Archive for June, 2011

Filipine Reproductive Health Bill, Part 2

by on Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Why the RH Bill is Bad

The Real Truth behind the Supposed Truth about the RH Bill

Dustin Celestino

This commentary was first posted Posted in Filipino Freethinkers on 03 May 2011. It is reposted here with permission.


I first met Dustin in a creative writing class we took together at the University of the Philippines. I became an immediate fan of his satire, often done in the tradition of Jonathan Swift.

Why the RH Bill is Bad

I used to support the RH Bill. I no longer do. By the end of this document, neither would you. I have not supported the RH Bill since I attended a lecture in Megamall about the truth behind it. That lecture truly enlightened me. My only hope is that this holy light of enlightenment passes through your monitor screen, into your optical nerves, and into your heart so it can touch your soul (because the soul is in the heart). My intent here is not to antagonize Pro-RH people, but to enlighten – so listen up, you narrow-minded morons. Open your minds to the real truth…

The RH Bill will put Filipinos at risk of extinction, because, at its very core, the RH Bill is an extension of a secret, global conspiracy – a western attempt – to implement principles of eugenics on unsuspecting, inferior populations in order to exclude them from the human evolutionary process, at the end of which would, at the apex, summon forth THE MASTER RACE. Anyone who failed to see this after the lecture is ignorant. I advise him or her to do his or her research, better yet, do some soul-searching to discover the real truth, because the truth is in our hearts, we just have to listen to it.

Initially, my layman’s interpretation of the RH Bill led me to think that it was just a bill meant to help educate the uninformed about ways to prevent them from fornicating their way to a very bad financial situation. My ignorant mind devised 10 simple points as to why the RH Bill was right.

I thought:

1. The minimum wage – the lowest an employer can pay an employee – of a non-agricultural Filipino worker is P404. [$9.40 a day]

2. If there were 20 working days in a month (because most people don’t work on the weekend), the average minimum-wage-earning Filipino would earn around P8,000 a month. [$186]

3. Let’s call that person, Joey. If Joey, like other human beings, ate food on a regular basis, he will spend around P70/day on food (and that’s a very, very conservative assumption). There are 30 days in a month, so I guess, that would amount to P2,100 a month. [$48.83]

4. But if Joey had a wife that he loved, he might want to feed her too. Feeding her would cost another P2,100 a month.

5. P8,000 – P4,200 = P3,800 [$88.37]

6. If Joey and his wife rented a home, or used electricity and bathed from time to time, the amount left from Joey’s salary would be significantly reduced. Let’s say their utility bills and rent amounted to P1800.

7. P3,800 – P1800 = P2,000 [$46.51]

8. P2,000 is a lot of money, but I don’t think Joey and his wife should have more than 3 children, right? I mean, I don’t have children, but just by looking at one, I can safely assume that they cost more than P1,000/month. Babies need milk, diapers, toys, immunity injections, baby medicine…

9. From this I deduced that babies cost money. If babies cost money, I theorized that having more babies would cost more money. And from this data, I observed that a person who spent a lot of money on children, but didn’t earn a lot of money, would soon be broke and unable to provide for both himself and his children. Another word for this broke situation is poverty.

10. I theorized that a person can avoid being poor by making less babies. So, I thought that steps should be taken to inform people about this very little known fact. I also thought that the government should make contraceptives accessible so that people who don’t earn a lot can properly manage the little resources that they have. That’s why I supported the RH Bill.

But now I know that I was wrong. And here are some of the reasons why I know that. By the way, before I continue, I must say that this is the truth, guys. In fact, it’s more than the truth. It’s the Catholic truth, which means that it’s truer and more true than the regular truth.

I know that the issue of the RH Bill is not a religious issue, but make sure you pay attention if you want your soul to be saved. Here are some of the things I learned from the lecture:

“The RH Bill is wrong because it assumes that the Philippines is overpopulated.”

