Families Have the Right to Choose

Manila Bulletin, January 30, 2010 | Go to article overview

Families Have the Right to Choose


Romance MathematicsSmart man + smart woman = romanceSmart man + dumb woman = affairDumb man + smart woman = marriageDumb man + dumb woman = pregnancy.                                                        - Jimmy TeoQuoted above is a practical bit of 21st century wisdom attributed to Singapore journalist Jimmy Teo. Like me, Jimmy writes regularly for ASEAN BizTimes, a widely circulated magazine in the Asia-Pacific region. His sardonic commentary on modern-day man-woman relationships may not be completely accurate, but does portray today's dilemma of couples (married or not) who are into some romantic or intimate involvement.Saving The HR Bill From OblivionThis column, however, is not really about mathematics per se, but is really one more appeal for the approval of the Reproductive Health Bill – perhaps my last hopeful try – before the 14th Congress lapses into history on 05 February. The entire tedious cycle of sponsorship, hearings, debates, "horse-trading," bicam compromises, and Malacañang approval may have to be again undertaken in the next Congress – if it reaches that point. But, the present RH Bill, and other equally meritorious pending legislative proposals which are on the verge of extinction, could still be saved from the oblivion of "nice-tries."Only PGMA now, and her Cabinet advisers and Congressional allies – thru their exercise of consistent political will – still can get such urgent legislation finally approved before the deadline. It would take firm Presidential direction to get essential reforms enacted with few days remaining – even if this would entail a Special Session.But, this can be done. In earlier times, even more contentious legislative issues were resolved through the President's power to certify, persuade and compel.Forum for Family Planning and DevelopmentPopulation management advocates and women's rights champions got together last 15 January to make one more push. The occasion was the investiture of Loida Nicolas-Lewis as FFPD's 6th Eminent Person. She joins a select company of concerned Filipinos: former PM Cesar Virata, SGV founder Washington Sycip, PopCom Commissioner Mercedes Concepcion, Lopez Group Chairman Oscar Lopez, and FVR.The FFPD's investiture program says it all, thus:"Families have the right to choose"It is State's responsibility to provide them the means to make that choice"We recognize that every couple has the right to decide how many children they can raise while ensuring health/well-being. But it is a grim reality that in the Philippines, poorer families are the ones who have more children than they want and can decently provide for.Population, economic growth and poverty"We also recognize that women bear a disproportionate portionate burden in child-bearing, child-rearing, producing, and managing family resources to meet everyday needs. We refuse to accept that mothers should still die from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes as almost all are preventable."Further, we acknowledge the close association between population growth, economic development, and persistent poverty. Population affects everything – from food security to education, health, housing, water, energy, environment, transportation, communications, law and order, productivity, and human welfare in general.Clear, firm government policy"We call on the government in partnership with business and civil society to adopt a clear, firm population policy to enable couples to freely and responsibly manage their families, using all available effective and safe family planning methods according to their values and beliefs. …

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