The R.H. Bill was an issue hiding in the sidelines, known to some but has remained just another obscure issue to the majority of the almost 100M Filipinos. The issue surfaced into consciousness via Carlos Celdran’s Damaso stint at the Manila Cathedral. The anti-R.H. Bill campaign went into full swing and every catholic coming to receive the sacrament of the Holy Mass was subjected to sermons from the Catholic Church about the devil that is the R.H. Bill (like EVERY SINGLE DAY of the 9-day midnight mass!).
Being both a Catholic and a Nurse makes it a little hard to take a solid position. On the one hand, I am bound by my faith to follow the doctrines of the Catholic Church. On the other hand, my sworn duty as a nurse makes me look at the health angle and how this issue affects the person and the nation.
The R.H. Bill’s main purpose is to improve the quality of life by curtailing the population explosion through the promotion of reproductive health.
The Senate and Congress bills identically defined Reproductive Health as:
the rights of individuals and couples, to decide freely and responsibly whether or not to have children; the number, spacing and timing of their children; to make other decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence; to have the information and means to do so; and to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health
The Philippines ranks as the 12th most populated country in the world with a birth rate of 25.68 per 1000 citizens and an infant mortality rate of 19.94 deaths per 1,000 live births . The number of unemployed, underemployed and migration continue to rise, so does the expenditure for food, education, medicine and infrastructure. Meanwhile, the Reproductive health bill was forced to staleness for several presidential terms, the first proposal being in 1998. Currently, there are 6 different bills filed in the Congress and 1 in the Senate. And while the debate continues about the boons and banes of the R.H. Bill, the Philippine (2010 estimate) population growth rate was pegged at 1.931%, ranking #63 in the world, and in close proximity with Syria, Honduras, Ghana and Tajikstan.
The CIA World Factbook has this to say about the population growth rate:
The growth rate is a factor in determining how great a burden would be imposed on a country by the changing needs of its people for infrastructure (e.g., schools, hospitals, housing, roads), resources (e.g., food, water, electricity), and jobs. Rapid population growth can be seen as threatening by neighboring countries.
Lara says: to be continued…