I agree. I, myself, have observed that the Philippine is NOT overpopulated. In fact, if you use your common sense and think about it, you will realize a few things:

1. We are not overpopulated! Look at the mountains, the jungles, the caves and the ocean floor. There are no people there!

2. If we were really overpopulated, we would have trouble travelling. But if you go to EDSA, there’s no traffic. When you ride the MRT, it’s not packed with people.

3. Students in public schools are well educated because the teacher to student ratio is very low. In fact, because of our low population the government can basically guarantee that all public school students are provided books, notebooks and other school supplies.

“The RH Bill is wrong because it assumes that contraceptives are good for mankind and women.”

1. I agree, the RH Bill is not good for women because it might draw a woman away from her one, true, universal purpose – the uninterrupted production of healthy babies.

2. Furthermore, the role of women in society and the universe is to make babies. That’s why God made women. That’s their sole purpose in life. They’re not good for anything else. Ever wonder why there are no women in the clergy? Because they’re not good enough.

3. Contraceptives would allow women to enjoy the benefits of physical intimacy while maintaining a successful and productive career, if she so chooses. That is so wrong. Only men should be able to enjoy that privilege.

4. Women should get pregnant every single time they have sex and only immoral women enjoy sex without the possibility of conception. In fact, a better alternative would be for women, in general, to follow the example made by Mother Mary – to learn how to conceive without having sex.

“The RH bill will put Filipinos at risk of extinction!”

1. I agree. If we pass the RH bill, we will become extinct, like dinosaurs. The dinosaurs are all dead. If we don’t want to be extinct, we should not pass the RH Bill. I mean, do you really want to be a dinosaur?

2. In my opinion, it wouldn’t even be far-fetched to speculate that the most probable reason the dinosaurs became extinct was because they used contraceptives.

3. Population decline is just bad for nations. Just look at the countries which have a declining population – Italy, Japan and Singapore. They’re in such a bad shape. The Philippines obviously has a better economy and has a higher literacy rate than these countries. In fact, many Italians, Japanese, and Singaporeans go to the Philippines for work. That only goes to show that a decline in population is bad for the economy.

“Our population is our biggest asset!”

1.  In my opinion, people should make as many babies as they can because the population is not a problem. In fact, the more babies a person has, the more assets he has. Forget real estate properties, stock investments, or Jollibee franchises. The real secret to increased wealth is babies.

2. If you have 15 babies, you’re practically wealthy because babies are assets:

2.1 If you need money, you can sell them.

2.2 If you can keep them alive until they can walk, they can one day beg for money in the streets – they’re going to have to anyway because there’s no way in hell you’ll be able to provide for all of them on your own.

3. If ever a person is not able to feed the 15 babies he made, it’s the governments fault, because it’s the governments sole responsibility to make sure that every Filipino baby is fed.

4. The best way a person can contribute to his country is to contribute to its population.

“The RH Bill is wrong because it assumes that reproductive education and contraceptives will effectively reduce cases of abortion.”

1. Reproductive/contraceptive education will have no effect on the number of abortion cases. In my opinion, these abortion cases will not lessen because women will continue to have abortions regardless of whether they are pregnant or not.

2. Abortions cannot be prevented. It’s just something that women naturally do. Like shopping, for example.

“The RH Bill is wrong because it will make people participate in extra-marital and pre-marital sex.

1. By approving the RH Bill, we as a nation, are practically encouraging our people to engage in immoral activities.

2. We must protect our moral values and reject the RH Bill. Because, currently, not a single Filipino engages in pre-marital sex or extra-marital sex. As soon as this bill is approved, Filipino people will run the streets naked and start a national orgy!

3. The root cause of extra-marital and pre-marital sex is one’s exposure to contraceptives. There is just something in contraceptives that people find very arousing.

4. In Western countries, men lure strange women into bed by showing them condoms.

5. If we ban condoms, absolutely no one would engage in pre-marital or extra-marital sex.

“The RH Bill is wrong because it assumes that parents don’t teach their children about sex.”

