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Opinion

RH bill seen to be approved/ Kabaka seeks SC accreditation

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - The Philippine Star

In the midst of the hair-splitting and frayed nerves over the passage of the Reproductive Health bill in Congress, two energizing developments have taken place: the support of the bill by President Aquino, and the result of a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) saying that eight in ten young people — ages 15 to 19 — are in favor of a law on family planning and reproductive health. (See stories by Jess Diaz on Dec. 4, p. 1, and Helen Flores, The Philippine STAR, Dec. 5, p. 16.)  

Reports by media outlets showed the president expressing his wish (six times, according to Jess’ story) to members of the House of Representatives invited to lunch in Malacanang to vote for the bill — according to their conscience.

The president’s move is heartwarming for family planning advocates, particularly Rep. Edcel Lagman, principal author of the bill in the House, who were disappointed by the president’s long silence on demands to certify the bill as a priority concern for legislation. Hoping against hope, voting on the bill will take place today or tomorrow before it is elevated to the bicameral body.

Sen. Pia Cayetano, main sponsor of the bill in the Senate, told Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel Hotel she believes the bill will be passed. She talked of many “hurdles and obstacles” she has had to overcome as a legislator, among them the strong opposition to the RH bill, and the Sin Tax Reform bill.

The feisty and bright legislator said the main oppositors to the RH bill are men. “We live in a culture dominated by men, in an environment dominated by men.” That really comes as a surprise since it’s women who suffer most from the absence of a law that calls for the recognition of women having the right to control their bodies and plan the number of children they want to have. Talk about male chauvinism!

*      *      *

On the other hand, Ben de Leon, president of the Forum for Family Planning and Development which commissioned the SWS survey, said that in the National Capital Region, 83 percent of adolescents “agree” that there should be a law in the Philippines on RH and family planning as against only 8 percent who “disagree.”

When it comes to awareness, the survey said 78 percent of adolescents in Metro Manila are for the RH bill, and nine out of 10 said television is their main source of information.  

The survey, conducted Oct. 26 to 28 using face-to-face interviews with 600 respondents, showed that 85 percent of the respondents believe that students “should be given adolescent health education in school.”

*      *      *

The Kabalikat ng Bayan sa Kaunlaran (Kabaka) observed its 27th anniversary at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium last Monday. Around 12,000 to 15,000 leaders of the organization, which boasts of more than 150,000 card-bearing members in Manila and outlying areas, attended the event. The celebratory mood was buoyed up by the hope that the Supreme Court would reverse the Commission on Elections’ decision to cancel Kabaka’s accreditation as a party-list group.

Kabaka, a socio-economic, cultural, civic, charitable and service-oriented organization, was founded by Manila (5th District) Rep. Amado Bagatsing in 1985. The congressman and Kabaka members wonder why Comelec disapproved the organization’s party-list accreditation, thus disallowing it to join the party-list election on May 13 next year.

The congressman said Kabaka delivers services to targeted beneficiaries, provides education and expanded opportunities for the poor, and facilitates the social and economic advancement of the marginalized sectors of society through livelihood and other support projects.

Nevertheless, Bagatsing said the organization will continue to serve the people not only in his district but in the whole city of Manila. He enumerated Kabaka’s programs.

Its education program, has sent thousands of underprivileged youths to school. Its Kabaka Manpower Training Center, one of TESDA’s partners in supporting the government’s poverty alleviation and employment-generation programs, has 2,000 graduatIn the field of medical assistance, the organization gives free medicines and a full range of laboratory and other medical services to the poor and underprivileged as well as operates several day care center.

Bagatsing said Kabaka has established a partnership with a generics pharmacy where its members would simply give their medical prescription to the Kabaka coordinator in their place who will then issue a guarantee letter to the generics pharmacy. The beneficiaries would receive their medicines on the same day.

 According to Bagatsing, “Kabaka envisions our people, especially the poor and less privileged members of our society, to be self-reliant and actively involved in the development of their communities.” 

Kabaka “encourages grassroots participation in their own development, giving people the chance to improve their quality of life and realize their full potentials,” Bagatsing said.

*      *      *

Going back to the RH bill issue, let me quote from Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s media interview with respect to whether there is such a thing as a “Catholic bloc.”

“I have always said that it (the Catholic bloc) is a political myth because it has already been disproved by empirical experience in actual elections. The candidate the Catholic Church focused on to defeat (referring to former Sen. Juan Flavier) still won, so there is no such thing as a Catholic vote. We’ve never had it in our electoral experience and to talk about it as if it were a fait accompli, as if it is something that happens in our elections, is to mislead the public.

“When I started campaigning, the first stop was always the bishop’s palace or the parish priest. I thought that it was strange and an aberration because elections are a political exercise. The clerics are free to discipline their own constituents or parishioners within the structure of their own religions, but they cannot ask — as the Catholic church is apparently is asking — for preferential treatment as against all the other churches in the Philippines. That will become a step towards establishing an official religion. The Catholic church is not the official state religion. It has to exhibit an attitude of tolerance to the other religions because the rule in constitutional law is the state should be neutral to all religions, plus it must be neutral to those who have no religion at all — the atheists and the agnostics.”

*      *      *

 

Its  education program, has sent thousands of underprivileged youths to school. Its  Kabaka Manpower Training Center, one of TESDA’s partners in supporting the government’s poverty alleviation and employment-generation programs, has 2,000 graduatIn the field of medical assistance, the organization gives free medicines and a full range of laboratory and other medical services to the poor and underprivileged as well as operates several day care center.

Bagatsing said Kabaka has established a partnership with a generics pharmacy where its members would simply give their medical prescription to the Kabaka coordinator in their place who will then issue a guarantee letter to the generics pharmacy. The beneficiaries would receive their medicines on the same day.

 According to Bagatsing, “Kabaka envisions our people, especially the poor and less privileged members of our society, to be self-reliant and actively involved in the development of their communities.”

Kabaka “encourages grassroots participation in their own development, giving people the chance to improve their quality of life and realize their full potentials,” Bagatsing said.

*  *  *

Going back to the RH bill issue, let me quote from Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s media interview with respect to whether there is such a thing as a “Catholic bloc.”

“I have always said that it  (the Catholic bloc) is a political myth because it has already been disproved by empirical experience in actual elections. The candidate the Catholic Church focused on to defeat (referring to former Sen. Juan Flavier) still won, so there is no such thing as a Catholic vote. We’ve never had it in our electoral experience and to talk about it as if it were a fait accompli, as if it is  something that happens in our elections, is to mislead the public.

“When I started campaigning, the first stop was always the bishop’s palace or the parish priest. I thought that it was strange and an aberration because elections are a political exercise. The clerics are free to discipline their own constituents or parishioners within the structure of their own religions, but they cannot ask—as the Catholic church is apparently is asking — for preferential treatment as against all the other churches in the Philippines. That will become a step towards establishing an official religion. The Catholic church is not the official state religion. It has to exhibit an attitude of tolerance to the other religions because the rule in constitutional law is the state should be neutral to all religions, plus it must be neutral to those who have no religion at all — the atheists and the agnostics.”

                                               

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BAGATSING

BILL

CATHOLIC

CATHOLIC CHURCH

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KABAKA

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