Saturday, October 4, 2008

By Congressman Ruffy Biazon

This is Congressman Ruffy Biazon's Multiply posting regarding this take on the Reproductive Health Bill.  He serves the city of Muntinlupa.  This is his unique perspective as a public servant that has to face these issues day in and day out. 

I want the RH Bill passed in this congress.  Yes, I support the RH Bill.


For the first time in so many years and congresses, the debate on the Reproductive Health Bill has finally reached the Plenary. The debates are now raging, not just in the session hall but even in the media, with particular emphasis in print through the successive paid ads by the opposing groups.

In previous congresses, the bill did not make it beyond the committee hearings. On hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise, since it gave the bill time to be refined so as to become more palatable to a wider social spectrum. The bill in its present form is far from what the original bill used to be, which could be said to have been crude in present terms. All the debates over the years have contributed to revisions and inputs that addressed the concerns from various sectors.

In all these discussions on the proposed measure, legislators are asked one basic and compelling question----“Where do you stand on Reproductive Health?”

I was in a forum with students of the Ateneo de Naga last month, and during the open forum, I was asked that question. Immediately, the thought that came to my mind was the fact that only a couple of weeks before, the university held a rally against Reproductive Health. Of course, that thought was quickly followed by a question to myself…How should I answer? 

I answered the students’ question with a story. I related to them my grassroots experience, particularly with my constituents whom I deal with in the everyday performance of my job.

I told them the story of Grace, a constituent of mine who lives along the railroad tracks, one of thousands of informal settlers along the stretch of the right of way of the Philippine National Railways which cuts through 8 of the 9 barangays of Muntinlupa City.

Grace is 25 years old, and pregnant. I met Grace during one of my community visits and when I saw her bulging stomach, I asked her if it was her first baby, as is my habit whenever I see a pregnant woman during my rounds in the city. She said no, it is her fifth child, with the first one born when she was 18. Her husband is employed as a laborer, but only has work every now and then.

Asked if it was their desire to have that much children, she said if she had her way, she would have stopped having kids after the second. But they didn’t practice any family planning method since they didn’t know anything about it. She also said that when her husband comes home intoxicated with liquor, she has no way to turn down his advances. Lest he gets mad and violent. Obviously, Natural Family Planning will not work for her.

Other stories of my constituents include that of Marissa, a first time mother who was eight months pregnant when she availed of the free pre-natal medical mission that my office conducted. Marissa and her husband live with her mother in law in one of the urban poor communities in Muntinlupa. While she was waiting in line, one of the barangay health workers assisting us requested me to let Marissa go in front of the line, since she wasn’t feeling well and was bloated. I took a look at her and indeed, saw that her ankles were swollen, indicative of edema and pre-eclampsia.

I let her go in front of the line to see the OB-GYN and have an ultra-sound of her belly. The image revealed that Marissa’s baby was being compressed by an enlarged placenta and what appeared to be a myoma. The placenta also had dark blotches, indicative of an internal bleeding.

We immediately sent Marissa to the hospital, since it was determined that hers was an emergency medical condition. When we interviewed her, she admitted that it was the first time she had a pre-natal check up, since she did not have the money to go to a doctor, even in a government hospital. She said instead of spending for the fare going to the clinic, she just saves it up for their daily needs and saving for the baby’s needs when the baby is born.

Another story is that of Vilma, a utility worker in one of the Muntinlupa elementary schools. Aged 27, she has 3 children and her husband is a construction worker. Together, they earn around 10,000 pesos a month. After her third child, she decided to have a ligation because she felt that with three children to take care of, they wouldn’t be able to afford having an additional child without having to sacrifice some needs of the kids they already have. I asked her why she chose to have a ligation. Slightly embarrassed, she said she wanted to stop having children while at the same time fulfill her “marital obligations” to her husband. With a giggle, said it’s better than her husband find satisfaction elsewhere.

In a similar mindset is Rhodora, a school teacher who had a ligation after her second child, which was a special child. After her second kid, she wanted to have enough time and resources to attend to the needs of her special child, not to mention her first child as well. So she consulted her gynecologist and requested that the she undergo the procedure.

Her doctor refused, saying it is against his beliefs to do the procedure. Rhodora asked for a referral, and she was referred to a colleague of the doctor. But just like the first doctor, the second one also refused, trying to convince her not to proceed, citing that it is immoral. In the end, Rhodora had to look again for another doctor, since it she felt that the service she is looking for is being denied her on the grounds of personal beliefs of the doctors.

These are just some of the stories that I commonly encounter among my constituents. Such situations are most common in the poorer communities, resulting in high incidence of malnutrition, school drop-outs, maternal and infant death, birth complications and scarcity of family resources.

Since I regularly hold medical missions in my district, I get first hand experience and information on the health conditions in the communities. Hygiene is often a problem, especially that families live in confined spaces in the urban poor communities, so the spread of disease is more likely. One of my regular activities is the conduct of prenatal medical missions, There is not a mission where we do not encounter pregnant teenagers, the youngest of which has been 14 years old.

For example, not many people know that cervical cancer may be spread through sexual contact. Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus, the cause of the common wart, which may be passed from male to female. Not many people know that hygiene plays an important part in preventing the spread and cause of cervical cancer, as well as prudent sexual practices. More importantly, not many know that cervical cancer is easy to detect and cure if diagnosed early. This is because there is no policy on reproductive health.

The fact of the matter is that many of the health problems encountered in the grassroots may be attributed to the lack of reproductive health services available to the people. While some limit themselves to the issue of population and birth control in the discussions about RH, the bill is not only about population and sex. It is more about the delivery of services to the people who are in need of it. The absence of a policy opens people up to medical risks and leaves them nowhere to go but to unreliable, ineffective and sometimes life threatening remedies.

A case in point is the proliferation of vendors right beside the Quiapo church who openly sell concoctions labeled “Pang-pa Regla”. It is common knowledge that many of those who patronize those vendors do so with the intention of getting rid of unwanted pregnancies. Even if they weren’t pregnant and just wanted to have regular menstruation, it is still the wrong place to go for treatment or service. 

This is not to say that having Reproductive Health services will enable the availability of abortion. The bill expressly maintains that abortion continues to be illegal in the country. To say that the bill legalizes abortion is an outright lie and deception. My point in citing the “pang-pa regla” vendors is the fact that the absence of reproductive health services and information leads to people’s ignorance about reproductive health issues and their body’s reproductive systems. If they had the right information and services available, they would know that availing of the products sold by those vendors would not only be ineffective, it may even be harmful.

The intentions of the bill’s authors and supporters are not to legalize abortion, spread a culture of promiscuity or destroy the family. It is the intention of the bill’s authors and supporters to meet the needs of a significant portion of the population for reproductive health services and information. There is absolutely no intention to impose on couples particular methods that they should employ in planning their families. It is the intention of the bill to provide information to people about responsible parenthood, family planning, avoiding unwanted pregnancies and an informed choice on which method best fits their beliefs, convictions and needs.

To continuously insist that there are other ulterior motives other than the welfare of Filipino couples and families is to deny the existence of the problems faced daily by the people. To stop the adoption of a public policy on reproductive health is a denial of service to those who seek reproductive health care.

Some make it seem that the bill if passed into law will force people to use contraceptives. Even without the bill, contraceptives are available in the commercial market. What is not available in the present regime is the correct information about contraceptives and reproductive health. What the bill will provide if passed into law, is reliable and uniform information and services which people may avail of if they so desired. Whether it is modern or natural family planning method, the couple is left to decide after being properly informed.

Why do I support the bill?

Because there are those who have signified the need to have the correct information and reliable reproductive health services . 

Because I have seen first hand during my service to my constituents the consequences of the continued denial of information and service to the people.

Because there are women whose bodies have been ravaged by multiple consecutive pregnancies even if they had not planned it.

Because there are women who have been physically abused by their husbands because they refused to indulge their spouses because “it is not the right time”.

Because I have seen too many teenage pregnancies which could have been avoided had these young women been informed about their adolescent reproductive system.

Because I have seen too many complications in pregnancies and births from the poor constituents that come to my office for medical assistance.

Because I have seen too many infant and maternal deaths, orphaned children, bereaved husbands.

Because I have seen children dropping out of school because their parents cannot afford to send all their children to school at the same time.

Because there are many malnourished children whose ability to learn has been impaired.

Because I have constituents who have acquired diseases that could have been prevented if only there was appropriate information and service available to them.

Some might say that instead of supporting the proposed measure, we should just allocate enough resources to other services such as education, housing and the eradication of corruption. There is no doubt to that. We should do those things. We are trying to do those things. But at the present situation, even if we are able to provide the right number of classrooms, the right number of teachers and all the books that the students need, the ability of poor families to send their children to school is hampered by their absolute lack of resources to provide for the cost of sending the kids to school ----- transportation, snack, uniforms, other miscellaneous requirements, etc.

Statistics show that of 10 children who enter elementary school, only 6 go on to high school, and only 2 finish high school. And based on actual experience in my district, it is not due to the lack of classrooms or teachers. It is the day to day difficulty of surviving through life with the severely limited resources of poor families. Bottomline is, how can a child who does not finish studies lead the ideal productive life?

The intention is not to prescribe a limit on the number of children but to enable couples to decide their family size based on correct information and according to their desired number of children and capability to provide support. 

Those who oppose the bill cite various statistics and studies all done abroad. I’m taking a position that is based on what I see with my own eyes as I perform my duties. I see the living conditions of my constituents on a daily basis, especially many of them come to my office to seek assistance for various reasons---health, education, livelihood, etc. On the other hand, I also see what government is trying to do with the little it has to serve the needs of the people.

It is unfair to those who support the bill to be labeled “anti-life”, “anti-family”, “pro-abortion” and many other monickers on the basis of a pre-conceived notions. If there is anyone who desires the best for the Filipino family, that would be the one who is most familiar to the daily struggles of the poor families. The question should not only be whether you are pro-life or not (because there is absolutely no one who is anti-life), but also if the people deserve quality of life.


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Bob Guerrero said...

Thanks so much for posting this. It's amazingly well-written. I will pass it on. :)

Mrs. O . said...

I worry about the undertones here....I do take offense with the Congressman's example of 'Grace' and her 5 kids...Congressman Biazon is implicating that well, if Grace just gets rid of two, even one of her kids, she'll be better off financially....In that case, which kid is Grace going to get rid of? Grace is married to an alcoholic. Seems to me that's the problem. Stop spending your money on booze and feed your children! Congressman Biazon's premise that poor people don't have the means to provide for their family, therefore they should be assisted in every means to avoid having family is down right cruel ... Every person has the right to family, whether poor or rich. If the Congressman really cares about the Filipino family and their 'quality' of life, why doesn't he help the community by counseling the people on their addictions - whether it's substance abuse like alcoholism, or gambling, or excessive shopping[?] Natural Family Planning as taught by the Archdiocese, as endorsed by The Vatican works if couples learn to communicate, sacrifice and abstain from sex until a later time when the woman is infertile. Natural Family Planning is taught worldwide and is effective because it uses the body's natural signal of fertility to achieve or avoid pregnancy. Look at, just because couples don't know how how to communicate their needs to one another i.e. one spouse's needs are being ignored, while the other is being indulged is NOT a reason for government to create a bill...The bill isn't going to fix the root of the problem, i.e. in each household, each family has dysfunctions whether it be domestic abuse, alcoholism, being in debt, etc. These problems each and every family has to solve on their own and if the Government wants to help, train counselors and psychologists that can help these families overcome domestic abuse, alcoholism, debt. While the bill doesn't outright say abortion, it's certainly flirting with something evil...It sounds ominous...Sounds like 'big government' trying to put its nose where it doesn't belong....The government would be better off by taxing [big time] the San Miguel Beer companies and its subsidiaries for advertising in otherwise 'poorer' neighborhoods and giving those tax pesos back to the poor.....The country would be better off by infusing every high school with lessons on The Billings Method, Natural Family Planning, sure, teach every high school kid about their reproductive gifts and their rights, but I agree, teach them about hygiene first etc....The proposed policy on reproductive health as endorsed by the Congressman, though in rhetoric may sound 'well-intentioned' doesn't address the issue of abstinence and the importance of monogamous relationship, so no wonder one can't help but to question its ulterior motives....These teenage pregnancies could've been avoided if the parents taught them that sex should be between a husband and a wife..These teenage pregnancies could've been prevented if the parents taught their children to delay gratification, to wait, sacrifice, etc....Studies here in the United States have consistently shown that using contraceptives actually increases a teenager's chances of pregnancy, which is why here in The Unites States with the help of Planned Parenthood, there was a huge increase in teenage pregnancies at one point b/c of the massive distribution of contraceptives to teenage girls,yes, you guessed it by Planned Parenthood....

Mrs. O . said...

By the way, for those that believe that contraceptions prevent pregnancies:

Bob Guerrero said...

What do you mean by "get rid of?" Nobody is saying we should get rid of anybody. Grace is a cautionary tale. What we are saying here is that women should control the sizes of their families so that they don't end up like Grace.

Bob Guerrero said...

Of course everybody has a right to have children. What we are saying is that they should control the size of their families so that they should only have the number of children they can afford to bring up. I doubt very much that the RH Bill says that certain poor families should not have children.

Bob Guerrero said...

These are all good aims. is the RH Bill against any of these? I don't think so.

Mrs. O . said...

I was hoping for a better rebuttal, but if you want to argue points of semantics...I repeat -what I said was that I worry about the undertones...Certainly, nobody is saying that he should get rid of anybody...It's the implications behind his premises that I question....

Bob Guerrero said...

Totally untrue. I think the supporters of the bill make it clear that they are not trying to legalize abortion. Your statement is blatantly subjective and has no basis in truth.

Bob Guerrero said...

One of the problems is unwanted pregnancies. The bill will certainly help fix that. Of course the other problems you mentioned are big problems also, and we should support those lawmakers who make bills to solve those problems.

Mrs. O . said...

Ditto. If you want to 'control' the size of your family, I'm down with that! And what I'm saying is use Natural Family Planning, use The Billings Method, use communication, sacrifice, delay intercourse until the woman is infertile....But tackle verbal abuse, treat/counsel domestic abusers....