1. The truth is that parents talk to their children about sex all the time. It’s so not awkward. The dad usually tells his children how he takes off all his clothes, does a sexy Tiger growl and makes sweet, sweet music with their mother’s body.

2. Also, a father usually advises his daughter that if she’s going to have sex with her boyfriend, she should use a condom. Sometimes the father even drives the daughter to the boyfriend’s house and waits for the couple to finish.

3. Filipino daughters don’t have sex without the father’s permission. Unwanted pregnancies or teen pregnancies never happen to Filipino girls. That’s why we do not need the RH Bill.

“The RH Bill is a conspiracy.”

1. It’s lies, all lies!

“The RH Bill is wrong because the priest said so, and priests are never wrong.”

The biggest reason why we should not pass the RH Bill is because the priests told us that we shouldn’t. As anyone should know, priests, men of the clergy, should be the authority on sexual and reproductive matters because they have the most knowledge and experience with sex and reproduction. They are true sexperts – legendary masters of erotic affairs. If you are a real Catholic, you would do everything they say, because they’re always right.

Sample response to Dustin’s post:

Oh, my God, are you serious? I mean, are you being ironic or something?

Filipine Reproductive Health, Part 1

by on Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Except from the RH Bill:

The enactment of the RH bill is long overdue because although, reproductive health has long been considered a basic universal human right, this right remains elusive and illusory for millions of Filipinos, especially the poor. Consider the following:

* 2.6 million Filipino women would like to plan their families but lack information and access to do so. (Family Planning Survey 2006)

* The poorest Filipinas are still having an average of 6 children (this is almost 3 times their desired number of children). (FPS 2006)

* 44% of the pregnancies in the poorest quintile are unwanted. (FPS 2006)

*  Among the poorest women who would like to avoid pregnancy, at least 41% do not use any contraceptive method because of lack of information or access. (FPS 2006)

* 54% of married women do not want an additional child but 49% of them are not using any form of family planning method (2008 National Demographic and Health Survey).

* 22% of married Filipino women have an unmet need for family planning services (2008 NDHS), an increase by more than one-third since the 2003 NDHS.

* Only 67% of all births in the Philippines are planned. The rest are either mistimed or unwanted (NDHS 2008).

* Women want fewer children than what they actually have. The total wanted fertility in the country of 2.4 children is 27% lower than the actual total fertility rate of 3.3 children (NDHS 2008).

* 42% of women consider a two-child family as the ideal family size (2008 NDHS).

* Correct and consistent use of contraceptives will prevent one-third of all maternal deaths and family planning helps prevent 1 million infant deaths worldwide (WHO and UNFPA)

* Precise and regular use of contraceptives can decrease abortion rates by as much as 85% (Allan Guttmacher Institute).

The proposed bill is pro-poor, pro-women and pro-life. Its principal beneficiaries will be the poorest of the poor and the marginalized. Reproductive health and family planning significantly improves maternal health and lowers maternal morbidity. Having the ability to plan and space children will afford women more employment and educational opportunities and will significantly lower abortion rates. The bill will also prevent infant and child deaths. Family planning will likewise mean larger investments in children’s health and education and better health outcomes for children. With resultant lower maternal and infant deaths and capacity for more investments in health and education, RH is definitely pro-life.

Link to RH Bill:

Red Tani

On May 26, I met with Red Tani, President of Filipino Freethinkers, whose group is very active in support of the Reproductive Health Bill. I asked him to talk about the bill and its chances for passage.

