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A Position Paper AGAINST H.B. 5043 Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development Act of 2008

As introduced by Honorable Edcel C. Lagman

To our Honorable Legislators, We are one with you in our pursuit to alleviate poverty and to seek solution to move the country towards economic progress. We are respectfully submitting to you the findings of our study. These affirmed and substantiated our stand that H.B. 5043 does not give us the right solutions to our real problems.

Respecfully,

Faith Buenaventura M.D. Lili Rose Embuscado, MS Pharmacology, UP Manila Dess Narvaez, BS Economics, UP Diliman Mihlgrace Samonteza, BS Architecture, University of Santo Tomas Sherla Najera, Faculty, UP Diliman Cherry Cristobal, School of Statistics Faculty, UP Diliman Karen Montevirgen, BS Psychology, UP Diliman Noreen Bautista, BS Computer Technology Management, Ateneo Celine Socrates, BS Political Science, UP Diliman Berna Angangco, BS Political Science, Ateneo Isabel Diaz, BS Education, UP Diliman Ingrid Silapan, BS Computer Science, UP Diliman Kathy Navarrete, BS Management Engineering, Ateneo Pia Lorenzo, BS Home Economics, UP Diliman Yna Shalimar Sta.Maria, BA Humanities, Ateneo Camille Diola, BA Journalism, UP Diliman Sofie Im, BS Biology, UP Diliman

18 September 2008

Email us: issuesquorum@gmail.com

The proposed Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008 promotes the universal access to reproductive health care services to reduce the growth of our increasing population and thereby reducing poverty.

1. The first question is: Is the population significantly increasing?

The proposed bill assumes that our population growth rate is increasing. However, statistics show otherwise. According to data from the National Statistics Office (NSO), the average population growth rate in the period 2000 to 2007 in 2.04 and the lowest since the 1960s. Furthermore, it is decreasing over the years and the projected average annual population growth rate for the period 2005 to 2010 is 1.95 percent. Based on these facts, it is evident that there is no need for this measure to reduce the claimed increasing population.

(National Statistics Office Manila page last updated April 21, 2008.

http://www.census.gov.ph/data/pressrelease/2008/pr0830tx.html)

2. If there is a decrease in the average population growth rate, why is it so crowded in Manila?

There are more people in the National Capital Region and other highly urbanized cities located in Metro Manila. NSO declared that “Calabarzon, NCR, and Central Luzon comprised more than one- third of total population”. As opposed to this, twelve other regions have population growth rates below the national figure, 2.04%. One cannot conclude the problem of overpopulation with only the basis of a few urbanized cities which are indeed populous.

3. Do we really become poor with more people?

The Filipinos are not fairly distributed in all parts of the country, leaving some places congested, and others with few inhabitants. Just take a look at how congested Manila is, with 14 million people as of 2000, and how the province of Southern Leyte only has 360,160 Filipinos (NSO, 2000 Census of Population and Housing), considering a land area of 1,734 km 2 , a lot bigger than Manila’s (38.3 km 2 ) We say that the appropriate indicator to use in order to make valid comparisons is population density (i.e. population per unit of land area).

Still, even with this appropriate gauge, one still cannot use a country’s population density as the scapegoat for poverty. Using this indicator one would find, for example, that Belgium has a very high population density, Pakistan is in the middle, and Somalia ranks very low. Of these countries, Belgium is not the one with the most difficulties. Nor does Somalia have the fewest. Clearly, just looking at population or even population density, tells us very little about a society’s problem, all the more how it causes poverty in the country.

The problem here is not overpopulation, but defective resource allocation and unequal wealth distribution. It is not scarcity that we’re facing, because it is not experienced by the entire population. One percent of the country’s population owns more than 50% of the country’s wealth, while the majority who are below poverty line are the once facing scarcity.

As Mahatma Gandhi says, “there are enough resources in the world to satisfy everyone’s need but not enough resources to satisfy one man’s greed.”

4. Are the artificial contraceptive methods safe?

There are three types of contraceptives as presented to the medical students of the University of

the

Gynecological Society:

Philippines

Manila-PGH

in

2005

by

Dra.

Leah

Zamora

of

the

Philippine

Obstetrical

and

Types

Examples

Effects

hormonal

oral, injectables,

Oral (pill)- Weight gain, Nausea, vomiting, Headache, Menstrual changes, Increased cervical mucus, Vulvovaginitis/vaginal discharge, UTI, Decreased breast milk,Breast changes / tenderness, Change in sexual desire, Depression, Skin problems, Hyperpigmentation, Acne, Gum inflammation, Cramps, Risk of cancer after 5 years of use, risk for birth defects Oral (Mini-pill)- Ectopic pregnancy, Functional ovarian cysts Injectable (Depo-Provera) Prolonged amenorrhea, Abnormal uterine bleeding, Delayed return of fertility after discontinuation of use, Loss of bone density in long-time users Implant (Norplant)- Same as oral contraceptives, Blood clots formation

implants,

and

patch

mechanical

IUD,

Condom,

IUD- Uterine perforation during insertion, Uterine cramping / bleeding upon insertion, Heavy or prolonged menstruation, Higher incidence of anemia, ectopic pregnancy, Pelvic infections, Pelvic abscess / septic abortions, infertility, sterility, and DEATH, sterilizing infection, risk of HIV infection, IUD displacement / expulsion, Condom- Latex sensitivity, Contraceptive failure due to Slippage and displacement rate: 8% Breakage rate (latex): 1.1% Breakage rate (polyurethane): 7.2% Diaphragm- UTI, Toxic Shock Syndrome, Ulceration of the vagina, Latex sensitivity