Bob Guerrero said...

Of course. The bill should inform people about ALL forms of modern contraception, including these. I don't think the Bill says that these forms should be ignored.

Mrs. O . said...

They are not trying to legalize abortion, but again, the undertones, the implications are use contraceptives, contracept....This is dangerous b/c increasing the availability of contraception leads to an increase in sexual activity. In my country alone, here in the US, the national survey of sexual behaviour reports a large increase over the past two decades in the proportion of teenagers who are sexually active--then it is not surprising that the rate of teenage conceptions continues to increase. The answer is not more contraception or emergency contraception but a change in attitude towards sexual behaviour.

Bob Guerrero said...

I respect your POV on this. In an ideal world people wait to get married before having sexual relationships. But we do not live in an ideal world. We never will. This is reality. This is 2008. People have sexual relations outside of marriage these days. And no amount of Church teaching can prevent people from doing what is biologically ingrained in them to do.

Bob Guerrero said...

What undertones? It's all subjective. I don't read any undertones. You read them, I don't. The bill is clear in saying it does not want to legalize abortions. Plain and simple.

Mrs. O . said...

If you truly want to prevent teenage pregnancies, you would advise teenagers NOT to contracept because studies here in The United States show that using contraceptions INCREASES teenage pregnancies.

Mrs. O . said...

FYI only -

Bob Guerrero said...

I believe that there are many factors involved and the availability of contraceptives is only one.

At the end of the day, contraceptives are designed to prevent contraception. And they do.

Bob Guerrero said...

What about all the other countries that have modern contraceptives readily available to all and have sustainable birthrates?

Mrs. O . said...

Do you know the physiological and adverse effects of contraception on women? They make us grouchy, cranky and gain weight...Who wants to be with a woman like that?

Mrs. O . said...

Contraception: Why Not?
Janet Smith explains why the Catholic Church keeps insisting, in the face of the opposite position held by most of the rest of the modern world, that contraception is one of the worst inventions of our time.

My topic for tonight is the Church's teaching on contraception and various sexual issues. As you know, we live in a culture that thinks that contraception is one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind. If you were to ask people if they wanted to give up their car or their computer or their contraceptive, it would be a hard choice to make. It's really considered to be something that has really put us, greatly, into the modern age and one of the greatest advances of modern medicine and modern times. Yet, there's this archaic church that tells us that, really, this is one of the worst inventions of mankind. According to the Church, contraception is one of the things that's plunging us into a kind of a disaster.

So we have this great polarization: a world that thinks contraception is one of the greatest inventions of our time and the Catholic Church that says it's one of the worst. I am going to try to help people see tonight why the Church's teaching certainly deserves serious consideration.

Most people don't know that every Christian church up until 1930 taught that contraception was wrong. There was a universal teaching against contraception within Christian churches. It was only in 1930 that the Anglican church first broke with that unbroken tradition and approved contraception within marriage for serious reasons. In 1931, Pope Pius XI wrote the Encyclical, Casti Connubii, which is usually translated On Christian Marriage, and there he reiterated what had been the constant teaching of the Church. Within the Catholic Church there was virtually no debate on the issue until the mid-1960's. The debate starts about 1963. There was really a great acceptance of the Church, of those in the Church, of the teaching of the church. In 1960, some 66% of Catholics were living by the Church's teaching. Sixty-six percent. Now they say some 80% of Catholics are contracepting. Thirty percent of Catholics are sterilized, which is the same rate as the rest of the population. Only 4% of Catholics are using Natural Family Planning. I personally think that might be a high estimate.

So, how have we in the last 30 years gone from 66% compliance to at best 4% of compliance? One reason was that there really weren't very good contraceptives in the early sixties. The pill was not yet really on the market. It had just begun to be developed. Most contraceptives were illegal in most states — at least for interstate purchase. The laws that made contraceptives illegal were put on the books by Protestant legislators. Contraception was always seen to be the source of great sexual license in society and considered to be something that a morally upright society would ban. But as you all know, because of the doctrine of the “right to privacy” found in the “penumbra” of the Constitution, those laws were thrown out in the early 1960's. The Supreme Court decision that threw out laws against interstate sale of contraceptives really was the precursor to Roe v. Wade. The right to privacy is found in Griswold v. State of Connecticut and then is reiterated in Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion. It was also at that time, for Catholics at least, that obedience was considered to be a virtue. It was not yet seen to be a pathological condition. So, Catholics were prepared to accept what their Church taught simply because it taught it, whether or not they understood it.

In the 1960's, the pill became available and that's really when the revolution in contraceptives began. The pill was considered to be a great salvation of mankind for several reasons. It was at that time that people began to think we were headed for disaster as far as population was concerned. In fact, when I was in high school, we had posters of globes with human b

Mrs. O . said...

Quoting one of this century's great geniuses: Pope John Paul II says that Natural Family Planning brings about, what he calls, the virtue of self mastery which is the same as the virtue of chastity. He says it actually makes people better lovers because now they're making love to the person they love rather than to some fantasy. Instead of satisfying some sexual urge, they can control those sexual urges and now they're acting, again, upon a love impulse and not a sex impulse. Chastity education should help young people learn that they are virtually assaulted by their culture. They also need to learn about original sin, that all of us have disordered appetites in almost every aspect of our lives. We want to eat more, sleep more, drink more, and have more sex than is good for us in ways, with people, etc., that aren't good. And that's a result of our fallen nature. We can expect this, so we shouldn't be startled and astonished and upset that these things are happening to us. It's part of the course of things. But we have to learn to re-order ourselves. And, I say to young people, “Yes this sexual disorderedness is going to happen to you. A lot of it's not your fault. It's the fault of your culture. The other problem is you're a human being. But you have to work at chastity and the rewards are great.” - Dr. Janet Smith

Lea Salonga said...

Firstly, is there sex education in schools that teaches students about the human body, its sexual development? Does this education include the moral aspect of sexuality, about how it's ideal and most desired to wait until marriage before having sexual relations?

When I was in grade school, I was lucky enough to be in a school where the curriculum included sex education (age-appropriate, of course)... we were taught about the normal development the human body goes through during puberty. At home, I was taught to "wait until marriage before having sex". At 16 years old, as part of a responsible adolescent behavior campaign, I learned about all forms of contraception (artificial and natural).

What I would then do with that information was then up to me.

The bill providing for mandatory sex education in schools is a start. It should ideally teach children (from the age of 10 or 11) and adolescents about sex, debunk each and every single myth that was ever perpetuated about sex, and see it in many different points of view: clinical, emotional, and moral. This same group should also then be taught about AIDS prevention, STDs, sex-related illnesses and cancers. And, yes about ALL forms of contraception, always emphasizing the moral reasons behind abstinence and celibacy before marriage. I am all for education, education, and education. (The bill will also provide for post-abortion care, but emphasizes very clearly that it does not seek to legalize it.)

In Catholic schools, the same should be taught, with an emphasis on the Catholic Church's own beliefs.

Yes, I do realize that contraception isn't always successful... but nothing in this world is, actually. But morally and scientifically sound information disseminated is never ever a bad idea.

In truth, contraception in the Philippines has always, always been available. If you know where to get it, you can. So we can't say that the market will suddenly be flooded with these products... they've always existed. Nor is anyone saying that the pill and condoms will be distributed in high schools. The bill aims at helping the poor with their own family planning needs by providing education on all the options available to them, in order for them to make an informed decision. If they decide to use the Billings Method, fine. If they decide to use the pill, that's fine too. If they decide on two or ten children, that's cool as well. But it should be a personal choice, and not one forced upon them.

I knew, early on, what my choices were, and made my own decisions based on what I was taught in school and at home... my education was thorough... I want the same for the rest of my countrymen.

Lea Salonga said...

That's funny... some of the slimmest, nicest, most pleasant women I know are on the pill. Go figure that.

Bob Guerrero said...

Naturally there are side effects for some. But the benefits are also great. The size of the family is controlled.

But hey, why should women bear all the burden? Husbands should also be encouraged to have vasectomies after they have 2 children.

Mrs. O . said...

Another remarkable quote from Dr. Janet Smith: The couples I've known who've gotten married and who've been chaste before marriage, have this innocence and euphoria in marriage which is absolutely enviable. There is a real trusting of each other and a real sense that sex is clean and not dirty. With premarital sex, people often come to think of sex as being something dirty. It's something naughty. It's something you sneak around and do. Whereas couples who wait until they get married, for them sex is good, it's clean, it's pure, it's something I saved for this person. Young people don't know what they're missing out on when they're letting culture just sweep them along. Young people just have not been taught well by adults. We've gone down some of the paths of life and some have been dead ends. We need to warn them: “It's not any good, we tried that. Don't you try it, it's not worth it.” Teaching chastity is very different from the simple abstinence message. Our culture doesn't know how to teach abstinence because every single moment of the day, it works against chastity.

Bob Guerrero said...

Romanza, you speak a lot about Malthus' ideas and the macro-economic picture. But what about the micro-economic picture? A poor family living on the minimum wage HAS to control the size of the family. Modern contraceptives help that.

Bob Guerrero said...

I respect your opinion. I really do. But not everyone thinks that way. And those who don't should have access to the tools that prevent unwanted pregnancies.

By all means preach the Church teaching about abstinence before marriage. But going against this bill is in my view, misguided.

Mrs. O . said...

We seem to be going in circles here....My argument has been that contraceptives DON'T work.....Again, I repeat, if you want to control your family size, use Natural Family Planning, use The Billings Method.

Bob Guerrero said...

We really don't agree and I think no amount of arguing will ever sway us. Cheers and have a nice day! :)

Roy del Valle said...

I'm not even going to try to comment on the preceding argument... My concern is this: A parish priest just told us this evening that the Catholic church's stand is non negotiable and not up for discussion. He told us that we either support the Catholic church's stand on the RH bill or we can stop calling ourselves Catholics and not bother to go back to church next week. This statement is not implied but almost verbatim. If we still wanted to call ourselves Catholics we should oppose the RH Bill... something did not feel right about that...I can't explain it just yet - but there.

Bob Guerrero said...

Well then in that case, do as I did 3 years ago. Leave. It's no big deal. God is bigger than the Church, any church. :)

Non-negotiable? Not up for discussion? Quite arrogant I think.

Lea Salonga said...

Given the Church's poor record of keeping even certain priests in line (you can Google child abuse scandals by Catholic priests, and the Church sending said errant priests to different parishes without warning parishioners)... I don't think they can really afford to lose members of the fold. But that's just me.

Lea Salonga said...

In an ideal world, everyone would not have sex before marriage... all persons would be chaste before heading to the altar... and everyone would live happily ever after.

However... this is not an ideal world... there are people who choose to have sex before getting married... there are also people who, after getting married, decide to engage in extramarital sex... there are teenage pregnancies... there are pregnancies that exceed the desired limit that a couple would prefer... there are wives that, when they refuse their husbands, are physically abused until they sexually submit to their spouses... etcetera, etcetera...

The bill does not purport itself to be the be-all and end-all cure to all of society's ills, large and small. But, it does provide a resource that all individuals and couples can turn to, in order to make informed decisions about their sexuality and family planning.

Not everyone lives the lives that even come close to the ideal. I know of couples that, even after remaining chaste and pure before getting married, experience a breakdown in their marriages... and then there are those that, even after years of having a premarital sexual relationship are able to sustain their success after marriage.

This isn't a cookie cutter world... the Catholic Church also cannot impose its own beliefs on a Muslim, Fundamentalist Christian, Iglesia ni Cristo, Buddhist, Jewish or Hindu couple. No one religious group should impose or force its beliefs on another group that may believe otherwise. This bill will will cater to every citizen, regardless of his or her religious, moral, and spiritual beliefs. Yes, the Billings Method is a perfectly fine way for a couple to, with the proper communication and some practice, prevent unwanted pregnancies. But, has the Church actually pumped money into teaching this method? I know the calendar method would not work on me... my body works on an "I will menstruate when I'm good and ready" cycle. It would be useless on someone like me.

My choice of birth control is my own personal one... I know how my body works, and I will use the method that works the best with it, after thorough research on every single means, both natural and artificial. It'll be a method that I will discuss lengthily with my husband, and what we then decide as a couple is ours and ours alone. No one, I believe, has the right to impose its will on us, and on how we express our sexuality, as well as how we space our children and prevent unwanted pregnancy. Additionally, I am not going to impose my beliefs on anyone else, and will then presume, if the bill is in place, that in due time, every couple will then have the same information I am now already armed with, and choose what is right for themselves.

You have your ways, I have mine. You have your beliefs, I have mine. They will either complement or contradict one another, and that's absolutely fine. We are each entitled to our own opinions, and neither is any more wrong or right.

My hope is that the bill will serve to empower and educate. There are many Filipinos that have been living in the darkness of ignorance for too long.

Alvin Valeriano said...

The issue has been blown out of proportion, the Bill is for responsible parenting and proper sexual education -- I don't see anything offensive and immoral with that. I have nothing against the Catholic Church's stand against abortion, contraception, sex education and for this instance -- the reproductive health bill. However, it has been ages since society was introduced to the concept of Natural Family Planning, the result -- nothing quite impressive to improve the ballooning Philippine Population.

Natural Family Planning is more effective with the middle class and the upper class, they know the hardships of having a big family, they have the option to choose what method to take, they are in the position to know what suits them well. But unfortunately, in the impoverished Philippine society, you can not just tell a guy to not have sex with his wife because she is fertile and might end up getting pregnant. You can counsel him so but when he feels the urge and when reinforced by alcohol, a wife has no choice but to submit to her husband otherwise they would end up arguing and worse, end up fighting. In poor communities, the wives have the upper end, they can control the size of their family with the right information and education. However, it is not the same when it comes with their husbands, you can inform them, teach them and educate them what should and should not be but all those information are washed to the drains when they feel the urge. Without intervention (contraception for this matter), the wives will just be a submissive victim to their husbands' sexual advances. They have no choice, they sould be educated with what is applicable in their situation, and in this discourse, intervention/contraception is the way to go.

