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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.