MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) – Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on Wednesday denounced the proposed Reproductive Health (RH) Bill as anti-poor, saying the measure seeks to limit the number of children of poor families but not of the rich.
“This is anti-poor because it seeks to lessen the number of children of poor families to solve the problem of poverty,” he said in the continuation of his “turno en contra” speech.
“It creates discrimination against the poor and marginalized sector that we want to help. In effect, it says that only the rich can have many children but the poor cannot,” he added.
Sotto said the RH Bill is actually a population control bill that seeks to depopulate the Philippines through contraceptives and birth control methods. He said some of its provisions are already included in existing laws, presidential decrees and other ordinances.
He said various economists have already noted that the Philippines is not facing a problem of overpopulation but unequal distribution of wealth and resources.
He cited a statement of economist Bernie Villegas, which said that the squatters with large families in Metro Manila " is a consequence of utterly neglecting countryside and rural development."
The lawmaker said one tactic being used by RH advocates is to link population growth to poverty in the country.
“Ang sagot sa kahirapan ay trabaho, edukasyon, pabahay at kalusugan at hindi pagbabawas ng bilang ng mga anak ng mahihirap,” he said.
Sotto noted that more developed countries such as Singapore, Japan and the United States have seen the folly of trying to limit family size through an aggressive family planning campaign.
“They are suffering for an aging population and they cannot sustain the needed workforce to boost their economy and help their interests,” he said.
An abortion bill?
He also noted that the government is already spending P8 billion for family planning and reproductive health programs even without the RH Bill.
Sotto said there is no prohibition against the use of condoms, pills and intrauterine devices in the country since they are freely available at any drugstore. However, he said the RH Bill seeks to classify condoms and other contraceptives as essential medicines.
The lawmaker, meanwhile, note that Section 3 (i) of the RH bill could also entice medical practitioners to conduct abortions. The provision "seeks to ensure that all women needing care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner."
"Hindi po malayong maabuso ang probisyong ito. Maaaring may mga walang konsyensya na doctor o komadrona na gumawa ng abortion at sabihing ginawa nila ito na agapan ang kumplikasyon sa aborsyon," he said.
Sotto appealed to lawmakers to be compassionate to unborn children and consider the effects of contraceptives on pregnant mothers. "Kapag pinasa po niyo ang RH bill ay kaawaan po sana tayo ng Poong Maykapal," he concluded.