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Monday, September 29, 2008

RH Website

For more info on Reproductive Health, please visit:



Howie Severino's I-Witness Documentary

Airing Monday: September 29, 2008

Most parents go through an awkward stage when they need to try to explain sexuality to their children. Howie Severino is entering that stage now with his curious six-year-old son Alon, who has been asking how and when he will get either a brother or a sister.

That innocent query begins Howie's search for a way to answer a child's vital questions. The search takes him to a bishop, a teacher, a youth advocate, a lawyer, a health worker, and other young kids -- but also to discoveries about the state of sexuality education in the Philippines. He
brings Alon to a progressive school where gender issues are openly discussed with small children, and to a kids workshop in Malabon on gender and sexuality where even pre-teens are introduced to ways of protecting themselves against sexually transmitted disease.

It is the same place in Malabon where Howie returns to learn about widespread youth problems that advocates say are borne out of inadequate information about sexuality: irresponsible sexual practices, the alarming spread of gonorrhea, teen pregnancies. Howie meets earnest youth advocate Kiko who overcomes taboos to talk to teens about knowing their bodies, the proper use of condoms, and identifying disgusting diseases contracted through sex.

Debate is raging now in Congress over the future of sex education. But the real battleground may be in places like Malabon where the stakes are life and death, and the future of its young residents.

Howie Severino's insightful documentary on sexuality education airs this
Monday late night over GMA-7.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lagman laments moot attacks vs reproductive bill

By Ephraim Aguilar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:08:00 09/27/2008

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines—Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman deplored the “irrelevant attacks” on the reproductive health bill thrown by opposing lawmakers during deliberations in Congress on the controversial population measure.

Lagman, principal author of House Bill No. 5043 on reproductive health, referred to the long-winding debates, which were mostly queries or objections on the procedure and technicalities of the bill’s approval at the committee levels.

The bill was approved by four committees in the House of Representatives—health, population and family relations, appropriations and rules.

Deputy House Speaker Raul del Mar raised alleged “technical defects” in the approval of the bill by the health committee and the population and family relations committee, which jointly approved the bill without a dissenting vote.

Del Mar questioned the legitimate funding support and reproductive health advocacy of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation Inc.

In a statement sent to the Inquirer, Lagman said he was confident the bill would still be passed despite the “dilatory tactics” of those opposing the measure.

“Delay is not victory,” he said.

Lagman’s daughter, Tabaco City Mayor Krisel Lagman-Luistro, also defended the bill from ParaƱaque Rep. Roilo Golez who proposed that discussions on the bill be deferred.

Golez said the bill not only divided the country but also took away focus from the more important task of addressing the world financial crisis.

Lagman-Luistro said that when “financial crisis” was on the table for discussion, so should “population” and “quality of life.

We have to understand that the reproductive health bill is not only a measure on population management but also a way of uplifting the Filipinos’ quality of life, especially in these dire times,” she said.

Lagman-Luistro also hit lawmakers who said the bill was not necessary since artificial contraceptives were already available in stores.

Availability does not necessarily mean access. This bill will eventually have funds to ensure people’s access to contraceptives,” she said.

She added that there were now at least 99 lawmakers supporting the measure.

When Lagman-Luistro represented the first district of Albay in Congress in 2001, she authored House Bill No. 4110 or the “Reproductive Health Care Act,” which served as the basis for her father’s HB 5043.

The bill promotes the use of both artificial and natural means of family planning, among others, which is being opposed by the Catholic Church, religious groups and even President Macapagal-Arroyo.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sparks fly anew in debate on birth control bill

Now what do we make out of this "occurrence" at Congress' session hall?


By Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:29:00 09/24/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Argument on procedure marred the beginning of floor debates at the House of Representatives on a controversial reproductive health bill.

Deputy Speaker Raul del Mar, echoing the objections of the Catholic Church, launched the opening salvo Tuesday night against House Bill 5043 that would expand the promotion of birth control methods -- both natural and artificial -- through government health and education programs. It also mandates sex education classes in schools.

