“The problem is that Filipinos are not being provided options and opportunities. There are very few jobs and there’s massive landlessness. The government has persisted in implementing economic programs and policies that worsen poverty instead of solving it. Poverty is a direct result of the government’s refusal to address the most basic needs of Filipinos: the establishment of an economic program and system that ensures that the country’s wealth is evenly distributed, and there are strong public support systems for education, health, housing, employment and genuine agrarian reform,” she said.
Linaban said Aquino has no right to blame the poor for their poverty, or parents for having many children.
“Responsible parenthood cannot be equated only with the number of children a family has. Still, Aquino should see that it is also the government’s duty to help Filipinos to become responsible parents by providing them with good, complete, comprehensive and accessible health care,” she said.
Linaban said that even as they push for the RH bill, they are also watchful against the programs and policies of the Aquino government that deprive women and children of basic social services, especially healthcare.
“As things are going now, it’s obvious that the Aquino administration wants to expand the control of multinationals and big business in the delivery of healthcare services. The president says that he is for the RH Bill, but, on the other hand, he is also hell-bent on privatizing or ‘corporatizing’ public hospitals and other government-run health institutions that provide health care to marginalized women, the elderly and the rest of poor Filipinos. There is a serious conflict in these positions, and it only goes to reveal Aquino’s hypocrisy,” she said.
In reference to specific provisions of the RH bill that perpetuate the population control agenda, Gabriela Rep. De Jesus said poor women and their wombs should not be blamed for the worsening poverty situation in the country.
“Even President Aquino seems to believe that women’s wombs are to be blamed for the continuing gaps in the educational system. In his Juy 23 State of the Nation Address (SONA) he linked the increasing student population to the need to promote ‘Responsible Parenthood’. Such an irresponsible accusation that the woes of the educational system are linked to women’s sexuality must be exposed as an attempt to shirk from the administration’s mandate to address and provide for our children’s right to education,” she said.
Gabriela wants LABKA
During the protests against Aquino’s SONA, Gabriela said it was fighting for genuine health care for Filipinos. It dubbed its prescription as LABKA, which stands for Libre (free and accessible), Angkop (correct) , Batayan (basic) at (and) Kagyat (immediate) health care services.
“It’s not only pregnant women who are suffering from the absence of a genuine universal health care system in the country. On a larger scale, more and more women and children are dying of easily preventable and curable illnesses because Aquino’s public-partnership program has made healthcare a luxury,” said Linaban.
Linaban said access to healthcare is a basic human right. “But what is Aquino doing? He’s privatizing healthcare services and facilities. Only multinationals and big businesses will benefit from this, and the damage is great for the poor. He’s even supporting moves to have charity wards in hospitals phased out,” she argued.
Bolstering Gabriela’s arguments for the need to improve the reproductive health care system are reports from the National Statistics Office (NSO) that two out of every 10 babies born in 2010 died at birth.
Based on NSO data, fetal deaths in 2010 numbered 8,095, higher by 0.6 percent compared to 2009 figures. Metro Manila registered the highest number of fetal deaths, followed by the Calabarzon Region IV-A and central Visayas Region VII. More than half of 51.7 percent of babies born dead or died immediately after birth came from these regions.
The main cause of death was stated as “disorders connected to short gestation and low birth weight.”
For her part, Gabriela Rep. De Jesus said they are vigilant that the passage of the RH Bill will guarantee the creation of and support for many levels of health facilities. She said there is a need for these facilities to be established down to the barangay (village) levels, so that even the barangay health stations can provide for basic prenatal, infant and family planning care.
Other proponents of the RH bill say that the proposal promotes equity for poor families. Basing their claims on various poverty statistics that show that there are severe inequities between the rich and poor. For example, 94 percent of women in the richest quintile have a skilled attendant at birth compared to only 26 percent in the poorest. Infant deaths among the poorest are almost three times compared to the richest.
“We want bigger allocations for public health that will also include reproductive health care. RH facilities will be the backbone of a strong and fairly distributed public health facility system. Women should have ready access to emergency obstetric and newborn care,” De Jesus said.
The lawmaker said that even if the RH Bill is not passed into law, it will not let up on its advocacy for reproductive health and a stop to the privatization of public health care hospitals and facilities.