Monday, December 19, 2011

Where Are You, Mr. President?

Typhoon Sendong (International name: Washi) devastated the city of Cagayan De Oro and Iligan in Eastern Mindanao and severely affected parts of Negros Oriental in Eastern Visayas.  In the aftermath, huge number of casualties (650+ as of this writing), scores missing and presumed dead and hundreds of thousands left homeless. And where was the Philippine President? 

Retrieved from http://twitpic.com/7v0gp3 by Joseph Morong
Yes, you read it right...he was at a party.  Was it okay? NO.  Not when hundreds of people, whole families even have been found dead and missing on that same day. The President and his advisers may say that the agencies in charge have been mobilized, local executives are in control, etc... yes, BUT for a disaster and tragedy as huge as this, the leader of the country needs to be there, to be seen and heard...to reassure people and to suffer with the those whose lives have been changed forever. I equate this devastation with that of Hurricane Katrina in the US where large parts of the city of New Orleans were literally leveled to the ground.  Was the US President visible and on top of the situation? Definitely.

I know that there is nothing the government can do now to prevent what happened and we can only help in the aftermath but for a leader to project a sense of apathy or indifference or what...is for me unforgivable. I do not mean to trivialize a tragedy of any proportion but this is not a bus accident, for goodness sake!  A few persons suggested that perhaps he did not want people to compare him with GMA and her photo-ops, or for people to "snicker" or make a "heck" out of whatever he does.  Should he care what people say in this heart-breaking, gut-wrenching tragedy? I think not when you are doing the right thing.

There is nothing wrong with delegating roles, duties and responsibilities. A good leader does that but, this is not one of those things you delegate.  In a major crisis, there is a real need for the physical presence of a leader. This is one of those times in the history of a country that doubts about political motives should be set aside. It is not time to think of yourself.

The President has disappointed us once more.  He did it during the Luneta hostage fiasco and again, now.  How many more tragedies before this president finally decides to make himself do real work as the leader of the country. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ethics In Philippine Media

The Philippine media is one of the most open, free and powerful press in the world.  But this freedom and power is also often abused, misused and corrupted.  I know what I am talking about having been reviled and maligned by unscrupulous talk radio commentators who call themselves "media" often enough in the past and present time.  Of course, I never respond to them having kept in mind the very good advice of a friend who is also a media practitioner, to never react to what talk radio says because by reacting, you add fuel to the fire. Besides that, Filipino press is not guided by any ethical standard, so why bother?

But to my surprise...no...shock is a better word...there is a Philippine Journalist's Code of Ethics which was formulated by the Philippine Press Institute and National Press Club and adopted by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and a KBP Broadcast Code established in 2007! 

Journalist's Code of Ethics (Philippines)

I. I shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. I recognize the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly.

II. I shall not violate confidential information on material given me in the exercise of my calling.

III. I shall resort only to fair and honest methods in my effort to obtain news, photographs and/or documents, and shall properly identify myself as a representative of the press when obtaining any personal interview intended for publication.

IV. I shall refrain from writing reports that will adversely affect a private reputation unless the public interest justifies it. At the same time, I shall fight vigorously for public access to information.

V. I shall not let personal motives or interests influence me in the performance of my duties, nor shall I accept or offer any present, gift or other consideration of a nature that may cast doubt on my professional integrity.

VI. I shall not commit any act of plagiarism.

VII. I shall not, in any manner, ridicule, cast aspersions on, or degrade any person by reason of sex, creed, religious belief, political conviction, cultural and ethnic origin.

VIII. I shall presume persons accused of crime of being innocent until proven otherwise. I shall exercise caution in publishing names of minors and women involved in criminal cases so that they may not unjustly lose their standing in society.

IX. I shall not take unfair advantage of a fellow journalist.

X. I shall accept only such tasks as are compatible with the integrity and dignity of my profession, invoking the conscience clause when duties imposed on me conflict with the voice of my conscience.

XI. I shall conduct myself in public or while performing my duties as journalist in such manner as to maintain the dignity of my profession. When in doubt, decency should be my watchword.


 2007 KBP Broadcast Code Preamble

WE BELIEVE

THAT broadcasting in the Philippines should reflect the hopes and
dreams of a freedom loving people;

THAT broadcasting is a powerful medium in shaping our country's
cultural, social and economic growth and development;

THAT broadcasting, because of its immediate and lasting impact on the
public, demands of its practitioners a high sense of responsibility,
morality, fairness and honesty at all times.