Red’s story

First of all the Reproductive Health Bill three issues: reproductive health, responsible parenthood—a favorite phrase of President Benigno Aquino—and population and development. On a very fundamental level it’s about giving women the right to do what’s best for their own bodies and giving families the ability to choose how many children they’ll have. On a more social or macro level, it’s about how we as a country can regulate our population so it doesn’t become put a damper on the development plans we have. It’s also in line with the Philippine development goals of reducing maternal deaths or infant deaths. So it’s about having a quality of life beyond just surviving. And it’s about preventing unnecessary death, such as the eleven maternal deaths that happen every day due to childbirth complications of various kinds. In the year 2008 there were around 580,000 induced abortions. Of those 90,000 failed and put the life of the mother at risk. The women ended up in the hospital, and 1,000 actually died. These are the deaths we want to prevent, and we believe that contraception is the best way to do it. Even in other countries, when you increase the rate of effective contraception you lower the number of induced abortions. This has been proven across the board. So that’s what the RH Bill is about.

Women’s rights groups, population and development groups, both governmental and non-governmental organizations have been fighting for this bill or some other form of the bill for around sixteen years. It’s been delayed again and again by the conservative groups, namely the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and Pro-Life Philippines, one of the conservative Catholic groups, among others. Today the bill is the farthest along in the legislative process than it’s ever been. In Congress it’s being debated and interpellations [questions about parliamentary procedure] are going on, but there’s a danger of the bill being delayed further. That’s the tactic that anti-RH legislators have chosen to stick to.

They want the bill delayed indefinitely. They don’t want it to go to a vote because many of them think that we have the numbers right now. Of course the opposition interprets this not because of the merits of the bill, but because the pro-RH groups have a large foreign funding of some sort. So they like to bring out these imperialist plots and conspiracy theories all the time to distract people from what’s really going on. It’s interesting because in a third-world country they can’t use the Tea Party tactics, the right-libertarian tactics of individualism or “protective corporations.” People just won’t buy it here. So they’ve substituted this anti-imperialist rhetoric to rile up the people’s nationalist sympathies.

So that’s basically it. We’re in the middle of the debates, but the opposition is bringing up numerology. You’d think it was bad enough to bring up arguments about God and whether we’re a Catholic country or what version of Catholicism the Philippines is supposed to follow—the progressive Catholic countries or the Vatican or whatever. But then they bring up numerology, saying that the RH Bill, which is House Bill 4244, would cause misfortune because the number has all these 4’s in it. Four is supposed to be an unlucky number because in Chinese “four” [si] is a homophone of “death” [si]. So it’s turning into a circus, really. It can be entertaining to watch, but it’s really unfortunate that it’s come to this. These are the tactics that the anti-RH people are going to continue to use to get what they want, which is to delay its passage once again.

In 2009 we had a victory when the Magna Carta of Women was passed. But curiously that’s being used against the RH Bill. The opposition is saying that a number of the measures of the RH Bill are already covered in that law. They’ll really use anything.

Kenneth Keng, who was assaulted by a former Congressional candidate during RH proceedings

Our plans are, first of all, to raise the awareness of our members to what’s going on. We broadcast the sessions—live sometimes—we write about what’s happening inside, we inform the public. We encourage people to learn about the bill, to write to the legislators about their support. We really don’t have any problems regarding support. Between 68% and 71% of Filipinos believe the bill should be passed. We are also giving a voice to the silent majority. So we do that, but I think it’s more crucial to expose the dirty tricks the anti-RH legislators are using, like delaying the sessions and bringing up topics that are not really related and have already been discussed. They want to keep rehashing things ad nauseam just to waste time.

There are some legislative stipulations that say after a certain number of arguments or counter-arguments you can call for a vote. We hope to bring it to that. If we can’t civilly or respectfully ask them to be serious about discussing the merits of the bill, we hope that we can at least force a vote. Win or lose, we think that it’s time—just so we know how things really stand. If we lose, at least we have new information, rather than this standstill, this stalemate that’s been going on for more than a decade, almost two decades.

