Tag Archives: Family Planning

Avoiding Another Maguindanao Massacre- The Role of the Family

The home plays a very important role in the development of and individual to become a functional and law abiding citizen of his country and community. If we have a weak family, we have weak individuals, weak leaders, and weak government.

As observed, the main problem the country is facing today is not due to weak economy but weak spirituality. If our leaders are spiritually strong then we shall have an honest and transparent system of government. The greed and lust of power that transpire in our social system is but a product of a morally corrupted environment where the home or family did not perform well its duties and functions. What the children see at home is a reflection of what they do in their very own society.

The politically motivated massacre that happened last week in Maguindano which caused the lives of some 64 people mostly women and journalists is but a by product of unhealthy home environment. Apparently there is something wrong with the kind of family or home environment those people involved the alleged rape and massacre of women have been raised. Did their parents teach them how to respect life, not to harm people particularly women and children? Where they raised as responsible individuals who abhor violence and respect existing laws of the land?

Unfortunately dereliction basic parental duties to your offspring is costly not only to your family but to the government and the society as a whole. You may not know it but you have just created a human monster or a beast that may harm people and rub our government treasury of capital resources, etc. Further aggravating the problem of corruption in the government and all forms violence and crime in the society is what people experience and observe in the environment where they live. All forms of learning is observed, transferred, and perfected. This may also apply to the proliferation of vices and crime.

Politics and “warlordism” have generated a culture of violence where the only thing that matters is money and the barrel of the guns in resolving any conflict, disputes and some other issues. If you have political connection then you have gold, guns, and goons. You become untouchable and you are in control of everything in your territory. In a system like this it is no longer the government and laws that control people and the society but people with power, money, arms, and connection to the highest echelon of the government. The thing is- they are tolerated for whatever reason.

So it is easy to kill, to rape women, and shoot them in their private parts. Horrendous, only the beasts not human could do such a satanic act and crime. This is supposed to be a civilized world. Don’t parents tell their children not to lie, to steal, cheat, and harm others? Did not their church tell them that only the devil could harm unarmed human beings? In the Muslim tradition women are respected and not harmed; journalists are supposed to be spared; but this had happened already.

The passion for violence starts from the family. What children see from the father or elders is what they are going to be when they become old. Political leaders who are supposed to correct and prevent these acts through law enforcement fail to perform their duties either by neglect or simply tolerating it. Where did your parent go wrong?

We become unnecessarily poor because of graft and corruption, criminality, vices, immorality, and indolence. What has our leaders who promised reforms and progress accomplished over the years to correct this problem? Nothing is done much because our family system has done nothing too to improve the upbringing and disciplining of children so that they become useful and responsible citizens.

The cycle of violence and corruption shall continue for as long as the family does not really perform well its basic obligation and role as one of the most important units of the society.

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The Perceived Defeat of the Reproductive Health Bill, Could the Church Coerce Congress?

If we believe on what the  Roman Catholic church on Thursday that it has sufficient support in the Philippine congress to defeat a “controversial family planning bill promoting sex education and the use of contraceptives” then we expect chaos brought about by unabated increase of population in the country.

The bishops according to Maria Fenny Tatad, executive director of the church lobby group Bishops-Legislators Caucus of the Philippines, believe they have a number of congressmen in the House of Representatives who could block the passage of the Reproductive Health Care Act. Out of the 238 members of the House of Representatives only 99 congressmen do support the bill.

Only 99 members of the 238-member House of Representatives have openly said they will support the Reproductive Health Care Act, while the rest are expected to side with the church, Tatad said. Population control is a highly politicized issue in the Philippines, where more than 80 percent of the 90 million population are Catholics.

I am not sure how true is this claim but the Catholic church in the Philippines “wields considerable public influence, frowns on any artificial form of birth control and has been waging a high-profile campaign to block the passage of the bill, which is now before congress,” as circulated in the news. However recent surveys showed that most Catholics are in favor of family planning and sex education to be taught in the public school. What is the Catholic church trying to imply with this statement? Are the bishops giving the public the impression that the Catholic church maintains a strong influence in the House of Representatives? I don’t think the Catholic church has that control anymore on the people in so far as population issues are concerned. It is highly improbable for the Catholic church to make one politician lose during the next election just because he supported the Reproductive Health Bill. I still believe people vote with their conscience not on what the church says. So there is no basis of that fear for congressmen losing because the priests control the minds of their parishioners. 

Philippine Population Commission has always mentained the importance of curbing incidence of birth so as not to overpopulate the country. The Philippine population growth rate of 2.04 according to International aid agencies and economists is one of of Asia’s highest. But the Catholic church is against these International agencies supporting the Reproductive Health Bill that will curb rapid population growth but insures the health of women on reproductive ages.

