Monthly Archives: September 2008

Diverse Constructs on the Passing of the Reproductive Health Bill

Right now the Philippine Congress is debating on the issues confronting the Reproductive Health Bill sponsored by Albay representative Edcel Lagman. House Bill 5043, or “An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development which requires a mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health education; the inclusion of  contraceptives in the purchase by state hospital of medicines and supplies; local governments’ employment of an adequate number of midwives or attendants for a ratio of one for every 150 deliveries per year; an emergency obstetric care maternal death review; and provision of mobile health care services.

 

The proposed law faces staunch opposition from Catholic Church groups and some 75 lawmakers in the House. 

 

Significance of the Bill

 

For those who are in favor of the passing of the bill on Reproductive Health consider the light of the following constructs as the factors for its passage.

 

High fertility rate and rapid population growth can be detrimental to the socio-economic development of the country.  There is a need to curve incidence of birth so as to peg the Philippine population to 86 million Filipinos for the sake of coping up with limited resources such as food, shelter, and basic social and health services.

 

It has been proven ever since on many studies that correlation between rapid population growth and poverty incidence do exist.  But advocates of population management however caution that poverty is actually an offshoot of bad governance and weak economic growth. It is only exacerbated by high fertility rate and rapid population growth.

 

Incidentally rapid population growth is the result of individual decisions. Combining all these individual decisions may result in rapid population growth which in turns affects investment in physical and human capital. It is expected that the government needs to spend a lot of funds on public and social services. Right now we have a problem on limited classrooms in our school system, a manifestation of poorly managed growth in the population. The absence of a population policy in the Philippines adds to the negative economic and development growth as indicative of low tax base and expenditure issues.   

The ultimate victims to overpopulation are the poor families who have more children than they can support. Data show in the 2003 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) that poverty incidence in families with nine or more children is pegged at 57 percent while it is only 10 percent to families with only one child.

 

Reasons for Killing the Bill

 

Contrary to the proponent and supporters of the bill, they want it “killed” the soonest so it will not prosper and be passed by Congress. Their negative view on the passage of the Bill is based on the following,

 

Life is sacred, human life and family values should be respected. There are those who believe that once the HB   812 Reproductive Health Care Act of 2003 once legislated will lead to anti-life laws such as euthanasia, abortion, two-child policy, and homosexuality.  Catholics are against the artificial method of birth control such as use of pills and condoms because clergies found it to be “abortificient” or tantamount to abortion. There is a need to protect the life of the unborn. Their constructs saddle primarily on promoting the sanctity of life and safeguarding the moral grounds of human existence. They believe that for as long as the family is still strong and the fundamental value of life is protected, there is no reason that families can not recover from the degrading conditions of poverty.

 

Unfortunately those who want to kill the Bill do not consider overpopulation as a problem. They may recognize economic problems, unity, good politics as essential but not high birth rate and high fertility rate. The population density is not even critical the way they look at 200 to 270 people per square kilometer. They contend that the Malthusian fear has been settled long ago and that it does not hold water anymore. There is no need to fear about scarcity of goods and resources since the society is already aided by technology and economic investments to survive.

 

It is in the context of belief of those who oppose the bill that the best form of birth regulation in both the Scriptures and reason is self-discipline. So why spend P2 billion in taxpayers’ money to buy contraceptives when all the couple should do is to practice self-discipline and natural method of birth control? Better this amount would go to education, livelihood and basic social services.

 

Some Critical Points to Consider

 

Population grows in geometric proportion while resources increase arithmetically. Population needs grows higher as the population increases in a manner that resources could hardly meet these needs. Our economy is not growing fast enough to draw resources needed by a growing population.

 

Likewise, there is also a danger of adopting the Western paradigm on ‘zero population growth’ as this will only lead to the irreversible scenario of a graying population that shall eventually “depletes their respective economies in heavy state subsidies.”

 

But it’s a fact also that our environment degenerates as a result of overpopulation and overproduction of goods to meet and sustain provision for population needs.

           

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Filed under government, Philippine government, politics, Population Control, Religion, Reproductive Health, United Nations

The Power of the President to Spend More

What will you do if you have an over-all savings of 106 billion from the 2007 government budget as a result of re-enacted budget? Critics to the President accused her administration of causing forced savings from the budgets of certain key departments in order to realign funds for pet projects that may possibly benefit her allies for their campaign funds for their campaign funds during the 2010 presidential election.

Is the allegation correct?  

As reported by Gemma Bagayaua posted in abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak allegations of forced savings “arose after lawmakers noticed a provision in the 2009 National Expenditure Program that shows that “Over-all Savings” for the year 2007 amounted to P106 billion, which included P29.9 billion in transfers from the budget of the Department of Education for that year. “

This prompted opposition congressman Teofisto Guingona III to say that, “budgets of certain departments in 2009 (as in 2007) may be deliberately bloated so that they can incur savings. Guingona said this will provide Malacañang with disposable funds that may be redirected to other agencies and may be used to advance political ambitions of certain individuals.” 

However Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya pointed out, “If we stepped on the gas then the P106 or so billion would have been added to the deficit posted that year. To call for the release of this money is to become an apostle of unmanageable deficits,” he said in defending. the amount posted under “Over-All Savings.” 

Further Andaya said that the “expenditure ceiling” for 2007 was P1.136 billion but only P1.012 billion in allotments was released. 

But the bureau director from the budget department who explained earlier to the ABS- CBN news correspondent about the bloated savings as a result of re-enacted budget insisted, that said amount could have been released since “there is no law that prevents the budget department from releasing all the new appropriations for the year, including the continuing appropriations from the previous year’s budgets.” 

Not Saving at the Expense of Social Service 

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya assured the public that the government is not saving at the expense of Social Services. Well and good, but again the question what will they do with the bloated savings of 106 billion from the 2007 government budget? 

There is a perception that the president will get more spending power with re-enacted budget. Prolonging budget deliberations does not in anyway hurt the president. In fact she will be assured of more funds to spend. And when she spends funds transferred to overall savings she spends it in any projects she wishes including those that benefit her allies. 

So there is no truth at all to the statement of Budget Secretary Andaya that the government is not saving at the expense of social services. In health services you could just imagine how many medicines to benefit the poor could be purchased with that savings, and how many school buildings could have been constructed to accommodate more pupils in the public schools, etc. 

As tax payers, it is my sovereign duty to demand the government to spend wisely the tax payers’ money for the benefit of the public, but not for their own political advantage.

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Filed under government, Philippine government, politics, Wealth, Poverty