POSITION PAPER IN SUPPORT OF SB 2378, “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health and Population and Development” The Philippine NGO Council on Population, Health and Welfare Inc. (PNGOC) a national umbrella organization with 95 member NGOs supports the passage of the bill filed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago which calls for the enactment of a law on reproductive health. The Philippines performance in meeting the MDGs has remained low in achieving the goals set by the United Nations. PNGOC believes that through the passage of the Reproductive Health bill it will give the Philippines a better chance of achieving its Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on reducing infant mortality, improving maternal health and eliminating hunger and poverty. PNGOC believes that the bill being sponsored by Senator Miriam Santiago adheres to the position of the government on responsible parenthood by providing Filipino people with necessary information that would be helpful in raising their families. Part of the role of the government is to assist couples in achieving their fertility goals in the same way that it has the responsibility to provide education, health and other social services. Responsible parenting is giving choices for couples to come up with a decision on when to have babies, the spacing of their children and all other concerns which can help plan a family. Giving the couples the right of informed choice can make a big difference. Let us not hamper a family’s future by not giving them all the necessary information and services needed in raising a family. Let’s help them build a happy family by providing access to all the information and services about it. Sexuality education is a must. HIV infections are on the rise. According to the Philippine HIV/AIDS Registry there are five new HIV cases per day. Having a RH bill can raise public awareness on the matter. Youth nowadays get their information through the mass media, through their friends, someone who is not reliable on the issue on sex. PNGOC knows that through the passage of an RH bill, our youth shall be taught ageappropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education by trained teachers in formal and nonformal educational system. On the matter on access to health care facilities, professionals and services, PNGOC believes that providing families and couple with adequate services and correct information on the ground can help prevent early pregnancies; unwanted pregnancies and abortion by helping reducing the number of abortions by providing access to information and services on modern contraceptive methods that in turn will reduce the number of unwanted and often aborted pregnancies in the country. PNGOC believes it is the role of the government to provide programs on reproductive health information and services, regardless of who sits as President, Cabinet or Local Government official. Having a legislated policy on RH can help our constituents in providing them complete, accurate and relevant information on Reproductive Health. It will also provide opportunity for young people to develop and understand their values, attitudes and beliefs about their sexuality. Furthermore, it will also help the young people develop relationships and harness their interpersonal skills and help the youth exercise their responsibility regarding sexual relationships, intercourse and the use of contraception and other sexual health measures. On the issue on Family Planning methods, the government should ensure access to the full range of modern (“artificial”) FP methods visàvis natural family planning (NFP) methods. Providing for the whole array of information and services on all FP methods can address the private and social costs of mistimed and unwanted pregnancies.
Lastly on its constitutionality, it is the governments mandate to provide RH services to all Filipino men and women. Our constitution regards health as a right and guarantees health programs to benefit all Filipinos specifically to address needs of those who have none. RH information and services are among those needed in the implementation of a successful comprehensive FP program. Philippine NGO Council will continue to promote to all its networks of NGOs, partner organizations and communities nationwide to support for a Reproductive Health Care Act.
We support SB 2378!
Dr. Eden Divinagracia, Executive Director Philippine NGOCouncil on Population, Health and Welfare, Inc. Tel Nos. 852-1898; 833-4067