Del Mar called the population control bill, principally authored by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, “totally unnecessary and deceptive.”

He said it was unnecessary because government programs for reproductive health, responsible parenthood, and population development were “already in place, pursued under existing programs, both by private and public initiatives.”

“There’s really no problem -- couples are absolutely free to choose which method of family planning they wish, natural or artificial,” contended Del Mar, an ally of Lagman in the ruling coalition.

He charged that “even abortifacients are openly sold as plain contraceptives without any warning whatsoever about their abortion-causing qualities.”

The bill was deceptive, he contended, because it was “neatly packaged with a title that would gain the support of practically everybody.”

“For how can anybody argue against a measure strategically titled ‘An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development.’”

Del Mar said HB 5043 should be more accurately labeled “An Act Providing for a National Policy Promoting Artificial Methods of Birth Control” or “An Act Providing for a National Policy Promoting Contraceptives and Sterilization.”

The Catholic Church is lobbying against the use of contraceptives such as condoms to prevent unwanted pregnancies and control the spread of AIDS. The government has largely given in to pressure to promote only the Church-endorsed natural family planning method.

Lagman defended his bill, saying commercial “availability” was not the same as “access,” especially to marginalized people.”

Lagman, batting for more active campaigns, said freedom of choice was limited “as long as there are myths on artificial methods.”

Del Mar’s interpellation, however, was cut short when the presiding officer, Representative Del de Guzman, stopped another representative from taking the floor.

Quezon City Representative Annie Susano, another critic of the family planning bill, stood up to inject a manifestation but was rebuffed, causing Senior Minority Leader Roilo Golez to raise a point of order.

“The presiding officer cannot arbitrarily interrupt a member of the House,” Golez said, accusing De Guzman of violating Susano’s “right and prerogative to speak.”

De Guzman answered that he was trying to impose proper decorum and adjourned the session at 7:22 p.m., before Del Mar had finished his attack on Lagman’s bill.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Population exec clings to hope for RH bill

By Joey A. Gabieta
Visayas Bureau
First Posted 02:56:00 09/18/2008

TACLOBAN CITY – The head of the Commission on Population (Popcom) in Eastern Visayas expressed hope that Congress would approve the controversial reproductive health bill to address the continued rise in the country’s population that the bill’s proponents blamed on poverty.

Susan Tejada, Popcom regional officer-in-charge, said the bill authored by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman would boost the government’s efforts to manage the country’s burgeoning population.

Open minds

“The bill is advocating responsible parenthood, which means that parents should only have children that they can afford to feed and send to school, among others,” Tejada added.

While she said she respected the view of the Catholic Church on House Bill No. 5043, Tejada urged the Church to be open-minded on the issues and the concerns that the bill would address.

“The proposed bill is not advocating abortion. That is really a no-no. We at the Popcom do not advocate abortion. We are also against it,” Tejada said.

Catholic Church leaders accused proponents of the bill of promoting abortion in the guise of artificial family planning methods.

Tejada said the Lagman bill includes some of the elements of reproductive health currently practiced by various government agencies, such as promoting the use of breast-feeding, which the Department of Health has been advocating.


Tejada also lamented the decision of all the 12 congressmen in Eastern Visayas to withdraw their support for the Lagman bill.

On the other hand, the Church welcomed the support of the congressmen and their withdrawal from the reproductive health bill.

“The archdiocese of Palo is very happy that many lawmakers are not supporting the RH bill. Our congressmen and congresswomen here in the region ... gave their assurance to the Church that they will not support the RH bill,” Fr. Amadeo Alvero, media liaison officer of the Palo Archdiocese, said in a text message.

Alvero said the Church strongly opposes the bill because it is “promoting an anti-life mentality in our society.”

Tejada claimed that because of the “good implementation” of the government’s other population-related programs, the country’s population growth rate has declined considerably.

