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By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 21:35:00 03/08/2011

MANILA, Philippines – An issue just as searing as the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez reached the plenary Tuesday – the Reproductive Health (RH) bill – and is expected to take up debates among lawmakers in the coming days.

Delivering his sponsorship speech on Committee Report 664, a consolidation of six RH bills, Biliran Representative Rogelio Espina appealed to his colleagues to be open-minded and objective about the measure, which has been in Congress for the last 16 years.

“It is my utmost desire as chairman of committee on population . . . to consider this bill with open-mindedness and objectivity to achieve a neutral deliberation most beneficial to all,” said Espina, chairman of the committee on population and family relations that deliberated on the measure.

Espina said it was time to lay on the floor the debates as the bill has been extensively deliberated at the committee level.

About 30 minutes before his sponsorship speech, the session was suspended due to demands by some lawmakers to extend the privilege hour for speeches.

Deputy Speaker and Northern Samar Representative Raul Daza debated with Majority Leader and Mandaluyong Representative Neptali Gonzales II, which took up some time.

It was then that Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo Representative Janette Garin questioned the attire of Daza saying he had no business debating on the floor because he was not observing the dress code.

Daza was only wearing a long-sleeved, pin-striped polo at the time.

Garin said she had to raise the dress code because Daza was deliberately prolonging the debates to block the sponsorship speech of the RH bill.

Garin, one of the sponsors of the measure, lamented that the bill never reached voting stage since the 8th Congress due to “political baragaining and the noise from the Church.”

She said she hoped that her colleagues would keep an open mind in debating the matter and vote on it.

Three of the six sponsors of the bill delivered speeches urging for its passage – Minority Leader and Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, Gabriela partylist Representative Luz Ilagan and Akbayan partylist Representative Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao.

“This is the third time in many Congresses that I have stood before this august chamber to deliver my sponsorship message on the RH bill. I am confident that the saying ‘third time’s a charm’ will abide with us,”Lagman said.

Lagman said the RH bill is “rights-based” and is about “informed choice. He stressed that it is not a population control measure.

Lagman said the bill mandates access to all forms of family planning, both natural and modern, as long as they are legal, medically safe and truly effective.


By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 10:17:00 11/24/2010

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) Lawmakers for and against the reproductive health bills fired their respective opening salvo Wednesday at the hearing of the committee on population with debates on which committee should have jurisdiction over the bills.

Representatives Pablo Garcia of Cebu and Roilo Golez of Paranaque questioned the referral of the bills to the committee on population when the bills are a health issue. They said the bills should have been referred jointly to the committee on health.

“This came as a surprise or even a puzzle because in previous congresses, in the 14th Congress, the RH bills were invariably referred to the committee on health and rightly so because the title itself speaks or proclaims that the principal subject matter is about reproductive health,” Garcia said.

He continued, “What are the special and compelling reasons for divesting the committee on health of its original jurisdiction over this matter and transferring it to the committee on population? Perhaps this is a question on feng shui…maybe being assigned to the committee on health is bad, it can’t have any good luck in the committee.”

Garcia charged that referring the bills to the committee on population could have been “premeditated.”

“Perhaps it was thought that this is more defensible or least difficult to defend if it is a population issue, but it is not defensible as a health issue because the World Health Organization issued an advisory that contraceptives are carcinogenic and classified along with carcinogenic materials and substances, so why should we now say that this is principally a population bill rather than a reproductive health bill,” he added.

Golez noted that the bills filed, specifically that by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, principally talked about reproductive health as a health issue.

Issuing a rebuttal, Lagman stood pat that his bills and the other reproductive health bills tackles population, census and family relations and thus, was rightfully under the committee on population.

He also said that change in referrals can only be acted upon by the committee on rules.

Biliran Representative Rogelio Espina Jr., chairman of the population committee, said he would consult with the members of his committee if they should ask the rules committee to jointly refer it to the committee on health.

Advocates of both the reproductive health bills and those opposing them trooped to the venue of the hearing as early as 9 a.m.

Anti-reproductive health groups from Pro-Life Philippines and the Apostolate for Family Consecration/Family Land Television Network wore pins with the words “I love life.”

Former Manila mayor Lito Atienza was also present to push for his pro-life advocacy. During his term, he banned the use of contraceptives in the city.

The six bills up for discussion are the following: HB00096 – An act providing for a national policy on reproductive health, responsible parenthood, and population and development by Albay Representative
Edcel Lagman; HB00101 – An act providing for a national policy on reproductive health and population and development by Iloilo Representative Jannete Garin; HB00513 – An act providing for a national policy on reproductive health and population and development by Akbayan party-list Representative Arlene Bag-ao;

HB01160 – An act providing for a national policy on reproductive health by Muntinlupa
Representative Rodolfo Biazon; HB01520 – An act to protect the right of the people to information about reproductive health care services by Iloilo Representative Augusto Syjuco; and HB03387 – An act providing for a national policy on reproductive health for women in development by Gabriela party-list Representatives Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus.


The Philippines now has the highest number of confirmed cases of Influenza A (H1N1) in Southeast Asia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In Tacloban City, Australian national has been placed under observation at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) here for possible infection of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus when he showed flu-like symptoms days after arriving in Eastern Samar.

The Department of Health has confirmed 21 H1N1 flu cases nationwide.

Here are the following Health Tips from the National Center for Disease Prevention and Control, National Center for Health Promotion, and Department of Health.

1. Wet hands and wrist. Apply soap.
2. Right palm over left, left over right.
3. Palm to palm, fingers interlaced.
4. Back fingers to opposing fingers interlocked.
5. Rotational rubbing of right thumb clasped in left palm and vice versa
6. Rotational running backwards and forwards with tops of fingers and thumb of right hand in left and vice versa.
Make it a habit to wash your hands with soap and water.

1. Cover your nose and mouth with tissue or handkerchief every time you sneeze, cough or blow your nose.
2. Put used tissues or plastic bags in the trash bin.
3. Wash your hands with soap and water
– Before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
– Before shaking hands with other people.
4. If water is not possible, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
5. Don’t spit on the floor or on the road. Spit on a trash bin or on a small plastic bag.
6. Wash used handkerchiefs separately from clothing.
7. As much as possible, stay at home and don’t get near other people when you are sick.
8. Do not share eating utensils, drinking glasses, towels or other personal items.

source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

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