THAT broadcasting has an obligation to uphold the properties and
customs of civilized society, maintain the respect of the rights and
sensitivities of all people, preserve the honor and the sanctity of
the family and home, protect the sacredness of individual dignity,
and promote national unity.


As I read through the full text of the KBP Broadcast Code 2007, I could only shake my head in disbelief.  Does any broadcaster follow this?  Because listening to commentators and blocktimers in radio for example, it seems to me that either many are not aware of the code or if they are, then they are willfully disregarding or violating it.    Television and print media are not much better either in reporting the news. Oftentimes, to beat their deadlines, the article (print or TV) that they put out may contain biases or rash inferences. This has happened many times to me, that they would print only one side of the story and write some kind of disclosure that they were not able to get my side because I could not be contacted.  But the truth is, I was never contacted, and because a deadline had to be met, then whatever "news" they can get even if these contain half-truths or taken out of context, gets printed or reported. This to me is a perfect example of unethical practice.  News reporters have the big responsibility to provide the reading public with accurate and impartial news. There is no room for errors in news, no guesses should be made, all the information should be double checked. I understand that competition is tough, but fair and responsible journalism should not be sacrificed in the name of sales or ratings. Sensationalism is really bad journalism.

The two codes outlined above need to be well implemented but, I guess like the laws of the country, they too are treated as suggestions. KBP tries, but it can only sanction its members and so, if you're not one...you can get away with almost anything. The best solution is self-regulation but unfortunately, in this country that remains just an ideal. Another area which I perceive may help in promoting ethical practices is just compensation for all media practitioners. I know that many of my media friends are paid salaries that are too low for the kind of work that they do. If news organizations want good and ethical news writers and reporters, then they should pay them well. This ensures that their loyalty is only to the organization they belong to, and no one else.





Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fact or Fiction- The Aquino-Cojuangco YouTube Video

 

This video has been going viral since it was uploaded last October 21, 2011 by PinoyMonkeyPride on YouTube.  I don't know the person who made this but the purpose is evident and that is to discredit the Cojuangco-Aquinos.  Is it true and factual?  Well, it has footnotes and seems to be credible.  This video also looks professionally made.  Whoever made it or whoever commissioned this video to be made should come out in the open, otherwise speculation as to who is behind this will take away the relevance and importance of its message. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lessons Post-Pedring

Okay, so Typhoon Pedring (Nesat) has left the country...what now?  Everyone is busy cleaning up and repairs are needed.  But these are not the real solutions to the perennial flooding that occurs in Metro Manila.  This last onslaught affected not only the squatters, subdivisions, and the old city of Manila but big business establishments, hotels, condominiums and even the US embassy in areas that are not even flood prone in the past. Government agencies should start focusing and work as a team in the planning and implementation of an efficient flood control program.  It is also time for a rational housing program that will not displace people but allow them to continue to work and live in the area of their choice.  Data available on line have shown that a lot of assistance has been given to the Philippine government by foreign aid agencies specifically JICA, and in fact they have even come out with a manual in 2003 with the DPWH regarding flood control. The DPWH implementation which began in 2005 and ended in 2010, was made in chosen pilot areas other than Metro Manila and seems to be ongoing. But what about Metro Manila?  Flooding in Metro Manila and its suburbs is a by-product of rapid urban expansion, inadequate river channel capacities, and insufficient equipment for maintenance of existing drainage facilities, which are continuously clogged by squatting and garbage dumping.  There were several undertakings like the Mangahan Floodway Project which was conceived as an initial practical solution to mitigate chronic flooding in the Metro Manila. It was an ambitious project which would protect the greater Manila areas from peak flows with up to a 100-year recurrence interval.  So what failed?  According to this post in Pinoy Observer written in 2009, the MMDA has neglected to efficiently implement the flood control projects, which was started by DPWH but turned over to MMDA upon their insistence.  Another observation is that the whole length of the floodway has been occupied by squatters 5 to 6 rows thick. This has definitely added to the pollution and clogging of the floodway.