Spermicides-

methods

Diaphragm, and

Spermicides

Burning sensation, Irritation of the vagina

permanent

tubal

ligation,

Tubal ligation- Anesthetic complications, Injury to the uterus or, around the fallopian tubes, Hemorrhage / hematoma, Sepsis (infection), Pulmonary embolism (rare), Death

Hysterectomy-

sterilization

hysterectomy,

vasectomy

Anesthetic complications, Injury to structures near the uterus,

Urinary tract injury, Greater intra-operative blood loss, Infection, Psychological effects, Loss of libido, Death, Hemorrhage / hematoma

Vasectomy-

Sterility is not immediate, Sterilization failure (<1%), Unprotected

intercourse soon after the procedure, Incomplete occlusion of the vas Recanalization, Hematoma (5%), Infection, Congestive epididymitis, Sperm granuloma

5.

Does sex education really help?

“Despite increasing provision of school sex education, teenage sexual health in the United Kingdom is in overall decline, with increasing rates of abortions and sexually transmitted infections in under 18s outweighing recent modest reductions in conception rates in this age group. Counter-intuitively, rather than

improving sexual health, sex behavior interventions can make it

knowledge is a necessary but insufficient cause of change in sexual behaviour.It is also clear that strategies such as promoting availability and correct use of condoms and increasing use of the emergency pill do not

necessarily lead to a reduction in sexually transmitted disease rates, pregnancies, or terminations.”

(Stammers, Trevor (2007). Sexual Health in Adolescents. British Medical Journal , 334: 103-104.)

Evidence

shows that increased

Likewise, sex education in American schools has not helped decrease the teenager incidence of venereal diseases nor teenage pregnancy. This is because it has not changed their sex habits. According to Marion Wright Elderman, President of the Children' Defense Fund, in a recent report, out of every twenty teens, ten are sexually active but only four use conceptions, two get pregnant and one gives birth. In 1982, a Johns Hopkins study found one out of every five 15 year olds, and one in three 16 year olds are sexually active. The incidence increased to 43% in 17 year olds. The Louis Harris poll in 1986 found that 57% of the nations 17 year olds, 46% of 16 year olds, 29% 15 year old were sexually active.

6. What is the correlation between poverty and corruption?

Widespread corruption enabled by weaknesses in the political framework and mismanagement in different branches of government adversely affects country’s economic progress. “Where corruption pervades the economy, as it does in the Philippines, it distorts the whole economy. Rent seeking is more predominant than profit making. People believe that the best way to generate wealth is to take from someone else or from the government instead of producing it themselves. Business people who prefer to operate outside the circuits of corruption suffer because corruption creates uncertainties in the business environment.”

(Coronal, S. (1998). Pork and Perks: Corruption and Governance in the Philippines. Quezon City: The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.)

7. Do we have existing laws to alleviate poverty?

The legislation of this bill is unnecessary in achieving its goal of alleviating poverty, mainly because there are already current law provisions and government/non-government organizations that address this problem. As an example, the "Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation Act" is a policy that aims to alleviate poverty through a "multi-dimensional and cross-sectoral approach which recognizes core values, cultural integrity and spiritual diversity of target sectors and communities." A better solution is to strengthen these existing policies and organizations that fight poverty.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

This primer has tackled five areas namely, demographic, medical, economic, education and governance, to affirm our stand against H.B .5043.

We conclude that :

The Reproductive Bill is not the solution to poverty.

There is no overpopulation in the country.

There is no causal link between poverty and population increase; but there is an evident correlation between poverty and corruption.

Contraceptives are not only harmful, they could lead to deaths.

Sex education does not reduce teenage pregnancies and prevent the spread of STD’s

We strongly recommend that the government:

Redirect the 33.3Billion peso-RH budget to strengthening existing laws, institutions, NGO’s for poverty alleviation (i.e. Gawad Kalinga House and Community Education Programs, Groups and initiatives on Microfinance, Republic Act 8425 "Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation Act", approved on December

11,1997).

Decentralize urbanization, develop rural areas to reduce dense population in urbanized cities in NCR.

Promote Natural Family Planning and Responsible Parenthood Programs.

Encourage Chastity Education ( instead of Sex Education) in schools and homes.