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Solons laud SWS survey on family planning

October 15, 2008 4:46pm
MANILA, Philippines - The proponents of the Reproductive Health bill in the House on Wednesday welcomed the results of the latest Social Weather Station survey showing that majority of Filipinos favor mandating the government to distribute contraceptives.

In a statement, House Bill 5043 principal author Rep. Edcel Lagman said the SWS survey results released early Wednesday morning confirm that Filipinos approve of family planning and want a law requiring the government to distribute artificial birth control methods such as condoms, pills, and IUDs.

"The message is loud and clear. Filipinos want to plan their families, approve of contraceptive use and they want government to help them be responsible parents," said Lagman.

The SWS survey showed that 68 percent of Filipinos agree that there should be a law requiring government to distribute legal contraceptives.

Fifty percent disagreed that contraceptives are abortifacients, 33 percent concurred, and 15 percent were undecided.

RH bill co-author Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and Health committee chair Rep. Arthur Pinggoy likewise welcomed the survey results.

"The 50 percent are right. Contraceptive use prevents conception, and therefore there is no pregnancy aborted. The 68 percent would be enough to pass the RH bill requiring government to make contraceptives available. We congressmen should vote to represent that majority sentiment," said Hontiveros in a text message to GMANews.TV.

Pinggoy, meanwhile said there is truly a need for legislation mandating the government to distribute contraceptives as most Filipinos cannot afford them.

"Fifty-two percent of Filipinos live below poverty level and most of them have no access to contraceptives because they cannot afford it," Pinggoy told GMANews.TV in a text message.

The survey results also showed that 54 percent disagree that youth would be considered "promiscuous" if family planning is included in their school curriculum, while 25 percent agreed and 19 percent were undecided.

The survey with a 3% error margin was done from September 24-27. Of those surveyed, 81 percent were Catholics.

"Clearly, doctrines advocated by the Church hierarchy do not reflect the diversity of attitudes and practices among the Catholic faithful themselves," said Lagman.

Lagman said that the SWS survey "echoes surveys conducted by Pulse Asia in 2001, 2004 and 2007 which consistently show that Filipinos believe in the importance of family planning and would like to have the information and access to do so responsibly."

Lagman said the latest survey results strengthens the resolve of the 113 RH bill coauthors and improves the chances of the bill's approval in the House.

The chair of the House "pro-life" caucus, however, dismissed the survey results.

Paranaque Rep. Eduardo Zialcita told GMANews.TV in a text message that many are misinformed about reproductive health because the anti-Reproductive Health bill side is rarely heard in the media.

"Many of them (respondents) misinformed. Our side is hardly heard in the media," said Zialcita. "Assuming the survey is true, it doesn't make it right."

Zialcita had earlier told GMANews.TV in an interview that among the reasons why they oppose the controversial reproductive health measure is that they do not agree that population is not the root of poverty, citing as examples Monaco and Hong Kong, which have high population densities but have well-performing economies, while Central Africa which has a low population density is still "so poor compared to us."

He said that instead of spending funds on mandating the purchase of contraceptives and age-appropriate teaching of reproductive health education, the government should focus on building more classrooms and focusing on improving math and science education.

HB 5043, which proposes the mandatory purchase of contraceptives by state hospitals and teaching of reproductive health starting Grade 5, has earned the ire of Catholic Church groups who claim that it is pro-abortion and anti-life. - Johanna Camille Sisante, GMANews.TV