Manggahan Floodway on a clear day
Manggahan FLoodway during Typhoon Ondoy
Well, it seems to me that although flood control programs are in place, the inefficient operation, lack of monitoring and maintenance have rendered many of structural measures either insufficient or obsolete.  Newer structural measures will now have to be put in place, which of course will again cost money.  Equally important in any flood control program are the non-structural measures such as the effective operation of flood control structures, warning system, land use regulation, maintenance, etc.    It is also urgent that the informal settlers (squatters) living in the floodways, under the bridges, esteros, etc. should be relocated, not in God-forsaken places but in areas where they can work and make a decent living for their families.  Last summer, on my way to the airport we used the circumferential road passing by Libingan ng mga Bayani.  My driver pointed out to me the perimeter fences put up by government to ward off the squatters...of course, these people just had to make holes in these fences and they are back inside.  There was one thing I noticed...land...empty land...enough empty land behind the memorial grounds  to build a housing project of residential buildings similar to those I saw in Malaysia and Singapore.  I wondered out loud, why government cannot use this land for that purpose.  My driver provided the logical answer "walang pera yan, ma'am" (there is no money gained from that).  Oh yes, I forgot...this is the area of shopping malls, high end residencies, subdivisions and even a high end memorial park.  What business will a housing project bring here? Or to give a benefit of the doubt, maybe land use is limited.  But my logic tells me that even if the land use for this area is restricted by law...one can always amend the law.  All that open space can accommodate at least 5 to 10 high-rises for public housing. If this government means what it says, they will put that land to good use and use it to provide decent housing for the people.


I love this country and I want to be proud of what we are and what we have. Our country ranking continues to slide down the ladder.  We must stop being spectators and start being citizens. We have had enough chances to do the right thing...let us make our government work for us. For love of country...the time is now.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Two years After Ondoy...Another Big Typhoon Hits Manila

When will we ever learn?  Two years after Ondoy, here comes Pedring.  I know that natural calamities are unpredictable and Manila is below sea level so flooding is inevitable...but isn't it about time that we minimize the damage?   Pictured below are old photos of flooding in Manila circa 1900's to 1960's.

photo courtesy of Paulo Alcazaren Retrieved from http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150340519349488&set=a.226285759487.174521.772454487&type=1&theater
photo courtesy of Paulo Alcazaren Retrieved from http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150340522519488&set=a.226285759487.174521.772454487&type=1
Photo courtesy of Paulo Alcazaren Retrieved from http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150340525279488&set=a.226285759487.174521.772454487&type=1

The problem is not so much about Metro Manila being flood-prone as to the lamentable fact that no lasting solution has ever been made to solve this. The current mindset is all about output...never the outcome.  Government agencies and LGU's flood control program consists of regularly dredging canals and cleaning up of esteros which are necessary services (outputs) but these will not produce the desired outcome - that is to minimize if not totally prevent flooding. Solutions should be made and implemented to manage the rapid urban expansion, improve river channel capacities (and remove informal settlers living along these channels), provide equipment for sufficient maintenance of drainage facilities which are persistently clogged by squatters and their waste.  Typhoon Pedring (Nesat) has brought flooding not only to the usual places in Manila but even in places which rarely experience high water.  Roxas Boulevard based on the 6:00 news this evening is waist deep in water, including the US Embassy and Manila Hotel. 
US Embassy, Roxas Blvd, Manila
This is surprising because it is one route where vehicles divert to when heavy rains or typhoons hit Manila. This area was basically flood free even in the hardest rain.  I remember in the late 70's coming from Bulacan and our bus could not enter the Balintawak cloverleaf, so we took the road to Novaliches which I later found out was Tandang Sora, took us all the way round to Katipunan, Aurora Blvd and then back to Quezon Avenue to drop us all in one corner in Dapitan St. which was also already partly under water.  Being young and fearless, I decided to go home to my grandmother's house in Pasay and rode a taxi shared with 2 other persons.  To avoid the flooded areas, our driver decided to take the back roads through Jose Abad Santos and Claro M. Recto crossing the Del Pan bridge where my 2 companions got off. From there we proceeded to Roxas Blvd. turning into Vito Cruz, then Donada, back to FB Harrison, then down Galvez (corner of Phil. School for the Blind), turning right at Park Avenue, left at Sanchez and finally home sweet home at P. Villanueva at past 10 in the evening.  The whole trip took more than 3 hours.  Of course, my grandmother was not pleased to say the least, because I could have just stayed at the UST Clinical Division where I was a bedspacer.  I really did not mind the flood when I was studying in Manila...it was actually a time of adventure, safety was never a consideration...at that point in my life.  But I guess as one gets older adventure turns to horror.  By the time I graduated, I couldn't wait to get back to the province (Negros Occidental)...metro living was not for me.  I fervently pray that the national government, the LGU's concerned makes real solutions soon and hopefully in my lifetime otherwise, unless absolutely necessary, I  will continue to stay away from Manila...ironically, the place of my birth.