“In fact, here in the region, our population growth also saw a decline. From the previous 1.51 percent, our population growth rate is now down to 1.12 percent,” she said.

Tejada also cited the rate of out-migration, or flight of Filipinos to destinations abroad, as another reason for the population decline.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The PDA Theme Song and the PDS MTV revived!

Below is a post originally published in this blog about two (2) years ago. It was presented at the UNFPA Christmas party. PDA or the Pinoy Dream Academy Season I of ABS CBN just wrapped up back then and needless to state, I was a fan of the show and of the winner Yeng Constantino. One of the challenges presented to them was to come up with their own composition of a song that could serve as PDA's theme. Yeng's song was the winner.

Hearing its lyrics one day made me realize that it can be very well suited for advocacy as it generally speaks of differences between people and their belief system. But in the end everyone simply want to reach their goals... achieve their dreams. It talks about never giving up, believing in yourself and showing the world that you can make it... that it can be done!!!

Ding ding ding!!! Sounds like a great song for the passage of the RH Bill!

And so, when we were asked to prepare a presentation for UNFPA's Christmas party, I informed Paolo, the project assistant I worked with at that time, of the idea and work on getting specific photos I listed to match the words in the song. Also, I did little tweaks in the lyrics as we sang the song to suit our advocacy. We rehearsed the song at POPCOM hours before the party. I remember Yela of POPCOM being so supportive and "game" while rehearsing the song.

I am re-publishing the post given its timeliness, as PDA Season II recently ended and this theme was repeatedly played over the show and heard on TV and more importantly to emphasize the fact that this was something we did two (2) years ago. And up to now, the bill continues to be adamantly opposed by the Church, with support from GMA.

The possibility that we might fail should not deter us from fighting for the cause we believe to be just.

And the fight lives on...
The PDS Academy

Watch the MTV we did, using the Pinoy Dream Academy (PDA) theme as music...

The PDS (Population Development Strategies) Advocacy Cluster namely, POPCOM-PMO, PNGOC, PLCPD, ECOP and FORUM presented this MTV during the UNFPA party last December 15, 2006 held at J.V. Del Rosario Ballroom, 4th Floor, AIM Conference Center, Legaspi Village, Makati City...

Guided by its lyrics, Paolo and I chose pictures to match the song...

This was the way we sang the song... (we changed some of it to suit our advocacy: read below)

Watch the MTV and sing with it... =)

and to Paolo, special thanks for the effects and the logo of "PDS Academy" in the MTV...


Ang bawa't tao'y magkakaiba
Iyong makikita

Iba't Ibang istorya... Iba't Ibang paniniwala

Ngunit... Nagsisikap
Para sa Pangarap
pawis binubuno

Nagbabago... Ganyan ang tao...
Itanim sa puso dahil.....


Nais nating marating
Di kami titigil
papatunayan sa buong mundo
Kayang kaya natin to...
Di kami susuko...


Nag-iisang damdamin
ang ating aawitin
ihahayag ating mithiin

Itatayong Bandila, ng "adbokasiya"
Pilipino taas ang kamay, umawit ka at...

Ika'y magsikap...
Para sa pangarap...

Pawis Ibuno...

Ika'y matuto
Ganyan ang tao...

Itanim sa puso dahil....


Nais nating marating
Di kami titigil
Sisigaw sa buong mundo
Kayang kaya natin to...
Di kami susuko...


Nakikinig ka ba?

Imulat mo ang inyong mga mata
"Dinggin ang sigaw ng aming damdamin..."
"Ito ang aming hangarin…."


Anti-population bill solons block Lagman speech Lack of quorum forces deferment

Lack of quorum forces deferment

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 19:02:00 09/16/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- Lawmakers at the House of Representatives opposed to the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill succeeded in blocking the delivery of the sponsorship speech by its author that would have formally opened floor debates.