On the premise that making condoms and pills available to the youth would denigrate their morality and thus result to teenage pregnancies -- that is a two way street. You can not just blame it on the contraceptives. Making condoms and pills and the likes available to the public should go along side proper information dissimination and education. School, parents and the church should work side by side to educate the youth on the what sex and contraceptive is all about, the responsibility that comes with it and the morality that surrounds it. We should open up our eyes and realize that even without sex education and the openness on contraceptives, youth pregnancy abound and pre marital sex exists in society. So what we need to do now is accept that fact and start educating the new generations of youth on what sex is and how it should be treated in society.

Contraceptives has its down side, we can not deny that fact, but couple it with proper education and right treatment and it can make a lot of difference.

The bottomline here is, we Filipinos should be given a choice -- the government should provide us with the option; the school and the Church should provide us the proper education and understanding of the matter; and the family should provide guidance and support -- and at the end of it all, we should, as an individual be given the right to choose!

Mrs. O . said...

There's not a lot of people that use their critical thinking skills anymore. But that's just here in America...I don't know how it is there in the Philippines....But everyone has a conscience. Everyone,even Hitler had a conscience. Now, who and what guides your conscience is a different story. For me, I choose TRUTH to be the guide of my conscience and I believe the Catholic Church is TRUTH. Look at, Hitler had a conscience - he was Catholic, but he obviously didn't allow The Catholic Church to form/guide his conscience...Hitler had the best intentions for Germany ... Germany’s economy was in a mess when Hitler was elected Chancellor in January 1933. Hitler and Nazi propaganda had played on the population’s fear of no hope....Hitler transformed Germany and under his leadership, there were great achievements....Most visible of which was a new highway system - the autobahn .... Unemployment was falling before Hitler, and business optimism returned under his leadership....But Hitler was a dangerous man in that he also had ideals when it comes to the 'quality of life' for his people...He had this notion of a perfect race, a 'master race'...First, he wanted to get rid of the frailty, the physically handicapped then the mentally challenged, then the Jews, then the Poles, etc....And the Holocaust happened....Why do I bring this up? I bring this up because this new 'bill' is being sold to your country by International Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger an American Birth Control activist, an advocate of negative eugenics. Sanger spent a lot of time with Hitler, they shared the same philosophy of this 'master race'. Planned Parenthood under the guise of the American Birth Control League set up their abortion shops within the minority communities here in America [minority = Blacks, Jews, Asians, Latinos/Chicanos]...Just for the record, Sanger was a racist who wanted to reduce the country's black population through "selective breeding" and who apparently held similar distaste for the American Indians. Today, Planned Parenthood is the biggest abortion provider in the US and they want to set up shop in The Philippines. It starts with this bill. My prayers go out to your country. International Planned Parenthood has sold false presuppositions that access to contraception will alleviate poverty, and decrease the number of abortions.....This is wrong. This will not cure poverty.....I understand the country is going through some financial crisis. We here in Michigan are experiencing the same. But please don't allow Planned Parenthood to play on your fear of no hope...In terms of Lea's stand on the Catholic faith, I'm personally shocked as she was at one point on the cover of Catholic Digest....Might they be interested in her new opinion, I wonder? God bless the Filipino people!

Mrs. O . said...

Wow. You give the poor little credit, actually, no credit at all by saying that only the 'middle class' and the 'upper class' can 'understand' NFP and follow it. Yipes! I come from the lower class of Middle America so I guess I've exceeded your expectation....Do you know what you just said? You basically said that poverty is immutable....Poor people can't be taught to reason or act morally....They can never improve on their financial situation......You probably think they'll always be poor, eh? Boy, I wonder what you'd think of me if you only knew where I came from and where I am now...But I'm going off on a tangent here....This brings up a point I want to make: the poor is only talked about when politicians want to pass a bill...To play on the people's emotions/fears, etc....The poor is and maybe will always be a perennial topic, especially during election years....WE use them for our political rhetoric, to pass bills and what not, but we don't think they're really any good....I think they need to be given more credit than that....But since I obviously don't belong here with you filthy rich people, this is my last and final visit to this site....You guys are obviously too good for a 'used-to-be' poor person like me...

Bob Guerrero said...

Welll said. You rock!!! :)

Bob Guerrero said...

How very true.

Bob Guerrero said...

I believe the truth is far too great and vast to be completely owned by one person, one entity, or one church. Truth should be spelled with a small "t."

I believe that the Catholic Church is a human organization. Run by humans who may believe it to be inspired by God, but nonetheless very fallible. I affirm that it cannot possibly have the monopoly of the truth.

If you look at the history of the church, they have done much good as well as a lot of bad. PJPII even apologized for the sins in the past (Inquisition, Crusades, Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal etc) of the "sons and daughters of the church."

If its own leader has admitted that they were wrong in the past, how can the church be considered the ultimate source of the truth? Or do we say it was wrong in the past but now everything is better and they are now always right?

I believe a person's ultimate arbiter of morality should be his or her conscience, not a church and its doctrines.

arlin dizon said...

If I were the one who actually heard this remark, I would have left the church at that very moment. Not that I am turning my back on God but because in my heart and in my mind I believe that God will not speak to me this way. I may not be the kind of Catholic who knows each and every verse in the Bible or know the teachings as much as the others do but i'm sure God will never be happy seeing little children living a very miserable life just because his/her parents were not given the chance to learn how to control and plan their family. That's the kind of God that I know..

Earnest :-) said...

Do you know too, that contraceptives are included in the World Health Organization's Model Lists of Essential Drugs making them part of the most efficacious, safe and cost-effective medicines? Check out:

Earnest :-) said...

This is the reality in the Philippines:
• Sexual activity among the youth is increasing with 23.2% engaging in premarital sex (PMS);
• Mean age for women who engage in PMS is 18 years old and 17 for men.
• Mean age at having first child is 19 years old.
(Source: The Young Adults Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS3) conducted by the UP Population Institute)

These are alarming data especially since many of these young people are not prepared to handle the risks and/or responsibilities that come with their actions.

Young people are not provided with objective information that will help them make responsible choices pertaining to matters of sexuality and relationships.

Young women particularly are vulnerable to unplanned early pregnancies which can put their health, if not lives at risk.

Learning to make responsible decisions is a necessary life-skill that will help our youth become better parents and more productive citizens in the future.

The RH bill ensures that our young people are provided with age-appropriate information on sexuality.

Bob Guerrero said...

Tnx for the info. :)

Earnest :-) said...

That I think is arrogance speaking. Or spiritual blackmail. Faith has always been based on one's conscience, I think. If in your heart of hearts, you know that what you're doing is correct, then no one can tell you that you're Catholic or not.

This arrogance constantly manifests itself. I remember we were at a Senate committee hearing on the senate versions of the RH Bill. One of the panelists commented that it's quite ironic that the Philippines still has no RH services and information when decidedly Catholic countries like Mexico, Spain (!) and Italy (!) provide rh info and services. Feny Tatad, wife of Kit and spokesperson of CBCP answered: "Those countries have ceased to be Catholic. "

Wow. talk about being judgmental. In the end, we really do decide on what our conscience dictates and not by what the hierarchy tells us so.

Bob Guerrero said...

What she really should have said was "these countries have ceased to be quasi-theocracies like the Philippines."

Earnest :-) said...

Thanks Lea for posting this. We bumped into Rep Ruffy Biazon at the Congress this afternoon and I thanked him for this wonderfully-written piece.

Iba talaga pag babad sa kumonidad ang isang tao. Kita nila agad ang problema at ang pwedeng maging solusyon. At lalong nakaka-bilib ang mga taong naninidigan sa kanilang mga paniniwala.

Alvin Valeriano said...

the premise of my discourse is on the Philippine society particularly the lower class, after all, the point in discussion is on passing the RHB in the Philippines. It might be different in the US, but the unfortunate class in the Philippines have no access whatsoever to education. That instead of sending their kids to school, they'd rather have them walk the street and look for something for their family to eat. Try immersing yourself to those communities, you'd know what I mean -- I meant not to discredit them or put them down as you're trying to imply. This is not just a matter of retort and discourse, the fact/reality is, those who belong to the unfortunate class are not properly educated, and whatever education that reach them are not efficiently handed over and followed through.

It is totally different to know what is ideal and what is practical. The Catholic Church may dictate what is morally just and proper but the practicality should be dealt with with what is the current situation, we have a population crisis in the Philippines and after decades of pushing for NFP and it not yielding the result it should, then what do we do? Still push for what is ineffective and not look for options? We are given an option now, isn't it more elitist to dictate to society what they should do because "you" think that is moral and just? We have no right to dictate what people should do, we should be given options and we should be responsible with it.

by the way, critical thinking is not how rhetorical and articulate you become in defending your beliefs and make other people look inferior to your discourse, critical thinking is understanding and realizing the points in contention beyond your own sets of pre-concluded thoughts...

~*Chinky Fuentes said...

I have not studied the entire bill thoroughly but I want to comment on this post.

I am all for natural family planning (but I am not against contraceptives) but the way a woman's body works now is very different from when this natural family planning could be trusted.

I have been trying to get pregnant for four years now with no success. I have been to five OBs and though I have no answer yet, I learned something. My doctors keep telling me and my husband to stay healthy (eat the right foods, exercise, etc) and just keep trying because even doctors can't explain the UNNATURAL way women get pregnant these days.

I have a friend who did not get her period for one year and suddenly gets pregnant. As we all know, women need to have a full cycle to ovulate. Some women have regular cycles but can't get pregnant even with healthy and virile husbands.

My point is, with the pollution, processed food and unhealthy lifestyle we put into our bodies these days, every function is disrupted, especially our hormones. Natural planning can't be trusted anymore.

For some, it would work but not for all. That's why there are contraceptives.

I am a Baptist and a very devout one. I don't see any immorality when it comes to using the pill.

As far as I know, here in the Philippines, health centers encourage married women to take the pill. I have not seen where it is advertised to encourage single women to use it so that if they ever get the urge, they won't get pregnant.

I have many friends who use the pill and they have smaller waists than those who don't and they are not cranky at all :)

~*Chinky Fuentes said...

Same here! Amen to this! :)

Mrs. O . said...

Besides increased irritability, increased propensity to depression, weight gain and reduced libido, if you're single, PLEASE check out the following odd effects of the pill.

~*Chinky Fuentes said...

It might be the case in Sweden but I don't think that kind of thinking is rampant here. Maybe there are some but minority lang.

Each of us has his/her own conscience, the ability to weigh between right and wrong, with or without contraceptives.

Rejecting the bill does not guarantee that there will be lesser pre-marital sex.

However, if students are educated about sex, its consequences, its rightful time to do so, there might be a few who would be wise enough to stay away from it until they get married. It all depends on how it is done.

Bob Guerrero said...

I was born and raised a Catholic. I attended CCD classes when we lived abroad. I went to a Catholic High School and College (Ateneo de Manila) and was active in the youth group in Sanctuario de San Antonio called Antioch. I joined Days with the Lord in High School, and was very active in Christian Life Community in college. CLC is considered the lay arm of the Jesuit order. After graduating in 1994 I became a Jesuit Volunteer, and was assigned to teach poor dropouts in Camiguin province.

In 2005 I left the Catholic Church and became a Unitarian Universalist after realizing that I had too many disagreements with Church teaching to continue identifying myself as a Catholic. So I'm not a Catholic anymore, and no, i don't intend to ever come back.

~*Chinky Fuentes said...

I don't think the US's sexual behavior is due to the contraceptives. Here in the Philippines, contraceptives are available everywhere (hence my confusion why this is so opposed). You can buy it over the counter. But we are not as promiscuous as the US.

It all depends on the values instilled by our parents. It will always go back to how parents and aunties and uncles and grandparents teach the children.

I grew up knowing about pills and condoms. But it did not encourage me to have sex before marriage. The effect on me was the opposite. :)

Bob Guerrero said...

No human institution, even the Catholic Church, should be immune from criticism.

Bob Guerrero said...

All of these people you mention are human beings, just like Lea. But I agree with Lea and not with them. Just because she is a celebrity doesn't mean she can't be a thinking, rational person capable of an informed opinion.

~*Chinky Fuentes said...

Forgive my ignorance, but is there a part in the bill that will, in one way or another, encourage the young people to have sex before marriage?

In my own understanding, I believed this bill was formed to control the surge of population growth brought about by HUSBAND AND WIFE who seem to be making babies like rabbits.

I am all for chastity before marriage. But I don't see any contradiction from the bill. Maybe I have not read it thoroughly yet ;)

Bob Guerrero said...

You immediately make a correlation between Sweden's social ills and their supporting contraception and being promiscuous. I think you are skating on very thin ice here from a logical point of view.

Sweden is a country that has a very efficient government, excellent health care, low crime, and a booming, progressive economy. I don't attribute this to their support of reproductive health measures. I think it's equally a stretch to say that there is some correlation between their problems and RH policy.

Bob Guerrero said...

I totally agree. :)

Bob Guerrero said...

That is a fact. And is that in and of itself a bad thing? Or are you somehow prejudiced against our Muslim brothers and sisters? I hope not.

Bob Guerrero said...

So you are insinuating that Cocobeans is a stooge of the big drug companies and that she draws a salary from them?

I know Cocobeans personally. She is a friend of a friend. I believe she works for an NGO. I am not sure she will take too kindly to your assertion that she has this view because she is under the employ of a drug company.

Bob Guerrero said...

Great point. Being informed about reproductive health issues does not immediately turn you into a nymphomaniac or a sex addict.

~*Chinky Fuentes said...

he he he. very well said. my friends, who i grew up together with, and i attended sex education in high school and we were all very well-informed. None of us turned into sex addicts, thank God! :) Most of us abstain from pre-marital sex.

carlos celdran said...

Romanza does not believe that people should not be given choices, leave her alone. She is in her own little theocratic Catholic world (Catholicism is truth - hence everything else is lies, it's as simple as that in her view), Guys, that's what blind faith in ANY religion does to anyone (look at the Taliban). I'd stop talking to her already because there is no point. Logic has very little to do with her argument. It's just faith that is important to her. Hence, no use in having a conversation. Period.

carlos celdran said...

