I had been writing about the ‘tethered’ reproductive health (RH), even until it became a law, advocating its implementation sooner than later, for I believe in its practicality and benefits especially for the poor folks, but it was never fully carried out.
It seemed like it was leashed and had limited usefulness only. Worse is that benefits continued to be unreachable by the poor and to think that RH care was already a law. What an irony!
My last article about it can be read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/reproductive-health-law/.
With President Rodrigo Duterte signing on Jan. 9 Executive Order (EO) No. 12, mandating universal access to modern family planning tools, I feel like this particular welfare program that was just made to dangle for the reach of the favored few is now unleashed so it could drop and roll down to those needing it the most.
Duterte is said to have ordered government agencies, namely, the Department of Health (DOH), the Commission on Population (POPCOM) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to “intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions” to address the “unmet” family planning needs of up to six million Filipina women.
It will be noted that foreign and local authorities have long cited the need for improved birth control in the Philippines which has one of Asia’s highest birth rates as well as high maternal mortality rates.
With a galloping population of over 100 million now and with about 25 percent living in poverty Duterte’s order could not have come at a very propitious time.
Now we could not say anymore that the implementation of the RH law is inadequate because of its limited budget.
“The important part there is that all government agencies will start inputting funds for the program in their 2018 and 2019 budgets,” POPCOM’s executive director Juan Antonio Perez said.
The government’s annual family planning budget could now increase four-fold to the ideal level of two billion pesos, Perez said.
With the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), working on the truism that delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled, and praising Duterte for his political will in providing free contraceptives to poor women, describing it as a ‘new momentum’ in the provision of family planning services in the Philippines, we can only hope and pray that the Catholic Church and its excessively pious followers will respect Duterte’s stand on this controversial issue and look at it as an act beneficial to the interest of the country and its people, for that is all there is to it.