Philippines Health Bill (RH Bill) At Risk Of Being Shelved Says Senators

Miriam Defensor-Santiago (Voltaire Domingo, NPPA Images)

Miriam Santiago is probably the only senator I actually like in Philippines politics with her aggressive approach at the same time always seems to be the peoples champion. The RH Bill is something she is strongly in support of and giving a speech at a 400 strong meeting with inter-university students at the University of the Philippines on the 15th of September she drove her message home. Santiago had been by Sen. Pia cayetano to urge students to support Senate bill 2865 or commonly known as the Reproductive Health Act of 2011. Requesting that the students chase down the senators that are opposing the health bill in the Philippines.

“Send an email to every single senator and congressman, tell him you are watching, and that you will not vote for him forevermore if he is anti-RH,” Santiago said.

The reason for such drive is down to the risk of the bill being shelved at the end of the year as it runs out of time due to excessive debates (also commonly done in the U.S. to stop change).

“The debates should conclude and legislators should come to a vote in order that this recurrent issue can stop hogging the national agenda every time a new Congress is convened.  Let the Filipino people know the principled stand of every legislator, so that in the coming 2013 elections, the electorate, in whom reposes the sovereign might of the state, will know whom to reward and whom to punish,” Santiago said.

Although Senator Vicente Sotto III is in strong opposition to the bill, Cayetano revealed that some senators have expressed their concern over the bill but did not state that they oppose it. The meeting also covered the urgency of the health bill with facts and statistics showing that eleven mothers a day in the Philippines die during childbirth but also that 11% of all deaths of women of reproductive age were maternal related(using 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey information).

“We are being blind and stupid to refuse to recognize these statistics or to refuse to solve these statistics,” Cayetano said.

The biggest hurdle for the reproductive bill is the issue of access to family planning information even though as Santiago puts it that it does not impose anything on anybody.

“The bill, at the simplest level, wants to give an indigent married woman the freedom of informed choice concerning her reproductive rights," she explained.

Cayetano followed with the fact when mentioned the senate drops into a “dead silence” every time sex education is mentioned nothing like the enthusiasm of the audience at the UP Law sponsered forum.

“If the senators are as half as enlightened as this group, then we will have an RH law soon,” Cayetano said.

I am a strong believer in the health bill and even those of strong religion must accept the fact that the impact of poor education and over population are a blight on the Philippines. School kids shouldn’t be going to school at night because there is a lack of schools when in reality its OVER POPULATION! At the same point I see so many kids that are under weight because its obvious their parents lack enough funds to feed them properly. This on top of the fact education is the key to the world for most people and in the Philippines more importantly the key out of poverty. If the Church keeps its hand in this I can see it losing its power within 10 years in the same way the child abuse scandals have rocked Germany recently costing the church there over 100,000 members that won’t return.