MANILA, Philippines – Two senatorial candidates continued the clash on reproductive health issue during the ABS-CBN’s HARAPAN: Mga Isyu ng Bayan debate Sunday night at La Consolacion College, Manila.
Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel of the Liberal Party (LP) and, and former senator Francisco Tatad of the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) were paired against each other to debate on the controversial House Bill 5043, commonly known as the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. (Read: Winners, losers in HARAPAN senatorial debate)
Rep. Hontiveros-Baraquel, a co-author of the RH Bill, said she will re-file the RH Bill once she wins a seat in the senate. Congressmen shelved the Church-opposed RH Bill when they failed to accommodate the HB 5043 before they went on recess last February.
Tatad, a two-time senator, said the RH bill will only ruin the family and society. Baraquel countered, saying those who support the bill are pro-life.
The debate, which was divided in three rounds, was in a question-and-answer format and the 12 senatorial candidates who participated were given limited time to frame their questions and answers. After each round, audience in different locations in the country were asked whether they find they believe the senatorial aspirant to be saying the truth or not.
The debates were simulcast live on ABS-CBN, ABS-CBN News Channel and abs-cbnNEWS.com
“Kung totoo tayong pro-life, dapat suportahan ang reproductive health (If we are pro-life, we must support the reproductive health),” said the congresswoman.
On the other hand, Sen. Kit Tatad said the root of the country’s problem had become “immorality.”
11 die everyday
Rep. Hontiveros-Baraquel stressed that the reproductive health program will lessen the fatality and abortion rate in the country.
She cited data, including how 11 women die every day due to complications in pregnancy and child delivery, and how about 800,000 engages in abortion annually because of unwanted pregnancy.
Tatad, when asked if it was “okey” with him that those women die due to lack of information and services addressing their reproductive health, said a health program will lessen the casualties.
He stood his ground, however, that the use of contraceptives and abortion lessen maternal risks.
He cited how Cagayan and Sorsogon provinces where, according to him, showed that proper services prevents maternal death.
In her rebuttal, Hontiveros pointed out that the RH Bill addresses health issues of both men and women and that abortion is not part of the bill.
The audience rated Tatad 48.2 % for truthfulness, and 51.1 % untruthfulness.
Abortion, US influence
Tatad, on his turn to post a question, asked Hontiveros how the new RH bill could prevent America from influencing the Philippine government by pushing abortion.
He quoted US State Secretary Hilary Clinton who addressed the US House of Representatives on April 22, 2009 when she reportedly said “reproductive health involves access to abortion, and the Obama presidency is committed to abolish all barriers to that access.”
Hontiveros replied that Sen. Aquino (Benigno Aquino III), the presidential bet of the Liberal Party, is committed to responsible parenthood.
“Ang RH bill as it is...ay hindi ililigalisa ang abortion. Anuman ang sabihin o di sabihin ng isang presidente at state secretary ng ibang bansa, ang isinusulong po ng RH bill ay ang access sa impormasyon, sa serbisyo at kung pipiliin hindi natural family planning kundi modern family planning methods, mga produkto para sa bawat babae at kanyang asawa o kapartner para maplanno ang kanilang pamilya at maibuhay sila sa isang makataong antas ng pamumuhay. (The RH Bill, according to its written definition, will not legalize abortion. No matter what a president or state secretary of another country will say, RH bill seeks access to information and services and choice between natural and modern family planning method and products for the women and her partner to attain better living)”
Tatad countered with two points—the RH bill is unconstitutional (citing Section 12 and Article 15 of the Constitution, and that he doubts that Sen. Aquino could resists American influence.
Hontiveros got 83. 7 % truthfulness, and 16.3 % untruthfulness ratings.
Choice of contraceptives, AIDS
When asked by a supporter of Rep. Hontiveros if he thinks that having a choice to use contraceptives is “bad,” Tatad replied “no,” explaining that the choice is for couples to make.
He stressed, too, that there is no law that hinders anyone to use contraceptives. What he opposes in the RH Bill is how the government would have to provide the modern contraception and stabilization device for the couple.
Hontiveros said the “heart of the bill” is the choice of method of family planning.
Tatad was rated 28. 3% truthfulness and 70.7 untruthfulness for this question.
Meanwhile, Tatad’s supporter pointed to Hontiveros an “empirical data from UN” that Thailand has 80 times worse AIDS cases compared to the Philippines despite its “perfect condom use” campaign.
Hontiveros said Tatad’s supporter got a wrong data, explaining that the success of Thailand on its campaign in the use of condom is for the use of condom to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Tatad disagreed with the congresswoman, stressing that the experts’ finding showed that pandemic raised when condom use started. He also emphasized a high tendency of condom failure.
Hontiveros got 85.0 % truthfulness, and 15.0 % untruthfulness for the question.