By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The Gabriela Women’s Party called on the Catholic Church to stop branding and name-calling party-list groups and candidates who supported the Reproductive Health Bill or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012. The Gabriela Women’s Party reiterated that their support to the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill lies on their advocacy for affordable and accessible health services for women.
The women’s group refers to the Team Patay (pro-RH) and Team Buhay (anti-RH) tarpaulin that was posted at San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacalod City. The said tarpaulin hung by the Diocese of Bacolod, listed under Team Pataysenatorial candidates and partylist groups that supported the RH Bill while under Team Buhay are senatorial candidates who voted against the said law.
There are seven senatorial candidates that the Diocese of Bacolod identified in the Team Patay list which includes; Makabayan senatorial bet Teddy Casiño, Liberal Party candidates Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Sonny Angara, Alan Peter Cayetano among others. The GWP, Bayan Muna, and Anakpawiswere also identified in the Team Patay list.
On the other hand, the Diocese of Bacolod identified six senatorial candidates and two partylist groups who voted against the RH Bill under Team Buhay namely, Joseph Victor Ejercito-Estrada, Antonio Trillanes, Gregorio Honasan, Mitos Magsaysay, Koko Pimentel and Cynthia Villar, Buhay Partylist and Ang Pamilya.
Meanwhile, the GWP once again stressed that their long-standing record in service and advocacy speaks of their commitment to uplift the lives of women and their families.
RH Bill for health services, not population control
“Since its inception, the Gabriela Women’s Party has consistently campaigned for women and children’s access to comprehensive health services. Our advocacy for women’s health is captured in its long standing campaign for LABKA health services,” GWP said. The LABKA acronym stands for Libre, Abot-kaya, Batayan at Kagyatna serbisyong kalusugan (Free, affordable, basic and immediate health services).
The Catholic Church’s opposition to the said bill lies on the issue of abortion. They stand against using contraceptives such as birth control pills because of their belief that preventing pregnancy constitutes abortion.
The government on the other hand pushed for the passage of the RH Bill to control the population.
The GWP maintained their position on the RH bill and reiterated their opposition against the RH Bill’s anti-poor provisions that consequently blames the nation’s poverty to the burgeoning population.
“We have always maintained that population control is anti-women and that the root cause of poverty are government policies that cause unemployment, landlessness, low wages and high prices.”
Also data from the Unicef Philippines office shows that 160 women for every 100,000 births die; roughly over 11 women die every day; seven out of 10 deaths occur at child birth or within a day after delivery; four out of 10 deaths are due to complications and widespread infections; eight out of 10 births in rural areas are delivered outside a health facility.
“Maternal mortality offers a litmus test of the status of women, their access to health care and the adequacy of the health care system to respond to their needs. As primary caregivers, mothers are crucial to infant survival and the child’s optimal development. But in order to become effective in this role, their rights too have to be addressed,” the Unicef website read.
The GWP commits to be vigilant so that the RH Bill will not be used as a vehicle by the administration of President Benigno Aquino III to force women to use contraception and blatantly campaign for population control.
“I think the ‘Team Patay’ tag is unfair, especially since my stand on the RH law is in fact based on my concern for the life and health of women and children,” said Casiño in a statement sent to Bulatlat.com.
Casiño said that he voted for the RH Bill because he believed that it will ensure the life and health of women and children. “If the family planned for everything, then it will be able to take care of all aspects of the lives of its members, most especially the mothers. The RH law will educate Filipino families to become more sensitive to the challenges of parenthood and caring for a child. Is this what they call ‘anti-life’?” he asked.
The GWP meanwhile said the Catholic Church hierarchy is misguided. They added that branding and name-calling should stop.
Casiño meanwhile laments, “It is really unfair to label a person or a candidate anti-life based on a single issue and disregard the track record and totality of a candidate’s stands on other issues equally important to human lives.”
Casiño then urged the Bacolod Diocese to also take as equally important basis the candidate’s advocacy for human rights, land reform, living wage, peace talks, anti-destructive mining, anti-death penalty and anti-political dynasty.
The GWP also said the church’s influence on voters should instead be used to campaign against those who support destructive mining and the plunder of our resources, those who are corrupt and those who will persist with the implementation of anti-people, neo-liberal policies and Oplan Bayanihan.