We hope to give the passage of the bill as a gift to all Filipinas, the whole country, but also to those who started this battle. They’re very old now, but some of them are still active in the movement. The principal author of the bill, Edcel C. Lagman, wouldn’t have run for office in the last election if the RH Bill had passed. But when he didn’t he said, “Let’s do this once more, and this is the time it’s going to pass.” We hope that it does pass for the sake of these people who have worked so hard for so long, and of course for the sake of the whole Philippines. I mean, it’s kind of pathetic, really, that it’s taken us so long to rein in all of the fundamentalist elements and work toward development. We will not reach our millennium development goal without the RH Bill. I think it’s our responsibility and it’s the responsibility of our legislators to work toward that. So we hope the bill comes to a vote before the end of the legislative session, which I think is in August. We hope that it goes to a vote then.

Yes, the anti-RH side is saying that the money is better spent on things like education and basic needs—food, shelter. We do have people saying that it’s too expensive. There are people who really believe that, and there are people who know the arguments and just use this because it’s effective. They claim that all of the money for the RH Bill will go to procuring contraceptives, which is not true. That’s just a small part of it. The money also goes for education, training of midwives, hospitals, facilities.

Access to birth control now depends on the province. Of course, there are richer provinces that subsidize these expenses more, but it’s not standard. And this is one of the problems which the RH Bill wishes to address. So it aims to have a hospital for approximately every 500,000 people. With this comes the provisions and the services. It’s not standard. There are many places where so many people have to share just one resource center.

Yes, you do need a prescription to buy a condom. We also fought against that ordinance in Ayala Alabang Village [a very prosperous area], which was the first barangay [community, local district] to implement such an ordinance. Among other things, a prescription is required for buying contraceptives, even condoms. It’s understandable to require a prescription for the birth control pill, but for all contraceptives, that’s too much. We went to the debates in Alabang, and we protested. The local ordinance was really an underhanded way of forwarding this anti-RH agenda. So the people behind it are also the people behind the whole anti-RH movement.

We have some good news. So far I think the provincial body which regulates barangays has already reached a decision that that we should drop this. This is not in accordance with our law, much less the national law that we are supposed to adhere to. So a happy ending is in sight there. But when this was happening in Alabang it spread to other barangays, like Bataan and Laguna. So I’m not sure of the status of these similar ordinances.

Also, there is the first-ever law in the City of Manila, where a very conservative mayor got out an ordinance, Executive Order 3, which makes acquiring contraceptives and information about birth control very difficult. The people who were opposed to it joined the RH bandwagon because they thought, “If we have the RH Bill, this ordinance will be eliminated anyway, right? So let’s just work for the RH.” But the RH hasn’t passed. It’s been delayed again and again, so the ordinance is still there.

In the Philippines abortion is always illegal, even in cases of rape and incest. You can never terminate a pregnancy. The farthest they are willing to go in the case of incest is emergency contraception, but not abortion. The decision to terminate a pregnancy is always made on a case-by-case basis. In practice, when the life of the mother is at risk, sometimes they use the loophole of “self-defense,” that is, the mother is only terminating the pregnancy to protect her own life.

One of the main issues is providing better care in case abortions do happen. Many critics say this will encourage people to have abortions because they think they’ll be taken care of if it goes wrong. Of course only a limited number of people who would outright say that they don’t want to help someone who is in the hospital and dying. But those people do exist. In several hospitals, women have tried to get care after attempts to induce abortions on themselves, and the doctors have either just let them die or debated whether to take care of the woman while she is bleeding to death. Worse, there are some who will say to a dying woman, “This is all your fault. You’re a sinner. You’re going to hell.”

Related links:

Bill to Increase Access to Contraception is Dividing Filipinos

Church and State in Manila

Nicholas Kristof, Birth Control over Baldness

FF Video Podcast Episode 5: Ayala Alabang Village Ordinance vs. RH

Overpopulation is a myth (short video worth watching even if your Tagalog is not so good)

United States: Abortion Foes Push to Redefine Personhood (restricting birth control)

Check to see how population growth is connected to poverty.