Romanza does not believe that people should not be given choices, leave her alone. She is in her own little theocratic Catholic world (Catholicism is truth - hence everything else is lies, it's as simple as that in her view), Guys, that's what blind faith in ANY religion does to anyone (look at the Taliban). I'd stop talking to her already because there is no point. Logic has very little to do with her argument. It's just faith that is important to her. Hence, no use in having a conversation. Period.

carlos celdran said...

Romanza does not believe people should be given choices that are not in line with her beliefs. Just leave her alone. She is in her own little theocratic Catholic world and there is nothing we can do. (Catholicism is truth - hence everything else is lies, it's as simple as that in her view), Guys, that's what blind faith in ANY religion does to anyone (look at the Taliban). I'd stop talking to her already because there is no point. Logic has very little to do with her argument. It's just faith that is important to her. Hence, no use in having a conversation. Period.

carlos celdran said...

Just delete her stuff already, it's too much anti islam biased unscientific hocus pocus. Too scary for my blood. Gosh, sometimes the similarity between Closed Catholics and Muslim extremists is too uncanny.

Bob Guerrero said...

Well said. :)

r p said...

Try looking for a study that isn't at least a decade old. Then maybe we'll believe you.

r p said...

Disagreeing with the Catholic Church's teachings (excluding dogmas) does not make one any less Catholic. Their teaching about contraception is not a dogma.

pearl a said...

Here's n interesting point of view, from Catholics perspective.


A Catholic Response to Alleviating the AIDS Pandemic

This article originally appeared as a presentation for the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on HIV/AIDS, 25 - 27 June 2001. ( from the website )

Catholics overwhelmingly support the use of condoms to prevent AIDS infection. Depending on the specific study, the percentages reach virtual unanimity. Yet Catholic official teaching remains divided.

There are three questions at the heart of this issue.

I. How do we promote mature sexuality?

All religious communities endorse mature sexuality. It is at the core of the Global Ethic promulgated by the Parliament of World Religions.

Sexual development and maturity are the means by which life is transmitted and nurtured. Indeed self-respect and human rights are intimately connected with the way sexuality is defined, expressed and made responsible.

Religious leaders around the world agree that sexual maturity cannot be achieved only by making sex safe, by preventing disease, by improving the technology of contraception. Maturity requires attitudes of respect, responsibility and rights, which transcend the concrete conditions of sexual behavior. Indeed, it might be argued that unless these prior attitudes are in place, even safe sex may be an assault on the dignity of others.

Catholic church leaders tend to support the distribution of prophylactics when there is an educational program that underlines church teaching on responsible sexuality. Thus, Monsignor Jacques Suaudeau of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family writes in L'Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, that "the use of prophylactics" in some circumstances, "is actually a lesser evil but it cannot be proposed as a model of humanization and development" (April 19, 2000).

The French Bishops Council declared in 1996 that the use of condoms "can be understood in the case of people for whom sexual activity is an ingrained part of their life style and for whom [that activity] represents a serious risk; but it has to be firmly added that such a method does not promote mature sexuality."

The German Bishops Conference issued a document in 1993 which affirmed that "human conscience constitutes the decisive authority in personal ethics." They add that "consideration must be given to the high number of abortions among single mothers and the spread of suffering even if the underlying behavior cannot be condoned in many cases..."

Ranking church leaders, in individual statements, support the use of contraceptives in the context of responsible sexuality and prevention of AIDS.

The Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Lustiger, declared in 1989 that love and chastity were essential values in sexual maturity but that if a person is "HIV positive" and "cannot live in chastity" that such a person "should use the means that have been proposed" to prevent infection of others.

Bishop Eugenio Rixen of Goias, Brazil, adds that the principle of the lesser of two evils makes the "use of condoms less serious, morally speaking, than getting infected or infecting other people with the AIDS virus" (June, 2000).

Most people would be astonished to hear that ninety percent of the theologians on the papal birth control commission, at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, maintained that artificial birth control is not intrinsically evil and that official teaching against contraception could be changed.

II. How do we save lives?

The Catholic tradition is more resilient than many realize when issues of human life and dign

Bob Guerrero said...

They seem to treat it as dogma.

Bob Guerrero said...

This is a very good post. Thanks for putting it here. I hope that these practical, progressive Catholic voices eventually win out. :)

Roy del Valle said...

I agree. Interesting insight.

Mrs. O . said...

First of all, let's take a look at who's hosting this 'global assembly'. The United Nations categorizes gender in 8 different categories. [They are currently working on 9]. The UN pushes abortion and you can get stats on that until the cows come home. I don't see them as a reliable source at this point. I don't know who these Catholics are, but they need to reference the Catechism if they want to preach the truth. Besides, anybody can call themselves a Catholic, I think our ongoing debate proves that. You don't have to know anything about the faith nor its teachings apparently to be a Catholic. They say that if you ever want to hide anything from people, put it in a book 'cause nobody reads anymore. True that! If you read the text, it's very clear how The Roman Catholic Church as written in The Catechism stands on the issue of contraception [condom, diaphragm, the pill, et cet, et cet]:

Catechism of the Catholic Church
2399 The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).

Catechism of the Catholic Church
2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:
Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.

How do you avoid AIDS? It's not a complex answer: Monogamous relationships. Science continually tells us the body is designed for only one partner. This is what I struggle most with the recent comments from folks: If there's even an iota of a hint that the pill may not be good for my body, why would I risk it? Choice: poison or no poison. Why is that still a question? [I know it's been more than ten years since I went to College, but in my Human Physiology class, we learned that one of the ingredients of 'the pill' is horse's urine.. I'm sure they've since changed it to something else...I don't know, a dolphin's pee, maybe]. Someone asked for a more recent study on 'the pill'. Here goes one from September 2008 from WWJ Radio, a station that's anti-Catholic and very liberal, but they stand by this study that shows the 'odd' effects of 'the pill'.:

Mrs. O . said...

That's true! There should be a similarity between Catholics and Muslims, it should be uncanny. Judaism, Islam and Christianity are ABRAHAMIC religions. We all occupy a branch on that family tree. I live in the metro Detroit area, 30 minutes away from Dearborn, the biggest Arab community outside of the Middle East. Guess what folks? I've got friends who are Muslims and I know that in may respect they're more conservative than us Catholics. They pray 5x a day religiously, they fast more [fast from food, fast from sex, etc].... Which is why I brought up the fact that in Europe they're surpassing the Europeans when it comes to population...The point I was trying to make was - Muslims because of they're religion are more PRO-LIFE, more PRO-FAMILY.... Compared to the Europeans, they want to have big families. That was the point!

carlos celdran said...

"every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:"

Wow...I think Romanza finally lost it. But that's ok but R's true extremist theocratic rhetorical colors finally showed. Anybody care to respond to whatever it is that is above me? R's obsession with the Catholic religion and derision about sex totally loses me. I don't know what the big deal is about sex with some Catholics (not all ha). They act like it's so dirty and unnatural and should be avoided and taboo. So much self loathing that drives them to act out like said person above. Gosh..sooooo many issues when it comes to sex outside of procreation...even between married people! Jeez.

Mrs. O . said...

I may be dating myself, but in the early 1990s during Yugoslavia's civil war, NATO and the US protected Kosovo [a Muslim state] against Serbia [a Catholic state]...I supported my country and NATO because of the ethnic cleansing of the Kosovar people...For total strangers to insinuate that I'm anti-Muslim is a joke!

Bob Guerrero said...

You seem to be wrapped up in the fact that the pill is bad because it has side effects. To my knowledge a lot, if not most medicines have side effects. I don't think that makes a certain medicine bad. I once took a medicine, I don't recall for what, that was supposed to give me heart palpitations. And it sure did. But the medicine was available in the drugstore and presumably passed testing from the authorities.

Bob Guerrero said...

I find this debatable. I believe that there are many people who aren't designed for one partner all their lives. That's just my belief.

Bob Guerrero said...

Ok I'm glad that we have cleared that up and the we can affirm that you have nothing against Muslims. :)

Bob Guerrero said...

Point taken. :)

Bob Guerrero said...

This idea comes from the doctrine about the unitive and procreative aspects of the sexual act. Catholic doctrine teaches that both must be present in the sex act for it to be moral. In other words, if there is no possibility of having a child, you shouldn't have sex. In other words, sex for fun is a no-no, even for a committed married couple. Sounds rather too puritanical to me.

I wonder, if a committed Catholic couple reach the age of 50, should they stop having sex? Because it's pretty much impossible to conceive at that age, so sex at that age automatically becomes sex for fun.

This is where this kind of thinking leads and in my opinion, it is flawed.

This is also probably where Catholic bigotry towards gays and lesbians stems from. Gay sex cannot result in children, so therefore it must be evil.

I agree with Carlos that the Church seems to think of sex as something dirty, which it isn't. Our sexuality is a beautiful thing that we must use responsibly.

At the end of the day, I believe that too many people rely on man-made doctrines that claim to be the will of God for guidance instead of developing their own reason and conscience.

Che T.P. said...

Nakakaloka naman si romanza, nahilo tuloy ako sa blog na ito ni Ms. Lea. Relax ka lang romanza, wag masyado serious. Haaaay, napaisip tuloy ako kung babasahin ko ba ito lahat (andito na rin lang ako at walang magawa sa ngayon) at kung babasahin ko nang ilang beses mga comments para sumayad talaga ng buong-buo sa utak ko ang topic? Aba eh, kundangan naman kasi, parang di na ito comment section a? Parang ginawa ng blog ni romanza ito eh. Mabuti pa, inom na lang ako ng pain killer (di nakayanan ng utak ko ito), tapos labas na lang ako, lakad ng konti, i-enjoy ang araw dito sa Denmark. Dito pala sa Scandinavia, mahiyain si Haring Araw, minsan lang kung sumikat, topak topak lang. Kaya palagay ko kaya medyo mataas ang incidence ng suicide dito kasi palaging madilim, nakakadepress, at hindi dahil sa contraceptives. Tsaka in fairness, mas marami pa nga akong nakikitang condom sa grocery counters sa Pinas kesa dito. Ano kaya ibig sabihin non?

Mrs. O . said...

First, THANK YOU Lea, for your CHARITY in that you allow these sorts of 'dialogues' in your website.

Mrs. O . said...

I'm not surprised Celdrantours doesn't 'get' The Catechism. Some of the most cerebral people I know struggle with it. It's not at all like any genre of literature. You certainly don't approach it like you would approach a novel or a news magazine or a medical text. In other words, you read it like you would Scriptures [because the Catechism is Scripture-based]. You read the Catechism NOT hypercritically, but prayerfully. If you approach it with reverence and with the understanding that we're not supposed to make sense of it, the Holy Spirit is supposed to do that, then you have an easier time with the reading. In other words, the Scriptures is supposed to pick me a part [not for me to pick the Scriptures apart]. Same thing with the Catechism. Some necessary dispositions for reading God's Word: 1] Purity of heart 2]Faith & humility needed 3]Recollection = silence, calm, focus 4] Diligence 5]Familiarity 6]Wisdom.....7]Dialogue = God really does TALK through HIS Word. When you're ready to surrender to what you're reading, it'll make sense...The trouble is, most of us don't know who this God is who inspired the authors of these books so we're not interested in who and what God has to say....Because in reality what HE has to say is far more important that what we think/say.... By the way, the authors of the Bible and The Catechism were inspired by The Holy Spirit [God], though God used these authors' talents and gifts....God breathed into the authors and so the Bible breathes unto us...When you read the Catechism and you doubt what it has to say, then discern if you're hearing God's word -1] Is what I'm reading consistent with Scripture? 2] Is what I'm reading consistent with Church teachings? 3]Does the reading lead to Charity/Love? If the answer is yes on all 3, you're hearing God!

Some suggestions for reading:
1]Dei Verbum. Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, in the Documents of Vatican II.
2]Cantalamessa, Ranieo. The Mystery of God's Word.
3] Theology of the Body. Pope John Paul II

Mrs. O . said...

"At the end of the day, I believe that too many people rely on man-made doctrines that claim to be the will of God for guidance instead of developing their own reason and conscience. " This is a cutesy way of saying "I don't respect authority. I want to do whatever the hell I want to do". If everyone espoused to this mentality, everyone would be free to cheat, lie, kill, etc. This is precisely what USED to happen before God gave Moses the 10 commandments. On our own, and left to our own 'reason and conscience' I honestly don't know if civilization would still exist. Most countries in some way give LEGITIMACY to our Judea/Christian heritage....Just consider all the laws we have against murder, stealing, lying under oath, et cet et cet....

Mrs. O . said...

I have no idea what WonderB just said, but the fact that she wrote it in Filipino so I won't be able to understand shows me she's giving up on our discussions. Fair enough! I agree with her. As long as we all agree to disagree. By the way, wow, is that really your login name?

Mrs. O . said...

At the end of the day, I may disagree with Lea on some things, but she's still the greatest EXPORT The Philippines has so there it is!

pearl a said...

So that's it, Romanza is not a Filipino and I don't think she/he will ever care about the plight of the Filipino people. And I don't think he/she ever knows Lea personally. The last comment gets into my nerve. Labelling Lea as an export is outright insult to her and uncalled for. Romanza whoever you are, you can continue to practice what you believe in but you don't have the right to get into the business of the Filipino people. Have you been there? Have you witnessed the sufferings of the poor because of ovepopulation, I guess not! So SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Lea, I'm sorry please delete this comment if you think it is inappropriate.

Bob Guerrero said...

I believe that the Church is a man-made institution that only claims to have absolute divine authority. Does God work through the Catholic Church? Of course. Just as he works through other faiths and Churches. But the RCC is certainly not infallible. History has proven that.

Bob Guerrero said...

Finally something we agree on. :)

Bob Guerrero said...

This is where, in my view, the Roman Catholic Church stumbles. I feel that they can and should be more humble. Instead they come up with documents like Dominus Iesus which proclaim themselves as the one true church and demean other Churches by referring to them as "sects and not true Churches."

"Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all." - Colossians 3:11

That is scripture. That should be accepted as Word Of God. For me that reading is a message of universality and equality. That we should not build walls between one another and belittle others just because they are different than us.

Is Dominus Iesus faithful to the spirit of this wonderful reading? I don't think so.

Bob Guerrero said...

I think she has the right to speak her opinion here. I don't agree with it but I would like to think that discourse here has been mature. So I must say that yes, I find your comments inappropriate, although I must admit that you were talking to Lea and not asking me.

Bob Guerrero said...


Romanza drives me kind of crazy, this blog of Miss lea makes me dizzy. Relax, Romanza, don't be too serious. I'm wondering now if I should read all of this (I'm here anyway and I have nothing to at the moment) and whether I should read these comments over and over so that I really absorb the topic? Is this a comment section? It's like Romanza made this blog. Maybe we should just take a pain killer (my mind can't handle all this) and then I should just step out, take a walk, and enjoy my day here in Denmark. Here in Scandinavia, the Sun King is very shy, it doesn't rise very often, only when it's in the mood to do so. That's why I think that the incidence of suicide is high here because it's always dark and depressing, not because of contraceptives. And in fairness, I actually see more condoms on the grocery counters in the Philippines than here. I wonder what that means.

Bob Guerrero said...

I think we would have to agree to disagree again. I think it should be read critically, just like any piece of writing. That is why God gave us our intellect.

I believe that the great scriptures of all the great faiths in the world are inspired by God and contain great wisdom. But I cannot accept that they are the infallible word of God. I believe that God is so vast and great and huge that it is impossible to encapsulate his will into one book, three books, or even all the books in the world.

Lea Salonga said...

Uhhh, Copernicus and Galileo, anyone?

As for deleting comments from here, I'd rather just keep them up and leave it up to the writer to judge for him/herself whether or not what he/she just posted was indeed appropriate for anyone to see. This is a democracy after all... I won't always agree with what you said, but I will fight for your right to say it.

Che T.P. said...

bhobg, i was just about to translate into english so romanza could understand, but am glad and thankful you took it out of my hands. Doesn't sound as emphatic as the original text, does it?

that was the literal translation, romanza. but you got the gist anyway. may i make a suggestion? why don't you visit the philippines, immerse yourself for a few days, so you can actually see for yourself why we are supporting this RH bill. I tell you, you might even forget what you were arguing about with the rest of us here.

Louise Fabricius said...

I wasn't going to get involved in this discussion, having no advance opinion on this bill, which will not affect me or anyone I have ever known. However, apart from finding the topic rather interesting and loving a good debate, really reacted to the references to Scandinavia. I happen to be Danish, but having grown up in Ireland and Sweden, have a pretty good insight into what’s going on in those countries as well.

I would really like to know what you base the above upon. You are completely right in that Sweden promotes contraception to its pre-pubescent population, as you put it. Sex-education in schools is centred on the biological aspects of sexuality as well as different contraceptive methods, usually from when kids are around 13 or 14 years old. We are taught about the pros and cons of the different methods. The attitude towards sexuality is very relaxed , which I believe has mostly to do with it being an extremely secular society. There are “clinics” for adolescents where anyone up to the age of 23 can get consultations done for free, anonymously if they so prefer. Extreme promiscuity may still be somewhat frowned upon, but there is definitely no consensus about no-sex-before-marriage... Quite the opposite. BUT (and this is a big but) I know of none of my peers whose parents have actually encouraged them to have sex in the “confines of their home”. Of course this probably does happen, but it is very far from the norm. Parents may have discussions with their children, warning about risks -especially connected with alcohol - and may accept that their children are finding their way about, but that is something entirely different. Because there is no religious aspect, the attitude is just different. I don’t see how you can compare that to a country where the Church has a large influence on both micro- and macro-levels.

Yes, Sweden has some pretty high suicide rates. If you’ve lived there you’ll know that even in Stockholm, which is in the lower third of the country, there is very little daylight during the cold winter months. As for malaise... Sweden is a Welfare State. Ie, you’ll get paid most of your salary even if you’re off work, sick. Thus, more people will stay home when ill, since there is no/very little economic loss. I can’t believe that that could have anything at ALL to do with the Pill. Use of that particular contraception is just as widespread among youth in eg. Ireland where their suicide rates and illness rates are lower (but there are plenty of teen pregnancies...). My bottom line (expressed in way too many words...) is, that for a debate where the main focus is on religion, sexuality and child welfare, the use of extreme secular countries as examples is completely irrelevant. It goes along the logic of “A stone can’t fly. I can’t fly. Ergo, I am a stone” - like the flawed logic in claiming that the use of contraceptives increases the amount of unplanned pregnancies.

So. Back to the main issue. The way I see it, I simply cannot see how one can oppose this Bill (yes, I’ve read it). At the end of the day, I have a firm belief in that every child has the right to be born into a family where they are wanted and loved, and given the opportunity to realise their full potential. We are not talking about abortion here. It’s pretty obvious that the “If you don’t want kids, don’t have sex”-dogma doesn’t work in reality, for the myriad of reasons already mentioned by others.

The other major point is the issue of access to information. Frankly, in a democracy, freedom of information is essential. Everyone should have the right to make an informed decision - especially in regards to their own bodies - and this information needs to be easily accessible and as objective as possible. At the end of the day, I simply cannot see how this can oppose any church doctrine which values human life can oppose that right.

I certainly do hope that the Bill goes through. It may not affect me personally, but I feel strongly about issues which boil down to, what I regard

Bob Guerrero said...

Very well written!

I agree. This Bill is also about the separation of Church and State. Right now the opponents of this bill want Catholic Doctrine to guide government policy, and that is simply unacceptable in this day and age.

Thanks for joining the discussion. :)

Dino Ocampo said...

I really don't understand why Romanza is so affected by the RH Bill. It isn't anti Catholicism, anti Church, or anti Natural Family planning. It isn't even pro-contraception. And it's definitely not pro-abortion.

It only seeks to give people access to information so they can make a personal decision about their reproductive health. Romanza has made the same personal decision, based on her faith, her beliefs, her knowledge, her experience.

What is so wrong or offensive about letting other people have the opportunity and resources to make that same personal decision as well?

Bob Guerrero said...

That's a nice way of putting it. :)

Karel S.Y. said...

It's really a matter of choice. Yes, we have a free will but then we are not suppose to abuse it. I am a Catholic and have never taken any contraceptive pill. I'm Pro-life but at 42 yrs old and having a not so good state of health (got high blood pressure and is taking a maintenance drug) I thought of undergoing tubal ligation. Deep in my heart, I know it wouldn't make me less of a Catholic should I consider having that.

Bob Guerrero said...

I applaud your willingness to use your conscience and reason in this decision. 8-)

Che T.P. said...

Amen to zerenzipity :-)

Renzo Villalon said...

I like the way the piece was ended - the question at hand is quality of life.

No one - not Catholic, Christian, Unitarian, Muslim, what have you - wish the worst for their children.

If the precepts of a religion prohibit artificial contraception, save your soul and don't use it. In the same breath, save your children as well! Give them the life they deserve, or don't have them at all.

I'm not Catholic, and can't comment on the shortcomings of the either Church or the flock.

But I'm human, and am tired of seeing droves of hungry, half-naked children crowd into a wooden pushcart powered by their parents faith.

Bob Guerrero said...

Or have just as many as you can raise with your income.

Earnest :-) said...

Hi. Just want to remind everyone that there is an online petition for the immediate passage of the RH Bill. Hope you can add your names (for those who haven't signed yet). it's at

Bob Guerrero said...

Let's all sign this and pass the word. :)

~*Chinky Fuentes said...

this statement deserves a standing ovation!

traveling suitcase girl said...

Don't you guys see? It is part of the state's job to provide for its people's basic material needs. How sure are we that the state is doing its part and that it is not simply pocketing the money that rightfully belongs to the people and to the carrying out of programs and projects that are designed to benefit all sectors of society ESPECIALLY those who are in need? And now, amid the corruption that we know is happening in the present government, legislators propose that the root of the problem is overpopulation (a myth, actually) and that instead of doing their job, they provide a solution -- which is to limit family size (which the state has no right to do).

Also, by your very words that there are half-naked children all around Manila, being driven around in wooden pushcarts, we are reminded of our duty as part of society, which consists in helping others. To whom much is given, much is expected, right? Each of us, if we have the capability to go online, is capable of lending a hand to these people in need. Some of them are lazy, yes, but that does not exempt us from our basic duty of being in solidarity with the poor and carrying out our duty as citizens of this country. But if our attitude is something like, you deal with your own problems and I don't have the obligation to lift a finger to help you, then I suppose we deserve the government we have.

For those of us who are already doing our part to directly help those in need, then let's just continue and help more people realize that each needs to do his part, and that we need to expect more from our government. And that there is no single solution (and instant solution at that) to the problems our country is facing. But we keep doing our part till the end.

Bob Guerrero said...

Where is it said that overpopulation is the root of the problem? Is it in the text of the Bill?

The problems of our country are vast and complex. I don't think anyone believes that there is one single root cause to all of our ills. But a very large and still growing population is certainly a concern, and I believe that if we continue population to grow unchecked, then the problems of environmental degradation, food shortages, urban congestion, etc, will only get worse.

Bob Guerrero said...

I agree with this bit. We should all chip in. Which is why i run a small microfinance program and help a few kids go to school.

traveling suitcase girl said...

Great to hear about your microfinance program, bhobg. I'm sure it will go a long way by enabling those kids to get formal education. It's always edifying to learn of efforts such as this. May I know if these are public school students?

As for overpopulation being stated categorically as the root of the problem, I will have to get back to you on that. I don't have my copy of the bill, but based on the discussions I've attended about the bill through the different versions it underwent, poverty has been in the middle of it all, with population control (referred to as population management) as the proposed main solution. This has been discussed with the basic premise that the country is experiencing a population explosion.

Bob Guerrero said...

False statement.

The bill does not force families to limit family size. That would be the situation in China, with the One Child per Family rule.

The bill only seeks to make available to all people the information and access to modern family planning methods. So that they can choose how big their families will be and they can also choose in what manner they can manage family size.

The government has no right to limit family size. But families have every right to access to information about family planning.

Bob Guerrero said...

Nina, Lhen, Edwin, Evanger, Kamel and Leslie are all in computer or electronic courses after high school. Moanna is still in public high school.

I believe that we are overpopulated based on our ability to provide food and other basic services for our people. And the problem will only get worse if action is not taken now to curb this runaway population growth.

There is no question that corruption is also a problem and should be addressed.

arlin dizon said...

those half-naked children deserves all the help we can give..yes. but isn't the best way to help them is to educate their parents? after all it is their parents that should be beside them from the very first day they open their eyes until whatever they become in the future. better to teach a hungry person how to catch fish than to just give him one..

Bob Guerrero said...

Yup. :)

Bob Guerrero said...

Can you post a link to this section? Or cut and paste? Thanks. :)

traveling suitcase girl said...

It's here:

I'd like to add, too, that the term "reproductive health care" includes abortion services based on the official documents from the Cairo Conference and the Beijing Conference (1995 and 1996, if i'm not mistaken). The Philippines is a signatory in those documents, which means we are obliged to follow those definitions. HB 5043's authors are aware of this; hence, I don't know why they are insisting that abortion is not included in the RH services they are promoting. Those international documents will always be the bases.

nikko b said...

Hi everyone, what an interesting discussion! I would have to agree with travelingsuitcase.

It's true that the bill states in sec 21 that those who would express a different opinion re the matter will be punished. That means if a teacher, doctor or journalist tries to say something about the side effects of contraceptives or give an honest opinion on why contraceptives would not solve anything, most of all poverty (which needs an economic solution, btw), would land in jail. There goes our freedom of speech.

There's also the clause on forcing employers to provide contraceptive options to all their employees (Sec 17)--and they'll go to jail too if they don't fulfill that. There's been talk here about being open minded and letting people what about the employers who don't wish to provide these "medicines" out of their own personal convictions? No one should be imposed to give something against his will. : (

And re the sex education, each individual is different. And if the way Lea's school taught her about sex was just perfect for her, there's no saying it's perfect for everyone as well. The problem I find with the sex ed program the bill proposes is that it takes all the students as one and the same in terms of maturity, background, and personality, just because they're on the same grade level. It's not contraceptive awareness that these adolescents need--it's the loving guidance of parents and mentors who know them individually and can help them understand love and sex.

Also, someone pointed out that the contraceptives are already sold in convenience why should they have to sign a bill into law to bring in some more contraceptives using taxpayer's money? That money going to condoms could have been used for education (to raise responsible and useful citizens for the country), counseling (to help people have emotional security), agriculture (to address food distribution), among others.

I hope people would stop bashing the Catholic Church. They're only the most vocal group about this, no need to lambast them and point out their faults at every turn, because that's not the right way to go about a debate. You don't see good lawyers pick petty fights in the courtroom, why bring it here? What we must do is to try to understand why the RC Church has for all this time stuck to its position, when a lot of outer Christian sects have moved on. Maybe take the time to read Humanae Vitae before going around saying the Church has no heart. It's easy to read :-)

jose descallar said...

the problem are the abusive, over-sexed and drunk men of these poor women. Why give the women contracpetives while for men--viagra, extra joss and other uppers? Isn't it illogical? My take on this issue, it is a marketing strategy of the big pharmaceutical companies. Making sure they have a ready market and a government paying them. Family Planning Survey shows that 20% of users discontinue using and one of the leading cause of discontinuing are the side-effects and health related causes. Contraceptives are already in the market, let the market forces play. Some will say that the poor can not afford to buy their contraceptives supply, but they have the money to buy their liquors and pulutans. We are not a welfare state and government cannot subsidize sexual life of the people. Resources should be allocated for the top ten causes of morbidity and mortality; and education. Imagine the budget for family planning is bigger than budget of DOST.

Bob Guerrero said...

To my knowledge the bill explicity states that it is not in favor of legalizing abortion. If you can find the section in the bill that says otherwise then please cut and paste for everyon'e benefit. Thanks!

Bob Guerrero said...

