MANILA – Senator Vicente Sotto III and Department of Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial on Tuesday traded barbs over the latter's push for the distribution of condoms in schools.
An exasperated Ubial took to social media to complain about the persistent opposition of various groups to her department’s plan to distribute condoms in schools.
Ubial explained that condoms “will not be given like candies”, saying that a student will have to undergo proper counseling before he is given one.
“We have studied and explored all possibilities and studies globally that providing condoms did not promote promiscuity but in fact it made those sexually active teens more cautious and knowledgeable of unwanted/unplanned pregnancies and STI (sexually transmitted infections) including HIV/AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome),” Ubial said.
“The idea is not to distribute it left and right to give an impression that it's okay to have premarital sex as long as you use condom!”
The health secretary also lashed out at groups who she said are “imposing their beliefs on others.”
“Let those who want to practice safe sex do so--according to their own beliefs and consciences,” she said.
Ubial challenged those opposing the condom-giving program to come up with better ideas in reducing the spread of STIs among the youth.
“If you don't want condom use among sexually active young people, what do you want us to do?” she said.
Ubial said the DOH will continue to promote family planning methods and anti-STI programs as long as they are “scientifically effective and safe, [and] legally acceptable.”
In response to Ubial, Sotto, a who is staunchly opposed against the Reproductive Health Law, said it was “insensitive” of Ubial to “dismiss the sentiment of a conservative culture just because they failed to implement effective health programs.”
“Look who's talking? It's a boomerang to her. She should not only impose her beliefs on us who oppose but to the entire country,” Sotto said in a statement.
“Your position is temporary but the damage you will cause cannot be reversed."
Sotto said the government should instead improve its information campaign on “moral values“ and HIV/AIDS.
Speaking to reporters, Sotto said Ubial’s insistence on distributing condoms in schools will be brought up during her confirmation hearing at the bicameral Commission on Appointments.
"Siguradong this will be brought up. If ever she will be called, baka ma-bypass lang iyan eh," said Sotto.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been vigorously pushing for the enforcement of the Reproductive Health Law, believing that poverty is aggravated by the country’s ballooning population.
Duterte recently signed an executive order (EO) calling for the implementation of provisions of the RH law that were stopped temporarily by the Supreme Court. - with a report from Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News