Friday, February 25, 2011

On Why Marcos Should Never be Buried in The Libingan ng Mga Bayani.

What are these talks about Marcos being buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani? It seems that the son of the late dictator is now resurrecting the issue after Gen. Angelo Reyes was buried there. And the response? We will study it. What?  We just celebrated the 25th anniversary of EDSA One!  If this burial is allowed of a man who put back the Philippines a hundred years in terms of economic and social progress behind other Asian countries, what do we celebrated EDSA for? The mere idea that this is a possibility is enough to make me break out in hives! And that there are even some  sectors who seem to favor this is beyond comprehension. I shake my head in disbelief.  How short our memory is.  I was 16 when Marcos declared Martial Law and 29 going on 30 when he left the country...that is 14 years of my life.  A life lived in fear and trepidation.  I was in first year college and I remember being told to be careful with what I say, do or even look like. Friends were picked up by the military for arbitrary reasons.  Travel was restricted, curfew was in place for all and we could not move around as we wished.  As time passed, we got used to this lifestyle and maybe even forgot what life was like before.  Pockets of dissent still existed and contrary opinions were whispered but life went on and if people's lives suffered, nobody dared complain. Corruption was rampant and because of this, moral degeneration among the people became an obvious consequence...people learned to live and deal with it and this became a culture that continues to this day.  The "Bagong Lipunan" (New Society) that Marcos envisioned never came to be. What happened instead were years of political repression, crony capitalism, graft, unbridled corruption, racketeering, human rights violations, bribery, embezzlement, land grabbing, control of the press and many more abuses, the name of some are not even invented . People became poorer while Marcos, his cronies and cult followers became richer.  And then, they murdered Ninoy Aquino.  

So, NO, please, please NO...do not even consider giving Marcos a place in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani...this will be an act of betrayal against all Filipinos who suffered the despotic Marcos years. Those were our lost years...years when we could have become the people and country that we deserve to be...time lost that will never come back again. Even for that alone, Marcos should never be buried in the place of heroes.

Memories of People Power - EDSA I

We haven't slept straight for 4 nights...my parents and brothers were all huddled over our radios listening to what was happening in Manila.  The atmosphere in the province was tense and everyone stayed at home waiting to see what would happen.  Those of us who volunteered for Namfrel during the snap election two weeks before were waiting for the signal to gather.  I remember it very clearly...it as around 8 or 9 PM, we just had dinner and my family and I were all gathered at the dinner table listening to the news...then the commentator calmly said..."wala na si Marcos?"...we all looked at each other thinking...are we hearing it correctly? And then, a stronger voice..."The Marcoses have left MalacaƱang!" and then, another "It's over! Marcos is gone"!  I could feel the tears coming and then I saw my Dad with his silly grin, a look he had every time he felt strong emotions and to keep himself from crying...my mom was in tears and we all started hugging each other and jumping for joy.  Then the church bells started to ring and my dad took the car keys, got us all into the car to go to the city center...upon reaching the area...we can see hundreds of people laughing, jumping, hugging and shaking each others' hands.  Almost all were in their night clothes and even one neighbor did not have her teeth on! The church bells kept on ringing and car horns were honking.  As I write this, all those memories comes back and even until now, I could not describe the feeling...a feeling of happiness that until today, 25 years later remain unsurpassed.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On Why I Do Not Support The RH Bill

I finally got down and wrote my thoughts about the RH Bill on my Facebook page.  Since I already talked about this last year, I decided to copy the note here too.

There is a lot of conflict going on today regarding the the RH Bill and so many people pro and con talk about it, asks my opinion, that I felt I should put on record where I stand.  First, I want to be clear that I am for family planning and responsible parenthood. I agree that reproductive health, especially maternal and child care are important.  But I do not agree with the way the RH Bill is worded and made.  So simply put, I do not support the RH Bill...which one?...frankly, I don't know anymore which RH bill people are talking about because there are so many.  So I will just limit myself to the one I am familiar with and that is RH Bill No. 5043, 2008 version.  As someone coming from the health sector and familiar with the DOH programs on reproductive, maternal and child health, one does not need to read further to see and understand the real purpose of this so called "new" bill.  I could take it apart point by point.

From it's very title...AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A NATIONAL POLICY ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH, RESPONSIBLE PARENTHOOD AND POPULATION DEVELOPMENT, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.  The other purposes here being: to promote gender equality, women empowerment and human rights, specifically reproductive health rights.