With only 101 of the more than 200 congressmen present after the roll call, the House leadership adjourned the session for lack of a quorum.

The bill’s troubles were further compounded when Congresswoman Amelita Villarosa withdrew her signature from House Bill 5043 or An Act Providing for a National Policy on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development, bringing down the number of co-authors to 95.

But Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, the bill’s main author, was unfazed and expressed confidence that the bill would still hurdle the plenary debates.

Anti-reproductive health bill lawmakers have tried to stop Lagman’s sponsorship speech early in the session.

Cebu Representative Pablo Garcia raised a point of order, saying that copies of the bill have yet to be distributed for the members of the House to study.

Quezon City Representative Mary Anne Susano echoed Garcia's view and said the measure was being pushed because of the millions in pesos appropriated for it in the budget.

But Majority Leader Raul del Mar said that there was an agreement among lawmakers that they would allow Lagman to deliver the sponsorship speech and that interpellation would begin next week to give time to the lawmakers to study the bill.

Susano then raised a point of order anew and said that there was no longer a quorum that prompted a suspension of the session.

Before a packed gallery composed of the supporters of the bill from mostly civic organizations on one side and pro-life advocates and religious groups in blue on the other side, Lagman was supposed to deliver his four-page sponsorship speech.

The bill promotes the use of both artificial and natural means of family planning, among others.

"The bill is principally about rights, health, and sustainable human development. The bill is fully transparent. There is no hidden agenda. There are no caveats," Lagman said in a copy of his speech.

"The use of contraceptives for family planning does not make acceptors bad Catholics. But having more children whom parents can ill-afford to feed, educate, medicate, guide and love makes hem irresponsible regardless of their religion," he added.

The Catholic Church, religious groups, and even President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have expressed opposition to the bill.

"While the bill may not be the panacea to all our ills, it is definitely not the source of baseless paranoia," Lagman said.

On September 9, the committee on rules approved the plenary hearing of the controversial House Bill 5043 or the "Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development Act of 2008."

Arroyo, a devout Catholic, is backing the Church's position against artificial contraception as Congress tries to legislate a population management policy.

Lagman, the bill's author, hailed the endorsement of the bill for plenary consideration as a "victory for Reproductive Health advocates who have been waiting for the enactment of this bill for almost a decade and the 96 co-authors of the measure who are unwavering in their support for the bill's eventual enactment."

The bill was first jointly referred to the committee on health and committee on population and family relations which approved it in June.

In August the committee on appropriations approved the appropriation cover of the measure.

Iglesia backs population bill but rejects ‘rhythm’ way

Now this is quite interesting. =) Not only does Iglesia ni Cristo supports the passage of the RH Bill, it even REJECTS the idea of "natural" family planning methods endorsed by the Catholic Church...

Sex... definitely a "hot" issue, even drawing the differences between religious sects ...

Philippine Daily Inquirer

First Posted 22:46:00 09/16/2008

MANILA, Philippines—The Iglesia ni Cristo announced Tuesday its stand on the issue of family planning, virtually expressing support for the proposed Reproductive Health Act pending at the House of Representatives.

In a statement, INC spokesperson Bro. Bienvenido C. Santiago said, “The Iglesia ni Cristo accepts modern family planning methods or the use of what others call ‘contraceptives’ as long as they are not abortifacient in nature and they do not impose prolonged abstinence from sexual intercourse among married couples.”

Santiago explained that the INC is against abortion because it is a clear violation of the fundamental commandment “Thou shall not kill.”

He clarified, however, that INC rejects the rhythm method and other so-called “natural” family planning methods because “it is really contrary to nature.”

Among other things, he said, “That method runs counter to the apostolic teaching to all married couples which states “Do not deny yourselves to each other unless you first agree to do so for a while in order to spend your time in prayer; but then resume normal marital relations’ (I Cor. 7:5).”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH BILL 'Stoop down to grassroots,' Catholic hierarchy told

By Ephraim Aguilar
Southern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 21:38:00 09/13/2008

TABACO CITY, Albay -- If there were one staunch advocate left of the controversial reproductive health bill aside from its principal author, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, it would be Krisel Lagman-Luistro.