Travelingsuitcase - I have read your post re Section 21 and I have also read the provisions of section 21 that you have graciously posted. I'm afraid it is not exactly clear to me what your objection is. Would it be possible for you to restate your objection in a brief manner and then state specifically the part of Secton 21 that you take issue with? Thanks! :)

Bob Guerrero said...

I have read the Section 21. To me what is clear is that no one can impede in the dissemination of information about all legal reproductive health methods. It does not say that an opinion cannot be voiced about them.

This is my reading of the bill. I think if a Catholic employer believes that condoms are immoral, he has the right to tell his employees so. But he has no right to withhold information about these methods. Because at the end of the day, it is up to the employee to choose based on his own conscience. If that choice is being taken away, then that doesn't sound like freedom to me.

Bob Guerrero said...

Because contraceptives cost money. And poor people, by definition, don't have a great deal of that. But they need these contraceptives to manage the size of their families and ensure a brighter future for them. In other words, the government is helping them out. You may think that money can be spent better elsewhere. I would disagree. I think this is a great way to use government funds because it will help ensure that families live in better circumstances.

Bob Guerrero said...

Here are the facts; The Church has a stand on reproductive rights. A lot of people, myself included, have a different view. We live in the Republic of the Philippines, a liberal democracy. We are allowed to speak freely. We are speaking freely, and so are you.

You may wish that people would stop criticizing the Church, but that cannot happen in a liberal democracy like ours. If you would like to live in a country where criticizing the dominant religious group is not allowed, then you are free to live in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

We feel very much the need to to "lambast" the Church because we feel that their stand is misguided, dangerous, and will only help drive our beloved country deeper into poverty. We are doing this because we love our country more than we love the Catholic Church.

Are we "picking a petty fight" here? I think we are just expressing our opinions here in a mature and respectful manner. I think we are all being quite civil, with the excpetion of that one poster who told Romanza to f* off. I though that that was out of line.

I personally have not called anyone any nasty names here. The worst thing I have ever done here, to my knowledge, is infer that romanza was somehow biased against Muslims. It was based on my misunderstanding one of her posts. She explained herself better, and I realized that she was not biased, and I said that that that was was noted.

Of course the Church has a heart. I was a Jesuit Volunteer from 1994 to 1995. I taught poor kids in Camiguin in a school for dropouts. JVp is a great program run by the Church. Whenever there is a call for donations for a disaster, I always donate to the Simbahang Lingkod Ng Bayan of Ateneo, because I feel that they are very good at distributing reliefe funds and relief goods. I trust them.

We are not saying that the Church does not have a heart. All we are saying is that we believe that the Church stand on this issue is misguided and harmful.

Lea Salonga said...

All methods of artificial birth control have their side effects as well as success and failure rates... but "informed choice" means (to me anyway) is that once you have the information about the pros and cons of a certain kind of birth control method, you can then make a decision to use or not to use knowing the facts. ALL the facts, both good and bad. No one should have the right to withhold what these side effects are (on one end) or withhold that these methods actually exist (on the other). One's own conscience and personal moral convictions should, at the end of the day, rule what a person does. Not the law, not the church.

Again... if you're really against using artificial contraception, then don't use it... but don't keep another person who believes in them from using them, or from finding out more about them and making a choice based on this knowledge. The Catholic Church may retain its stand on the Bill based on its teachings and doctrines... that is its right... but it shouldn't impose upon believers of other religions that may think and believe differently. The Philippines isn't a solely Catholic country... our Southern third is Moslem, while we also have Iglesia, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Fundamentalist Christian, Buddhist, etc. I don't know what each faith is teaching its own flock regarding the RH Bill, but I don't hear of any of them loudly screaming against it.

arlin dizon said...

these adolescents are going to be parents sooner or later. if we take away their chance to be well informed about RH, can their children expect the "loving guidance" from them? oh.. well of course, they can still guide their kids lovingly.. but will it be done intelligently as well? once they fail, the cycle continues.. children living in karitons.. out of school youth selling cigarettes and newspaper in the middle of the highway..etc..and who's responsibility will it be? maybe if each of us can take at least one child out of the street then we don't need to even discuss the RH Bill..but sadly not all of us are capable and able. and here's a "free" chance to help them..the choice is ours to make.

~*Chinky Fuentes said...

Correct me if I am wrong here but I want to clarify what part of this bill mean.

Does this mean:

1. Any employer who requires his/her female applicant or employee to involuntarily undergo sterilization, tubal ligation, etc will be punished by law


2. The employer will be punished if he/she will not force these procedures on his/her female applicants or employees??????

I am leaning more on no. 1 but I want to be assured if I got it right.

Because if it is no. 2, then there is a very big problem with the bill.

Renzo Villalon said...

On censorship:

It's not illegal to tell the truth - all Section 21 seems to say is that it's illegal to prevent people from hearing what the RH bill HAS to say. It seems to guarantee that the message of the law will reach the people it'll affect. It does not prohibit the dissemination of valid and accurate information concerning the use of and contraindications pertaining to any particular medication. If there's something wrong with a pill, you won't go to jail for saying so - the bill is concerned with health after all.


On what chinkycfuentes wrote:

That provision in laymans terms reads "Employers must respect employees decisions regarding personal reproductive health." So it's number one rather than number two :)

It even punishes employers who pass a candidate over because she's had a tubal ligation or similar procedure. That's in Section 17 as cross-referenced by 21.

I'm not a lawyer - just have a little background. If you've any doubts, best ask a real lawyer bout it. :)


On going out and making a difference:

Personalized salvation from poverty is well and good if that's your sort of thing. Go feed the homeless guy on the corner. It won't hurt, and if all goes well, you'll both part ways feeling a little bit better.

This might not be true, but it's my opinion that personalized salvation breeds a level of dependence on the part of the guy being saved. Secondly and more importantly, there's only so much one person can do - it's more efficient to have an institution in place to reach a greater number of people and effect real change. Lastly, what better machine than the government? We're paying them to take care of us.


On church-bashing:
That's the funny thing - the bill's got nothing to do with religion. Lea makes a strong point that no local religion save Catholic seems to be complaining. As a religion, they don't even need to. Since separation of church and state works in favor of the church (State can't meddle in church affairs but not vice versa), the bill neither damns nor promotes any religion. The constitution prevents it.

The bill even protects choice, for if my reading of chinkycfuentes' provision in question is correct, people in positions of moral ascendancy cannot force others to do something they don't want to do.

If any church or belief system has faith in the faith of its constituents, the passage of this bill is no issue as well - the believers will do the right thing in the end.

Mrs. O . said...

Let's remember how this bill first came about. The politicians, in their efforts to solve the country's 'economic woes' focus their attention on the country's population control under the guise of a bill that would give the people a choice when it comes to their reproductive 'health'. The politicians purport that this would help alleviate the country's problems. Are we really getting to the root of society's ills? Are we really helping society get rid of its poverty mindset? Why don't people try to shift the blame from the poor to the politicians for once? What with all the corruption in the country i.e. all the kickback the politicians get from lobbyists so that these bills and other high-profiled bills can get passed? Why aren't the beer and tobacco industries being penalized/taxed for advertising/selling their products to the poor neighborhoods? If your under-aged child is caught selling tobacco while you're at home trying to get over a hang-over, guess what - you're going to get penalized by forcing you to leave your bed and actually work i.e. cleaning the streets. If you're a foreign investor and you want to fish The Philippine seas, cut Philippine lumber, buy Philippine land, set up shop in The Philippines, guess what - you're going to get a stiffer tax than the Filipino people. Why aren't the Filipino people looking at making money off the people who's been making money off them for all these centuries? The Philippines is abundant in natural resources....Someone's making BIG money and it ain't the common everyday Filipino folk! It's time to wake up and smell the corruption and do something about it....Elect people who will actually stand up against crooked policies....The politicians and all their kickbacks need to own up to some of the country's economic instability.

One final comment regarding 'the pill'. The pill can cause an early abortion. How? "Preventing the newly conceived life in its embryonic stage from being transported to the uterus and preventing implantation in the wall of the uterus are the "abortifacient" properties of the Pill." [Direct quote from the following: ]

Bob Guerrero said...

Well put. :)

Bob Guerrero said...

Of course there are big problems. And the government should act. But runaway population growth can be a big problem to that needs to be managed and this bill will help.

You speak as if the bill treats the exploding population as the one and only cause of every ill of society. That is not true. There are lots of problems and lots of bills that need to be filed. But this is certainly one that needs to be passed.

Bob Guerrero said...

Well said. The church can preach its stand. It's their right. But the church, in opposing this bill, want to prevent other people, both Catholics and non-Catholics, from hearing about other views on what are and are not proper forms of family planning.

In other words, they want Catholic teaching to be the law. That is theocracy. That is not democracy.

Bob Guerrero said...

EWTN is a Catholic TV network. Do you have info or links that come from an impartial source?

Bob Guerrero said...

If my understanding of this is correct, then Section 21 of the bill protects health care service providers who wish to choose what family planning method based on their religious beliefs.

Are there any other interpretations of this passage?

Renzo Villalon said...

That seems to be a correct reading - it protects the freedom of the healthcare provider to his or her own beliefs.

It must be taken within the context of the whole section - while the providers beliefs are protected, the provider STILL has make the information available, to refer someone who wants a tubal ligation to a provider who will do it, or do it themselves if the requesting person is in immediate danger. It's not a loophole.

Got no idea what could be so dangerous that a ligation would be immediately necessary. Cooties?

~*Chinky Fuentes said...

then what's wrong with the bill? sheesh!

thanks for the clarification :) with that, i can see that other people here are just twisting the facts to suit their own beliefs. i think it is pretty clear naman what the bill means.

Jojo Terencio said...

Manang, i really admire you for your guts. And thank you for your latest advocacy that is responsible parenthood.

you've always been a fighter for the protection of women and their rights going as far as lending your face and voice. I have a friend who is a cancer survivor and is with the I Can Serve. They were very grateful for your support.

With you throwing in support for the RH bill, i thank you.

traveling suitcase girl said...

Bob, you asked me about what specifically I object to. It's the bill's provision that curtails the freedom of speech. It's in the section on prohibited acts (Sec. 21):


e) Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent or provisions of this Act.


I believe I've expressed my regard for this as a return to martial law. This provision is generic -- it may apply to the press, members of the broadcast media, anyone engaged in information campaigns, even individuals such as parents who teach their children the truth about, say, the concept of breakthrough ovulations, or that the intra-uterine device which is being actively endorsed by the DOH among poor communities, has caused many cases of perforated uterus among those inserted with this.

To add, "maliciously engages" is subjective. How will the PopCom determine accurately if there was indeed malice in the "disinformation" -- if indeed it was a case of disinformation or simply of dissemination of correct information but which is contrary to the government's goal of promoting the use of contraceptives?

In a nutshell, this is one of my objections to the bill. Few seem to realize that the RH bill, if approved, will end up taking away one of the freedoms we so value.

traveling suitcase girl said...

Oh, an addendum: I dwelt on employers' responsibilities but didn't mention anything about penalties. I won't type the whole thing anymore, ok? :-) But it says in Sec. 22 that violators will be imprisoned or fined or both. Btw, this applies to all those who violate the Act in any way, not just employers who are remiss in their "responsibilities".

Bob Guerrero said...

I think you and I read the bill differently.

That provision, to me, states that one cannot spread disinformation about the bill. In other words, one cannot misrepresent the bill by saying it is something that it isn't.

I don't think that provision covers what you are talking about. I think you are very much free to talk about the hazards of IUDs and breakthrough ovulations. It doesn't have a direct connection to the intents and provisions of the bill or act.

Does anyone else see any other meaning to this provision?

traveling suitcase girl said...

I'm trying to get the views of a lawyer friend about some points in the bill -- that one included -- but she hasn't gotten back to me yet.

I've talked with different people already about it, though, and that's more or less how it is interpreted as well. I remember coming across a column in The Philippine Star about this too, not more than a couple of months ago. If I bookmarked it, shall I post the link here? It would be helpful to see different perspectives.

Bob Guerrero said...

But of course. Thanks!

traveling suitcase girl said...

Nowhere to be found, too bad. Anyhow, let's keep on informing ourselves more about the issues :-)

Bob Guerrero said...

But of course. Let the discussion continue. :)

John-D Borra said...

Great discussion. I wrote something on it in my blog (don't worry, with a readership composed largely of my sisters, I'm not really promoting anything, so check it out). If people don't mind, here's an excerpt:

As opposed to making "comments", which can easily be misconstrued as "criticisms", I would like to open the following "doors" for further discussion:

Door No. 1. Congressman Ruffy Biazon contends that "the ability of poor families to send their children to school is hampered by their absolute lack of resources to provide for the cost of sending the kids to school ----- transportation, snack, uniforms, other miscellaneous requirements, etc." While I agree that the lack of resources is a major stumbling block to providing for a child's education, I would like to ask for clarification regarding what Congressman Biazon means by an "absolute lack of resources". I would like to suggest, respectfully, that the human being's capacity for transcendence (which is not an exclusively Christian concept, but one which is acknowledged in other contexts) seems absent from this analysis.

Door No. 2. It was mentioned above that parties "who oppose the bill cite various statistics and studies done abroad". Perhaps it would interest Congressman Biazon that the latest comprehensive quantitative and qualitative study on character education was in fact done in the Philippines. The study "Adolescent Mindset on Relationships, Love, and Sexuality", a study conducted for the 2nd International Congress on Education in Love, Sex, and Life, was conducted from May to September, 2007. I would gladly furnish him a copy, and if need be, access to people who can put the findings in context.

Door No. 3. I agree with Congressman Biazon when he laments that "It is unfair to those who support the bill to be labeled “anti-life”, “anti-family”, “pro-abortion” and many other monickers on the basis of pre-conceived notions". I nod my head in assent even more vehemently when he observes, quite rightly, that "The question should not only be whether you are pro-life or not (because there is absolutely no one who is anti-life), but also if the people deserve quality of life." Inasmuch as it is important to consider the daily living conditions and immediate prospects of less fortunate Filipino families, I believe that we will be doing these same families a great disservice if we do not explore alternatives to what reproductive health measures should contain. Perhaps we could explore programs that are more or less preventive in nature that educates Filipinos to decide responsibly in terms of cultivating a healthy family life. There are such programs, and I would like to humbly submit these for consideration as alternatives to the idea of reproductive health measures as currently constituted in the RH bill should the need, or interest arise.

