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Friday, October 05, 2007

Things gear up... =)

There have been a lot of news related to RH, Gender and Population Development issues. Excuse the delayed posting as I have been very busy.

One interesting news was the class suit to be filed against the former Manila mayor and now DENR Secretary Lito Atienza for measures he implemented against artificial contraception in the city during his term. I was actually invited by Dr. Junice Melgar of LIKHAAN to attend this forum, however, I failed to do so as I was so caught up with affairs of the family. They held the forum on a Saturday, Sept 29 at Manila Pavillion Hotel. I am not sure if the venue was changed as I failed to follow up as well. Anyways, here's the news...

Read on...

Lito Atienza faces class suit
By Evelyn Macairan / Sunday, September 30, 2007 / Philippine Star

Family planning advocates said yesterday they are readying a legal suit against former Manila mayor Lito Atienza for his opposition to artificial contraception.

Elizabeth Pangalagan, executive director of the Reproductive Health, Rights and Ethics Center, said the groups were looking at either administrative charges or a civil suit against Atienza for removing all contraceptives from city clinics when he was mayor of Manila.

The suit aims to “hold (Atienza) liable for acts which caused injury to women,” Pangalagan said.

Her group and other organizations presented testimony on how Atienza, a devout Catholic, introduced a policy in 2000 banning city government clinics from issuing contraceptives or informing people how to use or obtain them.

Atienza stepped down as Manila mayor earlier this year but was later appointed environment and natural resources secretary by President Arroyo, also a devout Catholic.

Dr. Junice Demeterio-Melgar, executive director of Linangan ng Kababaihan (Likhaan), said their group, along with other civic groups, are “contemplating on filing A tort case against Atienza and ask for remedies on injuries and damages done to the women.”

Atienza is the president Pro-Life Philippines, a group that advocates natural family planning.

Melgar said they will question the legality of Executive Order 003 series of 2000, otherwise known as “Declaring Total Commitment and Support to the Responsible Parenthood Movement in the City of Manila and Enunciating Policy Declarations in Pursuit Thereof.”

She said that while they have not yet set a date for the filing of the case, they will file a class suit before a Manila court and challenge Atienza’s executive order before the Supreme Court.

The EO said the “city promotes responsible parenthood and upholds natural family planning not just as method buy as a way of self-awareness in promoting the culture of life while discouraging the use of artificial methods of contraception like condoms, pills, intrauterine devices, surgical sterilization and other.”

The family planning advocates came out with a report yesterday in which they claimed that “while the order does not explicitly ban ‘artificial’ contraception, it has in practice resulted in a sweep of these supplies and services from health city centers and hospitals, depriving many women—especially poor women—of their main source of affordable family planning supplies.”

The women reportedly suffered physical, emotional, financial, mental anguish because they have been deprived of availing of artificial family planning methods, the groups said.

They cited the case of Tina Montales, 36, who wanted to undergo tubal ligation after her fourth pregnancy, but could not because the local hospital no longer offered the said service.

Atienza’s order, according to the groups, reportedly violates the Philippine government’s obligations under national and international law. The Constitution guarantees the rights to liberty, health, equality, information and education for all citizens, as well as the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their personal religious convictions, they said.

When asked why it took them seven years to voice an objection, Melgar said they had problems looking for a complainant since most Manila residents were afraid to come out for fear of earning Atienza’s wrath.

“Atienza reportedly had a reputation that he could take away what he had given to them. Now they are more courageous since he is no longer the mayor,” she said.

Melgar clarified that they support both the natural and artificial methods of family planning.

“Ours is to provide a choice to the people, give them the full spectrum when they need it,” she said.

Likhaan has also taken the initiative to meet with incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim to request that he revoke EO 003. They said Lim assured them that he would promote both the family planning methods.

Should he fail to revoke the EO, Melgar said there is a possibility that they would include Lim as a respondent.

She said they did not name national officials in the suit, because the function of delivering basic health services to the people has already been devolved to local executives.

She said that apart from the filing a class suit, a lot of work has yet to be done before Manila could offer once again a complete family planning program to its constituents.

She narrated that during Atienza’s nine-year term as mayor, the delivery of family planning services to city residents deteriorated. The family planning advocates said city officials had to reconstruct the health infrastructure, such as acquiring contraceptives and providing training to city health workers.

Another family planning advocate, Dr. Jonathan David Flavier, said Manila has to invest P1 million to cover the acquisition of new contraceptives for one quarter.

Family-planning advocates plan to sue Lito Atienza
Sunday Times / 30 September

FAMILY planning advocates in the Philippines said Saturday they are readying a legal suit against a member of President Gloria Arroyo’s cabinet for his opposition to artificial contraception.

The groups said they will sue Environment Secretary Lito Atienza for removing all contra­cep­tives from city clinics when he was mayor of Manila, the capital city.

The suit aims to “hold [Atienza] liable for acts which caused injury to wo­men,” said Elizabeth Panga­langan, executive director of the Reproductive Health, Rights and Ethics Centre, a social research and study group attached to the University of the Philippines.

Her group and other organizations presented testimony on how Atienza, three-time mayor of Manila and a devout Catholic, introduced a policy in 2000 banning city government clinics from issuing contraceptives or informing people how to use or obtain them.

Pangalangan said the groups were looking at either administrative charges or a civil suit, but said the details would be revealed later.

Atienza finished his third term as Manila mayor on June 30, but was later appointed Environment Secretary by Arroyo, also a devout Catholic.

The Catholic Church, do­minant in the Philippines, frowns on artificial birth control.

Pangalangan said they had wanted to file a suit for years, but had difficulty finding women to testify against Atienza due to fear of his position.

Letter to the Editor -PDI
House Bill 17 not pro-abortion

First posted 03:37:06 (Mla time) September 29, 2007 / Philippine Daily Inquirer

Equating the Reproductive Health Care Bill with the promotion of abortion is a misinformed and misleading exercise. (Inquirer, 9/19/07) No reproductive health bill filed in Congress seeks to legalize abortion. In fact, the prevention of abortion and management of post-abortion complications are key components of the bill (Sec. 5).

The recognition that abortion is prohibited and penalized under Articles 256-259 of the Revised Penal Code remains. But there is also recognition of the critical need -- when abortion is resorted to despite the prohibition -- to manage post-abortion complications in a humane and compassionate manner. A patient shouldn’t be left to die just because she is poor or desperate.

The bill will penalize health care service providers that refuse to attend to these patients (Sec. 15, House Bill No. 17), just as Republic Act No. 8344 sanctions hospitals and medical clinics that deny appropriate initial medical treatment to emergency and serious cases. This fundamental protection should be given to the Filipino patient; this is not promoting abortion.

With their needless focus on abortion, the bill’s critics fail to appreciate the crucial elements of reproductive health care that, among others, address: (1) maternal, infant and child health and nutrition, (2) the promotion of breastfeeding, (3) family planning and information services, (4) the prevention of abortion and management of post-abortion complications, (5) adolescent and youth health, (6) the prevention and management of RTIs, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, (7) the elimination of violence against women, (8) education and counseling on sexuality and sexual and reproductive health, (9) treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers and other gynecological conditions, (10) male involvement and participation in reproductive health, and (11) the prevention and treatment of infertility and sexual dysfunction.

Clearly, House Bill No. 17 is not an advertisement for abortion and sexual promiscuity, but an advocacy for reproductive health as a basic human right. And as state-party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw), the Philippine government must protect and facilitate the enjoyment of this right. The passage of the Reproductive Health Care Bill into law, not knee-jerk arguments from its critics, ensures that.

MARIE HAZEL LAVITORIA SALIGAN, Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal, G/F Hoffner Bldg., Social Development Complex, Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City