More than being the lawmaker's daughter, she is the mayor of Tabaco City and a nurse by profession.

By being a local chief executive and a health worker, Lagman-Luistro claims to be among the grassroots, where the society's perennial problems that the bill seeks to address lie.

“Every time I wed couples, I ask them how many children would they want to have. Most couples would say two,” the lady mayor said.

“But I would be interested to know, if after five years, the couple's desired family size was achieved,” she added.

Lagman-Luistro said there was a widening gap between the couple's right to found a family based on a desired size and the attainment of that right, something that the government must address.

“If each family desires only two children and is able to achieve that, how much savings would that bring the government?” she said.

“There would come a time when people would no longer have to wait in long queues just to get free medicine. We would have sufficient social services,” she added.

On Friday, Lagman made a bold statement ahead of the plenary debates on the proposed bill, also called House Bill 5043.

He said the Catholic Church would be rendering itself “irrelevant” to its flock by continuously opposing the measure and that an overwhelming number of Filipinos “strongly approve the government's allocation of funds for modern contraceptives.”

“If the Catholic Church wants to continue to become significant in the lives of the faithful, (it) must listen to (its) flock or risk becoming irrelevant,” the Albay lawmaker said.

His daughter said the Church should keep itself relevant by growing with the “nuances of today.”

She said the only thing the Church opposes is the use of contraceptives.

“The times are very much different now. We are more overpopulated than before. Providing for the basic needs of the people is more Christian,” she said.

Lagman-Luistro said the parish priests who are meeting people face-to-face could tell their superiors of their community's problems with unwanted pregnancies, spread of sexually transmitted diseases, overpopulation and poverty.

“But the problem with the Catholic hierarchy is that it has become even more political than the government,” she said.

Lagman-Luistro said that contrary to the belief of some, HB 5043 does not promote abortion but rather even prevents unplanned pregnancies.

“We simply want to give people more choices on family planning,” she clarified.

President Macapagal-Arroyo has been vocal in upholding the Church stand on the bill.

Ms Arroyo also pushed, instead, for the promotion of natural family planning methods.

Lagman-Luistro said they also support natural family planning as another option but it could be very impractical in cases when the couple could not plan their family efficiently together.

“If your husband is drunk how would you be able to tell him you could not have sex with him,” she said, adding that the bill also promotes gender equality.

Lagman-Luistro said the Church and the government should allow people to choose a legal, safe and effective means to plan their families.

“I cannot, as a leader, choose for my people. In the same way that the Church leaders could not choose for their flock. We are promoting choice,” she said.

When Lagman-Luistro represented the first district of Albay in Congress in 2001, she authored and proposed House Bill 4110 or the “Reproductive Health Care Act,” which was where HB 5043 originated.

“When opposition to HB 4110 arose, it's signatories withdrew one by one. The bill only reached the committee level,” she recounted.

“But this time, my father still sees the nation's need for [a population management law] so he continued our [reproductive health advocacy],” she added.

Lagman-Luistro said she saw brighter prospects for the reproductive health bill this time.

“First, there is a new breed of lawmakers. Second, the need for such a law to be passed is clearer because people are experiencing poverty,” she said, adding that after the food and economic crises that hit the country this year, the effects of overpopulation have become more vividly real.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Secular Rights and Monopolies of Morality: Reframing the Abortion Discourse in the Philippines

You are all invited to join a discussion entitled "Secular Rights and Monopolies of Morality: Reframing the Abortion Discourse in the Philippines" on September 17, 2008 at the UP College of Law 2-5 PM (Sta Ana Room, 3rd Floor, Malcolm Hall).