I know for some people the idea of considering what seems to be an unrelated issue to the very urgent need to understand the RH bill might seem like computing for the airspeed velocity of unladen swallows, but when there is so much at stake, we shouldn't stop at considering alternatives, whether African or European.

Bob Guerrero said...

Results of the latest SWS survey.

71% of Filipino adults favor passage of Reproductive Health Bill,

John-D Borra said...

Thanks for the info. Well, ladies and gentlemen? Any thoughts?

Virginia Viray said...

In reply to romanza2005, again, contraception is not about abortion. The Church's insistence that RH promotes abortion is just plain misleading. It's not about "getting rid" of the children, it is about planned parenthood and pregnancies so you only have children that you can support. Obviously, since Grace couldn't prevent the unplanned pregnancies, she kept the children and is now taking care of them as best she can given her resources - but it is simple arithmetic - if you are earning X amount, the more mouths you have to feed, the less resources you'll have for each of them. Soon enough, the quality of life that you can provide your children, as they grow in number, will suffer. You talk about Grace's other problems, and how she'd be fine if those got resolved. If her husband would sober up and be responsible, if the government could just give her a welfare pension, if we have public schools where even the bus and meals are free for the kids, etc..., sure, Grace's and her children's lives would likely be better. But Grace, and the rest of us, does not live in LalaLand. She can wish herself, and the additional children she bears every year, to death but she cannot change her husband or our government's resources. What she can have control of NOW is herself and her body. If she, and women like her, can have access to information she could at least be empowered to make the choices that are right for her and her children. Why is the Church so afraid of educating the people about their choices? It is as if the Church wants to keep the people ignorant, so they'll just follow blindly whatever the Church heirarchy commands, without even thinking of what is truly right for them.

Bob Guerrero said...

Well-written! Are you the lexi I know? :-p

Virginia Viray said...

Unlikely, Bhobg - 'coz Lexi's the name of my baby, due to be delivered around Christmas of 2008 :).

As a Catholic, I believe that it is my obligation to God to make sure I provide my child (and future children) the best quality of life - and that means planning my family. I am Pro-Life, and Pro-Planned Parenthood ! :) I just don't get R2005.

Bob Guerrero said...

I applaud your stand. I think it's great that there are independent-minded Catholics out there. :)

Renzo Villalon said...

On travellingsuitcase & Bob's views on censorship:

The prohibition is on "disinformation" - the provision makes it illegal to lie (about contraceptives, at least). There are no prohibitions on opinions, reviews, recommendations, blogs, articles, whatever as long as you're telling the truth about the topic of the provision.

I'd imagine this is to prevent someone from arbitrarily declaring "The pill causes cancer" without valid scientific proof to back it up, intending only to prevent the use of the contraceptive.

It doesn't prevent someone from reporting that "The pill does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases." That's a true statement (as far as I know), and outside the definition of "disinformation."

It similarly does not prevent anyone from declaring "I believe the pill is the key to hell because it interferes with the way God designed a body to work." We will remain entitled to our opinions, regardless of the veracity. The Church likewise cannot be sanctioned for its teachings for it is the nature of religion to defy scientific quantification.

Even assuming in arguendo that the provision curtailed free speech, it is merely a law, and in the hierarchy of matters legal, remains secondary to the Constitution in what it can and cannot affect. It's like right of way. The Constitution protects free speech, and no paper passed by the House (save an amendment to the Constitution) can change that. Even the President can't squelch the press outside those moments where national security requires it.

My interpretation is closer to Bobs in this regard. I'm not a lawyer, just have a little background, and if you need to double-check, ask a real attorney.

leila arato said...

contraceptives work...we have done country wide studies (in almost all developing countries), NFP does not work for everyone. why would you deprive someone who is comfortable with pills? why would you deprive someone of these information? WHY? because they will cease to be Catholics? when one professor in New Zealand heard about religion being a factor here, he can't even decipher how to judge the study. all the while he thought, this idea (or FEAR) only exists in Medieval age. Italy, Spain, Mexico...highly Catholic countries, have embraced a population policy that significantly improved their lives, why can't we?

Bob Guerrero said...

Santanderre studied law for a while btw.

Tnx for the post!

BTW I saw Razorback last night and they were awesome. :)

jose descallar said...

Hi travelingsuitcase!

you can not convince a person that is not open to other ideas or views. you can only convince if s/he is willing. do not waste your time and effort on people who are close-minded. it is obvious that the intent of the bill is to impose a paradigm and value system on society in general, whatever your religious and moral beliefs. A legislative proposition with a penal provision and mandating subjective categories like "ideal", "satisfying sex life" is imposition in itself and runs counter to its assertion of freedom of choice. how can it be about freedom and rights if you uses the coercive power of the State. In a neoliberal society, as they like to present ours, let the market determine what is and what is not. contraceptives are already in the market even without the bill. if there is really a BIG demand for it (which i doubt) and there is no law prohibiting these multinational/transnational pharmaceutical companies to market their contraceptives, there is no need for a law like this except if MNCs/TNCs want a ready market through government purchases (like P 2 billion for 2008) without lifting a finger to advertise. it is all about business and profit.

if truly our politicians and government want progress and work for the common good, specifically for the poor, why not prioritize enacting bills on: extending agrarian reform law with reforms. agricultural modernization and food security, wage increase for the workers, salary increase for teachers and health workers, repealing or amending EPIRA and oil deregulation law to protect consumers.

traveling suitcase girl said...

Hey Jad,

Thanks, I appreciate your pointing out some things here. About that ready market without lifting a finger re contraceptives manufacturers/distributors, I can't add anything to that. Thing is, I wouldn't have seen it that way unless someone pointed it out to me and unless I informed myself about these issues with the help of other people. I'm working to pass on whatever I know to others that they, too, may learn these things the same way I did.

You forgot to mention one thing that government and politicians can beef up: the programs aimed at preventing violence against women. I understand there are already laws regarding this? It's just a matter of implementation. And if there are pending bills and resolutions that are there to address the problem of domestic violence, I wonder what government is waiting for.

Bob Guerrero said...

This point of view is a bit too cynical for me. I would like to think that this is more than just about business. I would like to think that the government is sincere in its efforts to help families control the number of children they have. I would like to think that that is behind this bill.

Virginia Viray said...

Just looking at this at a micro-level, for the people who are fortunate enough to be educated and who have the means of procuring their own contraceptives, it doesn't matter if the RH bill is passed or not. When Mayor Atienza of Manila banned contraceptives in the City, those who can afford probably just went to Mercury Drug for pills, and to St. Luke's (and other private hospitals) for ligation. I, for one, will continue doing what I believe is best for me and my family - regardless of how vehemently the Church opposes, or how our politicians act. Trouble is, it is the weakest in our society - the poorest and those lacking in education - who will continue to suffer in the absence of a clear-cut RH policy that provides for information and services. They are the ones who go to government health centers needing advice from government doctors on how to plan their families, and help to have access to contraceptives. Certainly, these members of our society are not the target market of pharma companies - because they don't have the purchasing power. Isn't it ironic that in our society those who are well-off are able to plan their families and (generally) have only a few children, and those who can least afford are unable to plan and end up with numerous children they can barely feed?

Bob Guerrero said...

Well said. :)

Renzo Villalon said...

On what lexi2008 said:

It matters that the RH bill is passed at all - it will in theory provide a sweeping general directive to the nation, public or private healthcare institutions and eventually the people it needs to reach, for the delivery of both much-needed information and the option to plan a family. In this, the passage of the bill actually addresses your lament that the weakest in society need a clear-cut RH policy.

I say "in theory" because in practice, this thing may just be another kotong factory where pharmaceuticals may consider slipping fat envelopes under the table to land supplier contracts, but that's not the province of this discussion. That bill NEEDS to be passed. The government needs orders to move. Private parties need policies to support and gain incentives from. A single directed thrust towards reproductive health may not be the catalyst for rising out of the mire of the fourth world, but it might just be one of many necessary things to get started.

nikko b said...

Hi there, Bob! I'm sorry I haven't gotten back to any of the comments here directed to me. But here I am! :D

I've read the memoir of Iranian (now French) cartoonist Marjane Satrapi, where she illustrates the plight of Iranians under the rule of religious groups, and yes it's not something I want for our country. Fortunately we do live in a liberal democracy, and the Church cannot be imposing like that.

Please tell me what you think the Church stand is--because as I see it, I don't find anything harmful or misguided in it.

Promoting contraceptives is not exactly teaching people--of all religions, not just Catholics--the values of responsibility, respect, self-worth, and other-centeredness, among other things. When we lose sight of these things--as the availability of contraceptives will eventually affect our mindset--who knows what we'll be open to in the next ten, twenty years?

The Church stand aside, I think protecting the family doesn't mean one must control family size--happiness in a family goes well beyond the number of kids you have in your home. Protecting the family involves preserving the respect a husband has for his wife--because they both understand her body and know when she is fertile--and keeping the couple open to welcoming a new baby in their home, and of course, helping them raise youth with a good head on their shoulders.

That's responsibility: knowing the implications of your actions and answering to them. It builds character and makes better people out of us. If you put contraception in the mix, you simply take, take, and take--forget about the consequences.

Bob Guerrero said...

I respectfully disagree. When someone uses contraceptives to prevent the spread of STD or to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, he or she is acting very responsibly.

Bob Guerrero said...

Of course we agree with this. Who wouldn't? Supporting modern methods of family planning is in no way, shape or form contradictory to this.

traveling suitcase girl said...

I don't blame people for equating using contraceptives with being responsible. It's partly due to misinformation. Prophylactics, for example, have often been trumpeted as anti-STD ammunition that it's now taken for granted that these things are effective against STDs. I'm not sure who really started this campaign, but the public is entitled to complete and accurate information.

That the AIDS virus is so small that it can pass through pores in condoms has been established. It was in the mid-1990s when I first came across literature illustrating this, complete with measurements and very detailed data. Unfortunately, I don't have the materials with me anymore. But I'm pretty sure reliable sources of such data are still there, even online.

Another piece of information worth considering is the quality control of condom manufacturing. The false sense of security is something that needs to be pointed out.

“Condom manufacturers in the United States electronically test all condoms for holes and weak spots. In addition, FDA requires manufacturers to use a water test to examine samples from each batch of condoms for leakage. If the test detects a defect rate of more than 4 per 1,000, the entire lot is discarded. The agency also encourages manufacturers to test samples of their products for breakage by using an air burst test in accordance with specifications of the International Standards Organization.”

That’s four (4) leaking condoms allowed in every batch of 1,000 — how many thousands (?) of leaking condoms circulating around the world does that mean? And this is a risk the public is willing to ignore, even among those in AIDS prevention programs?

When the people pushing for HB 5043 say “accurate and complete information,” I hope that includes telling students and the public in general about things like this.

Btw, this came from the US FDA website.

Bob Guerrero said...

Again I must disagree. Contraceptives are exactly the responsible thing to do in most situations.

People are having sex. There is not a lot we can do about it. Are we going to let them have sex and spread disease as well as create unwanted pregnancies? Or are we going to allow them access to RH info and protect their futures?

We can preach chastity all we want but I believe it won't work. We are biologically inclined to have sex. It's hard to fight that. In an ideal world, maybe. We do not live in an ideal world and we never will.

traveling suitcase girl said...

That's why it's called ideal. But does this mean we deprive our people the opportunities to learn about accurate information, learn about we as people are capable of, that there's much more to life than physical and sexual gratification. That, to me, is letting them down. There is such a thing as character education. There are programs that teach people -- especially those who are in so need of it -- the basics about entrepreneurship, micro-financing, values about life, about parenting (when applicable), you know.... life principles in order to have purpose and to have pursuits in mind. But if we start with a mindset that's guided by "ganun talaga tayo, wala nang magagawa" then we are bound to fail talaga.

Let's help our people, especially the young ones, strive for high ideals. Expand their horizons.

Bob Guerrero said...

So you are saying that because condoms only work 99% of the time, that we should not promote them at all? Because of that 1% of the time when they allow sperm and STDs to pass? So you propose no condoms, which means 100% of the time the sperm and the diseases will pass? That means more unwanted pregnancies and more spread of disease.

I cannot understand your logic. I believe it is flawed.

Bob Guerrero said...

I don't think there is anything in the bill that says we should not educate people about this. In fact, as far as I know, the bill encourages education and information so that people can be responsible with their sexuality.

Bob Guerrero said...

Well put. This bill is just one of the many acts that can help our country out.

traveling suitcase girl said...

About this responsibility thing, here's an analogy that may help provide another perspective:

Take the practice of giving babies and kids formula milk. Over the decades this has been established in the mainstream. Many believe that to be healthy and to stay healthy, kids need milk. Through aggressive marketing even, some people have come to believe that formula milk ensures a high IQ in their kids. So impressed have many people become over the publicized merits of formula milk that even when the most recent milk scandal broke out and it was clear that something in manufactured milk was making drinkers ill, a lot of moms panicked and were concerned about what brand of milk they were going to buy now.

So entrenched has the practice of giving manufactured milk to kids become that it probably didn't occur to many that another option is to stop giving the kids milk. Natural fruit juice is healthy. And if you're after the calcium content that formula milk is said to contain, there are other foods that are calcium-rich such as sardines, salmon, beans...some fruits that can be converted to a drink for young kids.

My point is, yes people will have sex. And the way that it is being drummed up as such a gratifying experience, and the "everybody's doing it anyway" message that our media are bombarding people with, sex has become even more attractive, regardless of the circumstances surrounding a man and a woman who choose to engage in it. So with the marketing of "reproductive health care" which includes the easy access to drugs and devices that will prevent pregnancy, people may tend to engage more in sex. But I say, it's like that milk thing. The other option is NOT to engage in sex if it is not the right thing to do under some circumstances. But with all this marketing, just like with the aggressive marketing of formula milk, to live chastity or to still be open to the transmission of life will be far from people's minds -- just as parents to whom it doesn't even occur that another option is not to give their kids milk.