Contrary to what the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life say, the Reproductive Health Bill which includes family planning program, sex education, and advice on birth control, may not necessarily immoral. It only enhances people perspectives on reproductive  health and propagate values on responsible parenthood. Liberal minded people these days may understand which is socially appropriate without necessarily being “immoral.”

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Majority of Filipino Catholics Support the Reproductive Health Bill

You may agree or disagree with me but news indicate that majority of the Filipinos are now supporting measures that control the swelling of the population and a law that promotes the reproductive health of women based on the result of the latest survey conducted by Social Weather Stations where 71 percent favor the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, and 76 percent are in favor of teaching sex education and family planning in public schools. 

The News: (From ABS-CBN news on line) 

Majority of Filipinos are in favor of  Reproductive Health Bill and Sex Education in Public Schools

Seventy-six percent of adult Filipinos want family planning education in the public schools while 71 percent favor passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, a survey by research firm Social Weather Stations said Thursday.  

In the survey conducted last September 24 to 27, 76 percent of 1,500 respondents agreed to the test statement “There should be a law that requires government to teach family planning to the youth” while 10 percent disagreed.  

Support for family planning education is high in all areas: agreement is 78% in Balance Luzon, 77% in the Visayas, 76% in Metro Manila, and 72% in Mindanao. It is also high across socioeconomic classes: 78% in class ABC, 78% in class D, and 71% among class E. 

Sex education in classrooms is one of the issues opposed by hardline Catholics in the proposed RH Bill. Under the proposed measure, sex education will be taught to students from Grade 5 to fourth year high school.  

The survey, however, showed overwhelming support to teaching sex education to classrooms with three out of four men (75%) and women (77%) supporting a law requiring family planning education for the youth. The support is equally high among singles and marrieds.  

It also showed 76 percent of Catholics and 78 percent of non-Catholics supporting sex education for the youth, regardless of frequency of church-going, and regardless of trust in the Catholic church. 

Faculty Members of a Catholic School Support Reproductive Health Bill (HB 5043) 

Fourteen faculty members of Catholic school Ateneo De Manila University are out to prove that not all Catholics agree with the Catholic Church’s opposition to the controversial reproductive health bill pending in the House of Representatives.

In a 16-page position paper full of quotes from Catholic Church teachings and scientific studies on health, population, and poverty, the faculty members expressed their strong support for House Bill 5043 because “we believe that the provisions of the bill adhere to core principles of the Catholic social teaching.”

The bill is controversial for promoting contraceptives and imposing sex education in schools starting in Grade 5. Catholic bishops have tagged the bill as “pro-abortion” and “anti-life.” 

Although they are aware of the Church’s position, the faculty members said in the paper “our reason, informed by our faith, has led us to believe and say otherwise.” They argued that the bill is actually pro-life, pro-women, and pro-poor.

They argued that the HB 5043—by providing universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health services—will improve the country’ maternal and child health situation, prevent abortion, help poor families, and make the youth more responsible sexually.

“We ask our bishops and fellow Catholics not to block the passage of House Bill 5043…. To campaign against the bill is to deny our people, especially our women, many other benefits, such as maternal and child health and nutrition; promotion of breastfeeding; adolescent and youth health; reproductive health education; prevention and management of gynecological conditions; and provision of information and services addressing the reproductive health needs of marginalized sectors, among others,” the paper said. 

Reaction:

It appears, as shown by the survey, that majority of the Filipinos are in favor of Reproductive Health Bill and the teaching of Sex Education in the public schools. What is surprising here is the number of respondents Catholics (76 percent), and Non-Catholics (78 percent) among the Filipinos supporting measures that control the swelling of the population and promoting the reproductive health of women. There is one reason for this in my own opinion, poverty and the worsening world economic crisis. Besides, people are getting more practical these days. You may not agree with me but gone are the days when the church could dictate anything it wants to its believers. 

Take the case of 14 faculty members from Ateneo de Manila, a Catholic school, who are out to prove that not all Catholics agree with the Catholic Church’s opposition to the passage of the controversial reproductive health bill. In their “16-page position” paper they countered the Church opposition to the Reproductive Health Bill “quoting from Catholic Church teachings and scientific studies on health, population, and poverty.” One faculty unfortunately belongs to the Department of Theology. 

Does this show a crack in the position of the church against reproductive health bill? Of course those who support the position of the church may say no. And the debate continues even if majority of the Filipinos are now seeing more on the practical advantage of the bill.

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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