But what about Republic Act 6365 which is AN ACT ESTABLISHING A NATIONAL POLICY ON POPULATION, CREATING THE COMMISSION ON POPULATION AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES ... doesn't it state that it is a "national policy" as well? and there's PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 79 December 8, 1972 REVISING THE POPULATION ACT OF NINETEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-ONE. There is also Republic Act 7600 which is The Rooming-In and Breastfeeding Act of 1992 and Executive Order 209 or THE FAMILY CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES as well.  Plus the RA 9710 or The Magna Carta for Women, as well as the Violence against Women and Children laws.

Is there a difference between these laws and the RH Bill?  If you read through all of them, I would say not much and fact is, the RH bill more less just summarizes them all.  All the above previous laws addresses population, gender equality and equity, reproductive health care, et al.  Now I am not a lawyer, nor do I profess to know the law but in my layman's opinion, this RH Bill actually reads more like an inadequate and ambiguous IRR of all of the above laws rather than a law itself! It is redundant to say the least.

I find the following sections coercive and dictatorial. Are we not allowed conscientious objection here?

SEC. 9 of the RH Bill states: Hospital-Based Family Planning. -Tubal ligation, vasectomy, intrauterine device insertion and other family planning methods requiring hospital services shall be available in all national and local government hospitals, except: in specialty hospitals which may render such services on an optional basis. For indigent patients, such services shall be fully covered by PhilHealth insurance and/or government financial assistance. 

So, what happens if there doctorsdo not want to do these procedures?

And SEC. 10 states: Contraceptives as Essential Medicines. – Hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other allied reproductive health products and supplies shall be considered under the category of essential medicines and supplies which shall form part of the National Drug Formulary and the same shall be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all national and local hospitals and other government health units.

This one does not even need to be included here.  WHO has already listed contraceptives, IUDs, injectable hormonal contraceptives in their model list of essential drugs. My issue on this is simple.  Why in heavens name should hospitals include contraceptives in their regular procurement of essential drugs when they cannot even provide the complete course of antibiotics and other life-saving medicines?  Why should our taxes pay for contraceptive use which is basically cheap and available over the counter when our hospitals are in dire need of upgrading their facilities and services?  Why should I, a taxpayer pay for other people's birth control?

And then, this...
SEC. 21. Prohibited Acts. – The following acts are prohibited:

a) Any health care service provider, whether public or private, who shall:

1. Knowingly withhold information or impede the dissemination thereof, and/or intentionally provide incorrect information regarding programs and services on reproductive health including the right to informed choice and access to a full range of legal, medically-safe and effective family planning methods;

I interpret this as meaning that if I advise the patient on family planning/ responsible parenthood programs that I adhere to and not on other methods, then I am violating this law. Whatever happened to my rights?

2. Refuse to perform voluntary ligation and vasectomy and other legal and medically-safe reproductive health care services on any person of legal age on the ground of lack of spousal consent or authorization.

Very indiscriminate and random!  So, if a 21 year old with 2 children whose ages are 1 and 3 wants to undergo tubal ligation, this should be done just because?

3. Refuse to provide reproductive health care services to an abused minor, whose abused condition is certified by the proper official or personnel of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or to duly DSWD-certified abused pregnant minor on whose case no parental consent is necessary.

What exactly does "reproductive health services" constitute here?

4. Fail to provide, either deliberately or through gross or inexcusable negligence, reproductive health care services as mandated under this Act, the Local Government Code of 1991, the Labor Code, and Presidential Decree 79, as amended; and

What can I say....we cannot provide what we do not have in terms of skills, manpower and facilities. Does that constitute deliberate, gross or inexcusable negligence on our part or the government's?

5. Refuse to extend reproductive health care services and information on account of the patient’s civil status, gender or sexual orientation, age, religion, personal circumstances, and nature of work; Provided, That all conscientious objections of health care service providers based on religious grounds shall be respected: Provided, further, That the conscientious objector shall immediately refer the person seeking such care and services to another health care service provider within the same facility or one which is conveniently accessible: Provided, finally, That the patient is not in an emergency or serious case as defined in RA 8344 penalizing the refusal of hospitals and medical clinics to administer appropriate initial medical treatment and support in emergency and serious cases.