I hope I've expressed my viewpoint clearly :-)

traveling suitcase girl said...

Bob, I don't know how, but you have to see the curricula, the books they've been using, the way that some teachers handle sex education classes, how they have taught how to use a condom.

traveling suitcase girl said...

i don't have the books or the curricula with me, though

traveling suitcase girl said...

Ahem, can Bob or anybody else tell me how to take a portion of text from a comment and make it appear as a quote in my reply? Still don't know how to do that, so it's kind of hard for you guys to pinpoint what exactly I'm replying to. So sorry for that.

Bob Guerrero said...

I don't know if they will engage in MORE sex. But for sure, with the access to RH info and methods, they will be engaging in sex more responsibly.

Bob Guerrero said...

There is nothing in the bill that prevents you or the Church from promoting chastity. In fact I admire people who choose to remain celibate til marriage.

The authors of the bill are merely being realistic and pragmatic. They understand that many people do not make that choice. And if they choose to have sex before marriage, then they should be properly informed so that they have sex responsibly.

Bob Guerrero said...

AYOKO! All's fair in love and war! JOKE!

Click on "reply." Make sure the "quote original message" box below on the left is unchecked. Then select a portion of the message. Then check it. Then portion will appear on top of field. Then click "submit."

traveling suitcase girl said...

About what you presume that I propose based on the facts I provided about quality control of condom manufacturing, pls connect it with everything I have been writing in this thread. Complete and accurate information. I doubt it if facts such as that, or the increased risk of certain types of cancer linked to contraceptive use, and other information necessary for informed choice and genuine education will be told to the public and included in the government's version of sex education.

Bob Guerrero said...

I'm all for including the health risks in the Bill. Besides I believe they are miuscule and will not deter people from using the contraceptives.

traveling suitcase girl said...

Haha! Okay, I appreciate the help, Bob :-)

traveling suitcase girl said...

This is something we agree on then.

traveling suitcase girl said...

Whether or not they are miniscule is beside the point. Like I've said, complete and accurate information is crucial; so is empowering ourselves and our people to make informed choices.

Renzo Villalon said...

There are no health risks associated with the Bill.

There are health concerns on the quality of contraceptives available for consumption.

While both are related, each is neither causal to, nor affected by the other. The passage of the Bill is not dependent on the number of condoms with holes, and will not increase the percentile effectiveness of the pill.

John-D Borra said...

Given the statement above, it makes sense to exercise family planning methods that don't rely on contraceptives alone. Perhaps some attention can be turned to the Billings Ovulation Method (BOM). While many have lamented the BOM for being a specifically "Catholic" response to family planning, I think that the participants are mature enough to look at this from a rational point of view. I don't think people have questioned the effectivity of BOM, though people should be aware of the difficulty in relying on the Rhythm Method. People seem to be misinformed about the difficulties involved in teaching BOM. Despite its Catholic origins, BOM really is quite easy to teach. Please check out Here are some interesting findings:

"Due to its high efficacy, low expenditure and extreme safety incomparable by any other contraceptive methods, the BOM is well accepted by the Chinese couple of different cultural and economical backgrounds.5-7 Lower reproductive tract infection (vaginitis and cervicitis), quite common in the low cultural stratum in China, does not influence the observation of the mucus symptoms.

It is interesting to note that in one field trial, most failure cases had a relatively high cultural level (two university graduates and two lecturers). They all felt sorry and admitted that since they considered the method was simple and easy to master, they had paid less attention to the teaching course and had not strictly followed the rules. The consequence was use-related failures. On the contrary, the illiterate women were generally very attentive to BOM teaching and rigidly stuck to the rules, and failures were very rare. This experience gives us the following elicitation:

3.1 The BOM is simple and easy to comprehend; almost all the women, including the illiterate, can successfully learn the method and identify their own mucus symptoms.

3.2 During the training, special attention should be paid to the intellectuals and professionals. The method seems to be too "simple" to them and they could not get hold of it without strict supervision.

Interim conclusion: BOM is well accepted and by the Chinese women of different cultural and economical backgrounds; illiteracy and lower reproductive tract infection are not incompatible with the use of the Method."

Despite being Catholic, I am loathe to use specifically Catholic arguments (my hat's off to everyone who has a working knowledge of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church) when discussing the RH Bill, and I really appreciate everyone's attempts to keep the discussion on a secular level.

Thanks for all the insights!

Bob Guerrero said...

This is good. I hope this information also gets disseminated. I think th RH Bill should give info on all the methods, even BOM.

Lea Salonga said...

Every method of birth control (and yes, BOM is one of them) should definitely be talked about. The method itself isn't difficult to follow, and doesn't take very long to master.

Is there any entity teaching the Billings Ovulation Method (Church-backed or privately funded) to couples before they get married, or is there even widely distributed literature in health centers that teach this method in great detail? I had to learn about this on the internet.

Bob Guerrero said...

This is from Attorney Clara Rita Padilla from Engenderights.

The Poor Women and Adolescent Girls in Tondo Need the RH Law

“We need the reproductive health (RH) care law. We simply cannot have cities like Manila where former Mayor Atienza was able to restrict women’s access to contraceptives under EO 003 (Series of 2000),” says Attorney Clara Rita A. Padilla, Executive Director of EnGendeRights.

“In my work with the community women from Tondo, I interviewed women who wanted to undergo ligation during Atienza’s term but they were completely denied access by the local public hospitals. They were told that such services were prohibited because Manila was ‘pro-life’. As a consequence, some of them ended up having two to eight more children than they actually desired. While the national average would only show that women usually have one child more than they desired, the disparity between desired and actual number of children is greater for poor women,” added Atty. Padilla.

Atty. Padilla stressed that, “The impact of the lack of reproductive health information and access to health care services is grave especially to poor women who do not have money to pay for their own contraceptive supplies and for counseling from private doctors.”

“The impact of such restrictive policies is also pervasive and damaging to the lives and health of adolescent girls. I have interviewed an adolescent who, due to lack of access to sexuality education and lack of access to reproductive health information and services, already had six children at the very young age of 21. There were also many adolescents who started childbearing at 14-18 years of age and continued childbearing successively,” continued Atty. Padilla.

“If we have a comprehensive RH law, we will not have these restrictive policies in place. We will have more women having access to sexuality education and reproductive health information and services,” says Atty. Padilla.

It is the obligation of the Philippine government as cited in the 2006 Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Concluding Comments on the Philippines to “strengthen measures aimed at the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, including by making a comprehensive range of contraceptives more widely available and without any restriction”; “give priority attention to the situation of adolescents and that it provide sex education, targeted at girls and boys, with special attention to the prevention of early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.”

“Our representatives in Congress must realize that our very own Constitution states that, ‘Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.’ Elected officials must be reminded that they are mere representatives of the Filipino people and that their obligation is to the Filipino people and not to the Catholic Church and its bishops who are against the passage of the bill into law,” said Atty. Padilla.

“Elected officials must respect plurality in our society. They must uphold access to reproductive health information and health care services and give primary importance to a person’s right to reproductive self-determination. Our legislators should immediately pass a comprehensive reproductive health care law. That’s what we need.” Atty. Padilla added.

John-D Borra said...

Thanks. Regardless of position on the RH bill, I believe that it is access to the proper information that will eventually make a difference in the lives of our people. That's really what we ought to aspire for: that if you give people the facts they need to make an informed decision, they will decide what's best for them.

Perhaps this can be introduced as some sort amendment to the more problematic sections of the RH Bill.

John-D Borra said...

You gotta love the internet. It truly is the most democratic of institutions. ;-)

Many character-based sex education programs, religious or secular, would be familiar with BOM. I suppose the relative anonymity of BOM has more to do with the fear of the unknown, or to be blunt, an ICK factor as opposed to any lack on the part of the people who advocate BOM.

Please check for more details. :-)

Renzo Villalon said...

There's a lot of great stuff here, hope it's all right if I digress a little bit.

There are two steps to the passage of a bill into law.

1. Get the general idea through the legislation and approved by the president. (Then the publication, yadda, yadda)

2. Have the relevant office issue implementing rules.

The implementing rules are the down and dirty of the law - what things will be taught, which methods will be espoused, what risks are there of condoms with melamine, etc. This is all determined AFTER the law is passed. The Bill itself contains only guiding principles to point this bit of legislation in the right direction.

A lot of what's being discussed here is food for the implementing rules which the POPCOM (i think) is going to put out. To find out what POPCOM is all about, check the Bill:

The only thing the Bill itself is concerned with is "Should Filipinos have the right to know about reproductive health?"

Oh, and while you're there, do check out Section 12. These provisions were glossed over in our discussion. Had they been brought to light earlier, we might not have enjoyed the level of fervency showcased in the middle of this thread.

My favorite (in light of these discussions) is Section 12 Item G:

"Abstinence before marriage."

John-D Borra said...

He he. Of course, THAT would solve everything!

I, for one, am glad that we glossed over Section 12. I rather enjoyed going through the fervent exchanges. ;-) We might have had a clearer discussion, but one that, I suspect, would have been less fun.

Jo Ramos said...

hi lea & to all - thank you for posting this blog and all your very enlightening commentaries...long yet informative.
i am married w/ 1child, i practice natural method or what my husband & i called "galit-galit muna" =)

traveling suitcase girl said...

Hi! Just a quick comment here. Got something on a lawyer's perspective on the "malicious disinformation" provision and I wanted to share it with you. Below is the query posed, followed by the lawyer's reply:

I’ve been wondering about the implications and possible consequences of one of the provisions included in HB5043. To me the lawyer’s position regarding the bill is irrelevant since it’s interpretation of the law that matters. Here’s the provision, under Sec. 21. (Prohibited Acts):


The following acts are prohibited:

e) Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent or provisions of this Act.


“Any person” would include civil servants, ordinary workers, teachers, parents, journalists, to name a few, am I correct?

“Maliciously engages” — who is to determine if the information (whether accurate or not) was engaged in maliciously? The Population Commission? The DOJ?

Let’s say the bill was enacted into law as it is, and a journalist zeroes in on the government’s establishing an “ideal family size” of having 2 children as a subtle way of laying the groundwork for a 2-child policy, given the ultimate goal of population reduction. Let’s say he wrote an investigative piece and it was published in newspapers, and even blogged about the same topic.

Based on the bill (which has henceforth become law), are the journalist’s actions punishable?

The way I see it, the RH bill goes against the principle of “freedom” which some of its proponents have used in explaining why the bill is a good thing. And now this provision which, to me, seems to indicate muzzling the freedom of speech.


you were correct in your insight that the bill somehow impacts the “free speech” provision of the constitution when it sneaked into the bill as one of the prohibited acts:

“Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation about the intent or provisions of this Act”.

So you and I can be prosecuted for “disinformation”.

I have not read the entire bill, because I am discussing the moral issue of abortion/contraception in its generic sense, and not in regards to the House Bill in question.

But you could be again correct because the provision you have just cited is “overbroad” and at the same time “vague”. The term “malicious disinformation” is very broad because there was no parameter by which it was defined and vague also because of lack of parameters.

It may suffer additional infirmity of “unfettered discretion” where the determination of “malice in the information” is left to a particular official, Director of Pop Commission or the “Prosecutor”.

But our legislators have the safety net for those kind of unwanted provisions. The court can purge them but those that are not infirmed, remain valid and effective.


There, that's it. Has anyone else consulted a lawyer regarding the same provision? If so, please do share his/her views here :-)

Bob Guerrero said...

Wow legalese. When I have more time I will study this post.

BTW Carlos and I will be guesting on Juan on Juan this coming Monday, ten pm. It's a talk show hosted by John D Borra on Zoe Channel, Ch 5 on Sky, 33 on UHF and I think 98 on destiny. We shall be discussing this topic. :)

traveling suitcase girl said...

Very interesting :-)

Btw, I think the lawyer's response is easy to understand, except for the last part (which I'm still trying to understand).

I still think this provision doesn't belong to the bill and to any other piece of legislation because it goes against freedom of speech. Whether or not one can be prosecuted is beside the point. Dapat tanggalin talaga ang provision na iyan.

Bob Guerrero said...

I read that the provision merely prevents people from distorting the truth about the bill. In other words it would be unlawful to say that the bill promotes abortion, for example, or forces Catholics to use IUDs. So if my understanding of the provision is correct, then I think the provision has merit.

traveling suitcase girl said...

First, why would you want freedom of speech challenged? There are many other laws and some laws concerning taxation, for example, I don't like. And I am free to express my distaste (with limits, of course). If I go against the limits then I can be charged with libel or slander. But no law comes with a provision that people can't speak out against it. And this freedom is not about being Catholic or non-Catholic -- it's beyond religion. It's about freedom.

Bob Guerrero said...

You can speak freely all you want. What you cannot do is deliberately spread falsehoods ABOUT THE BILL. In other words, you can express your distaste all day about the bill but you cannot say that the bill is for something that it isn't. For example, you cannot say that the Bill is for the legalization of abortion. That is not true.

I believe this has been debated already on this thread.

Lea Salonga said...

Freedom of speech includes being able to express one's opinions about a certain person, place, event, etc... for example, it's okay to say that you hate my website's wallpaper because it does not conform to your personal aesthetic sensibility.

To express your own distaste at something is one thing... to intentionally spread an untruth about anything or anyone is quite another. For example, it is truthful to say that there are birth control pills that can actually help to prevent ovarian cancers, but cannot be prescribed to patients that have or had breast cancer.

As for the provision in question, there has to be "information" before there can be "disinformation". This information needs to first be laid out clearly before anyone can then be accused of maliciously engaging in disinformation. Example, let's say (example lang ha) that the condom's failure rate is about 5% (meaning, it has a 95% efficacy rate, when used properly). To maliciously engage in disinformation would... maybe... include intentionally saying that the condom's failure rate is actually 50%. Or that all women's reproductive cycles last 28 days (this is so not true).

So exercising one's freedom of speech doesn't give one the excuse for libelous or slanderous behavior.

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