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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

And things heat up!

Keep the flame burning!!!

From Dino Subingsubing, Information Coordination Officer of UNFPA:


Legislators and Media are picking up our call to national government to ensure contraceptive security as a link to maternal health. Meanwhile, the opposition can do nothing but react angrily to PCIJ's hard-hitting article on maternal health (published two weeks ago).

Read on.

DOH asked about P180-M fund for artificial birth control

First posted 15:37:15 (Mla time) August 16, 2007
Maila Ager /

MANILA, Philippines -- The Department of Health should explain why it has been delayed in using a P180-million fund for the government's program on artificial family planning, a lawmaker at the House of Representatives said.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman wrote a letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque on Wednesday inquiring about the status of the fund, which he and then Congressman Rodante Marcoleta, had initiated for inclusion in the DoH's budget for this year.

Lagman noted a special provision in the budget, which clearly stated that the fund should be used for the purchase of reproductive health commodities and the conduct of family planning seminars in local communities.

"In this regard, may I know the status of the guidelines on the utilization of the subject fund considering that it is already in the middle of the third quarter and many LGUs [local government units] would have liked to immediately procure the much needed health commodities and to conduct family planning seminars for their constituents," Lagman said in his letter, a copy of which was obtained Thursday.

Lagman also sought a clarification to reports that before the LGUs could avail of the fund, they were required to meet the minimum standards on local availability and access to the national family planning program (NFP).

Lagman pointed out that the congressional allocation was for artificial family planning, and therefore, its access by LGUs should not be made dependent on any program relating to the NFP.

"In the same manner that access to NFP must not depend on the beneficiary's existing programs on artificial family planning," he said.

Even President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not impose a direct item veto on the fund as she only required the issuance of guidelines and the execution of a memorandum of agreement between the local government unit concerned and the DoH, he said.

"I am deeply concerned that the long delay in the approval and issuance of the guidelines immobilizes precious funds for reproductive health," Lagman said.

Solon asks: Where's money for family planning program?

By BEN R. ROSARIO / Manila Bulletin / 18 August 2007

Bureaucratic red tape has reportedly endangered the implementation of the artificial family planning program of the government which requires the release of P180 million this year.

A letter sent by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman to the Department of Health showed that local government units which were supposed to implement reproductive health programs have failed to carry out this mandate due to the non-release of the budget.

Lagman asked Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque for an explanation about the unreleased fund even as he reminded the Cabinet official that the allocation in the 2007 national budget of P180 million for artificial family planning was never vetoed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

He pointed out that under the General Appropriations Act the budget for artifical family planning was supposed to be sub-allotted by the DoH to LGUs to purchase "reproductive health commodities and conduct family planning seminars in local communities."

The Albay lawmaker said there was no direct item veto made by Arroyo on the fund.

"She merely required the issuance of guidelines and the execution of a Memorandum of Agreement between the local government unit concerned and the DoH," Lagman said.

The DoH has reportedly withheld release of the fund to the LGUs because guidelines on how the money will be spent have yet to be completed.

Lagman noted that the DoH has imposed a strict criteria in the availment of the funds by the LGUs which were not contemplated in the budget law.

According to Lagman the congressional allocation's objective is to fund "artificial family planning" program, adding that access to the fund "should not be dependent on any program to NFP."

Lagman said the "long delay in the approval and issuance of the guidelines immobilizes precious funds for reproductive health," stressing that the fiscal year is now in the middle of its third quarter.

By Christina Mendez / Saturday, August 18, 2007 / Philippine Star

Sen. Pia Cayetano urged the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday to reconsider a policy that keeps the family planning program on its "least priority" list.

Cayetano pointed out family planning should be part of the government's priorities to address the alarming increase in population.

Cayetano, chairman of the Senate committee on health and demography, made the call to Health Secretary Francisco Duque who said the government's "overwhelming priority" at the moment is to improve health care to curb the high maternal mortality rate.

Duque said the DOH will pursue family planning methods for women "who want to control their fertility."

"With all due respect to the health secretary, I don't think a conflict should exist at all between maternal health and family planning. Both are intrinsically related and fall within the ambit of reproductive health," Cayetano said.

Cayetano slammed the DOH's plan to place family planning at the bottom of its priorities, saying the government cannot just shut its eyes to the population problem.

"The country has reason to be seriously alarmed if 1.8 million are added to the Philippine population every year, and their chances of being fed, clothed and educated are slim," she said.