Ask ko lang....since when did contraception fall under emergency medicine?  Meron ba?  Has there ever been a case of "contraceptive emergency"? SO WHAT FALLS UNDER "EMERGENCY AND SERIOUS CASES"?  Maybe in cases of bleeding due to an IUD but otherwise, seeking reproductive health service specifically for tubal ligation, IUD insertion, et al... are all classified under elective procedures. There are already laws addressing emergency cases and penalties for doctors and hospitals refusing to treat such cases. This provision will only result in arbitrary interpretations and only create confusion.

b) Any public official who prohibits or restricts personally or through a subordinate the delivery of legal and medically-safe reproductive health care services, including family planning;

c) Any employer who shall fail to comply with his obligation under Section 17 of this Act or an employer who requires a female applicant or employee, as a condition for employment or continued employment, to involuntarily undergo sterilization, tubal ligation or any other form of contraceptive method;

d) Any person who shall falsify a certificate of compliance as required in Section 14 of this Act; and

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

SEC. 22. Penalties. – The proper city or municipal court shall exercise jurisdiction over violations of this Act and the accused who is found guilty shall be sentenced to an imprisonment ranging from one (1) month to six (6) months or a fine ranging from Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) to Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court. If the offender is a juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the president, treasurer, secretary or any responsible officer. An offender who is an alien shall, after service of sentence, be deported immediately without further proceedings by the Bureau of Immigration. An offender who is a public officer or employee shall suffer the accessory penalty of dismissal from the government service. Violators of this Act shall be civilly liable to the offended party in such amount at the discretion of the proper court.

==================================================================
 
The Department of Health have programs in place for reproductive health, responsible parenthood, population development for the longest time.  The problem is efficient implementation and budget.  A new law to address all these is unnecessary and redundant.  Take a look at these DOH programs:
  • Family Planning
  • Breastfeeding Program / Mother and Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative
  • Natural Family Planning
  • Child Health
  • Adolescent and Youth Health and Development Program
  • Safe Motherhood and Women's Health Project
  • Newborn Screening
Moreover, the rate of population growth in the Philippines decreased from 3.1% in 1960 to 1.8% in 2009. This rate remained comparatively steady, and was consistent with the decrease in population growth rate worldwide.  A paper published in 2003 asserted that the population program was "ineffectual," not because of lack of population programs and policies but beacuse of "inadequate institutional and financial support".   

And what about the Catholic Church?

The argument by pro-RH people is that the reason why responsible parenthood is (as they perceive) not working is because of the Catholic Church.   Huh?  What is the evidence for that pronouncement? I invite you to visit the OB wards in hospitals and you will find that 75 to 80% of mothers giving birth in the hospital does not regularly attend mass, do not know their priest, have not gone back to confession since their first confession, are totally unaware of what actions the Church is doing against the RH bill. So what has the Church got to do with the failures of the population program?    In fact surveys show that Catholic women are very much aware of family planning methods and only a mere 5% has cited religion as their reason for not using contraception. This further tells me that the Church is actually ineffective in advancing Catholic teaching on contraception and sterilization.

So, is there a need for the RH Bill?  For me, a definite No

The RH Bill is something our lawmakers and government is pushing for to cover up for past failures in the implementation of their population program.  It is also a way of diverting attention from the real problems of this country. If they are serious about population management, then they should realize that what is needed is proper implementation, enough budget, committed health workers who will make these family planning services available during all working days of the week.  Information, accessibility, and availability of services is the key to success...not a new law.  People who want to avail of the services should have access to them. A older friend told me that the law is needed to ensure implementation...that LGU's will now be compelled to implement the law.  I think not.  This country has too many laws and more often than not, implementation is sadly lacking.  What is needed is political will and commitment to make any health program work. What is needed is good education, accessibility to the poor of effective health services, transparency in governance and no to graft and corruption. Only then can we minimize poverty...and then, the problem of overpopulation becomes moot and academic. This law is not empowering women, rather it disrespects them.


Related Post: The Filipino and Catholicism

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Universal Health Care for All Filipinos

Can we do this?  Will it happen?

I just got back from attending the 1st Health Financing Summit in Cebu entitled “Universal Health Care: The Role of Health Financing in Achieving Universal Health Care” at the Cebu Institute of Medicine Amphitheatre.  This was made possible upon the invitation of Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go of Center for Development Management of the Asian Institute of Management.  The summit was attended by local government officials, party-list representatives, the academe and NGO's.  The British ambassador was there to share the National Health Service experience as well as the WHO Country Representative who talked on our country statistics and the Millenium Development Goals.  Local speakers were also tapped to speak on the Philippine Health system.  The summit's goal was to show that universal health care for Filipinos is very much possible if only we can all get our acts together.  The money is there...it just needs to be tapped and budgeted wisely.  The work force is there...it just needs to be motivated and given just compensation.  The law is there...it just needs political will and implementation.