Text and photographs by BUCK PAGO
In a Christian-dominated country like the Philippines, the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill — where artificial contraception and sex education is the main focus — is very difficult to pass. The Church opposes the bill, saying any contraception that is not “natural” is immoral.
The RH bill aims to educate people on both natural and artificial family planning and make it available in every public hospital and health centers in the country. In this way, it lowers the alarming numbers of teenage pregnacy, maternal and newborn mortality, and sexually transmitted diseases. It will also improve public maternal facilities and child and newborn health.
At present, the Philippines has a population of 95 million. With a birth rate of 26 births per 1,000 population, it is one of the highest in Asia.
The Jose Fabella Hospital in Manila is one of the busiest maternal public hospital in Asia, with an average of 80-100 births per day.
In a country classified as third world, majority of Filipinos are living below poverty line. Artificial contraception is not an option, or at least difficult to sustain for people struggling to live on a $2 budget per day. Without an effective system for controlling the ballooning population, the numbers would increase to 115 million in the next five years, directly affecting food security, education, jobs, health, and the environment.
To date, the RH bill remains pending in Congress since it was first introduced in 1999. Since then, the issue has been debated by many sectors, and one of the those who openly oppose the bill is the Catholic Church, which uses its influence against the bill. However, under the new administration, the number of pro-RH bill politicians increased promisingly, and the issue has been one of the main concerns and a campaign issue of the newly elected president. But many doubt his true stand on the bill, mainly due to his affilliations with the Church.
Until the the RH Bill is passed or any government measures are put up to stop population growth in the country, problems in food, health, education, jobs, poverty and environment will continue to hold back the development and will continue to bury many Filipinos in poverty. (Bulatlat.com)