Other articles:

PCIJ: Fund for contraceptives lies idle as LGUs await guidelines
Bishops vs couple's informed conscience

And here are the "violent reactions":


Notable reactions: The fallacy of population control

By William M. Esposo / Thursday, August 16, 2007 / Philippine Star

Proposals to curb birth rates as a solution to easing poverty have always triggered impassioned debates. I would like to share two of the reactions to my "Who has the right to life?" column where I had debunked the fallacy of population control as a means of solving poverty. One reactor is a political player and the other is a Jesuit priest.

My friend Roland Redoble, who is now based in Cebu but has lived in Mindanao, wrote this reaction.

"In the towns of my youth in Ipil, Zamboanga Sebuguey and Moalboal, Cebu, everybody is poor. But nobody gets hungry or dies of famine. Let the economists explain that. On the contrary, there was and still is an upward mobile trend in the life of the same people I know in the last 40 years.

The Malthusian theory of unlimited want and limited supply of resources as the governing dictum of societal life has long been proven wrong. It is only true in the sense that it pushes the human spirit to be more creative and be more innovative. But it was and is wrong if taken as a warning to any society that it will collapse if its population growth is left unchecked.

Decongestion of population centers through creative government intervention is the best solution to excessive centers of poverty.

Imagine this: to the East of Metro Manila, in between Antipolo and the Pacific Seaboard, are endless hectares of government property. This straddles along the most scenic slopes anyone can see in Luzon. The only thing lacking is a mass transit system from there that goes direct to Quezon City, Ortigas, and Makati.

From the Pacific seaboard it will only take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes of travel time. If such a mass transit system can accommodate 2,000,000 a day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. — then that means government can move 1,000,000 families away from Metro Manila.

Do the same in the Western seaboard of Metro Manila up to the banks of Hermosa, Bataan passing along the Bulacan marshes and the same decongestion can be accomplished.

In the Eastern seaboard of Metro Manila, the land will cost nothing at all since it is owned by the government. These are the blue mountains one will see beyond the hills of Antipolo.

Doing it will be very good for the economy.

By the way, this area is still forested by secondary growth trees so water is not a problem at all.

India and China are powerful because of their population. Indonesia is the most influential in ASEAN because of its population.

On the opposite end is Europe. It is declining, especially France, because of its more than a decade negative population growth. Migration is saving it but with such a very strong cultural upheaval.

Closer to home, Singapore wanted to imitate the First World countries by imposing zero population growth more than a decade ago. It had to reverse the policy when they realized it will destroy them eventually.

So, being born is really a gift to society more than such life being the gift to the person being born. It is the maximum demand of justice for such Society to make sure that the person born will live a fruitful nurturing life...ALL FOR SOCIETY'S SAKE!"

I shared Roland Redoble's reactions with Fr. Vicente Marasigan, SJ (or Fr. V as we fondly call him). Fr. V and I regularly exchange views via email.

Fr. V is particularly enthused with my espousal of the vision and activities of Gawad Kalinga and the Focolare Movement's Economy of Communion which offers to bridge our wealth gap problem. He frowns at my severe and unforgiving criticisms of the abuses of people vested with the highest power and authority in the land.

I must admit that I have yet to internalize the Christian way of loving our enemies and turning them the other cheek when they violate us. I fear that our enemies from within will rob us blind if we blink and forgive. Shouldn't justice first prevail before forgiveness?

Fr. V condemns factors in media who promote the anti-Life position and takes many of them to task for accepting incentives from foreign financiers in exchange for promoting population control.

"Four cheers for the Chair Wrecker! Who has the right to live? Certainly not those columnists and spin-weavers in media who are salivating for the funds of the UNFPA and other UN infiltrators and noisily proclaiming their concern for promoting reproductive health. They are forfeiting their right to eternal life." Fr. V wrote.

"I put the blame on media spin for hardening public opinion towards seeing reproduction as a disease. It is NOT a disease. It is a gift of God. Like all God's gifts, reproduction can be used RESPONSIBLY," he added.

It's very comforting to know that there are Filipinos who can think straight and arrive at real solutions that assure an eradication of the causes of problems, rather than their victims.


