MANILA, Philippines - A key proponent of the reproductive health (RH) bills indicated that the Catholic Church is losing its touch in reining in its faithful from supporting the population measure.
In a statement, House Minority leader Edcel Lagman, who filed House Bill (HB) 96, said, “The most recent Pulse Asia survey revealing that 69% of Filipinos favor the passage of a reproductive health law exposes the dwindling influence of the Catholic hierarchy when it comes to persuading the faithful to eschew modern methods of family planning.”
Lagman noted that despite the Catholic hierarchy’s all-out campaign against the bill and its branding of all modern methods of family planning as “intrinsically evil,” support for the RH bill has even risen by 6 percentage points, from 63% supporting its passage into law in January 2009 to 69% in October 2010.
Lagman further pointed out that nationwide opposition to the bill also decreased from 8% in January 2009 to 7% in Pulse Asia’s survey in October 2010.
Lagman said: “They do not only approve of the passage of the RH bill, 79% recognize the right of women and couples to decide for themselves which family planning method is best suited to them; 70% agree that all forms of family planning methods should be promoted; and, 55% agree that government funds must be used to support modern family planning methods.”
Lagman also said in his statement that based on the Pulse Asia survey, even a majority of those who disagreed endorsed the following provisions of the RH bill:
• Recognizing the rights of women and couples to choose the family planning method that they want on the basis of their needs and personal and religious beliefs;
• Promoting information about and access to natural and modern family planning methods; and,
• Stipulating the use of government funds to support modern family planning methods.
'Survey speaks for itself'
Other House Leaders weighed in on the survey.
House Speaker Sonny Belmonte told ABS-CBN News, “The survey speaks for it self, di ba”
House Senior Deputy Majority Leader Janet Garin echoed Lagman’s sentiments, calling on colleagues to set aside their personal biases. Garin also has her own version of the RH bill.
“The survey proves that majority of the Filipinos approve of the bill despite several black propaganda. The power of legislators emanates from the people, and I owe it to them to heed to their demand for RH. After all, this is the essence of republicanism," Garin said.
"I take this opportunity to appeal to my colleagues not to close their eyes to this glaring reality, and acknowledge the timeliness and urgency of passing the RH bill, for majority of the people we serve want it. Personal biases should be set aside for the greater good. ”
Other House members were skeptical of the survey results.
House population and family relations committee chair Rogelio Espina said, “I still have to check the questions in the survey and who were surveyed.”
Rep. Anthony Golez said, “It just clearly shows that 69% of Filipinos are not informed about the danger of the health services the RH bill is offering to our people. More than half of the services it offers are abortifacient. This should signal the different medical society groups and medical scientists to come out and inform our public that when we consider that life begins during fertilization, many of RH services can kill a life in uterus. When we offer an informed choice as a pillar of family planning, we should make sure
that the choices we give to our people are considered lawful, legitimate or do not violate any provision of our constitution.”
RH Bill opponent Rep. Roilo Golez said, “I understand at least 90% of the folks have not read the RH bill. How can someone who has not read the bill have an informed opinion on the bill? If it is about reproductive health as a general issue, just like cardiovascular health, or pulmonary health or gastric health, etc., the answer will be positive. In fact, who would go against reproductive health as a general health issue?
"The survey should first ask: have you read the RH bill? The opening question is very defective: aside from now, have you heard, read or watched anything about this bill or not?
"To have an informed opinion, the question should have been limited to: have you read? Just reading or watching anything about RH cannot enable one to have an informed opinion on the bill which has more than 50 sections and sub sections.”