The presentation is based on Atty. Carolina Ruiz Austria's LLM Thesis submitted to the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto. Dr. Sylvia Estrada Claudio and Prof. Elizabeth Pangalangan will be the panelists/reactors.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Reproductive health bill up for debate at lower house

After so many years, so many revisions, so many debates and demonstrations, finally... the RH Bill is up for plenary discussions!!! So many Congress Sessions have opened and ended without this bill reaching the plenary for debates. And now, finally....

Ok guys, the HEAT is definitely ON!!!

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 19:07:00 09/09/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Amid strong opposition from the Catholic church and from no less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, reproductive health bill proponents at the House of Representatives are pushing for the measure, seen to curb the country's ballooning population.

On Tuesday, the committee on rules approved the plenary hearing of the controversial House Bill 5043 or the "Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development Act of 2008".

Arroyo, a devout Catholic, is backing the church's position against artificial contraception as Congress tries to legislate a population management policy.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, the bill's author, hailed the endorsement of the bill for plenary consideration as a "victory for Reproductive Health advocates who have been waiting for the enactment of this bill for almost a decade and the 96 co-authors of the measure who are unwavering in their support for the bill's eventual enactment."

The bill was first jointly referred to the Committee on Health and Committee on Population and Family Relations which approved it in June. In August the
Committee on Appropriations approved the appropriation cover of the measure.

"The bill is not about condoms and pills and neither is it about religion. It is primarily about health and rights," Lagman said in a statement. He added that the measure would be "an indispensable development tool given that rapid population growth impacts negatively on all aspects of human development."

The controversial bill was scarcely mentioned during Tuesday's budget hearing of the Department of Health at the House committee on appropriations.

The DoH is seeking a P33.3 billion budget from Congress for 2009.

Catholics in Pampanga vow to gather 1M signatures vs RH bill

Well, because they heard about the RH advocates' move to gather 1M signatures in support of the RH Bill, they, too, would like to gather the same. Well well well... COPYCATS!

By Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:19:00 09/09/2008

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—All 91 parishes under the Archdiocese of San Fernando buckled down to work on Tuesday, in gathering at least a million signatures from Catholics in Pampanga against the proposed Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008.

The signature drive rolled a day after Archbishop Paciano Aniceto launched it during the 52nd canonical coronation anniversary of the Virgen delos Remedios, the patroness of the province.

"Let's fight the culture of death, the anti-life conspiracy. [Let us] oppose the reproductive health bill," Aniceto, 71, told some 30,000 devotees who gathered for a Mass on the open field of the Villa del Sol here.

"We have given out the forms. We will gather at least one million signatures against the RH bill," he told reporters at the close of the event.

Aniceto said the RH bill, which he said promoted the use of modern contraceptives, was part of a global conspiracy against life. The Catholic Church accepts only the natural form of planning in population management and considers abortion a mortal sin. The RH bill does not contain any provision allowing abortion but Catholic bishops fear that the measure would lay the groundwork for the legalization of abortion in the country.

"The conspiracy is not only in the Philippines; it involves the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), affluent nations, NGOs (nongovernment organizations) in America with business interest here whose purpose is to generate profits for their pharmaceutical industry,” Aniceto said in a mix of Filipino and English.

“It is not the health or dignity of the family that is being defended here. It is greed and profit motive that is the main goal of this conspiracy against life," Aniceto said.

For lack of time, he said he did not read the manifestoes from the Family Life Forum chapters in Bicol, Cebu and Mindanao that earlier expressed support for the effort of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' commission on family and life to have the RH bill rejected in Congress.

The signature campaign in Pampanga will be completed in two months, according to Aniceto, chair of the CBCP commission.

At the event's venue, parish pastoral councils hung about 20 streamers that either condemned the RH bill or asked Catholics to protect the sanctity of lives and families.

