“We are ones the affected with the absence of contraceptives and other reproductive health services in our health centers, not the men in white robes alleging to know what’s best for us,” women from grassroots communities lament.
In a press conference today, representatives from various grassroots women’s groups united as they appealed to P-Noy to make possible the passage of the comprehensive reproductive health bill languishing in Congress for 16 years.
The women expressed concern that P-Noy is trying to appease the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) at their expense with his recent pronouncements that he wanted to include provisions agreed by the Palace and the Church in the bill.
Nenita Migano of Caloocan City, 49 years old, a devout Catholic with five children, one of those who bravely stood up to call on P-Noy, said that the President should listen to poor women and not only to bishops who do not experience pregnancy, giving birth and the problems of being poor.
According to Migano it is important for a poor woman, to have the right information on family planning. “Aside from the information,” she said,” it is equally important for us, poor women to have access to free contraceptives because we cannot afford to spare money from our meager income to buy contraceptives even if we want to use these. She stressed, “we are totally dependent on free contraceptive supplies from our health centers. We need the government to allocate budget for reproductive health services we need.”
“P-Noy said we are his bosses. He promised to listen to us. We call on him today to make true his promise. He should listen to us and not allow the bishops to unduly influence his decisions on matters related to our lives,” ended Migano.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Angsioco, National Chairperson of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) calls on P-Noy to exert political will on the matter. Angsioco said that P-Noy, have the vast powers of the Office of the President. He can do things to address women’s RH needs and facilitate the passage of a rights-based, pro-poor, pro-women comprehensive RH bill into law.
“First,” Angsioco said, “even while the Bill is still pending, adequate budgets should be provided for family planning and other needed RH services. To get the real score, he should dialogue with the women who are really affected by the issue. He should not allow a watered down version of the bill because the ones in Congress go beyond family planning. While it is important, others such as education and services that will truly save lives are equally crucial. And lastly, the most immediate, certify the bill as urgent. His clear endorsement of the bill will make its passage highly possible,” ended Angsioco. -30-