Bagong Simula sa Bayan ni Juan

Breaking News

For other news and information, scroll the links found on the sidebar. Links to other relevant sites and media blogs are located on the lower right portion. - RAFS76

Thursday, July 31, 2008

GMA proudly imposes misery to Filipinos in 2008 SONA

Benjamin de Leon, President

The Forum for Family Planning and Development, Inc.,
former Executive Director of the Commission on Population and
former Presidential Assistant for Social Development,(UnderSecretary)
Office of Former President Fidel V. Ramos

GMA proudly imposes misery to Filipinos in 2008 SONA

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address is full of contradictions to say the least and an insult to the millions of poor and suffering Filipinos that she has repeatedly referred to in her speech. I find quite touching that President Arroyo said that she “spends time every day with the underprivileged and under represented who cannot get a grip on their lives in the daily, all-consuming struggle to make ends meet.” She said that she worries for the mothers who bear the burden of the families or the fathers who are out of work, the OFWs who are away from their families and the young graduates who want to find work.

President Arroyo talked about global problems that have an impact in the country today and in countries around the world. Despite the long lines of Filipinos queuing to buy a few kilo of cheaper rice, she said that “rice production since 2000 increased an average of 4.07% a year, twice the population growth rate.” And with this note, she spoke irresponsibly and inaccurately that the promotion of natural family planning and female education, have curbed population growth to 2.04% during her administration as against when artificial birth control was pushed. This is falsehood and no different from the lies and misleading statements that many religious and Catholic groups have continued to spread.

The President said that their “campaign spreads awareness of responsible parenthood regarding birth spacing.” And her concept of birth spacing in her own words is that “informed choice should mean letting more couples, who are mostly Catholics, know about natural family planning.”

I don’t know whether to laugh or to rally in the streets with this kind of statement and analogy. I am ashamed that the very government agency that should actively promote all methods of contraception in accordance with its mandate is now only advocating natural family planning. This is most unfair and even cruel as it deprives couples who want to use other methods of family planning. It is ironic that I served the same office as Executive Director many years ago. I am referring to the Commission on Population. Mrs. Arroyo also said towards the end of her speech that “where government can contribute nothing useful, stay away.” Therefore I say to POPCOM, please stay away from people unless you have the courage to really put their needs before your own. I strongly advise that you go back to the very mission and objectives of the Commission on Population; otherwise the population community and the very people you have committed to serve will surely lose their TRUST in you.

The true voices of the Filipinos are reflected in these scientific, accurate and truthful studies and surveys conducted by distinguished scientists, sociologists, demographers of our country whose credibility can not be questioned. Their work was done in pursuit of the truth and not to manipulate and create propaganda.

The Pulse Asia Survey shows that:

* 9 out of 10 Filipinos or 92 percent of the population consider family planning important
* 89 percent of Filipinos think that government should provide budgetary support for modern methods of family planning including modern contraceptives.

The National Statistics Office Family Planning Survey shows that:

* From 1996 to 2005, use of natural family planning methods have gone done from 1.0 to .04 percent while modern contraceptive use continue to rise from 18.5 to 26.2 during the same period.

The National Statistical Coordination Board last March 5, 2008 released a study which showed that “poverty has worsened in 2003-2006 from 30 percent to 33 percent. Defined in terms of families living in poverty, this percentage translates to 4.7 million families or some 27.6 million Filipinos, a 3.8 million increase from 2003.

Another dimension of poverty is the incidence of involuntary hunger. According to the Social Weather Station (SWS) Long term trends of self-reported involuntary hunger indicates an increasing prevalence of hunger among households from less than 10 per cent in July 1998 to 19 per cent in February 2007. What is disturbing is that according to this study, there are about 612,000 households or more than 3 million severely hungry Filipinos.

And so I ask our President to intelligently look at the realities before her and be the kind of leader that we expect her to be. You are the President of all faiths and not just of Catholics. Make intelligent decisions based on evidence and don’t derail the truth to suit or please the Catholic hierarchy. They are not the majority and they certainly can’t speak for the millions of Filipinos suffering daily. These priests have no business deciding for the lives of our women and young people.

In closing I say that we will support the Reproductive Health Bill and we will continue to fight for the rights of women and men to have access to accurate and safe family planning