the passage of the bill and urges the Catholic faithful to fight the Lagman bill which promotes anti-family and anti-life stance on the issue of RH rights.

The respondents belong to the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ or the INC) constituted 2.3% of the respondents. The remaining respondents are either members of Ang Dating Daan (or the Members of the Church of God, International), Protestant churches, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church or Aglipayans). Only a small portion of the respondents belong to Islam, 0.5%.

Most of the respondents are educated: 54% had finished their secondary schooling and had a few years in college; 14% had college education or higher degree of learning; 14% finished their elementary schooling; and only three percent (3%) had some elementary education.

The majority of the surveyed have television has their primary source of news and other information, constituting 75% of the respondents. This was followed by 19% who had radio as their news source and 18%, having the newspaper (tabloids or broadsheets) as their news companion.

Correlation between population growth and poverty incidence

When asked about their economic conditions, 49% of the families surveyed said that they are poor while those who considered themselves not poor and on the line constitute the 34% and 16%, respectively.

Connecting population growth and poverty incidence, 71% of the respondents agreed that there is a direct connection between poverty and a big population of the country.

On the other hand, 65% of the respondents believe that population growth worsens environmental degradation.

Sixty-six percent (66%) believe that rapid population growth slows down economic growth while 64% believe that there is a population growth problem in the country. Meanwhile, 60% of the respondents said, there is a population growth problem in their city.

They want improved maternal and child care services, birth spacing

According to the survey, 94% want further improvement of the health center facilities and services in Parañaque.

For health considerations, 93% of the women in Parañaque agree limiting the number of children is beneficial to women’s and children’s health while 90% say, that spacing of birth by three (3) years or more is also good for the mother’s and baby’s health.
As part of the bettering of the RH services in the city, 89% of the respondents agree that there should be more doctors, nurses and midwives providing essential RH services such as Pap smear, pre-natal and post natal checkups, and even family planning services.

With more families are poor in Parañaque, 87% want the government to provide free supplies or service to the poor who wish to use any family planning method.

The SWS Parañaque City survey: Is God that is really speaking?

Calling the survey a better version of the 2008 National Survey on RH and the recent Manila survey, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said, the Roman Catholic Church should heed to the voice of the people.

He said, with the results of the survey in Parañaque, it is clear that the Filipino people want the enactment of the law with a critical immediacy. Because of this, the legislator from Albay said, that upon the resumption of the regular session of the Congress after the Lent, he will ask the leadership of the Congress to expedite the legislation of his RH bill.

With the overwhelming result of the Parañaque survey, Elizabeth Ongsioco, secretary-general of the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network, that the bill must be passed on or before March 8, in the celebration of the International Women’s Day.

However, since it is already Lenten break, Ongsioco said that the debate—and fight—will continue on the opening of the 14th regular session of the Congress on April 14.

“But we are very positive that, with only a few signatures left in the Congress and only 4 in the Senate, the RH bill will be enacted into law,” said Ongsioco in an interview.

Law-making is not a matter of ethics

The RCC hierarchy had launched, since last year, a massive campaign against the Lagman bill. The Church had used the Humanae Vitae, the 40-year old Encyclical of the late Pope Paul VI, as a tool to convince the Catholic faithful not to support the passage of the House Bill No. 5043 for it’s said to be anti-family and anti-morality.

As a part of the campaign, the Church had a signature campaign, which results remain unpublicized to date.

However, despite Church’s stance, 66% of the Parañaque residents said—or rather believe—that the Church is interfering on State affairs, especially on the issue of the RH bill.

Though, it is good to note that the agreement on this issue is much higher on the respondents belonging to upper classes rather than the lower classes (to see the full presentation of the SWS survey, go to http://www.sws.org.ph/).

Lagman, in connection with the survey, also reported to media of how the Magna Carta for Women has been doing in the august body of the Congress.

He said, that the provision which says that family planning should include values was removed, for he said, lawmaking is not a matter of ethics.

“We are just saying that [family planning methods] should be medically safe, it should be legal, it should be responsible and it must be effective. But nothing of being ethical,” he explained.

He also outright attacked Humanae Vitae, saying that the Encyclical is not the opinion of the majority but only of the few in Vatican.

“It is an Orthodox doctrine that the purpose of marriage and sex if for procreation. But the situation is now different. And Humanae Vitae, according to the, then Vatican spokesperson, was a minority report. It is not a doctrinal pronouncement of the Roman Catholic Church. So, the priests must not impose the Humanae Vitae to the majority, for it is only a minority report,” he said.

He also said, that the natural family planning method which the Church is promoting as the only means of family planning, is not effective.

Furthermore, Ongsioco said that the RH bill, that they are pushing to be legislated, is not an anti-fertility bill, as the RCC wants to convey.

“You cannot legislate against fertility! It’s impossible,” says Ongsioco in an interview.

Church stance remains firm

Though the passage of the bill seems to be inevitable, the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life executive secretary, Rev. Fr. Melvin Castro, told this reporter in a text message, that the Church remains firm on its anti-RH passage advocacy.

““Well, one, the survey is commissioned by a pro-RH organization. And secondly, we can never consider moral issues on popularity alone,” Fr. Castro explained.

When told about the status of the RHB in the Senate, as Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) Executive Director Ramon San Pascual relayed to this reporter that only four (4) signatures are needed to have the Committee Report to be released, Fr. Castro just said, the PLCPD is the one drafting the RHB.

However, on what Lagman said about the signature campaign organized by the Church on the non-passage of the RHB, that it is not garnering that much support and that is the very reason that the Church has not come up yet with the results, Fr. Castro said, they will just surprise them, Cong. Lagman and other pro-RH bill of how many signatures that they have.

They will publicize them, on the right time, he said.

A look at the Humane Vitae

The Humanae Vitae or the Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Paul VI on the Regulation of Birth was released on July 25, 1968.

It affirms the theological and traditional teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on the issues of contraception as a whole, giving emphasis to the natural method of contraception and the prohibition of the use artificial methods, which is considered opposed to the Natural Law.

However, according to The Catholic Encyclopedia, an encyclical (from the Greek egkyklios, kyklos meaning a circle) is nothing more than a circular letter. In modern times, usage has confined the term almost exclusively to certain papal documents which differ in their technical form from the ordinary style of either Bulls or Briefs, and which in their superscription are explicitly addressed to the patriarchs, primates, archbishops, and bishops of the Universal Church in communion with the Apostolic See.

The Encyclopedia further explained, “From the nature of the case encyclicals addressed to the bishops of the world are generally concerned with matters which affect the welfare of the Church at large. They condemn some prevalent form of error, point out dangers which threaten faith or morals, exhort the faithful to constancy, or prescribe remedies for evils foreseen or already existent.”

However, the Encyclopedia furthered, as for the binding force of these documents it is generally admitted that the mere fact that the Pope should have given to any of his utterances the form of an encyclical does not necessarily constitute it an ex-cathedra pronouncement and invest it with infallible authority.

“The degree in which the infallible Magisterium of the Holy See is committed must be judged from the circumstances, and from the language used in the particular case. In the early centuries the term encyclical was applied, not only to papal letters, but to certain letters emanating from bishops or archbishops and directed to their own flocks or to other bishops,” the Encyclopedia said. (From: http://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=4275) (Noel Sales Barcelona, Contributor for Philippines Today)