Lessons unlearned
By Jose C. Sison
Friday, August 17, 2007 / Philippine Star

The two-part series of write up by Jaileen Jimeno of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) in this week's Philippine STAR (Monday and Tuesday) captioned, "GMA's legacy may include more mothers put at risk" and "Church gain in population policy is women's loss", are quite appalling. They re-enforce my long held belief that foreign governments and interest groups are still aggressively pursuing their agenda to impose their population control program in this country. I am particularly referring to the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) that have been intruding into the Philippine Population Control Program from its inception in the late 60's up to the present. Lately, even big US private foundations like the David and Lucile Packard Foundation have entered the picture. As the PCIJ reported, this foundation tried but failed to inject $250,000 fund into the Ateneo University for its MBA on health with emphasis on the strategic population research management.

My belief is based on the report's contents and thrusts. It concentrates its criticisms on the persons and institutions opposing and putting obstacles to the population control program of America through USAID and UNFPA. It is quite perceptible that blame is being heaped on the President and the Catholic Church for the alleged existing miserable life of Filipino women and their families. More striking is its attack and emphasis on the alleged weaknesses and adverse effects of the alternative method that the government and the Church are advocating particularly the natural family planning.

I am really disturbed and puzzled how these foreign interest groups can openly operate and manipulate people in and out of government to impose their program of depopulation. Up to now they think that the Philippines, as a third world country, can still be effectively controlled by wielding their financial power channeled through soft loans, grants and packages. They should know that we already know that this is the calculated aim of the NSSM 200 report of Henry Kissinger way back in the late 70's for the depopulation of third world countries like ours so they could maintain access to strategic resources in these countries. Since they cannot convince our President to adopt their program and they are stymied in their efforts to get Congress approval of their population policies and programs, they turned their sights on the more vulnerable local government units. Meantime they are now likewise trying to use media to exert pressure on the national government and to promote their population control methods.

Amidst the din of the debate on the pros and cons of our country's need to have a population control program, I would say that the more urgent and annoying issue we should address is this intrusion into our national sovereignty particularly in matters of health and the very integrity of the Filipino people. I simply cannot reconcile myself to the proposition that foreigners can, with impunity, try to work their way into the various government agencies to promote their depopulation program that intrude into such intimate aspects of our life like sex and reproductive functions, conjugal and family relations pertaining to birth spacing and family size and even on child and youth education. At present UNPFA has even asked the DepEd to adopt its sex education modules in all levels of our public schools. This is really outrageous.

More outrageous is the deception employed to soften the resistance to the population control methods espoused by these foreign financiers. In the PCIJ report, the emphasis is on the health and welfare of the women and children. It cited the example of a mother in Bohol who has ten children with the 11th coming out in 5 months wallowing in filth and suffering hunger because of lack of access and information about all options available to her in limiting the children particularly artificial contraceptives.

The report also heaped the blame on the president's natural family planning policy. Then it cited the maternal mortality rate due to this natural method as well as its high failure rate that invariably ends up in more women resorting to clandestine abortion. While it cited figures, there seems to be a contradiction between its example of a woman having 10 to 11 children and the abortion rate. The typical Filipino women bearing more children personified by the Bohol mother are simply incompatible with the claim of high abortion rate among them due to failed natural family planning. The report also did not say that natural family planning was included among the list of population control methods only in 1995 whereas the artificial contraceptives of these foreign intruders have been made available since the inception of the depopulation program in the late 60's. Hence the cited high mortality rate may really be due to these contraceptives rather than natural family planning.

The PCIJ also kept on hammering at the damaging effects of the natural family planning method while it is conspicuously silent on the more damaging effects of the population control methods advocated by the foreign interest groups. The report did not say whether the women of Datu Paglas to whom the entire range of contraceptive methods and devices including voluntary surgical sterilization VSS (vasectomy and tubal ligation) have been made available and applied, were informed that the pills and IUDs cause abortion and have side effects like peritonitis, psychological depression, social aberrations due to broken families, divorces and pre-marital sex, not to mention the health and sanitation problems connected with the mass VSS.

Again the report came up with the flawed reasoning that the main cause of poverty is overpopulation because the growth rate has outpaced development such that the population already exceeds the available resources. Such reasoning is quite deceptive as it conveniently overlooks the wrong economic policy of enabling only a few to enjoy and own the country's resources which is the main cause of poverty.

It seems that we never learn about the truth that God's power and wisdom is manifested in his creations more especially a human being endowed with a reproductive system as a means of sharing in His power of procreation. If we disrupt that system with our scientific methods we are substituting God's infinite wisdom with our finite minds. The disastrous consequences of this lesson unlearned can be clearly seen in the ecological disasters now happening all over the globe.