Lawmaker reveals defects of RH bill (expanded)

Lawmaker reveals defects of RH bill (expanded)

by Daryl Zamora, CCO on December 13, 2010 - 4:21 pm

Parañaque Representative Roilo Golez at UA&P. Photo by Mr. Daryl Zamora

Parañaque Representative Roilo Golez questioned the premises (and promises) of the contentious reproductive health (RH) bill in a forum at the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) in Pasig City last Thursday.

The five-term congressman said that RH advocates are fixated on absolute population figures, which are insufficient to describe a country’s population condition. He urged his audience to look at the number of people per square area (population density) instead.

He cited Hong Kong as an example. “[It] has 20 times our population density. Who’s richer, Hong Kong or the Philippines?”

Cong. Golez argued that people—even a growing number of them—are not the cause of poverty. He said they are in fact a country’s assets, being both its workforce and consumers. This, he said, is the situation in Singapore, Monaco, Taiwan, South Korea, and Bahrain—countries with very high population density that remain powerful economies.

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Change of focus

According to Cong. Golez, the state should focus on other progress-related issues, instead of the supposed overpopulation in the Philippines.

“[RH bill supporters] think the RH bill is the final solution [to poverty],” he said. “[But the bill] is not like a magic wand that—with a [population] growth rate of zero—lo and behold, we have become a progressive country.”

He said education, proper health care, and employment are among the real factors of development.

Thus he lamented government’s alleged lack of attention on the country’s education system.

“How can you justify [allocating] 880 million pesos [for contraceptives], when the budget of [the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority] is only 700 million?”

An MBA holder, Cong. Golez also questioned the RH bill’s moves to “prevent the birth of 200,000 babies in one year, when we can train 200,000 workers who can be used very productively in the Philippines and in the global market.”

He also criticized RH bill advocates who “say pregnancy is the cause of maternal death rate.”

“The cause of maternal death rate, as shown by statistics…from the Department of Health, is the non-presence of a doctor, nurse, or midwife at the time of delivery,” he said.

‘Have you read the RH bill?’

Cong. Golez also found the results of a recent Pulse Asia survey deceptive. The survey said that 69 percent of Filipinos favor the RH bill.

“Look at the question in the survey: ‘Narinig mo ba, nabasa mo ba ang RH bill?’ Syempre ang sagot [ng respondent] kapag narinig niya, ‘yes’… Kahit hindi niya nabasa, ‘yes’ pa rin ang sagot niya. Then they proceeded with the question, ‘Are you in favor…?’”

[“Look at the question in the survey: ‘Have you heard, have you read the RH bill?’ Of course the respondent’s answer if he hears it is ‘yes’… Even if he wasn’t able to read the bill, his answer would still be ‘yes’. Then they proceed with the question, ‘Are you in favor…?”]

He said that people who have not read and understood the entirety of the RH bill (particularly House Bill 96) are not informed enough to judge the bill’s soundness.

“Have you read the RH bill?” Golez asked his audience, after revealing that only some journalists who report on the RH debate have actually read the bill. #

Text and photo by Mr. Daryl Zamora, Corporate Communications Office
Video by Ms. Camille Diola, Corporate Communications Office

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