"Ito ay isang pagpapahayag ng aming paniniwala bilang miyembro ng Archdiocese of San Fernando na kami'y tutol sa RH bill dahil hindi nito ginagalang ang sagradong origin, kahulugan, valor ng buhay ng pamilya lalo na mga babae at mga anak (We, as members of the Archdiocese of San Fernando, are doing this to show that we oppose the RH bill because this does not respect the sacred origin, meaning and value of life of families, especially of mothers and their children)," Aniceto said.

He said the launch was timed with the anniversary of the coronation of the patroness, she being the mother of life.

"Mama Mary gave life to the light, the way and truth, who is Jesus Christ," he said.
He said he already gave up hopes for dialogues with the author of the bill, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, adding the latter had issued statements expressing his position to push the measure into law.

"For the Church, there is no compromise for morality and the Ten Commandments. The Fifth Commandment is, 'Thou shall not kill,'" he said.

In July, Aniceto asked President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to clarify her position on the RH bill.

Lagman said Arroyo should respect the decision couples would make on which family planning method to use.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Behavior, not condoms, will stem AIDS, says Church

An interesting article on sex, religion and the RH bill was written by the Jester-in-Exile. Personally, one of the few blogs I check out every now and then.

Anyway, to the Catholic Church - Here you go again....

Read on:

Behavior, not condoms, will stem AIDS, says Church

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:28:00 08/30/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- The Catholic Church wants the health department to stop promoting the use of condoms to prevent the spread of the AIDS-causing HIV virus.

Pangasinan Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ Commission on Family and Life, said promoting the use of condoms was "dangerous and ineffective."

He was reacting to a statement of Health Undersecretary Mario Villaverde, who said last week that condom use is one of the most effective ways of stopping the spread of the AIDS-causing HIV virus.

Also, two senators -- Edgardo Angara and Pia Cayetano -- have called on the government to strengthen laws on AIDS prevention and control, including more seriously educating the public on how to avoid it by using protection, such as condoms.

But Archbishop Aniceto relayed the view of the Church in a statement issued on Saturday: “We are constrained to express grave concern over the press statement attributed to Undersecretary of Health Mario Villaverde that the Department of Health will now promote the nationwide use of condoms, allegedly as a means to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

Condom use will not effectively protect one from contracting the virus, the prelate said, adding that the prophylactic was not 100-percent foolproof.

“It is the duty of the DOH never to propose for general public use any prophylactic that could increase the incidence of the disease it is supposed to prevent,” the archbishop said.

“It is, therefore, irresponsible, imprudent, and dangerous for the department to declare that the use of the condom, without any change in unhealthy sexual behavior, will prevent sero-positive cases from transmitting HIV/AIDS to their sero-negative spouses,” he added.

The prelate said Villaverde’s statements coincided with the recent population report of the David and Lucille Packard Foundation and the intense debates on the reproductive health bill in the House of Representatives.

“We are inclined to view this as an underhanded way of subverting our strong moral and constitutional objection to the proposed legislation, and confronting the nation with a fait accompli bereft of any moral or constitutional basis,” Aniceto said.

The prelate said the most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus was to have a change in sexual behavior.

The idea of “safe sex,” he said, lulls men and women into complacency, thinking that using condoms would protect them from the disease.

“We must encourage men and women to live morally upright lives, and to practice marital fidelity and chastity within and outside marriage, instead of telling them that risky sexual behavior is acceptable, provided they wear a condom to protect them and their partners from HIV/AIDS,” he added.

The DoH said the country was still under the low prevalence group but the designation was not a cause for comfort. Last year, the health department said an average of 29 new cases is reported each month, an increase from the 20 cases in the previous years.

From 1984 to 2007, the number of registered cases stood at 3,061, with 2,754 still alive.

But the actual figure could be higher, said the DoH and the World Health Organization. In 2007, the two agencies estimated that there could be 7,490 people living with HIV in the Philippines, up from the 6,000 estimate in 2002.

Worldwide, the Vatican is under fire from health advocates for sticking to its hardline stance against artificial contraception, including condoms, in the face of the tragedy of AIDS.
With a report from Cynthia D. Balana