Quantcast
Latest Stories

Big business backs RH bill

5 groups sign manifesto of support

By

The country’s biggest business organizations on Thursday threw their support behind the Aquino administration in its efforts to give Filipinos universal access to family planning services.

And they’re willing to put their money where their mouths are.

At the Summit on Family Planning in the Business Sector, representatives of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Employment Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop), Makati Business Club (MBC), Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) signed a “manifesto of support” calling for a national modern family planning program.

The business groups also promised to “mobilize investments for family planning and other reproductive health services” and implement family planning programs for the poor as part of their corporate social responsibility.

“We, the participants… declare our commitment and support to national efforts toward ensuring universal access to family planning in the advancement of reproductive rights of poor women,” the declaration said.

It advocated the enactment of national reproductive health and population management policy and programs and “allocation of funds for the implementation of this vital policy.”

The declaration also called for “accelerating the reduction of the unmet needs for family planning and in ensuring the promotion of informed choice, universal coverage and delivery of quality (family planning) information and services.”

Among those present at the summit held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City were former Prime Minister Cesar Virata, former Foreign Secretary Roberto Romulo, former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Health Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa, United Nations Population Fund country representative Ugochi Daniels and UK Ambassador Stephen Lillie.

“I think it would be appropriate to give you a quote—I assure you it’s a quote; I’m not plagiarizing—from (the late US President) John F. Kennedy who said  ‘Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country,” Romulo said in his welcome remarks.

“I think this sums up what you can do for the country,” added Romulo, chairman of the Zuellig Family Foundation.

It was a dig at Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, who is facing an ethics complaint for quoting without attribution material from the speech of the late US Sen. Robert Kennedy and other foreign works in three speeches against the reproductive health (RH) bill pending in the Senate.

Diokno called on President Aquino to be more passionate in pushing for the passage of the RH bill.

“I hate to say this but it is in (Mr. Aquino’s) hands. If he is as passionate as he was in the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, he could have this done,” Diokno said.

Stuck in Congress

The RH bill is stuck in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, with legislators facing reelection next year worried about a backlash from the influential Catholic Church, which is leading the opposition to the bill.

Commenting on the business groups’ falling into Mr. Aquino’s column, Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, reminded the businessmen that having a large consumer base and work force would be in the country’s interest “in the long run.”

“Contraceptives are big business, too. We hope our business leaders realize that in the long term population control and the contraceptive mentality is inimical to their own business interests,” Castro said. “A large population means a large economic base and a large consumer base,” he said.

“A fairly large young population ensures a productive labor force,” Castro added.

The Church will not relent in its opposition to the RH bill. It is “in the business of saving souls, and will do everything to fulfill her mission,” Castro said.

He said the RH bill was “a symptom of a graver problem, moral and social degeneration.”

The Church, he said, “will help effect the needed moral and spiritual reform and renewal both within the Church and in society.”

Absenteeism in House

A watered-down version of the RH bill has fallen victim to absenteeism in the House.

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II on Thursday said the House should decide once and for all whether to enact the bill.

“Maybe there is a need to call the members to a caucus and for the Speaker to tell them that on this day we will move [on the RH bill] . . . Win or lose, that’s it,” Gonzales said.

If there is a quorum on the set date, he said, the House should proceed to tackle the proposed amendments or the substitute bill.

If there is no quorum on that day, then that should be taken as a sign that there is simply not enough support for the measure, he said.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Thursday said he would call the members to a meeting to discuss pending legislation, including the RH bill.

In the Senate, the principal author of the RH bill, Sen. Pia Cayetano, called on her colleagues Thursday to quit fence-sitting and put the bill to a vote.

Cayetano asked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile when he would introduce his amendments but he refused, saying he was not ready with his proposed amendments to the measure.

 

Offended

Cayetano said she was disappointed and offended by Enrile’s gesture, which she considered a reflection of his regard for women and reproductive rights.

“I find it offensive that what I consider human rights—access to reproductive health and contraceptives—can be put aside by one high government official as if the lives of women are not that important,” Cayetano said in Filipino and English.

“I cannot deny that it is disappointing for me and a bit offensive for a colleague to tell me he does not care or plan to allot the bill time in plenary,” she said.

Cayetano blamed her colleagues’ opposition to the bill on consultants who gave them wrong advice.

“Their objective is not to bring this [measure] to a vote and I will not agree,” she said.

At the PICC, Diokno said the business community was behind family planning because, as a 2007 Ecop study showed, providing family planning services to employees “increases business profitability, improves labor productivity, and raises the quality of life for workers and their families.”

“If there were 30 million less Filipinos, I can assure you that we would have a budget surplus instead of a budget deficit,” Diokno said.

Romulo said the Ecop study showed that while family planning “substantially enhanced business productivity,” it also showed “that by providing the right environment, employees were ensured a safe pregnancy.”

“The question today is what role can the business sector play. Out of the country’s population of 93 million, 37.5 million are employed. Thus, in my opinion, the contribution of the business sector to address family planning needs can go a long way,” he said.

Core business

The summit participants promised to “promote the establishment of family planning as a core business or as a social enterprise to facilitate the provision of family planning services, especially to small companies that cannot afford to set up their own service-delivery programs.”

They also committed to pursue “public-private-partnerships modalities and strategies” for improving direct and support services for family planning and other reproductive healthcare services not “only in the workplace but also in poor communities.”

The labor code requires companies that employ at least 200 people to provide family planning services to its employees, but Herbosa said the business community’s commitment to family planning was very significant.

“The magnitude of the challenge on family planning is too great for the government to address alone,” Herbosa said.

He noted that private sector participation was instrumental in combating polio, leprosy and malaria in the Philippines.

“We eradicated polio in this country with a partnership with Rotary International. We actually eliminated leprosy with the use of free drugs from a private family and we actually have one of the lowest incidence of malaria cases with the help of Global Fund and the Pilipinas Shell Foundation,” Herbosa said.

“So, this partnerships have all led to previous successes, especially in infectious diseases. I see no reason why we will not be able to succeed in the area of family planning and reproductive health,” he added. With reports from Cathy Yamsuan and Leila B. Salaverria


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Benigno Aquino , Business , Family planning , Government , Legislation , RH bill




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. US teacher fired over comment on black president
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. Filipinos, Dane re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  4. Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  5. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. Massive infra spending set
  8. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  9. Easter crucifixions draw huge crowds
  10. Korea ferry captain arrested, divers spot bodies
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  8. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  9. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
Advertisement

News

  • Holy fire ceremony draws thousands in Jerusalem
  • Tanchanco, former NFA head; 83
  • Pope seeks to bring faith to ‘ends of the Earth’
  • Meteor shower to light up PH skies
  • Positive in UAE, returning Filipino nurse tests negative
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Rain or Shine, Ginebra clash for No. 6 spot
  • Ateneo eyes quarterfinal spot vs Benilde
  • Style contrast marks OneFC ‘Rise of Heroes’
  • ‘Pacquiao a great ambassador for basketball’
  • Lifestyle

  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  • Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  • Entertainment

  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Awarded TV couple brings Jesus’ life to the big screen
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement